'Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something is more important than fear.' Hermione finds the courage to restore her parents' memories.
, who was so encouraging. :) I had a lot of fun going in depth with Hermione, so a big thank you to the mods for giving me that opportunity, as well.
Like many things in her life, the cause of Hermione Granger’s frustration was none other than Ron Weasley.
“Look Mione,” he stammered, blanching at her reaction to the nickname, “Harry, Ginny and I are coming whether you like it or not. We’re your family – well I’m not, because that would be just wrong, but Harry and Ginny are, I guess – and we’re coming to support you.”
“Ron, I have to do this by myself. This was my mistake, and it’s up to me to make it right. Hermione let out an exasperated sigh that did little to hide her embarrassment at his words; once, she would have ranted for hours, now she wasn’t so sure how to behave.
“Mistake, Hermione? Who are you bloody kidding? It’s… it was a war out there! Without you, they’d probably be dead!” His words were like a slap to the face: while there was nothing purposefully vindictive in them, Hermione couldn’t help but be reminded of the tears in her mother’s eyes as they’d whispered their final goodbye in the decrepit garden shed.
“Without me, they wouldn’t have been forced to change their names to begin with. Without me telling them all about Harry, I wouldn’t have had to modify their memories. Without me, they could have lived a normal life.”
“Fearing your life everyday because there’s a group of people out there whose lives you can’t understand. Hermione, none of that is normal!”
Ron threw his hands into the air, and snapped, much more forcibly than he intended, “That’s it. We’re all coming. I’ll let Harry and Ginny know.” He silenced any doubts Hermione could voice with a rough kiss, letting out any fears he had through his wispy breath on her cheek and the feel of his lips on hers.
The trip was a whirlwind of ocean views and red-raw hands – Hermione felt the need to give Ron a small slap every time his surprise at the fact that the plane was still speeding through the sky became a little too vocal - but Hermione, Ron, Harry and Ginny barely took any of it in as they became entwined in plans to locate the Grangers (or the Wilkins, as they were now called). Every idea came with its pitfalls; after months of doing anything but think as a crude (yet effective) way of repressing the memories, formulating a plan was more trouble than any of them had anticipated.
“You know,” Hermione said finally, “we can always go into a local post office when we land, and ask for details of my parents. They may be able to give us an address.” Even as she spoke, she felt any hope she’d originally had flooding away in a rush. This whole idea was stupid, and yet… Hermione had sacrificed this much to keep her parents alive, but surely they had sacrificed more by believing they’d never had a daughter? Surely, they had sacrificed everything for a life they could only now live.
“You can do that?” Ron asked in disbelief, much to the annoyance of the cantankerous man in front of them, who had already subjected Ginny and Ron to a lecture about how the fact that planes were not abnormal. “I mean… it takes the Ministry weeks to deal with things like that, and we don’t have that long… we do have a second wedding for Bill and Fleur to plan.”
“Muggles have computers,” Harry said dryly, leaning over the back of Ron’s seat to make a point; Ginny let out a small cry of pain as the weight of his body accidentally ended up pressed against her. “The Internet can search a person faster than we can Apparate.”
“Harry, keep your voice down! We don’t want to attract any more attention,” Hermione snapped, a little more harshly than she originally intended. The stress of the past few days was starting to catch up, and she was struggling to keep a hand on her emotions.
“Sorry,” he said quietly, leaning over and planting a chaste kiss on Ginny’s forehead. The four of them sat in quiet thought, each wondering exactly how they were going to find Hermione’s parents. Optimism may have gotten them through the last few months, but it certainly wasn’t helping much now.
Hermione almost felt like an impostor; she could not reconcile this new version of herself with anyone she’d ever known. It left her feeling vaguely on edge, as though she’d lost a secret weapon she didn’t know she even had, and she shivered, despite the warm winter’s air.
When the plane landed, they scurried through customs, too exhausted to even marvel at the Muggle sights any more. Hermione drove them all to the motel, her foot pressed hard against the accelerator at they sped through the Brisbane streets, and Ron couldn’t help but admire her a lot more as her need for speed became evident. He’d never expected to see her this uncontrolled, and watching the rise and fall of her eyebrows in the rear-vision mirror as she navigated corners with breathtaking precision was all that kept him awake.
“You know,” Ginny mumbled drowsily with sleepiness. “We really should figure out how we’re going to find your parents, Hermione.”
“Why don’t we just look them up like you said,” Ron replied, rubbing his eyes in a halfhearted attempt to stay awake. “And then we can go to their house and change them back.”
