Chapter 16 : Misunderstanding
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Ginny looked at the calendar on her new desk. It read July 24th. "One week until Harry's Birthday. And 18 more days until I can put these on." She kept the ring box with her, just in case he woke up. "Winky how are we doing today?"
"Very good Mrs. Potter. With this new room you added things did not get slowed down much. The uppermost floors are almost complete in time for Harry Potter's Birthday" she said as she looked sadly around. "Now what will we do?" she quietly said to herself.
"I expect you will be very busy getting things ready for the students to return. Has the Headmistress set a date yet? Usually it is September first."
"No Mrs. Potter she has not. She is unable to since they cannot give her any straight answers."
"Who is not doing that? The Minister? Does this have to do with Bill and Charlie?"
"No Mrs. Potter. It is the Board of Governors. We have a crisis at Hogwarts" the Elf said wringing her hands.
"Winky come sit here in Harry's chair please. Now tell me what the problem is. Maybe I can help."
The Elf climbed up into Harry's chair and looked at Ginny. She glanced around the room first before speaking. Ginny had decided to add an Office onto their bedroom, so instead of starting over they took an unused closet and added the Room Extension Charm to it making it now 20' by 20'. His and hers desks faced each other and bookshelves lined the walls, all the wood giving it a rich feel. "Mrs. Potter it is the Board which is in disarray. Some fled the country, others died in the Battles. The Malfoys have their accounts frozen per the Minister while they are being investigated. Most people think they sat back and ran things, but that is not the case. These people are the ones who provided the money needed to operate the school. Without them there is no Hogwarts."
"Winky this is terrible! Does the Headmistress know?"
"Yes she does Mrs. Potter. She is praying for a miracle just like you are, but it appears hopeless. We may have repaired the school, but it will never reopen."
"Maybe we can do something about that. Winky I know this is asking something confidential, but how much money is needed to run the school?"
"The amount each year is based on any repairs needed, plus how many students are there. Two years ago when Professor Dumbledore was Headmaster they needed 750,000 galleons. I cannot say what was spent last year. Headmaster Snape did not share information freely."
"Winky we are going to Gringotts. Griphook and I have some business to attend to." Ginny locked the rings in her desk and grabbed her wand and her purse, which Hermione had charmed like her beaded bag.
"Mrs. Potter did you wish to take your private entrance or the floo downstairs?" Winky wondered.
"Which private entrance Winky? Did we put one in I forgot about?" A lot had gone on here. She would not have been surprised if this was done and she forgot.
"Please come with me Mrs. Potter" Winky replied. She walked up to the center bookshelf behind Ginny and snapped her fingers. The wall moved like a door opening inwards. She saw a corridor much like the one which connected the Hog's Head and the Room of Requirement. "This goes directly into Griphook's Office. You also have downstairs in the pantry a way to access the Black Family Vault which has been there since the house was built."
"Winky this is incredible. Today though I think we will use the regular entrance from the floo. We need Griphook's help on this, and I don't want to make him mad."
"Very wise Mrs. Potter." They went downstairs to take the floo after summoning Kreacher. He went there to setup an emergency Meeting with the Bank Manager.
* * *
Headmistress Minerva McGonagall slowly paced in her Office. "I guess this will be the shortest tenure in the history of the School."
"Don't give up hope Minerva. There has to be a way" she heard Professor Dumbledore say.
"Not this time Albus. The only governor left is Lucius Malfoy, and he is in Azkaban. It has been years since he was on the Board anyway. Some are in Europe, unwilling to return out of fear they may be linked to Voldemort. Others were killed by Death Eaters, and their heirs are either squabbling over the estates or don't care. No this is the end of Hogwarts. At least I can get Molly Weasley off my back. I will let Kingsley know tomorrow the work here is finished, and he can have his two prisoners."
"Do what you think you must. For me I have not given up. We did not think Harry would succeed and he did. I am sure tomorrow Hogwarts will still be standing tall, her battlements flying the flags of the four houses."
"I wish I had your faith Albus. Goodnight old friend" Minerva replied as she headed into her private Office, too tired to go to her quarters.
"So we need a miracle. I wonder ... " the Headmaster said.
* * *
Hermione and Ron were sitting with Harry discussing things Ron felt were important. As usual it had to do with food. "Don't get me wrong, but the kitchen is All Wrong. The stove needs to be bigger, and more room for keeping food. Too much space is being used for extra plates, cups, etc. We don't need 50 extra plates each for four people."
"Ron we also don't need to have enough food on hand to feed 100 people either. I think Kreacher and the Elves gave us a good compromise. We can have a big party for a lot of people and be able to cook for them."
