Chapter 4: Travel Plans
|Chapter 3||Chapter Index||Chapter 5|
On a warm afternoon at the Burrow some days later, the four of them were sitting in the shade outdoors. They had just finished lunch at the picnic table. For most of the morning, Hermione had been thoughtful and quiet as they all helped Molly with some chores. The afternoon was free and they had not made any plans.
Hermione stood and held out her hand toward Ron. "Let's go for a walk."
From the tone in her voice, it seemed a request that shouldn't be questioned. Ron stood and took hold of her hand. He glanced at Harry and Ginny saying, "We'll see you later."
Harry watched as Ron and Hermione followed a path that led up a small hill into the woods. After a few minutes, they disappeared from sight.
"Hey Potter!" came a loud voice from nearby. "Think you remember how to use one of these?" He turned to see Ginny standing about fifteen feet away holding two brooms.
Harry stood and caught the broom she tossed to him. "What do you have in mind Weasley?"
Ginny held up her hand and he saw that she was holding a golden snitch, its wings flapping hard trying to get away. "I'll go easy on you since your flying is probably pathetic. Loser makes everyone magic hot cocoa this evening." Her fingers opened and the snitch darted away.
"You're on Weasley. And be sure you add marshmallows to mine."
They both quickly mounted their brooms and kicked off. Two blurred figures spiraled around each other in a double helix as they shot into the sky. Out across the meadow, they darted and turned sharply, heckling each other while in hot pursuit of the snitch.
The birds were singing in the canopy of trees above them as they walked silently hand-in-hand enjoying the peaceful solitude. Their steps gently crunched the fallen leaves as they walked. Reaching the top of the rise, they made their way to a grassy area beneath a large tree. Looking off in the distance, Hermione walked in a circle around the tree muttering, "Homenum Revelio!" Ron followed behind her.
She came to an abrupt stop. "There's someone about two hundred feet in that direction. They're moving quickly away." Ron drew out his wand. A brief moment later, there was a distant snap, like a twig breaking, from the same general direction.
"Whoever it was is gone now," said Hermione. "They've probably disapparated."
"Let's have a quick look around," said Ron.
For the next few minutes, they both walked the area out a short distance from the tree muttering, "Specialis Revelio." Finding nothing and satisfied that they were alone, they sat down side-by-side leaning back against the tree trunk.
Ron looked at Hermione. "So what did you want to talk about?"
Looking at the ground with a tense worried expression on her face, she quietly said, "I have to go to Australia and undo what I did." She looked at him. "I have to give them back their memories."
He looked at her and his eyebrows narrowed slightly at these words. Then, realizing their meaning he said, "Oh Hermione, I'm sorry, I forgot about your parents."
With a small quaver in her voice she said, "I took away the most precious thing in their life. The memory of their only daughter and the joy and happiness they had with her."
"You did it for a very good and right reason Hermione. You were keeping them safe. They might have been dead by now if you hadn't done it."
"I know," she said in a meek voice. "But they're going to be so angry and disappointed with me. I don't think they'll ever trust me again."
"Hermione," said Ron sympathetically, "you have great parents. I'm sure they'll understand once we explain it to them. I'll be there to help you."
"Really Ron? ... You'd go there with me?"
"What kind of a question is that Hermione? Of course I will."
She threw her arms around his neck. "Oh Ron, you have no idea how much better that makes me feel."
Sitting back and looking at him she said, "There's so much that needs to be worked out."
"Yeah, but you're the best when it comes to magic spells and charms."
"It's a very tricky charm and I'm sure I can reverse it. But that's not the hard part. How do we get there? You heard what Kingsley told us when he gave us the badges. There are still workers at the Ministry of questionable loyalty. We'll be risking capture by dark forces still at large if we make travel arrangements. And once we get to Australia, where will we stay? It could take weeks to find my parents."
"I see what you mean," said Ron with a thoughtful expression. "Could we go by muggle air transport? Dark wizards would probably not pay much attention to that form of travel."
"I didn't think of that ... we could ... but we'd have to use muggle money. That long of a trip will be very expensive."
