Title: Memories Of Harmony
Pairing(s): Harry/Hermione, Ron/Luna and Neville/Ginny
Disclaimer: "Harry Potter" and related characters © JKR
Rebecca Knight, Pan and Athena © Me; Natasha Maxwell
"Meeting you was fate. Becoming your friend was a choice. But falling in love with you I had no control over."
Five years have past since Harry Potter defeated Lord Voldemort.
Harry and Hermione have returned to Hogwarts, along with all their friends, to celebrate this milestone and reminisce about everything that has occurred to them over the years.
Thanks go to my Beta; Blueglaceon, for doing such a wonderful job editing this fic and suggesting some brilliant lines.
Thanks go to Misti, or miscard on Portkey.
Listening to her wonderful Harry/Hermione podcast; Harmony Podcast, encouraged me to write my first Harry Potter fic. To all my fellow Harmonians who are reading this and have an I-Pod and/or I-Tunes; go and check the podcast out. Trust me, it is well worth your time.
And last but not least, I need to thank MissAnnThropic, who has allowed me to borrow ideas and exerts from her brilliant story Vox Corporis.
Now, on with the story...
"I can't believe that it's been six years since we finished school!" Harry exclaimed as he and Hermione travelled, arm in arm, through the ancient hallways of Hogwarts on their way to the Great Hall to attend the Halloween Masquerade Ball.
At his words, Hermione looked at Harry with an eyebrow raised, which caused him to quickly add, "Well, six for me, five for you."
Hermione smiled before responding, "I suppose time would seem to fly by when you don't have to constantly look over your shoulder for a certain dark tyrant who's on your tail like a Dragon-hound,"
Harry chuckled at that.
The years since Voldemort's defeat had indeed flown by for him.
When the Horcrux hunt had come to an end, he, Ron and Neville had presented themselves to the new Minister for Magic; Kingsley Shacklebolt, to express their interest in becoming Aurors. With all that they'd just accomplished, Shacklebolt had accepted them into the training program without any N.E.W.T.s.
"Of course they'd let you in," Ron had jibed to Harry later that afternoon as they'd settled into their quarters. "You're The-Man-Who-Vanquished-Voldemort after all."
Harry just rolled his eyes at the latest title that the wizarding world had bestowed upon him.
For her part, Hermione had chosen to return to Hogwarts to complete her education, which had come as no surprise to the two boys, nor to those of her surrogate year that knew her when she appeared on Platform 9 ¾ on the first of September, packed and ready for the year ahead.
Harry was brought from his musings by a call of; "Hermione!"
Beside him, Hermione brightened as she caught sight of a copper-haired, green-eyed young woman dressed as an Amazon archer. "Becca!"
Letting go of Harry's arm, Hermione dashed forward to greet her friend with a hug. "It's wonderful to see you!" she exclaimed.
When the two drew apart, Hermione turned to Harry. "Harry, you remember Becca?"
Harry held out a hand to Rebecca. "That, I do."
Rebecca shook his offered hand, smiling warmly as she did so. "Good to see you too, Harry."
Letting go of Harry's hand, Rebecca took a step back to study the couple's costumes.
As she did, Hermione recalled the day that the two of them had met.
Hermione stood, unmoving, on the platform, observing all of the activity that was going on around her; mothers hugging their children, fathers loading trunks onto the Hogwarts Express, kids talking animatedly to each other about what they'd each been up to over the holidays and the squawks and squalor of familiars in their cages.
But even with all of the hullabaloo going on, there was something else that Hermione could feel.
Voldemort's defeat had lifted the veil of fear that had covered the entire wizarding world, allowing peace to return to its rightful place.
And it was all thanks to Harry.
Hermione was suddenly pulled from her thoughts as something big and furry bustled past her back, knocking her over in the process. Miffed, Hermione got to her feet and turned, intent on giving the offender a lecture. But when she spotted the wrongdoer, she froze, her words dying in her throat.
There before her, greedily snapping up a mouse that it had caught, was a griffin.
As her mind processed that fact, it also realised something else; this griffin's looks differed from the creature's typical appearance. Instead of the famous eagle/lion hybrid, the beast before her was a barn owl/mountain lion cross.
As Hermione took in the beast's majestic form, it finished its meal and fixed its amber gaze on her.
The two of them were brought out of their reverie when a scolding voice spoke up from behind Hermione. "Pan!"
Hermione turned as a young woman approached her, concern for Hermione evident in her eyes. "Are you alright?"
"My apologies about my familiar. Once he spots something he can hunt, he doesn't see anything else."
Hermione smiled. "We can all be like that from time to time."
At this the young woman chuckled."Name's Rebecca Knight."
Hermione's eyes returned to Pan. "How did you g-Wait a moment! Did you just say your familiar?"
Rebecca grinned at Hermione's reaction. "I did."
A look of pure awe washed over Hermione's face. "Oh... wow... I read about this... About a witch or wizard asking a magical beast to become their familiar..."
Rebecca laughed, and upon seeing the questions swimming in the elder girl's eyes, she began to speak, stroking Pan's head as she did so, "Pan was injured when my father found him. He brought him home and nursed him back to health, intending on releasing him once he was fully recuperated. Only thing Dad didn't count on was Pan and I bonding. Once Pan was better I asked him if he wanted to become my familiar. He said yes, and here we are."
At the end of Rebecca's speech, Pan turned his head and gently nibbled on his mistress' palm.
