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Author's Note: Characters are Jo's, story is mine. For the story, keep in mind that parts one and two all occur on the same day. Other than that enjoy and please R and R!
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Chapter 8- Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner Part Two


Earlier that day

Harry ran to the office. He had fallen asleep in his chair and awoke with an owl pecking at him incessantly. Right away he recognized the black eagle owl, Jasper. It was Kingsley’s.

Harry was still clutching the message as he entered the Auror Department of Magical Law Enforcement. The entire floor was in a frenzy. Aurors were bustling around everywhere clasping papers as owls swooped in and out with notices. This was the busiest it had been in a long time. Harry walked straight into Ed’s office. Kingsley and Ed were both leaning up against the desk and Ron was already seated waiting patiently for whatever urgent news they had to call them in for.

Harry closed the door. Kingsley began even before Harry had taken his seat.

“First off, what we say in this room is confidential… I need a vow of secrecy for everything that I say next.” Wordlessly Harry and Ron took out their wands and pointed them forward.

Kingsley with a subtle flick of his wand said, “Custodes arcani.”

A blue, smoky wisp emitted from the tip of Kingsley’s wand. Like a snake it slithered down to Harry’s and Ron’s before it broke in two. Each new wisp coiled its way up their individual wands, all the way up their arms, and around their necks until finally it rested at their mouths. Having done the spell times before, Harry and Ron knowingly opened their mouths letting the snake-like wisps enter. They breathed in.

As they exhaled, a faint blue mist filled the air around them signaling the spell was complete.

“Now with that done… the Italian Minister has been murdered.” Kingsley’s face was stone, unreadable to either Harry or Ron.

“Blimey…” muttered Ron under his breath. Both he and Harry looked shocked. It was hard to imagine someone getting to a Minister these days. They waited for Kingsley to continue.

“Last time Ed brought you boys in here was because we thought the Death Eaters were reorganizing, we just didn’t know where. At the time, it was our intention to send one of you out to where the activity was at its highest and work with the other ministries while keeping the other here in case activity spiked back home again. But...” At this Kingsley paused, almost too hesitant to continue. Harry’s eyebrows furrowed. “But we think we know why the dark magic activity is fluctuating so.”

“You think you know? Or you do know?” asked Ron purposefully.

“We know,” interjected Ed. Harry and Ron looked at him. Ed stood sure and unwavering. If Ed, of all people, was certain then they knew that what they were about to hear was not suspicion or theory. It was a damn fact. Ed had never been wrong. “We don’t know if they are ‘Death Eaters’ per say, but we know that they have similarities with the Death Eaters. Regardless of the name or whatever they call themselves, we know that they are following someone… Someone going in and out of the country. Someone going in and out of every country.”

“Oh god…”

“What? Harry?” Ron was confused. He kept looking from Harry back to Ed and then to Kingsley.

“Ron who was the last person you knew who went to Italy? Who was the last person you knew to travel pretty much everywhere?”

“Hermione?” Ron’s eyes glazed over with realization. It had to be Hermione. He stared up at the faces of his superiors and saw their looks; he watched as neither attempted to correct him. Suddenly Ron’s face hardened. No longer was his expression a mixture of fear and worry, but now he was all business. “Why? Why her?”

“She’s making a lot of enemies. Giants, centaurs, werewolves, house elves are all getting protection. House elves even will have wages soon. There are a lot of people who sincerely dislike your friend. She’s breaking the old ways. AND she doesn’t mind stepping on toes to get things done.”

“What do you mean?” asked Harry finally speaking.

“Half the pure blood families in England have charges against them that’s what I mean! She’s doing the same in France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Denmark,” With each country Ed slammed a paper down in Harry’s lap, “and the list goes on and on…”

Harry fanned out the papers, all in different languages and each with Hermione’s face on the front. He felt flabbergasted. She was everywhere.

Kingsley caught Harry’s astonishment and decided to take the reigns.

“Harry, there are laws in place to protect pure blood families. Hermione is bypassing them. She’s charging wizards-”

“So what you’re saying is that she’s doing things illegally. HERMIONE is doing things ILLEGALLY?!” Harry could feel his anger flare in his veins. They were accusing her.

“Harry, I’m not saying that she isn’t doing the right thing. But to many wizarding families, Hermione is breaking the laws that protect them. Granted, the laws give them an unfair advantage.” Kingsley was calm speaking softly to Harry, who visibly relaxed as he spoke.

“Why did it start in Italy?” questioned Ron trying to get back to the matter.