They both leaned back against the tree thinking. After a short while Ron said, "Maybe we should ask my dad about it. He'll know what to do. He arranged the Weasley family trip to Egypt."
"Yes, I think that's a good idea." They were quiet for a moment. Then, with a small smile she said, "We should probably start back. Harry and Ginny are going to think were off snogging ourselves silly."
"They're going to think that anyway. Reckon it should be based in fact?"
"Yes, we wouldn't want any misunderstandings."
Harry pulled his broom to a quick stop and hovered a few feet in front of Ginny. She looked at him with a big grin on her face holding the snitch firmly in her hand.
Harry said, "How 'bout we make it the best three out of five?"
"No way. I beat you fair and square. You pay up tonight."
"Well ..." he pointed at her broom, "your broom is faster. You had an unfair advantage."
"In your dreams Potter. This is the slowest Cleansweep in the shed." Then with a smirk, she maneuvered her broom very close in front of him. "But you do get a consolation prize for some fun flying." She put her hands behind his neck and kissed him.
She released him and with a bemused expression he said, "It was two tough losses. I think I need a little more consolation."
She grinned. "Don't push your luck Potter."
He flipped upside down and hovered with his head very close in front of hers.
She laughed. "Okay." ...
"Pah-leeze, enough already," said Ron from down where they had eaten lunch.
"No different than you and Hermione," said Ginny in loud reply.
With a conceding expression and slow shake of his head, Ron sat down at the table next to Hermione.
Harry and Ginny flew down and landed. "Give me your broom and I'll put them away," said Harry.
"Okay, thanks. I'll get us all some more lemonade." Taking the tray and empty glasses, she walked across the yard toward the kitchen door.
Harry took the brooms to the shed and put them away. He started back but seeing his shoe untied, he stopped to retie it. He heard Ron and Hermione's voices somewhat louder than normal. He smiled to himself and thought, "Some things never change."
"I told you Ron, I don't feel right about imposing. Even if he doesn't want to, he'll feel obligated."
"It can't hurt to ask Hermione, he's our best friend. He'll feel hurt if you don't ask. You know we'd feel the same if it was the other way around."
Their conversation abruptly ended and after waiting a few moments longer, Harry stood up and walked back to where they were sitting. Hermione had an uneasy look on her face but Harry looked past her to Ginny who was walking toward them carrying a tray laden with glasses and a pitcher.
She set the tray on the picnic table. "Lemonade anyone?" They all nodded and she filled the glasses from the pitcher. Then she seated herself next to Harry.
Ron pointed over his shoulder saying, "Up on the hill, someone was there and skived off when they saw us coming. We think they were probably trying to watch the Burrow."
"Did you find anything?" asked Harry.
Ron shook his head. "We searched the area and didn't even come across a foot print. Whoever it was covered really well. I can't imagine what good it would do to watch from up there. You can't see into the security boundary Bill and Charlie set up."
They were quiet for a time sipping lemonade.
"There's ... there's something I need to ask you and I'm feeling really uncomfortable about it."
He looked at her and in all seriousness said, "Hermione, you can ask me anything at any time. We're best friends and you're stuck with me for the rest of your life."
She smiled and said, "Touché."
Then she took a deep breath and let it out in a huff. "Okay, Ron and I need to go find my parents and put their memories right. The travel and accommodations ..." With an anxious expression, she bit her lower lip.
"Will cost money," said Harry completing her sentence.
In a meek voice she said, "Yes."
"That's an easy answer Hermione. I would be happy to help you with that detail." As she started to speak, Harry held up his hand. "Payback will not be accepted."
"Harry, listen, I don't feel right about—"
"No Hermione, you listen," said Harry a bit louder than he intended. "You had to use extraordinary means to protect the lives of your parents from Voldemort because of me and our friendship. Then, you and Ron risked your lives helping me defeat him. Please let me do something for you. I want to help make it right for your mum and dad."
Seeing the firm resolve on his face, she relented. "Okay ... but I still don't feel right about it."
Harry took a sip of his lemonade. "Now I have a question for you. Can we help you find your parents?"
