Disclaimer: Many of the characters in this story are the property of J. K. Rowling, as a result I am making no profit in this endeavor. I know, I know, you're heartbroken.
After Stunning Harry, Ron quickly walked to the fire and threw a pinch of floo powder into the flames. "Hermione Weasley!" he called clearly and bent his head down into the fire. "Hermione?"
"Hi, sweetie. Seen Harry yet?" Hermione asked.
"Uh, yeah, he's here," Ron answered, "and he's going to be in a terrible rage when he wakes up. This plan of yours had better work."
"It has to work. He can't keep up with this. It's been seven years since he first disappeared, and he hasn't spoken to either of us in almost two. We have to find a way to get through to him." Hermione seemed to speak with more confidence than appeared in her expressions. It had been three years since she had spoken to Harry even for a moment, and Ron knew all the letters she sent with Hedwig had been returned unopened by an extremely disgruntled owl. In their late night discussions they had talked about how sick Harry had looked and how she feared this was their last chance to get through to him. When she spoke again there was confidence and control in her voice that always made him proud. "I'll be there in a few minutes and we can get him out of your office."
"Are you going to tell Ginny we're doing this?" Ron said, giving Hermione a significant look through the fire.
"Not yet, but we will need her help eventually. Harry needs her, but I think we need to clean him up a bit first, if he looks anything like the last time I saw him."
"He's worse. He looks terrible; it doesn't look like he's eaten in ages. Get here soon please, I don't think he should be here when he wakes up, I rather like this office." Ron smirked in spite of his rather heavy mood.
"Okay, I have to let Dobby know we're coming and I'll be right there." Hermione blew a kiss towards the fire and then Disapparated.
Ron went over to his best friend and sat down, leaning against the front of his desk. "I hope you don't kill us, Harry. We're only trying to help." He sat there quietly searching the face of his friend and waited.
Harry woke slowly, feeling warm, almost cozy even. It felt unnatural; like his body hadn't felt that way in a long time. His foggy brain tried to remember where he was, how he had gotten there and came up empty. He groped around the bed and found a nightstand with his glasses. He looked around, but didn't recognise this place; there were no pictures or personal items of any kind. There was only a bed, nightstand and wardrobe. A torch on the wall provided a small amount of soft light. He found himself dressed in clean, light green pajamas that didn't seem familiar. They were very comfortable but felt strange, as if he hadn't worn anything so clean and pressed in a long time. Reaching around for his wand, he found it was missing. Panic started to set in. Think, Potter, think. What's the last thing you remember? I went back to Privet Drive after Dumbledore's funeral to wait until my 17th birthday. He'd made plans to do some research to find the Horcruxes, and….that's it! I'm searching for the Horcruxes!
Harry threw back the covers from the bed and walked as silently as he could out into the hall. If I've been captured, why would they put me in a comfortable bed and pajamas with no locks on the door? Harry pondered what his missing memory could mean. He walked quietly down the hall past a loo and a couple of shut doors. The hallway was dark, and he walked quietly out into a comfortable living space. It was obviously quite late at night, as he could see stars and moonlight out the windows. He walked over to the door and grabbed the handle, but it wouldn't budge. I have been captured; I have to get away! Harry focused on the first place that came to mind and tried to Apparate to the gates of Hogwarts. He felt a slight tightening of his skin, and then, nothing. He was standing exactly where he had been. Obviously either there was an Anti-Apparition ward in place, or Hogwarts was too far for him to reach. He tried Privet Drive, the Burrow, even Charring Cross, but they were all equally ineffective. Wherever this place was either had wards in place or wasn't in Britain. Harry took a good look out the windows, but it was dark and the landscape was difficult to see in the moonlight.
"Hi, Harry." Harry spun around at the familiar voice.
"Hermione! Oh, bloody hell, they've got you, too!" Harry looked around frantically trying to find a route for them to escape. His survival instincts kicked in as he started looking for objects with which it might be possible to break a charmed window.
