Continuing Tales


A Harry Potter Story
by MsBinns

Part 21 of 45

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Percy's directions said they would arrive in the twelfth arrondisement in the car park of an abandoned leisureplex. From there they were to travel two blocks down to a closed lavoratory in the Bercy metro station. Ron had no idea what a leisureplex was or an arrondisement, but he was quite sure they weren't in the right place. Their backs were to a stone building with a red door and tall windows full of antique lamps at the end of a narrow cobblestone alley. The other buildings that lined the alley all had colorful painted shutters and flowers in the windows, which curved around in a bend and he could see tall buildings and a church steeple ahead. It was picturesque, but it looked nothing like a vacant car park.

"This isn't where we're supposed to be." He spun around in a circle, clutching Hermione's hand tightly. Pressing his free hand against the door, he turned the handle. The door was locked. The only way to go was down the alley and around the bend. "Hermione, this looks like a trap."

"It's just a mistake." Ron could hear the uncertainty in her voice. "It's simply a mistake," she repeated.

"Someone's coming." He heard the distinct sound of footsteps down the alley accompanied by several voices. The footsteps grew louder and the voices sounded like they were coming from right around the bend. Ron instinctively drew his wand, but before he could even aim it, Hermione had wrapped both arms around his body in a tight embrace. He was confused for a moment until he felt the familiar uncomfortable squeezing sensation that told him Hermione was Apparating them away. The next thing he knew they stood clutching each other in an empty square. Rain was pouring down and it quickly plastered his over-long hair to his face as he looked wildly around the square.

He could see storefronts with French signs and cafes that had shuttered their doors and closed in their patios to protect them from the rain. Timber-lined homes surrounded the misshapen square and there was a fountain in the middle of it. There was a sculpture of a nude man treading on grapes and water poured from the mouths of lions, which felt redundant considering the driving rain. He was soaked through every layer of clothes, even down to his socks and pants, almost immediately.

"Where are we?" he asked frantically, rainwater dripping down his face and into his mouth. The vacant square gave him an eerie feeling, especially the empty carousel beside the fountain.

"We're in Dijon," Hermione informed, pushing the wet hair out of her face. "It's the only place in France I could picture in my mind and think to go."

"Well…nicely done." Ron looked again around the vacant square. Each raindrop felt like tiny pebbles hitting him in the face. Large puddles had formed in the center of the square, reflecting the colorful rooftops of the building behind them, but there wasn't a soul to be seen.

"Did you see who was coming?" she asked while the rain poured down in sheets around them. Ron just shook his head, his eyes continuing to scan the square for any unwelcome visitors. "Me neither," she admitted.

"That cowardly little sod set us up!" he growled.

"Who? Darling?" Hermione chewed on her lip uncertainly. "There are a lot of people who can mess with Portkeys." She looked out onto the rainy Dijon square, hardly seeming to mind the pelting rain.

"Well, let's go back to London so I can ask him myself," Ron growled menacingly and pushed the wet hair out from his face.

"W- we can't, I…" Hermione replied weakly, suddenly seeming to realize a mistake. "I Apparated us away."

"Well, Apparate us back then!"

"I don't know where we were!" she wailed over the rain.

"But you Apparated us lots of places this year!" Ron replied, his voice growing louder in frustration.

"I knew where we were going then. I - I don't know where we just were. At all! Destination, determination, and deliberation, remember?" Ron saw her lip start to quiver and he thought for a moment she was about to start crying until he realized her whole body was only shaking from the cold stinging rain pelting her face.

"You did the right thing," he assured, quickly throwing an arm around her soaked shoulder like it could somehow keep away the rain that was coming down in sheets. "Come on. Let's go inside, get somewhere safe and dry." Hermione nodded her head and leaned into him as he marched them out of the square without having any idea where he was going.

"Go right." She steered him down a narrow cobblestone alley like the one they'd just Apparated from. She clung to him, twisting the fabric of his wet jersey between her fingers, making it difficult to walk quickly as they stumbled along in the rain. He couldn't tell if she was scared or perhaps just cold from the rain. Every time he looked at her he couldn't make out whether they were tears or rivulets of rain running down her face. He tried to sort out the series of events that had just happened while she continued to direct him down the pavement to the main boulevard.

