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Later that day, Hermione had her feet up on the sofa and was reading a book. Harry came in and sat down in the chair across from her. Hermione looked up from the book and said, "Finish telling me about your meeting with Kingsley."

"Let me call Ron and have him come over first. He should hear it too." Harry got up and went over to the fireplace. A few minutes later, there was a flash of green light and Ron appeared.

"Hi Harry, hi Hermione," said Ron as he waved his hand and the soot on his cloths drifted back into the fireplace.

"Hi Ron," said Hermione. He sat down on the sofa next to her.

"So what's up?" said Ron.

Harry said, "I had a really good talk with Kingsley today." ...

"Hello Harry. Please come in and have a seat," said Kingsley. "How are you doing?"

"Very well Minister."

"The Auror Department sent me word that five individuals of a snatcher cell were apprehended. Thank you for providing the information that led to their capture."

"We overheard them talking when we were being taken to Malfoy Manor. Are snatchers still rounding up people?"

"No, but some cells are actively recruiting new members. Their tactic is to spread false rumors about the Ministry in an effort to cause fear, mistrust and division. Vigilance and the reporting of suspicious activity is needed by everyone to bring the remainder of the dark force to justice."

"Seems like you're making good progress; we've read about it in the Prophet."

"Thank you, Harry. Now if I may, I'd like to ask you a few questions. In accordance with your earlier expressed wishes, I have kept silent about you and your friend's activities over the past year. Only general statements have been made to the press stating your well being and desire for privacy. Is this still your desire?"

"It is Minister. I've had some limited discussion with Ron and Hermione about it. Perhaps at some future date, a single publication interview would be possible. The content would be edited as necessary and the final story agreed upon by Ron, Hermione and myself prior to publication."

"Excellent Harry. That is very much my line of thinking too. Do you have any thoughts about that future date?"

"No, not really."

"The reason I ask, there is planning underway for a ceremony to be held at Hogwarts sometime in late August. The purpose is to rededicate the school and to commemorate those who were involved in its defense both living and deceased. There will be a Daily Prophet story related to the ceremony and it would be a good time to have something of your story. If published together, there would be diversion that is favorable to your desires. What do you think?"

"That seems okay to me but let me discuss it with Ron and Hermione."

"Very good, I would appreciate it if you could let me know your decision within the next few days."

"We will Minister."

"With respect to the ceremony and the available space at Hogwarts, the event will be limited. Only those directly involved in the battle and their immediate families will be invited. There will be a single, reputable reporter and photographer from the Daily Prophet present to report on it. You, Ron, Hermione and others identified by professor McGonagall would be formally invited to be present for the ceremony. None of you would have to speak unless you so desired. It would mean a lot to the wizarding world if you would consent to attend."

"I think that would be agreeable. Let me check with Ron and Hermione on that too."

"Thank you. I also wanted to mention that planning is underway regarding careers in the Ministry of Magic for you, Ron and Hermione. Please share what I am about to say to you with them. Many of the Ministry departments desire each of you in one way or another. Each of these departments is drafting a proposal. They will be summarized and sent to you by owl in the next few weeks. You could then meet with the department heads to learn more about the careers that you might be interested in. ..."

... "So Kingsley really wants to help us get things sorted out and move forward," said Harry.

"That's great!" said Hermione. "Did he say anything about school or job requirements?"

"Only that the Ministry is short handed right now and that special arrangements for necessary course work would be available depending on our career choice. Existing knowledge and experience would be taken into consideration."

Ron said, "Wow, we get to pick the job we want?"

Hermione said, "At least from the choices they give us. What if we don't want what they offer?"

Harry said, "Any other job would have the normal school requirements and application process. But Kingsley said that we would probably be very happy with the offers."

Ron said, "My dad mentioned to me that there are available positions in his department too. I've been thinking about that. Or maybe work with George at the joke shop."

Harry said, "I also got a job pitch from Kingsley. He said that after 'recent events', becoming an Auror was an available choice for each of us."

"Blimey," said Ron. "Really?"

"Well, I for one do not want to be an Auror," said Hermione.

"I told Kingsley that, speaking for myself, I'm not interested in being an Auror right now. That after this last year, something with much less hand-to-hand combat is more what I'm thinking."