Hermione could only shake her head, the expression of awe still on her features. Dumbledore had been the only one that she'd known of that had accomplished this particular feat.
But as she marvelled on that fact, her logical voice whispered something in her mind, and she spoke it aloud, "You're not taking him back-"
"To Hogwarts? No. After all: 'Students may bring, if they desire, either an owl, a cat or a toad'," she grinningly quoted the Hogwarts invitation letter. "He comes with us to see me off and then my father takes him home."
At this, Pan clicked his beak, and Hermione looked to him.
The griffin clearly abhorred the idea of parting ways with Rebecca.
"I know how you feel," Hermione said softly to Pan. "I was separated from my familiar for the majority of last year."
Even though things had been hectic during the Horcrux hunt, there had been times when she had really missed her half-Kneazle companion's company. But she had been reunited with Crookshanks after the Battle of Hogwarts, and had learned that the Weasleys had been taking care of him since the trio had fled from the Burrow after the Death Eaters' attack on Bill and Fluer's wedding.
But she also knew that her suffering during that time paled in comparison to Harry's.
She and Ron had only been separated from their familiars, Harry had lost his completely.
Hermione was brought from her thoughts when Rebecca spoke again, "It's not too bad. He comes to see me on our Hogsmeade visits," Rebecca looked to her watch, "Shoot! Is that the time! Come on Pan, we better get back to Dad. Nice to meet you Hermione."
With a nod of her head, Rebecca turned and headed back along the platform with Pan trotting at her side.
Hermione was pulled back into the present by Rebecca's questioning voice, "Shakespeare, right?"
"Leontes and Hermione from The Winter's Tale," Hermione confirmed.
Rebecca laughed, "Trust you to dress as your name-sake. Anyway, I'd best head back inside and make sure that Pan's not eaten the place clean."
At this, both Harry and Hermione laughed before they followed her into the Great Hall, taking in the familiar Halloween decorations as they went.
"About time you two showed up!" Ron called out to them when he saw them.
Ron was dressed as one of his favourite Chudley Cannon Quidditch players whilst his date, Luna, appeared to be a breathtakingly beautiful wood Nymph.
"Some of us aren't lucky enough to be on injury leave," Harry called back.
Ron laughed at that. "I suppose your right."
With a grin Harry began to catch up with their friends.
As Hermione watched him, her own thoughts drifted to all that had happened over the past five years, starting with her last year at Hogwarts. She'd been happy to be back in the ancient walls again after all that had gone on the year before, back in her element of academic pursuits. But the one thing she hadn't counted on was just how much she'd missed not having Harry and Ron by her side.
Ever since that fateful day twelve years ago, it had always been the three of them, side by side, through thick and thin.
"I know how you're feeling," Rebecca told Hermione as they prepared for bed that night.
Hermione looked up from the photo she was holding of herself, Harry and Ron taken during their first year. "What do you mean?"
"Being separated from your friends."
"You mean Pan?"
Rebecca shook her head before gesturing to the empty bed on her right. "One of my closest friends used to sleep there. Her name was Talia."
"When V-Voldemort declared war, Talia and her parents fled the country. When I returned to Hogwarts, I knew, even from the first night, that things were going to be different. And I was right, I'd never felt more alone. I missed everything about her, including the things that I would normally find annoying." Rebecca's face turned wistful. "She loved Quidditch, would talk about it for hours on end."
Hermione chuckled in a knowing manner.
"I think the only time that we were able to have a really good discussion about the same subject was after seeing Harry going head to head in the air against that Horntail after it snapped its chain during the First Task. I remember that we talked for hours after it was complete, finally understanding and appreciating each other's love. Her about how awesome the Horntail was and me about how Harry's Quidditch skills had helped him survive a face-off with the most dangerous breed of dragon alive."
Hermione smiled at Rebecca's impassioned words about the Horntail. "I take it that you want to become a Magizoologist once you leave Hogwarts?"
Rebecca nodded her head before continuing, "And as for Pan," as she spoke she extracted a box from her trunk. Opening it she took out a figurine of her familiar and tapping it with her wand, she spoke, "Rennervate."
The figurine immediately sprang to life and took to the wing, soaring around the room once before perching on Rebecca's bedside table and curling up.
"I got the idea after seeing Harry's Horntail figurine," she explained. "But I have to warn you, he can be a bit of a pest in the morning."
After that night, she and Rebecca had become fast friends.
But while some parts of her life had thrived, others had not: Her relationship with Ron for example.
They had given it their best shot to make it work, but it clearly wasn't meant to be. They had stopped bickering when they'd initially gotten together and were happy for a time. But after a while their personalities had begun to clash again and more often than not, their confrontations had left her in tears.
So she'd made the decision to end it.
Then something had happened that she hadn't expected.
A letter had arrived from Harry via owl post that morning and Hermione was currently making her way around the Black Lake, reading the letter as she went. She smiled, feeling proud of Harry as he described their current lot of training and how the three boys were faring with it.
A warmth enveloped her as she read the end of his letter:
'I miss you like crazy.
As she read and re-read his words, she felt her heart-rate speed up.
He usually ended his letters with:
And just like that, she realized, the crush she that she'd had on him since fifth year had never truly gone away, though she'd done her best to bury it when Harry had started showing interest in other girls, telling herself that he could never be interested in her like that. And, as an image of Harry's face during his last year at Hogwarts shimmered to life in her mind, she made a decision to tell him about how she felt about him.
