6, 8, 12
After four years...
"Hermione aren't you done yet?" Ron asked irritably.
"I'll be out in a sec Ron. I'm just looking for - ah, got it!" Hermione said triumphantly.
"We'll you better hurry or we'll both be late and you know Ginny!" he replied. "Women! Always takes them a bloody long time to get dressed - Merlin! It's just a kid's party!" he mumbled to himself.
"Hush now Ronald! I'm done" she said as she stepped out of her room.
He turned around and studied her from head to toe.
"Am I up to your par?" she asked with a quirked brow.
He cracked a smile, "You're absolutely stunning, love!" he said approvingly.
"I don't think Lavender would appreciate you saying that, but thank you,"
He huffed playfully: "It's you, I'm sure she wouldn't mind, but If you're one of my groupies - I'm sure she'll hex your pretty face off..."
She smiled at him fondly, "I can't blame her, your groupies are acting off the charts lately. I swear they all lost their plots when they started stalking you - you of all people!" she teased.
"Ha, ha, you're still buckets of laugh Mione" he said sarcastically.
She wrapped her arm around his, "And you love me because of that," she chimed cheekily.
He kissed her temple, "That I do, now let's go" he said as he took his wand out of his back pocket. "Hold on tight, love" he said before disapparating them with a loud pop. They re-appeared in the middle of a large sitting room, "You okay?" he asked.
She untangled her arm from his, "Yeah, I really hate side long app-"
"Uncle Ron!" a little voice shrieked loudly.
He swiftly turned around and grinned at the raven-haired boy standing next to the door. "Hey chap!"
The boy sprinted towards his uncle and hugged his legs tightly, "I missed you!"
He nuzzled his hair affectionately; "I've missed you too, look who's here for your birthday" he said gesturing towards his left.
"Aunt Mione!" James exclaimed.
She sat on her haunches and opened her arms, "Come here and give your favorite Auntie a hug" she said.
James eyes lit up as he flung his little arms around her.
She wrapped the boy into a tight hug, "I've missed you so much sweetheart, happy birthday!" she said as she planted butterfly kisses on his face.
He giggled loudly, "That tickles - stop!" he shrieked.
She grinned, "I'm sorry baby, I can't help it - you're too cute for your own good!" she said while pinching his nose.
"I'm not a baby anymore, I'm turning six today!" James said proudly.
"A handsome young man, yes, you're no longer a baby" she agreed with feigned solemnity.
James beamed, "Yes, I'm a young man!"
"He's just like Harry" she said while looking at Ron.
He grinned, "Mini-me sans glasses," he agreed.
She chuckled as she stood up, "Well young man, tomorrow we'll be going to Diagon Alley to pick your gift, how does that sound?" she asked.
James eyes widened comically, "Really? I love you, Auntie Mione! I really do!" he hooted cheerfully.
"I love you too sweetheart," she replied.
"Well, well, well, what do we have here? Ron, aren't you even going to introduce me to that sexy lady standing beside you?"
They turned towards the voice and saw Harry leaning on the door frame, a large smile pasted on his face.
She grinned, "How are you doing golden boy?" she asked playfully.
Harry laughed as he made his way towards her, "I'm doing quite well, how's your books - still wearing them out?" he teased.
She punched his arm before hugging him tightly, "And Ron thinks I'm the funny one, ha!" she said. "I've missed you!" she added.
"I missed too" he replied. He pulled away but kept her in arms length, "How have you been gorgeous? You're great at hiding by the way," he said.
"I was not hiding, just busy with work."
"Busy my arse! You've been spotted. You were on a date with Zabini," he said with a smirk.
Ron raised his brow, "You're dating Zabini?"
She threw Harry a murderous look, her whole face burning bright with embarrassment, "You -"
"Hermione! You're here!"
She took a peek over Harry's shoulder and saw Ginny walking towards her, "Gin!"
Ginny threw her arms around her, "It's been a long time! Where have you been hiding?"
"I was not hiding, I was busy with -"
"Zabini," Ron and Harry chorused jovially.
Ginny pulled away, "You're dating Blaise?" she asked, her face full of curiosity.