"You're fine, Harry. We haven't been captured." She hesitated. "I brought you here. It's good to see you up and around." She closed the ground between them quickly and hugged him extremely tight. He blushed a bit as she continued grasping him to her body, she seemed to have no intention of letting go. She tightened her arms around him even further, and he could feel her sobbing gently.
Harry's sense of danger went on high alert. "Hermione, why are you crying? What's wrong? Where's Ron? How did we get here?" He pulled her back a bit and looked at her. "You look different. What's happened?"
Hermione sighed. "Those are a lot of really tough questions, Harry, and I will tell you what I can, but it's going to take time. Are you hungry? You have been asleep for quite a while."
Harry's forehead furrowed. "Tough questions? Just tell me what's going on!"
"It's a long story, Harry, and I'll explain, but let's get some breakfast first, and I can explain everything properly. I need some tea to perk me up. It's quite early you know." Hermione smiled gently and started walking towards the kitchen. Harry's eyes followed her. Her entire body looked different somehow; the girlish figure she'd had most of the time he had known her was gone. She wasn't fat, just curvy in a way Harry had never seen.
"What time is it?" Harry inquired.
"About three in the morning," she called from the kitchen.
"How long have I been here?" Harry started to follow her, before he realised an issue slightly more pressing than his need for information. "Hermione, I'll be right back. I need to use the loo."
"All right, I'll start on breakfast," she called.
Harry peered in the mirror after answering the call of nature and screamed. A gaunt man with sunken eyes and cheeks was looking back at him. Harry panicked, launched himself from the bathroom, and crashed into a very frightened Hermione.
"Harry, it's okay."
"It's not okay! What happened to me? Why, am I so …." Harry trailed off.
"Old?" Hermione offered.
"Yeah. What the bloody hell happened to me?" Harry looked intently at this new Hermione. He wasn't stupid, she looked older, and he looked like he had aged twenty years. His chest started to constrict. What was going on? What had happened to them?
"Drink this, it'll help." Hermione handed him a mug.
He took it, sniffed it and looked at Hermione. He sensed no deceit there, no malice, but he said firmly, "No."
Hermione sighed. "This will be a lot easier, Harry, if you trust me. You don't have to drink it, but it has some Draught of Peace in it. I'm about to tell you some very unpleasant things, and I think this will help."
Suddenly a small fleshy ball flew around the corner and crashed into Harry's legs, attaching itself to him.
"Harry Potter, sir! It is so good to see you! Dobby thought he might never see you again!" Dobby vibrated excitedly against his leg.
"Hi, Dobby," Harry said. "Why would you think that? I would have come to visit you at Hogwarts eventually." He smiled down at the diminutive elf with bat-like ears.
Dobby sobbed inconsolably against Harry's leg as Hermione explained, "You've been missing for a while. Dobby has missed you. Why don't we sit down, and I will try and explain while Dobby finishes making breakfast."
Harry handed the cup back to Hermione. "First the explanation, then if I need it, I will take this."
Hermione smiled weakly at him. "Okay, but try and keep your temper in check." She paused for a moment." Everything we've done is because we love you."
Harry's pinned Hermione with a glare. "What do you mean? What have you done?"
Hermione sighed and headed back towards the kitchen. "Let's sit down, Harry. You can yell at me from in there as well as you can out here."
After they sat down, Dobby went back to work on the breakfast and Harry stared intently at Hermione. "Spill it now. All of it."
"What's the last thing you remember before waking up here?" Hermione asked.
"It was my 17th birthday, I left the Dursleys', with Mr Weasley, and we went to take my Apparition test," Harry answered.
"Harry," Hermione paused, "that was nine years ago."
Harry gasped, "No! That can't be!"
He sat in stunned silence as Hermione just nodded sadly.
"What the hell happened? Did Voldemort do something to me?" Harry demanded.