“The reason this all got kicked into high gear was because of a vote for the release of a house elf,” began Ed crossing his arms. “The elf was from a prominent wizarding family in Italy, the Turturros. The elf, Aldo, was beaten daily by his master. Another family’s son got into a skirmish with Aldo and the elf’s master, seeing his servant’s wounds, knowingly gave the order for the elf to defend itself against enemies. The next time the master went to beat the creature, Aldo killed him. Accidentally, of course. The Italian Wizengamot was holding a trial in favor of execution when Hermione came into town-”

“She said she had gone to discuss vampire relations with the Italian Minister,” said Harry puzzled.

“Originally, yes, that was her intention, but she only met with the vampires once or twice before being informed of the trial,” replied Ed quickly before continuing. “Last week on the day of voting she got all the wizards with the strongest ‘pull’ taken off.”

“What do you mean? How could she have done that?” Ron sat up in his chair and leaned in closer.

“She plays dirty. A lot of witches and wizards have everyday fines: magic in front of a muggle, parental neglect while a young witch or wizard does magic, parking a broom in a no broom zone… all kinds of small fines. Turns out in Italy you can get suspended from the Wizengamot for a certain amount of time depending on how many you have. Most people don’t ever pay attention to it… Hermione got 3 of the most prominent- and most biased- wizards kicked off all on the same day… the day of the vote.”

“The elf got off,” finished Kingsley. Harry and Ron took a moment to process, but Ed didn’t give them much time.

“It made international headlines.” Ed threw a whole new set of papers from various countries on Harry’s lap, all with Hermione’s face and, with what Harry could tell from their titles, all with malicious intent for his best friend.

“I don’t understand! Why was the minister killed?” exclaimed Ron frustratingly. He wanted Ed to get to the point.

“Because he released a public statement that he supported the Wizengamot’s decision.... which in other words meant he supported Hermione’s decision that she fed to the Wizengamot. She basically arranged who got to vote.”

Ed uncrossed his arms as he continued, “People are angry, boys. They’re angry that a foreigner manipulated their system, they’re angry the Minister supported it, and most of all they’re angry that rights are being taken away from pure bloods.”

Seeing the looks of hopelessness on Harry and Ron, Kinglsey looked upon them with pity. “The Italian Wizengamot has been controlled for many, many years by certain families. It has been a ruthless regime. Hermione removed their influence from the Wizengamot allowing the others to make a free decision. She did a good thing. That elf did not deserve to die for having a bad master. Do not lose faith in your friend,” said Kingsley soothingly.

Harry and Ron nodded in understanding.

“Boys we need a decision now. One of you has to leave within the hour. The Italians are waiting.” Ed’s eyes darted from one to the other.

“What good will it do? Hermione’s here in England? We should stay to protect her. Plus by now the papers will have already heard and started to print-”

“Ron, no one knows the Italian minister was murdered… they only know that he is dead.”

“What? They covered it up?” The weight of the situation was finally talking hold of Ron.

“The job was made to look like the Minister died suddenly; we encouraged the Italians to play along. Not even the Minister’s wife knows he was murdered. This way we stand the chance of having one of you infiltrate the inner circle without them thinking that England is even aware. Also this way Hermione will continue doing what she’s always done and we can-”

“YOU”RE GOING TO USE HER AS BAIT?!” roared Harry standing up so fast his chair fell to the floor.

Ed straightened to his full height, which happened to tower over Harry, and looked him directly in the eye. “Yes.”

“Harry sit… let us explain.” Kingsley wordlessly righted Harry’s chair and placed a hand on his shoulder pushing him back into the seat.

“One of you will stay here as her body guard keeping tabs of the threats here. The other will go and try to find which of the three families called for the assassination. We’re hoping one can track down whose doing this and possibly go under cover, while the other travels with Hermione. They’ll be after her next. With one of you inside, we may be able to get the jump on them before they get to her.”

“Wait a minute… why Hermione? Why not Jean? How do we know they’re coming after her and not him? He was in Italy too.”

Kingsley answered, “Jean’s had some mild threats but not nearly as many as hers. The French have heightened his security, but they are not too worried. Jean’s death… it wouldn’t be nearly as-” Kingsley paused trying to think of the correct way to say what he wanted to say. “Hermione’s death would have a far greater…” Kinglsey searched for the most delicate word, “Significance.”

Harry paled and Ron looked up at Kingsley with fear marking his eyes.

“She’s a muggle born and she’s fought against Lord Voldemort… her death would be devastating.”

