In the summer of 1996, Voldemort launches eleven attacks against the Muggle-born of Hogwarts while he leads an attack against Privet Drive. In the aftermath of the attack on Privet Drive, Harry i...
Dumbledore arrived at the Grangers to talk about summer training soon after they had come back from Potter Place. Harry met with him privately while Mrs. Granger made everyone a light lunch. He listened to everything Dumbledore had to say about the training he should undergo for the next two weeks instead of going to America with Hermione, and then Harry said, "Maybe."
"Harry. . . ."
"Professor, you can't keep jerking me around like this! I can't control when Voldemort scr . . . er, messes up my life. All I can do is fight him. I would rather not be fighting you as well, but you're making things difficult."
"I had not anticipated acquiring the services of the tutors who are now available," Dumbledore said in his own defense.
"Be that as it may, I am certainly not thinking about leaving here until the Grangers leave on holiday."
"Granted," Dumbledore said. He would have preferred Harry train longer, but he knew by now Harry had reached his limit with being controlled like a small child.
"Second, if possible, I would like to stay at Potter Place."
Dumbledore thought about that. Finally, he said, "It will be a little inconvenient, but if Remus agrees to stay with you it is acceptable."
"And finally, Hermione stays with us when she returns from America. Tonks is welcome to chaperon."
"You don't want to go to the Burrow?"
"What I thought we could do is stay at Potter Place until the morning of the Thirty-first. Then we could go to Diagon Alley. Ron, Ginny, Luna, and Neville could meet us there, and we could spend the day together. Obviously, I'd pay for it. We can go to the station from there."
Dumbledore sat back in his chair and thought about that. Finally, he said, "Agreed. Do you anticipate leaving here for any more side trips?"
"I'm supposed to meet with Fred and George sometime this week. There might be . . . less chance of incidents if I went there than if they came here."
"True," Dumbledore admitted. "You may go Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday." He seemed to hesitate.
"What is it, sir?" Harry asked.
"The Hogwarts letters will be arriving the First of August. Professor McGonagall mentioned that she was thinking of Mister Weasley as the Quidditch captain. Do you agree?"
"Am I still banned?" Harry asked.
"Of course not."
Harry sighed. "I hope Ron doesn't kick me off the team, but yes, he should be captain. He knows a lot more about the game than I ever could."
"True," Dumbledore said, "however, he is not a leader, and you are."
"Well, people are willing to follow me, but that's not what's really needed in a Quidditch captain."
"Very well. She will also inquire if Mister Weasley wishes to stay a prefect. . . ."
Harry shook his head. "If that's for my benefit, please don't."
"Very well. Since your courses are set and you and Miss Granger have your books, the letters shall be largely pro forma, then." Harry nodded.
"Please stay on the property, or at least within the wards boundaries until Wednesday," Dumbledore concluded. "Remus is already being affected, and will likely be available before Tuesday evening. Tonks has to return to her regular duties for a while. There are watchers, in case of an attack, but it would be best if you stayed in, or at least nearby."
Harry agreed. When Dumbledore left the front room, he was replaced by Hermione. Harry explained what had happened, and then said, "But you look like you have something on your mind."
"Besides being disappointed about your not coming with us to America? Well, we both thought it likely the Headmaster would divert you. You made a good deal for us. As for the other, I just received a letter from Ginny. The good news is that she and Neville have agreed to start seeing each other."
"That is good news," Harry said. "I think they'd be good for each other."
"The bad news is Ron."
"The twins told him we are not just dating for certain but are . . . affectionate, and he's been sulking ever since, right?"
"Right. He's a fairly jealous person, as we both know." Harry nodded. "Ginny also thinks that he's worrying himself because he thinks Katie, or more likely you, will be named Quidditch captain, and that he'll get stripped of his prefect's badge. Which he should, since he did such a mediocre job at best. You should have been the prefect."
"I should have, but I told Dumbledore not to take the badge away from Ron. He wasn't a very good prefect, but he wasn't horrible. McGonagall's also named him the Quidditch captain. He'll find out Wednesday."
"You don't mind?" Hermione asked, slightly surprised.
"No," Harry said. "I have you."
Monday, July 29, 1996
While the teens were not to roam around the city, they were allowed to stroll around the immediate warded area around the Granger house. Hermione led Harry to the chemist's. She whispered in his ear before she sent him on in, and then she waited for Harry to run the errand.
Harry, still very red-faced, came out with a large heavy bag ten minutes later.
"Well?" Hermione asked as they hurried away.