They'd gone to the Ministry to take a Portkey to Paris. The Portkey had not taken them to Paris. They didn't know where the Portkey had taken them. They were at a dead-end. There were voices. Then Hermione had taken them away with no way to return. Now they were here, in Dijon, and it was raining and she was shivering and he wasn't entirely sure why.

"What about there?" Ron shouted over the pounding rain and motioned to a store with a blue awning with words he couldn't understand aside from the word "snack." "There's a place to sit, yeah?" He looked through the glass door for a table and chairs.

"Let's just go a bit further!" She shouted over the rain as well and pushed him further up the road. At this point, they were so wet it hardly mattered anymore. They passed a bank and a store with a great green neon cross, a bookstore whose doors were all shuttered up and a shop that looked to sell nothing but mustard. He hadn't put his wand away and he still had it clinched in his fingers, but for the first time he no longer cared what any passing Muggles thought of him. He paid no mind to the shop windows. He was focused only on the people on the street, those in front of them, those behind him and those on the other side of the boulevard. Somebody was after them. He was convinced of it. Portkeys didn't just happen to mess up and stick you in a dead-end. That wasn't normal. And that Darling guy had been shifty and strange.

"Just there." Hermione squeezed his arm and nodded toward a brasserie on the corner of yet another large empty square. This square had an impressive stone arch spanning it, which Ron – though hardly a world traveler - was quite confident belonged in Paris. His mouth gaped open, temporarily distracted by the marvelous sight, and he held out his wand hand to point at the magnificent structure. "It's not the same one," Hermione dismissed knowingly and she pushed him into the restaurant.

The chilly restaurant offered little relief from the pelting rain outside and Hermione shivered as she stepped inside and looked around the room uncertainly. There was a large glass-globed chandelier that hung down from the ceiling in the center of the room and brass railings that divided the space into sections.

Ron surveyed the clientele for anything suspicious. There was a decent sized crowd sitting down for an early lunch, including several school girls with plaited hair who looked to Ron and his wet ginger hair and giggled. There was also a table full of businessmen dressed in suits who looked unimpressed by Ron and Hermione's scraggly appearance and the large wet puddle forming on the floor beneath them. A motorcycle rider sat nearest to them, his helmet still on the table as he eyed Hermione and the wet clothes that were snug to her body. Ron looked warily to the mustached man and wrapped an arm around her waist possessively.

There had been an almost comfortable familiarity to the entire sequence of events. From the way Hermione had Apparated them both here without even a word to the manner they'd matter-of-factly gotten off the street and taken refuge in a Muggle restaurant, it had all been oddly familiar. Though annoyed by the situation, he also felt a strange sense of calm. For the first time all week, he felt like he had a purpose. This was the kind of thing they'd done before.

"You reckon this is safe?" Ron looked to the section where large glass windows looked onto the square. If somebody was after them they would be easily found if they sat near the window.

"I think so," Hermione sighed.

"I think we're being followed," Ron mumbled from behind pursed lips as a man he'd seen a few blocks back out on the street suddenly entered the brasserie.

"You don't know that," she dismissed immediately and flagged down one of the white-aproned waiters. She mumbled something to him Ron couldn't understand and his mouth dropped open in surprise, suddenly forgetting about the man who had just entered.

"You speak French?" He gaped at her as she and the waiter continued to converse hurriedly with one another. For some reason, the revelation that she spoke another language seemed like one he thought he ought to already know.

"A bit," she dismissed, pushing the wet hair out of her face and following the waiter, who led them through to a back corner table.

He wasn't sure whether Hermione had asked the waiter to seat them where he did, but he approved of the spot. They could both sit with their backs to the wall and watch the movements of nearly everyone in the room. The only thing he didn't like was that aside from the window there was only one discernible exit. Hermione looked to be surveying the room the same way he was while she spoke to the waiter in French, and they were handed two menus Ron opened up a menu in an attempt to be more discrete as he carefully eyed each diner in their section of the restaurant.

"That bloke in the blue polo-neck's been walking behind us since the mustard shop," Ron whispered and motioned to a table across from them where the skinny man had just been seated. "That's like four blocks, Hermione, and he came into the restaurant and he's in our section."

