Categories > Books > Harry Potter > The Apothecary

Chapter 3

by grenouille 1 Reviews

JKR gave us a snapshot of their lives long after the Final Battle. But what was it like two years later after all of the kids have finally entered Hogwarts? All fun and happiness? Maybe... maybe no...

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: R - Genres: Drama,Humor - Characters: Ginny,Harry,Hermione,Ron - Published: 2011/10/23 - Updated: 2011/10/23 - 5730 words - Complete

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The Apothecary

by

grenouille



Disclaimer: I don’t own anything that you recognise. It’s almost all Jo’s, except for the silly little plot that wormed it’s way out of my head.

A/N: As always, much thanks to Vern (aka Herman Tumbleweed) for all his contributions to both the story and the editing of this mess. Don’t forget to read his work, too, if you haven’t already.



Chapter Three

Harry woke to Winky’s squeaky voice and tiny hand prodding his shoulder. “Master Harry, Master Harry, you is must be waking up. Something bad is being happening.”

Blinking the sleep from his eyes, Harry turned to face the frantic elf, waking Hermione in the process. “What’s wrong, Winky?”

“Mistress Ginny’s loud mum is being screaming in the Floo for Master. Mistress Ginny and Mister Ron is both being at St Mungo’s.” Winky face took on a sly look as she added, “Loud mum also is asking Winky if Winky is knowing where Mistress Miney is being, but Winky is saying nothing.”

The lovers shared a guilty look, having a pretty good idea why their spouses were there, before turning back to the patiently waiting messenger.

“Thank you, Winky, you did the right thing,” her Master complimented the fanatically loyal house-elf. “If Molly Floos again, tell her that you told me and that I’ll try to find Hermione and bring her to St Mungo’s with me, okay?”

“Yes, Master. Winky can do.” She popped away.

The witch and wizard shared a sad look as Hermione commented, “Well, I guess we should get down there. I… I,” she began to cry softly, “I didn’t expect anything like this to happen.”

“Neither did I, love,” Harry admitted dejectedly as he took his partner into his arms. “Neither did I.”

-O-

Harry and Hermione entered St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries together, stopping first at the Artefacts Accidents Ward where they were politely greeted by the overbearing voice of their mother-in-law at full volume, “Where have you been! We’ve been looking all over for you! This is fine way to treat…”

Not in the mood for Molly’s usual overbearing high-handedness, Harry cut off her rant with a quick Silencing Charm. Looking over the full complement of Weasleys, he focused on his fellow Head of House, asking him in his Auror voice, “What’s going on, Arthur?”

The Weasley Patriarch answered in his usual soft, caring way, “We really don’t know, Harry. We got a Floo call saying that your house-elves had sent Ginny here after she fell down the stairs at home. When Molly couldn’t reach you anywhere, she sent Percy to see if Ron and Hermione knew how to find you. He found Ron injured and unconscious and brought him up to the Spell Damage Ward.” Glancing at his silenced wife, the balding wizard paused for a moment with an embarrassed air, “Um, Harry… where were you two?”

Ignoring the question, Harry and Hermione shared a fleeting look before separating to check on their respective spouses.

-O-

Hermione went up to the fourth floor to check on her husband, feeling somewhat less guilty as she recalled what he had done to her. The little remaining guilt she felt quickly vanished as soon as she entered the room he was in.

“How dare you do this to me!” the red-head raved. He flipped the light blanket off of himself, exposing his mangled genitalia. “Look what you’ve done to me! You’re lucky they said that they can fix it! When I get out of here…”

“How dare I? HOW DARE I?” Hermione’s screams of rage easily overrode his rant. “You were the one who drugged me, Ronald Bilius Weasley! You were the one who ignored me for years and when you finally decided to notice me, you took all the trust we had and THREW IT IN MY FACE, you fucking bastard!”

“What the hell are you talking about? I didn’t drag you anywhere! I just wanted us to have fun, ya know. It’s not like you paid me any attention, either!”

