Chapter 2: Out of the Ashes
“Hey Ron, do you want to go to the game tonight?” Ron had just gotten into the lift at the end of the hall on level two, and he turned to see Justin Finch-Fletchley bounding after him down the hallway. The door of the lift started to close, but Ron waved his wand at it lazily and it reversed its course. Justin slid through the door and into the nearly empty elevator. Several last minute interdepartmental memos also swooped in.
“What game's that?” asked Ron. He hadn't had as much time for Quidditch since the Aurors had stepped up their surveillance on Azkaban. While he was pleased that the Dementors had all been destroyed, it had left the Ministry in a bit of a tight spot. Robards had offered the services of the Aurors to his old pal Kingsley, at least until a more permanent solution could be found.
“Puddlemere and the Tornados,” Justin replied. “Should be a good match up. Tutshill's been unbeatable for years, but Oliver Wood's been playing over his head lately.” He waved a hand in front of his face to try and clear off a low-flying memo. “Sure is a lot of business going on for a Friday afternoon,” he added, glancing up at the swarm of airplanes above them. Ron looked upwards as well. He could just make out his father's handwriting on several of the folded pieces of paper. No doubt a raid was going to happen over the weekend.
“I think I'll pass on the game,” said Ron. The thought of actually attending a Tutshill Tornados game made him physically ill, but there was no sense in telling Justin that. “I've actually got a play-date for the kids.” Justin smiled ruefully.
“Arthur said no as well. Needs to prepare for the raid, he says. It's all a load of tosh if you ask me.” Ron looked down at his companion and cleared his throat. Justin seemed to remember who he was talking to, and turned a bit red around the ears. “Sorry, but it's just flying carpets. And you'd think that he'd take me with him on one of these raids. It's not like I'd be as useless as Perkins was.” Ron patted the Hufflepuff on the shoulder, but had to work very hard to keep from rolling his eyes.
“I'm sure your time will come. Just hope you don't wind up with lumbago from sitting around all day like Perkins. Then you'd never get out of the office.” The lift slowed to a stop, and a voice informed the two of them that they had reached the Atrium. Ron strode out of the elevator, but looked back at Justin when he realized that he was not coming as well. “I thought you were headed home?” he asked.
“In a minute, I think I'm going to go back up to level five and see if maybe-” He stopped himself short, but Ron knew exactly what he had been about to say. Justin's earlier embarrassment had now turned into a full on blush. It was well known that he had a serious crush on Susan Bones.
“Good luck with that mate,” Ron said with a broad grin, “need a few pointers?” Justin hesitated only a moment before laughing hysterically. Ron glared at him as the door closed, and the lift began it's ascent. It took a good ten seconds before Ron could no longer hear laughing. “Git,” he mumbled, and he turned and walked through the golden gates to the atrium.
The lines for the fireplaces that lined the walls were as long as they usually were on a Friday afternoon, and there was, as always, a crowd around the base of the new fountain. The crying golden phoenix, its tears tumbling down and over the stylized remains of Hogwarts after the final and decisive battle, had become something of a shrine. The base of the fountain once again glittered with gold, silver, and bronze, and a sign floating in mid-air beside the fountain informed onlookers that all proceeds would go to a scholarship fund ensuring that all children – regardless of blood status or wealth – who wished to go to Hogwarts would be able to do so.
Ron stopped next to the fountain and dug around in his pocket. His fingers clasped a hard metallic disk, and withdrew it slowly. Ron looked down at the silver Sickle in his hand, and rubbed it between his thumb and forefinger thoughtfully. “For Colin,” he said softly, and he tossed the coin into the fountain. Ron had donated a coin in the name of one of his fallen friends every day for the past five years, though Fred's name had certainly been used most often. Sighing, Ron turned and got into line for a fireplace.
The line moved quickly, and it was mere moments before Ron was grabbing a fistful of Floo powder from the ever-full bowls located on each fireplace's mantle. He climbed into the fireplace, dropped the powder into the fire, which turned a flared a startling green, and said very clearly, “ The Athenaeum!” Ron felt his head start to spin rapidly, and he passed several open grates before finally stumbling out of the fireplace in the sitting room of his and Hermione's home.
