Chapter 1:  Beginning Again

For Harry, Ron, and Hermione, all that had happened during the last year seemed like a blurred frightful nightmare. From fleeing the Burrow, being on the run hunting Horcruxes, and fighting in the battle of Hogwarts, it all had exacted a great toll on each of them. They were physically and emotionally exhausted. With healing charm help from Madam Pomfrey, and after some much needed sleep, they departed Hogwarts and apparated to the Burrow.

The days that followed were particularly sad and depressing owning to the funerals for Fred and the other fallen Order members. Slowly, they began adjusting to a life that no longer included the constant threat of danger. There were still nights of restless sleep and the occasional bristled feelings over seemingly little things during the day. The sorrow and grief they were feeling resulted in little desire for romantic closeness. Though unspoken between Ron and Hermione, and between Harry and Ginny, it was clear that each couple would be just good friends for a while.

Ron and Ginny resumed life at the Burrow in stride despite the very vocal discussions that occurred most days between the Weasley family members. They were adjusting to a family that no longer included Fred. Relatives and friends frequently stopped by in an effort to help the family mend. Harry and Hermione, having not lived for long periods with the Weasleys, and certainly not under these conditions, were having a tougher time. They too were trying to deal with feelings of loss and remorse. But there was little opportunity for real personal reflection. Weasley kin, friends, and even friends of friends wanted to hear the account first hand. With all the commotion, and the combined dominance of Molly and Auntie Muriel, the Burrow was somewhat overwhelming for Harry and Hermione. Ron sensed this in his best friends and did what he could to mediate. But those who visited the Burrow wanted to be around the ones who had put an end to the Dark Lord and ushered in a new beginning for the magical world.

One morning, Harry awoke early from a bad dream. A dim morning light shone in through the window of Ron's room. He sat up on the cot and rubbed his face. Then after running his fingers through his hair, he quietly dressed and made his way down the stairs. As he approached the kitchen, he saw Hermione through the entranceway pouring tea into a travel mug.

She brushed some disheveled hair from her face and looked at him. "Good morning Harry. Sleep well?"

He stepped into the kitchen. "Good morning. No, still having nightmares."

"The same with me, I woke up Ginny last night. I was about to go outside for a walk to clear my mind. Would you like to go with me?"

"Yeah, that's a good idea."

She poured a second mug of tea and after fastening the lid, handed it to him. Then they quietly went outside, crossed the backyard, and began following a narrow path that led up a small hill toward the woods behind the Burrow. They walked in silence for a short while listening to the birds singing in the trees. Reaching the crest of the hill, they stopped to take in the view.

"It's so peaceful and quiet here," said Harry. "Like some of the remote places where we traveled."

"Yes, I liked seeing the Forest of Dean again." She took a sip of tea and then looked at him with her brow furrowed in anxiety. "I've been thinking about travel to Australia. I need to go find Mum and Dad, restore their memory of me, and apologize for what I did. They'll likely be angry and probably won't ever trust me again."

"Once it's explained, I think they'll understand. You had to make a very hard choice to keep them safe. They were in very grave danger, just like my aunt, uncle, and Dudley. I'll go with you and help explain it to them."

"That's a nice offer but you don't have to trouble yourself. It was my decision and I'm the one who has to bear the consequences of their displeasure."

"You had to do it because of our friendship. Indirectly, I'm partly responsible too. A trip to Australia is nothing compared to the risks and sacrifices you've made on my behalf over the years. I want to stand by you too. Please, let me help."

Seeing the firm resolve on his face she acquiesced. "Okay, but I don't want to trouble anyone else, especially the Weasleys. They already have quite enough difficulty to bear due to Fred's death."

With help from the Department of Magical Transportation, they arranged travel to Australia and devised a strategy for locating her parents. Initially, the plan did not set too well with Ron and Ginny. In particular, Ron thought that he should go with them. Eventually, after some heartfelt conversations, the two couples agreed to some time apart.

Travel to Australia via the magical travel network had been quick and easy for Harry and Hermione. After a few days of searching through the Sydney public records, they found the address where her parents now lived. They apparated to a small house located in a quiet suburb. The harder part was convincing Wendell and Monica Wilkins to allow these two strangers into their home. Wendell and Monica felt certain that Hermione was mistaken in spite of her earnest claim of being a family member. Hermione was persistent and told them things only a family member would know.

"You are both dentists and enjoy camping and the theater. Monica, your favorite color is periwinkle. Wendell, your favorite author is Arthur Conan Doyle. You both like spearmint toothpaste." With a pleading expression she said, "Please, may we come inside and explain?"