“You fed me a lust potion, you unmitigated arse! If you wanted attention, you could have just asked. What you did was to try to RAPE ME! Your own wife!” Getting that off her chest allowed her anger to dissipate. Hermione sat at the end of the hospital bed as she sorrowfully explained, “I tried for years to get that kind of attention from you, but it never did me any good. I’m still trying to figure out how we even managed to have Rosie and Hugo.” She took a deep breath, “I’m sorry, Ron. I never really wanted to see you hurt, but I was so angry… I felt so betrayed…

“All you ever had to do was ask, Ron. And be willing to give some back.” The silence that followed was almost tangible.

Ron softly asked, “What happened to us, Herms?”

Hermione’s head snapped up. “That’s part of it Ronald. You’ve always called me that even though I’ve been asking you not to since we were eleven. The rest… I don’t know. I… I really don’t think there ever truly was an us. We were friends, but maybe… maybe we should have just stayed that way.”

“But…”

“But nothing, Ron. I love you; I really do, but this… this whatever we have… can’t go on.” Her eyes began to water once again. “I spoke to the Healer before I came in. He said you’ll fully recover and you’ll be able to go home in a couple of days.

“When you get there, I’ll already be gone. I know we’ll still be married – and always will be -- but there is nothing that says that we have to live together. I can’t do this anymore, Ron. I just can’t.” She got up and gave him a tender kiss before tearfully running out of the room, dodging the furious Weasley matriarch on the way.

-O-

Harry sat quietly in the room containing his, thankfully, unconscious wife, waiting for the Healer to speak with him. The nurse had described Ginny’s injuries in graphic detail, but couldn’t shed any light on how they had occurred.

Harry, of course, had a pretty good idea, but for the life of him couldn’t see how she could have done that much damage to herself.

A soft tapping on the door was followed by Hermione peeping inside. At a gesture from Harry, she quietly entered and took the chair next to his.

“How is she?”

“Dunno, yet. Still waiting for the Healer to come and talk to me. How’s Ron?”

“He’ll be fine in a couple of days.” She hesitated, as if at an uncharacteristic loss for words. “Um, Harry? Were… were you serious when you said you wanted me to move into Grimmauld Place?”

“Of course I was,” Harry replied matter-of-factly. “Why?”

“Well,” the restless witch looked away in embarrassment, “I kinda told Ron that when he went home that… that I wouldn’t be there.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. I… I can’t deal with him anymore, Harry. When I went to check on him, the first thing he did was yell at me that it was all my fault -- for everything!” Her lower lip started to tremble as she fought to control the emotions that she had refused to release in front of Ron. Even knowing it was safe to do so in front of Harry (and she really wanted to), there was no telling when another Weasley would intrude and the indomitable witch would give none of them the satisfaction of allowing herself to be seen like that.

Harry reached out and squeezed one of her hands. He really wanted to hold her and comfort her, but knew that it was unwise at that moment.

Another knock at the door interrupted the scene. Harry gave his love a look that said they’d discuss this later, and called out, “Come in.”

The door opened to reveal the bustling (and still busty) form of Healer Susan Bones. “Harry, Hermione,” she cried bending down to hug them both, “it’s great to see you two again. Although, I wish it was for social reasons.”

Harry replied for both of them while Hermione regained control over her fragile emotions, “Hey, Susan, good to see you, too. How’s things?”

“Fine, just fine, but let’s get the business over with, then we can talk about fun things, alright?” At the twin nods of agreement, the former Hufflepuff went into Healer mode and explained the situation. “First of all, I understand that Hermione’s already seen Ron – and for what it’s worth, I’m really sorry, Hermione. You didn’t deserve that from him.” The Gryffindor witch nodded her thanks.

“Now as to Ginny’s condition: firstly, the injuries from the fall were relatively minor and have all been treated. We’re keeping her in a magical sleep until all of the bones finish healing, which should be sometime tomorrow.” She took a deep breath before continuing. ““Next, we don’t know where the vaginal damage came from, but can make a logical guess. It seems that she ingested a large quantity of a lust potion.” She looked directly at the dark-haired wizard with a steely eye. “Do you have any idea why she would do that if she was home alone?”