"It is possible he was walking behind us because he was going to the restaurant," Hermione reasoned. Nevertheless, Ron saw her glance over her shoulder. The skinny man greeted a woman with long jet black hair who joined him at the table with a kiss and a wide smile. "He looks as if he's having lunch with his wife. I'd hardly say he's a threat."

"She could be another Death Eater."

"They've got wedding rings on," Hermione noted.

"Could be married Death Eaters," he insisted. "Come on, he keeps looking at us."

"Because you're looking at him!" she whispered back.

"He hasn't taken his jacket off or moved his left arm hardly at all since he sat down. He could have a wand," he finally stated firmly. Hermione peered over her shoulder to look at the man again. This time she had no retort. His astute observations and logical deductions had silenced her. She actually looked rather impressed. "Here, come sit next to me so your back's not to him," Ron insisted protectively.

"He's having dinner with his wife," Hermione whispered positively, but she scooted her chair around so she was sitting closer to Ron anyway.

"Somebody's after us," he finally spoke plainly. "Somebody fixed that Portkey and now he or she is after us."

"We don't know that."

"That was a set up in that alley. You know it was."

"Do you think we ought to go onto the next one?" She chose not to answer him.

"Onto the next what?" Ron frowned.


"No!" he laughed at the mere idea of continuing on.

"Because I can get us to Bercy from here." Again Hermione seemed to ignore him.

"I think we need to go back to London and let Kingsley know what happened."

"No, I don't want to go back," Hermione muttered and she blew out a loud breath after she spoke. Ron kept his eye on the man in the blue polo-neck and the black haired woman who had joined him. "We just need to get to the next Portkey."

"I don't think we should." Ron wasn't sure why she was so adamant on continuing on. "If someone's after us - "

"We don't know someone's after us - "

" – we don't know that they're not."

"If we just get to the next Portkey - "

"The next Portkey could be a trap too."

"If we keep moving - "

"I think we need to go back to London," he insisted again.

"No, we need to keep moving forward," she spoke emphatically. "I don't want to go back," she repeated firmly and her eyes locked on his. There was a steely resolve to them, that same steely resolve that he loved about her as much as it drove him mad. She wasn't making any kind of sense. The Portkeys were all off now. The one in Paris was scheduled to leave in ten minutes. From there, the rest of the entire Portkey chain was thrown off. Moving forward, whatever that meant, didn't make sense. They were stuck. The only logical solution was to return to London, inform the Ministry what had happened, throw Archibald Darling in Azkaban, and start over again.

Ron looked over the table to Hermione. Her lip was trembling again and she was staring down at the table top. Once more he couldn't tell whether the trembling of her lip was due to the chill or her own emotions threatening to bubble to the surface. He reached across the table and moved his hand on top of hers. Her skin was still as cold and clammy as it had been outside.

"You should eat something and warm up." He looked down to the menu that he didn't understand. "Aha!" He found a word he recognized and he pointed to it and smiled. "Soupe!" She gave him a small smile at the attempt for levity. "We'll figure something out," he repeated and squeezed her hand.

She tried to smile back, but his vague assurance clearly didn't convince her. He tried to come up with some plan of action for them, every so often looking across the way at the man in the polo-neck. There really wasn't anything they could do except return to London. They had no way of getting in touch with the magical community here. They had no way to travel. They had little money of any kind. Logic said return home. He glanced to Hermione. She was gazing out the large glass windows, at the rain still pouring down off the roof in sheets.

"Say it is raining," he said suddenly.


"In French, say it is raining."

"Il pleut." She looked confused as she said the words.

"Say I would like some chocolate," Ron requested.

"Je voudrais du chocolat."

"Say 'you are very pretty'," he requested teasingly.

"Tu es trés jolie," Hermione replied quietly and pushed a wet strand of hair behind her head at the back-handed compliment.

"Say 'you are beautiful'," he pressed with a smile, pleased that the playful banter seemed to take her mind off their situation for at least a few minutes.

"Tu es belle."

"Tu es belle," Ron practiced. "Tu es belle."