The expressions of Wendell and Monica softened at the mention of spearmint toothpaste. "Very well," said Wendell. "This seems very important to you. Please come in."

With great restraint, Hermione suppressed her shock of joy and great desire to reach out and hug them. As they stepped into the living room, she readied herself to act quickly. Once they were no longer in public view, and her parents stood before her, she quickly brought out her wand and pointed it at them.

She traced an oval in front of their faces. "Somnium somniare" (Dream sleep). The expressions of Wendell and Monica went blank and then their eyes slowly closed. She touched the tip of her wand to each of their foreheads. "Filiam tuam memento mei" (Remember me, your daughter). Then pointing her wand directly at them, she slowly twisted her wrist. "Excitaret" (Awake).

She glanced at Harry and then anxiously watched her parents while the charms did their work. After a very long moment, the enchantment lifted, and the eyes of her mother and father opened. They rocked slightly and gazed around the room with bewildered expressions.

Looking at Hermione, her mother said, "Hermione?"

Her father said, "Hermione, what has happened?"

Hermione rushed forward and hugged each of them sobbing uncontrollably. "I'm so sorry. Please, please forgive me."

Holding Hermione in a comforting embrace, her mother rubbed Hermione's back. "There there my dear one. What has made you so upset? It's okay, everything will be all right. Sit down and tell us what has happened."

It took a long while for Hermione to calm down. She said, "Dad, please sit next to me too." After a moment, with her mother and father seated on each side, and holding their hands, she glanced at each of them through teary eyes. "Mum, Dad, I have a lot to tell you."

Over the next several hours, Hermione and Harry explained all that had happened during the past year. Harry let Hermione do most of the talking. Her parents sat with half open mouths and frightful expressions through some of what they said. Dan and Emma felt troubled when Hermione told them how she had taken away their memories of her. But they understood why and let her know that they still loved her very much. Her mother said they were both more proud of her than words could say. This caused another round of tears from Hermione.

Harry felt grateful to be present for the Granger family reunion. Observing from a more objective position, and hearing the comments of her parents, Harry noticed something interesting. From the perspective of Dan and Emma Granger, it was as if they had just woken from a nap. They had little sense of lost time or separation from Hermione. Once he told Hermione this, she felt a great sense of relief and was more self-forgiving of what she had done.

Harry and Hermione spent the next few weeks helping the Grangers plan a return trip to England and their former lives. The four of them also went sightseeing and enjoyed each other's company. The genuine care that Harry and Hermione showed each other did not escape the notice of Dan and Emma. When they chanced to mention it, both Harry and Hermione said their friendship was very much like that of a brother and sister. They, and Ron, had watched out for each other since first year and saved each other's life more than once.

One day toward the end of their stay in Australia, the four of them went to the beach for the day. In the afternoon, Harry and Hermione decided to go for a walk. They leisurely strolled along the water's edge, the wavelets gently washing up over their feet. Now, away from the crowds, and the many beach balls flying about, it was easier to have a conversation.

"Hermione, we'll be going back in a few days. Have you thought about where you will live?"

"I want to be close to my parents. Going to school at Hogwarts, we missed a lot of time as a family. Maybe I'll move in with them. I'm not too sure how well that might work given all my self-sufficiency this last year. But I want to be close enough to be a part of their lives. What about you Harry?"

"More recently, I've started to feel like I'm imposing on the Weasleys. I know they will deny that. But sometimes conversations end rather abruptly when I enter the room. Despite the hardships of living in that tent last year, I feel like I want that kind of independence. Even though the tent was small, I felt comfortable."

"I love the Weasleys very much," said Hermione. "But I feel like I have to live up to their expectations. I've enjoyed just being myself these last few weeks."

"It's been a relaxing and enjoyable time for me too. I'm glad I came along to help. I'd have missed you."

"I'd have missed you too Harry. And especially how we sometimes know what each other is thinking or feeling."

Harry smiled. "Yeah, we know when to leave each other alone too."

"So true," smiled Hermione. "But that doesn't happen much anymore."

After a short pause he said, "Hermione, I've been wondering ... what do you think about finding a place together?"

She stopped walking and looked at him. "Do you mean you and me? As in, we'd be living together?"

"Yeah, in separate rooms of course. We've been living together ... as friends, at the Burrow or in a tent for a long time. We get along well, support each other, and give each other a trusted opinion when needed. I'd ... I'd miss that and ... you not being there each day."

"I've thought about how different the days would be too. I like being around you, it just feels natural and comfortable. I know we say it a lot to people but ... you really do feel like family to me."

Harry said, "So ... do you want to give it a try for a while?"