Harry felt physically sick and by the looks of it so did Ron. Both had heard her screams the night of her torture by Bellatrix five years earlier. Neither wanted that instance to ever happen again, nor did they want to picture the horrendous way that Hermione would die if captured again. The possibility of a world that did not include Hermione seemed awful. Her death would be more than devastating for them. There were no words to describe what her absence would mean to the two men sitting.

“The Italians sent us this from the crime scene.” Ed reached back and pulled a large photograph from the top of his desk. “The photograph’s already been translated.”

Ed handed Ron the magically altered picture of a note reading, “The mudblood mistress is next.”

“Mistress?”

“Yes that’s what the Italians call her. It plays on the rumor that Hermione has gone to bed with the Italian Minister.” Ron fumed at the thought.

“Still, wouldn’t the assassin be here in England now that she’s returned?”

“It’s highly unlikely that they would make such an obvious move. Plus, I don’t think there’s an assassin in the world that would dare attack her in England. Not with you two so close by and her job residing in the Ministry,” replied Kingsley.

“We think it’ll happen when she travels or at some big event. She’s supposed to have a full schedule for the next few months. We don’t think they’ll attack so close to the Minister’s death. They’ll most likely keep a low profile and then they’ll strike… Hopefully whichever one of you goes can nab them before they get the opportunity.”

There was a silence in the air. Ron glared down at the photograph.

“Ok I’ll go.” Ron said determinedly.

“What?! Ron! You can’t! You could be gone for months!”

“No! I’m going, Harry.” Ron’s gaze was so intense that Harry shut his mouth. Harry could see the firmness in his best friend and knew he could not sway him in front of Ed and Kingsley.

“Get packed and be back here as soon as you can. The sooner the better,” said Ed with finality.

Ron made his way for the door then stopped suddenly. “One more thing…. my father-”

“It’s ok Ron. He knows and we’ve already doubled his security.” Ron opened the door and walked through the charms that held the conversation private, causing them to fall. Harry raced after him.

“Ron! What are you doing?!”

“Harry I have to do this. I have to be sure this happens right.” Ron walked with purpose towards the Auror Department’s apparating station. This separate station was only used for important cases and emergencies. “Harry, you need to stay… I can’t focus here when I’m around her. I won’t be able to protect her this way. You have to be the one to stay. She trusts you, she’ll keep you close.”

“Ron, wait!” Harry held Ron’s arm effectively stopping him. “The date?” Harry watched as Ron’s eyes pained with the idea of Hermione being left alone in a restaurant.

This was their chance to repair the damage. Ron knew that with the act of asking him to dinner Hermione was trying. She was making an effort; something which he had wished she would do for some time now. But, he also knew that he could be of no use to her if he stayed. They were not close enough yet for that to happen. It had to be Harry just as it had to be him that left.

“Harry please can you go for me? I know you won’t be able to explain, but please go for me anyway.”

Ron had his determined face on, the one that he and Hermione shared. Harry knew there was no way of changing his mind. Solemnly, he nodded his head.

“Thank you, Harry. Thank you.” Ron pulled Harry into a brotherly hug and then before Harry even had time to say goodbye Ron apparated.


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Harry took the steps to Ginny’s apartment complex two at a time. If he hurried, he might be able to catch her and have her meet Ron at their apartment. They could say goodbye then. He reached Ginny’s door and pounded as hard as he could.

“Ginny! Open up!” Harry heard the magical locks unclick and the door whip open.

“Harry?” Seeing his face Ginny immediately became concerned. “Harry what’s-”

“Hermione… Ginny, is Hermione here?” asked Harry cutting her off.

“No. She left for the restaurant about twenty minutes ago.” Harry’s face fell with the information. He didn’t know if he could make it to the restaurant and get Hermione to Ron before he was gone.

“Shit, shit, SHIT!” Harry turned away, cursing at the ceiling.

“Harry what the hell is going on?” asked Ginny, quickly moving from concern to extreme worry.

“Ron’s leaving.”

“What? Why?” Ginny glared at Harry as he avoided eye contact with her. Harry could feel the enchantments of the spell constrict his throat.

“I can’t tell you... Listen, Gin, I have to go.” Harry turned and ran for the stairs.

“HARRY!”

“I have to get to Hermione!” called Harry over his shoulder. He had to try. At the very least he had to try. Otherwise Hermione was just going to think that Ron did this willingly.

And even though a part of the situation appeared to be choice, it really wasn’t. Harry knew the moment that they described the assignment that he would have to stay. It was instinctual. Hermione would not think anything of Harry traveling with her. Ron, on the other hand, would be different. There would be the presumption of ulterior motives with Ron’s presence. There would be unneeded intensity; the same intensity that would fog Ron and leave Hermione unprotected.

