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Mid-afternoon on Saturday found Harry and Hermione in the living room of the flat. Earlier in the day, they had completed household chores, run errands for Dan and Emma and did some grocery shopping. They were now relaxing and quietly reading.

"Hey Harry, you there?" said Ron's voice from the fireplace.

Harry got up from the chair, put down the magazine he was reading, and went over to the fireplace. "Hi Ron. Yeah, I'm here."

"You remember that you and Hermione are coming over here tomorrow at five for your birthday dinner celebration?"

"Yeah, Hermione has reminded me about it too. But I don't want your Mum to make a fuss."

"Are you kidding me? You know my Mum. You'd get a right large piece of her mind if she heard you say that."

"Okay, okay, I get the picture. We'll be there at five."

"Okay mate, see you two tomorrow."

Harry went back to the sofa and sat down next to Hermione. Still reading her book, she turned and arched her legs over his lap. Harry put his hands on her knees and rested his chin on them. After a moment, Hermione looked up from her book and saw a thoughtful expression on his face.

"What are you thinking about Harry?"

"I'd like to go to Godric's Hollow tomorrow and see my parents home properly." Turning to Hermione he said, "Will you go with me?"

"Yes, of course, Harry."

"Do you think we might be able to get inside the cottage to have a look around?"

"I doubt it. Since it's a memorial, the Ministry will have defensive charms on it to keep people out."

Harry nodded, "You're right. But I'd still like to try. Maybe my cloak can help."

Hermione thought for a moment. "If we get there about nine in the morning most people that are out will probably be by the church. Less eyes to see what we're up to."

"Okay, that sounds good. Thanks Hermione."

Hermione returned to her book. Harry picked up the quidditch magazine from the table, pulled her legs against his chest and began to read.

Harry and Hermione stood on the walkway in front of the Potter cottage quietly discussing how to get beyond the gated fence. The cottage was fully surrounded by fence and wall for as far as they could see. There was what looked to be an archway at the back but it was completely entangled in a large overgrown thorny plant. Hermione tried a few different spells looking for any weakness in the defensive charms but none were revealed. They were about to walk around to the other side of the cottage when a gruff voice from behind them said, "Can I elp yea folks?"

Harry and Hermione jumped in startled surprise. They quickly turned to face an elderly man who looked to be in his seventies.

"This ears the Potter memorial, same as the night it all appened. I'm Wilbur Wallenby, the caretaker o this place. Can I answer any questions?"

"Umm..." said Harry still feeling a bit unnerved, "I'd like to go in and have a look around."

"There's no admittance inside. It has Ministry o Magic security protections to hide it from muggles and keep people out. Ow'd yea think arry would feel bout folks carrying things off?"

"He wouldn't like it at all," said Harry in a firm voice. "But I was close to the family."

"Yur ardly old nuff fur that. Lotsa folks come round here sayn things like that. I personally knew the Potter's. Right neighborly they wer. Evn eld little arry when he waz just a beby."

Hermione said, "Baby Harry was taken from here by Hagrid on a motor bike that night."

"Lotsa folk know that too. I got ter be goin."

Harry stepped closer and shifted his position so the sunlight was brighter on his face. Removing his glasses he said, "Perhaps, if you take a closer look at me."

The caretaker scrutinized Harry's face studying him. A moment later, his eyes widen. Then he said with a peaceful smile, "Yea ave yer mother's eyes. Sorry I didn't recognize yea sooner. Welcome back arry."

Harry said, "That's okay. But ... I still want look inside."

"Well, see ins it's you, I'll let yea in. Just don't tell anyone at the Ministry." Pointing to Hermione he said, "She goin in with yea?"

"Yes. She is a very good and trusted friend."

"Okay. Gimme a few minutes. Then come round the back by that arch over yonder.

"Thank you," said Harry as the caretaker shuffled off.

"Each of yea step through ere." Harry and Hermione now saw a tight twisty path through the thorn plant.

"The arch will make a magical imprint of yea. Exit back out through ere. Don't take nothin or the alarm will sound and Auror's will come. Be careful where yea walk in thar. Also, befer yea leave, come by me ouse across the street. I need te talk ter yea."

"Okay," said Harry. They carefully picking their way through the arch and thorn plant. Stepping through the back door of the cottage, they entered into the kitchen. There was dust and a few pieces of rubble on the floor. The calendar on the wall showed the month of October 1981.