Her chance had come, quite unexpectedly, a few weeks later.
It was Halloween and everyone was excited about the upcoming Hogsmeade visit and the Halloween Feast afterwards.
But then the school had learned that Amycus and Alecto Carrow had somehow managed to escape authority and were on the loose.
Everyone had been, understandably, unnerved.
For a few days, Professor McGonagall, the new Headmistress of Hogwarts, had considered cancelling the upcoming visit in order to keep her students safe, but when she had learned that several Aurors had been posted at the village she had allowed the trip to go ahead.
"Come on, Hermione," Rebecca called up the staircase. "Pan's probably there by now!"
Hermione could only smile at her friend's impatience, though she knew that it was understandable. "I'm coming!"
Laughing, Hermione grabbed her beanie and scarf and headed down the stairs to the common room, where her friend was waiting for her.
Harry made his way into the kitchen. "Morning, Neville."
"Ron on patrol?"
Neville nodded in response as his mouth was full of scrambled eggs.
Neville shook his head and Harry let out an agitated breath as he turned to get himself some breakfast, becoming wrapped up in his sombre thoughts as he worked.
"There is a bit of good news though," Neville's voice returned Harry to the present.
"Hogsmeade visit today," Neville said simply.
Harry could only smile.
Half an hour later found the two girls trudging through the snow on their way into the village, Rebecca scanning the landscape for her familiar as she went. Hermione began to do the same, but when her eyes fell on a figure that had just come out of the Three Broomsticks she stopped still, a grin appearing on her face. "Harry!"
Harry stopped and turned as he heard Hermione call out to him, and could only grin in return as he saw her dashing towards him.
Meeting each other with a hug, he greeted her softly, "Hey 'Mione."
Behind them, a thump of something hitting the ground was heard, and the two drew apart to look at the cause; Pan had pounced on Rebecca. Hermione could only laugh at the proud expression on Pan's face.
As Pan hopped off his mistress and Rebecca got to her feet, Hermione turned to Harry. "Harry, I'd like you to meet Rebecca Knight and her familiar, Pan. Becca, Pan, this is Harry."
Harry could only blink, stunned, as he processed what Hermione had said, and when he found his voice, he responded, "Familiar?"
All Rebecca could do was laugh at the all too common reaction to Pan's introduction.
When she'd calmed down she nodded her head in greeting. "It's a pleasure to meet you Harry. There's hardly a sentence that comes out of Hermione's mouth that doesn't have your name in it."
At this, Harry quirked an eyebrow at Hermione and she blushed furiously in response before looking away. When she'd regained her composure, Hermione looked back to her raven-haired best friend. "What are you doing here?"
"You hear about the Carrows?" he questioned.
Hermione nodded. "It didn't go down too well at school."
"I'll just bet it didn't," Harry replied grimly. "Shacklebolt posted us here, hoping that my presence would draw them out."
"Me, Neville and Ron."
"Neville, Ron, and I, Harry," Hermione corrected him.
Harry chuckled at that. 'Some things never change.'
But their cheery chat was suddenly interrupted when Ron stomped up to where they were standing, grabbed Hermione's arm and steered her back into the Three Broomsticks. As the door shut behind them, Harry heard Hermione exclaim, "Ronald Weasley, what's gotten into you?!"
Beside him, Harry heard Pan click his beak, affronted at Ron's treatment of Hermione. Rebecca seemed to share her companion's opinion, shaking her head in disgust before she turned to look at Harry. "It's been nice to meet you Harry, but if you'll excuse me, I've got some errands to attend to," she told him before heading towards Honeydukes, Pan trudging right behind her.
Letting out a sigh, Harry continued on with his patrol.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Half an hour later found Harry on the outskirts of Hogsmeade, his eyes ever sharp for the Carrows as he went about his rounds.
Suddenly a noise came from behind him and he spun around, wand at the ready. He relaxed, however, when he saw that it was only Neville's lion Patronus, and he lowered his wand as it spoke, "Harry, come quickly!"
Without another word, the Patronus turned and bounded off, Harry hot on its tail. He followed it until Neville came into view in front of the Three Broomsticks.
"Neville! What's happened?" Harry asked as he came to skidding stop.
"It's not the Carrows," Neville told him immediately. "It's Hermione. She ran past me a few minutes ago, really upset."
Harry frowned. "What about Ron?"
Just then, Ron appeared in the doorway, but when he caught sight of Harry, his face darkened and he strode forward.
"Ron?" Harry questioned as Ron stormed passed them, knocking Harry over in the process.
"Piss off," Ron responded harshly.
'What's gotten into him?' Harry thought furiously as he got to his feet and brushed the snow off of his cloak.
"Should I follow him to make sure that he doesn't Disapparate?" Neville queried Harry.
"No, he'll be alright. He just needs time to cool down," Harry told him. "Can you take over my patrol while I go and find Hermione?"
"I got it covered. She went that way," Neville pointed southwards. "I thought I saw her go into a bookstore."
"Thanks Neville. Patronus me if you see anything," Harry called over his shoulder as he turned and headed in the mentioned direction.
He found Hermione tucked away in a dark corner in her favourite bookstore, her knees clutched to her chest and trembling fiercely.
"Hey," he greeted her softly as he sat down beside her.
