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Author's Note: J.K created the playground, I occasionally use the swings. Here's the latest I hope you all enjoy!

Chapter 9- The Plea of Antonia Tattori

Harry sat in his usual chair across from Ed. It had been three days since the death of the Italian Minister and three days since Ron had left.

“She’s going to the funeral, Ed.” Harry stated the fact. The funeral for the Italian Minister was set for tomorrow and Hermione had been making arrangements since the moment she found out. Harry could tell that she was upset by the news, but he also figured it was a small blessing in disguise. After Ron left, Harry had been worried that she would mope around the apartment in the deep depression and silence that she had done right after their original break up. But instead, because of the news of the Minister she was very active. She was flooing people to reschedule meetings, shopping for the appropriate robes for the funeral, and getting in contact with Jean so they could attend together.

“Well I figured as much…” replied Ed knowingly.

Ed stood up and made his way to the large wooden cabinet off to the right of his desk. He opened the doors to reveal various gizmos and gadgets.

“I suppose you’ll need these then,” said Ed throwing Harry the small wooden box that he had fished out from the cabinet.

Harry caught them and looked at Ed curiously. “Go ahead. Open it,” he coaxed.

Slowly Harry unclasped the box. The lid popped open a small degree after the hold was released. Harry was just about to lift the rest when it suddenly flew open and two… things... jumped out flipping in mid air with a great display of acrobatics before landing gracefully on his forearm.

“Bugger!” Harry nearly jumped out of his skin in surprise. “Whoa Harry!” chuckled Ed, his eyes twitching in delight.

Harry had no idea what they were. They looked like small bugs of some sort. “What the bloody hell are these?”

“They’re translation beetles… A little full of themselves, but then again they are Italian.”

Ed laughed as Harry stared in wonder as the two beetles walked proudly on his arm, strutting back and forth.

“Hermione speaks pretty fluent Italian and the Minister’s family has been great friends to her. We’ll need you to be able to understand what conversations pass between them. Especially the Minister’s wife. We need to know if she knows anything.” It went without saying that if Hermione was going to the funeral then Harry would also be going too. Harry had already counted on being there regardless of his job, having spoken to Hermione about it pretty much the moment after she had decided that she was going to attend.

“You don’t think she was in on her husband’s death do you?” questioned Harry as he continued to observe the two beetles.

Ed shrugged. “You never really know. They appeared to be a happy couple, but you can never tell.”

Harry nodded in understanding. “So…errr… how do these guys work?” asked Harry eyeing the two beetles still on his forearm.

“They speak both English and Italian, Harry. All you have to do is tell them it’s time for work and they’ll know what to do. But for right now,” Ed kneeled down in front of the two beetles, “we don’t need your services little guys so go ahead back to sleep.” With another acrobatic twist the two landed beautifully right back in their beds. Harry closed the lid and clicked the catch back into place.

“Any clue on how long you’ll be gone?” Ed inquired.

“She hasn’t said…. Probably a few days though, I’d imagine. What’s the activity like down there? Heard anything from Ron?”

“It appears that they’ve scattered. There’s small activity pretty much everywhere right now, but it would be best if you kept your guard up while you’re there. As far as Ron we haven’t heard anything from him yet but he knows how to reach us when he has something.”

The Auror Department has numerous ways of secretive contact. Harry and Ron had their own specific way of communication unbeknownst and separate from the Department, but Ron hadn’t used it yet. The two made use of it very seldom but Harry knew that if Ron had information he would pass it to him before the Department. Thus, Ron’s lack of correspondence with the Department was really of no surprise as Harry had received none.

“Make sure to inform me of anything pertinent. Other than that, I’ll expect to see you back in my office when you arrive home.” Harry nodded and stood up. He slipped the beetles into his pocket as he made his way to the door.

“Oh and Harry… Make sure to feed the beetles.”

Harry quirked an eyebrow at Ed. “What do I feed them?”

“Gelato… pasta… pizza… wine…. Hell if I know.”

Harry laughed as he made his way out. Italy was going to be interesting.


The next day Harry was carefully putting on his best dress robes, getting ready for the funeral.

