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Hermione picked up her crutch and pocketed her wand; her parents reactions had been pretty much what she’d expected. She lead the way out the front door, trying to walk as smoothly as she could so that her mother wouldn’t worry too much. She had expected to find her dad leaning on their car, or somewhere near it, but he was nowhere to be seen. She wandered a bit further into the yard, until she heard voices coming from the paddock behind the barn.

“I think he’s this way.” She said to her mother, walking towards the barn. She heard a door shut, and saw that Ron had moved out onto the porch. He didn’t follow them, just kept them in sight.
“He sure is protective of you Mione.” Mrs. Granger pointed out. “He hasn’t let you out of his sight since we got here.”

“He’s worried about me.” Hermione explained. “He knows how hard today was going to be… for all of us.”

“No, that boy is in love with you.” Mrs. Granger said with a smirk. “I think that crush of yours worked out after all.”

Hermione blushed scarlet, “Actually, mum, he’s asked me to marry him.”

“And, what did you tell him? I don’t see a ring.” Mrs. Granger waved towards Hermione’s left hand.

“I said yes.” Hermione said, blushing darker. “I don’t think wizards use engagement rings, just wedding bands. But either way, we haven’t really had time to do much about it. We don’t leave the property very often an… ooof!”

Hermione’s rambling explanation was cut off by a crushing hug from her mother. “Oh Mione! I told you he’d figure it out!”

Hermione grinned, the first real smile she’d felt since removing the charm. “I’m pretty excited mum, I really love him too.”

“Well, I must say, I prefer him to that scary Russian boy you dated.”

“Mum, Viktor is Bulgarian, not Russian.” Hermione corrected, and then continued thoughtfully, “Actually, I don’t know if Viktor is still alive.”

Mrs. Granger didn't know what to say to in response, she hadn’t fully adjusted to the idea of her daughter having fought in a war. Finally she motioned in the direction of the barn and said, “Come on, I hear your father.”

They followed the dirt path around behind the barn, where they found Mr. Granger speaking very seriously to Mr. Weasley.

“I’ll just let you all chat then.” Mr. Weasley said, upon seeing Hermione round the corner.

Hermione opened her mouth to try and explain again, when Mr. Granger cut her off, “Arthur tells me that this Voldemort person killed hundreds of people, thousands even.”

Hermione looked at the ground, “We… don’t really know yet how many. He had a lot of followers doing his dirty work.”

Mr. Granger continued, “He said that the people who were killed were like you, magic people with non-magic parents.”

Hermione nodded. “He believed that Wizards are better than Muggles, and that Muggles aren’t human.”

“Arthur also said, that you’re a war hero, that you made it possible to destroy Voldemort.” Mr. Granger said, “And that if we had been at home, he would have tortured and killed us to get to you.”

Hermione nodded, a tear escaping and running down her face. “It was just so wrong, daddy.”

“Well, can’t say I’m pleased with having my memory altered, but I’m very proud of you for sticking to your convictions. Not many people would have fought so hard for what is right.” Mr. Granger said, drawing Hermione into a hug.

“Well, now what?” Mrs. Granger asked. “We were coming here to look for a job…”

“Actually, there’s a place for you to stay here, if you want to.” Hermione said. “Harry insists, he has it all ready.”

“This is Harry’s land?” Mr. Granger asked.

“Yes, his godfather left it to him.” Hermione explained, as they walked back to the big house. “Everything back home was destroyed in the war, and Harry—well, all of us actually—wanted to get away from the press, so we came here.”

“There’s heaps of space.” Harry, who had moved out onto the porch with Ron chimed in. “And I’d love if you would stay. There’s a whole muggle style house by the river, just sitting empty.”

“We wouldn’t want to impose,” Mrs. Granger said.

“Please, you wouldn’t be imposing at all. I can’t speak for Ron, but I know I’d feel more comfortable with Hermione close by, at least for the time being.” Harry said, and continued bluntly, “This property is obscure, and heavily protected, and one of the safest options we have until all the death eaters are tracked down and captured.”
“It’s quite a beautiful piece of land.” Mr. Granger said, “It’s a pity you aren’t really looking for a foreman.”

“Actually, I might be.” Harry said, and started to explain his plans to Mr. Granger.