Her eyes narrowed in thought for a moment. Then, understanding the question, she smiled and looked at Ron. He nodded back to her. She said, "We'd very much appreciate the extra help."
Harry smiled. He turned to Ginny and said, "Ginny, would you like to go to Australia?"
She gasped, "Really? Oh yes." Then she looked at Hermione. "Why are your parents in Australia?"
There was a look of astonishment on Ginny's face as Hermione told her what she had done to keep her parents safe.
"We need to talk to Mum and Dad about all of this tonight," said Ron. "We still need to figure out the travel part."
"Your mum and dad are going to think I'm a troll," said Hermione in a downcast voice.
Ron rolled his eyes. "No, they won't. But we do need to figure out how to ease them into it."
Looking at Harry, Ginny said, "Maybe after your hot cocoa wager payoff."
Ron and Hermione looked at Harry who was silently gazing into his glass of lemonade. After a short pause, they both snickered.
"What was the score?" asked Ron.
"Best two catches out of three," said Ginny with a smile.
"That's ... respectable," said Ron slowly nodding with a thoughtful expression.
In a tone of disbelief, Hermione said, "Respectable? What's that supposed to mean?"
"She's really good," said Harry, "just like the cocoa you're all going to get later tonight."
Ginny put her arms around Harry and gave him a tight squeeze.
"Do you need any help Harry dear?" said Molly from her chair. Her knitting floated in front of her and the needles moved silently along a row of stitches. Arthur was in his chair hidden behind the Daily Prophet.
Harry's voice came through the open door to the kitchen. "No thanks, about done. Just adding the finishing touches. You can all gather around the tea table."
The tea table was set in front of Arthur and Molly. Ron, Hermione, and Ginny moved over to the table and sat on the floor around it. Harry had convinced George to join them this evening and he moved to a chair close to the table.
With an unsure glance toward the kitchen door, George quietly said, "Has Harry made hot cocoa before?"
"I don't know," said Hermione. "But he did do a lot of muggle cooking for the Dursleys."
A moment later, a large tray floated out of the kitchen followed by Harry pointing his wand at it. The tray settled gently onto the tea table. There were mugs filled with cocoa and foam coated the surface of the hot liquid. There was also a bowl with marshmallows and another small bowl containing chocolate shavings. Harry knelt down by the edge of the table.
"First," said Harry, "everyone take a mug." Each mug briefly glowed when it was lifted from the tray. "Now take some chocolate shavings and sprinkle them into your mug."
They each did so and the cocoa in each mug began to gently bubble. A moment later, they all had delighted expressions on their faces.
From each mug, steam spiraled upward a short distance and formed into a miniature three-dimensional floating image. Arthur's image showed him smiling with his two cupped hands side-by-side. Molly and their children were happily resting within the hands.
The steam from Molly's mug became a bouquet of flowers showing each of her children's face within the petals. A band, with a heart shape, surrounded the flower stems holding them together. In the heart was the word 'Mum'.
In George's image, two heads faced each other. Then the heads moved together and merged into a single head with fireworks exploding around it. The face winked and nodded with a smirk.
Ron's image showed Harry and Hermione crouched down with wands drawn and looking at something in the distance. Ron stood in front with a defiant expression, defending them with the Sword of Gryffindor raised high in his hands.
In Hermione's image, she stood on a stack of books between Ron and Harry. One of her hands was on each of their shoulders. The heads of Harry and Ron were turned and looking at her. There was a mortarboard on her head and a confident expression on her face.
In Ginny's image, she and Harry were on brooms. The figures flew randomly, then side-by-side, and then in circles around each other.
"This is wonderful Harry!" said Ginny. "May we see yours?"
He set is mug on the table and dropped in some shaved chocolate. The steam formed into a family gathered around a tea table laughing and enjoying each other's company.
"This is really good Harry," said George with a thoughtful expression. "There might be a product here."
Harry picked up his mug and gently blew across the surface of the liquid to cool it. The image dissolved with scintillating sparkles. After dropping in a few marshmallows, he took a sip. They all delightedly blew into their mugs.
