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#1. What Happened Next? by FawkesThePhoenix

Format: Novel
Chapters: 32
Word Count: 149,442
Status: COMPLETED

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Contains profanity, Strong violence, Scenes of a mild sexual nature, Substance abuse, Sensitive topic/issue/theme, Spoilers

Genres: General, Action/Adventure
Characters: Harry, Ron, Hermione, McGonagall, Draco, George, Ginny, Luna, Neville, OC
Pairings: Harry/Hermione, OC/OC, Ron/OC, Other Pairing

First Published: 07/13/2015
Last Chapter: 03/13/2017
Last Updated: 03/13/2017

Summary:
Following on from the end of the Battle in Deathly Hallows. Harry and Hermione fell in love instead of Hermione/Ron and Harry/Ginny.

Follows the stories of Harry, Ron and Hermione as they deal with life after the greatest adventure of their lives.


Chapter 1: Chapter One.
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Harry sat at the window, watching as the raindrops ran down the glass. He always enjoyed doing this as he felt that he wasn't alone, the weather felt the same as he did. In reality, of course, Harry was far from alone. He was living with Hermione in her parent's house. He felt extremely welcome; after finding out what the Wizarding World had been facing since even before the beginning of Hermione's life in it, they were very grateful for everything Harry had done. The quest to destroy Voldemort had ended several months ago. The raw emotion of grief and loss had subsided slightly. Obviously, no one would ever be able to get over the deaths they had experienced; most families had some strong connections with the dead now. The couple of weeks after the battle were very odd. Everyone went through a strange celebration knowing Voldemort had been stopped but on the back of their minds were the memory or memories of the people who weren't celebrating, the people who couldn't be celebrating.

"I just don't know what to do, Mum. He's been like this for so long. I always thought he would bounce back; he has a chance of a life, a new life." Hermione whispered to her mother. They were standing in the doorway of Hermione's bedroom looking in on Harry.

"Give him time, love. I'm sure things will start to look up."

"You keep saying that, and not one thing has changed," Hermione replied as they made their way downstairs. "He seems like a different person, the sparkle in his eyes have dimmed." She sighed. The boy she fell in love with had gone, sometimes it was like he had died with Voldemort. When Voldemort was alive, he had something to live for, something to focus on but now that was over, every death played in his mind like a non-stop movie reel.

"Maybe you should visit Ron with him. Maybe being reunited with the two people that he spent his time at Hogwarts with will help, it might remind him of all the good things instead of focusing on the bad."

Hermione nodded, it did sound like a good idea, but she hadn't spoken to Ron since the death of Fred. Out of respect to him, she decided to let him grieve with his family. Hermione's mother must have seen her hesitation to this idea, "he will be happy for the distraction too."

"You're right, Mum. Both Harry and Ron need to stop thinking about death for a day. I'll write a letter to him." And so she walked over to the table and picked up a pen and a piece of paper.

'Ron,
I hope that you are coping as much as you can be. Harry isn't doing too well, and I want to bring him to see you. I think you both need a distraction from past events. Are you free tomorrow?
Love
Hermione. '


She walked over to a window and opened it, as soon as she had done so, an owl glided into the room. It was a great owl, dark black which in the light reflected as deep blue. Kingsley Shacklebolt, the new Minister for Magic, had sent hundreds of owls to fly around and send any letter from anyone who needed to get in contact with someone. Hermione appreciated this move as she didn't have an owl and since the tragic death of Hedwig, neither did Harry. The owl dipped her head as a thank you and flew off into the distance. As she watched it glide away, she wondered why Harry couldn't understand. He was free now. Free as that owl is. Free to do whatever he wanted. Granted, that man had taken everything from him, his parents and his childhood but now he was gone, Harry was free to be whoever he wanted.

"He will get better soon, Hermione. He just needs some time." Hermione's Mum had walked over to the window to join her daughter; she wrapped her arms around her shoulders.

"I just hope it's sooner rather than later. It's hard." Hermione said while turning to face her Mum.

Her Mum looked into her daughter's eyes and noticed the pain in them. "I know, I know." She muttered.

Hermione looked into the eyes of one of her heroes. Even though they were from two completely different worlds, she was always close to her Mum. She put her arms around her and hugged her. She began to cry silently. Her Mum began to stroke Hermione's back, comforting her. Despite being worlds apart, she knew what Hermione was going through - the pains of seeing your partner upset and being unable to comfort him felt the same for Muggles and Witches alike.

After several minutes, Hermione recomposed herself. She pulled away from her Mum knowing that it was now Harry's turn to be comforted. "Thanks, Mum. For everything." She uttered.

"Anytime." Mrs Granger looked at her daughter realising that she was no longer the little girl she remembered. She had done all her growing up away from them which made the fact that her daughter was 18 and in love, harder to swallow. The bright eleven-year-old girl that had left on the train many years ago was gone. In her place was an intelligent, confident, strong, brave and loyal young woman who had to deal with hardship after hardship.

Hermione wiped the last of her tears with her sleeve, took a deep breath and made her way back up to her room. "Harry? Would you like anything to eat? You haven't eaten in a while." Hermione asked gently.

"No," Harry replied bluntly. He was still staring out the window, wishing for something he just didn't know what yet.

"Some water then? You need something." Hermione was worried. Too scared to walk over to him in case something happened. No, she couldn't think like that. Harry needed her now more than ever. His ultimate enemy had changed from Voldemort to himself. She stepped across her room towards Harry and wrapped her arms around him. She didn't say anything hoping that Harry would understand her. He gripped her back. She knew that Harry just didn't want to be alone so she sat next to him and stayed close.

Time had passed, how much time was a haze to Hermione. Harry had been drifting in and out of a restless sleep. Sleeping beside him every night for the past few months had taught her that he never slept well, always tossing and turning, talking and screaming. All she wanted was for him to have a dreamless, peaceful night. She knew that sleep would make him feel mildly better and on a selfish level, it would make her feel better too.

As Hermione was drifting off herself, an owl rapped on her window. She gently got up, making sure she didn't wake Harry by doing so. They had been on the window seat so she didn't have to walk far. She opened the window, and the owl swooped in. He gently landed on her desk chair, and she walked over to him. Stroked his head and took the letter from his leg. The owl didn't wait for anymore direction. Instead, he flew straight off again.

'Hermione,
It's good to hear from you. We are all obviously devastated, but things are looking up again. George has started to act more like his usual self. Mum is still a bit quiet, but she's getting there.
Sorry to hear about Harry. It would be great to see you both. Come around whenever you want.
Love
Ron.'


This lifted Hermione's mood slightly, hopefully seeing and spending time with Ron would help Harry. Harry began to stir. "Hermione?" He called into the ever darkening room.

"I'm here; I will always be here." She replied. She looked back at the letter and smiled to himself. "Guess who we are going to see tomorrow?" Harry didn't answer; he went straight back to looking out of the window. Hermione sighed. "I'm just going to get some water. Do you want anything?" Again, he remained silent. "I'll be back." She promised.

Hermione walked downstairs and spotted her father in the living room watching a documentary. "Hermione, what are you doing up? It's rather late." Her Dad asked with his kind voice.

"Yeah, I just need some water." She answered quietly.

"Hermione, come here." Her Dad commanded. So she obeyed. She joined him on the sofa. "Tell me what's wrong."

"I just don't know what to do anymore." She said, letting out the tears.

"Oh darling, it's okay." He wrapped his arms around her, and she settled her head on his shoulder.

"How do you know that? How does anyone know that? Neither of you knows what he was like before. He is completely different. What if he never goes back to normal?" She sobbed. She always felt safe in her father's arms.

"He will, I promise. Just give him more time."

"All he does, day and night, is re-run the whole thing in his head. He can't stop thinking about it."

"He will." Were his final words to her, they sat for a while with her just crying, letting it all out and Mr Granger comforting her.

She was about to fall asleep when she remembered she had promised Harry she would be back. She started getting up when her Dad stopped her. "Neither of you are alone. Don't be ashamed to ask for help." He always spoke so calmly and gently; that was probably why he was one of the most famous dentists in London.

She nodded in both understanding and appreciation before she went into the kitchen and poured two glasses of water. She was aware that Harry didn't ask for one but she hoped that he would at least have a sip.

"I've got you some water." She said as she entered the room. She walked over and tried to hand it to him, but he ignored her, still staring out the window. Hermione turned around and breathed. She didn't want to get angry with him; that was the last thing he needed but at times, it was so frustrating. "I think we should get ready for bed. We have a busy day tomorrow." Harry didn't move a muscle. "Ron's invited us over." She thought she saw Harry move slightly at this; that was something at least.

Hermione put the glasses of water down and pulled Harry up. He didn't resist at all, he was just going through the motion, not knowing what was going on. Hermione always made an effort to change Harry in the mornings hoping that that would make him more willing to do things, it didn't. She walked over to her chest of drawers to find some of Harry's pyjamas and offered them to him; he didn't take them. "Harry, please." She uttered with some desperation. This seemed to work as Harry took them off of her. She sighed. Maybe time was all that he needed.

He slowly changed into his pyjamas, never showing any emotion, his face just blank. Hermione began to walk over to get a pair of her pyjamas as Harry walked straight back to the window. "No, Harry," Hermione said calmly as she walked over to him. "We're going to bed." Once again he didn't move so she took his hands. "Everything will be okay." She reassured, partially to herself.

He started to stand up, more on his own this time. Hermione led him to the bed; she had already pulled back the duvet. He slid in, still holding onto her hands so she joined him. He curled up, letting go of one of Hermione's hands but kept holding tight onto the other. She looked at him, the boy that used to be so happy despite everything that had happened. Now it had all seemed to catch up with him - all the heartbreak and all the loss had finally taken its toll on him.

Hermione experienced another night with hardly any sleep. When Harry was asleep, she couldn't as he was moving around too much and when he wasn't, she was trying to comfort him. The nights were a lot harder than the day for Hermione; when she needed a break, she could just walk away for a while. At night, she couldn't, she feared that Harry would wake up and wonder where she was.

Several hours had passed, and Hermione had managed to sleep in that time. She thought that Harry had been a lot better tonight but that thought immediately vanished when she saw that he wasn't in bed. She looked around the room and noticed a figure by the window. "That bloody window." She said under her breath. "Harry?" She spoke louder than before. "What are you doing up? It's the middle of the night." Harry didn't move; this was all getting too much for her.

She couldn't recognise him anymore; he was an entirely different person. She just stared at him for the rest of the night, hoping that he would move, do anything - he didn't. As soon as she heard her parent's alarm go off in the next room, she got out of bed.

"Dad, I need to talk to you." She was trying her best not to cry. "I know it's early but, I need help. Harry isn't alright, and I don't think time will heal him." As she finished saying this, Harry began to shout and scream. Hermione ran to see what had happened and saw a sight that shocked her more than most things had done. He was rocking back and forth, his knees under his chin and his arms locked around them. As he was rocking, he was screaming and crying.

"No! Sirius!" He breathed. "Lupin, Tonks, I'm sorry you don't get to see your son grow up!"

"Harry!" She said while running over to him. "Harry, what's happening?"

"It's all my fault, Hermione. If I were just a little bit quicker, more skilled, none of this would have happened. Those people are dead because of me!" He shouted.

"Shh," She crooned just like her mother used to do when she was upset and crying in her arms. "None of this is your fault. Everyone who died, died fighting for their personal cause. You are not to blame. You did everything perfectly. You stopped him." Although it was heartbreaking for her to see Harry like that, she was relieved that he had some emotion left inside of him.

"I wish I had died fighting too." He cried.

"No! Don't you say that!" She began to cry. "Don't even think it for two seconds!" She kissed his head, knowing that this action wouldn't change his mind. "I need you here, with me." Maybe that would snap him out of this trance he was in. Knowing that he was still needed might help him get better.

"I love you, Hermione." He whispered before turning back to the emotionless statue that she had grown accustomed to.

"I love you too." She whispered back as she started to look out of the window.

*

"Harry, Hermione, it's good to see you both. How have you been doing?" Mr Weasley asked as they walked through the front door.

"Hi, Mr Weasley. We've been better, to put it mildly. How are you?" Hermione replied.

"These past few months have been tricky, but we've all been there for each other. Harry, Ron is up in his room. I think he was expecting you later." Mr Weasley said with a worried look on his face.

"Come on, Harry. Let's go and see Ron." Hermione said cheerfully. Harry stayed stationary. "Harry? Ron." She urged. He didn't look at her; he just walked off.

"You look shattered." Mr Weasley said when they were left alone. "How is Harry doing?"

"Not good. He hasn't been eating or sleeping."

"Have you been?" Hermione didn't answer; she didn't need to as she probably looked the same as Harry did. "Do you want me to talk to Harry so you can have a nap?" He asked kindly.

"I thought I would be able to cope; I thought he would get better." She began to cry; she felt that her lack of sleep was behind all these outbursts of tears.

"He will get better. We'll go to Ron's room. I'll take Harry for a walk or something."


"Bloody hell!" Ron gasped as Hermione and Mr Weasley walked into the room. "Hermione, you look like a ghost!"

"Not helpful." Mr Weasley muttered. "Where's Harry?"

"I don't know; I didn't know you had arrived," Ron said to Hermione. She started to turn towards the door to look for Harry.

"No." Mr Weasley warbled. "I'll find him. You need to rest. Ron, look after Hermione." And with that, Mr Weasley left to look for Harry.

"Hermione, you do look ill. Is everything alright?" Ron asked.

"I don't want to talk about it. Not now." Hermione murmured. She didn't want to burden Ron with anymore, he had his grievances.

"Tell me. I can handle it. I need to think about something else for awhile. You're both my best friends; I want to help you as much as I can." Hermione thought about this. He was right; they were best friends, but she wasn't sure what he could do to help her. "I'm here." He said. This reminded Hermione of all the things they'd been through if anyone were to understand it would be Ron.

"Let's sit down." She had suggested before she began. So they crossed the room to Ron's bed. They sat on the edge while Hermione unburdened herself. "Ever since he killed Voldemort, he has been very subdued. I completely expected this as it was such a massive thing to him. Everyone lost loved ones in that battle, but Harry feels responsible. My parents said that he needed time, I agreed with them but time has seemed to make him worse. He doesn't do anything. He just has a constant vacant expression. Sometimes he screams and shouts shows emotion, but that doesn't last long. He doesn't sleep, he eats small amounts, I don't know how he survives. It's like he is just surviving, not living."

Ron reached out to comfort her. She was struggling, but nobody ever seemed to notice. She was involved in all this too, but she never reacted or lashed out. She never turned her back on them or gave up as Ron had done. Part of him believed that Hermione was the bravest and loyalist out of the three of them. She had never received help, never come close to giving up. Harry always had someone looking out for him, but Hermione had no one. Her parents didn't even know anything was going on. "Hermione, you need to take a step back. You look exhausted, sleep here and we'll look after Harry. Your parents are right; he needs time. None of us thought we'd ever move on from Fred; we never will completely but we have come to cope somewhat. Nobody died in vain, and Harry will remember that soon. We were all fighting out there, not for Harry but for ourselves. When he realises that, he will start to remember who he is. You're right; he has been through so much because of Voldemort, he has seen things no one should ever have to see. Remove yourself from the situation for a day, rest and you'll feel a lot better, I promise."

Ron was right, but she couldn't abandon Harry. "I can't. I can't just forget about him; he needs me."

"He needs the Hermione Granger he fell for, the powerful young woman. She needs rest." Ron stood up, "I'll ask Dad if we can have a big meal. Maybe you both need some time away from each other; you need a break. Take my bed; I'll wake you up when dinner is ready." Ron smiled.

"Thank you. Look after Harry for me?"

"Of course."

Although Hermione felt slightly guilty leaving Harry with Ron, they both used to snap each other out of phases in the past. Hoping Ron would get through to Harry, Hermione fell asleep. It was incredible; she hadn't experienced undisturbed sleep for what felt like years - this was the first time in a long time she wasn't scared about closing her eyes.

Several hours later, Ron quietly opened the door. He had Harry by his side, "She needs some sleep; you do too. You would feel better if you rested." Ron whispered. Harry looked longingly at the sleeping Hermione. He hated himself for putting her through everything he had. Even though his subconscious could feel this way, he wasn't able to bring himself out of this trance. Maybe if he talked about it to someone. "Harry?" Ron called out, breaking Harry's thoughts.

"You're right." He whispered. "We both need rest. But I need to talk to both of you."

Hermione heard this and instantly woke up. She had programmed herself to wake up when she heard Harry talking as he rarely did that anymore.

"Hermione?" Harry noticed she had jolted awake. "Sorry for waking you up." Hermione didn't care; she felt refreshed just because she was hearing Harry's voice for the first time.

"Don't worry." Hermione croaked. "What do you want to talk about?" Hermione looked right at Harry with a reassuring look that calmed him.

Before he started talking, Ron walked over and sat on the bed. He looked at Hermione and smiled as she mouthed the words 'Thank you'.

"First I need to thank you both for everything you have done. You didn't sign up to leaving Hogwarts a year early and going on a hunt that could have resulted in your deaths. I couldn't have done it without either of you." Hermione looked at Harry in amazement; he hadn't said more than five words ever since Voldemort's demise, and now he was making a heartfelt speech. "Hermione, I need to thank you for a hundred times over. You took me in when I was a mess, unresponsive and impossible to talk to. You never lost your temper or lashed out when anyone else probably would have done. You've honestly been amazing. Every time I close my eyes, I see and hear the things we experienced last year. It makes me feel terrified again which is why I have trouble sleeping. Sometimes I feel like I am reliving it all again in my mind, the sounds and the sights are so realistic that I feel I've been transported back in time. I don't know how to explain it, but sometimes I want to rip my eyes out so I won't have to see it all over again. I feel like everyone's death is my fault for not killing Voldemort sooner, and when I start to feel like that, I think of every life I could have saved if I was a month or a year quicker."

"Harry, you can't think like that, it'll drive you mad." Hermione cried.

"I know I've been impossible these past few months." Harry walked over to Hermione to hug her. "I will get better with time, I promise."

Hermione kissed his hands, "I know you will. You're strong." She whispered.

"Well, this is awkward." Ron laughed. "I'll leave you to it."

"Don't be stupid, Ron. Come here!" Harry said as he brought his two best friends into a tight hug. "I still need you, Ron." He laughed.


Hermione breathed a sigh of relief. Harry was on the mend, becoming the Harry Potter she had grown up with. The Weasleys, Harry and Hermione sat down to a big meal. Ginny and Mrs Weasley had pulled out all the stops. Hermione looked around at the red-headed family sat at the table and couldn't help but remember the one they were missing. She gazed over at the twin who was now the only party of the Weasley Twin double act. George seemed to be getting better but deep down, Hermione suspected, he felt alone and lost.

"Can I make a quick toast?" Hermione asked, interrupting the silence that had seemed to invade the room. Nobody spoke, their faces just showed expressions of willingness and longing for something to make this more 'homely' and 'Weasley like'. "As we sit around this table today, I can't help but notice that this family is one short. Fred was a pain; he was a handful, and he would always distract me from my homework." Hermione laughed, the others around the table did too. "Because of that, and because of his cheeky humour and wit, he will be greatly missed. He didn't die in vain, no one did. And his death will mean something by the survivors living a full and happy life." This bit was directed mainly at Harry. "And remember, only those who are forgotten are truly gone. We will always have the fond memories of Fred, keep those close, and we'll never need to say a proper farewell. To Fred and everyone else who lost their life fighting for the right!" Hermione's voice cracked.

"To Fred and everyone else!" They all called while raising their goblets in the air.

"That was beautiful," Harry whispered while squeezing her hand with his.

"Thank you." She smiled back. Her toast seemed to have worked; everyone began talking about the future, not looking back at the past.

"So, Harry, Hermione, have you thought about what you're going to do now?" Mrs Weasley asked cheerfully. "I've been trying to convince Ron that he needs to go back to Hogwarts and finish his NEWTs. You were so close, dear, might as well finish them now." She said to Ron.

"How many times have I told you, I don't want to go back to school. I want a job. Dad said he could help me get one in the Ministry." Ron moaned. "It would be so embarrassing going back and being in Ginny's classes."

"Why? Because you know I'm better than you?" Ginny laughed. Everyone else, except Ron, laughed too. Ron's cheeks were turning the colour of his hair.

"No. Because-because..." Ron didn't have time to give his reasons as Mrs Weasley brought the focus back to Harry and Hermione.

"You two will be going back to Hogwarts, right?" Mrs Weasley said somewhat forcefully.

"I haven't thought about it," Harry muttered. He had actually thought long and hard about it; he wanted to go back because he knew that Hermione wanted to, but he didn't know what it would be like without Snape and Dumbledore.

"I was going to go back," Hermione said. "But certain circumstances changed my mind."

"Me?" Harry asked bluntly.

"No, not just you," Hermione said weakly.

"Then what else?" He pressed.

"Let's not talk about this now," Hermione replied. This brought the awkwardness back into the room, and snippets of small talk accompanied the rest of the dinner.

*

"What was that about at dinner?" Harry moaned as Hermione, and he walked into the guestroom that the Weasley's had made up for them.

"It was nothing," Hermione replied.

"What other reasons do you have for not going back to Hogwarts?" Harry asked bluntly.

"I don't want to talk about this."

"So it is just me?" He grumbled.

"Yes. If you want to know the truth. I didn't want to leave you when you were in this state. I thought that it could send you over the edge."

"Oh, Hermione. Come here." He gestured for her to come over to him. "I don't ever want to stop you from doing what you want." She sat close to him as he wrapped his arms around her. She embraced his hug, happy that he was becoming Harry again.

"I don't want to leave you, though." Her head was resting on his shoulder. "I need you as much as you need me."

Harry thought about this; he didn't want Hermione not to go to Hogwarts, after all, she loved learning, loved spending hours upon hours in the library, learning more and more. "Let's go back to Hogwarts." Harry beamed.

"Really?!" Hermione lifted her head to look at Harry. "Why?"

Harry leant down and softly kissed her. "Because I love you and I love it there. We'll get Ron to come, and it will be just like old times."

Hermione couldn't keep the smile off of her face. She always dreamed of going back to Hogwarts and always wanted Harry and Ron to join her, but now it was coming true.

"Ron!" Harry called.

"What?" Ron replied as he stumbled into the scene. He clocked Harry and Hermione's compromising positioning and groaned, "Don't tell me, we're going back to Hogwarts?"

All Harry and Hermione could do was smile back at him.

Chapter 2: Chapter Two.
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

"How did we get dragged into this?" Ron mumbled as he, Harry and Hermione were walking down the cobbled streets of Diagon Alley.

"It'll be fun!" Harry said cheerfully knowing all too well that Hermione would be listening to his response with eager ears.

"Maybe for you but you have Hermione, I'm alone. I'll be lumbered with Ginny!"

"You're not alone. Don't be stupid." Hermione argued. "It'll be just like it used to be."

"No, you and Harry are a couple now, that means everything will be different."

"Shut up," Hermione ordered. "Right, we need new robes, Harry needs a wand, our books and supplies. Is that all?"

"I want a new wand too," Ron answered.

"Fine. Where do you want to go first?" She paused for two seconds and then said, "I say robes, books, supplies and then get your wands?" All Harry and Ron could do was stare at her, she did enjoy taking control.

Diagon Alley had been restored wonderfully, if an outsider came to visit, they wouldn't have been able to tell that there was a war merely several months before. Knockturn Alley had been reinvented too, but it was still a scary place and people rarely wanted to be seen there. Harry, Ron and Hermione walked towards Madam Malkin's to get fitted for their Hogwarts Robes. They needed to buy everything again; Harry just hoped Hermione remembered what was on the list all those years ago.

As Harry opened the door, he was greeted by a beautiful girl who couldn't have been much younger than them. "Hi. She said with a strong Irish accent. "You pronounce it like Ee-fa." She added when she noticed their confused faces as they stared at her name badge 'Aoife'.

"Nice to meet you Aoife. Is Madam Malkin here?" Hermione asked politely.

"No, I'm her great-niece, though, I can help you with what you need."

Aoife was amazingly gorgeous; she had deep black hair, fair skin and the most vibrant green eyes anyone had ever seen. Her fringe framed her face nicely as the rest of her straight hair fell to below her shoulder. Harry looked over at Ron, but he hadn't even looked at Aoife yet, he was too busy looking at all the types of work robes. "Well, we're here for Hogwarts robes," Hermione roared, glaring at Harry for gawking at Aoife.

"Hogwarts robes?" She questioned but didn't pry any further. "A lot of your age have turned up wanting Hogwarts robes. I suppose since the conclusion of the war; everyone wants to go back to school. My parents are finally letting me go this year. They didn't want me going there in case I got caught up in all of it. My father has been teaching me." She shared.

"I guess with the fear of Voldemort gone; everyone wants things to go back to normal." Hermione agreed, she glanced over at Harry and noticed he was still staring at Aoife. "Sorry for not introducing ourselves. I'm Hermione, and this is my boyfriend, Harry." She said forcefully, she was never normally a jealous person, but she didn't like all of Harry's attention being on Aoife.

"Obviously I already know who you are. Last year you were the three most wanted people in the Wizarding World, and now you are the most celebrated." She giggled. "Anyway, let's get you lot measured up." So she got out three tape measures which went to work for her. "Do you need just work robes or everything?" She questioned.

"Everything. Including three Gryffindor ties please." Hermione said.

"Coming right up."

Several minutes later, Harry, Ron and Hermione had purchased all their robes. Hermione and Aoife had begun talking, and it turned out, Aoife liked books too. Hermione invited her to walk around with them but, unfortunately, she had to work, but she did say she would try and catch up with them after Madam Malkin came back.

"She was nice." Hermione smiled as they left the shop and headed towards Flourish and Blotts to pick up their school books. Harry eyed Hermione suspiciously. "I'm not jealous of her!" Hermione added. "She's really nice, and she said that we looked cute together." She giggled.

"Well," Harry said before kissing her cheek, "We are cute together."

"So cute it's sickening." Ron moaned. "I thought nothing would change."

Harry and Hermione ignored him as Harry put his arm around Hermione's shoulder. They carried on down the street when they saw Draco Malfoy limping along with his mum. "Hi, Draco," Harry chirped. Before Draco could say anything, the three of them had walked off.

They finally arrived at Flourish and Blotts. Hermione stated that she had contacted McGonagall and she had asked the shopkeepers to put the books they needed back for them. Harry and Ron decided that due to the vast amounts of people in the shop, they would give Hermione the money and she could go in and get the books. She wasn't a fan of this idea but couldn't say no to Harry's wide eyes.

"So...do you reckon Aoife will find us?" Ron said trying to sound casual.

"Why?" Harry asked trying not to laugh.

"No reason," Ron said going bright red.

"Hey!" Came a voice from the crowd. "I'm glad I found you two, where's Hermione?" It was Aoife, Harry looked at Ron and noticed that his cheeks had gone even redder.

"She's just getting our books," Harry replied. "Did your aunt come back early?"

"No, my brother Aengus said he would take over." She smiled. "Is it alright if I walk around with you? I don't know anyone at Hogwarts; I hope my dad taught me the right things." She laughed. "Sorry, I get awkwardly nervous around strangers."

"Don't worry so does Ron." Harry laughed. Ron glared at Harry, but that didn't turn back time. "How old is your brother?" Harry asked, still trying not to laugh at Ron's face.

"Same age as me, we're twins. Well, triplets actually but I don't know where Ardal is."

"So there's Ardal, Aengus and Aoife?" Harry asked.

"Yep, we come from a very Irish family." She laughed.

"I didn't know Madam Malkin was Irish." Harry pondered.

"Oh she's not, but my dad is, and he's not related to her. She's my grandmother's sister. Meaning she is my Mum's Aunt. We were brought up in Ireland though so that make's us a hundred percent Irish, according to my dad." She laughed. "You don't talk much, do you?" She looked towards Ron.

"Sorry, I normally do, but as Harry said, I get awkwardly nervous around strangers." He tried to laugh at himself.

"Well, I'm Aoife Curran, I'm nearly 17, and I have been homeschooled in Ireland for my entire life. There, now I'm not a stranger." She smiled.

Ron laughed, "Now you're not a stranger. I'm Ron Weasley, and I'm 18. My friends are making me go back to Hogwarts to finish my last year."

"Oh, so we'll be in the same year. What subjects do you take?" She enquired.

"Potions, Defence against the Dark Arts and Herbology. How about you?" Ron asked he had finally found his voice.

"Potions, Charms, Herbology, Transfiguration and Defence against the Dark Arts," Aoife told him.

"Wow, that's nearly as many as Hermione is taking," Ron said in amazement.

"I want to be a Healer so I need to take these subjects. I did alright in my OWLs so hopefully I will be okay this year. How about you, Harry? What subjects do you take?"

"Potions, Defence against the Dark Arts, Herbology and Transfiguration," Harry said.

"Auror?" She asked.

"How did you know?" Harry laughed.

"Only small hints...like... you're Harry Potter." She laughed.

"Hermione!" Harry said as he saw her walk towards them, arms weighed down with books. He ran over to her to help her.

"How long have they been together?" Aoife whispered to Ron.

"Who knows, I think they only made it official when Voldemort died. But they've been close since our first year." Ron replied.

"Thanks," Hermione said, looking up at Harry.

"No problem." He said before kissing her.

"Awww," Aoife muttered. Ron looked at her questioningly. "What?" She blushed. "I think they're cute." She looked at Ron's disgusted face. "You're just jealous." She mocked. "You want a Hermione in your life!"

"No! What about you? Do you want a Harry?" He teased.

"How do you know I don't already have one?" She asked, she didn't wait for an answer and walked off towards Harry and Hermione.

"Hey, Aoife. We're going to Ollivanders to get wands for Harry and Ron. Do you want to come with us? After that we're done so, we can get some lunch or something?"

"Sounds great!" Aoife said. So all four of them walked off to Ollivanders shop.

"Do you know what house you'll be in?" Hermione asked Aoife.

"No, but my whole family have been in Ravenclaw, so I guess I'll be put there."

"That's a shame," Hermione said.

"Yeah, but maybe I'm brave enough for Gryffindor." She laughed.

"Luna is in Ravenclaw; we'll introduce her to you," Harry smiled.

"Luna Lovegood? I've known her for a while. Her dad and my mum used to work together."

"Great! So you do know someone." Harry said.

"Yeah, I guess. We never really were friends. She was more friendly with Ardal; he's into all things weird and wonderful." She chuckled.

"Sounds like Luna." Ron laughed.

*

Several hours later, Harry, Ron and Hermione walked through the front door of The Burrow and were welcomed by Mrs Weasley's smiling face. "Hello, you three." A chorus of "hellos" filled the room. "I am so glad you've decided to return to Hogwarts, Ron."

"Of course, I always wanted to." He said blissfully before running upstairs to put his new school supplies in his trunk.

Mrs Weasley watched in astonishment as her stubborn son ran upstairs. "What was all that about?" She asked Harry and Hermione.

"Aoife." Hermione giggled.

"Who is Aoife?" Mrs Weasley asked.

"Oh, you'll find out, I'm sure.

"We're exhausted, so I think we'll be going straight to bed. Thank you for having us these past few days. It actually made a lot of difference." Hermione added.

"Alright, dears. Will you be staying for breakfast?"

"If that's alright with you?" Hermione asked.

"Of course, you are always welcome here!" She beamed at them.

"Thank you," Hermione said.

"Hermione? Are you coming?" Harry asked as he began to walk off to their room.

"Yeah, in a second. I just need to do something." She watched as Harry walked out of earshot and then turned to Mrs Weasley. "Thank you so much for letting us stay with you. It has done wonders for Harry. I'm hoping that returning to Hogwarts will continue to heal him." Hermione smiled while getting slightly teary.

"Don't mention it. You two are always, always welcome here. I'm glad that we could help Harry feel better." She smiled back.

Hermione nodded before making her way to her room. As soon as she turned the handle and walked in, Harry said, "Are we really going straight to bed?" With a small smirk on his face.

"What do you think?" Hermione answered with a sparkle in her eyes.

*

At about 11 o'clock, Harry and Hermione arrived back at her parent's house. They only had a week left before the start of school so they had decided to return home, after making arrangements with the Weasley's about 1st September.

"Thanks for taking me there, Hermione," Harry said as they walked through the front door.

"No problem, I'm just glad it helped you." She smiled at him.

"How is it you always know what's best for me?" He laughed as he put his arms around her waist.

"Because I know you better than you know yourself." She giggled. She stood on her tiptoes and gently kissed him; he returned the kiss. After several glorious minutes, Hermione pulled away, "We need to pack," she said.

"Why did you have to say that now?" Harry moaned.

"Stop whining," she laughed, "we don't have long before we go."

"Bu-but."

"Harry, we need to pack."

Although he loved her with all his heart, her obsessive organisation skills were something he could do without, saying that, they were the reason he was still alive today so, he stopped moaning and got on with the packing.

"See, that wasn't so hard, was it?" She asked him when he had finally closed his trunk. "Now, you are free for the rest of summer."

"Oh yeah? Want to make me busy?" He laughed.

"Harry! Hermione! Are you here?" Came the voice of Hermione's mum.

"Coming, mum!" Hermione called back. "Sorry, Harry." She sniggered as she ran downstairs to greet her mother.

"Hi, darling. Did your trip help Harry?" She said somewhat quietly.

"It did, thank you. We're all going back to Hogwarts to finish our final year." Hermione smiled.

"What?! When do you go back? Oh, Hermione, I wish you had told us sooner." Her mother sighed.

"I didn't know then. Can't you just be happy for me?"

"Of course I'm happy for you, you just don't understand. When you're a mother, you'll know the feelings." She looked sadly at her only daughter.

"Oh mum, I still love you." She said, hugging her tightly.

"I love you too, Hermione. Just be careful this time." She ordered, returning the hug.

"I'll look after her," Harry said standing by the door to the living room. Hermione let go of her mum and smiled at Harry.

"I know you will. Like you did last time." Her mum said with every ounce of confidence.

All three of them heard the front door unlock, open and close. "I'm home!" Hermione's dad called from the hall.

"Hello!" Everyone called out to him.

He made his way into the living room. "Ah, Harry, Hermione, it's good to have you back." He smiled at them.

"They're not here for long," Hermione's mother spoke. "They're going back to Hogwarts next week."

"Well, let's make good use of the time we have left. I was thinking a holiday?"

"Really?" Hermione squealed. "Isn't it a bit late to book?"

"No, one of my patients owns a house in Paris, and he said that we could stay there. It doesn't take too long to drive to France so we can go tomorrow."

"Oh wow. Love, that's amazing."

"Yeah dad, that's brilliant." Hermione chirped.

"Everyone pack your things then. Enough for a long weekend."


"Have you ever been to Paris before?" Hermione asked Harry as they walked up to their room to pack for the second time that day.

"No, I've never really been on holiday," Harry informed. "Have you?"

"Couple of times, dad makes a lot of contacts doing what he does. Luckily they owned their Practice so can take time off whenever." Hermione laughed. "It's lucky really because of me being at Hogwarts most of the time. You'll love it there; it's really romantic and tranquil."

"It'll be fun to get away before Hogwarts." Harry agreed. "Plus, if it's romantic, I have an excuse to do this," he picked Hermione up and spun her round. She laughed and wrapped her legs around his body.

"And I have an excuse to do this," she said before placing her lips on his. She was so glad that Harry was back in the 'now', she had been worried that he would constantly live in the past for the remainder of his life, forgetting to live in the present.

*

Early in the morning the next day, Hermione's mum came in to wake them up. The ferry left Dover at 8 am and the car journey to the port would take just over two hours. It was so early, Hermione's eyes stung every time she blinked. "Morning mum," she yawned as both she and Harry had walked into the kitchen for some breakfast.

"Morning," she replied cheerfully. "I've made you both a nutritious breakfast, eat up. We need to leave in about twenty minutes." With that, she left to help her husband pack up the car.

"Do you need any help with packing up the car, Mrs Granger?" Harry asked.

"No thank you, Harry, you have breakfast to eat. Oh, and call me Rose." She smiled at him.

*

About 7 hours later, they had finally reached the house they were staying in. Harry helped Hermione's dad bring in all the bags as Hermione and her mum sorted out the sleeping arrangements.

The house was beautiful; Harry couldn't really see the outside of it, but the inside was spectacular. The downstairs was mostly open-plan with exposed brickwork and beams. The bedrooms looked similar to the downstairs, but obviously had typical bedroom furniture including a massive, four-poster bed. "Wow." Was all Harry and Hermione could say as they walked around the house.

"Impressive, isn't it." Rose chuckled. "I think we should all go off to bed now, though; we have had a very busy and long day."

So Harry and Hermione slumped upstairs and, as soon as their heads touched the pillows, fell asleep.

France was a beautiful country, and Paris was a wonderful city. Every day, the four of them would eat at small restaurants and cafes and every night, they would walk the roads and lanes of Paris. When the time came to pack up and leave, Harry had fallen in love with the place. As they began their mammoth drive across France to get to Calais, Harry turned to Hermione, "I promise to bring you back here one day." Both of them smiled, and Hermione reached over and put her hand in his.

*

"Hermione! Get up. Ron will be here soon." Harry hadn't slept at all; his mind was just going over everything that happened at Hogwarts from the very beginning. He knew that it would all be different, but maybe that wasn't what he wanted.

"Huh?" Hermione had half awoken. "Whataya talking about?" She mumbled.

"We're going back to school today." He laughed. Even half awake, she was the most beautiful person he had ever seen. It almost took his breath away.

"What time is it?" She suddenly wasn't asleep at all.

"We've got about an hour before he gets here," Harry informed her. The way Hermione's body was blocking the morning sun made her look like a silhouette, a beautiful, mesmerising silhouette.

"What?" She asked awkwardly as Harry hadn't taken his eyes off of her.

"You are just so beautiful."

She smiled bashfully as she sat up on her knees and pulled him close to her.

*

The doorbell rang from downstairs as Harry and Hermione quickly got changed and picked up their trunks and walked downstairs. Hermione's parents were at work so they all had a goodbye dinner the night before. As they struggled out the door with their trunks, they were greeted by Ron. "Why are you carrying them? We're of age now; we can use magic whenever."

"We haven't used it since being here," Hermione informed, "only for some things."

"Well, why don't you make your trunks lighter or do you like heaving it around?" He laughed.

Hermione had ordered a taxi to take them to Kings Cross Station which got them there with half an hour to spare. Hermione paid the driver, and they carried their weightless trunks towards the station. "Aoife should be here somewhere. She asked whether we could help her get to the platform." Ron smirked. "Just like you, Harry, in our first year."

Harry laughed but in his mind, he was reliving his first time here, his life was about to change drastically, and he didn't know. Now, he was going back to the place that held so many memories.

"What about her brothers?" Hermione asked. None of them had seen them yet, but if they looked anything like Aoife, Harry would be slightly jealous. They walked towards the platforms and saw three black-haired people hanging around the pillar that said 'Platform Nine'.

"Hey, Ron!" Aoife called. "Hi Harry, Hermione. This is Ardal," she said as she pointed to the boy standing next to her. Harry recalled that he was the one who was friends with Luna, looking at him, he wouldn't have been able to tell. "And this is Aengus," she pointed to the other boy. Harry was right; they were both very attractive men themselves. They were identical and looked a lot like Aoife. That had jet black hair, a lot like Harry's: all over the place. They had the same green eyes as Aoife, but Aengus had more of a tan than the others.

"Nice to meet you!" Ardal said cheerfully. "Can I just say, to get it out of the way, thank you for saving the world." He looked at them seriously for half a second before bursting out into laughter. The others joined in with him; Harry could tell that they were going to be a handful, a bit like the Weasley twins used to be.

"Shall we go to the platform?" Hermione pondered. "Itis not difficult, all you have to do is run at this brick wall." This is how Harry could tell that the Currans were not Muggle-Borns as they didn't look questioningly at this suggestion. Hermione and Harry went first, then Ardal, Aengus, Aoife and Ron.

"Do you think they're, you know, together?" Aengus whispered to Harry, Hermione and Ardal as they watched Ron and Aoife talking and joking.

"Nothing would surprise me," Ardal replied. "Our sister does love the red-heads." He laughed.

"He comes from a family full of them. If she doesn't like Ron, she has her pick of another." Harry joked. "It'd be good for Ron if they got on, though, he was worried that we would leave him out."

"Why would he be worried about that?" Aengus asked.

"Because they're in love," Ardal said, pointing at Harry and Hermione.

"Ah, that would do it." Aengus agreed.

At ten to eleven, Harry, Hermione, Aengus and Ardal made their way onto the train to find an empty carriage. "There's not many students here yet." Harry pondered aloud. "Do you think people don't want to return to Hogwarts?"

"Maybe they just invested in more carriages." Ardal suggested. Harry wasn't sure whether this was a joke or not so just ignored what he said.

They found an empty carriage relatively quickly. By the time Aoife and Ron joined them, the train had started to get more full. At exactly eleven, like usual, the train left the stations. For the whole journey, Harry, Ron, Hermione and the Curran triplets talked about their past experiences at school. They found out that their father, Patrick Curran, was recently appointed as the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts before he had become a full-time tutor to his children, he was an Auror for the Ministry. They also found out that there was a fourth Curran child, a younger sister named Aisling, she was a lot younger as this was her first year.

"She wanted to go to Hogwarts with dad, she's very shy," Aoife told them. "She doesn't really know how to make friends, our little hamlet in Ireland was small but she never spoke to anyone there, she's too busy reading or learning some impossible mathematic thing."

This reminded Harry of Hermione, "She'll find her voice at Hogwarts." Hermione said confidently. "I did."

"That's because you found your soul mate." Harry joked forgetting that they were not alone, he leant in to kiss her, but she turned her head at the right time so that he kissed her on the cheek.

"You guys are just the sweetest." Aoife swooned.

"Just because you've never been in love, it's not as fun as you think," Aengus said.

"Oh I don't know," Aoife said while staring right at Ron, "it is if you find the right person." Ron blushed and smirked at the same time, while Harry tried his hardest not to laugh.

"So, Harry, do you play Quidditch?" Aengus asked, getting the focus off Aoife and Ron's love story.

"Yeah, I was the captain of Gryffindor house our last year. I think Ginny, Ron's sister, is it now." Harry informed. "I was Seeker. Do you play?"

"Try to but it's hard when you live in a Muggle village. Dad set up protections around our garden, but it's not fun when you're on your own."

"Oi, I can play Quidditch," Aoife argued. "I just choose not to!"

"You can't play Quidditch!" Ardal laughed.

"Well, neither can you." Aoife sulked.

"But I didn't claim I could."

"Whatever," Aoife said as she crossed her arms and looked out of the window.

"Don't worry, Aoife, I can't play Quidditch either. But it is fun to watch. Harry, will you try and get back on the team this year?" Hermione asked.

"Maybe, if they don't already have a new Seeker. "

"No one will be better than you." Hermione smiled.

"Please. Stop." Ron ordered. "I may be sick all over you two."

"That wouldn't make them any less perfect for each other," Aoife said.

The morning slowly faded into the afternoon which slowly turned into the evening and they had finally arrived at Hogwarts. Harry looked up at the castle and was instantly glad Hermione said they should return. They had managed to repair all of the damage from the battle, and it looked just the same as it had done before. All of Harry's fears had been wrong; he didn't focus on the bad memories: the deaths, but on the good ones like the bonds of friendship he had made with Ron and Hermione and everyone else. The triplets all looked up at the castle; Harry could see in their eyes that they had been waiting to come here since the moment they knew it existed. They all made their way off the train and heard the usual call of "Firs' years, follow me!" The Currans looked at Hagrid and suggested that, as it was technically their first year, they should follow Hagrid. They didn't so all six of them walked towards the carriages drawn by thestrals. Harry imaged that a lot more people would be able to see them since the battle which brought back the bad memories to him. "Everything okay, Harry?" Aengus asked as they sat in the carriage being pulled towards Hogwarts. At this question, Hermione and Ron instantly looked at Harry; the worried looked returned to their eyes.

"Yeah. Just never thought I would be back here is all." He replied quietly. He glanced over at Hermione, and she gave him a weak smile. She took his hand and squeezed it; this gave some comfort to him.

*

"Welcome to Hogwarts everyone. For some this is the start of a new adventure in your lives, for some this is the end and others, the middle." It was really odd hearing McGonagall making the welcoming speech. Some part of Harry imaged that everything would be the same. "First off, I would like to welcome some new members of staff here today. We have a new, permanent, Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Curran." As he stood up, everyone clapped and cheered. "Thank you," McGonagall said to silence the hall. "And also our new Muggle Studies teacher, Professor Poe." A tall, young woman stood up who was sitting next to Professor Flitwick. "Secondly, I would like to inform you that I am now your headmistress, but I will also continue teaching Transfigurations. Now, on with the Sorting."

Professor Sprout read out the names on the list. "Alexander, Benjamin."

A young blond-haired boy sat on the stool. After several seconds, the hat shouted "RAVENCLAW." One of the middle tables erupted into loud cheering and applause.

"Barron, Melinda," Professor Sprout called.

A girl who definitely wasn't eleven sat on the stool. "HUFFLEPUFF." The hat screamed almost instantly.

"Curran, Aengus."

The first triplet sat on the stool. It took a while for the hat to place him in a house, Harry hoped he would be in Gryffindor, so did Ron by the looks of it because it would strengthen Aoife's chances somewhat. "GRYFFINDOR." The hat finally declared. Harry and the rest of the table burst out into celebration.

"Curran, Aoife."

Ron sat up straighter, praying that the hat would decide the same, "GRYFFINDOR." It screamed after several tense moments. Ron clapped the loudest this time around. Harry and Hermione couldn't help but smile at their friend.

"Curran, Ardal."

The last triplet made his way to the stool. "He wouldn't mind being in Ravenclaw, because of Luna," Aoife whispered to the rest of them. "But I would like to be in the same house as him."

Harry looked around and noticed Luna looking eagerly at Ardal. Harry would have liked him to be in Gryffindor too but by the looks of it, Luna really wanted him in Ravenclaw.

"RAVENCLAW." The hat shouted. Ardal looked extremely pleased. He ran over to Luna and gave her a massive hug. Aoife and Aengus looked as equally happy for their brother.

"Curran, Aisling."

A tiny girl stood up; she looked exactly like Aoife but, just a lot smaller. "RAVENCLAW." The hat declared. The little girl ran straight over to her brother and sat in between Luna and Ardal.

"Well, at least she's with one of us." Aengus beamed. "She was really worried that she would be placed in Slytherin." He laughed. "Does Slytherin still have the same reputation now or is that over?" He pondered aloud.

"Still full of snakes." Ron spat. "I wouldn't trust anyone there."

The rest of the sorting went on whilst Harry, Ron, Hermione told Aengus and Aoife all about the Gryffindor Common Room and everything else Hogwarts.

"Well, well if it isn't the three best friends, back for more I see..."

"What are you doing here?" Ron moaned. He stood up from the table and stood in a threatening stance.

"Same as you, Weasel, to finish my education."

"Ron! Don't; he's not worth it!" Harry and Hermione shouted as they tried to hold him back.

"He-is-a-rat!" Ron breathed. "Let-me-have-him!"

"RONALD WEASLEY! STOP RIGHT NOW. Here at Hogwarts, we accept everyone, notwithstanding their past actions." McGonagall shouted as she stormed towards them. They hadn't noticed how loud their ruckus was; the whole hall was staring at the four of them standing in the middle. "I do not want to have to give you a detention, and I particularly do not want to make Gryffindor start off with minus house points." She said through gritted teeth.

"I'm sorry, Professor," Ron said whilst suddenly finding his shoes oddly fascinating.

"Don't say sorry to me, Mr Weasley." She said sternly.

"I'm sorry, Draco."

"That wasn't so hard was it, Weasley," Malfoy smirked.

McGonagall stared at Malfoy with a slight look of disgust. To Harry, it seemed like she was trying to stop herself from shouting at him too. "I suggest that we all go back to our seats and enjoy the food prepared for us." McGonagall's voice didn't imply suggestion; it expressed demand. No one wanted to challenge any further because they were wary about how far McGonagall would go.

"I can't believe he is here. Why? He nearly destroyed this place." Ron grumbled under his breath as they went back to their food.

"What did he do? Who is he?" Aoife whispered to Hermione across the table.

"Draco Malfoy." She said in an undertone.

She didn't need to say any more; Aoife seemed to have heard the Malfoy family name before now.

"He is a coward. A pathetic coward." Ron said.

"He was just doing what his family thought was right." Harry expressed. "Just leave him to it."

Ron was about to question Harry's motives, but Hermione caught his attention and vigorously shook her head to get him to drop it. Harry had suddenly gone reticent and didn't speak for the majority of the meal. "Can I just say goodnight to Ardal and Aisling before we go up?" Aoife said. Aengus followed her over to the Ravenclaw table where their siblings sat with Luna.

"Harry? Do you want to go up to the Common Room? It'll be quieter there." Hermione suggested. Everyone else was still sitting and chatting. McGonagall had said they would have tomorrow off to grow accustomed to the surroundings again as everything had been chaotic since last year. "Ron, tell Aoife where we are," Hermione said, "Could you stay away for awhile as well? I need to make sure Harry is okay." She whispered this last bit, wanting to hide this concern from Harry. Ron nodded and walked over to the Currans.

Hermione took Harry's hand and guided him up to the Common Room where they spent long nights talking things through. When they got there, they sat down on the red, squidgy sofa in front of the fire. Hermione put her arms around Harry as he rested his head on her shoulder, she slowly and continually ran her fingers through his hair. They didn't say anything, but she knew that they didn't need to. They must have drifted off because Hermione woke in the middle of the night. She was still cradling Harry, and he was fast asleep. The fire had been put out a while ago, but someone had wrapped a blanket around the two of them. Hermione brought it closer to her, making sure that it was still covering Harry and fell back to sleep.

She was glad they were back here, it was full of bad memories and death, yes, but it was also where everything started. She felt safe here, safe and secure, but this feeling only lasted when Harry was around. Hogwarts used to be her haven but slowly, over time, that had changed to Harry. To Hermione, Hogwarts was Harry.

Chapter 3: Chapter Three.
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That morning, Harry and Hermione woke up refreshed and rested. Before the confusion of how they ended up sleeping on a sofa in the Common Room set in, Harry broke the usurping silence with, "Good morning, Hermione." He looked at her and smiled. Her arm, which had been trapped willingly under his body for the entire night was now regretting it's placing the night before.

"Good morning." She replied sleepily, smiling up at him. He leant forward to kiss her on her forehead, but she wanted something more than that, she lifted her chin so he caught the top of her lip. They both laughed and returned their heads to their resting places. Harry lifted one of his hands into the air to stretch, sleeping on a sofa never resulted in the most comforting slumber a person could achieve. Hermione moved one of her hands up to meet his where they conjoined, and their fingers started to perform a dance to no music, the best sort of dance: a spontaneous one.

After some time watching their moving fingers, Harry slowly moved his body up the sofa, carefully picking Hermione up as he went. He turned so he was on his back, relaxing his head on one of the armrests. Hermione moved a bit so she was lying next to him. The sofa was too narrow for them to lay side-by-side so Hermione rested on her hip, looking at Harry whilst he wrapped his arm around her for support. She rested her head on his chest and closed her eyes, listening to the beat and rhythm of his heart.

As they lay peacefully together, time passed, Ron and Aengus walked downstairs. Ron took one look at Harry and Hermione and rolled his eyes. Aengus clocked this and concluded that Ron was just extremely jealous of the bond his two best friends had formed. "Oi, leave them alone." He whispered as Ron started to walk towards them.

"Why do they get to be happy?" He half-joked. "I just wish they had told me of their love when we set out last year. Do you know what it's like to feel like the third wheel?"

"Yes, very well. Now come on, Aoife said she would meet us at breakfast. She might already be down there!" Upon hearing Aoife's name, Ron cheered up and rushed towards the door. Aengus chuckled to himself and walked after him.

The opening and closing of the portrait were noise enough for Harry to wake up, he hadn't realised he had fallen asleep again but was greeted by the most beautiful sight: Hermione still sleeping. He smiled to himself and kissed her hair.

"You two, can I just bottle you up and get me some of that?" Aoife laughed as she walked down the stairs. Harry lifted his head slightly to get a better look of Aoife; Harry was still amazed at her beauty. She was wearing shorts and a t-shirt, why? Harry didn't know; it wasn't exactly warm in a castle.

"Morning, Aoife. Sleep well?" His voice was scratchy as he had just woken up.

"Morning. Yeah, I was waiting for Hermione though." She laughed, "has Ron and Aengus gone down to breakfast already?"

"I'm not sure, sorry. Someone left a minute ago, but I didn't see who it was."

"Oh." She scratched her arm.

"Do you want Hermione and me to come to breakfast with you? In case they're not down there." He laughed.

"Would you?" She asked rather innocently.

"Of course," Harry remembered that this was Aoife's first morning in Hogwarts and recalled how nervous he was. "Hermione?" He whispered whilst stroking her cheek softly.

"Hmm?"

"It's breakfast." He spoke gently.

"Can't we eat it in bed?" She croaked, "like usual?"

Harry could see Aoife smile at this, but he chose to ignore it. "Hermione, do you know where we are?" He moved her hair from her face as she moved her face towards his hand.

"Paris?"

"Hogwarts." Harry tried not to laugh. "We're at Hogwarts and Aoife is here, and it's breakfast."

"Really?" She said more alert than before.

"Hi, Hermione," Aoife said.

"Hey! Sorry about that, just a little disorientated." She explained. She started to get up and noticed what Aoife was wearing. She looked her up and down and then looked straight at Harry who, luckily, was gazing at Hermione. "Let me just get changed." She stood up, climbed over Harry and the back of the sofa and ran up to her dormitory.

Harry and Hermione had fallen asleep in their uniform so Harry said he was getting changed too and ran off to his dormitory.

"That was quick," Aoife exclaimed as Harry came back into the Common Room. Harry hadn't taken any notice to what he put on as he thought Hermione would be the same, she wasn't and took a lot longer than anyone expected. "Where do you suppose she is?" Aoife asked after several minutes of silence.

"Not a clue." Just as he said this, Hermione walked down the stairs looking mesmerising. She was wearing a dress and had tied up half of her hair. "You look beautiful." He spluttered as she made her way towards them.

"Thanks." She blushed. She took his hand and said, "ready for breakfast then?" All Harry could do was stare, whilst Aoife smiled at the two of them.

"You are just the cutest couple I've ever seen." She whispered, but they both heard her.


They walked down to breakfast together and saw Ron, Aengus, Luna, Aisling and Ardal all sitting together at the Gryffindor table. As Harry and Aoife started to walk towards them, Hermione pulled him back. "You are okay, right?"

"Can we talk after breakfast? In private?" He replied.

She nodded and smiled before guiding him over to the table. "Morning!" Everyone cheered as the got to the table. They sat next to each other with Aoife on the other side of Harry.

"Did you lot enjoy your first evening here? It's not always that formal." Hermione laughed. "McGonagall seems to be enjoying her new role."

"Tell me about it; she looked happy to be telling us off again." Ron joked.

"Again? Were you three troublemakers?" Aisling asked sweetly. Hermione looked at her and smiled at how much like her siblings she looked.

"You could say that," Harry muttered.

"Fe, why did you pick these three to be friends with?" The young girl asked her sister.

"I felt like we all fitted in." She laughed, looking and smirking at Ron.

Aisling whispered something to Ardal, and they both started giggling, switching their glances between Ron and Aoife.

"Can I apologise for what happened last year with my dad, he only did what he needed to do for survival," Luna muttered quietly.

"Don't apologise; it led us to find you and eventually the sword." Hermione smiled. "We all did things we wouldn't normally do for survival."

"Yeah, don't worry about it." Ron voiced.

The rest of the breakfast was spent with everyone talking and laughing together when their little party was interrupted by an unwanted guest. "Granger, McGonagall wants to speak to you in her office." Malfoy spat.

"What? Now?" Hermione asked.

"Why else would I come and talk to you if it wasn't now? I thought you were the clever one." He laughed. He looked lonely as he no longer had his cronies by his side, Harry had no doubt that he was scouting for replacements, though.

"Fine." She breathed, "Harry, we'll talk after, I promise."

"I'll walk with you." He bounced up and took her hand. They followed Malfoy, staying a relative distance behind him.

"You didn't have to walk with me," Hermione told him.

"Yes, I did. That's what boyfriends do." He grinned. "I'm going to walk you to your lessons too."

"Are you?" She laughed. "What if you need to be at the opposite end of the castle?"

"I'll run."

Hermione looked at him questioningly and shook her head, finding it hard to stop a small smile forming. He laughed and was about to protest when Malfoy turned to them. "Potter, you can leave now. She doesn't need you standing over her all the time."

"I'll go when Hermione wants me to go," Harry explained. He carried on walking with Hermione by his side.

"Harry, you don't have to be here. I know where the headmistress's office is. You don't need to look after me." She grinned, stood on her toes and kissed him lightly on his cheek.

"I said I'll walk with you, and that is what I will do." He said firmly. "Malfoy, if you don't like it, well, I don't care."

Malfoy grimaced but held his tongue.

So the three of them walked towards McGonagall's new office in silence. When they reached their destination, Malfoy turned to the other two, "well, we're here now so you can go, Potter."

"I'll wait."

"Harry, you don't have to. I'll meet you in the Common Room after. We'll talk then."

"No, I want to wait and take you somewhere more private." He whispered. His eyes had some urgency in them, so Hermione decided not to refute this suggestion.

"I won't be long." She promised Harry as Malfoy and her made their way up the spiral staircase.

Harry waited for over ten minutes when Hermione reappeared at the stairs, "Harry, this is going to take some time. I will meet you in the Common Room when I've finished." She smiled.

"Do you promise?"

She didn't speak; she stepped forward to kiss him, he held her. "I'll meet you in the Common Room." She repeated once she pulled away. Harry nodded and watched her disappear up the staircase once again. He waited there for a couple of minutes and then made his way towards the Common Room. It was empty as all the other students were either still eating, in the library or outside enjoying their last day off lessons. Harry sat on the sofa thinking about how long Hermione would be.

After several hours, Aoife walked in to get something from her trunk. She didn't notice Harry's motionless body on her way up, but as she ran back down, she saw him. "Harry? What are you doing? Where's Hermione?" She asked. He didn't respond; he just carried looking at the unlit fire. Aoife walked over and sat next to him, her leg gently stroking his as she sat. "Harry?" She asked again. He didn't speak. "Harry, you're scaring me. How long have you been here? Why didn't you come and find Ron and me?"

Harry's mouth moved slightly, but nothing was audible. She reached out and placed her hand on his shoulder. "Hermione?" He screamed, turning his head quickly to look at Aoife. "Hermione. She promised." Is all Aofie could catch from his hushed voice.

"She's not here; I'm not sure where she is, but I'm sure she'll be back soon."

"Want-Hermione."

"Okay, I'll go and find her."

She quickly got up and made her way to Ron in the courtyard outside. "Ron! Where is McGonagall's office?" She asked urgently.

"Why?"

"Where is McGonagall's office?" She repeated.

"I don't know whether she's moved to Dumbledore's old one. I suppose she has. I'll take you there." He added when Aoife looked at him with impatience.

"Great. Let's go. Quickly."

So they both rushed off to McGonagall's office. "I don't know the password." Ron quipped.

"Well, what would it be? Harry needs help!"

One of the words in Aoife's sentence triggered the lock, so they both hastily clambered into the staircase. "Mr Weasley, Miss Curran. What are you doing here?" Was the greeting that the two of them received when McGonagall saw them. They looked around the room, but Hermione was no longer there.

"Sorry for bothering you, Professor, but where is Hermione?" Aoife asked.

"Miss Granger and Mr Malfoy have gone into Hogsmeade for me." She informed. "They should be back this evening."

"This evening?" Aoife moaned under her breath.

"This evening," McGonagall confirmed. "Not a problem is it?"

"N-" Ron began to say when Aoife cut her off.

"Yes, Harry is in a bad way, he needs her. I got the impression from him that he would only talk to her." She explained. "See, headmistress, I have only known them for a short time, but I can tell that the events that have engulfed Harry his whole life have taken their toll on him. Sometimes he's okay; he's normal, and he laughs and chats happily. But other times, he seems like a completely different person. Quiet, vacant, distracted by the memories. The only person that appears to make him feel better is Hermione, and that is why it is a problem that she is in Hogsmeade and not here, with Harry!"

McGonagall looked at her in amazement, never in her whole career at Hogwarts had a student been so upfront and honest with her, Aoife had decided it was best not to hide the problem from her, and this was something she rarely experienced. "Right, I see. One of you stay with Harry; I think Aoife should do that while you, Ron, go to Hogsmeade with Hagrid and bring Hermione back here." She ordered.

They two students could only nod at their newly appointed headmistress, but already, Ron was likening her to Dumbledore - he was always caring, and she had a sense of knowing that he once possessed. They followed her orders and Aoife rushed off to the Common Room while Ron ran down to Hagrid's hut.

"'Ello Ron. To what do I owe this pleasu-" Ron cut him off.

"Sorry Hagrid but Professor McGonagall has given me permission to go down to Hogsmeade to get Hermione, but she said that you needed to come with me." Hagrid sensed the tone of urgency in Ron's voice so didn't question him, he just nodded and walked out of his home.

They walked in silence for several minutes, Hagrid too anxious to ask what was wrong. "Harry needs Hermione. He refuses to talk to anyone else." Ron exclaimed. Hagrid nodded and lengthened his pace so he sped up slightly. Ron had to jog to keep up with him. McGonagall hadn't told him what exactly Hermione was doing in Hogsmeade, so he didn't know where to look for her. "Let's just walk around for a bit?" He suggested.

They didn't have to look long, however, as they saw a bushy haired girl and a blond boy walk around the corner up ahead of them. "Hermione!" Ron called into the crowded street. "Hermione!"

She heard the second call and turned around puzzled, wondering who needed her so much. She spotted a tall bearded man next to a ginger one; she ran straight over to them, "Harry?" She asked. Before they could answer her, she ran off back to the castle.

She ran the whole way. She ran until she made it to the Gryffindor Common Room. "Harry!" She exclaimed as she walked into the room. Aoife instantly got up, and Hermione dropped down beside him. She cradled him and stroked his hair. "Harry, I'm here."

"Hermione, they're here."

"Who are?" She asked quietly.

"The Death Eaters, they're in the castle."

*

It took Hermione a while to calm Harry down; it took some convincing that Hogwarts was an entirely Death Eater free zone.

"Do you think he'll ever be alright?" Ron asked Aoife as they attempted to eat dinner.

"Do you want the truth?" She asked he nodded so she answered his question, "no, I don't think he'll ever be exactly the same as he was. The things that happened will affect his life and the way he lives. But he will get better, somewhat, at some point." Ron looked down at his full plate of food. He wanted his best friend back. The food made him remember the first night they spent here, where they were sorted and meet the house ghosts. He hadn't lost his appetite in that memory. "Ron, the same Harry is in there somewhere, he just has to battle to get out." She smiled weakly at him, hoping that these words would soothe his worrying mind somewhat.

"When we first got here, we weren't friends with Hermione. She was a bossy know it all; it was just Harry and me. But then we became friends with her. We became the 'Golden Trio', unstoppable. But slowly, very slowly, I faded away from that scene. She's still a know it all, but that means she knows what to do when Harry is like this. She knows him better than I do." His eyes were beginning to glisten with tears he wouldn't allow to be seen.

"Ron, you haven't faded away. If you had, why did they ask you to return this year? If they didn't need you, you wouldn't be here right now."

"I just wish that everything would go back to how it was. When we weren't aware of Voldemort's power, when the Wizarding World was an unexplored field for us. A new adventure."

"A new adventure has just begun - a life without fear, a life where we don't have to look behind our backs continually."

"A life where we have to live with all the deaths." He added. "Voldemort has gone but he destroyed many lives and families, the repercussions of his life remain."

"You can't think like that, Ron. It's over."

"I know. I know." He said, looking back at his plate.

*

"Harry, I promise that Death Eaters are not here."

"You said you would meet me in the Common Room after, what if they got you?" Harry stated in a monotone.

"I did meet you in the Common Room, Harry. That is where we are now, I'm safe, we all are."

"But you left me. You were vulnerable; I wasn't there to protect you from them."

"No, I didn't, not for long. I came back like I promised. Harry, listen to me, Death Eaters are not in the castle. I swear to you."

"I want Hermione." He wept.

"I'm here." She reassured. She took his hand and led him up to his dormitory. "You need sleep." She ordered.

"Stay with me." He called.

So she got into the bed with him and tried to fall asleep beside him.

*

"Are you okay, Hermione?" Aengus asked as they sat in the library the following day.

"Just a little tired, that's all," Hermione whispered.

"Harry?" Hermione glanced at Aengus for a fleeting moment before looking back at the book she was working from. "So that you know, you're not alone." He said before getting back to his work.

You're not alone - this played on Hermione's mind for the remainder of the day. In theory, she was not alone but why did it feel like she was? It felt as though Harry was dependable on her; this wasn't a bad thing, far from it, but sometimes she needed time alone.

"Hermione?" Ron asked.

"What?"

"Did you write down the potions homework?" He repeated for the second time.

"Oh, umm, no, I don't think I did, sorry." Hermione and Ron were sitting at one of the tables in the Gryffindor Common Room after dinner. The room was nearly empty, with only the two Currans reading books by the fire.

"Emergency! Hermione Granger didn't write down the homework!" Ron called out to the others. "The world is coming to an end!" Both Ron and Aoife laughed slightly at this, but Aengus didn't, his concerned face glued on Hermione.

"Leave it, Ron." He ordered.

"Just trying to have some fun."

"Well, don't. Have your 'fun' somewhere else! Or better yet, grow up." Hermione shouted before storming out of the Common Room.

"I'll go." Aengus offered before running out after her.


"Hermione? Are you sure you're okay?" He could see her lip tremor slightly: she was obviously trying to hold back her tears. He walked over to her in the deserted, dark corridor. "You don't have to be brave all the time." He whispered. She let one solitary tear free. "Oh, Hermione." He said before bringing her into a hug. She pressed her face on his shoulder and finally let the rest of her tears out. They stood, hugging, for some time, Hermione not being afraid to let it all out. He stroked her back. His manly figure a comfort to her, in his hold, she felt safe and happy.

The moonlight which was coming in from the windows made the corridor have a slight silver glint to it, the stars adding glistening light to the scene. "Thank you." She said, her cheek now resting on his shoulder as she looked out of the window.

"Don't mention it. Even the strongest of people need someone to lean on at times." He lifted her chin up and smiled, "keep your head up high, you'll both get through this." He kissed her forehead and suggested they went back to the warmth of the Common Room.

Chapter 4: Chapter Four.
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"Sorry for snapping at you, Ron. I know this isn't an excuse, but I didn't manage to get much sleep last night." Hermione whimpered as she walked back into the Common Room.

"Don't worry." He replied sheepishly, not wanting to cause her any more unnecessary angst. She smiled at him before sitting, rather forcefully, down on the sofa in front of the fire.

"Where's Aengus?" Aoife asked, hoping to take everyone's minds off what had happened.

"Oh, I don't know. I thought he was right behind me." Hermione muttered, closing her eyes.

Hermione had gone to see Madam Pomfrey about Harry and she told her to slip him some sleeping pills as sleep would help him feel better. Hermione was dubious at first but after facing the prospect of another sleepless night, she couldn't stop herself from doing it. Ron had also been a motive behind it because he had to sleep in the same dorm as Harry. Aengus, strangely, hadn't complained about it.

"Ron, before you go to bed, can you check on Harry for me?" Hermione asked as he made his way upstairs. He made a noise that Hermione took as agreement so she snuggled back into the sofa.

Aoife stayed a little longer, finishing her book. After nearly an hour, her eyes couldn't stay open any longer. "Hermione? Are you coming up?" She asked as she stood up and stretched her stiff limbs.

"Maybe later." She mumbled.

She stared into the fire and remembered all the evenings she sat here with Harry and Ron. Talking late into the night, that was before their minds were tainted with images and sounds that no one should have to endure. The laughs echoed around her head; this brought a small smile to her face as a tear ran down her cheek. She used to be so happy here but things had changed, the fire which used to bring her warmth seemed to send chills to her very core. Her eyes were fighting a losing battle so she finally gave into the clasp of sleep.

Someone had entered the Common Room, Hermione kept her eyes shut, hoping whoever it was would leave her alone. "Hermione?" Came a soft Irish accent. "Are you asleep?"

"No." She mumbled, "what are you doing?"

"I have trouble sleeping." He said as he walked over to the sofa and sat down next to her.

"So you just walk around the castle?" She inquired.

"Not exactly, I go outside. I found the perfect spot to just think." Hermione looked at Aengus and wondered whether she should ask more about this but, she decided against it as if he wanted to tell her; he would. She started to get up to go to bed, but he stopped her. "A clear nights sky really put things into perspective." He said before letting go of her arm. Hermione looked at him, perplexed as to why he said that, the flicker of the fire making his face look soft and his eyes warm. Hermione began to open her mouth, wanting to question him but something stopped her, she enjoyed a riddle.


The next morning, the rain pounding on the window woke Hermione up in a daze. She had weird dreams, dreams of her looking up at the sky by the Common Room fire with a boy that had never made an appearance before - Aengus. She looked at her watch and realised it was five minutes to nine, five minutes until her Transfigurations lesson. She quickly changed into her robes and grabbed her bag, hoping she had the right books in there for the day. She ran to her lesson, her stomach shouting at her for feeding. "Sorry, Professor McGonagall." She said as she crept into the classroom. She took a seat right at the back of the room and started making notes. When the lesson ended, Hermione looked around the room trying to find Harry but had no luck; she wondered whether he had left quicker than everyone else but she would have surely seen him, being right next to the door.

"Miss Granger, can I speak to you?" McGonagall said rather sternly from the front. Before she made her way up to the front of the room, she caught hold of Aoife and frantically told her to find Ron or Aengus and tell them to check if Harry is up in their dorm. Aoife nodded and was pushed out by the stampede of students. "Miss Granger, did you manage to get what I asked you to do done before you had other, more pressing matters?" She asked as she lowered her glasses down her nose.

"Yes, we delivered all of the cards and gifts. I think it was very noble of you to do such a thing." She smiled at her.

"Well, the people of Hogsmeade deserve to be compensated as they went above and beyond their duty to aid us here. I appreciate you doing that for me." She looked as though she was going to say something else; her eyes changed to eyes of a woman who was worried or anxious. Hermione looked at her, expecting to be asked about Harry - the one subject she couldn't honestly answer. McGonagall looked at this young woman and must have decided not to ask any more from her. "That'll be all, Miss Granger." She smiled before turning back to her desk to make herself look busy.

"Professor?" Hermione called. McGonagall turned back to face her, waiting to hear a voice again. Hermione thought about asking for help, asking McGonagall whether she knew what to do with someone who was as deep in memories as Harry but she didn't know how to start. She couldn't bring herself to talk about Harry to a teacher, it felt like a betrayal of his trust. "Sorry again for being late." She said with a shake to her voice; she was holding back the tears of frustration for not being brave enough to ask for help. McGonagall nodded slowly, every ounce of her face showing both suspicion and worry.


"Hermione, Ron checked and Harry isn't in the dormitory. Apparently he hasn't been seen since yesterday." Aoife reported. "I'll cover for you in Potions if you want to go and look for him." She kindly offered.

Hermione thought about this for a while, "No, he might be in Potions. If he's not, I'll look for him after." Hermione smiled.

"Right, so shall we go to Potions then?"

Hermione nodded, racking her brain about where Harry might be, she could only think of two places that he would have thought he'd stay hidden.

They waited outside the Potions classroom and Harry wasn't there. The rain beating down outside mixed with the babble of the inpatient students nearly sent Hermione mad. "I know where Harry is." She whispered to Aoife, "tell Slughorn...tell Slughorn something." She called out as she ran off to the first floor.

Hermione had braced herself before she crossed the threshold. "Harry?" She called into the seemingly empty toilet, "Harry, it's me." Her voiced bounced off the cubicles that hadn't been used for years. From somewhere behind her, a tap was dripping, and the sound reverberated around. She walked up the small corridor which housed a row of terraced toilet cubicles. One of the doors on the very end was ajar slightly, indicating to Hermione that she found the right one. She crept towards it and saw Harry hunched over.

He turned to her, his eyes dull and his face pale. He seemed to be shaking, was it out of fear? "Leave me alone." He spoke through gritted teeth.

"What? Harry, it's me, Hermione." She reached out her hand wanting to touch his. He viciously pushed it away.

"Just leave me alone!" He screamed at her, not realising what he was doing or who he was doing it to.

"Harry! Stop! You need to let me in, I want to help you. Let me help you." She took a step closer to him.

"LEAVE ME ALONE!" He shouted as he pushed Hermione back with too much force. She fell and hit her head on the door opposite. Harry looked at her horrified at what he had done. Hermione sat back up, her head thumping from the knock, the dripping of the tap, the rain outside and the thump of students footsteps above her felt trapping to her, engulfing her. She needed to get out. "Hermi-" He began to stutter, but before he could say anything else, she stood up and ran off.

The noises didn't stop, they magnified, everything taking over Hermione's thoughts. She couldn't breathe, she needed to escape, needed to feel free for even a fraction of a second. She ran to the front door and heaved it open. It was raining so much the water was bouncing off the saturated ground. She ran out into it, feeling as though the rain was removing the sounds that had invaded her mind.

"HERMIONE? WHAT ARE YOU DOING OUT HERE?" Someone shouted through the rain.

"BEING FREE!" She shouted back.

The figure ran towards her, now the light wasn't disfiguring him so much, Hermione identified him as Aengus. "It's pouring down with rain."

"I know. Doesn't it make you feel a whole lot better?" She asked.

"I guess." He said before laughing. Hermione started to laugh too. "Aren't you cold?"

"I'm not going back in there! There are too many uncontrollable noises."

He looked at her smile which seemed to be contagious as he felt a smile break out on his own face. "You're mental, Curly!" He joked, having to raise his voice slightly as the wind picked up.

"New nickname?" She called back.

He walked slightly closer to her and nodded in agreement, her cape was soaked through. "Hermione, maybe we should go inside, though, you're going to make yourself ill."

"What's made you so serious all of a sudden?" She questioned, "I thought you were all for the outside?"

He laughed and put his hands in his pockets, "not when it's raining, silly."

"It's cleansing." She joked.

"So is something else, you might have heard of them, they're called showers? They're like rain but warm." He teased.

"Shut up." She ordered, hitting his left arm.

"Oi. That really hurt." Holding his arm limp.

"Baby." She laughed.

"Yeah, I am. Let's go back inside. We can grab some lunch and warm you up."

"But everything is in there. The noise, the pain..."

"What pain?" He asked sympathetically.

"The pain of the person you love hiding in a toilet. The pain of the person you love pushing you -."

"He pushed you?" He suddenly became very serious, interrupting her and standing taller - making himself look bigger in the process.

"No. Well, maybe a little. He didn't know what he was doing!"

"That doesn't make it alright, Curly!"

"You don't know what he's going through! None of us does, we can't dictate what's right or wrong!" She argued, "he didn't mean it!"

"Come inside!"

"No!" She ran down the slope, towards the Forbidden Forest.

"HERMIONE! Come back!" He ran after her, not as familiar as she with the terrain so he was more wary of where he was running.

"YOU CAN'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO." She called back up to him. "Go back to the castle, it's nearly time for lunch!"

"Please just come with me."

Hermione felt a tiny bit like Harry must be feeling, everyone asking to do things he doesn't want to do. She understood the annoyance of it all now; she'd still probably ask him, though; she couldn't help it. She ran even faster, loving the feeling of the rain beating down and the wind blowing through her hair - she felt free. "Leave me out here, I'm happy."

"And I want you to be happy," he said trying to catch up with her, "but you can be happy inside. This rain isn't going to stop anytime soon." She looked up at him, continuing to step towards the canopy of green below. She took several successful steps but on one attempt failed, she stumbled on a dip in the slope and lost her footing. She began to fall backwards, but Aengus managed to reach her in time and stopped her from falling. "Now do you want to come in?" He questioned, his arms still around her waist from catching her.

"You caught me!" She said, sounding astonished, "how did you reach me in time?"

"I did." He smiled, his charm oozing from every crevice, "I'll always be here to catch you. I meant what I said, even someone like you needs someone to lean on sometimes."

"Someone like me?"

"Brave, loyal, strong. I could go on, but we don't have enough time in the world." Hermione started to blush, hoping that the rain and the temperature would disguise this. "Harry is so lucky to have you, but he's just lost in a storm of memories, once they subside, he will remember this." He said smoothly, carefully wiping droplets off her cold cheek. Even in this climate, his eyes sparkled reminding Hermione of Harry.

"I think it's time we go in." She sighed. "Sorry for getting you soaked too."

"Hey, I wouldn't have come out here if I didn't want to." He smiled.

"So you're really going to call me Curly from now on?" She asked as they made their way back up the soggy slope.

"Oh yes, Curly, it suits you." He joked. "Because of your hair."

"Because of my hair." They said at the same time.

They looked at each other and burst out into fits of laughter. Walking uphill and laughing at the same time proved difficult for Hermione has she lost her breath but couldn't stop laughing to find it again. "You really are mental, you know that right?"

"Takes one to know one." She replied. He looked at her and winked, making her feel lightheaded. "Hurry up, I'm starving."

"Wait." He ordered, stopping midway up the hill, "what are we going to do about Harry?" This was the question she didn't want anyone to ask because she didn't know what was going to happen. Aengus noticed the hesitation engulfing Hermione, "we'll figure it out." He added.

"Thank you." Her eyes glistened with newly formed tears which could have been a result of everything and anything. They started to walk again, Hermione's hair dripping cold water down her neck, she hadn't thought about the cold until now making her slightly regretting her decision to stay out in the rain for so long.

"Let's go inside. I'm freezing."

*

"Where've you been all day?" Ron asked Hermione when she walked into the Common Room that evening. "Slughorn and Professor Curran were asking after you."

"What did you say to them?"

"That you were ill or something, Aoife did the talking."

"Has Harry come in?"

"Yeah, he came running in mumbling something about ruining things," Ron said before going back to his homework.

"And you didn't think about checking if he was alright?" Her voice becoming louder and angrier.

"He doesn't talk to me, what's the point of trying?"

"Don't you dare give up on him, Ron." She said, standing over him, "he needs you, let's call it you making up for running off last year!" She said harshly.

Ron continued to stare at his book, still massively ashamed of his behaviour last year. "You're the person he wants to talk to; you're the only one he will talk to." He said with his back to her. "Just go up and see him, Hermione. You shouldn't be scared to." He turned to look at her, his eyes empty to her. "Aengus is up there with him anyway."

"Call yourself his best friend do you?" She whispered under her breath so he wouldn't hear her. As she walked upstairs, Ron hung his head in shame, knowing that there was more he could do to help.


Hermione knocked on the dormitory door but didn't wait for an answer. "Sorry for disturbing you, Aengus, but could I talk to Harry?" He put his book down and looked at Harry then at Hermione. He nodded warmly and got up.

"I'm just downstairs, Curly." He said as he walked past her.

"Curly?" Harry asked, his voice hoarse and sore.

"Yeah, nickname." She sighed, walking over to his bed to sit down next to him. "Harry, I don't want to talk about what happened, there's no point because it's over. I just want you to get better, but for that to happen, you need to want to get better. I can't watch you being like this for much longer, Harry. It breaks my heart to see pain pouring out of you and not knowing how to help. Tell me how to help." She pleaded, not looking at him, looking ahead at Ron's bed.

Harry held the silence for a while, contemplating what Hermione had said. "You can't, you can't help. Do you know why? Because I don't know what's happening to me." He murmured, tears beginning to cloud his eyes. "I don't know how this is going to end; I don't even remember how it began." He was nervously picking his fingernails, craving a distraction from the endless pain and coldness. He turned to look at her, and she did the same.

"Tell me how you feel."

He sighed, his breath shaking, "I feel as though I'm drowning and no matter how hard I try to stay above the water, it catches up with me, never dragging me down far enough to stop it all. I'm fighting a losing battle."

Hermione looked at him, trying to hold back the tears long enough to comfort him. "You're not fighting a losing battle. We're fighting a battle that we will win." He smiled, her eyes almost like the rain outside. She pulled him in and hugged him tightly, he never wanted her to let go. "We'll go to Madam Pomfrey, she might have some answers and even better, some solutions," Hermione said, still with her chin on his shoulder.

"No. I don't want anyone to know." He said, pulling away from her instantly.

"What? Why?" She said, confused as to how someone didn't want help with something like this.

"Because if I don't know how I feel and why, no one else will. I don't want help from Madam Pomfrey, I don't want help from Professor McGonagall, I don't want help."

"So what was all that a minute ago? I thought we were fighting this together?"

Harry turned his back away from Hermione, "maybe I have to do this on my own, without your help for once."

"Harry, you don't have to do anything on your own, I thought you realised that? You are never alone in anything you do."

"I can do this on my own." He said stubbornly.

"Alright, you can do it on your own." She admitted, "but that doesn't mean you have to."

"I want to."

"So, what does that mean for us?" Her voice cracked, she had a falling feeling she knew what was happening. Harry didn't answer. "You can't push us all away, Harry. We've been through the same as you."

"Oh really?!" He shouted, turning back to face her, his eyes full of lost rage, "you lost your parents when you were one too did you? You had you father's best friend cruelly snatched from you in front of your eyes? Do you feel responsible for everyone's deaths too?!"

Hermione stood up, shaking with anger, why couldn't he just share his feelings, "you know what, Harry? You're right, I haven't been through what you've been through, I didn't spend months and months in that tent with you risking my life. I'm not affected by everyone's deaths. When will you see? You acting like this," she breathed, not sure she could finish the sentence, "is making everyone's deaths meaningless!" She shouted before running out of the dormitory and out of the Common Room.

She ran back outside, just wanting to run as far away from the situation as possible.

*

"What do you think happened up there?" Aoife asked Ron and Aengus in the Common Room.

"Not a clue, I hope they're both alright," Ron said, "they've never had a real argument like that before."

"Maybe we should go and check on them," Aoife suggested. "Ron, you should go and see Harry. Hermione told me that you really helped him during the summer."

"I guess I could do that."

Aoife put her hand on his hand and smiled, "of course you can. Just talk to him, that's all he needs."

Ron smiled back at her, turning his hand over so that hers fell into his and he wrapped his fingers around her. "What about Hermione? I don't know where she ran off to."

"I think I know where she'll be. I'll go and find her." Aengus said. "Aoife, can I talk to you first?"

"Of course, I'll just go and talk to Harry." Ron let go of Aoife's hand and walked up to see Harry.

"What's going on with you and Ron?" Aengus asked his sister.

"Why do you care, Gus? It's really none of your business."

"After last time, it is my business. I don't want you getting hurt again."

Aoife stood up, annoyed that her brother was getting involved in her life, "thank you for worrying, but I don't think Ron is like Calum, even if you want him to be."

"Why would I want him to be like him? He almost destroyed you, I don't have to remind you what you were like, do I?

Aoife coward a little, remembering what she had endured last year, she pulled her sleeve down a little to hide the sad reminder. "No, I will be careful, I promise. Ron, well, Ron is different. He's funny and caring and I really like him. We're taking it slow."

"As long as you're happy and safe, Fe, that's all that matters."

Aoife smiled, looking down on her overprotecting brother, "see you later, I hope you find Hermione."

"Where are you going?" Aengus asked her.

"To see Ardal and Aisling."

"Say hi from me."

*

"Hey, Harry. Are you alright?" Ron asked as he walked into their room. "We saw Hermione run out, did something happen between you two?"

"Would you like that?" Harry said bitterly.

"What? No, of course not. Harry, listen to me. You need to stop being your own worst enemy. You might not want help, but Hermione is the best thing that will ever happen to you. She's stuck by your side through the worst times in both of your lives, but you're risking her loyalty now. Even though you don't want to let her in, you can't keep pushing her away. Because if you do, I promise you, you will regret it more than anything else you've done. It will upset you most as well. Please, you have a good thing there, you will get better, you will get through this with her by your side."

"What about you?" Harry whispered, making it barely audible to Ron.

"I'm still here, whatever you need." He grinned, "you can't get rid of me that easily."

Both of them laughed, secretly wiping tears from their eyes. "What do I do about Hermione?"

"Get help, get better." He said simply.

"I-I can't do that. It'll make me look weak and incapable."

"Harry Potter weak and incapable? You've saved the world, let people save you for once." Ron joked. "There's no shame in asking for help, mate. It makes you stronger in my books. Madam Pomfrey will know what to do."

"You really think that?"

"I really do," Ron confirmed.

*

Aengus made his way out of the castle and down the slope, just like he had done several hours before. The rain was still pouring down with no clear sky in sight. He sighed, getting soaked for the second time that day, he just hoped he was right that Hermione would be where she intended to go before lunch. He didn't know where that was, but he followed the slope down, heading towards the forest. "Hermione!" He called out into the world. He saw a flash of skin and determined it must have been Hermione running away from him. He finally caught up with her; she was sitting on a tree stump with her head down. "There you are! Are you cleansing again?" He laughed. Hermione didn't move so Aengus walked around the stump to look at her in her face. He sat down next to her, looking at the trees in front of him. "Rain isn't just cleansing; it hides pain and sorrow." He admitted, "but it just hides it; it doesn't remove it, Curly."

"How do you know everything?" She said in between silent sobs.

"Experience." He said simply. She looked at him, her eyes red and puffy from trying and failing to hold back the tears. "Pain is temporary, just like the rain. When I was younger, my grandma used to tell me that when it rained, it was the world's way of relieving pain, just like when we cry. She said that rain is essential, without it, this forest wouldn't be so lush and green. She always taught me that everyone has to have some pain, some sadness, else we wouldn't have and cherish the happiness and the goodness."

"She sounds like a wonderful grandma." Hermione smiled.

"Yeah, she was." He sighed, his head dropping slightly. "She taught me pretty much everything I know."

"She did a good job," Hermione admitted.

"I hope so, I try to make her proud."

"You do make her proud."