The rest of the day was spent trying to catch the Grangers up on everything they had missed. Kreacher, and the other elves were allowed back in the house to make dinner, to the amusement of Mr. Granger who kept turning round in his chair to watch them.

Harry explained his plans for the property to Mr. Granger, who took an immediate interest in helping run it.

Mrs. Granger quickly fell in love with the little Muggle house by the river, and was very pleased to hear that Hermione was going to move from the big house to be with them. She had helped break the news to Mr. Granger about the upcoming wedding, and had happily begun chatting to Mrs. Weasley about details, with Hermione occasionally interjecting and trying to reign them in.

As night closed in around them, Harry began to feel like some of the pressure was gone from his heart. Hermione and her parents headed off to bed, one by one the Weasley’s and Andromeda headed upstairs, Bill led Fleur back to their little cottage, and Harry was left sitting by the fire, marveling in how well the day had gone.






Early the next morning, Ron was up before everyone else, and headed out to one of the fields to look for wildflowers. He hadn’t really considered the fact that it was still winter and he wasn’t going to have much luck. Finally giving up, he knocked on Harry’s door to see if his friend was up.

“Come in.” Came Harry’s voice, and Ron opened the door to find his friend sitting in a chair by the window reading a transfiguration book.

“Blimey Harry,” Ron said, shaking his head, “Did you sleep at all? I know you came up late last night, and here you’re up early this morning?”

“But it’s lucky for you Ron, because you look like you’re on a mission!” Harry said, dodging the question.

“Yes, actually… I want to give Hermione some flowers, but I can’t find any to pick. I wondered if you remembered that charm we learnt in fourth year to conjure some?” Ron asked, walking in and sitting on the window sill.

“Er, no… but maybe there’s something in one of these,” he said, hopping up and scanning the books crammed into the bookcase behind him.

Harry picked up a few books, handed one to Ron and started paging through another himself. The two read in silence for a few minutes, until Ron found an appropriate spell. “Here we go Harry, floralibus! Changes any plant into a bouquet of roses. That’s perfect.”

“Great, Mione will like that,” Harry grinned. “Course, she’ll probably think you’re an imposter and stun you if you turn up with roses for her.”

“Shut it Harry.” Ron said, blushing. “I actually wanted to ask you, I heard Mione’s mum mention a ring when they were talking about us getting engaged. I know I’m meant to give her a ring at the wedding, but I think they were talking about something else. Do you know what they were on about?”

“Well, muggles use a ring when they propose to a girl.” Harry said. “And then another in the wedding ceremony. At least, that’s what I’ve seen on TV.”

“Oh, well I had my dad get me some rings from the family vault, I was going to pick one and put the rest back, but if she’s expecting two…” Ron rambled.

“Ron, I don’t think Hermione is expecting anything. I think she would be equally happy following wizarding tradition as muggle tradition.” Harry pointed out.

“Yes, but Hermione is muggleborn. Her family is going to expect muggle traditions, won’t they?” Ron asked. “I mean, if that’s what she’s always thought would happen, I don’t want to mess this up!”

“Well, do any of the rings match each other?” Harry asked, “you know, like a set?”

“Um, I dunno…” Ron pulled a black leather pouch from his pocket, and tipped it’s contents out onto the window sill. “I don’t think any of them are a set. And some of them are quite old.”

“Well what about that one?” Harry said, pointing to one of the older bands. It was made of Goblin silver and twisted into a pattern of tiny vines, in the center like a glittering flower, was a small red stone that seemed to look as though it were on fire.

“That’s a Phoenix stone, I recon.” Ron said, holding it up to the light. “They’re quite rare… but what would it go with?”

“That one, I expect.” Harry said, pointing to a striking band made of an unknown dark red metal. It was quite simple, a plain band, but it shone with a kind of fire.

“You’re right!” Ron said, holding them up together, “This looks like Hermione!”

“See, that wasn’t so hard!” Harry said, with a laugh.

“Oiy, quit taking the Mickey, your turn will come.” Ron said, playfully boxing Harry on the arm.

“Maybe.” Harry said, thoughtfully. “Maybe not. I really don’t see any girl wanting to chain herself to this wreck.”

“Harry, I thought you were doing better.” Ron said, concern just at the edge of his tone. “You’ve been seeing Trilby much less often.”