Ron smiled and said, "Yeah, I had that conversation with Mum and Dad. They said they would support me in whatever career decision I make but that they hope it will be a less dangerous one."

Harry said, "So what do you think about an interview and publication? I'm inclined to do it so we can get it over with."

Hermione said, "What Kingsley suggested would minimize us being in a direct spotlight."

"Publish in the Quibbler like you did in fifth year?" asked Ron.

Hermione said, "To get best diversionary advantage, it should be in the same publication as the other stories, somewhat hidden. That means it would need to be in the Daily Prophet since it is the official Ministry newspaper."

Ron said, "The person doing the interview should do all three of us together. That will make the story consistent and we can help each other stay clear of questions about prophecies and Horcruxes."

Hermione said, "We would still need to be careful about what we say. The interviewer could talk to others who could publish without our consent."

Harry said, "Okay. What about the ceremony at Hogwarts?"

Ron said, "I think we should do it. After working on the Hogwarts rebuilding effort, it will help give people final closure."

Hermione said, "I think so too Harry. Not being there would make it appear that we don't care about Hogwarts or what happened there."

Harry said, "Great. I'll send Kingsley an owl tomorrow. Either of you fancy a butterbeer?"

Ron and Hermione nodded and Harry got up and went to the kitchen. He returned and handed a glass to Ron and Hermione. Then he sat down again in the chair facing them. There was a quiet minute where they all were just thinking. Ron was intently studying the butterbeer foam in his glass. He looked up at Hermione.


"Yes Ron."

"I want to talk to you, about us."

"Do you mean us as in boyfriend and girlfriend?"



Harry stood up to leave saying, "I think I'll check on something in my room."

"It's okay with me mate if you stay. I don't think this will become one of our shouting matches. Besides, since the Forest of Dean, I'm comfortable with you knowing my feelings."

"That was quite the reunion we had in the tent that night," said Hermione.

Ron looked at Harry and his eyes silently spoke. "No, the image we saw from the locket."

Harry sat back down and began to study the foam in his glass of butterbeer.

"Hermione, we've had the romance part of our relationship on hold for a while now and it has given me time to sort it out. I think our arguments are because I'm being overly defensive of my opinions. Growing up the youngest brother of the family tended to put me on the receiving end of practical jokes, embarrassing situations and hand me downs. It's still hard for me to be trusting and open with you. Ginny never seemed to have that problem but I think it's because she's more self-assured than I am."

"What I think I'm trying to say is, I need more time and space to become the right person for you. I want to stop the romance part of our relationship and give both of us time to see and date other people. That way, we'll find out if we are really meant for each other. If we are destined to be married some day, I want it to be freely chosen and based on a much more peaceful foundation."

Hermione said in a soft voice, "Ron, that's beautiful. But to be fair, our arguing is not just you. I've been bossy and opinionated with you too."

In a questioning voice and smiling, Ron said, "Really? Since when?" They all broke into laughter.

"Seriously Ron," she said in a contrite voice, "You know I'm an over achiever. I'm still trying to find the right balance in that. I understand now how that must have made you feel. I'm very sorry about that; please forgive me. I'm okay with doing what you suggest for us. I know we will be dearest friends and I want that to continue no matter what. I really, really mean that!"

"Me too Hermione," said Ron.

Ron looked at Harry and then back to Hermione. With a sincere expression he said, "You're both my best friends and I know you really well. ... I think you and Harry should spend some time together too. But I don't need to hear all of the details about that." The three of them smiled.

Hermione turned to Ron with teary eyes. Giving him a long hug she said; "Thank you Ron."

"Thank you Hermione."

She gave him a kiss on the cheek and then looked into his eyes. "Like brother and sister for now?"

"Yes Hermione, and much more."

After a long pause, Harry said, "How about we all go and get something to eat?"

Ron said, "That sounds good to me. Is there an Italian place nearby?"

Hermione grinned. "Yes, this is an almost completely muggle neighborhood. There are a couple of Italian places a few blocks walk from here."

"Great," said Harry. "Let's go."

They spent the remainder of the evening talking, eating, laughing and enjoying each other's company. They felt a genuine trust, joy, and understanding for each other that seemed boundless.

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