She raised her head to look at him for a moment through tear filled eyes before flinging herself into his waiting arms.
"Shhh. It's okay, it's okay," he whispered as he rubbed her back in a soothing fashion as she clung to him like he was the only safe thing around. After a few minutes of his ministrations, she calmed down and as she loosened her grip on him, he asked, "Do you want to talk about it?"
Hermione sniffled before she began to talk, "All we were doing was making ourselves miserable with all of our constant bickering. So I told him that I wanted to break up with him. He wasn't happy, tried to reconcile things, but I told him that it wouldn't be fair to him for us to continue dating when I had feelings for someone else. We got into a fight and he asked me who it was, and... and I told him..."
Before he knew what he was doing, Harry had asked, "Who is it?"
He felt Hermione tense up in his arms, and he mentally kicked himself, 'Smooth work, Potter.'
But then, before he could apologise, he felt Hermione's lips press against his own.
For a moment, he was frozen in place, but then his desire for her roared to life and he responded with every ounce of passion that he had in him. As the kiss progressed, it grew more and more heated, with Hermione shifting over onto his lap at one point. When the need for air grew imminent, they parted, resting their foreheads together as they caught their breath.
"In case that didn't answer your question Harry, it's you," she whispered.
He drew back then and framed her face with his hands, and as he smiled warmly at her, Hermione knew without a doubt that Harry shared her feelings. With a smile of her own she leaned forward and captured his lips again in a slow and savouring kiss.
They parted a few minutes later, and though he was extremely reluctant to do so, Harry gently nudged Hermione, silently asking her to hop off him. "I need to get back to my patrol," he explained at her curious expression as he got to his feet and then offered her a helping hand.
Hermione sighed as she pulled herself to her feet. "I wish the Ministry would stop using you like this."
"They're not using me, 'Mione. Shacklebolt wouldn't have posted me here if they felt I wasn't ready."
She looked at him curiously. "Ready?"
"This is my first assignment."
"First assignment? Oh, Harry!" Hermione exclaimed as she hit him with one of her famous knock-the-wind-out-of-you hugs. After a moment she pulled back, and as she tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, she looked confused about something. "But, how can you be? You've only been in the training programme for eight months, and from what I've read Auror trainees only start to do assignments in their second year."
Harry shot her a look of mock horror. "You've forgotten about the Horcrux hunt already? Not to mention everything else we've been through in the past eight years? Oh, Hermione, how could you?"
Hermione playfully punched him in the arm, which earned a chortle from Harry before he swooped down to give her a kiss.
"You know, if you don't stop doing that, I won't be able to let you get back to your patrol," Hermione commented when Harry pulled back.
"Who said I wanted you to?" he asked, seemingly serious.
"Do you want me to-" she started to respond, but then she spotted his mischievous smile and realized that he was teasing her. "You're impossible, you know that?"
Harry just laughed before kissing her on the forehead. "Only for you, 'Mione, only for you. It's alright, though, you've probably got a list of things to do before you have to head back."
He was right, she did have things she had to do, but knowing that it would be quite some time before she saw him again, she was reluctant to leave her boyfriend's, and she felt a burst of euphoria shoot through her at the word, side.
And, as if understanding what was going through her mind, Harry gently cupped her cheek. "It's alright," he soothed. "I'll come and see you before you return to Hogwarts, I promise."
Hermione smiled and nodded her head. Harry returned the gesture before turning and heading for the door.
He had just stepped back outside when he heard Hermione call out his name. He turned to face her, and, before he knew what was going on, she was on him, arms around his neck and lips pressed firmly against his. For a moment he was stunned, but then he responded to her kiss with equal intensity.
It wasn't until they'd heard a sharp wolf-whistle a few minutes later that they drew apart, rosy cheeked and a bit breathless, to face the culprits.
"Nice one, Harry," said Fred.
"Knew you had it in you mate," added George.
"Fred, George," Harry greeted the Weasley twins as he took a small step away from Hermione, but still left an arm around her waist, "What are you two doing here?"
"Checking up on our new shop, of course." came the unified reply before they turned to Hermione. "Hello, Hermione,"
Hermione greeted them in return. "Hello, Fred. Hello, George. Things are going well with the shop?"
"Better than ever!" George exclaimed. "You should drop by later on, Harry, so that we can show you our new stock."
"Once I've finished my patrol I will," Harry assured them.
"And speaking of patrols," Fred started.
"How's little Ronniekins doing?" George finished.
"He's currently M.I.A."
"M.I.A?" the twins repeated, perplexed.
"It's a Muggle war-time term; it means missing in action," Harry explained.
"Have to tell Dad about that one," George stated.
"In the mean time, we'll keep an eye out for Ron," Fred told Harry.
"Thanks, and if you do see him, tell him to get his arse back here, and that we've got a job to do."
"Will do, Harry!" the twins exclaimed before heading on their way.
Harry turned to Hermione. "Will you be alright?"
Hermione nodded. "You're sure that you don't want me to come with you?"
He pressed a kiss to her forehead. "I'm sure. I'll see you later, Okay?"
With a smile, he dropped his arm from her waist and drew his wand. Concentrating on the message he wanted to send to Neville, he sent his stag Patronus on its way and then he headed in the opposite direction.
After watching Harry, until he had disappeared from sight, Hermione turned and headed back inside the bookshop.
