Letter from Hogwarts and Gringotts Again
Today, two days before the holidays ended and we had to go back to Hogwarts, a ton of owls, six total, sailed into the kitchen and landed on the table, which caused a huge mess, as was to be expected. And as usual with Weasleys, this ended with a lot of chaos, fuss and shrieking, the poor animals. Until finally everyone was holding their letter in their hands, Sirius almost fell out of his chair with laughter. My hair looked like a big bird-nest, after some stupid joke article from the twins went wild and put the birds in even more unnecessary additional panic and they sought protection everywhere, literally everywhere. At least I wasn't the only fool. Harry was still crawling around the floor on all fours to find his glasses, which got torn away from his nose by a frightened owl. It was really a laugh. The table, or at least the food on it, had fallen victim to a battle, and Ron still tried unhappily to remove the muesli from his hair.
It was hysterically funny.
Thanks to magic, we were sitting around the table twenty-five minutes later, everyone and everything more or less tidied up. We opened our official Hogwarts letters. As I expected, a silver prefect badge fell in my lap. I didn't look particularly surprised at the table, but when I saw Ron's incredulous, pop-eyed gaze and Harry's bewildered stare toward Ron's hand, I became uneasy. I immediately wondered what kind of brilliant idea the old man had had now.
"I ... I ... don't believe it Harry, Hermione ... Mum!" Ron shouted excitedly and waved the bit of silver in his hand through the air. Oh, no, please don't. What was Dumbledore thinking? Why Ron? Why should Ron be made the male prefect and not Harry? I immediately threw an intense, reckoning glance at Harry. He tried bravely to conceal his disappointment, and to be happy for Ron, including a fake smile. How could the headmaster do this to him? Everyone expected Harry would hold that office. By doing this, Dumbledore humiliated him in front of everyone, especially in front of the Slytherins. Why? What was he thinking with his twisted brain? I couldn't see how this could be a clever move. Besides, Harry would soon have to face again the mockery and malice of his fellow students because he didn't become a prefect, just like in the very difficult fourth year - don’t even mention the way it ended.
Arrr, I was surrounded by idiots only and I would once again bet my right had that Draco Malfoy would very well become Slytherin’s prefect and with this thought I didn't even want to know why Dumbledore was doing this, except that he totally discriminated Harry. I wondered if Umbridge was a reason for this decision. No, why now already, no, it couldn't be, I rejected this train of thought and got angry. I gave up on the mystery and my need to understand the professor’s decision, because it would drive me into madness.
"Congratulations Ron!" I nodded. The completely surprising news that Ron was now holding this office had led to a small turmoil in the kitchen. Molly was so happy, she couldn't stop herself anymore. It was unbearable, as she instantly hugged Ron and sobbed aloud. The Twins gave me a disgruntled look, as to say, why Ron? Not that we weren't happy for him, but it should've been Harry. I shrugged in their direction, but I thought about what I could do.
"Uh, Harry, could you help me swiftly with my books?" I looked at him imploringly, and he looked back shyly and sadly, while Ron quickly turned to look at us.
"But Hermione, I can help you with it too!", the clumsy oaf Ron offered himself grandiloquently and puffed himself up. What was he thinking? Because we were now paired as prefects, we would be a pair in the romantical sense as well? How absolutely ridiculous this was! But the fiery gaze he gave me now could hardly be interpreted differently. He was so deep below me, I didn't mean that as bad as it sounded, but I had experienced a lot in my life, and the last few months separated me from normal young people of my age even more. Why else would I feel more comfortable being with the Twins, Harry or older men? They had experienced things, some of them horribly bad things, but it made them so unique and extraordinary. We weren't like the ignorant, large, normal mass of human beings, who knew nothing about the harsh and brutal reality of the world. I wouldn't say that we were special, but we were different in any case.
Only Harry, in his youthful naivete, hadn't yet accepted that he was different, special and certainly not normal, but the realisation would still set in. Sometimes it set in later rather than earlier, but it always set in.
"No thanks Ron, nice of you, but only Harry can help me, otherwise I would have to explain too much because it is about something muggle. Well, Harry, are you coming?" I got up and stopped Rons complain with a harsh gesture whilst the twins stepped in and began to tease him with his new title.
