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Disclaimer: I do not own HP, but I do own the story.
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Chapter Four: To Remember or To Forget?



After that evening at the Burrow, Harry could feel a distinct change in both of his two favorite Weasleys. Normally quick to react with anger especially when it came to Ron and his dimwittedness, Ginny as of recently had become very mild mannered and even-tempered. It was quite odd for Harry to witness considering after most spats she would either do one of two things: not speak to Ron or scream at him. Although Harry wouldn’t necessarily call this past confrontation one of their worst, it was actually the farthest from it being one of their most timid of disagreements. Still, he figured Ginny wouldn’t have given up on her anger so quickly since traditionally she held onto it for so long. This time, he suspected and despite her saying otherwise, Ron saying that it was he and not Hermione who had the broken heart had really struck a nerve with Ginny. Her anger seemed to have evaporated after that moment, proving that even a stubborn Ginny Weasley could no more stand to see her brother in pain than any other sister could... even if she did so happen to think he was being a nitwit.

Ron, on the other hand, seemed to have acquired a small pebble of uncertainty in his well of righteousness and as the days passed, each day ending without the return of Hermione from her trip to Italy, Ron’s well seemed to be filling more and more.

After a week of no sign of Hermione ever coming back, Harry finally received an owl from her saying that she was staying longer than planned and on top of that, additional trips to a number of countries were being tacked on to her journey. She didn’t think she would be home for at least another week.

But, by the end of that next week, Hermione was no where to be found and the slump in Ron’s shoulders, the slump that Harry had been intimately acquainted with whenever the two had fought before, had finally appeared. It was a relief to Harry.

Although Ron’s behavior was welcomed whole heartedly by Harry, Hermione’s wasn’t. She’d been gone for two weeks now and Harry had been officially worried out of his mind pretty much since the end of the fourth day she’d been gone. Her owl at the end of that first week had successfully reassured him… momentarily. Then, the thought of receiving an owl at the end of each week from Hermione postponing her return again and again crossed his mind. And so the worrying continued on.

Harry woke up that day prepared for the owl that he knew would be there and sure enough when he entered his kitchen, there waiting on his window sill stood a medium sized barn owl with a small note tied to his leg.

Harry opened the window and the owl flew in landing gracefully on the center island ruffling his feathers and lifting his leg so Harry could better untie the rolled note. Harry undid the note and began reading his message. The owl flew out the window with Harry barely noticing.


Harry,

Got something for you and Ron.
30 minutes my office.

Ed



“Must be something good,” shrugged Harry as he went off to get dressed. He was out the door within fifteen minutes and arrived at the Ministry about two minutes after that.

Harry bustled over to the lift and took it down to the Auror department. The department was fairly dead and had been for quite some time. Harry’s case work hadn’t gotten any better and neither had anyone else’s. The amount of dark activity in the area was close to nothing. With Ed calling him and Ron in though meant something was going on, something important.

Harry didn’t even need to knock. Ed’s door was wide open with Ed lounging back in his chair behind his desk, a cigar in hand. Harry walked in and sat down in one of the two wooden chairs on the opposite side of Ed’s large desk. Ed nodded his head in acknowledgement of Harry, but no real formal exchanges were said.

It wasn’t until Ron entered about a good five minutes later that Ed said anything.

“Close the door behind you Ron.” Ed sat up straighter in his chair and silently cast a number of spells to protect their conversation. “I’ve got an assignment for the two of you,” said Ed crossing his hands and gazing at the two. Ron and Harry eyed each other.

“Now this project hits a little close to home,” began Ed.


**********


Hermione pulled her luggage off the train and made her way for one of the taxis. Her train ride had been long and she was quite exhausted from all the traveling she had done, but more than anything she was happy to be back in London. Back in a land where everyone spoke English!

Granted, Italian was a beautiful language, but having to use it to tirelessly negotiate with vampires all day would make anyone sick of it.

Hermione hailed a taxi and jumped in quickly. The driver asked her where she wanted to go and for a second she almost said her and Ron’s. She caught herself just in time and instead gave Harry’s address. It was the small moments, ones like this that left her winded and feeling like she couldn’t breathe.

She recovered within seconds, her pain going unnoticed by the driver as he set off for her destination. She was beginning to realize that these moments that caught her so off guard, these moments that left her with a lonely throb in her chest would probably never go away. And most of all, she was slowly learning that people don’t ever really get over this; they just get better at hiding the pangs when they arrive.

Sighing, she looked out the window and watched faces zoom by. She rested her head gently against the cold glass.

It’s funny because most people probably think that she just ran off to Italy to get away for two weeks. The irony of it all was that in actuality she had spent the past two weeks working her tail off. Jean and Hermione were making huge strides and vampire relations were their next endeavor all in the name of I.F.E.