Harry looked at Ron and Hermione, raised his eyebrows and gave them a small nod. Ron and Hermione glanced at each other and then Ron nodded.
"Dad, remember the year we went to Egypt? How did you and Mum make the travel arrangements?"
"At the Ministry, the Department of Magical Transportation. They helped us plan the itinerary and obtain the proper clearances."
"Is there a way to travel ... anonymously?" asked Hermione. "I mean, without a lot of people knowing who you are?"
Arthur eyed them for a brief moment taking a sip of his cocoa. Arthur and Molly exchanged a brief glance.
"Yes, Aurors and Ministry officials often travel that way." Smiling he said, "I believe the muggles call it, First Class."
"I see," said Hermione in a downcast tone of voice. She knew that meant expensive.
In a gentle voice Molly said, "Hermione dear, we are all family here. Please, tell us what you are planning."
Hermione took a deep breath. Looking imploringly at Arthur and Molly she said, "Please don't think ill of me after I tell you."
"We could never do that," said Molly kindly.
Hermione told them about her parents and what she had done to keep them safe. Arthur and Molly listened in silence, their facial expressions remaining gentle and non-judgmental.
"... So, I need to go there and lift the enchantment I put on them. It's special and only I can lift the charm."
Arthur took his chin in hand and rubbed it for a moment thinking. He looked at Molly. "Didn't Kahtin and Polly Ester do something like this during the first war?"
"No dear, it was the Canbees. Remember, we met Titus and Astraytis at that Ministry meeting. They told us how they transfigured her muggle mother into one of those electric lamps to hide her."
"Yes, you are right," said Arthur nodding approvingly.
"That's brilliant," said George. Ron and Ginny groaned.
With half-open mouth and bewildered expression, Hermione looked around at each of them, feeling certain she had missed something.
After a brief moment, the deadpan expressions on the Weasley faces gave way to grins and snickers.
"Just a bit of family humor Hermione," said Molly with a chuckle. "We mean no disrespect to the feelings you have for your parents. Now, in all seriousness, what you did is common in the wizarding world. It shows how much you love your mum and dad. I'm sure they will feel very proud of you, like we do."
Hermione relaxed and smiled warmly.
Arthur looked at Ron. "Are you planning to accompany her?"
Molly looked at Harry and Ginny. "Are the two of you going too?"
"Yes Mum," said Ginny with a pleading expression on her face, "We want to help. Please say it's okay."
After a short pause, Molly nodded. Ginny grinned and lightly clapped her hands.
Arthur said, "The four of you come see me at the Ministry tomorrow morning about ten. I'll take you to someone in the Department of Magical Transportation. I think when he sees you, there won't be any problems."
Hermione beamed, "Oh thank you, thank you so much." Then she gave each of them a hug.
Both Arthur and Molly looked at Ginny. Arthur said, "Ginny, you're not of age yet. Remember—"
"No magic except in self-defense," said Ginny dryly. "I am so looking forward to my birthday."
Molly said, "You all need to be careful. I'll be worried enough about you being that far away."
Arthur took a sip from his mug. "Quite right. Harry, this hot cocoa is exceptional."
Molly said tentatively, "George, do you have any plans?"
George looked into his mug. "I'm meeting Lee and Angelina at the joke shop tomorrow." He looked up. "We're going to take stock and see what it will take to reopen for business."
"That's good to hear," said Ron. "I'll give you a hand after we get back."
George nodded and took a sip of his cocoa.
Arthur said, "You lot come directly to my office tomorrow and try to stay out of sight." Looking at Harry he said, "You're ah ... bit of a celebrity with many who are there."
They made their way along a mostly empty corridor at the Ministry. A few of those present expressed condolences to them as they passed. As they passed her, a witch turned to look back at them with an unsure expression. They reached the proper section and entered into a large room that contained many cubicles, some with witches and wizards at work. They walked toward the back of the room to the open door of an office. Arthur was sitting at his desk studying some parchments. The light of a sunny day illuminated the office from the window behind him.
At the sound of a gentle knock, Arthur looked up to see Ron and Ginny standing at the door looking in at him.
"Right on time," said Arthur. "Where are Harry and Hermione?"