He and Hermione had taken a late train the night before down to France where they had met up with Jean and few other French Ministry officials. From there, the entire group had taken a portkey to the Ministry in Italy.

Despite both of them being an extremely competent witch and wizard, Hermione absolutely refused to apparate internationally. With Harry not knowing where they were going, they would’ve had to do a side apparation and Hermione was completely unwilling.

Harry suspected it had something to do with splinching Ron during the war. Ever since then, Hermione was very wary of using apparation and had since greatly encouraged traveling by train or portkey. Whenever Harry inquired about it though, Hermione rattled off statistics of the increased chances of splinching because of international apparation.

“Honestly! Why bother going through all the work and grief to get an international license when it’s just as likely that you’ll get splinched in two?!” She would prattle on about. Harry simply had to roll his eyes and agree to do it her way. She really was very stubborn.

After one last attempt at flattening his hair, Harry grabbed the little box of beetles and stuffed it in his pocket before walking out of his room. Hermione’s was right next door to his. He knocked softly.

Hermione opened the door and offered a mumbled good morning to Harry before shutting the door behind her.

In the last week, Harry had seen Hermione twice dressed in black: once at the restaurant and now today. He hoped the color wasn’t an omen, even though he doubted if he actually believed in omens. After all of Trelawney’s bogus predictions throughout his teen years, he really didn’t think omens existed.

Still, she wore black at the restaurant which Harry could logically see as the death of her and Ron’s relationship and now, she wore black for the death of the Minister. There were a lot of deaths going around, he mused. Although he did have to admit, she looked quite stunning in the color.

Hermione was not one to overdress for any occasion. Her gowns and robes always were very simplistic and never revealed too much. With that, though, she still ended up looking as beautiful as ever. She held a certain kind of class and femininity with her choices.

They met the others they had traveled with in the lobby. Collectively the group murmured their hellos and good mornings. Jean and Hermione shared a long hug… a little too long if you asked Harry.

She just had a break up. She’s not on the rebound yet Frenchman.

Jean pulled away from Hermione. With a shy good morning, Jean shook Harry’s hand. Harry felt himself relax. Jean motioned for Hermione to lead the way as they exited to the street. They were going to walk to the grave site where the ceremony was to take place. The Minister would be buried in the town’s cemetery only a short ways away.

As they walked, Harry caught sight of a number of magical posters lining the streets. It was the smiling portrait of the Minister along with his funeral information that hung on practically every building.

Harry noticed that the posters all had the same phrase at the top: “Si e' spento serenamente oggi…”

He oddly wondered what the phrase meant before he realized what he had in his pocket. Lagging behind the rest of the group, Harry quickly retrieved the little box from inside his robes. He freed the clasp and just like before in Ed’s office, the translation beetles burst out in a lively fashion. Harry wondered if they were going to do that every time.

Slowly he lowered his head to his hand and whispered, “Err.. hi... I mean good morning.” The beetles waited patiently for their task. “Erm… I’d like to know what that sign means.” Harry watched as the beetles turned to the sign and then with great vigor they scurried up his arms.

Harry tried not to squirm at the idea of these little insects crawling across him. He watched as they climbed all the way up to his head and then he felt them part as each one headed for one ear.

Now originally Harry just figured that they were going to whisper in his ear, but instead to his horror he felt them burrow inside his ear canal. “Ahhh.. what the bloody hell!” He felt himself shiver involuntarily as they situated themselves.

Suddenly out of no where he heard them in unison.

“My friend! Please stay calm. Ed no give any good instructions, we realize. But dis is what we do! Feels funny at first, no?” Harry nodded. “AHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!”

He clasped his hands to his ears at the sound of their yelling nearly blew out his ear drums. “Ow… why are you yelling?!” he whispered harshly to what appeared to be himself.

“Please, my friend, forgive us, but you must notta nod. There is no thing to hang on in here.”

“Right… right. Sorry about that,” said Harry quietly.

“Is ok. Happens many a time before… Now for you answer, the signs say ‘He has serenely gone out today…’ Is a custom in our country for the signs.”