I.F.E. began as just two small offices, one in the English Ministry and one in the French. Hermione had started her career at the Ministry in the Department of Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. She had done extremely well there and had always promised herself that she would never enter into the law making side of things. But as more cases crossed her desk, she began to feel that the cases themselves were unjust and that these creatures needed protection. And so she slowly began to drift over to the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. It wasn’t until her boss finally suggested, in an all too forward manner, that Hermione was in need of a transfer did Hermione finally get switched over to Law. It was probably one of the most influential decisions for Hermione’s career and it worked out splendidly.

Soon after getting transferred Hermione set to work. First there was Dobby’s Act, a new piece of legislation banning the abuse and inhumane treatment of any magical creature. It was the first law that actually allowed the Wizengamot to charge wizards and witches for beating a house elf. With the broad nature of the law, Hermione was able to use it in numerous cases including one where a group of young wizards had harassed and attacked a young centaur. The centaurs normally have their own ways for exacting justice, but the boys had run from the scene before the elder centaurs could have done anything. They were thoroughly surprised when Hermione showed up at their door and promptly charged them with a lawsuit. The centaurs at first were angry with Hermione’s interference, but it was through talks with Firenze that eventually they became semi appreciative of her efforts to get the boys charged rightfully. The case was actually really well publicized being that the three wizards charged were from well respected families. When they were sentenced to 6 months of suspension and volunteer work, the wizarding world was shocked. Hermione’s case was such a small one, but it had made a huge impact. Everything seemed to snowball from there.

She then went on to lobby for the Potter Privacy Act named after Harry himself who helped immensely with the project. This one stated that every creatures’ natural state of being be acknowledged and untainted which successfully protected the forests of the Giants, Centaurs, Unicorns, etc. It also officially prevented them from being hunted. That was a huge milestone for Hermione getting it passed.

And so began Hermione’s career. It was her first conference after that when she met Jean. He had been working on a number of similar cases. They started off just swapping notes and strategies, but eventually they came to the decision that every country needed to adopt a Dobby’s Act or a Potter Privacy Act. That’s how I.F.E. began. It began as a way to get other countries to adopt legislation passed in Britain or France or at least develop a similar piece of legislation, but the moment they started their meet and greets Jean and Hermione soon faced a number of brick walls. It took a lot of politics actually just to get certain groups and certain Ministers to meet with them. Luckily, Arthur agreed to do a public interview with Hermione and Jean where they discussed all the key issues. Thanks to him, others eventually followed suit. Two years later, here she was. Twenty three years old with an Orion under her belt and having just returned from- what would be the first of many- talks with vampires in Italy. Her career was going magnificently to say the least.

The taxi cab slowly pulled up next to the apartment complex. Hermione paid the man and muttered a soft “thank you” before exiting the car, luggage in tow.

She stood before Harry’s building in the cold, slightly fearful to enter it. Two weeks. It had been over two weeks since Ron had ended things and it hadn’t even felt like two weeks. It felt like just yesterday he had screamed at her in the middle of a beautiful, massive banquet hall. Her career was going magnificently and yet she had lost Ron.

In her mind, she had thought by now that they would be back together. Once again, her work had gotten in the way, gotten in the way of what really mattered. And now that she was done with I.F.E., talks, and her “work” for now what was she to do? All that was left was to think and mull.

All that was left was to remember. Or better yet, try to forget.


**********


“So you’re telling me that death eaters are all behind this?” asked Ron astonished.

“Yes, that’s what all the evidence is pointing to. It all coincides with some event coming up, but we have no idea what that is. And well, the pattern of it all…” Ed trailed off while Harry and Ron nodded. The pattern of high dark magic activity mixed with such lulls was too irregular, too infrequent. Almost so much that it had to be, just had to be intentional. Ed knew from the very beginning that something was wrong. Now he was hoping that he just wasn’t too late.

“But I thought most of the death eaters had fled or been arrested five years ago?”

“Honestly, Harry that’s what we thought too. We ALL thought that they were gone… but things were insane after He died. People were so busy celebrating that the follow-up with most cases was just pushed aside. No one bothered to check up on all the accusations and reports that had been flying about before hand. They simply finished filing them and then just let 'em rest. Look, you two are the best I got and you obviously have your personal reasons for wanting to do this, that’s why I figured I should ask you first.”

Harry and Ron both leaned back in their chairs at the same time, taking all the information they had just learned in. Important decisions were to be made and both felt like they couldn’t make them spot on right now.

“Do we…err…do we have to let you know now?” asked Harry quietly.