He looked hesitant at this like he was going to disagree, but he held his tongue. "Ron's talking to Harry. Are you okay?"

Hermione sighed, back to talking about her, "yeah, I'm fine, I just lost it with him. He was talking about how he wanted to do it all alone and how I didn't know how he feels. And then I said something unforgivable." She froze, not wanting to relive her statement.

"I'm sure it's fine."

"I said him acting like this makes everyone's deaths meaningless." Aengus looked at Hermione, the anguish pouring out of every teardrop, he wanted to comfort her, wanted to say something that would help but he couldn't form the right words for the situation. "Even you think I'm a monster." She sobbed.

"No, you're not. Far from it actually. The way you act is completely human. You didn't mean it, I know that and, more importantly, Harry knows that." Hermione continued to cry, not being able to turn off the fountain she had created. "Don't cry," he said softly, wrapping his arm around her shoulders, she slowly placed her head on his shoulder.

"Do you think he'll forgive me?"

"Of course! If not, I will make him." Aengus laughed.

"How will you do that?" She laughed, wiping the tears from her eyes and cheeks.

"I have my ways," he said, flexing his muscles jokily.

Hermione rolled her eyes and looked away, trying not to laugh. "How is it you always know where I am?"

"Just a sense of mine. I'm used to girls running off when they're upset, Aoife always does it."

The rain was still pouring down, dripping off the trees. "Do you think Harry is ready?" She asked, looking up at the canopy above.

"That depends, are you ready?"

"I think so. I miss him already." She laughed.

"Then let's go." He smiled. Standing up and waiting for her to do the same. Hermione looked at her newly acquired friend and wondered what his motives of helping so much were, she would have asked but didn't want to seem ungrateful for the words.

"So, how are you enjoying Hogwarts?" Hermione asked, breaking the rain's dominance over them as they made their way back to the castle.

"Yeah, I love it! Can't wait for the Quidditch trials, though, Ginny said they were this Saturday!"

"Oh, good luck! I'll probably come and watch them with Aoife. I think Ron wants to try out again, he was Keeper." She informed, "what position will you try out for?"

"Chaser I guess, I'm no good in the other positions. I love the feeling of flying."

"You do? I hate it!" Hermione laughed.

"You hate the feeling of being absolutely free? You are an enigma, Curly." He joked.

"You can fall off at any time and plummet to your death...not exactly freeing."

"I guess there is that. Is Harry Seeker this year?"

"I don't know. I know he loved playing Quidditch but the way he's acting, he doesn't do anything he used to love." He looked at her cheekily and she smacked him, "don't!" She said rather forcefully.

"Sorry," he grinned, "couldn't help it!"

"I have to ask, why do you always come and check on me and comfort me? You don't know me."

"Do you need to know someone to want to make sure they're okay?"

"But you don't check on Harry as much as me, do you?"

"No." He agreed.

"Then why me?"

"You're not going to let this go, are you? It's a really long story and you need to talk to Harry." She looked at him and noticed his usually happy face had disappeared and was replaced by a rather grey and upset face. She agreed with him; she wanted to talk to Harry but, she also wanted to know what Aengus was hiding.

*

"Harry?" Hermione whispered when she opened the door to the boy's dormitory. "Harry, I'm sorry for what I said. I really didn't mean it!" She pleaded.

"Don't be sorry, I know you didn't mean it. I'm sorry for pushing you away. Ron's spoken to me and he's made me realise that I have too much to lose from not talking to Madam Pomfrey. I don't ever want to lose you and so I'll do everything I can to get better." He was standing by his bed, a slight twinkle back in his eyes. "I love you, Hermione, and I'm doing this for you."

"I love you too, Harry. All I want is for you to feel yourself again." She said as she ran over to him. She gave him the biggest hugs and breathed a sigh of relief, she was in Harry's safe clutches once again.

She looked up at him as he grinned, "stay here tonight?"

"I'd love to." She whispered.

"Good." He said before kissing her and moving her towards his bed.


Chapter 5: Chapter Five.
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"Aisling is really struggling with Potions and she won't let me help her." Ardal informed his other siblings and Ron, Harry and Hermione at breakfast the next morning.

"Well, you're not the best teacher." Aoife joked as she was tucking into her sausage.

"Shut up, Aoife!" Ardal ordered, "I don't know what to do. She sits up crying most nights worrying Slughorn is going to put her in detention."

"Slughorn? Detention? She has nothing to worry about." Ron said.

"Try telling Aisling that. She's worried because our dad works here and she thinks that he'll be upset with her if she gets a detention. She's always been a daddy's girl, but he can sometimes be a bit...strict."

"That's an understatement," Aengus mumbled under his breath as he stared down at his empty plate. Hermione looked at Aengus fleetingly and then back at Ardal.

"I could help her." She suggested.

"Would you? That would be great. She only needs a little extra help, she's too scared to ask Slughorn when she doesn't understand something." Ardal said.

"I would love to. The first year is always daunting. Tell her whenever she needs it, I'll be happy to help." She smiled.

"Thanks, Hermione. You're a lifesaver!" Ardal announced, "I need to go to Herbology now."

"You have half an hour," Aoife said, checking her watch.

"Luna said she was going to show me a Colocasia Esculenta."

"Right..." She yawned. "Have fun then." She started talking to Ron about something, ignoring her brother.

"Bye, Ardal. I'll come and see you when I can." Aengus said.

"Yes, I need to hear what's been going on with you." He laughed. He waved to the others as he made his way out of the Great Hall.

"Thanks for helping Aisling, Hermione. That's really nice of you." Aoife said, taking her attention off of Ron.

"If she's not too busy." Ron giggled.

"What does that mean?" Hermione questioned.

"Oh, nothing." He blushed, trying not to laugh and looking at Harry. "Aengus, are you trying out for the Quidditch team tomorrow?"

"Of course I am! Harry?"

"Yeah, I guess I might." He said, looking at Hermione, wanting to know what she thought about it.

"I think it would be great for you to try out, Harry. You used to love Quidditch and everything that came with it." She smiled, hoping he would decide to do something he loved again.

"We'll come and watch you all," Aoife suggested, "I'd love to see how good you are, Ron." She said with a glisten in her eyes, "and Harry too, of course." She added as everyone was smiling down at them.

"Of course..." Aengus repeated. "What's my first lesson?" He asked himself more than anyone else. "I think it's Ancient Runes."

"You do Ancient Runes?" Hermione asked.

"Yeah, I feel like a detective deciphering all those symbols." He joked.

"What subjects do you actually take, Aengus?" Harry asked.

"Ancient Runes, Transfiguration, Charms, Potions, Arithmancy and History of Magic."

"Bloody hell, are you another Hermione?" Ron joked, Hermione glared at Ron, wanting to interrogate him further about this but the moment had passed before she could.

"He's not even the cleverest out of us." Aoife moaned, "Ardal is."

"Debatable," Aengus muttered.

"So if you're not the clever one," Ron asked Aoife, "or the sporty one, what does that make you?" He whispered.

Aoife smiled and whispered something in his ear, something which made him blush and giggle. "Are you two....?" A small voice came from behind them, "are you two together?"

"Aisling!" Aoife beamed, "what are you doing here, don't you have a lesson?"

"I could ask you the same thing." She pointed out. "Anyway, it's Dad's lesson."

"That doesn't mean you can be late, young lady!" A tall man towered over the little girl.

"Daddy! I won't be late," she said sweetly, "I was just going, actually." She said before turning around and making her way over to Ravenclaw's table to walk to class with her friends.

"I saw you frolicking with Mr Weasley, Aoife. Please do not to that again." He ordered.

"We were hardly frolicking, dad. Don't be such a drama queen."

"I do not want you to do it again, understand me?" He demanded, "it is demeaning and childish."

"We weren't even doing anything." She moaned before walking off.

"She's telling the truth, sir. We weren't doing anything." Ron said boldly before walking after Aoife.

"Aengus," he turned his attention towards his son, "you will not be trying out for the Quidditch team, you will be keeping an eye on your wayward sister."

"What?! That's not fair. Get Ardal to watch her!" He shouted, standing up from the table.

"Do not talk to me like that!" He bellowed, "do you understand me?"

"I will talk to you how I like if you try and control my life like that!" He answered back.

"Come with me." He ordered.

"Where are we going?"

"Just come with me!" Aengus looked down at Harry and Hermione before walking after his father.

"What do you think that's about?" Harry asked as he watched Aengus and Professor Curran walk out of the Great Hall.

"No idea..." Hermione replied as she thought back to what Aengus had said to her yesterday.

*

"That's it for today. Remember to finish the work for tomorrow." Professor Babbling said to the already distracted class. She wanted to say more to her class but knew she had lost them to the prospect of getting out of the classroom first.

Hermione, who had sat at the front of the room, turned around and looked for Aengus. She saw him, packing up his things slowly, at the back of the room. "Aengus, is everything okay?" She asked as she walked towards him.

"Yeah, why wouldn't it be, Curly?" He said brightly.

She looked at him suspiciously, "just wanted to make sure after what happened at breakfast." She forced a smile, even though she was still worried about him.

"That was just a misunderstanding."

"It didn't look much like a misunderstanding." Hermione's eyes narrowed slightly.

"Everything is alright, we sorted it out."

Hermione didn't believe this, but she also didn't want to pry any further. "Great." She breathed, "I need to meet Harry now, see you later."

*

"Harry? Are you ready?" Hermione asked as she entered the Common Room.

"How was Ancient Runes?" He replied.

"Good thanks. Are you ready?" She repeated.

"Do we have to go now?" He asked.

"Yes, Harry." She said, walking over to the sofa to sit next to him. "You promised me you would go and see her today." He stroked her cheek with his fingers, Hermione closed her eyes. "You promised."

He moved his hand down, pushing her chin up, "you really are beautiful, you know that." He leant towards her, smiling.

She stood up, breaking away from Harry. "You promised." She repeated for the third time. "You promised me that you would talk to Madam Pomfrey today. I'll be there with you, right by your side, that's my promise to you."

"I'm scared." He admitted.

"Scared of what?" Her voice became softer as she sat back down next to him.

"Scared of reliving everything, scared of losing you."

"You will never lose me." She took his hand in both of hers, "I'll always be right here, don't ever worry about losing me. I love you." She kissed him, sealing her promise to him.

Harry composed himself, taking deep breaths before agreeing to leave the comfort of the Common Room. "What do I say to her? What will we talk about?" He spoke quickly and nervously as they walked towards the doors of the hospital wing.

"Whatever you want to say to her," She smiled, "whatever you want to talk about. It's completely up to you." She knocked on the large door, waiting for an invitation to open it. "You can do this." She turned to him.

"I love you." He mouthed, wanting nothing more than to be a thousand miles away from where he currently stood.

"Come in!" A muffled voice from behind the door was heard.

Hermione held onto Harry's hand, entwining her fingers in his, "I love you too." She whispered before opening the door and pulling Harry along with her.

"Miss Granger, Mr Potter, what can I do for you?"

"Madam Pomfrey, Harry needs your help."

"With what?"

"The events that took place last-" Hermione began to explain when Harry cut her off.

"I've been trying to cope with remembering everything that has happened, particularly last year, but the weight of everyone's deaths and scars is lodged on my shoulders. Every time I close my eyes, I'm transported back to the very beginning, every night reliving the same year over and over again. It makes me angry and lose control, sometimes I act like a completely different person."

Madam Pomfrey looked at him sympathetically, knowing exactly what he needed. "You've done the right thing, coming to me. I am not qualified to help you properly, though, however, I have a friend who can help you more than anyone else, she is trained in this sort of thing."

"Okay, when can I see her?" Harry asked.

"As soon as possible, I need to talk to the headmistress first, clear it with her. Once she has agreed, it will be no longer than a day. Until then, find a way that helps you stay in control. Maybe writing down when you feel upset or angry?" She suggested.

"Can you get her here by tomorrow?" Hermione asked.

"Yes, if Professor McGonagall will cooperate, which she will." She added to relax Hermione's worrying mind. "I will go and see her right away, don't worry, Harry. You've done the hardest thing already, reaching out for help."


"Why can't she help me? I'm not that messed up." Harry moaned as they made their way back to the Common Room.

"You're not messed up at all, she just doesn't know what to do, she doesn't want to make things worse for you." Harry stopped walking but kept hold of Hermione's hand so she was forced to stop too. "What are you doing?" She smiled.

"I just wanted to say, you are the most beautiful person alive." He smiled.

"And I just wanted to say, shut up." She laughed. "Come on, I have Arithmancy soon."

"Yeah, in about an hour."

"Oh no, I wonder how we are going to fill that time." She smirked before dragging Harry back to the Common Room.

*

"Miss Granger, you are late." Professor Vector pronounced as Hermione walked into the Arithmancy classroom ten minutes late.

"Sorry." She exhaled as she sat down next to Aengus.

"Must have been preoccupied." Aengus laughed.

"Shut up," Hermione warned through the side of her mouth.

"Ten minutes late, Curly...I would call that slacking." He joked, "but on who's part, I am unaware." At this point, he was shaking with silent laughter.

"Shut up." Hermione couldn't hold the smile off of her face any longer, but she still didn't look at Aengus.

The two of them stopped joking around and started listening to the lesson. After half an hour, they were set a task to complete. Hermione faced Aengus to say something but saw, as his sleeve was askew slightly, a fresh looking bruise. "Get on with your work, Curly. You are already in Vector's bad books." He joked, she couldn't take her eyes off of his arm and couldn't stop herself thinking where on earth he could have received it. "Oi, Curly? What are you looking at?" He followed her gaze and reached her eye's destination. "Why are you staring at my sleeve?" His movement had caused his sleeve to fall back over his wound.

"Aengu-" she tried to speak, but Professor Vector interrupted her with more for them to complete. They were set too much work for Hermione to question Aengus.

"We have run out of time, it would seem." Professor Vector broke the silence, "that's a shame. Hand in your work please."

"That is a shame," Aengus repeated sarcastically. "What lesson do you have now?" He asked Hermione.

"Defence Against the Dark Arts." She told him, not taking her eyes off his arm.

"Shame. I have History of Magic. I could really do with dinner, though." He laughed. "Anyway, I'll see you later."

"Wai-" She called out, but he had already left the room. She wondered out after everyone else, her head in a spin thinking about Harry and the bruise on Aengus's wrist. There must be an explanation for them, a more optimistic explanation than what Hermione was coming up with. She met with Ron and Harry outside the classroom.

"Hey." Harry smiled, kissing her forehead.

"Hi," she replied vacantly.

"Everything okay?" Ron asked her.

"Yeah." She said, snapping herself out of things.

Harry, who was standing behind her, wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her close to him. "Are you sure?" He whispered in her ear. She nodded, wanting to know the truth before she spread accusations around.


"Hello everyone. I am Professor Curran and I am your new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. I am aware of the interruptions you have faced with this post, but I can assure you, I will be here for years to come. Not that it matters for you as this is your last year here." He introduced when everyone had settled down. "We will be diving straight back into things." He smiled. "Please, could you turn to page 218. Let's get to work."

"He seems nice," Ron whispered to Harry and Hermione.

"Mr Weasley, do not talk when I am." He shouted.

"Just a shame he hates me already." Ron groaned silently before turning his attention back to the class.


"Well, that was something." Harry declared as the walked towards the Great Hall.

"You can say that again. Ardal was right when he said he was strict. I need to do something to make him like me. What do you suggest?" Ron asked.

"Don't frolic with Aoife in front of him again would be a start." Harry joked.

"We weren't frolicking!" Ron defended. "Can we please hurry up? I'm starving!"

"It hasn't even been that long since lunch." Hermione pointed out.

"I have just been shouted at more than Snape ever shouted out me throughout the whole six years he knew me. I need food."

"He did seem to lose his temper with you." Hermione agreed.

"Not just me, everyone got a piece of him," Ron argued, "he does know his stuff, though, I'll give him that."


"Hey, guys! You had my dad today, what was he like?" Aoife asked as they approached the dinner table.

"He was...intense," Ron said sitting down beside her. "Very passionate about his subject."

"He shouted at you, didn't he?"

"He nearly deafened me, yes," Ron said.

"I'll talk to him." She promised.

Hermione sat down next to Harry on the other side of the table, she looked around them but couldn't see Aengus anywhere. "Where's Aengus?"

"Just coming, dad wanted to talk to him," Aoife explained whilst passing Ron a plate of roast potatoes.

"Why do you need him?" Ron asked, piling potatoes onto his already full plate.

"I missed the beginning of Arithmancy and wanted to know if I missed anything important. "

"You were late? Oh, the tables have turned." Ron joked. Harry smiled, trying not to laugh.

"Not funny," Hermione said, "either of you," She added when she noticed Harry's face.

"Aengus!" Ron called out, "Hermione really wants you."

"What?" He asked, baffled.

"She wants to know if she missed anything important in Arithmancy," Aoife said laughing, "she doesn't really want you."

"No, nothing important." He said as he sat down next to Ron. "I am starving!" He exclaimed, looking around at all the delicious food.

Hermione secretly watched him, noticing him keeping his sleeves tight to his wrist, not giving anything away.

"Mr Potter, I am pleased to tell you that Dr Eliot will be arriving tomorrow to talk to you. She will be here by lunchtime." McGonagall had appeared from behind Ron.

"That's great! Thanks, Professor McGonagall." Hermione beamed.

"Madam Pomfrey wants you to meet her in the hospital wing at about 1 o'clock tomorrow." She nodded sincerely and walked off to the teacher's table.

"That's good news," Hermione exclaimed, "we can go after the Quidditch trials." Harry nodded and smiled at her, before tucking into his food.

"I can't believe I have to prove to my sister that I should be on the team." Ron groaned, "my younger sister!" He emphasised.

"You'll be fine, she'll put you in the team," Aoife stated.

"Harry, Aengus, you're still trying out, aren't you?" He asked rather worryingly, almost like he needed them there for support and morale.

"Yeah," Harry said, not taking his eyes off of his plate of delicious food. Too busy to even form more of a conversation with his best friend. If he was being honest, he was using this food as a distraction, a way of taking his mind off eventually talking to a woman he didn't even know about his personal thoughts and feelings.

"Aengus?" Harry obviously wasn't enough for Ron, he wanted them both there.

"Umm...actually, I've been thinking about it and I'm going to pass. I'm not really very good and I don't want to embarrass myself in front of everyone." Like Harry, Aengus was finding his plate very distracting as he refused to take his eyes off of it.

"Really? I thought you couldn't wait to try out?" Aoife asked her brother, although her tone wasn't a caring one, this gave Hermione a feeling that Aoife knew why he had changed his mind but didn't want to let on that she knew.

"I've thought about it and I don't even know what position I would try out for. I play for fun, nothing else." His gaze had moved, he was now looking at his sister, his eyes telling her to put an end to this particular discussion. Aoife might not bring it up again, but Hermione most certainly would, when the time was right, of course. Her suspicions of something awful happening between Aengus and his father multiplied at the very mention of Aengus changing his opinion on the Quidditch trials, she would not let this one go, not after him always checking up on her.


"Hermione?" Someone called from somewhere, Hermione looked up and saw Ardal, Luna and Aisling walking over to them.

"Hello." She said to all three of them.

"Hey! Could you possibly spare some time, Aisling doesn't understand her potions homework." Ardal asked, holding onto his young sister's hand. Hermione looked at her and smiled, noticing the annoyance and timidness she was experiencing.

"Sure, we'll go to the library."

"I'll come with you, I have work to do too," Harry said. So they both stood up and walked with Ardal, Luna and Aisling to the library. When they arrived, Hermione and Aisling sat at a table together whilst the others sat somewhere else.

"Do you love him?" Aisling asked as soon as they were alone.

"Harry? Yes, I do love him." She smiled and looked over to where he was sat.

"Are you going to get married and have loads of babies?"

"Oh, I don't know, maybe in a few years. Shall we get started then?"

So they got to work, despite Ardal stating Aisling was struggling, Hermione could tell that she was a gifted witch. She was struggling, yes, but that's because she was trying work that she wasn't expected to know for several years. This didn't deter either of them, Hermione was enjoying helping someone who actually wanted it.

"I think we'll stop there," Hermione suggested after several hours of continuous work. "It's almost eleven!" She exclaimed.

"Thank you, Hermione. Aengus said you were nice." She said whilst packing up her stuff.

"He did? When?"

"At lunch. You remind him of our mum and Bree." She said innocently, "I'm really tired, thanks again for helping me. Goodnight." She walked off to Ardal and Luna, and before Hermione could ask more, they had walked up to their Common Room.

"Hey, you ready to go?" Harry asked as he walked up to her.

"Yeah-" Hermione replied, not really thinking about what he was saying, who was Bree and what happened to her? Was she the reason Aengus was like he was?

"Are you okay?" Harry asked as they walked to the Common Room.

"I'm fine, just tired." She lied, she was far from tired, the events of the day were whirling around her head. Aengus was hiding more than one thing from all of them.

"Did Aisling say something to you?"

"What? How do you know?" Hermione asked confused.

"Ron told me. Aoife told him that their mum died last year."

"What? That's horrible, was it because of Voldemort?"

"No, she was ill. She had been for years and years. That's the real reason why they didn't go to Hogwarts until now. They wanted to spend as much time as they could with her. Aoife told Ron that Aengus took it the worst and ever since then, he has been completely different. I suspect there's more to it than that, but I don't know what he was like before. But Aoife always says that he is hiding something from her. The two of them used to be so close but some things happened and their relationship faded away."

Hermione had tears in her eyes, she felt terrible for never asking how he was. "They seem close now." She pointed out, keeping her gaze fixed on something ahead of her.

"Yeah, but she says that he feels like a stranger to her now."

"That's so sad."

They had finally reached the Common Room and Harry wanted to go straight to bed. So he kissed Hermione goodnight and left her alone in the empty room. Hermione sat on the sofa and waited for Aengus. He told her that he couldn't sleep, now she knew a reason why. She waited and waited until three in the morning when he finally walked through the portrait. "Curly? What on earth are you doing up at this time?" He yawned as he walked over to sit next to her.

"Waiting for you."

"Why? What do you need from me?"

"I need you to tell me something, why do you always check up on me and not Harry?"

"This again?" He rolled his eyes, unwilling to explain himself to her. "Why do you want to know anyway?"

"Because-because I care! You don't seem to understand that, do you? How is it fair that you get to care about me but I don't get to care about you? You always make me feel better, I want to do the same for you." She said. He didn't say anything so she carried on, "I know about your mum."

"Don't. I don't want to talk about her."

"You don't have to, not if you don't want to," Hermione said calmly and soothingly.

"You don't know anything about me, you don't know what I want." He argued.

"Just like you know nothing about me, yet that doesn't stop you. Aengus, I am truly sorry about what happened to your mum but you're not alone. You have Aoife, Ardal and Aisling, your dad and me, Harry and Ron."

"Don't say I have my dad. You don't know what he's capable of when he wants to get his point across."

Hermione's eyes instantly looked at his arm and her mind imaged he was covered in bruises. "Did he do that?" She said pointing to his wrist. His instantly pulled down his sleeve, wanting to cover up the secret that was now known to her.

"How did you know?" He whispered, tears forming in his eyes.

"I saw it in Arithmancy but I didn't know how to bring it up. Is this the first time?"

Aengus looked at Hermione, his eyes telling her that this had happened before. She didn't say anything else, understanding everything the silence was saying. He took a deep breath and started to take off his jumper, tie, and shirt to reveal bruises and cuts, new and old. His back was a maze of raised scars which had gone white with age. Hermione couldn't help but stare; mouth opened wide. She reached out to touch the scars which inhabited his back, at the slightest of touches, he jumped, only to relax slightly when he knew he wasn't in danger. "They're not all from him." He said, his voice unintentionally quiet, "last year was a bad time for all of us, Aoife got involved with a bad crowd. They pushed her around and made her do things against her will. I'm her brother; I had to try and save her. When I got her out of there, I was right in the middle of it. Dad caught them and since then, he believes that I was involved from the start. He believes that I was the ringleader of the gang Aoife got caught up in. He blames me because I'm her brother and I should protect her but he forgets about Ardal, Ardal can do no wrong in his eyes. To some extent he's right, but I tried my hardest to look out for her. My dad doesn't mean it, I know he's just going through a hard time, being left with four children isn't easy for anyone, I just wish he wouldn't take it out on me." Hermione was still touching his scars, unable to believe anyone was capable of something like that. "Calum, Aoife's ex-boyfriend, did most of these. He was horrible; sometimes I don't think he is human. When I stood up to him, he threatened Bree, my girlfriend; she's gone now. Voldemort made sure of that. That's why I felt drawn to you; you remind me of her, she was kind and caring as you. I couldn't save her, and I guess me trying to fix Harry and you is my way of trying to make up for that. When I look at Aoife and how she's moved on from it all, I feel jealous. She's found someone else, someone nice and safe. What do I have? We both carry the scars from last year; mine just seems to be a lot deeper than hers."

"Aengus, I'm so sorry. I know saying that isn't going to bring her back or reverse time, but I don't know what else to say." Hermione said quietly, removing her fingertips from his scars. He turned back to face her, showing more marks on his chest and stomach. He looked down and quickly put on his jumper to hide his history again. "Don't be ashamed of them, they're your war marks. A reminder of you getting through it all." Hermione smiled weakly, knowing that it wouldn't change his opinion of them.

"An agonising reminder of what Aoife might have gone through."

Hermione reached for his knee and squeezed it slightly, "you saved her." She whispered with a crack in her voice and tears in her eyes. "You're a hero." She looked directly into his eyes, the vivid green had been replaced with a dull one, the shine still there, but unlike before, a result of tears.

"What about Bree? I failed her. We were together for four years. I know we were young but I know it was love." Hermione thought about her and Harry, she was young when she fell in love with him, she just didn't know that it was love then. "The way you look at Harry is the same as how she looked at me. She looked at me like that 'til the day she died, I will never forget it. I know she would want me to move on, but I can't face it."

Hermione's heart ached for him, he was tearing himself apart and whatever she said wouldn't hold him together for long, "you deserve love, Aengus. Bree wouldn't want you feeling sad all the time. I know it's hard, I can't even imagine what life without Harry would be like, but you will find her. You will find the girl for you, I promise you. Don't forget her, you don't have to do that, bring her with you. Take her on your journey, she'll still be there, just in a different way from what you anticipated."

A single tear rolled down Hermione's face, escaping from the rest, and Aengus reached out and wiped it away gently. "Keep Harry close, Curly. You just don't know when he'll be taken from you." He said before standing off and walking up the stairs to bed.

Hermione looked into the fire and cried, she let out everything she was feeling. All the pain and upset from Harry and from what she had just learnt.

Chapter 6: Chapter Six.
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"Hermione, are you alright? What are you still doing down here?" A voice said from behind her. She didn't know who it belonged to; she was too tired to think about it.

"I want Harry," she whispered, her voice croaky and weak.

"Right, I'll just wake him up." It was Aengus, he had come down to check if she was still sitting there, he knew she was still there.

Harry didn't speak when he came downstairs, he just walked straight over to Hermione and cradled her. She buried her face in the gap between his arm and chest. Her nose was filled with the scent of safety and warmth, the smell she had become familiar to but which still made her feel protected and secure. This was the first time in a long time that Harry had been comforting Hermione. He was looking after her like he was meant to. "Thank you." She squeaked after the silence had lingered for too long.

"For what?" He whispered, stroking her hair and holding her tightly.

"Being here for me when I needed you."

"I'll always be here for you, Hermione. Even if I seem incapable of making you feel better, I will always try." He tried to stifle a yawn, but he couldn't hide it from Hermione. Her head shot up, putting Harry's feeling in front of hers.

She kissed his cheek before sending him back up to bed. She knew that sleep seemed to hide from him so she didn't want him to lose it when he had found it. "Maybe you should go back up to bed, Curly. Well, there's not much point actually, you only have a couple of hours before everyone gets up."

"Why aren't you asleep then?" She said, turning to face him.

"I don't need sleep."

"Sit down." She ordered. "You need to let it go, Aengus. I know it's hard, and it seems impossible, but it's over. Calum can't hurt Aoife now; she's safe and so are you. Talk to your Dad, tell him the truth, explain to him what you said to me and he'll understand." She looked at the boy who reminded her so much of Harry when he was happier. His black, shiny hair mimicked Harry's. At some point during the war, Harry had transformed into a man; his mind had matured but so had his body; his jawline had become chiselled, and he had bulked out, despite the endless months they spent in the tent, living off whatever food they could find and make. Unlike Harry, Aengus had stubble, something his twin lived without, which made him look older than he actually was. He was tall, like Harry, but something about him made him seem older, maybe it was how he held himself, trying not to let his emotions out and focusing on staying and acting tough. Harry wasn't like that, not as much as he once was, he opened up to Hermione a bit more now, knowing that Hermione would always be by his side.

"I shouldn't have told you; I was doing just fine without your help. I want to continue dealing with things my way. So stop trying to help." He said rather sternly, shocking Hermione somewhat.

"Fine, only if you do the same for me. Whenever I run off, I don't want you to come and find me." She said, hoping that this incentive would change his mind.

"Deal." He said, walking out of the Common Room and into the darkness of the corridor behind the portrait.

Hermione blinked, looking towards the door, only now did she realise just how tired she actually was. She glanced at her watch, having to try hard to get her eyes to focus on the hands and realised that it was five in the morning. She had been sitting here alone for two hours, unsure as to whether she did actually get some sleep in that time. She decided that she would finally go up to her bed and get as much sleep as she could before Aoife woke her up for the Quidditch trials. She stumbled up the stairs, even when she had been trying to help Harry the weeks after the war she had never been this tired. Her body was begging for rest, but her mind was conflicted; conflicted between Harry and Aengus and some much-needed sleep.

*

"Hermione? Are you coming to watch Harry and Ron?" Aoife soft voice broke Hermione's sweet slumber. "It starts in half an hour; I wanted to give you enough time to get ready." Hermione lifted her head off of her pillow, everything that happened the previous night seemed like a blur, she couldn't differentiate what actually happened and her dreams. Her dreams were dominated by the Curran triplets, other figures and Harry. None of it seemed to make sense. Everything was unknown territory to her, an unfamiliar room and people. "You look shattered." Aoife pointed out once Hermione had sat up properly.

"Odd night." She muttered. "Aoife, can I ask you something?" Hermione asked delicately, making sure she didn't upset Aoife.

"Sure, what?"

"What was Bree like?"

Aoife stopped what she was doing, making her bed, and kept her back to Hermione. "How do you know about Bree?" She asked, her voice full of astonishment and amazement that Hermione knew something.

"Aengus told me about her. And Calum." She added quietly.

Aoife pulled down her sleeves, making sure that her flesh was hidden, she turned around, looking rather shaken up at the names from her past being brought back to the present. "What did he say about Calum?" She asked, crossing her arms making her seemed more defensive and secretive.

"Just that he did bad things to both of you. I need to know what Bree was like; he says I'm like her, and I don't want to be a constant reminder for him."

"He told you all about it?" Hermione nodded, leaving Aoife more shocked than before. "I've actually lost him." She said sadly. "He's going to you, a stranger for want of a better word, rather than his sister."

"It's not like that." Hermione pointed out, "he must have been feeling vulnerable. Harry told me about your Mum, and when I asked Aengus about it, he told me what happened last year."

"Just don't lead him on if you want nothing more than friendship. He's found it hard trusting anyone for ages; he must really like you for him to tell him stuff." Aoife said bitterly, she turned back to her bed and began pretending to sort it out.

"Lead him on, why would I do that? I'm with Harry." Hermione reminded her.

"It wouldn't be the first time a girl has chucked everything away for him. You've gained his trust, don't break it again."

Hermione glared at Aoife's back, how dare she assume that Hermione would "chuck" Harry away for Aengus. "Harry is it for me; I'm not going to ruin it by going after your brother."

"I'm sure you don't intend to, but you won't even realise you're doing it." This seemed like a warning to Hermione, but she didn't dwell on it for too long. She got up, changed and began to walk over to the door when Aoife spoke again, "I'm sorry, Hermione. I don't want us to fall out. I was just a bit hurt that Aengus went to you for support and not me. I guess I just need to be thankful he isn't bottling it all up again."

Hermione nodded slowly, unwilling to say anything about the matter just in case it was the wrong thing and it upset or angered Aoife. "Shall we meet the boys then?" She asked cheerily. Aoife smiled and bounced over to her before they both made their way downstairs.

Harry and Ron took a little long than the girls to get ready; they had decided to change into their Quidditch kit and eat breakfast, purely out of sheer laziness; they didn't want to have to change twice. "You took your time." Aoife teased when they finally made an appearance.

"Had to make sure I looked good." Ron joked as he walked up to her. For a split second, it looked like they were going to kiss but Ron quickly re-evaluated the situation and planted his lips on her cheek. "Morning." He whispered so that only Aoife could hear it. Hermione and Harry instantly looked at each other, both with the same glisten in their eyes - it wouldn't be long until Ron and Aoife became official.

"Morning, you." She whispered back

Harry left Ron and Aoife to their secret conversation and walked over to Hermione. "Are you feeling better?" Hermione smiled up at him and stood on her toes to kiss him. He held her firmly and steadily.

"I forgot how good you looked in your Quidditch kit." She winked when she had pulled away from him. She turned around, still close to Harry's body; her hand slipped down so that her fingers had found Harry's. "I'm starving. Let's go to breakfast."

Ron and Aoife looked at the pair of them, both pairs unaware as to what the other had just done. Aoife's eyes fell to Hermione and Harry's conjoined hands. She looked longingly at them, secretly wanting their love. "Sure." She said, leaning slightly closer to Ron.

"Why are you leaning on me?" Ron asked bluntly, completely unaware of the emotions and feelings Aoife was experiencing.

"Sorry," Aoife said sadly, stepping forward.

*

"You do look terrible," Aoife said to Hermione as they sat in the stands of the Quidditch pitch.

"Wow, thanks." Hermione laughed.

"No, I don't mean it like that. Sorry, I intended to say: are you okay?"

"Yeah, I'm okay. How is it going with you and Ron?" They were huddled together as it was quite a cold September morning. The boys had stuffed their faces at breakfast, but Hermione didn't seem to have much of an appetite. She noticed that once Harry had something to focus on; in this case, it was Quidditch, he acted more himself.

"Oh, well he wants to take this slow and keep it secret. Obviously, I'm not looking for him to proclaim his love for me but some attention, like you and Harry this morning. He acts completely indifferent to me when other people are around, and he's not much better when we're alone, not that we're on our own often."

"The thing with Ron is he's nott exactly very experienced. He's had crushes before but nothing very serious. Unless you'd call whatever it was with Lavender serious. Just give him time, he's lovely really. He just takes awhile to warm to someone new."

"It's not like that. I think he does trust me, he told me all about Fred and other things, but he just can't seem to take the next step."

"You need to take it for him," Hermione laughed, "he is more or less oblivious to feelings. Take him on a walk around the grounds after and talk to him." She advised.

"You really think that would work?"

"It can't hurt."


The Quidditch finally began. Ron saved almost all of the attempts on goal, and Harry flew around catching all the Snitches. After half an hour, Ginny saw no point in making them continue so said that they made the team and let them leave early.

"That was quick!" Hermione exclaimed.

"We made the team!" Harry told her happily, walking over to her and embracing her. "Thank you for making me try out." Hermione held his head, bringing it down and kissing him, thrilled that he was making steps in the right direction.

"Well done," Aoife said awkwardly to Ron.

"Thanks, want to go for a walk?" He asked. Aoife's eyes went wide; she gawked instantly at Hermione who was looking at her and smiling. She gave her a thumbs up and walked back to the castle with Harry.

"What was all that about?" Harry question as they walked through the front door.

"Love is in the air," Hermione laughed, "Aoife was getting upset because Ron wasn't expressing his feelings. She wants him to be more like you."

"More like me, hey?" He said slyly, "I mean, I am pretty much the perfect boyfriend."

"Don't go too far." She joked, "I can think of some things you can improve on." She laughed and looked cheekily at him. Harry put his arm around her back and on her hip and pulled her close to him.

"Do you want to say that again?" He whispered.

"No, you're perfect." She smiled. They walked back to the Common Room, Harry keeping his arm around Hermione.


"Remember we're meeting Dr Eliot at 1." Hermione reminded Harry.

"How could I forget that?"

"Don't be like that; she's going to help you." Hermione smiled, not truly grasping what it would be like reliving everything all over again.

"You look tired. Why don't you take a nap? I'll wake you up when it's time to go." Harry promised.

"Will you actually? Harry, you can't miss this. It's important you attend."

"I won't. I promise to wake you up so we can go together." Harry smiled. He told her to sleep in his bed as boys couldn't get into the girl's dorms.

Hermione slipped into Harry's bed. The sheets were releasing his smell every time she moved slightly. She snuggled up to the pillow and wrapped herself in the blankets. For whatever reason she slept better in Harry's bed, it made her feel closer to him. She began to slip into a much-needed slumber when someone entered the room. "It can't be time yet, can it?" She croaked.

"What are you talking about?" It wasn't Harry; it was Ron. "Hermione? Why are you sleeping here?"

Hermione lifted her head up and noticed Ron clutching onto Aoife's hand. "Sorry, do you want me to leave?" Her voice had a slight taint of pleading in it as she didn't want to move.

Ron looked from Hermione to his bed to Aoife, his eyes full of annoyance. "No, it's fine. You need some rest." Aoife said, tugging on Ron's arm to get him to turn around and walk away.

"How is this fair? It's my dorm." Hermione heard Ron grumble as they left her in peace.

"Shut up," Aoife ordered.

Hermione's head fell back onto the pillow, and she fell asleep instantly.


"Hermione?" Harry said, stroking her face and hair. "It's nearly time to go. Do you want to sleep some more? I can go on my own." Harry's voice was soft and calming. Hermione was half awake, although she was aware of what was going on, she couldn't take it all in. "I'll leave you to it."

"No! I'm coming with you." She declared, "give me two seconds." So Harry waited for Hermione, nerves of what was going to happen began to usurp his body slowly. He was doing this for Hermione, but for the life of him, he couldn't see how it would help. The problem was reliving the past and bringing it into the present so how would deliberately doing that help? "Right, ready?" She asked, completely awake.

"I guess," he whispered, "do we-" he began to ask when Hermione interrupted him.

"Yes, we do have to go. Come on." She held onto Harry's arm and dragged him to the Hospital Wing. En route, they saw Ron and Aoife who couldn't seem to contain their excitement when they saw that Hermione was no longer in the boy's dormitory.

"Hope today goes well, mate! Just tell her what you're feeling!" Ron called out as they passed each other.

"Just tell her what I'm feeling," Harry repeated under his breath. Hermione chose to ignore this, not wanting to deter him from doing this.

When they reached the door to the Hospital Wing, Hermione stopped and stood in front of Harry, "you can do this, I'll be right by your side." Harry looked straight passed her and at the door. Behind that door stood the thing that was holding him back. The fear took over his body once again; he hunched over; making himself small in the process. His belief was that if he was smaller, fewer things could harm him. Hermione watched as he reverted into himself, not knowing whether this would stop him from talking to Dr Eliot. She knew it was a lost cause to try and speak to him about it, whatever she said now would be met and returned by silence. She sighed but continued to open the door. Inside stood two women, a familiar one and an unfamiliar one.

"Here he is, Julie. This is Harry Potter. Harry, this is Dr Julie Eliot." Madam Pomfrey said as they entered her office. The doctor was tall and thin; she was rather elegant looking with a tight dress on. She had a short haircut, it looked all neat and tidy and was a beautiful deep red colour.

"Harry! Darlin'. I am very sorry to hear that you have been having some troubles recently. Let me reassure you; I am exceptionally well trained and experienced in this sort of thing. I work at St. Mungo's and have done for many years now. You wouldn't believe the amount of heads that need sorting." All ready Hermione hated her; it was the way she held herself and the way she seemed to speak down to Harry. The "darlin'" didn't help her cause much either. "And who might you be, darlin'?"

Great, she says it to everyone, Hermione thought to herself, "I am Hermione Granger, Harry's girlfriend." She spoke aloud.

"Aw, isn't that sweet," she said sarcastically, "young love." This reminded Hermione instantly of Rita Skeeter; this sent Julie Eliot right up to the top of her hatred list, it was only a small list, mind, Rita Skeeter, a close contender for the top spot. "Would you mind leaving, darling? Only it would be easier if it was just myself and Harry."

Hermione looked Dr Eliot up and down, a picture of pure disgust etched onto her face, "Harry? What would you prefer?"

"It's not up to Harry, darlin'. It's up to me, and I have said that I want you to leave." She spat, "if you would, darlin'." She added, gesturing to the door.

Hermione glanced at Harry, the sight of a small, lost boy met her. "I'll just be outside." She informed.

"Bye, darlin'," Julie said bitterly. "Right, now that she's gone, we can get started. Tell me what you're feeling, darlin'." Harry looked up at her silently, wishing he had said something which meant Hermione could have stayed with him. He didn't trust Julie one bit, and he wasn't about to tell her what he was feeling. " A bit shy, darlin'? Take your time."

Hermione peered through a gap in the blind but could only see Harry's back. She thought it was futile to try and work out what they were talking about so found a seat to sit down and read until they were finished.

"Darlin', if you don't want to speak with me here, we can always go to St. Mungo's. I can arrange that if you would prefer it?" She sneered down at him, "it's safe there, darlin'. I promise." Harry didn't want to go to St. Mungo's, he didn't need to go there, but he couldn't seem to find his voice. It was as though it had been taken out of him; he was silent but not out of choice. "Poppy!" Julie called to Madam Pomfrey.

"Yes?" She said as she walked into her office.

"I think that Harry would benefit from a couple of weeks in my ward. He is finding it difficult to talk about his trauma, and I believe it is because most of it happened here. Isn't that right, darlin'?"

Harry remained mute, trying his hardest to fight against this proposal. "Well, if you think that is best, I will inform the Headmistress," Madam Pomfrey spoke, Harry tried to get her attention but it was useless, she wasn't looking anywhere in his direction. He had to get to Hermione; she would know something was wrong just by looking at him.

"Darlin', stay here. I'll tell your girlfriend what is happening." Harry screamed but nothing came out, Julie had done something to him. She walked out of the office and locked the door behind her. Hermione looked up from her book when she heard the noise of the key turning.

"What are you doing? Where's Harry?" She asked, slightly panicked.

"Don't worry, darlin'. Harry has decided that he, in order for him to get better, he needs to leave the castle for a while. He needs to be surrounded by people that don't trigger the memories. He has said he wants to go to St. Mungo's for a much-needed break from everything."

Hermione's eyes narrowed, she looked from Julie to the office door, "that doesn't sound at all like Harry. Are you sure that is what he wants?"

"He must be holding back when he's with you, darlin'. He couldn't wait to ask me to get him away from her, away from you."

"Away from me? Really?" Hermione's heart was breaking. She knew that these weren't Harry's words, at least she thought she knew.

"I'm sorry, darlin'. He needs a break from you. You need to let go of him, darlin'. You're keeping him from his future." She could hardly take these words in. Could it really be true that Hermione was causing Harry all of his grief and sadness? It couldn't be true; he always said that Hermione was the one thing that was getting him through things, but did he really mean that? She began to go over everything in her head, trying to work out if the things he said were true or not. If after all this time, the thing that was holding him back was her. Does she really need to let him go? More importantly, could she let him go? "I've got a train coming that leaves at 2. We will be on it, and I would advise that you don't say goodbye to him. I want to try and start treatment right away." All Hermione could do was nod, she tried to argue it in her mind but came to the same conclusion each time - it must be her fault. "I'm sorry, darlin'. Young love rarely lasts." She began to push Hermione towards the door; she wanted to get rid of her quickly so she could leave herself.

Hermione walked, head down, back to the Common Room. She ignored everyone as she went. Ginny tried to ask her about something, but she didn't care about the subject anymore. All she cared about was Harry, and now he had gone. "Hermione, how did it go? Where's Harry?" Ron asked. He was sitting with Aoife on the sofa in front of the fireplace.

"Gone," Hermione replied, her eyes fogging up. All she wanted to do was go to bed and hide from everyone.

"Gone? Gone where?"

"Dr Eliot said he wants to go to St. Mungo's," Hermione said, a lump in a throat.

"Well if that will help, maybe it's the right place for him," Ron argued, he didn't have the reaction Hermione hoped for.

"How can you say that, Ron? He doesn't need to go to St. Mungo's for help. Dr Eliot isn't who she says she is; no doctor would refuse to let me say goodbye to him before he goes."

"You're just upset, Hermione. I'm sure that he'll be back before you know it." Ron sunk back into his seat, Aoife looking more worried than him. She was huddled up to him but pushed off him to stand up.

"Hermione, do you want to talk about it?" She offered friendly. "I know what it feels like."

Ron looked at the two girls for a few seconds before getting up and walking off to his dormitory. "What's wrong with him? Doesn't he care that his best friend is being taken away?"

"Don't mind him, he's just...grumpy," Aoife smirked slightly, "so what exactly did this doctor say to you about Harry?" They were still standing up; Hermione was too agitated to sit down.

"She said that being here and being around me is making Harry worse. She stated that he requested he was admitted to St. Mungo's as he needed to escape." Hermione recalled.

"And she said all that? She didn't let Harry speak?" Aoife asked, pacing the room, trying to work out what was going on.

"No, I didn't see him. He was in the office. She wouldn't let me."

"So how do we know Harry did say that he wanted to go to St. Mungo's? Hermione, don't panic. I have family that work there; I can send a letter to them if you want? My cousin knows everything that goes on in there."

Hermione didn't know what to do, she stood on the spot, swaying. Trying to think about things with a clear head but it was impossible. All her mind went back to was Harry's face when she left the office and the words Dr Eliot said to her. "Something isn't right, Aoife. You have to believe me - Harry wouldn't talk like that. He loves it here; Hogwarts is his home. She can't take him away from here!"

"Hermione, calm down!" Aoife ordered as she put a reassuring hand on her shoulder. "Maybe Ron's right, maybe you are just emotional, and that's clouding your judgement."

"You have to believe me," Hermione cried, her lip trembling. She knew that she wasn't wrong, Harry didn't want to go to St. Mungo's. "Please."

"Maybe you should go to bed, have a nap. Sleep will clear your head. Harry will be all right." Hermione was losing Aoife's support with each second that went by.

"No! Harry doesn't need to go to St. Mungo's, Julie is going to do something to him there, I know it. We can't trust her! Please help me." She pleaded, tears pouring down her face, each making new tracks as they went.

"There's nothing to help you with, not yet anyway. He'll be fine." Aoife said, sitting back down and opening up her book.

"I thought you told me you knew how it felt! I thought you would understand that we need to help him!"

"Help him do what exactly, Hermione? Stop him from getting the help that you made him get?"

Hermione thought about saying something, arguing her cause a bit more, but she knew there was no point. She knew she had to try and stop Harry going to St. Mungo's on her own.


"Don't you worry, darlin'. We'll be at St. Mungo's before you know it. Then everything will feel like a distant memory. As I always say, why keep the memories that are holding you back? Darlin', you are going to start afresh!" Julie exclaimed as the train made it's way towards London.

Chapter 7: Chapter Seven.
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"What are you going to do to me?" Harry squeaked when they arrived at St. Mungo's.

"Don't worry, darlin'. I'm going to make you feel better." Julie smiled.

"Why can't you do that at Hogwarts?"

Julie was leading Harry along a long, bright corridor. She opened a door on the left and pushed him through it. "This is where you're going to be staying. For the safety of you, this door will be locked." Harry looked around and saw that all the walls were padded.

"Why am I in here? I don't need to be in here!" Harry shouted.

"Darlin', you need to calm down. You're not doing yourself any favours."

Harry took a deep breath, "please, can you just explain to me why I'm here?" He said calmly, hoping this new tactic would help him.

"You asked to come here, darlin'. You're safe here."

"I was safe at Hogwarts! Where's Hermione?"

"Where do you think, darlin'? She's at Hogwarts. She agreed with you about coming here. She's too tired to look after you. I've taken your wand so that you can't do anything to escape. Remember, darlin', I'm doing this for you." She said as she closed and locked the door behind her.

Harry looked all around him but couldn't see a way out. He didn't need to be in here, he just needed someone to talk to. He knew that now. He started banging on the door, "LET ME OUT!" He screamed, knowing that it wouldn't help in the slightest, "LET ME OUT, NOW!"

"Be quiet, darlin'. It'll help you settle in." Julie shouted from her desk.

*

"Honestly, Miss Granger, I assure you that Harry is in the best hands," McGonagall reassured.

"With all due respect, Professor, you haven't met her. Harry doesn't need to be isolated." Hermione argued back.

"He'll be fine. Now, if you don't mind, I have a lot of work to get on with," McGonagall gestured to the door.

"Please, just look into it for me," she asked before she turned around and left her headmistress to her work.


Hermione was becoming so frustrated, no one seemed to listen to her regarding Harry. Dr Eliot had said that he had requested to be taken away, but why would he do that? "Hermione, you need to stop worrying! There's nothing you can do." Ron told her at dinner that evening.

"Do you think Harry would just give up on you?" She spat back. "He needs his friends right now and what do you do? Forget about him!" She raised her voice slightly, only the people sitting close around them gave their attention to the bickering friends.

"What are you talking about? I haven't given up on him! He just needs some time away."

"How can you say that, Ron?" She was holding back the tears but in doing so, her voice became louder and more shrill. "All you seem to care about nowadays is your new girlfriend..." She said before disappearing from Ron's view.

Ron looked around, most of Gryffindor table was now staring at him. Aoife, who was sitting next to him, didn't look up from her empty plate. "She's just...hormonal," Ron said embarrassingly to his not so adoring audience. "Aoife, are you okay?"

"Yeah." She replied bluntly, thinking about all the problems she seemed to have caused between the three friends. She felt like she was getting in their way.


Hermione felt that recently she was doing nothing but trying not to cry. It had started to pour down with rain once again and she didn't feel like running outside and getting soaked again so soon. This left her with a dilemma over where she should go. She didn't want to see anyone because she didn't want to have to explain the situation to countless amounts of people. She decided on going to bed; if anyone came in, she could just pretend to be asleep plus the events of the day had left her with a thumping headache, so bed seemed like the best option all round.

Hermione climbed the stairs to the Common Room, whispered the password to the portrait and walked through the hole that situated behind in. The room was empty which is just what she wanted, no awkward stares or small talk to have to endure. She walked all the way to the top of the tower to her dormitory and fell onto her bed. She kicked her shoes off and just lay there, staring at the wooden frame of her bed. She shared with Ginny, Aoife and two other girls, Sophie Johnson and Amanda Neild. However, they never seemed to be around, Ginny told her that their boyfriends were in other houses and they sneak off to be with them whenever possible. Hermione took a deep breath and sat up. As she soon as she had undressed and put her pyjamas on, she realised she wasn't alone. Aengus was fast asleep on Ginny's bed.

Hermione felt a wave of emotion she wasn't expecting - jealousy. Why was he sleeping on Ginny's bed? She wasn't even aware of them being friends. She wanted nothing more than to wake him up but she remembered he had problems sleeping so she didn't want to disturb him. She looked at his face, the face that reminded her so much of the Harry she remembered, the Harry she longed to be back. She didn't know what to do, she could ignore him and go to sleep herself, but something inside of her meant she couldn't take her eyes off the boy. Her pain slowly ebbed away as she knew someone would always be on her side, despite agreeing to leave each other alone, Hermione knew that Aengus would always stand by her when she needed it most.

She sat down on her bed and rummaged through her trunk, praying that she remembered to pack the photo. It was right at the bottom, underneath spare bottles of ink and parchment. She turned it over and instantly smiled: it was a photo her parents had taken of Harry and Hermione in Paris. It wasn't a predetermined photo, they were sitting at a table in a cafe and Harry had reached over to put his hand in hers. She looked at the two figures of her parent's photography and dreamed she could go back to there, she would have somehow stopped Julie taking Harry away. She pressed it against her heart and laid back. She was a heartbeat away from sleep when Aengus began to stir. She didn't want to talk to him, what with him sleeping in Ginny's bed - that was a conversation Hermione could live without. "Curly? What are you doing here?" He croaked.

"This is my dormitory." She replied bluntly, not sitting up to look at him. "What are you doing here?" This felt like the more pressing question.

"Aoife wanted me to sleep in her bed, I think she wants to be alone with Ron." He rubbed his eyes, "I guess they're official then?"

"You're in Ginny's bed," Hermione said amusingly.

"Ginny's bed? Oh." He said quietly whilst quickly getting up, "which one is-" he began but stopped when Hermione pointed to the bed on the left of hers. "Thanks." He said, rather embarrassed about the mistake he had made. Hermione tried not to laugh as she turned on her side and put her back to him.

*

"I think it's time for our first session. I hope you're ready, darlin'." Julie said as she entered Harry's padded room. She had put on a white coat since Harry had last seen her.

"Our first session?" He questioned, praying that he would be back with Hermione and Ron soon.

"Yes, darlin'. You are burdened with the memories of the war. We need to let the spirits inside of you escape." She had a clipboard and her wand was rested on top of it.

"Let the spirits escape? What spirits?" Harry asked, scared of the answer.

"I believe that the spirit of The Dark Lord," she whispered the last part, whilst looking around the room to make sure no one else was around. "Went into your body when you stopped him. That is why you have been feeling dark."

"You think that Voldemort's spirit is inside of me?" Harry repeated, not really believing what he was hearing.

"With all due respect, darlin', I am more than qualified; some say I'm overqualified," she joked, Harry looked at her, his eyes full of doubt and confusion. "I think I have a bit more experience when it comes to the mind of the mental."

"I am not mental!" Harry shouted, his anger was boiling, which clouded his mind.

"Darlin', calm down. It'll be okay, you'll be okay. I am here to make sure you get better." She said, pulling his head into her chest. "Don't get angry, darlin'. Dr Julie is here to fix you."

Harry pushed himself away from her, "I'm not angry. I just feel like I have not been fully told what is happening."

"Your girlfriend thought it would be best that you came here and given treatment. I'm working under her orders, darlin'. Anything I do, Heather told me to do."

"Hermione." Harry correct.

"Hermione, yes."

"So Hermione wants me here?" Harry asked quietly, trying to digest this information.

"She does, darlin'. But if all goes well, we can get you back to her soon."

"Really? Right, let's get started then." Harry said, wanting to see Hermione again soon.

"Lovely. Will you like to tell me how you're feeling? Be completely honest and open. This is a safe place, darlin', don't worry about that." She held her wand several inches above her clipboard and it held itself like a pen. She kept hold of the clipboard and looked eagerly at Harry.

Harry didn't know where to start, although he wanted Julie to let him go back to Hogwarts soon, he couldn't bring himself to share all with her. He didn't trust her and so he kept things to a minimum, "I'm feeling alright. Sometimes I can't help but think about Voldemort."

"I'm going to need more than that, darlin'. Maybe we should start at the beginning."

"The beginning?" Harry repeated.

"The beginning of your life." Julie looked slightly impatient.

"Well...my parents were murdered by Voldemort when I was one and taken to my Aunt and Uncle's by Hagrid."

"That's better, darlin', but I need more. More detail."

"I'm sorry, but I don't know how this is going to help."

"I've told that I am vastly experienced in this field. I have cured almost all the nutcases that walk through these doors, darlin'."

"I AM NOT A NUTCASE!" Harry shouted, he was shaking with rage as all his blood rushed to his head.

"Do not raise your voice. It does not help matters." Julie said more sternly than Harry had heard her before.

"Do not call me a nutcase. It does not help matters." Harry imitated.

"That was not clever, darlin'." She smiled as she snatched her wand from it's poised position on the paper. "CRUCIO!" She screamed. Whilst Harry fell to the floor in pain and twitched, Julie straightened her coat and put her hair back in its place. "Do you understand now that you should cooperate? It will be much simpler if you do as I say."

He was still shaking from being caught off guard. He lifted his head and tried to catch his breath. "Why did you do that?"

"You weren't cooperating, darlin'." She smiled, "I don't think you're ready for this just yet."

"No! I am." He called desperately, "I am ready. I'm sorry."

"Okay, tell me about your Aunt and Uncle." She said sweetly, her wand acting as a pen once more.

"I hated it there, not because they seemed to resent me, but because they tried to hide who I really was. They tried to prevent my magical ability from showing and in doing so, they made me believe that I was naughty or stupid for thinking that things just happened. They locked me away but now I know why, they were trying to lock away my magic. They feared that people would find out what I was; it unnerved them, sent them crazy. I think they liked having something over me, they knew the truth whilst I was in the dark. So when the secret was out, when I was about to go to Hogwarts, they couldn't take it. They had lost the one piece of information that completed the puzzle of my childhood. They were no longer in charge of the secret world that I was about to explore. I guess they were bitter, jealous of the fact that I had a power they could never image to possess. To my Aunt, the magic I held was a constant reminder of her sister, she resented that I had something left of her whereas she had nothing. I didn't think she cared, but that was her way of dealing with things. They did care, they must have done else they would have kicked me out or sent me away. They pretended it was the magic they were protecting but deep down, they wanted to protect me." Harry said his voice started off quiet, but it gained in confidence as he went on. Hermione had been right, all he needed was to talk.

The pen scribbled away as he spoke, Julie was looking on at Harry, a sparkle in her eye that he couldn't work out. "That's brilliant, darlin'. You are making wonderful progress. I will just have to write all of this up and we will remove the memories of them in no time." She said as she made her way to the door with the clipboard gripped tightly in her hands.

"Remove the memories? No, I don't want that. I don't want to forget about them, they're the only piece of family I had growing up." Harry protested. The weight that was lifted by telling Julie about his childhood had returned with a feeling of dread filling his stomach.

"Darlin', don't be so sentimental; this is a memory that is holding you back." She refused to turn back to look at him.

"I don't want you to remove my memories," Harry said, trying to stay calm. "They make me, me."

"Don't be stupid! You won't remember them to miss them, darlin'."

"I do not want you to remove my memories!" He shouted; the anger overtook his decision to not rattle her.

"Are you disagreeing with me? Have you not learnt from the last time, darlin'? She let her wand finish writing down what they had discussed before snatching it. Harry cowered, expecting another dosage of the Cruciatus Curse, he was mistaken. She transformed her wand into a six-pronged whip by using an incantation that Harry had never heard. "The only way people learn, darlin', is negative reinforcement." She said before the whip started on Harry. It hit him everywhere. His face; his glasses were flung to the corner of the room, his chest, stomach, legs, arms and back also experienced the hot lash of the whip. It ripped through his clothes on its quest for flesh. His lip was sliced in two, blood was dripping on the floor, but he wasn't convinced he knew where it was from. The whip hit him again and again, it felt like it was lasting forever, but it did end, finally. "I think we're finished for the day, darlin'. I will bring you in some clean clothes in a while, along with some food." She smiled, Harry didn't look at her, he couldn't as blood would cloud his eyes within seconds.

She left Harry alone as he rested himself against the padding on the wall. Silent tears dripped from his eyes and mingled with his blood as he mouthed 'Hermione'.

*

Hermione woke the next morning and started thinking about how such much had happened and it hadn't even been a week. She turned over to see Aengus still fast asleep in his sister's bed. Hermione decided that as soon as he woke up, she would ask him to contact his cousin who works at St. Mungo's. She reached over to the table by her bed and blindly tried to find her watch. After a while of randomly patting her hand around the surface, she finally found her watch. She brought it to her face and saw that it was nearly 10 o'clock. This surprised her, she had been sleeping for over 12 hours. She slowly sat up and stretched; whilst doing so, she looked around the room. Like usual, Amanda and Sophie had not spent the night in their beds, come to think of it, Hermione couldn't remember even meeting them. Ginny's bed had been slept in, but it was now empty, Hermione concluded she was down at breakfast.

Hermione and Ginny's friendship had slowly faded away. Hermione knew that Ginny had always had a little crush on Harry; she didn't think it was anything serious, but ever since Harry and Hermione had become a couple, Ginny had distanced herself from the pair of them. She still cared about Harry, but not like she used to. She missed having a gossip to her about boys and friends and Ginny's brothers. Aoife came close to matching the friendship she had formed with Ginny, but it would never be quite the same; Ginny knew, from first-hand experience, what she had gone through.

Hermione had never really had any girlfriends. If she was honest with herself, she never really had any friends. She made one or two are her Muggle primary school, but since she went to Hogwarts, they had lost contact completely. It was not that she couldn't make friends; if she wanted to, she probably could have made more, she was sure of it. She just didn't really want to; her friends, her real friends, were the heroes and heroines of the books she found herself lost in. But that all changed when she came to Hogwarts. She still loved sticking her nose in a book, that would never change, but Harry and Ron had accepted her for who she was. They relished her character at times and hated it at others, but that was what friendship was. Harry and Ron had changed her life, all of them were fighting battles of their own; Harry was trying to cope with his Aunt and Uncle and his new found power and Ron was trying to live up to his mother's expectations and pave his own path in life.

Their friendship had been comfortable, safe and fun. They had shared everything with one another, they had guided and helped when it was necessary. Hermione wasn't sure whether she could make the jump from friendship to a relationship with Harry; she wanted to, but she was terrified that everything would be ruined if it failed. This was something that had haunted her from the moment her feelings for Harry had shifted slightly. For some time, she had tried to bury the feelings, suffocate them until they had left her system forever. She didn't succeed and now, if it was possible, she felt like they had become stronger friends. Her heart and soul ached for him at this very moment. She could just sense that he needed her now more than ever. She quickly worked out that it was Sunday morning and thought about whether she could get to London without anyone noticing her disappearance. It was at times like this when she needed Ron.

Ron, with all his flaws, was Hermione's rock. They were very accustomed to secret chats where they supported one another through the tough times being friends with the Chosen One chucked at them. Without Ron feeling exactly like she did, she would have broken down at least once a week. She had always seen Ron like a brother, they bickered like siblings. Recently, ever since Ron had walked out on them during the Horcrux hunt, she had treated him terribly. He must have felt like he could never do anything right. The night he left, Hermione saw him in a different light - despite understanding that the locket made him do what he did, she couldn't shake the fear that he would abandon them again; she felt he already had, but he would have thought about Harry the entire night and would most likely talk to her about him at breakfast.

"Curly? Are you awake?" Aengus' voice was small and calming. She turned her body to face his as he beamed at her. "I know we agreed not to interfere but, do you want to talk about Harry?" Hermione sighed, this is just what she wanted. She didn't say anything, she feared she would cry if she opened her mouth, so she nodded. "Okay, shall we get breakfast first?" He grinned. She laughed and started to get out of bed.

"So you stayed here all night?" She asked, thinking it was the most stupid question as it was very evident he had done so.

"Yeah, Aoife came up at around 1 but said I could stay. Her bed is a lot comfier than mine." He explained.

"So she stayed with Ron? They moved fast." Hermione joked, "they'll be married before we know it."

"I wouldn't be so sure, Aoife had a bit of a reputation back home, even before Calum arrived on the scene."

"As long as she doesn't hurt Ron," Hermione warned.

Aengus didn't say anything at this, this sent waves of nerves through her stomach. "Breakfast!" He called, breaking the lingering silence.

"Let me just get changed," Hermione said.

"Nah, don't bother. Give me ten minutes." Aengus ordered as he dashed out of the room.

Hermione stared at the door, not sure what Aengus was doing. So she sat, crossed legged, on her bed. Her stomach rumbled, it needed to be fed. She waited, though, just like Aengus had asked her to do.

9 minutes later, Aengus came back. He was carrying two trays filled with food and drink. "You stole this from the hall?" Hermione laughed as she jumped across the room to see what he had brought.

"I wouldn't say stole..." He argued, "the food is for us, I just decided to bring it up here."

"Right..." She said, trying to sound serious but failed when she couldn't hold back a smile. "Actually, can you tell me how you got in here? I thought that boys weren't allowed in the girl's dorms?"

"You actually believe that?" He asked, trying not to laugh. "Oh Curly, I thought you were intelligent. They only say that to try and stop it from happening."

"I thought the stairs turn into a slide?" Hermione questioned.

"No, that was probably some joke someone played. Can we eat now?" He carried the trays over to Aoife's bed. "Come on, it'll get cold."

Hermione followed his steps and picked up one of the plates, "I can't believe I never knew that. I blame Percy." She laughed. She put some toast and bacon on her plate and sat back on her bed.

"No no no, you need more than that, Curly." He said, placing more bacon, sausages and eggs on her plate.

"I'm not that hungry." She protested.

"Yes you are, Bree was just like that. She pretended she wasn't hungry and then would steal my food." He smiled at her as he sat down next to her. She was amazed at how he was able to talk about Bree with such happiness; if it were her, she would still find it too hard to talk about it. "So eat it all up until you can't eat anymore." He ordered.

Hermione stared at him, "I won't eat it all."

"You will." They sat in silence as they ate their food. Hermione was surprised at how hungry she actually was and, like Aengus had said, she finished it all. "Told you. Just like Bree."

"Do you have a lot of happy memories of her?" Hermione asked.

"All memories of her are happy." He looked into her eyes, "she was just a happy person. She wouldn't have wanted me to be miserable. I have times when it all becomes too much, but I need to cherish the life I have."

Hermione broke their eye contact, it made her nervous. They had finished all the food that Aengus had brought up and with one swipe of her wand, all the plates and cutlery were gone. "Can I ask you something?"

"Of course." He said kindly.

"Do you believe me that Harry doesn't need to be in St. Mungo's?" She held her breath as she waited for his response. He looked at her frightened face and knew that he had to pick his words carefully.

"Yes, I believe you. If you think he is better off here, you're probably right."

Hermione released her breath, she had someone who would help get him back here. "Can you contact your cousin that works there? She might have some inside knowledge of what's happening with Harry."

"I will write her a letter. She'll jump at the chance to put her nose in things. She's a massive gossip." He informed. "Can I borrow your quill and some parchment? I'll write to her now." Hermione took her quill and a piece of parchment out from her bag which was located under her bed.

'Martha,
I hope you are doing well. Can you find out all you can about Dr Julie Eliot and what she's doing with Harry Potter? Keep it a secret and get back to me as soon as possible.
Speak later,
Aengus.'


"I really appreciate this," Hermione said gently.

"Don't mention it. I'll just get this to the Owlery. See you later."

Hermione opened her mouth to say something, but he was gone. She changed into some jeans and a comfy jumper before running downstairs to see if Ron was about.

*

Harry woke up that morning aching all over from the day before. His glasses had cracked as a result of the whip flinging them across the room. He tried to move his right arm to reach for them, but he couldn't. He suspected that the fall had resulted in a broken bone. His head was whirling from the previous day when his heart stopped - Julie had appeared. "Morning, darlin'. How are we feeling today?" Harry refused to answer. He was sure that whatever he did, it'd result in another form of torture. "Not going to talk to me, darlin'? Do you think that's wise? Give me your hand." She ordered. Harry, reluctantly, raised his left arm and put it in her grasp. He cowered, knowing that something painful was about to happen. She raised her wand and the tip of it exploded into a small ball of fire. He looked away. As soon as the fire hit his hand, it was the most horrific and intense pain that he had experienced. It felt as though his skin was bubbling under the heat. He tried his hardest not to scream or give Julie what she wanted - submission. After what seemed like hours and hours of excruciating pain, she final put the fire out. "I'll leave you to it, darlin'. I hope that taught you."

"Whatever I do, whatever I say, you will punish me! What do you want with me?!" Harry shouted, his voice was weak but full of nerves and plea.

"I want to help you, darlin'. That's all I'm doing." She smiled.

"Just let me go. You've done enough. Please."

"I'll bring you in some breakfast."

She left Harry alone once more and locked the door on her way out. He fell to his knees and started to sob. He looked at his hand, the heat still penetrating through the deep layers of his skin.

*

It had been several days since Aengus had sent the letter to his cousin. Though Hermione didn't like it, life at Hogwarts went on, but Harry was always on her mind. On Thursday afternoon, Aengus came running up to her clutching onto a piece of yellow paper. "Hermione, Martha has replied. I haven't opened it." He added as soon as he saw her eager face. He was still holding onto the owl which delivered the letter.

"Well, what are you waiting for?" Hermione asked. They were standing in a corridor with a couple of students walking around them.

"Here?"

"Well, why not? Just open it, Aengus."

He opened the paper up and Hermione could tell that he was pre-reading it before he read it aloud. "He's not there." He said quietly.

"What do you mean?" Hermione asked, thoughts shouting through her mind.

"'It's nice to hear from you, Aengus. I am doing well, thank you. I hope all of you are well. I've looked and Harry Potter is not at St. Mungo's. Dr. Julie Eliot was dismissed from the hospital a couple of months ago. I might be able to ask around and see where she is now, let me know if that is  something you want me to do. All my love,
Martha.'"  Aengus read to Hermione.

"She was dismissed? Why? We need to get to Harry. She's doing something terrible to him."

Aengus quickly scribbled a reply on a loose piece of parchment it had in his pocket and attached it to the owls leg. As soon as he tied the final knot, the owl flew off back to London. "We're going to have to go to St. Mungo's."


Chapter 8: Chapter Eight.
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Hermione looked at her watch, it was 12 which meant most of the students were walking to lunch. "We need to speak to Professor McGonagall first. We can show her the letter from Martha, hopefully, that'll be enough to convince her. I knew we couldn't trust Julie!" She said before marching off to Professor McGonagall's office. Aengus ran off behind her.

"Miss Granger, you cannot just storm into my office," Professor McGonagall said sternly.

"I'm sorry, Professor, but this is important. You know I told you about that Dr. Eliot who took Harry away? Well, she was dismissed from her post months ago. She has taken Harry somewhere else. I need to go and find him." Hermione explained, knowing that if it was her who was taken, Harry wouldn't bother with asking for permission.

"How do you know this?" McGonagall asked, the stern tone of her voice slipping away to be replaced by worry.

"I sent a letter to my cousin who works there. Hermione told me she had her reservations about Dr. Eliot so, for peace of mind, I wrote to her." Aengus said as he opened the door to her office.

"Show me," McGonagall ordered. Aengus passed her the piece of paper and they all stood in silence until she had digested the information. "Right..." She said finally, "Hermione you can go to St. Mungo's, but not on your own."

"I'll come," Aengus said, "I can ask my dad if he can come too."

"Yes, I think that would be the best idea. I'll talk to your father for you and then contact St. Mungo's to let them know you're coming."

"We're coming too." Hermione spun around and saw Ron's red hair. She ran over to him and gave him the biggest hug.

"I knew you hadn't given up. Thank you, Ron." She cried into his shoulder, "I'm sorry for everything I said."

Ron held her, stroking her back, "don't apologise, I was to blame too. I'm sorry for not caring more. We'll get him back, don't worry. Going to a teacher first, huh? We are maturing." Ron joked. Hermione smirked and squeezed him tighter.

"I'm sorry for what I said too," Aoife added from behind Ron.

Hermione broke apart from Ron and gave Aoife a quick hug of gratitude. "Thanks, both of you. Professor McGonagall, when can we go?" She said, turning back to face her.

"As soon as possible, I'll make the arrangements with St. Mungo's and Miss Curran, can you talk to your father for me? Let him know he is accompanying you. Take Miss Granger with you, she can explain things fully." The two girls nodded and walked out of the room together. "Mr Curran, have you replied to your cousin?"

"Yes, I have. I said that we would be visiting her. I sent it before I told Ron and Aoife."

"Right, so the letter should get to her shortly. I will go there myself right away and let them know." She stepped into her fireplace and the green fire engulfed her and took her away.

"Why did you come and tell Aoife and me?" Ron asked when they were alone.

"I knew Hermione needed you and I knew that you would want to be there for both of them," Aengus explained, "I thought you would at least want to know."

"Thank you," Ron said, walking over to the portrait of his old headmaster. "He would know what to do." He whispered. The old man was fast asleep and snoring, not a care in the world.

Aengus came over and patted Ron's back, "Professor McGonagall will know what to do. He'll be fine."

Ron smiled slightly with a tear in his eyes, how could he have been so stupid? Why did he turn his back on Harry? If he hadn't done, they would have had a lot more time. "Do you think he's okay?" He said, turning to face Aengus.

"He will be."


"I am sorry for how I acted to you," Hermione said as they walked around the castle looking for Professor Curran.

"We both acted without thinking, I'm sorry." Hermione knew there was more to her apology than their argument a few nights ago, Aoife must have sensed her hesitation as she continued, "I didn't mean to get in the way of the three of you. I know it must be hard, you spent the whole of last year trying to survive together. I don't want to come in between you."

"I shouldn't have said that. I am so happy that Ron is happy and I am happy that it's you who is making him happy. You're one of us now." She joked.

"What about my brother?"

"What about him?"

"I see the way you look at him, you can't say that it's completely just friendship."

"What are you talking about? I don't look at him in any way. I am not interested in him."

"If you say so," she whispered, "my dad will probably be eating lunch."

Hermione tried to ignore what Aoife had said about Aengus, but it lingered in the back of her mind. They ran, in silence, to the Great Hall and were relieved when they saw Professor Curran sitting at the teachers table talking happily to Professor Flitwick. "Aoife, what are you doing here?" He asked when he saw his daughter approaching him.

"Sorry to disturb you." She said to Professor Flitwick, he nodded his head in acknowledgment of her apology. "Dad, you need to come to Professor McGonagall's office."

"Why? What's happened? Has your brother done something stupid again? I told him to stay out of trouble. You wait til I get a hold of him." He snapped.

"It's got nothing to do with Aengus, sir. It's Harry. We need to go, quickly. Please." Hermione explained. Professor Curran was obviously unaware of Hermione's presence as he looked very ashamed when he saw her. He stood up and followed them to the office without any more talking.

*

Harry hadn't seen Julie for a while, he couldn't quite remember, but he was sure it was longer than a day. He hadn't been given food and the water supply he was given when he first entered the room was running low. His scars from the whip had healed slightly, they were no longer sparkling. The cut on his lip had sealed itself but, by the feel of it, it was still noticeable. His right arm was still immobile, but the pain was becoming familiar to Harry. His hand was another matter, that was something he still couldn't stomach looking at. He could barely do anything to try and aid its recovery as both his hands were useless.

His stomach roared, begging for food. His mouth dry and his lips chapped. Julie had at least given him a toilet which was becoming more and more redundant. He didn't have enough liquid in his body to cry. He was begging for something he knew would have dreamed to be begging for: Julie to come back. He needed food and he needed someone to help him drink. He hobbled over to the tank of water and tried to drink it. It was so low so he could lap it up like he had been doing. He scooped his burnt hand and sipped the water from there, it tasted like blood and had bits of scab and skin in it. He didn't care, though, he need to drink something.

*

"Are you Hermione Granger?" The wizard behind the desk at St. Mungo's asked as all five of them walked towards him.

"I am," Hermione confirmed.

"Minerva McGonagall explained the situation to me, she was sorry that she couldn't have stayed; she said she had a lot of work to get on with, including talking to Poppy Pomfrey."

Hermione gulped, of course, Madam Pomfrey would be told off, she was the one that suggested Julie. "I understand."

"I am very sorry for what is going on with you and your friend. I can confirm that Doctor Julie Eliot does no longer work here, but I cannot tell you where she went when she was dismissed." Hermione sighed and made a face that must have been full of disappointment as the wizard behind the desk added more, "but we do have our ways of finding her and Harry. If you go through the doors on your right, you will be greeted by two Aurors. They will help you further."

Hermione was flooded with a huge sense of relief. She smiled and thanked the man for his help. "Do you want all of us to come with you, Hermione?" Aoife asked as they walked over to the door.

"Of course."

*

The water that Harry drank had become slightly warm, it wasn't very refreshing at all. He took another handful of water before he collapsed next to the tank. "Hello, darlin'. Sorry, I haven't been in to see or talk to you recently. I've been very busy." She said cheerfully.

"Busy keeping other people hostage," Harry mumbled under his breath. "Can I please have some fresh water?" He said loudly so she heard.

"Have you already finished what I gave you, darlin'?"

"Almost but it has warmed up a bit and I have no way of drinking it." He explained.

"You'll get some more when you've finished the supply I gave you. We don't want to waste things, darlin'."

"Can you put some in a goblet for me then? I am so thirsty and I can't move my arm."

"What about your other arm?"

"The burn on my hand mingles with the water."

"So? Why is that a problem? At least it's a drink, darlin'."

"Hardly."

Julie got out her wand and dragged Harry by his right arm, which made Harry scream with pain, and transfigured her wand into a sharp looking knife. She cut his neck four times and then sliced his legs. "Drink that then, darlin'." She smiled. "I don't think you're in the right mind to talk to me today. Harry tried to reach up for her wand, but it was futile. She made one last cut over his cheek, making an affectionate movement with the knife.

*

"Miss Granger, nice to meet you. I am Alfie Tinge and this is my associate Lelia Avery." A tall, muscular brown hair wizard introduced.

"Nice to meet both of you. You can call Hermione and this is," she said turning to face her friends, "Ron, Aoife and Aengus."

"And I'm Patrick," Professor Curran said.

"Hello," Lelia said smiling at all of them.

"Sorry to hear about Harry. But I can promise you we will find him today."

"Pardon me for asking, but I'm interesting in becoming an Auror, but I didn't know you did things like this," Ron asked them.

"Well, ever since the three of you stopped Voldemort and most of the Death Eaters have 'refound' themselves, we haven't had a lot of work to do. We were very busy the weeks following the conclusion of the war, but we have it under control now so a lot of us have become a bit like Muggle police officers. We have been split into two, we have some still in the Dark Arts sector, but we are just normal folk now. Not that Julie Eliot is normal." Lelia said, standing up tall and proud.

"What do you mean? Is this not the first time?" Aengus asked her.

"No, she was dismissed for malpractice several months ago. Her method of curing people was horrific and inhuman and she was struck off immediately."Lelia said.

Hermione instantly went pale, she felt sick. Ron reached out and took her hand, squeezing it for support. "Luckily for everyone, we put a tracking charm on her. It is extremely powerful and completely discrete, she'll have no idea we cast it." Alfie said.

"So we can track her down and save Harry?" Aoife asked, knowing Hermione couldn't find her voice.

"That's exactly it. As soon as Minerva informed us, we had another colleague to start tracking." As soon as Alfie had said this, an owl swooped into the room. It landed on Alfie's outstretched arm. He took the letter and smiled a crooked smile. "We've got her. You wouldn't believe where she is. The basement."

"Here?" Aengus gasped.

"Here." Alfie nearly sang. "We'll head done together, but I want you all to stay behind us. She can be a very dangerous woman."

Hermione clutched onto Ron even more, knowing that what they were about to face would be horrible. "It'll be okay, I'm here." He whispered to her. He put his arm around her body and pulled her close to her as she put one arm across his chest and the other around his back whilst linking her fingers to secure herself.

Admittedly it was difficult to walk so close together but Hermione needed it and she was sure he needed it too. "Do you want us to stay behind?" Aoife asked from behind them.

"No, we're going to need you," Lelia said, "the more people, the better. We need to corner her, she will try and fight back. Do you all have your wands?" She asked the crowd as the marched through endless amounts of corridors when they finally stopped at a door.

"Right, I will go in first, Lelia close behind."

"I'll go next," Professor Curran said, "then you four, one by one."

"Just what I was going to suggest." Alfie smiled, "we'll be catching her off guard, Lelia, Patrick and I will deal with Julie, Hermione and Ron get to Harry. Aengus and Aoife, look for anything that may help Harry, if I know Julie, he'll need towels, water and food. There's a snack room just down the hall, Aengus, grab anything and everything you can. Aoife, next to that is a supply cupboard, we need towels and bandages. Luckily, we're in a hospital so it shouldn't be hard to get him sorted."

"Ready?" Lelia asked as they made their way to their allotted stations.

"Ready" Everyone said at once. Ron held onto Hermione's hand as they took a deep breath.


Chapter 9: Chapter Nine.
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Alfie opened the door and as Hermione peered in, she saw an empty room with a desk to the left of them. She heard voices coming from another door just behind the desk. "Do you think he's in there?" She whispered to Ron as they slowly stepped in the room.

Ron didn't say anything, he knew Harry would be through the door, but he didn't know what state he would be in. He stood slightly in front of Hermione, his way of trying to protect her a bit more. "They're in there. We have to be quick. Ron, Hermione, get Harry out as soon as possible."

Neither of them needed telling twice about that, their only mission was to rescue Harry from whatever he was enduring. Alfie reached the door and quickly turned the handle, the door was flung open and Hermione put her hand over her mouth to try and stop her from gasping too loudly. "Well, if it isn't Alfie Tinge and his sidekick." Julie spat as she turned around to face the two Aurors.

"Been up to the same old antics I see. Torturing young wizards and witches seems to be the only thing you're good at."

At the word 'torturing', Hermione ran over to Harry. He was coming in and out of consciousness so he wasn't aware of what was happening. "Harry? It's Hermione and Ron. We're going to get you out of here." Hermione went to pull him up by his right arm, but he winced, so she chose his left arm. With the help of Ron, they managed to get him standing.

"I'm a good doctor," Julie whined, "the very best. Harry here is much better than he was."

"No, he's not! He looks like he's almost dead! I knew we shouldn't have allowed you to take him away!" Hermione shouted. Her and Ron hadn't worked out a good way to help Harry walk so they just stood in the corner.

"Well, if it isn't the girlfriend. I don't like you, darlin'. I don't know why, but the sight of you makes me feel sick."

"SHUT UP!" Harry screamed, "you've lost. You're evil and pathetic. Just stop trying to be whatever you think will make you a success. You've failed."

"Will you ever learn, darlin'?" A grimace spread across her face as she slipped her wand out of her pocket.

"Will you ever learn that you can't bully people to make them cooperate with you?" He shouted back.

"It's called helping, darlin'." She said sternly and strongly. "But I see you as a lost cause anyway, no point carrying on with you."

She raised her wand and screamed, "AVADA KEDAVRA."

Hermione looked away as soon as she saw the streak of green light head towards them, letting Harry go in the process. She heard a lot of movement and then a dead weight of someone's lifeless body falling to the floor. She shook, knowing that if Julie had hit her target, Harry would be the one on the floor.

"NO!" Lelia screamed, "how-could-" she began saying, but her sobs took over.

Hermione knew now that it wasn't Harry who was struck down, it was Alfie. Aengus and Aoife ran in clutching bandages, bottles of water and food packages. "What's happened?" Aengus said. They all turned to look at the two siblings.

"QUICK! Get her!" Ron cried as he and Aengus both charged at Julie. She could have tried to escape but it was pointless, the door was blocked by Aoife and Professor Curran.


"At least I finally got rid of him. He has been following me for months now, trying to catch me in the act of something unforgivable." Julie chirped.

"That may be the case, but now I've caught you doing something unforgivable, you won't be a free woman for a very long time. I hope Azkaban has a nice, small cell for you." Lelia said, trying to have an air of confidence about her but being heartbroken made that difficult, Hermione thought she masked it well.

Instantly, as if there were people hiding in the walls of the building, a dozen people turned up to take Julie Eliot away. Hermione grabbed Harry's arm again, they hadn't said anything to one another since it all happened. Aoife picked up the water and food which Aengus had chucked in his charge for Julie and brought them over to Harry and Hermione. "I'll go and get a Healer. I imagine that Harry will have to stay here until he's healed." Lelia said. Alfie's lifeless body still lay on the floor, Lelia walked over to him and draped a towel over his head and shoulders. "You died a heroic death." She whispered as her bottom lip trembled. Hermione would have reached out to her, but she understood that she needed time to digest what had happened.

Since his little outburst, Harry had felt weaker than ever. He found it so hard to stand up he had put all of his weight onto Hermione. As she began to buckle, she slowly let him drop to the floor. "Harry? You're safe now. She's gone."

"She's never gone. She always comes back." He whimpered. Hermione looked at Aoife, who was on the other side of Harry, with a concerned look which Aoife returned.

"What has she done to you?" Hermione asked.

"Whip, whip, whip." He almost sang, "slash, slash, slash. Fire, fire, fire."

Hermione looked at Harry's marked body. She gently picked up his left arm and looked at his palm. She had to bite her lip to stop screaming at the sight of it. "Did you find any burn lotion?" She asked Aoife.

"Yeah, can I do it? It would be good practise." Aoife said, she rarely had a chance to heal people.

"Sure." Hermione breathed. Her breath rattled as she tried to hold back the tears and stay strong. She picked up a towel and poured some water on the edge of it. She went to dab his neck with it when he flinched. "It's me." She whispered this seemed to relax him and so she cleaned the blood off his neck before moving to his cheek. As she cleaned it, she made the same movement as Julie had done.

"Don't hurt me." He mouthed, "please."

"I would never hurt you." Hermione's voice was quiet and weak, she thought that anything could trigger her tears.

"Harry?" A strong voice came from behind them. "Harry. I'm Abi and I will be your Healer for your duration of your time here. I can not apologise enough for what you have experienced here. I can assure you that no one else in the hospital will treat you like that...flea." Hermione turned to see another glamorous young woman. She had the most glossy strawberry blonde hair and big blue eyes. She waved her wand and a red stretcher appeared and hovered just above Harry.

Professor Curran, Ron and Aengus lifted Harry onto it and it floated, just behind Abi, to Harry's private room. Hermione and Ron lingered back, "are you okay?" Ron asked, his voice full of concern.

"We left him here, Ron. We should have come much sooner than we did." Hermione was pulling at her sleeves, something Ron knew meant she was anxious.

"I know," he hung his head in shame, "everything he has done for everyone and this is how he's treated. But, I've got an idea. Something which might show our gratitude to him. We're going to need a lot of help, though."

Hermione eyed him suspiciously, but the glint in his eye made her trust him. She nodded slowly as he told her the idea.


"You have suffered a third-degree burn on your hand, it has penetrated through all layers of your skin and it has damaged your subcutaneous tissue. It won't hurt if I touch it but we can heal it in several days with burn lotion and a bandage, magic is wonderful." Abi added, "as for your right arm, you have dislocated your collar bone, a quick spell can pop that back into place. As for the cuts and marks; I've examined them, they're not very deep so we can fix them with another spell." She smiled, she held a clipboard close to her chest as she explained to Harry and the crowd around him what she would do. "You're dehydrated and slightly malnourished, but I can't find any signs of lasting damage so that shouldn't be too hard to sort. Now, you might not want this, but I can arrange a psychiatrist, a proper one. You've gone through quite the ordeal so I would recommend it."

