I walked into the subterranean kitchen at Grimmauld Place not long after Harry and I had Apparated to the back garden of the house. I wasn’t surprised to find Hermione already there, finishing up icing the cake she’d made for dessert. Our friend had a great skill with the sweets and desired them with an equal passion. She explained sugary treats were forbidden in her home as she grew up. Since she could now indulge, she did with enviable gusto.
“Okay, that looks delicious,” I remarked as I put my finger into the bowl and came back with a large dollop of icing.
“Raspberry cake with dark chocolate icing and a filling of fresh raspberry compote,” she proudly announced. “I also baked a peach pie. Those brothers of yours tend to eat a lot. There’s vanilla ice cream in the freezer as well.”
“Tell me about it,” I agreed as I took another swipe at the icing bowl. “Growing up with all of them, Mum used to make up my plate before we sat down, just so she knew I’d get enough.”
“How many do you think we’ll have tonight?” Hermione crossed the kitchen to wash her hands in the large sink.
“Mum, Dad, Bill, Fleur, Charlie, and the four of us, so that’s nine,” I answered.
“You don’t think George will be here?” I shook my head.
“I received an owl from my dad this morning. George was going to meet with Angelina Johnson somewhere over in Wales to commiserate. I’m not sure it’s all that healthy for Fred’s girlfriend and George to be meeting like that, but at least he’s getting out of the house, right?” I explained. It wasn’t my disliking of Angelina, she was my friend, but I’d seen the way she looked at George, almost like he was an interchangeable replacement for the boyfriend she’d lost. It worried me, although Harry said lots of folks were clinging to people who were close to those they’d lost. I figured it was like that.
“I don’t think she’s looking to swap George for Fred,” Hermione defended her. “She’s just hurting, and so is your brother. Shared pain and all that.”
“You’re probably right,” I acquiesced.
“Where’s Harry? He was going to do the grilling,” Hermione asked, even as she took the large package of steaks out of the ice box. We needed to season the meat and I wanted to get the potatoes sliced and frying in the pan. We’d saved the bacon grease from this morning to use for the potatoes tonight. A large tossed salad would complete the meal.
“He’s upstairs,” I explained. “He was given a trunk full of old photo albums and books which belonged to his mum and dad. He was getting emotional when looking at them at the brewery, so we came home to peruse them here. It’ll just be you and me cooking, he can help Ron clean up.”
“Wonderful. Well, you’ll need to do the salad and the potatoes, since I’ll need watch the steaks so they don’t burn,” she commented as she opened the waxy, brown paper package and began to salt and pepper the meat. Then she suddenly gasped.
“Please tell me you remembered to bring home the beer tonight?” Hermione rapidly asked, going so far as to drop the salt cellar on the table, spilling the grains across the heavy wooden surface. “Oh, poop,” she exclaimed in response to her spilling the salt. I couldn’t help but laugh at her, and her refusal to use swear words.
“We remembered to bring home the beer,” I tried to calm her. “We’ve got three kinds: the MMB, Stag’s Surprise, which is an ale and some of the new Moonlit Memories, which Seph swears I will like, since it’s the complete opposite of the MMB. We’re covered.” I pulled my wand and magically sent the salt back into the container and sealed it closed.
“Thank you,” Hermione sighed. While our friend wasn’t exactly ‘laid-back’ she had been far more stressed as of the last few days. All of our lives were settling down, beginning to feel like it had back at Hogwarts in my fifth year, when we were able to study and have fun. Before Dumbledore died and everything was shot to hell. It was nice to be a teen and think about life ahead of us. When Hermione and I made our wishes regarding the next school year known to the boys, they were surprisingly accepting; Harry more so than Ron, but Ron was just whiney sometimes. I couldn’t imagine what would be bothering her.
“Hermione, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” she answered, but I lifted my eyebrow and tilted my head, letting her know I wasn’t buying it. “Okay, it’s not nothing. My mum and dad want me to consider going to university. I tried explaining to them how I don’t need a uni degree for a magical career, but they just weren’t listening. I think they want me to become a dentist, join their practice. I’ve never wanted that. I want to study law, become a barrister or the equivalent Wizarding term. I told them, I just can’t figure out if they’re proud of me or not, and they weren’t sure I should be doing what we are next year and…”
I went over and hugged her, effectively silencing her. “We’ll help them understand; I’ve got your back.”
Dinner went well, Harry came down just before my parents arrived, looking much happier than he had while we were with Seph today. He was regaling us with what he’d found in his father’s personal spell book.
“Some of the hexes they’d come up with, they were certainly innovative, even if they didn’t seem to serve a purpose. Why exactly would you want to give someone rainbow coloured whiskers?” he asked.
“Can you think of a better reason than simply embarrassing someone?” Charlie remarked.
“Yes, I can see that, but it was apparently Dumbledore whose whiskers they changed. Isn’t that just asking for detention?” Everyone started laughing, but I could picture it, the Headmaster all rainbow-y and groovy looking.
“Hey, it was the seventies, Harry. You know, hippies and things being groovy and all. Those half-moon glasses were certainly ‘cool’,” I said through my giggles, which made the rest of us laugh even harder.
“Don’t let George get his hands on that. He’s liable to come up with fifty new products from that book,” Charlie added as we calmed down.
“Hmm,” Harry replied. “Not such a bad idea, since I’m his partner!” He took another swig of his bottle of MMB and smiled. I gulped down the rest of my Moonlit Memories, enjoying it very much. It was sweet and lacked the astringent flavour of MMB, which is what I’d disliked so.