After a short pause, "Yes Harry, I do." Then her eyebrows narrowed. "What about Ron and Ginny? Would you invite them to live with us too?"

"No, I don't think so. Their always welcome to visit anytime of course. You're best friends with Ginny and I'm best mates with Ron. But I'd like a bit of space to sort out my relationship with Ginny. What do you think?"

"I've been sorting out my relationship with Ron too. It is after all why we took some time apart. But they aren't going to take this decision very well, particularly Mrs. Weasley."

Harry nodded. "Yeah, maybe your mum and dad can suggest ways to handle that." Hermione smiled.

Feeling better about their futures, they turned and started walking back.

Upon their return to England, and with some help from a magical realtor, Harry and Hermione found a modest two bedroom flat a few blocks distance from where Dan and Emma would be living. Hermione was adamant about helping with the rent for the flat. The discussion almost escalated into an argument. She didn't feel right about Harry having to pay for everything and she didn't like being on the receiving end of charity. Harry told her that he had enough money to cover expenses for years and that it wasn't a problem. He felt very uncomfortable taking money from her parents since she didn't have a job.

A satisfactory agreement was finally reached. Once Hermione had a good job, Harry would let her help with the finances, but not until then. Hermione reluctantly agreed but only on the condition that she would keep a ledger and pay him back for her part of the expenses one day. After shaking hands on it, they each took separate rooms and settled in.

The weeks that followed turned out to be harder than either of them had expected. They spent a large amount of time setting up the flat. They got furniture, connected the fireplace to the floo network, and got a muggle telephone so they could talk with Hermione's parents. Dan and Emma also needed their help settling back into a normal life in England. In spite of all these activities, there was time to reflect on the events of the past year. The enormity of it continued to haunt. Images of the battle and of the people they had seen injured or killed, occasionally troubled their dreams. There were feelings of despair and blame for not acting quickly enough. It was at these times that having each other near to talk greatly helped the healing of their spirits.

One particular evening proved to be a turning point. Ron stopped by the flat to hang out for a while and update them on the Weasley family activities. They were talking about Hogwarts and Ron mentioned the rebuilding effort that was underway.

"I've been to Hogwarts a few times to see how the rebuilding is getting on. There are a lot of volunteers helping. Many of them are from the D.A. or those who stayed to fight that night. But most are just ordinary witches and wizards wanting to help in some way. No schedules, they just show up whenever they want. Most help once or twice a week for part of the day."

With an apprehensive look on his face, Ron looked at Harry. "Have you ever thought about ... maybe doing something like that?"

"No, I don't want all the attention and publicity. You know that Ron. I've never wanted to be a celebrity."

"Yeah, I know. But it's not really like that with the people who are there." He chuckled. "McGonagall set some really good wards to keep the press away.

But yeah, folks want to hear our story. I've spoken to some, just told them general things, nothing specific. They respect and understand when I say I can't give more details. Mostly, they just want to tell me their stories. And not just to me, but to each other too. On the days that I've gone, I've hardly worked at all. I mostly just walk around and listen to people."

With a more somber expression he said, "People have told me pretty much the same story. Mostly about when they or their families were in trouble or threatened. About how they kept faith that you'd do what needed to be done to bring it to an end.

Now, I think people want the same thing we do, mend our world and trust again. It's like what professor Binns said in class once, about during the dark ages when people suspected of magic were persecuted by muggles. Magical people would meet in hiding to console and give each other encouragement. Good magical people are trusting and supportive with each other."

Hermione stared at Ron with her mouth partly open. Then she said, "Ron, you rarely seemed to be paying attention in that class. I don't remember professor Binns saying anything like that."

"Well, I've never been good with dates and numbers. I think he said that second year; you had just been petrified. Reckon I was worried about you and what was happening."

In a meek voice she said, "Oh Ron, after all these years, your understanding and perceptions of the magical world still amazes me. You're the one who's kept us centered in the magical world. Please forgive your two muggle raised friends for their recent short sightedness."

"Thanks Hermione. People understand that we have a lot to sort out and mend too. Things like your parents. No one outside of my immediate family, knows what you did. But in the magical world, that kind of self-sacrifice is very moving and meaningful. It shows that in your heart, you really care for them."

Hermione got up, went over to Ron and gave him a hug. "Thank you Ron."

Harry said, "Yeah, thanks. I need to rethink some of my priorities. But I just don't know what I'd say to people."

Ron smiled. "Not much saying is needed. Just accept it when they say thank you and listen to their stories."

