Continuing Tales

Just Let it Happen

A Harry Potter Story
by La. Bel. LM

Part 33 of 35

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Just Let It Happen

Hermione and Snape were not quick to leave their perch on the sofa (or rather, tangle of sweaty limbs and kisses upon the sofa). They remained there for a while, discussing in quiet tones the nature of things. The nature of their present and future, the nature of ancient magic and what it had done for them. And all the while, Hermione's chest swelled with the delight of lying beneath him.

Snape had propped himself halfway up on his elbow, casually reclining in a manner that Hermione quite frankly thought was beyond him, but mostly he rested on top of her, against her, his legs entwined with hers.

Conversation drifted in and out, never lasting more than a few minutes at a time.

"We can't just say sod them all forever," Hermione might say.

"We can't just say let it happen until doomsday," Snape might reply.

Neither of them really invested in the offensive side of the conversation; they were happy enough just to be in each other's company, and to hear each other's voices against the low hum of crackling flames.

A lit fireplace was far more of a solace than Hermione had ever thought it could be. It was safety. It was warmth. It was comfort undisturbed.

She and Snape remained in exactly this way, for as long as they dared, until it became apparent that they had been selfish enough and it was time once again to open the gate to chaos.

Despite what Snape had claimed about the room's "extraordinary capacity," after several failed attempts, they realized that this capacity did not allow for a full-scale change while the occupants were still inside.

Therefore they concluded that they must exit together, and face whatever stood waiting for them in the hallway beyond.

Hermione once again donned her worn blue jeans and jumper, putting away her scarlet robe in the wardrobe with a deep sigh.

Snape, looking very dour, dressed himself in Harry's borrowed clothes again, tossing Hermione his black silk robe for her to hang up and stow away in the wardrobe next to her own.

He looked a bit less like the tragic cast away now that his hair was properly cut and his beard had been sheared away. But the pant legs were still far too short for him, and he still seemed very much out of place and disconcerted.

They stood together in front of the door, not saying anything, both knowing precisely what the other was thinking.

"Behave yourself," was all Snape said as he reached for the door.

"Make me," Hermione snipped back as Snape turned the handle and they stepped out into the seventh floor corridor together.

Hermione had been expecting a great many people to be there, awaiting their appearance. She braced herself for a barrage of accusations and clamoring questions about where had they been all this time, and how dare they obstruct the door, and didn't they know there was a war on!

But when Hermione looked past the looming figure of Snape, she saw only one person awaiting them.

It was Professor McGonagall—or, the back of her. She had apparently been waiting there for some time, because she was deeply entrenched in an argument with the portrait of Barnubus the Barmy, a doddery old wizard attempting to teach Trolls how to dance the ballet.

Hermione only caught the tail end of McGonagall's final comment, "… really, it seems a fruitless endeavor," before McGonagall heard them emerge and she turned abruptly.

"Severus," she said breathily when she saw them, and strode forward as though (Hermione very much thought) she meant to thrown her arms around Snape . Then she seemed to think better of it and stopped just short of him. She held out her knobby hand to give him a terse handshake. "Severus," she said again, "it's good to see you. I'm glad you've—come back to us."

Snape rolled his eyes. "For pity's—"

"And Miss Granger," McGonagall interrupted, turning to Hermione. "You—you—foolhardy, resourceful girl. We owe you a great debt. Very great indeed. Though, there is no small part of me that isn't screaming its displeasure at your reckless notion that it was somehow wise to run off in the middle of the night, with nothing but your wits and a broomstick to… to…" She took a deep breath and seemed to steady herself. "In any case. You're safe now. And it is to remain that way. Back you go—Turn right around and march yourself back into that room."

"But—But I—"

"She wishes to join the battle, Minerva. I advised against it, of course, but she seems rather obstinate in her deranged delusions of braver—"

"I think I can speak for myself, thank you—"

"I absolutely forbid it!" McGonagall was starting to look slightly green. "The Headmaster is certain to agree. In fact, it is on his orders that I ask you to lock yourself up in that room and remain there safely while we—"

"Harry says I can come. And Ron, too. Harry wants both of us there."

"Forgive me, Miss Granger, but Mr. Potter is hardly authorized to—"

"He doesn't need to be authorized, I'm just saying that he—"

"Does not have the authority to proclaim whether or not you are allowed to—"

"Stand by his side? So he can go out and die for you, but Heaven forbid he ask for anything in retur—"

"This is not a matter of requests and granting recompense for—"

"But it is a matter of standing up for what we have already fought against for years and—"

"It is a miracle you are still alive and well enough to stand here before us and—"







"ENOUGH," Snape barked sharply, and both Hermione and Professor McGonagall fell silent, their faces very red. "Miss Granger," he continued, sounding thoroughly fed up, "despite your valiant efforts, there is no use arguing a case you have clearly already lost."