Hermione shook her head. "We don't think your current condition is directly related to any one thing that Voldemort did to you, but more a combination of all the things he did to you," she answered quietly.
"Where is he? Where are Ron and Ginny? Oh, God!" Harry started to panic again, pulling at his hair. He jumped up. "How could this have happened? Where have I been?" He looked at Hermione frantically.
"Are you sure you don't want the Draught of Peace? It'll help," Hermione said quietly, offering him the cup again.
He supposed if she meant to harm him, she could have just as easily done it in his sleep. He took the cup, and gulping it down with two long swallows, Harry felt the tension in his body relax as a layer of film suddenly covered his concerns. It wasn't that he was no longer concerned, it just seemed less urgent, now it seemed like things might just work out for the better after all.
"Okay, the last nine years aren't missing from your memory. I just put a memory charm on you, so that you can't remember them for now," Hermione explained.
Harry blinked at her, but when she didn't continue he asked the most obvious question. "Why?"
"Well, that's the most important question, so it's a good place to start. In the months before you fought Voldemort for the last time, your mood started getting darker and darker. We lost some good people; many of our friends died. We were having a hard time finding the last Horcrux, Hufflepuff's cup. We had guessed Nagini was one, and we tracked down Ravenclaw's tiara in a Muggle home in Wales shortly after we started looking. It took us almost another year to finally find the cup, and we were very frustrated. After we destroyed the cup, you got quieter and more withdrawn. We returned to headquarters and started looking for ways to draw Voldemort into the open. We knew sort of where he was, but he was well defended, and it was hard to get in safely with the limited forces we had. We didn't know if Voldemort knew you were onto the Horcruxes or not; we had certainly never met much resistance in our hunt, but I suspect he figured it out, because reports of people actually seeing him during Death Eater attacks became virtually unheard of." Hermione paused to take a swallow from her cup.
"So anyway, one night Remus was called out to help round up some Death Eaters that were attacking two families not far from Hogsmeade. Tonks was pregnant and couldn't go with him, and Remus asked you to stay with her in case anything happened while he was gone. You didn't want to listen, but he insisted. So he, Moody, Bill, Fred and George went out to take care of the Death Eaters. It was a trap. As soon as they got there Fred and Moody got hit, but survived the initial ambush." Hermione sniffed. "Remus held back the Death Eaters while Bill and George got Moody and Fred out, but Remus never made it back." Hermione choked as tears appeared in her eyes. Her voice trembled as she apologised, "Sorry, this all happened a long time ago. I thought I could hold it together better than this."
Tears streamed down Harry's face, he felt as if a gigantic hole had opened in his chest. He imagined he could hear the suction as it sucked the life out of him. His dad's last loyal best friend was gone. Even with Hermione across from him he felt very alone.
"We all took the loss of Remus very hard, but you two were so close, and you blamed yourself for not going to help. It wasn't your fault, Harry," she said, patting him on the hand. "They did go after Tonks and her unborn baby; you saved them. They attacked the house right after Remus showed up at the ambush. You and Tonks fought off six Death Eaters by yourselves."
Harry was crying openly now, the Draught of Peace having little effect on keeping his emotions in check. Hermione looked at Harry with anguish in her eyes. He wondered how much more terrible news she had to tell. Dobby made his way over to the table, levitating a very large tray of porridge, and all kinds of sweet breads. "Breakfast is served, sir and ma'am!"
"Thank you, Dobby," Hermione replied quietly. "Sorry, Harry, you shouldn't eat anything too strong for a bit. It's been a while since you've eaten."
"How long?" Harry reached down and felt his stomach.
"At least two weeks. I don't know how long before that it may have been. Dobby has been feeding you broth while you slept, and we did some nourishment charms on you to keep you healthy," Hermione replied quickly.
"What can Dobby do now?" the diminutive elf squeaked.
"Why don't you try to go back to sleep, Dobby, it's going to be a long day tomorrow." Hermione sniffed quietly. Harry was staring at the table, attempting to master his emotions. He had been quite hungry before, but food seemed useless just now.