At other times, more often than not, Ron was the one who cheered them up and made them all laugh. For their parts, both Harry and Hermione reached out to Ron. They knew it was toughest for him being away from them. Ron was respecting Hermione's desire to be just good friends. But he sensed they were drifting apart romantically. In its place, he realized the special bond of friendship and love that the three of them shared. They were honest with each other and deeply trusted one another. Each had performed a crucial part in keeping the trio together through thick and a lot of thin. Through all their adversity, they had learned to forgive each other's faults and failings, take strength from each other's ability, and help each other to grow. Though unspoken, they each knew their success against the dark lord was due to their unity.

Hermione told Harry and Ron that it was important for them to finish their educations. She felt uneasy about being a year behind and was anxious to resume her NEWT studies. Harry and Ron were much less enthusiastic about completing their studies but knew it was important for their future careers.

The three of them however, had little desire to return to Hogwarts as regular students. The year away hunting Horcruxes had matured them in many ways. As Hermione put it, daily life at Hogwarts would seem, well, a bit juvenile. They would miss seeing friends on a daily basis but still wanted to have regular associations with them. Hermione reminded Harry and Ron about the extra lessons she had arranged in third year. She felt confident that something could be worked out for them. They wrote a letter and sent it by owl to headmistress McGonagall at Hogwarts.

A prompt response from McGonagall requested that the three of them come to her office and talk about continuing their studies. A few days later, they traveled to Hogwarts and made their way to her office. As they reached the top of the circular staircase, the door swung open, and they entered.

McGonagall stood and moved from behind the claw-footed desk. "It's good to see each of you again. I trust things are going well."

"Yes professor," said Harry. "Hogwarts is really starting to look proper again."

McGonagall beamed. "I'm very pleased. With so many helping, the school will be ready for start of term on September first."

"That's wonderful news professor," said Hermione. "We're looking forward to completing our studies."

"Well, that's what we're here to discuss. Please be seated."

Three chairs magically appeared in front of the claw-footed desk.

Once they were all seated McGonagall said, "Due to the unfavorable and extenuating circumstances during the past term, the professors and I are in agreement to make evening classes available to students who were unable to complete their seventh year studies. For a select group of these students, which includes you three, whose service to the school has been exemplary, an open campus arrangement will be available. These students will not be required to live in the school dormitories. They could choose to come and go freely as their class schedule dictates. Special travel arrangements will be set up as needed."

Harry, Ron, and Hermione smiled broadly. "That's great professor," said Harry. "Thank you."

"Just remember, assignments must be completed and turned in on time to receive credit."

"Professor," said Hermione, "Are the book lists for our classes available?"

McGonagall smiled broadly at Hermione. "Yes, I have them here for each of you. They are based on your currently declared career plans. Confidentially, you three should know that the Ministry will offer each of you additional career opportunities. I can't say any more about it at this time. Kingsley will meet with you when the arrangements are completed. The books on your list that are marked with a star are common to these opportunities. I suggest you obtain them first."

"Thank you," said Ron. "This is very generous of you and the professors."

"I extend my sincerest thanks to each of you. You have given so much to the school since your arrival seven years ago. Hogwarts will be forever grateful."

"Hear hear!" said the portrait of Albus Dumbledore smiling at them. Harry, Ron, and Hermione beamed happily at each other.

"If there are no further questions, I suggest you have a look at the castle for a while."

Ron said, "Thanks professor. I'll show 'em around."

They said their goodbyes to McGonagall and went down the spiral staircase. Hermione wanted to see the library. When they arrived, she saw that it was in complete disorder with books on the floor everywhere. Saying she'd catch up with them later, Hermione joined the group that was working there.

At the entrance to the Great Hall, Ron met up with some of the people he'd met on a previous visit. He left with them to help Neville in the greenhouses.

After a brief look at the partially restored Great Hall, Harry walked out onto the grounds and headed toward the quidditch pitch. There, he joined some other Hogwarts quidditch players, led by Ginny, who were working on the pitch restoration.

It was nightfall before any of them returned home.

Bond of the Spirits is an original fanfiction story based on the seven book series 'Harry Potter' written by J. K. Rowling. Harry Potter, the characters, names and related characters are trademarks of Warner Bros., Inc. Harry Potter publishing rights © J.K.R. This is an unofficial, not for profit site and is in no way connected with J.K. Rowling, Scholastic Books, Bloomsbury Publishing or Warner Bros., Inc. This site is not endorsed by any of these aforementioned parties. Rights to characters and their images is neither claimed nor implied. This fanfiction story is owned by the author and subject to copyright law under transformative use.

Copyright © 2012-2019 Don Buczynski
San Diego, California
Published: 6/24/12
Last Updated: 8/31/19