"You are not being treated like a child, you are being spoken to like an adult. Though you are part of the Order, that does not entitle you to follow whatever whim your heart desires—in fact, it further stresses the importance of following orders which have been given to you by your superior members, not to mention both the Headmaster and Deputy Headmistress of this school. If it will ease your sensibilities to know it, please do consider the notion that should the Order fall—tragic though the idea undoubtedly is—there must be someone to carry on, someone who knows its secrets and intentions, and believe it or not, you may very well be that person. So—"

Hermione could very nearly feel the frost that emanated from Snape's look of steeled determination.

"I should think a woman of your vast intellectual capabilities should not require a further reminder, however, just in case the order was not painfully clear the first forty-nine times it was given, you are ordered to return to the Room of Requirement, lock yourself inside, and to await there quietly for further instruction."

At last, Snape's words had done what McGonagall's (and Snape's previous attempts) had not.

Perhaps something about the undisturbed privacy, and her closeness, and her… er… particular charms over the past few hours had given Hermione an advantage that she had not been entirely aware of until now. Because now, once out of her immediate proximity, no longer distracted by bare skin and roaming hands, and bolstered by the presence of another sharp-minded adult, Snape seemed once again in his element.

Hermione was forced to concede.

"Will…" Her voice cracked. She turned to McGonagall, unable to look at Snape as she asked her next question. "Will we be able to see you, to, er, to see Harry again, before… before you go?"

McGonagall paused, the anger slowly fading from her eyes (though the terseness, as ever, remained). "The Order is meeting now in Dumbledore's office. We shall assemble our strategy there, and then… Yes, Miss Granger. I do believe you will be retrieved before we depart."

Somewhat consoled by this idea, Hermione was able again to face Snape.

Never one to easily manage the concealment of her emotions, Hermione failed to keep the concern—and even, yes, affection—from her glace. Though she doubted McGonagall caught any of it, Hermione was certain that Snape did not miss a single nuance of her expression.

"Goodbye for now, then, Professor," she said.

Snape himself never once showed even a flicker of what she knew he must be feeling. His face was stoic and utterly blank as he replied, "For now."

"Goodbye, Professor McGonagall. Sorry for… Well, honestly, I can't be sorry for arguing, but I am sorry that we disagree. I've missed you, and it is wonderful to see you, because you are… you've been… really, such a wonderful teacher…"

McGonagall let out a small noise of what might have been a quickly stifled sob and then yanked Hermione into a firm hug. "Clever girl," she said, a bit thickly. "You always were my favorite student, you know, and you've got a truly magnificent future before you if you can keep your head on straight, and manage… manage…" She pulled away, clearing her throat and straightening her robes.

"Manage not to get yourself blown up," Snape finished for her.

"Precisely, Severus, thank you." McGonagall gave one last sniff and then appeared to have sorted herself out. "Now, off you go, Miss Granger. Keep yourself hidden."

"Yes, Professor," she replied.

Then, with both Gryffindor and Slytherin Heads of Houses watching in a very rare state of united strength, Hermione walked back and forth three times, holding fiercely in her head the requirement she required. As the door to the Room appeared, and Hermione opened it, she heard dimly behind her Snape and McGonagall begin to walk away, already discussing in hushed tones the meeting ahead.

"How many have assembled?" she heard Snape say.

"Thirty-two at last count…" she heard McGonagall reply.

Order members? Hermione thought. So many

But then she heard no more, because the door had shut and she was once more locked safely inside the Room of Requirement.

The room had changed slightly in her absence. The bed was gone, and the space itself was a great deal smaller, though for the most part, it remained the same.

The windows were still there, and the wooden floorboards, and the fireplace, and the sofa, and the bookcases, and the piano, and…

But, no. The partition had disappeared.

Hermione puzzled over this for a moment. She would have appreciated a closer look at it, for she was still unable to determine whether it had been Snape's or the Room's invention.

A mystery, then. To which she would perhaps never know the answer.

After a short while of brooding moodily by the windows—the moonlight was ever so convincing—Hermione's gaze returned to the piano in the corner. She felt inexplicably drawn to sit by it. So she did. The second she sank down upon the bench, the keys began to move of their own accord, and the piano, quite on its own, began to play a mimic of the last melody it had produced: Hers. Her song. Her very own unique assortment of notes composed with whatever degree of warmth or affection Snape seemed able to produce.

She melted into it. That slow, delicate waltz… of clouds and windy cities…

Now, where had that thought come from?

"Silly," Hermione said aloud, rolling her eyes. But she smiled all the same.

With the amount dormant fury and anxieties still bottled up deep within her, rising up again every so often in spontaneous eruptions, she thought it would be impossible to wait for very long. Certainly, it would be impossible to do so without a great deal of fidgeting and frustrated sighing.

However, Hermione soon found herself comfortably settled in a plush armchair with a book grabbed at random from one of the plentiful bookshelves, and for the first time in a long time, she realized that things were out of her hands. For the first time in a long time, there was no pressing matter or action she needed to take care of, and she was content to sit there in the dim light, listening to her song, reading about… What was the book she had grabbed? She flipped to the front cover:

You and Your Cauldron: a detailed look into Advanced Potions-Making.