"Sure," Harry said, not very enthusiastically, but he shuffled after me faithfully. After closed the library door, I had quickly embraced the disappointed, sad, young man in the blink of an eye, and hold him tight. After a second, he gave up his stiff, uncomfortable posture and gave in to the feeling of security the embrace provided. I wanted to give him consolation, but I also knew that he was not accustomed to allow much physical closeness due to his life at the Dursleys. He always had to get used to accepting this, the token of affection, so he started to relax after a long time and then I whispered to shoulder.
"Oh, Harry, I'm sorry, but please, get over it, don't let anybody see it... play the indifferent!" I told him, as he tried to distance himself from me. But I was much stronger than him, thanks to my strength training, and so he gave up his effort very soon, when I didn't let go and clung to him. "Harry, I'm not talking about Ron or the others in this house," I said firmly, but stroked his back gently as well, to break his resistance, until he stopped abruptly to struggle and laid back in my arms again.
"Harry, can you hear me?" I implored him. He nodded mutely at my shoulder. We were still standing in the middle of the room, hugging tightly. I thought I heard a little sniff. Oh, my dear, poor Harry. I'd love to choke this old buffer, if he knew how he hurt Harry and his feelings again and again.
"Listen to me, as much as I hope I’m wrong about this, you know that I'm most likely correct with my assumptions, and I suspect Malfoy will be the prefect for his house," I continued to talk business with him, even while keeping him trapped in my embrace. Currently he struggled again quite energetically to free himself, but I knew how to prevent it. This showed me that he hadn’t thought that far, just like probably everyone else in the kitchen, okay, maybe excluding the twins, and that it made Harry’s humiliation complete.
"Shush, calm down. I told you because I want you to be above it, smiling, and not give them the satisfaction of seeing you hurt," I continued quickly, my voice urgent. He started to calm down, but couldn't suppress a sob, which escaped him loudly. I embraced him even more firmly.
“Why Dumbledore didn't appoint you as the prefect but chose Ron instead, I haven’t the faintest idea. I can't understand it and I think it's wrong!" I said fervently, allowing my hands to gently stroke Harry's trembling back in an effort to comfort him.
"Oh Mione, what would I do without you? You are my anchor; without you I wouldn't have survived the past few years,” he muttered softly, his face still pressed against my neck. “Especially the last year during the tournament. I would definitely be dead if you hadn't practiced with me."
"Shush, Harry don't say that! I do this because I love you. Don't count it up, because you don't owe me anything, understood?" I whispered roughly into his ear. He nodded hesitantly, but I knew we understood each other in that matter.
"I'm so disappointed, have I done something wrong?” His voice was full of anguish. “Also, I'm a bad friend. I'm happy for Ron, but then I'm not!", he stuttered, his confusion and frustration evident. I pulled myself back, releasing him from my embrace in order to face him. I could see unshed tears glimmer in his eyes and his nose was red.
"No, no, no, that's the wrong way of thinking," I told him indignantly. "Harry, I know you don't want to hear it, but Dumbledore is doing something wrong,” I said, my disapproval clear. I then tried to reassure him. “You didn't do anything wrong. And that you envy Ron is understandable, but that doesn't make you a bad friend! Also, Ron hadn’t exactly covered himself in glory last year!" I showed my anger openly. I pulled him to the couch and cuddled with him to comfort him.
"Hmm, you're right, now I'm no longer sad, but annoyed! It's not that I really want to be a prefect, but everyone ...! Well, if everyone assumes it ... and you really believe he makes Malfoy a prefect and not me?" He looked trustingly at me with his big, emerald eyes and spoke a lot of truth. It would have surprised me if Harry had wanted this post of his own accord, but as he said it, if this was expected by your environment, you also expect it and that was the terrible offense of Dumbledore, as I thought. At first he made it appear as if Harry would always play a special role for him and now that! I breathed out unhappily.
"Yes, Harry, I fear it to 100 percent!", I stated gently while I smiled sadly at him.
"If you say so, I believe it. I would never bet against you in such a case," he laughed unhappily, his expression showing a certain serenity that hadn't been there before.
"And you think I should endure it with a cold shoulder?", he asked cautiously, looking quite unhappy.
