When the elder Grangers dropped the young couple off at their hotel suite, gave them their number, and hugged them fiercely, they departed, but not before whispering words in both Harry’s and Hermione’s ears.
“What’s wrong, Harry?” Hermione said to her suspiciously red boyfriend.
“N-nothing. Do you still want to leave tonight?”
Hermione knew that her parents probably said something to Harry, but she knew she most likely would not want to know. “Well, since I know where my parents are, and since they are staying, I guess we could leave.”
“Grimmauld Place?” Harry asked.
“Harry… I understand that they will be pretty mad at us, especially Mrs. Weasley, but – “
“It’s not Mrs. Weasley who I’m worried about.” He interrupted in a soft, but hearable voice.
“Then, who is it?” Hermione asked as she led Harry to the bed and they sat down, her head on his shoulder. Harry instinctively put his arm around her waist and pulled her closer.
“It’s… Ron.” Harry said after a moment. “I know I can tell you now. Do you remember when Ron saved my life?”
“Yes, of course I remember. I can surely remember the blows I threw at him.”
This caused a small smile to flit across his face before falling again. “Well, Ron didn’t tell you the whole story.”
“I suspected that. Ron was trembling a bit before you told me the end. Or was it really the end?”
“Well,” he sighed, “when I opened the locket, Tom Riddle’s original eye was seen and Voldemort’s voice came out. He said some things to Ron.”
“Like what?” She asked curiously. Now that she knew that Ron was still alive, she didn’t have a reason to be scared.
“I can never forget what he said.” Harry took a deep breath, repeating the voice that was far from fading in his mind. “I have seen your dreams, Ronald Weasley, and I have seen your fears. All that you desire is possible, but all that you dread is also possible.” He took another deep, steadying breath and continued. “Least loved, always, by the mother who craved a daughter. Least loved now, by the girl… ” He took an even deeper breath as he said, “By the girl who prefers… me.”
Hermione gasped. She knew it must have been something bad for Ron to shake like that, but had no idea that it was about her. She suddenly felt sad that she was angry at Ron for coming back, and she was truly happy when Ron was gone after a long while.
Harry sighed. “That’s not the worst of it,” he said grimly. “Then, a giant picture of you and me showed up above the locket. They were taunting him, saying that he would never amount to the Boy-Who-Lived, that Mrs. Weasley would trade me for him any day, that we were happy when he left us and… that Harry Potter would always take everything… ” He looked over to Hermione, who had her hand over her mouth, “and everyone that he ever loved. And then… they kissed.”
Hermione felt a tear form in her eye. She knew that Ron was jealous of Harry’s fame, but she didn’t know how jealous he truly was. She did love Ron… but only as a friend. According to the story Harry just told her, she doesn’t think that Ron would ever understand that.
She admitted that she used to fancy Ron a little, but it was never near love. She knew that she could never love Ron more than friends. It was only Harry for her. She prayed that Ron would understand, though, and hopefully, he would move on.
“That was when Ron destroyed the Horcrux.” Harry said, interrupting Hermione’s thoughts. “His eyes flashed red at that moment. I don’t know how he did that. At first, I thought he was going to turn the sword on me.”
Hermione put her arms around Harry and hugged him. “What should we do?”
“Well, I lied and told him that I loved you as a friend and that you loved me as a friend. What do I say, now?”
“Well, you could fix everything that Voldemort said, except us, of course. I am madly in love with you, Harry Potter, and I’ve stuck with you for seven years; I’m not letting Ron split us up.” She said with a bright smile. That warmed Harry’s heart. If he really did have a choice, he would choose Hermione over Ron. She never gave up on him… not including sixth year. “Yeah. I’m not letting Ron get between us, or anything for that matter.”
They sat in silence for a moment.
“Do I really do that much to Ron, though? For me to make him that jealous?”
“Well, you have money and fame. He’s wanted to play Quidditch all of his life, but you became the youngest Seeker in a century, and became one of the most famous Quidditch players in the world before you were halfway done with school. And you didn’t even know about Quidditch, while that’s the only book Ron’s ever read. Mrs. Weasley does – well, did – think of you as a son. I am, indeed, in love with you and only think of Ron as a friend… when he’s not ignorant. So, yes, I guess you do make Ron jealous a little.” Hermione finished with a sad smile.
“Well, I’ll start with the obvious – Mrs. Weasley will never want me as a son again when we see her. I gave him the best broom in the world. He’s getting an Order of Merlin, along with the rest of the Weasleys. They’re pretty famous from what happened three weeks ago. Is there anything else?” Harry asked.
“Well, I think that’s it.” Hermione said, counting it off in her head. “Should we just stay there for a few minutes, then leave?”
Harry was about to respond when a realization struck him. “Hermione… my parents hid in a small cottage, right?”
“Yes.” Hermione said slowly, wondering why Harry changed the conversation. She was cleared up when Harry said, “Well, my dad is a pureblood, right? Does that mean they had a mansion or ancestral home, and left it for the cottage?”