"They're here," said Ginny as she stepped aside so that Arthur could see them. "We ... walked separately."
"Okay, please come in and close the door."
Harry hastily folded his invisibility cloak and tucked it away.
Once they were all inside Arthur said, "Since you want to travel anonymously, you each need to come up with an alias name. This public name will appear on the travel arrangements."
It was quiet for a moment. Then with a smile Hermione said, "I suppose we shouldn't use anything that's too obviously fake, like Ella Mentry."
"Or Robin Banks," said Ginny with a giggle.
Arthur listened quietly for the next few minutes as the four exchanged suggested names. Some produced laughs and a few resulted in scowls. In the end, Harry and Ginny liked the names that each had picked for the other. Ron and Hermione also picked each other's travel name.
Arthur said, "Okay, be sure you use only these names for all of your travel arrangements. While you're with the travel agent, if you talk to one another, use only these names. Ready? ... Follow me."
They took a special lift to the Department of Magical Transportation and made their way along several corridors with multiple turns. They entered into a very large and open room with desks set close to one another. Large maps of every country completely covered the walls of the room. Each map contained many different colored pins that flashed light randomly. They reached a small office and saw a wizard seated behind a desk. Arthur gently knocked on the door. "Ernest, is this a good time?"
"Hello Arthur. Yes it is," said Ernest standing up with a delighted smile.
"These are the ones of whom I spoke. They are in need of special travel arrangements." Looking at the four of them he said, "This is Ernest Romantrek."
Motioning with his hand toward the chairs in his office Ernest said, "Please come in and be seated. We'll get started straight away."
"Send me word when you're finished Ernest and I'll come fetch them back." Then Arthur turned and walked away.
Ernest was a man in his early sixties dressed in business attire. He was partly bald and his remaining hair was streaked with gray. His face showed the wrinkles of worry and time but the eyes behind his glasses were bright and inviting.
The door swung closed. Ernest sat down behind the desk and took an official looking parchment from a drawer. After placing the parchment on the desk, he picked up a quill and then looked at Hermione. "I am pleased to assist you. How do you wish to be addressed?"
Hermione briefly glanced at the others. "Pleased to meet you Mister Romantrek. My name is Paige Turner."
Ernest dipped his quill into the inkpot on his desk a few times. As he wrote, the edges of the parchment began to glow in a faint pink color.
Ernest looked at Ron. He sheepishly said, "I'm Ted Edward Baer." Ernest smiled and then continued to write.
Ernest looked at Ginny. "Amia Goodflier, a pleasure to meet you Ernest."
Ernest dipped the quill into the ink. "The pleasure is mine."
He finished writing and then looked at Harry.
"I'm Ryan Carnation."
"I am most pleased to meet you Ryan." Then he looked down at the parchment and continued to write.
Ernest finished writing and looked up. "To what destination do you wish to travel?"
Hermione said, "Sydney Australia with possible travel to Melbourne and Brisbane from Sydney."
Ernest nodded and began writing. As he paused to re-ink his quill, Hermione, with an uneasy expression said, "Mister Romantrek, how much do you think this will cost?" She held her breath.
"What has happened here in our country over the recent years has affected most other parts of the wizarding world as well. With that terrible evil gone," he glanced quickly sideways at Harry, "I can get you all some exceptionally low rates."
Hermione sat back in her chair, now visibly relaxed, and started breathing again. Harry caught her eye and winked.
About an hour later, Arthur returned. They all stood, thanked Ernest and shook his hand.
"You have made this a most enjoyable day," said Ernest smiling. "I look forward to helping you again in the not too distant future."
They followed Arthur back out into the corridor. After walking a short distance, they stopped in a deserted alcove.
Hermione said in a low voice, "It's all set and I'm so excited and relieved." She hugged Arthur. "Thank you so very much."
"When do you leave?"
"In three days," said Hermione beaming. Then, in a shock of realization, "Oh my goodness, we all have to start packing straight away."
Harry looked at Ron. "We'll definitely be prepared for this trip."
"Yeah, I hope we don't bring the whole library with us again."