Harry had just gotten to the outskirts of the village again when a horrifying sight appeared in the sky: the Dark Mark.
'The Carrows have made their move,' Harry thought grimly as he headed towards the Mark, 'And now it's our turn. I just hope that no one gets hurt during our duel.'
But when he rounded the corner to see what shop the Mark was hovering over, he stopped dead in his tracks. There before him was Talon's Bookshop, where, just minutes ago, he and Hermione had shared their first kiss.
'Something's not right. The place is still intact.'
Then he heard a cackle of laughter, and felt fear grip him when he spotted Alecto, who gave him a sick little wave, before: "Confringo."
"NO!" Harry barrelled forward, intent on knocking Alecto over, but in his rage, he forgot about Amycus.
"Petrificus Totalus. Mobilicorpus."
Amycus manipulated Harry's frozen form until he was facing the collapsing building.
"Now, Potter," the Death Eater spoke into his frozen ear with a satisfied tone, "you can watch your friends and loved ones die like you forced us to when you killed the Dark Lord!"
Unseen to Amycus as he continued to taunt Harry, Neville had come stealthily around the corner, and upon seeing his friend in trouble, reacted, "Stupefy."
The force of the charm knocked Amycus unconscious and Neville bounded forward, "Finite Incantatem."
At the incantation, Harry dropped to the earth, free from the spells that Amycus had cast on him. "Thanks, Neville."
"Don't mention it."
"Sectumsempra," roared a now revived Amycus as his sister turned her own rage on Neville.
Harry cried out in pain as several slashes were inflicted onto his chest.
"I'm fine," Harry responded through gritted teeth.
Harry heard Amycus stifle his cry of pain as gouges appeared in his wand hand.
This last spell came from Rebecca as she and Pan bounded up to where Harry stood.
Amycus roared in pain, the charm cutting the already wounded flesh of his wand hand, crippling it and unable to keep a grip, he dropped his wand.
Seeing her brother in trouble, Alecto came swiftly to his defence. "Depulso."
Rebecca, unable to counter-attack in time, was struck by the jinx and slammed into the building behind her with a cry of pain before crumpling onto the ground. Seeing his mistress fall, Pan took to the air, screeching furiously as he dove at the Carrows.
The bombardment forced the Death Eaters to turn their attention to defending themselves from the angry griffin, and both Harry and Neville saw their chance to end the deadly duel and seized it. In quick succession, the two young men cast the spells needed to subdue the Death Eater siblings whilst they were preoccupied, "Langlock. Petrificus Totalus. Incarcerous."
Had the situation not been so grim, Harry would have laughed at the Carrows frozen and bound forms as they wobbled on the spot like Muggle bowling pins before toppling over. With a slight wince from pain of the wounds on his chest, Harry turned to face the ruined shop as Professors McGonagall, Sprout, Flitwick and Slughorn Apparated into the clearing.
"Oh my goodness!" exclaimed Sprout.
"Deletrius," squeaked Flitwick and the Dark Mark vanished from sight.
"Levitation charm on three," McGonagall instructed. "One, two, three... Wingardium Leviosa."
As the top layer of rubble rose into the air, the men of the village began to retrieve those who had been trapped inside it as it had collapsed. The Headmistress gave a slight start when a familiar figure with messy black hair passed her, followed by Rebecca Knight and her griffin familiar.
"Harry?" McGonagall inquired.
Harry stopped and turned, "Professor," he greeted her with a nod of his head.
"What are you doing here?"
"Neville, Ron and I were the Aurors posted here to catch the Carrows."
"But you're still trainees!"
Harry had just opened his mouth to respond when:
"Harry, over here!" Rebecca called out, waving him over to where Pan was digging for something beneath a fallen bookcase. "I think Pan's found her."
Harry drew his wand, wincing in the process, which Rebecca didn't fail to see. "Here, let me," she drew her own wand. "Wingardium Leviosa."
As the bookcase levitated into the air, Hermione's curled up form was revealed and Harry stepped in to scoop her up, her scarf falling to the ground as he did so.
"You must take her to the Hospital Wing straight away, Harry," McGonagall called to him.
"On it," Harry replied, moving away from the devastated building before he Dissapparated with a crack. When he reappeared, he was outside Hogwarts iron gates. Adjusting his grip on Hermione's unconscious form, Harry strode forward into the grounds.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Half an hour later found him striding into the Hospital Wing. "Madame Pomfrey?"
"Here, Mr. Potter."
Harry turned to see the Hospital matron waiting by one of the beds and strode over to her, gently placing Hermione on the bed.
"What happened?" Pomfrey questioned as she began to cast diagnostic charms on Hermione.
"A bookcase fell on her when the shop she was in collapsed." 'But compared to what the Carrows could have done to her in order to get to me, she got off very, very lightly,' Harry added silently to himself.
Pomfrey winced, but said nothing, continuing to diagnose her patient.
"There's no internal injuries," she declared after a minute. "She'll be stiff and sore for a few days, but otherwise, she's fine."
Harry let out a relieved breath.
Pomfrey then fixed her gaze on him. "But it seems that you weren't as lucky, Mr Potter. Dark curse?"
"Sectumsempra," Harry confirmed.
"It's a good thing that Severus taught me the counter-curse before he was killed. Cloak, jumper and shirt off," she instructed as she turned and left the room to retrieve something.
Harry did as she asked, but as he peeled his shirt off, he winced as he pulled the fabric away from where it had set on his wounds.