“Hmmm” mumbled Harry as he continued to walk behind the group.

“Now, my friend, we will stay uppa here and we will translate. You will feel a small vibration when the translate begins, ok?”

“Ok…” said Harry slightly anxious. How big of a vibration were they talking about? With the acrobatics and all, Harry was fairly certain they might blow fireworks or something off in his head.

“No worry, my friend, you will know. Now, we stay quiet. You no know we here, ok?”

“Yeah,” said Harry as he stepped onto the soil of the graveyard. It really was an almost tranquil scene with the cemetery overlooking the town below, the dead keeping watch over the living. The moment was ruined as a camera flash caused Harry to shut his eyes.

Reporters were everywhere.

The calm beautiful scene was trampled upon by hordes of cameras, reporters, and magical folk. There were swarms of witches and wizards who must have come from all over Italy to witness the burial of their Minister. Harry eyed them suspiciously.

The funeral was open to the public. The entire wizarding community was allowed to be there, which meant an added danger to Hermione.

Harry picked up his pace and pushed past a few of the French officials that had traveled with them, so that he could take his place to Hermione’s right as they navigated their way through the throngs of people.

Eventually, they made it to a group of golden chairs aligned in a number of rows surrounding the grave. The platform was made of gold and the body lay atop wrapped in white cloth that seemed to sparkle as the morning light kissed its surfaces.

Hermione wavered a second, taken aback.

Sadly, her and Harry had attended many funerals and yet the display of it was something that left her winded each time.

They all took their seats. In the front row opposite them, Harry could see witches and wizards dressed in their finest robes. He knew them to be Ministry officials and men and women of great importance in Italy. As his vision traveled down the row, he gazed upon two solemn looking young men who appeared to be about his age. To their right, he glimpsed a woman who seemed far off from this world, far away from the chair that she sat in. He knew instantly that she had to be Mrs. Antonia Tattori, the wife of the Minister. She was a full figured woman with olive skin. She sat still and proper, her hands coolly placed one over the other. Had it not been for her countenance, Harry would have assumed she was any other upstanding official. But her face was agonizingly sad and yet at the same time it was stony and glazed over as if she were trying her best to keep her emotions in check. Harry assumed it was for the two distraught boys who sat to her left that he knew to be her sons.

Harry immediately felt remorse for the woman seated across from him.

The guests seated themselves and the ceremony began. Harry sat as a silent observer having never met the Minister himself. He listened as wizard after wizard spoke about the deceased. They had come from all over. Some from France, some from Spain, some from Russia. It appeared as though the Minister had friends from all over the globe.

Harry suspected that more than anything it was the nature of his death. It was unexpected and had occurred whilst the country itself was in a bit of turmoil. Nothing of the sort had happened in a long time, not since the war.

Like most of the attendees, Harry understood that this death was a shock for Italy during an already emotionally heightened time. But unlike Harry, many felt it was their responsibility to address the issues making the funeral more like a publicity stint than anything.

The ceremony did not turn emotional until finally the last of the ‘officials’ had sat down. It wasn’t until one of the Minister’s son stood up to speak about his father that people began to realize the weight of losing a loved one. Dutifully Harry grabbed Hermione’s hand and squeezed it as she silently wept for her friend and colleague as Luca Tattori recounted loving stories about his Dad.

As his last words rang over the crowd, Harry looked to the stone table where the late Minister was laid. Then, just like Dumbledore’s funeral those many years ago, a swirl of white light emitted from the table. With a final surge, the aura went out leaving a stone tomb with gold engraved letters on the cover.

One by one the funeral’s guests passed by the grave placing flowers, pictures, and cards down. After doing so, they passed by Antonia and her two sons gently offering their condolences for the family’s loss.

After all the rows had filed out past the tomb, Hermione finally stood and calmly made her way over.

Even though Jean and the rest of the row had long ago gotten up, Harry had waited patiently with Hermione instinctively knowing she’d want to be the last to speak with Mrs. Tattori so they could talk pseudo privately. It was hard to imagine privacy with the amount of throngs of people about.