Hermione rounded on him and in an admonishing tone said, "We didn't take the whole library. And as I'm sure you both remember, we used almost all of what I brought along at one time or another."
"Okay, okay," said Ron apologetically holding up his hands. "I'll help you pack." He looked at Harry and Ginny. "You coming back to the Burrow?"
Harry reached down and took hold of Ginny's hand. "No, I need to stop by Gringotts and talk to Bill. We'll see you later at the Burrow."
Hermione looked at Arthur. "Do you think I could get information about the cities in Australia from the Department of International Magical Cooperation? We'll need to know where to get access to public records once we get there."
"I'm sure you can," said Arthur. "C'mon, I'll take you there on my way back to work."
In a small alcove close to the entrance of Gringotts, there was the sound of a whoosh as Harry and Ginny apparated. They quickly made their way up the stone steps leading to the bank doors. The guards at the doors glared at them with contempt and accusation. Harry opened the door and then followed Ginny inside. The silent and cavernous interior of the bank looked as it did the day Harry had first set foot there with Hagrid. The immense chandeliers hung majestically from the ceiling and cast a cold indifferent light. The marble walls and floor were as smooth and unblemished as a mirror. Polished bronze railings wound gracefully along marble counters and teller stations on each side of the wide central aisle. Everything was in its place with not a speck of dust or destruction in sight.
They stepped up to a nearby goblin teller. Ginny said in a firm voice, "We have business to conduct with Bill Weasley."
The goblin looked at her with an expression of loathing. He pointed a crooked finger to a seating area. "Wait over there. He will be summoned."
They walked over and sat down to wait. After a moment Harry said, "Ginny, I'm going to check my account. I'll be right back." She nodded and Harry walked to an open teller station.
"How may I assist you?" said the goblin.
"I want to withdraw from my account. I need six hundred in Australian dollars and fifty in British pounds."
"One moment," said the goblin as he wrote in his ledger. He consulted a chart. "Exchange rate today for galleons to Australian dollars is point one-nine. The exchange rate for galleons to British pounds is point two-one. Are these exchange rates acceptable?"
Harry had never thought about exchange rates. He had no idea if these were good or not. Realizing that he had little choice about it said, "They're acceptable."
The goblin opened a cash drawer and carefully counted out the money. The goblin slid the money toward Harry. Harry pocketed the pounds and put the dollars in his mokeskin pouch.
"Will there be anything else?" said the goblin.
"Can you give me a list of Wizard banks in Australia?"
The goblin handed him a card, "There is a Gringotts affiliate in Sydney."
"Thanks," said Harry as he put the card into his pocket. He turned and walked back to where Ginny was sitting.
"Everything okay?" asked Ginny as Harry sat down beside her.
"Yeah, took a bit longer than I expected. Has Bill come by yet?"
"Here he comes now."
Harry and Ginny stood and greeted Bill. They sat down and Bill said, "This is a pleasant surprise. What's up?"
Harry said in a low voice, "I wanted to ask you how the goblins are feeling about me. You know ... after the break-in."
Ginny looked at Harry and exclaimed, "So the rumor was true."
Bill put his finger to his lips, "Shh ..." Then in a low voice he said, "At first they seized and locked your account. They were going to use it to pay for the damages." Bill grinned, "That was bloody brilliant how you got away."
"It wasn't too long after you had gone that you-know-who showed up. The top three goblin bank executives escorted him down to the vault to have a look around."
With a grim expression Bill said, "None of those goblins came back up alive."
Ginny caught her breath. "Bill, where were you during all of this?"
"I was in the file room working. Many goblins came rushing in all trying to get into hiding places. That's the first time I've ever seen them really scared. As you-know-who was walking through the bank toward the door, he killed anyone who so much as looked at him. When he was finally gone, sixteen goblins were dead.
Once the goblins got word that you had finished him off, your account was unlocked and restored. They're still annoyed about what happened but they know it would have been much worse for them otherwise. It's best to act like it never happened."
"Thanks Bill. I really appreciate you filling me in. I hope it doesn't cause you any troubles."
"Actually, I'm getting a little better treatment now. Well, better from a goblin perspective anyway. Knowing someone famous like you has its benefits."