"I'm going to murder you both!" she hissed at her boys. She then turned her attention back to Ginny, "We just grabbed a bite once, that's it - once," she said, emphasizing the last word.
Ginny grinned, "Once is a good thing, it means that he's interested in you."
Ron slapped his hands on his ears, "I don't want to hear this," he groaned.
Harry wrinkled his nose, "I'm with Ron, I don't think I want to hear about Hermione's burgeoning love life, it's Zabini for Merlin's sake!"
Ginny waved her hand dismissively, "Then leave the room, it's as simple as that" she chided. "So, any plans on -"
"Muuuummmmmm" James whined. "Aren't we going to start my party yet?"
"Oh I'm sorry darling, yes we will start, "Ginny said with an apologetic smile.
She let out a relieved sigh as she started walking towards the garden, "Thank Merlin," she mumbled.
The party was a success and James was beyond euphoric. After opening all his presents, he quickly dozed off on the floor and Ginny had to carry him upstairs for a kip. While waiting for her friend, Hermione hopped up the counter and watched as Harry and Ron fumbled with the tables and chairs.
"He's fast asleep now, what a day" Ginny said with a tired sigh.
She smiled, "He's growing up so fast and he's getting handsome day by day. I bet he'll give Harry a run for his money."
"It does run in the family" Ginny wiggled her brows.
"Glad to know you're still humble as ever," she snorted. "Oh, I almost forgot - can I take James to Diagon Alley tomorrow? I promised to buy him a birthday gift."
"Of course you can take him, you're his Godmother" Ginny replied. "Don't go overboard though, we don't want him to be spoiled like..." she let her sentence hang as she threw her a knowing look.
She knew what Ginny was up to, but she pretended that she didn't, "I won't, I promise to make our purchase within a reasonable amount, nothing extravagant."
Ginny walked towards the sink and started putting away the dishes, "Are we really going to ignore the pink elephant in the room?"
She averted her gaze, "I don't know what you mean," she lied.
Ginny braced her hands on the sink and turned her face towards her, "Are you still looking for him?" she asked bluntly.
She felt her heart drop to her stomach as her hands started to feel clammy, "L - looking for who?"
She gripped the cold marble counter top until her knuckles turned white, "I -" she clamped her lips shut when she couldn't come up with another lie. It's true, she has been looking for him for years, but she didn't know she was that obvious. She hung her head and let out a defeated sigh, she only wanted to see him because she wanted to make sure that his life turned out okay, if he's okay, well - that's what she kept telling herself anyway.
"I need a drink," Ginny announced as she made her way towards the fridge. "Grab some glasses, white wine okay?"
She hopped off the counter and grabbed two glasses from the shelf above her, "Yeah,"
Ginny popped the cork off and stared filling the glasses to the brim.
She plucked her drink and took a large gulp.
"And here I thought I was the one who needed a drink," Ginny eyed her with amusement. She took her own glass and started sipping the cold beverage, "Go on, I'm listening" she encouraged.
She emptied her glass before placing it back on top of the counter, "You're right. I tried looking for him for the past four years, but I already decided to stop. Why? Because you can't find someone who doesn't want to be found," she said as she poured herself another round.
"Do you still feel the same for him? Do you still love him?"
She averted her gaze, "I wouldn't have wasted four years looking for him if I didn't" she admitted. She then turned towards the large bay windows and fixed her eyes on the setting sun, "But like what I said, I've decided to stop. I can't keep my life on pause and continue pinning for someone who obviously moved on."
She turned her face to the side, "Want to help me forget?"
"What?" Ginny asked before emptying her glass.
She offered a small smile, albeit sadly. "Want to obliviate me? You're pretty handy with a wand, I'm quite sure you won't botch it. Or better yet, do you know someone who makes potions that can erase specific memories? I'd really want to try that, you know, so I can finally move on with my life..."
Ginny snorted as she poured herself another hefty round, "Oh please, we both know you wouldn't push through with that,"
She threw her friend an incredulous look, "Why in the world would you think I wouldn't go through with it? I just told you that-"
"Because you wouldn't want to forget him, no matter how much your past hurts," Ginny interjected. "And besides, even if you go through with it, your heart would still recognize what your mind has forgotten. Do not underestimate the power of inside memory love, it's much strong than we realize."