"A nasty piece of work," Madame Pomfrey stated as she studied the three diagonal gashes after she had returned with a flask of a bluish coloured potion in hand. "I'm afraid I'm currently out of Dittany, Mr Potter. I'll be able to heal the wounds with the counter-curse, but without Dittany to put on the wounds, they will scar."
"That's fine," Harry stated. "And I expected nothing less from the Carrows,"
Madame Pomfrey merely shook her head before raising her wand to the wounds. "Vulnera Sanatur. Vulnera Sanatur. Vulnera Sanatur."
When she finished the incantation the first time, the flow of his blood coming from the wounds eased up. The second time, his wounds knitted together. But the third time didn't appear to do anything physically.
Harry looked to Madame Pomfrey, and shot her a curious expression.
"The third time removes the worst effects of the curse near-instantly," the matron explained.
"Thank you, Madame Pomfrey," Harry sincerely stated, "for everything."
Pomfrey smiled at him warmly, before handing him the flask of potion. "When Miss Granger is feeling up to it, have her drink this. It will help with the bruises and stiffness." Harry nodded his head and Pomfrey turned to Hermione. "Rennervate."
Hermione eyes snapped open and Harry stepped forward. "Hey," he greeted in a whisper.
Hermione blinked her eyes as her vision focused. "Hey."
Rebecca sighed in frustration.
Try as she might to send Pan on his way, the griffin was still devotedly following the carriage she was on and showing no intention of leaving.
In a last ditch attempt, she waved her arms frantically. "Go home, Pan! Shoo!"
But in her attempt to get her familiar on his way home, she knocked Hermione's scarf, which she had collected from the building ruins after Harry had Disapparated, from her lap. As she vaulted from the carriage to the ground, Pan picked up the scarf and walked over to his mistress.
But when she tried to take it from him, Pan held on to it.
Rebecca furrowed her brow in confusion at his behaviour, but when he gently tugged at the scarf, realisation dawned on her as to what he was trying to get across to her. "You want to see Hermione?"
Pan dropped the scarf and chirruped in affirmation.
"I'm not sure that Madame Pomfrey will allow you into the Hospital Wing, though, Pan," Rebecca said as she placed a hand to his face.
Pan nibbled her palm in encouragement.
"Oi! If you don't want to get left behind, Becca, then I suggest you hurry up!" Ginny hollered back to her class-mate, which drew Rebecca's attention to the retreating Thestral-drawn cart.
Hermione could only shake her head as Harry finished bringing her up to speed with all that had happened. "Oh Harry! You're never going to be able to stay out of trouble, are you?"
"You know me, 'Mione, I just love the quiet life," Harry replied, shooting her an adorable smile.
Hermione just fisted her hand in the material of the T-shirt that Kreacher had brought to Harry a few minutes ago, tugged him off of the chair he was sitting on, next to the head of the bed, so that he was closer to her and sealed her mouth to his. As the kiss progressed, Harry had to check himself from crushing Hermione against him and causing her further discomfort.
It was only when Madame Pomfrey loudly cleared her throat a few minutes later that the two drew apart.
"The potion, Mr. Potter," the matron reminded him.
"Right," he responded, rubbing the back of his neck in a familiar gesture of nervousness.
"Potion?" Hermione queried her boyfriend.
"Madame Pomfrey gave me a potion to help with the bruising and stiffness. She said to give it to you when you were feeling up to it," Hermione held out a hand and Harry gave her the flask. "I have to warn you though, it doesn't have the best taste."
Hermione raised an eyebrow, silently questioning as to how he knew this.
"Fifth year. First Quidditch match of the season, one Bludger to the back and one to the chest," he reminded her. "And if I remember rightly, you Mother Henning me for nearly two weeks afterwards."
Hermione could only blush before she drained the potion, pulling a face in disgust when she'd finished.
"Told you," he smirked.
"Miss Knight! Where do you think you're going?" Madame Pomfrey questioned, drawing Harry and Hermione's attention from each other to the matron as she stood at the door, blocking Rebecca's path.
"Uh... inside to visit Hermione?" came Rebecca's response.
"Not with that beast you're not!" the matron told her sternly.
Pan let out an indignant screech at the insult.
"Pan's well behaved, Madame Pomfrey, I can assure you of that. He just wants to see for himself that Hermione's alright."
Madame Pomfrey relented. "He may go in. But I'm warning you, any commotions-"
"There won't be," Rebecca reassured the matron.
With a nod of her head, Madame Pomfrey let Rebecca and Pan through the door.
Pan immediately went to Hermione's side and gently nibbled on her fingers, his eyes conveying his concern.
"I'm fine, Pan," Hermione assured the griffin.
"You told me that Harry has a knack for finding trouble," Rebecca told her friend with a grin as she approached the bed. "You failed to mention that you seem to do that as well."
Following his mistress' words, Pan clicked his beak and chirruped for a few moments, sounding like he was trying to say something.
"That's griffin speak for, 'Don't do that again!'" Rebecca translated.
Hermione laughed. "Don't worry Pan, I don't intend to. And I guess that is what happens when you hang around with Harry Potter." At this she looked to Harry. "No offense meant, of course."
Harry's response was to thread his fingers through hers and bring her hand to his lips for a brief kiss. Watching the two of them together, Rebecca's grin was brighter than any Lumos that she'd ever cast, but she kept her words to herself and didn't say a thing.
