You're My Density
Chapter 33 - Our Destiny
With both kids standing there talking a mile a minute from excitement, George made a snap decision. Dobby was soon back with more than just a simple yes or no however. He had a proposal for George and, rather anticipating the answer from Amanda's father, an overnight bag for Dudley.
"The family were wondering if Dudley might want to stay here not just for tonight, but until the wedding? Dobby will pop back with wedding clothes for Dudley and Miss Amanda tomorrow, and then pick them up on the morning of the wedding."
With two pair of hopeful eyes staring at him, George was always going to say yes. Now it was time to sit these two down and discover just what happened tonight at the ball.
It was a pleasant few hours the three spent chatting before George realised just how late it had become and declared it was time for bed. Showing Dudley the fold-down bed in the box room was interrupted by Amanda boldly striding in and, with her arms around Dudley's neck, gave him a chaste kiss on the lips. She thanked him for a wonderful evening, before repeating the procedure with her father. George's kiss was on the cheek but the happiness he saw shining from his daughter's eyes was the best Christmas present she could give him.
"Thank you for letting me go tonight, dad. I know it wasn't easy for you but I was treated like family. Trust me on this, no one there wanted to mess with the Potter or Black families. I felt really safe, it was just like the way you always watch over me."
Knowing he was far too emotional for sleep at the moment, George returned to the living room and sat in his favourite armchair. Tonight had opened a lot of old wounds George had thought long since healed over. In terms of things he needed to deal with, he divided the kids' experiences of tonight into three distinct parts.
The first was obviously the ball itself. There was no question both Amanda and Dudley had really enjoyed themselves, and been well looked after while doing so. The second part was a lot more troublesome, and had George considering something he swore never to do.
If his Uncle Basil was now head of the family, that meant his Grandfather was gone. The old man had ruled the Ketterings with a fist of iron, and his word was law. Uncle Basil was always the most liberal of the three Kettering siblings. With his Aunt Margaret marrying into the Nott family, and his own father dying when George was eleven, Uncle Basil was really the only option to head the Ketterings after the old man popped his clogs. If, as his uncle had indicated to Amanda, George was the only nephew left then the Kettering family was in grave danger of dying out.
While his Uncle Basil was a liberal, the last thing he would want would be to see the family dying out. Watching Amanda dancing around the floor, wearing a Kettering heirloom while sporting the Potter and Black house crests would certainly have garnered his attention.
George was considering contacting his mother, perhaps even dropping a picture of her as yet unknown granddaughter in the note. That was as far as he was prepared to go though. His Amanda wasn't yet fourteen so George was just beginning to accept a boyfriend being on the scene. He wasn't ready to think much further than that, and would certainly never entertain any notion that anyone - other than Amanda - would choose who that boyfriend would be.
Even before these radical changes in their society, female squibs historical had an easier time of it than their male counterparts. With these changes, who knew where things would end up. Should anyone come sniffing around Amanda with a betrothal in mind, he would ask the young lord his Amanda thought so highly of to represent them - rather than his Uncle Basil. Dudley's cousin would surely honour Amanda's wishes and tell them to get lost, George wasn't so confident his uncle would do the same.
The third part of the evening was, quite simply unbelievable. If the Potters and Blacks had not only captured Snape but put an end to Voldemort for good, they would be practically magical royalty in Britain when that news broke. Amanda insisting they were just like normal teens, and treated her the same, was a massive plus as far as George was concerned. Young Lord Potter was clearly a wizard who believed in doing the honourable thing.
It went without needing said that the Potters and Blacks outranked the Ketterings in Britain's magical society - by a wide margin too. Uncle Basil wouldn't be able to object if Lord Potter was looking after any future magical dealings Amanda may have.
With Remus, Sirius and Amelia spending most of the night in the ministry, and everyone else remaining at the Longbottoms until the wee small hours, it was well into the afternoon before the people staying in Grimmauld got together to compare stories - and prepare for tomorrow's wedding.