“You make it sound so simple Ron, but it’s not,” Harry said quietly. He was remembering those devastating scenes at the Quidditch World Cup. Back then they’d seemed like the scariest things in the world, but… now all he could remember was a haze of screaming and shouting, and reading a report in the Daily Prophet about how long the Roberts family had taken to return to normal.
“Do you remember that family at the World Cup? The ones who got turned upside down by Death Eaters? They took forever to regain their memories. Not to be the eternal pessimist or anything – I’ll save that one for someone else to wear as a badge – but it’s going to take a lot more work than we thought.”
The car lapsed into silence after that, and as Hermione pulled into the driveway of the flat they’d rented out, all she could hear was snoring.
The next day, dawn broke early. Hermione could feel her pale skin scorching in the heat as they wandered down one of Brisbane’s main streets, discussing more ideas. Every shop displayed bright posters, beckoning them inside to enjoy sales on swimwear, watches and even fridges, but it wasn’t until the window of David Jones caught her eye that Hermione realised something major.
“It’s nearly Christmas,” she said excitedly, and for a second the ‘kid under the Christmas tree’ cliché made perfect sense.
“We… we can’t have forgotten it,” Ron replied. “The presents, the snow fights, the food. You do realise we’re going to miss Mum’s plum pudding.”
The more they thought about it, the more it made sense. Christmas was Fred’s time, to put it simply, and no one wanted to think of that. The thin strands of Spellotape holding their hearts together were starting to unravel, and no matter how much they clutched at their chests, nothing could hold them together. The horror of clutching at emotions they’d ignored, stones they’d left unturned for so many months in any attempt to move on, was slowly drifting over all of them.
Hermione was the first to recover, wiping a lone tear from her eye as she spoke. “I… I miss him, but we really need to move on.”
Ron gave her a punctured look, and in that moment, Hermione could read every line etched into his face. Her fingers roamed his shoulders like Braille as she collapsed upon his weathered body in a hug. The four of them stood in the middle of the street, shoulders hunched against the pain, until Harry took his turn to speak.
“This is what’s its about, isn’t it? This is why we’re finding your parents… so that another family doesn’t have to go through the pain of losing a child. Isn’t that what Christmas is about? Giving… in this case, we’re presenting your parents with something more special than most people unwrap.”
They all nodded bravely.
“You’re right,” Ginny said finally, wrapping a lithe arm around Harry’s shoulders.
“Maybe we should get going.” It felt strange assuming Hermione’s position for a moment as she comforted Ron, but the wink she received from Harry made her so much happier. They’d changed so much, they all had, and maybe they were just going to have to learn how to adapt. The wounds left by Fred’s death were still raw, but covering things only lasted so long, and maybe this journey could set them at the beginning of the road to recovery.
“Let’s go spread some of that Christmas cheer to your parents.”
“You know,” Ron said a few hours later as he sat with Hermione in the corner of the small coffee shop they’d found. “This could be considered our first real date. Unless you want to count that… that snogging situation in the Chamber of Secrets that nobody’s brave enough to share with Harry.”
“That,” Hermione replied. “That was much too intense to be a date.”
“Good intense?” Ron asked, a horrified look spreading across his face. “Or bad intense?”
”Oh, it was definitely a good intense.”
“Really?” Ron’s face lit up, and for a minute he seemed to blend in with the bright beams of light streaming through the window.
“Honestly Ronald, I wouldn’t have kissed you back if it wasn’t.”
They both sipped from their coffee, wondering what to say. Some vital core of their existences had shifted after that night, and they were still wondering how to fix it now. Hermione likened it to a change in gravity, a hole so big it could not be fixed… only she was finding she didn’t want it to be.
The silence weighed down on them, but Hermione didn’t find it uncomfortable. She drank in his eyes and his lips the way she sipped greedily at her coffee, feeling the heat fill her face as she watched him. One of the biggest changes was just that: they could communicate without words now, and still find way to appreciate what the other had to offer.
“What should I get you for Christmas?” Normally Ron would have done anything before making the embarrassing mistake of asking, but he really couldn’t afford to screw this up again.
“I don’t want anything, really.” There was, of course, a Christmas present Hermione would have sacrificed anything for, but neither of them spoke it out loud.
“That’s what they all say, Hermione. You’re supposed to be different!”
“I don’t know. Besides, you’ve always bought me… interesting…. Presents in the past.” They both chuckled at that, their coffee flavoured laughter drifting on the warm summer’s breeze that floated through the shop.