Their conversation/argument was cut short when the Headmistress entered. She did not get much sleep last night, and they could tell.
"Headmistress we're sorry if we woke you. Hermione and I were discussing our new kitchen and we disagree on a few things."
"It wouldn't be right if you two didn't" she attempted to joke which fell flat.
"Minerva please sit down" Hermione told her now very worried. 'Was it about Bill and Charlie? Is she here to tell them there isn't enough evidence?' She looked at Harry sleeping with his Firebolt tucked under his arm like a teddy bear. Hermione began to cry looking at him when she noticed Minerva was too. The only other time this happened is when they thought Harry was dead.
"Hermione. Ron. I have some terrible news. I have reached a decision. Things have become here rather Untenable and I have to make some difficult choices. I hope you will understand."
"Yes Headmistress?" Ron asked now very afraid too.
"Every day I get letters from the press. 'Where is Harry? And where are all four of you? Why can't we find you?' is how they all began. Lately they have changed to 'We know they are hiding in there!' and 'Harry is gravely ill'. Coupled with the letters your Mother sends almost daily to myself or Kingsley this cannot go on. Do you understand?"
"Yes we do Headmistress. Thank you for coming to us yourself with this. We will pass this on to Ginny as soon as she returns" Hermione told the Headmistress as she clutched Ron's hand. Minerva nodded and left, headed she believed to the kitchens for one final time.
"Hermione what is it? You can tell me" Ron said as he cradled her as she broke down. He saw Harry was crying too, he just didn't understand why. Gently he rocked her holding her close.
On the patio he heard the wind rustle and Hannah and Neville came in followed by Luna. "So this time I think we get Buckbeak. Harry is doing so much better now I bet he and Ginny ... " Neville was saying until he felt Hannah stop. He heard Hermione crying and immediately looked at Harry, who was breathing but crying too.
Ron shook his head, indicating he didn't understand what was happening. His three friends sat down to wait until Hermione could speak.
* * *
"Griphook I am pleased you could come up with a solution so quickly" Ginny told the Bank Manager.
"Mrs. Potter we are aware of the problem at Hogwarts. I did not bring it to your attention because that was not my place" he replied.
"And the amount we are talking about. This will address the problem sufficiently?"
"Indeed it will Mrs. Potter. For at least 10 years, more than enough time to create a new Board of Governors. The funds should be transferred today?"
"Please. And send an owl to the Headmistress letting her know her problem is solved but not by who."
"Are you certain of this Mrs. Potter? I'm sure she would wish to thank you personally."
"No. Maybe we can include a note saying it was for seven years of rent we owed?"
"Very good Mistress. I'm sure she will appreciate your humor" Kreacher replied.
"Thank you. Now I wish to see my husband" she added as they left, confident the problem was resolved.
* * *
Ginny, Kreacher, and Winky apparated into Poppy's Office and walked in the enchanted door. "Now remember we will keep this quiet for now, at least until the Headmistress knows." Both Elves nodded, not noticing the eerie silence when they came in.
"Hi Ginny" Ron softly said. Hermione was still in his arms. The crying had stopped, but Ginny saw how it must have been happening for a while.
"RON WHAT'S WRONG? IS ???" she shouted as she rushed past him. She was relieved to see Harry lying there, his cheeks tear stained. She saw his right arm slowly come up and wipe them away before moving back to cradling his Firebolt.
"Oh Ginny!" Hermione sobbed as she hugged her, crying again on her best friends shoulder. "It was the Headmistress. She came here while you were gone, and all but asked us to leave."
"She what??" bellowed Neville now on his feet too.
"Yes. She explained all the letters she has been getting from the press about us, and the ones from your Mother. She said how this must stop so she has to make some difficult choices."
"I understand. So not only did my Family make things difficult for her, we have made them worse by being here. I'm afraid we have overstayed our welcome. It's time to go home. Winky can you collect everything here?"
"Yes Mrs. Potter."
"Thank you. Kreacher can we safely move Harry? It's past time he moved home."
"Yes Mistress. Your flying last week proved he can travel. We can leave whenever you wish."
"Ginny I'll send our friends away" Luna added as she walked onto the patio. She quickly returned. "They are disappointed but they understood. I told them to come to us on the morning of Harry's Birthday. Is that OK?"
"Fantastic Luna. I promised him I will take him flying, and I will not go back on that."
"We will come by later. The DA needs to know not only that we are gone, but why." Neville took out his enchanted galleon and rubbed it, summoning the DA to the Room of Requirement.