Harry glanced over at Hermione and Ron, they just smiled at him. They didn't want to push him. He nodded slowly, "but I want Hermione and Ron to be there."

"Me?" Ron asked.

"You." Harry reiterated.

"That would be fine. We'll get you all cleaned up first. I'll start with the burn."

"Right, I think it's best if we go back to Hogwarts," Professor Curran said to his children.

"Oh, I wanted to watch her heal Harry, dad. Please, let me stay."

"I'm sorry, Fe. You have classes to go to."

Aoife looked like she was going to argue but knew it was a lost cause, "glad you're safe, Harry. I'll bring you some chocolate frogs when I come and visit you." She quickly hugged Ron, which seemed to catch him off guard, and walked to the door.

Aengus began making his way to the door when his father stopped him, "you did good today, son. I'm proud of you." Hermione watched this scene and smiled as Aengus beamed up at his father.

"Thanks, dad." He smiled as they walked out of the room together.


"You're back!" Aoife said when Hermione walked into the Common Room later that evening.

"Yeah, Abi said Harry needed rest," Hermione said trying to stifle a yawn. "He's already doing much better. His arm is fixed and he's been given plenty of water and food. They're going to remove the cuts tomorrow and the burn should be gone by Saturday."

"That's brilliant news. When will he be allowed back?" Aengus asked.

"Abi said maybe Saturday after the burn has healed, on Friday he has that psychiatrist coming to talk to him so I have to talk to Professor McGonagall to ask if I can have the day off to be with him."

"She'll let you, surely. If not, I'll ask my dad to talk to her." Aoife said.

"Thanks, Aoife. Ron's talking to McGonagall. I need to ask you something, both of you." Hermione said as she stood in front of the fire which gave her a warm glow.

*

"How are we feeling today?" Abi asked Harry softly as she entered the room with her trusty clipboard.

"Much better, thank you for everything," Harry said gratefully.

"Don't thank me, I'm just doing my job. We're going to remove these nasty cuts and scars now." Harry stood up, just in his underwear, as she lifted the cuts, bruises, marks and scars with her wand. They had all gone when she asked, "would you like to remove this scar?" Pointing to the very familiar one on his forehead. He remembered back to what Dumbledore had said about scars being useful.

"No, this one is a reminder of everything. The reminder that we fought hard and won."

"Alright, well, we're all done. Let me check your burn." She peeled back the bandage and smiled, "it's healing much quicker than I expected. I'll put more burn lotion on and check it later, we might be able to get you back to Hogwarts sooner than I anticipated. I'll see if I can get Edgar to see you earlier than tomorrow."

"Sounds good. Will Hermione and Ron be here?"

"If he comes today, I'll contact Professor McGonagall and ask for her permission." Harry nodded at this and smiled slightly, but the smile didn't reach his eyes, it rarely did these days. "I'll bring you in some breakfast." She smiled as she set the clipboard down on the table over the bed.

*

"Hey, you okay?" Aengus said as he sat down next to Hermione in the library.

"Yeah, just thinking," Hermione replied, not taking her gaze off of her book.

"Thinking of Harry?"

Hermione was actually thinking of more than just Harry. She was mainly thinking of the conversation she had had with Aoife about the very same boy sitting next to her. "Yeah." She replied vaguely.

"It must be hard, seeing him like that."

He was right, it was, but it felt very similar to when she saw the cuts and scars on him. "Yeah."

"Curly, I may not have known you for very long, but I know something is on your mind."

She looked at him; he looked so much like Harry it was scary, the eyes, the messy hair. "Aoife said something to me."

"She did? I must tell her off for that..." He said sarcastically.

"She said that I wouldn't be the first one to throw it all away for you."

Aengus looked shocked at this, "why would she say that? Don't worry, I know you'd never do that and I don't intend to make you." He smiled. Before Hermione could say more, he busied himself by looking through his bag for something. She wanted nothing more than to ask him what Aoife was talking about, Aengus had told him that he was with Bree for years.

"Hermione," it was Ron, "McGonagall says you need to go to St. Mungo's."

"What's wrong?" She asked as she stood up from her table rather forcefully knocking all the pieces of paper off.

"Nothing. The psychiatrist is seeing Harry today. I can't make it, McGonagall says I need all the help I can get," he scoffed, "but she said you can go. You have a free period anyway." Ron explained as he, Hermione and Aengus bent down to pick up the fallen paper.

Hermione and Aengus brushed hands and she was surprised to see him blush slightly, "sorry, Curly." He mumbled as he continued to pick up the paper.

"We'll finish up here, you get to Harry. " Ron said to Hermione, "he needs you there." She was hesitant, anxious about what she would hear come out of Harry's mouth. "You're strong." He reassured her as she stood up.

*
"You came." Harry smiled when Hermione walked into his room.

"Of course I did. Why wouldn't I?" Hermione did her best to sound happy for him.

"Everything alright?"

"Course. You look much better." She still hadn't walked over to his bed, she was scared and wasn't sure why.

"Yeah, I feel it too."

The air was filled with an awkward silence, neither of them knew what to say. "Harry, I'm sorry for making you see someone; if I had let you do what you wanted to do, none of this would have happened."

"I know you didn't mean for it to happen like this, don't blame yourself."

What was wrong with her? Why couldn't she talk to him anymore, why didn't the conversation flow? "So, are you looking forward to coming back to Hogwarts?"

Harry looked slightly to the left of Hermione, sensing something was awry. "I guess, looking forward to going back to normal."

Normal, that was what Hermione wanted, but she felt like the norm was alien to her. "I've missed you." She forced herself to look into his eyes. He looked into hers at the same time; the connection sent butterflies through her stomach, that must be a good sign.

"I've missed you too." He smiled a weak, faint smile.

"Hello, hello. Sorry, I kept you waiting. When Abi told me I was seeing Harry Potter...well, I couldn't believe my luck. But never mind that, I'm Edgar Furman. Nice to meet you." He directed the last bit at Hermione, who was still standing by the door. He was a short, plump wizard in a pinstripe suit. He had amazingly curly hair which stuck out in all angles.

"Nice to meet you, Mr Furman, I'm Hermione."

"Of course, of course. Hermione Granger. All we need is Ron Weasley and we've completed the puzzle. Joking, of course. I'm not looking to score 'celeb' points, just to help. Right, shall we get started?" Hermione finally uprooted herself, there was a comfy chair right next to Harry's bed which she sat in. "Where to begin? That is the most important question. Some say the beginning and I happen to...agree with them. Let's start there." Harry nodded, he knew that. "Righty, I have some notes from what you said the other day about your aunt and uncle. Would you like to talk about that?"

"I guess I felt like an outsider the whole time there. They accepted me but could never accept who I was. My whole childhood I felt like I didn't belong anywhere and that is because they hid who I really was. They had to, they didn't know what else to do. I just wish I realised that they didn't do what they did to me out of hatred, it was out of fear. They were, in their own twisted way, trying to protect me from what killed my parents. That's all they were doing. They said they had tried to squash the magic out of me, what if it was because they didn't want me to know what really happened to my mum and dad; they didn't want me to go through the same thing as they did."

"Do you hate them for what they put you through?" Edgar asked.

"I hate what they put me through. I don't know if I hated them, at times I definitely did."

"You saved them. Just before you went out to destroy Voldemort, you sent them away. You gave them a safe place to be. Were you returning the favour?"

This was something he hadn't really thought about, did he do what he did because he felt like he owed them something? "I did it because I didn't want them to get hurt. When I had nothing, they looked after me, I guess I did return the favour."

"Can I suggest something? I think that you look back at your life with your aunt and uncle as something dark because you found light at Hogwarts. They pushed you away, I think because they knew deep down that you wouldn't be there for long. Maybe they didn't want you to think they were replacing your parents, I don't know. But if you think about it, I mean really think about it; yes, they did horrible things to you, they locked you up and left you out but not out of spite, like you said, out of fear of losing you too. Your aunt already lost her sister to magic, my bet is, she didn't want to lose her nephew to it too. You found a better place at Hogwarts but when it came down to it, you protected those three, rotten members of your family." Edgar suddenly started acting professional, that explained the normal-looking suit.

"You're right. They are the only family I have, they did what they were asked to do: they looked out for me."

"That's what families do, they looked out for you and you looked out for them." Hermione smiled, she suddenly felt close to Harry again, everything from before had washed away.

"So, what I want you to try and do is tell me about all the nice things they did for you," Edgar said calmly.

Harry thought about this, he thought that they hadn't done anything nice for him. "They gave me Dudley's second bedroom." Harry stuttered.

"They didn't have to shut you in the cupboard to begin with." Hermione pointed out.

This was true, "they took me to the zoo."

"Because they couldn't arrange somewhere for you to go in time." Harry gave Hermione a quick glance, he was trying so desperately hard to think of something nice they had done.

"Do you want me to tell you the answer?" Edgar interjected. "They took you in. They feed you. They clothed you. They could have given you up, could have sent you to an orphanage or a care home, but they didn't." That was true, but surely they had to do that. "Albus Dumbledore wanted you to live with Muggles, you could have done that anywhere."

Harry looked at Hermione; this information wasn't new to him, he was aware that they could have given him to anyone else if they had hated him that much. "You're right. They did accept me, they let me go to Hogwarts. I just misunderstood things."

"They're your family." Hermione smiled, "they love you and you love them. They'll always be there for you if you need them." She took his hand which made him smile.

He felt better, he was glad he had talked through it. "It'll take some time but, I promise you, you will feel much better about your childhood. Just remember the good aspects of it and don't hide it in darkness." Edgar instructed. "Right, do you feel like talking more? Or do you need a rest?"

"I want to carry on," Harry said, he was on a roll and didn't want to slow himself down.

"Let's go to the elephant in the room then. Voldemort."

Harry nodded slowly, "where to I start with him?"

"I know how you feel, Harry. Your life has been controlled by him. Now, you don't know what to do with yourself, am I right?"

"Yes. I never thought the war would end, but now it has, I'm lost. I don't know what to do, I don't know how to act. Do I pretend like it didn't happen?"

"What do you want to do?"

"Some...sometimes I-" Harry stuttered, finding it hard to get his words out.

"Go on, Harry. It's a safe place here." Edgar reminded him.

"Sometimes I think that people don't care what I, what we," he added when he looked at Hermione, "did. We risked our lives and we haven't been thanked, not really. The odd people have when we went to the funerals, but other than that, I can't remember anyone being grateful."

"Maybe they're still getting over it. Maybe they think you've got enough to do." Edgar offered.

"I have nothing to do. My whole life was lead up to killing Voldemort, that's all I know how to do."

"Balderdash. You know how to do other things."

"Like what? I feel like I've just been a robot, everyone telling me what to do and when to do it. It's like I've never had a chance to do what I want to do."

"You know how to love. That's something you can only be taught if you are loved. You know how to smile, how to laugh. You're dragging yourself down. Basing you life on one, albeit large, event that happened. What about the smaller things in between that? What about the friendships and relationships you formed along the way? The bonds that can never be broken. People are grateful; I for one can not thank you enough, but I don't. Because I feel like it would bother you if I did. Imagine endless amounts of people coming up to you, thanking you whenever they saw you. You did a wonderful thing for the world and that won't be forgotten. But, at the moment, it's a very personal time for everyone - there was so much love lost, some many lives cut short. They'll be thinking about the people they lost, their heroes. But that doesn't mean you're not a hero, it doesn't mean you're not appreciated. Everyone feels a bit like you, a bit lost." His voice was so calm and soothing, it made Harry feel safe and comfortable. "Do you know how I see it? Everyone's way of thanking you for what you did is by giving you a peaceful life, the life you deserve."

"What do I do now then?" Harry asked.

"Whatever you want," Edgar answered. "If anyone deserves that, it's you three. I'm not telling you to forget about it all, it's something that will forever stay with you, but your life has started again."

"But what about everyone who died?"

"Let me ask you something, would you blame Ron and Hermione if you died?"

"No," Harry said defiantly.

"Why is that?"

"Because Voldemort did what he did, no one could stop him from killing if he had his mind set on it."

"Then that means you can't blame yourself."

"Yes I can, I should have stopped him sooner."

"But you could argue other people could have found the Horcruxes sooner. Why did they leave it all down to you? Do you blame Dumbledore?"

"I did. I was angry at him for keeping me in the dark for so long, but no. Not anymore."

"Harry, everything you're saying is contradictory. You can't argue you wouldn't blame anyone else, but you do blame yourself. The war started before you were born, Harry. They weren't fighting for you, they were fighting with you. It wasn't just your battle to fight. They didn't die for you and they didn't die because of you."

"Then why does it feel like that?" Harry asked innocently.

"You're not seeing it from anyone else's point of view. Hermione, why did you join Harry?"

"I wanted to help him, but also to protect my parents." She answered honestly.

"Do you see now, Harry? Even Hermione didn't to it just for you. She had her reasons too. Like everything, it'll take time for you to realise you aren't to blame. But I can wholeheartedly say that I do not blame you."

"I don't either, Harry. Neither do the Weasleys." Hermione added.

"The only person who blames you is you."

"I'm not to blame, it's not my fault. They gave their lives for their families, not me." Harry said under his breath, trying to get himself to believe it.

"You're not to blame, it's not your fault. They gave their lives for their families, not you." Edgar repeated to him.

Suddenly, Harry did believe it. He finally saw it wasn't all about him, they didn't fight to save his life. A massive weight dropped off of his shoulders. He looked at Hermione and smiled; the smile finally reaching his eyes, she smiled back and began to laugh. In a matter of seconds, all three of them were laughing and smiling. Hermione stood up to give Harry a hug as she wiped a tear off her cheek. "I've missed you," Hermione whispered - Harry Potter was back.


Chapter 10: Chapter Ten.
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It was a cold, dark Saturday morning. The first game of Quidditch was due to take place today between Gryffindor and Hufflepuff. It was still early, nobody in the castle was awake, nobody but Aengus Curran. He was sat up in his bed, his wand softly lit, looking at a photo of a happy family. The photo had two adults, the woman holding a small child and three identical older children standing in front. They were all beaming at the camera, the three children were all wearing '10 TODAY' badges on their chest. The sun was shining and they were surrounded by lush greenery. "I miss you, mum." He whispered, tears in his eyes. "You'd be so proud of me, Ron and I took down a murderer. Don't worry, we were safe." He joked, "you always did worry about me. Ron is great, mum. You don't have to worry about Aoife, she's found a nice one in him. I hope you're doing well, wherever you are. I love you." He whispered before his wand darkened. He shuffled down in his bed and held the picture close to his chest.

Across the country, Harry was laying in his bed wide awake. He was thinking about the face he was going back to Hogwarts in a few hours time. Edgar Furman had done wonders for him, but he still felt like there was more to explore. Edgar and Hermione had suggested popping in to see him whenever the time was right for both of them, he also told Harry that he was always a letter away. Harry also had a photograph of several figures. One was him and the other two were his very best friends. It was taken just after Harry's first Quidditch match, he was holding the Snitch and was simpering at the camera. He always had this photo on him; he knew that whatever happened, the memories of Ron and Hermione were secure in his mind, it also reminded him that normality was something he had experienced in his life.

*

"Hermione? I don't mean to sound insensitive but, is Harry going to be back in time for the Quidditch match or am I going to need to find a replacement Seeker?" Ginny asked at breakfast, she approached her carefully, not wanting to upset Hermione.

"I don't know, Gin. I assume he won't play today, I don't know when he's being discharged yet." Hermione answered, "do you have a replacement in mind?"

"No, not really. When everyone heard that Harry was trying out for Seeker, no one else turned up."

"I'll do it," Aengus said casually.

"Are you any good?" Ginny asked, it almost sounded so panicked that the answer didn't matter.

"I don't think you can be picky about that. I have caught it a couple of times at home, I'm familiar on a broom and you're a man down. Just try and score as many points as possible." Aengus ordered.

"So you're saying we can win, with you as Seeker, if we have 150 over Hufflepuff?" Ginny moaned.

"Hey, at least I know the rules of Quidditch." He joked, "I'll try my best."

"I guess you're my only option. Don't get too cosy in that position, as soon as Harry is fit enough to play, you'll be out."

"I'd never take something of Harry's away from him, that's not the kind of man I am." He said, looking strangely at Hermione as he said it. Hermione eyed him suspiciously but didn't say anything.

"Right, well, be there at 10," Ginny ordered before marching off.

"What happened to you not wanting to play Quidditch?" Hermione asked.

"My dad said I could. We had a long chat yesterday and we sorted everything out." He smiled.

"Everything?"

"Well, not Calum. What? I can't tell him all about Calum, that's up to Aoife." He argued as Hermione had begun to question why.

"I guess so, but I don't think it's fair that he blames you for all that. Has he seen the scars on your body?"

"No..." he trailed off as he looked towards the door of the Great Hall. "Curly, you'll never believe it!" He gasped.

"What?" Hermione asked, voice full of confusion. She followed his gaze and nearly cried when she was Harry walking towards them. She stood up and ran over to him. When she reached him, he picked her up and spun her round.

"Nice to see you." He smiled as he put her back on the floor.

"You too." She giggled. She stood on her tiptoes and gave him a quick peck, the first and second years around them all 'oohed' and laughed. "Have you eaten?" She asked, still in a close embrace with him.

"Yeah, but I could always eat some more." He smiled. He wrapped his arm around her waist and walked back to where she was sitting.

"Welcome back, mate. It hasn't been the same without you." Aengus grinned.

"Cheers. I hear that you have been looking after Hermione," Harry paused, "thanks, I really appreciate it." He said as he sat down next to Hermione.

"No problem, it was my pleasure. Got any tips on catching a Snitch?"

"You're Seeker today?" Harry said, trying not to laugh. "Well, have you ever caught a Snitch before?"

"Yeah, once or twice-" he trailed off.

"Well, just float around above everyone else, that way you have a view of the whole pitch. Also, remember the Snitch could be anywhere, so don't just look around in the borders of the pitch, look out of them. You'll be fine."

"You two are coming to watch, right?"

"Yeah, we'll be there to catch you if you fall." Harry joked. He leaned over and ate the piece of sausage that was on Hermione's fork. "Thanks for that." He grinned.

Hermione playfully hit his arm, "get your own sausage." She laughed.

Aengus looked away from the couple before making his excuses and leaving. "Do you really want to watch the Quidditch?" Harry asked.

"I thought just said you wanted to, Ron's playing."

"I know, but the Common Room will be empty, I just thought we could spend some time together." His eyes glistened mischievously.

*

"Harry! Why weren't you watching the Quidditch? Aengus played amazingly. He caught the Snitch within seconds, Madam Hooch hadn't even blown the whistle, he had to release it and start again." Ron exclaimed as he entered the Common Room with Aoife close behind.

"Ron was amazing too, he didn't let in a single goal." Aoife boasted.

"So we won?" Harry asked.

"Yep, 200 to nothing. Brilliant start."

"Ginny really has got you into shape." Harry joked, "I may give Aengus my position as Seeker."

"What? Why? I thought you loved playing?" Ron whined, "I thought we were going to be on the team together, like last time."

"I do love playing, but Aengus sounds really good. If I play, he won't be able to."

"Yes he will, I've just been out with him now, he's a brilliant Chaser, Keeper and Beater. " Ginny informed, Harry hadn't realised she had come in, "Luke Harvey was knocked off his broom in the match, he doesn't want to play anymore. That means we're a Chaser down. I was going to offer Aengus the position."

"So all three you can be on the team!" Aoife cheered, "Harry, where's Hermione?"

"Oh, she's in your dorm. She was really tired." Harry said. "Is Luke okay?" He turned back to Ron and Ginny.

"I'm going to go and see her, see you later." She said before running off.

"Yeah, he's with Madam Pomfrey, he will be alright."


"Hermione? Can I talk to you?" Aoife's voice was quiet and timid. Hermione was laying on her bed but sat up when she heard someone open the door.

"Sure, is everything alright?" Hermione's caring characteristic was shining through even now. She sat cross-legged on her bed and invite Aoife to do the same.

"Okay, well, Ron's asked me out. Tonight, he wants us to go to Hogsmeade-" she trailed off.

"Right, so what's the problem?"

"I've never been on a date before."

"It'll be fine. You've nothing to be scared of, you've spent plenty of time alone with him already." Hermione argued, "you know he likes you, it'll be fun." She smiled.

"We've spent time alone, yeah, but it's never been in a romantic setting. I always imagine some big sweeping gesture from him which leads into something...special. But it never happens. It's as though he's too scared to touch me." Her voice sounded deflated. "What if he's just using me for a distraction from everything?"

"Ron would never use you. He's too nice for that. He'll be just as nervous as you and probably be a complete gentleman. Have you told him about Calum?"

"A bit, not anything in detail. Why?"

"Maybe that's why he's scared, he doesn't want to push you into anything you don't want to do. He's taking it slow."

"Yeah, too slow. I excepted him to copy the way Harry is with you, sweep me off my feet." She sighed, "I want the big fairy tale love story like you."

Hermione tried not to laugh, "fairy tale? You haven't heard how Harry and I got together, have you?" Aoife shook her head, "well, it all started in our fourth year. Harry had been entered into the Triwizard Tournament, there was an age restriction so nobody under the age of 17 could take part so it was a big shock to everyone. Anyway, on the night when the champions were named, Harry was one of them. He and Ron had a massive argument and Ron stopped talking to him, he was upset because he thought Harry had somehow thought of a way to evade the age restriction without telling him. So, before the tournament started, Rita Skeeter wrote a piece on all of the champions, she would wonder around the school writing up any gossip she heard. Right before the first task, I snuck in to wish Harry good luck and she took a picture of us together, writing an article about the two of us, stating we were in love. That must have sent the same thought through both of our minds and slowly, very slowly we did begin to fall in love. But that didn't stop Harry dating someone else in our fifth year, that was hard for me, but it just made me realise how I felt about him."

"What happened next?" Aoife asked: she loved Hermione's stories from the past.

"I tried to push it out of my mind, we had just set up Dumbledore's Army and Harry was going through a lot with Voldemort. So his relationship with Cho faded away. Then he was single again and I couldn't get the idea of us out of my mind, we had our OWLs to focus on so at least I had that. Then in our sixth year, Harry and Dumbledore started closing in on Horcruxes so Ron and I didn't see him as much as previous years and on top of that, Harry had fallen well and truly for Ginny. Then we went on the run, looking for the Horcruxes and I guess things just fell into place. Ron left us for a while so we spent time alone and the rest is history. So it wasn't plain sailing for us and it definitely wasn't a fairy tale."

"Ginny? Ginny Weasley?" Aoife gasped.

"Yeah. Harry broke up with her at Dumbledore's funeral, he wanted to protect her. So that gave us a free path."

"Who made the first move?"

"Harry. We both had reservations, we didn't want to throw away our friendship."

"Fair enough. Sorry for what I said about you and Aengus. I didn't mean it, I think I was just jealous."

"Jealous of-?"

"You. You are everything I want to be. You're clever, gorgeous and have the perfect boyfriend."

Hermione blushed slightly, "so are you, Aoife, I promise you. Plus, Ron will be just as perfect as Harry. Don't put yourself down."

"Do you think Ron really does like me?" She asked, her voice shaky and mild.

"Yes, he hasn't acted like this with anyone." Aoife beamed at this, it was as though all she needed was some reassurance. "Do you know what you're going to wear?"

"I haven't even thought about that...will he dress up?" She asked frantically. "I don't have anything nice to wear."

"Well, where are you going?"

"The Three Broomsticks."

"Right, well I would go casual. Still dress up nicely but, it isn't a formal place."

"I didn't think it would be this hard to decide, what do I wear?"

"You're nervous, I would suggest something comfy and familiar. What sort of things do you have?"

Hermione and Aoife spent the next half an hour trying to figure out what she should wear. She must have tried on over a dozen outfits when Hermione suggested one of her own dresses, "I know it isn't familiar, but we're about the same size." The dress was black and had white hearts dotted around with a collar of the same pattern and long sleeves. It fell just above the knee and the skirt was pleated.

She quickly pulled the dress on and looked at herself in the long mirror on the closed door. "I love it." She looked at the dress from all angles, turning to the side, "I love it!" She repeated.

"You look amazing, absolutely stunning."

She ran over to Hermione and pulled her into a tight hug, "thank you!" She squealed. She finally let her go and went back to looking in the mirror.

"Do you have a jumper?" Hermione pondered. "Ginny has the perfect one, I'm sure she won't mind if you borrow it." She walked over to Ginny's trunk and pulled out a burgundy cable knit jumper, "here it is!" She chucked it over to Aoife and she put it on. "You look great."

"What should I do with my hair?" She said, turning back to Hermione.

"Leave it down, maybe tie the top part up. Here, let me."

Hermione tied half of her hair up before she stepped away and smiled. Aoife turned around and nearly cried, "I know it's simple, but it makes an impact, thank you so much, Hermione. I've never looked this nice before."

"Don't be silly, you always look amazing."

"Hermione, I'm starving, can we go to dinner now?" Harry moaned as he walked up the stairs, "blimey, Aoife, you look amazing. Ron's just getting ready." He shot her a smile before looking back at Hermione, "I am about to eat my own hand, please can we go?"

"What did I say, not a fairy tale." Hermione laughed, looking at Aoife, "I hope you two have a great time, you'll have to tell me all about it when you get back."

"What do you mean, not a fairy tale? I'm practically Prince Charming." Harry joked, bowing like a prince and taking Hermione's hand.

"Get up," Hermione laughed, "see you later, Aoife."


Aoife took several deep breaths before she went down to the Common Room. She was shaking, but she didn't get why, it wasn't as though she had never spent time with Ron before. She straightened her collar and made sure her dress was flat before she left. "Bloody hell," Ron exclaimed when she turned the corner into the Common Room, "bloody hell... Yo-you lo-look beautiful."

Aoife felt her face becoming hot and probably turning scarlet, "you don't look too bad yourself." She smiled. He was wearing a grey shirt, a casual blazer and jeans.

"Will I do?" He grinned.

"Oh, you'll do." She laughed.

He held out his hand and she curled her fingers around his. "Ready to go?"

She took another deep breath and nodded, "ready."

*

"Do you know what I was thinking?" Harry asked Hermione at dinner.

"How would I know that?" Hermione joked, "what were you thinking?"

"That Ginny and Aengus would be good together."

Hermione nearly choked on her mash potato, "Ginny and Aengus?" She repeated, coughing and hitting her chest to dislodge the mash, "they have never spent time together, how do you know?"

"Ron told me that he caught Ginny doodling his name. Apparently, that's the reason Ginny kept him behind after Quidditch. Don't you think it's a good idea?"

"I don't think you can push them together," Hermione said before going back to eat her mash. What was wrong with her? Why didn't she what Ginny to follow her heart?

"Is everything okay?" Harry asked.

Hermione didn't want to lie to Harry, but she also didn't know what to say to him. It wasn't as though she had grown feelings for Aengus since Harry was away, but something made her feel uncontrollably jealous when they spoke about this sort of thing. She loved Harry to bits and was sure she always would do, but that didn't help matters much. "I don't know what's wrong with me." She whispered, leaning across the table so she was closer to him, "I don't want to talk about it here, can we go somewhere more private?" She asked. Harry looked confused and worried, so he nodded and stood up. They walked to the Room of Requirement as they knew they wouldn't be disturbed in there.

Harry sat down on a huge sofa that was there and signalled for Hermione to do the same. "What's wrong?" His voice was calm and soothing, the confusion on his face wasn't carried through in his voice.

"I don't know how to start, I don't want you to worry."

She looked into his eyes and saw them flooded with worry, "what's happened?"

"N-nothings happened," she stuttered quietly, "since we've come back to Hogwarts, Aengus and I have gotten closer."

"Yeah, I know. I don't want you to think that you can't talk to other people." Harry said.

"No, I know. That's not what I'm trying to say. We have become close, I thought it was just as friends. Then Aoife said something to me, she said I shouldn't lead him on - which I'm not. So I spoke to him about this and he's been acting weirdly ever since." Her voice was still quiet and she spoke rather fast, she just wanted to get the facts across.

"Hermione, slow down." Harry tried to calm her down.

"Harry, you need to know that nothing has happened between us and nothing ever will. I love you." She took his hand in both of hers, "please, you need to understand that." Her eyes were getting misty, but she continued to look into his.

"Hermione, stop." He commanded. "It's okay."

"Please, nothing has happe- what?" She had spoken over him.

"It's okay. I know you're just friends, I know nothing would happen between you two." He smiled at her, his eyes no longer full of worry.

"There's something else. I don't know why, but I don't want to think about him and Ginny. Or he and anyone." She admitted.

"What about him and you?" He asked, half terrified of the answer.

"Yes, but I didn't like it, it was when you pushed me over and I ran outside; he came to check on me and he reminded me so much of you. Then you were taken and he was the only one who believed that you needed help." Hermione dropped her head.

Harry looked at her for a few seconds before pushing her chin up so she looked at him. He placed one hand on each of her cheeks and stroked the lobes of her ears, "it's okay," he whispered, "it's okay. I understand, I wasn't feeling myself and he was there for you like I should have been. But, I'm here now."

"D-do you really mean that?" A single tear dropped from her eyes and Harry whipped it away with his thumb.

"Yes. You told me the truth and you didn't hide it from me." He pulled her closer and gently kissed her.
*

Ron and Aoife had finally sat down at one of the more secluded tables in the Three Broomsticks. They had ordered a Butterbeer for Aoife and Ron had gone for a Firewhisky to try and calm his nerves. The pub was relatively empty, students weren't allowed to go to Hogsmeade at night, but Ron and Aoife had managed to sneak out, with the help of Harry's invisibility cloak. "It's been a crazy few days." Aoife joked, trying to break the tension.

"You haven't seen crazy at Hogwarts." Ron laughed, "in our first year, a teacher let a mountain troll in and Hermione was trapped with it. Honestly, I was looking forward to a normal year here."

"Normal, Mr Weasley? Why, normal is boring." Aoife smiled and giggled. They both sipped their drinks again.

"Tell me about Ireland." Ron grinned.

"What do you want to know about Ireland? It rains a lot, there's so many shades of green and beautiful scenes. We lived in a remote village called Inistioge."

"Is it by the sea?"

"No, but there's a river nearby which we used to swim in, with mum. We never really went to the beach, we didn't really venture out of County Kilkenny." She began fiddling with her sleeves. She had mentioned her mum, which always made her upset. Ron knew exactly how she felt, he hated talking about Fred; he didn't want to forget his existence, he sometimes spoke to George about him but tried to avoid conversations surrounding him. "Sorry, I've never really spoken about mum...not since..."

"Not even with Aengus or Ardal?"

"No, Ardal deals with things differently; he just disappeared for days and days, nobody knows where he went. Aengus bottles everything up, I don't think I have once heard him talk about anything that's bothering him."

"What about your dad?"

"He's not exactly a talker. He's very much a believer of actions are louder than words. It's okay, I don't need to talk about her." Her eyes were full of tears, she looked away from Ron to try and hide them from him.

Ron took a deep breath, "when Fred died, it was like my world grew cold. He was the life and soul of everything, him and George, and it felt like I would never be able to feel happiness again. But slowly, very slowly, the pain has become a dull ache. It wasn't that long ago, but I know that he was fighting for a better future, and despite the fact he will never be able to live in it, we all carry him with us. I know it's not the same, I know your mum didn't die fighting Voldemort, but you need to know that I understand the pain, and if you ever want to talk, I'm here."

"Thank you," Aoife whispered. They sat in silence for some time, just enjoying the company. "What do you think you're going to do after school?" She finally said, catching Ron off guard.

"No idea, I was thinking travelling. I want to go to Romania to see Charlie, but I want to do normal things; go on holiday with friends and not worry about what's around the corner or behind my shoulder. Be carefree for a while."

"That sounds great." Aoife smiled.

"Do you want to come with me? I don't know what Harry and Hermione will be doing, I'll ask them if they want to come."

"I'd love to!"

"Great. Invite Aengus and Ardal if you want, it would be nice for all of us to be together."

The rest of the evening was filled with munching on delicious food, laughing at silly jokes and Ron telling Aoife all about Hogwarts when he first started. By 11 o'clock, they decided that they should probably be getting back, they slipped under the cloak and made their way back to the castle.


Aoife stumbled into the dormitory at 12. She looked around; four beds were empty, like usual Amanda and Sophie's beds were empty but so was Hermione's. Aoife concluded that she was with Harry; it upset her slightly, she wanted to have a relationship like theirs, but she also wanted to talk to Hermione about Ron. She took of Ginny's jumper and quickly cleaned it was a spell, she folded it nicely and placed it on top of her trunk. She changed into her pyjamas and cleaned Hermione's dress with the same spell and put it away. She sat up in her bed, her wand softly lit, looking at a photo of a happy family. The photo had two adults, the woman holding a small child and three identical older children standing in front. They were all beaming at the camera, the three children were all wearing '10 TODAY' badges on their chest. The sun was shining and they were surrounded by lush greenery. "I miss you, mum." She whispered before closing her eyes and falling asleep.

*

Aoife skipped down to breakfast the next morning, she scanned the room and saw Harry, Hermione and Aisling all sitting together. Aisling was sitting next to Hermione and they were both poring over a book. Harry looked up and waved Aoife over, "morning." He sang as she sat down next to him.

"Morning," she smiled, "how are you?"

"Good thanks and you? How was last night?"

"Good. Yeah, it was nice. Ron drank a bit too much firewhisky but it was good fun." She joked.

"Eww, did you kiss?" Aisling asked, she had become distracted by their conversation, alongside her teacher.

"Don't be so noisy, Bee. But, no." She added for Harry and Hermione's benefit.

"But you did both have a good time?" Hermione asked, closing the Potions book that lay open in front of her.

"Yeah, it was really nice. It wasn't awkward like I thought it would be." She smiled. She reached to grab some toast when Aengus and Ardal walked over towards them.

"Already studying?" Aengus joked, "hey, Bee. How are you?"

"Good, thank you." Aisling smiled, "I might go back to the Ravenclaw table now. Thank you for helping me, Hermione." She beamed before running off to her friends.

"Ron said something about travelling? What's that about?" Aengus asked when they had all sat down.

"Did he? When?" Aoife asked, rather surprised that the idea had spread this quickly.

"Last night, when he came back. He woke us all up when he stomped in." Hermione sighed, "he couldn't wait to tell us all about his plans to see the world. I, for one, think it's a great idea!" She exclaimed.

"Me too," Aengus and Harry said at the same time.

"I think Luna and I are planning a trip ourselves, maybe we could meet up or something?" Ardal asked.

"That would be great," Harry said, "where would we go?"

"Anywhere, everywhere," Aoife informed, "Ron wants to go to Romania."

"I wouldn't mind going to Bulgaria," Harry said.

"Oh and Italy." Aoife, "Greece would be fascinating too."

"I'd love to go to Greece, all the ancient sorcery that must have gone on there," Hermione said. "Romania, Bulgaria and Greece are pretty much all next to each other so it would be quite easy to travel around there."

"You should also come and visit Ireland," Ardal added, "it doesn't have the nice weather, but it does have the scenery."

"Ohhh, I'm so excited now." Aoife giggled, "at least it's something to look forward to."

"Yeah, exams can't come quick enough." Aengus joked.


Chapter 11: Chapter Eleven.
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The weeks had quickly faded into months and in the blink of an eye, it was a day before the Christmas holidays. "Harry, have you decided what you're doing yet? Only mum wants to know how many people to cook for." Ron asked on a snowy Saturday morning.

"No, Hermione's parents haven't written back yet. I assume we will see them for Christmas itself, I've really not got a clue. Have you asked Aoife to stay yet?"

"But you will come and stay? Oh please say you will, I don't want to be trapped with Ginny all holiday." He whined childishly. "No, I never know when the right time to ask her is. I think Professor Curran is staying here over Christmas, so it's not like they're going home and spending Christmas as a family."

"I'm sure we'll visit for a few days." Harry smiled, he loved Christmas with the Weasleys - in his eyes, they did Christmas the proper way. "Oh Ron, just ask her. You've been going on dates since September."

"We haven't made it official yet. What if she turns me down?"

"I'll repeat what I just said, you've been going on dates since September. Next time, you see her, ask her."


"He still hasn't asked you?" Hermione asked. She was sitting crossed legged on her bed whilst Aoife was on her back, leaning on one of the bed posts facing her.

"No, every time I see him, I hint that I have nowhere to go for Christmas. Dad is staying here, so are Aisling, Ardal and Aengus. I just don't want to be stuck with them. Are you and Harry staying with the Weasleys?"

"Yeah, I just got a letter from my parents. They're going to Australia." Hermione said.

"Can I make a quick suggestion?" Ginny asked as she stood up from her packing for a while, "why don't you ask Ron yourself? You could make the first move."

"Like you have done with Aengus?" Aoife asked before they all started laughing.

"That's different, you and Ron have been dating for ages. I've just been silently fancying Aengus for weeks. It was just a suggestion. But you can say I invited you if you want." Ginny shared a habit with Ron, going the colour of her hair when embarrassed. Ginny had admitted to liking Aengus some weeks ago and Hermione was relieved to know she didn't feel a single ounce of jealousy.

"Why don't we invite him too? That way, you can spend time alone with him." Hermione suggested.

"I don't know if he would like that, he doesn't really like taking things off strangers," Aoife informed, "plus, he promised Aisling he would spend Christmas day with her."

"I'll talk to him on my own accord when I feel ready," Ginny whispered, "have you two finished packing yet?"

"I have." Hermione beamed, "I can't wait for a break, it's been harder than I thought, catching up."

"That's because you insist on doing it all at once. You weren't even that far behind and now you're teaching yourself what we haven't been taught yet." Aoife laughed, "so your mum definitely wouldn't mind if I stayed with you?"

"No, the more the merrier with her. I'll send her an owl now." Ginny grinned.

"It's going to be amazing," Aoife said, "I can't wait to see a proper Weasley Christmas."

*

The second Quidditch game would be played out today, Ravenclaw were to take on Slytherin. Harry was looking forward to this game, especially now he had a stronger connection with Ravenclaw. Ron and Harry had decided to sit with Ardal, Aisling and Luna and the rest of the Ravenclaw crowd and would be cheering just as loudly as they would have if it was Gryffindor. The match was due to start in 10 minutes and Ron and Harry were waiting for the girls to come down from the Common Room.

"What do you reckon is taking them so long?" Harry asked, he was beginning to get cold and fed up.

"Hair, clothes, presents." Ron offered.

"Us." Harry joked. He watched amusingly as panic spread across Ron's face. He was about to say something when he saw Aoife, Hermione and Ginny all walk down towards them.

"Harry! We're staying at the Weasley's, my parents are going to Australia." Hermione expressed when they finally reached each other.

"Yeah? That's brilliant news!" Ron exclaimed happily.

"Aoife's staying with us too," Ginny added with a small smirk forming on her face.

"Are you?" He asked for reassurance.

"Yep. Ginny asked if I wanted to stay." She smiled, "are we going to watch the Quidditch or not?" She said as she marched out of the front door.

Harry and Hermione lingered back, "are you okay?" He asked quietly.

"I guess I'll have to be. I need to realise that they have a life out there now. At least I have you." She smiled weakly as she fell into him.

He wrapped his arms around her and said softly, "I'm not going anywhere."


"There you are! I thought you were going to miss this game too." Ron called when Harry and Hermione finally appeared in the stands.

"Sorry, we got lost in the crowd." Hermione lied.

Shortly after Harry and Hermione had turned up, the game had begun. All four of the Currans were cheering when Ravenclaw did anything and booing when Slytherin played their usual dirty game. The score was 50-140 to Slytherin when Harry saw a glitter of gold dancing around Alan McTrevor of Ravenclaw and it wasn't long before he made his move. He stretched out his arm as his broom glided gracefully through the air. Along with all the other spectators, Harry was holding his breath. The crowd took a collective breath when Alan pulled up. He held up his left hand and cheered - the golden Snitch now belonged to his touch. The stand erupted into a huge celebration. A celebration that lasted into the night.

"I can't believe we're celebrating this much!" Harry shouted to Ron over the noise of the music.

"I think we're passed celebrating the match," Ron joked, "even some of Slytherin have joined in. Have you heard? Someone managed to get a whole crate of beer."

"I would blame the Irish for that." Aengus joked, he had one beer in each hand and was dancing with a girl from Ravenclaw.

"I'm going to find Hermione, make sure she's alright," Harry called out to Ron as he looked around the crowded Common Room. He decided to look in the dormitories first, hoping that Hermione would be reading away up there - she wasn't.

He came back downstairs and scanned the room, but like the dormitories, it was Hermione free. He walked out into the corridor but still couldn't find her. "Harry, what are you doing? You're missing the party." Aoife called out from somewhere.

"Have you seen Hermione?" He called back. He heard some rustling and footsteps which resulted in the appearance of Aoife.

"No, she was talking to Luke Harvey about something, that was awhile ago though. Come and dance with us, Hermione will be alright." Aoife was also holding a full bottle of beer in both hands and handed one to Harry, "you've never drunk until you've drunk with an Irish." She winked and dragged him back into the Common Room. "Where's Aengus?" She asked Ron when she saw that he was standing alone with Ginny.

"Oh, he left awhile ago. I think he's gone off with Poppy, the girl he was dancing with." He added when he saw Harry and Aoife's bemused faces. The song slowly faded away and was replaced by a slow one.

"This one is for all you couples out there who have to spend Christmas apart." Ardal joked as he changed the song with a flick of his want. "Care to dance?" He asked Luna, feigning sophistication.

"Aoife, would you please do me the greatest honour and dance with me?" Ron mocked, but Harry wasn't surprised to see Aoife jump at the chance to show off their relationship.

"Well, this is awkward," Ginny grumbled when she was left alone with Harry.

"Why is it awkward, Miss Weasley? Afraid you won't be able to keep up with my dance moves." He joked as he twirled on the spot. Ginny laughed but took his hand to dance, awkwardly, alongside all of the other couples. "I'm sorry to hear about Aengus," Harry said after several silent moments went by.

"How to you kno-?"

"Hermione." Harry laughed, "she couldn't wait to tell me. Don't worry, Ron doesn't know."

"The last friend of his I liked didn't exactly go to plan either," She mumbled under her breath.

"I guess I should be sorry about that, too. I honestly didn't plan on that when we set out." He said as he swayed her from side to side.

"I know, I guess I should have seen it coming really. It was just a big shock for me, finding out like that."

When Harry, Ron and Hermione had left for their hunt, Harry and Ginny were together somewhat. "I know, I am sorry. I didn't expect it to happen, I didn't realise-"

"-you were in love with your best friend." Ginny finished, she tried not to be bitter, she knew that Harry made an innocent mistake, "we weren't technically together, but it was still hard for me."

"I know, I am ashamed of how I handled things, I didn't mean to let you down. You deserve someone who loves you unconditionally and that wasn't me." The song had finally finished and Harry and Ginny instantly moved apart.

"I don't blame you, Harry and I don't blame Hermione. You can't control who you fall in love with and you can't know when or how the truth will come out. Treasure her, Harry, treasure that girl." Ginny said before turning around and walking up to bed.

"Ron! Have you seen Hermione?" Harry called out, walking over to where he was dancing with Aoife.

"I think I saw her go to bed. I'm not sure, though." Ron answered.

So Harry barged through the dancing crowd and headed back upstairs. He looked in on the girl's dorms first, saw Ginny lying in her bed, either trying to get to sleep or already dreaming. He went up to his dormitory and to his relief, saw Hermione sitting in his bed. "Hey." She smiled as she put the book she was reading down.

"There you are. I've been looking for you. Where have you been?" He said whilst making his way over to her.

"I went to the library to find something to read, I left when Ardal and Luna brought out the beer. I bumped into Luke and he told me about a book which was a must read. I saw you dancing with Ginny," she began saying, he was worried where she was going with this, "I'm so glad you've managed to bury the hatchet somewhat with her. It makes everything a whole lot easier." She smiled.

"So am I, I've never really spoken about it with her." He took off his top and jeans a slid into bed next to Hermione. Although the bed was small, it was quite nice sharing as it kept them nice and toasty.

"Neither have I. I hope she understands it wasn't out of malice. I guess I should talk to her too."

"What's the book about?" Harry asked, changing the subject.

"Greek mythology. I thought I would read up before we go." She smiled, leaning over Harry to place the book on the table. She also took Harry's glasses off and put them on top of her book. She lay her head on his chest and traced his abs with her finger.

"You're so cute." She could tell that he was smiling by the way his voice sounded. "What have you found out?"

"Narcissus, Echo and Nemesis. It's fascinating how these myths influence our language. Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection and drowned because of it, that's where the word narcissistic comes from."

Harry loved how Hermione got lost in her own stories. He also liked the feeling of her hair tickling his chin and cheek. To Harry, he was in heaven. He began to trace Hermione's left cheek and closed his eyes. "Was it actually a myth?" He whispered.

"I don't know. A Muggle wrote the book, but it could have actually happened in our world I suppose. It would be interesting to try and find out when we visit Greece." She returned his whisper, knowing that he was about to fall asleep. "Night Harry," She whispered before she closed her eyes.

*

"Hello, dears!" Mrs Weasley squealed when they appeared in the Weasley's kitchen the next afternoon.

"Hi, mum." Ron grinned, giving her a quick hug.

"Ronnie, how are you?" She asked, bringing him back into a longer hug.

"Mum-I-can't-breathe." He gasped.

"Don't be silly," She ordered, "my youngest son has just come home, can't I be happy? Oh! You must be Aoife. It's really nice to meet you." She seemed to push Ron away at the sight of the newest member to the gang.

"Hi. I've heard a lot about you." Aoife smiled sweetly. Mrs Weasley didn't waste any time and pulled both Ron and Aoife close to her.

"Hello, mum." Ginny interrupted, "I'm here too, remember."

"Of course I haven't forgotten about you, Gin. Come here!" She engulfed her only daughter. Once all her bones had been crumbled into powder, Ginny was released from her grasp. "Take your trunks upstairs, lunch will be ready any second now." Mrs Weasley smiled.

Ginny and Ron showed Aoife to her room. "Hi, Mrs Weasley. Thank you for letting us stay." Harry smiled.

"My pleasure, dears. I hear you're feeling a lot better." She smiled. Harry nodded, unsure whether she knew what had happened with Julie. "I'm so glad. I've put you two in the same room as last time."

"Thank you, Mrs Weasley." Hermione smiled, she started lugging her trunk to their room when Mrs Weasley stopped them.

"Harry, Andromeda has contacted me. She wants to invite you over to spend a day with Teddy." Harry gulped, he had tried to avoid mention of his godson, knowing that it would bring back memories of Lupin and Tonks. "She said to pop round tomorrow."

Hermione looked at Harry and tried to study his face, she knew what he was thinking; like her, the image of their former Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher clouded her sight. "How old is he now?" Harry croaked.

"8 months," Mrs Weasley said quietly. Harry nodded slowly, knowing he had a responsibility to this little boy. Like Harry, he was orphaned due to Voldemort, and like Harry, he would have the best godfather the earth had ever seen. "I'll take you there after breakfast tomorrow, at about 11." She beamed at both Harry and Hermione before turning round to prepare the sandwiches.

Harry followed Hermione to the room, slowly. His mind was racing, images of Lupin and Tonks whirled through his mind. He was so young when they had died, they barely had any time together. Harry sat on the bed whilst Hermione busied herself with the unpacking. "Will you come with me?" He whispered.

"Of course, if that's what you want." Hermione smiled. They had dealt with a lot in their time as friends, but never had they been put in charge of a baby. "Don't worry, Harry. Teddy is some light that found his way through the darkness. He won't blame you." She added, knowing how his brain worked.

"How is it you always know what to say?" Harry grinned.

"LUNCH!" The familiar cry of Mrs Weasley echoed around the house.

Hermione put away Harry's last pair of socks and made her way to the door. "Wait," Harry commanded. "I love you," He whispered before placing his lips on hers.

*

The day mostly consisted of eating, talking and playing exploding snap and chess. Hermione was happy to see that Aoife was getting on well with the rest of the Weasley clan. The house was full of laughter and love again. At around 9 o'clock, Ginny disappeared to her room. "Harry, I'm just going to talk to Ginny," She informed, he was in a furious game of exploding snap with George. Hermione was sure he had heard her, but he was too engrossed in the game.

"Ginny?" She called out, lightly tapping her door.

"Come in."

Hermione opened the door and her eyes were greeted by an elegant room. "Can we talk?" She asked delicately.

"Sure, what's the problem?" Ginny was sitting on her bed and signalled for Hermione to join her.

"I want to clear that air between us," Hermione said.

"About Harry? Honestly, Hermione, I'm happy for you." Ginny tried to smile.

"I just want things to go back to normal, I want us to be friends again."

"When you gave me advice to get Harry to notice me, where you in love with him?" Hermione heard a twinge in her voice which indicated she wasn't as happy as she was trying to make out.

"I guess it was my way of trying to move on from him. Ginny, I am so sorry for what happened, I didn't want to take him off you."

"You didn't take him off me, he wasn't mine to take. I'll admit it, I thought that when he got back, when he killed Voldemort, he'd want to be with me. I thought he would take me in his arms and hold me. But he did that with you, he picked you." Hermione didn't say anything, she didn't know what to say. She tried to hold her gaze but the guilt she felt was making it hard. "Honestly Hermione, it's okay. I don't want to fall out over this either, and that's why we haven't. It was hard to see you with him, but now, I'm over it and I'm over him."

"Thanks, Ginny. I know what I did was terrible, but thank you for being so grown up about it."

"It's because I've known you were meant to be together for years. I was kidding myself when I thought we would work together."

"How about I make it up to you and help you with Aengus?" Hermione asked.

"Oh I don't know about him, he went off with Poppy during the party."

"Poppy? Poppy Peetrite? Who said that? He was in the library most of the night."

"Really? Ron and Aoife said they saw him with her. What was he doing in the library?"

"He was reading a book about how to become the perfect Chaser. I think he's taking this Quidditch thing very seriously." Hermione said, she saw Ginny's face light up. "I think he's trying to impress someone." Hermione smiled.

"How am I meant to talk to him? He's so...hypnotising." Ginny swooned.

"He's just human." Hermione laughed, "just talk to him. He'd be a fool not to like you."

"Can you talk to him for me? I want to be sure this time."

"Of course I can. I'll speak to him when we get back."

"Thank you." Ginny squealed, hugging her nearly as tightly as Mrs Weasley.

"You're welcome. I'm going to go back downstairs now, thank you for being so understanding."

"Thank you for coming and talking to me." Ginny smiled. She stood up and walked to her chest-of-draws to find a pair of pyjamas. She thought about the conversation she had just had, thought about what had bothered her about it and the honest answer was that she wasn't over Harry. She had liked him since her first meeting with him. She was aware of the close bond he had formed with Hermione, but she believed that she could break it. Harry had spent a whole year pining after her, but he still picked Hermione. She was jealous, jealous of the stupid things. Jealous that Harry's eyes instantly found Hermione whenever he entered a room. Jealous that Hermione was the one helping him through his latest battle. She wanted him, but she wasn't going to take it out on Hermione. She wasn't going to lose their friendship over it. Aengus was her focus now, she just hoped that her heart would agree with it.


"Harry, Ron and I are thinking about going to the local pub. I think Ron has a taste for Muggle beer." Aoife giggled, "do you want to come?"

"I'll just see if Hermione wants to come," Harry said, walking to Ginny's room. He meet Hermione on the staircase, "Ron and Aoife are going to the pub, do you want to come?"

Hermione silently sighed, she was exhausted but wanted to spend time with Harry, "sure." She feigned a smile. Harry smiled too and took her hand in his.

"You two go without us, I'm really tired and we're looking after Teddy tomorrow. Have a good time." Harry said to Ron and Aoife. They looked slightly disappointed but George said he'd come along and then Mr and Mrs Weasley said they felt like a drink. "It's a family affair." Harry joked as he said goodbye and goodnight to them all.

"Harry, why did you do that? I thought you wanted to go with them?" Hermione asked bewildered.

"Nah, I'd rather stay in with you." He smiled, leading her to their bedroom.


Chapter 12: Chapter Twelve.
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Hermione woke up early on Monday morning. She knew that Harry had been dreaming, on more than one occasion, he had kicked her. She didn't mind, though, at least he was sleeping. "Morning." She croaked.

"Morning," Harry replied, they lay there for a few moments, both thinking about what would happen with Teddy.

"Are you nervous about today?" She finally asked.

"A bit," He confirmed.

Hermione didn't know what to say, she didn't want to presume everything would be okay. She didn't know what looking after an 8-month-old baby would be like. She knew it was important that Harry did help with his upbringing, Andromeda couldn't do it all on her own, she was in mourning like everyone else. Hermione looked at her watch, it was 10 o'clock, "we're normally eating by now, I wonder what's wrong."

"Maybe they're all hungover. How about we make breakfast for them? Mr and Mrs Weasley are always looking after us, we should look after them." Harry suggested.

"That would be a nice thing to do." Hermione smiled, "you're going to have to get up to do that." She joked before pulling the duvet off of both of them.

"Oi. It's freezing." Harry moaned.

"Get up, get dressed, get in the kitchen," Hermione ordered. She took the lead and got out of bed and found something to wear (a pair of jeans, a t-shirt and one of Harry's zip up hoodies). "Harry. Get up." Harry did what he was told, he pulled on some jeans and picked up a t-shirt. He started putting it on as he walked to the kitchen, "when did you start working out?" Hermione asked, blushing slightly.

"I have to keep up with my gorgeous girlfriend." Harry joked. Hermione giggled whilst looking for a pan to fry some eggs, sausage and bacon, they were rarely like this; they didn't like flaunting their relationship in front of other people so she always loved it when Harry called her gorgeous or beautiful. "Where do you want me, chef?"

"I think I can trust you with toast," Hermione said as she stood over the fire.

Harry looked around the room and couldn't see anything that resembled a toaster, "when we have our own house, I want a Muggle kitchen, their appliances are simpler." Harry laughed, coming to a red, metallic piece of machine. He decided that this was the toasting device, and if it wasn't, he would make it one.

"Our own house?" Hermione repeated.

"Yeah, after Hogwarts," He replied distantly. Hermione smiled to herself, she always wondered what would happen once school had finished. She had a fear that they would be staying in between her parent's and the Weasley's house for years. "I'll cook you breakfast every Sunday," Harry promised.

"Don't promise something you cannot keep." She laughed, "how's the toast?"

Harry stared at his bread, it wasn't toasting, it was boiling in water, "umm, yeah, good." He mumbled.

She rolled her eyes and placed some fresh bread in the toaster which was to the right of Harry, "maybe you should lay the table." She suggested, flipping the bacon and turning the sausages.

"I'll boil some eggs, I seem to be good at boiling things." He joked as he dropped a dozen eggs into the machine he had put the bread in.

Hermione looked in some cupboards for anything else they could have for breakfast and saw tins of baked beans, she smiled as she remembered having beans on toast with her father every morning before school when she was young. She opened the tin with her wand and poured the contents into a pot and placed it on the heat. "Everything is coming on nicely." She sang, at the same time as the toaster popped its first batch of toast. As Harry buttered them and put them in the toast rack, Hermione put four more pieces of bread in.

Twenty minutes later the kitchen smelt like it normally did. Hermione walked to the well of the stairs and, just like Mrs Weasley, called everyone down to breakfast. Ginny was the first one to show her face, she clambered down the stairs and was more than a little shocked to see only Harry and Hermione sitting at the table. "Did you two make this?" She asked curiously, "where's mum?"

"Your mum, dad, Ron, Aoife and George went to the pub last night," Harry informed, "we thought we'd do something nice and make breakfast for everyone."

Ginny smiled as she sat in her chair and placed a fried egg, a piece of toast and bacon on her plate. "My parents went to the pub? I'm glad I wasn't there to see them." She said, her face turning slightly green then red, "it would have been mortifying."

Aoife and Ron trudged down the stairs next, they were still in their pyjamas and looked rough, "morning!" Ginny cheered.

Neither of them said anything, their heads pounding from the previous night. They sat down slowly and piled their plates with food. Harry and Hermione looked at each other and laughed, "good night?" He asked them.

"No. Mum and dad were...hideous," Ron said clutching his head.

"What did they do?" Ginny asked, slightly afraid of the answer.

"They kept rubbing Aoife's stomach, singing that it would one day house a new Weasley."

"Well...at least they like her." Hermione pointed out.

"That wasn't the worst thing," Ron said, "let's just say, they are very physical when drunk." Ginny put her face in her hands and shook her head.

The rest of the table stayed silent, they didn't want to carry on this subject of conversation. "Hi, everyone!" George cheered as he entered the kitchen, "that's the last time we take mum and dad to the pub." He said. "At least I'm my own boss, can't be late for work." He smiled as he put some food on his plate.

"You must be really busy this time of year," Hermione said, "how do you cope now you've got a shop at Hogsmeade?"

"Second busiest time of the year after April Fools," George confirmed he stabbed a sausage with a folk, "I've hired a manager for the Hogsmeade site and I have a couple of employees in each shop. Ron, Aoife, do you want to help me today?" He asked.

"I'd love to." Aoife smiled, "Aengus loves you shop, he'll be so jealous."

"Do I have to?" Ron moaned, "my head is pounding from last night."

"Take a pill," Aoife said, "I have some in my trunk, your headache will be gone in seconds."

So Ron, George and Aoife all ate as much as they could and then went back upstairs to get changed for their day of work. "George, do you happen to know where Andromeda Tonks lives?" Hermione asked when he returned in his uniform.

"Yeah, we go there frequently to see Teddy," George replied.

"Could you take us there? Only, Mrs Weasley said she would take us there for 11, but we don't want to bother her."

"Course." He smiled.


They all walked outside and, with Hermione and Harry holding onto George's arms, they were taken to Andromeda's house. It was a lovely cottage in the middle of a forest. "We had to move here, what with Nymphadora marrying Remus, we felt it would be safer out here for him," She informed Harry and Hermione when they walked through the front door, "I just can't seem to bring myself to move out now. This is Teddy's home." She smiled, but her eyes lacked a twinkle Hermione was sure used to exist. "I'm so glad you decided to come, Harry. It's important Teddy has strong connections with his parents. Would you mind if I left you two alone with him? Only I could really do with going to the shops and grabbing a few bits and bobs. He's having a nap right now, he's just gone down. Give him at least 20 minutes."

"Of course not, Mrs Tonks. Don't rush back, we'd be happy to look after Teddy." Harry smiled, looking around at all the photographs in her living room. His heart dropped slightly when he noticed a picture of Andromeda with her cousin: Sirius. They looked so happy, it was an old picture, but they were laughing and smiling together. A lead pipe seemed to have fallen into the pit of his stomach and he wished he could be far away from here.

"Please, call me Andromeda. After all, we are family." She smiled, "I'll be back later in the evening then, thank you so much." She put on her coat, grabbed her handbag and left the house.

"Please tell me you have some knowledge of how to look after an 8-month-old?" Harry asked Hermione.

"I've never thought to read a book on it," Hermione said, "it'll be fine. He's asleep now, I say we wake him up in a bit and give him some food." She suggested. So they sat down on the sofa for a bit, watching the clock which was on the opposite wall, it was ten to 12 when Hermione finally said something, "this is a nice house, isn't it?" Harry nodded his head in agreement, staring at the photo of Sirius. He missed him, missed him more than he cared to admit. Some days he was fine, some days when he didn't think about him, he was fine. But others, Sirius was all that was on his mind. "It's okay to feel sad, Harry. It's not a sin." Hermione whispered, "but he is always with you. Like Lupin, like your parents." She squeezed his arm and stood up. "Do you want to get him or make his lunch?"

"I'll make his lunch. Andromeda told me she had bought some formula which he loves." Harry smiled, finally taking his eyes off the picture. "I'll see if there's anything else we can give him and for us, too. I'm getting slightly hungry." He added.

"Okay, I'll go and find his room then." Hermione smiled. She exited the room and walked up to the second floor. One of the doors up there was ajar slightly with a quiet lullaby playing within. She crept over to the door and peered in. A candle was dimly lit on a shelf just above the cot. She walked over to it and saw the blondest boy she had ever seen fast asleep. She looked at him for a few minutes, smiling, before waking him up. "Rise and shine, Teddy. Time for lunch." She whispered, not wanting to startle him. His eyes started to flutter and Hermione was sure he started to grin slightly. "We've got you a yummy meal ready." She hoped Harry was finding something nice for him to eat. His eyes opened to reveal the deepest brown eyes and he started to babble. Hermione started to laugh, "hello. Are you hungry?" She asked, knowing full well he wouldn't answer. He rolled over onto his stomach and pulled himself up using the top of the cot. He looked at Hermione and gave her the biggest of grins showing her a couple of white teeth. Hermione bent down and lifted him out of his bed. He was wearing a pale green baby grow, but Hermione noticed a blue and white stripy shirt and a pair of denim dungarees which she decided to dress him in. She held him on her hip, supporting him underneath with her arm. "Let's go and find Harry," she smiled. As he chewed her hair, his own changed to a light brown. Hermione smiled as she thought of Tonks.


Harry walked into the kitchen as Hermione went to fetch Teddy. It was a small but functional kitchen. The walls were lemon yellow and the wood floorboards from the living room carried on through. He found some fruit and yoghurt in the fridge and a beaker on top of a tub of formula. He liked Andromeda's house, you wouldn't be able to tell she was a witch as it had very Muggle furniture. He picked up the tub and read the instructions on the side about 10 times, he didn't want to get this wrong. He put the required amount of water in the kettle and waited for it to boil. Once the kettle had clicked off, he poured the right amount into the beaker, his hand shaking slightly, he would be seeing his godson for the first time any time now. As he waited for the water to cool down before he put the powder in, he mashed up a banana and an avocado into a bowl. "Here he is." Hermione cheered when they found Harry and the food.

"Hello, little man." Harry smiled, he took Teddy off of Hermione and started to bounce him up and down. Hermione looked at him and smiled to herself, he was going to be a wonderful father. "Let's get you some food." Teddy started laughing away at Harry, his brown hair had changed to copy Harry's. He now had jet black hair and vivid green eyes.

"He's perfect," Hermione smiled. Harry placed him in his highchair and, after making sure it had cooled down enough, gave him his beaker of formula. He drank it all in a matter of minutes and as he did, his hair went through the all the colours of the rainbow, from red to purple. Once all the liquid in the beaker had gone, he chucked it at Harry and giggled.

"Still hungry?" Harry said, laughing and rubbing his arm where he was hit. He put the bowl of mashed banana and avocado and a spoon in front of Teddy and he chuckled at it. He picked up the spoon limply before throwing it and eating it with his fingers. "Messy pup." Harry laughed. Teddy giggled at him as he tucked into his banana and avocado. Harry walked over to Hermione and pulled her into a hug, his hands underneath her zip up hoodie. She stood on his toes as she wrapped her arms around his neck. "You will never know how much in love with you I am," Harry whispered.

She leaned back to look at him, "what's all this about?" He responded with a gentle kiss.


After lunch, Harry and Hermione had decided to take Teddy on a walk in the forest that surrounded them. Harry had started off holding him, but he had struggled so they found a nice soft mossy part of the forest to let him explore on his hands and knees. He rolled around, laughing whilst Harry and Hermione found a tree stump to sit on. "You're a natural with him." Hermione smiled as she watched Teddy crawled after a butterfly.

"So are you." They sat there in silence, both thinking about any future children they might go on to have.

Teddy crawled over to Hermione and reached his hands out to her, Hermione smiled and held out the bottle of water she had brought with her. He giggled as he took it from her and as he carefully drank from it, his hair turned to an aqua colour. "He's so intelligent." Hermione admired as he handed the bottle back to her.

"He's parents would be so proud." Harry smiled sadly.

"They are proud." Hermione corrected.


After a further three hours of chatting and playing with Teddy, Harry decided it was probably time to go back to the house and give Teddy his dinner. Hermione carefully cooked some pasta, making sure it was soft enough and mashed up some potato, "I know it doesn't really go together, but I'm not sure what else to give him."

"It's perfect," Harry smiled from behind her. Teddy tucked into it with his fingers and giggled at every opportunity. By the time Andromeda returned home, Harry and Hermione had bathed, sang and read to Teddy until he was fast asleep.

"You two are a natural." Andromeda cheered as she came back downstairs from checking on him. "Thank you for looking after him, I didn't mean to throw you in at the deep end."

"It was our pleasure," Hermione smiled, "he's so well behaved."

Andromeda beamed at her, taking it how Hermione wanted her to, a complement. "When do you want to come and see him again?"

"Whenever is best for you, I want to have a big part of his upbringing, but being at Hogwarts makes that a bit harder."

"I'm sure we can come up with a solution to that. Pop by whenever you like."

"Thanks, Andromeda." They both said.

*

"You should have seen Harry with Teddy, it made my heart melt," Hermione told Aoife that evening. They were sitting on the sofa in Harry and Hermione's room.

"Ohh is someone getting broody?" Aoife laughed.

"No," Hermione blushed.

"Is there going to be a Potter baby coming soon?" Aoife joked. She couldn't stop laughing, even when Harry came in.

"What's so funny?"

"Nothing, she's just being silly," Hermione gave her a quick look.

"Right, well, Ron and I are going down to the pub and we wondered whether you two wanted to come too? We can get something to eat down there."

"Sounds great," Aoife exclaimed, "Hermione?"

"Yeah, I'll come too." She smiled, wanted nothing more than sleep.


They arrived at the quaint pub, it was quite a small room with one lit fire that warmed the entire building. It wasn't too empty or too busy - it was perfect. The five of them, Ginny decided she wanted to come too, found a table in the corner near the fireplace. "This is lovely." Hermione smiled as she looked around.

"I'm just glad mum and dad didn't come this time," Ron said, "you're so lucky you weren't here," he said staring at his sister, "you would have wanted to poke your eyes out and cut your ears off."

"Don't. I could do without imagining them again." Ginny scoffed.

"They weren't that bad, Ron. Anyway, forget about them now." Aoife ordered.

Ron's cheek went slightly red, "sorry. Who wants a drink?" He asked. Everyone around him nodded so Harry offered to help him with them all.

"You two are so lucky," Ginny whined aloud.

"We are?" Hermione asked as she looked at Aoife bemused.

"Yeah, you have someone who would do anything and everything for you." She put her chin in are hand and looked longingly at Harry.

Hermione, who noticed this felt a twang of guilt in the pit of her stomach. "You'll find him one day, Ginny. I promise you." She tried to smile, an empty smile. "Anyway, it's not the most important thing in the world, you don't need a man to make you complete."

"Too true. Ginny, you shouldn't worry. I'm sure Aengus will see sense soon." She teased.

"With all due respect, Fe, you were pining over Hermione and Harry for months."

All Hermione could do was nod and laugh at this, "do you want to know a secret?" Aoife whispered.

"What?" The other two replied, leaning closer to her in the process.

"The reason I wanted a relationship like you two," she whispered looking at Hermione, "is because I used to have a massive crush on Harry."

Simultaneously, Hermione and Ginny gasped, Hermione turned pink whilst Ginny started laughing, "who hasn't had a crush on him?" She said in between giggles.

"It wasn't when I knew him, it was before. When we were in Ireland. It was just the stories I heard of him from dad, he was a hero. I don't now." She added, wanted to make perfectly sure to Hermione that she wasn't out to get him.

"And now you're with his best friend." Ginny laughed even louder, "and you're friends with his girlfriend. Bet you never thought that would happen."

"Never in a million years," Aoife confirmed, looking nervously at Hermione.

"Don't look so nervous, why would I be angry?" Hermione smiled.

"Yeah, she shouldn't be angry - she has the hero of our generation."

"Who has the hero of our generation?" Ron asked, carrying a tray of drinks for them all.

"Hermione," Ginny said, taking one of the drinks from the tray.

"Don't let him hear you calling him a hero." Ron joked, walking back over to help Harry with the food. "We ordered burgers for everyone," He told them when we walked back with two plates.

"Delicious." Aoife beamed at him, taking one of the plates off him.

"Let the feast begin!" Harry called out when he put all the food on the table. "Tuck in," he smiled.


Once the conversation had seemed to dry up, some time later, everyone wondered what they could do to pass the time, "I know what we can play, never have I ever." Aoife suggested.

"What's that?" Ron asked, asking the question everyone else wanted to.

"You've never played it?" She gasped, staring at everyone in amazement. "We always used to play it with our cousins at Christmas. We each have three lives, and one by one we say something we've never done; for example, never have I ever ridden a camel, and if you have, you lose a life. So you aim to say something you've never done that you know someone has. Does that make sense?"

"Sounds easy." Ginny smiled.

"Let's play then," Ron said, "Ginny, you start."

Ginny thought for a while of something, "never have I ever punched Malfoy." She said with a small smirk on her face looking at Hermione.

"I don't even care, he deserved it." She laughed.

"Okay, so Hermione loses a life and now it's her turn," Aoife informed.

"Never have I ever played in a Quidditch match."

Ron, Harry and Ginny all groaned, "that's not fair." Ron whined.

"Nice one," Aoife smiled, "Harry, you turn."

"Never have I ever kissed Lavender Brown," Harry said, staring directly at Ron.

"You want to play it like that?" Ron smirked, "never have I ever kissed Cho Chang."

Aoife started to laugh, "so, both Ron and Harry have one life left and it's my turn."

"Come on Aoife, make sure I win." Ron smiled at her.

Aoife nodded, "sorry, Harry. Never have I ever kissed Hermione." Aoife looked around smugly whilst Ron and Hermione flashed a look at one another. "What was that?" She said sternly, glaring at Ron and Hermione in turn.

"Nothing," Hermione whispered, taking her gaze off of Ron and onto her half eaten burger.

"No, it was something," Aoife said, "Ron, have you lost a life or not?"

"I think we should stop this game now. Maybe we should think about heading home?" Ginny suggested. "You won, Aoife. You still have all three lives." She smiled, trying to get the tension to lift.

"Shut up, Ginny." Aoife spat, "Ron, have you lost a life?"

Ron looked carefully at Hermione who shook her head subtly, "does it matter?" Ron asked.

"Yes," Harry mumbled, "yes, it does matter," He said, his face pale.

"Yes, he has lost a life," Hermione whispered, "but Harry, it was ages ago. I promise." She added.

He looked as though he was about to say something, argue, but he decided against it. He decided to leave the pub and walked into the night.

"Harry! Let me explain!" Hermione called out as she ran out after him.

"What is there to explain? You've kissed Ron, my best friend." Harry called back as he marched up the path.

"Yes, before," Hermione said, "please, it was before us."

"How long before?" Harry said, turning around to face her.

"Harry-" she began to say quietly.

"How long before, Hermione? When did you kiss?"

"After we destroyed the Horcrux," She whispered, walked towards him.

"The Horcrux in the Chamber of Secrets?!" He shouted back at her. "When was that? A couple of hours before?"

"Harry, I'm sorry. I didn't know it was going to happen. It was unexpected and spontaneous."

"Like our kiss?"

"No, Harry, our kiss meant so much more to me." Her eyes were beginning to cloud over. The wind was blowing softly, ruffling their hair.

"You promised it was ages ago," Harry stuttered, "what if we hadn't kissed, would you be with him now?"

"There's no point asking that because we did and we're together."

"Why didn't you tell me?" Harry asked, "when it happened. Why didn't you tell me, Hermione?"

"I don't know." She hung her head, "because you were ill after because I knew it meant nothing and I didn't want to upset you."

"That worked brilliantly, didn't it?" He spat, "can I ask you one more thing? Why were you so upset when Ron left?"

"What? Why do you think? Because he's my friend and I missed him."

"Were you relieved or confused when I kissed you? Or was it the kisses which lead you to decide? Did you chose me because I'm better at it than Ron?"

"Don't say things like that, Harry!" Hermione cried, "I've done nothing wrong."

"Done nothing wrong? You hid something from me! You continued to look me in the eye. He's my best friend, Hermione."

"I know that, but there's nothing to worry about. Ron and I are just friends. It meant nothing to me." Hermione pleaded.

"I was alright with Aengus, I understood. But this is different, this is Ron."

"What are you saying? You can't break up with me over this. It meant nothing." Tears rolling down her face.

"You didn't tell me and you wanted to hide it from me tonight, I saw you trying to get Ron to make something up. Today was amazing, looking after Teddy with you made me think about our future. But the Hermione in that future hadn't kissed Ron hours before we got together."

"Before," Hermione repeated, unable to say anything else.

"I thought those months in the tent we spent alone made you feel like I did. But it couldn't have done if you kissed him."

"It was the heat of the moment, we didn't know if we were going to survive."

"And the one thing you needed to do before you died was kiss him? You couldn't die knowing that that was something you hadn't done?"

"You're blowing this out of proportion. That's not what I meant, I can't explain it. It just happened."

"Maybe I am, but I need to be alone," He said before turning around and marching up the hill.

Hermione watched as he walked away from her, watched him leave her alone. She quickly turned on the spot and disappeared from sight.

*

Why did he care this much? Why did this piece of pointless information affect him this much? He picked up a stone and chucked it at a tree. He had no idea where he was going, it was dark and he didn't know the village very well. He walked higher and higher up until was at the top of the hill. He sat down on the damp grass and looked down at the valley below.

He started aimlessly picking at the grass as the day's events ran through his mind. The image of the future he had which formed as a result of Hermione and Teddy had seemed to shatter. He kept thinking of Ron and Hermione together, laughing at him for being so blind.

Ron had always been a source of jealousy for Harry. Ron had the things he wanted; parents, siblings and a childhood and now Hermione too. He never thought he would have to compete with Ron over her. "Mind if I sit next to you?"

"Go ahead," He replied, not looking up.

"Are you really going to throw this all away, Hermione away, over one stupid kiss?"

"You don't understand, Ginny." He said looking at her chocolate brown eyes, "it's what it represents."

"What it represents?" Ginny asked quietly.

"I thought we felt the same about each other."

"She loves you," She confirmed.

"She told me it was because they didn't know if they were going to live. Sounds to me as though she's been wanting to do it for ages and that was the right moment." Harry said, pulling up a vast amount of grass away from its home.

"Sounds to me that she was desperate to have something, someone in her death. She didn't want to die alone." Ginny croaked as she looked up at the sky. "You need to take a step back and think about it. They've moved on, maybe you have to too. Think about what you would be losing. Hermione Granger, the girl you've loved since you were eleven. No one can even come close to her in your eyes, she's the very best there is, Harry, don't chuck this away over one stupid thing." She said before standing up and walking back home.

*

Hermione walked through the door and to her relief, was greeted by the person she was looking for. "Curly? What are you doing here? I thought you were staying with Ron." Aengus was sat on the sofa with his brother and sister.

"I needed to talk to you." She gasped, trying to catch her breath from the run.

"Come on, Aisling. I think it's time for bed." Ardal said as he took his sister's hand. "See you tomorrow," He said before leaving the Common Room.

"What's wrong?" Aengus asked when they were alone.

"Everything's gone wrong." Hermione cried, tears pouring out of her eyes.

"What do you mean? Come here." He said, signalling her to sit next to him.

"Harry found out about Ron and me. It's not like anything really happened, but he hates me."

"Slow down, Curly. Start from the beginning, what about Ron and you?"

"We kissed, at the battle. Just before it ended. It was in the heat of the moment, it meant nothing to either of us, but he can't seem to see that."

"Was this before you and Harry got together?" Aengus asked.

"Yes, but not long before. But-"

"It didn't mean anything," Aengus said, "it must just have taken him by surprise and he hasn't handled it very well. He'll get over it. You just need to speak to him." He smiled, his Irish charm pouring out of him.

"That's the thing, Aengus. I came here to talk to you instead of going off to find him. What does that tell you?"

"It tells me that you're confused and needed someone to talk to. Go and talk to him, sort it out." He whispered.

"I needed to talk to you, it could have been Ginny, but it was you." She cried, tears rolling down her cheeks as she suddenly realised.

"Talk to Harry, Curly. This will all blow over..."

"I want to talk to you."

Chapter 13: Chapter Thirteen.
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She was running. She didn't know where she was running or why she was running - that's the joys of childhood. When you were younger, you had no reason to run, no reason to rush or panic, you could go at your own pace. That pace just happened to be fast, happened to be rushed and all over the place. She watched as she grew up, watched as she became the worst thing possible - an adult. Nobody told her how hard it would be, nobody warned her about the pain and suffering she would experience, but a 10-year-old Hermione didn't need that. She would find out on her own, find her own two feet eventually. She watched her carefree self, the child who didn't know what lay ahead, no crossroads, no decisions. The days of laughing at everything were long gone, replaced with days of trying to live after the war.

The wind was howling and the castle was letting it in. Hermione was sat in the darkened Common Room looking into the crackling fire. She didn't know what she was looking for in there, but no words of wisdom had hit her as of yet. She was remembering her childhood, her simple, normal childhood. It ended as soon as she entered the castle, she was no longer that girl anymore, she didn't even get the chance to say goodbye to her. "You don't have to make a decision yet. I just think it would be...beneficial for you and Harry to talk." Aengus whispered from beside her. "Maybe you should go back to the Weasley's. Go back and talk to him."

"He won't want to see me. He said just as much before I came here."

"Follow me," He commanded. She looked hesitant but obliged all the same. "If you're not going to take yourself back to the Weasley's, I will," He said as soon as they had reached the border of Hogwarts' grounds. "You can't throw this all away because of something that happened before it even began."

Hermione stopped, making sure she was still in Hogwarts territory, "so you want Harry and me to stay together?"

"Of course. I want to see you both happy. That's what friends want." He said, trying to get Hermione to leave Hogwarts.

"I don't get it. You have been acting strangely around me lately, ever since I told you what Aoife said to me. I thought you would be the one to talk me out of talking to Harry."

"What are you talking about?" He said, stepping closer. The howling of the wind obscuring his hearing.

"You. You've been avoiding me, not looking at me in the face."

"So?"

"It just doesn't seem like a way you would treat a friend." Hermione frowned, "is there something you're not telling me?"

Aengus pulled Hermione over the threshold and held hold of her arm, "I do it out of respect for Harry." He growled. "Take me there," he said, Hermione was reluctant but did it all the same.

They arrived outside the Weasley's home, Hermione's head was in too much of a spin to question Aengus straight away. It wasn't as windy here as at Hogwarts but it was pitch black, the stars and moon the only source of light. "Hermione? You're back. Where have you been?" Ron called from somewhere.

"Hogwarts. Where's Harry?" She asked.

"He's not back yet. Ginny said she spoke to him but hasn't seen him since. Is someone with you?"

"Yeah, she wouldn't come here herself." Aengus called, he sounded angry. He ran over to where he suspected Ron to be and lowered his voice, "if you dare hurt my sister, you won't know what hit you."

Ron backed off, "I see Hermione told you what happened, it was ages ago. I would never do anything to upset Aoife, you have my word."

"We'll see about that," he whispered. "Where is Ginny?" He asked, speaking at a normal volume.

"In her room. Third floor, middle door." Ron added for Aengus' benefit as he ran off into the house.

"How could this happen, Ron?" Hermione mumbled as she stepped towards him. "Everything was going well, everyone was moving on."

"I know, but it had to come out eventually. At least now it's not a secret." He smiled weakly, opening his arms to her. She fell into his manly frame, appreciating the heat.

"How's Aoife?" She croaked.

"She's sleeping. She was just upset that I tried to hide it from her. She knows that neither of us would hurt her like that."

"So she doesn't mind us being friends?" Hermione's voiced housed worry.

"Not at all. I can't say the same about Harry, though." Hermione's heart sank, she didn't want to have to say goodbye to either of her boys. "He'll get over it. He has to."

"You don't sound so convinced," Hermione said, leaving the warmth of his hug.

"No, I am. He will." Ron nodded, "I know he will."

"Hopefully. Will you help me find him?" She asked, noticing Ron stifling a yawn.

"Sure. Ginny said he was on top of the hill. It's not far away. Come on." He said, marching up the path.

And sure enough, Harry was sitting looking down at the world. Hermione and Ron walked from behind him and sat down either side of him. "Harry," Hermione began.

"Don't. I don't want to hear it." He said quietly.

"Just hear her out, Harry," Ron ordered before standing up and walking back home.

"I was so close to throwing all of this away. I thought that I would never be able to trust you with Ron again. Then Ginny spoke to me. She told me to think about what I was going to throw away. I don't want to be jealous, I don't want you to control you. That's not who I want to be. Just tell me one thing, did you go to Aengus?" Harry asked, still looking over the hill.

"You know I did," Hermione whispered, "he's the only person who truly listens to me. I feel like, apart from you, he's the one person who is there for me. Harry, I don't want to lose you but if I have to spend the rest of my life feeling guilty about something that happened before we got together, I can't see another way."

"Do you know what? I forgave Ron, in my mind. Which got me wondering why I was acting like this." He turned to look at Hermione, who was pale except for the redness of her eyes. "Then I realised, it's because I don't like thinking of you with anyone else, I want you to be mine and mine only. I know I shouldn't be like that, but-"

"You don't want to lose me?" Hermione finished, relief spreading through her body. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you, I won't keep anything from you again," She promised.

They sat in silence for some time, looking up at the sky. "Sometimes I wish I wasn't a wizard, I wish I was normal and had a normal future ahead." Harry croaked, breaking the silence.

"It does seem like we've experienced everything the Wizarding world has to offer." Hermione agreed, "but you don't want to stop. It's a connection you have with your parents." She whispered.

"I know, it just feels like the adventure is over."

She looked at him, with a glisten in her eyes and a small smile on her face, "if you truly think that, you're not Harry Potter anymore. The Hogwarts adventure is coming to an end but, we've got so much more to look forward to."

"Like what?" He asked, smirking.

"Well..." she said as she placed his hand on her stomach.

He looked from her to her stomach with his mouth wide open. "Reall-" He began to say.

She couldn't hold it in anymore, she burst out laughing, "no, not really." She said in between giggles.

He snatched his hand away, "that was mean." He smiled, "I was really excited then."

"You were? Oh, I'm sorry." She tried not to laugh.

"It's not funny. I was planning names and everything." He joked. "I'm sorry for overreacting."

"It's okay. I've never seen a jealous Harry before now." She smiled. "It doesn't suit you," she smirked. "So we're okay?"

"Never better," Harry said, smiling.

*

"Only a few days til Christmas. What do you say we go to Diagon Alley to pick up a few more bits and bobs?" Mrs Weasley said at breakfast the next morning.

"Sounds like a fabulous idea, Molly. I have the day off tomorrow, but I could meet you lot there later today." Mr Weasley suggested.

"Yes, that will give me time to buy your presents." She twinkled, "where are Harry and Hermione?"

"Haven't seen them today. Are they even talking?" Aoife asked Ron.

"I think so. I left them alone last night." Ron said.

"Why wouldn't they be talking?" Mrs Weasley asked.

"Don't worry, mum." Ron insisted.


Harry and Hermione had decided they wanted some space away from everyone so they apparated to Hermione's parents house. "Harry, do you mind if we go to Alfie Tinge's grave today?" Hermione asked as she sat with her back to him on her bed.

"Who's?"

"The Auror who saved you," She said, turning to face him.

"Oh," He replied sadly. "Do you know where it is?"

"Yes. Lelia sent me a letter after I wrote to her to ask." She informed.

"Of course." Harry smiled weakly.

"You don't have to feel guilty, Harry. He was doing his job."

"He died and I'm alive, how can I not feel guilty?"

"You can't see it like that. Have you spoken to Edgar about it?" Hermione asked. Harry busied himself by making the bed, avoiding her gaze. "Harry, don't be like this. Go and see Edgar, it makes you feel better and you know it." She huffed before walking out of the room.

Harry wasn't sure what he had done, she never usually walked away from a conversation. Ever since the reveal that Ron and Hermione had kissed in the Chamber of Secrets, everything had felt different, almost blurry. He wasn't even sure why, they had all sorted it out and moved on, but it always lingered in the background, waiting to explode.

Harry had hoped that this year would be chaos free and safe. It was just that - there was no threat of Voldemort hanging over them, but it wasn't like Harry had expected. Everywhere he went, people would look and whisper to those around them but never come over to see him or talk to him. He wasn't expecting to be a celebrity and he certainly didn't want to be unable to go anywhere, but he had thought people would come and talk to him. Like before, random witches and wizards would want to shake his hand, but ever since Voldemort had actually gone, no one had seemed to want to go near him, it almost felt like there was an invisible barrier that stopped people.

Harry wondered downstairs in the search for Hermione. She was in the kitchen making a cup of tea. "I'm sorry, Hermione. I will go and talk to Edgar about it."

"I know you will," She replied, keeping her back to him.

"What's wrong?"

"Nothings wrong, Harry. What do you want for breakfast?" She asked, turning around to look at him. Her eyes were sad, they were lost and lonely, but she tried to hide it. She did a good job in the past, Harry wasn't as aware of her eyes being the secret of how she was truly feeling for some time, but he had been let in on the secret.

"Tell me," He whispered, knowing that she would understand.

"Actually, do you mind making your own breakfast? I just remembered I need to do something." Hermione said, quickly.

"No, I don't want anything. I have something to do too."

"Okay," She replied, emptily. "I'll see you later then."

"We'll go and see Alfie then," He promised. Hermione nodded before walking out of the house.

*

"What are you doing here? I thought you and Harry and sorted things out?" Ron asked when Hermione appeared in his room.

"Can I talk to you?" She tried her best not to cry, but Ron knew her just as well as Harry did.

"Yeah, let's go to the woods," He suggested. So they walked in silence deep into the wood. When they came across a little stream, Hermione decided that this was the spot. Ron sat beside her and didn't speak, knowing that Hermione was just composing herself.

"When I was little, I couldn't wait to grow up, well that's what I thought. I saw it as my life truly beginning but now we're here, standing on the edge of child and adulthood, I miss it already. I can't face the world through adult eyes, it's scary out there."