As Hermione approached Antonia, the woman and her two sons arose to meet her. Harry followed behind quietly.

Hermione hugged the two boys and made her way over to Mrs. Tattori while Harry watched as the rest of the crowd, the surrounding wizarding community that had waited in the background as the friends and family said their goodbyes, were finally allowed to enter and pay their respects.

Gently Hermione wrapped an arm around the older woman she had come to know so intimately in the last few months and led her away from the grave with Harry and the two boys close behind.

As the two walked neither spoke. They waited until they had reached a far enough distance from the crowd and the paparazzi.

Antonia was the first to break the silence. Just as Harry saw her mouth open he immediately felt a pleasant hum in both his ears.

How long are you staying for, Hermione?

The only word to describe the sensation of it all was ‘weird’. Harry could tell that Mrs. Tattori was speaking Italian since her lips weren’t exactly matching up with what he was hearing, but he also knew that the voice he was registering was in fact her voice… only in English. The beetles must’ve had some sort of magic in them to filter the words through.

A few days… maybe more if you need.” Antonia gave just a hint of a smile at Hermione as she noted how the young witch was ever so willing to prolong any trip in the service of a friend.

My dear, you should not stay long here. Italy is a sea of hurricanes….. it isn’t safe.” Antonia’s face changed to one of deep concern for the welfare of the girl beside her. “There are dangers lurking here still…” She cut herself off wary of going on.

Antonia-” began Hermione only to be stopped.

Hermione, do not be foolish,” chastised the older witch. “Cesare had no heart condition… he had his six month exam just a few weeks ago. The healer said he was perfectly healthy then. This funeral… this show… it is a lie,” whispered Antonia vehemently.

Hermione was no fool. She had already had her suspicions; she just simply refused to live by them.

I know… I have taken precautions already. Among others, I had Harry travel with me,” reassured Hermione trying to calm her. Harry briefly wondered what other ‘precautions’ she had set in place, but that thought was interrupted by Mrs. Tattori turning around to peek at him for a quick moment. Harry pretended he had not a clue as to what they were saying.

She smiled ever so slightly.

A handsome precaution,” smirked Antonia with a knowing eye as Harry felt his cheeks tinge.

He’s just a friend,” replied Hermione.

So was Cesare at first… You never know, Hermione. Love can grow so quickly and so suddenly that you will not know it until it is upon you.

Oh Italians and love…” Harry could almost hear Hermione’s eyes roll. “First, all your harassing- and believe you, I do consider it harassment- over Jean and I. It took forever, but I finally convinced you. Then apparently since I was not in love with Jean, I just had to be in love with Luca…. Is it so impossible to believe that I already have found love?

Antonia groaned, “I will not believe any stories of this… Ron… until I meet him and see the look in your eye! I have to see that look of love before I believe it!

Well that won’t be happening any time soon,” replied Hermione with a painful undertone. Antonia immediately caught it.

Ahhhhh so I see.” She reached over and patted Hermione lightly on the forearm in a very motherly way.

There were no words between them for a moment, but somehow in that time emotions had passed between them. Conveyed in some manner that only the two women understood.

Antonia knew without saying of Hermione’s heartache. The young witch’s shortness could only have meant one thing. And despite her teasing and unadulterated, shameless suggesting that Hermione date a wide variety of wizards including her son, the elder witch had heard plenty of Ron. She knew the ins and outs of their relationship and she knew Hermione’s pain just as Hermione understood hers. It was just amazing to Hermione that even during this woman’s own times of terrible pain and loss, Antonia was still able to empathize with her. She was grateful.

It made her value the friend she had found all that much more.

The group walked down hill finally entering the peaceful town. At the first street corner they made a right towards the Tattori’s. Their villa was one of the great beauties of the town.

As they approached Hermione caught the familiar sight of the perfectly rusted, black gate with the family’s crest at its center. The gate was open as the funeral’s guests entered and made their way towards the house. Just past the gate lay a cul-de-sac driveway with a fountain sitting ever so gracefully in the center. Despite it being mid-February, the water was still turned on and flowing through the fountain’s sculptures.