"Yes, don't give them the satisfaction! Be above it with a fake smile!" I pled with him, stroking his cheek encouragingly. He suddenly turned his face and grazed the fingers of my hand with his lips, then lifted his own one, gently took my still raised hand into his and breathed a soft kiss on it. It was an unfamiliar charming gesture that surprised me, but it was simply sweet.
"You're the best thing that could happen to me. I thank you, that you always help me with advice and deeds, thank you!", he whispered intensely and tenderly caressed the back of my hand with his thumb.
"Of course Harry. Are you better?" I asked, unusually caring. He nodded briefly and smiled slightly, though it wasn't easy for him.
"I'll go and celebrate Ron. He is otherwise always in my shadow! He should enjoy it!", it came surprisingly solid of Harry and he rose. It showed, that Harry was a really good friend who managed to get his own disappointment behind him.
"Do that, I'll stay here," I replied, smiling sweetly.
"I thought so, my bookworm!" He laughed heartily. Good, we had this drama behind us. But Harry's statement occupied me. Had the old man actually given Ron the office so that he wouldn't always be in Harry's shadow? That would be so unfair. Ron had to be buttered up, so he would stay Harry's friend? What was going on in Dumbledore's mind? Especially how Ron had behaved in fourth year, he could be glad that Harry wanted him as a friend again. Oh, when I thought back to the time of the tournament and Ron's inappropriate, jealous behavior, I regularly began to boil on the inside. But I couldn't go to Ron and tear the badge out of his hands, so I accepted the idiotic decision and stringently continued my daily routine.
I arrived back for dinner. My sensei demanded more and more from me. I had to increase my strength training steadily and a constant development was noticeable as a result. I would've never anticipated or even thought it possible that I could ever be so strong. No one would presume this strength in my small, delicate body, but I was absolutely exhausted as a result of the exertion and burst into the middle of a party - for Ron and me to celebrate our prefect appointment, Sirius explained to me whisperingly. Aha ... nice for Ron ... and appaling for me, this noise!
They had turned the kitchen into a mess of chaotic, colorful confetti, with garlands and colorful plates and cups. The dessert was a cake with silver glaze, whose shape was modeled after the prefect plaque, but which seemed relatively crooked. Ron immediately presented his gift to me enthusiastically, a voucher for a racing broom which he would be able to redeem tomorrow. Under Sirius' attentive gaze I secretly took Harry's hand and squeezed it lovingly. The night went on longer thanks to the party and the Twins seized the moment to perform many mean jokes on Ron's cost. My two Red Devils could be so magnificently evil and compensated me.
Later, Sirius also found a way to vent out his frustrations, with a little help from myself. He wasn't happy to be alone at Grimmauld Place again, his only company his nagging mother and Kreacher, whom he loathed from the bottom of his heart. He was becoming quite melancholic, but I managed to divert his thoughts. So we spent a passionate night, though tainted with the bitter aftertaste of parting.
The next day everyone was in a rush to get ready for today’s trip to Diagon Alley, since tomorrow was the last day in the Blacks’ homestead before heading back to Hogwarts. The knowledge that I would be a Prefect made it easier for me to set up any plans I had for the future, mainly because I would have privileges that most that Hogwarts students didn't.
The position brought with it some perks I would make sure to use. The duties, on the other hand, were laughably small. Sirius looked very sad, probably because he would have to stay back at the house. I said good-bye with a smile promising unforgettable hours, before our large group, containing Molly, Arthur, Twins, Ron, Ginny, Remus, Tonks, Harry and myself, began to make our way to the Leaky Cauldron and into Diagon Alley.
The medieval looking alley was brimming with activity, witches, wizards were buzzing around with their families. I loved feeling like this. It would be nice to be able to easily enjoy life and what it offered without having the thought of having the Dark Lord returning hanging over our heads, but he was, and now we all had to live with the darkness that was beginning to rise. Vanishing that train of thought from my head I began leading the way to Madam Malkin’s for new robes and a quick stop inside Mr. Mulpeppers Apothecary to restock and Eeylops’ for treats and so on. After we had purchased our books at Flourish and Blotts we all decided that a long day deserved a good treat so we all went to Florean Fortescue's for ice cream, where the Quidditch loving Weasley clan agreed to go and get Ron's broom. And never one to miss an opportunity, I put the plan into motion that I had devised a long time ago, given that my appointment was fixed since the start of the holidays.