“This is different now. I want to make it -Hermione! It’s your mum!”
Hermione jerked her neck quickly towards the window that Ron was pointing at, rubbing it gently as she gasped in disbelief. There was her mother in all her glory, the pointy nose, the bushy hair so like her own. And yet, it felt different, like this was a carbon copy of the woman she’d once known: Suzie Granger under a pseudonym was very different to Suzie Granger, Hermione’s mother, indeed.
“Ron,” Hermione choked, adrenalin catching up to her as she prepared to tear out into the street. “Run around the corner and grab Harry and Ginny – they were searching around near Starbucks – and then meet me back here.”
With that, they both took off, and Hermione wondered how she could have been thinking of something as inane as conversation when her mother was standing right there.
Did absence really make the heart grow fonder, or was that just a cliché used for romance writers to make a few pennies? Did Hermione really remember her mother at all?
“What? Who are you?” The first thing Hermione noticed was the guarded look on her mother’s face. Her cheeks were etched with the cavernous lines that so many of her friends wore as a result of the war. She wore her reservations like a slightly too warm winter coat, and for the first time, Hermione wondered how much of an impact the war had had on the world beyond Britain.
“I’m… I’m Hermione Granger. I work in Britain, and I’ve been asked by our government to interview people from other regions affected by the war.” Hermione had never condoned lying, even though she’d been occasionally resigned to it herself, but her mother was never going to recognise anyone called Hermione otherwise.
“War?” Monica Wilkins replied in disbelief, a rogue colour seeping into her cheeks. “There hasn’t been a war. You people…”
“We’ve had a war in Britain… very localized, but you may have heard of some of the bridges collapsing?”
“No, I have not heard of any war!” She shook her head, spun on her heel and began to march down the crowded street, leaving Harry, Ron, Ginny and Hermione to stand in her wake.
She couldn’t believe what she’d done. She was supposed to be the smart one, the almost-Ravenclaw, and she’d just about ruined it all.
“Wait up!” Ginny screamed down the street, ignoring the stares of several passersby. She tore after Hermione’s mother, her hair flapping against her back like the wings of seagulls, streaming over a windy cliff. “Mrs. Wilkins, wait up!”
From behind her, Hermione, Ron and Harry stared in disbelief. They hadn’t agreed on much in the end, becoming much too occupied with the sight of a kookaburra perched upon their clothes line, but they had agreed to remain as inconspicuous as possible. Who knew how many Australians had heard of their exploits back home, after all?
“Ginny!” Ron shouted. “Ginny, get your ar-butt back here now!”
He scowled slightly as Harry gave him a light punch on the arm, reminding him not to name his girlfriend after any anatomical part, but soon brightened as an out of breath Ginny returned a moment or two later.
“What did she say?” Hermione asked fervently, her whole face lighting up like a Christmas tree as Ginny answered.
“Nothing, really. I just watched as she turned the corner, and I know where she lives.” The trio could all tell that Ginny was being a tease as she nodded in agreement with her own comment; the corners of her mouth were stretched beyond those on the comic face of a clown and her eyes sparkled with the promise of information.
“It’s such an easy joint to case,” she said excitedly, and Harry wondered what they’d really been up to in the Room of Requirement last year, as she could pull of the voice of a sleazy villain in a second-rate crime movie perfectly. “We can go in, find out everything you want to know about your parents, and then we can confront them.” Both Harry and Ron looked gleeful at this prospect, but Hermione shook her head.
“If I’m going to do this,” she said gently, “I’m going to do it the proper way, or not at all.”
“I just feel like such a failure… what happens if she’s different to what I remember? What happens if I don’t like her anymore?” Hermione collapsed into the wicker chair beside the bed late that night, wrapping her arms around her body as though to keep it from falling apart. “I’m supposed to be a Gryffindor. I’m supposed to be brave.” Her words read like a poorly written birthday card, transparent and devoid of any real explanation for her feelings.
Her three best friends could see the change in her without even looking; Hermione’s every fluid movement betrayed the fact that she was no longer built of knowledge and pride but of much more irrational emotion. That ability to take not just a step, but a leap from her comfort zone, Harry thought, that was what made her truly brave.
”You know what my dad said once, Hermione?” Ron asked shyly as all eyes fell upon him to comfort his girlfriend. “‘Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.’ We all love you, ‘Mione, and we know you can do it. You just have to realise how important your parents are to you. Think of it like Christmas… you can’t appreciate what you don’t have until you lose it, like all those broken presents you break on Boxing Day that haunt you for the rest of the year.”