The compliment and playful nature of his words seemed to soothe her slightly, but she quickly returned to her agitated state, her fingers drumming on the table beneath his. They said little while waiting for their French Onion soup and even less after it arrived. In fact, the soup seemed to pull Hermione away from him. Ron noted an increasingly far off look on her face the more time that passed. He recognized that look. He'd seen it on the train from Hogwarts, after Ginny had inquired about her parents.

"I ate here with mum and dad," she finally said, pushing her spoon around the tureen sadly. She looked around the restaurant and her eyes fixed on a booth in the opposite corner. "I remember dad ordered the boeuf bourgignon and he said it was the best thing he'd ever eaten."

"Well, if you'd told me that I would have ordered it." Ron tried to get her to smile, but failed.

"Mum tried to make it for him when we got back home, but…it wasn't the same." She gave a sad smile at the recollection. Ron shifted uncomfortably in his chair like he did whenever Hermione talked about her parents. It had happened so rarely this year. The few times she'd mentioned them he'd never been quite sure what to do. What she'd done had been completely mental, erasing her parents memories and sending them to the other side of the world. It had also been absolutely brilliant and the perfect way to keep them safe.

"We'll find them, Hermione," he stated simply.

"We're one Portkey in and things have already gone pear-shaped," she gave a miserable laugh and covered her face with her hand.

"Well, I was thinking…Fleur's family is in Toulouse," he offered. "Do you think maybe we could find them?" He'd only met Madame and Monsieur Delacour last August, but Gabrielle knew both him and Hermione. Surely they could help.

"Toulouse is on the other side of the country." Hermione shook her head. "Even if we got there, we have no way of locating her family."

"Do we know anyone else in France?"


"Is there any sort of Knight Bus here in France?"


"Well then…don't you think we ought to go back to England?"

"No." Hermione's one-word answers were so unusual they were unnerving.

"The Ministry ought to know their bloody Portkey nearly got us killed - "

"We don't know that it was the Ministry!" she interrupted crossly.

"Right, well, all signs point to someone from the Ministry trying to kill us."

"It could have been Muggles coming around the corner, we don't know that anyone was actually trying to kill us." She gave a laugh that almost seemed to mock his suggestion then.

"If you thought it was just Muggles, why did you Disapparate?" Ron countered then and Hermione was silent. For a long time neither of them said a thing.

"I don't want to go backwards." She pushed her spoon around. Ron wanted to argue that going backward would just mean starting over, but he kept silent. For some reason, he heard his mum's words in his head about taking care of her and he sensed Hermione's desire to move forward had little to do with what made sense. "I need to get there," she murmured, "I needed to get there yesterday."

At the words, he suddenly recalled that going to Australia to get her parents was one of the first things she'd mentioned in the aftermath of the battle as they'd been climbing down the stairs from Gryffindor Tower. He knew the only reason she hadn't left to fetch them sooner was because of him. She had stayed to support him and his family. Now he needed to support her, even if he didn't agree with her.

"I knew we should have brought my broom," he stated with a loud sigh. Hermione's eyes shot up from the table at him then, appearing thoroughly surprised by his lack of a rebuttal.

"As if we could fly all the way to Australia on your Cleansweep," she muttered at the ridiculous notion and Ron saw the faintest makings of a smile.

"It wouldn't have hurt," he defended, pleased that his statement had diverted her attention from her sadness, if only for a moment. "What other options do we have aside from flying anywhere?"

"Well, I've got one idea." Hermione chewed on her lip. "But you aren't going to like it."

She was right. He didn't like it. He couldn't believe there wasn't anyone else on the entire continent they could contact. He felt like it was some kind of bad joke. He still thought going back to London was their best option, but she was adamant about continuing on and not going back. Still, he couldn't believe there were no other alternatives aside from what she'd suggested. He couldn't believe that this was the course of action she wanted to take to continue onto Australia. He'd been in a sour mood since she'd raised the idea.

The rain had finally stopped and they left the brasserie, paying for their soup with the small amount of French Muggle money Hermione had secured from her room back in Henley. They were now seated on a bench outside watching Muggles climb off and on a nearly constant stream of buses. While nothing out of the ordinary had happened during their meal, Ron was still on alert. He still had his wand tucked just under his sleeve, ready to be drawn at any moment.