“Yes, I don’t think there’s much more that Trilby can do for me.” Harry agreed, “She’s taught me everything she can, I mostly visit her to chat now… she’s kind of become like a gran to me.”

“Well I know Ginny fancies you.” Ron pointed out. “And I’d rather see you with her than any other bloke.”

“Ginny fancies the kid she met at school; we both know I’m not that person now.” Harry sighed. “And I wouldn’t dream pushing her into a relationship she no longer wants. D’you want breakfast?”

“Nope, I’m not letting you change the subject yet.” Ron said, concern now plain in his voice. “How much did you sleep last night? Honestly!”

“I don’t know Ron, a few hours.” Harry said, looking at the floor.

“Are you having nightmares?” Ron asked.

“Well that’s a bit of a stupid question, isn’t it.” Harry snapped, getting quite angry. “We’re all having nightmares. I think the only person under this roof not having nightmares is Teddy.”

“Are you taking the dreamless sleep potion?” Ron asked, refusing to back down.

“No, it seemed like a waste of potion to take it when I burn it off in half an hour.” Harry argued. “This is my cross to bear Ron. Go take the flowers to Hermione.”

“Harry, you’re my best mate. I’m closer to you than I am to my own bloody family! Talk to me! Or I’m going to drag you to Trilby’s and make you talk to her.” Ron raged. “What is going to help you bloody sleep?”

"Well if I knew that I'd be asleep now, wouldn't I?" Harry shouted. "But instead I'm arguing about it with a meddling git!"

Ron was about to shout back at his friend, and then he realized just how stressed Harry would be to yell like he was. Ever since Riddle's horcrux had gone, Harry didn't have much of a temper at all; if he was upset he talked it out, but he hadn't yelled at anyone.

"You haven't slept properly in weeks have you?" Ron asked quietly.

Harry just glared at him.

"Did you ask Trilby about this?" Ron pressed.

"No Ron, it's not a big deal." Harry grumbled, and cracked his book open and hid behind it's pages.

"Harry, it is a big deal if it carries on for weeks!" Ron pointed out. "You're going to get sick."

"What, are you a healer now?" Harry snapped.

"No, but I've got enough common sense to work out when you should get some help." Ron persisted, refusing to let Harry bait him. "Come on, you can pick between Ginny, Trilby, or Madame Pomfrey--but you are asking someone who know's what they're talking about how to fix this."

"Ron, seriously, just let it go!" Harry argued. "It's probably the middle of the night for Madame Pomfrey anyway."

"Nope, it's like 7 in the evening. She's probably the most likely to be up." Ron pointed out. "You want to go talk to her?"

"No Ron, I want to go eat breakfast." Harry said, trying to push past his friend.

"No chance." Ron said, with a smirk. "Ginny or Poppy, pick one, or I'll stun you and drag you there."

"You couldn't stun me if you wanted to!" Harry yelled.

"Probably not on a normal day, Mr. Wandless-Magic." Ron agreed. "But today, when you're agitated, and haven't slept in weeks? I'd probably be able to catch you."

"Yeah, well don't press your luck!" Harry snapped.

"Look mate, you told me and Hermione to step in if you were doing something stupid." Ron pointed out. "This is stupid."

Harry just glared at Ron and tried to push past him again. Ron blocked him for a moment, before wrapping his arms around his friend and drawing him into a hug. Harry struggled for a moment, and then started shaking. It took Ron a bit to realize that he had started to cry.

"Let's go see Madame Pomfrey, yeah? Ron asked, still hugging his friend. Harry nodded into Ron's shoulder.

After a moment, Harry stepped back, and fixed his glasses. "I'm sorry Ron, you're right."

"It's fine mate, that's what I'm here for. If we don't watch each other's backs, nobody will." Ron said kindly.

"You probably could have stunned me." Harry agreed.

"Nah, I would've made Hermione do it." Ron laughed. "She's way faster."

The two friends made their way downstairs, towards the fireplace.

"I can't believe we didn't wake anyone up." Harry marveled. "I know I got loud up there."

"Yeah, well I cast a Muffliato charm when you started getting angsty." Ron said.

"Looks like I'm not the only one doing non-verbal tricks." Harry pointed out.

"Yeah, well it's easier to avoid snatchers if they can't hear you jinx them." Ron laughed. "Come on, lets go."

"Right." Harry said, tossing some powder into the Floo.

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