Harry knew he was screwed. He looked over at Hermione. At her non-verbal consent, he addressed their old friend, “Susan, can we trust you to keep a secret?”

“Of course, guys,” the former Hufflepuff agreed, even though she was concerned as she hadn’t seen either of them this serious since the old days of Dumbledore’s Army. “Most of this is covered by my Healers’ Vows, anyway, and anything else we’ll just chalk up to friendship. Okay?”

After sharing another silent conversation, Harry cast several Auror-specific silencing charms on the room before he and Hermione told Susan about everything that had happened since the previous summer, up to and including the attempted potionings.

Not long into their tale, Susan had fallen into a chair, mouth open with shock. Now, at the end, she didn’t know what to think at all. But, she did have an inkling about one thing.

“Guys, I don’t even know what to say about all of this,” she commiserated, “but I’m not surprised at all that you’re dealing with it together.” Susan laughed at her friends’ stunned looks. “Do you know how many people lost money when you both married Weasleys? Almost everybody was figuring that you two would get together. Hell, even I lost fifty galleons. I heard that McGonagall lost two hundred.”

The paramours just stared at each other stupidly at Susan’s revelation before laughing unrestrainedly with the Healer.

Susan was happily watching them laugh, and even more overjoyed to see their joined hands, but had one more potentially distressing bit of news for the couple. She cleared her throat to get their attention. “There’s one more thing I need to tell you and, under the circumstances, it’s not the good news it normally would be. You see…”

She was interrupted by the door slamming open and an enraged Molly Weasley storming in, followed meekly by her husband, and slapping Harry across the face. “How dare you,” she screeched. “How dare you curse me! I have half a mind to…”

“SHUT UP!” yelled the Healer. “This is a hospital, Mrs Weasley. You WILL behave appropriately or I will call in the Aurors and have you removed. Have I made myself clear?”

“You will not speak…”

“I SAID, have I made myself CLEAR!” Susan glared at the older red-head.

Molly remained silent, but gave the younger witch an evil glare.

“Good.” Healer Bones turned back to her friends. “As I was saying, there’s one more thing that you need to know.” She steeled herself for their reactions. “Ginny’s pregnant.”

“WHAT!” Harry and Hermione yelled in outrage.

“Oh, Harry,” cried Molly as she tried to smother him in a hug. “This is so wonderful!”

Harry none-too-gently shoved her away. “This is not wonderful, it’s a bloody disaster!” he moaned to the astonishment of his in-laws. Seeing their looks of hurt and confusion, he elaborated firmly, yet with profound embarrassment, “It’s not mine. It can’t be. We haven’t done, erm, anything in years.”

For the first time in her long life, Molly had nothing to say.

The silence grew long and oppressive, until Hermione thought to ask, “Susan, is there a way to determine who the father is? The Muggles can, but it would have to wait until after the birth.”

“Of course, Hermione,” the Healer replied. “It’s a basic Healer’s spell. I should have thought of it, myself.” She turned to her patient’s husband. “May I, Harry?”

At his curt nod, Susan stepped to Ginny’s bedside and performed an elaborate series of swishes and flicks. As she made the final motion with her wand, a glow formed above the unconscious woman’s abdomen which coalesced into three words.

Ronald Bilius Weasley.

Molly fainted, while Arthur fell back into his seat, gawking at nothing. Harry and Hermione held each other tightly, crying over the betrayal of those who were not only their spouses, but their life-long best friends as well.

Susan joined her former classmates in their embrace, offering her support, but eventually she had something to do that was required by Pureblood Law. Whispering gently, she said to both of them, “Harry, Hermione, I... I have to call the Aurors.” They looked at her, startled. “It’s the law. I have no choice,” she added sadly, her eyes begging their forgiveness.

Another shared look had them both nodding their heads. Susan gave them one last squeeze, before heading off to do her duty.

Susan was usually very happy and proud to be a Healer, but there some days – not very many, but some -- that she really, really hated it.

This was one of them.

-O-

Six Weeks Later—

“This Special Session of the Wizengamot will come to order.”