Ron nodded, plucking the grass like he always did when he was sitting outside, "it can't be as scary as what we faced last year. I know this isn't fair to say, but I feel like as soon as I stepped on the train on our first year, we weren't children anymore. We had to grow up quickly, quicker than most. But life does continue after Hogwarts. You have an amazing future ahead of you, you've seen much worse through child's eyes, Hermione. You've made it through the hardest part, now it's time to enjoy it."

"I want Hogwarts to happen all over again, without Voldemort or the Triwizard Tournament. We've seen so much death, Ron. We've seen the death of too many children and parents. I've been giving Harry a hard time for keeping all those faces in his head, but I'm doing the same thing. I don't want any of this, I want to be free, but we never will be. He will always be there, a prominent feature in our lives."

"He makes us who we are. Hermione, I'm not telling you to forget about everything, I know that is impossible for you to do, for any of us to do, but we won. He's gone and we're still here." He reached out and squeezed her hand before realising that Aoife was walking towards them.

"Everything alright, Hermione?" Aoife asked as she hovered next to them.

"I'm not talking about Voldemort, I'm talking about Harry. He is what reminds me of everything." She whispered. It was barely audible but both Aoife and Ron heard it as clear as day.

"What are you saying?" Aoife said, crouching down to be closer to her.

"Every time I look at him, I think about it all over again," She repeated. Aoife and Ron quickly glanced at each other, not really understanding where Hermione was going with this one. "When I look at him, I see the person who took my childhood away, the person who made me face death one too many times, the person who I risked my life to stop. I know it's not Harry's fault, but I can't look past it anymore." She stated coldly.

"You don't mean...?" Aoife started.

"I don't know what I mean anymore," Hermione confirmed, looking at her. "I don't know why I'm feeling like this and I don't know what I'm going to do."

"Ron, can you give us a minute?" Aoife asked, her eyes pleading with him. He looked torn, not wanting to miss out on what they would talk about, but he came to the conclusion that Aoife would tell him later. "I haven't known you long, Hermione and I haven't known you apart from Harry, but that doesn't mean I can't see true love when I see it. You're so lucky that your best friend is also the person you're meant to be with. You already know everything there is to know about him. Aengus told you about Calum, right? That's what you face out there, without Harry. You are so much safer with him." She said, they both sat in silence before Aoife added something else, something Hermione knew was coming, "Aengus isn't the solution, Hermione. You know that." She turned to look at him, "he just reminds you of Harry, that's all. Harry and you have been through so much, don't throw it away for him." Hermione nodded slightly, she knew what Aoife was saying was true, emotions were high and that's the reason she wanted to run from it all. "You might just need some time apart, where is he now?"

"He said he had to do something," Hermione replied, whipping the tears from her cheeks.

"Well stay here for a while and you'll realise what you're missing out on." She smiled

"I'm sorry about what Calum put you through, if you ever want to talk about it, I'm here." Hermione smiled weakly, wanting the focus to be off of her.

"Thanks, I might just take you up on that offer one day." She nodded, Hermione looked at Aoife and wondered if she was as scarred as her brother. "Aengus showed me what they did to him," She whispered.

"He took the most of it, he got in their way of me. If he hadn't, I don't know what would have happened. He didn't come home for days, and when he did he locked himself in his room, waiting for the cuts and bruises to heal."

"But some cuts and bruises won't heal," Hermione whispered, knowing where Aoife was coming from.

"Some can't heal. He's always looked out for me, he looks out for everyone but never wants someone there for him. Calum is still out there and Aengus is carrying him around with him. He and Harry are very similar. Maybe it would be good for them to sit down and talk to one another." Aoife suggested.

"I can't see that happening anytime soon."

*

"Harry? What are you doing here?" Aengus asked as he walked into the Great Hall.

"I think we need to talk about things," He replied simply, looking around the room as he spoke, "whenever you're ready." He smiled.

Aengus looked down at his full plate of food but knew he wouldn't be able to eat it with Harry standing over him as he did so. "Where do you want to go? The Common Room?"

"No, I want to take you somewhere else," He said mysteriously, turning around and walking out of the castle, knowing Aengus was not far behind. He walked towards Hogsmeade and suddenly stopped dead, without any hint of a warning.

"Hey, what did you stop for?" Aengus groaned after bouncing off of him.

"Sorry," he mumbled, grabbing his arm and twisting on the spot.

"Harry, are you kidnapping me?" He joked as the arrived at their destination. It was a cold but bright December morning. They were the only two people in the village, where the other people were was a mystery. Harry ignored Aengus' joke and walked towards a churchyard, he walked with a purpose, he knew exactly where he was going. Again, Aengus followed him, taking in his surroundings as he did so. When he saw where Harry had taken him, he was even more confused, "why have you taken me here?"

Harry kept his gaze on Aengus, not looking at the two stones beneath them, "this is what's left of my family. Two, fading stones and bits of wood that are probably rotting away. I came here for the first time last year, around this time, with Hermione. That's a moment I've not shared with anyone except her and do you know why?" Aengus shook his head, "because she is my family now. She's all I have, she's the only chance at happiness I have."

"Harry, mate, I don't want to get in between you and Hermione. I promise."

"I know you don't, I brought you here to show you that we've both lost loved ones. Hermione and you are friends and I think we should be too. I brought you here to show that I have nothing so I could really do with your friendship. You don't have to avoid me, you don't have to worry that I think you're out to get Hermione, I trust both of you."

Aengus looked from Harry to his parent's gravestones, "there is something you should know about me before you trust me. When you were...ill, Hermione and I became closer and I have to admit, feelings for her did develop but I'm not like that, I would never go there with her and more importantly, she wouldn't do that to you."

"I know, she told me everything and I still trust you, Aengus." Harry smiled.

"Why are you being so nice to me? You hardly know me?"

"Everyone needs someone to talk to," He said, kneeling down at his parent's gravesides. "What was your mum like?" He asked, staring at his mum's name.

"She was amazing. She always knew everything and she always knew how to fix things. She was beautiful and talented and I miss her every day but we don't need to talk about her." He kicked a stone that was on the path.

"You don't have to hide it, I know how it feels." He looked up at Aengus. "Talk to Aoife about her, she wants you to."

"Why did you really take me here?" Aengus asked as Harry stood up.

"To prove you're not the only one who feels alone."

*

Harry and Hermione arrived back to the Granger's house in quick succession. Only a second after Harry appeared in the kitchen, Hermione did too. "Ah, good, you're back." Harry cheered when he saw her.

"Hi." She smiled, not expecting this welcome.

"I had a good chat with Aengus today," Harry said as he made a cup of tea for Hermione.

"You did? Where?"

"Godric's Hollow. I thought that after all you've told me about him, I should try to help him."

Hermione repeated herself, "you did? Why?"

"Everyone needs someone to talk to. I thought that if I took him to my parent's, he would see that there are people out there who want to help him and understand how he feels."

She looked at him in amazement, "Aoife said he won't talk to anyone about anything."

"I guess he needed someone to give him a push in the right direction. He didn't talk much but he did mention their mum."

"Yeah? That's great, maybe he'll open up more now." She smiled as she took the cup of tea off of Harry.

"What have you done today?" He asked her.

"I went to see Ron and Aoife. I spoke to Aoife about some things."

"Sorted everything out?" He looked at her in a way which made it seem like he knew exactly what they were talking about.

"Yeah, she made me see I was overreacting."

"Doesn't sound like you." Harry joked. Hermione was amazed that he didn't want to pry further, but she was grateful with his understanding. "Do you still want to visit Alfie's grave today?" He asked delicately.

"Yes. I think we should pay our respects. Place some flowers there or something."

"That's a lovely idea." Harry smiled, "when you're ready, we'll get going."


Snow had begun to settle by the time Harry and Hermione arrived at the graveyard. It crunched, giving in to their weight, beneath their feet as they walked silently through all the other fading graves looking for the one they knew briefly. Hermione hadn't said anything since the arrived in the quaint village, her breathing indicating she was trying her hardest to not cry. He took her hand in the same way that she had taken his so many times since the end of the war, it was a familiar feeling to both of them by now but, nonetheless, it didn't have any less of an effect. They reached the end of the graveyard, where the most recent stone slabs rested, like the teeth of the church. In the corner, sitting underneath a beech tree, Alfie's name shone in the winter sun. They silently walked over to him and bent down to get a better view: 'Alfie Tinge: son, brother, friend and husband. Defending to the grave, gone but never forgotten.' "Defending to the grave." Hermione breathed, eyes shining.

Harry draped his arm around her knowing nothing would make her feel better but also wanting to say something to try, "he's our hero." He whispered, a twinge of guilt spreading through him like fire. She looked up and him and appreciated him more than ever before.

"He was just doing his job, noble right up until his last breath." A timid voice came from behind them. They both looked up and saw a tired looking woman. "Sorry to disturb you, I am Alfie's wife and I've been wanting to meet you ever since I heard. You're Harry Potter, saviour of the Wizarding World?"

He stood up and smiled pathetically, "I'm Harry, yes."

"Nice to finally meet you. I'm Jen." She put out her hand, waiting for Harry to shake it. "I never believed what he said, I thought he was overreacting when he spoke about Voldemort and what lay ahead, I would ask him to talk about something else, anything else." She sighed, "He spoke very highly of you, Harry. He once said that it was his dream to repay you for what you did for everyone, I suppose he finally did that." She laughed slightly, her eyes telling a different story.

"You must know, I'm not like everyone paints me out to be. I didn't deserve your husband's gratitude, he didn't deserve to die for me and I am so sorry he happened to be assigned to rescuing me." He croaked.

"That is what his job was. I accepted he was in danger every time he went to work. I don't blame you, darling." She said, stroking his arm for comfort.

"Dar-darl-." He stuttered before walking away from her.

She looked at him shocked, wondering what on earth she had said to have caused that sort of reaction, "what did I do?" She asked, turning to Hermione who had finally stood up.

"Just some bad experiences," She said, "I'm so sorry, Jen, but I have to go and make sure he's alright. It was nice to meet you and I'm sorry for your loss." She managed to get out before running off after Harry.


"Harry! Please, stop and talk to me." She called out to him. He ignored her and walked into the open church. She looked up at the grand building before following Harry. He had sat down in one of the pews at the back of the church. "It's okay, Harry. Julie isn't coming back, she can't harm you where she is now."

"This isn't what you deserve," He whispered.

"What don't I deserve?" She asked quietly.

"You don't deserve any of this. You shouldn't have to keep running after me to make sure I'm okay. You shouldn't have to tiptoe around me, I just don't think I will ever get better, I don't think I will ever be able to get over it."

He was right, he was never going to get over it completely, "Harry," she began, softly, "I know you know why I went to Ron's today, I know you know that I was struggling with you, but Aoife snapped me out of it. Maybe I shouldn't have to keep running after you but I'm never going to stop. It will get easier, Harry, I promise and I will by your side for all of it. I'm not going anywhere." She smiled, placing her head on his shoulder.

*

"I'm sorry to disturb you, but I know you are just the person I need. I want to get out of here and bring Potter and his followers down. You are Rodolphus Lestrange, aren't you, darlin'?"


Chapter 14: Chapter Fourteen.
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Before anyone knew it, Christmas had come and gone. Harry, Hermione, Aoife and the Weasley's had the best day sharing gifts, playing games and eating too much delicious food made by Mrs Weasley. Having spent last Christmas in a tent, Harry had forgotten what a real Christmas was like. The events that had taken place at the graveyard had long since left Harry's mind as he tried to push all aspects of that part of his life out. Although they hadn't directly spoken about it, Hermione understood that he needed to do it and had kept their unsaid promise of not bringing it up.

Since Christmas Day, Ron and Aoife had become inseparable with Hermione suggesting that some mistletoe had something to do with it, with this information, they all just left them to it. "Do you suppose Ronald and Aoife will be coming down this evening at all? After all, you are all going back to school tomorrow." Mrs Weasley asked sternly as the rest of them sat down for lunch.

"Oh leave them to it, Molly. Remember what we were like when we were their age." He smiled, resulting in Mrs Weasley blushing slightly.

"Did you meet at Hogwarts?" Hermione asked them.

"Yes, we were in the same year." She smiled, "it was just like the two of you," she said pointing at Harry and Hermione.

"But it didn't take so long," Mr Weasley joked.

"Yes, we were both put into Gryffindor and we became fast friends. A few hiccups like every couple, but I wouldn't change it for the world." She smiled, beaming at Arthur.

"Nor would I," He said, putting his arm around her and bringing her close to him. Harry did the same to Hermione and all four of them laughed.

"Have you been to see Teddy recently?" Mrs Weasley asked when they got back to the usual way of eating lunch.

"We went over on Boxing Day to wish him a Merry Christmas and give him our presents, but I want to go and see him before we leave for Hogwarts," Harry informed, munching down on his sandwich.

"That would be nice, he's a lovely boy." Mr Weasley beamed.

"He is, it seems like he's grown every time we visit him," Hermione said.

"That's what it's like, dear. They never stay cute." Mrs Weasley laughed. "Right, it looks like we're all done here so I won't get you to spend any more time with us, I expect you to have some packing to do." She directed this at Harry, knowing full well Hermione would have packed and got organised at the first chance.

"Thanks for lunch, Mrs Weasley. It was delicious." Hermione chirped as she and Harry stood up.

"My pleasure, dears," She said as she began to tidy up the dishes.

"Are you sure you don't want any help with cleaning up?" Harry asked politely, even though she insisted they were part of the Weasley clan and didn't have to do anything her actual children wouldn't, he always felt the need to ask.

"You know the answer to that, Harry." Mr Weasley said jokingly, "if you keep on asking, she might actually take you up on the offer and have you tidying the whole house top to bottom."


Harry laughed before finally accepting the fact that she really didn't want him to help, "see you later then." He said before walking off with Hermione.

"One day she'll let us help." Hermione joked as she walked into their room.

"One day I'll just help without asking," He replied, walking over to the small wardrobe in the room to start packing.

"I wonder when we'll be back here." She wondered aloud. She slowly walked over to the bed and laid on her back.

"I think this is one of those places we're always welcome." He smiled, heaving open his trunk to reveal old pieces of parchment and varying measures of ink in pots.

Hermione nodded, leaning over to the bedside table to finish off her book. Aoife had given it to her for Christmas, it was all about ancient magic which supposedly took place in Europe hundreds of years ago. "I can't wait to visit Italy, I'd never have thought all of this happened there." She said, Harry knowing she wasn't really looking for a conversation, she was too emerged in the stories in front of her eyes. So the room turned quiet, the occasional sound of a turning page or a piece of cloth hitting another as they settled in their new home.

Just as Harry had put the last item back in his trunk, Ron burst into the room. "Harry, can I talk to you?" He asked rather abrasively, "in my room." He said, marching back out again.

"This sounds fun." Harry joked as he followed his best friend. "Hi, Aoife." He smiled as he walked into Ron's room.

"Hi. Is Hermione in your room?" She asked, her voice abnormally small.

"Yeah. Is everything okay with you two? You're both acting...different." He asked suspiciously.

"I need to talk to Hermione." Aoife breathed, standing up and walking out in one swift movement.

"Ron, are you sure everything is alright with you? She couldn't get out of here fast enough." Harry exclaimed, "why did you want to talk to me away from Hermione?"

"Because I didn't want Hermione to hear it, though I suppose Aoife has gone straight to blab."

"Slow down, what's happened?"

"I suppose I should start from the beginning. Has Hermione told you about Calum?" Ron asked, voice full of nerves.

"A bit, he's her ex, right?" Harry knew full well who he was and Hermione had told him everything she knew about what happened between the two of them, but he didn't want to scare Ron.

"Yeah, he was horrible to her, he forced her to do things...things she didn't want to do," Ron said, pacing around the room as Harry settled on his bed. "He messed her around for a year before Aengus stepped in and saved her. Anyway, she told me this gradually, starting with the day of the Quidditch Trials, we went for a walk and she confided in me slightly. It gave me the impression that she wanted to take things slow with me, with us. I wanted to make her happy so I did just that." His mouth was getting dry, he hadn't swallowed in some time.

"Calm down, you don't have to rush anything, I've got time," he said calmly.

"So we took it slow, very slow. I wanted her to feel safe and secure around me, I didn't want her to associate me with him." He spat, "she was getting frustrated, I suppose she must have thought I wasn't interested in her. It wasn't until Christmas Day that we had our first kiss." He hung his head.

"What's wrong with that?"

"It's pathetic, she's gorgeous, but I was thinking of her and what Calum put her through."

"Don't be stupid, Ron, it's not pathetic at all. I actually think it's really grown up of you. You shouldn't be ashamed of that." Harry said, he was sure there was more to come though as Ron would hardly bring him here to just say that.

"I don't know how to ask this," Ron whispered, "I don't want to have to ask this, but I am inexperienced with everything. Have you and Hermione...have you and Hermione..." He stuttered, not being able to finish the sentence.

"Ron...why do you want to know?" He asked, knowing where he was aiming at going.

"I don't know what to do, I don't know how to go about it."

"And you want me to talk it through with you?" Harry questioned, making sure he didn't sound sarcastic or rude. "Just take things slow and easy, she'll let you know if it's right or wrong. Read her face, her body language, and you'll know everything you need."

"Is that it? It's that simple?" Ron asked, slightly in denial.

"That's it." He smiled.


"Hermione? Can I talk to you for a minute?" Aoife asked quietly but not bothering knocking before entering.

"Sure, what's wrong?" She answered happily, placing the book back on the table.

"Ron and I are official," she exclaimed happily.

"Really? That's great. How did it happen?"

"Christmas." She blushed, whilst walking over to sit on the bed, "but that's not what I want to talk to you about. I think Ron's ready."

Hermione looked at her for a few seconds, it took a while for it to register what they were talking about. "Oh, well, are you?" She asked when the answer had finally found her.

"I think so, I've never done it with someone I felt safe with, I've never done it because I wanted to."

"Aoife...have you told someone that?" She asked, horrified at the image that was forming in her mind.

"It's okay, Hermione. I don't want to talk about it."

"Then why did you bring it up? Was this Calum?" Aoife nod was small, but Hermione saw it. "That is disgusting. You told someone, though, you went to the police?"

Aoife dropped her head, at the time she knew she should have, but she couldn't escape, "no. It was too hard, trying to get away from him. No one knows that so please, please don't tell anyone. Even Harry."

Hermione blinked and looked at her friend through sadden eyes, she couldn't force Aoife to report him and anyway, there wouldn't be any proof now so she tried to push it out of her mind. "You have to tell Ron."

"But it might make him look at me differently," tears rolling down her cheeks.

"Don't be ridiculous, I can tell you he would never do that, he really likes you, Aoife. Just tell him the truth. He'll understand."

"Would you tell Harry? If it was you."

"Quicker than a heartbeat," She confirmed, Aoife looked at her and nodded, knowing that it was only fair to tell Ron her full past. "If you're not ready, he deserves to know why and he will respect your decision. He won't make you do anything you don't want to as long as he knows why."

"He definitely won't mind?" She asked shyly.

"Mind? This isn't like a hideous scar that you don't want him to see. He'll probably want to kill Calum, but he will protect you even more." Hermione smiled, looking at her so intensively she was surprised she couldn't see into her soul.

Aoife released a huge rattled sigh. She hadn't expected this conversation to go where it had done, but she was glad Hermione was there for her. She'd always been too scared to tell anyone about it out of fear of not being believed. "Thanks, Hermione. You really are a great friend."

"Don't mention it, I'll always be here for you if you need me." She smiled, squeezing the hand which was supporting her. Hermione wanted nothing more than to scream and shout about what Calum had done to Aoife, she had been suspicious ever since Aoife first spoke about him, but she didn't want to think the worst of him, she was proven wrong. She couldn't even begin to imagine what Aoife had gone through last year, she didn't want to imagine it anymore, but she was so glad that she had managed to escape Calum's evil clutches.

Aoife stood up and walked out of the room without saying another word, confident that Hermione would be running through events in her head. She hadn't wanted to tell her, she hadn't wanted to tell anyone, but now she had, now she was on a roll so she needed to tell Ron before she couldn't speak about it again. She past Harry on the way but didn't stop to even acknowledge his presence as she made her way to Ron.

Harry looked at her; something spreading through his stomach, some sort of emotion breeding inside of him but what it was, he couldn't tell. He walked back to Hermione, her face giving him another surge of emotion. He knew instantly that something terrible had happened to Aoife, something that Hermione couldn't help but think about despite wanting to do nothing less. He didn't ask, he understood these things all too well now. If he needed to know, if Aoife wanted him to know, he'd find out sooner or later. All he could do was gave Hermione a reassuring smile, hoping she wasn't lost for the rest of the day.

They were planning on going to see Teddy today, but he wasn't sure whether she would be up to it anymore. "I'll still come with you to see Teddy." Hermione's voice appeared, as if by magic at this specific time.

"Are you sure? I don't want to-"

"Don't want to what, Harry? I'm fine, I promise." She smiled, trying her hardest to figure out what she needed to do. Every bone in her body was screeching at her to tell Harry, but she remembered her promise to Aoife and besides, he had other things to think about. "When do you want to go?"

"Whenever you're ready," he replied, putting his hands in his pockets and standing awkwardly by the door.

*

The Christmas Holidays had gone far too quickly for everyone at the Weasley's. It seemed like yesterday that they were on the train heading towards it, heading towards all the festivities, now they were moving further and further away from them. Hermione watched as the towns and cities became villages which transformed into forests and masses of empty fields. The holidays hadn't gone smoothly in all aspects, the secret kiss was now something no one talked about but not because it was an unknown fact to all but because it was something everyone was too afraid to bring up. The dynamics of all relationships had changed slightly due to it, everyone looked deeper into any looks between Hermione and Ron, laughs and jokes were scrutinised for any sort of hidden meaning that lead to unforbidden, secret love.

The sun was high in the sky but was doing a poor job at heating today, Hermione wrapped up warm in the scarf that Mrs Weasley had knitted for her for Christmas. She loved it so much, it did a phenomenal job at keeping her just the right temperature, this made her suspect that it had gone through some sort of magical transformation. "Well, that was an eventful Christmas." Ginny chirped as the train continued on its route.

"You can say that again." Aoife laughed, quickly looking from Hermione to the window. She hadn't spoken to Hermione since the previous day, she hadn't told her that she couldn't get the words out when trying to tell Ron what Calum did.

Hermione looked at her through the corner of her eye and noticed that her jet black hair didn't look as shiny and her eyes weren't as vivid, she wasn't sure whether this actually reflected her or whether it was a result in finding out more about her, all the travesties she had to endure had made her tire and weather in Hermione's eyes. Despite everything she had been through, Hermione was amazed at how happy and upbeat she continued to be, she knew she hadn't managed to tell Ron, it was in the way she looked at him, her eyes weren't revealing everything they had seen to him. "Everything okay? You're very quiet." Harry whispered from beside her. She looked at him and instantly felt better, despite Harry facing his own demons, the presence of him made her feel better like everything was melting away.

"Just thinking about everything that happened at Christmas," she answered, putting her head on his shoulder and closing her eyes.

"Isn't it weird to think that this is the last Christmas at Hogwarts," Ginny exclaimed, this hit Harry extremely hard. He had found a home in Hogwarts, he had found his friends and his future there. To think that it had nearly done its job, it had nearly taught him all it could possibly teach him left him feeling empty. He didn't want to return for his final year, he thought he couldn't face it but now that it was nearly over, what he couldn't seem to face was leaving it in his past forever.

"I'm glad I got to come here finally. I thought my dad would never let us go." Aoife smiled, she was sitting very close to Ron, it was almost as if she was sitting on his lap.

"Why didn't your dad want you to come?" Ginny asked naively, not know what happened to their mum.

"When we were ten, Aisling was nearly five, our mum found out she had cancer. It was a long and tiresome battle which lasted six years, but we didn't want to go to Hogwarts and not spend time with her while we could." Aoife explained strongly. "Last year her body finally gave up and dad got a job here so we decided to come too."

"Oh, Aoife I'm so sorry. I shouldn't have asked." Ginny was full of sympathy, knowing all too well what grief did to a family.

"It's okay, it feels good to actually talk about her, sometimes all the silence feels like she never actually existed." She sighed, Harry knew what it felt like except to him, he didn't have any memories to prove that his parents did exist. He felt Hermione squeeze hold of his hand, despite looking like she was fast asleep, she was listening to every word.

"Yeah, I can relate to that," Ginny whispered, glancing at her brother before looking out the window. It seemed like everyone's answers were outside as everyone was so fixated on the trees blowing in the wind.


The train finally came to a slow halt and through the window, everyone spied Hagrid with Ardal, Aengus and Aisling. Aisling was craning her neck, trying to catch a glimpse of her sister. When Aoife stepped off of the train, Aisling face burst into a huge smile and she ran over to greet her. "Isn't that sweet, a younger sister that actually loves their older sibling." Ron joked as he walked over to Aoife. Ginny glared at him before walking awkwardly over to Aengus and Ardal.

"Have a good Christmas, Ginny?" Ardal asked, smiling as she reached them.

"Yeah, it was great. You?"

"It was alright. Dad kept a close eye on us. After that party got a bit out of control, he blamed us for that." He grinned, "but I blame this one." He said punching his brother's arm.

"You were the DJ. What is it they say? Always blame the DJ." Aengus argued back.

"I don't think anyone has ever said that, ever." Ginny laughed, "she looked at Aengus and felt the butterflies come alive in her stomach again.

"Well mark this day. 2nd January 1999, Aengus Patrick Curran said always blame the DJ." He joked, pretending to write on an invisible piece of paper.

"Now it's officially a thing." Ardal said sarcastically whilst rolling his eyes, Ginny, on the other hand, was trying not to laugh. "How are Harry and Hermione? I heard that there was a bit of a problem between the pair of them."

"Who told you that?" She asked. Aengus shifted awkwardly on his feet signalling that the snitch was him. "Why did you tell him that?" She adapted her question, asking it to him instead of Ardal.

"He told me because he went to your place to try and help. I asked where he went and he told me, we're brothers, he tells me everything." Ardal said, standing up for his brother.

"Right," she said, not convinced as she had heard that Aengus was a very secretive person. "We'll they've sorted it all out now so there is no problem between them." Again, Ginny noticed Aengus shift on his feet something she chose not to delve too deep into.

"Jolly good." Ardal smiled, "if you'll excuse me. It was nice talking to you."

"Why would you tell him, Aengus? They don't need everyone talking about it at school. They want to forget it not be reminded with all the whispers and sniggers." She growled when Ardal was out of earshot.

"He won't tell anyone. Plus, it's not a big deal so why does it matter if he does?" Aengus argued back, "I didn't think it was a big thing anyway."

"Not a big deal? Imagine if people find out that the girl Harry Potter fell in love with after killing Voldemort kissed his best friend just hours before. Harry has enough to deal with, he doesn't need everyone knowing on top of that." Her voice was angry but hushed so no one would be able to hear them.

"I'm sorry, but he honestly won't tell anyone. He doesn't even know what the problem was, he doesn't really care. Anyway, why do you care so much?" He smiled, pushing her chin up to look at him properly, "please don't be angry with me. I didn't know it was a secret to keep."

"There's something about you, Aengus Curran, I just can't stay angry with you." His vivid green eyes and crazy hair making it impossible to hold a grudge.

Hermione, who was standing with Harry and Hagrid, looked at Ginny and Aengus and prodded Harry when they fell into a hug with one another. "I knew it. People should call me cupid." Harry joked.

"Wouldn't it be funny if Ron and Ginny marry siblings?"

"Gus doesn't want to marry Ginny. He wants to mar-" Aisling started to say, but Aoife pulled her away.

"It's rude to interrupt other people conversations, Bee."

"Well, you've just interrupted mine," She argued back.

"Touché, she has you there, Aoife." Ron laughed, Aisling grinned at Ron and giggled.

"How's dad?" Aoife asked her sister, avoiding the urge of hitting Ron for not siding with her.

"He had a massive argument with Aengus on St. Stephan's Day. It was pretty scary, Ardal just told me to ignore it." Aisling explained. Hermione listening intensively whilst Aoife's face turned pale.

"Did Ardal ignore it too?"

"Yeah, why?" She asked innocently.

"No reason. I'm sure it was just a big misunderstanding." Aoife looked past Hagrid and glared at her brothers. "Shall we just forget it?"

"If you say so. Can we go now? I'm freezing." Aisling complained.

"Can you three take her back up? I need to talk to those two." She said quietly, out of Aisling's earshot, signalling to Ardal and Aengus.

"Of course, you can tell us all about your first Hogwarts Christmas." Hermione smiled as she put her arm around Aisling's shoulders.

"Well, Oliver gave me a present. I wasn't expecting anything from him." Aoife heard Aisling explain as they walked off up the track to school.

"Ginny, do you mind if I speak to my brothers?"

Ginny looked taken aback, she was having a nice conversation with Aengus before it was interrupted but seeing the look on Aoife's face, she decided not to refuse. She waved Aengus and Ardal goodbye before running off to catch up with Harry, Hermione and Ron. "Firstly, Aengus you better be careful what you say to Ardal when Aisling is around. She nearly told Harry and Hermione about everything." She said through gritted teeth.

"What? But they don't know?" He asked frantically.

"Not yet, but you have to watch what you tell Aisling, you know what she's like. Always saying what's on her mind."

"I have to go and stop her, why did you send them off together?" He shouted trying to run off, but Aoife gripped his arm.

"I'm not finished yet," She growled, "Ardal, how dare you ignore dad and Aengus. You know what he's like with him. After everything, can't you for once stand by your brother?"

"Don't drag me into this, Fe. You know what happens when they argue. There's no getting in the way of it." Ardal argued but in a hushed voice.

"Oh, so you're standing up for yourself? You need to grow a backbone and stop dad. Imagine what it's like for Aengus! It's not fair and we need to tell dad that every time an argument breaks out. What was this one about?"

"Aoife you weren't there. It's fine, honestly. It's over now." Aengus interrupted.

"It's not like dad hurts him, he just gets a bit carried away vocally." Ardal said.

"Doesn't hurt him? Are you honestly that blind?" Aoife shouted, they were lucky that the station was empty as everyone had escaped the cold by walking up to Hogwarts. Aoife grabbed Aengus left arm and forced the sleeve down so his forearm was on show, a fresh bruise and older bruises were what his arm was made of. "How have you not realised yet?" She had tears in her eyes. Aengus yanked his arm away and covered it up again, but it was too late, Ardal had seen it, he had seen everything he needed to. "Now do you get it? That's why you can't ignore it anymore, Ardal, you can't ignore it!"

"Wh-how-" He stuttered, his eyes glued to Aengus' arm.

"How long have you known?" Aengus asked, his eyes full of fire.

"Not long, I have suspected for some time."

"So you can't shout at Ardal, you're even worse than he is. You knew but chose to ignore it." He spat.

"It's wasn't like that, I didn't want to make assumptions. I'm sorry for not wanting to think that our father is an abuser!"

"Then why did you bring it up? Why did you do that to Ardal? Because of you, all three of us have lost a dad. I was dealing with it my own way."

"Wasn't working very well by the looks of it. You should have told us sooner. We can help you, we can talk to him." Aoife cried.

"When should I have told you, Aoife? When you were getting beaten up and god knows what else by Calum? Or before that? When mum was dying? There was no good time to tell you. I never wanted you two to find out, you love him and he loves you. He hasn't done anything to hurt you so I thought I would leave you to it."

"Not done anything to hurt us? He's hurt our brother. That hurts us more than anything he could have done directly to us." Ardal had finally found his voice. He couldn't believe what they both had gone through, he had heard about Calum but never been told in detail. "We have to stick together through this, not turn on one another. We can't talk to him, he'll just deny it and hurt Aengus even more after. When did it start?"

"When mum first found out she had cancer." Aengus shared.

"When we were 10?! He has been hurting you for nearly seven years?" Aoife screamed. "I'm sorry, but I don't care if you don't want to confront him, I do." She marched off up the track.

"I'm sorry I didn't realise." Ardal shouted to Aengus as they ran after her.

"You did realise, Ardal. You just didn't want to believe it."


They finally caught up with Aoife just outside their dad's office, "please, Fe, you don't want to do this. He'll get fired and Aisling needs him here. He's never laid a finger on her and he never will. You'll just aggravate him." Aengus whispered frantically so that only the three of them could hear it.

"I don't care if he's never laid a finger on anyone else, he's hurt you which means he's capable of hurting everyone in this castle!" She shouted, this was enough for Professor Curran to hear and be intrigued enough to investigate.

"Who is making so much noise?" He bellowed as he walked to his door. "Aoife, Ardal, Aengus, what on earth are you doing here? Is something the matter? Where you the ones being so loud?"

"Dad," Aengus exclaimed loudly. "Aoife just wanted to see you to tell you she was back."

"Well I can see that she is back, I can hear it too. I've got a lot of work to do. Aengus, you knew that you should have stopped her disturbing me."

"Yeah, sorry, dad."

"Why is it Aengus' fault? Why is it always his fault?" Aoife was shaking but whether it was out of fear or anger no one could quite tell.

"Aoife, calm down, you're causing a scene," He said sternly.

"If I'm causing a scene it's only because you've created a horror movie." She spat venom in her voice and eyes. She used to look up to this man, he was her everything, after her mum passed away but now, it was as though she was looking at a stranger. "How could you do such a thing?" She cried, her voice full of longing for an explanation, "he's your son. How can you look at yourself after?"

"Aoife, it's time to go," Aengus whispered, putting his arm around her shoulders and walking away with her.

"Ardal, please can you explain what on earth that was?"

"You're a good actor, I'll give you that." He taunted as he turned around and walking in the opposite direction to his siblings.


"Ron, where's Harry and Hermione?" Aengus asked as he pushed Aoife through the hole to the Common Room. She was still crying to Ron instantly stood up to hug her.

"They're in the library with Aisling," he said over Aoife's shoulder.

So Aengus ran off once more, he ran all the way to the library without stopping, "Harry, where's Aisling?" He asked frantically as he saw Harry sitting alone at a table near the entrance.

"She's over there," he pointed to a bookcase near them, "why do-" He began to say before Aengus was gone.

"Aisling, there you are!" He panted, "not causing you any trouble I hope?" He asked Hermione in between breaths.

"Of course not. I was just about to talk about you." She exclaimed happily, "Harry and Hermione think that you are going to marry Ginny, but I was trying to tell them who you really want to marry."

"I don't think anyone wants to know that, I don't want to marry anyone anyway," He said, looking from Aisling to Hermione who was watching the two of them in a state of confusion.

"Then why did you tell Ardal that-" She began innocently.

"It was a joke," he said, "it was a joke," he repeated for Hermione's ears. She was standing awkwardly not knowing what on earth they were talking about.

"Sounds like a funny one," she said sarcastically before turning her attention back to the books that were sat before her. "Actually, I need to talk to you about your dad," she said quietly and carefully.

Aengus instantly, out of habit, put his arms behind his back, "what do you want to know? There's not really much to tell."

"Your words and face seem to have different opinions. Aisling, go and sit with Harry, he can help you with Potions for a bit." Hermione said sweetly. Aisling nodded and ran off to Harry, explaining to him the reasoning behind her sudden arrival. He looked at Hermione and Aengus and saw by the way she returned the gaze that this was an important chat.

"Curly, please don't. I don't want to talk about it. Both Aoife and Ardal know now and I'm sure I'll end up having to discuss it with them so I could really do with a friend who doesn't bring it up." He pleaded.

"That's fine, but if you feel like you can't talk about it with family, know that I'm here for you and really care about you." She smiled, gently patting his arm making sure she didn't aggravate any bruise that was occupying his arm.

"I really appreciate that. No one has really been there for me since Bree." He whispered with a catch in his voice which made it sound like he was about to cry. "Just do one thing for me, don't listen to a word Aisling says about me, it will always be a joke."

"If you say so, I didn't think you wanted to marry me anyway." She laughed as she walked off. Aengus watched in horror as Hermione rejoined Harry and Aisling.

*

Across the country on a stormy night, the inhabitants of Azkaban gathered around to hear what their new leader had to say, the Dementors hadn't been strict guards for some time, ever since they faced defeat at the hands of Harry. "Everyone shut up! We're getting out of here and finishing what Lord Voldemort died trying to do, we're going to get to Harry. But, I'm in charge now, we are going to do it how I saw."

"How's that?" Someone in the crowd growled.

"We're going to use our brains and plan how we can get close to him. We're not breaking out of here, that will put a negative light on us. We will get out of here, but only at the right time." Rodolphus answered back. He turned to face his right-hand woman, "you and me are going to stick together. Once we've killed him, I want to focus on the Weasley that killed my wife." He muttered.

"I know just how we're going to get to them, we need to take a trip to Ireland. Speak to someone called Calum Ashcraft. We can do this, darlin'." Julie smiled maliciously before taking Rodolphus hand and leading him to a more secretive spot.

Chapter 15: Chapter Fifteen.
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Aengus had to think fast, he didn't want to break Harry and Hermione up and he definitely didn't want to lose the friendship of either of them. He scuttled over to the table where they were all sat and although he felt very timid, his voice was loud and strong, "Harry, when I told Ardal I wanted to marry Hermione, it wasn't serious. He gave me options and Hermione was the one I would say I would marry hypothetically."

"What are you talking about, Aengus? You told Ardal what-?" He was bemused, in fact, he was so confused he thought he had quickly fallen asleep and was dreaming.

"Didn't Aisling tell you?" He stuttered, looking even more horrified than before.

"Tell me what? I thought we were talking about Ardal. Honestly, Aengus, I have no idea what you're talking about."

"No idea," he repeated under his breath. "So Aisling hasn't told you anything I said to Ardal, as a joke?" He asked.

"No, we've been talking about Potions," he confirmed.

"Right, okay. Good. Well, don't listen to what she says, if she says anything to you."

"Oi, I don't lie, Aengus. I tell everyone the truth." She moaned.

"Just take everything she says with a pinch of salt." He empathised. He began to walk off, but Hermione appeared in front of him before he was out the door.

"So it is true," she said quietly, "Aengus, I'm flattered, but we would never work. I'm sorry."

"I know that, I know it will never happen, I just had to pick someone," he said, still trying to convince everyone that it was a joke.

"Don't lie to me," she whispered, "I can see right through it. I'm sorry if anything I've done has led you to imagine things, but we're friends and that's all we can be." She said carefully, she saw the heartbreak in his eyes.

"Please, believe me, I am never going to act on my feelings, I respect our friendship and I respect Harry. I just had to tell someone what I've been feeling, but that doesn't have to change anything." He pleaded.

"Yes it does, I don't know what I did to spark these feelings, but I can't be around you knowing how you feel. It's not fair on Harry and it's definitely not fair on you."

"Curly, you don't have to think like that, pretend like you don't know. We've been fine up until now." He was retreating into himself right in front of her. It was like he was a little boy being told he couldn't have the sweets that he wanted.

"I'm sorry," her eyes were dim but had determination flooding them. "It's not fair for me to put you through this. I think we should keep our distance for the time being."

"What about what you said about always being there for me? I thought that you cared about me and wanted to be there for me? Now you're telling me to keep my distance." His voice was quiet but angry and hurt.

"Don't do this to me, Aengus. How can you expect me to remain the same when you tell me something like this?" She said through gritted teeth, looking behind her to make sure no one, especially Harry, was listening.

"You didn't know several minutes ago, nothing has changed since then except for now you know. They're just feelings which are only serious if I act on them." He protested, not wanting to lose someone else he cared about.

"What if this was flipped and you were with someone else? Would you want me to still be your friend?"

"I guess that's where we're different then, Hermione. I trust you and would trust that you wouldn't act on them." These words hurt, they struck a cord in both her heart and soul.

"Hermione?" she stuttered, finding it weird hearing him call her by her name.

"What? I thought we were distancing ourselves? Can't have stupid nicknames for you now." He said coldly, "you know, you were the last person I thought would overreact over something like this. After everything I told you, about Bree, Calum and my dad, this has reinforced my belief to not trust anyone. Thanks for that." He said calmly, not allowing any emotion to spill out of him. His usual sparkle had been replaced by indifference.

"I'm sorry..." her voice was quiet, like it had become lost in everything that had just happened. This didn't crack Aengus' new demeanour, it didn't even weaver when a tear fell from her eye. He opened his mouth to say his final goodbye but felt the silence did a much better job than anything he could come up with. He walked off, ignoring his sister's questions at why he was leaving her.

"Hermione, where has Aengus gone?" Aisling asked sweetly when Hermione walked back to join them.

"I'm not sure, he didn't say." She coughed, trying to hide the sorrow in her voice.

"He was acting really weirdly. Is he okay?" Harry asked, Hermione looked at him and thought that it was time he was told everything that was going on, she couldn't keep it from him anymore. She didn't say anything, but he knew. "Aisling, do you think we've done enough for today? I know we haven't covered much, but you seem confident to me. Much better than me when I was your age." He laughed, her face broke into ecstasy, never had she thought she would ever be better than Harry Potter.

"You mean that?" She asked, not being able to keep the smile off her face.

"Of course I do. You're giving Hermione a run for her money." He grinned, loving so much how something so simple as this made her so happy. She hugged him, a proper Mrs Weasley style hug.

"Thank you." She sang before skipping off to find someone to tell.

"Not here," Hermione commanded as Harry turned to face her. So they went to the place they always went at times like this. They went to the Room of Requirement. As soon as Harry had shut the door behind them, Hermione launched into the true story of the Currans.

He listened and she talked for well over an hour, but when her voice became hoarse due to its dryness, she surrendered. Harry didn't say anything, he didn't know what to say. No words of his would be able to convey how he was feeling. It was so much to take in, he kept running it in his head. "Why did you tell me all this?" He finally said when it seemed like the two of them would never speak again.

"I felt you deserved to know." Was the plain and simple answer. This didn't help Harry, though. Of course that would be a reason for the stories, he knew that it's not as though she would tell him something he didn't deserve to know. "I felt it was unfair on you to be in the dark about everything," she added, he disagreed with this statement. He much preferred the dark to this new information. "I couldn't cope with it anymore." Was her final admission, she had definitely saved the best to last.

He couldn't be angry or upset at her for not being able to deal with everything she had found out. After all, they were a couple and couples tend to share things. "Does Ron know?" He quizzed about Aoife's tale. Hermione lifted her shoulders and dropped them, signalling something she didn't know. "Does Aoife and Ardal know?" He was on to Aengus' life now, she nodded. "What do you think of him?" Hermione wasn't sure who the subject of the question was.

"Professor Curran?" She asked, it was Harry's turn to do some nodding. "I thought he was a good teacher and I thought he was a good father. One of those statements has changed slightly, he still is a good teacher, but I can't look past the marks now." This was one of those situations where Hermione said exactly what Harry was thinking.

"How could a family go through so much tragedy and still not be there for one another?" Harry whispered, not wanting it to be the start of a new discussion. Hermione stayed silent, as though she understood his hushed voice wanted to stay just that.

"Please don't let this bring you down, you're doing so well. I just wanted to tell someone and I needed that someone to be you."

Harry nodded in appreciation; he was glad that she felt like she could confide in him again, just like before the war where they used to sit in the firelight and share stories. "What are we going to do about all of this?"

"I don't know. We can't do much about it, it needs to come from Aengus."

"So we shouldn't even tell someone what he's doing? What if he hurts other people?" He questioned.

"Maybe. I don't know" She repeated, "I doubt he'll hurt anyone else, he hasn't Aoife, Ardal or Aisling." She argued, "maybe, now they know, they'll sort it out together." She contemplated.

They both knew this was wishful thinking. It would be impossibly hard to speak against their own father, the only parent they have left. "I can understand why Aengus wanted to keep it to himself," Harry stated. "He didn't want them to lose another parent."

"But that doesn't excuse it. I know it's horrific for them all, but it doesn't change anything." She empathised. "He won't listen to my advice now anyway."

"Hermione, you know I trust you with my life, right?" He said, taking hold of her hands. "I trust you with Aengus. You're the only one who he wants to talk to about these things." She knew this was true, but she didn't know how she felt about being around Aengus now she knew how he felt. "Like he said, the only thing that has changed is the fact you know."

"You honestly wouldn't mind?" She asked.

"I've suspected it since I came back from St.Mungo's," he confirmed, "I don't mind because I know you well enough to know you would never do anything to hurt me."

She leaned in to kiss him, using his lips to form the words hers couldn't form on their own.

*

Despite Harry saying that Hermione should speak to Aengus and get him to talk about his dad, she didn't. She couldn't bring herself to find where he was, in case she saw something horrific. He hadn't been around since the day they all returned to Hogwarts. He had been going to classes, but he hadn't been sitting with anyone he knew. He remained silent even when Aoife or Ardal wanted to figure out what to do. He wasn't around long enough in one place to be noticed by anyone who cared.

"Hermione, you used to be really close with him. Can't you talk to him? I'm sure he'll listen to you." Ardal asked at dinner several weeks later.

"We had an argument when we got back to Hogwarts. I haven't heard him since." Hermione explained, "I wish he would just stop hiding. He knows that we all care about him and want the best for him."

"That's Aengus for you," Aoife said, "when our mum died, we didn't hear him for months. We saw him, but he refused to open his mouth." Ron wrapped his arm around her shoulders as he knew how tough it was for her to mention the word 'mum'.

"It's almost as though he has something to say, but he's been sworn to secrecy." Ardal complains.

This rested in Hermione's mind, the last thing he said to her. That linked in with what Ardal was saying. "Ardal, did Aengus confide in your mum?" She asked softly.

"Yeah, well I think so. He would tell her things, but towards the end, she was too weak to do anything about it." Aoife answered. Ardal had gone pale at the second mention of their mum. "Before our grandma died, he would always talk to her."

"When did your grandma die?" Ron asked sympathetically, doing Hermione's job for her.

"A while ago now. We were nine. Admittedly, he didn't have deep secrets then, but he was very close to her." Aoife sighed, "it seems like everyone he's close to leaves him when he's most vulnerable. Even we did when mum died." She said, staring at Ardal who had stopped joining in with the discussion. Hermione knew Aoife didn't mean her, she didn't know that Hermione found out about the bruises ages ago. But it still hit her hard, like a huge punch in the stomach. It took the breath out of her and the guilt bubbled up. She had done just that, she didn't intend to hurt anyone. She thought it was the right thing to do, distance themselves and the feelings would subside. She knew deep down that it probably wasn't love he was feeling, he was mourning his mum and mourning Bree. But she didn't feel the same way so she didn't know how to cope. Just as Hermione was about to open her mouth, she heard screams and gasps reverberating around the room, it was just like last year when Voldemort got into people's heads. Out of habit, she wrapped her fingers around her wand. "What has he done?" Aoife screamed out before running over to a battered Aengus. Ron, Harry, Hermione and Ardal all followed suit.

"Don't make a fuss. It looks much worse than it is." He said in a monotone when Aoife had grabbed his arm.

"Was this...him?" She stuttered, not allowing herself to actually imagine it.

"It doesn't matter who it was."

"Aengus, what happened to you?" Ardal cried when he had reached him, Harry and Ron right behind him.

"I just want to get some pumpkin juice and leave. I didn't come here to answer pointless, mundane questions."

"Pointless and mundane? Don't you even care about how we feel about this? I looked up to him, Aengus. I admired him." Aoife whispered through gritted teeth. "I loved him."

"With all due respect, Aoife, this is happening to me not you. I don't need you to feel sorry for me, and I certainly don't see how you can expect me to care about how you feel. I didn't tell you because I cared about you two, but you went straight to him and spurted about how you know all about what he had done. You caused this." He said cruelly, not waiting to see what the effect on them would be. Aoife tried to say something, but her mouth failed her. She wanted to scream at him, believing that screaming would get the point across.

"Aoife, you know what you have to do. Go to McGonagall. She deserves to know what one of her teachers are doing." Ron said sympathetically, he was staring right into her eyes, knowing that now wasn't the time to find something interesting on the floor.

"You honestly think that that will help, Ron? Look what my dad did when we found out, what would he do if everyone knew?" Aoife said, trying to hold her pain in.

"You know it's the only way for Aengus to be safe." Harry agreed.

"We don't even know if dad did do this. What if he just got into a fight in the corridors?" Aoife argued.

"Fe, you know that's not true. You know it was him." Ardal whispered, "we need to talk to McGonagall, Ron's right. We would never forgive ourselves if he did it to someone else."

"I can't lose him too, Ardal. I can't." She cried, tears rolling down her eyes.

"We lost him the minute he started this. We've been turning a blind eye for too long now, we need to do the right thing."

"What will Aisling think? She needs her dad."

"She doesn't need one who does that to his son," He replied, signalling to a hunched over Aengus. "You know this is something we have to do."

Aoife nodded slowly, pulling the sleeves of her jumper down over her hands. "Would you like me to come with you? Ron asked quietly.

"Yes please, we might need you to tell McGonagall what you know," Ardal replied. Ron looked directly at Aoife, asking her without words whether this was something she wanted. The nod was small, but he saw it. "Harry, can you come too?"

"Yes, if you want me to," Harry replied.

"Hermione, stay with Aengus," Aoife commanded. This was what she had feared, she should have offered to come before they asked Harry. The three of them walked off leaving Harry and Hermione behind.

"I better catch up with them," he explained, "you know what to do, Hermione. Don't worry about how he feels about you, first and foremost, you're his friend." He confirmed before jogging over to Ron, Ardal and Aoife.

She was reluctant but knew that she had to do this. She still thought that if anyone would be able to get him to it would be her, but she had no evidence of that. If anything, he was avoiding her much more than anyone else. "Aengus? Are you alright?" She asked tentatively.

"What do you think?" He replied spitefully. "I've never been better," he said as he turned to face her. He had a cut lip, a black eye, a nose bleed and a swollen cheek.

"Don't be like that, Aengus. Come on, we need to clean you up." She commanded, grabbing hold of his arm.

"Now, now, Hermione. That might seem like you're leading me on." He hissed, "better not do that." It was almost like he was joking with her, but his face told the true story.

"Please, just let me help you. I want to help you." She begged. He looked at her and for half a moment it looked like his eyes softened and he had forgiven her.

"Then help me by staying away. Just carry on ignoring me, that's what you've been doing best."

She opened her mouth in an attempt to argue more but knew she stood no chance. "Fine, but I do hope that you clean yourself up."

She walked off, not really sure where to go. She thought about going to McGonagall's office but decided she didn't feel comfortable going behind Aengus' back like that. She made her way to the Common Room and saw Ginny sitting there alone. "Oh, hi Hermione." She greeted happily. She had no idea about what was going on.

"Hi, Ginny. Mind if I sit with you?"

"Course not. What's wrong? You seem different to usual." She observed.

"Just been a strange few weeks," Hermione answered.

"Yeah? Anything I can help you with?" She put her Charms book down and stared directly at Hermione.

Hermione thought about telling Ginny everything, after all, she used to in the past, but something made her mute on the matter. She had already taken Harry off of Ginny, she didn't want the same to be felt about Aengus. "Just a lot of work to do." She sighed.

"That's not true. You are always on top of your work, you're probably weeks ahead of everyone else." Ginny laughed. "You don't have to tell me what's actually on your mind, I'm used to that now."

"What are you talking about, Ginny?" She asked quietly.

"Ever since the Currans arrived, I've been pushed out of the picture. Even my own brother prefers them over me." She explained.

"That's not true."

"Isn't it? Even Luna is best friends with one."

"There are a lot of them, but honestly, you're not being replaced by anyone. In fact," she paused, contemplating whether this would help, "I think Aengus really needs a friend right now."

"Why can't you help him? You used to be able to."

"I did something stupid and now he won't talk to me. I don't want to get into it, please try and look after him." She pleaded.

"Has something happened between the two of you?" She asked suspiciously, hating herself that some part of her wanted it to be true so that she had a claim on Harry.

"No, nothing like that," she replied. Now she was completely aware that Ginny still felt something for Harry, the tone of her voice gave that away. "We just had a big misunderstanding, but you can help him out. Just don't be too shocked when you see him."

"Why would I be shocked?" Worry flooding her face and voice.

"I'm just warning you, Ginny. Go and find him and try and get him see sense." She ordered, standing up and walking to her dormitory. When she reached her bed, she found a piece of parchment and started to write a letter to her mum.

*

"I don't understand what you're saying, Aoife. What made you change your mind?" Ardal demanded to know. "It's only been a couple of minutes since you agreed with me?" They were standing outside McGonagall's office, frantically trying to get to the bottom of this sudden U-turn.

"I just don't feel comfortable going behind Aengus' back like this. We don't even know for sure whether it was dad who hurt him." She said shyly.

"What are you talking about? Who else would have done this?" His voice was getting louder and more pressing.

"Alright, Ardal. That's enough, if she doesn't want to talk to McGonagall, she doesn't have to." Ron stepped in. Ardal couldn't hide the disgust that spread over his face.

"With respect, Ron, this has nothing to do with you."

"You were the one who asked me to come," he argued back.

"Yeah, I probably shouldn't have. You can't tell her to change her mind."

"What did you say to me?" Ron spat, "I am not telling her to change her mind, she did that herself."

"You've been in her life for two seconds and she's already got you right where she wants you," he growled, clenching his fists.

"Ardal! That's not true, stop acting out like this. A couple of weeks ago you didn't want to confront dad and now you're all for ratting him out. What made you change your mind?" Aoife shouted, "you need to calm down. There's no way she'll believe us if you're acting like this." She fairly pointed out.

"I don't know how I should be acting, Aoife. A month ago I had a father who I looked up to and admired, now what do I have? A dead mum and an abusive dad. I can't see a way around this. A month ago we had a family that was strong and united, helping one another grieve." His voice croaked, signalling the end of his outburst.

"Ardal that's not what we had. We've been a broken family since mum was diagnosed. We chose to ignore the signs of something wrong, something evil. Now we know the truth, but we need to get to the bottom of it before anyone else does. I don't want people founding out things before we know them ourselves. Everyone will be whispering about us, about Aengus, he doesn't want that." She grabbed his shoulder and squeezed it slightly, "now is the time for us to be strong and united, for our brother and sister's sakes." She whispered, her eyes twinkling with tears.

Ron and Harry looked at one another, Harry signalling to his friend that he was going to find Hermione, he felt like an intruder on the scene, not really belonging to this family's trouble.

He wondered through the empty castle imagining that people were doing just what Aoife didn't want them to, whispering about Aengus. His little appearance at dinner had given the school some much-needed gossip to sink its teeth into. His stomach growled at him, wanting to finish the food that was left on his plate, but he ignored it. He wanted to find Hermione and see if she was able to get through to Aengus at all. "Harry! Have you seen Aengus? Hermione said I should go and talk to him, do you know why that would be?" It was Ginny, they were both too busy thinking about the same person to notice one another before it was too late.

"No. Sorry about that," he added as he rubbed his own arm.

"Don't worry, both lost in the moment." She explained, but looking around for another boy with jet black hair.

"Has Hermione told you what's happened then?" He asked naively.

"What's happened...?" She repeated.

That would be a 'no' then, Harry thought to himself. He wasn't sure how to get out of this, not wanting the story to come out of his mouth. "Aengus and Hermione had an argument when we got back after Christmas. He took it badly and hasn't spoken to her since, I guess she just wants to make sure he's okay." Harry lied, Ginny saw right through it, she was good at seeing past Harry's lies, but she didn't want to get the truth out of him. He wasn't obliged to tell her the truth anymore, that was Hermione's perk,

"If you say so..." She muttered as she walked away.

"Gin-" he began to say, wanting to set the record straight once and for all, but not have the energy or any particular desire to right at this moment. He watched her go, just like she watched him go hundreds of nights ago when he walked away from her never to return the same person. His mind instantly went back to Hermione so he made his way to the Common Room.

*

Hermione decided that she wanted to wait for Harry so she walked from her dormitory to his, not thinking about seeing anyone else on her travels. She opened the door and was saw a hunched over Aengus on his bed. This wasn't ideal for her, but she thought she would take this opportunity to set things straight. "Aengus, I think we should talk about why I reacted the way I did."

"How many times do I have to tell you? You said all you needed to the other week. I'm just listening to your wishes." He said as she walked into the boys dormitory fully.

"Where is everyone?" She whispered, choosing not to even acknowledge the words he greeted her with.

"What? I don't know where they are. I thought you would know." Unsurprisingly put out by the fact she had skipped over his part of their conversation.

She nodded as she slowly made her way over to his bed. "I think I know why I reacted the way I did when you told me how you felt about me."

"Yeah? I'm glad you wanted to come and tell me straight away..." He said sarcastically, but not taking his eyes off of her.

"Just listen to me, Aengus." He nodded, deciding not to argue anymore as it seemed like they would just go round and round in circles.

"The reason I reacted the way I did was because it made me realise that I feel the same," she whispered, finally reaching the end of his bed.

"Wh-what?" He stuttered.

"I overreacted because I was scared I would use your words as an opening."

"An opening?" He repeated, not quite believing his ears.

She started fiddling with her tie as a distraction. "You know exactly what I mean." She pointed out, still struggling with her tie. "Ever since you told me, I haven't been able to get it out of my head. It's been playing on my mind none stop, your words repeating continuously. I kept my distance because I thought it would stop me doing...well doing just this." She paused.

"Don't do this, Hermione." He sat up, becoming more alert. "Please don't do this."

"Why? I thought this was what you wanted?" She questioned, kneeling on the end of his bed, having given up on her tie.

"Harry," was all he could say.

"Just forget about him for a moment," she whispered, edging ever closer to him.

"Hermione-"

"Haven't you been longing for this since long before Christmas? I have, I've seen you lips every time I close my eyes for weeks. Don't hold back, not now."

"What about Harry? Hermione, this isn't what you want." He began to get up, but she grabbed his arm to prevent him from walking away.

"You know exactly what I want? Aengus, stop fighting this." She twisted around and pulled him towards the side of the bed. She looked into his eyes, willing him to do the same. When he finally gave into her burrowing beam, she smirked before moving her hand down his arm slowly and before wrapping her fingers around his. "We've been good for long enough," she whispered. Both their hearts were racing with anticipation. She navigated her lips to his ear, "it's time we give into this. I can't fight this anymore." Her breath sending chills down his spine. This is what he'd been thinking and dreaming of for months. He wanted to stop it, wanted to be a good friend to Harry, but it was almost impossible for him to fight it for much longer, especially now. Hermione pulled her head back as her eyes found his lips. They mesmerised her, hypnotised her. He couldn't stop it anymore, he cupped her face in his hands and tenderly pressed his lips on hers. He took one last breath before all of his dreams came true. She hesitated for half a second longer, in an attempt to make sure this was exactly what she wanted; as far as she could tell, in this precise moment, it was.

His hands moved from her face and ran down her back carefully and slowly. His touch, which was new and foreign to her, felt magic over her shirt. She couldn't even begin to imagine how his skin would feel against hers, without the barrier of cloth getting in the way, that was something she didn't even know she was longing for. It was hard to believe that she was thinking all this much in so little time, for, in a matter of seconds, she was in the middle of a furious yet tender kiss.

He undid her tie with pure ease, whipping it off and throwing it somewhere behind him, neither of them worrying about where it landed. She fell back and he followed, not breaking the forbidden seal their lips had formed together.

She fumbled around got his tie, but as though he had prepared for this, it wasn't around his neck. She unbuttoned his shirt in one swift movement, illustrating that she was not a novice at this. Once the last button was unfastened, his shirt flew apart, like it couldn't wait to be free. Her hand moved around his nearly exposed chest, waiting to feel the cuts and scars that resided there, but her touch never came into contact with any wound of any kind. This didn't deter her, strange as it was.

His lips savoured her taste, not knowing when he'll get to feel her lips on his again. They were smooth, like the surrounding skin. His roaming hands, which were now gently massaging her head, were drawn to her body which was still contained behind its white wall, begging to be freed.



Chapter 16: Chapter Sixteen.
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He broke away from her to gather his thoughts, he still couldn't quite believe what they were doing, but he didn't want to think about it too deeply because the guilt would settle back in the pit of his stomach.

"Aengus?" It was Hermione, but it seemed as if her voice was on the opposite side of the room. Somehow, without knowing he had done, he was back sitting on his bed. His hands moved down his body and discovered his shirt was completely buttoned up. "Aengus? Did you hear me?" She repeated, "you zoned out." She observed.

"What just happened?" He asked slowly, confused and in a haze.

"I came in and said that I wanted to talk about how I reacted..." She said suspiciously, "and you completely ignored me."

"You're right," he breathed, "we shouldn't be around each other," he said as he quickly left the room.


Aengus couldn't get his head around what had just happened. He wondered around the castle trying to avoid everyone, but at the same time looking for someone he could talk to. As he walked, he came to the realisation that the only person he would even consider talking to was the very person he had just run away from. How could he talk to Hermione about it anyway, he had just proven to her right and he couldn't see past the embarrassment of the whole situation.

"Aengus? What have you done to yourself? More importantly, who?" It was Ginny, despite her continuous efforts to get him to open up and trust her, he just didn't want to.

"Not now, Ginny. I have something to sort out." He explained, he started to walk off before stopping and turning around. "I'm sorry, things are just going wrong at the moment. As you can see, I'm not in the best of states."

She nodded slowly, looking slightly to the left of him, feeling awkward. "You do know what friends are for, right? If you ever need someone to talk to about anything, that someone can be me."

He took a shallow breath, "and is that all you want to be? Friends?"

"What do you mean?" She didn't want to get her hopes up, she always did that, especially after she met Harry.

"It seems like we're the only two single people around. Hermione has Harry, Aoife has Ron..." He trailed off, not really believing what he was saying. "How about we give it a go?"

"I don't think you mean that, Aengus." It broke her heart to say this, to reject him. "I've played second want to Hermione once already and I don't really feel like doing it again," she explained quietly, staring at her feet.

How did she know? Was his face giving it away? "What do you mean? Hermione had nothing to do with this."

"Aengus, don't treat me like an idiot. Everyone who has eyes and ears knows how you feel about her. I tried to ignore it, once again I thought that I could change that, but I can't seem to win against her."

"Don't put yourself down, Gin. You're perfect, but I can't seem to look past her at the moment and I hate myself for it."

She stretched out her hand and gently stroked his arm, "it's alright. Maybe once you can, I'll take you up on your offer." She smiled weakly.

"I'm sorry," Aengus said, he looked at her and realised how much she cared for him, which made him feel even more guilty at what he had just done.

"Don't be, I know how it feels to watch the person you love love someone else."

"I don't love her," he whispered through gritted teeth, trying to avoid any eager ears overhearing him.

"If you say so," she smirked, "just be careful, those two are meant to be together, the only person who will get hurt is you," She informed. It wasn't as though he wasn't well aware of that, what he was shocked about was that his heart wasn't disputing what Ginny had said about being in love with Hermione. He nodded and walked off, his head swimming with new and old facts.


He wasn't thinking about where he was walking and he ignored the screams of confused students and classmates when they saw his face. He didn't realise where he had instinctively walked to. The only thing he did notice was being hit in the face with a door flying open. "Opps, sorry." A timid voice apologised. He looked up and focused his eyes at last. A petite girl with thick, shoulder-length auburn hair greeted his eyes. "Oh my, I didn't just do that, did I?" Her eyes widened when she noticed his bleeding nose.

"What? Oh no, that wasn't you," he reassured her as his fingers reached to his nose.

"Good. You might want to clean yourself up or Filch won't be the scariest being roaming around the castle." She laughed, her laugh was small and unique which made Aengus smile. It was a breath of fresh air to not be asked about how the blood and bruises ended up on his face. "I'm Robyn, by the way." She smiled, repositioning the books that were resting in her arms.

"I'm Aengus, I haven't seen you around. Are you new here this year?" He asked politely staring into her big blue eyes.

"This is my fifth year here," she informed. "But I wouldn't expect you or anyone else to really notice me. You're new here, though, you're whole family came at the same time. I suppose that must have made it easier for you to settle in." She debated to herself.

"You sure know a lot about me," he smirked, something which had no effect on Robyn.

"I guess you could say that. I'm not some crazy stalker." She insisted, "but being so unnoticeable has its benefits. I enjoy writing and drawing and I suppose I get quite a good picture of most of the students here."

"Drawing, huh? Have you drawn me?"

"Maybe, I don't really remember everyone I sketch."

"Perhaps you can show me them some time," he suggested innocently.

"Maybe sometime," she replied, her voice not really conveying the desire of the promise. She walked off without saying another word to him.

"Aengus? What are you doing here?" Aengus had finally discovered where he was, outside his father's office.

"Don't worry, I'm not here to see you. I'm trying to see the least amount of you as possible." He argued.

"Don't speak to me like that." He bellowed.

"Careful, you don't want more people to find out your secret. We don't want other students, or worse teachers, knowing you use your fists to convey your emotions; like a coward." He chuckled to himself as he walked off, getting far enough away before allowing tears to drop from his eyes.


"Hermione, did you manage to talk to him?" Aoife asked when she saw her laying on her bed.

"I tried but he ignored me and ran off. What did McGonagall say?" She had tried to fall asleep and forget about everything for a couple of hours, but the events of previous weeks and today made sleep an enemy to her.

"We didn't speak to her. If we're going to put a stop to this, we're going to need Aengus on our side and going behind his back will only hinder that." Aoife exclaimed.

"I see. Let's just hope he doesn't get hurt again."

"I imagine he will be avoiding him now."

"How are you?" Hermione asked gently.

"I'm not really sure," she answered, walking over to her bed and sitting on the edge of it. "I don't think it's really sunk in yet. I think once I know Aengus is safe, everything will hit me. I'm considering dropping Defence Against the Dark Arts, though, I can't look at him without feel pure and utter hatred."

"But you need it. Don't throw everything away, Aoife. Aengus wouldn't want you to stop it, it would be like admitting defeat. We should try and get him out of here sooner rather than later, though."

"How are you supposing we do that?" Aoife asked with a hint of annoyance in her voice.

"Family emergency? Anything which will get him gone for a couple of days. Maybe if Aengus doesn't have the fear lingering over him, he'll be willing to talk to someone about it." Hermione ponder aloud.

"What family emergency, Hermione? All our family is here." Aoife sighed.

"No grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins?"

"Dad's dad, but he's in a nursing home somewhere in Ireland. We haven't seen or heard from him in months.

"For several seconds, Hermione stared at Aoife in disbelievingly, "Aoife...that would be the perfect emergency." She said as she walked over to her on her bed, "by the time your dad gets to your granddad, we should be able to convince Aengus it's the right thing to do."

"Do you think that would work?"

"It wouldn't do any harm to try."

So they wrote a letter to one of Aoife's friends in Ireland, asking him to send a letter to her dad pretending to be someone at the nursing home. "I hope this doesn't backfire. If it does, it will be Aengus who pays the price." Aoife fretted as her and Hermione watched the owl fly away from them.

"As soon as your dad leaves, we'll talk to Aengus," Hermione instructed, hoping that all the aspects of this plan would run smoothly. "Does this friend of yours know about Hogwarts?"

"Yeah, we became very close a few summers ago. I may have told him everything." She blushed, keeping her gaze on the owl.

"Everything? What happens if he tells someone?"

"He won't, I trust him. He hasn't so far. I don't think anyone would believe him even if he did."

"Does he know about Calum and what he did to you?" She asked.

"No, something happened so we lost contact, but before I came here, I went to see him and apologised. Why do you ask?" She asked suspiciously.

In all honesty, the reason she asked was because Aengus had told her some time ago that Aoife had a reputation back at home and she was wondering whether this man had something to do with it. "Just something to talk about," she said quietly, not wanting to raise suspicion but doing nothing but that.

"What is it?" Aoife asked forcefully, finally looking at the side of Hermione's face as she was determined to keep her eyes on the sky.

She sighed knowing that the truth would come out eventually and despite not wanting that moment to be this moment, she opened her mouth to speak. "A while ago, before Christmas, Aengus said something about you. I'm only asking because I don't want Ron to get hurt. I know you would never hurt him now, but I fear your past will hurt him."

"When did you decide you got to control my relationship? If it concerned Ron, I would have told him."

"Oh, like you told him everything you told me about Calum?"

"It's none of your business what I tell or don't tell my boyfriend!" She yelled.

"I'm not saying anything I wouldn't if I didn't care about you."

"Are you sure it's me you care about? After all, it wouldn't be the first time you had strong feelings for him, would it?" Aoife asked harshly.

"What are you talking about?" She asked, perplexed.

"Ginny warned me, I chose to ignore her, I like to see the good in people, but it looks as though she was right. I should have trusted her,"

This hurt Hermione. To think that two of her closest friends had been gossiping about her. "What did she say? Why did she warn you about me?"

"She said that you had form. First she told me all about Krum. She said that you led him on and when he made a move you pushed him away. Did you do the same with Ron? Is that how you get your kicks? Making boys vulnerable and then chucking them away and destroying their hearts. You've won Aengus over, he trusted you and told you really personal things, told you things he hasn't even told me. Is Harry next?"

"What?" She asked, facing her with glistening eyes.

"Well, you couldn't chuck him when you first got together because you needed him to protect you. You needed him to love and care for you like he had never done before in order to stay alive. Then he was ill, he needed your care and help so you couldn't ditch him. Maybe this has made you fond of him, even made you love him, but that isn't enough for you, you want to get back to Ron because you didn't destroy his heart, he let me in."

"Aoife, what on earth are you talking about? Krum was just a childish crush, I got caught up in his fame and façade. I didn't lead him on, far from it. He just misunderstood what I wanted. It was nothing more than that. As for Ron, it was just heat of the moment, If I could go back in time and stop it from happening, I would. But Harry is the one for me, I never thought I could love someone as much as I do him and I especially didn't think it would be possible for anyone to love me for me. The only reason I brought this up was because I see he way you look at Ron and I the way he looks at you and I don't want you to lose that. The only reason I brought this up was because you've found who you're meant to be with and you need to cherish that." She said, lip trembling as she spoke. She didn't wait for Aoife's reply, as she turned around and walked away to find Harry.

"Hermione- wait. I'm sorry." She called out, knowing she had well and truly overstepped the mark.


"There you are. I've been looking for you for ten minutes." Harry smiled when she walked into the Common Room. It took some time to clock the sadness in her face. "What's happened?" He asked as she fell in his arms and cried into his shoulder. "It's okay, tell me what happened."

"Aoife-" she stuttered, still pressing her face against him.

"What did she do?" He asked, massaging her scalp affectionately.

"She said I had form of leading guys on and chucking them when they are most vulnerable. She said that I was about to do that to you for Ron because apparently I didn't hurt him enough." She sobbed, gripping his back for support.

"That's absolute rubbish, I'm sure she didn't mean it. Ignore what she said, forget it and I'm positive she'll come and apologise before the end of the day."

"Do you really think that?" She said in between deep breaths.

"I do, and if not, you will always have me." She looked up at him and broke out into a small smile as she stood on tiptoes and gently kissed him.

"Were you really looking for me for ten minutes?" She smiled, "in the Common Room?"

"It's a big room, lots of corners you could have been hiding in." He joked. "I knew I would find you in here thought." He winked.

"Oh yes, you definitely found me here, not the other way around." She giggled.

"Let's not get caught up in all that. We're both here, how about we go back to the library." He suggested.

"Really?" She asked in astonishment.

"I know it will make you feel better and take your mind off of things. Plus, I have some work to finish."


Harry was right, as soon as they returned from the library, Aoife rushed straight over to her. "Hermione, I'm sorry for what I said. I was completely out of order and didn't mean anything I said. I was just upset with everything that has happened. I hope you can forgive me."

"What you said hurt me because sometimes I think I am exactly like you explained and you confirmed it."

"No, you're nothing like that, I know that everything you do is out of love and friendship. I'm sorry."

Hermione contemplated Aoife for half a second before coming to her conclusion and she showed this by launching into a hug. "I'm sorry for prying into your past. I know it's none of my business."

"You were just protecting your friend, but maybe we shouldn't be so opinionated in each other's lives," she said with a hint of a grin on her face.

"That sounds like a good deal."


So everything was back to normal. Well, as normal as it could be at Hogwarts. Weeks went by without anything significant happening then one day changed that and all was not calm once again. "Hermione!" Aoife howled as she ran into the Great Hall on a Monday morning in the middle of February. "Ethan has written back, he's sent one to Professor Curran too." She almost sang. She had long stopped referring to Professor Curran as her father as she insisted no father would do that to his child.

"What does the letter say?" Hermione asked, swallowing a piece of egg far too quickly causing her eyes to water.

"Here, read it for yourself," she said as she handed Hermione the letter.

'Dear Fe,
It's good to hear from you. I was pleasantly (not a word Fiona would use) surprised to see that you use owls as postmen. You know me, I never ask questions so I will be happy to write the letter to your dad, thanks for giving me an addressed envelope, that's much appreciated. I'm sending your letter straight after the one to you dad (thanks for the extra owl). I have no idea how long it will take, but I hope I have helped. When are you coming home? Inistioge isn't the same without you. I can't wait to see you again.
Always,
Ethan.'


"Do you think the second one has arrived?" Hermione pondered as soon as she finished reading the letter.

"I assume so. We'll have to wait and see." Aoife answered.

"Where's Ron?" Harry asked as Aoife sat down opposite them.

"Don't talk to me about him." She scoffed.

"What's happened?" He asked.

"Harry, that's talking about him." Hermione nagged.

"Sorry," he muttered.

"You'll found out anyway, might as well hear it from me. He found out about us sending Ethan a letter. He was angry I didn't tell him. I guess you were right, Hermione."

"There's still time to fix things with him. Just let him cool off."

"Definitely, let him cool off, Ron does and says things without thinking when he's upset or angry," Harry confirmed.

"Let's hope he understands when I explain it to him," Aoife said.

"Make sure you tell him everything, if you don't, it might come back to haunt you again," Hermione suggested.

Aoife looked at her with a hint of annoyance in her gaze, but she didn't say anything because she knew Hermione was right. "Can you believe how quickly this year is going?" Harry asked, changing the subject.

"I love it here, I wish I could have come here sooner and under different circumstances," Aoife said.

"A lot happened during the years. It wasn't always like this, this calm." Hermione informed.

"It would have still felt like a family. Despite the fact mine is falling apart, I feel far from alone here. Always someone to look out for you. Even though you were going through dark things, battling demons, but at least, you weren't alone when things were getting tough." Aoife argued back.

"You had your brothers," Hermione replied.

"Not really, I suppose Aengus was who I went to for support, but that changed. Here feels like a proper family, you two have always and will always be there for each other."

"Not always, we've had our ups and downs, but on the whole, yes we have always been there for each other," Harry said.

"That's why you're perfect for each other, everything you stand for is everything I want my relationship to be."

"We're not figures in a glass box on some shelf for all to see. We're not perfect, far from it. Our glass is as fogged up as yours, as everyone's. We've messed up, we've made mistakes. You shouldn't look up to us, take us down from the shelf you put us on." Hermione was clenching her folk with her left hand as she spoke. Harry looked at her cautiously but didn't say anything, he just picked her left hand off the folk and kept it safe in his hand.

"That's exactly the point. You might not be perfect, but it's the fact you've got through it, together. That's why I look up to you. You two have a concrete relationship which I have never seen before." She smiled at her friends.

"I suppose that has come from years of friendship," Harry interjected. "You and Ron can be strong too, you just need to learn to trust each other with every ounce of your being. Once you can do that, there's nothing you can't overcome. "He smiled before tucking back into his breakfast.

"Harry Potter, where did that come from?" Hermione laughed. They never talked about their relationship with other people, not unless they were asked and here he was, almost bragging about it.

"What we have is special, yes, but it is based on trust and love. That's all you need to begin with."

"Are you feeling alright, Harry? Only I think you're showing emotional range." Hermione joked, beaming at him.

"I would like to point out that it was Ron who had problems conveying emotion." He winked.

"See, history helps in relationships and you have cauldrons full of it." She moaned.

"History is made without trying. You and Ron already have it." Hermione pointed out.

"Yeah, but-" She began saying when a shadow loomed over her.

"Aoife, I received a rather urgent letter from you grandfather's nursing home. It would appear that he has taken a turn for the worse and it suggested I went to say goodbye." Professor Curran informed. "I just thought I would let you know that I know what you are playing at," he leant down so that his face was level with hers, "your grandfather died months ago, he never went to a home, he was too proud and arrogant for that."

"Wh-what?" She stuttered.

"He died months ago. When he left you never asked after him so I never bothered to tell you. I thought it was best that way." He smirked.

"How could you not tell us? He is our granddad!"

"No, no, he was your granddad." He hissed as he walked away.

"Can you believe him?" Aoife screamed, causing the whole of the hall to look at her.

"Oh, Aoife, I'm so sorry." Hermione whispered, reaching out her hand to squeeze hers, something was wasn't welcomed as Aoife pulled her arm away instantly.

"I hate him," she said through gritted teeth and tear after tear rolling down her cheek. "We're going to get rid of him one way or another. I'm not waiting for Aengus to do something anymore." She said in a monotone. Harry gave Hermione a cautious look, one that she returned instantly.

"What are you going to do?" Hermione asked hesitantly.

"We are going to get rid of him, any means necessary."


Chapter 17: Chapter Seventeen.
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Hermione didn't like what Aoife was saying. She especially didn't like the tone she used. She was eerily inanimate after what seemed like a bold statement. "Do you want to go and see Professor McGonagall?" Hermione asked softly.

"No. This is too urgent for that, I want him gone, I want him out of our lives." She replied coldly.

Hermione and Harry looked at each other, knowing that any words they said would be wasted and would just linger in the air, lost and forgotten. "Maybe you should wait a bit, clear your head and think about what you're planning." A voice said from behind Harry and Hermione.

"Luna, how are you?" Harry asked when he turned around and saw her lingering behind them.

"I am well, but the more pressing matter is what Aoife is planning on doing."

"How much did you hear, Luna?" Hermione asked.

"Enough. Just think things through, calm down." She whispered.

"With all respect, Luna, it really is none of your business." Aoife voiced, glaring at Luna through her eyelashes as she refused to lift her head up to look at her properly.

"I don't wish to cause an affray. I just think you need to consider your family when you do anything."

"My family doesn't know the meaning of the word. I don't need your advice, Luna. I know what I'm going to do."

"Just talk to Ardal, he cares about you, about your family, more than you think. You and he are on the same side and he has a plan." Luna departed on these words, not elaborating, probably wary that Aoife might snap at her again.

"Talk to Ardal, Aoife. He deserves to know the truth about your grandfather." Hermione voiced quietly.

She nodded, slowly coming around to everyone's worry. "Hermione, I think it's time for us to walk to lessons," Harry suggested when he noticed a timid looking Ardal approaching their portion of the table. Hermione looked up and nodded.

"We're always here for you if you want to talk about anything." She smiled but her eyes displayed nothing but pity. They both stood up at the same time and slowly walked away from their broken friend. They refrained from even looking at Ardal, something which unnerved him slightly, that was a clue to him that something was awry, but his biggest clue was yet to come, his biggest clue was his sister's solemn expression. Harry and Hermione chose not to hang around and listen to the conversation, in fact, they wanted nothing more than to forget everything that had just happened entirely.


"Can you believe what that family has gone through? It's terrible and that man is completely barbaric." Hermione almost growled as they walked down the corridor to Hermione's Arithmancy classroom.

"I know, but I reckon that once their dad is out of the picture, they'll sort things out," Harry said positively.

"I hope you're right," she replied. They walked in silence for a while, not knowing what else had to be said. "You don't have to walk me to lessons, Harry." Hermione laughed after several minutes.

"I won't be able to walk you anywhere for a week after soon. Do you have to go?" He whined.

"It'll only be a week. I want to go, I have to go."

"I know, and I do hope she feels better by the time you come back," he smiled weakly. A couple of weeks ago, Hermione had received a letter from her father stating that her mother had fallen seriously ill. The letter didn't explicitly say seriously ill, but deep down Hermione knew that was the case because else he wouldn't have bothered her with it. She had decided to return home in the week they had off and be with her to ease the burden on her dad. "I'll just miss you, that's all."

"I'll miss you too, but it's only a week. It'll fly by." She looked at him, her chocolate eyes relaxed him, somehow the sight of them made everything feel alright. Ever since they had become a couple, they had spent hardly any time apart.

"I wish I could come with you," he said.

"I know you do, but you heard what McGonagall said. Honestly, Harry, it'll be over before you know it."

"Just let me walk you to your lessons until you go," he responded.

"If that's what you want, that's what you'll get. You can't wait with me, though, I'm going to try and talk to Aengus." She commanded.

"Again? You've been trying every day for a month and he's said no more than two words to you."

"I've got to keep trying, Harry. He feels like he has no one, we need to show that he has people who care." She stopped still to turn to Harry, who followed suit.

"I know you do," he whispered, caressing her cold cheek, "just try not to worry yourself."

She looked into his eyes, the eyes that so many people knew. The eyes that reminded people of the past, but to her, they showed her the future. It was moments like this she treasured; simple, plain, but completely their own. In the moments like this, for the fleeting seconds that they lasted, she never wanted to move. She wanted to stay there, in his eyes, they were nicer than the reality. "We're going to be late." She heard herself saying. She hated that side of her, the consciously studious side of her, at times like this.

"Right," he nodded, knowing the conflict which was going on in her mind. They walked, hand in hand, to the door of the classroom. Hermione was wrong, they were early. Incredibly early in fact as no one else was there. "I'll stay until he turns up."

"No, he'll be more likely to approach me if I'm on my own." Harry clocked the determination on her face, today would be the day Aengus spoke to her and Harry had to support that.

"Fair enough, I'll meet you here after the lesson finishes." He smiled, kissing her forehead before turning away from her.

She waited alone for longer than she expected. She glanced at her watch and realised that they must have left breakfast with over an hour till lessons. She sat on the cold stone floor and leant against an equally cold stone wall. Her mind wondered from where she was sat to the bed in which her mum was. She had been praying since she received the letter that she would be alright. Praying was something she rarely believed but found herself doing more frequently than not. She gazed out a window, thinking about how she was worlds away from her parents. Not just in distance but in everything. In her parent's mind, they lost hope for a normal family when the letter from Hogwarts arrived on their door. It was a clear-cut decision for Hermione, despite being very young, she knew she had to accept the invitation to study here, but her parent's weren't so happy. Keeping the smiles on their faces, they waved they're only child off, their hearts knowing that it would never be the same again.

Hermione sometimes wondered why magic picked her. Out of all the Muggle families in London, in the World, to choose from and it picked her. She liked to think that it picked her because it needed to. It needed to pick her to help save the world it inhabited. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw someone approaching her. "You're early," the Irish twang hit her and she instantly stood up.

"You can talk," she replied. As he neared her, she noticed the once vivid cuts were now dull scars. They engulfed his face and neck but no longer took away from it as they were only visible to those who knew where to look.

"I was hoping to find you here but also dreading it. I need to apologise to you. I'm sorry for acting so childish, but what you said hurt me. I would never do anything to destroy our friendship, but in trying to demonstrate that, I destroyed our friendship."

"You needed help to destroy it, and I helped in abundance. I'm sorry for what I said and how I acted. It was wrong of me to assume the worst of you."

"We're both to blame."

"So can we go back to normal?" She asked quietly.

"I don't think so. Despite hating what you said, you were right." He took a deep breath, signalling what he was about to say was difficult, "I've accidentally fallen in love with you and despite feeling more alone than ever when we're not talking, I've finally been able to think clearly and that is what I need to be able to continue to do. I need a clear head because that's the only thing that will stop my heart. I just need you to know that we are on good terms and I forgive you for what you said, but I can't quite forgive myself for what I told you."

"Aengus-" she stuttered, not quite being able to get over his admission.

"I need the space, it's not your fault. You did nothing but show me friendship and I'm not used to that so I clung onto it too tightly. This is something I need to do, I can't hang onto something I'll never be able to call my own."

"Is there anything I can do to help?" She asked naïvely.

"Don't stop being you," he smiled, taking one step closer to her. "Don't act differently, I just need a little longer on my own."

"Just don't take too long; I care about you, we all care about you," she ordered. He smiled and nodded, finally feeling free from the burden of the secret. They both sat down against the wall where Hermione had been previously.

"How have you been?" He asked her casually.

"Good, thanks. How about you?"

"Been keeping myself to myself. Have Aoife or Ardal told anyone about our dad?" He asked, telling Hermione that this was something he had wanted to ask since they began talking.

"No, they wanted to, but Aoife didn't want to go behind your back. Aengus, honestly, you need to tell someone. Imagine how you would feel if it was Aoife or Ardal? If it was Aisling. You have to tell someone for them if you don't want to do it yourself."

"I suppose this is the reason I spoke to you, I know I need to tell someone, but I don't know who. I don't want everyone knowing what's been going on." He whispered.

"Everyone doesn't need to know, you just need to tell McGonagall, she'll know what to do next," Hermione said calmly.

"I guess I should," he brought his knees up towards him and placed his chin on them.

"You should know, Aoife found something out this morning. Your granddad died a couple of months ago. Aoife took it badly, understandably, that Professor Curran hid it from you all." Aengus carried on staring at the same spot, not saying a word. "You already knew?"

"Dad told me when it happened. I suppose he wanted to terrorise me. He told me and made me promise not to mention it ever. If I did, he would have made sure I paid. I wanted to tell them, but I didn't know how I didn't know where to start."

"I understand, but Aoife took it very badly and I think it even tipped her over the edge. Luckily Luna got through to her, but I don't know what she'll end up doing. You need to act quickly now, please." She pleaded.

"Should I talk to her now? Get it over with."

"I don't know whether you'll be able to. She's probably teaching soon. I would suggest going at lunch. That way, Aoife and Ardal can go with you, it that's what you want."

Aengus didn't say anything, either out of annoyance or contemplation. Before too long, students started arriving so Hermione jumped up to avoid being trampled, Aengus stayed sat down.


"I'm going to go now," Aengus told Hermione after the lesson.

"To McGonagall? Do you want me to come with you?" She asked nicely, forgetting the conversation of distancing herself.

"No, but could you possible go and tell Ardal and Aoife? I'm not sure whether Ardal has a lesson." Hermione had a lesson but she nodded as they walked out of the room.

"Hey!" Harry smiled once he had seen her.

"Hi, Harry." She sad trying to keep the shock off her voice as she had completely forgotten he was meeting her here.