"It could have been worse," Harry muttered.
"Really?" Hermione teased. "How?"
"Your parents could have been there."
Hermione smiled and led him back to the house.
"So, Harry," Dan called out jovially that evening, "what culinary delights have you for us tonight?" He was happy about Harry's staying in Britain, and did not really realize that Hermione would be staying at Potter Place afterwards, not the Burrow.
"Daniel," Emma reproved. They were sitting in the dining room, while Harry and Hermione were in the kitchen. There were certainly some lovely smells in the air..
Hermione came in and announced in her most upper-class accents, "Tonight for your approval, we have a French onion soup followed by a Stilton souffle. We will then have a bitter greens and tomato salad with a garlic yoghurt dressing. This shall be followed by a duck with shallots. The wine will a 1994 Taval rosÃ©. The pudding is a pumpkin custard." Hermione gave her parents a playful curtsey.
"And why is the table only set for two?" Emma asked.
"Harry was trying to teach me to cook a souffle," Hermione admitted. "We did four and they all fell. We've been snacking on them all day."
"They wouldn't have been good for that long after they were finished," Emma pointed out.
"I just wanted to get one right," Hermione admitted. "Harry did this one." She bounced out of the room.
"Since when has she bounced like Tigger?" Dan whispered.
"I think she just realized she's very much in love," Emma told him.
Dan did not enjoy the lovely dinner nearly as much as he had thought he would.
Wednesday, July 31, 1996
"Good morning, Harry. Did you sleep well?"
"Yes, Mrs. Granger. And you?"
"Very well. I see you're still up early."
Harry shrugged. "The usual?"
"Please. Happy birthday."
Harry smiled shyly. "Thank you."
Emma frowned. "I'm afraid we didn't get you a present yet. Is there anything you'd like?"
"You've let me stay, and I do realize that might not have been easy for you or for Mister Granger." Harry hesitated, then said, "You and the Weasleys have been very good to me." He looked off into space.
"What is it, Harry?"
"It was five years ago today that I learned I was a wizard. You can't imagine my life before then. There have been some very awful things that I've seen, that I've lived through, since then. As terrible as they are, I couldn't trade this life away to go back to that." He shuddered slightly. "Despite Voldemort and Death Eaters and everything, I sometimes think my worst nightmare should be that someday I'll wake up and this will all be a dream. I'll be eleven, and in the cupboard under the stairs again."
Harry suddenly flushed. "I'm sorry. I don't know why I went on like that. I never have before."
"It's alright, Harry," Emma said gently. "I understand, and I'm glad you told someone. We'll be late tonight, and we'll be bringing pizza and cake. Please, enjoy your birthday. Now, you let me fix your breakfast for once."
The Grangers left before 7:30. Harry quietly climbed the stairs to Hermione's room, where they had spent the night. Hermione still laying above her covers, dressed in shorts and a City of Norwich football jersey.
Harry sat the tray he had brought with him down, placed his glasses on her nightstand, and carefully laid down. He brushed the hair out of her face, leaned over, and gently kissed her awake.
"Good morning," Harry said softly.
"Good morning, and happy birthday." Hermione kissed him gently.
Harry smiled and ran his fingers through Hermione's curls. "I really should cut my hair short," Hermione said.
"Well, you can if you really want to, but I love your hair," Harry said.
"It's wild and beautiful."
"Flatterer. Have Mum and Dad left?"
"Yes, they have," Harry said, sitting up. Neither said anything, but each imagined what kind of hair any child of theirs might have. Both smiled, and then Harry stood.
"I didn't mean for you to leave!"
Harry stood and retrieved the tray. "Breakfast," he said simply.
Hermione smiled and attacked the bowl of cereal as soon as she had poured it.
"Hungry?" Harry asked.
Hermione smiled and pulled her jersey off. Harry's jaw fell open. "Harry," Hermione said in a pitying voice, "what did I have you buy on Monday?"
"The three largest boxes of condoms they had, and a large bottle of lubricant," Harry said, slightly embarrassed. "I think it will take a while to use a hundred and eighty condoms, Hermione."
"Perhaps. But I thought we should use one or two today."
It was nearly two hours later. Harry and Hermione had just showered and were cuddling together. Both felt very shy.
Hermione finally said, "I hope you liked your present as much as I did."
Harry just kissed her forehead and hugged her. "I love you."
"I love you, too," Hermione said. "Did you get any other presents?"
"A few. They're in the other room."
"Then I suppose we should get dressed and look at them."