As the members finally quieted down and settled into their seats, the sergeant-at-arms cried out again, “All rise for the Chief Warlock.” When the assembly stood in respect, Chief Warlock Tiberius Ogden took his place and said, “Be seated. Let the accused be brought forth.” Ron and a visibly pregnant Ginny were led in in shackles to two hard backed seats directly in front of the crowd of Wizengamot members and various other attendees. The chains attached to the uncomfortable chairs rattled loudly as they wrapped themselves tightly around the prisoners.

Harry and Hermione were watching carefully from the visitors’ gallery, greatly saddened at not only what was happening, but at their estrangement from the rest of the Weasleys who were sitting as far away from them as possible.

In all fairness, however, it was mostly Molly who was the cause of their disenfranchisement as she blamed Harry and Hermione for the actions of her youngest children. The rest of the family, as usual, fell in line with her demands just to keep the peace. Oddly enough, it was Percy and his wife, Audrey, who had come to them, without his mother’s knowledge, of course, to explain the situation and to reassure them that Arthur and the rest of the siblings held them no ill will and wished them the best.

Tiberius stood and addressed the gathering, “This morning we heard the testimony regarding an appalling situation. These two people, who were raised by one of our most respected Pureblood families and whom many of us have known since their childhood, have willingly, and by their own admission, violated one of the most basic tenets of Pureblood Tradition and Law. In addition to this, they violated the sanctity of their marriages. Admittedly, there are no specific laws prohibiting that act, but it is morally reprehensible.

“Also, they have compounded things by causing the creation of another life. Personally, I find them to be fortunate that Lord Potter has declined to press charges for Line Theft as I know that many of us would have.” He paused to let his words sink in.

“Now, after hearing the evidence and testimonies, we must come to a decision as to their fate. Honoured Members of the Wizengamot, what say you?”

Lord Neville Longbottom stood proudly and faced the Chief Warlock. “Chief Warlock, we have discussed the matter at some length and find the defendants, Ronald Bilius Weasley and Ginevra Molly Potter, guilty of all charges. I would like to add that this was a difficult decision to make as many of us went to school with Ron and Ginny, as well as their spouses and the rest of the Weasleys. We would like it to be entered into record that we were all sickened and revolted by their actions.”

“Let it be so entered. Were there any recommendations for sentencing?”

“Yes, Chief Warlock. They were as follows:

“A minimum stay of five years in Azkaban, commencing immediately for Mr Weasley. Mrs Potter is to be remanded to the Secure Ward at St Mungo’s until after the birth of her child, at which time she will join her brother in Azkaban for the rest of her sentence.

“Custody of the baby is to be granted to Arthur and Molly Weasley, at their request. Contact with the child’s birth parents will be determined at the time of their release.

“Custody of the other children, namely James, Albus, and Lily Potter and Rose and Hugo Weasley, is to go to their other parents, namely Lord Potter and Hermione Weasley respectively. Any possible visitation is also to be determined at the time of release.

“Finally, and this was the most difficult decision to make, we order the termination of the Marriage Bonds between Lord Potter and his wife and Mrs Weasley and her husband.”

Silence blanketed the Wizengamot chambers. A pale-faced Ogden shakily asked, “Why?”

Neville cleared his throat before answering softly, but still loud enough for everybody to hear. “It was apparent from their own testimony that this… relationship… had started long before their marriages to Harry and Hermione. It was felt that it was… unfair to Harry and Hermione… to hold them to the vows that were fairly made to their spouses. As hard as it was to decide, this part actually met with the least opposition. In fact, Filius Flitwick, Charms Master and retired Hogwarts professor, has agreed to attend today to perform the required spells, if necessary.”

Tiberius nodded slowly at the younger Lord. “Thank you, Lord Longbottom. Lord Potter and Mrs Weasley, will you please join us?” Harry and Hermione worked their way down to the main floor of the chamber and faced the elderly Chief Warlock.

“Do you accept the Wizengamot’s final recommendation? That is the one part that we cannot force upon you as the results could be hazardous to yourselves and your spouses.”

No communication was necessary as they replied in unison, “We do.”