Harry busted out of complex’s door and was gone in the blink of an eye. He prayed to Merlin he made it in time.


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Present Time

“Harry?... Where’s Ron?” asked Hermione again. She seemed to be waiting patiently for him to speak, but he could see in her eyes the expectations that were already beginning to ebb.

“He-he can’t make it. He’s leaving.” Harry could feel the spell hold his tongue where he wanted to explain. He watched as she turned away and shut her eyes. “Hermione, listen, if we leave now we can-”

“It’s ok, Harry. I get it. I understand.” Her voice was surprisingly clear, although she still wouldn’t look at him.

“Hermione, it’s not what you think-” She held up her hand to stop him. This time she looked at him, she looked directly at him with her sad, knowing eyes.

“Trust me, I get it… he finally got to choose his career.” Harry felt more so than heard the ‘over me’ that should have finished that sentence.

Hermione arose quietly. She lifted her hand, the one grasping the small piece of parchment, a slight degree before releasing the parchment and letting it float to the table. Grabbing her purse, she laid a few galleons down and then without a word, walked out.

Harry stood watching her go. He looked down and saw the parchment lay open to reveal Hermione’s perfect, meticulous script.

My reason: He always comes back.


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Ron scurried around his bedroom whisking things into his bottomless bag. His room looked a complete mess. Cloaks, books, food, dark magic detectors were all circling over head as Ron picked which were going before zooming them into the bag.

Suddenly, he heard the door to his apartment burst open. It didn’t take long to find out who it was.

“RONALD WEASLEY!!! Where are you??!!!

“Oh for fuck’s sake…” groaned Ron as he continued to pack. Harry must’ve gone to Ginny’s to look for Hermione.

Ginny stormed into the bedroom and without even saying hi she started laying into him. “Where the hell are you going?”

“Gin, you can’t be here. I have to pack,” said Ron urgently.

“As your sister I feel it is my duty to inform you that you are on the ‘I’m-about-to-really-fuck-things-up’ path!”

“Ginny I can’t talk about this. I have to go.” Ron zipped up his bag. He went to the hallway closet where his cloak was. Ginny followed him as he went.

“And why you? Why not somebody else?!!! Tell them you can’t go!”

“Ginny they only offered the assignment to two people!”

“And so you just had to take it?!!” She looked at him like he was the biggest buffoon in the entire world. “Please, Ron, don’t do this to her!”

Ron could feel the ache in her voice and it stopped him momentarily. He knew that this was going to hurt Hermione; he knew it more so than anyone. He turned around from the closet and saw Ginny’s pleading face.

“Please Ron… she went to a restaurant. She got all dressed up. THIS is the girl that doesn’t say ‘I’m sorry’ and she’s waiting for you. THIS IS THE HERMIONE VERSION of ‘I’m sorry. I was an ass. Let’s get back together’!!!!”

“Well it was either me or Harry… who would you prefer to go?” Ginny got quiet.

“Harry. Tell Harry to go,” she answered firmly.

Ron felt his jaw drop. He couldn’t decide if she had meant it or if it was purely the hurt of knowing what Hermione will feel. But she stood unyielding.

“I can’t believe I’m hearing this.” Ron stepped back to stare at her incredulously. Disgusted, Ron grabbed his cloak and made for the door. Ginny ran ahead of him though blocking his path.

“Listen, Ron. That man that I was having lunch with today, the bloke from my game yesterday. His name is Todd Summers. He’s a recruiter for the LA Quidditch Region. I’m going to go play in America for a year. So you see! Me and Harry won’t be together anyway. I’m telling you let Harry go. Stay here and fix things with Hermione!! Go to the restaurant!!”

Ron grabbed Ginny by the shoulders and looked her right in the eye. “Ginny as your brother I have the right to tell you this… you are on the ‘I’m-about-to-seriously-fuck-things-up’ path.”

With that, Ron kissed his sister on the cheek and rushed out the door.



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Just as a bit of info for you guys. "Custodes arcani" is keepers of the secret in Latin so that's what that spell means. I have the next chapter planned out and I will be putting it to "paper" in the next few days. I should be posting it right after this one gets validated. Let me know what you think about this latest.

Hermione... poor girl... stood up the day before Valentine's Day. That's kind of a metaphor for their whole relationship. Her and Ron are so close to having things be just right, but then fate (and their own emotions) step in and hold them back. Ahhhh so is life. Anyway please review!


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