The house had certainly been aptly named (it was Ginny who had come up with it), there must have been literally thousands of books just in the sitting room alone. Tall bookcases lined each wall, and they were all filled to bursting with tomes of every shape and size. In the center of the room, a plain long table with four very comfortable chairs around it sat ready for a late night game of Wizard's chess. He glanced fondly at the two bookcases filled entirely with books on Quidditch before setting of into the rest of the house to find his family.
“Hermione?” he called, hoping to find her before too long. He had a feeling that they were already running a bit late. He glanced at the watch he'd gotten so long ago on his seventeenth birthday, and confirmed this.
“We're in here,” came Hermione's voice from the hall. Ron pulled out his wand and turned on the spot. With a very faint pop he apparated into the front hall, and was greeted by the site of Hermione bundling up little Rose in a scarf and hat. He was just able to catch a glimpse of the end of a green nose through the whirlwind of activity.
“How are you feeling Rosie?” Ron asked, bending over and taking the ends of the scarf from Hermione.
“Sick,” muttered Rosie. Ron smiled at her, and pulled her closer using the ends of the scarf.
“How about a kiss?” he asked, puckering his lips comically.
“But you'll get sick too!” exclaimed Rose, trying to keep Ron away with her tiny hands.
“Like that would keep me from kissing my Rosie. Please.” Ron swept the little girl up into his arms and planted a wet kiss on her faintly green cheek. Rosie didn't struggle any longer, and she turned in his arms to position herself so that she could kiss him back. Hermione cleared her throat noisily behind them. Ron looked to see her standing there with her hands on her hips, but a smile on her face.
“When you two are quite finished,” she began, “I'd rather like a kiss of my own.” Ron was only too happy to oblige her.
“So we'll be driving then?” Ron asked after the two lovers had broken apart.
“It's safest for the kids, Ron,” Hermione reminded him. “Anything can happen with side-along apparition. Wouldn't want them to lose an eyebrow or something, would we?” Ron felt a surge of blood rush to his face and his ears heat up substantially.
“You're never going to let me live that down, are you?” he asked quietly. Hermione chuckled good-naturedly and grinned at him.
“I'm sure that one day you'll do much better on your driver's exam, than you did on your apparition exam. But until then-” Hermione withdrew her wand from a pocket and said, “Accio keys.” A loud jangling noise from a hook beside the door indicated that the requested item was now flying towards Hermione swiftly.
“Do you know where we're going?” Ron asked, turning his attention to the soft and squishy Rose in his arms. She was wearing far too much clothing to be appropriate for the weather, but it helped to keep her green tint hidden. She smiled up at her father.
“We're going to see Uncle Harry and Aunt Ginny and Al and James and the baby,” she said, and Ron could tell that she was ticking them off of a mental checklist as she named each individual.
“That's right! Very good!” he exclaimed, tweaking her nose.
“Are we all ready?” asked Hermione, keys in hand. She bent over to pick up Hugo's car seat, and Ron nodded at her.
“Let's get going,” he said, “I'm getting hungry.” As if to emphasize the point, his stomach took that moment to let loose a loud growl. Rose leaned into his neck, and he could feel her laughing against him. His heart swelled.
“Looking forward to something other than mashed potatoes?” One of Hermione's eyebrows arched dangerously.
“Well of course, but there'd better be mashed potatoes for dessert.” He was only half-joking. Hermione's eyebrow was mollified, and together the Weasleys set out for the house of their best friends.
A/N: Thanks ever so much to those who have taken the time to review my story, and extra special thanks to those of you who have left a review. I truly appreciate it.
I think by now you've got a taste for how I'm going to weave in the fates of all these different characters. It may be only a passing comment (Oliver Wood), but it's more than we got in Deathly Hallows (which I loved, by the way). If some of these references prove to be a bit too vague for you (Susan Bones is on Level Five for a reason), then let me know in a review (or join me in the forums) and I can elaborate. In most cases though, you should be able to work out what I mean with a quick look over at the Lexicon. But I also want to demonstrate how the Wizarding world in general is getting on in these peaceful times. I'm actually pretty proud of my new statue, and I'd hope you like te idea as much as I did.
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