Cesare had explained the first time that Hermione had come there that the family’s house elf had charmed the fountain to keep it from freezing during the winter months. The memory drew a sad smile from Hermione as she recalled her first dinner here where she had met Antonia, Luca, and the youngest, Giovanni. A deep friendship had been fatefully formed that night.

The Tattoris had taken her in like a member of the family, embracing her as if she were a distant cousin they hadn’t seen in years. With each visit, they had offered for her to stay with them in one of the guest bedrooms. And so the Tattori villa had become a home away from home for Hermione.

Antonia and Hermione stopped at the edge of the fountain.

Luca, Gio. Please go welcome the guests. Make sure the house elves have everything ready. I’d like to speak with Hermione alone.” The boys obediently went inside with only a small glance to Harry before they left.

Harry just stood his ground. He waited to see what Hermione wanted him to do, hoping that maybe she’d let him stay out here so he could ease drop.

“Harry, there’s food inside. Help yourself. I’ll be in in a minute.” Harry nodded and made for the door. As Hermione sat down on the fountain’s edge, she failed to notice the extendables that dropped from Harry’s pocket.

Antonia took a seat next to her.

So… it was a set up you believe?” questioned Hermione already getting to the point.

Absolutely, I have no doubt in my mind. Cesare was in perfect health. The Ministry is keeping things from me, I know. All of them are liars! Three days after he held the press conference and released his statement… Three days! They want me to believe it was a bad heart! He was as sturdy as a mountain!” Antonia was seething with anger.

I knew I shouldn’t have left… I should have stayed and done something.” Hermione rubbed her temples frustratingly.

Hermione, my dear, you did the right thing. You would not have been safe had you stayed. It was right of you to return home. There was little you could have done anyway. The press had already slandered you to the point where it would not have mattered what you could have said.

You mustn’t believe what they say, Antonia. Cesare and I… he was a mentor. I would never have… he and I would never-

My dear! He was a fifty year old man and he worshipped the ground I walked on! I know there was no affair. You stayed in my home. I would have been the first to have known!” Hermione sighed with relief. She had been so worried that Antonia’s opinion of her had changed with all the things the papers had said about her. The situation had gotten so heightened that Cesare had practically ordered Hermione to return home. She had had no time to defend herself even privately to Antonia.

And Luca? Gio?

Oh my dear they do not believe it either. They are just as angry as me. It is an outrage! A disgrace! Cesare was no such man and you, my dear, are no such woman.

Hermione felt a hidden weight slide from her shoulders instantly. She rarely cared or thought about the many judgments that others had placed upon her throughout her life, but the idea that the Tattoris, a family that had been so near to her heart, had reason to doubt her was almost too much to bare.

Antonia reached across and patted Hermione’s hand affectionately.

You thought I would believe the rumors about my future daughter in law?” Hermione chuckled.

If Luca will still have me of course,” she returned cheekily.

Ahh do not raise my hopes!...” The two sat silently for but a moment. Antonia lowered her gaze to their hands. Olive over white snow. A great sadness came upon her. “Hermione, you must not come back to Italy. There are rumors… rumors that I fear are true. Mancini, Rizzo, and Costa… they are too powerful here. Their wealth is too great and their fingers seem to touch everyone. Cesare had extra Aurors assigned to him after the trial and still it did no good…. I tell you this because I mean to frighten you. You must not come back. You must promise me you will not.

Hermione looked into the eyes of the woman she considered to be a very dear friend and saw fear and worry. Hermione could no more stand to deny her her request just as Antonia could not bear to see another person she loved die. Cause or no cause. Righteous or not. Antonia would rather have had Cesare with her here than gone. Principals be damned!

I promise,” affirmed Hermione.


I actually enjoyed writing this chapter very much. I enjoy writing every chapter, but this one was really gratifying for some reason. I've been trying to drum out as much as I can. I have the next three or four chapters planned out almost to a tee. My goal is to complete the story in the next month. We'll see how it goes...

I'd like to thank all of you for reviewing! It's really inspiring me to keep chugging along. Especially when I hear that some of you are checking everyday to see if I've posted! Thanks for all the support!

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