"Mister Longbottom the Elves will wish to be there also. Please wait a moment." Winky disappeared and less than a second later came back. "I will apparate you into the Room. When all have arrived we can discuss this."
Hannah gave Ginny a huge hug, promising to get back as quickly as possible. With a 'pop' she, Luna, Neville, and Winky left.
"Ginny where were you this morning?" Ron asked. He saw how happy she initially was until she saw Hermione crying.
"Gringotts. Filling out more paperwork." She brushed aside why, and Hermione and Ron were too distraught to notice. Kreacher was holding her briefcase which contained what belonged to them. "Thank you" Ginny to the Room. Each touched Harry and with a flash they left.
Slowly the things in the Room disappeared until all that was left was four blank walls.
* * *
When they arrived at #12 Grimmauld Place they discovered Ron was carrying Harry. The bed he had spent the last three months in had disappeared. Hermione and Ginny pulled the luxurious covers back and Ron gently laid him down. Ginny did not hesitate to climb in beside him and felt the covers being pulled over them. Her tears started before Ron got the chance to close the curtains hanging in each corner of the bed, which coordinated with the maroon with gold stitching in the comforter.
Wordlessly they unpacked Ginny's and Harry's trunks, figuring things could be rearranged later. Hermione smacked Ron's hand when he pulled open a drawer in the lingerie chest. "I have one of each" she whispered causing his face to flush deep red. As quiet as possible they left, the only sounds being Ginny crying. As the curtains were drawn earlier they saw Harry release his Firebolt, which left his hand to stand itself in a corner. Both his arms moved around his wife.
It was late afternoon when Ginny awoke. She heard the door open and the smell of food drifted in. "Let's leave this for her when she wakes up."
"Hannah? Is that you?"
"Ginny I'm sorry we woke you" she heard Hermione tell her.
"That's OK." The curtains parted and Ginny got up. They could see she had changed into her new bed clothes, this time red to match her hair. "That smells really good! Is that ... ?"
"Chicken noodle soup and cookies" Luna replied from the door. She was levitating a tray with four bowls. Hermione had the cookies with her and was placing them on the table from the Outdoor Dining Room.
"Thanks" Ginny replied as she sipped the soup. "This is great. Did you make it?"
"No. Neville did. He and Ron made dinner for us" Hermione told a surprised Ginny.
"So I guess they are worth keeping?" Ginny asked with a twinkle in her eye.
"Absolutely" both girls answered.
"Ron made the cookies. Two kinds: Peanut butter and chocolate chip" Luna added.
Ginny tasted one and she smiled. "These are excellent. Harry used to cook for us sometimes at the Burrow. Peanut butter was his specialty."
"I think Ron picked it up from him. Both did their share of cooking when we were on the road. We needed to be creative because we didn't have a lot to work with" Hermione stated.
"Well they can cook for us anytime" Ginny said as she smiled. The other three girls smiled too, glad that Ginny seemed happy at least.
"Thank you ladies" they heard Neville say. He and Ron were standing in the doorway. "Are you decent?"
"Yes come in" Ginny said as she got up. She hugged each one to thank them. "Did you like it too?"
"We didn't eat yet. We wanted to see if you wanted any more first" Ron replied. "Would you like us to bring you some more?"
"No just dessert" Hannah replied.
"Good because Ron made ... " was all he got out as Hannah pulled him into an embrace.
"I like that. Dessert first" he said after Hannah let him breathe.
"Can I have some dessert too?" wondered Ron.
"Maybe later if you're good" his girlfriend giggled.
"Then it is dinner first" Kreacher said as he entered. With him was a tray with soup for Ron and Neville, more cookies, and another with tall glasses of lemonade.
"Thanks Kreacher" Neville said as he sat down next to Hannah where Ginny was. She and Luna moved to the bed to sit next to Harry who was smiling broadly now.
"How is he?" wondered Luna.
"More relaxed. When we got here with him he was crying almost as much as I was. The nap we both took helped. How was the DA Meeting?" Ginny asked. When no one spoke she asked again. "That bad? What happened?" she wondered as she nibbled on Harry's favorite cookie. She broke off a tiny piece and put it inside his mouth. He began to chew, smiling even more if it was possible.
"Ginny it went from bad to worse. As soon as we got there we saw people rushing in, parents included. 'What happened? Is everyone OK?' they were asking. The Elves all arrived, even the ones supposed to be making lunch. Lastly was Seamus. He had 'babysitting' for the first time and Cho was supposed to be here with him, so his older sister Kathleen took her place. She was in your Brother Percy's year and remembered both Bill and Charlie, so she wasn't afraid. Anyway when Seamus got the summons he thought he should bring them instead of leaving. You should have seen the dirty looks they got! Fleur had followed them, thinking lunch was in a different part of the Castle because of repairs to the Great Hall" Luna said.