Hermione sighed. She'd already read this one.

Very soon, despite her best efforts, the book fell into her lap and Hermione drifted off to sleep.

Hermione was awoken by the sound of the door creaking slowly open. The piano had stopped and all was quiet.

Her heart hammering, she cracked an eye to assess the identity of the intruder and what might be done about defending herself from them.

The door opened a little wider, and in stepped… Ron Weasley.

With a very unexpected rush of love, or of affection, or of she-didn't-even-know-what, for that familiar head of red hair and that freckled face, Hermione leapt from the chair and ran to her dear friend, throwing her arms around him. "Oh Ron," she said, "I'm so sorry we left you, I'm so sorry we fought! You're one of my very best friends, you know that, and I've missed you—"

"Alright, alright," he stammered awkwardly in return. But he returned her hug with warm enthusiasm.

"Harry came to see me," he said when they had drawn back from each other. "We've talked it out, and, you know, I don't blame you of course. Obviously I'm a bit miffed at being left out of things, I was furious for a while, but… I mean, to be honest, who fancies camping out in damp caves and forests for a month, breaking into Azkaban, and all just to see Snape's ugly mug at the end of it?"

Hermione laughed heartily.

"So, do you know what the plan is?" Ron pressed, obviously just as eager as she was to get a jump on this grand battle they had both so clearly been kicked out of.

"I don't," she replied moodily. "I'm supposed to stay here quietly and await my instructions."

"Yeah…" Ron began, sounding sheepish. "I was supposed to stay in Gryffindor Tower. Except… Harry said you were here and…" He shrugged.

"I'm glad."

He turned a faint pink.

"But I don't want to stay here," she added.

"Me neither. I want to fight, with Harry, like we said, you remember, back on the stairs when my dad sent that letter with Errol, after Frend died. We've got the right. And we're part of the Order, now, so we have double the reason. But I suppose… I suppose there is a sort of a point to it, keeping us away. Because if everyone gets killed then we're the only ones who—"

"Did they spoon feed that argument to you too? Piss on it."

Ron's mouth fell open slightly in shock.

Hermione continued, her momentum already beginning to build. "If the order falls, I don't want to be around to see it. If the order falls, what hope do we have, really? I mean they've got Dumbledore and—and McGonagall, and Harry, and Lupin, and the professors. And I would rather spend my efforts making sure they don't fall rather than save my efforts for when they do. If they do. Which they won't. Because we're going to help them."

"So, we're not staying behind?

"You had better fucking believe we're not."

After a small, shocked space of time, in which Ron's eyes went very wide, he seemed to finally process what Hermione had said and beamed.

Hermione smiled back. It was good to be in company with an old comrade again.

"Now," she said, "first thing's first. I have a favor to ask you…"

Half an hour later, the door to the Room of Requirement creaked slowly open again and Ron stepped back inside.

He had clutched in his hand a small silver case that was normally meant for storing quills when they weren't in use. It was Hermione's. And it did not contain quills.

Before leaving Hogwarts with Harry on that night so many long weeks ago, Hermione had agonized over what to do with her left over Phoenix potion. The thought of leaving it behind worried her (what if she needed it?), but the thought of losing it, or being caught and having the Ministry take it away, worried her even more. So she had concealed it inside her silver quill case and tucked it away in the very bottom of her school trunk, to be retrieved at a later time.

Since she obviously could not go to Gryffindor Tower herself, this was where Ron came in. And, as it turned out, he was extraordinary useful.

Normally, boys were not allowed in the girls' dormitories, but Ron was a Prefect, and he had apparently been getting along rather well with Lavender Brown ever since Hermione's rejection of his affections.

Via Hermione's instruction, Ron had snuck back to Gryffindor Tower, somehow sent a message to Lavender up in her room, and convinced her to bring down the quill case from Hermione's trunk. After which Ron promptly brought it back to Hermione—wondering all the while what this was all about.

"What's this all about?" he asked as Hermione took the case from his hands with care.

She gently eased the case open and withdrew her vial of Phoenix potion, all golden and glowing, and humming warmly in her palm.

"Did you bring the second bottle?" she asked, ignoring his question.

Ron held out another small, empty glass vial. "Yes, but what is—"

"It's something to help Harry. And… and… er… Dumbledore."

With very great delicacy, Hermione poured half of the golden liquid from the first vial into the empty one and then sealed both of them tightly. She did indeed mean to give one to Harry. But the other… the other was not going to Dumbledore.

"What kind of potion is that? How is it supposed to help—"

Ron was interrupted by a knock at the door.

The door opened and there was Professor McGonagall, standing in the hall, beckoning them over with a wave of her hand.

Hermione glanced out the windows and saw the very first faint, suggestive glow of sunrise.

"Mr. Weasley," Professor McGonagall said as the two of them joined her in the doorway. "I thought as much."

"Sorry, Professor," he muttered.

"No matter. The two of you are needed in the Entry Hall just the same." She began to walk away en route to the staircases. Ron and Hermione scampered hurriedly to catch up.