Making their way through the kitchen, they stepped into the living room. The front door was cracked and looked like it had been forcibly opened at one time. Most of the furniture was destroyed and laid in pieces throughout the room. Hermione bit her lower lip as she saw most of the books from the bookcase lying on the floor. There were burn marks on the walls, pictures skewed or lying on the floor, and there was broken glass everywhere. They walked single file following a very narrow path through the room that led to a staircase. They proceeded up the staircase to the second floor.

The first door they came to was open and hanging by just one hinge. They carefully entered. 

On the far side of the room was a crib that was split in two pieces down the middle. The ends of the mattress lay partially in each half. The middle of the mattress was on the floor. All the furniture and windows in the room were in pieces on the floor. Light from the outside shown in through the partially demolished walls. Harry moved to the closet door and opened it.

"Lumos!" His wand light fell on a toy box on the floor. He squatted down and Hermione watched over his shoulder. He opened the box and saw it contained many baby play toys. Some had eyes that were winking; others had faces that were laughing. Toward the back of the box was a small toy broom in a separate storage tray.

Harry thought for a moment and then said, "I think this is the broom we saw in the torn picture, the one I found in Sirius's room at Grimmauld place."

"Yes Harry, I'm sure that's it."

"This is a present from Sirius."

After a moment, he closed the toy box lid and stood. They made there way back out of the room and moved further on.

The next room they entered seemed to be the master bedroom. It was mostly intact. Some of the items on shelves were toppled over. Other items had fallen to the floor and lie in broken pieces. He saw a small wooden box on the nightstand by the bed. The box was ornately carved with musical notes. Harry sat on the bed and Hermione stood beside him. He glanced at Hermione and she nodded. He carefully opened the lid of the box. A woman's voice began to sing. It sounded like a sweet lullaby.

     When you walk through a storm
     Hold your head up high
     And don't be afraid of the dark

     At the end of the storm

     Is a golden sky
     And the sweet silver song of the lark

     Walk on through the wind
     Walk on through the rain
     Though your dreams be tossed and blown

     Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart
     And you'll never walk alone
     You'll never walk alone

Hermione sat down on the bed and put her arm around him. Harry put his arm around Hermione still looking down at the music box. Quietly he said, "Thanks to you and Ron, I've never walked alone."

Hermione brought his face up and looked into his eyes. "That's because we both love you very much." She kissed him on the cheek.

He smiled and hugged her tightly. "I love you both more than I'll ever be able to say."

After a moment, Harry closed the lid of the box. Looking at the nightstand, he now saw that it had a narrow drawer. He wouldn't have noticed it if he were not this close since there was no drawer pull. He took out his wand and said, "Accio!" The drawer gently slid open and reveled a locked leather bound book inscribed 'Lily Evans Potter'.

Harry carefully lifted it out and placed it next to the music box. "Alohomora!" he said quietly; but it remained locked.

"We'll have to work that out later," said Hermione.

Harry moved to check the other nightstand but it did not have a drawer. They both now moved toward the dusty dresser on the wall opposite the foot of the bed. It had many small objects on top of it. Above the dresser hung a badly tilted picture frame. Harry surveyed the objects. There were small glass containers and figurines made of pottery. Many were broken.

"Harry, I can't straighten this picture frame. It seems to be stuck."

Looking at her he said, "It's empty anyway. You don't need to bother."

"It just doesn't look right." Looking at him hopefully she said, "Will you try please?"

Harry smiled and she stepped back. He reached up and twisted the frame so that it was hanging properly. Turning to Hermione he said, "It didn't seem stuck to me."

Hermione gave a short gasp. She had a wide-eyed expression on her face.

"Hello Harry," said the voice of a man from behind him.

Harry quickly turned back to look at the picture frame. Both of his parents stood with their arms around each other, smiling and looking at him.

"It's a magical portrait!" exclaimed Hermione. "Like in the headmaster's office at Hogwarts!"

The image of James nodded approvingly and said, "Dumbledore helped us make it about six months after you were born Harry."

Lily said, "We can answer your questions about our family and give you our thoughts and advice if you want it."

James said, "The portrait frame will only activate with your touch Harry. Flesh memory, like a snitch. You'll find our three hand prints on the back."

Harry asked, "Who was the voice singing in the music box?"

"That's my voice, precious one," said Lily. "I sang it to you to help you go to sleep."

Harry said, "There is so much I want to ask both of you."

"We're here for you anytime," said James.

"Thanks Mum, thanks Dad."

James and Lily smiled, nodded approvingly and then vanish from view.

Harry turned to Hermione who was beaming at him. She threw her arms around him and hugged him tightly. Then she looked at him and said, "Oh Harry! I'm so happy for you!"