But their moment was broken by the arrival of a lion Patronus.
"Harry, the Carrows have been delivered to Azkaban. Shacklebolt has ordered us back to Auror Headquarters to be de-briefed."
With a sigh, Harry let his head fall forward, pillowing it in Hermione's stomach. Letting go of his hand, Hermione began to run her fingers through his hair in a soothing fashion - understanding that while Harry didn't want to leave her side just yet, he also couldn't afford to disobey Shacklebolt's orders - hoping to silently convey that she would be alright.
It seemed to work, because when he drew back, he was relaxed. "Thank you," he murmured before standing up and retrieving his cloak.
As he was securing it, Harry looked to Rebecca and Pan. "Thank you, the both of you, for your help today."
Rebecca was stunned by the praise. "Me? But I didn't do much!"
"You crippled Amycus," Harry told her, "and Pan's distraction allowed Neville and I to get the upper hand in the duel and end it. Without your help, the duel would have gone on for a lot longer than it did"
"What can I say? We Gryffindors have to stick together," she stated simply in response.
Harry laughed. "Agreed."
Turning back to Hermione, Harry bent down and the couple shared a tender kiss. When he drew back, he whispered, "Take care and... I love you."
Hermione tenderly cupped his cheek. "Stay safe and I love you too"
After one last kiss, Harry turned and strode from the room.
When Harry had returned to his quarters after being de-briefed by Shacklebolt and Tonks, his Auror mentor, he had found a fuming Ron waiting for him. A blazing row had soon erupted between the two of them, and Ron had told Harry that because of what he'd done he was no friend of his and in no uncertain terms that their friendship was over.
But while things with Ron had gone pear-shaped, his relationship with Hermione was flourishing.
When he'd started his training, he had kept in contact with Hermione via owl post, but once they became a couple, he had also started using the Floo Network, and when he could, he'd come to Hogwarts to have dinner with her.
His first dinner visit was particularly memorable.
"Miss Granger, could you wait a moment please?" Professor Sprout called to Hermione, who was packing up her bag as the last class of the day came to an end.
"I'll see you at dinner," Rebecca told her before shouldering her bag and leaving Greenhouse Eight.
Hermione approached Professor Sprout. "Yes, Professor?"
"Professor McGonagall wants to see you in her office. You haven't done anything wrong," the Herbology professor quickly added upon seeing Hermione tense up. "She just wants to speak with you about something."
Hermione nodded her head, said a quick, "Thank you Professor," before turning and leaving the Greenhouse.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Three quarters of an hour later found Hermione knocking on the Headmistress' door.
"Come in," came McGonagall's voice.
Hermione entered and as she turned to close the door behind her, the two figures that had been talking to the Headmistress turned to look at her. When Hermione turned back around to address McGonagall, she froze.
There before her were her parents, Jake and Miranda Granger.
"Mum? Dad?" she queried, her voice barely a whisper.
Jake smiled at his baby girl whilst Miranda held out her arms in invitation. With tears welling in her eyes, Hermione dashed forward to embrace her parents, dropping her bag in the process.
"Accio Hermione's bag." With nimble hands, Harry caught his girlfriend's bag, knowing that Hermione would never forgive herself if she damaged her books in any way.
The three Grangers continued to hold onto one another, talking in hushed tones. And as Harry watched them, a feeling of warmth enveloped him at the relieved expression on Hermione's features. Eventually, Hermione broke away from her parents and approached him, wrapping him up in a hug and clutching him to her like he was the most precious thing around.
"Thank you," she whispered into his neck. "Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you." She repeated the word as if saying once wasn't enough to convey her emotions across to him properly.
Harry pulled back, wiped away her tears with the pad of him thumb before kissing her on the forehead briefly. "It's Shacklebolt that you owe your thanks to, 'Mione. He's the one who gave the order that you parents be found. And St. Mungo's Medi-wizards for reversing the false memory charm you put on them. All I did was volunteer to bring them to Hogwarts so that the three of you could reunite."
"You played a part in bringing them back, that's all that matters to me."
"What are friends for?"
At this Hermione pulled back.
"Friends?" she asked with a mock pout. "Did the kisses mean nothing to you?"
Harry laughed and gave her a chaste kiss on the lips. Hermione tightened her hug for a moment in response before letting him go and turning back to her parents. "Mum, Dad, I'd like you to meet Harry Potter. Harry, these are my parents, Jake and Miranda Granger."
Miranda stepped forward to embrace the young man of whom they'd had head so much about from their daughter. "It's a pleasure to meet you at last Harry," she said as she stepped back
Jake offered his hand, which Harry shook. "Son."
Minerva McGonagall smiled at the scene before her. Her parent's absence had been one of Hermione's main worries. But now that her family was back together again, Minerva suspected that Hogwarts would see Hermione Granger back to achieving her full academic glory.
Hermione broke Minerva from her thoughts. "Professor, would it be alright if I showed my parents around the school?"
"Not at all, Miss Granger. In fact, they're more than welcome to have dinner with us in the Great Hall this evening."
Hermione smiled, but when her eyes fell on Harry, her smile faltered a little. "You're able to stay for dinner, aren't you, Harry?" she asked, almost dreading his answer.
"My orders are to accompany your parents. Wherever they go, I go."
Though his statement was said in a level tone, he smiled as the final words left his mouth, and Hermione hugged him tightly to express her joy.