Tonks showed up in the middle of the afternoon. She told them that Remus was fine, and that she was going to be with Harry and Hermione until the Tenth. She, and the Grangers, eyed the young couple speculatively. Harry and Hermione, however, had five years of experience of looking innocent together, and so nothing was said.
Thursday, August 1, 1996
Remus showed up to escort Harry to Diagon Alley. Tonks stayed with Hermione, where they would do some of the very preliminary planning for moving the household.
"We're not going to the shop?" Harry asked.
"No," Remus said. "The contracts have to be notarized and witnessed. That means Gringotts."
Harry was surprised to see that Remus looked distressed. "Remus . . . you don't approve of what I'm doing?"
Remus shook his head. "No, no that's not it. Didn't you ever wonder about how we endorsed the Marauders' Map?"
"Not really, no," Harry admitted.
"The four of us thought about opening a joke shop. The idea came up in our Third year, and we planned many plans for the shop, and how we would take over Zonkos. James would be the finance man, Sirius the chief tester. Peter had a decent commercial background. All of us would have been involved with the manufacturing."
Remus shrugged. "The war. The massacres increased between our Fourth and Fifth years. By the time our O.W.L.s arrived, we, or at least three of us, knew we would have to be involved with the fight. Peter took the death of the joke shop the hardest. Who knows, maybe being left in a lurch like that started him thinking he couldn't trust us."
A goblin Harry didn't know led them to a back conference room. The goblin looked surprised when Harry thanked him, using the name the goblin had mentioned. Remus added his thanks as well.
Fred, George, two goblins, two Ministry representatives, Mr. Japes, and Mr. Diggle were waiting for them. The actual signing only took ten minutes. Afterwards, George left with Japes, while the others dispersed, leaving Fred to hold back Harry for a talk.
"I'll wait in the lobby," Remus said.
"Harry. . . . Harry, we can't thank you enough," Fred said.
Harry smiled. "Make us money," Harry answered.
"Mum is very confused about you right now," Fred said.
"Why is that?"
"On the one hand, she has to admit that George and I know what we're doing, and that with your new backing, we might just become respected businessmen. It wasn't what she hoped for any of us, but," Fred admitted, "she's happy that we'll be respected anything."
"On the other hand?" Harry asked.
"Well, she had hoped you'd be spending more time at the Burrow. More importantly, she had some hopes that you and Ginny would get together," Fred answered frankly. "Now, she likes Neville, and thinks he's good for Ginny, but she would rather have had you."
"And how is Ron taking all this?"
"Badly," Fred said. "He's not angry or jealous about any of this anymore. He knows it's at least partially his fault. If he had moved faster and hadn't fought with Hermione as nastily as he did, he might have had a chance. So he's more angry at himself right now than with you or Hermione."
"That I believe," Harry agreed. "How is he taking this deal?"
"He's taking this badly, too," Fred admitted. "He was probably as shocked to learn about Potter Place as I imagine you were."
"How. . . ?"
"Mum and Dad. They learned you had found out about it and visited it, and explained it to us. George and I know you well enough to know that you didn't know anything about it, because no one ever tells you anything useful until the last minute at best."
"That's true," Harry said bitterly.
"So, we, and Ginny, knew instantly what had happened and that you weren't keeping it from us. Ron is still trying to understand."
"He's my best friend," Harry said. "Does he really think this changes anything?"
"No, he doesn't," Fred retorted. "Little Ronnie's always felt inadequate. Since he doesn't think he can succeed, he doesn't try too hard. There is no such thing as a dumb Weasley. Percy might be a git with no common sense, but he and Bill were brilliant in school and like it or not, he's good at what he does, and so is Bill. Charlie was near the top of his class, and Ginny has been after her first year. I think George and I have proved we know what we're doing. I really think Ron is the most naturally smart of the lot of us, but he has no drive. Ron has to grow up a bit."
"Easy to say, hard to do," Harry pointed out.
"True. He started working at the store Sunday. We've hinted that, if he does a good job, we might let him open a Hogsmeade branch after he leaves Hogwarts." Fred shrugged again. "We'll see if it helps him at all."
"I know I can't buy his friendship," Harry said. "At least tell him I asked after him."
"I will." Fred hesitated and then asked, "Did you turn down Quidditch captain and prefect?"
"No and yes," Harry answered. "Dumbledore would have given them to me, to make up for how he treated me last year. If Ron doesn't go all Wood, he'll make a much better captain than I would. As for prefect," now Harry shrugged, "he didn't do that bad a job. I would have liked it last year, but I would hardly want to take it away from Ron."