Slowly nodding his acceptance, the Chief Warlock faced the siblings. “Ronald Weasley and Ginevra Potter, you have heard the words of the Wizengamot. Do you have anything to say?”

Both sat defiantly silent.

“Very well. Ronald Bilius Weasley and Ginevra Molly Potter, you have been found guilty as charged and your sentence will be as follows:

“A stay of five years in Azkaban, commencing immediately for Mr Weasley. Mrs Potter will be remanded to the Secure Ward at St Mungo’s until after the birth of her child, at which time she will also be sent to Azkaban for the remainder of her sentence.

“Custody of the baby will be granted to Arthur and Molly Weasley immediately after the birth. Any possible contact with the child will be determined at the time of your release.

“Sole custody of the other children, namely James, Albus, and Lily Potter and Rose and Hugo Weasley will go to Lord Potter and Hermione Weasley respectively. Any possible visitation will also be determined at the time of release.

“Finally, the termination of the Marriage Bonds with Lord Potter and Mrs Weasley will take place immediately.

“You have shamed your family and our society by your actions and I hope you think long and hard about that while you entertain the Dementors. Professor Flitwick, would you please join us?”

Flitwick slowly made his way to the main floor where he greeted his two free former students fondly, ignoring the two bound ones for the moment. After having them hold the hand of their respective spouses, he began a complicated and elaborate series of wand movements and chanted a long string of Latin. With a bright burst of light and cries of pain from the four participants, it was done.

When the pain faded after a few minutes, Harry and Hermione both embraced their old teacher and smiled widely at each other over his head.

They were free. Free of their burdens. Free to love each other.

-O-

As they were walking through the Ministry Atrium, the couple felt a large hand on each of their shoulders. They stopped and turned to see a widely smiling Neville, who greeted them joyfully, “Hey, guys.”

“Hello, Neville,” Hermione returned the greeting for both of them as she gave him a fond hug. “Thank you for everything.”

“Yeah,” Harry added, “Thanks, mate.”

“No problem. It was the right thing to do, after all. Besides, it didn’t hurt that half the Wizengamot’s a friend of ours, you know.” Nev’s eyes turned mischievous as he went on, “Now if you were Malfoy…” The three old friends fell against each other in laughter.

When they had finally calmed down and got to the Apparition Point, the Longbottom Lord remembered something. “Oh, I almost forgot, Hannah is expecting you two at seven for dinner. Now I’m sure that you’d rather celebrate together,” a shameless leer formed on his wide, smiling face, “but she doesn’t know you as well as I do. Anyway, unless you want your butterbeer to be watered down every time you go to the Leaky Cauldron, we’ll see you at seven. Oh, Hermione? Remember, Harry has to be able to walk tonight, so don’t wear him out too badly.” With a cheeky grin, Neville Apparated away.

Chuckling, Harry took Hermione’s hand. “I guess he told us. So, where to? Number Twelve?”

“No, Harry,” she replied sadly, “We have one stop to make first.” She held him tightly and buried her face in his shoulder. “We have to tell the kids.”

“The kids,” Harry drew out. “They don’t know about any of this. We gotta tell them before they see the paper tomorrow.”

“Or worse,” she added with a hint of panic in her voice. “Molly gets to them. I wonder why she hasn’t said anything to them yet?”

Harry regarded his witch sheepishly. Scratching the back of his head, he muttered, “I, uh, suppose it could have something to do with the Compulsion Charm I put on her at the hospital.”

“You did what?”

“Yeah… the whole family, actually. It was just to keep them from talking to anyone other than the family or the Aurors about it until everything was settled.” Fearing Hermione’s disappointment, he rushed to continue his explanation, “Love, it would have hurt more than just the kids. The rest of the Weasleys would have been affected just as badly as you and I would have been, if not worse.” He gave her a miserable look. “I just wanted to protect all of us.”

Harry cringed as Hermione raised a hand to his cheek. “Thank you, Harry,” she said softly as her hand gently stroked his face. “That was brilliant.”