"We are minutes from departure," McGonagall said softly. All Hermione could see was her stiff, straight back and her tightly bunned hair as they walked. McGonagall added over her shoulder, "As promised, you have the chance now to say goodbye to your friend. And… and wish him luck, as well. I should think."

When they arrived in the Entry Hall some long minutes later, there was an impressive gathering of witches and wizards, all cloaked and ready, wands drawn. Many of them Hermione recognized (Tonks, Moody, Kingsley, Arthur and Molly Weasley, most of Hogwarts' staff, and on), though there were plenty she had never met.

Everyone was sort of huddled together in small groups, talking in hushed tones. There was an air of nervousness that surrounded them. But above the nervousness, above it all, was a thick layer of anticipation, of excitement and determination. There was an electric thrill in every breath. These were very capable wizards, all of them extraordinary in their own rights, with a fire blazing in each of their hearts, and who had waited many, many years for this penultimate moment. Finally, it was Voldemort who was going to be on the defensive. It was Voldemort whose followers had been weakened, who's location had been unearthed. It was Voldemort's turn to be hunted.

Off to the side, looking very tired and disgruntled (nervous, too, though she had a knack for hiding it) was Ginny Weasley, still in her pajamas. Her eyes were puffy from sleep, and her glorious red hair was a tousled mess down her back. She had clearly been woken suddenly from a deep slumber and not given time to do anything but rush downstairs to join her family and friends here in the Entry Hall.

Hermione located Snape instantly amongst the crowd.

He was clothed again in his own slick, smartly tailored attire. Hermione had forgotten how imposing he could look when secured so tightly in head-to-toe black, elegant and lethal. He wore no cloak or billowing robes. Standing tall, bold as brass, he looked lithe and ready, poised for action—and, Hermione realized with a ridiculous, gut-wrenching pang—incredibly, gloriously sexy.

She wanted to run to him, leap into his arms, wrap her legs around his waist, and kiss him into the next century. But she couldn't, obviously. For there was McGonagall standing next to him, looking grim. And Lupin, and Hagrid, and Moody. And even Dumbledore, with whom Snape was conversing quietly.

"Where's Harry?" said Ron in Hermione's ear.

She jumped, then searched the Hall again, realizing that she didn't see Harry anywhere.

"Have you seen Harry?" Ron asked Ginny—who had apparently joined them at some point while Hermione's attention had been otherwise occupied.

"No," she whispered back, her nerves getting the better of her. She looked as though she very well might cry.

Ron's eyebrows furrowed. "Well, I'm… I'm going to go say… er… talk to… to Mum and Dad."

Hermione's heart gave another little patter of anxious despair as Ron shuffled off to Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, who embraced their youngest son the moment they saw him.

Hermione thought about her own parents, safely hidden away somewhere exotic and far away. Far away from battles, and crazed Death Eaters, and Voldemort…

"Ginny," Hermione asked quietly, as a thought occurred. "What about the rest of the school? Aren't… I mean, isn't anyone going to stay behind to guard the castle? What is everyone going to do when they all get out of bed and realize the teachers have up and—"

"Not all of them," Ginny said quickly. "You just missed them, but Professor Sprout and Professor Flitwick are staying behind to keep an eye on things. They left just a few minutes ago. They're going all through the castle now, putting up defenses and casting protective spells. They'll… They'll keep everyone together."

"Oh. I see."

"Hermione," Ginny said, sounding very worried, "why isn't Harry here? He hasn't shown up yet. Don't you think he—Oh," she breathed in relief as, just then, Harry came trotting down the stairs to meet them.

He looked very young, Hermione thought.

Of course, she knew he was nearly just as old as she was, and for as long as she could remember, she had always thought he looked, if anything, mature for his age.

But as he hopped down the last step and rushed to Ginny's side, gathering her in a hug that pushed his glasses askew, Hermione thought he looked much too young to have such a momentous, heavy burden upon his skinny shoulders.

Hermione chanced a glance over at Snape, and saw that he was watching the young couple as they hugged each other, kissed each other, in plain view of everyone, freely able to say their goodbyes without fuss or accusation.

It was stupid, wasn't it? Hermione thought. Completely ridiculous that, at a time like this, either she or Snape should care what people thought, or what Dumbledore's rules had been. Sod the rules! Sod them all!

Snape's eyes shifted and they caught each other's gaze.

No, Hermione amended to herself. This was not the time or the place. As silly as it seemed, there was still a certain decorum, a certain taboo about their relationship that did not have any business revealing itself in this particular place, in front of these particular people, at this particular time. It just… wasn't right. Their feelings were for each other and each other alone. Neither of them would benefit from public scrutiny, and no one would benefit from going into battle with their nerves all jangled and rattled because of such a sudden, twisted surprise.

Harry and Ginny finally broke apart, though they still held each other's hands in a tight grip as they approached Hermione. Harry's expression read as surprisingly calm.

"Where were you?" Hermione asked.