The next few months had flown by in a blur and before long, Hermione found herself on the Hogwarts Express heading home for Christmas.
"Hermione!" Miranda called out.
"Yes, Mum?" Hermione called back.
"There's someone's head in the fireplace!"
"I'm coming!" Hermione responded as she dashed out of her room. "Don't panic, we've probably been connected to the Floo Network temporarily."
When she skidded to a stop, she saw that it was Ron's head in the fire.
"Ron?" she questioned as she knelt down by the fire.
"Hey, Hermione," he greeted her.
In the months that had past, Ron had reforged his friendship with Harry and Hermione after seeing that Harry was able to make Hermione much happier than he had ever done.
"What happened to your face?"
Thought it was hard to see with the flickering flames around his head, there was a two inch long cut on his left cheek.
"Training accident. But don't worry about me," he spoke hastily when Hermione opened her mouth to respond. "It's Harry that you should be concerned about."
"Why? What's happened?"
"He turned down having Christmas with us at the Burrow; said he wanted to be alone."
"He said WHAT?!?"
Ron grinned. "Figured you'd respond like this. It hasn't been long, just left Auror Headquarters. If you hurry, you'll catch him before he and Kreacher start dinner."
Hermione scrambled to her feet. "Thanks, Ron. Merry Christmas," she called over her shoulder as she dashed back to her room.
"Likewise," he called back before his head disappeared with a pop.
When Hermione reappeared, she had put on some shoes and was just pulling on a coat as she looked to her mother. "You don't mind if I invite Harry here for Christmas, do you?"
"Not at all, sweetheart. You know that your friends are always welcome here."
Hermione paused at that, she'd not yet had the chance to tell her parents that she and Harry were now a couple. 'I guess it's now or never,' she thought before speaking, "I've been meaning to talk to you and Dad about that. Harry and I... we're more than just friends now... we started dating a couple of months ago, after Halloween."
Miranda smiled at her daughter's admission, but it was not entirely unexpected.
She and Jake had realised the night that the three Gangers had been reunited at Hogwarts that the two teens had become a couple.
This realisation had not gone without complaints from Jake, who had grumbled about 'losing his baby girl when he'd only just gotten her back.' Miranda had become the young man's champion, telling her husband that Hermione could have done a lot worse than Harry Potter as he clearly thought the world of Hermione and that he respected her and had always protected and defended her from harm without a moment's hesitation.
"We know, honey."
"You... You know?"
Miranda nodded her head. "It wasn't all that long ago that your father and I were in the same position."
"And you're okay with it?"
"No," Jake called from the lounge room, where he was reading the day's newspaper.
"Jake, behave!" Miranda chided her husband. "Of course we are, darling.
Hermione smiled warmly at her mother.
"You had better get going if you want to catch Harry in time," Miranda reminded her daughter.
"Right. I shouldn't be long," she stated as she dashed outside, stopped still behind a tree and checked to make sure that no one was watching before she Disapparated.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Half an hour passed before Hermione returned, holding hands with a rather sheepish looking Harry.
Miranda greeted Harry with a hug. "It's wonderful to see you again, Harry."
"It's good to see you too Mrs. Granger," Harry returned the greeting before turning his attention to Hermione's father. "Hello Mr. Granger."
"Hello, Harry. How's Auror training going?"
"It's going well. But I'm grateful for the break."
"Bit of R'n'R, huh?"
"You could say that."
"Come on, Harry," Hermione tugged at his arm. "I'll show you to your room."
Harry followed her down the hall and listened as Hermione pointed out the rooms as she walked. "That's the Bathroom; that's the Guest Room." She pointed to the open door at the end of the hall. "And that's my room."
Harry opened the door to his room and placed his bag inside before going to have a look at Hermione's room.
As he stepped inside, his eyes were drawn instantly to a bird cage in one of the corners. Inside was the most beautiful barn owl that he'd ever seen.
"Isn't one familiar enough for you?" he teased her
Hermione's eyes widened, and she mentally kicked herself; she'd forgotten all about the she-owl. "She's not for me... she's for you," she admitted.
Harry looked at her, gobsmacked. "For me?"
"I know that she'll never replace Hedwig... and you don't have to take her if you don't feel ready... but you said in your letters that you felt a little disadvant-"
Hermione's speech was brought to a screeching halt when Harry swooped down and kissed her.
"Don't take this the wrong way, love, but sometimes you talk too much," he told her when they drew apart.
Hermione watched as Harry strode over to the cage, opened the door and gently put his hand inside. The barn owl immediately stepped onto Harry's offered hand and he carefully extracted her from the cage.
Free from the confined space, the owl flapped her wings a couple of times before turning her head to look at Harry.
As man and beast regarded each other, Harry brought a hand up to stroke the barn owl's feathers, and she responded in turn by nibbling on his fingers.
After a few moments, Harry looked to Hermione. "Thank you."
Hermione smiled. "Consider her your Christmas present from me. What are you going to call her?"
Harry regarded the barn owl for a moment. "Athena."
"Athena?" Hermione repeated. "Like the Greek Goddess of wisdom?"
"Owls are perceived to be wise animals," Harry stated.
Hermione just pecked him on the cheek, seeing right through his bluff. "I'm honoured."
Harry chuckled and was just leaning in to give Hermione a proper kiss when:
"Kids! Lunch is ready!"