-O-

After a quick Floo call to Headmistress Aurora Sinistra, the couple Apparated to the gates of the grand, old castle that held so much history for them.

As they walked up the long drive to the school’s main entrance, they discussed the best way to spring this on their five children, all of whom were unaware of the impending upheaval in their young lives.

“Well, we could start off together,” Harry suggested hesitantly, “and split up into whatever groups seem to work best, if necessary.”

Hermione squeezed his hand in reassurance. “Nervous?”

“Yeah, I mean… how do we explain this to them? I’m not even sure I understand how this happened.” He shook his head in confusion.

Hermione stopped and, taking both of his hands in hers, looked him deeply in his emerald eyes. “Harry, the kids are smart enough to understand. Remember how we had to give them two different talks?”

The retired Auror chuckled at the memory. “Yeah, we had to explain to them how it’s not alright to be with your cousin. How the Muggles had proven that it could be unhealthy.” He sighed deeply. “I know what you’re saying, love; but this is different and you know it. What we told them before was hypothetical; this has really happened and will affect them for the rest of their lives. They are, in effect, losing half of their parents. Then we have to explain why it’s different for us to be together.”

The bushy-haired barrister’s shoulders slumped and she cuddled into Harry’s chest. “I know. It’s going to be hard, but do we really have a choice? Just think about what Molly would tell them.”

They stayed in that position for a few more moments before continuing their journey to the school.

-O-

“Dad! Aunt Hermione!”

“Mum! Uncle Harry!”

Harry and Hermione were all but bowled over by the five children as they mobbed them for hugs and kisses as they entered the antechamber that the Triwizard Champions had been in so many years before.

James, the eldest, stepped back for a moment as his cousins and siblings continued to demand affection from the adults. Feeling like something wasn’t quite right, he asked the obvious question, “Dad, where’s Mum and Uncle Ron?”

With another deep sigh, Harry flicked his wand around the room, ensuring their privacy, before facing the children. A nod and a smile from his best friend gave him the courage to begin, “Well, kids, it’s like this…”

-O-

Harry ran his hand through his unruly hair as he and Hermione collapsed onto a sofa in the sitting room in Grimmauld Place. Piddle popped in and quietly served them some tea and immediately popped back out.

“Aren’t you glad that I insisted that we give them the Muggle version of The Talk as well as that nonsense that the Wizarding World calls The Talk?” the witch beside him asked with a small grin.

“Yeah,” he replied while taking her into his arms. “They took it better than I thought they would.”

“They’re smart kids, Harry. Although I thought that Al was going to throw up at one point.”

Harry’s reply was interrupted by the arrival of a nervous post owl carrying a familiar red envelope. “Oh, joy. I guess we should have expected this.”

He removed the steaming red letter as the owl wisely made a hasty retreat.

“HARRY JAMES POTTER! HERMIONE JEAN WEASLEY! HOW DARE YOU PREVENT ME FROM SEEING MY GRANDCHILDREN! IT’S BAD ENOUGH THAT YOUR HORRENDOUS BEHAVIOUR CAUSED THIS MESS…”

“Incendio.” Harry efficiently ended their former mother-in-law’s tirade.

“She doesn’t ever learn, does she?” the former Weasley wife commented as she snuggled closer into Harry’s arms. “She didn’t even get my name right. I mean, I can sort of see her still calling me Weasley out of habit, but you’d think after all these years she’d know my middle name…”

Harry silenced her with a kiss. “Let’s just go to bed, love. I don’t know about you, but I’d just like to have this day finally end.” A mischievous gleam entered his eyes. “Gotta celebrate with my favourite MILF, after all.”

Hermione answered with a kiss of her own, before standing and drawing Harry to his feet, red-faced as she remembered the openly lust-filled stares of the fifth-, sixth-, and seventh-year boys (and more than a few girls) as they had walked through the castle earlier that day. As they started up the stairs, a soft knock came at the front door.

With a muttered, “Three guesses…” Harry opened it, surprised to find Arthur Weasley with his hat in his hand and an embarrassed look on his face. “I’m sorry to disturb you, Harry and Hermione. May I speak with you both for just a few minutes?” Noticing their hesitance, the balding redhead reassured them, “Molly’s not with me and nobody knows that I’m here.”