"Bathroom," Harry replied, shrugging.

Hermione rather thought he was lying, but she didn't press the matter.

Dumbledore was already signaling everyone with a swift wave of his wand that it was time to depart. The huge front doors swung open and the mass of robed witches and wizards began to descend out onto the dimly lit grounds.

Snape lingered at Dumbledore's side, as the two of them stood back and watched everyone else file out.

"Here, Harry, take this," Hermione said hurriedly, pushing one of the bottles of Phoenix potion into his hands.

"What is—" he began to say.

"Dumbledore will explain, or Snape," she said quickly. "Just keep it safe and use it wisely. And—Oh, Harry, do be careful!"

She gave him a fierce hug.

He broke his hold on Ginny's hand briefly to return the hug, his arms enfolding her tightly and just as fiercely. "You know me," he muttered back. "Never one for trouble."

She laughed weakly and released him. He smiled, tucking the potion away in his pocket and once again gathering Ginny to him as they walked away after the retreating huddle of Order members.

Hermione approached Snape and Dumbledore next, thinking quickly about how to handle this.

With a flash of inspiration, Hermione paused to quickly pull one of her shoelaces loose so that when she eventually reached the doorway, she was able to fake a convincing stumble, purposefully falling into Snape's side so that he was forced to catch her.

In the resulting struggle for balance, with Snape's strong-armed assistance, they were able, for one last time, to share a sweet, brief, clasp of hands.

Hermione was also, in that moment, able to slip Snape the last vial of Phoenix potion while Dumbledore was momentarily distracted, squinting after the swarm of Order members marching away in the distance.

Snape gave Hermione a furious, ferocious look, dark eyes blazing, when he felt the bottle pressed into his palm. It buzzed hotly between them. For the smallest flash of time, Hermione felt Snape's grip tighten painfully on her wrist.

She returned his look unblinkingly, with a stony determination.

Then he understood, and released her, closing his fist on the potion and slipping it discreetly into his pocket. He blinked, and looked away.

Hermione knew he understood that this had become the unspoken deal between them: He wanted her to remain behind, and since she had finally conceded to do so, it was the unspoken deal that he must take the potion from her at last. He wanted to protect her, she wanted to protect him. That was the deal.

Already, Snape and Dumbledore were walking a few paces away, resuming their quiet conversation.

"Bye, Ginny," said Harry.

"Be safe," she said back.

They shared one last hug, one last kiss, and then Ginny traded places with Ron, who had just finished saying farewell to his parents.

As Ginny fell into the arms of her mother, Harry turned to Ron and shoved something familiar and silvery into his hands.



It was the invisibility cloak.

"Won't you need it?" asked Hermione.

Harry gave a sly smile. "Not with the plan we've got."

"Is it a good one, then?"

"I just wish there was a way to capture the moment Voldemort sees us. Because he's not going to know what hit him."

The utter confidence in Harry's tone and the faint, mischievous glint in his eyes, gave Hermione a level of reassurance that she had previously thought impossible.

Harry and Ron shared a manly hug, clapping each other heartily on the back.

"Bye, Mate," said Ron. "Give him what for."

"Do my best."

"See you when you get back," Hermione said.

"Or maybe before," he replied, with a suspicious wink.

Before Hermione or Ron could ask what he had possibly meant, Ginny returned, pleading silently with Harry, furiously. "Please, Harry, tell us where you're going." She shot a furtive glance at Dumbledore. "We won't tell, we'll be careful, but please, we want to come with you. Don't be a brave bloody prat. You shouldn't go alone."

Harry shrugged sadly. "I can't, Ginny, really, I swear. I don't even know where we're going. They wouldn't tell me."

"Come along, Potter," rang out Snape's sharp voice. And then, suddenly, they were gone, walking off down the road through the grounds to the front gates: Harry, Snape, Dumbledore, and the two Weasleys.

Ron followed down the steps as far as he dared, and then he stopped, waving after them, looking for all the world as though he could leap on a broomstick and chase after them, hooting his war cry and flourishing his ready wand.

Hermione stood there with Ginny in silence for a few moments.

Then Ginny spoke.

"What was that bottle you gave Professor Snape?"

Hermione started guiltily. "Oh, you saw that? It was nothing—I mean, it was the last bit of this potion I made. The same one I gave to Harry. You see, it's a very strong protection against… against dark magic."

"Why did you do it like that? Slip it to him so secretly?"

"I didn't think he would take it with everyone watching." That, at least, was true.

"I guess so," Ginny replied slowly. "But why would you want to waste it on him of all people?"

Hermione sighed. "He's saved my life… Oh, who knows how many times now." She watched, beneath the rising rays of sunlight, that tall, black-clad figure striding so confidently in the distance, and it was all she could do to resist from tearing down the road after him. "And we were gone for a long time, Ginny. We spent a lot of time together. I guess we sort of… I don't know, grew accustomed to each other."

Ginny echoed Hermione's sigh, as Ron stumbled back up the steps to join them.