Ron’s face was stretched tautly across his cheekbones, and both Harry and Ginny could sense that he was fighting the urge to snigger. The war may have changed a lot of things about all of them, but it hadn’t changed who they truly were beneath the dirt and the tears, and for Ron, the sight of Hermione not knowing what to say was nothing short of funny.
Slowly, Hermione lifted her head. “I know, Ron,” she said gently, “but it’s just so hard. I could conquer the fear if I knew who Monica and Wendell Wilkins were, if I knew their fears, their hopes, and their dreams. Instead, I don’t even know what their favourite breakfast cereal is.”
“Do you need to know, Hermione?” Harry was the one who spoke the words they’d all be thinking, his deep voice booming over the sound of the kettle boiling on top of the cupboard in the corner. This whole experience was so surreal that Ron hadn’t even felt the need to marvel at the fact that the light came on when they opened its door. ”Just treat them as they are: the people you love. Dumbledore always said -”
“That love is the most important thing,” Hermione finished for him, an exasperated sigh marring her words. “I always respected him, but… he was a scholar, wasn’t he? Like me, his words only worked until he had to live them.”
“That’s not true,” Ginny said hotly. She knew less of Dumbledore’s story than the others, but Harry had still told her the most important parts in a hasty whisper as her entire family collapsed like walls – oh fuck, the irony - around them. “Dumbledore knew what he was doing. How else do you think he defeated Yo-Voldemort all those times?”
Ron nodded in hasty accord: Ginny’s ability to step beyond the fear of the name that had gnawed at the Weasleys like a rogue rabbit for so long had awakened Hermione from her teary haze.
“She’s right, Hermione. We love you, and we know you can do this.” It felt so odd to be the one consoling her, but he continued. Ron loved this woman, he yearned for her voice and her touch and, most importantly, for her to be happy. If that wasn’t love, he didn’t know what was. “Hermi-bloody hell!”
Before he could even process what was happening – and no matter how many jokes Bill and Charlie made about his thick head, this time he couldn’t be blamed – Hermione was pressed up against him. He could feel the smooth edges of her body against his as her lips smashed against his, and for a moment or two, he completely forgot that anyone was watching.
“I love you,” Hermione whispered in his ear. She could feel his ragged breaths, hot and heavy against her mouth like smog, and she pulled away, blinded by the intensity of the choice she had not planned to make.
It was so horribly reminiscent of the battle that the thought made her shudder, and she forced the pitiful little moan that was elicited at the thought of all the tragedy that night back into her throat. They’d all blocked it out, taking sleeping potions as they curled up in each other’s arms to ward away the dreams, but Hermione had still had more trouble than most, and it was showing now.
She latched back onto Ron in a halfhearted attempt to take control of her rapidly spiraling emotions, and he responded eagerly to her touch, kissing her back with a power so much more fierce than his timid behaviour in battle had even revealed.
“We’ll just, er, leave you to it,” Harry announced finally, giving Ginny a wink that set her face on fire.They quickly scurried out of the room, their minds obviously on emulating the feat that Ron and Hermione had just displayed; an awkward silence filled the room in the wake of their departure.
“So…” Ron said finally, cradling his face in his hands in a poor attempt to keep his blushing from seeping through the cracks between his fingers. “Shall we start thinking of ways to talk to your mother, then?”
Hermione began to nod, but her head changed direction halfway through, as though caught in a feisty summer’s breeze. In two short strides, she crossed the room, tearing Ron’s face from his hands and capturing his lips with as much force as she could muster.
Their bodies moved against each other, displaying several scientific motions that Hermione could easily explain. There was the friction as their lips and their cheeks pushed furiously against the other with a longing they could not contain, the force of gravity that dragged their eyes downwards towards the bed, Newton’s First Law of Motion that meant, once they started moving, they could not stop.
But most of all, there was Ron’s throaty growl that forced its way between his slightly chaffed lips, and there was their passion, and Hermione found that she had no rational explanation for those at all.
They were awoken the next morning by Harry and Ginny knocking on the door. Hermione sat up, folding her fingers gently into the corners of her eyes to remove any trace of the fact that she may not have exactly slept last night.
“Come on, Hermione,” Harry urged from outside the door, his cheek pressed against the keyhole. “It’s hot out here.”
Ron and Hermione emerged a moment later, deliberately looking everywhere but each other. It wasn’t that this was new to them, because it wasn’t… and yet it was. Hermione didn’t understand how so much could change when so much stayed the same – Fred and Colin and Tonks and Lupin were still dead, and Hogwarts was still in ruins and the Weasley family was still in even worse disrepair – and yet, she couldn’t help but smile at this new feeling.