"Ready to go?" He asked. Hermione looked at him and he knew things had gone well when she had attempted to talk to Aengus.

"Hi, Harry. Nice to see you but I better dash, need to catch McGonagall before she goes off for another lesson." He said breathlessly as he bounded off.

"But we have Transfigurations next, will that cancel it?" Harry called back cheerfully.

Hermione hit his arm playfully, "sounds to me you don't like learning..." She winked.

"Of course, I do," he smiled.

"Don't worry about coming up with a lie, we have to find Aoife and Ardal," Hermione said hurriedly, "I'm not sure where Ardal will be."

"Aoife has Transfigurations with us," Harry informed.

"Oh yes, well that helps us there, but I have no idea where Ardal will be."

"If he's got a free period, he will probably be outside, it's a nice day and you know how he loves plants."

"You really are a hero sometimes," she smiled, reaching up to give him a quick kiss of appreciation. "I'll go and find him, you speak to Aoife. Say that Aengus is talking to McGonagall about Professor Curran and she'll probably rush off to him." Harry had no chance to dispute as she ran off. He rolled his eyes and walked to his lesson alone.


"Aoife, you need to find Aengus, he's talking to McGonagall and Hermione thinks he wants you there," Harry said, slowly to make sure she heard it all.

"What? Right now? Where is he?" She asked frantically.

"I assume her office, I don't know. Everyone sort of just ran off in different directions."

"Thanks, Harry," she said before running off.

"That's the third person to run away from me," Harry joked as he saw Ron standing close by.

"I wish you hadn't done that, we were just about to talk about the argument we had," Ron said annoyed.

"I'm sorry, but she's been worrying about Aengus and their dad for months now, we thought it was only fair she knew."

"I get that, I do, but sometimes I think that this family has caused a lot of stress." He sighed, relieved to finally get it off his chest.

"I know, but at least, we're helping them."

"This place has unravelled them. Before they came here, three of them had a loving dad. Now look at them, I used to hope that I would make everything better for them, for her, but I can't. I seem to make more worry and pain." His head dropped in defeat.

"What are you talking about, more pain? I think with you, she has found a big ray of happiness."

"There's so much I don't know about her, so much she tries to keep hidden. It's not like it is with you and Hermione, you know what she is thinking before she has even thought it."

Harry began to realise how Hermione felt when Aoife judged relationships on theirs, "you can't think like that, Ron. The reason it's different is because you haven't grown up with Aoife. You haven't gone through everything with her like we have with Hermione. The only reason our relationship seems special to you is because we were friends long before we got together. You can't use our relationship as a guide, you need to stop judging and competing. She's just going through a lot and is getting tetchy. Ron, once she knows Aengus is safe, everything will be better."

"Do you really think that?"

Harry nodded, he did think that, but whether that would be reality was something completely unknown to him. "Why are you here? Don't you have a free period now?"

"I knew Aoife would be here, that's all," Ron explained, "where's Hermione?"

"She's looking for Ardal."


Hermione wondered through the vast grounds of Hogwarts. She almost skipped, it made her so happy that Aengus had finally spoken to her, and that he was telling someone, finally. She had no idea where Ardal might be, she didn't really know him. She suspected that he would be somewhere with Luna, but she didn't know where that somewhere would be. "Hermione? What are you doing out here?"

"Ginny," Hermione sighed, it was nice to see a friendly face. "I'm looking for Ardal, do you know where he would be?"

"Aengus and Aoife's brother? No, I haven't seen him today."

"Where have you just been?" She asked, knowing that that information would mean she could rule out one spot in the whole castle.

"I've just been down by the lake," she said, blushing slightly.

"With..." Hermione grinned.

"Oh, no one. I was thinking about things." Ginny replied.

"Oh, right. Well, I need to find Ardal. I'm here for you if you want to talk about the things you're thinking about." She smiled.

Ginny looked at her up and down, and for some reason felt spiteful towards her, "how do you do it?" She asked.

"Do what?"

"Get everyone to like you, get all the guys falling for you. First my brother, then Harry and now Aengus."

Not this again, Hermione thought. She had just gotten over what Aoife had said and now Ginny, but only one part of that sentence struck a chord with her, "how do you know about Aengus? What has he told you?"

"He doesn't have to tell me anything, it's written all over both of your faces. I know you feel the same about him." She added on the end. This well and truly took the breath out of Hermione's lungs, she couldn't quite believe what she was hearing. For some time now, ever since she came to Hogwarts to see Aengus during Christmas, she had been thinking about what her feelings towards Aengus were. Although she would never do anything to hurt Harry, something seemed to have changed in her heart. She couldn't speak, fearing that her life was unravelling. During the months when Aengus refused to talk to her, everything felt like it did before, but now it had changed once again. "I'm probably being paranoid, but I can't help wondering, first Harry and now Aengus; it feels like you want what I want."

"Aengus and I are just friends, he knows that and I know that. Neither of us wants anything more, despite his feelings towards me." She said with a stiff upper lip. "Now, I need to find Ardal," she said sternly before walking off as Ginny smirked to herself.

*

"Mr Curran, what are you saying?" Professor McGonagall asked sternly. "I have a class to teach in ten minutes, one that you should be in."

"I know, I'm sorry but this is important. I haven't been able to tell anyone this, but Aoife and Hermione have changed my mind." All his words came out in quick succession, he wasn't even sure if they came out in the correct order, but that didn't deter him. "Ever since my mum was diagnosed, well, none of us took it well."

"What?" Her voice had softened at the mention of his mother.

"My dad particularly took it badly and well, he took it out on me."

"How old were you?" She asked, not that it even mattered, whatever the age it wasn't acceptable.

"Ten," He informed. "But it hasn't stopped. I thought it would, but he's still angry. You saw the cuts and bruises on my face, well that was him. I have scars all over my body." He whispered, pulling up his jumper and shirt and turning around to reveal the vast trails of marks.

McGonagall was speechless, she went instantly pale and her knees became weak. She was spared trying to think of something to say, some consoling words that would have most likely fallen flat when a loud knock interrupted them. "I'm sorry I couldn't wait," Aoife said as she walked in and looked at Aengus with a reassuring smile. "Has he told you yet?" McGonagall looked stunned but nodded all the same. "Right, so what are you going to do about him?"

"What are you doing here?" He asked through gritted teeth, "I'm dealing with it."

"Harry said Hermione said you said you wanted me here," she said.

"That's not what I said. I just wanted you to know I was sorting it. Sorry Professor, do you need to ask me anything?" He said, turning his body away from his sister.

"Yes, I need to know whether Professor Curran is teaching a lesson now. I need to get all the students away from him and talk to him." She had found her voice, thinking about how Dumbledore would have handled something like this. "Mr Curran, go to Madam Pomfrey and get checked over by her, I'll give you a note to give to her. Miss Curran, go to the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom and tell those there that the lesson has been cancelled. Then, if your father turns up, send him straight here. Don't tell him what it's about." The two of them nodded and made their way out of the room to complete. "Wait, does Aisling know?"

Aengus stopped and turned sombrely, "no." He had totally forgotten about Aisling when he decided to squeal, he never wanted this to happen to her.

"Do you want me to explain it to her?"

"No, it should come from us," Aengus said strongly, "thank you," he added. McGonagall nodded with a tear in her eye.

They left her alone and she slumped down in her chair. Wanting nothing more than to cry but not finding the strength to be able to do that. She looked across the vast office to Dumbledore's sleeping portrait. "Still can't find a good Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, Albus. I could really use your words right now." She whispered as she picked at her thumbnail.

*

"Thank you for coming to see me so quickly, Patrick. I don't want you to speak. I just want you to listen to me and do what I say. You've been rumbled, your son has told me everything you have done to him. I have alerted the correct authorities and you shall be taken away from the school and from the lives of your children. I feel like a fool for trusting you, it was too good to be true when you turned up." She said with a strong voice.

"What are you talking about? I have never touched my son, let alone anyone else."

"Don't. I know when students are lying to me and I also know when staff are lying. All you have to do is think about those four children who have already lost a parent, think of them when you're trying to wriggle out of this one."

Professor Curran stood up viciously, knocking his knees on the desk as he did so. "Why would he tell you? I always taught him not to be a snitch, the rat."

"I urge you not to say anymore, for anything you say now I shall remember and pass on. I let you teach children, you could have done anything with them."

"I'm not like that, it wasn't like that. I would never hurt a fly."

"So what's Aengus to you then? How could you possibly think this is acceptable."

"I was left with four children, I didn't know what to do. When she was alive, it was even worse. She was too weak and frail to help me."

"That's not an excuse. It's even more of a reason why you should have been the best dad in the world to them. Now, thanks to you, they have no one to look up to." She spat. She was about to say something else when there was a knock at the door. "That'll be for you."

He didn't know what to do. He stood up so abruptly he pushed McGonagall's desk several feet from it's original spot. "Why would you do this?"

"I think you should think about your own answer to that question," she whispered as she reached for the door handle. She rarely walked to open a door anymore, magic had taken that away from her. So long had it been since she opened a door, she tended to forget that it was an option.

"Mr Curran?" A stern looking man said as he walked in.

"It's Professor Curran," he replied with a small voice.

"No, it's not, not anymore." The man replied wickedly. "Where you're going, you'll be lucky to be called Mr Curran." With a flick of his wand, Professor Curran had a strong tether around his wrists. "Follow me," the man demanded and he did, without any qualms, McGonagall noticed this, but held her tongue, not wanting to disrespect anyone.


"You left it a bit late, Patrick. We nearly couldn't get here." The second man said through gritted teeth. "There coming right after us so we better be quick."

"We have to get out of here." The first man shouted frantically, striding down the corridor.

"Thanks for this, lads. The plan went off without many hitches. I know a bit more about Potter and friends. Aoife stayed at the Weasley's house so that's a bonus. How's Rodolphus' side of the plan going?" Patrick asked as he glided behind the first man.

"Well, he say's it's going well, but we can't see what he's actually doing. He doesn't want to break out of prison because they would cause a scene. He just wants to slip away."

"Shame they don't allow visitors, I know just the potion to help him out."

Chapter 18: Chapter Eighteen.
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Hermione approached Aoife slowly and delicately. She didn't know what sort of mood she what be in, she had never experienced this before. "Do you want to know the worse part of all of this?" Aoife asked her. She didn't look at Hermione, she had her back to her, but she still knew it was someone she could trust. "In a couple of hours or days, everyone in this stupid castle will know what's been happening. Aengus will be whispered about more times than the wind blows through the cracks."

"It won't last," Hermione lied. She was well aware of the spiteful tongues in this place, being on the receiving end of gossip for numerous years in a row.

"We both know you're lying, Hermione. I may have only been here for a short time, but every secret that the walls contain will leak and once they leak, nothing will be the same. Our normal lives here are over, we're going to be just like you three. A room will go deadly silent if one of us walks in. Our names will be passed around in hushed voices. He's ruined us." Still refusing to turn around, Aoife stayed ridged. "He brought us here. The place he had kept us from for years, and within months of our arrival, our family secrets are known to all. There's something about it, something about the brick that invades your mind, your soul."

"The hard part is over now, Aoife. Aengus spoke out. All you have to do is keep your head up. If you don't rise to the whispers, they will die down."

"Maybe you're right. You probably are, you've dealt with it since you were 11." She turned around, revealing a red and puffy face.

Hermione smiled weakly as she walked over to her and handed her a tissue, "once you start, it's hard to stop."

"I swear I never used to be like this, I couldn't. I had to think about Aisling, she needed a female to look up to and that, unfortunately, had to be me." She explained as she wiped the tears away with the tissue. "I need to go and tell her what's happened, she needs to know before everyone else finds out. Can you just tell me one thing? Completely honestly." Hermione paused, not knowing what the question would be made it almost impossible to say yes, but she nodded all the same. "Will everything end up okay?"

"I don't know," Hermione whispered, not wanting to break her promise. "I hope it will be. You just need to get used to the differences. But you need to make Aisling safe and happy, Harry and I will help you with that in any way."

Aoife smiled, appreciating her honesty. "I need to find her someone to live when she's not here. I assume she'll want to stay here." She began to panic.

"Calm down. You're not alone in this. Talk to Ardal and perhaps Aengus when he's back."

"Back? Where's he gone?" Aoife asked, her voice suddenly sounding more shrill.

"I think Madam Pomfrey is checking him, I meant back to his usual self," Hermione explained.

"His normal self? You don't know what that is, I hardly know what that is. I don't think he'll ever be his normal self again."

Hermione sighed, she always seemed to say the wrong things. "I didn't mean anything by that. I just meant that he'll be full of adrenaline at the moment and might need to calm down before he can think straight."

"I know what you meant, I'm sorry. I don't know why I said that. It's been a long few months." Aoife sighed, Hermione looked at her and nodded.

"I'll go and find Ron," Hermione said.

"Great," Aoife muttered sarcastically. Hermione, who had heard this, decided to ignore it and carried on with her mission.

*

"So why has your lesson been cancelled, Harry?" Ginny asked as they both sat in the Common Room, with Ron at a table doing some work.

"McGonagall had something to deal with," Harry said vaguely, busying himself with something in his bag.

"Right, and where are Hermione and Aoife? Don't they have Transfiguration with you?" Her voice matching her suspicious face.

"I have no idea," Harry replied, praying that she would stop prying soon.

"Ron, do you know where Aoife is? I saw Hermione looking for Ardal a while ago." She added for Harry's benefit.

"I think she's with Hermione," Ron said even more vaguely than Harry. They had an unspoken deal that neither of them would tell anyone what was happening with the Curran's.

Ginny sighed, knowing she was fighting a losing battle in trying to get them to speak. "You don't have to tell me what's going on, I just wish you would tell me straight that you don't want to tell me."

"Why? You got the hint," Ron snarled.

"Just because there's trouble in paradise doesn't mean you have to take it out on me," Ginny whined before exited the room.

"Trouble in paradise?" Harry echoed, chucking his bag on the floor and walking over to Ron.

"Remember what I told you earlier? I bumped into Ginny and let her in on it. I just feel like something has completely changed. I've never felt closer to anyone in my life over Christmas, but that has rapidly changed since coming back here."

"Is there someone else?" Harry asked.

"I wouldn't even know that," Ron said. "To be honest, Harry, I don't know a lot about her," he admitted.

"There's still time for you to learn."

"I thought I wanted to, but now-" he began to say when someone interrupted him.

"Ron, you need to go to Aoife. Her dad's been taken and she shouldn't be alone." Hermione ordered.

"Did she ask for me?" Ron asked half in amazement, half in denial.

"Just go to her," Hermione demanded again.

"Where is she?"

"I left her outside the Potions classroom, she might not still be there, though, but I would recommend going there." Ron gave her look that demonstrated just how obvious her suggestion was. It was as though his look had said, 'well where else would I look?'

Ron didn't seem as concerned with what his face was doing, however, as he ran off without another word to the pair of them. "Long day?" Harry asked as Hermione slumped down on the sofa.

"You can say that again, when will this end, Harry? When we first came back, did you think we would have a quiet year?" She asked, closing her eyes as she spoke.

"I guess it crossed my mind, but quiet doesn't mix with us. Problems follow us around, and I shouldn't say this, but I'm slightly relieved that it isn't us in danger this time around." He whispered the last part, hoping that if Hermione's ears were disapproving, the slight change in volume would deceive her.

"I know what you mean, but I somehow think that it's worse when it's not our battle to fight," she turned to face him, "unlike before, we can't even pretend to be in control." Harry nodded, knowing exactly what was being said, but not knowing how to follow up. "Everything should be better now, at least, Aengus isn't in danger. Well, hopefully."

"Hopefully?"

"I just have a funny feeling. Don't you think everything happened a bit too quickly? We haven't been told anything by McGonagall, I would have thought she would have said something to excuse Professor Curran to everyone. The whole school will be wondering where he's got to." Hermione pondered aloud.

"Maybe you're right, but I would imagine that she wants to leave it to Aoife, Aengus and Ardal. They can tell as much or as little as they want. All we need to know is that he's gone and I suppose we, once again, don't have a Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher."

Hermione's eyes widened, although she cared deeply about what their friends were going through, she couldn't quite keep the studious part of her person from showing its anxious self. "I'm sure that's the last thing McGonagall is thinking about right now."

"We'll have to see if she mentions anything at dinner tonight, people will notice his empty chair there."

*

Things had certainly changed at Hogwarts. Nobody mentioned Professor Curran, there were rumours circulating the castle, of course, but no one confirmed or denied them. Deep down, Hermione suspected that the truth was out there, but it was never publicly spoken about. Aengus had been quiet, but at least now he wasn't walking into rooms with a face from something out of a horror movie. He still refused, or avoided, being in the same room as Hermione alone, which wasn't a bad thing. She needed space from all of it too. "Got your trunk packed?" Harry asked on a sunny Saturday morning.

"Harry, who do you think you're talking to?" Ron scoffed.

"Yeah, I'm ready. Are you sure you don't mind walking down with me? You don't have to." She smiled, ignoring Ron's remarks.

"Stop. We've discussed this on many occasions, Hermione." He grinned, "I have legs, I can walk, so I will walk down with you."

She was about to go back to her parent's house to be with her ailing mother. It still wasn't clear how ill was ill, but nobody was prepared to take a chance. "Shall we go then? I just need to let McGonagall know, I'll just be a second."

"I hope everything will be okay, Hermione certainly doesn't need any more angst," Ron muttered to an all too knowing Harry.

"She's prepared herself for the worst, but she doesn't want to talk to me about it," Harry said, "not that I'll know what to say even if she wanted to."

"She'll let you in when she's ready, she always does," Ron replied.

"Yeah, you're probably right," Harry said, his eyes and mind focusing on the small figure of Hermione in the distance.

"You'll be able to cope, Harry. You're stronger than you think." Ron smiled. Harry snapped back, amazed at the fact that it wasn't Hermione who knew exactly what he was thinking.

"What if I can't? What if I fail her? She doesn't deserve that." Harry voiced his concern with ease, almost like he was in an empty room speaking to himself.

"She believes that you won't fail her, that's why you're still together. Don't doubt yourself when she doesn't doubt you."

Hermione made her way back to where they were sat. "She said I can leave, but she wants you," she was speaking to Harry, "to find her when you walk back up."

"Why?" Ron asked rather abruptly, taking them both aback slightly.

"She didn't say way, I presume she wants to know I've gone."

"Or she wants to make sure that I haven't gone with you." Harry joked.

"That's probably more like it," Ron agreed.

"Ready?" Harry asked. She was hesitant but nodded. Harry took her hand and noticed it was shaking uncontrollably, but that was something he could help with - he held it strongly and surely. She appreciated it, silently.

"See you when you're back, Hermione. I hope everything is- I'm sure everything will be alright." He rephrased.

"Bye," was all she could say out of fear of breaking down.

Harry guided her to the main door, down the lawn and out of the grounds. Neither one of them opened their mouths as they went. The wind conversing with the trees was all they needed. Hermione stopped and turned to face Harry, her mind wandered back to Christmas when she escaped back here, now it felt like she was escaping from here - but to what? "It'll be okay, if she's anything like you, she'll be able to fight whatever it is." He smiled, she kept hold of his hand, beginning to squeeze harder. "Are you sure you don't want me to come with you?"

She shook her head, "no, you know McGonagall would skin you if you didn't report back." She didn't sound confident or strong, which broke his heart more than anything. "I'll write to you as soon as I can, don't worry about me too much, I'll be fine." She empathised the 'I'll'.

"Keep your head up," he ordered, using his free hand to push her chin up. She was greeted with one of the biggest smiled she had ever seen, which in turn, made her smile.

"See you in a few days then." Her voiced wavered, for weeks she had been so far away from this day, now it was here and she wasn't sure how to handle it. Harry kissed her forehead and reluctantly let go of her shaking hand. She smiled and spun on the spot and disappeared. Harry waited and stared at where she stood for several minutes, just in case she came back for him. When she didn't, which is what he fully expected, he made his way back to te castle in the search of McGonagall to prove he hadn't left too.

*

Hermione took a deep breath as she walked up the road to her family road. She had put off the inevitable for long enough by roaming the suburbs in which she grew up and now had to face the truth. It was the unknown which scared her the most. What if her mum was unrecognisable? What if Hermione was unrecognisable to her mum? She knocked on the door, unsure as to way. Maybe it was to give her slightly longer to think of something to say to her dad when she saw him, nothing came to mind.

No one came to let her in. She took a step away from the building and looked up. There was a faint yellow tinge radiating from her parents bedroom and a slither of light escaping from the cracks in the front door. She walked back to the door and turned the handle - it was locked. She knocked on the door again, this time, louder, and still there was no answer. This struck Hermione as odd. She was expected; she was sure she had informed her father she was coming today. Instinctively her mind went to magic and her wand came out of her pocket. She whispered, "Alohomora", the lock clicked and the door opened. "Hello?" She called into the seemingly deserted hallway, but no one replied. She walked towards the kitchen door and heard someone tapping on some buttons. She knocked once again but didn't wait to enter.

"Hermione! Is it Saturday already? Gosh, I'm losing track of the days." His voice and face displayed nothing but fatigue.

"The door was locked, I used magic to open it. It shouldn't be broken. What are you doing?" She asked having clocked the paperwork that scattered the kitchen island and the calculator which was being ferociously pressed.

"With your mum not working and wages for the nurses that help, I'm trying to figure out money. It's nothing to worry about," he added after noticing Hermione's face. "If I wasn't working every day, I could get by without nurses."

"Are you going to sell the practice?"

"It's looking more and more like that is the only way. I'm determined to find another solution, I'm confident she'll get better and be able to return to work."

Hermione smiled and nodded. "Is she upstairs?"

"Yes, Nurse Waterman is up there with her, but she'd be more than happy to see you." Her dad said as she turned his attention back to his figures. "Thanks for coming, Hermione, it means so much to both of us," he whispered as she was almost out the door. She stopped and turned to face his as if she was going to say something, but no words found he so she left her father alone.

She climbed the stairs, the task seeming almost impossible because of what lay up there. Still not knowing what her mum was facing. The mention of nurses struck fear in her stomach.

The stairs seemed continuous. Every time she took one step, it felt like another two were added. She finally reached the top and with both a heavy heart and heavy legs, she walked over to her parent's room. Again she knocked, this time waiting for an answer. A woman with a slight Welsh accent sang "come in!" So she followed the orders of a complete stranger. "You must be Hermione, I've heard a lot about you," she exclaimed as Hermione stood in the door frame.

"Hello, darling." Her mum's voice was quiet but had the same tone.

"How are you feeling, mum?" Her voice matched her mums volume without it meaning to.

"All the better now you're here." She smiled. Hermione closed the door gently and walked over to the bed.

"I'll go and make everyone a nice cup of tea," Nurse Waterman said as she stood up from the chair that was placed by the bed.

"Oh, sorry, I should I thought and brought some up with me," Hermione replied rather embarrassingly, how could she be so thoughtless?

"Don't be silly, love. I know that tea isn't on your mind. How do you take yours?" She asked kindly.

"Black, one sugar," Hermione answered with a smile. "Are you sure you don't mind? I can make it."

"Don't be silly," she repeated, "have a nice catch up with your mum. She's been talking about you visiting for weeks now."

"Sit here," her mum patted on the other side of the bed. They both waited for Nurse Waterman to leave before they started talking. "How have you been? How's Harry? Ron? School?" Hermione sighed, she should have known they would be talking about her.

"I've been alright, worrying about you, though. Harry is good too, he's been writing to Edgar - Furman, the sort of magic equivalent to a psychiatrist," she clarified, " for a while now."

"It's good for him to be keeping it up, I can't wait to meet him now that he is more himself."

"He wanted to visit this week, but McGonagall wouldn't let him. She says it's because of school work, but I think she's worried it would be bad for him."

"That's fair enough, I don't want a big fuss being made. How about Ron?"

"He's having a few problems with his girlfriend, but she's just found out something really terrible and her whole family is damaged because of it. I'm sure once that's sorted everything will work out."

"Oh yes, Aoife. I always liked Ron, I hope things work out well for him."

"Me too, his family has been through a lot. We saw a lot of death, but losing one of your own must be unbearable." Hermione sighed, thinking of Fred and poor George who would never be whole again.

"I can only imagine. Sometimes I think what would have happened if you had been taken. We would never have known. It doesn't bear thinking about." She wiped a lonely tear as she thought back to Australia.

"That wouldn't have happened, I made Ron and Harry promise that if anything happened to me, they would find you and tell you. But we don't need to think about that, I'm alive and fine."

"Thank goodness. All thanks to Harry for protecting you. You've found a good one there, just be sure he can and will always protect you."

"What's that suppose to mean? He does his best."

"I know that. I didn't mean anything by it. I'm sorry, I just want to make sure you're always safe and happy."

"I know, mum, I'm sorry. Let's talk about you. How are we going to get you better?" Hermione dreaded this conversation but knew it all must be said.

"I don't know if that's going to be possible."

"Don't say that. We can get through this, together. I know we can."

"I've got chronic kidney disease, Hermione. It can be controlled and I can probably cope with it for the time being, but I won't be able to be the same."

'chronic kidney disease' repeated in her head over and over, "what does that mean?" Hermione's lip was trembling and she couldn't look at her mum.

"It means that my kidneys will eventually fail if I don't have a heart attack before that," she said rather matter of factly. "They're treating me, but that just slows it down.

"There must be a cure, something we can do."

"They are saying that I need a transplant, I'm well enough to get through one, but no one is a match and the list is as long as anything."

"Will I be a match? I must be, I'm your daughter. I can give you one of mine." She said quickly and rather high pitched.

"No, Hermione. That's not what I want. You have school, and your holiday you're planning with Harry and your friends. It wouldn't be fair to you."

"Seeing you like this isn't fair to me, or you for that matter. I'm 18, I can make my own decisions. It will give you a longer and better life. You don't need to suffer and stay in bed all day. I will have to find out more about it, of course, but I can read up on it, talk to doctors, ask them questions." Hermione had made up her mind, she was going to do everything in her power to save her mum. "I'll go and talk to Nurse Waterman about how to get tested to see if we're a match."

"No-" she began to argue, but Hermione was already out the door.

"She could theoretically be on dialysis until she gets better - if she will. I really can't stress how important a transplant would be for your wife. If it's successful and her body accepts it, there's no telling how long she will live, best case would be at least 10 years, if not longer. And that living will be proper living, she will be able to go back to work if she wants, whatever but she won't be in bed all day." Hermione heard the nurse say to her dad from behind the kitchen door.

"I've been thinking who could donate, but Rose doesn't have any siblings and her cousin isn't a match."

"Have we ruled out your daughter? She would most likely be a ma-"

"We've ruled out Hermione," he said sternly.

"No, we haven't. I want to donate. I want to save her any way I can." Hermione said confidently as she threw the door open.


Chapter 19: Chapter Nineteen.
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Harry woke up the next morning expecting a letter from Hermione, but nothing came. He didn't express his worries over this to Ron or anyone else, he knew that he would hear something soon, she had promised to write as soon as she could - she was probably just busy.

"How's Hermione and her mum? Has she written to you yet?" Aoife asked Harry and breakfast.

"No, I expect she's too busy to write," he replied.

"Oh, right, yeah, of course. Well, if you ever write to her, send her my best wishes and her mum, of course." She said sweetly.

"Yeah, will do."

Aengus looked up from his plate to take a glance at Harry having sensed something in his tone.

"When is she coming back?" Ron asked.

"She has to come back next weekend before we start lessons again. Right, Harry?" Aoife chipped in.

"Yeah."

"I wonder if she'll come back before then," Ginny added to the conversation.

"Only if her mum gets better," Ron argued.

"Does anyone know what's wrong with her?"

"I don't think Hermione even knew when she left."

"It must be quite serious, though, else she wouldn't have gone."

"Maybe they just wanted to see her?"

"But why? Because it's serious."

"Perhaps we should talk about something else, like what we're going to do with this week off." Aengus interrupted.

"I was thinking of drawing up a plan for our holiday. Hermione suggested it a while ago, I think it's a great idea." Aoife answered. "That way we know where we're going and what we're doing so we can get excited."

Ron and Aoife became emerged in holiday conversation whilst the rest of the speakers seemed to have dispersed. "Thank you" Harry mouthed to Aengus and he nodded as a welcome.

Harry calmed down drastically now that the conversation wasn't about Hermione. He wouldn't mind usually, but he didn't know what to say and even worse, he didn't know how to help. Several minutes later the post started to arrive. Even now Harry looked up in the search of a white owl and even now it broke his heart when he remembered.

However, today an owl did swoop down to Harry and gave him its outstretched leg. He quickly untied it and stood up. "Is that from Hermione?" Ron asked.

"No," Aengus replied quickly. "It's for me, but I gave it to Harry to keep until I wanted to read it."

Harry wasn't sure why Aengus was doing this; although they weren't enemies they never really spoke, but he went along with it, "he doesn't want it right now so I was going to put it somewhere safe until he wants to read it." He carried on with the unconvincing story.

"Who's it from?" Aoife asked staring at her brother.

"Why do you want to know? It's private."

"So private you gave it to Harry?"

"I'll just put this in my trunk then," Harry informed, striding off.

"It's not for you is it, Aengus? It's from Hermione." Aoife said.

"Why can't you just leave things alone, Aoife? It doesn't concern you so just drop it." Aengus snarled through his teeth. As he walked after Harry, Ron looked past his disappearing body to the door where his best friend slipped out.

"Unbelievable. She's our friend too, we want to know everything's okay." Aoife huffed.

"Actually, Aoife, I think this is one of those times where Aengus is right. If it is from Hermione, we'll find out when we're meant to." Ron said at a whisper whilst his face turned bright red.

"Wh-wh-" Aoife stuttered, but she never managed to finish, or start, the sentence.

*

"Thanks for everything back there," Harry said as Aengus walked up to him in the foyer outside the Great Hall.

"No problem, I know what it's like to be suffocated by questions you don't know the answer to."

"Why are you helping me?" Harry asked curiously, trying his hardest not to sound ungrateful.

"I just said. I know how it feels and I thought you deserved a break, I know how insistent Aoife can be."

"Not because of Hermione?" Harry's eyes narrowed with suspicion.

"What? I guess she was a factor, yes. You're both my friends so I want to help you out."

"If you say so. Thanks again, it means a lot to have someone on my side."

"Anytime. See you around," Aengus smiled before he walked away.

Harry clutched the letter to his chest as he contemplated where he would go to read it. He noticed that the sun was shining so he settled down on the lawn outside.

'Harry,
I wasn't going to write this letter so soon. I don't want you to worry and come here. Mum is ill, seriously ill, she needs a kidney transplant soon, but she has no one to donate to her. I'm forcing a test through to see if we're a match, if we are, I'm going to donate. I really need you to stay calm and don't come here.
Love Hermione.'


Harry read and reread her letter. Her words spelling out everything she needed to. He thought about how he should go about it. He could go to McGonagall and tell her that he needed to leave, but that would run the risk of being banned from going and being watched by her for the rest of the week. The only thing to do was to leave without telling a soul.

He walked to where he had taken Hermione yesterday morning and like he expected, the gates were securely locked. He knew magic wouldn't work on magic gates, so he looked to the ground and wondered how far down they went. Then something came to him, he picked up a stone and chucked it over the top of the gate - it didn't rebound back. He did it again, just to make sure and again it fell to the other side.

He pulled out his wand and summoned his broom. He thought of the bemused faces watching a bodiless broom fly through the corridors. He prayed that a pair of eyes didn't belong to his Headmistress else his plan would be scuppered. His broom arrived and he mounted it, kicking it upwards and flying it over the gate. He felt a small pushing force but it wasn't strong enough to repel him. Once he was back on the ground, he tucked his broom behind a tree and went to Hermione.

"Harry, it's lovely to see you. Hermione is upstairs in her room. Go on up." Hermione's father smiled as he opened the door wider for Harry to fit through.

"Thanks, sir."

"Please call me Archie, Harry."

"Thanks, Archie." Harry smiled, it would take some getting used to being on first name basis with him.

"You know the way. She's had a shock, finding out the seriousness of her mother's health. She's tired, but I know she'll be glad to see you."

"If you need some time, Archie, I'll be happy to hold the fort for you," Harry said as he noticed his grey face and dark eyes.

"That's very kind of you. My brother and his family are staying in a hotel for the weekend. They're here to see a show and they invited Rose and me along too. We both really wanted to go, but Rose isn't too well today. I won't go to the show because that would finish far too late, but it would be nice to see them for a couple of hours. If you really don't mind."

"Go to the show if you want to, I am more than happy to help."

"Thanks for the offer, but I will just have lunch with them. I know you would look after them both very well, but I don't want to leave my wife for too long. I work most of the week, so this is the only proper time I get to spend with her."

"Why don't we have a nice dinner tonight, if Rose is up to it. I'll cook...or get something in. I think someone needs to look after you too." Harry smiled, hoping to sound genuine.

"You are honestly the nicest young man I have ever met. I'll pick some ingredients up on my way back from lunch, we can make it together."

"That sounds like a plan." Harry smiled.

Archie grasped his shoulder like a father would do to his son, "I'm glad Hermione has someone like you." This made Harry feel so welcomed and safe. That small action, whether it was intended to make such an impact, made Harry feel something he had never felt before - it made him feel like he had a family who loved him. "I'll just tell Rose what's going on, thanks again."

"My pleasure."

"Harry! That was quick. I was sure it would take you a while to get here. How did you manage it?" Hermione looked slightly better than her dad did, but she had only been here for one night.

"I flew over the gate," Harry said simply, walking over to the bed and sitting down.

"Flew? Wasn't there a force field or something? How can it be that easy to escape?"

"I did feel something, but it was weak. Maybe someone helped me." Harry pondered.

"I don't care how you got here, I'm just glad you did," she said, wrapping her arms around his body and placing her head on his chest. He fell back and her hair covered his face, the smell of coconut being a smell of comfort to him.

"Do you want to talk about it?" He whispered as her ear wasn't far away from him.

"I don't really know much about it. She's got kidney disease which will soon become kidney failure. Her nurse explained it to me yesterday. She can be on dialysis for the rest of her life if she wants to. Three times a week for five hours."

"What's dialysis?" He asked gently.

"Her kidneys aren't doing what they should, they're not removing waste from her blood. Dialysis does that for her. Although she could go to work, it makes her extremely tired and dad doesn't really want to risk it. The nurse said that, although dialysis does give her a normal life, she can do everything she used to, she recommends a transplant so she doesn't have to stick to a schedule." Harry was playing with her hair as he listened, he didn't have any solutions to the problem, but she didn't mind. She just needed to talk to him.

"This transplant, if you are a match and everything works, how will it affect you?"

"The nurse said that it would take up to 6 weeks to get back to normal, but after that nothing would really change. They would want me to have check-ups to make sure everything is working alright, and I would need to be healthy, but that's nothing."

"So you could do everything you would be able to do with two kidneys?" He said, trying to ask something, but not wanting to use the direct words.

Hermione knew this but wasn't so afraid to say it outright, "I asked her and she said that there shouldn't be any problems during pregnancy or childbirth. They would obviously monitor me closely if or when it happens."

This relaxed Harry. They had never spoken about the idea of children, not seriously, but this was a good start. "So what does your mum think of it? I can't image she is happy about it."

"She doesn't want me to do it. But she's agreed to hear me out. She's worried that it'll ruin my life drastically, but it won't. I'll loose six weeks, but what's that to what she's going through? I just want to help her like she helped me my whole life."

"She just wants you to be safe and happy."

"I'll be happy once I know she'll be alright."

*
"Mr Weasley, have you seen Mr Potter recently?" Professor McGonagall asked sternly when they bumped into one another in the corridor.

Ron, who was on his way to the Common Room, wasn't in the mood for a grilling by his headmistress as Aoife had summoned him for a chat. "Sorry," he said vaguely.

"Well when you do see him, tell him I need to speak to him."

"About?" Ron asked, "only he won't want to come if he knows he's in trouble," he added when she gave him a look of disgust.

"Nice try, Mr Weasley. He isn't in trouble, though." She confirmed.

Ron nodded in agreement before stepping sideways and walking to his doom.


"Ron, I think we should talk about what's been going on," Aoife said as she sat on the end of his bed.

"Right," he replied, knowing his part of the conversation would be less than relevant.

"Do you remember a couple of months ago? We were outside McGonagall's office and Ardal was trying to make me go and speak to her after I had changed my mind. He was trying to force me and you stood up for me."

"Of course I stood up for you, we're on the same side."

"So why didn't you stand up for me this morning? With Aengus?"

"There was nothing I could do."

"Do you know the main reason I wanted to know about Hermione?" Ron shook his head, "because I know how much you care about her and I know how much you're worrying. I wanted to know for your sake."

"Well thanks, that means a lot to me. I am worried about her, but she has Harry to hold her together."

Aoife stared at him with her mouth slightly open. She couldn't quite believe how unaware he could be. "I did it for you because I care about you, because I don't want to see you down and when Aengus was laying into me, you just sat there, saying nothing and to make it worse, you took his side in the end. Something's happened to us, have you become bored with me? Do you want me to leave so you can find someone new?"

"No, of course not. I l-" He began to say, but he lost confidence.

"Say it, Ron. It shouldn't be hard if you mean it." She said, her eyes urging him on.

"Aoife-"

"Elizabeth," she interrupted.

"Aoife Elizabeth Curran, I love you," he whispered. That was enough for Aoife though.

"I love you too." She smiled before launching at him and planting a big kiss on his lips. "Why has it taken you so long to say it?"

"I guess I didn't know until I thought you were breaking up with me." He grinned. "So, your middle name is Elizabeth then?"

"Mum's name. I always preferred the name Eliza though. But you don't really shorten middle names."

"Eliza? That's the name of our first daughter then." He laughed.

Her eyes widened as her mouth turned upwards, "do you mean that?"

"Of course, I do. I've never felt this way about anyone. I know we've only known each other for less than a year, but I know that there's no one else I ever want. I know we're young and some will call us naïve, but you're all I want for the rest of my life." He said confidently.

"Are you..." She stuttered.

"Maybe I am. I don't have anything to offer you, only myself."

"That's all I need." She beamed.

*

"Miss Weasley, you're just the person I was looking for." Madam Hooch squealed when Ginny turned the corner.

"Madam Hooch, how can I help you?" Ginny asked sweetly.

"At the last Quidditch match, a scout was present. He picked you out and wants to sign you as soon as you leave Hogwarts."

"What? You can't be right. Are you sure?" She asked in amazement.

"I'm surer than I've ever been. He said you had the right mixture of competitiveness, drive, intelligence, determination and teamwork. This hardly happens. To be signed right after leaving school is an amazing achievement, not as great as being signed whilst still at school, but you shouldn't be too upset about that."

"Thanks," Ginny said under her breath. "What team is it?" She asked.

"You won't believe this, but it's the Holyhead Harpies!" She exclaimed.

"No!" Ginny screamed, "Holy-" She stuttered, not believing her ears.

"You are the newest Chaser for Holyhead Harpies! This is so exciting, I know, but you can't tell anyone for now. Keep this to yourself until you've signed the contract."

Ginny was buzzing, she couldn't get her head around it. For years, she had been wondering what she would do once leaving Hogwarts. She had always been drawn to the professional Quidditch life, but she always believed it was too farfetched to even think about being signed by a team. She couldn't wait to tell everyone she knew, couldn't wait to see her mum's proud smile and Ron's jealous face. She would have to move to Wales, of course, but she would sort that out when the time came. She wouldn't be able to go on holiday with her friends, she would need to think of a good excuse for now.

*

"I'm so glad you came, Harry. It really helped me out." Hermione said; they were still lying together on the bed. They both seemed to have fallen asleep at some point in the conversation.

"I would walk the world if you needed me," he whispered.

"I know you would," she replied, closing her eyes and smiling.

Below them, the front door was being pushed open, "only me." Archie called up.

"I just need to speak to your dad," Harry said.

"About what?"

"It's a surprise." He smiled, getting up from the bed and walking out of the room. Hermione became more alert, she was sure the surprise wouldn't be what she thought it would be, she hoped her hunch was wrong.


"Ah, Harry. I've got all the ingredients here for Rose's favourite meal - cottage pie and banoffee pie. Don't worry, they're not hard to make. I'll make the pudding. You get started on the cottage pie whilst I go and see how Rose is doing. There's a recipe over there." He pointed to a shelf full of cookbooks. Harry slyly approached them and saw that the recipe could be in any one of them.

He lifted one off the shelf and it just happened to be the right one, he grinned at himself thinking that he had already overcome the first hurdle. Archie was right, it didn't seem to be too complex and he was used to cooking in a Muggle kitchen.

By the time Archie reappeared in the kitchen, Harry was almost ready to put it in the oven. "Harry, don't put it in yet. We will do that a couple of minutes before we want to eat. It looks like you've done a great job, but Rose what's to speak to you now." He smiled as he walked over to a cupboard to get a glass bowl out to make his part of the meal.

"She does? Is she okay?" Harry pondered anxiously.

"She does."

*

"Excuse me," Aengus said to a girl who had her back to him, upon hearing his voice, she turned around. "Oh, it's you. Robyn. How are you?" Completely taken aback by the whole situation, Robyn was tongue tied for several seconds. "Sorry if I startled you, it's just an odd occurrence to bump into someone you actually know the name of round here."

"I'm pretty sure I know most of the names under this roof," she smirked.

"Oh yeah, you're a crazy stalker." He joked; she breathed out loudly, indicating a laugh. "So?"

"So what?"

"How are you?" He grinned.

"Not too bad," she answered. She was holding a black folder which was almost bursting at the seams.

"What's all that?" Pointing at the full folder.

"It is my OWL year," she argued back.

"So that's all school work?" He asked knowing full well it wasn't.

"Yeah," but one slipped out, and before she could stop him, Aengus bent down to pick it up.

"That's really good. Who is it?" He asked, handing back a black and white sketch of a young boy.

"My nephew, Oscar."

"How old is he?"

"5."

"Will he be coming here?"

"What's with all the questions? Am I being interrogated?"

"You've just asked two," he mocked.

"My questions weren't personal. I don't talk about my family, not to anyone." Her usually soft, quiet voice had been replaced by a harsh tone.

"I didn't mean to upset you. I just wanted to get to know you a bit more." He tried to turn up the Irish, in the past, his accent had charmed his way out of some sticky situations.

"I don't talk about my family. The Irish doesn't work on me, by the way." Aengus analysed Robyn's and could have sworn she had winked at him.

"I understand that I don't like talking about my family either," Aengus said softly. He reached out and, after hesitating slightly, touched the top of her arm. She recoiled and took a step back. "I'm sorry," he said when he realised he had completely misread the situation.

"You've nothing to be sorry for...yet," she smirked and walked off, laughing to herself as she went.

"Wait-" he called out before knowing what she should wait for.

She stopped and turned around slowly, "yeah?"

"It was nice to see yo- your drawing." He quickly edited his sentence to stop sounding too keen.

"I'm sure it was." She smiled.

*

Harry timidly knocked on Rose's bedroom door. "Come in," she called.

"Hello, how are you feeling?" Why had he said that? It made him sound like he was trying to sound like a doctor.

"I've been better, but I've definitely been a lot worse. How are you? Please, sit down." She added, indicating to the chair that was by her side.

"I'm alright." He carefully sat on the chair, becoming more aware of the noises he made and trying hard to eliminate them.

"I expect you have been speaking to Hermione about her ludicrous plan to be a donor?" She noticed Harry's nod and carried on, "it means a lot to me that she would go through all that to help me, but I don't want her to. She would be helping my life but risking her own. I know you wouldn't want her to do that, so will you speak to her for me? She might listen to you."

Harry thought about what he was about to say, "I can't change her mind, Mrs Granger, I also wouldn't want to. She watched me risk my life time and again to stop Voldemort and this is something she is set on. This is something she wants to do, for you. We both know this is going to happen."

"I envisioned you would say something like that, so here's what I ask from you now. I need you to protect her for the rest of your life. I mean it. If she does this for me, you have to promise me that she'll never come to any harm."

"You don't need to ask me to do that, I have tried to keep her safe since we were 11."

"I know," she said smiling as she took Harry's hand affectionately.


Chapter 20: Chapter Twenty.
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"Mr Weasley, have you seen Mr Potter yet?" McGonagall asked at breakfast the next day.

"I have, but not today," he replied with a lie.

"How do you mean? How didn't you see him this morning?"

"I assume he left before me."

"I think he said something about helping Hagrid," Aengus said, "I don't know what it was, though."

McGonagall eyed them both suspiciously; she knew that they were lying to her, she knew where he was, but she admired their loyalty to him. "Let him know as soon as you see him that I need a word."

"Did that work?" Aoife asked in astonishment.

"No, she knows," Ron replied as his eyes fixated on her.

"Do you think he is with Hermione?" Aoife asked.

"Where else would he be?" Aengus said.

"I think it's noble of him. He doesn't care if he gets into big trouble; he's probably ruined Gryffindor's chances of winning the House Cup, but he just needs to make sure she is okay." Aoife swooned.

"I think we should write a letter to him, he needs to be aware that McGonagall is looking for him. She knows he's there, but she doesn't know how she got there." Ron explained, "we need to get him to come back as soon as possible to avoid anything nasty."

"He won't want to come back, not without her," Aoife argued, "we're not going to be able to convince him to leave her or her to leave her mum."

"Just to warn him that when he gets back McGonagall will want to talk to him. Hermione might be able to come up with a convincing story."

"I doubt even Hermione could make McGonagall understand this, mate."

"Even so, they need to know," Ron said. He gave Aoife a quick peck and ran off to the dormitory to scribble down the information for Harry.

Aengus and Aoife stayed behind to finish eating, they weren't in a rush. Aengus looked at the door just as Robyn wandered in. She looked directly at him and laughed before finding a deserted part of the Ravenclaw bench. "She is infuriating." He breathed.

"Who is?" Aoife asked as she looked around at the vast amount of students.

"Robyn. When I speak to her I never know where I stand."

"Which one is Robyn?"

Aengus twist his body and pointed to where she sat, "that one."

Aoife stared at her with a mouth open slightly, she looked just like Bree. "What's she like?"

"She's a loner basically," he said turning back to face his sister, "I've never really seen her with anyone else."

"Go over and talk to her, ask her out."

"What? I don't want to do that." Aengus went red and looked down at his plate.

"Shut up, Aengus. You obviously like her. Don't be shy."

"Ever since Hermione, I've been too scared to act on feelings," he whispered, "what if I've totally misread the situation again?"

"You were wrong with Hermione, I'll say that, but Robyn might be just what you need to get over her. Just go and talk to her, there's no harm in that."

"You don't get it, Aoife. I can't just go up and to her and talk. She's not a normal converser. It won't go smoothly."

"When have you ever cared about things going smoothly? Gus, this is what life is about; you can't get caught up with what happened in the past. This is your time to make yourself a future."

"Have you swallowed a self-help book or something?" Ardal had turned up and had heard the last part of Aoife's speech. "Who's this girl our brother is meant to be turning into his future?" Aengus blushed as Aoife pointed to Robyn, "Robyn Root? Good luck with that. No one knows much about her, and what we do know is rumours and speculations, nothing from her mouth herself."

"Just because she's shy doesn't mean she'll be hard to talk to," Aoife argued.

"She's not shy. She's just...difficult." Ardal explained. "She will disagree with you even is she wholly believes what you're saying - just for the sake of it."

"Well that isn't a problem, maybe it's her way of not getting-"

"Can we all stop talking." Aengus interrupted. "We don't know her, there might be a reason she is why she is. She might be argumentative and secretive because she has to be." Aengus said sternly as he stood up from the bench. "Don't judge anything you can't fully see," Aoife's eyes seemed to have widened during Aengus' moral high ground speech.

"What are you saying?" Aoife replied slyly.

"I'm saying that Robyn's attitude, as Ardal put it, is what makes her unique. She might be difficult, but so is everyone. So what I'm saying is you two should both stop talking about her like you know everything about her."

He walked off, unaware of any repercussions which might take place after his small outburst. As he walked through the corridor he heard fast approaching footsteps, but he ignored them presuming the owner of the stomp wasn't walking after him. It wasn't until a soft, cold hand grabbed his that he stopped. "You are hard to catch," she smirked as her hand lingered in his.

"Robyn-" he began to say before Robyn stopped him.

"I've never had someone stand up to me like that. I've been well aware of the gossip that surrounds me here, it's something you can't avoid, but to hear you talk about me like that...it's something I never expected. Why?"

"I don't know, I just did," he answered vaguely, looking away and taking back his hand.

"Alright then, fine," she said angrily before walking away.

"Wait," he called again and this time, he had a small inclination of where he was going to go with it. She refused to stop so he walked after her, grabbed her arm and spun her around. Her hair was all over her face so he slowly and carefully folded it behind her ears, "I did it because I like you. A lot. I don't know why; we have hardly said ten words to each other, but everything you have said or done has intrigued me more and more. You're a closed book and I suppose I want to get to know the real story within, not just comments from people who have never even met you."

"Aengus-I," she stuttered, "I don't-"

"You don't have to say anything. If you feel the same, meet me by the Quidditch pitch tonight after dinner." Her body was still pressed up against his and he wanted nothing more than to kiss her, but he knew he wouldn't. If this was going to turn into anything, he wanted it to turn into it naturally and without any kind of manipulation.

She nodded and smiled before finally taking a step back, breaking away from him. This had never happened to her before so she was going to do everything in her life to make it perfect.

*

"Nervous?" Harry whispered as he laid beside Hermione in bed.

"Just a tad," she replied with a croak in her voice.

"I'll be right with you throughout it all. It's only a couple of blood tests."

"It's not those I'm worried about. I'm worried about the results. What if I'm not a match? What if I can't donate?" She whispered as she turned onto her side to face him.

"The nurse said it was practically a certainty that you would be a match. If not, you can't be angry with yourself, it's not your fault." He said as he reached out and stroked her cheek.

"We'll just have to wait and see." She sighed. "Do you think McGonagall knows you're here yet?" She asked after several short minutes of silence.

"Definitely by now. She will have asked Ron where I was, he would have tried to come up with something believable but she will have figured it out the moment she couldn't find me."

"I'm sorry if I get you into trouble."

"It's not your fault," he said sounding astonished that she would even think something like that. "I chose to come here, I chose not to tell anyone where I was going. Besides, she won't be able to expel me or anything as it's too close to our exams. The fact I was able to fly over those gates without any problems gives me the impression that somebody knew I was going to go and that somebody wanted to help me."

"Who? It couldn't have been a student, we don't have the power to do something like that." Hermione thought aloud. "I doubt half the teachers know how to do it - Hagrid surely wouldn't. The only person I can think of is McGonagall herself and if she did do it, you can hardly be in trouble. I wouldn't worry about it." She closed her eyes and began thinking about the inevitable event which would take place any minute now - having to get up.

"You were the one who brought it up. I'm not worrying about it." He thought to himself.

"Hermione! Harry! Breakfast!" Archie called up from the bottom of the stairs.

"What time is it?" Hermione asked.

Harry leaned over to see what the clock read - "half eight," he replied before rolling onto his side to face her.

"Thanks for making dinner yesterday, it was really considerate of you." She smiled. He was about to say something but her lips put a stop to whatever it was going to be. He rolled onto his back, bring her with him, never breaking the seal.


"What took you so long?" Archie asked when they finally showed their faces in the kitchen.

"Sorry, dad," Hermione blushed, unable to look at Harry without giving anything away.

"We haven't got long until we need to leave for the hospital. You two quickly eat something whilst I get mum ready." He said sternly, sterner than Harry had ever heard him speak.

"He's probably just anxious about today - he isn't angry," Hermione explained when she saw Harry's face.

"I know," he shook himself out of whatever it was he was feeling - he wasn't at the Dursley's anymore.


Almost twenty minutes later, they were all sitting in the car on the way to the hospital. Despite the fact that Rose normally had her dialysis at home now, the hospital said they would do it for her whilst the doctors were talking to Hermione. They arrived at the hospital and Hermione grabbed Harry's hand for support. "It's okay, you always do well in tests." Harry joked. Hermione looked at him seriously for half a second before she let the joke in. Archie checked in at the reception and they were sent in different directions. Harry stayed with Hermione as they climbed the echoing stairs in silence. Their footsteps ruining any chance of peace.

"Miss Hermione Granger?" An older female doctor called out as she opened her door onto the waiting room. "I'm Mrs Roberts. You can come in too," she smiled at Harry. So the two of them followed her in. Once they had all sat down, Hermione's nerves came flooding in. "So, we'll take a blood sample from you and get that pushed through so we have the results as soon as possible. You and your mum have matching blood types, which is the first requirement." She paused.

"Why do you need my blood then?" Hermione asked.

"So blood types are the easiest thing to match. We now have to do Human Leukocyte Antigen Typing, also known as HLA Typing. This is basically tissue typing. The point of this is to see if your mum's cells will accept your cells basically. However, kidney transplants have been successful with no matching antigens in the past so we don't worry about that as much. We also need to do something called a cross-match test. To do this we will mix a sample of your blood with your mum's. If you mum's cells attack and kill yours, you can't donate."

"Right. What's the likelihood of that happening?" Hermione questioned.

"So I can't be sure without testing, but you're the closest relative she has so you should be compatible." She stood up to get the things she needed for the blood tests. "So you'll feel a slight prick, but it shouldn't hurt too much."

"How long will it take?" Hermione asked as she held a ball of cotton wool on the pin prick.

"An hour usually," She replied as she wrote details on the vials of blood. "So I'll get these in the lab right now whilst you," she passed a wedge of paper to Hermione, "fill out this as much as you can. Anything you don't know can be checked here."

Hermione shifted through the questionnaire and rolled her eyes and sighed, "this is going to take hours."

"Better get going then," Harry smiled.

*

"Gus? Can I talk to you?" A small voice said from somewhere behind him.

"Aisling! Of course, you can. Shall we go outside?"

"Alright," she nodded, leading the way.

"How have you been? I'm sorry I haven't come to speak to you in a while." Aengus said once they had found a nice spot under a tree.

"Did dad really do all the things they're saying?" She didn't want to beat around the bush with this.

"That depends, what have they been saying?" He asked calmly.

"That he has been abusing you. That he would have moved on to others if he hadn't left. He would have moved on to me." Her head lowered as she picked at her sleeve.

"Oi, look at me," he ordered, "he would never have moved on to you. He loves you and Aoife and Ardal way too much to do anything like that."

"Why doesn't he love you?" She whispered. "If he loves us too much to do that, why can he do it to you?"

"I'm different, Bee. I got in his way."

"No, you didn't." She shook her head. "Don't lie to me, Aengus. I'm not stupid. Where has he gone?"

Aengus looked at his younger sister, she had to grow up too fast to cope with the loss of their mum. It wasn't fair on her and this certainly wasn't fair to her. But lying was even worse. "I don't know why he doesn't love me like he loves you. I wish I knew how to fix it, but I can't. I don't know where he's gone, he was taken away from here and taken away from us. But we're always here for you, all three of us. We don't need him because we've got each other."

"We're really alone now. First mum, now this."

"Mum is always watching over us. Can't you feel her in the wind? Hear her in the rain?"

"She can't be, Aengus. She let this happen to you. What's going to happen to me? Once you have all left? Where am I going to go?"

"You're going to be fine, I promise you. We'll look after you." He smiled, wrapping his arm around her and pulling her into a hug.

"I trust you," she said, pushing away from him. "How have you been despite what's happened?"

"I've been fine."

"I've seen you with Robyn. Do you like her?" Aisling asked.

"Don't you?"

"I love her. She's so good a drawing. She's drawn a picture of Ollie and me." She beamed.

"Who's Ollie?"

"My one and only love." She blushed. "He's amazing. We're going to get married and have a nice cottage on the beach."

Aengus smiled to himself, "of course, you are. Do you sit with him in classes?"

"No, he's older." She explained, "but he says I'm really mature for my age."

"How much older?"

"He's only in the year above me."

"I'll have to meet him some day. Make sure he treats you well."

"Just like you did for Aoife when she started up with Calum," Aisling smiled, unaware of the disaster her sister went through.

*

"Right, so if we go to Ireland after our exams, we can fly to wherever we want from there," Aoife explained to Ron as they sat at the table in the Common Room. "We need to make sure we can still stay in our house, I'm pretty sure we can."

"Where are we going to go from there?" Ron asked, gazing at the map that was in front of them.

"I've always wanted to go to Germany at Christmas. They're meant to have the best Christmas markets in the World."

"So shall we work back from there? How about we go from the Netherlands to Germany? They're close together, look." He pointed out.

Aoife nodded and scribbled on a piece of paper. "Before that, Belgium?" She considered.

"Yep, that works. Okay, so where should we go to after Germany?"

"Austria and then Italy."

"We have to go to Romania, I want to see Charlie."

"How about we go from Italy to Greece then up to Bulgaria and on to Romania. I also want to go to Norway because they have great stories of trolls, I want to find out if they actually existed."

Ron agreed, "and I know Harry wants to take Hermione to France to finish. They went there this summer and absolutely loved it."

"Well that's eleven countries, I reckon that'll do for now." Aoife laughed, "we'll show it to the others and see what they say. Did you write that letter to Harry?"

"Yeah, but I've been thinking, McGonagall knows where he is; he needed help getting out of her, I reckon she helped him. I don't think he'll be in trouble. He's not skipping school." Ron said as he made his way over to the sofa. "There was a time when he would have asked for my help, now he doesn't even tell me."

"I wouldn't worry about it, Ron. You've not grown apart, you've both just grown up." She said, but she was really focusing on the map.

"Grown up?"

"This is your last term here, you're just feeling emotional and lost."

"Aoife, are you aware of what you're saying or are you just saying words and hoping they make me feel better?"

"What?" She sighed, looking up.

"Never mind, come here," he said.

She stumbled awkwardly over to him and sat down, "what?" She smirked.

"We haven't celebrated yet."

"Celebrated what?"

"Yesterday," he whispered before leaning into kiss her.

She backed away, "you want to do it here?"

"Well, I was thinking about my bed?"

"In the room where my brother sleeps?"

"Sorry," he sighed, "I just thought we were happy."

"We are happy, but I don't want to display that here. Not at school." She explained.

"You don't want to display it here, you didn't want to display it at Christmas. Are you sure there even is something to display?" He leaned back away from her, knowing that he had probably overstepped the mark.

"That's not fair, Ron."

"Just tell me why you're not ready, I'll understand," he said softly.

"Why do you have to know why? Can't you just respect that I'm not and leave it?"

"You tell me bits about Calum and what happened last year, I get that it's hard for you to talk about it, but I just thought you would trust me enough by now."

"It's not about trust, Ron. It's far from that. I don't want to talk about it because I don't want to have to relive it. It's not just you I don't tell. It was the worst year of my life, but I only know that now I'm through it. I don't want to put myself back there just to tell you what happened." Ron opened his mouth to change the subject, but Aoife wouldn't let him, "he absorbed me into this life, a life that no one should be a part of. I just want to forget about it," she explained.

"I understand that I'm sorry I brought it up." He smiled.

"You're nothing like him," she reassured, "and that's how I know you won't make me do anything I don't want to." She leaned in to hug him and he kissed her forehead.

*

"Hermione?" The door opened and the voice made both Harry and Hermione jump out of their skin, "sorry. I'm Nurse Field. I am happy to tell you that you compatible with your mum. Now, I've had a word with her and although she was sceptical the last time we spoke, she seems to have decided to go through with it. I just need to check some things and then ask you a few questions, then if you want to know anything, I'll be happy to answer as best as I can." A young male nurse explained as he walked in holding a clipboard. "Just hop onto the scales, take your shoes off." Hermione did what she was told and after she was weighed, her height was measured. "You're a tad underweight, but that doesn't cause any problems," he observed. "Okay, there's a few more tests we need to do, these will take a while, but you seem healthy so I doubt we'll have any problems."


Several hours later, Hermione had had all the necessary tests and given all the bodily fluid she was asked to. "It'll take several weeks to get all the results through, but there doesn't seem to be anything horrific wrong with you," he laughed to himself. "There's just one more test I require." He handed Hermione a box.

"A pregnancy test?" She questioned after looking to him.

"It must be done, as a precaution." Hermione looked at Harry who smirked, "considering you've already given us a sample, we'll have a chat before you take it." Hermione nodded and sat back down in the chair behind the desk. "Here, have this." He gave her a pint glass of water. "So I have a couple of questions to ask you." He gazed down at his clipboard. "Are you sexually active?" He asked still staring at the piece of paper.

"Sure, ask me that after you tell me to take a pregnancy test," Hermione thought to herself. "Yes," she replied.

"Have you had many sexual partners or had unprotected sex?" His monotone voice made this even funnier to Harry.

"No, never," she said confidently.

"Great, no need to test for Sexually Transmitted Diseases then. Are you currently taking the Contraceptive Pill?"

"Yeah."

"You are? Since when?" Harry asked in astonishment.

"Since the start of summer."

"Right, well we would like to ask you to stop taking it about a month before the operation, you don't have to but it is advised." He wrote something down on his piece of paper. "Do you have any questions for me?"

"I do," Harry spoke up, "what's the recovery time?"

"We'll keep you in for a couple of days after the operation, but you should be discharged no more than three days after, if not problems occur. Then we advise reoperation for six weeks, no heavy lifting, no heavy contact sports,"

"How about flying?" Harry interrupted.

"That wouldn't be a problem but we would want you to stay in the country so you can have regular check-ups. So we wouldn't want you to go on holiday for the initial six weeks."

"But after that?" Harry asked.

"After the six weeks we will have a much clearer answer for you, but I would imagine it would be fine for you to travel after that."

"We can just meet up with them when you're ready," Harry said.

"I don't want to say anymore as we need to analyse what you've given us and your questionnaire. We'll be in contact within the next couple of weeks." Nurse Field explained, "you'll receive a letter in the post. Is this," he leaned over to show her an address, "your current address?"

She quickly glanced at Harry, never having the situation happen to her before, "yes," she whispered.

"You'll get the results through your door then. It was nice meeting both of you." He smiled, stood up and left the room.

"Shall we go and find your parents?" Harry asked.

"I think we should go back to Hogwarts tonight or tomorrow."

"Why?"

"Me staying here won't help anything. Plus, I need to start revising for the exams. I'll be able to now I know mum will be alright. Plus, I don't want to get you into any more trouble. I'll explain things to mum and dad. They'll understand."

"Is everything alright?" He asked, some part of him was screaming at him to warn him something was wrong.

"I'll explain to you later."

"Oh, good, you're still here. We forgot to do the pregnancy test." Nurse Field was back. "I hope you have drunk all that water I gave you."

Ten minutes later, Harry and Hermione were allowed to leave once the pointless test should them the obvious results. "Today went well," Archie sang as they walked out of the hospital.

"I just hope we're doing the right thing," Rose mumbled.

"Me too," Hermione whispered so only Harry could hear. "We're going back to Hogwarts tonight. We need to start preparing for our exams." She said at a more audible volume.

"Oh, gosh, yes, of course. Have you got your stuff ready or are you staying for dinner?" Rose asked.

"They're be staying for dinner, of course. We can't let them go without saying goodbye."

"Looks like we'll be staying for dinner then." Hermione moaned.

*

"Cur-Hermione, Harry! What are you doing back so soon? Did you get Ron's letter?" Aengus asked when Harry and Hermione walked into the Common Room.

"Yeah, but we were coming back before we read it," Harry informed, running upstairs to drop off Hermione's trunk.

"How are you?" Aengus asked.

"Fine, been a busy few days. Spent all of today in hospital getting prodded and poked."

"What for?" He asked with concern.

"I-nothing," she sighed. "You're looking dapper." She grinned.

"Me? No, never." He joked, "I've got a date."

"Oh, how exciting. And who is the lucky lady?"

"Robyn Root."

"Robyn? I can't say I know her. Well, I hope you have a nice time." She smiled.

"McGonagall is looking for Harry, she has been for a few days now. We tried to cover for him but I guess she saw through it all."

"Thanks, we'll go and see her now."

Aengus nodded, "see you around, Hermione."

"Bye, have fun," she called after him. "Harry, we need to see McGonagall!" She shouted from the bottom of the stairs.


"It's good to see you have returned, Miss Granger. I do hope that everything is okay." McGonagall smiled. "Thank you for letting me know of your return. If you don't mind, I need a word with Mr Potter, in private." She added. Hermione glanced at Harry sideways but didn't protest.

"I'll be just outside," Hermione said to Harry before she walked away.

Once he heard the door close, Harry dived into his story. "I'm sorry, Professor. I got a letter from Hermione the day after she left and I couldn't leave her on her own. I flew over the gates an-"

"I know what you did, Harry. How do you think you managed to fly through the protective shield?" She smiled. "I cannot condone the fact you ran away without telling me, but I understand why you did do it. That isn't what I need to talk to you about."

"Can I just interrupt? I know magic can do wondrous things, but can it save organs?" He asked innocently.

"Organs? It can do a lot of things, Harry, but what it can't do is bring people back from the dead."

"What if the person isn't dead? Can it heal a kidney for example?"

"I'm not the right person to be talking to about this, but if it can be done, Madam Pomfrey will be the one to do it. I would have to advise you to talk to her about this."

"Sorry, Professor, what is it you want to talk about?"

"Your uncle has had a heart attack. He's alive and doing well, but they wanted you to know." She broke to him rather abruptly and without much thought.

"Thanks for letting me know," Harry smiled. "Is there anything else you wanted?"

"Yes, Edgar Furman wants to see you, I told him you would be back by the weekend so he'll be here by then."

"Why does he want to see me?"

"He just does," she said, "you can go now. Unless there's something else you want to talk about."

"No, thanks, Professor," he said, they both knew that he was talking about helping him escape, but neither of them would admit to it.


"What did she want-" Hermione began when Harry walked down the staircase towards her.

"Vernon has had a heart attack," he replied matter-of-factly.

"I'm sorry, is he alright?"

"Why are you sorry? He hated me."

"We both know that that isn't true. Are you alright?"

"Hermione, I couldn't care less. He's alive so there's no point even thinking about this. I need to go and see Madam Pomfrey about something."

"What? Do you want me to come with you?"

"Just about Edgar Furman. He's coming to talk to me on Saturday. You don't need to come with me, I'll see you back in the Common Room."

"Oh, alright then," she said to the silence as he had already stridden off.

*

The sky was alight with stars, Aengus couldn't remember the last time he had looked up and admired them. They were always there, right above him, but he took them for granted. He couldn't image what it would be like to look up and see darkness; he knew that whatever happened, the stars would always be there for him, lighting his path. "I thought you weren't coming," a voice called out when the owner had heard his footsteps.

"What? And miss this, I would never." He replied back. "Do you want to walk of sit in the stands?"

She thought about this for several seconds, but her gut told her to sit in the stands, so that is what they did. "I nearly didn't come," she admitted after the silence had engulfed them long enough.

"Why?"

"Because I knew that I wouldn't be able to resist talking when we were in front of the stars."

"Really?"

"No." She smiled, "I didn't know if you really meant it. I didn't know if you were actually going to come or if you playing a trick on me." She explained honestly.

"Well I'm glad you trusted me," he smiled, looking up at the stars. The nights breeze took over for a while, neither of them sure what they should or shouldn't say.

"Why me?" She whispered. "You could have your pick of the castle so I've heard."

"What do you mean?" He grinned, knowing full well he didn't have his pick of the castle.

"Ginny Weasley is practically ready to marry you, and she's your age." She laughed, "every time I hear people talk about you, it tends to be how cute you are and your accent."

Aengus thought about saying something that wouldn't really give an answer to her question, but something in him propelled him to speak from the heart. "I don't have my pick of the castle, Robyn. The one girl I really wanted wasn't mine to have."

"Hermione?" Robyn interrupted.

"Great, everyone does know," Aengus thought to himself, "yes, Hermione," he confirmed. "Ever since then, I've been too caught up in her and everything that went along with it. Then my dad left and I had other things on my mind, but you always seemed to make me forget all of that. You never asked where my bruises came from, you never asked me if I needed to talk and that made me realise that you can see past the image that is in front of you and see the person hiding within."

"If that's what you want to believe, in reality, I just don't care," Robyn said with a straight face before laughing. "I've had so many people assume one thing because I don't display the signs of anything else. I am sorry that I'm difficult to talk to. Sometimes I worry so I bring up my defences."

"You don't have to apologise, that's what makes you, you."

The rest of the evening was filled with chatter and laughs before either of them knew it, the sun was beginning to make its entrance. "Wow, what time is it?" Robyn asked as she realised the stars had been washed out by the light.

"Nearly 7," Aengus said.

"We've been here for twelve hours?" She asked in astonishment.

"Indeed, we have," he laughed, "I'm sorry for keeping you."

"It was my pleasure," she smiled. As she stood up she thought of something else she needed to ask. "Where do you see this going? Only you're leaving in a couple of months."

"Let's just enjoy the months we have before we talk about after," Aengus advised, "if things get serious, we can take it from there." She bit her lip as she nodded in agreement. "If you were anyone else I would kiss you," he stood up.

"Gee, thanks," Robyn scoffed.

"No, not like that. I want to do this properly." He whispered, mesmerised by her red lips.

She took a step closer to him so her face was right up next to his, once there she took a deep breath, "that means a lot to me," she whispered as she fell into him for a hug. "Is this proper enough?" She smiled.

"Perfect."


Chapter 21: Chapter Twenty-One.
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She had been sitting in the chair for far too long, it wasn't until she had finished the questions did she really notice how dead her bum was. Who thought of a four-hour exam anyway? She liked to use all of the time, just in case a magic question popped up at a certain minute into the exam, but it was two minutes until the end and that was yet to happen. She shifted through the tome that was in front of her, she was so sure she had answered all of the questions, but she had to check and double check. The large clock at the front of the Hall was seconds away from finally ringing. Just enough time to check one more time, she still had answered all the questions. The clock rang and Madam Hooch stood up, "everyone put down your quills. No talking." She yelled.

Harry glanced up and his eyes instantly found the mass of curly brown hair; he couldn't see her face, but he knew she had done well. His eyes quickly found the Curran triplets, he knew that they would have done well as well. He looked down at his paper and smiled to himself. Hermione's revision sessions really helped him out. Everything they covered was in the exam - he felt good about this one. The papers flew up to the front where Madam Hooch and Professor McGonagall were standing. "Well, that was your last exam at Hogwarts. I know you have all done as well as possible, well done. Please leave in an orderly fashion." She smiled.

Harry felt a twang of emotion, he hated exams, but it was hard to believe that by the end of the week, he would know longer be a student here. Ron hung around outside the hall waiting for them all and when Harry saw his face, he knew the revision sessions had also helped him. "Thanks, Hermione. I don't think I could have done that without you."

"I can't believe it's over." Hermione stuttered. "No more exams."

"No more boring Potions lessons," Ron beamed. "Aoife, how do you think it went?" He disappeared as soon as the black mass of hair appeared in the door frame.

"It's over," Hermione repeated, "how are you feeling?" She asked Harry.

"I can't quite believe that this is our last night in the castle," he replied. "It's finally finished with." Despite the fact that he wasn't planning on finishing his time here, he was so glad he did, everything had become clear to him.

"Do you want to sit outside? I need to talk to you about something," she said as she took his hand and lead him out of the castle.

"Hermione-you don't have to go so fast. What's the problem?"

"Before the exam, I got a letter from my dad. He said that the operation was sorted, it's next month."

Harry gulped, "we just won't go to Ireland then," he smiled.

"That's just it. I don't want to ruin your holiday. It's not fair for you, you deserve to go and have fun."

"What, and you don't? Hermione, I'm with you through this. From the beginning right until the end." She blinked at him. "What's this really about?"

"I guess-" she picked at her nails, "I guess I'm having second thoughts. It's not that I don't want to help her, I'm just terrified that something goes wrong. Or that after everything, her body will reject it."

"Have you been thinking this all these months?" Harry asked she nodded so he carried on, "if you don't want to do it, you just have to say. This has to be your decision, no one else's." Harry said carefully.

"I've already said I'd do it. I can't back out now, everything is arranged."

"Hermione, you are offering to donate an organ, you have every right to back out. You've had your doubts since you had all your tests were done, haven't you?" He asked gently.

"I think I've always had doubts. Maybe I thought that it wouldn't go ahead, that something would put a stop to it, like-"

"You weren't a match?" Harry interrupted and she nodded, "there must be another way."

"Not unless another match comes forward. That won't happen. No, I can do this, I guess hearing that it's been booked has made it real."

Harry thought about what she had said. He wasn't sure that he would go through with his plan, but his mind as made up after hearing Hermione's worries. "You never know, she might get better," he said in an undertone.

"I appreciate that, Harry, but we both know that that isn't going to happen."

"Well, we'll just go to your parent's house instead of Ireland."

"I really don't want you to miss out on anything because of me."

"Then I'll have to come with you else I'll miss you." He charmed.

"If you're sure," she surrendered. "What do you want to do for the rest of today?"

"How about sitting out here and enjoying this place for the last time," he suggested as he admired his surroundings.

*

"There you are," Aengus smiled when he found Robyn wandering outside the hall.

"How'd it go?" She asked excitedly.

"Reckon I've done alright finished it within the first hour." He bragged.

"Oh yeah, I forgot you were one of those people." She rolled her eyes.

"And what's that?"

"An annoying know-it-all who doesn't even need to try. Do you want to take my exams for me?" She smiled.

"In your dreams, Root. I'm done with exams. You'll do fine," he reassured, "oh, I forgot, tonight there's a celebratory ceremony and we can invite someone - do you want to come with me?"

"Oh, um, I don't know. People will look and gossip about me. I'm content with being invisible around here."

Aengus sighed, this was another step back for them "We can't hide forever, I'm leaving tomorrow morning, I want to spend every moment I can with you."

"I know you do," she pulled him into a small corridor off of the foyer where they wouldn't be seen, "but you know it's not my thing.

He took a step away from her, "well it is my thing, I guess that's another difference between us."

"Don't be like that. You always turn into a child when you don't get your own way."

"I'm upset because my girlfriend doesn't want to spend this evening with me."

She looked around quickly, making sure no one was around to hear him, "it's not that I don't want to spend it with you, I just don't want to spend it with everyone else." She explained, "but you enjoy yourself." She smiled.

"When are you going to understand that you're not the focus of everyone's attention, you say that you hate being noticed but you act like you always are. But yeah, I will have fun." He walked away, hoping this would be enough to get her to change her mind, but knowing it wouldn't.


The sun had been hidden by clouds which seemed to be hogging all the warmth. "Should we go in? We do have to get ready for the ceremony." Hermione suggested.

"That isn't until later on this evening." Harry laughed, "but we can go in. I expect you want to speak to someone more intelligent about the exam."

"Yeah, I do," she smirked.

"I've just got to talk to someone, I'll meet you in the Common Room," Harry said as they walked through the corridors.

"Oh right, do you want me to come with you?" She asked, her voice indicating she didn't really want to.

"No, thanks for offering, though." He smiled. "I won't be long." He gave her a quick peck and walked in the other direction.


"Madam Pomfrey?" He called from the door of the hospital wing. "Madam Pomfrey? It's Harry Potter."

"Oh, hello. What can I do for you?" She asked as she scuttled out from her office.

"I'm here about what we were discussing about the other month."

"Ah, yes, the healing potion. I've managed to brew a successful vial. She smiled smugly.

"It will definitely work? No side effects?" He was still hesitant about going behind everyone's backs with such an important decision.

"I'm confident it will heal any organ, apart from the heart. I've never tested it on a Muggle, but I'm pretty sure we're all the same inside." She handed him the vial and he slid it in his pocket making a mental note to put it in his trunk at the earliest opportunity.

"Thank you," Harry smiled.

"No, thank you. This is just a small token to show my appreciation for all you have done for us. I shouldn't admit to this, but my stomach would flutter every time I heard you were coming in. To heal the Harry Potter is an honour and a privilege. The highest honour anyone could bestow upon me." Harry stood on the spot awkwardly, not knowing how to respond or react so he didn't do anything. "I've said too much already, but I had to say it before you were gone. Thank you, Harry Potter." That was it, she ushered him out and got on with whatever she was going before being interrupted.

*

Fancy robes with lapels that corresponded with the colour of the wearer's House lay on every Seventh Year bed. Right beside it sat the black pointed hat that they wore on their first night at the castle. Harry stood over them for several minutes, this time, last year he never would have dreamed he would be here having finished all his NEWTs. "Harry, I don't want to sound like Hermione, even though you love that, but we need to go down soon, I would suggest getting ready."

"Yeah, sorry." He blinked and then started getting ready.


The three boys walked downstairs and met up with the girls. They all paired off leaving Aengus and Ginny alone to walk behind the rest of them awkwardly. "Is Robyn coming?" She asked a question which didn't dissolve the awkwardness at all.

"No, it's not her thing apparently. It doesn't matter, we're spending the whole of next yeah apart so we need to get used to it. Sorry, Gin, but I'd rather not spend the whole night talking about it."

"Sure, sorry for bringing it up." She sighed as the silence fell between them again.

"I wonder what is going to happen at this thing," Aoife pondered.

"Bill, Charlie and Percy have all told me different stories so maybe they change it every year."

"I'm excited," Aoife shared.

"I'm glad." Ron laughed.

They walked down the last staircase and were greeted by hundreds of students all wearing matching robes, apart for the lapels. Everyone was filing into the Great Hall. All the tables had been removed and were replaced by elongated sofas which almost stretched the whole width of the hall. They were roughly split into Houses. Harry sat next to Hermione, who sat next to Aengus, who sat next to Aoife, who sat next to Ron, who sat next to Ginny.

Once everyone was settled, McGonagall appeared on the stage at the front, next to her stood a table of shiny trophies. "Welcome would be the wrong word to use for after tonight, you will not be students here any longer. Your time at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is over however long or short it was. I've had the privilege to watch most of you grow and for those who joined us this year, I've seen the end of your journey. There are some people who didn't make it this far," Harry noticed Ron's head sinking at the thought of Fred, but also Lavender, "but we shalt dwell on that as they wouldn't want us to. We are going to have an award ceremony and then something else that I'll explain when required. On with he awards." She smiled.

"What's the betting Hermione will win most of these?" Hermione heard Ron snigger from several people down.

Hagrid stomped up to replace McGonagall and picked up the trophy with a golden unicorn on top. "This 'ward is fer Animal Carer. This one were 'ard to decide, but I went fer someone who, even though they 'adn't bin 'ere fer long, 'as shown real love 'nd care fer everythin'." Hagrid's beetle eyes shone with joy and warmth. "Ardal Curran."

The sofas to the immediate left of Harry exploded into applause and cheers. The six Gryffindor's on Harry's row cheered and clapped as if they had won. Ardal ran up to the stage, shook both Hagrid and McGonagall's hands and collects his award. As the noise died down, Madam Hooch took to the stage. "My award is obviously for Quidditch. This one was hard because this year has some of the strongest Quidditch players for a number of years. But after recent events, it's only fair to award-"

"This must be you, Harry," Hermione whispered over Madam Hooch.

"I doubt it, I hardly played this year. It'll be Ginny."

"...it's only fair to award Ginny Weasley." The Gryffindor sofas clapped the loudest this time. Harry was one of the loudest, as Ginny strutted up to collect her award. "However, I felt we couldn't mention Quidditch without honouring the youngest Seeker in a century."

Hermione grinned at Harry, "I knew you would get something for Quidditch.

"So I would like to award Harry Potter with Best Seeker."

Everyone burst into a huge frenzy of applause and cheers, especially three of the four Houses. Harry returned holding a large Golden Snitch. "Well done, mate," Aengus smiled as he leaned over Hermione.

Award after award was given out to a variety of students. Ardal won a second award for Herbology. Aoife, who had apparently been helping Madam Pomfrey since arriving at Hogwarts, won an award for Healer. Harry was given the Defence Against the Dark Arts award (obviously). Ron, in homage to his first year and the past year, won an award for Wizards Chess and determination. Aengus was awarded most promising 'Transformer' from McGonagall who stood in front of the table which only had four trophies left. "Three of these awards are for the same person. From the moment they received their letter, they have been exceptionally hard working and never fails to succeed. The first one is for most House Points awarded from the beginning with a colossal 3,000 House Points - which is a Hogwarts record. The second is for outstanding achievement in all academic studies. And the third is for loyalty, determination and putting everyone's safety before their own, whilst keeping a level head. This person is, of course, Hermione Granger." McGonagall beamed.

To Hermione's surprise, the whole hall stood up and cheered. This brought tears to Hermione's eyes. "We couldn't have won without you!" Someone called out from the crowd.

"You're a hero to us!" Another one added.

Hermione went to the front to collect her trophies, but couldn't turn to face her adoring crowd. When she sat back down, Harry had the biggest smile on his face. "On to our last award. As you all know, many students have joined Hogwarts in all years this year, and that is because we no longer live in fear, we no longer need to look over out shoulders and that is largely down to the bravery and selflessness of Harry Potter. Without Harry, Hermione, and Ron, we probably wouldn't be sat here today. Harry put his life on the line on numerous occasions. He went above and beyond to save our world. For that, I need not explain any further why Harry deserves recognition for the services to every single one of us here and the rest of the witches and wizards around the world."

This received the loudest cheer of the night. The roar continued long after Harry had come back with his award. It lasted for what seemed like hours - Harry suspected that the noise wasn't for him anymore so he joined in with the celebration. "On to our next event. You will all be back for the end of year feast, but this is your last night in the castle. In the past, we have had quizzes, but I feel that due to the circumstances, we would give you this time to make peace with one another. You will find yourself sharing a bit more than you bargained for tonight." She sparkled with mischief. This caused the whole room to fall silent. "Good luck," Harry swore he saw McGonagall wink.

No one really knew what they were meant to do so everyone started talking among themselves until an argument broke out in the Hufflepuff area, "how dare you say something like that to me!" A girl screamed at a boy.

"I didn't mean to, I just thought you ought to know." He quivered back.

"I guess that's what McGonagall meant," Hermione whispered to Harry, "this is Confessions."

"What's Confessions?" Aengus asked.

"I read about it somewhere. Many years ago, when there were first frictions between the Houses, they did Confessions at the end of the year. Everyone who was leaving would leave with a clear conscious, anything we have ever wanted to say to anyone in this room may come out tonight." This struck fear in everyone's minds.

"Ev-everything?" Ginny stuttered.

"Potentially" Hermione answered. "Get ready for some fireworks," she smirked.

"Hermione, I need to tell you that I once hated you," Ginny revealed. "You had everything I dreamed of. And I wanted to make you miserable." Ginny covered her mouth, unable to believe that she had just said that to Hermione's face. "Hermione, I'm so sorry."

"Don't worry, I knew that we weren't best friends when I stole Harry off of you." She gasped, "I didn't mean it like that."

"I knew you did it out of spite!" She shouted, "I knew I couldn't trust you."

"No, I didn't. I never meant for it to come out like that." Both of them went bright red, neither of them knew it now, but in the morning, all would be forgiven.

"Whatever, I'm going to go over there in case you want to hurl more heart-breaking revelations at me." Ginny sulked off.

"Now that she's finally gone, we need to tell you something," Aoife smiled. "We're engaged!"

"You are? But you hardly even know each other." Harry argued, "you barely trust one another with the present, let alone your past and future."

"How long have you been waiting to say that?" Ron growled.

"Since you first started going out, how long ago was that? About nine months. You can't get married, you won't survive it. Sorry, ignore me. I shouldn't have said that."

"Actually Harry, you're right. Ron, I need to tell you that I once had a massive crush on Harry. It lasted until around Christmas."

"What?" Hermione yelled, "you told me it was long before you knew him."

"Did I? Well, I lied. Just like you lied when you said you had no feelings for Aengus."

"Shut up, Aoife. You don't know what you're talking about. You waltzed into our lives without giving us a chance to decide whether we actually liked you. You walked in and ruined our group, split us up and stole my best friend." Harry said bitterly.

"That's no better than what you did, the both of you," Ron argued back, "you two got all cosy whilst I was away, didn't give me a second thought."

"I'm glad you ran away, Ron. You gave me the chance to realise my feelings for Hermione." Harry said.

"I've had enough of this," Aoife screamed as she walked towards someone else.

"Harry, I never wanted to fall in love with Hermione. That wasn't on my to-do list." Aengus added.

"I'm glad you did, it makes me feel more attractive." Hermione walked away as soon as she had said that, not even realising that she had wanted to say that.

"Hermione, I'm glad I found you," Malfoy smirked. "The reason I teased you since the beginning is because I was jealous of you. You had a brain that I could never match no matter how hard I tried."

"I thought it was because you had a crush on me, I secretly wish it was."

"I probably did when I was younger, but I made myself forget it because you weren't a Pure Blood."

"I'm glad you finally admitted it," Hermione smiled.


"Aengus, what's going on? What's with all the shouting?"

"Robyn, you came!" Aengus smiled.

"Of course, I did, I love you." She gasped, "why did I say that? I didn't mean to say that."

"Welcome to Confessions." Aengus grinned, "I love you too." That he did mean to say. "I'm going to wait for you, wait until you finish Hogwarts. I want to be with you and I will do whatever I need to do in order to achieve that."

"I want to be with you too, but I don't want you to end up resenting me. Have fun on your holiday, do what you want, just don't tell me what that is. I'll be here when you get back." She launched into a passionate kiss, not caring who was watching.

"Looks like you've lost your chance with him," Luna whispered to Hermione. "I can't see how you could resist either of them. I wish Ardal would sweep me off my feet."

"The funny thing about that is I couldn't tell if she's saying that because of the spell or just because she's Luna," Harry laughed. "I'm going to try and make your mum better," he revealed. "I don't know if it'll work."

"Let's hope it does, I don't want to miss out on a life because I've donated a kidney."

They stayed silence for some time, wondering if anything else would come out, "I guess we tell each other everything we're thinking," Harry grinned, "do you want to leave?"

"Yes please, I don't want any more surprises." She outstretched her arm and Harry cupped her hand in his as they walked out of the room.

Once they had shut the door to the hall, Harry asked, "did what Ginny and Aoife say upset you?"

At the time it had, but strangely know it didn't bother her at all. "No, I'm glad they told me how they felt." She sighed.