"Whatever you say," she said, and turned to disappear back inside the castle.

Ginny returned to Gryffindor Tower—to sulk, perhaps, or to fume, or to worry, or to rouse Neville and Luna and all the former members of the D.A. and tell them what had happened. No doubt, she was already scheming with all her might as to how they were going to storm the final battle in flames of glory and defend their loved ones to the death.

Ron decided to walk Hermione back to the Room of Requirement so that they, too, could begin plotting their own plots of infiltrating the fight.

By the time they made it to the seventh floor, Ron had already invested deeply in the idea of somehow sneaking into the Ministry in the wee hours of the morning, andsomehow locating where the wand tracking office was, and to somehow find a trace on one of the Order members' wands and therefore gain precise coordinates. And thensomehow get themselves there without either of them knowing how to Apparate.

Hermione thought this plan was rather beyond conceivability, but she let Ron go on a bit, glad just to have him on her side again, glad to be friends and both headed in the same direction.

As it turned out, it was a good thing that Ginny went to her dormitory, and Ron stayed with Hermione, because when they crept back inside the Room of Requirement, they realized precisely what Harry's final mysterious comment, and final mysterious wink had been all about.

He had left a note for them, right there in the middle of the floor.

That's where he was when we couldn't find him, Hermione realized as she and Ron picked up the note and read it together. He snuck up here under the cloak. Without anyone knowing! Oh, Harry, you brave, devious boy.

The note was simple. It solved all their problems. And any wild, fanciful notions Ron had previously had about infiltrating the Ministry wand tracing office (as if there were such a thing) vanished in an instant.

Mansion, the note said in a swift, untidy scrawl, up the road from Godric's Hollow. Used to belong to Godric Gryffindor. We attack at sunset. Don't bring Ginny. If you do, you're next after Voldemort.

"Godric's Hollow, I know where that is," Ron said excitedly. "I've been there! I mean, we were just kids, but you know Mum and Dad, they wanted to take us to see the Potter house, I mean… wow, Harry's house, I guess. I'd forgotten we did that."

Hermione's excitement began to build again. Snape's voice came unbidden to her mind, from that day when they had first escaped the dungeons beneath the church so long ago, the day that Snape had sacrificed everything to save her: "The Dark Lord loves the touch of irony," he had said. Godric's home made sense in a way. Or did it? Whatever, it didn't matter, because this was it—they might actually have a shot at getting there! Being there! The end of everything…

"Great," Hermione said abruptly. "How do we get there?"


This was cause for thought. Neither of them knew how to Apparate, and from Hermione's vast history of readings on all things magic, she knew that Godric's Hollow was not just a short broom ride away. Even if they took off right now and flew as fast as they could, she figured they wouldn't be there until the next morning at least.

"We need someone who can Apparate," Hermione said, thinking aloud. "Someone we trust, someone brave enough and impulsive enough and—to be quite honest—inclined to disregard the rules. Who in the world could we—"

"I know exactly who."

Hermione blinked, taken aback by the suddenness of Ron's response. "Really? Who?"

Ron smiled. "My brothers. Obviously. Who better fits those specifications than Fred and George?"

Hermione gave a wild little hop of joy. "Yes! They can Apparate, can't they? And they're easy to get to—well, relatively speaking. We just need a quick pinch of floo powder and we'll be banging at their door before breakfast. Only…"

"Yeah. Who's floo? None of the fireplaces in Hogwarts are connected to the network."

"Hogsmeade?" Hermione suggested. "We could sneak into somebody's house—I'm pretty familiar actually with a lot of the residents after spending a month there, spying and sneaking about. In fact, there's a house on the north side, near the woods. They've got a little doggy door and I could fit through it in my Animagus form."

"Great, this is great," Ron said, a little breathless now, his eyes alight. "This is all coming together. Quickly, let's go before everyone in the castle starts to wake up. Good thing Harry left us the cloak!"

"Yes," Hermione mused, "I do wonder, though, why he didn't think he would need it…"

"I don't know, but we'll find out soon, won't we? Come on!"

"Wait, wait, we need to think about timing. Harry says here in the note that they aren't moving in until sunset. We can't know what time that is exactly, so we'll have to leave a little cushion for error. If we misjudge it even by a little, if we show up even a few minutes too early, it'll just be the four of us, we'll have ruined everything, and they'll… they'll…"

"Snuff us out pretty quick," Ron finished for her.


The enormity of what they were doing seemed to strike home in that moment.

"Are we stupid to do this?" Ron asked.

"We're not stupid," Hermione replied carefully, "no. What we're doing, maybe, is… insanity. But this is our fight, it is. And who knows You-Know-Who better than us? Besides Harry, of course. And Dumbledore. Well, and Snape, too, I guess—but you know what I'm saying."

"Look, you don't have to convince me, I've been all for it from the start. I just wanted to make sure we sort of said it out loud. You know. Acknowledge that we were being idiots."

"Consider it acknowledged."

"Great. Let's go."