Dobby nodded and Disapparated with a crack.
"Do you want me to keep going, or have you heard enough for now?"
Harry sighed, "Keep going. I need to know."
"Well, Moody died a few hours after they came back from the ambush. You were in a fury and went back to the site and found Remus's body. Wormtail was there in rat form. Apparently you killed Wormtail and left him laying there as a dead rat, and came back with Remus's body. You were never the same afterward. We tried to console you and bring you back from your depression, but nothing we said seemed to matter; you just weren't listening. Finally, you pulled away from Ron and me entirely and started just wandering from place to place." At this Hermione put the scone down that she was unsuccessfully trying to munch on during her narrative and embraced Harry. "I know this is hard, we can stop anytime you want and pick it up again later. We've been so worried about you, for so long, Harry. I put the memory charm on you to make you forget all of this, so you can deal with it a bit at a time. We want to help you, take care of you, and help you find happiness again. We need you to be with us, Harry."
"What do you mean? Where have I been?" Harry looked up, once again shocked at her words. It didn't make sense, they were his best friends, what could have happened between them to keep Harry from seeing them?
"Honestly, we don't know," Hermione said, caressing Harry's hair and neck. Although Harry didn't know it, it was the first time anybody had touched him with affection in a while. It felt a little odd but wonderful at the same time. He sat there quietly enjoying Hermione's gentle caresses. "After you defeated Voldemort, you…"
"So I did defeat him then?" Harry interrupted, looking sharply up at Hermione, breaking contact with her.
"Yes, of course you did. We all knew you would. You were the only one who remained unconvinced." She smiled affectionately at him. "Always so modest," she intoned a bit condescendingly as she patted him on the head. "Anyway, after you defeated Voldemort, you disappeared. We didn't know where you had gone. You have popped up sporadically over the years since then but never for more than a few minutes. When any of us have tried to talk to you, you immediately disappear and we don't see you again for a while, sometimes even years. That's why I did it, Harry. Your memories hurt you too much, and you wouldn't let us help you."
"Please, please, let us help you." Hermione cupped Harry's cheek and looked into his eyes with a pleading look.
"Um...uh, who's us?" Harry stuttered.
"Ron and me," Hermione paused, not quite sure what to say, "and eventually the rest of the family."
"Family? Then you and Ron…" Harry trailed off.
Hermione twisted the ring on her finger and gave Harry a huge smile. "I had forgotten I erased those memories too. Yes, Ron and I are married." She beamed at him for a second, and then her face fell. "We really wished you would have been there, but we couldn't find you, and after baby Harry was on the way, well, you can imagine Mum went spare."
"Baby Harry?" A shocked Harry Potter stared unbelieving at Hermione. "You named your son after me?"
Hermione smirked, "No, we named him after some other Harry. Of course we named him after you. We missed you terribly, and we love you, and we wanted a reminder of our Harry. Plus, since we were both pretty much consumed with looking for you at that point, it seemed to make sense. We had Harry on the brain, you might say. You were even the best man at our wedding. Bill stood in for you, of course, but it was printed right there in the program. We've never let go, Harry. We never gave up having you in our lives, and we want you back. You've been gone too long."
Hermione walked over to the counter and picked up a vial. "You know some of this of course; your memories are still there, I've just blocked them. As we work on having you deal with your memories, you will remember more."
"How are we going to do that?"
"That is a question for another day. This will take time, Harry, and we will tell you whatever we can, but you need to take this slowly. Take this potion. It will help you sleep tonight, and we will talk in the morning when Ron gets here." She handed him the vial and hugged him once again, kissing him gently on the top of the head as he sat.
Harry sighed, his mind awash with questions. He didn't feel tired, but he did want to see Ron. "Where is Ron?"
"At home with the kids, of course!" Hermione smiled at the thought of Ron and the kids.