"Let's go for a walk," Harry suggested.

*

He stayed awake all night. Hermione was in her bed, wanting to sleep there one last time, so Harry was alone. Alone was the wrong word, to the right of him was his trusted friend. From day one, Ron was Harry's right-hand man. Fair enough they had their ups and downs, but who didn't? He knew he always had someone there for him if he needed it. Suddenly he had an idea, he stood up and rummaged through his trunk, he had packed it - his invisibility cloak.

Ron was asleep, maybe he would come back and wake him up later. He draped the cloak over his shoulders and lifted the hood. Even to this day, the castle under the cloak was pure magic. He could go anywhere without being seen, he was completely in control. But it wasn't the same, he knew that this was his last time that he could do this, but he couldn't enjoy it as much. He uncovered he head, his body still invisible, and stared at one of the long windows and gazed up at the night's sky. He wouldn't see it like this ever again, but that didn't bother him. Now that the last night at Hogwarts had arrived, he realised that the building and the views weren't what mattered to him. He would always have the memories of the place.

"I find that it's the friendships and relationships you take from that really stick," a soft, Scottish voice said. "This place will always be here, things won't change, we'll do everything how we've always done them. If you were leaving in the same state you started in, I would understand your sadness, but look at you. You are a completely different person. You entered a boy and you're leaving a wizard. You've found love and friendship and happiness here and that will always stay with you."

"I just know where I am here. I know who I am and I know what I have to do." Harry revealed. "I'm not sad about leaving here, I'm sad about leaving a place of safety and security. I know I always have someone to turn to when I'm here."

"You'll always be welcomed here, Harry. After all, we are looking for a new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher - I can't think of anyone better than you. Just remember that, if you don't know where you're going, you can always come back here."

"Thanks, Professor. I'll keep that in mind." Harry smiled.

"I'm no longer your Professor, Harry. But for what it's worth, I did enjoy being it. I'll be going now, have fun exploring, I'm sure there must be somewhere you haven't found." She chuckled to herself as she walked away.

Harry took the cloak off completely, he didn't need to bother with it, so he walked around aimlessly. McGonagall was wrong, he had been to every crack and corner this castle boasted, the Marauders Map made sure of that.

He crept into Hermione's dormitory and gently woke her up - what made him do this he wasn't sure. "Harry," she croaked, "what's the time?"

Harry didn't have his watch, "early," he replied.

"Why are we awake then?"

"I need you to follow me." She looked at him with her half asleep eyes but got out of bed all the same.

He led her to the girls toilets. "Why did you bring me here?" She said rubbing her eyes.

"Why did I bring you to a toilet?" He smirked. "Don't you find it romantic?"

"Oh yeah, I love being taken from my bed at Merlin knows what time in the morning and mingling in the toilets."

"Do you know what this place is?" He asked, standing in the middle of the room.

"No, I don't know what this place is," she said sarcastically. "Harry, if you just wanted to remind me about our run-in with a troll, you needn't bother. I remember it clear as day."

"This is where I realised you were a person," Harry explained.

"Oh, how charming."

"No, not like that. But it's the first time I saw you as someone other than a bossy know-it-all."

"Yeah, that's much nicer..."

"It was the first time I saw your vulnerable side, the first time you let your walls down."

"Since that night we have been inseparable," someone had walked in on their scene.

"Nothings changed Ron, I promise you." Hermione could tell by the tone of his voice he wasn't so sure if what he said was still true. "In fact, we need you more now than ever before. Don't feel like we have pushed you aside."

"Why do you need me now?" Ron asked, walking over to them.

"I'm going to be away for several months, I need you to keep Harry in line." She laughed. "I do need you to stop him moping around and make sure he has a good time on holiday."

"You're not coming with us?" His voice sounded heartbroken, why did it sound heartbroken?

"I'll meet up with you in the New Year," she promised.

"Aoife is going to be upset, Ginny isn't coming either," Ron revealed.

"She isn't? Why?" Harry asked.

"She says she can't tell anyone why yet, I reckon it has something to do with a boy."

"Ginny hasn't got her eyes on anyone," Hermione said. "Well, she has, but she's not pursuing him."

"Aengus? She told us last night," Ron added once he saw Hermione's shocked expression.

"Find anything else out?" Harry asked excitedly.

"Nothing worth knowing except what you said about Aoife and me."

"Oh I'm sorry, I didn't mean to say it."

"It's alright, I don't mind what you said - it's true. She barely tells me anything. I'm hoping she'll grow out of it. I didn't know about Aengus though, how'd you take it?"

Harry looked from Ron to Hermione and back to Ron again, "I already knew. Hermione told me."

"Right," he rolled his eyes.

"What does that mean?" Hermione asked.

"You two, you just illuminate how imperfect Aoife and I are."

"The holiday will sort that out, I'm sure," Harry said comfortingly.

"Maybe,"

"You'll always have us. Come here." Hermione signalled both of them for a hug. "We have this room to thank for that."

They all smiled.

*

Back to 'normality', at least for a couple of weeks until the Wizarding World would call them back. Their last night at Hogwarts was boringly uneventful, it almost felt fitting that they finally found peace there only to be dragged away. They walked through the train station with their trunks for the finally time, how people kept a straight face when the old-fashion trunks appeared was beyond them. Like always, the fiery red barnet of Mrs. Weasley was seen long before the rest of her body. As soon as she saw her children, and her extend children, she started flapping about. "There you are," she rushed over to help Ginny with whatever was in her hand. "How were the exams? Oh, I do hope they went well, dears. Aoife, it's lovely to see you again. You must be Ardal or Aengus." She had so much to squeeze in, in so little time.

"I'm Ardal. It's a pleasure to finally put a face to all the stories," he smiled. "Aengus is still getting off of the train," he explained.

"Hermione, Harry, it's a shame you won't be coming to ours tonight. Should we be expecting you in the coming weeks?"

"Not me," Hermione said, "I need to stay at home for a couple of months, help my mother."

"It won't be the same without you, dear."

"I'll be staying too, Mrs. Weasley, I need to help Hermione."

"Help her with what?" Luna asked dreamily.

"I'm donating a kidney to my mum. She has advanced kidney disease." Hermione said boldly.

"Oh, Hermione, I'm so sorry to hear. If there's anything we can do to help." Mrs. Weasley's eyes glistened with sympathy, Harry wondered if she even knew what that meant.

"Thanks, Mrs. Weasley, I really appreciate that," Hermione smiled. Mrs. Weasley tilted her head to the side and gave Hermione a 'it'll be alright even though I know nothing about it' smile. "Sorry, but we should be going. They're probably waiting for us outside."

"Of course. Send her my love. If you need some time away, you are always welcome at ours. You too, Harry." She added. She suffocated Hermione with one of her signified hugs, added Harry into the equation, and then let both of them on their way. As they walked away, Harry head "right, fetch Aengus and then we'll be off. Merlin's beard, it is going to be a tight squeeze, but we'll manage." In order for Ron to be allowed to leave for a year, he had to promise to spend a while back at home and she invited everyone that came along with it.


"Hermione," Archie smiled as he saw his daughter walk toward him. "It's lovely to see you again," he gave her a quick hug. "Harry," he nodded and gave him a manly handshake. "We just need to pop to the shops, we have a hospital appointment booked for tomorrow for you, the nurse wants to go through what you need to do in the next month, before the operation."

"Right," she sighed but made an effort to nod and act nonchalant about it.

As they got into the car, Harry held tightly onto the bottle of potion Madam Pomfrey gave him. He decided that he would put it in her drink the night before the Final Feast, that way she should be feeling better by the time they were back. He looked at Hermione, there must be a reason why she hadn't considered potions or magic. Maybe he should talk about it with her, with the whole family? "How is she?" Hermione whispered.

Archie looked at her through the rear-view mirror with desperate eyes. "The sooner the better-," he said so quietly it was as though he had just mouthed it. That settled it, the potion would be drunk tonight.

*

Harry woke up early several mornings later. The potion seemed to be working, just very slowly. Nobody else noticed because nobody else was keeping a close eye on her. They were going back to Hogwarts today and with a bit of hope, going to Ireland with the rest shortly after.

Hermione was still asleep so Harry quietly got out of bed and made his way downstairs to find Archie in the middle of a rather heated phone call. Harry hid behind the door, hope to catch the gist of the conversation. "I don't care if it's early, I need a nurse to come around." There was a short pause, "no, I understand that - I do. Yes. But she's better. I can't describe it. It's just like it was before she became ill. Fine, I'll book a kidney scan for her." He hung up the phone with no further words and rang the hospital. "Hello, it's Mr. Granger, Rose's husband. - Hi there. Something odd has happened. She's better. - It can't be impossible, it's happened. Okay, okay, I'll bring her in. Thank you." He hung up the phone and sighed.

Harry took a deep, silent breath as he pushed the door open, "morning," he smiled.

"Oh-Harry," he looked increasingly flustered. "Morning. Where's Hermione?"

"We don't have to leave for a while, she's asleep," Harry explained. "How are you? You look a bit dazed."

"Just an odd morning. What time are you leaving? I can give you a lift to the station." He offered.

"That's very kind of you, but we're not catching the train."

"Sorry, I don't know the process, it all went through one ear and out the other. I never seem to understand so I stay away from it."

"How's Rose?" He asked shyly, hoping his abrupt change of subject was seen as a normal change of subject.

"She's...she's good actually. The best morning she's had in a long time. We've got an appointment today."

"Oh right, final preparation for the operation?" He wasn't sure what he wanted Archie to say. Stating that Rose was completely better without any medical intervention would make him sound desperate and crazy.

"Ye-yes you could say that." He paused, wondering whether he should say what was on his mind. "Tell Hermione not to worry. Everything will be okay." He reassured. "Could you possibly leave as soon as you can? I'll explain when I know what is going on."

"Are you sure everything is okay?" Harry was becoming slightly worried something terrible had happened with the potion.

"I'm going to tell you something, I can't explain how it's happened or how I know, but Rose - she's better." He whispered.

"In herself? Maybe the prospect of the surgery is lifting her spirits." He played it calm, trying to sound like he had no idea.

"No, she's better. She doesn't need the operation, I'm sure of it." They heard someone walking downstairs, "don't tell Hermione, not until we know for sure." He said just before Hermione walked in on them. She was still in her pyjamas and her hair was all over the place.

"Harry? What are you doing down here?" She croaked, walking over to the sink to get a glass of water.

"We need to go to Ron's. He's in an emergency." He lied.

She sipped her water casually, not seeming to be too alarmed, "what sort of emergency?" She quizzed.

"He didn't say, but he needs us right now."

Her eyes narrowed as she looked at him, not sure whether to believe him. "Let me go and get changed." She walked off with no sort of urgency about her.

"What are you-" Archie started to ask before Harry stopped him in his tracks.

"I'll be right back-" Harry said, turning on the spot and leave a pop in his place.

When he came back, he appeared in the downstairs loo, just in case Hermione was back in the kitchen.

"There you are," she was in the hallway having failed to find him where she left him. "I didn't know whether we would be coming back here before the feast so I've packed out robes. " She explained, holding up her trusted beaded bag.

"Great, let's go." He took her hand and they arrived at the Burrow, Harry hoping Ron had had enough time to come up with something.

"Were you and my dad arguing?" She asked keeping her gaze ahead.

"No, what would give you that idea? We were just talking about the holiday and working out how we would meet up with the others."

"we? I thought you were going with the rest and I'll come and meet you in the New Year."

"We'll see what happens. Let's not make plans until we know what plans to make."

"So you weren't talking to dad about how we were going to meet up?" She quizzed.

"I just said that's what we were talking about. Why don't you believe me?"

"You just said there was no point making plans until we know, but yet you were making plans?" They both stayed calm but had stopped walking.

"Hermione, I think you just misunderstood what I have said. Your dad and I were talking about the holiday.

"Don't patronise me. I know you're lying and I know Ron isn't in an emergency." She walked towards the front door.

"I'm not patronising-" he began to say before giving up and following her into the house.


"Hermione! What are you doing here?!" Aengus jumped underneath the blankets to cover his bare body.

"Isn't Aoife staying in this room? Last time she stayed with Ron." She gasped and turned around as Aengus hid.

"She is, but as Ron's room is bigger than the spare, Mrs. Weasley put Ardal and me in here and moved Ron and Aoife."

"Okay. Sorry." She said abruptly, almost as abruptly as her exit. Neither of them knew, but both suspected, that the other was blushing. Knowing Mrs. Weasley extremely well, Hermione knew the room she and Harry usually stayed in would remain vacant just in case they decided to come and visit so she walked all the way to the stop of the abnormally high building. This time, Hermione knocked on the door. "Hermione, thank Merlin it's you," Aoife smiled. "I thought it was Molly coming to ask if there was anything else I wanted for the eighth time today."

Hermione laughed, "Molly?"

"She insisted." She stood to the side to let Hermione into the room.

"Really part of the family," Hermione smiled as she walked to sit on the bed.

"What are you doing here? You should have written to say you were coming."

"I don't know why we're here. Harry lied to get us to come. I think he's hiding something, something to do with my day."

"He's going to propose!" She squealed, bringing her hand to her face as she imagined a joint wedding.

"No, it's something angrier than that. He couldn't get away from him quicker."

"Oh, I'm sure it's nothing to worry about. How's your mum?" Changing the subject swiftly.

"She seems a lot better, I suspect she's putting on a brave face."

"Maybe having you back has given her some much-needed spirit."

"You could be right. I hope everything turns out okay." Hermione sighed. "How has it been here?"

"Good," she paused, "well, a tad suffocating. We told everyone we were thinking about getting engaged, only thinking, and Molly started planning everything, after fretting about our age among other things." Aoife said.

"I bet she's chuffed to pieces."

"I expect she is. She hasn't stopped hugging me. I can't imagine what she'll be like if we ever actually get engaged."

"One family anyone would be lucky to be a part of is the Weasley's. You don't know what family is until you've been engulfed by this one."

"Yeah, well I thought I knew what family was." Aoife sighed.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to bring that up."

"Don't worry. Have you seen Aengus or Ardal? They wanted you to settle something for them."

"I've seen a little too much of Aengus already." Hermione laughed. "Did you know he sleeps naked?"

"What? How on earth do you know that?"

"Let's just say I thought you would be in Ron's room."

"Oh, my Go- I'm so sorry you had to see that!"

"It's not your fault, I should have knocked, anything could have been going on behind that door."

Aoife couldn't help but laugh, "you won't ever enter a room without knocking again." She said in between gasps.

"No," Hermione sighed.

"What's wrong?"

Hermione shook her head, "doesn't matter."

*

It wasn't long until everyone was back within the familiar stone walls of the castle. Harry was ecstatic to learn that Gryffindor had won both the House and Quidditch Cups. To win in his final year felt very fitting. As usual, the food was both vast and delicious. The End of Year Feast didn't consist of anything different, every year was the last for some. "I've eaten enough to last me another seven years," Ron joked as he rubbed his full belly.

Hermione looked at him, "you've eaten enough to last all of us another seven years, but you'll be hungry in about seven minutes time."

"I could eat another slice of pumpkin pie-"

"Ron! You have to stop!" Aoife ordered.

"I was joking, I need to lie down in a dark room and nap for several days." Both Harry and Hermione laughed.

"That's not a nap then!" She snapped.

He seemed to cower, "sorry if I upset you," he said with an air of disbelief.

"You haven't," she huffed as she stood up and walked over to where Aisling was sat.

"Here we go-" Aengus rolled his eyes. "There's the Aoife we know and love."

"What are you talking about?" Ron questioned.

"It really doesn't matter," Ardal said.

"It's about time we told yo-" Aengus tried to say before Ardal interrupted.

"It's in the past, she isn't like that anymore." He said to Aengus. "You've nothing to worry about," he added to Ron.

"Tell me," Ron ordered.

"Just ask her about Ciaran." Aengus left with these parting words.

"Ciaran? What about Calum" Ron was more confused than ever before.

Ardal sighed, "I really shouldn't be the one to tell you. Just approach it tactfully."

Harry and Hermione both looked at each other. Tactfully and Ron were two words that shouldn't be put together. "Ron, do you-" Hermione began.

"No, I need to do this myself." Ron interrupted.

"Well, just be careful, don't force her to tell you," she advised.

He walked off, tapping Aoife on the shoulder and taking her to somewhere more private. "We need to talk about what happened today," Harry murmured.

"Not here, this is our last time here. Let's just enjoy ourselves," Hermione smiled. She had long forgotten about this morning.

"'arry, I'm glad I caught ya," Hagrid smiled from behind his vast beard.

"I wouldn't leave without saying goodbye to you, Hagrid," Harry said as he rose from his seat.

"'ermione, I 'ave a little something fer ya too," Hagrid explained. "It's small, mind, but-" his voice fizzled away tears meaning he couldn't continue.

"Hagrid, you needn't have. You've done enough for me already." Hermione joined Harry in standing. He still couldn't find the strength to speak so he just handed her the wrapped gift. She took it and blink rapidly to remove the tears. "Thank you," she whispered.

"I 'ave this, fer ya." He coughed, "I should 'ave given it ter ya ages ago, but 'ere." He handed Harry a picture in a frame. It was of a newborn baby and two smiling parents. "I found it when I found ya."

"Th-this is me?" He stuttered, he had never thought that there would be pictures of him as a newborn.

"Lily's parent's took it." Hagrid explained, "it don't move."

"It's perfect," Harry whispered, "thank you."

"I don't want ter end sad, so I 'ave this."

This one was a picture of all four of them, Ron included, "this must have been taken in our first few months here," Hermione observed, "look at my hair."

"I'm goin' miss you lot. You always kept me on me toes." Hagrid chuckled.

"We'll come to Hogsmeade to see you whenever we can," Hermione promised. Harry had gone awfully silent, he was still looking at the picture of his parents.

"'arry, look at me. I don't want you ter be upset."

"I'm not, I'm just glad you kept this safe."

"Come 'ere." He opened up his arms and signalled both Harry and Hermione. "Look after yerselves." He said as he let them both go.

"You too, don't get another dragon's egg, we won't be able to help you out if you do," Harry joked.

"I 'ave me eye on something else." His eyes twinkled.

"Be careful," Hermione ordered.

"Thank you, Hagrid. For everything."

"I 'ope your kids 'ear all 'bout me." He beamed.

"They will." Harry promised, "look after them."

"I will."

*

Harry walked around the castle. Taking in every last portrait for the final time. A tear was constantly in his eye, only now to he allow himself to image how his parents would have walked around these corridors. "Harry?"

"Hermione." He answered.

"We need to leave soon, we get to ride the boats again," the twang of excitement clear in her voice.

"Really?" He asked.

"Yeah, it's a tradition. We arrived on them and we leave on them. Are you ready?"

"For?" He asked as he turned around to face her.

"The rest of our lives," she smiled.

"Ready," he smiled as he took her hand and walked with her to leave the castle.

Chapter 22: Chapter Twenty-Two.
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"It's not possible, how does that work?"

"Aoife, you don't know what's possible for Muggles," he correctly pointed out.

"Hermione couldn't explain it."

"I'll give you that. I'm sure it's not impossible."

"Why do you believe her and not me?" Aoife asked impatiently.

"What?" Ron mumbled.

"Hermione - you believed her when she said it wasn't possible, but argue against it when I say it." She lay beside him in the dark room, failing to find sleep.

"No, I believed her when she said it was highly unlikely that it would happen." He explained. "We can talk about this in the morning. We have plenty of time."

"Ron, if you go to sleep now-" it was too late, he had already fallen fast asleep.

*

"Is everyone packed and ready?" Mr Weasley asked at breakfast.

"Yeah," everyone replied together. They had decided to fly to Ireland as no one was completely confident about apperating to another country.

Hermione still couldn't quite get her head around the fact that she was here and her mum was better without medical intervention. "Oh, we forgot to tell you," Ron was addressing his parents, "Hermione's mum and dad got us all telephony things to stay in contact."

"Oh that's a good idea," Mrs Weasley muttered and she sifted through the Daily Prophet.

"We have one for you - we've charmed it so you don't to worry about how it works. Everything is taken care of." He explained as he handed his dad a box.

They both looked bemused as they looked down at the box. "We all need to work them out," Harry laughed.

"We ought to get you lot to the train station."

*

"Mum, don't be upset, it's like sending us off to Hogwarts, we'll be back."

"I know. You don't understand; when you're a parent you'll get it." Mrs Weasley said. She gazed at her son, who had suddenly become a man, and everyone she had taken in knowing that this was it. She had done her job, she had protected them the best she could, although she sometimes got it wrong she had always tried.

"Wish Ginny good luck from all of us," Ron smiled as he stepped on the train behind the others.

She had never expected Ron and Ginny to stop needing her at the same time. "They'll always need us," Mr Weasley whispered as they watched the normal train pick up speed.

"Our job is done," she smiled with a tear in her eye.

"You'll be wishing that's true when they all come back," he tried to inject some laughter but to no avail.

*

The plane touched down smoothly and the Currans started chatting excitedly. "Does Martha know we're coming?" Aisling asked as they remained seated until the queue died down.

"I wrote to her last week. She didn't reply but I expect she got it." Aoife answered.

"Who's Martha?" Ron asked from next to her.

"Our housekeeper. She lives with us." Ardal replied.

"Oh right," Ron nodded.

"Housekeeper?" Harry mouthed to Hermione. She smirked, she couldn't wait to see their house now.

"We can either get a train down to Inistioge or travel ourselves," Aengus suggested.

"You could see Ireland if we catch a train, but it is about four hours," Aoife informed.

Ron opened his wallet to reveal a measly 20 euro note. That's all his mum could spare, he had other currencies in his suitcase, including Wizarding money, but that was meant to last him the year. "Should we just apparate? We've had a long day. I'm sure you'll show us the best Ireland has to offer over time - we do have plenty of it." Hermione said after she saw Ron's funds.

"Luna, you've been before, could you take someone?" Ron asked.

"No, I haven't got my licence yet." She informed, "and I'm not keen on breaking the law."

"No, no, not many people are," Ron said in a whisper. Aoife elbowed his ribs which kept him quiet.

"I'll take Ron, Ardal take Luna and Aengus take Aisling. Two of us will come back and take you two," she directed that at Harry and Hermione.

"Sounds good, see you in a couple minutes," Hermione smiled.

"How are you?" Harry asked once they were alone. "We haven't really spoken about-"

"About my mum suddenly getting over a life-threatening disease," she interrupted. "I'm not really sure what to think. I'm not sure what I'm meant to think. The doctors said it was highly unlikely at her stage, but kidneys can regenerate and heal themselves. But that doesn't explain why it suddenly happened. They didn't think it would, they're more than flummoxed us."

He should tell her. Surely she'd understand that it was the best outcome for everyone. Rose was back at work and everything had returned to how it was before. He was going to tell her, but Ardal and Aengus popped back. "Aoife is getting everything ready, Martha didn't realise so many of us were coming so we need to get some more food and other bits. Who wants to come?" Ardal asked.

"I will. I have our money and I need to pick up a few bits myself," Hermione explained.

"Are you sure? I can it for you." Harry offered.

"No, it's fine, I'll go." She insisted.

"Aengus will be going with you, I need to show Luna something in the greenhouse."

"Bye," Harry smiled, gently kissing her forehead.

"Sorry about this, it shouldn't take too long. I'll get us to the supermarket."

Hermione held onto his arm and they were gone. "You don't have to be sorry," she reassured once the initial feeling of disapperating had worn off.

"I can't imagine you wanted to spend your first night her with me," he said at a mutter as they collected a trolley.

"Actually, it gives me chance to think.." Her voice faded out.

"Think? About what?" He asked gently.

"Just a small decision," she answered vaguely.

"Well, my grandma used to tell me that when faced with a decision we always know what we want to do - it's the first thing that comes to our mind, even if it's just a flicker."

"Yeah, that's the problem," she whispered at an inaudible volume. "Where do we start?" She painted a smile back on her face.

"Just put in anything that takes your fancy." He smiled. "Oh, and just to warn you, a couple of old friends work here and they speaking rather outdated Irish slang." Hermione nodded, she hoped she wouldn't stand out. "Don't fret, you understand us well enough," he joked, "just don't wander too far away from me and you'll be fine."

They walked down the aisles slowly, getting anything that took their fancy. Suddenly something bleeped in Hermione's jean pocket. "What was that?" Aengus asked.

"I'm not su- oh my phone. Harry must be playing around with his. It'll take a while to get used to them." She laughed as she deleted the blank text Harry had accidently sent her.

"It was extremely kind of your dad to buy us all phones. I'll give you the money to give to him."

"I wouldn't worry - he's not expecting repayment. He got them really cheap from a patient of his."

"I don't like owing people money, I'll feel much more comfortable paying for it." He stood proudly.

"Well, if you insist. They were £15."

"Ah, I don't have your English money, sorry," he joked.

"Well if it isn't Aengus fecking Curran. I don't believe what's standing before me." A tall, spotty boy of about 19 strode over to them.

"Fin, how've you been?" Aengus suddenly sounded much more Irish.

"Not bad, mate, not bad. Weak as a kitten but good. I thought you moved to England with your pa?" He quickly glanced at Hermione and smiled.

"Sorry, Finley this is Hermione, Hermione Finley." A whirl of 'nice to meet yous' flew all over the place. "We went to boarding school, but we're back now. Well for a month and then we're going to Finland and the rest of Europe."

"Feckin' hell, living the high life. How's Ardal, Aoife and Aisling?"

"Yeah, all good," Aengus smiled.

"Aoife got herself a new fella?"

"Yep. Seems like this one is a keeper, though, sorry mate."

"Don't be an eejit, I'm with Soph now. Got a nipper on the way."

"Really? Congratulations!"

"Yeah, about a month to wait now, hopefully, you get to meet him. Bit of a fecking shock, but made up about it now. Anyway, gotta dash. Come down Barn Yard later, catch up with the rest of the lads."

"Yeah, might do that. Seems like there's a lot to catch up with."

"You don't know the half of it," Fin winked. "Bring your girl with you. The lads won't believe what a fine th-"

"My girlfriend is flying over tomorrow, Hermione is just a friend from school," Aengus explained going a bit red in the process.

"Opps, sorry. Didn't want to make it awkward."

"You didn't, maybe all of us could go down tonight," Hermione suggested.

"That's a great idea! Hopefully see you all down there." Fin cheered. "See yas," he smiled before heading to a new aisle.

"He seemed nice," Hermione observed.

"Yeah, we're not going there." He stated matter-of-factly.

"Oh, right. Why?"

"The Barn Yard is not a nice place to go, that's where he will be."

"He? Calum?"

"Yeah, everyone seems to have forgotten what he did, we're avoiding them for as long as possible."

"I see, shall we carry on?" Hermione smiled trying to change the subject.

"Yep. Is there anything else you want?" He asked, sighing but smiling all the same.

"Yeah there is actually. I'll catch up with you if you want to go and pay, I'll give you some money towards it."

"No need, Curly. I have money here. We don't need to worry about splitting the bill."

"Are you su-"

"Absolutely." He proved the point by walking away from Hermione towards the till.

"Okay," she muttered as she walked around to find what she needed.


"Got what you want?" Aengus asked cheerfully as Hermione walked out of the shop.

"Yeah," she smiled holding up a bag to prove it. She noticed that he had managed to put all the shopping into one bag which was incredibly light.

"The trick is to hide the bag as you're doing it," he smirked. "Right, let's go home. You're going to love Sausage." He smiled as he took her hand in his without realising what he was doing.

"Sausage?" She began to say but couldn't get it out before he had twisted on the spot.

*

"Just wait, Aisling. I know you want to give them a tour, but wait for Hermione to come back." Aoife moaned as they all walked through the door with their suitcases after a rushed tour of the land surrounding the beautiful house. The front door opened up to a vast sized hallway which boasted a large sweeping staircase.

"Bloody hell," Ron's jaw dropped as he tried to take in everything he saw. Everywhere they looked they saw something exciting, and most likely expensive. There were four huge wooden doors and one archway off of the hall which would cater for someone of Hagrid's height.

"It looks like Hogwarts," Harry observed as his eyes couldn't settle in one spot.

"It's not quite a castle," Ardal laughed, "but it is quite big."

"Quite?!" Ron challenged, "it's bloody huge."

"When will they be back? I want to show them around now." Aisling cried.

"Any moment now," Aengus laughed as he and Hermione walked through the door. "Sorry, we took so long, bumped into a friend." He explained to the rest of the group.

"Who?" Ardal asked.

"Fin."

"Finley Backman? I used to have a massive cru-" Aoife began to say before she caught the look in Ron's eye.

"Yeah, he's with Sophie now, she's expecting a baby."

"Is it his?" Aoife asked.

"Who knows, you know what Sophie was like." Aengus joked.

"That's not entirely fair, Aengus. Of course, it's his. Those two always gravitated to one another."

"Excuse me, but we have important things to do," Aisling shouted with her hands on her hips.

"Sorry," Aoife laughed, "have a nice tour. We'll be in the kitchen sorting out something to eat."

"Don't expect Hogwarts or Mrs Weasley standard food." Aengus joked as the three of them, and Luna walked through the door on their left.

"Right, we'll start at the top and work down." Aisling decided as they walked up two flights of stairs right into a bedroom. "This is Aoife's room, we shouldn't really be here as she doesn't like unexpected visitors, but Ron you can leave you bags here." She smiled sweetly. Hermione looked around the large room at all the things that made Aoife, Aoife. It was an elegant room with one wall taken up with a collage of pictures of her with her family and friends from her past. "Have a good look around, this will be the only time you're allowed," Aisling ordered. Hermione walked right up to the pictures to see how she used to be. Her mum was beautiful, she was obviously the one who gave all four the gorgeous dark hair and vivid green eyes. Most of the pictures that had their mum in were several years old, only a couple housed Aoife as she was a year ago, her mum beaming away. Hermione also noticed a picture of Aoife with an extremely handsome boy, Hermione would have to ask her about him later. Hopefully, it wasn't Calum, Hermione thought to herself. "On to the next room!" Aisling skipped down the stairs.

"Like a mini Aoife," Ron joked as he followed her down the stairs.

"In there is the bathroom, all your rooms have one, but just in case," Aisling smiled. "This is Ardal's room." She opened the door next to the bathroom which revealed a room which was just as big as Aoife's, something Hermione couldn't work out. It was full of weirdness, that was the only way to describe it. Weird furniture, weird plants, weird contraptions, weird books about weird plants and contraptions. It was a room that would even turn Dumbledore's eye if he were to see it. Like Aoife, Ardal had a few pictures stuck to the wall. One of them had Luna in at about five years old, she hadn't changed much.

"Next!" Aisling screeched. She led them to the room opposite Ardal's, "this is Aengus'." Like the previous two rooms, his was huge. Magic must have had something to do with it. His room was less decorated. Quite plain and simple, not giving too much of his personality away. Hermione was drawn to a picture frame which was resting on his bedside table. She walked over and crouched down to get a better look. In one of the pictures was a young smiling Aengus with a pretty young girl, that must have been Bree. He had her arm wrapped around her, it was a rather bittersweet image. You couldn't ignore the love that the two characters felt towards one another, but they were so blind to what was about to happen to them. None of the pictures in the Curran house were moving, but Hermione liked that. Just like pictures from her childhood. There was a picture next to it of all the family, except for a dad, she noticed that his figure had been folded to the back of the photo. There was nothing really else of interest to Hermione, posters of bands and sports teams, but her eyes were locked onto the pictures by his bed.

"Hermione? What's wrong?" Harry asked as he had noticed her eyes welling up.

"Nothing, just this," she pointed to the family photo. There was a baby Aisling being cradled by a smiling mother and the triplets at about six years old.

"Every family have secrets, some just rip the family apart more than others," he tried to comfort her.

"Aisling, we're ready for the next room now," Hermione smiled, taking hold of Harry's hand.

"Alright," she smiled. Leading them to a room on the other side of the hall. "This is where you two will sleep, but we don't need to look in there as there's nothing very exciting." She ran over to what was most likely her door and seemed eager to reveal all.

"Can we just put our bags in there?" Harry asked gently.

"Of course, be quick." She ordered so they placed their bags down without having a good look of their newest haven. "This is my room." She smiled as she opened the heavy door. Every wall was a different colour, a vivid colour. She kept looking at them, wanting approval or at least a comment.

"It's wonderful," Ron smiled. "Did you draw that?" He pointed to a picture of her family.

"Yeah," she smiled.

"It's amazing," Hermione said truthfully. She wasn't a very good drawer, but Aisling was obviously a natural artist.

"Take your time in here, have a good look around." The three of them stepped further into the room and started looked around aimlessly, none of them really wanted to look at anything in particular but they all pretended to keep her happy. After five minutes Aisling finally thought it was time to move on. She started walked down the stairs to the bottom floor when Hermione noticed two doors they hadn't gone through.

"Aisling, what are those doors?" She asked knowing that one was likely to be her parents.

"Mum and dad's old room is the one on the left and the other is Martha's room. We're not allowed in there, don't go in there." She ordered.

"Understood," Harry said strongly as he followed her down the glorious staircase.

"Only a few rooms left now, in there is the study," she pointed vaguely to the room opposite the door that the four others went through, it obviously wasn't considered much of an importance to her. "In there is the dining room, you'll be seeing that one later," that was the door the others went through. "It leads to the kitchen, so does the archway over there. That is another bathroom and over there is the snug." She ran over to that door and pushed it open. The room was exquisite. It had bookshelves which housed many varieties of books, much to Hermione's delight. It had a crackling fireplace and two smart sofas, both pointing to a TV. Ron stared at it, never having seen one before. Behind the TV was a magnificent bay which had pillows and blankets to make it look rather cosy.

"Aisling, have you finished the tour? Martha's finished making dinner." Ardal appeared at the door with a cheeky smile. "Ah, here you all are."

"I haven't shown them the pantry or the fridge or the back door yet," Aisling whined. "Well take them through there now, but be quick."

"Come one," she beamed eagerly. The went out of the snug and through the archway she mentioned led to the kitchen. "There's another toilet," she smiled pointing to a door. "And here is the pantry." It was huge and full of food. Hermione was positive she and Aengus hadn't brought any of this. It was a chilled room with a door in the corner of it on both sides. "There's the back door and over here is the kitchen." She opened the door to reveal a magnificent kitchen with marble worktops and oak cupboards.

"Bloody hell, saved the best til last," Ron gasped.

"So, what do you think?" Aisling asked the three of them.

They were all too gobsmacked to find words to explain how gobsmacked there were. None of them had ever imagined the Currans to live in a mansion. "Wait until you see the grounds," Luna added.

"Can I-" Aisling began.

"No, Bee, it's dark and cold, you can show them tomorrow. Ron and Harry have already seen some of it."

"Some of it?" Ron stuttered. "We were walking around for about 10 minutes."

"You just wait, Ron. You're going to love it." Aengus smiled. "Anyway, let's eat."

"I've set it all up in the dining room." A timid voice with an accent that wasn't quite Irish or Scottish said from behind the triplets.

"This is Martha," Aoife introduced and small, slender woman of about 50.

"Nice to meet you," Martha said quietly. "I've been told a lot already." She said before walking away into the pantry.

"She's not much of a talker," Ardal explained.

The meal was delicious, on par with Mrs Weasley and Hogwarts food Hermione thought. Having realised that none of them had really eaten since breakfast meant conversation was rare and short-lived. Dessert followed until everyone was full. "Do you want to watch a film?" Aoife suggested once Martha had cleared all the plates away.

"A film?" Ron asked.

"We have electricity here, and a television to watch a film," Aoife said slowly to make sure he understood her.

"What's a film?"

"A moving photograph that tells a story," Aoife explained poorly, but explaining a film to someone was hard. "You'll love them.

"A moving photograph that tells a story?" Ron repeated under his breath.

They all sat on the sofas in the snug, Hermione snuggling up next to Harry with her head on his chest and her legs bent to the side of her. After about an hour of the film, Aengus who was increasingly fidgety suddenly stood up and announced that he had forgotten to buy some bits for Robyn that she had asked him to get. Ardal offered to go with him, but he was too engrossed in the film to really mean it. Nobody really took much notice of Aengus leaving so hastily. Nobody even thought about the possibility of Aengus going in the morning when it was light and warmer. But it festered in Hermione's mind. They brought a lot of things earlier today, he hadn't acted like he had forgotten to pick anything up and then it hit her - he was a the Barn Yard. He was so upset that everyone seemed to have forgiven Calum for everything he had put this family through.

"I need to do something." She suddenly announced at a pivotal scene in the film.

"What?" Ron asked.

"S-shower. May I?" She asked Aoife and Ardal.

"Of course, you don't have to ask. There's an ensuite in your room." Aoife answered without taking her eyes off the screen.

"Don't you want to wait until the end?" Harry asked.

"No, I've seen this already, I know what happens." Hermione lied as she stood up. "Harry, can I talk to you outside?" She asked she knew she shouldn't go alone.

"Sure," he sighed as he stood up. "What's wrong?" He asked once they were in the hallway.

"We need to find the Barn Yard," Hermione ordered.

"The what?" Harry scratched his head and stifled a yawn.

"It's a pub Fin was talking about. Aengus said that Calum would be there and then he just rushed off. I don't know how I know, but he's gone there to confront Calum. We have to get there to stop him doing something stupid." She explained frantically.

"Okay, calm down. Do you know where it is?" Harry asked calmly.

"No, but it must be close by. I'm sure we can find it."

"Okay, have you got your wand?" She nodded as her hand went to her back pocket just to make sure. "Let's go then," Harry smiled at the thought of an adventure. "Just stay behind me if anything kicks off, I don't want you getting hurt." He cupped her face and tenderly kissed her as if it was for the last time - just in case it was.

*

Thousands of miles away in the middle of the North Sea, Rodolphus and Julie were handed their Releasement Papers and were walking out, hand in hand, of Azkaban. "Where to now?" Julie smiled bitterly.

"To my brother, we need to thank him for getting us out of here. Then to Ireland to find this Calum boy. Hopefully, we'll find Patrick on route. We could do with his knowledge of his children." Rodolphus explained. "We're going to finish this war once and for all."

"Let's not waste a moment then, come on." She willed him to take them to his brother. The sooner she got her revenge on the meddling Hermione, the better.

*

After almost an hour of walking, Harry and Hermione had found the place they were looking for. They unlit their wands and placed them back into their pockets. "Hopefully, I'm wrong," Hermione whispered as the walked up to the dimly lit barn. "Hopefully, he is actually picking bits up for Robyn."

Harry doubt that - Hermione was abnormally observant about these things. "Just be careful, don't resort to magic too quickly." They heard a crash and a scream which made Hermione abandon all common sense and run in to see what was going on, wand at the ready. "Hermione, wait! You don't know what's behind those doors!" He yelled as he ran after her, but he was too late.

Chapter 23: Chapter Twenty-Three.
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The smell of sizzling bacon and sausages woke Ron up, it was a glorious sort of alarm clock. He rolled over and noticed Aoife wasn't next to him anymore. He sat up, but seeing an empty room he fell back down and savoured the waft for as long as he could. "Ron!" Aoife screeched from a flight below, "Ron! We need to talk to you." He unwillingly removed the duvet and sat up. "Ron! Get down here." She screamed, something was evidently wrong so he hurried up.

"What's wrong?" He yawned as he walked down the stairs to the others.

"Did you hear Harry and Hermione leave last night? Or did you hear Aengus come home?" She asked frantically.

"No," he answered tiredly, "why?"

"None of their beds have been slept in and no one has seen them since last night." Ardal explained as Aoife was too worried to continue talking.

"How do you know their beds haven't been slept in?" Ron asked, rubbing his eyes.

"Because they're too neat."

"Hermione is a very neat person, maybe Aengus slept on the sofa or something." He suggested.

"Ron, why can't you see the urgency? " Aoife snapped. "Something has happened to them!"

"If it has, they'll be together and neither Harry or Aengus would let anything happen to Hermione or to each other. There's no need to worry." Ron tried to be the bearer of good news.

"When did you become such an ostrich?" Aoife said in hysterics.

"What?" Ron was still tired and was well aware Aoife made no sense when she was worried.

"It means you bury your head in the sand," Ardal explained. "But Ron's right, Aoife. If they are all together, they'll be fine. If they weren't, we surely would have heard something."

"Robyn is meant to be coming today, what are we going to tell her?"

"They'll be back, they'll be fine," Ron said in a monotone, wondering if he would be able to go back to sleep.

"How can you be so su-" She screeched but stopped in her tracks when she heard the front door open and close. She rushed downstairs and almost screamed when she saw the state of all three of them. "What happened?"

"Ask him," Harry hissed as he pointed at Aengus. He decided he didn't want to stay to hear Aengus try to justify himself so he walked past all of them and up the stairs.

Aoife heard the gasps from Ardal and Ron upstairs and a flurry of "Harry, what happened to you?" "Are you alright?"

"What happened?" Aoife asked again, hoping for an answer this time. Neither of them spoke. Blood was dripping from Aengus' top lip and Hermione's face was a maze of cuts and bruises. "Shall I clean you all up?" She suggested, pointing to the dining room. "Then when you're ready, you can tell me what happened. I'll ask Martha to make you something to eat and something warm to drink." She hoped that they followed her into the dining room, Aengus did but Hermione followed Harry upstairs. "Never mind, we need to get you sorted before Robyn comes," Aoife smiled as they sat down at the table. She considered using magic, that would be the obvious and quickest solution, but she needed time to get Aengus to talk. So she got a bowl of warm water and some cotton wool. "This was Calum, wasn't it?" She whispered after several minutes of silence. "Why did you go and find him?" She gently dabbed the blood from his lip. "You know what he's like, why did you go? Why did you let Harry and Hermione follow you?" She whispered, her voice cracking but she made sure she remained calm and composed.

"I didn't know they would follow me," he whispered, "I needed to see him, I needed to show him that he hadn't won."

"He hadn't won what, Aengus? I thought we went to Hogwarts to forget everything that had happened. I put it behind me, why can't you?" She put the cotton ball down and got out her wand.

"He acted all smug. He said that we ran away, he had won-"

"Won what?" Aoife repeated, her voice getting louder and harsher.

"He got away with it, Fe. He's done it again, he'll continue to do it. I couldn't stand by and let him think what he did was acceptable. I didn't mean it to go this far, I didn't mean Harry and Hermione to get caught up in it. I hate myself for what I put her through, but I didn't ask them to come." A lone tear fell from his eye.

"What did he do to her?" Aoife was almost too scared to ask and feared the answer more. Aengus shook his head, he was done talking for now. "I'm going to remove this cuts and then you're going to have a bath and after you're going to eat and drink what Martha makes for you," Aoife ordered.

"What about Robyn?"

"I'll look after her," Aoife smiled.

"Are you going to tell her?"

"She deserves to know, but she deserves to hear it from you," Aoife said, placing her wand back in her pocket having completely cleared his face.

"Thank you," he mouthed as he stood up and made his way upstairs.

Aoife's face found her hands as she tried to comprehend what had happened. There was a faint knock on the door, "Aoife," it was Ron, "are you okay? I'm sorry that I tried to convince you they were all alright." He said as he opened the door and walked over to the table. "Did Aengus say anything to you? Both Harry and Hermione ignored us and went straight into their room." He explained.

"It was Calum," Aoife said standing up to tidying away the bowl of water and the cotton wool. "He went to see him to prove that Calum hadn't won."

"Won?" Ron followed her into the kitchen.

"My thoughts exactly. I don't know what he was playing at, we should stay away from him." Tears clouded her eyes, she placed the bowl in the sink and gripped the counter to try and fight back the sobs.

"You don't have to pretend with me anymore, Aoife," Ron said, wrapping his arms around her waist and resting his chin on her shoulder.

"Oh, Ron," she sighed, "I thought it would all be over. I've moved on, I thought Aengus had too."

"Now might not be the right time to do this, but I'm going to do it anyway." He whispered in her ear.

"Do what?" She turned around to face him with a small smile on her face.

"My mum gave me this before we left," he explained as he put his hand in his pocket. "It was her great, great grandmother's." He brought out a small, tattered box. "I'm going to give this to you, you don't have to wear it, it doesn't have to mean anything you don't want it to. I just want you to know that I meant it."

Aoife brought her hand to her mouth, tears still clouding her eyes, but they were happier. "Ro-" She tried to say, but what he had said had winded her.

"I also found a necklace chain, in case you don't want to wear it on your finger." He explained.

She had the biggest smile on her face as she stood on her toes and kissed him.

*

As the bath was filling up with hot water, water that was much too hot for skin, Aengus wandered over to Harry and Hermione's room. His clenched fist hovered in mid-air as he thought about knocking. He couldn't hear voices from behind the door, maybe they were sleeping? That gave him the opportunity to not talk to them.

"Are you alright?" Luna asked from one of the doors behind him.

"I-"

"Stupid question, I know you're not," she interrupted. "When is Robyn arriving?"

"Later today," Aengus replied casually.

"Is she just a distraction? Just someone who can take your mind off her?"

"What are you talking about?"

She stood in the door of Ardal's room, her hands holding onto each side of the frame. "Robyn Root - is she genuine or not?"

Aengus walked over to her smirking. "I won't says she's 'The One', we both know who is, or was. But she means a lot to me, yes. Is that what you wanted to hear?"

She looked up at him, both of their faces serious and cold. "Yes," she whispered, "that's what I wanted to hear." Her eyes were glistening.

"Good," he smirked, walking away from her and towards his bath.

*

Hermione had followed Harry into their room. They hadn't said anything to each other for hours, not since last night. He was laying, with his back to the door, on the bed. She knew he would be thinking about what had happened and in turn that would have brought back years of pain. She didn't know what to say to him, she also didn't particularly want to touch him, she needed to cleanse herself before she did anything.

She walked into the ensuite and turned the shower on. She looked into the mirror and studied her face. The face that was plastered in blood, both her own and others. She was thankful that Calum wasn't a wizard, else they could have returned home with fewer people. She found a flannel, one that Martha must have put out, and held it under the shower for several seconds. She brought it to her face and removed the blood that was artificial, leaving behind the cuts that were more permanent. She noticed that her right eye was engulfed by a bruise, the pain didn't seem to bother her.

Once the blood had been washed away, her face didn't look as awful. She had a black eye, a cut lip and several other cuts scattered around. She carefully removed her jumper, analysing her arms - some bruising had occurred, a result of being dragged.

Her neck had a bruise of another kind, one that wasn't necessarily one of violence, but that one hurt her the most. How dare he do that to her. How dare he mark her body with something with love in the title. It sickened her, she stared at it without moving, barely breathing. Harry had tried to stop him, he did a good job - if he wasn't there, Hermione was positive Calum would have done a lot worse.

She removed the rest of her clothes and jumped in the shower. As soon as the warm water touched her skin, she felt better. All the pain seemed to have followed the water done the drain. As she wrapped a towel around herself, she remembered that Harry was still in the next room. "Harry?" She called quietly as she opened the door. "Harry, you need to shower and get cleaned up," she walked over to the bed and kneeled down so that her face was looking at his. "You'll feel better if you do, I do."

"I let it happen again," he whispered, his lips wanting to stay closed.

"Let what happen again?" She took his hand and squeezed it.

"I put you in danger, I promised myself that that would never happen again."

"It's not your fault, you tried to stop me but I didn't listen. Look, Harry. I'm fine. All of these," she pointed to the bruises and marks, "will fade soon, I can remove them with magic if I wanted to. There's no lasting damage here, I promise you that."

"He hurt you."

"I disagree. He wanted to hurt me, but I knew I was ultimately safe, I knew that you were there to save me, and you did. Now please, have a shower. Robyn will be arriving soon."

"Are you sure?"

"Get in the shower before I drag you in there myself." She smiled.

"That doesn't sound like too bad an idea." He laughed.

*

The water must have had cleansing powers far beyond the ordinary, as all three of them felt a hundred percent better once they were washed and dressed. They all walked downstairs to the others who were worrying and fretting about what had happened. "Aoife," Harry said as they walked into the dining room, "can you remove our marks? There's no point having a reminder of what happened, we've all forgotten now."

"Of course," she answered, silently happy that she was being allowed to use her healing skills. She started with Harry, he was relatively unharmed, his nose had been broken again, that was all. "Hermione! What's that on your neck? Please tell me Calum didn't do that."

"Just get rid of it, Aoife. I don't want to see it again," she ordered.

"You don't understand, that's his warning." Aoife squeaked.

"Warning?" Harry asked.

"He does that so others know not to go near you. He's left his mark on you."

There was a knock at the door, "I'll get it," Ardal said before he disappeared.

"He must have taken a fancy to you," Aengus breathed.

"You knew he had done it," Aoife turned on her brother, "that's why you clammed up all of a sudden."

"That doesn't matter, what does he want with Hermione?" Harry asked in a panic.

"He wants what he always wants, what he only ever wants," Aoife said in a monotone.

"You don't mean-"

"-Yes, that," Aengus confirmed. "And he'll stop at nothing to get it."

"What are we going to do then?" Ron asked abruptly.

"What's going on?"

"Robyn! You're early," Aengus smiled as he rushed over to her.

"Yeah, turns out I told you all the wrong times. I'm not sure how, but I arrived four hours ago and I thought I might as well catch the train down, no point moping around the airport for you to pick me up."

"You should have called!" Aengus exclaimed.

"I did, you didn't answer," she rolled her eyes. "So what's going on? Ardal said something about Hermione and someone called Calum."

"She's not safe here, Aoife. I'm taking her back to her parents."

"You can't do that, we're meant to be on holiday!" Ron argued.

"It's not much of a holiday if we're looking behind our shoulders the entire time we're here," Harry shouted. "I'm not putting her in danger! We need to leave."

"But then he's won." Aengus chipped in.

"Won what?" Aoife screamed. "Aengus, you keep talking about it like it's some big competition. If it was, I would say that we have won! We've moved on with our lives and he hasn't. He's still doing the same thing, he's got the same friends and no future."

"You're always welcome at my house. It's more than big enough for all of us." Robyn said.

"I don't want to leave Ireland, I want to stay with all my friends." Aisling scurried in.

"Have you been earwigging?" Ardal smiled. "I don't mind staying here with Aisling."

"But you're not coming on holiday with us, when are we meant to see you?"

"Aoife, we're meeting up in Germany and Austria, it's not the end of the world if you go now."

"You can all stay here, Hermione and I will just leave."

"No, I don't want to be the reason we're split up," Hermione finally spoke.

"You're the one who's in danger, you're the one he wants."

"He might be using her to get to Aoife, I don't feel safe here." Ron backed Harry up.

*

Several hours later Ron, Aoife, Harry, Hermione, Aengus and Robyn had landed in Exeter airport. "Welcome to Devon," Robyn smiled.

"How far away is your house?" Ron asked politely.

"When I said that there was enough room at my house, I meant to say camp site. My parents own one and there's several caravans and tent pitches that are free.

"Camping?" Aoife grumbled under her breath.

"It'll be fun!" Ron exclaimed, always trying to look on the bright side.

"If we're lucky, Mr and Mrs Haynes have left the cabin, that has three bedrooms."

They collected their baggage and made their way out of the small airport. It was a sunny day which lifted everyone's moods slightly. "You must be exhausted, Robyn. You spent half the day travelling away from this place only to spend the other half coming back," Hermione joked as they all jumped into a taxi.

"Not too bad really, travelling gives me a chance to write."

"You write?" Ron interjected from the seat behind.

"And draw and plays guitar." Aengus boasted.

"Very artsy," Aoife sighed as she rolled her eyes, luckily Robyn couldn't see her.

Ron looked at her questioningly, but couldn't say anything due to the company. "Congratulations you two," Robyn turned around and smiled.

"For?"

"I saw your finger, Aoife. Sorry, I shouldn't have presumed." She turned back around and deflated slightly, it would be tricky to get the sister to like her, she noted.

"Oh, right. Yeah, thank you. It's not really official yet, though." Aoife blushed.

"So why are you wearing the ring then?" Aengus asked, seemingly getting annoyed at her for consistently making Robyn feel unwelcomed.

"I gave it to her today, but we're not planning the wedding or anything," Ron explained.

"Yeah, we're taking it slow."

"I'll say, you've only known each other five minutes," Aengus scoffed.

"Aengus, that's not fair." Robyn argued back, "leave them alone. They make each other happy, that's all that matters."

"Sorry," Aengus sulked for the rest of the journey by staring out of the window and not talking to anyone.

"Have any of you been to Devon before?"

"I have," Hermione answered, "I used to go to Dartmoor with my parents, we camped a couple of times."

"Maybe we can go there sometime when the weather's nice," Robyn muttered. "I'm sure my brother will drive us up there."

"How old is he?"

"26."

"Do you have any more brothers or sisters? That seems like quite the age gap." Ron asked.

"Ten years, I have another brother who is 21, but he's off travelling the world. I expect he doesn't even remember us."

"Any of them wizards?"

"Nope, I'm the only one. My nephew, Oscar, lives with us. He's five, he's a lot of fun when you get to know him." Robyn explained.

"We can always use you know what," Hermione said somewhat behind on the conversation.

"What?" Harry asked.

"For the tents, to make them more homely." She was well aware of the eager ears of the taxi driver listening and judging.

"Hermione, we've moved on from camping." Ron laughed, "but yes, we could."

"Oh, sorry." She mumbled.

"Everything alright?" Harry whispered so only she could hear. She nodded her head, but it wasn't going to stop Harry prying when they were alone.


The car journey was quite lengthy, but it was the only way to get there. Once they had arrived, paid the driver and unloaded their luggage, Robyn ran up to the house to explain not only her reappearance but the arrival of five others. "She seems really nice, Aengus," Hermione smiled as they stood on the edge of a field.

"She's beginning to come out of her shell." Aengus said, "it was almost impossible to talk to her at the start, but I think she's letting me in now."

"Good news, The Haynes are leaving tomorrow, so we only need to camp for a night," Robyn explained as she walked back holding three tickets. "These a for renting tents, if you use magic, please remember to return them back to normal before you give the tents back."

"Thanks, Robyn," Harry said as he took one of the tickets from her.

"If you come in with me, we can get the tents for free. No need to pay."

"That's very generous, Robyn. Are you sure?" Asked Hermione.

"Positive. The pitches aren't booked for weeks, they're not losing any money. The tents are small, but you can expand them. And they said that we can have the cabin for free if we give it a good clean before we leave."

"When are we leaving?" Aoife asked rather impatiently.

"With only just got it, Aoife. What's your problem?" Aengus asked through gritted teeth.

"Nothing," she sighed as she strutted away from them all.

"Leave her, Ron." Aengus ordered, "her behaviour is out of order, she shouldn't be rude to Robyn when she's being so nice to her."

"Well I think I would be acting like that if my abusive ex threatened one of my best friends," Ron growled, "you haven't even asked her how she is, what happened to Hermione has brought back so many memories. So yes, I will be going after her." Ron walked off after Aoife, who was now out of sight.

"Should we get the tents?" Harry suggested.

"Right, follow me then," Robyn smiled timidly.


"Aoife? Are you alright?" Ron asked once he had found her sitting under a tree.

"I'm fine, Ron." She answered firmly.

"No. This is not how it's going to be, Aoife. If we're going to be married, you're going to have to trust and confined in me. I can't help you if you don't tell me what's wrong."

Aoife brought her knees to her chin as Ron settled down next to her, leaning on the thick trunk of the tree. He gave her all the time she needed to finally tell him what had put her in such a foul mood. "It's Calum," she finally said after several minutes. Ron nodded, he knew this morning's events had taken a toll on her. "We rushed here for nothing."

"What do you mean? You and Hermione are safer here."

"That doesn't matter. It won't deter him, it's too late for Hermione to be safe. He won't forget." She sighed, "we should never have invited you to Ireland. I was foolish enough to think he would have changed, he would have grown up, but he hasn't. It didn't take him long to prove that."

"What are you saying?"

"Hermione - she's not any safer here, she never will be until he gets what he wants. And he will, Ron. He will."

Chapter 24: Chapter Twenty-Four.
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"No, Aengus, that obviously isn't right. Have you even seen a shape of a tent before? We're meant to be able to sleep in that." Robyn tried not to burst out into laughter. "Look at Harry and Hermione's. Ours is meant to be identical to theirs, can you see the difference?"

"I haven't finished, Robyn. Give me a moment and it will be like your home away from home." He said smugly, bending down and trying to figure out what had gone so wrong. "I think the problem is that we haven't stretched it out enough."

"You think that's the problem? That is obviously the problem."

"They must have cheated, why can't I use magic?"

"Excuse me, we didn't cheat! We're just better at tent building then you are," Harry laughed as he and Hermione sat on two deck chairs outside their tent watching them fail.

"Stand back, Curran. I've given you long enough to prove yourself and you've failed, now it's my turn."

Aengus held his hands up and took a step back. After about five minutes, the tent was perfect. "Did you see how I did that? It isn't hard to do if you really try." She laughed.

"Well done, Robyn." Hermione cheered as Harry whooped.

"Thank you, thank you," she bowed, "should we set up the BBQ now? When I say we, I don't mean you, Aengus," she winked.

"I'm king of the BBQ, where is it?"

"Follow me," Robyn ordered. "Do you two mind going to the shop and getting some food? It's only down the road." She asked Harry and Hermione.

"No problem," Hermione stood up and smiled.

*

"I think this is going to be fun," Hermione exclaimed as they walked down the road together.

"I'm glad, I'm sorry I was so pushy about taking you away from Ireland."

"You only did what I would have done if I thought you were in a danger. I shouldn't have run after Aengus, but I knew he would have done something stupid and irreversible if we didn't stop him."

"Should we make a deal to not speak about him again? We escaped relatively unscathed."

"Agreed," Hermione smiled. She put her hand in his as they carried on walking.

"You know what I've been thinking lately?" Harry asked after minutes of enjoying the words of nature.

"Enlighten me."

"I've never taken you out on a date." He stated, "we seemed to skip that bit. I was ill then we went to Hogwarts, now we're here."

"What about that night in Paris? That was a date." She argued.

"No, it wasn't. I mean a proper date. Where I pick you up and we're both nervous at the start. Not really knowing what to talk about or where to look. And then after the best night of your life, talking and laughing and swapping life stories, I would walk you back to your house and then there would be the anticipation of whether or not I should kiss you, and if I did kiss you, whether you would pull away. Then you would walk into your house and close the door and we would lean on either side wondering whether we should have gone further, you wondering whether you should have invited me in for a drink, me wondering if I did everything I could to make you feel like a princess. Then the agonising wait and worry about who should make contact first. You would sit up all night watching the night's sky for an owl, I would be pacing my room thinking about what I should write if I should write anything at all. Then you would get sick of waiting so you would send me a 'Thank you for a wonderful evening.' note and I will press it to my heart, daring to write something back to you, something which would make you spin around on the spot when you read it, reading it over and over again until it was imprinted on your mind."

Hermione was taken aback, she had definitely not expected something like that to come out of Harry's mouth. "What would we do on that date?" She whispered.

"We would get all dress up. My tie would match the colour of your dress. You would look absolutely mesmerising, just like at the Yule Ball. You would say that I looked handsome and I would say something inaudible and nonsensical, you would laugh and smile and I would smile because of that. Then I would stick out my arm and you would wrap yours around as I pulled you closer to me. I would have made reservations at a fancy restaurant, the one you have always wanted to try. We would be given a window seat, so that when your beauty became too much for me, I could look out the window and dare to dream of our future. We would laugh and talk, blocking out the noise of other diners and waiters. Time would be slipping away from us, and before we knew it, I would have to be asking for the bill and we would be ushered out. I would lace my fingers around yours and take you dancing or to see a show or what I know you would enjoy the most, a walk around the park. You would have deliberately forgotten a warm jacket so I would place mine over your shoulders. Then you would break my heart and say, 'my parents will be wondering where I am, and I would sigh and think about saying something to make you stay with me for a bit longer, but I hold my tongue. We slowly make our way back to your house, the conversation would be little, both of us thinking about what we are going to say at the end of the evening. Then we would stand outside your door, I would look into your eyes, you mine, and I would tuck a bit of loose hair behind your ear just so I could feel your skin."

"Harry, I-" She stuttered, they had stopped walking now and were looking at each other.

"I would cup your face, like this," he demonstrated, "and my thumb would trace your lips and I would bite mine, trying to compose myself. You would wrap your slender hand around my thumb and kiss it, moving it away. Our breathing would become fast and shallow." Everything he had described had come true. "I would push your chin up gently and carefully and slowly-"

"Yeah, that was-" She tried to say after the demonstration had ended, but couldn't because everything had just taken her by surprise.

*

"What took you so long?" Aengus shouted once Harry and Hermione came into view. "We're starving."

"Have Ron and Aoife turned up yet?" Harry asked, one of the bags of food swinging from his arm.

"No," Robyn said.

"When they do come back, I'll apologise to her. I shouldn't have turned on her like that, I didn't think she would have taken it so badly."

"That's very big of you, Aengus," Harry smiled as he placed his two bags down on the table by the BBQ. "We got a mixture of things. Robyn, we didn't know what you liked, I hope there's something."

"I'm a vegan," she blushed, "sorry, I should have told you before you left."

"We've got that covered, do not fear. Hermione's vegetarian."

"Brilliant! Thanks." Robyn smiled. "Aengus has offered to do the cooking, he wanted to make up for the tent debacle."

"Right, okay," Harry laughed.

"Hermione? Are you alright?" Aengus asked. "You haven't said anything."

"Yeah," she breathed before getting into the tent.

"Is she alright? Is it Calum?" Aengus asked Harry.

"I'll just go and check on her."


Hermione had put charms on the tent so no one could hear what was being said inside the tent, but she hadn't made it any bigger as she felt it was cosy enough as it was. "Hermione, why have you hidden away?"

"I'm just thinking," she informed. Her legs were crossed and she was sitting up straight.

"About?" He asked softly.

"Just about what you said about dates. I can't help think that we rushed things."

"Are you saying you regret it?" His heartbeat had suddenly raised.

"No, I don't regret it. I just think that we missed out on things. It's not a problem."

Yes, it was a problem, Harry thought. Most girls dream of a bit of romance at the start of a relationship, but Hermione hadn't got any of that. She was too busy trying to keep his head from completely drowning. "I'll fix that," he promised.

"What?" She smirked.

"This year, I will surprise you and take you on dates, who says that romance is exclusive to the beginning of relationships? You deserve to be made to feel special, Hermione. To make up for everything I put you through last year."

"Oh, Harry, you don't have to-"

"Yes, I do." He smiled, leaning over and kissing her cheek.

*

The next couple of weeks were perfect for all six of them. Mr and Mrs Haynes had moved out of the cabin, but each couple had been enjoying the cosiness of the tents, they had decided to turn down the opportunity to have more room. Aengus and Aoife had made up and everything was blissful.

They spent the days exploring everything Devon had to offer and the evenings relaxing by the tents, eating and playing games.

Harry hadn't forgotten about his promise to Hermione, but they still hadn't gone on a date because he wouldn't be able to pick her up and drop her back, he was planning on something when they were in Belgium, he just didn't know what the plan was. He did have an idea of how he was going to end his year of romance, something that he frequently asked Ron and Aoife for help.

"I was thinking about going into Exeter to do a bit of shopping," Robyn announced one morning in August.

"Can I come with you?" Harry asked, he had thought about something else he wanted to do for Hermione.

"Of course, anyone else?" Robyn asked.

"Yeah, why not," Ron said.

"If you're going, I'm going," Aoife added.

"So it's just Hermione and me staying behind?" Aengus asked.

"It looks like it, we'll see you later then," Robyn smiled. They each said goodbye to everyone as they went their different ways.


*

"What do you want to do then?" Aengus asked Hermione when they had sat down.

"Relax and enjoy the sun?" Hermione suggested, closing her eyes.

"Sounds perfect," Aengus followed.

As he sat next to Hermione, wondering whether or not she was asleep, he thought about his feelings towards her. This is something he hadn't allowed himself to do for a while because it used to always end up making him feel worse. Sure, he would probably always think of her differently to his other female friends, but his heart no longer ached for hers, hopefully, Robyn had something to do with that.

"You and Robyn seem good together," Hermione said.

"Yeah, this summer has been really fun with her. I wish she didn't have to go back to Hogwarts in September."

"Have you spoken about that with her?"

"No, we said we would discuss it if it came to it."

"I'm glad you're happy," she smiled.

"You're thinking about our results, aren't you?" Aengus laughed.

"Maybe just a little bit. I'm sorry, you mentioned Hogwarts and that made me think that it isn't long until our results come."

"Tomorrow," Aengus confirmed.

"What? It's the 19th tomorrow?" She panicked.

"Yep, time flies when you're having fun."

That was it for Hermione's nice relaxing afternoon, she was far too worried to do anything as trivial as that.

*

"Thanks, Kit," Robyn said as she stepped out of the truck her brother drove.

"Thank you," the rest of the chorus sung.

"Not a problem, I'll pick you up at about five, is that alright?"

"That would be great, thanks."

"This is so cute," Aoife expressed about her surroundings. "Yes, I like it here. It's not too big, not too crowded."

"Glad you like it, Aoife. I know for a fact that there are a couple of wedding dress shops down there..."

Aoife's eyes widened, "I think that would be a fantastic idea." She exclaimed.

"Will you two be alright on your own?" Robyn asked.

"Yes, you two go and have fun," Ron laughed as they rushed off down the road. "It's good to see that they're getting on now."

"Yeah, why do you think Aoife didn't like her at first?" Harry asked.

"I think she gets jealous of anyone who gets close to Aengus, maybe she gets overprotective or something. Now, what do you need?"

"A bracelet," Harry stated.

"What?"

"For Hermione, I want to get her something to remember this year and I was thinking about getting a charm from every country we visit."

"That's very...romantic of you. You two aren't normally like that."

"I know, I want to make up for it. So, this is how I'm going to start. Her birthday is in September, so next year that will be one of her presents."

"That does sound nice," Ron agreed. "Let's find a jewellery shop then." He smiled. Despite the colossal price difference, Harry was adamant that he was going to buy the more expensive one not only because of the look of it, but because it would last longer. "Are you going to charm it?" Ron asked as they left the shop.

"I don't think so. I want this to be a non-magical present. Do you need anything?"

"Don't think so, what's the time?"

It hadn't even been an hour since they were dropped off, they considered Disapparating back, but they decided to walk around for a bit longer. "Ron! She's found the perfect dress!" Robyn exclaimed.

"She has? Great. Is she in there?" He pointed to a shop opposite them.

"Yeah, but you're not allowed in there. You can't see her. She's just having it pinned to her side and then she's going to reserve it. She looks gorgeous."

"That's good to hear," Ron smiled. "What else do you want to get?"

"I think we should buy something for your parents, to thank them for letting us stay all summer," Harry announced.

"That's a nice idea, Harry. What were you thinking?"

"That's something you need to help us with, what do they like?"

"We'll have a wander around and see if we find anything nice," Robyn suggested.

*

"You're back!" Aengus cheered as they walked towards him.

"Miss us?" Harry joked, "where's Hermione?"

"She went for a walk. She remembered that we get our results tomorrow and she's a bit stressed."

"Oh, why did you remind me? I was happy not knowing." Ron groaned. "Well, that's this evening ruined."

"Don't be dramatic, Ron. You've done well," Aoife encouraged. "Besides, George said you could work with him, you're going to be fine."

"I suppose you're right. When are we eating?"

Everyone stared at Ron before bursting into laughter, "good to see you're not too worried about it, Ron." Harry laughed. "Which direction did she go in?"

"That way," Aengus pointed to his right.

"Thanks, see you in a bit." Harry strolled off to look for Hermione. He laughed to himself at how stressed she got when she knew full well she had aced every exam. She wasn't far away, sat on a bench with her phone in her hand. "Hey," Harry smiled, sliding in next to her.

"Harry, it's the 19th tomorrow."

"I know, what are you worrying about? You've done well."

"How do you possibly know that?" She fretted.

"Because you know things, Hermione. You worked hard and that will be rewarded." He took her hand. "Talking to your parents?"

"Thanks, Harry," she smiled. "Yeah, I've worked out how to send messages. I much prefer writing letters, but this is instant."

"How are they?"

"Good. Mum's back at work, she feels better than ever."

"You don't sound too happy about that?"

"I am. I just wish we had an explanation. How was shopping?"

"Good, I got you something." He smiled.

"You have? What?" She smiled.

"Do you promise you'll stop worrying about your results and enjoy the rest of our time here?"

"I promise," she nodded.

"Good," he kissed her. "Here you go," he handed her a box.

"Oh, Harry!" She almost screamed. The box housed beautiful pearl earrings. "You shouldn't have," she breathed.

"Why shouldn't I? I want to treat you. You can wear them on that date I'm going to take you on."

She laughed, wiping a tear from her ear. "I love them."

"More than me?"

"Oh, much more." She laughed. She used her lips to thank him properly.

"I should get you presents more often." He joked.

"Oi," she said, smacking him lightly.

"Should we go back?"

"No, I want to sit here with you for a little bit longer." She smiled.

*

The next morning was slightly more tense than all the previous ones. Despite everyone trying to calm everyone else about their results, now was the morning for them to find out their futures. Hermione woke up extremely early and lay next to Harry until he woke up. The owls were due at 11. Hermione had charmed the field they were staying in so that no one outside the wizarding world would see the unlikely sight of six owls landing on tents and benches. "Harry?" Hermione whispered - no answer. She checked her phone and saw that it was only 7. There were hours to wait.


"Morning," Ron yawned as he crawled out of his tent to find Hermione and Harry sipping on cups of tea.

"Morning," Harry smiled. "How are you feeling?"

"Not too bad, you two?"

"Slightly nervous," Harry admitted. "Hermione is terrified."

"It is our futures on the line. You two aren't taking anything seriously." She stood up and took her tea into her tent.

"Girls," Ron rolled his eyes.


"Hermione," Aengus called, "Hermione, they're here."

Her head shot out of the tent flap, making sure he wasn't lying. "Come on, Hermione. This is what you've been waiting for." Aoife smiled.

"Have you opened yours?" She asked everyone as she walked over to them.

"No, we were waiting for you," Robyn explained. They were all clutching their envelopes, Ron and Harry had two as oppose to one.

"There's two for you too," Harry said as he handed them to her.

"Okay, I'm nervous now," Ron proclaimed.

"Let's just open them," Aoife said.

"Happy with that," Aengus expressed after scanning his.

"Same," Aoife smiled, "what did you get?"

"4 O's, 2 E's. You?" He placed the piece of paper back in his envelope.

"4 O's, 1 E. I've also been accepted into the training program at St.Mungo's." She beamed.

"Oh well done, Aoife. I'm so happy for you." Aengus hugged his sister.

"Well done, Fe," Ron smiled.

"How'd you do?"

"Good. 1 O and 2 E's."

"Told you you'd do great," Aoife smiled, kissing him quickly.

"What's in the second envelope?" Aengus asked.

"Oh, yeah. I haven't opened that yet."

"Robyn? How did you do?" Aengus asked.

"Quite happy, can definitely do four of my subjects at NEWTs." She smiled.

"Well done." Aengus was more conservative than his sister as he kissed Robyn's cheek.

"Harry?"

"3 O's, 1 E." He smiled. "Well done, Aoife. You're going to be a great Healer. Hermione?"

Hermione had stayed quiet until now, she looked slightly embarrassed, "8 O's." She whispered.

"Bloody hell, Hermione. How did you manage that?"

"She's brilliant, that's how" Harry smiled.

"Well done, Hermione," everyone said in unison.

"Any of you opened your second envelope yet?" Aoife asked.

"Bloody hell," Ron repeated, "they've offered me a place on the Auror training, due to the events of last year. "

"Oh Ron, I'm so happy for you!" Aoife sang. "I guess that's what yours says too?" She asked the other two.

"Yep." Harry smiled, "well done, Ron."

"Congratulations, mate." Ron beamed.

"I've been offered a place on most of the department's training programs," Hermione smiled.

"Which one are you going to accept?" Aoife asked excitedly.

"I think The Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, carry on with SPEW."

"What?" Aengus asked.

"Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare. It something I started in our fourth year. I'll finally be able to get House Elves the treatment they deserve." She beamed.

"Good cause," Robyn agreed. "So that's everyone's immediate futures sorted, what are you planning on doing, Aengus?"

"I've been thinking about training to teach Ancient Runes. I've been accepted to train at the Department of Magical Education. In three years time, I may be teaching Aisling at Hogwarts," he laughed.

As everyone started filtering away to talk about things more privately, Harry signalled for Hermione to go into their tent. "Well done," she smiled as he zipped up the flaps.

"Thanks, you too." He sat down opposite her. "I was sent three envelopes, Hermione."

"Oh? What's the third one?"

"This," he handed her a letter from the Administrative Registration Department.

'Dear Mr Potter,
Enclosed is the key to the Gringotts Vault containing items that were saved from 7 Godric's Hollow on the night and subsequent days of your parent's passing. This is something we have kept from you until we had checked all the items taken from 7 Godric's Hollow to be absolutely sure no Dark Magic was within.
7 Godric's Hollow is property of the Ministry.
I do hope you had a nice summer.
Sincerely,
Elizabella Plante.'


"Oh, Harry," Hermione said with tears in her eyes. "Do you want to go today?"

"Yes." He nodded, "but I don't want to bring everything back here."

"You can go to my parent's house, I'll let them know."

"Can you excuse us from the others for the day?" He asked, fiddling with the key.

"Of course," she smiled as she made her way out of the tent. "Hey, Harry and I are going to go and see my parents. I promised we would before we left for Belgium and now seems like the perfect day as we both have something to celebrate." She explained to the foursome.

"Will you be back for dinner? Only we thought about having something of a feast." Aoife said.

"You can count us in. We'll be back by 7."

"Perfect. Have fun." She smiled.

*

"Ah, Mr Potter. It's a pleasure to see you. I see you have the key to your parent's vault. Congratulations on your graduation from Hogwarts." One of the goblins said. "I'm Norx. Follow me."

She led them down to the carts that would take them to the right place. "Is it far?" Hermione asked.

"Not too far, Miss Granger. Just sit back and relax."

"Did you bring your bag?" Harry asked just before they sped off.

"Y-eee-sss-" Hermione screamed as they shot off.

"Here we are. Not too bad, I hope," Norx giggled. "Follow me," she said for the second time. She waddled down one of the paths for several minutes until the were standing in front of the vault. "There's quite a lot to take away. Will you require more than one trip?"

"Not a problem," Hermione said holding up her trusted beaded bag. "We'll be just fine."

"Mr Potter, the vault will only open for you. Once you take the last item, the key will dissolve and you will no longer be able to access the vault - only one vault per being." She explained. Harry nodded as he to a step towards the vault and placed the key in the lock. The door swung open to reveal 1 tiny box. "Oh, someone must have tidied up."

"I thought you said only Harry could open the vault?"

"Harry and Professor McGonagall." Came a Scottish voice from behind them. "Oh, and Hagrid, of course. This vault was all his idea."

"Professor, what are you doing here?" Harry asked opened mouthed.

"My vault is just down there," she pointed, "I wanted to congratulate you both on such a fantastic set of NEWTs. Miss Granger, I do believe you have set a new Hogwarts record." She smiled.

"Thank you," they both blushed.

"I do hope you have accepted training programs? I asked them to postpone the start for you as I knew you were planning a trip. Merlin knows you all deserve it, the Curran's too."

"Thank you, Professor. For everything." Harry said. "We couldn't have achieved any of this without you."

"It was my honour to watch you both flourish into the witch and wizard you are today. Take care of yourselves, I'll always be around to help if you ever need it." She said before she walked rather quickly away. Harry swore she saw her wipe away a few tears.

"Right, shall we put the box in that bag of yours, Miss Granger?" Norx interrupted the rather touching scene, she did, after all, have a job to get back to.

"Yes, of course." Hermione agreed. Harry held the key to his heart before he picked up the box and carefully put it in Hermione's bag.

"Let's get you back above ground," Norx said just as a cart pulled up behind them.

*

Hermione's parent's house was empty - they must have both been at work. "I've been thinking, Sirius left me his house when he died," Harry said.

"Uh-huh."

"Do you want to live there?" He asked.

"Really?" Hermione's eyes widened.

"Yeah, if the house in Godric's Hollow isn't mine, we might as well use Sirius'. We'll have to do it up, of course, but it's not far from the Ministry which would be good for our training."

"Sounds perfect," Hermione smiled. "Do you want to go there now and see what needs doing?"

"Why not," Harry said so they disapparated again.

*

As they stood out Grimmauld Place, Hermione hoped that part of hers and Ron's plan had come together. "You should go in first, Harry," Hermione said as he signalled for her to open the door.

"Alright then," Harry said, turning the handle and opening the door. "What the-" he exclaimed.

"Surprise!" Hermione screamed. "This is just a small thank you from all the students at Hogwarts and their families. We wanted to thank you for saving the world."

The house was done up beautifully. There were pictures of the three of them, Hagrid, Harry playing Quidditch, Christmases with the Weasleys, Hedwig, Sirius, Dobby, Dumbledore all hung nicely on the freshly painted walls of the hall, the kitchen, the living room, the library and the bedrooms. There was every picture Harry could imagine, including one of Ron and him in the middle of a game of Wizard's Chest in their first year. "It's everything I could have hoped for," Harry exclaimed as he walked around. The kitchen was one any Muggle would have been proud of, not only that, but the house had electricity.

"The Ministry thought that the house no longer needed to be protected from Muggles, so everyone can see it," Hermione explained. "They needed to do some serious memory modification, but they think it was worth it."

"It's perfect," Harry smiled. "We should invite everyone over."

"Maybe later, first you should look in the box," Hermione said, handing him the bag. He walked into the living room which boasted a beautiful bay window, two elegant sofas and a TV in the corner. He sat down on the bigger of the two sofas and took the box out of Hermione's bag. "What do you think will be inside?" He whispered.

"Pictures, toys, books." Hermione listed. "You won't know until you open it." She encouraged.

So he carefully opened the box. The first thing that he saw was a picture of his parents on their wedding day. They were standing out what looked like Godric's Hollow's church with a massive smile on both of their faces. Lily was wearing a simple but elegant dress and James was wearing a striking suit.

"She's beautiful," Hermione observed as she looked over at the photo. "You look just like your dad, Harry. It could almost be you."

"They look so happy," Harry smiled with a tear in his eye. "I wish I could have seen their wedding day. I wonder if there's a picture of Sirius anywhere."

"It'll probably be in here," Hermione said, taking out a large photo album. It was white but had 1978 printed in silver in the middle just below James Fleamont Potter and Lily Juliet Evans which was also written in silver.

"I never knew those were my parent's middle names," Harry observed. "What sort of name is Fleamont?" He laughed.

"Perhaps it's a relations name," Hermione suggested.

Harry had to admit that he never really thought about his other relations, he began wondering what had happened to them. He opened the album which was full of pictures from their wedding day. The first one was of Lily and two other women, most likely bridesmaids, getting ready. Lily was sitting down as the other two fussed about her hair. "None of these move," Harry said.

"Maybe it was made by your mum's side."

"That would explain it." He agreed. There were some more pictures of Lily and her friends, Lily and what seemed to be her parent's and Lily and a happy looking Petunia with a slightly slimmer Vernon. "At least they were happy for them on this day."

Harry turned the page which revealed pictures of James, Sirius and Lupin getting ready. They were much less serious, joking around and having a laugh. There was one nice photo, they were standing in a line, James in the middle, outside the church. "It looks like it was a fantastic day," Hermione smiled.

"Look who it is!" Harry exclaimed. There was a photo who's subject was a man with a long beard, half-moon glasses and fabulous wizard robes.

"Albus Dumbledore went to your parent's wedding?" Hermione asked in astonishment.

The last picture was one of all the family. Harry's parents - the newlyweds, James' parents and grandparents stood on his right, Lily by his side beaming at the camera. Her family, which was slightly bigger - Petunia, Vernon, her parents and grandparents stood on Lily's left. They were smiling and laughing and the photographer. Harry's finger ran across the photo. "They got married so young."

"You can see how much they adored one another." She said. Harry nodded as he stared at the photograph. He never wanted to look away for in that photo, his parents were alive and happy. "Harry, look what it is." Hermione squealed.

Harry took his gaze off the photo and his mouth fell open. "Do you think it's the same one as the one in the picture we found?"

"I think it must be." She said holding up a little toy broom. He used to whiz about the place on that thing, it was so small. He put the album next to him as he looked back into the box.

He found a Golden Snitch, "this must be the first one my dad caught." Hermione nodded and smiled. He found a small, dainty bag with had his mother's engagement and both their wedding rings in. "What should I do with these?"

"Whatever you want. Keep them. They are just one symbol of their love for one another."

He carefully placed them back in the bag and put the bag back in the box. "Their Hogwarts letters and results!" Harry laughed as he looked through them. "Wow, mum was nearly as clever as you." He said, running down through the results.

"Must be where you get it from," Hermione said.

There were a lot more things in the box that Harry didn't know the meaning of. Trinkets which Hagrid obviously thought were valuable enough to keep - even though he didn't know the significance of them, Harry was glad they were saved. "This must be why Hagrid bought Hedwig for me," he said as he held up a small stuffed owl toy. "He might have thought that I would remember this."


It had been a couple of hours since they began searching through the box and both Harry and Hermione were getting tired due to their tears. "I'm so glad Hagrid picked these things up. Even though it's impossible, I feel closer to them."

"It's not impossible, Harry. Those photographs are an insight into their lives."


*

It wasn't until five minutes to 7 that Hermione remembered her promise to be back at the campsite. Her and Harry and spent most of the day thinking. She made several trips to her parent's house to bring some items that would make her feel at home here. They hadn't actually spoken about it, but Hermione suspected that this would be their home for the remainder of the month until they went travelling. "There's enough room for the other four," Harry said after almost two hours of silence. "We should invite them over here, we've been camping for long enough - not that I didn't enjoy it." He quickly added.

"I'll go and get them, then." Hermione stifled a yawn. She would be happy when this day ended as it had been and incredibly long one.

"Wait," Harry said, standing up and holding her hand. "I'm really proud of your results, and I hope that SPEW is a massive success." He kissed her and sent her one her way.


"Bloody hell," Harry heard Ron shout. "This is not how I remembered it."

"Everyone did a fantastic job," Hermione agreed. "We must thank them when we can."

"How about-?"

Hermione shook her head, "it's won't be ready for some time. I think we will get our training done before we even think about that." She said as she guided them into where she had left Harry.

"I'm in here!" He called from the kitchen. "I didn't know whether you had made food so I ordered take away - somebody left the menus by the phone in the hall." He laughed.

"Thanks for helping us pack up back there, Harry." Ron scowled.

"Oh, yeah. Sorry, I forgot about that."

"Course you did," he winked. "So, when's the food coming?"

"Do you ever think of anything else?" Aoife laughed.

"Oh, I can think of one or two things, yes."

*

Nobody could believe how quickly time had flown. Before anyone knew it, they were outside Kings Cross as they dropped Robyn off. Aoife had decided that as they were catching a normal train, they would let Aengus say goodbye to Robyn on Platform 9 3/4 on his own. "I'm going to miss you," Robyn said sadly at five to 11.

"I'll write to you practically every day when I'm-"

"Not having too much fun?" She laughed. "Don't worry about me, I want you to have the best time possible. We'll talk about us when you get back." She smiled.

He cupped her face and gently pressed his lips against hers. "I'll miss you, too. To me, there's nothing to talk about when we get back, we're an us now and we will be next year." He whispered once he had broken away.

She nodded as he wiped a lone tear from her cheek.

*

"I'm so excited!" Aoife cheered. "It's going to be so much fun."

"How was it?" Hermione asked sympathetically once Aengus had walked back through the barrier and over to them.

"I hate goodbyes." His head dropped.

"You'll see her soon, mate," Ron said, patting his shoulder. "They do say absence makes the heart grow fonder."

"Yeah? Let's hope so." Aengus said, bucking up slightly.

"Are we ready?" Aoife asked.

"Let's go on holiday!"


Chapter 25: Chapter Twenty-Five.
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"Why are you this nervous? It's only Hermione. You know her, very well." Ron added with a smirk.

"That's preciously why I'm nervous, Ron. It's Hermione."

"What? What could possibly go wrong?" Ron asked.

"I might say something that puts her off me," Harry suggested.

"No, I don't think you can do that. She's known you since you were both 11. You've been together for nearly two years. She's agreed to move in with you. I don't think you will be able to say anything to put her off you." Ron smiled. "Now, you better get going."

"Do you think she's nervous, too?"

"Probably. You two seem to feel the same." Ron said as he sat on the sofa and picked up one of the complementary magazines the hotel had to offer.

"Do I look alright?" Harry fretted.

"Yes. You look fine."

"Bye then."

"Wait," Ron ordered, standing up and walking over to Harry. "Have a good time," he smiled as he straightened Harry's tie.

*

"You look absolutely stunning, Hermione," Aoife smiled.

Hermione was wearing a deep purple dress with lace shoulders. It ended just about the knee and accentuated her curves beautifully. "You don't think it's too much?" She asked as she gazed at herself in the mirror.

"It's your first date, Hermione. Of course, it's not too much." Aoife argued as she pinned part of Hermione’s hair up with three purple flowers.

"It's not like a real first d-"

"Stop right there. You need to start treating it as such because Harry is. He's put a lot into this and it will only make things better if you accept it is a first date." Aoife walked around to the front of Hermione and sorted out her fringe. "You're so lucky to have naturally wavy hair."

"Yeah? When I was younger I would have disagreed with you. My parents liked it because I would stand out in a crowd." She laughed.

Aoife laughed as she took a step back. "Those earrings are gorgeous."

Hermione's hand went to her left ear, "Harry got them for me in Exeter." She smiled. "I have no idea why he did, but I love them."

"He got them because he loves you. Look at me," she ordered. "No makeup and still perfect. I feel like a proud mum." She joked.

"What do you have planned for tonight?" Hermione asked as she got a bag ready. She made a note not to bring a jacket.

"Aengus wants to go to a pub. Apparently Belgium boasts a wide range of delicious beers," she rolled her eyes. "Ron wants to go too, so I guess that's where I'll be."

"What do you want to do?"