Harry gave her a hug and a big kiss. Then he said with a smile, "Thanks for trying to straighten that picture frame."

Hermione beamed. After enjoying their closeness for another moment, Harry said, "I think it's time to go and see Mister Wallenby."

Harry and Hermione walked up to the front door of Mister Wallenby's home and knocked.

"O so glad ye came by arry. Both of yea please come in. Ow bout a spot o tea?"

"Yes Mister Wallenby. We'd like that very much," said Harry.

"You two sit down thar and make yur selves at home. Be back in a jiffy." He then shuffled off to the kitchen.

Harry and Hermione looked around the room from where they stood and whispered to each other. There were cabinets and shelved with many dusty knick-knacks displayed around room. There were a few magical photos on the walls. One photo had a picture of Wilbur and an elderly woman. There was a small glass case with a few ribbons and trophies. A number of storage boxes were set between the furniture around the room. A well worn chair faced across the room to a window that showed the Potter cottage. Harry and Hermione sat down in the love seat next to the chair.

Wilbur returned with a tray containing a teakettle and cups. He placed it on the table in front of them.

"Elp yur selves then," he said as he sat down in his chair.

"Thank you Mister Wallenby," said Harry. Hermione filled three teacups.

"Snuff formalities now. You and yur lady friend there can call me Will."

"Thank you, Will," said Harry. "This is Hermione."

"Pleased to meet yea," said Will.

"A pleasure to meet you too Will," said Hermione. "Is that woman in the picture your wife?"

"Yea, Evelyn. She passed about a year ago."

"I'm so sorry to hear that."

The missus and me were married fifty-two years. We ad a happy life together."

After they all had taken a sip of tea, Will said, "Owd you two get on over there?"

"Good," said Harry. "There are so many broken things. It's hard to imagine it was once my home."

"Aye, indeed," he said as he looked out the window.

"The missus and me would sometimes sit on the porch and watch folks comin and goin. Asked yer mum bout it once, just friendly conversation mind ya, but she didn't say much. Just that they were tryin to elp their friends get through some ard times. Folks waz always welcome at that ouse. Yer parents waz kind and genrous."

Will took a sip of tea and said, "Then you came along and things waz different. Wern't as many folks comin round; cept of course when yea waz christened. Me and the missus war invited too; ad a great time that day. Saw one or two that we wazn't too sure bout but folks seemed right nice. After that, the missus would go over most days and help yur mum take care of yea. The missus like to fuss over yea. We sat yea a few times when yer mum and dad had to go off somewherez. Made my missus appy. Me and the missus waz never able to ave kids of our own so I think you elped er in that way."

"A few weeks befer it all appened, Albus ad stopped by. We adn't seen im in ages. Use ter live the other side of town yea know."

There was a blank stare on Will's face as he said, "It waz tragic all that appened to the Dumbledores. So tragic".

After a short pause he said, "Anyways, Albus said that y'all were in danger and asked if we would keep a look out. Said special charms ad bin put on yer ouse. I told em we'd always bin a looking out for yea but that we'd be extra vigilant. He said to call im straight away if we saw anything. e gave us a specially charmed phoenix. ... That's it over yonder."

Will pointed to a figurine about four inches tall on the table under the window. It looked just like the phoenix statue that guarded the revolving staircase leading to the headmaster's office at Hogwarts.

"Said ter just touch the wingtips, an say is name."

"We'd bin anding out treats to the kids that evening. Wern't too many cuz folks were worried bout things. Waved to yer dad when the kids crossed over to yer ouse. Yur dad ad on a disguise and was trying ter play tricks on um. Mostly he just made um laugh. Me an the missus ad turned in an just gone ter bed when it appened. There waz a flash of green light an a rumble. We ran ter the window and saw yer ouse just as it is now. Told the missus ter call Albus straight away an I ran out the door. But I couldn't get into the ouse; some magical shield all around the ouse waz there."

"Albus arrived a moment later. I'd always known him ter be a kind and jolly fellow. But I'd never seen em more angry and full of rage. Someone else dressed in black robes arrived a few seconds later. E waved is wand and then rushed through the shield into the ouse. Albus said fer me to keep watch from mih ouse; said there waz still danger. Then e started walking round the outside of the shield with is wand and hands raised mutterin spells; e seemed ter be lookin fur somethin."

"A short while later, agrid showed up on that motor bike. Albus and agrid both went into the ouse. Never did see that other feller again." 