"Why are you on Harry-watch?" Harry tried to keep the anger out of his voice but failed.
Hermione quailed visibly under Harry's tone. "This was my idea, Harry; I came up with this method of memory charm to help you and this method of treatment. I wrote my doctorate on the theory. It's been the basis of all the research I have done for the last four years. I had to find a way to help you, Harry, and I think I can, but only if you let me."
Hermione smiled. "That's Doctor Hermione Granger-Weasley to you."
Harry smiled. "That's brilliant, Hermione; you always were the bright one."
"Well, we'll see. I have based my entire career on the treating of people with post-traumatic stress disorder, and people with memories so painful they have trouble coping. I based my entire career on you, Harry. I need to help you, and if I can, it will all be worth it. Take the potion, Harry, it will let you sleep for a few hours, and we can start the healing in the morning."
Harry nodded, took the vial from Hermione and said goodnight. He downed the vial at once and headed back to the room that was not his, making just one stop on the way to spit the contents of the vial into the loo's sink. He believed what Hermione said, but still had a lot to think about and he didn't want his senses dulled. He headed back to his room, reflecting on the odd twists of his life and trying to remember what he could. He wanted to organise the questions in his mind, and he wanted to see Ron. He needed to talk to him as soon as possible. This all seemed crazy. How could it be true? But he had always been able to read Ron like a book, and all of this would make more sense if he could only talk to his best mate.
Ron woke the next morning to an owl tapping on his bedroom window. He moved quickly to the window and opened it for Harold, the family owl. "Urgent post this morning, eh?" Harold hooted excited back at him, shaking his left leg and the parchment attached to it. "Okay, hold your hippogriffs; I'm getting it." He extracted the message from around the owl's leg and scanned it quickly.
He is awake and he is ready, please come as soon as you can and expect to stay a while. I think he will need some convincing to try this. Our conversation so far this morning hasn't gone poorly, mainly due to his confusion and some Draught of Peace. We need to keep him calm, and since we can't bring Ginny into the equation yet, you're the best person for the job. Tell the kids I love them, and let Ginny know we will both be gone for a few days. Tell her whatever you have to, but DO NOT LET HER FOLLOW YOU!
I love you. Can't wait to see you; being apart is always so hard.
"Thanks, Harold. Sorry, no owl treats in my pajamas, but come see me in the kitchen with the regular post by eight and I'll give you two." Harold hooted a bit indignantly and flew back into the early morning light. Ron checked the clock on the night stand. It was six-thirty; he still had about forty five minutes before the kids would make their appearance. He showered quickly and packed an overnight bag with essentials for a couple of days and headed downstairs. He wrote two quick notes, one to his superior, the Secretary of Interior Affairs, and one to his subordinates letting them know that he would be out of the office for a few days. As he was finishing the second note, Ginny wandered down the stairs. He glanced up as she glided into the room and said, "Morning."
"Good morning, Ron, off to work early today?" Ginny walked over to the stove and poured herself a mug of hot water for tea.
"Actually, I am headed out of town for a few days and need you to watch the kids."
"Oh, really? Anyplace interesting?" Ginny eyed Ron evenly.
"Oh, you know, just meeting with a few colleagues to explain why England hasn't qualified for the Quidditch World Cup in almost sixteen years." Ron had unfortunately been party to that very discussion just a few weeks ago. The public was getting restless. This was supposed to be their game; if they couldn't even qualify for the tournament anymore, what did it say about the British wizarding world? Unfortunately, Ron also knew exactly what was wrong with the British National Quidditch team; they needed Harry Potter, but that was hard to explain to the Minister of Magic since nobody but a handful of people had even seen Harry alive for most of the last decade. It didn't help that the manager of the team seemed to have little interest in actually recruiting the best Britain had to offer. She seemed more interested in cavorting around with Ron's brother, Fred, and making headlines for their pranks and antics at official Ministry functions, than actually fielding a winning team. But you didn't fire the daughter of the Minister of Magic, or even reprimand her, if you wanted to keep your job. So it fell to Ron to find the right mix of players to qualify for the cup next year. Besides, Katie was a friend, and Fred's long time girlfriend; things would be bad enough in his own house if he fired Katie Bell, even without worrying about the Minister of Magic.