"I don't know. But we're in an exciting and cultural country and the boys want to go to the pub."

"How about the tomorrow we go to where ever you want to go and we can talk about your wedding," Hermione suggested. She had been well aware that Aoife was struggling with everything that had happened with Calum. Despite the fact that no harm really came to any of them, it must have brought back terrible memories for her.

"That sounds good. What about the boys?"

"The boys can do whatever the so chose," Hermione smirked.

Aoife opened her mouth to say something but a knock at the door silenced her. She walked over and opened it to reveal a very smartly dressed Harry with a deep purple tie. "You treat her well, young sir. And don't be too late back." She feigned a serious tone.

"She's in safe hands." Hermione stepped out from behind Aoife and his mouth fell open.

"You look great," she smiled.

"Thanks. You too - you look fantas - you look great, too." He stuttered, still mesmerised.

"I didn't even have to use the perfume," Aoife smiled. "You two have fun." She waved them off. Once they were out of sight, she went over to Harry's room where Ron was.

"Have they gone?" He asked as she walked over to him.

"Yeah." She smiled. "What do you want to do?"

"Aengus is just getting dressed. He asked the woman down at reception and she told him the perfect pub to go to. I reckon she fancied him," Ron said.

"Everyone tends to." Aoife sighed. "I might stay here, I've got a bit of a headache." She lied.

"Hermione has something for that, it'll be gone in seconds."

"I know, but I'm also tired and just want to snuggle up in bed." She said hopefully.

"Okay then. It'll just be Aengus and me. Don't wait up," he kissed her hair and walked out, leaving her twiddling her engagement ring.

"I won't-," she said rather deflated.

*

"Where are we going to go?" Hermione asked as they walked down the stairs.

"The lady at reception told me about Bruges. She said it was tranquil and perfect for an evening stroll. First, we're going to a restaurant down the road from here."

"How will we get to Bruges?"

"I went there with Ron this morning, I can Apparate there," Harry smiled.

"Sounds good."


The evening was panning out just how Harry had wanted it to. They were given a window seat at the restaurant and they watched as the sun went down and the streets were given romantic lighting by the street lamps. "Tell me something I don't know about you," Harry said as they had finished their main meal.

"Oh, I don't know. You know pretty much everything there is to know." Hermione said, passing her plate to the waiter and smiling at him.

"One of the only things I remember about my mum is that she used to sing me to sleep. I can't remember the words at all, but I have a slight memory of the tune. I know that if I ever heard it again, I would know. It's strange, I can't remember what they sounded like at all - I've heard them since in the Graveyard and just before walking into the Forbidden Forest to see Voldemort, but their voices could have been anyone for all I knew. But I believe that I would know her singing voice. Sometimes when I'm upset or angry, I hear snippets of it in my mind."

Hermione nodded as he told this story with affection in her eyes. "When I was younger, about six or seven, I lost my parents in a French market. To me, it felt like I was looking for them for hours. They had always told me not to cry in public because someone might take advantage of the situation and that if I ever lost sight of them, I should remain calm and find someone of authority like a policeman or a security guard. I always thought that I would be able to do that if it ever happened, but I couldn't. It felt as though everyone was crowding me and coming closer and closer. So I sat down and cried my eyes out. They quickly walked over to me, scooped me up and calmed me down and I didn't leave their side for weeks and weeks after." Hermione told, she knew it wasn't a particularly exciting story, but it was the only one Harry didn't know.

"I can't believe that you have ever panicked in a situation so much that you can't deal with it," Harry smiled.

"You'd be surprised, Harry. Remember when you and Ron saved me from the troll? I wasn't dealing with it before you came in. It's only since I meet you two that I could because I knew that you'd both be there to help if it all got too much."

"It's only since that evening I felt like I had to deal with anything that came at me, to protect you." He whispered.

"Mademoiselle et Monsieur, do you require dessert?" The waiter was back holding two new menus.

"No, thank you. Just the bill, please." Harry spoke for a rather shocked Hermione as she was looking forward to dessert. "Trust me, you don't want to be too full," Harry whispered as the waiter walked off.

"Une tip would be much appreciated." He had returned with a fake smile on his face.

Harry slapped a large amount of money on the table saying, "keep the change as your tip," with a more genuine smile on his face.

"Are you having a good time?" Harry asked as the strolled down the road to look for a secluded spot.

"The food was almost as good as Hogwarts, I'm having a great time."

"Good, it will only get better from here," Harry smiled.

*

"So, what are your intentions with my sister?" Aengus as Ron as they sat at a table with a fresh pint of beer.

"I intend to marry her." Ron ." Ron said matter-of-factly.

Aengus took a glug from his glass, "she's been treated badly in the past."

"I know, and I aim to make that just what it is, in the past. I would never do anything to hurt her."

Aengus nodded, "well if that's the case, we have a Stag Party to plan." He smiled.

"A what?"

"You don't know what a Stag Party is? Last night of freedom, mate. Basically, it's just drinking with all your friends."

"So Harry, Hermione and Aoife then?"

"No, no girls allowed. Especially not your future wife." He took another glug of beer. "Me, Harry, your brothers, your dad, Ardal if you wanted to invite him. Surely you had other friends from Hogwarts?"

"It would be nice to see Neville, Seamus and Dean again. But we're not inviting Percy. It's not his thing."

"Hagrid could come," Aengus suggested.

"We would have to do it in a wizard pub then, else people would stare at him. It does sound like fun, though."

"Harry and I can organise it for when we get back. Now, drink your beer. I want another." He said after he had drained his glass.

*

Harry and Hermione arrived in a secluded back alley which he and Ron had found earlier today. They quickly walked towards the main street and Hermione was surprised to find it cobbled. "It's like Diagon Alley," she smiled as she looked around at all the quaint buildings.

"Diagon Alley doesn't have a canal running right through it." Harry correctly pointed out.

"No, it doesn't. I would love to have a boat ride along there. It looks like it's closed." Hermione sighed as they came across where some boats were floating.

"Come on," Harry signalled as he hopped onto one of the boats.

"Harry, we can't. It's stealing." She quickly looked around them to see if anyone was watching.

"It's not stealing if we bring it back. Come on, Hermione." She thought about it, "we can put enchantments so no one will notice."

"Oh, alright then." She said, taking his hand and stepping into the boat. Harry got his wand out of his pocket and did various charms which helped Hermione relax. As it slowly and carefully drove itself, Harry settled down next to Hermione. "This is perfect," she whispered after almost an hour. Her head was resting on Harry's chest and they were looking up at the stars. "But what about dessert?" She smirked.

"When I came here with Ron this morning, I asked a man to keep his shop open for us with a selection of his items for us to try. He wasn't too keen on the idea but I told him the situation and he was more than happy - he's a wizard too. Do you want to go now?"

"We'd have to move," she sighed.

"I'm afraid so."

"A couple more minutes." She closed her eyes.

The boat seemed to have heard Hermione's request as after another five minutes, it steered itself back to its dock. It gently bumped the wall which brought Hermione back to life. "Come on, I've got room for chocolate, now," Harry smiled as his feet found land. He helped her up and they walked towards a lane of shops. "I was told that this shop does the best chocolate in Belgium," Harry informed her.

"Any chocolate would be good now," Hermione smiled. Her fingers laced through his as the walked.

"Are you cold?"

"I'm perfect, thank you."

*

"Aoife? I'm sorry for leaving you tonight." Ron called as he walked into their room. "I just thought that it would be nice for Aengus if we took his mind off missing Robyn.

"We've only been here a couple of days." Aoife pointed out.

"I know, I shouldn't have left you. Sorry."

"It's nice of you to be looking out for my brother, though. It means a lot that you two are friends." She smiled as he walked over to the bed where she was sat up reading a book. "You three can do what you like tomorrow, Hermione and I are having a girls day."

"It means a lot that you two are friends," he smirked. He took off his shirt, shoes, socks and jeans and jumped into the bed.

"You know what we said about waiting until we're married?" She asked hesitantly.

"Yeah?"

"Are you still alright with that?" She wasn't brave enough to look at him, but she couldn't focus on anything else for long enough.

"Of course. If that's what you want to do, that's what we'll do. I never want you to feel forced into anything. Should we order room service?" He winked.

"Yeah, why not." She smiled.

*

"Did you pay this man?" Hermione asked as they crept into the unlocked shop.

"No, what do you take me for?" Harry feigned offence.

"How did you find out he was a wizard?"

"I saw his wand in his apron pocket. I then explained to him that we've had a bad couple of years, carefully slipped my wand out of my pocket and he nodded at me and lifted his up. So he told me that he held no money in here overnight and that there were security charms on everything but the chocolates he had kept out for us. He said they would be in a cooling box."

"Over here," Hermione found them. "Are we eating them in here?"

"No, he told me the perfect place to go with them. I just have to lock up for him."

*

"Monsieur, I've finished my shift, would you like to go dance?" The receptionist cheered as Aengus walked through the front doors.

"Dancing? Is there somewhere people go dancing around here?" He questioned with a huge grin on his face.

"Oh yes, Monsieur."

"I would love to, but I really should be getting to bed."

"But, Monsieur, it will be fun."

"I'm sure it will be, but I-"

"You 'ave a girl back 'ome." She sighed. "All the good-looking ones do."

"Sorry."

"I'll never get Caspar to notice me."

"Caspar?"

"I've loved him since six years old. But he would never 'ave time for someone like me."

"Will Caspar be at this dance place?"

"Yes, Monsieur. He goes there every day with Emelia." Aengus thought about what Robyn had said to him before he left "Don't worry about me, I want you to have the best time possible." "I just want him to see me with someone, maybe make him jealous."

"Alright, let's go," Aengus smiled.

"Really, Monsieur? This means a lot to me."

"Really. Oh, and call me Aengus."

"I'm Adela," she told him as she linked their arms together. "You are going to 'ave a lot of fun."

*

Harry led Hermione down several cobbled streets until they reached what looked like the town centre. There was hardly anyone else but them. "It's so quiet here," Hermione whispered as she tried to keep the serenity.

"It is rather late," Harry observed, "but before we go back, I want to take you to one last place." He said as they stopped outside a tall building.

"Where?"

"Well, Mr Van Rompa told me about the Belfry of Bruges. He said that if we wanted the best view in Belgium, we had to climb to the top of the tower."

"It's locked," she said looking at the opening times.

"Hermione, have you learnt nothing from this evening?" Harry smiled. " Accio broom."

"Let me guess, you hid that here when you came with Ron?"

"With the help of Mr. Van Rompa," Harry smiled at himself. His plan was coming off nicely. "Don't worry, we'll cast a Disillusionment charm on us and the broom. No one will see us fly up or down."

"Just fly slowly."

"I will." He promised as she slowly mounted the broom behind him. As he circled the tower gradually getting higher, Hermione clung around his waist. He suspected her eyes were glued shut. "Hermione, you're not going to fall off. Don't you trust me?"

"Right now? I trust gravity more." She joked.

"You can open your eyes, now." He said as their feet gently touched the ground.

"Oh, Harry," she marvelled at the view. The street lights and light flooding out of the houses and buildings lit the city up perfectly. There was a small breeze and the moon and stars were out to show up the canal. "This is beautiful. I'm so glad you brought me up here."

"Here, you look cold," Harry said as he removed his blazer and wrapped it around Hermione's shoulders.

"Thank you," she smiled.

"Mr. Van Rompa told me that hardly anyone had seen this view at night. He took his wife up here when they were just 18 and proposed under the stars. She died last year and every Friday he flies up here at night to talk to her. He said that despite the 70 years they spent together, here is where he feels the closest to her as this is where they became one."

"I want to meet Mr Van Rompa," Hermione smiled with a tear in her eye. She glanced at her watch, "goodness, look at the time."

"Better eat the chocolate and get going." Harry sighed, wrapping his arm around her waist.

*

"Where is this Caspar?" Aengus shouted over the loud dance music.

"He is over there," Adela pointed to their right. "That is Emelia."

"You're much prettier than her," Aengus smiled.

"Do you mean that? Thank you."

"Do you want to dance?"

She took his hand and led him to the middle of the dance floor. Adela was tall and slim, almost as tall as Aengus. She had a pixie cut hairstyle with her fringe falling to the right. Her permanently tanned skin made her dark eyes seem even darker. As they swayed together with the music, Aengus' mind went to Robyn. She was a lot shorter than he was, but he liked that. He wondered what she was doing, wondered if she had an incline that he was dancing with an attractive woman in the middle of the night. "He is looking over," Adela whispered.

Aengus leant forward and kissed her cheek. He shouldn't be doing this, but it was only helping out a stranger. "Excusez-Moi," Caspar had bowled over.

"Caspar," Adela said. They went on to have a conversation in French that Aengus could only presume was about him. "He said that he want to take me to dinner," Adela smiled as Caspar walked away from Emelia. "He said that his plan worked - he want to make me jealous, too. Thank you, Aengus. Your girlfriend is very lucky to 'ave you."

"I'm glad it worked, I'll be going now. See you later." Aengus waved as he walked out of the room.

*

"Harry, I had the most wonderful time tonight. I'm glad we went on a date." Hermione said as they meandered back to the hotel.

"So am I." He smiled. "I'm sorry it took so long."

"Don't be sorry, you definitely made up for it tonight." He placed his arm over her shoulders and brought her closer to him. "I can't wait to fall into bed, though." She said as she yawned.

"I have to go and do something really quickly," he informed. "I'll see you later."

"Where could you possibly be going at this time? It's 3 in the morning."

"You'll find out eventually." He smirked. "I'll walk you to our door."


After Harry had said goodnight to Hermione, he ran down the hotel stairs and to the alleyway just around the corner and disappeared. "Mr. Van Rompa?" He called as he knocked on the big wooden door. "Mr. Van Rompa?"

"Goedenavond, young man. Come in." He was hanging out of the upstairs window. "I will meet you in the kitchen."

Harry got his want out and opened the door. "I just want to thank you for everything you did for me today."

"Did your lady friend appreciate it?"

"She did."

Mr. Van Rompa was a short, plump man. He blamed his rather large build on the chocolate that he made each day - he was very much under the impression that he put on weight by just smelling chocolate. "Did you go to the top?"

"Yeah, that was her favourite part. That or the boat." Harry explained.

"I imagined it would be. Here, I have made you the charm you asked me to." He handed Harry a homemade wooden box. Inside was the most beautiful and intricate charm Harry imagined he would ever see. It had a small, golden model of the Belfry of Bruges with two figures at the top looking out at the view, one had tiny glasses and the other brown curly hair.

"This is amazing, how did you even make this?"

"I make chocolates for a living, I am used to making small things. If you write to me explaining all the other charms you need, I will be happy to make them and send them on to you."

"I would really appreciate that. Here," Harry put a bag of money on the kitchen table. "It's a mixture of Euros and Wizard money, I wasn't sure what you'd prefer."

"No, no. You do not need to pay me. I did this because I know what it is to love and be loved." He handed the bag back. "Where are you off to next?"

"We're here for a couple more weeks and then we're going to Holland."

"That is where my wife was from. Write to me and I will make a charm to remind her of Holland. Oh my, she is one lucky lady." He smiled.

"Thank you, Mr. Van Rompa, but I'm the lucky one."

"Young love," he swooned. "It is a shame you did not travel here in January, I can not make a fuss of everything you did for everyone."

"Sorry?" Harry asked.

"Ignore me, young sir. You must get back to your love. Spend as much time as you can with her." He ushered Harry out of his house rather abruptly which both confused and angered Harry. What had Mr. Van Rompa been talking about? Why was January a significant month?

Harry walked into their hotel room quietly so as not to wake Hermione up. He silently walked over to his bag and rummaged for a box which contained the chain he bought in Exeter. Once he had securely attached it he went to bed.

*

Hermione was woken up by a knock at their door. She thought about leaving it, but it could be an emergency so she rushed out of bed and opened the door. "Hermione, when are we leaving?"

"What time is it?" She asked as she rubbed her eyes and yawned.

"10. You're not even dressed?"

"It's 10? Give me an hour to get ready. Sorry, I didn't realise the time."

"Alright, see you in a bit," Aoife sighed.

"Harry!" Hermione called as she shut the door. "Harry, get up!"

"Why? We're on holiday." He moaned as he turned away from her.

"Fine, I'll shower on my own," she smirked as she walked into the bathroom.


"See, that wasn't so bad, was it? Now you're up and you have the whole day to explore this wonderful country." Hermione smiled as she slipped on a t-shirt and jeans.

"Where are you going to go?" Harry asked as he looked for something to wear.

"Somewhere with Aoife. She needs a friend right now, and we're going to talk about the wedding. Where did you go last night?"

"It doesn't matter. Have a good day with Aoife." Harry smiled as he leant over and kissed her cheek.

"It doesn't matter." Hermione thought as she went to get Aoife. "Hermione, finally. I've looked in a pamphlet and I think we should go to Mini-Europe. The lady at reception said she would sort out transport for us."

"Sounds great. Morning, Ron." She called.

"He's in the shower," Aoife smirked, "let's go."

*

"How was last night?" Aoife asked as they sat in a café eating breakfast before their day out began.

"It was amazing, right up until he left." Hermione sighed in between bites of toast.

"He left? Where did he go?"

"He walked me to our room and then disappeared. I don't know how long he was gone because I fell asleep before he came back."

"Did you ask him where he went this morning?"

"Yeah, he said it doesn't matter ."

"Oh." She stated. "I'm sure it doesn't actually matter, maybe it had something to do with the date."

"I thought that. He enlisted the help of Mr. Van Rompa, he probably went to thank him." Hermione decided.

"Probably." Aoife agreed. "It was very late for him to go and see him, though." She pondered, "sorry, I'll be quiet."

"So, your wedding," Hermione smiled as Aoife's eyes widened as she prepared to talk about her big day.

*

"Morning," Harry chirped once Ron had opened the door.

"Someone's in a good mood." Ron said, "let me just grab my jacket."

"Is Aengus still in his room?"

"I don't know, he's not here." Ron laughed.

"I'll go and see if he's ready."

"Wait, I'll come with you." He called after, shutting the door behind him.

"Aengus?" Harry called as he knocked. "Ron and I are going to get some breakfast, do you want to come?" When there was no answer, Harry and Ron looked at one another. "Where do you think he is?"

"Unlock the door," Ron commanded.

"What? You want to break in?"

"It's not breaking in. We're not going to take anything."

"Aengus! We're coming in," Harry warned. Taking his wand and opening the door.

"Lazy sod, he's still asleep," Ron said. He was asleep, but he was slumped on the desk by the window, which was wide open. "He might have been poisoned." He whispered.

"He hasn't been poisoned. He was obviously waiting for a letter. Aengus." Harry had carefully approached Aengus, by the look of him, he hadn't had much sleep. "Aengus." He repeated.

"Sure he hasn't been poisoned."

"I'm sure I've not been poisoned," Aengus croaked.

"Everything alright?" Harry asked, taking a step back.

"Bit of a late one," he said whilst he sat up.

"We left the pub at the same time. I thought you were right behind me?" Ron asked, confused.

"Adela, the girl at reception," he added when he saw their faces, "asked me to go dancing with her."

"You didn't? What about Robyn?" Ron asked.

"It wasn't like that. She needed my help, but I felt like you do. I felt guilty so I wrote to Robyn and told her what happened, but I must have fallen asleep waiting for a reply."

"What did happen?" Ron pried.

"Nothing. She just wanted to make some bloke jealous and she asked me to help. We danced for about two minutes and then this Caspar came over and everything was sorted."

"That's what you said to Robyn?"

"No, well, yeah. I told her the truth. Nothing happened." He reiterated.

"Will she see it like that?" Ron asked.

"Stop interrogating me, Ron. She will see that nothing happened."

"You didn't have to tell her," Ron whispered.

"Hmm, it's good to see that you don't tell me sister things..." he said sarcastically.

"Breakfast?" Harry intercepted, trying to cool the situation down a touch.

"Good idea, Harry." Ron quickly said.

*

"A traditional Irish wedding?" Hermione asked.

"Yeah. I haven't spoken to Ron about it yet, but it would mean a lot to my family. I know we've been through a lot with my dad, but I still want to honour where I grew up. My dad has a sister, she means a lot to me and it would make her life if we did it the proper Irish way."

They were now walking around Mini-Europe and were currently wandering through Spain. "What is involved in an Irish wedding?"

"There's a couple of traditions I definitely want to do. After we've read our vows, Ron and I ring a bell that has been given to us as a present and then whenever we argue or anything, one of us rings that bell to remind us of our vows." Aoife explained.

"That's a really nice thing to do. I think everyone couple should have that." Hermione laughed.

"The colour of the wedding dress is important. There's a rhyme that I can't quite remember, but blue dresses are meant to bring luck. So the dress I picked out the other day has a slight blueness. Also, at the beginning of the ceremony we light two candles and at the end, Ron and I use them to light one big candle to celebrate becoming one and union. Wildflowers in the bouquet and I have to have a braid. Those are just a few things."

"None of those sound too difficult to achieve." Hermione smiled, "Ron won't mind doing that."

"I just worry that he wants to have a Magic wedding."

"It will be magic because you two love each other. But if that's a problem, you can compromise and have a wedding party that Ron wants. The one for Bill and Fleur, although it ended in disaster, was really fun. They had a massive marquee at the Burrow, you'll probably have that."

"As long as we have an Irish wedding cake."

"What?"

"At least two tiers, depending on how many guests; the bottom is a fruit cake and the top tier, which is smaller, will be soaked in whiskey and kept to be used as our first child's Christening cake."

Hermione remained silent for a moment, "that might be hard for, Ron. I doubt he'll want a fruit cake."

"We can substitute the fruit cake for something he'll like." She quickly added.

"I guess that important part is the top tier." Hermione smiled, "an Irish wedding sounds great."

"There're quite a few rules, though, can't get married between May and August. There's another rhyme which, again, I can't remember. The first person to compliment me can't be a woman, it has to be a male member of Ron's family."

"I'm positive that Ron will be happy with whatever you want. How big is your Irish family?"

"Massive. Catholics tended to have a lot of children. My dad has five brothers and one sister. They're all married with a least three kids. Some of my cousins are married with babies. Then there's my grandparent's generation, my granddad's sister is still alive and she had five children and they all married and had children, my grandma had quite a few siblings and they married and had children. There's too many to count," she laughed.

"You've never spoken about you uncles or aunt before," Hermione asked delicately.

"Dad didn't get on with them, we would meet up with them secretly, but we tended not to talk about them." Aoife sighed, "just another of dad's rules."

"Are they witches and wizards?"

"Some are. Some married Muggles. Not one member of my family went to Hogwarts, even before the constant fear of death. We have all been homeschooled, I think that they once had a whole cluster of young witches and wizards so they made a makeshift school for them. The Curran's of Ireland used to be quite well known. Then my dad fell out with them so we were pushed to the side of that. Not that I mind much because now we're here and we're friends and I've met Ron."

"That's amazing. I would love to have such a big family history."

"You'll get to meet them all at the wedding. They'll all be there, no matter what. Just another excuse to drink," Aoife joked. "You don't really talk about your family."

"There isn't really much to talk about," she began, "my mum is an only child and my dad has a brother who has a daughter. We're a similar age, but seeing as I left for Hogwarts at 11, we never really kept in contact. My dad's dad is still alive, I used to see him in the school holidays when I could, and both my mum's parents are alive. I should really visit them more, but everything was too busy. I will go and see them as soon as we get back, though."

"Do they know you're a witch?"

"My grandparent's do, but I don't think my uncle or cousin know. I'm not sure. I've not told them."

*

The rest of the month was as relaxing as they could have hoped for. Ron had agreed to have a proper Irish wedding, as long as they got to have a magical after party which Aoife was more than happy about.

"Can you believe we're already leaving Belgium? I feel like we've only been here a couple of days, but I also feel like we sort of belong here." Aoife said as they made their way to the airport.

"We did pretty much everything Belgium had to offer, on to Holland," Ron smiled.

"I'm looking forward to next year when it's hot and we can go to the beach," Aengus added.

"But then the holiday will be nearly over. I just know we're going to have a lot of fun." Aoife cheered.


Chapter 26: Chapter Twenty-Six.
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The next few months were absolutely perfect for the five of them. They had enjoyed the Christmas markets in Germany so much that Ron was even heard stating that the Germans did Christmas better than his family. At each destination, they managed to find witches and wizards around their age having a year off to travel. Hermione and Aoife absorbed the ancient history and culture of each country, as well as Aoife trying to take in all the Healing information she could find. They had spent January in Austria and were about to spend a month in Italy. Harry had taken Mr Van Rompa up on his offer and had asked him to make a charm to remind Hermione of every country. For Holland, he had been given a small golden charm of a windmill surround by red and yellow tulips. As they had spent a lot of time drinking beer in Germany, the charm to represent it was a beer tankard and as Hermione had taken a liking to Austrian cows, the latest charm Harry received was a cow bell. He hadn't noticed until now, but every charm had its respective flag on the back.


"I hope Italy is going to be warmer than Germany and Austria," Aoife complained as they touched down in Rome.

"It's the time of year, Fe," Aengus said so matter-of-factly it was almost insulting.

"I really liked the cabin we stayed in. It was so cosy and romantic." Hermione swooned.

"I'm really glad that I came on holiday with two couples..." Aengus sarcastically whispered under his breath.


The five of them got a car to their hotel where they dropped off they luggage and went out for lunch. "It says here," Hermione read, "that lunch is traditionally known as the most important meal and dinner tends to be lighter."

"Buon Giorno, sono Emiliana (Em-ee-lie-ah-na) . Posso prendere il tuo ordine?" A young waitress said at their table. Once she noticed their confused faces, she laughed and said, "sorry. I'm Emiliana. May I take your order?"

Hermione smiled as she told the girl what they wanted to try, she told them that they had chosen wisely and then walked away to the kitchen. "Is everyone in Italy gorgeous?" Aoife exasperated.

Hermione agreed, the waitress was incredibly pretty, she had long brown wavy hair, dark brown eyes and tanned skin. "Here are your drinks," she had returned. "How long are you here for, then?" She asked kindly.

"A month," Hermione replied, "we're doing a bit of travelling before we start training and working."

"Lucky you, I wish I could go travelling, but my dad needs me here."

"Sorry for asking, but where are you from? Only you don't seem to have an accent." Aengus asked.

"I'm from Kent. I've only just moved here. My dad's Italian, but I grew up with my mum."

"I would have definitely picked living here over living in Kent," Aoife said. "You get the weather here."

"True, but I do miss England and my friends. Oh well, I have to clean tables now. Your food won't be long." She smiled as she walked away.

"She seems really nice," Hermione observed.

Harry and Ron had remained quiet this whole time, "why are you not talking?" Aoife asked.

"We have nothing to add to the conversation," Ron answered, "but if you want my opinion, she is pretty, but not as gorgeous as you."

"Just what she wanted you to say," Aengus scoffed under his breath.

"Sorry for the wait," she had returned almost 15 minutes later. "I hope you enjoy your food. Let me know if there's anything else you want."


As they ate their food, which was delicious, they discussed what they wanted to do in Italy. Many suggestions were thrown around; visit the Coliseum, go to Pompeii, Ron was adamant that they ate pizza at least twice a week, Aoife suggested they went shopping in Milan and Harry and Hermione discussed seeing an opera. Harry and Aengus walked up to the till to pay and then they decided to go back to the hotel and relax and sort the rest of the trip out. "Wait!" Emiliana called out, only Aengus heard and turned around. "You left this behind," she said as she handed Aengus a phone. "Your girlfriend, she's pretty." She smiled as she turned and ran back to the café.

Aengus was bemused, how did she know he had a girlfriend and how did she know what she looked like? He didn't realise until he remembered that his background on his phone was a picture of Robyn and him. He ran after the others to catch up as Emiliana and Robyn both flew around his head.

"Right, so we're going to have a week in Rome to explore and then we're going to Venice for a bit," Hermione explained as Aengus opened the door to her room.

"What took you so long?" Aoife asked upon seeing her brother.

"I lost my phone." He said, scrolling through it. He smiled when he saw a name and number that hadn't previously been there before. 'Thank you for returning my phone,' he wrote and sent it to her.

"You haven't missed much," Hermione said.

"Just Hermione telling us what to do." Ron joked.

"Do you want to plan it?" She said sternly. "No," she continued when Ron failed to say anything, "I didn't think so."

'No problem at all. Hopefully, I'll see you again?' Came a reply. 'Most definitely.' Aengus typed back.

*

"Ron, I need to tell you something," Harry revealed several days later as they were walking around a market.

"What is it?" Ron asked, not taking his eye off a painting on a tile.

"Come over here," Harry said as he walked over to a bench. He sat down, not realising his phone was in his back pocket.


"Oh, hang on, Aoife. It's Harry. He's ringing me." Hermione said from the other side of the market.

"Ron's probably hungry." Aoife rolled her eyes before she inquired about the price of a necklace.


"I've been feeling guilty ever since I did it. I should never have done it behind Hermione's back." Harry began saying.

"Do what?" Ron asked.

"I gave Rose, Hermione's mum, a potion to heal her kidney. No one knows about it and I've been dying to tell Hermione, but I don't know how she'll react.


"Hermione?" Aoife called as soon as she realised her friend had run off. "Did you see where she went?" She asked the woman at the market stall.

"No," she replied which a strong accent.

Aoife walked away from the stall and rang Ron, "Ron. Where's Harry?"

"He's with me, why?"

"Hermione got a call from him and then she ran off," Aoife explained.


"Harry didn't call Hermione. He's been talking to me." Harry got his phone out as he heard what Ron and Aoife were talking about and instantly felt sick.

"I need to find her," he murmured as he too ran off.

"Scrap that. He called her by accident. He's gone off to find her. Where are you?"

"By a tree."

"Helpful," Ron laughed.

*

Harry ran straight back to the hotel, hoping Hermione would be in their room. "Hermione," he breathed as he tried to get his breath back.

"Why would you do it, Harry?"

"Do what?"

"Don't act like you don't know. I heard you tell Ron. How could you tell him before me? She's nothing to do with you or Ron, she's my mum!" She yelled.

"I did it for you." He replied calmly.

"Don't you think I thought about Potions and Magic? Of course, I did, but she didn't want it. She didn't want to take something she didn't understand or that couldn't be explained by medicine! You took all of that away from her. What if it didn't work? What if it reacted badly to a Muggle! You couldn't have known of the complications or the side effects, but you did it anyway!" She was shaking with the anger she could hardly contain.

"It did work. Nothing bad happened. She's better."

"You couldn't possibly have known that would definitely be the outcome!"

"Hermione, I'm sorry."

"You should have told me! You should have discussed it with me and with my parents. Now I'm going to have to tell them that you potentially risked her life."

"You think I went into this blindly? I asked Madam Pomfrey everything I needed to know. I would never do anything to harm anyone, you know that!" His voice had consciously become louder and stronger.

"Why didn't you tell me?"

"You didn't want to talk about her. You hid away from the topic every time I brought it up."

"Don't you dare blame me! You had plenty of time to tell me before you did it. When you decided you were going to do it would have been a perfect time."

"You have to see that I didn't do it out of malice, I did it for you and your family."

"You did it for you. You agreed to look after me in recovery and you thought you would miss out on a holiday." She said coldly.

"How can you sa-"

"Just go. I have to think this through." She interrupted.

"No, I want to stay and explain."

"I might be able to understand why you did it, but I don't know if I'll every forget that you hid it from me." Her voice cracked and she turned away to hide the tears that were running down her cheeks.

"Hermione-"

"Just go, I need some time alone."

Harry nodded as he turned to walk out the door he said, "I only try and do what's best for you, what's best for us ."

*

The hotel was empty, everyone was at the festival that was taking place. Hermione wasn't in the celebrating mood after finding out what Harry had done without telling her. She lay in their room on the sofa flicking through the TV channels that were available to them. There was a faint knock at the door, she supposed it was Harry so she didn't say anything. He was the one in the wrong, he was the one who would have to apologise. The knocker tried again, still she refused to make the first move and to her relief, the door swung open. "Not in the party mood either?"

"No, I expect you've heard what Harry's done?" She asked, her eyes fixed on the bright screen.

"Nope, I've had my own troubles to deal with. I got a letter from Robyn," he walked over to her and thrust the letter into her face.

This forced Hermione to reluctantly sit up, she scanned the letter and gave it back to Aengus. "I'm sorry. Maybe when we're back things will be different. You haven't seen each other for months, she's probably just scared things have changed."

"I wish she told me that before we left." He sighed as he fell into the sofa.

"Why? What would you have done differently?" Hermione questioned, her eyes falling back to the TV.

"I don't know. I wouldn't have worried about things as much as I have done. What's Harry done?"

"He gave my mum a potion without telling anyone." She explained.

"Did it make her better?" He asked gently.

"Sure, take his side."

"I'm not taking sides. He shouldn't have done it behind everyone's backs, but he did it for you."

"Stop it," she laughed, playfully kicking his thigh.

"Stop what?" He grabbed hold of her foot to stop her kicking again.

"Making me feel guilty." She sighed. "I'm sorry about you and Robyn."

"Maybe it wasn't meant to be. She's got two years left at Hogwarts, we would hardly see each other." Aengus said as he put the letter to the side.

"Once we get back you can talk to her properly. You might be able to sort it out. Besides, you would be able to visit her at Hogsmeade, it wouldn't be like you'd never see her for those two years."

"I suppose. I'm just going to forget about it for now. I don't want to spoil the rest of the trip."

"Do you think you can do that? I know how much she means to you." Hermione whispered as she settled back down on the sofa.

"I've got to," he put a big, fake smile on his face.

"You deserve to have fun, Aengus. Maybe you're right, maybe you should put it out of your mind until you see her. Enjoy yourself and don't worry."

"Anyway, we need to talk about you and Harry." As Hermione waved to signal an unwillingness to talk about it, Aengus continued, "he hid it from you, sure, but he didn't keep it a secret to save his own skin. It's not as though he cheated on you or anything."

"It might have been better if he did. If he cheated on me I would be justified to feel angry. I thought our friendship was based on trust and openness, but he kept something from me."

"I can't explain why he did it, but there're worse things to keep from you."

"I know that. I don't think I'm even angry anymore. I just want to talk it through with him now."

"And you will, when he comes to you. He's probably sat somewhere with Ron and Aoife moping and thinking about when would be the right time to come up and talk to you." Aengus phone made a noise, but Hermione ignored it. 'Hi. How have you been?' It was Emiliana. Aengus thought about what Hermione had said as he contemplated what he wanted to do. "Should I really just forget about Robyn?"

"I didn't say forget about her, you won't be able to do that. But have fun, we're on holiday after all."

"You're right, Hermione. I hope everything sorts itself out with Harry. I'm sure it will."

"What are you going to do?" Hermione asked.

"Have some fun," his eyes sparkled as he said that as his thumbs poised to reply to his text.

"Be careful!" Hermione called after him.

"Where's he going?" Harry asked casually as he walked in.

"I imagine he's going to see Emiliana," she smirked.

"Emiliana? The girl from that café? I didn't know they were friends."

"That's because you can't see what's right in front of you. It was obvious that he was talking to her when he was late back to the hotel room, and as he walked in he was looking at his phone. Honestly, Harry, you can be oblivious sometimes." She giggled.

"What about Robyn?"

Hermione lifted up the letter that Aengus had left behind, "Robyn want's them to take a break."

Harry slowly nodded, understanding the situation fully now. "So?"

"So," she repeated with a sigh. "I overreacted, I'm sorry, but you did hurt my by not telling me."

"I'm sorry too. I should never have gone behind your back like that. I will never do it again."

"Good," Hermione smiled. "Come here," she signalled as she wanted a hug.

"I love you," Harry whispered in her ear.

*

There was a faint knock at Aengus' door. He was nervous, terrified in fact. What if he had misread the signs? They had only met once, but she was the one who put her number in his phone. She was the one who had said she hoped they met again. She had come over as soon as Aengus had asked. He opened the door to see a big smile.

"Hi," she said cheerfully. She stepped in and turned around to close the door. As she turned back around to face Aengus, he took a step towards her and placed his lips on hers. "What about the photo?" She asked as she swerved, referring to the photo she had seen on Aengus' phone.

"That ended a long time ago," Aengus whispered, "I was only kidding myself," he added.

Emiliana stared at him for a while, her mind deciding whether or not he was telling the truth or not, but desire got in the way of her moral compass.

*

"I don't understand what you're saying to me," Calum said thousands of miles away.

"We want to get to Harry Potter, darlin'."

"Who?"

Julie and Rodolphus looked at each other - he was a Muggle.

"He's friends with the Currans," Rodolphus growled.

"Does he wear glasses?"

"That's him, darlin'."

"I'm in. He stood in the way of my next conquer."

Julie smiled to herself, she would be about to get revenge on Hermione, too. "You have to trust us, darlin'. We are very powerful, more powerful than someone like you could ever understand."

"Someone like me?"

"Someone - someone who doesn't know the gift others possess," Rodolphus said.

"Right... If you're so powerful, why do you need my help?"

"We understand," Julie began, "that you know where the Currans live. That you can be able to get us something of their housekeep for us. All we need is her hairbrush."

"What? What could you possibly to with a hairbrush?" He was beginning to think this was all a joke.

"A lot, darlin', an awful lot." She smirked as Rodolphus nodded.

Chapter 27: Chapter Twenty-Seven.
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At the beginning of August, the plane touched down in France. They had decided to extend their stay in Romania as Charlie allowed them to stay at his house after their hotel booking ran out. Nobody was expecting the beauty of Romania, they had only gone to Romania for Ron, but it was gorgeous. They completely forgot about all the dragons and Magic that was surrounding them, they enjoyed the scenic beauty and cultural history. Now they were closer to home, only a couple of weeks separating them and returning home to start their training. It was a bitter-sweet feeling. They were looking forward to starting their futures, but they couldn't deny how much they would miss about their travels.

Even though he had only spent a weekend in France, Harry almost felt at home as they were walking around the streets of Paris. Aoife was total enthralled with everything the country offered, from the food to the romance. "Where are you two planning on going when we get back?" Aengus asked Ron and Aoife one evening as they were sat outside eating dinner.

"I thought we could go back to mum and dad's," Ron said.

"That, or I was thinking about going to Pegeen and Oisin's. She can help with the wedding." Aoife told her brother.

"Who's Pegeen?" Harry asked.

"Our Aunt," Aoife explained.

"Pegeen? I haven't spoken to her for too long. If you go there, I might go with you."

"Aren't you going to see Robyn and fix things? You have to fight for her."

"No, I don't think there's anything to fight for," Aengus said as he stared down at his plate.

"She said that, did she? She wrote you another letter to tell you that there was no hope? She only said that you should take a break. You're going to be able to see her soon, you have to at least try."

"Things change, Aoife." He got up from the table, knocking it slightly, and walked off into the darkness.

"Okay, what happened in Italy? He's been like this since February!"

"Emiliana," Hermione stated. "I'm sure something happened between them."

"Who?"

"The girl from the café we went to on our first day there."

"Her? When did he ever see her again?" Aoife asked in bemusement.

"Did no one else realise?" Hermione gasped, "he came back late from the café and he was always on his phone after. Then when he got the letter from Robyn, he was in his room for days. It's obvious something happened."

"Why would he do that to Robyn? I never thought he was like that," Aoife cried.

"He didn't do anything to Robyn, Aoife. She broke up with him," Ron said.

"It's what he wanted to do, it's his life." Hermione added, "we can't judge what's happened because we don't really know."

"I just hope he knows what he has done, if Robyn finds out, everything between them is ruined."

"Will he tell her?" Ron asked.

"I doubt it, especially as he doesn't even want to confront her," Aoife replied.

"Do you mind if I go and find him?" Hermione whispered to Harry.

"Of course not," Harry replied. Hermione nodded and walked off to find Aengus.

"Hermione! Where are you going?" Aoife called. "He doesn't want to talk to anyone."

"Leave it, Aoife. You know that Aengus talks to Hermione above anyone else." Ron said gently, "maybe she'll get some answers from him."


"Hermione, I really don't want to talk about this. I just want all of us to enjoy our last few days here." Aengus murmured as she walked up to him. He had found a small park just a short distance away and was sat on a bench.

"What have you done, Aengus? You may have ruined your relationship."

"What relationship? She said herself that it wasn't worth fighting for. She was the one that ended it and you're all shocked I'm respecting that."

"Are you going to tell her?"

"With all due respect, this isn't anything to do with you. I make my own decisions and this was one of them. I'm never going to see Emiliana again and I just want to move on with my life. Robyn doesn't deserve someone like me anyway."

"Someone like you?" Hermione questioned.

"I'm continuously looking to press the 'self-destruct' button and this is just an example of that. I really don't want to talk about this anymore."

"Alright." Hermione conceded, "I hope that everything works out for you, then." She stood up and began to walk away when he said something.

"Every earthquake has aftershocks, nothing can just end."

Hermione didn't turn around and acknowledge his added sentence, but she couldn't help but think that it had a hidden meaning.

*

"How was France then?" She asked.

"Good. Not as exciting as the rest of the holiday. I don't know whether it's because I've been to France before, or because we're thinking about our training or just because we were getting tired and had spent too much time with each other." Hermione explained to her Mum as they stood in the kitchen of Grimmauld Place. She took a deep breath as she tried to find the words and courage she needed. "Mum-I need to tell you something." She began.

"I already know," she was smiling, that was a good sign.

"You do?"

"Harry told me last night. I'm not angry," she confirmed.

"When did he tell you? We only go back last night."

"He popped around and explained everything. He even got Poppy to come around and explain."

"You really don't mind?" Hermione asked in astonishment, she was beginning to regret her reaction now.

"How can I be angry when it was done for the sake of my beautiful girl? He did it because he didn't want you to miss out. I really appreciate your dedication to making me better, but this is the best outcome for everyone." Hermione nodded slowly, maybe everything did work out for the best. "This house is gorgeous, is it really yours?"

"Yeah, well, it's Harry's really."

"What's his is yours," came Hermione's Dad's voice as he walked into the kitchen to join them.

"Hardly, dad. It's not like we're married," she quickly argued back.

"Not y-"

"How about a tour, Hermione?" Rose interrupted quickly.

"Right, yeah, sure." She breathed, visibly taken aback by the swift change in subject.

As they filed out of the kitchen, Rose gave her husband a quick glance which he understood fully to mean "Shut up, you idiot. You nearly ruined the surprise!"


"It's so big. Much too big for just the two of you," Archie muttered as they walked into the Living Room to finish the rather hasty tour.

"You should ask Ron and Aoife to move in with you. It's in the prime location for their training." Rose suggested.

"They're staying with one of Aoife's Aunts. They won't want to live here with us once they're married anyway." Hermione replied.

"Just ask them, I highly doubt they will want to commute to London from Ireland every day."

Hermione rolled her eyes as she had told her Mother on more than one occasion about the Floo Network. "I don't-"

"Hermione, listen to your Mother! We're only trying to help fill your empty rooms." Archie said sternly.

"Alright, I'll ask them," she whispered.

Just as she promised this, Hermione heard a knock at their door.

"I'll get it!" Harry called from somewhere in the vast house.




"Hey," Ron smiled as the door swung open. "Plan going to plan?"

"Rose is talking to her now so hopefully we're on track," Harry replied.

"Why do we have to live with you?" Aengus asked from behind Aoife and Ron, his voice seemingly quiet and rather lost.

"If we want the events of the next few weeks to run smoothly, Hermione needs to think that all of us are getting the letters too," Ron said on Harry's behalf.

"The events of the next few weeks?"

"Aengus! We explained this to you at least twice. What's wrong with you?" Aoife erupted.

"Leave me alone, Aoife!" Aengus ordered through gritted teeth as he ran upstairs.

"Just ignore him, Harry. Tell us what we need to do-"

"Who is it?" Hermione called as she poked her head around the door. "Hello," she smiled as she saw the faces.

"My Aunt is just about to go on holiday," Aoife began.

"And we didn't fancy staying at Mum and Dad's, so we were wondering..." Ron continued.

"There's plenty of room," Hermione smiled.

"Thank you, both of you. Aengus has already run upstairs," Aoife stopped talking instantly as she heard someone walking down the stairs.

"Can I-?" Aengus whispered. Hermione nodded so Aengus plodded back upstairs.

"We'll keep out of your way," Aoife promised, "I know it isn't ideal, but we really appreciate it."

"Of course, it's ideal, you're always welcome here."

"Thanks, Harry," Ron smiled. "Thanks, Hermione."

*

"Morning," Harry yawned as he walked into the kitchen the next morning. "Sleep well?"

"Morning, Harry. Yes, thank you," Aoife replied.

"Have you got anything planned for today?"

"No, have you?"

"I'm going to go and see McGonagall about you know what and then going to see Teddy."

"With Hermione?" Aoife asked, "to see Teddy I mean."

"Maybe, she's still asleep. So I'm going to go now and I'll hopefully be back before she notices."

"What do I say if she asks?"

"Give her these," he said as he handed Aoife five envelopes, "and say I've gone to get details from McGonagall."

"Will do," Aoife smiled.



"Mr. Potter, I have to admit that I was surprised by your letter," McGonagall announced when he walked into the café.

"Thank you for coming. I know this is a big ask, but I would really appreciate it."

"We will have to delay the start of school by a couple of days," McGonagall said.

"Not necessarily, how about we do it at the end of August? That way you don't have to delay anything." Harry suggested.

"That would be better. What would you need from us?"

"Food," Harry replied, "that's all we really need."

There was a long pause which Harry held his breath for. If this part of the plan fell through, the rest would follow suit. "Of course, I am going to say yes. You both deserve it." She beamed at him.

"Thank you so much, Professor," Harry smiled.

"I am no longer your Professor, Harry."

"You always will be to me," Harry replied, "I'm sorry, but I can't call you anything other than Professor." Harry laughed.

*

"He's with McGonagall?" Hermione asked suspiciously. "Why?"

"To discuss this," Aoife replied as she handed over the envelopes Harry had given her.

"A reunion? But it's only been a year." Hermione said once she had opened one of them.

"That's why Harry has gone to see her, to get details."

"Aoife," Hermione said sternly, "if you don't tell me the truth..."

"I am telling you the truth." Aoife argued, "Harry has gone to talk to McGonagall about the reunion."

"Why has he gone on his own?"

"Because she asked me to go and see her," Harry said as he appeared in the kitchen. "She wanted to tell me about what was in the vault at Gringotts."

"What?"

"She wanted to explain some of the things in there and I thought I would ask her about the reunion whilst I was there. They have one every year, apparently."

"Oh," Hermione became slightly embarrassed. "When is it?"

"End of August. The night before the students return." Aoife answered she had read the invitations in the envelope.

"That's next week," Hermione correctly pointed out. "What's the dress code?"

"Smart," Aoife said. "You know what that means?" Her eyes glistened.

"What?" Harry asked.

"Shopping!" Aoife squealed.

"I'm going to see Teddy, Hermione, do you want to come?" Harry asked, happy he had an excuse not to go traipsing around shops.

"Yes," Hermione replied almost instantly, "sorry, Aoife. Shopping isn't really my thing."

"That's alright, I'll find you a nice dress," Aoife replied, grabbing another piece of toast.

"You do-" Hermione began.

"Come on, Hermione, let's go. I told Andromeda we would be over before lunch."

"I can't believe he's two," Aoife in amazement.

"I know, Andromeda wrote and said he's beginning to speak more now and that he seems to have slightly more control with his hair and eye colour," Harry smiled.

"Have you got the presents?" Hermione asked.

"Thank you," Harry breathed as he ran out of the room.

"Presents?"

"He bought toys from each country, mainly teddy bears, as Andromeda told us he was really getting into teddies." Hermione smiled, "he is so sweet with him, it makes me thi-"

"Got them" Harry cut her off, "let's go."

"See you later," Aoife called as they stepped into the fireplace.

*

She wandered down the train corridor clutching onto the invitation. She was sure Harry and Ron had said they would meet her at the station. She thought they had said that, come to think of it, she wasn't sure at all, she wasn't even positive she had seen their invitations. She read it for about the hundredth time, School Reunion. Hogwarts Castle, 31st August. Hogwarts Express will leave Kings Cross at 11 o'clock sharp.' None of this made sense to Hermione, she was convinced the train should be packed with returning students, but it was empty. She continued walking through the train, peering into each compartment as she passed them. She was so preoccupied with the nothingness that surrounded her, she failed to notice Neville standing in front of her, resulting in her colliding into him. "Oh, Neville, I'm sorry about that, what are you doing here?"

"The reunion, same as you," he smiled.

"Oh, I didn't realise you would be invited as we didn't finish with you."

"Everyone and anyone is invited," his smiled widened. She looked at him properly, wondering why she had never really noticed him before, only now did she realise he had become a man.

"So there is a reunion? I was worried it was a ploy or something."

"It is strange that we seem to be the only two people on the train. Where's Harry? I thought he would be with you, don't you live together?"

"Yeah, he, Ron, Aoife, and Aengus said they would meet me at the station, but I didn't see anyone there."

"Strange," he replied quietly. "Can you help me find my toad?"

"Still losing him, huh?" She smiled, remembering the first time they met.

"I can't seem to keep hold of him."

"Where did you last see him?"

"I went into the second compartment back there," he explained as he pointed beyond her, "can you go and look there? I'll look along the corridor if that's okay?"

"Of course, it is," she smiled, "hopefully we'll find more people."

"Hopefully," he replied suspiciously. She couldn't work out how he was acting and before she could question him, he was gone.

So Hermione stuck to her side of the deal and walked back down the train and stopped outside the second compartment. Without looking through the glass, she opened the door. "Oh, sorry, I didn't know anyone was-" she began saying before she realised who it was, "Harry! I've been looking for you! Have you seen a toad? Neville's lost his." She asked.

Harry smiled, "just like when we met." Hermione looked at him with a massive grin on her face.

"Did Neville send me here on purpose?"

"I asked him to. I've been thinking about this ever since we were in Paris with your parents. I've been wondering how I should do it, I thought about when we were in France, but then it hit me. I should do it exactly where we first met." He paused.

"Do what?" She asked innocently.

He took her hands in each of his, "Hermione Granger, I love you more than I ever thought I was capable of. I can't say I've loved you since the start, I can't even say I liked you when we first met," he joked, "but as our friendship grew, so did my love for you. We've been through so much together and I know that I wouldn't have lasted ten minutes without you by my side." He fell to one knee as he pulled out a beautiful wooden box, "it's made out of the brooms we used in out first flying lesson," he said about the box, "Madam Hooch wasn't too happy with me asking her to take a chunk out of them," he laughed.

"How-?" She managed to stutter.

"She keeps a record of every student and broom," Harry explained. "We may be young and we may just be figuring out who we are and what we're doing, but I do know that I want to do that with you."

As he opened the box and the sparkle caught her eye, the air was taken out of her, "Harry-" she managed to say.

"Hermione Jean Granger, will you marry me?" He said with an air of confidence that was rarely present.

Hermione fell onto both of her knees as her heart screamed at her to say yes, but all she could think about was Harry's mental health. "Harry-" she began.

"I know I've been difficult to be with, I know my heads a mess, but I'm getting better. Edgar has really helped me."

"Are you sure you're ready? Planning a wedding isn't going to be stress-free."

"It will be if you take charge of it all," Harry grinned. "Can you make a decision, please? My knee is starting to ache."

For goodness sake, Hermione. What are you playing at? Of course, you want to marry him. For once, stop worrying about everything! She screamed to herself.

"We will be okay, Hermione. I promise you."

This was what she needed to hear, "of course, I'll marry you!" She managed to say before the tears started. "Did you set all of this up?" She asked once she had composed herself. "The reunion?" She cleared up.

"There is no reunion. It's our engagement party." He smiled.

"At Hogwarts? How did you manage that?" She grinned.

"With a lot of help from our friends."


Several hours earlier


"Morning, Harry! Are you ready for today?" Ron asked as he and Aoife walked into the kitchen.

"A Bit nervous," he confessed.

"There's nothing to be nervous about, she adores you as much as you do her." Aoife smiled.

"Have you got everything in hand?" Harry asked, appreciating Aoife's words.

"We're going to Mum and Dad's from the station with Aengus and from there, everything should run smoothly," Ron explained.

"This is so exciting!" Aoife squealed.

"Have you got a dress for her? Does it fit?" He asked her.

"She tried it on last night, it looks amazing on her."

*

"Isn't it a bit early to get the party ready? It shouldn't take long to whack up some decorations and it's not like we have to sort out food or anything," Aengus argued.

"Aengus, just because you don't want them to get married,"

"When did I say that?"

"Alright, just because you want to be the one marrying her," Aoife rephrased.

"That's not true either!" He protested far too forcefully.

"Look, I know you really care for her," she began.

"But I have to let go?" He mimicked her.

Aoife shook her head, "no, she was never yours to let go. I know it's hard, but you're going to have to try and forget about her."

"Fe, I'm completely over her," he replied sternly.

"Do you promise?"

"I promise."

"Good. I think Robyn is going to be there tonight," Aoife smiled.

"Leave that too, Aoife. I will sort things out."

She nodded, "thank you," she whispered.

"For what?"

"Not running off this time. I don't know what happened on holiday, but you've been different ever since so I'm thankful that you're beginning to talk to me again and I'm glad I'm getting my brother back."

"I never left," he smiled as he hugged her shoulders.

"Are Ardal and Aisling going to be there tonight?"

"Ardal and guest," Aoife smirked.

"Oh?"

"They met in December."

"So not at Hogwarts?"

"No, there's a Muggle-born in the family so Magic and Hogwarts is well known."

"Oh right. So he's finally going to-"

"It looks like it," Aoife smiled, "now that he is out of the picture."

"Good on him."

Just as Aoife was about to say something, a loud noise sounded from Aengus' back pocket, "what is that?!" Aoife screamed as she almost jumped out of her skin.

"Just my phone," Aengus replied casually, "someone's been trying to reach me for months. Hermione said something about telemarketing," he said faintly as he looked down at his phone 195 MISSED CALLS . There was only one person who would be trying to reach him, but he didn't know why.

"They've tried to call you nearly 200 times?" Aoife asked in astonishment as she took a look at the screen.

One a day since I last saw her. Aengus thought to himself. "Yeah, I picked up once and there was silence so I don't bother answering now," he lied.

"I'm sure you can block the number or something, we'll have to ask Hermione about it when we can."

"I've been thinking," Ron announced as he walked in on the siblings, "will we have to move out? It's all coming to an end in a few hours so we won't be needed here."

"I don't think so. I don't actually see what us being here has really done for the plan. I think they want us here," Aoife said confidently.

"This house is big enough for all of us, you're all welcome to stay." Harry smiled from the door. "Can you keep your voices down? Hermione's just woken up."

"Thank you," Aoife smiled.

"Right, should I go over what's happening this morning?" Harry asked.

"Yes," Aengus answered as he hadn't listened to previous explanations.

"We're all going to go to Kings Cross. I've asked a couple of students to be there too. You three shouldn't be on the train so don't let that happen," he said sternly. "Everyone else has been instructed to get to the last carriage as that will break off and transport itself to Hogwarts before the rest of the train."

"How have you got everyone to cooperate?" Aoife asked in admiration.

"It's what happens when Harry Potter proposes to Hermione Granger." Ron joked, "in years to come they'll be able to tell stories of what they did to help and where they were."

"Everyone happy with what they're doing?"

"If we're not meant to be on the train, where should we go?" Aengus asked.

"Get lost in the crowd and then go to Ron's parents," Harry suggested. "Thanks in advance." Everyone smiled at him when Hermione walked in.

"Morning," she croaked, "Aoife, are you putting your dress on now or on the train?"

"Oh, that's a good question. I hadn't thought about it. I guess on the train, but then again, I don't really want to have to carry clothes all night." Harry looked from Aoife to Ron in amazement at her acting skills. "I suppose I will change on the train." She concluded.

"Right, okay, I'll put both our dresses in my bag," she smiled.

Aoife looked at Harry frantically, Hermione couldn't take her dress. "Hermione!" Harry called after her. "You need to eat, I'll pack for you."

"We've got plenty of time, I'll eat after."

"We don't have that long. Your Mum wants to see you before we go."

"Really? Why?" She asked suspiciously.

"You'll have to ask her when you see her. We need to leave in 10 minutes, so you eat and I'll pack." Harry stated as he quickly exited the room.

*

"So you planned absolutely everything?" She asked once the initial surprise had stopped making her cry.

"Absolutely everything," Harry smiled, "with a lot of help from our friends."

"So Ron, Aoife and Aengus are at Hogwarts?"

"Yeah, along with a few other guests," he beamed.

They were sat on the floor leaning against the bench. "What would you have done if I had said no?"

"I suppose I was confident." He took her left hand and felt rather giddy when he felt the cold metal wrapped around her third finger.

"Harry, I need to tell you something," Hermione said nervously. She didn't think this was the right time, but she had to tell him before the end of the evening. "McGonagall couldn't get you any more time. She did her best."

"What are you talking about?"

"Before he died, Dumbledore made the Ministry agree to a year-long silence after the conclusion of the War. This meant you weren't allowed to be mobbed and people had to leave you alone."

"But it's been two years and no one has come up to me?"

"McGonagall managed to get you until September this year after having previously negotiated January, but the Ministry can't contain it anymore. Tomorrow morning you're going to be a huge celebrity. This will be much more than it used to be, Harry. In everyone's eyes, you saved the World."

"We'll get through it. You and Ron will be celebrities too," he laughed, "let's just enjoy tonight," he said. Now things made more sense, although he hadn't really cared, he did think it was rather odd that no one had said anything to him. He also remembered back to what Mr. Van Rompa had said to him, "It is a shame you did not travel here in January, I can not make a fuss of everything you did for everyone."

Hermione breathed a sigh of relief, she was worried that this information would have ruined the evening. "This ring is beautiful," she swooned as she gazed at her hand which was still nestled in his. It was simple and elegant with a single diamond on a gold band. "I've not seen a lot of gold engagement rings."

"This is one of a kind. I doubt many people can say their ring is made out of a Golden Snitch."

"What?"

"I took my Snitch to a Jewellers and after she got over her shock of the strange object, she told me it was pure gold and said she could melt it down and make it into three rings. One engagement and two wedding rings. I asked for McGonagall's permission, but she said that it belonged to me so I could do anything I wanted with it."

"You melted down you Snitch for me?"

"Of course. What else am I going to do with it?"

"Oh, Harry-" she couldn't finish her sentence as she began to cry.

*

"Aengus, please can you help? We have a castle to get ready!" Aoife urged.

"There's nothing for me to do," he argued back as he ate a chicken leg.

"Oh really? I can see that George is on his own levitating the photos; Ron is hanging the lights in the hall, on his own; Molly and Arthur could probably do with your help putting the decorations up and I'm sure the House Elves would appreciate a helping hand." She put her hands on her hips.

"What are you doing?"

"I am helping the band set up and after that, I'm lighting the track up. You could get the carriage ready if you want."

"I-"

"Please, Aengus," she pleaded, "I really need you to help out."

"Fine, I'll go to the carriage," he mumbled as he began to walk away.

"Aengus?" Came a soft voice.

"Hi," he replied, he had dreaded this moment ever since Aoife had told him it would happen.

"How are you?"

"Good."

She nodded, "good, Aeng-"

"Don't, Robyn. I know everything you want to say, you don't need to say it."

"But-"

"No, your letter told me everything it needed to. Excuse me, I have to go now. See you around." He gave her a weak smile and he walked away.

*

The train slowly came to a halt at the station. Harry and Hermione had managed to get change between tears. Hermione usually prided herself in her perception, but she hadn't seen any of this coming. "Are you ready?" Harry smiled as he held out his hand.

She composed herself, "ready," she returned his smile, took his hand and stepped off the train.

Chapter 28: Chapter Twenty-Eight.
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They walked up the track to where a carriage was waiting for them. Hermione's eyes filled with tears as Harry swung the door open. Somebody had levitated glowing globes of light and rose petals were sprinkled all around. "Sorry, it's not very original."

"It's perfect," Hermione whispered.

They sat down and the carriage slowly made it's way up to the castle. They didn't talk as Hermione just gazed out of the window at the beautifully decorated track. They were travelling under a veranda which was draped in creeping flowers and twinkling lights. Harry closed his eyes as he mentally thanked Aoife, Ron and the rest for doing all of this. He was always convinced that they wouldn't let him down, but everything was coming together perfectly. "We're here," Harry said to break the silence that had clenched them.

Hermione became incredibly nervous, she was about to be the complete centre of attention. She had no idea how many people were going to be in the room, but they were all there for them. "Harry, can we just stay out here for a bit?" She said.

"Of course," he smiled. "Are you alright?" He whispered after several minutes.

"Yes, it's just a bit overwhelming, everything you've done, I can't quite take it all in. In a good way," she added. "I could never imagine such a perfect proposal or a ring like this. You've thought of everything."

"Like you always do," he grinned.

"I'm ready, let's go in," she breathed.

He reached out to hold her hand and they walked to the door. The hallway was dark except for a few burning candles with the light from The Hall escaping from the cracks in the door. Whatever Hermione imagined would be behind the door, wasn't what she saw.

"CONGRATULATIONS!" Hundreds of people cheered when the door had been opened.

Hermione brought her hand to her mouth as she tried to keep in the gasp. Everyone she could possibly think of was there; her parents, her grandparents, everyone she once shared a classroom with, professors she believed she wouldn't see again for some time, remaining Members of the Order, what looked like people from the Ministry, all the Weasleys including Bill and Charlie, Fleur and her sister, Viktor Krum and Andromeda and Teddy. Hermione made a beeline for her parents who were chatting with McGonagall. "I can't believe you're here," she chirped, "I never thought you would actually stand in the castle."

"How could we not be here?" Her Mum smiled. "Congratulations, darling," she embraced her.

"Thank you," she replied. Her Mum let her go and as soon as she was free, her Dad gave her the biggest hug.

"I'm very proud of you," he whispered. She was crying again, it seemed like she would be doing that for the rest of the evening. She hadn't even taken in the room, she hadn't even acknowledged all the hard work that those closest to her had put in. She had walked straight over to her family, the Muggle family that she sometimes felt she had left behind. They were standing here in the very place that snatched her from them, and they looked perfectly happy.

"Congratulations, Hermy," her grandmother smiled.

"Thank you. You haven't met Harry yet, have you?"

"Oh, yes. He came by to see us a few weeks ago." Her grandfather explained.

"He did?" She asked as she turned her head to look at him, he was talking to Mr and Mrs Weasley.

"Yes, he dropped by with Rosanne as he wanted to meet us and introduce himself. He's a lovely lad."

"Isn't he just, Frances," Kenny, Hermione's paternal Granddad, said.

"You've met him, too?" Hermione asked.

"Archibald brought him around. He asked for his permission in front of me."

"He did?" Hermione hadn't even thought about the tradition of asking the father for the daughter's hand. She wasn't even aware that Harry knew of such a tradition. "So you all knew about this weeks ago?"

"Yes." They replied in unison.

"We couldn't be happier for you," Kenny smiled, "to think, you and he are going to have magical babies."

"Slow down, Dad, they've only just got engaged." Archie laughed.

"I'll have you know that your mother and I had Colin a couple of months after we were married."

"Yes, after , Dad. Don't rush them." He rolled his eyes, "Hermione, don't let us keep you from all of your guests." He gestured, obviously not too keen on the idea of grandchildren just yet.

"Right," Hermione nodded, "I should go and talk to a few of them, thank them for coming."

"See you later, Precious," Frances hugged her again quickly.


"She said yes then?" Ron joked.

"Of course she said yes , Ronald!" Molly asserted.

"I'd like to thank you, Mrs Weasley, and you, Mr Weasley, for helping out today."

"It was our pleasure, Dear. I'm glad you asked us to be a part of today." She smiled, proud like Harry and Hermione were her family.

"Go and enjoy yourself, Harry." Mr Weasley ordered, with the biggest smile on his face, he loved being back in the Great Hall.


"Congratulations, Harry," Ginny whispered as she walked up to him.

"Thank you, you too. Playing for the Holyhead Harpies is such a huge achievement. How is it going?"

"Really well, I haven't played in a game yet, but the training alone is fantastic. I'm learning so much." She sighed.

"What's wrong?"

"Nothing," she lied, "I'm just missing home." Harry nodded slowly, knowing that that wasn't the real reason because she could Apparate to The Burrow at the drop of a hat. "I expect you want to be with your fiancée, not spending the evening with me." She sulked off, she was definitely the least enthusiastic about the evening so far.


"Hermione!" Aoife called from the crowd. "You look fantastic, absolutely mesmerising."

"Thanks," she smiled, "you picked the dress. This is all you."

"I did a great job if you ask me. Can I see the ring?" She was practically squealing. Hermione nodded as she lifted up her left hand. Aoife was speechless, all she seemed to be able to do was gawp at Hermione's hand. Hermione smiled at Aoife as she too looked at her ring again. It really was exquisite, better than anything she would have picked herself. "Do you know when you'll get married?"

"No, it's only been a couple of hours," Hermione laughed, "not for a while I expect."

"Have you seen the pictures?"

"No," Hermione replied, "where are they?"

Aoife pointed to the door, the wall had thousands of pictures which covered every inch. "George did it." She informed.

It was Hermione's turn to gawp as they both walked towards the photo. "I don't even remember most of these photos." She said once she had looked at a few that were at eye level.

"Stand here," Aoife demanded. As if by magic, once Hermione was in place, the pictures on the wall came down one by one. Each one lingered in front of Hermione's eyes until she was ready to see the next one. There were photos of Hermione when she was young, Harry when he was young, the two of them with Ron and other Hogwarts friends. It was like her life was flashing before her very eyes. She didn't want to blink due to the fear that she would miss one, but she never would. The frames seemed to know when they had done their part.

"Impressive, isn't it?"

"It's wonderful," Hermione replied. "Thank you for allowing us to celebrate here."

"You two are a big reason why this place is still here. Congratulations, Hermione."

"Thank you," Hermione smiled as she turned to face her old Headmistress, her usually stern face was replaced by a warm smile.

"I think Harry is about to make a speech," Aoife bounced over.

"A speech?" Hermione questioned, "what on earth is he going to say?"

"We'll have to wait and hear." McGonagall joked.


"Hi, everyone, thank you so much for coming to celebrate with Hermione and me." Harry began, standing just in front of the podium that Dumbledore had stood behind countless times. "Firstly I want to express my appreciation for each and every one of you who helped make today what it has become; Arthur and Molly Weasley, Hagrid, George and Ron Weasley and Aoife and Aengus Curran. I can honestly say that I couldn't have done it without any of you." The hall filled with an applause that lasted for a long while. "I also need to mention Professor McGonagall, not just for her allowing us to use this wonderful place for tonight, but for everything she has done for me and Hermione over the years with our studies and development. Without her pulling some strings and getting Hermione a Time-Turner, I wouldn't have had the opportunity to get to know my father's best friend, to mention just one of many things that happened because of her. You are an inspiration to everyone in this room." Everyone in the room exploded into rapturous applause as McGonagall wiped a tear from her eye. "Ron," Harry began, the room going silent once more, "you deserve more than I can offer you, but that's what you're going to have to settle for. Ever since our first train journey here, you've been by my side. There's no point denying it, we have had our disagreements and our arguments, we haven't always seen eye to eye, but when it comes down to it, I know you will always have my back. This is why I want to ask you, in front of all these people so you can't really say no, if you will be my best man."

"Putting me a bit on the spot!" Ron called from somewhere in the crowd, "I suppose I will have to be!"

Harry laughed along with the rest of the room, "thanks," he grinned. "As you all know, I don't have much of a family, but thanks to the Weasley's, I don't feel unloved. I am incredibly grateful for everything you have done for me over the years, not least treating me like a son. Without your generosity and love, I wouldn't be who I am today." The room, which consisted of a lot of Weasley's, burst out into loud cheers. Harry's eyes roamed the crowd, scanning everyone's face for the face he was looking for. Once he found her, his eyes daren't look away. "Hermione," he said, his voice relatively quieter than it had been previously. As he spoke, everyone else seemed to melt away, it was like they were the only two in the room. "You've been there for me from the night in the toilets. Everyone calls me the hero, everyone describes me as the person who saved the Wizarding World, but those people don't know what you did. It was you who got me to Professor Quirrell, it was you who worked out it was the Basilisk, it was you who taught me the spell that helped me get the dragon egg, it was you who encouraged me to set up Dumbledore's Army and it was you who carried me through the Horcrux hunt. You are the only reason I stayed alive long enough to finish what had been started, but you are too modest to take any credit. Hermione," his eyes were fixated on her like she was the most beautiful painting in a prize collection, "you deserve a lot more than me, you deserve someone who treats you like a princess every day, who makes you feel safe and warm and who can make you smile even when everything seems to be going wrong. I am so grateful that you are allowing me to try and be the person you deserve to be with, and I promise you that I will use every day of the rest of our lives trying to achieve that." The room suddenly filled with people again, the sounds of Harry's adoring crowd loudened. "Thank you all for coming today, have a good evening!" He came to a rather abrupt end, but nobody cared. They were running his words in their heads, the ones that were meant for them and the ones that were meant for others. Hermione stood still, still staring directly at him - she didn't know he had it in him to speak publicly like that.

"Herm-" someone began to call out.

"Leave her," Mrs Weasley commanded, she knew Hermione was in her own little world. She knew that Hermione was alone with Harry.


"That was-" she tried to say.

"Hermione, I love you." Harry interrupted as he walked towards her.

"I love you, too."

*

"Where have they gone? I need to talk to Hermione," Ron moaned.

"Leave them be, Ron. They've just got engaged," his father said.

"They've been gone for over an hour now, Dad. Should we check on them?"

"No," Mr Weasley, Mrs Weasley and Aoife said in unison.


"This evening has been absolutely perfect. Thank you, Harry." Hermione smiled as they sat on the sofa in the Common Room. "Can you believe that we've been away for a year?"

"This room is no longer our Common Room. There are new people who enjoy it now, with their friends."

They both looked around to see if anything had changed - it hadn't. The walls were exactly the same, the furniture hadn't moved and the portraits on the walls hadn't been modified, but to the two of them, the room had changed. Hermione opened her mouth to suggest that they went back downstairs, but blood-curdling screams stopped her in her track. "Harry," she croaked.

"Stay here," he demanded.

"No, I'm coming with you."

Harry wanted to argue, wanted to get her to stay, but he knew that she wouldn't listen to him. "Stay behind me," he negotiated, "whatever it is, stay close to me," was his last sentence to her before they ran down to the noise.

"Harry, Hermione," someone whispered from a room off of the entrance hall. "Come here."

"Neville, what's happening?" Hermione asked once the door was quietly closed.

"About a dozen people walked in, blasting spells every which way," he explained.

"What?" Hermione gasped, "is anyone hurt, is anyone -"

"I don't know. Everyone just ran away as quickly as they could."

Hermione's hands found her mouth, she could still hear distance screaming, "I need to find my parents and grandparents," she said with a sense of urgency that couldn't go undiscovered.

"Not on your own," Neville argued, "we'll come with you."

"No, you need to help the others," Harry finally spoke, "Hermione, we'll find your parents, get them home and then come back. Neville, try and find the Weasleys - stay close to others if you can."

All three of them left the safety of the small rooms. Harry stood in front of Hermione as they walked into the Great Hall. It would have been pitch black if it wasn't for the enchanted ceiling lighting up the room. Harry vigorously scanned the room for any movement and his ears were listening out for the quietest of noises. "Harry, we need to find them," Hermione whispered, as her voice and heart were breaking.

"There's someone over there, look," he pointed to the corner at the very end of the room. Harry quickly thought about what they should do, he scanned the room again but thankfully, he couldn't see any motionless bodies lying on the floor.

"Hello?" A terrified voice called.

"Mum!" Hermione screamed as she ran straight over to the voice. "You're all alright, you're all alright," she breathed once she had seen that her Mum was with Arthur and her Dad and all her grandparents.

"They're fine," Mr Weasley said with relief pouring out of his voice.

"I'm getting you home," she informed them. "You can't be here. Harry, help me get them all home."

"Follow me, stay behind me and don't say a word. If you see anything try and let us know silently. Hermione, you stand at the back, keep a look out. Who is it, Mr Weasley?"

Arthur didn't say anything, he just shook his head. He couldn't bring himself to even say the words. "Let's go." Hermione ordered, "we'll be back once we know my family are safe," she explained to Mr Weasley. He nodded as he ran off to find his family.

They quickly, but silently, made their way down the track. They didn't see anyone on their way, but they did see flashing lights from spells some distance away. Harry couldn't bring himself to look at the colours that were lighting up the sky, in case he saw the very colour that struck fear in his stomach. Once they finally reached the end of Hogwarts' grounds, Harry turned around, "Hermione, you take your parents, I'll stay here."

"I'll be right back," she promised.

"Harry, what is going on?" Frances asked.

"I don't know," Harry answered as he kept a look out. "Once Hermione is back, we'll get you to safety. You're going to be alright."

Why was this happening? Who would do this? Voldemort was dead, a lot of his followers were dead or in Azkaban. He heard a pop and saw the relieving sight of Hermione. "Pop, you go with Harry." She said. Harry took Kenny's arm and spun him out of this nightmare.


Whilst Harry and Hermione brought her grandparents to her parent's house, Rose and Archie had made seven cups of tea and had laid out biscuits. "You're back," Rose wept once everyone was standing in the kitchen. "Hermione, what happened back there?"

"I don't know, Mum, but we're going to have to go back. We need to make sure everyone is alright."

"No, I don't want either of you to go back there. Anything could happen to you, you're staying here." She ordered.

" We can't. We can't abandon them. Not now." She argued back.

"What if they hurt you?"

"We should stay," Harry whispered.

"What?"

"We should stay here. We're safe and alive. Neville said that there were only twelve people, they're the ones who are outnumbered."

"What about Ron and Aoife? We don't even know if they're alive!" Hermione shouted, "we have to go back, Harry. You know we do!"

"No, we don't. Why is it always down to us? Why do we always have to be the ones who save them? They don't need us, Hermione. We don't need to risk our lives anymore."

"Harry," she took a step closer to him, "Harry, you know in here," she placed her hand on his chest, "you know in here that we have to go back. We have to make sure everyone is alright."

Harry looked from Hermione to her parents and nodded at them, "you're right." He whispered.

*

"RON!" Aoife called into the dark void. "RON! WHERE ARE YOU?"

"Aoife, he'll be alright." Ardal said from behind her.

"Where's Eli?" She asked.

"I took him to Martha's house. I didn't want him getting caught up in all of this. Where's Aengus?"

"I think he ran off looking for Robyn. Ard, I need to find Ron." She began to panic. "I didn't see where he went when things started."

"He isn't in the hall," Neville said as he ran up to them. "Ron will be alright, he's more than used to things like this, we all are. Check down by the lake," he called as he ran off in another direction.

"RON!" She cried.

"Watch out!" Someone called from the left of her. Ardal jumped at Aoife so they both fell to the ground as a flash of light zoomed past where they were stood. " Stupefy! "

"Ron, aren't we glad to see you!" Ardal smiled as he sat up, "nice shot."

"Thanks, we need to get away from here." He said as he helped Aoife up.

"Where have you been?" Aoife asked frantically.

"Hagrid's. Come on, let's go." He ran off in the direction of Hagrid's hut.

*

"Harry, where are we?" Hermione asked once they had got to their destination.

"I'm not taking you back there, I'm not putting you in danger," Harry said adamantly as he looked around for something.

"If you won't take me back there, I'll go on my own. I don't care. We need to help!" She shouted as she slipped something into his jacket pocket.

"Don't go- HERMIONE!" He called as she disappeared.

He stared at the spot where Hermione used to be stood. He wanted to go after her, she would be running up the track at Hogwarts, but he couldn't bring himself to. He couldn't bring himself to run right back into deaths clutches. "Mr Potter? Is that you?" A man called out from the dense shrubbery that surrounded him. "I knew I would find you here."

"Who are you?" Harry asked bravely as he stood with his wand out.

"Don't hurt me. I am someone who wants to help. My name is Adelbert. I knew your grandfather, Fleamont Potter."

"How can I trust you?" Harry's heartbeat, although still fast, began to slow as he relaxed - this man would have killed him right away if he wanted him dead.

"My house, it's just a couple of minutes away, I've got photos." The man finally stepped out of the shrubbery and he looked far from menacing. His hair was similar to Hagrid's; he had a long beard and a curly mane which resembled snow on a mountain top, but other than that, he was the opposite of Hagrid; small and skinny. "You don't have to trust me or follow me, but I may be able to help you."

"Help me? Help me with what?" Harry was becoming more suspicious again, why hadn't this man made himself known years ago? Why hadn't he helped the Order?

"I've been places so I've heard plans. If you follow me to my house, I will explain all that I know."


*

"Hermione? What are you doing here? I thought you were safe with Harry?" Ron asked as she ran up to him.

"I couldn't leave you all here, I needed to come back and help." She explained. "What's the plan?"

"Some of us are at Hagrid's, let's go there and we can think of something. Where's Harry?"

"He's scared, Ron. He doesn't want to be brought back to fighting. I left him."

"Left him?"

"He took us to a wood, somewhere I don't know. He'll be fine, once we finish here, I'll go and find him."


"Hermione! You're alright!" Aoife screeched once they had walked through the door.

"Of course, she's 'lright, she's the brightest witch I've ever met." Hagrid smiled.

"Where's Harry?" Aoife asked.

"He's alright, too," Ron interrupted, "he's got something planned, so we have to do what we can."

Hermione looked at Ron, why was he lying? "So, what do we do?" Aoife asked.

"We fight." Aengus, who Hermione hadn't seen until now, said from a corner. "We fight until Harry comes and tells us what we do next."

"Do we know how many there are?" Ardal asked.

"Neville told me there were twelve," Hermione informed.

"There's more than twelve now," Ron said, "but they're still outnumbered. The Ministry workers are doing they're best trying to contain them."

"Any fatalities?" Aoife asked.

"Not that I've heard," Ron said, "but anything could have happened."

"We need to get out there," Aengus growled, "we need to stop it before it's started."

*

Adelbert lit a stumpy candle which seemed to be the only source of light in the tiny room. Harry looked around but saw nothing which struck fear. "Sit down, I'll get you some tea." Harry remained standing, mostly because he didn't trust the rickety chair that stood before him.

"How did you know I would come here?" He asked once Adelbert's back was turned. "I don't even really know where we are."

"You've been here before," Adelbert said elusively.

Harry looked around the room in confusion, "I've never been here before," he said rather confidently.

"You have." He waddled over to the table and placed a tray down on it, "please, sit."

Harry was intrigued about what this man knew about him, intrigued enough to sit on that chair. "Thank you," he said in an undertone as he was given a chipped glass full of tepid tea.

"I need to just get something," Adelbert vanished through a swing door and a couple of minutes later returned with his arms burdened with several thick books. "Here," he announced, "is all the proof you need."

Harry took one of the books that Adelbert handed him. He opened it and his mouth instantly fell. "That's-that's me?" He questioned.

"Not quite," he chuckled, "that's your father. His dad used to bring him here. I've lived here all of my life and you came here once or twice before."

"That can't be true. My Dad never took me here, did he?"

"No, your father never brought you here. But he brought your mother here and she brought her sister." He explained softly.

Harry opened the second photo album that Adelbert gave to him, the first picture was of Vernon, Petunia, Dudley and Harry. "My Aunt and Uncle brought me here?"

"Oh yes, all the time. I used to see you weekly."

"What happened?" Harry asked as he flicked through the photos of him and his cousin when they were both young.

"My past caught up with me," he sighed. "See, Harry, when I was your age, me and a couple of friends did stupid things. He robbed shops, robbed hard-working people, to get the attention of girls. I never meant for it to go any further, but I had to hide out here." He gave Harry the third and final photo album. "There's your grandfather and me." Harry gazed down at the man who had rarely featured in Harry's mind. Although he had seen him in the Mirror of Erised, this was the first time he was able to really look at him. There he was, looking directly at the camera, smiling. He couldn't have been any older than 15. "We weren't in the same House at Hogwarts, but we were friends before school and out of school." They turned the page and Adelbert instantly went giddy, "that's us before our first day at Hogwarts." He pointed at the figure on the right with a grubby finger. "Those times were simpler, easier." He sighed again.

"You obviously stayed in contact, well after Hogwarts," Harry interjected.

"Oh, yes. We were the very best of friends. He never knew about where my extra income came from, he died well before I was caught." Harry nodded slowly, this man held so many answers to so many questions that were only just forming in Harry's mind, but he had to find out what he knew about what was happening at Hogwarts. "Hermione Granger. Is she the one who has your heart?"

"Yes."

"Then I'm afraid I have to break some devastating news to you." He said with a sad face and voice.

*

The castle was still standing strong, it seemed like it was everybody's aim to avoid hitting it at all costs. In fact, it seemed like it was everybody's aim to avoid hitting anything at all costs. There was hardly any duelling going on, enough to make anyone weary. "Hermione, I really think we need to start getting people out of here. Do we know who the leader of this revolt is?" Aoife asked as they walked up the slope away from Hagrid's hut.

"Kingsley seems to have everything under control," Ron observed.

"Something doesn't seem right about all of this," Hermione said slowly, "why would you attack without a real plan to destruct? Nobody has died, nobody has even fired the Killing Curse, I don't understand."

Everybody stopped walking as Hermione's words settled. She was right, something wasn't right about the situation. "We need to find out who is in charge, but we need to be careful about this. If you're right, Hermione, there might be an ulterior motive and that means we could still be very much in danger." Aoife said wisely.

Hermione looked up as someone came running down the slope towards them, "Neville," she smiled, "it's good to see you." She was eluding to the fact that he was still very much alive.

"Hermione," he breathed as he tried to catch his breath, "you and Aoife have to get out of here !"

"What do you mean?" Ron asked.

"They're coming for you."

"Who?" Aengus asked.

"Rodolphus Lestrange and someone called Julie Eliot."

"Hermione, get Aoife to safety!" Ron shouted, "we'll be alright without you."

"It's too late for that, darlin'. We've very much achieved what we wanted to achieve." Julie smirked as she grabbed hold of Hermione and Aoife and turned on the spot.

Chapter 29: Chapter Twenty-Nine.
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"Over the past five years, I have been held in Azkaban Prison. As I said before, I didn't mean for things to go as far as they did. Before I knew it, I was being branded a murderer." Adelbert's head dropped. "They took some pity on me, they knew I never meant to kill anyone which is why I was only given five years, but five years, Mr Potter, is long enough to learn the error of your ways." Harry wasn't listening to any of this, his mind was solely on what he had said about Hermione. "Whilst I was in Azkaban, a new inmate arrived, well a lot of new inmates arrived after you killed You-Know-Who. But this woman was a mystery to me. She didn't look menacing or malevolent, but the things people were saying she did were beyond the imagination. Her name was Julie Eliot."

Harry instantly looked up. "What does she want with Hermione?" He had finally found his voice.

"She and Rodolphus Lestrange were plotting something. I would always see them in corners whispering."

"Rodolphus Lestrange?"

"That's right, Bellatrix's husband. Most presumed he was dead, but he was bundled into Azkaban along with the rest that managed to survive. They wanted Hermione because they knew that you would go after them to save her, they knew that if they took her, you would follow. He wants to finish what You-Know-Who started and she wants to finish what she started with you."

"Do you know where they've taken her?"

"No, but they did mention someone called Calum."

"Thank you, Adelbert, thank you," Harry said as he quickly got up and crossed the room to the front door.

"I hope you reach them in time," he smiled weakly, the candle light making his face seem warmer. "Good luck," he whispered as he blew out the candle.

*

Ron had resulted in firing spells at a nearby tree. He had started off kicking and punching it, but that failed to get him anywhere. "We need to calm down," Neville suggested. "Lashing out isn't going to get us anywhere."

Ron screamed and cursed, so loud that the birds in the surrounding trees flew away, "Ron, they're together," Ardal said, trying to sound calm. "At least they're together."

"Who are you trying to convince here? Ron or yourself?" Aengus question with rage pouring out of his voice. "It doesn't matter if they're together, one spell and they'll not be together."

"Don't say that, Aengus. They'll be okay, they'll both be okay." Neville tried to smile.

"Where is Harry and this marvellous plan of his?!" Aengus screeched.

"There is no plan," Ron said quietly, "he isn't comi-"

"I know where they are," Harry said as he appeared beside Ron. "They've taken them to Calum."

"How could you possibly know that?"

"I just do. We need to get to Ireland, as soon as possible."

"Calum isn't in Ireland," Ardal informed. "He's in Southampton."

Everyone stared at him, "how could you possibly know that?" Aengus repeated.

"I heard him. When you had all gone to Devon. A couple of weeks later, he was on our drive on his phone talking about how he was excited to be moving to Southampton. I reckon he has a job there."

"He was on your drive?" Neville questioned. "Why was he there? Are you friends?" He asked naively, everybody looked at everybody else, not wanting to be the person who broke the news.

"No. He's worse than vermin," Aengus spat.

"So what was he doing on your drive?"

"This kid has a point," Aengus observed, "I think we should go to Ireland. He was only on our drive so you would hear him and think that he is in Southampton."

"How can we be so sure?" Ron asked, getting more and more desperate to get to Aoife and Hermione.

"We should split up." Harry instructed, "some of us go to Ireland and some of us go to Southampton. If they're not in Ireland, we might at least be able to get some clues."

"Sounds like a good idea," Ardal agreed, "I'll go to Southampton. Luna and Ron, can you come with me?"

"I think Luna's knowledge of Ireland will come in handy," Harry said, "Neville, do you mind going to Southampton with them?"

"Of course not, if you think it will help." He said. "What about here?"

"They've got what they were after," Luna said gravely, "Hogwarts no longer need us here."

She was right, they weren't needed anymore, the whole thing was a distraction so they could get Aoife and Hermione. "Ardal, do you have a fireplace that is connected to the Floo Network?"

"Yes, just say the name of our house, Aengus will help you."

"How are you going to get to Southampton?" Aengus asked.

"We'll have to fly," Ron replied. "Have you got your phone?" Ron asked Harry, "let me know if you find anything!" He ordered, seemingly appreciating something most Muggles take for granted.