Taking a step back, Harry allowed the man entrance and guided him to the sitting room as Piddle brought more tea, refreshing Harry’s and Hermione’s at the same time.

“What can we do for you, Arthur?” the bushy-haired witch asked.

The Weasley patriarch sighed sorrowfully. “I… I just wanted to apologise.” He looked up at the younger two seriously. “I’m sorry that all this happened and wanted you to know that I understand that you did what you had to and… and…” The wizard who’s already been through so much during his life looked away and began to cry softly. “You know, I’ve always thought of both of you as my own and was so proud when you both married into the family.” A fond smile began to creep across his face, to quickly disappear. “I don’t know where we went wrong with them. I-I wish that I could blame the war. Ginny’s possession. The cognivores.” He paused and looked back up at his former children-in-law sadly. “Or even you two. But, in all honesty, I can’t. After hearing them under Veritaserum… I-I can’t.

“I can only blame myself.”

A shared glance had Hermione engulfing the elder wizard in one of her bone-crushing hugs. “We don’t blame you for anything, Arthur. We never have,” she reassured him honestly. “You, more than anyone else in the family, have always done your best to make sure that everyone was happy and properly cared for.”

“That’s right, Arthur,” Harry added. “Who do you think I used as an example when dealing with my own kids? I certainly didn’t have any experience with what a good father was before meeting you. I mean, I know that Sirius loved me and really meant well, but he was as big a kid as I was. Maybe even worse.”

Arthur patted Hermione on the back to indicate that he was under better control and she returned to her seat to see the older wizard with a faint smile. “Thank you Harry. And you, too, Hermione. Like I said, I, for one, hold you no ill will.” His smile faded. “I wish I could say as much for the rest of them.”

“We know. Fleur and Audrey already spoke to us. They seemed to understand, but their husbands are… well… going to have a difficult time for a bit.”

Harry chuckled. “Actually, Audrey said that Percy was going to be on the couch for a while and Fleur was so mad that most of it was in French. It made me wish I spoke French.”

“Ah, no,” Hermione chuckled, “I don’t think you really do want to know what she said, either of you. Bill’s going to be… uncomfortable for quite some time. At least until he learns to not automatically kowtow to his mother's wishes. Audrey said the same about Percy, but at least he’s spoken to us since this all started.”

The younger mages’ playful banter cheered the old man up slightly. “Yes, well… Molly’s not going to be terribly happy with me, either.”

Harry grew more serious. “Arthur, we really didn’t want to keep you from the kids. It’s just… it’s just going to be hard enough for them for a long time and we didn’t want them hearing all sorts of crazy things from everyone. It’s going to be bad enough when the Prophet comes out tomorrow.”

“I take it you’ve received Molly’s Howler, then?”

“Yup. I hit it with an Incendio about five seconds into it.”

“Good. I told her not to, but I knew she would send one anyway as soon as I left the house.” He got up from his seat and began to head for the door. “I won’t take up any of more of your time, then. If you would,” he paused as if deciding something, “could you let me know how the kids are doing? I’ll understand if you want to stay away… but… I’d really like to know.” A sly smile formed across his face. “And maybe let me know how the wedding goes.” At their matching looks of amazement, he let out his first true laugh in weeks. “No one was more surprised than I was when you two married Ron and Ginny. I’d always thought it would be you two.” With a smirk and a looking a bit more like the kooky Weasley père they knew and loved, Arthur slipped out the door leaving the couple in shock, thinking, “Where did they think the twins got it from? Molly? Pfft.”

A grin crossed both of their faces which blossomed into cleansing laughter as the pair resumed their trek upstairs, hand-in-hand. There would still be hurdles to cross but they knew that with the support of Arthur, at least their family would not be alienated from those that really mattered. And everyone else could be dealt with in time.

They were, after all, The Boy-Who-Lived and The-Smartest-Witch-of-Her-Generation. And, eventually, the Hero always gets the Girl.

Always.



FIN
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