"I don't understand why you think he can help us."

"Because he's a wizard and he's got connections and he can put us in touch with other wizards and probably even the Ministry," she argued.

"I bet we can find a wizard here."

"Not with the contacts Viktor has."

"And what exactly do you think he can do?"

"I told you already! All the Portkeys except for the ones in Russia operate daily. If we get to Bulgaria, he can put us in touch with high-ranking people in the Ministry and we can move forward and get to Australia!" Ron could detect more than a touch of aggravation to her voice, but he refused to relent.

"I still think we should go back to London."

"You just don't want to go have to ask Viktor for help," she stated plainly. Ron wished there wasn't a kernel of truth in the accusation.

"No, I just don't think wandering into Bulgaria and getting even more lost is a particularly good idea."

"We're not lost. We're in Dijon," she replied sharply.

"We might as well be lost!" He threw up his hands in frustration, temporarily forgetting his personal vow in the restaurant to keep her smiling and support her. "We're completely out of touch with the magical world, stuck in this Muggle city, we've got no means of contacting anyone, no idea how to get around and your big plan is to go bugger off to Bulgaria and find Viktor Krum!"

"We're not stuck and I know how to get around!" she thundered in reply, ignoring his gibe about Krum.

"Then why don't we go find a rail station and get back to London," he muttered again for the umpteenth time, dropping his head into his hands in exasperation. He didn't want to have an argument out here on a park bench surrounded by Muggles who he already thought were giving him curious looks, but he couldn't stop himself. He saw no sense in continuing on blindly and putting their faith in Krum when they could simply go back to London, report what had happened, figure out if they'd been set up or not, and start over again. That was a plan that made sense.

"Because I don't want to go back, how many times do I have to tell you?" Hermione wailed. "I want to find my parents!"

"We can still find your parents," Ron tried to reason as calmly as possible. "We'll just take a day to get back on track."

"I don't want to take another day!" she cried. "They're my parents, Ron! Don't you get it? My parents!"

"I get it - "

"No, you don't!" she fired. "You know where your parents are and how they're doing."

"I didn't for most of the year," he reminded her.

"Right! And do you remember how that felt? Do you remember how much that ate away at you?" She blinked back tears and Ron immediately felt a wave of guilt wash over him and a pit forming in his stomach that he'd reduced her to tears. "I know I don't talk about them a lot, but they're my parents," she clutched her chest with both hands. "My mum and dad!"

Ron sucked in a steadying breath at her emotional plea. She wasn't making sense. She was concocting the kind of hair-brained scheme she would shoot down in a heartbeat if it came from him. She was suggesting they leave the safety of a city where she, at least, knew her way around and spoke the language, to travel to a place they didn't know and didn't speak the language and to put their faith in a man they weren't even sure would be there. Going back to London would cost them a day or two at most. Yet that seemed to be more time than she was willing to give. For some reason, moving forward in their journey was all that really mattered to her. Not because it made sense or because it was the rational and logical choice, but because it meant something. Maybe just the fact that she was moving forward, that she was trying to reach her parents and not retreating meant something to her.

He looked out to the square where Muggles at every corner waited to board and debark a series of numbered buses. It seemed like a rather complicated system. Hermione had tried to explain to him when they'd first sat down. She told him about the different routes all over the city and how you had to memorize the routes and know your stop and your bus number. Ron though it sounded entirely too complicated.

"So can we take one of those to Bulgaria?" He nodded toward a bus finally in acceptance.

"No," Hermione replied softly after a moment to allow her surprise to settle in. "No, traveling by bus would take quite a while."

"Will we have to fly in one of those horrible aeroplanes then?" He cringed, but again spoke with a degree of acceptance that Hermione seemed to notice.

"I think traveling by rail will be our best bet." Ron brightened considerably at Hermione's words. Traveling by rail he could do. Trains were familiar. "It'll be expensive though," she grimaced. "And I really wanted to save my money for when we arrived in Australia, but I suppose we've no other choice."

"Well, I have an idea," Ron murmured then, "but you aren't going to like it."


A Harry Potter Story
by MsBinns

Part 21 of 45

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