"I don't think I'll tell Ron that," Fred said candidly. They both knew that doing so would turn the badges to ashes for Ron. "Still, we'll see if he can't turn Ron's remaining emotions against Dumbledore instead of against you and Hermione."
"What do you think about me and Hermione?" Harry asked.
Fred grinned. "She's too bookish and too interested in rules, but she's cute and we've always thought she'd be hot in the clench."
Harry grinned and said, "You'd best not tell Ron that, either."
"Where are we going?" Harry asked.
"Cogyddes," Remus answered. "Everything the witch or wizard might want for the kitchen, Muggle and magical in one store. Maybe you can make something fun for dinner tonight."
"Who's going to be there?"
"The Grangers, you, me, Tonks, Diggle, Dumbledore, and Moody."
"Why Diggle?" Harry asked.
"He's a Muggle solicitor as well as a magical one," Remus explained. "He's taking care of the paperwork for the Grangers' sales of their practice and house."
"Well, let's see what we can come up with."
Harry cooked and Hermione served that night. He had made a cream of asparagus soup, and then made individual galettes -- buckwheat crepes from Brittany, which could be savory or sweet. Harry had assembled various cold meats, cooked mushrooms, chives and leeks, cheeses, and three different cheese sauces. They were deceptively light, and even Tonks had eaten three before realizing they were also filling.
Harry served them each a final galette of poached pear and honey topped with clotted cream and sugared cinnamon, and then he and Hermione retreated to eat up the rest of the food while the adults went over all the paperwork.
While it would only take a magical moving company a few hours to pack the Grangers' home, the ever-organized and orderly family spent the weekend before leaving on their vacation sorting through all their belongings, deciding what they might leave for charity and what they would need first in Australia. Harry spent the weekend looking through photo albums before they were put into their chronological order and making the family sandwiches. He enjoyed watching a happy family grow up before his eyes in the photos.
Dumbledore did stop by Sunday afternoon, to discuss the basic situation. The giants who had been leaning towards Voldemort made a deal to stay in western Asia. The dementors, to Dumbledore's disgust, were being allowed back to guard Azkaban, although under tighter rules. Voldemort still had a few Death Eaters, and yet Dumbledore apparently had some sort of pipeline to at least one or two of them.
Voldemort had already physically recovered from his run-in with Harry. He had personally attacked a small caravan site around midnight on Saturday, killing the four Muggle families camping there. It was a sign that he was not going to give up, even in the short-term. His remaining Death Eaters had been warned to be ready to start up attacks on Muggles and the families of the Muggle-born sometime in the autumn.
Despite some grumblings and misgivings on their part, the Grangers agreed to still carry out their move. There was little doubt that they would be high on Voldemort's hit list if they stayed.
Harry and Hermione had very little time together, except at night. Then, of course, while they could talk and snuggle to their hearts' content, they could do little else. Despite desiring to continue their physical intimacy, the two shy teens were still happy to be able to have what they had.
Both had hoped against hope that Harry would be allowed to travel to America with the Grangers. Professor Dumbledore, however, was now convinced that the final confrontation could come sooner rather than later. Therefore, he was determined to cram more coaching into Harry when he had the chance.
Soon, however, Friday morning arrived. Tonks and Harry rode to the airport with the Grangers. They had an early morning flight, and had to be at the airport by 7:30. Harry and Hermione shared a chaste embrace and soft kiss, and then she disappeared after her parents past the security check point.
"Come on, Harry," Tonks said sympathetically.
"Where are we going?" Harry asked. "We're not going back to the estate car?"
"No," Tonks answered. "Arthur Weasley's bought it, actually. Bill will pick it up later today. There's a special floo station here, believe it or not. We're going through to the Three Broomsticks. Remus has arranged a portkey from a private parlor there."
"And we're going home? to my home, I mean?" He didn't want to say the name in public.
"That's right, we're off to that little shack of yours."
Harry was surprised to see that Remus was not alone in the parlor. There was a mid-sized, lithe witch and Mood-Eye Moody with him.
"Well, Harry, this is Melissa Holly. She's a Muggle-born from New Zealand, and she'll be giving you some pointers in physical fitness and hand-to-hand defense. Mad-Eye, Tonks, and I are going to be seeing how much information we can pour into your head without it running out your ears." He smiled. "I'm betting it's more than any of us can guess."
"And if you can do that, you're in for a treat," Tonks teased.