"Oh, really? Fred hasn't said anything about Katie having to be out of town for meetings about the team," Ginny said with a hint of accusation in her voice.
"Oh, it's just a high level meeting, you know, government business," Ron lied rather badly, as a flush started to creep up his neck. He willed it not to spread to his face. He could do this! He needed an excuse to get out of the house and this had to work!
"Right," Ginny said, sounding completely unconvinced. She walked off without another word to get the kids moving. It was her day to get the neighborhood kids to school, and as she didn't drive, everyone would be Flooing to their house this morning before they all left for the school.
When she returned to the kitchen and started preparing breakfast for the kids, she looked hard at Ron for several minutes. He was pretending to be preoccupied with the morning paper, and trying not to notice the mood Ginny was slowly slipping into. This could get ugly if he couldn't get her distracted. "Cannons are looking good this year," he said while hiding behind his paper.
"That wouldn't be because you have been illegally funneling money to them to sign better players, now would it?"
"Ginny, I would never!" Ron ripped the paper down to glare at his sister for making such an accusation, but quickly realised it was a trap. She was just trying to get his attention again.
"You're going to see Harry, aren't you?" Ginny said casually, as if this were the sort of thing Ron did frequently and was no surprise to her.
"Er?" Ron stated eloquently.
"I'm not stupid, Ron. I think he came by here the other day, and now he's stopped moving. I can feel him you know; I know when he's getting closer or farther away. I felt him the other morning when I was in the driveway. He was closer than he'd been in years, I think he was in the garden somewhere, but he wouldn't talk to me. Why does he come if he doesn't want to talk to me? Hermione disappeared that same day on a 'research expedition,' and since then you have been acting strangely, and Harry's been in one spot. Now suddenly, you're leaving, and you need me to watch the kids for a few days. Where is he, Ron? What's happened? I need to know." She burst into tears and pushed the eggs she had been cooking off the stove so that they wouldn't burn. She turned her heartbroken eyes on Ron, waiting for an answer.
"It's not like that, exactly. Well, actually, it's exactly like that." Ron paused, and Ginny's jaw dropped. "Look, Ginny, I should have known you wouldn't believe my story; you never do, but yes, Hermione is with Harry. She's trying to help him. You know that, it's all she's worked on practically since we went back and finished our N.E.W.T.s, but she asked me not to tell you yet. It's going to be a while before you can talk to Harry, and she didn't want to make this even more hard for you, because you would be anticipating, er, things."
"Really? He's with Hermione? How is he? Is he okay? Has he talked about me? Where has he been? When can I see him?" Ron held up his hand to stop the flow of questions.
"I don't know much more than you. He came to see me after he visited you that morning. I managed to Stun him before he disappeared again, and Hermione took him someplace quiet and erased his memory. That's all I know. She said the treatment she was using would take time. It's been twelve days, well, I guess thirteen now, since she started, and I got an owl from her this morning saying it was time for Harry to see me. That's really all I know."
"You've seen him? How was he?"
"He looked terrible, more like a ghost of himself really. I…" Ron stopped as his youngest son, James, wandered into the kitchen.
"Morning, Aunt Ginny." He stopped in front of her expectantly and as she bent over he gave her a peck on the cheek as was their morning ritual. "Why are you crying?" he asked innocently.
"Oh, you know me, just having one of those mornings." She smiled bravely at him. Both kids had seen her crying so many times for what she termed as "no reason" not to even question it.
He patted her leg sympathetically. "Well, I hope you feel better soon." He wandered over and sat next to his dad and waited for his breakfast. "Hi, Dad, did the Cannons win last night?" This was his ritual with his dad. He asked the question every morning whether there was a game or not, whether Quidditch was in season or not. The same question every morning.