"And how are things coming?" Ron interrupted.
"Very well. Things are almost complete. By September it should be ready" Hannah replied. "Seamus felt horrible when everyone stared at him. I asked about Lavender to distract them, and he said she is getting better too."
"Fleur realized she, Bill, and Charlie were not invited so she took out her wand and escorted them out. I suggested she find Molly because we had major problems."
"Not Minerva? But why?" asked Ginny of Neville.
"Because of what she said" Luna told her. "When they left we closed the door and told them what had happened. 'Our friends have gone to an undisclosed location so the Headmistress will not have them creating any more problems than they already have' is what we said. They are suffering like we all are, plus they have injuries that need healing. St. Mungo's is out of the question for security reasons."
"Both Padma and Parvati asked if we needed help. I suggested everyone leave to spend time with their Families who I'm sure missed them" Hannah said as she clutched Neville's hand tightly.
"Their Families agreed, stressing it was time to move on too. We thanked them one by one, and they left the Castle. Only Hannah, Luna, and I were left" Neville said as he pulled her tightly against him. With his other arm he pulled Luna over too, thinking she was missing her Father.
"Thank you Neville" she replied as she kissed his cheek and winked at Hannah. "Seamus told me he saw my Father up and walking around. I am going there tonight to see him and Lavender. I want to take him home."
Ginny smiled knowing how she felt. Luna wasn't told the Elves were working on her Family's home too, restoring it the best they could. Hermione and Ron had used the pensieve to show their memories of the inside to give the Elves a starting point. "Luna you are always welcome in our home. When your Father is better I want to meet him."
"You do? That's wonderful Ginny. Everyone thinks Daddy and I are, well, a little different" she replied as she stirred her glass.
"Luna we are all different. That's why we get along so well" Ron said for them.
"You are the most unique person I know, and I love you for it" Hermione added as she hugged her causing both to start crying. Luna's life had been difficult too. Her Mother died when she was young experimenting on a new spell. She was raised by her Dad and developed his belief in many strange creatures. Unfortunately no one but her ever saw them, making people think she wasn't all there.
"Mistress Lovegood Kreacher would be happy to escort you to see your Father." He held out his hand and they disappeared.
"She is quite a character" Hannah stated.
"True but aren't we all?" Ginny commented. "So tell me what happened then? You left off with the DA and their Families leaving."
"Yes. The Elves looked lost. I'm sure they were wondering what to do until school begins" Hannah said as she shook her head. "We got up ourselves to leave when the Headmistress arrived."
"Where is everyone? I have wonderful news" she asked us.
"Gone. Just like we will be shortly" Neville told her. "And don't expect us back after what you said."
"What I said? Mr. Longbottom what are you referring to?"
"To what you said earlier to Hermione and Ron. 'The situation has become untenable. I hope you will understand' and 'I have been receiving letters from your parents and the press about you'. You made it very obvious you wanted them to leave, so they did" replied Hannah coldly. "And after all they did for us and the school you throw them out! Headmistress you should be ashamed of yourself!"
"No that's not what I meant ... "
"Yes it was. They were in the way, and you weren't happy about Bill and Charlie Weasley being here too. Well It is your problem now. All of us are leaving. We are the final ones. Goodbye Headmistress" Luna said for them. The three brushed past her, not giving her a chance to explain what she was talking about that morning.
"She was right. We should have left sooner, as soon as I got the money" Ginny sadly said.
"The money? Did they let you use Harry's money? We wondered about that" said Hannah.
"Yes. The Goblins see us together and Married one day, so I can get what I want. So I made sure Kreacher can get us money whenever we need and put some into Teddy's account. Which reminds me we need to bring him over here. Maybe it will help Harry" she concluded.
"It can't hurt. But now the bigger question. Any more dreams?" Hermione asked.
"Yes" Ginny said as they leaned closer. "I am still travelling. Occasionally I stop, but don't get up. We begin moving again and I continue looking out the window. Oh and I haven't seen anyone else" she added.
"Weird Ginny. You are going somewhere, but you will know it when you arrive? What kind of a dream is that? Now mine are about food or ... "
"Ronald we don't need to discuss your dreams. They usually start and end involving food of some kind" Hermione intervened.
"Yes they do. And they usually have dessert mixed in somewhere" he added.
Hermione stared at him until she got his joke. She grabbed the nearest pillow (which Ginny had waiting for her when it sunk in) and proceeded to pummel him with it. Even Harry was heard to laugh, bringing them back to reality.
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