“You two said these were the Muggle brews,” Bill inquired. “Have you learned about the magical beers yet?” He was drinking the ale, and said it went perfectly with the steaks. Seph had said it was a good choice, and I’m glad I went with the suggestion. One of the things I desperately wanted her to do was teach me about what pairings would be best for certain foods. I only had a few weeks left, or I’d have to wait until I was home.
“We did,” I replied while nodding, “and some of those beers are just crazy!”
“What do you mean?” Ron asked. It was the first time he’d spoken actual words in my presence in a while. He usually just grunted or ate, and then went back to the shop.
“Well, there’s one which they won’t sell in the tap room because it contains an aphrodisiac,” Harry explained. The rest of the family started to laugh.
“Zhat is not somefing we are needing, iz it, love?” Fleur asked as she stoked my eldest brother’s face. While we’d come to an understanding and I appreciated her, I still didn’t need to see her flaunt her relationship with Bill, especially what they did in the bedroom. They obviously must do well in there, since she was pregnant and due next spring. I just didn’t want to hear about my brother in bed. That’s just gross.
Mum made the strangest sort of strangled noise and when I looked across and down the table at her, she was blushing. “No reason to make something like that,” she mumbled.
“Mrs. Weasley, it was made for my parents for their honeymoon,” Harry explained. “It’s called Love’s Lingering Luck and Seph promised that it’s only sold to be consumed at home, and they only sell four bottles of it at a time to any one person. It can’t be abused that way.”
“Perhaps I’ll have Harry bring us some home, Mollywobbles,” Dad suggested and Mum blushed. The conversation just went from disturbing to downright awful. My head was full of images I just didn’t need.
“Well, I suppose,” she answered him, still blushing. “Are the others just as scandalous?”
“Er… I would say no, but I’m not sure what you’d think of them, Mum,” I answered for Harry, who was up getting himself another MMB. I indicated that I’d like another of the MM and Bill and my father motioned to get them another Stag’s Surprise. Mum, Hermione and Fleur had all switched over to iced tea a while ago.
“Purple Pleasure is the MMB with a potion added so it bubbles and changes colour as it warms up. When it reaches the colour purple, it’s the perfect temp to drink. Wide-Eyed Night is a dark mild beer with spells cast upon it so you can see at night. The one I’m looking forward to drinking the most is the Memories Mélenge which is a barley wine with a Memory Enhancing Potion added,” I explained while Harry returned with my beer. He’d already charmed the cap off and the mist was rising out of the open orifice.
“There’re only four beers?” Charlie asked.
“Nope, two more, but Gin knows they’re special to me. My dad and Sirius came up with them. Hair of the Dog is based on the English porter, and it’s charmed so when you drink it you can see and hear better — like a dog.” Everyone laughed in amusement, Charlie even muttering something like ‘that sounds like Sirius’.
“Yes, but the best part,” I interjected, “is if you drink too much of it, you sprout fur!”
“Well, that’s certainly an ingenious way to keep folks from over indulging,” Dad added.
“The last one is pretty cool too,” Harry began. “It’s based on the ale we’re drinking, but they’ve added a Pepper-Up Potion to it, so you feel better while you’re imbibing.”
“That’s the one I’m going to need come September,” Ron added grumpily, and Hermione glared while the rest of the family stared at him.
“Ron, dear, what’s happening in September?” Mum asked. I looked at Hermione and shrugged.
“Now’s as good a time as any,” I whispered and she nodded. “Hermione and I made a decision regarding school,” I explained. Mum looked happy, Dad looked worried. Ron looked away and Harry smiled proudly. “We’ve decided we’re going to do our seventh year together,” I stopped to take a deep breath. “We’re not going back to Hogwarts, we’re going to Beauxbatons.”
“You muzt get togezer withz Gabrielle,” Fleur announced. “Zhe will be zo exzited to have you zhere.”
“Why aren’t you going back to Hogwarts?” Mum asked, a little upset. “Every Prewett and Weasley has a Hogwarts education.” Dad covered her hand with his, in an attempt to calm her. Everyone looked somewhat surprised, all except Bill. He knew how hard it was for me to return my second year, after the events in the Chamber. I’d told him what had happened last year with Snape as the Headmaster. He was the only one of my brothers I could tell everything to. Not to mention, he was there at the battle. I could see in his face he understood why we’d chosen as we had.
“Mrs. Weasley, I can speak for both Ginny and me,” Hermione started. “We watched too many horrible things happen in the castle. People we knew and cared about were ki…” she trailed off as Mum started to cry. “When we went back for the building rededication, I couldn’t walk into the Great Hall and not see Professor Lupin and Tonks lying there. Ginny has it even worse,” she continued to explain. “What happened to the students last year, having to curse one another and the other awful things… neither of us could do it. Luna is coming with us, as is Neville. Madame Maxime was wonderful in welcoming us.”
“But it’s so far away. I was having a hard enough time with you here in London,” Mum explained. “France is even farther.” I stood up and walked to my mother’s side and knelt down.
“Mum, I can leave on weekends. I’m of age, remember. I’ll be travelling back to see Harry and how things are going at the brewery. I promise, we’ll all come visit so much you’ll be sick of us. Please, understand why I need to do this,” I begged. Mum nodded at me.
“At least you’ll all be together,” she whispered, even as Dad put a firm arm around her.
“Sounds like we’ll be taking several trips to France,” Dad announced. “Fleur, do you think your parents would mind having their in-laws visit?” Fleur smiled at him.
“Not at all,” she answered. “Zhey would love to have company.”
I looked at Harry and smiled. It truly did feel like we’d turned a page and were moving forward with our lives.