They huddled together and pulled the cloak over their heads before exiting the Room. Hermione still had her wand, tucked safely in her pocket. It had been so long since she had been allowed to use it, she was anxious about her lack of practice. She began quickly running through a rolodex of spells in her head, going over and over the ones she knew she would need, all the appropriate words and movements.

They paused at the door for a moment.

Ron said, "Shouldn't… we tell the others? Isn't it sort of hypocritical of us to leave everyone else behind?"

Hermione had thought about that too. "It'll be a wrench for them when they find out, I'm sure. I know I would be furious if I were in their place. But, I'm sorry, this time I don't think they should be in danger, not if we can help it, and that's just the way it goes. The three of us—you, me and Harry, we started it, and the three of us will stand together when we end it. Besides, we're already bringing Fred and George along, and they can only Apparate two of us anyway."

"Alright then," whispered Ron, opening the door. "Just checking."

By the time Ron and Hermione made it around to the north side of Hogsmeade's residential area, the sun was already peaking up over the trees. It was still early enough, however, that the morning mist had yet to disperse and the grass was still wet with dew.

Just outside the garden gate, Hermione transformed and wriggled under the fence to the other side. Ron followed right after by climbing over the gate (she could see his footprints in the grass) and they crossed the yard to the back door.

Apparently, they were not quiet enough, because before they could reach the door, a huge, snarling dog came bounding out from around the side of the house and made a straight, howling charge for Hermione.

Hermione went rigid with terror, unable to think of anything besides what it would feel like when those razor sharp teeth sank into her neck and tore out her throat. The dog was gaining fast. What should she do? She wanted to run! She was going to die!

But Ron was there. He tackled the dog before it could reach her. If the circumstances were not so terrifying, Hermione might have found it comical to watch the dog's utter confusion at being wrestled to the ground by what looked like empty air.

"Go, Hermione," Ron ground out, yanking the dog's collar back as it focused once again on Hermione and made another lunge at her, barking loudly.

She didn't need to be told twice. She bounded the last few feet to the doggy door and then scampered through the flap into the kitchen. Once there, she paused and quirked her ears, straining for any sound of stirrings within the house. Hearing nothing, she transformed out of her Animagus form, back to her familiar self, and unlocked the door for Ron from the inside.

He came in sweaty and panting from his tussle with the dog, gasping quietly to Hermione as he pulled her under the invisibility cloak, "Tied—tied him up outside—Bloody mongrel—he's a monster of a beast, that one—I thought you said it was a small dog?"

"I thought it was," Hermione replied sharply. "They must have got a new one. Anyway, let's go. And… er, thanks. Thought I was done for."

"Oh, yeah, blimey, me too for a second. Er… you're welcome."

They found the fireplace quickly, and were both very thankful to see that this particular wizarding family kept a full stock of floo powder in a small jar on the mantle piece.

One at a time they sprinkled powder into the fireplace (which sprang into life the moment they did so) and zipped off to the Leaky Cauldron. Hermione went first under the invisibility cloak. If Ron was seen by anyone, he was simply a naughty student sneaking off the grounds. If Hermione was seen… well, who knew. By now, she was most likely a wanted criminal, perhaps even on par with the Azkaban convict she had apparently helped to escape.

Thankfully, no one staying at the Leaky Cauldron that morning was an early riser, so the dining-bar area was mercifully empty. Once Ron stepped out of the grate, brushing soot off his clothes, Hermione threw the cloak over him and the two of them commenced their journey to Fred and George's shop in Diagon Alley.

The streets were empty and the shops were all closed. The mist was still a thin vapor hanging dejectedly in shadowed alleys. Hermione thought it strange that she was so calm. This did not feel like she thought it would feel on this ultimate of days.

"Kind of eerie, isn't it?" said Ron.

"Yeah," Hermione replied in wholehearted agreement.

To Hermione's great astonishment, Fred and George were both up and about when they arrived at the shop. They were sitting out on the balcony of their second floor flat, having a bit of coffee and breakfast and fiddling with some new gadget they had clearly not perfected yet.

"No, no, no," Fred was saying. "It's got to be H.M.S. Pinafore, Pinafore, I tell you."

"Penzance, you snobby wanker, Penzance is a much funnier choice."

"You wouldn't know funny if it licked your—"

"Oi!" Ron called up to them, popping his head out of the cloak and causing both Fred and George to let out yelps of alarm. "It's me and Hermione."

Hermione poked her head out too and waved timidly.

"Can we come in?"

Fred and George looked at each other. Then, in unison, they stood and leaned on folded arms on the balcony railing, giving Ron and Hermione mirrored, knowing smiles.

"Runaway wedding is it?"

"Can we officiate?"

"Promise I'll keep my hands to myself."

"I promise nothing of the sort."

"Is this a time sensitive thing?"

"Shotgun wedding, is it?"

"Is she pregnant?"

"Ronnikins, you dirty boy!"

"You're the one who can't keep his hands to himsel—"

Hermione and Ron, with growing desperation, stammered their defense.