"I’m sorry guys, you’ll have to go without me!" I Ï made a show of apologizing to the boisterous group standing under the bright blue sky, their hair catching the light making it look as if it was burning.
"But Hermione, why, what, how?", Harry whined eloquently.
"I have an appointment. See you this evening, okay?" I said, placing my hand on his shoulder and giving him a brief kiss on the cheek, noticing out of the corner of my eye that Ginny was watching, her face looking like she had bitten into a lemon. Seeing this, Fred and George began to imitate me and Harry jokingly and mocked Ginny, apparently her coy fawning for Harry was getting on their nerves.
"An appointment Hermione, really? That’s not feasible. What are you up to?" Remus asked his head shaking in disapproval.
"I have an appointment. Nothing I haven’t done frequently in the last few weeks," I said in annoyance, why was everyone suddenly questioning me?
"But that's too dangerous now," Molly said, disapprovingly, and Remus nodded in agreement.
"It's not and if I don’t hurry, I'll be late and I don't like being late." I snapped and pursed my lips into an angry line.
"See you all later," I said in finality before I stormed off into the midst of the masses crowding Diagon Alley in the hours before noon.
"Hermione, wait!" Harry and Ron were already shouting. "We're all coming along!"
Yes, because that is exactly what I need right now. I thought sarcastically. I needed to act fast. Noticing an opening, I quickly slipped into the crowd and pulled out my wand before transforming myself into Minna Cale, and making a run for it, feeling thankful that I had chosen to wear my light, dark gray coat, and didn't stand out any further because of it. Once I was a safe distance away I fell into a more leisurely pace, and soon a bunch of redheads stormed past me. At a much slower pace a pair of twins followed the others, seeming to enjoy themselves splendidly.
I couldn't resist the triumphant smile that crept onto my face as I hurried up the white steps into the building and to my appointment, to my important appointment with Rangok. A few minutes later, I was sitting opposite of him in his pretty, bright, marble office. "How lovely to see you again, Miss Granger. How were your holidays, relaxing I hope?" He asked politely, and as I was now more practiced to conjure up my disguise, I sat opposite him as myself.
"Thank you for your concern, Mr. Rangok, it was both eventful and successful. Less refreshing I fear," I said with a friendly smile as I looked at the goblin.
"Well then, before we discuss further issues, I will bring you up to date with the activities so far,” he said eagerly. I watched him attentively as he straightened himself up.
"First point of business: We've finished faking your muggle documents, including new identities for both your parents. All you have to do is to mandate the time for the exchange with the real documents.” he said giving me a look before he continued. “The magical documents attesting that you are a year older, due to the use of a time-turner, have already been made in your presence and thus, they will go automatically to the ministry when you give us the go ahead." After taking a short breath he reached for the next pile of parchments, before continuing.
"Second: The properties in Australia have already been considered and can be acquired." I nodded in satisfaction and he carried on. "Third: The documents necessary to put your parents’ dental practice up for sale here in England are finished and thus it can be released for sale at any moment." That worked better than expected, I thought in surprise, while Rangok continued and didn't disappoint me.
"Fourth: The accounts, shares and savings schemes for them have also been prepared for when you’re ready to have them attached to their new identities. In which case, we also prepared the pension payments and health insurance contributions of your parents to be transferred to their new names." The immense wave of relief that flooded over me at hearing this was so powerful, I felt a great weight lift from my shoulders. This was good, this was really good. I listened to the goblin with newfound eagerness as he pulled forth what appeared to be the last stack of parchments.
"Fifth point of business: The accounts and savings schemes which your parents created for you, are also ready to be transferred to your Gringotts vault as soon as you give us the starting signal. Sixth and last, a warding team is on standby to provide the blood protection for your parents home in Chelsea as soon as they are gone." Now he nodded in contentment as he peered back at the documents before continuing.
"Well, I think that was everything for now. Oh no, here your, ... your last instruction ... ah here, we did as you instructed and sent 2,000 galleons to the vault of Mr & Mr Weasley!", Rangok explained and then leaned back, satisfied.
