Chapter 3: Birthday Surprises

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The Awakening Power

by Sib

Chapter 3: Birthday Surprises

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Harry dashed down the stairs, excited to see Hermione. He met Ron coming down as well, and he was amused to note that Ron's face actually seemed to show a bit of nervousness about the meeting.

As they entered the main room, Harry asked, "How is she getting here, anyway?"

"By car. Dad arranged for a special ministry car to pick her up. Dad's got a lot more pull over there nowadays since the fiasco with You-Know-Who strolling right into the middle of Ministry Central. Dad thinks that Fudge might even be replaced, but I don't pretend to understand the politics over there. Anyway, they know that we're all, uh..." Ron's speech faltered, as he glanced nervously at Harry.

Harry's eyes narrowed. "You're what?" he demanded, glancing between Ron and Ginny, who was standing nearby.

"Well, we're all targets for You-Know-Who because we're friends with you, so they thought it would be safer to send Hermione in a ministry car." Ron said anxiously.

Harry looked angry with this. "I guess that makes sense," he said grudgingly.

Ron looked relieved at Harry's reaction. "Right, mate! With everything going on, the more protection the better, right? Especially with Hermione."

"Why especially with Hermione, Ron?" she asked, raising her eyebrows.

Ron's face fell and he looked like he was trying to think of a good answer. Harry was amused at his reaction, but then felt some pity, particularly after his bout with teasing the other day. He decided to help Ron out a bit. "Hermione's parents, Ron?"

"Yes! Right, mate. That's what I meant!" Ron looked like a drowning man grasping at a life preserver that had suddenly materialized. "Hermione's parents are muggles! That makes Hermione a special target." He shot a superior look at Ginny.

Ginny walked past Harry to sit on the couch to wait. As she passed, she whispered, "spoilsport," and grinned at him.

Harry fought back a grin of his own and then another thought occurred to him. "Come to think of it, what about Hermione's parents? Are they getting some protection?"

"Yeah, dad mentioned that the Ministry set up some special wards around the house, as well a lot of secret alarms. I think there's even some surveillance, but they obviously didn't go too much into detail about all that," Ron replied.

Although Harry didn't like the idea that people were following his friends around, it did give him some comfort to know that there was attention being paid to providing security. He felt a stab of guilt that he hadn't spared much time thinking about the danger that everyone was in.

They all sat down to wait. A short time later, they heard a car pull up to the Burrow. The group got up and walked out the door to greet Hermione. She was exiting a long, black Muggle limousine and several men were pulling her trunk out of the back. Wow, Hermione is traveling in style, Harry thought, amused. She looked rather tanned from her trip and practically leaped out of the car with an excited bounce. Crookshanks exited the car as well and sat down on the driveway, licking his paws.

Hermione's face broke into a huge smile as she saw them. Harry got to her first and she gave him a big hug. She spoke quickly, "Harry! It's so good to see you! I'm so happy you're going to be spending your birthday here rather than with those awful Dursleys. Did they treat you dreadfully? You look rather thin. I'm certain Mrs. Weasley is taking care of that, though."

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