“Well… I’ll need to know as soon as possible. At the very latest in the next two days,” replied Ed. Harry nodded in understanding. “Listen, I know it’s a tough decision. I know it means one of you will be gone… for months possibly, but this is the job. We’ve got a hot lead and I need someone to follow that up. One of you can stay, but one has to go. I’ll leave it up to you boys to decide who’s doing what. If I don’t hear back from one of you, then I’m going to pass it on to someone else-”

“No!” Ron straightened up in his chair, his eyes fiery. Noticing the odd look he got from Ed, he quickly settled back down. “I mean… this is something that we need to do. We’ll have an answer for you, alright? Two days?” finished Ron.

“Two days,” agreed Ed. He stood up and shook hands with his two best Aurors and watched as they left his office.

Outside Ed’s office, Harry and Ron made their way over to the lift together. They walked with ease and waited quietly as the lift lowered to meet them. The funny thing about their relationship was that during times when outside factors should have made their friendship strained or stressful, it turned out that it oddly just didn’t. They had laughed during the wizarding world’s darkest moments. Somewhere along the road they had learned when the time called to cry, to laugh, to stress, and so on. And the moment they had stepped out of Ed’s office some unspoken agreement had been made that this mission was something that could not be worried about now on the way to the elevator.

Harry smirked despite himself thinking of how only friends like he and Ron, ones that have been through so much together, could have such a silent understanding.

The doors opened and the two entered. Ron looked over at Harry and saw his smirk.

“What?” asked Ron with a mildly confused look on his face.

“Oh nothing… I was just thinking about something.”

“Right… Right,” nodded Ron, still bewildered. The elevator became quiet once again as they waited. Then suddenly a small grin spread across Ron’s face.

Harry looked over and caught Ron’s goofy grin. He couldn’t help it, he just burst into laughter.

“What?!” Ron was now completely befuddled as to what Harry was going on about which only caused Harry’s fit to keep going. And soon it spread to Ron who too began to chuckle, despite having no inkling as to why they were.

“Why the hell are we laughing?” asked Ron as their laughter died down.

“I don’t have a clue,” replied Harry still grinning.

“You’re a little sick, mate… You’re going loopy on me.” Ron shook his head at his best friend in amusement. The doors opened and they were on the main floor of the Ministry. They stepped out and walked over to the apparating station, stopping there to bid goodbye.

Harry sighed as something creeped up within him, some feeling that he just couldn’t pinpoint. And as he stood there trying to suss out what it was, he finally realized that he didn’t want to say goodbye to Ron. They were best mates after all. And Harry couldn’t even remember the last time they had really laughed together. It seemed as though these last two years had been a blur. Hermione always off on her trips, Ron off capturing God knows who. It had just been Gin and Harry for the longest time.

And sadly ever since Hermione and Ron’s tragic break up, Harry had finally been able to get some time with his best mate, mostly because the bloody bastard was no longer preoccupied with proving that he equaled Hermione, that he was her match. And now, after finally getting two weeks of good ole fashioned time with his best mate only to get assigned some top secret mission where one has to go while the other stays behind… well to put it honestly… it just sucked in Harry’s opinion.

“Ahhh well… that was a hefty load of shite, eh?” Ron had no qualms about voicing what they both were thinking standing there.

The Ministry had a few stragglers going about their way, but in general it seemed to be a pretty desert place, definitely not the usual hustle and bustle of a normal weekday at the Ministry. Ron watched as one particular quirky wizard moved over to the floo station and disappeared in a glimmer of smoke and soot.

“Yes, yes it most definitely was,” replied Harry.

“Well I suppose we’ll have to work something out soon then… but for now, I say we do what we’ve always done best and procrastinate,” declared Ron with a boyish smirk clapping Harry on the shoulder.

“Yeah… yeah I think you’re right about that one.” Harry couldn’t help but shake his head and smile.

“So I take it you’ll be going to Ginny’s game tonight, right?”

“Yeah, I’ll be there. Season tickets and all.”

“Well I’ll see you there. Maybe afterwards we can all head over to the pub, figure things out then eh?” Harry nodded. They stood there for a second, knowing that things were going to change in two days and yet unable to stop anything. And as they bid farewell there in the middle of the Ministry, both hoped that this particular mission would not be as long as expected because if it was, then they wouldn’t see each other for a very, very long time.



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Author's Note: This was a short chapter for me, but it leads into a much longer one. I originally intended this chap and the next to be combined, but as I was writing it I was like "Holy cow! This is gonna be long!". So I decided to instead break it up. Hence the shortness and also the fillerness. The next chap will be the Quidditch match and craziness will of course ensue.

Let me know what you thought!
~Meg

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