She huffed; sometimes she can't help but hate Ginny's logic. The woman clearly knows what she's talking about which in turn, makes her see sense too.
"He's in France."
Her head snapped to the side, "I - I'm sorry, what did you just say?" she asked.
Ginny took another mouthful of wine before she turned to meet her bewildered gaze, "He left London the same day you were released from St. Mungos. The Ministry offered him a position and he accepted it."
Her heart started beating wildly inside her chest, "H—how do you know all of this?"
Ginny looked guilty, "Because he owls me every once in a while."
She felt waves of betrayal and irrational anger surge into her system, "Why didn't you tell me? You knew I was looking for him and you - how could you?" she yelled as her eyes started stinging with tears.
"Because you never asked me! I've been trying to tell you for the longest time, Harry and I -"
She slapped her palm on the counter, "You should've-"
"No!" Ginny cut her off with a stern voice. "We tried telling you on several occasions but you're always busy! I tried Hermione - we tried, but you're just too stubborn for your own good!"
She braced her hands on the counter and tried to calm herself down. Ginny was right, they did try several times but she kept shooting them down. She knew she was being irrational, but God, she can't help but feel betrayed.
Ginny placed her hand on top of hers, "We didn't keep it from you to intentionally hurt you Hermione, you have to believe that. Merlin knows how much Harry and I wanted to tell you, but you keep on shutting us out" she softly explained. She squeezed her hand, silently asking her to look up, "If we could only take half of the pain you're feeling, we would've done that in a heartbeat, you know that."
The anger she felt towards the red head vanished like a puff of smoke upon hearing Ginny's words. She was not an innocent victim here; she had a hand in this too. If only she spared them a minute and listened to what they've got to say, then maybe she's not in this position now. Merlin, four years - she wasted for years looking for him when all she had to do was ask help from her friends. "I - I'm sorry Gin..."
Ginny flung her arms around her and gave her a hug, "No need for apologies love, I'm sorry too."
She leaned her head on hers, "H - how is he?"
"He's fine. Last thing I've heard, he quit working for the Ministry and started his own Potions Apothecary. He's making a name for himself and he seems to be succeeding, his shop is quite popular."
She can't help but smile, "He's always been good with Potions,"
Ginny pulled away, "Aren't you going to ask me the most important question?" she asked.
She quickly looked away when she felt her cheeks burn, "Err -"
"He's not yet married and he has not dated a single girl since he left London," Ginny offered.
She hung her head to hide her face, she needed a minute to digest everything she just learned about him. After a moment, she turned her face to the side, "Thank you, I needed to know that. Now I can start living my life knowing that he's okay" she said with all the honesty she can muster.
"You're welcome," Ginny replied. "You are my sister and I'll do anything for you - all you need to do is ask."
She hastily wiped the tear that escaped her eye, "I know that now," she said with a small smile.
"Whoa! What's with the tears?" Ron asked as he entered the kitchen.
Harry fell into step with Ron, "Everything okay here?" he asked as he stared at his wife and best friend with concern.
She opened her mouth to respond, but Ginny beat her to it. "We're just reminiscing about our good old days, nothing to worry about," the red head said.
"You sure?" Harry asked.
"Yes, we're sure" she interjected.
Tap - tap - tap
They all looked to their left and saw a big barn owl perched on the sill. "I'll get it," Harry said as he walked towards the window. He leaned forward and gently unlatched the scroll tied on the fowl's scrawny leg, "Thank you" he said, making the owl hoot before it flew.
"What is it?" Ron asked curiously.
Harry unrolled the parchment and started reading, "It's from Dumbledore, it's an invitation for a Homecoming?" he wrinkled his nose. "And it's a masquerade Ball, I didn't know we have those in Hogwarts."
Ginny walked towards Harry and pried the letter off his hand, "Oh, your names are here too - Hermione and Ron."
She scrunched her face in distaste, "A masquerade ball?"
"Let me see," Ron said.
Ginny handed the paper to her brother, her face full of delight. "I guess we have another party to attend this Yule, what a lovely idea!" she clapped her hands in excitement.
"Bloody hell" Harry groaned.
She mirrored Harry's reaction, "Bloody hell indeed."