Harry rolled his eyes and smiled. "I think we'd better be going then before they start queuing up for my autograph."
Bill and Ginny grinned. As they all stood, Bill said, "There's an open invitation to spend some time with us at shell cottage this summer. Just let us know when."
"That sounds good to me," said Ginny as she hugged her brother goodbye.
Harry gave Bill a hug, "Thanks Bill."
Bill looked at Harry. "That ought to bump my standings up another notch or two."
Each with a grin, Harry and Ginny turned and began walking toward the door. They had taken a dozen steps or so when Ginny stopped and looked around at the spotless interior of the bank. "I sure hope I get to hear the real story of your escape someday."
With a twinkle in his eye he said, "I think you will."
Outside the doors of the bank Harry said, "Miss Weasley, may I take you to lunch and maybe after, a walk in the park?"
"Why, yes Mister Potter. You most certainly may," said Ginny with a smile.
"There's a muggle diner not too far from Kings Cross where we hopefully won't be noticed." Harry held up his arm.
She smiled and wrapped her arm around his. A brief moment later, they disapparated.
Ron took a bite of his sandwich as he sat next to Hermione. His head was bent over a magical map of Sydney that lay unfolded on the kitchen table. The map showed roads, parks, and buildings like most maps. However, this map also contained a large number of small circular spots of different colors. The spots randomly blinked on and off. Ron touched a spot. Another sheet magically opened showing views of the place and its informational details. The green spots were magical related places. Those with a twinkling gold star were travel apparition points. Other green spots showed magical lodging and food places. In the same way, red spots showed muggle places like government, police, museums, and libraries. Blue spots showed parks and other places of interest.
"Where do you reckon we'll stay the first night?"
Hermione looked up from the book Magical Embassy of Australia. After a brief scan of the map, she touched a gold star with her finger and a detail sheet opened. "Our travel itinerary has us arriving here. It's close to the muggle licensing and public records offices."
"There's lodging here," said Ron, "and it's also close to the Magical Information Office."
"We'll need two rooms so you and Harry, and Ginny and I, can get ready quicker in the mornings. It's going to take some research to find the address where my parents are living."
"Dad said getting information from muggle records could be tricky. You have to spell out what you are looking for on electrical machines. He said it's much easier the magical way."
"We'll just have to work through it. I'm sure there will be people there who can help."
Looking at Hermione he said, "What are those other books you got from the Department of International Magical Cooperation?"
She reached into her beaded bag and pulled out three small books. "This is a book that lists the business and residential parts of each city. It should help us narrow down where two dentists might set up a practice. This one has information about the demographics of the cities. And this one lists the government agencies in each city with their building, room, and contact information."
"Hermione, aren't there books with names and numbers in them for those muggle pheletones?"
"Yes. If we stay in muggle lodging, the room will have a phone book. You can check for Wendell and Monica Wilkins when we get there. But Wilkins is a common name so there will likely be a lot of them listed. And that's if my parents listed their number. Muggles don't always choose to do so."
He looked at her with admiration. "Blimey Hermione, you did an awesome job of hiding your parents. Your brilliance is amazing. What do you see in a guy like me?"
She put down the book and moved close to him. Lacing her fingers behind his neck she said, "I see someone who knows magical life and family that's way beyond what's written in books. I see someone who values my thoughts and feelings and treats me with respect even when we disagree. I see someone who stands by me, no matter what, and helps me feel safe. But most of all, I see a special friend who touches my heart and fills it with happiness."
"Wow, you see all that?" He grinned. "Reckon my emotional range has improved a bit."
She laughed. "Quite a bit I'd say." Then she kissed him. They spent the afternoon outdoors in the shade of an oak tree reading and discussing the books.
Later that evening in the parlor, the four of them sat around the map talking and sipping hot apple cider. They came to appreciate the difficulty of the task ahead of them. As they talked and shared ideas, a plan slowly took shape and they began to feel confident in a successful outcome.
|Chapter 3||Chapter Index||Chapter 5|
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San Diego, California
Last Updated: 9/18/17