Once she restored her parents to their former lives, Hermione would have everything she’d ever dreamed of, and even more that she hadn’t.
“So we’re just going to go knock on their door and say ‘Hi, I’m your daughter, sorry I didn’t introduce myself properly the other day?'” Ron asked, as they set off down the street. “Because that wouldn’t scare them at all.”
“I’m not sure,” Harry replied, seeing as Hermione still seemed somewhat preoccupied with her thoughts. “I was thinking that we should take them a Christmas present, to kind of break the ice or something.”
“That’s a good idea.” Ginny shuffled on, upturning her collar to avoid applying an anti-burn charm in public. “What do you think, Hermione?”
Hermione looked up, staring wildly around until she pinpointed Ginny’s bright red hair against the sun. “What?” Her mind was still somewhere trapped somewhere between the salvation and the desire, between what had happened with Ron and what lay ahead.
“Christmas present? For your parents?”
“I’m not sure,” Hermione said, shielding her eyes against the sun. This was so different from any Christmas they’d ever had at home, and she was struggling to adapt, something she’d always prided herself on doing well. “I don’t want us to look like a charity, handing out presents to strangers because they look nice.”
“Charity or not,” Ron interrupted, “there’s no time for present buying, because there they are.”
Hermione could feel the breath in her throat like a dagger against her heart as she spotted her parents standing outside Myers, coffee in their hands as they chatted animatedly.
It sure didn’t look like they’d missed her, but appearances could be deceiving, that was one thing she’d learnt.
“Let’s go,” she said, more strongly than she intended.
“Wait up,” Ron replied, wrapping an arm around her shoulders as Hermione’s shoulders dropped and her unspoken words made their way to the front. “The Boy Who Lived More Than Once or not, don’t you think the Ministry would have a field day if we performed such complex magic in front of Muggles?”
Harry nodded in agreement, but he, along with Ron and Ginny, could only watch in horror as Hermione slipped from under her boyfriend’s fingers to sprint across the street. Several onlookers gasped in disbelief as she sped between them, eyes and heart focused on getting to her parents.
“Merlin, ‘Mione’s gone mental,” Ron whispered to Harry, but there was an obvious affection in his words that all three of them picked up, and it made them grin.
“Don’t you suppose we ought to go after her?”
“This is it.”
Hermione stood, shoulders arched back and wand pointed forward. Several passersby gave her curious looks – a woman in an alleyway with a stick, no matter how blunt, was always sure to draw attention – but they quickly moved on after a pointed glance from Ron, whose sheer size was far from reassuring. [Ahh, she's doing it in public?! She's crazy!]
“Before you change back,” she said gently, “even though I’m not sure that’s the right word as you’re not really changing, because physically, you’re still the same, I just wanted to tell you something.”
The others shared a quizzical look; it leapt from face to face like one of Fred and George’s enchanted Chocolate frogs.
“I just wanted to say that I missed you, and I love you, and I’m really sorry. I’m so grateful that I had the courage to do this, and to overcome my fear that I couldn’t love anymore, because I do.”
Her words were met with more stares, as Hermione’s father spoke. “Look girl, I’m not entirely sure what you’re on about. I know you’ve done something funny to keep us from leaving this alley, and I don’t like it.”
“Hermione,” Ron replied, “maybe you might want to tell them they’re your parents…”
“Parents?” The distrusting, panicked look on Monica Wilkins’ face changed in a heartbeat. “Oh my… oh, oh my!” She searched her mind for something coherent to say, but could think of nothing.
“My wife has always wanted children, and you lure her into this place to break her heart by bringing them up? The youth of today…”
Ron let out an indignant snort, but Harry simply lifted one arm from Ginny’s shoulders and dragged his friend back against the grimy wall. They could have cut the tension in the air with a knife as Hermione said, “I’m… I’m your daughter.”
Before anyone could process what was happening, Hermione had leapt into her father’s arms, and he was left to pat her on the back, with no idea what was going on.
“You don’t get it, either of you, do you?”
“No, but if this is all a hoax…” Wendell made for the opening into the street, but was repelled by the invisible barrier Ginny had set up after only a few short steps. He waved a fist furiously in front of his reddening face as he added, “I really don’t like this.”
“Here. Let me show you.”
And as she uttered the spell, Hermione leaned over and whispered to Ron, “Your speech helped me to do this, to get my parents back, and they’re… they’re the best Christmas present of all.”