"Stop it, stop it—"

"For Heaven's sake—"

"No, no—"

"How could you possibly—"



"Will you just shut up and let us in, you stupid gits!"

Fred and George laughed. George said, "Be down in a jiff," and then the two of them disappeared inside.

"Ron," Hermione said in a low voice. "Maybe try not to insult the people from whom we are trying to gain assistance."

"Well they are stupid gits…" Ron muttered back, his cheeks flaming red.

Though they had been their cheery selves on the balcony, when Fred and George opened the door to the shop, ushering Ron and Hermione inside, they were much more somber, almost grim, their faces bearing no signs of laughter.

Before Hermione or Ron could get more than a few syllables into their explanation, George interrupted.

"Yeah," he said in a low voice, closing the door with a click. "We know. We know what's happened and why you've come, but we can't help you. They didn't tell us either."

"What?" said Ron.

Fred continued. "Mum and Dad popped in a little while ago to give us hugs and kisses and all that, drop us a line and let us know what was happening. We tried to follow, of course, but they locked the floo up behind them somehow."

"Nice farewell present, a mouthful of ash."

"Stuck standing in a fireplace like idiots."

"Thanks Mum."

Hermione paused before replying in a slow, confident voice, "What if we told you we know exactly where they're going. And when. And that you've got to come with us because we need your help to get there?"

Fred and George shared one look before, at precisely the same moment, grins once again broke out on their faces.

"Brilliant!" they said. "Count us in!"

Ron and Hermione joined Fred and George for a long extended breakfast in their kitchen as they recounted what Harry had told them. After everything had been said, theorized over, and it was well established that the four of them now had an entire day to waste, Fred and George lightened the mood considerably by putting up for show their latest trinket endeavor.

"It's a shower sponge that sings opera while you scrub," said Fred, as though there had never been a more brilliant idea in the world. "Let's face it, few people who sing in the shower can actually sing. So now you'll sound like a master without even trying!"

"And I keep telling him that it's funnier if the sponge sings 'For I am a Pirate King' from Penzance, but he wants—"

"For He is an Englishman from Pinafore—because it has class, and my brother's an uncivilized ape who thinks—"

"Mine at least has a nautical theme, which is—"

"Penzanze isn't even an opera, you flea-ridden guttersnipe, it's an operetta—"

"They're both operetta's you wool-brained ninny! And I haven't had fleas since December and you know it—"

"Comedic operettas, my dear fellow. When will you learn I'm the brains of this operation—"

"Excuse me," Hermione managed to interject, "but why don't you just use both?"

Fred and George pretended to fall all over themselves with good-natured surprise.

"Both? Why that's brilliant!"

"Why didn't we think of that?"

"Knew you weren't a know-it-all for nothing."

"So simple."

"So elegant."

"So quaint."


"We should give this girl a raise."

"But she doesn't work for us."

"Well, then, by me, I think we should hire her!" said George.

"By you, I think we should!" replied Fred.

Hermione couldn't help it. She laughed.

It was good to laugh.

The day passed quickly. Too quickly, it seemed. Because before Hermione knew it, she and Ron were arm in arm with the Weasley twins, their wands clenched in their fists, their hearts hammering in their chests, as they stood in the living room and they bid farewell to Diagon Alley with a swift turn and a sharp crack.

They Apparated in the middle of an empty road, well on the outskirts of the town. It was a small town. All quaint and scrunched together. It was exactly the sort of town that Hermione had always imagined herself living in, actually, when she was grown and had a family... But now was not the time for those sort of thoughts. Just around the bend in the road, and beyond the many rooftops, Hermione could see the suggestive hints of what might be the mansion in question. It was going to be a fair walk, and they didn't have much time. She struck out immediately—the sun was almost fully set by now, red-orange and bright but dimming quickly—and she didn't want to be late. She tried to push all the grotesque images that kept popping up in her mind to the back of her thoughts; images of Snape fighting for his life... and losing.

The wind was strong, howling even. It tugged roughly at her clothes and rippled the grassy field to her left, across the road from where Godric's Hollow began. She could smell the sharp tang of dry grass in the breeze. A breeze that was so strong, in fact, that Hermione had great difficulty keeping her hair in check. Which was why it took her a moment before she realized that she was the only one walking down the road. She was alone.

Everyone else had stopped.

Everyone else was staring.

Mouths open, eyes wide, Fred, George and Ron were all standing stock still in the middle of the dirt road, staring directly up at the sky.

Hermione could see a strange, flash-flash-flash of large shadows passing quickly by on the twilit ground beneath her feet. Then, at long last, she finally managed to pull the hair out of her eyes. She looked up… and felt her mouth fall open too.

"Whoa…" she heard Ron breathe.

In exactly the same fashion, Hermione felt every last trace of breath leave her body in one, single, stunned whisper.

"Oh, my…"

Now she knew why Harry did not need the cloak.

And he had been right.

Voldemort was not going to know what hit him.

Just Let it Happen

A Harry Potter Story
by La. Bel. LM

Part 33 of 35

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