Hermione smiled and nodded against his shoulder. The Potter family was rich, after all. They must’ve had a bigger house, or as Harry said, a mansion. “It’s very possible. You could ask Professor McGonagall when we visit.”
“About that, Hermione. I think I can up my skills a bit, don’t you think? Even though Voldemort’s dead, I could use another year of… well, training, right?”
“Harry… are you saying… ” Harry nodded. Hermione hugged him even more and kissed him repeatedly.
When she pulled back she asked, “What made you change your mind about returning?”
“You’re a war hero of the world. I can’t let you get all of the attention,” Harry said, grinning like mad from her kisses. “Besides, I have six years of not listening to make up to you. I can survive one more year at Hogwarts, don’t you think?”
“Seeing as you survived everything else, it just might be possible.” Hermione grinned and kissed Harry once more.
“Harry, do you think you could teach me how to do wandless magic?” She asked after they broke apart.
“Well, I’ll try. We’ll have plenty of time at school, and a bit of time before it starts,” He replied as he pointed his wand at the open trunk. “I realized why I did that ‘Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo’ spell and it worked. I don’t think it’s a real spell. I think I was just… ” He flicked his wand upwards and all of his and Hermione’s clothes made a floating double-file line, “… thinking it.”
Hermione looked on in amazement. Ever since the Horcrux was destroyed inside of him, his mind became clearer, and he was able to concentrate better, being able to do amazingly powerful magic. ‘Soon,’ Hermione surmised, ‘he’ll learn more spells than me.’ She couldn’t tell if she was upset or pleased about this thought.
“Hermione,” Harry asked, “do you think my wandless magic has anything to do with me being the Elder Wand master?”
“Well, that probably has something to do with it. But at the Malfoy Manor and Hogwarts, Draco was still his weak self.” Hermione smiled.
Harry smiled, too. As he finished bringing in everything from the bathrooms and other rooms, he spoke again. “Hermione, when you broke up with Ron, how did he take it?”
Hermione swallowed. She knew it was only a matter of time before he asked. “Well, Ron took it badly… very badly. When he asked why, I told him that it would never work in the long-term, but he didn’t seem to care. He just said we could date until it started to work out. Then, I told him that I wouldn’t be happy, but we could still be friends. Then he grumbled something and stomped away. I think he said something about ‘one way or another’. I still wonder if it’s a threat.”
Harry was nodding through the entire story, feeling more ashamed about himself. “Should we even tell the Weasleys?”
“We should definitely tell them, because they might find out. It would be pretty bad if someone else told us because he or she saw us slip up, and we might get ambushed by them.”
“I have an idea. I’ll explain when we leave. Do you want to get some sleep, first?”
Hermione gave a small yawn and said, “I admit, I’m pretty tired, but I do want to go back to London.”
“Let’s go then. We need to pay at the front desk.” He smiled and pulled out his wallet and looked to see a muggle credit card. Hermione took on a curious look at the platinum-colored card. “Did you ask for a muggle card, Harry?”
“Yeah. It would look suspicious if I only carried cash.” Harry said as he put the wallet back in his pocket, card in hand. He grabbed the suitcase and Hermione’s hand as they both strode outside of the suite.
“I wanted to go in the Jacuzzi with you, but I forgot.” Harry grinned.
“Don’t worry, honey. There may be plenty more times.” Hermione said as she wrapped her arms around Harry’s, absently thinking about the private Heads’ Bathroom.
They went to the front desk and paid for their suite. The manager at the hotel just happened to be a man named Tom, Harry absently noted. They slowly walked out of the office and down the street. Harry was about to pull out the broom before he stopped.
She giggled for a reason he didn’t understand, but he still loved the sound of that giggle, so it didn’t bother him. “Yes, Harry?”
“How far can House-elves apparrate?”
“They can apparrate anywhere in the world that they want… ” She started in her teaching voice, but stopped. “Oh,” she said. She then started whispering angrily to herself. “Why didn’t I think of that before? I mean, we never even had to go on the plane!”
“Calm down, love,” Harry said, enjoying her blushing at the nickname, “I’m not sure about you, but I’m not complaining at all about the plane ride.”
Hermione looked up at him and smiled slightly. “I guess for the first time, I’m happy about not thinking it through, then.”
Harry grinned and put up a silencing charm around them. “Kreacher!” he called out.
In a manner of seconds, the old, no-longer-grumpy house-elf popped in with a loud crack that wasn’t heard, thanks to the silencing charm. “What can Kreacher do for yous, Master Harry Potter?”
“Hello, Kreacher, how’ve you been?”
“Kreacher is fine, now that Dark Lord is gone.” He said emotionlessly, though Harry could see the happiness in his once dull eyes.
“Think you can take us to the Weasleys?” He asked politely, and got an equally polite bow in return. Kreacher wordlessly slipped between Harry and Hermione and grabbed their intertwined hands.
The black abyss, familiar with apparition, came immediately.