"Will do," Harry nodded, "Ron, they'll be okay."

"They'll be okay," he nodded.

*

Harry, Luna and Aengus arrived at the Curran's house, which was aptly named Curran's Castle "it's an old house," Luna explained, "been in the family for generations. It did once use to be a castle."

"I'm going to find Martha, see if she knows anything." Aengus walked off into the kitchen, hoping their trusted housekeeper would be there.

"I didn't realise she lived here all year round," Harry pondered to Luna.

"She's got nowhere else to go, she has no other family."


"Martha?" Aengus called as he opened the creaking door. His eyes fell on the plates that were stacked in the middle of the kitchen table. "Oh, no," he breathed before he ran back out to the others. "Harry, something is wrong."

"What do you mean?" He got his wand out.

"Martha. She never puts plates on the table because of something that happened when Aisling was really young. It's habit now, she never leaves anything on the table."

"So?"

"There is a stack of plates in the middle of the kitchen table. Aisling is staying with Pegeen, but still, she wouldn't leave them there."

"Maybe she hasn't got around to putting them away?" Harry asked, trying to think logically about all of this.

"No, something is wrong. Martha would never leave things on the table." He ran upstairs, Harry and Luna looked at one another and followed, taking two steps at a time to match Aengus' speed. "We need to get into her room."

"You're never allowed in there," Luna said whispery. "You won't know if anything is awry."

"Aengus? Is that you?" Someone called from downstairs.

"That might be Martha," Harry whispered.

"Harry, you need to believe me. Something isn't right here, I'll go and distract whoever it is downstairs, and you get in that room and see if anything is odd." Aengus order. He waiting for any form of confirmation from Harry, his voice and his eyes told Harry that it was glaringly obvious that Aengus was right.

"Okay, I'll get in that room."

"Thank you," he whispered before he made his way downstairs.

"Aengus, it's good to see you. What are you doing here? I thought you were at a party?" A female voice said from the floor below.

"Martha, you look a bit stressed. Is everything okay?"


"What are we going to do?" Luna whispered to Harry.

"We're going to open this door," Harry pointed his wand at the door and whispered. The door clicked open and revealed all to Harry.

*

"Are you two doing alright?" Ron called as they soared across the sky in the middle of the night.

"Just about," Ardal shouted back, "I've never flown for this long before."

"Ron, there's something I should tell you," Neville called.

"If it has nothing to do with what we're doing right now, you're going to have to wait!"

"My Grandma, she's from Southampton. If we fly to her, I'm sure she'll be happy to take us there."

"Neville, why didn't you say that before we took off?" Ardal laughed.

"Take us to your Grandma," Ron ordered.


"Sorry about that," Neville whispered as they walked through the streets of Southampton. "Sometimes I forget. She rarely talks about her childhood.

"It's alright, Neville. We're here now," Ardal smiled. "Have you heard anything from Harry?"

"Nothing, that's a good thing, right?"

"No news is good news," Ardal replied. "He mentioned the name of a hotel, Southern Crown Hotel I think it was called."

"What do you think is waiting for us there?" Neville asked.

"I have no idea," Ardal replied, "I just hope that it will help us."

*

Harry and Luna snooped around the tidy, plain room. Nothing jumped out at either of them as being out of place. Harry was looking at her wardrobe, it was slanted slightly - did that have anything to do with anything? "Harry," Luna said, her voice breaking through the silence like a sharp knife. "This is Martha's husband. He was Scottish and went missing whilst on a walk. Nobody knows what happened to him." She explained as she pointed to a photo in a frame which was stood on her dressing table.

"Luna, why are you-" he began to say when he saw what Luna saw.

"No hairbrush," Luna whispered. Beside the photo frame was a box of hair styling equipment, including a comb, but no hairbrush.

"Who's downstairs with Aengus?"

" Not Martha," Harry whispered.

"Follow me," Luna replied.


"Are you alone Aengus? I could cook you something to eat."

"No, thanks, Martha. You know I don't eat at this time." Aengus replied suspiciously.

"That's right, sorry. So, are you alone?"

"No, Hermione and Aoife are with me upstairs." He lied, waiting for the reaction.

"Oh, really? Would they like anything to eat?"

"I don't think so. I'll just check," he replied slowly.

"No! That won't be necessary, I'll go up and ask them," Martha said forcefully.

"If that's what you want to do," Aengus smiled. "Come on, Harry, this is down to you now." He said under his breath as the woman walked upstairs.

*

They were standing outside the grand hotel, looking up at the various windows. The large steps that lead up to the front doors seemed like a mountain to the three of them as they tried to prepare what they were planning on doing once they had reached reception. "He won't have used his name, would he? That would be too obvious." Neville said.

"Maybe. We can't be sure," Ardal replied.

"We could try and steal the logbook, see the names in there?" Ron suggested.

"How are we supposed to steal the logbook?"

"Neville, we're Wizards," Ron said matter-of-factly.

"We're not going to hurt anyone, Ron." Ardal ordered. "We'll talk to the receptionist, see if we can distract them or something."

"So you want to talk to them instead of using magic and making it a lot quicker?"


"Hello, my name is Phoebe, how may I help you?" The platinum blonde receptionist smiled as the three of them entered the hotel.

"Hi, Phoebe," Neville smiled, "my name is Nev and I've seemed to have lost my brother."

"Right, how can I help?"

"The last I saw him he was running in here with a girl, so I was wondering if you saw them?"

"No, no one has walked through those doors since my shift started." She smiled before looking back at the computer screen. "What's his name? Maybe he booked himself in."

"Calum, but he might not have used his real name," Neville said.

"Ah, right, a bit of a so-and-so?"

"You could say that," Neville laughed, not really understanding her comment.

"Well, Nev, no one called Calum has booked in today."

"Has anyone booked in today? Or in the past week?" Ron asked frantically.

Phoebe looked up from her desk and acted like she had only just seen Ron and Ardal, "that's confidential information, Sir. Sorry, but I can't tell you that."

"Ardal, we need to use magic," Ron whispered so only he could hear.

"No, we can do it without," Ardal urged, sounding much louder than he had intended.

"Oh, hello," Phoebe smirked, "I didn't see you there. What's your name?"

"Oh, umm, A-Ardal." He said bashfully.

"An Irish, how…mysterious."

"Yeah," he forced a laugh, "is there any way you can help us?"

"I'm sorry, Cutie, but I can't disclose visitors details."

"Give us a minute," Ron said as he dragged Ardal away. "She's flirting with you, you're going to have to distract her."

"Why me?"

"It was you who insisted we didn't use magic, so you're going to have to distract her."

"Ron, I can't do that."

"Why not? It's just flirting, you might end up having a lot in common," he winked.

"She's most certainly not my type."

"That doesn't matter, it doesn't have to go any further."

"Then why can't you do it?"

"Because she evidently has taken a liking to you. Come on, you can do this. Eli doesn't have to know." He smiled.

"You know?"

"Of course, I know, you brought him to the party. It's obvious how much you care about him. Do this for your sister and Hermione."

Ardal nodded, seemingly forgetting how much was at stake. As they were about to go back over, Ron got a message on his phone, Martha is missing, she might be in Southampton. "What does it say? Have they found them?" Ardal asked desperately.

"No, Ardal. Ask the receptionist about Martha."

Ardal looked at Ron through narrowed eyes, but he followed the order. "Hi, Phoebe."

"Hi, Cutie."

"Nev's brother, he was with someone called Martha. Has she checked in?"

Phoebe flipped through the book, "Martha?"

"McIndish."

"Ah, yes, she booked in several days ago." She smiled, looking up at him with her big grey eyes.

"Could you possibly tell us which room? We need to get Calum and leave."

"Sorry, that's private information. If only you could give me something in return," she said slyly. "Give me your number, and maybe I will let slip what room."

Ardal leant in closer to Phoebe, "tell me first," he whispered.

That seemed to work for her, miraculously, "room 170," she sighed.

"Thanks," Ardal said as the three of them ran off upstairs.

"Hey! What about your number?" She called.

"I don't have a phone!" He revealed as he turned the corner, out of sight of the glaring Phoebe.

*

"Aoife? Hermione?" Martha called as she reached the last step. "Would you like anything to eat?" When no reply came, she got angrier and louder, "Aoife! Hermione! I need to speak to you!" She looked up the next flight of stairs, the stairs that led to Aoife's room. "Fine, if you won't come down, I'll just have to go up," she murmured to herself.

"Luna, what are we planning?" Harry whispered as they crouched in Ardal's wardrobe.

"She'll be trapped up there, there's no way down and Mr Curran put a charm on the house so there's no Disapparation allowed.

"So we are going to run up there and do what? She'll have a wand and will probably be quicker than we are."

"When I said there was no way down, there is no way down that most people know about. When they were young, their Mum put a secret passage so that they could get to each other's room without leaving theirs."

"Martha doesn't know about it?"

"I don't think so, this imitator certainly won't."

Once they heard the door upstairs close, Luna led the way out of the rather cramped wardrobe. "You're staying incredibly calm, Harry. I'm impressed." She expressed as she found the secret door which was located behind a poster.

"I just need to find her, staying calm is the best way of doing that." He replied quickly.

"And we will find her, I promise." She squeezed his shoulder, the usual fairy tone being replaced by a serious one.

Harry nodded, knowing that negative thinking wouldn't get them anywhere. They began climbing up the secret passage which was easier than Harry had expected. "What spell are you going to use?" He whispered once they had reached the top.

" Incarcerous " Luna screamed as she pushed through the secret door on Aoife's room. Martha, who was ignorant of everything that Luna knew about the house, fell to the floor after trying and failing to free herself of the thin cord that now locked her arms to her body and her legs together.

"What the- let me go!" She screeched.

"Who are you?" Harry asked as he leapt out of the door.

"I'm Martha, you know that, Harry." She said innocently.

"Then who am I?" Luna asked.

"Luna," she growled.

*

"Can you believe that they've sent Martha here, I can't understand it." Ardal said as they walked up countless steps and through countless corridors.

"They're sending us on a wild goose chase. They knew you would have heard Calum on the phone talking about moving to Southampton and intentionally said the name of the hotel, but they weren't to know that we would split up, I bet they're still in Ireland, exactly where Calum always is." Neville said.

"I hope you're right," Ron said through gritted teeth, "I hope the others get to them."

"Here we are," Neville smiled up at the white door with the number 170 in brass.

Ron knocked on the door as hard and as loudly as he knew how; it was several minutes until they heard footsteps on the other side. "Ardal, what on earth are you doing here?" She said as she rubbed her eyes, they had all forgotten that it was quite late.

"Who sent you here, Martha?"

"You did," she asked, her voice confused and shy. "I got a letter from you to say that you thought I deserved a holiday, I found it a bit odd because I had spent a couple of months in Scotland, like always, but I couldn't have possibly turned down an opportunity to stay in a swanky hotel for a couple of weeks."

"Did we send the booking forms and everything?"

"Oh yes, everything was paid for. Ardal, surely you should know that." Martha wrapped her dressing gown tighter than previously, obviously taken aback by this whole conversation.

"Martha, I'm sorry but we didn't send you here. It was all part of a ploy to get us as far away from Aoife and Hermione as possible."

Martha gasped as her hand covered her mouth, "someone has Aoife? And Hermione? Who?"

"Calum," Ardal replied.

"Oh, no," she began to cry, "this is all my fault! I should never have assumed."

"This is far from your fault, Martha, but we need to get back to Ireland, you're coming too."

*

The heavens opened up and rain began pouring, Harry, Luna and Aengus were standing over the person who looked like Martha, waiting for the potion to wear off. "We're assuming this isn't Martha," Harry voiced after more than twenty minutes.

Aengus was getting more and more on edge, he knew who Martha was going to turn out to be, but he was too afraid to tell them. "This isn't Martha," Luna whispered, bending down and looking at her in the eye.

"It's from Ron," Harry said as he gazed down at his phone screen, "Go to the Barn Yard, NOW!"

Martha's eyes instantly grew wider, "what are you going to do there?"

"Never you mind," Aengus snarled. "Someone has to stay here."

"I don't think that’s a good idea," Harry said, "we shouldn't be left alone."

"Then lock her in the cellar, do what you want, but we have to go."

Harry was hesitant, he didn't particularly want to go locking people in anywhere, but he knew he had no other choice. "We're going to come back as soon as possible, right?" He asked as they walked down the drive in the pouring rain.

"That's my Dad, Harry. We will contact the authorities when we get the chance."

"How do you kn-"

"There's certain mannerisms you pick up on when you're completely terrified of a person. There are things that he can't help doing or can't help saying - when we get back, my Dad will be in that cellar. Bet he regrets putting charms on the house now. He won't be able to contact anyone, so all he'll be able to do is wait." His eyes were wild and had no ounce of emotion in them.

*

"Ardal, do you think you can get us to Ireland?" Ron asked as they ran down the steps at the back of the hotel, Ardal insisted so they wouldn't bump into Phoebe.

"I've never travelled that far before," he replied.

"What about the Knight Bus?" Neville suggested.

"Will that be quick enough?" Ardal asked, "we used it several times when we were younger, but I'm not sure if it would get us to Ireland quick enough. Also, what about Martha?"

"There's only one way to find out," Neville smirked as he stuck his wand arm out. It a matter of breaths, the extravagant purple bus pulled up.

"Good evening," a round face smiled.

"How quickly could you get us to Inistioge in Ireland?" Ardal asked as he peered up at the conductor.

"We're fairly busy tonight so it won't be as quick as usual."

"We need to get their as soon as possible, my fiancée and my best friend have been taken by some really bad people and I fear that they are dead, please, could you get us there?" Ron begged.

"Fiery red hair, quick-tempered, you must be Ron Weasley. Hop on board, I'll see what we can do." Ron smiled to himself, he wasn't used to people recognising him and being treated like this. As he walked past the conductor, he pushed his chest out and for an instant forgot the enormity of what they were doing.

"Martha?"

"You go without me, I don't feel like I belong on that thing," she smiled timidly, "I'll see if I can push my flight forward."

"Go to Pegeen's until you hear from us, I don't want you getting caught up in all of this."

"Be safe, all of you, be safe."

The bus was packed with a miss-match of Witches and Wizards. Ron rarely used the Knight Bus, the first he really heard about it was when Harry told them all about it. They sat down on a row of seats that had seemingly been left for them to occupy. Ron and the others held on to hoops that were dangling from the ceiling to stop the jostling of the bus from disorientating them too much. "Do you think the others have got to them yet?" Ron shouted as he was being swung from left to right.

"I think so," Ardal feigned confidence that Ron was too desperate to ignore. "Aengus will stop at nothing to get them both back safely."

"I know," Ron agreed. "I can't help but think we have wasted our time by coming here. Martha was safe and we've spent hours here when we could have been saving them."

"You wouldn't be saying that if they were here, Ron. At least we know that Martha is safe and knows nothing about what is going on." Neville offered Ron, he seemed to drop the subject but not out of agreement.

*

"Aengus, you're going to have to calm down. We don't want to go running into something we don't know about. Anything can be going on behind that door!" Luna urged.

"You don't seem to understand, L, she's my sister and my friend, I can't just stand around anymore. As you say, anything can be going on behind that door and that anything can be horrific and torturous to them. We need to get them out of there as soon as possible!"

"Luna is right, Aengus. You know that I want to get them out of there as much as you, but we need to do this intelligently. We need to outsmart them and not scare them."

"How do you suppose on doing that?"

"I brought this," Harry smiled as he held up his Invisibility Cloak.

"No offence, Harry, but only one of you will fit in there now," Luna said delicately.

"Which on of us is going in?" Aengus said as he grabbed onto the cloak.

"I am. Aengus, you know you won't be able to control yourself once you see Calum, you know that you might as well walk in freely than under this. We need to use this for our benefit."

"So what are we going to do?" Aengus asked through gritted teeth.

"How many entrances and exits are there?"

"Just this one, it's quite a dodgy place."

"Then you are going to guard it to make sure nobody comes out and if they do, I want you to stun them or tie them, whatever you have to do to stop them from escaping and potentially getting reinforcement." Harry took charge, trying to channel Hermione as her plans usually ended successfully. "I am going to try and get them out without anyone seeing."

"How?" Luna asked.

Harry hadn't thought about that. Yes, both Hermione and Aoife were smaller than he was, but there was no way he would be able to sneak them under even if he tried to do it one at a time. "I'm going to take them to Ron's." He said. That was all he could think of, getting them as far away as possible from here."

"Do you think it's safe there?" Aengus asked, realising they didn't have this much time, but wanting to make sure their plan was viable.

"I believe it will be," Harry nodded, wondering how he would fare disapparating to somewhere so far away.

"Just get them both out of there," he almost snarled.

Harry didn't need telling twice, it was now or never.

Chapter 30: Chapter Thirty.
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The room was dimly lit. Harry could hardly see what was surrounding him; everything just looked like shadows. He did, however, hear talking from the corner nearest to him. One of the people was Julie, but there were two more that Harry didn't recognise, he took a closer look at them, making sure he didn't make a single decibel. One was definitely Calum; he remembered the boy from the night last year, same venue. "Where is he? He said he would be here with Harry by now," the last man said, someone Harry assumed was Rodolphus.

"He'll be here, darlin'; they're probably just coming kicking and screamin'." Julie patted his arm in what she would consider an affectionate way, but Harry noticed a distinctive disgusted look on his face.

"So we're just going to wait until Patrick turns up? What if they outsmarted him?" Calum spoke.

"That's very plausible; Patrick isn't the sharpest." Julie agreed.

Harry quietly and quickly snuck back out to see Luna and Aengus, "your Dad, they're waiting for him to turn up with us before they do anything."

"I've got an idea," Luna shared, "do you think Patrick will have any Polyjuice Potion on him?"

"Most likely, but it might already have Martha's hair in it," Aengus sighed, they still hadn't saved Aoife and Hermione.

"We don't have to time to brew any," Luna pondered aloud.

" Accio Polyjuice Potion ," Harry tried. To everyone's surprise, but Harry's, a phial floated towards them. "Hermione always carries some with her, has done since the war," Harry smiled smugly.

"Hopefully they didn't see that."

"I doubt it; it's very dingy in there," Harry said. "Aengus, could you run back to your house and get a hair of your Dad's? I'll try and get them out before you come back, but if I can't, it would be handy if they thought you were Patrick."

"No problem," Aengus nodded.

Harry smiled and covered himself in the cloak again before walked back in. "Be safe," Luna called after a disappearing Aengus.

"I will!"


Harry didn't bother to stand around and listen to what they had to say about anything; he just wanted to get them out. He noticed a door at the side of the entrance, which they neglected to man. He could have done with a distraction so they wouldn't see or hear the door opening. Just as he had thought this, someone started screaming outside, and no sooner had the three left the room, did it stop. "Thanks, Luna," Harry whispered as he opened the door.

"Hermione - the door just opened," Aoife whispered, her voice shaky and scared.

"Did anyone come in?" Harry's heart skipped a beat; they were both still alive.

"Not that I could see."

"Harry?" Hermione called out.

"Hermione, what are you doing?" Aoife hissed.

"You said the door opened, but nobody came in. That will be Harry under his cloak. I told you he was here," Hermione sounded rather smug.

"What have they done to you?" Harry asked as he pushed the hood off his head.

"Can we get out of here before we explain that?" Aoife asked, her voice not sounding any more relieved to see Harry.

"I'm not quite sure how to get you out," Harry explained.

"There's no Apparating allowed in here, we've tried," Hermione said.

"Right, well will you two fit under here?" He asked as he took the cloak off.

"We can't leave you here," Hermione whispered, "what if they come in and check on us?"

"Where are your wands?"

"They snapped them," Aoife cried.

"Right," Harry thought quickly, "Aoife, you take this," he handed her the cloak, "Luna is outside, get to her."

"How will you two escape?" She asked hesitantly, not taking the cloak off of Harry.

"Aengus will be back soon as your Dad, and I don't know where Ron and the others are, but I assume they are coming here," Harry explained, his voice low as a precaution.

"Ron knows we're here?" Aoife asked.

"He told us to come here," Harry smiled, "Aoife, take this and get to Luna. She has a wand so will be able to protect you. Then when Aengus comes back, he'll be able to distract them so we can get out."

"Will that work?"

"Aoife, get out of here, please." Hermione pleaded.

Aoife slowly nodded as she took the cloak from Harry and disappeared, "get to Luna and stay with here." Harry said one last time.

"I told you it was a wise thing to carry Polyjuice Potion around with me," Hermione joked as she saw the door open and close.

"Are you alright? What have they done to you?" He asked as he sat down next to her.

"Nothing, they were waiting until Patrick arrived, as soon as he didn't, I knew you had something to do with it."

*

Luna was standing a short distance away from the door as she watched the three of them run out and then back in. She hoped that her distraction would have been enough. With one eye watching the door and the other one trying to focus on the hill that Aengus would be running down any minute now she wasn't really paying attention to either. "Luna?" Aoife whispered as she pulled the cloak off. "Luna? Nice to see you are a concentrating guard." She laughed to herself. "Have you heard from Ron?"

"Oh, Aoife!" She jumped, startled by the sudden arrival of someone else. "It's good to see you. Where's Harry and Hermione?"

"They're still in there; only one person could leave. When did Aengus leave?"

"A while ago, he should be comin- there he is!" She smiled as she pointed to a figure running towards them. "Were you right?" She asked.

"He was pretending to be Martha," Patrick's body replied.

"How do we know he isn't actually Patrick?" Luna whispered to Aoife.

"Has Ardal ever had a girlfriend?" Aoife asked.

"Aoife, we don't have time for this." He sighed, "no, he has only had one serious relationship before now, and that was with Ethan - something that took both of you a while to get over. Now he is with someone called Eli, and although they haven't known each other for very long, they seem to be getting on really well." Aengus replied defiantly.

"Alright," Luna sighed, "get in there and get Harry and Hermione out." She ordered.

"It's good to see you alive, Aoife," Aengus replied as he took the Invisibility Cloak off of her.

Just as Aengus began striding in, he heard a blood-curdling scream which resulted in a sprint from all three of them.


"Potter, what are you doing in here?" Julie spat once the door had been opened and Harry had been revealed.

"What does it look like?" Harry growled as he stunned her.

"Now, Harry, this doesn't have to get violent," Rodolphus said calmly as he waved his arms around, not taking a second look at Julie's body on the floor.

"You've made it nothing but," Harry argued, "why did you take them? If you wanted to fight, you should have come directly to me."

"That would have been less fun," Julie croaked as she sat up. "And you know me, darlin', I'm all about having fun."

Harry had to be careful; he was aware that Hermione no longer had a wand, so he was outnumbered. It seemed like Rodolphus didn't care for Julie as much as he was claiming so it would be less dangerous to get rid of Julie first. But Aengus wasn't aware of this plan when he came running in brandishing his wand at Rodolphus. Harry watched as his body fell to the floor, still breathing. Luna was quick to follow and used the same spell she used to tie up Patrick back at the Curran's house. "No," Harry screamed as Julie lunged for her wand.

"You shouldn't have done that, darlin'; now you're all going to pay." She growled. "First, you," she said as she turned to Hermione. As the unmistakable stream of green shot towards Hermione, Harry's heart was in his mouth, he sent his trademark red towards Julie as he tried to jump in front of Hermione, but he was too slow. As it struck her, her lifeless body slumped to the floor.

What happened next was a blur to Harry as he stood on the spot. Aengus took out Julie, whether she was still alive was unknown, Harry didn't care. Aoife ran over to Hermione's body to see if she could do anything whatsoever to help while Luna tearfully explained everything to Ron, Ardal, and Neville who had just made their entrances. "Harry?" Someone called out to him. It sounded as though he heard it through water. "Harry. We need to contact the Aurors."

"No, not yet!" He cried. "We need to get her outside." He whispered as he walked over to Hermione. "She wouldn't want to be in here."

"Harry's right," Ron agreed. Nobody could quite believe what had happened and in turn, they were acting quite out of the ordinary as they tried to comprehend the last ten minutes.

Harry knelt down next to Hermione as tears flooded his eyes - he didn't know how to react. He knew what he wanted to do in his heart, but he couldn't do it here. Her body seemed smaller like it was missing something that made her. "Harry, do you need any help?" Ardal whispered as he had walked over to him. Everyone knew what he was referring to.

He shook his head, too afraid to speak as he scooped her body up like Hagrid had done to him years ago. The only difference, Harry was still alive in that scene. "I can't-" Luna stuttered as they all followed Harry outside.

Aoife and Aengus held back, "are you alright?" She asked her brother, knowing that he would be blaming himself for this.

"She's gone, I lov-" he began saying before dropping his head and shaking it, as though now wasn't the time to express any feeling.

"I know," she whispered, looking sympathetically, but almost as heartbroken, at her brother.

"What am I going to do? I can't do it again."

"We have to be there for Harry and Ron; they're both going to need us to be strong. We have to put our feelings in a little box and not open them." She ordered, every part of her acting like she said they should - strong - apart for the trembling lip and wheeling up eyes.

"You were always good at that," there was a small smile, "you were always good at hiding your feelings." He whispered, Aoife nodded, but they both knew that all three of them were too good at hiding their emotions.

*

Everyone followed Harry as he walked towards a nearby wood. The only thing that was keeping everyone going was disbelief and adrenaline. The wind was blowing through her hair, giving the impression of life - Harry couldn't look at her, couldn't look at the life that had been lost. They shouldn't be here, in Ireland, they should be at Hogwarts celebrating with their family and friends, celebrating the start of their new life together. "I'm going to wait here," Luna whispered to Ardal, "someone has to make sure no one escapes."

"You can't do that on your own," Ardal replied, "besides, no one is escaping those ropes. You need to stay with me; I don't want anything happening to you." He smiled as he took her hand and started walking again.

Harry wasn't exactly sure what he was looking for, but he knew there was something he was waiting to see. It wasn't until they came across a large oak tree that he felt compelled to stop. He knelt down and gently placed Hermione's body on the soft grass. As he stood back up, his hand went to his chest pocket as he remembered she had given him something to keep safe. He slipped the ring out and placed it delicately on her finger as tears cascaded down his face and he fell back down to his knees. Ron stood next to him; he opened his mouth to say something, but he knew no words would help either of them, so he knelt down beside him. One by one, the others did the same, Aoife deciding to kneel down on the other side of Harry and holding his hand.

*

"Sequoia, we have to do something. You know we can, and she definitely deserves it."

"What would we get out of it Althea? We need to make sure we're not taken advantage of again."

"Harry Potter would never do such a thing, Father. We stood by and watched as the good nearly fell, we can't stand by now and watch them fall apart just as they were about to thrive."

"We would need the help of the others, Zinnia and I don't know how readily Blaze will agree to it."

"We have to at least try, Sequoia, we have to at least try." She looked deep into her husband's golden eyes, "you know we have to at least try," she whispered one last time.

"Zinn, get your brother and talk to Silas; he will be easy to recruit. Althea, the Meadows shouldn't be too hard to convince. I shall see what I can do about Blaze. I can't make any promises."

"Just tell him that his is our chance to re-join the community we've desired to be a part of ever since we left."

"I'll try my best."


Zinnia almost skipped down the hall in search of her brother. She had never been quite as excited as she was at this moment in time. "Casimir," she sang as she opened the door. "AH!" She screamed in such a fashion that only one who had just walked in on her brother, and a girl in a compromising position would use. "Calida!"

"Hey, Zinn. How's it going?" The girl smiled as her orange eyes burrowed into Zinnia. "Do you mind leaving us to it?"

"Actually, Calida, this is a rather pressing matter. Cas, we need to find Silas."

"Silas?" Calida smirked, "good luck with that, he's having family troubles."

"Why do you want to see him?" Cas asked her as he sat up and straightened his shirt.

"Dad, he wants to Join and save Hermione Granger-" Zinn blurted out before she remembered that she probably shouldn't have just blabbed while Calida was in the room.

" The Hermione Granger?" Calida squealed, "you're going to need my father's help. I will go and talk to him this instance."

"No, you don't have t-"

"Oh, don't I? I expect you have left it down to your Dad and I doubt either of you are very confident about that." The stupid smirk was back, if Zinn were a not so nice person, she would have smacked her face right there and then.

"That would be perfect, darling." Cas smiled as he helped her up and kissed her nose.

darling ?! Zinn squirmed at her brother's choice of words. "No problem," Calida winked. "Don't worry, Zinnia, if anyone is going to talk my father around, it will be me." She boasted. "Best of luck with Silas."

"Thanks," Zinn mocked, although deep down she did know that they were going to need luck on their side.

"Dad really wants to Join?" Cas asked as soon as the door had been closed and they were alone.

"This is the perfect opportunity, Cas. Imagine if we save Hermione Granger! She's going to go on to do wonderful things, and we can trust her to treat us well. It's been so long since we went into hiding."

"Hardly for us, we were born like this!" Cas argued for the sake of arguing.

"I know, Cas, but I've explored every petal there is to explore here, I'm ready to see the sun - the real sun. It's time we show our faces. The only reason we're not dying out is because of Mixing - we need some fresh faces." She smirked, "then maybe you could get rid of Calida." She whispered.

"Hey! I heard that. Zinn, I really like her. Don't let some stupid disagreement when you were five ruin this for me. She's really caring once you get to know her."

"Cas, she's a Fire, that means it's only a matter of time before she erupts because you said who instead of whom ." She joked, but there was an element of truth about it.

"Shouldn't we be going?" He asked, believing he was mature enough to walk away from a rather uncomfortable conversation.

Zinn nodded, after all, she only wanted two things right now - to talk to Silas and everyone to agree to Join.


Althea took a deep breath as she crossed the threshold to the Meadows. They were typically warm and welcoming, but after decades of being in hiding, friendship and ties had become fraught. "Althea? To what do we owe this unexpected pleasure?" The pastel blue haired beauty smiled as Althea walked over to the hammocks.

"Poppy, it's good to see you. Tracks are being made by my family to try and reunite for the sake of Hermione Granger. It's been about ten minutes since she was cruelly slain - we don't have long, so I was hoping you lot were up to it."

Poppy's eyes widened, "never in my wildest dreams did I think you would say that. What do you need from us?"

Althea was shocked at how easily it was to convince Poppy, but she tried to keep that to a minimum as she had no time to lose. "We need your two eldest and most powerful members."

"Follow me," Poppy smiled as she led Althea into a small shack that was decorated with rare and beautiful flowers. "Aster, Althea Ewing is here to see you."

Poppy nodded to Althea as she exited the shack to leave the two to it. "Whatever it is, Al, I will agree to it." She whispered as she turned her back to Althea.

"It's Hermione Granger. It's time." Poppy smiled.

"I'll fetch Amaranth, can you ask Huckle to show you where to find Virtuflo , please? We shall meet you at your home."

"Thank you, Aster, thank you so very much."


Silas was pacing his headquarters when a knock came at his door. "Zinnia, Casimir, what are you doing here?" He asked as the door swung open.

"Guess what?" Zinn beamed at him.

"Your father has finally lifted the ban on-"

"No!" Cas blushed, "don't hold your breath on that ever happening, Silas, you know what father is like."

"One can only hope, Cas." He winked. "Why are you here? Would you like a cup of oak tea?"

"If only we could." Zinn sighed, she did love a fresh brew of oak tea, but now was most certainly not the time. "It's about Hermione Granger."

"Yes, I saw. Such a terrible loss of life - she was so young and had such a future ahead of her."

"Well, if you agree to it, that life might not be lost after all." Zinn held her breath.

"Come again."

"Father has agreed to Join, we've heard that the Meadows are in and Calida is trying to get Blaze to agree so now all we need is you and Silvana and everything will change." Cas pleaded.

"This can't be true, your father has always been dead against Joining, and he is hardly an advocate for returning to the Wizarding World."

"He was hardly an advocate when its current state was as it was, it's different now." Cas began.

"It's safer now," Zinn continued, "Hermione Granger just accepted Harry Potter's marriage proposal - that means we will have the Harry Potter on our side! There's no way he would let us be taken advantage of again. This is a fresh start for us, for them. Please, Silas, you're all we need to complete the Join."

Silas' green eyes lit up at the mention of Harry Potter - of course, he had seen that they were engaged, but he never really connected it together. "This does seem like the perfect opportunity, my love. If we do this for them, who knows the good it will bring."

The woman with long, silky brunette hair made Silas jump, "so you're in?" Zinn asked hopefully.

"Yes, my dear, we're in." Silvana smiled.


"Thank you all for coming," Sequoia clapped his hands together as they all gathered around him. "As you all know, Hermione Granger has not been breathing for over twenty minutes. Her friends are still gathered around her, and it doesn't seem like they have contacted anyone to let them know what has happened. I want you all to know that this is dangerous, we haven't used these sorts of powers for decades - some of you never have - but you are all more than able. The power that we transfer tonight will most certainly drain you, so if you want to make sure everything is ready when you get back, you will have five minutes to do so. We have to be discreet; we don't want to draw attention to ourselves. I know you have all been promised a reunion with the Wizarding World, and that will come, but I will not be building those bridges hastily, and it may not happen for some time, but I assure you that it will happen. As soon as we breathe life into that young girl, I want you all to disperse and get regenerating as quickly as possible. After that, you are all invited to a feast here." The seven elegant creatures all looked at him and nodded. "One more thing, this stays between us for now. I don't want others hearing about it until we know more ourselves. When the time comes, I will allow you to let your clans know. Do I have your word that you're not going to open your mouths about this until I have said so?"

"You have my word," everyone but Blaze stated.

"Blaze? What is the problem?"

"Why are you in charge?" The fiery haired man asked. "Who put you in charge?"

"Do we really have to go over this again, Blaze? Sequoia is in charge because he has the largest clan." Amaranth sighed. "We all agreed to it."

"He only has the biggest clan because the Mixlings seem drawn to settle here." Blaze rolled his eyes.

"Blaze, you agreed to it years ago. If you have a problem with it now, we will sort it out after this. We don't have time to waste. Do I have your word?" Sequoia asked sternly.

"You have my word," Blaze sighed.

"Thank you." Sequoia nodded as a sign of respect and understanding. "Right, you all have five minutes to put anything in place that will help you regenerate as quickly as possible. Then we are off."

"Sequoia, I can't believe we are doing this," Althea squealed as she embraced her husband.

"It's going to be very dangerous, what if something happens to you? How will I live with myself?"

"Nothing will happen to me; I'm ready for this. Besides, we get to sleep for twelve hours after this, imagine that." Her eyes sparkled.

"If you're feeling Low, just let us know, and we'll stop. I don't want to risk you."

"I won't feel Low, Sequoia! Stop treating me like a wounded bird - we both know that I can do this."

Sequoia smiled at his wife, "there's the fire I feel in love with."

*

Harry wanted nothing more than to be alone, but he couldn't bring himself to get up and leave. "She looks so beautiful," Aoife said as she successfully held back her tears.

"We will never forget you, Hermione." Ron whispered, "because of you; I will never forget how to levitate an object. I'm sorry for mocking you - I really didn't mean it, I was just jealous of you."

"Look over there," Neville whispered, "there are two fireflies."

"Fireflies? In Ireland?" Ardal whispered so that only Luna could hear. "There don't look like the ones we saw on holiday."

"They're almost glowing," Aoife swooned. "It's like they're here for Hermione."

Harry didn't say anything as he saw two ladybirds crawling across Hermione's left hand, "it's almost as though nature is reclaiming her," Luna whispered. She too was focusing on something other than the fireflies, for she had seen two butterflies dancing.

Suddenly, a large gust of wind blow through the opening they had settled in and if by some miracle the wind had blown life back into Hermione as she gasped. "Hermione?" Aengus shouted.

"What's happened?" She mumbled.

"No, no," Harry stuttered. "This isn't happening. Ron?" Harry turned to his best friend for confirmation of is sanity.

"Harry?" She croaked. "Where's Julie and-?" She couldn't finish her question because her throat hurt too much.

"They're back in the Barn Yard," Harry whispered as he stroked her cheek, it was cold, but only because of the wind. "Do you remember what happened?"

"N-no."

"We need to get her to St.Mungo's," Aoife said. "Maybe they will be able to explain what has happened and how."

"Hermione, is it really you?" Harry smiled.

"It's me, Harry." Hermione smiled as she took his hand in hers.

Chapter 31: Chapter Thirty-One.
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Before Hermione truly knew what was going on, she was swept up and floated through the air as her head spun out of control. She decided that, even though it was against everything that had been engrained into her during the war, she would let the clutches of sleep take her - besides, she was too weak to fight now anyway. "We need to get Elrick," she heard someone whisper.


"He's busy." Came another voice.


"I don't care how busy he is; he will want to be here. If what they said is true, this is truly out of our realms of understanding. To die by the curse and be brought back has never happened before. Get Elrick!"




"Harry? Are you alright?" Luna asked as they all rushed after Hermione and the two healers.


"I don't know, Luna. I can't quite get my head around what has just happened." He replied.


"She's alive," Aoife squeezed his hand, "that's all you need to know right now."


"Yes, but how?" Ron asked from behind them.


"Harry did it," Aoife pointed out.


"No, I didn't. I didn't die from the curse. She was struck by it and stopped breathing."


"It can't be impossible; it's happened."


"Mr Potter?" The taller healer turned around as the stretcher carrying Hermione glided into a room on their right. "I think it would be beneficial to us all if you and I had a chat about what happened. Do you think you are up to it?"


"Can't I stay with Hermione?" Was Harry's reply.


"She's not going anywhere," the man smiled. "Besides, the sooner we find out what happened, the sooner we will be able to help."


"We'll stay with her, Harry," Ron whispered.


"Can you come with me?" Harry asked Ron.


"Of course," Ron smiled reassuringly.


"Right then, follow me." The healer ordered as he strode down the corridor.


"We won't leave her side," Aoife confirmed to Harry as he turned around apprehensively.


"Thank you," he mouthed.




"Firstly, Mr Potter, let me introduce myself. I'm Todd Ackroyd, and I can assure you that Miss Granger will be given the best treatment possible."


"Call me Harry," Harry insisted as he and Ron sat down in the chairs on the other side of Todd's desk.


Todd nodded, "another thing I should let you know is that Aurors have just informed us that they have captured all four of those involved, a Mr Calum Ashcraft has been taken to the Muggle Prime Minister."


"Why?" Ron asked in amazement.


"He cannot be trialled in the Wizarding World because he isn't a Wizard and knows nothing about it, but that doesn't mean he can get off. He needs to be brought to justice, and that's the only solution."


Harry nodded, "I'm not sure what he did to them."


His eyes twinkled slightly as he looked down at some paper that had been left on his desk. "Shall we get on with the more pressing matter? Can you tell me exactly what happened? Did Miss Julie Eliot really use the Killing Curse?"


"Yes. Not only did I hear it, but no one can mistake that green light when it's fired. It struck Hermione, and she instantly fell to the floor."


"That's when we came in," Ron continued for Harry. "Everything was a bit manic, Julie was still alive, but her arms and legs were bound, the same with Rodolphus. Luna explained everything to us, and I couldn't believe it - I didn't want to believe it."


"But you saw Miss Granger, and she was dead?" Todd asked.


"I walked over to Harry who was beside her, and she wasn't breathing. She was dead." Ron confirmed.


"Then what did you do?"


"I picked her up," Harry took over, "and we walked outside. I knew she wouldn't have wanted to be in that room."


"And you walked her to that clearing we collected you from?"


"Yes. I don't know why we stopped there; I just felt something telling me to stop.”


"How long, approximately, would you say it was from the curse hitting her to her sitting up?"


"No longer than half an hour," Harry said confidently.


"Well, I think it's clear to both of you that this is a highly rare case. As you said before, Harry, the curse didn't kill you. For Miss Granger, however, this wasn't the case. If like you say, she was dead for thirty minutes; we will need to check for any lasting damage - if there is any. I'm going to have a chat with some of my colleagues and get an interview with Julie Eliot to see if she knows anything about why this has happened. In the meantime, you can go back to Miss Granger. If you remember anything that might be of importance, don't hesitate to tell me." He said with a smile that seemed to show that Todd didn't really know what he should be doing and whether what he was planning on doing was the right thing.


"Thank you," Harry, and Ron said at the same time as they walked towards the door.


"Mr Ackroyd," Ron turned back to face the man, "could you give the Muggle Prime Minister a message from me?"



*



"What a crazy day," Aoife sighed as she settled into a seat beside Hermione's bed.


"We're going to be doing some tests on Hermione, so right now she in unconscious and probably can't hear anything you are saying." A timid looking man explained.


"Probably ?" Ardal repeated.


"I mean, it's unlikely she can hear." He said, less confident than before.


"Thank you," Aoife sang to stop the poor man having a panic attack.


"What do you think will happen now?" Ardal asked once the nervous man had vanished.


"They'll be running test after test, trying to work out what happened and why and how. I wouldn't be surprised if they keep her in just to further their understanding. She's going to be a test dummy now."
Aoife replied sadly, gazing at Hermione's hand. "That ring really is gorgeous."


"Harry adores her," Ardal smiled.


"Where have Luna and Neville gone?" Aoife asked, tearing her eyes away from Hermione.


"They've gone back to Hogwarts to see if there was any damage and then I think they're going to tell McGonagall what's happened - she'll be able to inform Hermione's family."


"It's going to be so hard for them to understand," Aoife sighed. "Experts here can't comprehend so imagine what it will be like for Muggles."


"She will be alright, though?" Aengus finally spoke.


"I don't know, Gus, but she's definitely in the right place."


He was pale and ghost-like, this whole experienced looked like it had aged him. "I had no idea you had fallen this hard," Ardal said delicately to his brother.


"Nor did I," Aengus replied quietly, so no one heard.


"What's happening with Robyn?" Aoife asked brightly, trying to change the subject, but failing to grasp that Robyn and Hermione were linked.


"Yeah, I saw you talking to her at the party?"


"I needed to tell her something, but I never got around to it."


"Tell her what?"


"Not now, Aoife." Aengus snarled.


"Aengus-" She began.


"It was about Emiliana - I needed to tell her what happened between us because she deserves to know everything."


"I'm sure she'll understand, maybe," Aoife whispered.



*



"Sir? Everything seems absolutely normal with Hermione Granger. No lasting damage, no trace of spell or potion that might have helped, no signs at all."


"Thank you," Elrick replied. "I was just about to go and see Kingsley to explain to him what has happened, even though we don’t know what’s happened and then I want to meet with Miss Granger’s parents.”

 
“But, Sir, they’re Muggles. Surely they cannot walk through those doors.”

 
“Alex, their daughter has just done the impossible, their daughter has just come back from the dead. I’m sure we can make an exception just this once.” Elrick replied sarcastically.

 
“Of course,” Alex nodded, “you are the head of St. Mungo’s, if rules are to be broken, it’s best you are the one to do it.”
 

“Splendid,” Elrick smirked, “I would like you do go now, Alex. Get on with some work,” Elrick smirked as the man opposite him tiptoed away.

 

*


 
“Harry,” Aoife bounded towards him as he entered the room. “We’ve just been told that Hermione seems alright. She hasn’t got any lasting damage from being de- for the amount of time she was. It’s truly a miracle.”
 

“So, she’s going to be okay? She’s going to make a full recovery?” Harry asked tentatively.
 

“She-“ Aoife began.

 
“I’ve already made a full recovery.” Hermione smiled a teary smile.

 
“How long were we with Todd for?” Ron whispered to Aoife.

 
“Long enough for tests to be done and results to be returned,” Todd said as he stood behind them at the door. “Magic, Mr Weasley, is a very quick method of gaining a full picture of one’s health.”

 
“She’s really going to be alright?” Harry asked, spinning around to face the Healer.

 
“Everything seems to be pointing that way, Harry. I’d like to speak to Miss Granger on her own for a moment,” his eyes fell on Hermione who was now sitting up in the bed.

 
“Can Harry stay?” Hermione asked sheepishly.

 
“If you want him to, yes.” Harry walked over to the chair which Aoife had been sat in as the rest of them filed out of the room. “My boss, Elrick Mungo, will be with you shortly to talk to you. You must be aware, Miss Granger that this has never happened before and so we can’t quite be sure of what will ensue in the future. As my colleague explained to you before, everything seems to be working as normal, and there are no signs of lasting damaging, but we can’t say for definite that that will continue to happen. We’re confident in our Healers and the tests we have performed so I can say with some confidence that currently, from an entirely medical perspective, you seem to be okay. Elrick is now talking with your parents and trying to explain things as best he can, but they will be confused I’m sure, quite like the rest of us, and he will be bringing them here to see you.”

 
“I don’t want them to see me in here,” Hermione interrupted, “can you tell them that I’m fine and I will see them once I’ve been discharged?”

 
“Are you sure?” Todd asked.

 
“Positive,” Hermione nodded.

 
“Right, give me a second, I’ll just let Elrick know of your wish.”

 
“Why don’t you want them to see you?” Harry asked delicately.

 
“They already see magic as dangerous; I don’t want them to be even more convinced. You heard what he said, Harry, nobody knows what’s going on and I could really do without my parent’s questions and snide remarks about magic right now. I just want to get out of here as soon as possible and then I’ll try to explain things to them.” Hermione said so defiantly that Harry would be foolish to argue with her.

 
“Elrick has received my message,” Todd confirmed as he walked through the door. “Right, as I was saying, I don’t see any point keeping you in for further testing at this current time, Elrick might feel different about this so you won’t be allowed to leave until he has said you can. We would, however, like you to see us weekly so we can document your progress just in case there is something we have missed and absolutely get in contact or visit us if you have any questions or worries.” Todd smiled, his grey eyes sparkling at the very thought of being around when history was made. “Have you got any questions or worries now?”

 
“I’ve got about a hundred questions, none of which anyone can answer,” Hermione laughed, “but thank you for everything you have done.”

 
“We haven’t done anything, Miss Granger, but I assure you we will try and find out who did. I shall see you later with Elrick.”

 
“I know who helped,” Hermione whispered to Harry as Todd exited the room once again.

 
“You do? How? Who?”

 
“I read a book once about mythological creatures. Of course, I was only young and didn’t even know about magic at the time, but it stated that fairies are the most powerful magical being on the planet – if they existed and I'm beginning to think they do. Witches and wizards aren’t the only magical being; we know that, so what if it was someone even more magical than you and me?”

 
“You really are the brightest witch of your generation, Miss Granger,” a person who was more beautiful than humanly possible sang as he opened the door to her room. “May I come in?”

 
“Who are you?” Harry asked defensively as he stood up from his chair.
 

“I beg your pardon, Mr Potter; my name is Sequoia Ewing. I can explain what happened to you, Miss Granger.” His voice was so soft, it melted in her ears, his golden eyes so warm and kind.
 

“Come in, Mr Ewing,” Harry smiled, something about this man put him completely at ease.

 
“I think I better start from the beginning,” he smiled as he took a seat, “but first, I don’t want to be interrupted.” He flicked his finger and the door locked shut. “I would put charms on it, but I haven’t rested long enough, my powers are still weak.” He explained, realising instantly that there was no one to explain to as the two who sat in front of him had no idea what he meant by it. “Hundreds of years ago, before even Tom Riddle was born, we roamed the world like any other being. Mixing and mingling with magical folk and muggles alike. We, like witches and wizards, were sought after, hunted. Like all magical beings were kept ourselves hidden. Forming societies away from muggles, but still part of a wider community. Then, witches and wizards began noticing that we were different, that our powers were much greater than they had ever imagined and they exploited us. We are the most trustworthy of creatures, and if we make a promise, we can never break that pledge. We had to hide from it, we were scared that terrible people would start using us for their rise to power, so we went underground, away from everyone. Not everyone was happy about this decision; some thought that it wasn’t mine to make, but I knew what was best for our kind and it wasn’t what would have happened if we stayed put. We watched Voldemort's rise and fall. We watched as Albus Dumbledore sought the Deathly Hallows. We watched as countless good and bad fell. We watched as you fought. And we watched as you fell, Miss Granger. We felt like this was the time to reconnect with the people we longed to speak to for many years. We knew that with your backing, nobody would dare exploit us again. I’m here to extend my hand, to ask if you will help us to become part of the magical community we left so many years ago, to ask if you will help bring Fairies back.”

 
Harry couldn’t even begin to fathom what had just been said. Hermione, on the other hand, seemed less confused – something which was very common in their friendship. “It’s true? It’s all true?” Hermione whispered. “The book my father used to read to me said there were three sub-groups.”

 
“Your muggle book made some mistakes, Miss Granger. There are three sub-groups, yes, but I am the leader of the biggest group of all, I am the leader of the Mixlings, also known as General Fairies. It’s a bit like your Pure Bloods, Half-Bloods and Muggle Born, the three groups cross bred, and Mixlings became more familiar and less discriminated against.”

 
“Fire, Wood and Meadow,” Hermione said as she looked at Harry. “How come we never learnt about Fairies at Hogwarts?”

 
“We went into hiding so long ago; nobody is alive who remembers us. We destroyed all evidence of ourselves.”

 
“And you want to come out of hiding?”

 
“We’re beginning to struggle. We’ve lost hundreds and numbers are starting to deplete. Fairy genes outnumber all other genes. If one of your parents is a fairy, you will be a fairy, Mr Potter.”

 
Harry looked up at him, unsure why he was being addressed to, but wanting to say something. Wanting to do something to thank this wonderfully strange man in front of him. “What do you need from us?” He found his voice.

 
“Nothing, not quite yet, but I will get in contact with you when I feel you can help us the most. It goes without saying that I don’t want you to repeat anything you have heard today. I don’t want you to tell the Healers the reason you are alive and show no signs of damage. I don’t want you to talk about us until I have given the go ahead. It may take years, it may never happen, but if it does, I will have a plan, and you will follow it. Do you understand?” He asked sternly, but still, his voice sounded calm and friendly. Nothing about this man signalled anything wrong or evil.

 
“We understand, Mr Ewing,” Hermione nodded.

 
“Just one thing, before you go,” Harry called as the man walked towards the door. “Is Hermione-”

 
“She’s absolutely perfect, Mr Potter. There is nothing to worry about. You could even pretend like none of this has happened.” He said with his back to them before vanishing from sight.

 
“Hey, can we come in now?” Aoife asked as the four of them appeared at the door just as Mr Ewing had disappeared.

 
“Of course, come in.” Hermione smiled.

 
“What did you say? Is everything okay?” Aengus asked.

 
“Everything’s perfect,” Harry explained, “he said that Hermione might be able to go home soon if Mr Mungo agrees.”

 
Aoife gasped, “Mr Mungo? You’ve got Mr Mungo treating you? He’s the seventh Mungo to go into Healing. His great, great, great, great-grandfather founded this place. Nobody has ever been good enough to overthrow the Mungo’s to become the boss.”

 
“Do you want to stay and meet him?” Hermione asked.

 
“Could I? That would be fantastic! Thank you!” She squealed.

 
Noise from behind Aoife made everyone jump, “sorry; I should take this.” Aengus said gazing down at his phone and frowning.

 
“I’m going to go, too,” Ardal announced, “I’m so glad you’re okay, Hermione. See you all later.”

 
“Thanks for all your help, Ardal!” Harry called after him. “You’re going to stay, aren’t you Ron?” Harry turned to him.

 
“Of course, I went to Mum and Dad’s and explained what has happened. They’re with your parents, Hermione. Do you know when Mr Mungo will be in to see you?”

 
“He was talking to my parents, but if they’re now with yours, I don’t know where he is. I’m sure he won’t be too long.”

 
“Not too long at all,” a tall man with a greying beard and little head hair said as he walked in. “Sorry for keeping you waiting, Miss Granger. I’ve spoken to every conceivable person, and no one seems to be able to explain why this has happened. I’ve talked to Julie Eliot, but she was just as surprised to hear you were alive. I’m happy to let you leave; I just wanted to see you myself first. I’m sorry we couldn’t give you more answers.”

 
“That’s alright, Mr Mungo. Sometimes things just don’t have answers.” Hermione said carefully.

 
“She’s alive; that’s all that really matters,” Harry included.

 
“Indeed,” Elrick said through narrowed eyes. “You must be Aoife Curran,” he said as he turned to face Aoife.

 
“That’s right; it’s good to meet you, Sir.” She extended her hand, and he took it firmly in his.

 
“I look forward to working with you. Miss Granger, I would like you to keep in contact for the foreseeable future. Good evening.” He nodded his head surely and walked away from them.

 
“He’s looking forward to working with me,” Aoife squealed, staring at the hand he had shaken. “Did you hear that, Ron? He’s looking forward to working with me !”

 
“Can we go now?” Hermione interrupted, “I don’t think this is a good place to celebrate Aoife’s exciting news.”

 
“Definitely,” Ron agreed.

 
“We’ll meet you at your parents, Ron,” Harry suggested.

 
“See you there,” he nodded as he took Aoife’s arm and spun around.


“Can we really keep this a secret?” Harry whispered, despite the fact they were very much alone.

 
“We’re going to have to; you heard what he said. Just put it out of your mind, it’ll be fine. Besides, we’re joining the ministry in a couple of weeks, there we will have more influence, and so we won’t be keeping secrets for too long.”

 
“If you saw so.” Harry smiled, taking Hermione’s hand and helping her up.
 

“Before we go to the Weasley’s, can we go home? I think we need to celebrate properly.” She grinned, glancing down at her left hand.

 
“Hmm let me think about that,” he smirked.



*



“Where is she? If she’s okay, why can’t we see her?” Mrs Granger asked frantically as Ron did his best to explain.

 
“I don’t know where she’s gone, Mrs Granger. She’s with Harry, and I’m sure they’re both alright.”

 
“With all due respect, Ron, the fact she’s with Harry doesn’t lessen our worry. She was with Harry when she di-” Mrs Granger couldn’t bring herself to finish her sentence.
 

“Obviously, we don’t blame him whatsoever, but right now we want to get her away from magic.” Mr Granger took over.
 

“Take her away from magic? But it’s her life,” Ron replied.
 

“No, it became her life. Her life used to be with us without magic.”
 

“Ron, I need you to help me with something,” Aoife asked quickly, trying to stop an argument irrupting.


“With what?” He asked vacantly, turning back to face the Grangers.

 
“Packing,” Aoife lied, she was disappointed in herself, that was the worst lie she could have possibly come up with.

 
“We don’t want to take her away, Ron, but it’s the safest thing to do. We can’t have her in a world that has threatened to kill her on more than one occasion.”

 
“You don’t understand, Sir, Hermione belongs in this world. Magic chose her for a reason, and that reason was to help save it. You could try and take her away, maybe you’ll succeed, but she won’t thank you for it, I can tell you that.” Ron said, seemingly as though he had made his peace as he didn’t hang around to hear the reply from either of them.

 
“Ron’s right, this is my world now.” Everybody had failed to realise that Hermione and Harry had arrived some moments before the start of the conversation. “This is where I belong and if you can’t accept that, maybe you can’t accept me.” Her head dropped as her parents gazed at her.

 
“You’ve got to understand that this is impossible for us. We don’t understand things like you do. Nobody warned us that this would happen.”

 
“Nobody knew, mum. Nobody knew I would become best friends with Harry and Ron and nobody knew what we would be up against. There are things I don’t understand,” her left hand rested on her heart as she took a step forward, “but what I do understand, what I know more than ever before, is that I belong here.”

 
Her parents looked at her and then at each other, “we knew this would happen the moment she read that letter, Rose.” Mr Granger said reasonably.

 
“We didn’t know that the world she was about to enter was in the middle of a terrifying war.”

 
“The war is over, Mrs Granger,” Harry stepped forward this time. “What happened today isn’t easy to explain or understand, but she’s safe. I will never let anything happen to her again, I promise.”
“We can’t be sure of that anymore, Harry. This happened today right in front of you.”

 
“True,” he agreed, thinking about what he could say to help, “but it’s too late. The whole wizarding world knows her face now. She would be less safe without magic because she wouldn’t be able to defend herself.” Maybe stating that their only child would be in grave danger for the rest of her life wasn’t the best way to go about things. Mrs Granger’s face went from slight concern to absolute sheer panic. “I don’t mean it like that,” Harry quickly added.

 
“What Harry is trying to say,” Hermione glared at him, “is I’m just as safe in both worlds. But here, I have the backup of witches and wizards.”

 
Mrs Granger sighed knowing she was fighting a losing battle. “You look like you could do with some tea,” Mrs Weasley announced from behind the two muggles. “Arthur told me all about your love of
tea. I’ve got some supplies just in case. Come on through.”
 

“Thank you,” Hermione mouthed as the three of them walked through to the kitchen.
 

“I’m sorry, Hermione. I didn’t help at all there, did I?” Harry asked shamefully.
 

“I wouldn’t say that,” Hermione smiled, “you may have helped a tiny bit,” she laughed. “I’m going to spend some time with them, they’ve had a busy day.”
 

“See you later,” Harry smiled, he stepped forward to kiss her forehead.

 
*

 
The evening hadn’t quite gone according to plan, Harry thought as he walked around the house in search of anyone he could talk to while Hermione was busy with her parents. He supposed he should be with them as well, but he felt like he would put his foot in it. Harry tried Ron’s room, but strangely he or Aoife wasn't there. He thought about any of the other Weasleys who may know where they had gone so he made a beeline to George’s room. “Hey, Harry, congratulations and sorry about what happened after. Luckily nobody got hurt. Do they know what happened to Hermione?”
 

“Thanks, George,” he grinned, “no, they have no idea,” Harry said, “it’s a miracle.”
 

“Completely. I’m glad everything worked out well in the end, though. Anyway, I’m sure you didn’t come here to talk about that. What can I do for you? Do you want a job?” He joked.
 

“I’m alright for a job, I was looking for Ron, have you seen him?”
 

“No, I haven’t. I suppose he’s with Aoife somewhere.” George informed him. “I assume you’ve tried his room?”
 

“Yes, he isn’t there. Thanks,” Harry sighed as he walked away.
 

“Bye then!” George called after him.
 

 
“Oh, hi Ginny, sorry for bumping into you there,” Harry said as he and Ginny met in the hall.

 
“What are you doing here?” She asked rather abruptly.

 
“Well, did you hear what happened to Hermione?” Ginny nodded, so Harry continued, “her parents are here, and she’s trying to calm them down.”

 
“Right, so what are you doing in the hallway?”

 
“I was just talking to George, Ginny, what’s wrong?” Harry asked suspiciously, Ginny was acting entirely out of character.

 
“Nothing, I just wasn’t expecting to see you is all.”

 
“Sorry…” Harry replied tentatively.

 
Ginny wanted nothing more than to cry. She was staring at the boy who only a couple of years ago, she was with and she thought they were happy. Now he was engaged, but unlike her dreams she used to have, the ring wasn’t on her finger. “Don’t apologise, Harry,” she sighed, one reason she was so upset was because of how nice he was. She could hate him if it weren't for that.
 

“When are you going back to Wales?” Harry asked trying to diffuse the tension.
 

“In the morning,” Ginny replied bluntly. “The season starts soon, and I’m hopeful that I can get some game time.”
 

“You’ll be great, we’ll have to come down and watch a game soon,” Harry smiled.

 
“Yeah,” she replied quietly. “Harry, I can’t do this, I’m sorry. I can’t talk freely like nothing has happened. I just need some time to get my head around this.”
 

“I thought we were alright?”

 
“Why? Because we danced together and I said I didn’t blame you? Just because I don’t blame you doesn’t mean I’m going to be okay with you getting engaged. You won’t understand it, you can’t understand it.”

 
“Ginny, I’m-”

 
“I know, I just need some time,” she repeated, “I will be able to say congratulations sincerely sometime soon, I promise you,” there was a small smile, something which Harry valued – at least she wasn’t trying to lie.

 
“Harry, can you come down here, please?” Mrs Weasley called from the bottom of the house.

 
“I guess that’s my cue to leave,” Harry laughed.

 
“See you around,” Ginny nodded, watching as he walked away.
 

 
“Harry, Hermione has something to ask you,” Mrs Weasley was grinning from ear to ear, along with the Grangers.

 
“Harry, I want us to get married as soon as possible. I don’t want to wait around. Is that alright with you?”
 

He wanted to seem like he was thinking about it, but his answer came almost immediately. “We better get planning then,” he smiled.

Chapter 32: Chapter Thirty Two.
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Several weeks later, the five of them were sitting around the round kitchen table discussing flowers and colours and dresses and music and food. If Harry was completely honest with himself, he didn’t find any of this reverting; he wanted to be playing Quidditch with Ron. He quickly glanced at Hermione hoping to see a similar expression etched on her face and to his delight, he saw something he had rarely seen in his life – an unfocused and bored Hermione. She hadn’t been thrilled with her mother’s idea of getting a wedding planner, but she had obliged all the same. She confessed to Harry the previous night that if they were going to get everything ready by the end of September, they would have to have help with the planning. “So, would that be incorporated in the dress?” Rose asked engagingly. At least someone was paying attention and not only that, someone was throwing ideas into the mix.

The kettle clicked off, the bubbling water making it harder to hear what Melissa was suggesting. “I’ll make the tea,” both Harry and Hermione said at once. They looked at each other, neither of them wanting to concede, so they both stood up and walked over to the kettle. “I don’t know how much more of this I can take,” Hermione whispered. “She’s planning absolutely everything; how can it be special when it sounds so regimented?”

“We don’t have to listen to her, we can plan it ourselves,” Harry suggested.

“How do you suppose we do that? We don’t know the first things about weddings.”

“What do you want then?” He asked delicately.

“I just want you,” she replied after a moment pause. “That’s all I really want.”

“Melissa?” Harry interrupted, turning around so that he faced her. “We really appreciate everything you’ve done, but what we really want is a simple day with our family and friends. We don’t need a colour scheme or a theme; we just want to be together.”

“I understand,” she smiled as she teared up the piece of paper she and Rose were poring over. “We had a feeling that would be what you wanted, so Mrs Granger and I planned this for you.”

“You were planning a wedding you knew we didn’t want?” Hermione asked.

“No, we were planning a wedding to see how much you wanted a simple one. See, I find that if you say you want a simple wedding, you may not actually mean it, but this way, you’ve heard what you would be missing and still have declined.”

Hermione nodded slowly, she didn’t agree with what Melissa was saying, but she didn’t want to make anyone aware of that. “So, you’ve already planned it then?”

“Indeed, we have, if you would sit down I can show you.” Harry and Hermione sat down abandoning the tea. They looked at the wedding that had already been planned, and it seemed to fall right into place.

“We know it’s tradition for the bride to marry in her hometown, but we thought that as your parents can’t be there, it would be nice if we used Godric’s Hollow, that way your parents will sort of be there.” Rose looked at Harry, hoping that her gesture would be received the way it was intended.

Harry couldn’t speak out of fear that he would cry, so he mouthed “thank you” to his future mother-in-law as sincerely as possible.

“Hermione, you have a dress fitting tomorrow with your mum and Harry, you and Ron are getting your suits. Everything going to plan, you’ll be married by the end of the week,” Melissa beamed at them.

“The end of the week?” Hermione asked in astonishment.

“Well, you did say you didn’t want to wait around,” her mum smiled, “is this going too fast for you?”

Harry gave Hermione a sideways glance, and although he couldn’t be sure, he saw what could only be described as a hesitant smile, “that’s perfect. Thank you all so much,” Harry answered for the pair of them.

“Hermione?” Her father asked.

She shook her head to get out of whatever trance she was in, “this sounds absolutely perfect,” she replied with the biggest smile on her face.


*


“I can’t believe that you are going to be Mrs Harry Potter by the end of the week!” Aoife gushed as they walked towards the dress shop. “Hermione Potter.”

“Don’t, you’ll make me cry,” Rose flapped from behind them. “My baby is all grown up,” she whispered to Mrs Weasley.

“They never really grow up, Rose. Just take my eldest, whenever he comes to visit he transforms into a grumpy teenager again, despite the fact he has a daughter now.” Mrs Weasley blushed.

“Bill has a daughter?” Hermione stopped and turned around. “When did this happen?”

“2nd of May,” Mrs Weasley beamed, “she’s beautiful. They named her Victoire.”

“I can’t believe we never knew,” Hermione replied in astonishment.

“You were on your holiday,” Mrs Weasley offered as an excuse, “besides, there’s plenty of time for you to meet her.”

“Sorry to break this up, but Hermione, you need to pick your perfect dress. The lady said that today would just about give her enough time to alter it. She has several shops in London and has had all the styles and colours brought here.” Rose explained once they had reached the shop door. “Don’t get too overwhelmed, we will find a dress that you love.”

Hermione nodded at her mum, despite the fact that she would have been able to find her perfect wedding dress at Madam Malkin’s without any effort, but she couldn’t let her mum down – she was looking forward to this ever so.

*

“Good afternoon,” Madam Malkin erupted as soon as Harry and Ron walked in. “What can I help you with today?”

“We need dress robes,” Harry explained, “I’m getting married on Saturday and need something to wear, Ron is my best man, and he needs something too.”

“Splendid! Do you have anything in mind?” Madam Malkin was smiling from ear to ear as she kept one eye on the door.

“Well, Hermione’s family are muggles so something that isn’t too…magical.”

“Splendid!” Madam Malkin repeated. “Pop yourself on the platform, and I will measure you up. You too, Ron.” Ron had seemingly forgotten that Aoife was related to Madam Malkin and thus was taken aback when she addressed him so informally. “I suppose we’ll be doing this for you soon, Ron. Have you set a day yet?”

“Not yet, no. We’re going to wait for Harry and Hermione. We’re in no rush.”

“I understand, just allows you to make it absolutely perfect for her!”

“Indeed,” Ron agreed.

“Right, you’re all measured, now just go into the dressing room, and that’s it.”

Harry and Ron had never been to Madam Malkin for anything other than Hogwarts robes. They didn’t know that work robes and dress robes appeared magically to best suit the person, but that is indeed what happened. As soon as Harry pulled back the curtain, he saw the most fabulous three piece suit. It wasn't ostentatious or weird like the other Magical suits he had seen in his time, it looked just like one a muggle would be proud to wear. Harry picked it up, and it instantly changed colour. It was a navy blue with black lapels and a black tie, but as soon as it touched Harry, it transformed into a black suit with a grey waistcoat and a silver silk cravat. "It's bloody fantastic," Ron called from the room next door. "It changed before my very eyes."

"Must have been when Harry picked up his," Madam Malkin called back, "can't have them looking too dissimilar. Put them on and let me see the pair of you," she ordered.

So Harry obeyed, he quickly and carefully changed into his suit which fit him perfectly and stepped out into the room, Ron doing the same. They turned to look at each other, and both smiled, "you look great," Ron said before feeling slightly awkward about the whole thing. Ron's suit was similar to Harry's, but his cravat was grey.

"You both look splendid. Harry, it looks as though you don't have a colour scheme?" She asked looking him up and down.

"No, is that a problem?" He asked nervously.

"Of course not, your cravat may change colour depending on the style of your bride's dress or the colour of her flowers, but it should do that subtly with no one seeing."

Harry nodded. "Thank you for these," he said.

"No problem, Mr Potter." She suddenly went formal, "take them off and leave them in your dressing rooms, they'll bag themselves up, and we can settle up." She said with a smile.

*

Hermione had tried on about a dozen dresses, but none of them screamed out at her. She decided early on that she wanted a white one, but that didn't eliminate any as Linda, the owner, had every dress in white. "You'll find one soon," Linda murmured as she helped tie up the one she was currently trying.

"There are so many to choose from," Aoife whispered to the others as she ran her finger along one of the rails of beautiful dresses.

"You didn't take long to find yours," Mrs Weasley said. No one could tell whether this was a dig at her future daughter-in-law as it sounded slightly stern.

"Sometimes you just see the perfect one straight away," Linda said from behind the curtain. "What do you think about this?" She asked as she pulled the curtain back.

"You look beautiful," Aoife offered, it seemed to have lost meaning as she had said it for every single dress Hermione had tried on.

"No," Hermione shook her head, "this isn't the one."

Aoife sighed and knocked back her champagne, "can I pick the next one?" She asked Linda.

"Of course," Linda smiled.

Aoife searched the racks for a couple of minutes, disappearing into the forest of dresses and finally find one that she deemed worthy. "Try this one," she handed it to Hermione who looked it up and down.

"Are you sure? It doesn't look like my style at all." Hermione said looking up at her friend.

"Trust me," Aoife smiled.

"I don't believe it!" Hermione exclaimed after ten minutes.

"What?" Her mum asked her nervously.

"She's done it."

"I have? I mean, of course, I have!" Aoife said as she was beaming from ear to ear.

"Come on then, let us see." Mrs Weasley said on behalf of everyone.

Hermione stepped out with a tear in her eye. The dress looked absolutely perfect. It came in just below her chest, and the rest flowed freely. The dress itself was sleeveless, but it had a lace overlay which came over her shoulders and finished just above her elbow. Where the dress came in, there was an intricate silver belt. Along with the lace overlay, the dress fell to the floor. "Oh, Hermione," her mother said as she rushed up to wipe away a tear. "You look…" she didn't have the words to finish her sentence, "I've never seen you look so…"

"Hermione, I don't usually cry at people I've just met, but you may change that. You look absolutely gorgeous." Linda smiled. "I don't know why I'm even asking you this, but is this the one?"

"This is most certainly the one. Thank you, Linda."

"No, you shouldn't be thanking me. Aoife, this was all you. Would you like a job here?" She joked. "I just need to make some alterations, they shouldn't take too long, and I should be able to get it done by Friday."

*

The days rolled by and before anyone knew it, it was the night before the wedding. Both Harry and Hermione had had Stag and Hen Parties prepared for them, neither really wanting to go, but with all the effort that was put in, it would have been rude not to go. The outfits had been finalised, right at the last minute, Harry remembered that Archie needed a suit and helpfully Madam Malkin was more than happy to help. What Harry had neglected to tell Hermione was that the shop was surrounded by the time he and Ron were ready to leave and it took over two hours to get through everyone, signing bits of paper that were thrust their way. Harry was staying with the Weasley's, and Hermione was at her parent's house. He had never been so excitedly nervous in his whole life, he couldn't wait for tomorrow. Their ministry training wasn't due to start until October, but Harry and Hermione were given a couple of weeks off to enjoy married life before they began.

"Have you got everything, Ron? The rings, your suit, your speech?" Harry asked after dinner.

"All is in hand," Ron smiled, "have you seen Aengus? He was going to help me with something."

"No, I haven't seen him since he left St.Mungo's," Harry replied with a sense of curiosity.

"Never you mind about that, I'll ask Aoife."

"Ron, wait!" Harry called as Ron began to leave. "I can't believe I'm saying this now," he sighed, "but, are you alright with all of this?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, you and Hermione had a thing, and I know you saw her as more than a friend, and now I'm marrying her. I guess it could seem like we were abandoning you."

"Harry, if I were you, would you be upset? I couldn't be happier for you two, if anyone deserves some happiness, it's you. Besides, I have Aoife to think about now." Harry nodded, relieved that that didn't turn into anything big. "Also, that thing was one kiss, nothing more."

Harry supposed he knew that, but sometimes that kiss was all he could think about. It wasn't as though he didn't have a past, Ginny quickly springs to mind, but he had never thought about how it affected Hermione, maybe because she always knew about it whereas he found out about Ron and Hermione after the event. "She accepted your proposal, and you're getting married tomorrow , she wouldn't go through with it if Ron was on her mind." Harry thought to himself as he lay in bed trying to fall asleep. "Ron is just her friend, you know that. They're more like siblings." The thought of marriage made everything feel so real, but also scary. Several years down the line will he discover that they've been having an affair all this time? "No, don't be an idiot. Neither of them would ever do that to you." He fell asleep after hours of internal conversation with himself which didn't resolve anything.

*

Saturday morning burned through Hermione's curtains, waking her up gradually. She rolled over, so her back was against the window, but as soon as she realised what day it was, she couldn’t keep her eyes shut. She ripped back the covers and literally jumped out of bed, below her she could hear her parents chatting and singing along with the radio. Her mind instantly went to Harry, neither of them were bothered about spending the night apart - they both thought it was a silly tradition, but everyone insisted, so that is what they did.

She had wanted to speak to Ginny before the wedding, but she feared that time was running out. She had hardly seen her since the party at Hogwarts, and she didn't look too pleased to see her then. Hermione had hoped she would come to wedding dress shopping with everyone else, but she fed her some excuse about training. Come to think of it, Hermione wasn't sure Ginny was even coming to the wedding. "Morning, Hermione! How are you feeling?" Aoife almost screamed as Hermione walked into the kitchen.

"Aoife, I wasn't expecting…"

"Your mum let me in. I thought we might as well get ready together, Mrs Weasley and Ginny are popping over in a bit. Ron has just given your dad his suit."

"Ginny?"

"Yeah, that's alright, isn't it?" Aoife asked through narrowed eyes.

"Of course, I was just thinking about her that’s all. I didn't think she would want to come because of her and Harry's history."

"She's over the moon for the pair of you. Have some toast," Aoife ordered, pushing Hermione into a chair and placing a plate with a single slice of toast on it in front of her. "So, the plan for today is:" Aoife said as she sat down opposite Hermione and took a piece of paper out from her jean pocket, "Melissa gave me this," she added quickly as Hermione stared at her with a bewildering look. "You, Luna, your cousin and I will all get our hair and makeup done at nine, giving them half an hour to get here, that should take no longer than two hours."

"Two hours?!" Hermione spluttered as she had taken a gulp of orange juice as Aoife was telling her the schedule.

"Don't panic, that's for all four of us."

"That means we only have an hour to get to the church, I don't want to be late."

"The bride has to be late to her own wedding."

"Aoife, do you know me at all? We're not going to be late."

"Relax, we're not going to be late. We'll be right on time."

"What about my mum, Mrs Weasley and Ginny? Who is going to do their hair and makeup?" Hermione asked frantically.

"I am."

"Emily? It's so good to see you!" Hermione stood up and rushed over to hug her cousin. "It's been too long."

"You too. Tell me about it, I've been busy at university, and you've obviously been busy yourself - Uncle Archie said you had been travelling around the world, and you've found Mr Right." Emily, Aoife observed, looked nothing like Hermione. She was tall and thin, almost too thin Aoife noted. Her hair was long and silky and a lovely strawberry blonde colour, her eyes as bright as a summer's sky. "I'm Emily Granger," she said turning to face Aoife with an outstretched hand, "nice to meet you."

"I'm Aoife Curran, a pleasure to meet you too. What are you studying at university?"

"Medicine of course," a woman swooned as she walked in.

"Aoife, this is my aunt, Nora," Hermione explained quickly. Aoife promptly and subtly looked Nora up and down and clocked that Emily didn't get her physic from her mother. Nora was about three inches shorter than her daughter and had a bit more of a figure.

"Hermione, your mother tells me that you aren't going to university. Instead, you're going straight into work. I found that terribly hard to believe." Nora said spitefully.

"No, she was fortunate to get a job at the government, paid training and all," Rose had walked in and had overheard her sister-in-law's remark. "We're very proud of her, naturally."

"Naturally," Nora nodded. "What's the department?"

Hermione had to think fast and swoop in, upon accepting the Ministry's offer, she was told to say she was working for the government to any muggles who asked, but they failed to give a department. As her brain whirled, she wished she had learnt more about British Politics, "Ministry of Justice," her father said as he too walked through the door with someone who looked awfully like him. That seemed to shut Nora up as she didn't have a response for that, she obviously was impressed. "Lara and Joanie are here," he informed them all.

"Who?" Hermione, Nora and Emily asked all at once.

"Hair and makeup," Aoife explained. "Hermione, can they set up in your room?"

"Of course, I'll show them up."

"No, you won't. You will eat, and I will show them up," Aoife ordered.

"Nora, do you want to come with me, and we can get ready? Leave the girls to catch up." Rose suggested.

"They wouldn't have to catch up if your daughter kept in contact with her." She scoffed as she was ushered out the door by her husband.

"Hasn't changed much, has she?" Emily semi-joked as she took a seat opposite Hermione. "I'm not doing medicine, by the way, I'm doing Child Nursing and Midwifery. Mum is adamant it's the same, but it's not. She never seems to listen to me," Emily said sadly.

"Oh, I'm sorry. That's still excellent." Hermione offered with a smile.

"It's not like I didn't try medicine, I just found it too stressful, and the university let me change. Anyway, thank you so much for asking me to be a bridesmaid, it meant an awful lot to me. I thought you would have asked your friends from boarding school."

"I've asked two friends from school, Aoife is one of them, and Luna should be here soon."

"Hermione? Emily?" It was Aoife from upstairs, "Lara and Joanie are ready for you."

"Isn't this all so very exciting?" Emily asked as they made their way upstairs.

"I don't know about that, I just want it all to be over and to be Mrs Potter. All this fuss isn't really me."

"Well make it you. This is your one and only wedding day morning, girl, get the most out of it."

*

Harry woke up later than he was expecting. He gazed at his watch and started to panic before he realised that it was ten thirty, not twelve thirty. Still, he only had half an hour to get ready. He slowly got up and stretched before looking for his suit. He wondered what Hermione was doing now, she had probably been up for hours getting her hair and makeup done, despite the fact she didn't need to. "Harry, sorry for disturbing you, but I'm off to fetch Teddy, would you like to come with me?" It was Mr Weasley, his head poked around the door. "Oh, you're not dressed. I suppose the answer is no." He laughed to himself.

"Thanks, Mr Weasley. Is Ron ready?"

"I think so. Ardal and Eli are here too."

"And Aengus?"

"Not that I've seen, perhaps he's meeting us at the church." Mr Weasley offered.

"Perhaps," Harry repeated.

"I know how you're feeling, Harry, but things will go to plan."

"I just want everything to go perfectly for her, our engagement party was hardly a success."

"True, but that wasn't down to you. You couldn't have predicted that would happen. Besides, everyone got out alive, and you're getting married." He smiled at Harry before disappearing to get Teddy.

"…you're getting married."


Harry decided that he couldn’t stand around worrying about the day ahead, he had to get dressed. He carefully put on his suit and was relieved, though not at all surprised, that it still fit him. He checked his hair in the mirror, remembered he hadn't been able to tame it ever and gave up. He checked his watch, five minutes until they were due to leave. "Ron?" He called.

"In the kitchen!" Ron shouted back from downstairs.

"Hwarry," Teddy giggled as soon as he saw Harry's face.

"Hey, how are you?" Harry asked, bending down so that he could look into his eyes, they were brown today.

"Good," he smiled.

"Good," Harry laughed. "You look great," he added.

"Ta-da," Teddy exclaimed as he twirled around for Harry to see.

"Fantastic!" Harry clapped and laughed.

"I've made sure that his hair and eye colour won't change today, I know a lot of Muggles are going to be there," Andromeda explained. He seemed to have settled for brown eyes and blond hair.

"Thank you, Andromeda," Harry said gratefully.

"Harry, we better be going. I've just spoken to Molly, and everything is running smoothly over there, so nothing to worry about." Arthur smiled upon entering the kitchen.

"I would hope everything is running smoothly, with Hermione in charge," Ron laughed to himself.

"Ron now is not the time to be making jokes," Mr Weasley snapped in a fashion that was oddly similar to Mrs Weasley.

"Actually, Mr Weasley, if it's all the same to you, I think it's the most perfect time to make jokes. Today is a fun day, a happy one, and we should intend to make it such." Eli said. Harry hadn't spoken to Eli at all come to think of it, but he certainly didn't expect something like that to emit from him.

"Shall we get going?" Ron interrupted. "I just need to check something, I'll meet you at the church." He quickly added just as everyone was about to leave, leaving them with very little time to argue with him.

*
"Ron? What are you doing here? Is Harry all right? Shouldn't you be at the church?" Aoife asked frantically as he walked through the front door of Hermione's parent's house.

"Calm done, Fe. Everything is going to plan, and Harry is doing just fine. He has just got to the church, he asked me to check in on your lot and Hermione." Ron smiled, trying his best to keep the daring mindset he was currently experiencing. "Are you all doing well?"

"Yes, I believe everything is in hand."

"Could I possibly speak to Hermione?"

"She's in her room. Up the stairs and the last door to your right." Rose's head popped through the kitchen door. "It's good to see you, Ron."

"Thank you, Mrs Granger, you too." Ron smiled, looked at Aoife as if to ask for her permission to go and see Hermione. "I'll be quick," he promised, knowing full well that he had left this to the last possible minute - but if he didn't do it now, he would have to live with it for the rest of his life.


"Come in," Hermione called cheerfully once she heard a small knock from the other side of her door. Ron opened the door slowly, and the breath was taken from his body. "Ron?" Hermione quickly turned around, her face noticeably changing from joy to terror just by the sight of him. "Is Harry okay?"

"Why is everyone asking me that? Of course, he's okay. Can't I see one of my best friends before she gets married?"

Hermione sighed, "of course you can. I'm sorry, I just think that something is going to go wrong."

"Why do you say that?" He asked, stepping further into the room and closing the door behind him.

"Something always goes wrong." She whispered.

"RON! Aengus is in the hospital!" Aoife cried as she burst into the room.

"What's wrong?" Hermione asked.

"It's Emiliana."

"Who?"

"The girl from the café in Italy," Hermione and Aoife said with a unique sense of urgency about their voices.

"What's she doing in England?" Ron asked even more bemused than before.

"He didn't say, I don't think he quite knows that himself. He just wanted to let you know that he probably won't make the wedding, but wishes you the best of luck and sends his congratulations."

"But he's alright?" Ron asked, leaving Hermione without the need to do so.

"I think so, I don't know if Emiliana is, though, hopefully, she is. Ron, you shouldn't still be here. Get going," Aoife ordered. "Hermione, we're leaving in ten minutes."

"Perfect, thanks, Aoife." Hermione smiled sweetly.

"Hermione, I need to ask you something," he asked quietly and urgently.

"You know you can ask me anything," Hermione replied, not quite knowing where this conversation would end up.

"We need to talk about what happened between us, are you honestly saying it was spur of the moment?"

"What are you talking about, Ron? Nothing happened between us, it was just a stupid kiss when we thought all was done."

"We both know that that's not how we felt at the time," then he said the thing Hermione had been dreading since it happened, "I loved you then, Hermione, I did. It wasn't just spur of the moment for me, I can't say I loved you from the moment I met you, and I don't think I'm saying that I love you now, but there was a time that I assumed you were mine. There was a time I thought you picked me over him."

"Ron, I-" she began saying, but he stopped her.

"Don’t, I know what you're going to say."

"Why are you telling me this now, today of all days? Ron, what do you want me to do with this information?"

"You don't need to do anything. I just wanted to tell you before I lost you forever. You look beautiful by the way." He smiled before leaving her alone standing in her wedding dress.

"Thanks," she whispered as she glanced down, hazy eyed at her third finger on her left hand.

"Hermione?" It was Rose, "what's wrong?" She asked once she saw that Hermione was on the verge of tears.

"Is this the right thing to do?" She whispered to her mum. "I love him so much, but how can I marry him knowing what I do about Ron?"

"Just before I married your father I had a wobble, too. It's natural, you're scared about being so dependent on someone else, but Harry would do anything for you, and that's something to treasure. Forget whatever Ron said, today that doesn't matter. You have the rest of your life to start - the road might be bumpy at times, but when you're with someone you love, they make it easier. Now, you look utterly mesmerising, and I think it's only fair that Harry gets to see you. Shall we get going?"

Hermione took a deep breath, she knew she was doing the right thing, Harry was everything she ever wanted. "I'm ready," she nodded at her mum. She took one last look around her room and made her way to the front door.

*

"Help me! Why won't anyone help? Can't you see something isn't right? She's dying, please. I'm begging you." Aengus screamed at the seemingly redundant doctors and nurses that surrounded them, the rest of the ward stood still too - all staring at Aengus. "Emiliana, talk to me." He decided to turn his attention back to the girl. "I don't know what to do, nobody is helping me," he cried, clasping on to her curled up fist.

"Didn't anyone tell you, sir?" A baby-faced nurse had toddled over. "This girl has suffered serious trauma, she's on life support, and she won't wake up." She said with the ease of experience.

"What do you mean?" Aengus' eyes were prickly, his hand tightening. "The doctor said they were performing emergency surgery to save her."

"They did, she was seven months pregnant, she had a little girl. Are you Aengus Curran by any change?"

"Seven months preg- little girl-" he gasped, looking around for words to form. "Yes, I'm Aengus."

"She had this in her bag, it's addressed to you," the nurse smiled, handing him a handwritten letter, "I'm so sorry for your loss." She smiled again before walking away. "We've contacted her parent's, her mum will be here any minute now."

Aengus didn't hear the rest of what the nurse always said to someone in his situation, she tried to make it sound sincere, but he had completely tuned out. It had been seven months since they had been in Italy…could the baby be his? It was too big a coincidence for him to ignore it, but it would also be completely jumping to conclusions. He turned back to the beautiful girl that lay still on the bed, machines breathing for her if the baby was his - he would have to be two parents. His hands were shaking, he didn't know what to do, he didn't know who to tell. The one person his brain instantly went to was currently getting married, and everyone else was watching. The letter became heavier in his hands almost like it was begging to be read. He went outside, so his lungs got some fresh air, and found a bench that smokers usually occupied.

Aengus, I obviously didn't have the guts to tell you this face to face, but I am carrying your child. I've had scans, and everything is going well, I found out she's a girl, and although you've had no input, I'm pretty set on the name Gabriella Anna . If you don't respond to this letter, I suppose that will be her name. I don't want to do this on my own, but if you're not ready for that commitment, I understand.

*

"Friends and family of Hermione and Harry, welcome and thank you for coming to this extraordinary day." The plump, bald vicar spoke loud and clear. His smile was contagious, and throughout the ceremony, everyone couldn't help but join him in his happy mood.

The church seemed to be split between Muggles and Magic Folk, but nobody could tell the difference. Rose and Archie sat with Molly and Arthur, while Hermione's grandparents were sandwiched between Hogwarts professors and the rest of the Weasley clan. If this day had taught Harry anything, it was that love crosses over both worlds. Here he was, with his parent's outside, standing next to the woman he loved the most with the start of the rest of their lives beginning imminently. He said what he was told to say and she did the same, their eyes never leaving the others. They said their I dos and placed the rings on their fingers.

"Ladies and gentlemen, friends and family, it is now my pleasure to present for the first time, Mr and Mrs Potter."

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