"Yes, actually they did."
"Wow, again? And they beat the Harpies? Cool! Of course, if you were playing for the Harpies, Aunt Ginny, the Cannons never would have had a chance!" James beamed at his aunt who had long since given up her opportunity to play for the Harpies when they had sent her an offer sheet.
"That's sweet, James." Ginny beamed at him. "But I am sure the players they have now are all better than I ever was."
Ron snorted and quickly tried to hide his amused expression. Ginny had shattered the single season scoring record at Hogwarts her seventh year, scoring 89 goals. Gryffindor had won the Quidditch cup, despite failing to capture a single Snitch the entire year. She was, simply put, the best Chaser Hogwarts had seen in decades, but after school let out she had refused all offers to play professionally and attempted to join the Order of the Phoenix. It was just a few months later that Harry disappeared and the cycle of events that led to his prolonged absence began. Once Harry was gone, her spirit for the things that had made her happy previously disappeared. It wasn't until baby Harry was born, and she came to Ron and Hermione as a nanny that she started to again show any of the spirit that they knew existed inside of her.
"Quiet, you; I would think that as the head of Magical Games and Sports, you would recognise the considerable talent that the Harpies have playing for them," she scolded.
"Um, I do, and you could wipe the floor with them if you wanted to, Sis." He winked at her.
"You know most of what happened my seventh year was the broom!"
With that Ron laughed openly. "Right, it's the broom that makes the Quidditch player, Harry must have been rubbish; it was all in his broom." Harry had leant his Firebolt to Ginny at the start of her seventh season to convince her to play for the Gryffindor team. Not directly. of course. He Glamoured it to look like a Nimbus Elite and then gave it to Ron to pass on to Ginny with the express purpose that she play for Gryffindor. Ginny had wanted to feel closer to Harry and agreed to fly his broom, taking all of her frustration of being away from Harry and pouring it into Quidditch. The obvious result was that she was unstoppable.
Harry Weasley wandered into the room, his red hair flying messily around, and he flounced into his usual chair. He picked up a piece of toast and shoved it into his mouth, mumbling, "Mphhhing."
"Manners!" Ginny cried.
Young Harry seemed unconcerned with his aunt's admonition and continued to noisily chew his toast.
"Well, boys, I have to leave for a few days, so Ginny will be in charge. Don't give her any trouble, or she'll be contacting your mother," Ron said.
Both boys looked at him with surprise. Their parents had never both left at the same time for any extended period; this was new territory. "Where are you going?" James blurted.
"Oh, nowhere exciting. Just off for a work function. Need to get things whipped into shape before the World Cup qualifying starts next spring." He picked up his bags and gave each of his boys a quick hug. He was walking to the door when Ginny called after him. He wasn't surprised; the look on her face since they had been interrupted earlier clearly stated that she felt their conversation wasn't over.
"Ron, I have to see him," Ginny pleaded quietly so the boys wouldn't hear.
"I know, Ginny, I will make sure that happens as soon as I possibly can, but Harry needs to heal a bit before then." He looked at her levelly, willing himself not to break, to stand his ground, so he wouldn't make things worse.
"Why? I want to help; I know I can help him!" Ginny pleaded.
"Ginny, please, Hermione knows what she is doing. Do you even know what you would say to him? Do you know how you really feel now? I know you're still in love with him, but you are also really angry with him. Hermione knows you need to be involved, and she isn't going to deny you that, but let us get Harry ready to deal with those emotions. You don't know what he's been like these last seven years. He's an emotional wreck. You can't even say Charlie's name around him without him disappearing for a year. We need time, Ginny; please just give us time. I will be back in a few days, and I should know something by then."
Ginny nodded and made a quiet squeak as she turned away from Ron. She would not cry anymore in front of the boys. Ron stepped out the door and took a few steps before Disapparating.