"We waz standin on the porch and after a long while, Albus came over ter us. He said your mum and dad were dead but you were okay. The missus cried. Albus said you waz bein taken to your kin folk because it wer the only way ter keep ye safe. Said e couldn't tell us where that waz. Gave us some things ter take care of. Told us not ter mention ter anyone about the things e gave us. Said ter just watch the ouse til the Ministry folks came. That waz the last we saw of Albus for a long while."

Harry's head was down and his eyes were closed. Hermione had her arm wrapped around him and her head was on his shoulder. She was holding his hand.

After a short pause, Will got up and said, "Be back in a bit." And taking the tea tray from the table, he shuffled back to the kitchen.

Harry and Hermione didn't speak. With a lot of sniffing and wiping of their eyes, they recomposed themselves. They heard Will open a door and they looked up to see him descending some stairs into what appeared to be the entrance to the cellar. After a few minutes, Will shuffled up the stairs holding a medium size box under one arm. He closed the door, shuffled over to his chair and placed the box on the table.

Will said to Harry, "I always oped that one day you'd come by. What's in the box is fer you ter take with ye. Is there anythin yer saw at the ouse you want? It's all yours now but ter take anythin out officially requires Ministry o Magic approval."

"Yes. There's an empty picture frame on the wall and a music box and diary on the nightstand in my parent's room. In the closet of my bedroom, there is a toy broom in the toy box. I'd like to take them with me if it's okay with you."

"I'll go an get em now. You two just wait ere a bit." Will went to the door and stepped out.

Harry drew the box close to him and took off the lid. The box had an undetectable extension charm on it. Hermione put her head next to Harry's and looked into the box. He pulled out a small figurine of a phoenix that was the same as the one on Will's table.

"That must be the one that belonged to your parents," said Hermione.

He pulled out some frames containing pictures of the original order members. A group picture, like the one that Sirius had given him, was there. 

He pulled out an envelope that was stamped "Ministry of Magic; Personal Items of James and Lily Potter". The envelope was signed by Albus Dumbledore. Harry opened the envelope. He withdrew two wands and admired them; he would need Mr. Olivander's help to identify them. There was a pair of round frame glasses and a watch. He withdrew a small envelope and dropped its contents onto his hand. Two gold wedding rings still glowed. The diamond on the smaller one sparkled even in the subdued light of the room. Another small envelope contained a gold necklace with a pendant in the shape of a griffin. The two eyes of the griffin were set with garnets.

Also in the box was a folder that contained James and Lily's Hogwarts diplomas, Harry's birth and christening certificates, documents for the cottage and other Ministry forms. Finally, there were two picture albums. One album had a picture of James and Lily on the cover; Lily was in a wedding dress. The cover of the other album had a picture of Sirius holding baby Harry. 

Hermione had been sniffing and wiping her eyes frequently while Harry had looked at these things. Harry sighed and returned everything to the box. As he was finishing with the last items, the door opened and Will entered with another box and placed it on the table.

Hermione held opened her beaded bag and Harry placed both boxes into it.

"Will," said Harry, "I want to thank you very much for keeping these things safe for me all of these years. I am indebted to you. These things mean more to me than you can imagine. If there is ever anything I can do for you, please don't hesitate to ask."

"Ah, twern't nothin."

"We've taken enough of your time today. We will be going now. I'm sure we will see you again."

As they all stood up, Will said, "Sorry fer makin yur day so sad fer yea. But I thought you should know."

"You've made this the best day ever. I'm happy in ways I never knew. Thank you again." Harry extended his hand and shook Will's hand.

Hermione said in a sweet voice. "Thank you for the tea and everything Will. You are a kind and generous man."

Harry and Hermione walked out the door and stopped at the edge of the lane. They exchanged a somber look at each other. Hand in hand, they turned and walked toward the church. Harry conjured wild flowers of every color and Hermione helped arrange them. They stood in silence with their arms around each other for a few moments looking at the flowers and headstone. Harry said quietly, "Thanks Mum, thanks Dad, for all you did for me. ... Thank you too Hermione." Hermione squeezed him.

After another minute, Harry took Hermione's hand to lead her out of the graveyard. They had only taken a few steps when Harry felt her hold him back. He looked at her and saw she was gazing at the ground beside them. He followed her line of sight to a simple grave marker engraved with the name 'Evelyn Wallenby'. Harry took out his wand and caused a white rose to appear on the grave marker. After a moment of silence, they continued out of the graveyard.

They walked the lane to the edge of the village. Finding a secluded area, they disapparated together.

[1] - Lyrics from "You'll Never Walk Alone", 1945 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel.

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