"Mr. Rangok, I don't know what to say. Gringotts is incredible. I don't know what compliment I can give to express my full satisfaction," I said, deadly serious.
"I thank you for the compliment, Miss Granger!" He bowed slightly, showing his sharp teeth. "Gringotts sets great value that its customers are absolutely satisfied!"
"Can I do something else for you?" He asked tentatively.
"You can indeed, Mr. Rangok. Point 1: I plan to send my parents away next year one day after the start of the summer holidays, so on the first of July. That is, I would start with the sale of the dental practice one to two months before that and then hand it over in the late afternoon on the day my parents disappear. Once the practice has been sold, please immediately buy the real estate, home and practice in Australia. The flight tickets should also be issued for the first day of the holidays, I leave the exact time to you. I'll change their memories at 8 o'clock, after that they'll be yours!", it came very structured from me, but also unemotional, while Rangok just nodded.
"This is all very realistic. That means the final deadline for the remaining points is the first of July, correct?" I shrugged in agreement.
"Mr Rangok, I thought you might make it look like the married couple Granger really wanted to emigrate, and then, under unfortunate circumstances, it would never happen!" I said deliberately and very suggestively.
"Everything is recorded, but I don't quite understand your last idea yet?" He scribbled quickly and asked, interested. "What do you really mean, what should we do?",he enquired offensively now, a devious gleam in his eyes while he looked intensely at me.
"This could be delicate now and it is very unpleasant for me, I hope you ... ah ..." I stopped frustrated. I didn't really want to talk about this with the goblin, but I needed their help to do all this as I planned.
"You know that we take the secrets of our customers very seriously, Miss Granger. Your secrets are our secrets, that has been the business policy for centuries!" The little goblin said seriously and made a wide-reaching, all-embracing gesture with his hand. I nodded, surrendered, and then raised my head resolutely, and straightened my back. Finally I released my breath in a long sigh.
"I would like you to book a family suite at the ’Marquis Inn’ in Dover on the family name Granger starting on the first of July. I will check in after you took over my parents. Hence, I would like you to not sell my parent's car, but to make sure that the car is on the first of July at 10 pm at the Chalk Cliffs in Dover," I explained. Rangok grimaced so much his eyebrows just reached his hairline. I could almost hear him rack his brain.
"I ... however you wish, anything else?" I could see how difficult it was for him to ask no questions.
"Please, leave the life insurances of my parents, as I know I am registered as the beneficiary after the specific parent!", I declared emotionless, cold. Rangok's eyes had just to be described as gigantic after my words and disbelief glimmered through them at me.
"Let me check that, Miss Granger!" He croaked a little, his voice sounded slightly pressed. I leaned back and waited and watched the swiftly floating parchments. Rangok suddenly seemed a little bit less confident than I had ever seen him.
"Yes, yes, here we have it! What you say is correct. Mr. and Mrs. Granger each have a life insurance, with 2 million pounds per person completed in your favor!", he read zealously.
"Wonderful, you know Mr. Rangok, I thought it might be noticeable when my parents suddenly disappeared, but this way there will be a natural explanation that I don't have any parents anymore," I smiled now, and received just brief silence.
"But how do we explain that your parents wanted to leave from here?", he asked curiously.
"Well, as I said before, you can make it look as if they were really intending to emigrate for example to America or Africa, and wanted to go on a last family trip with me in England. It doesn't matter where my parents live, since I go to a boarding school. But before they can fully turn their backs on England, they will unfortunately...", I left it open cryptically and made a vague hand gesture, something that the magical being in front of me skeptically looked at before he shivered and then continued busily as usual.
"All right, as you wish, Miss Granger. Everything will be done, but you intend to really send your parents away, don't you? How will that work with the car and the life insurance?", the goblin wanted to know curiously, as he wriggled on his chair, unusually restless for a goblin.
"My dear Mr. Rangok, let that be my concern. If everything has been successful, we'll talk about it in detail!" I promised, but quickly showed him his boundaries.
"Of course, Miss Granger, can I do anything else for you?", he asked attentively.
"No, that's it. It was a pleasure for me as always, and I am looking forward to our mail exchange, from now on every first and 15th day of the month. I once again thank you for your extraordinary effort. It's always a pleasure to do business with you!", I bowed politely and said goodbye.
On to my next appointment.