Harry kicked things off by jokingly congratulating Remus for his capture of Snape, leaving the werewolf less than amused.
"Amelia spun that fiction you lot came up with last night and that is now the official version of events. One signature and all that gold was transferred into my Gringotts account. I can't keep it…"
While his last comment was instantly being rubbished by the entire room, Emma moved over to sit on the arm of Remus' chair. Taking his hand, she waited until the room had quietened down before saying what was on her mind.
"I have had nightmares almost every night over what that man forced me to do to my daughter. Last night, I cried myself to sleep in Dan's arms. That being said, even in this room I'm not the only person to have suffered at the hands of that bastard. Knowing he's going to be dealt with might see me finally beating this thing. That a thoroughly honest and decent man can gain from this too is something to be applauded. In any situation it always helps if you can see the good in it. Until now, I was really struggling to do that. Amelia, I'm assuming he will be dealt with?"
"Oh that's a certainty. He's just been recently released from Azkaban yet used an unforgivable curse to attack Houses Potter, Black and then kidnapped an injured auror, Frank Longbottom, from St. Mungo's. All this while trying to resurrect Voldemort - he won't see the New Year." While this was welcome news, Amelia wanted to know how the other group had faired. "Was Augusta and Neville okay?"
Hermione was first to answer Amelia's question. "That the worst thing Frank endured at the hands of Snape was being cold settled his mother and son very quickly. Having his dad sitting in a chair by the fire held Neville's attention for the rest of the night. Frank fell asleep in that chair but Augusta just tucked his blankets tighter. I got the feeling she and Neville would be sitting beside him for the rest of the night, before returning him to St Mungo's this morning."
Harry then had a question for those who had taken the prisoners to the ministry. "Do we know yet how Voldemort happened to be growing out the back of Lockhart's head - without a memory between them?"
This produced a wicked grin from Amelia. "We asked Snape that question while he was under Veritaserum, even he doesn't know the right story. He found them like that in an Albanian forest. There apparently was evidence that Lockhart had been bitten on the leg by some poisonous snake, but he had no memory of anything like that happening. He invited his spirit friend to 'stay with him' as, even without a memory, Lockhart was afraid of the dark. All our people could say was that both had been hit with an incredibly powerful obliviate curse. They say it would take years of work to undo even the smallest part of the damage, years those two just don't have. All the healers agree trying to remove Tom would kill them both. The snake venom though seems to have accelerated the deterioration of the body that supports both of them."
A determined Sirius had also wrought some concessions from the ministry. "Amelia and I were adamant that we be there at the end. We all want to be certain Voldemort really does pass away this time."
Agreeing with her soon to be husband, Amelia still couldn't control the shiver that ran down her back. "I watched him die in Hogwarts, swearing revenge on the entire country, only for his spirit to leave Quirrell's body. I still can't make my mind up if Harry then telling that spirit to fuck off was the bravest or dumbest thing I've ever seen. This Tom though bears only a physical resemblance to that screaming psychopath."
With his arm comfortingly around Amelia, Sirius gave them details of what the ministry had put in place. "They sit in a mirrored room, being able to see each other as they chat away. It also means they can both see whoever is talking to them. They're really happy with this set up, and no one can see the point in telling them they will get sick healers have never really dealt with a situation like this before so everything is their best guess. That best guess is currently predicting that neither of them will see Valentine's Day. We'll then know for certain if this really is all over."
"How much of that can people be told?" Luna's question left Amelia, Sirius and Remus wondering why she asked that. The two marauders were really intrigued, more so by everyone else sniggering while waiting on Amelia's answer. When Luna filled them in on what she'd suggested last night, laughter was once more breaking out around the room.
Amelia thought that really was an elegant solution, one she really favoured but with a couple of provisos. "That's great, Luna, but can we tweak it slightly. Anything you heard from me will of course be an unnamed 'ministry source'. Can you also hold off sending that for one more day? After Sirius and I get to Black Island, I don't care what the papers say…"
She found herself being interrupted by a grinning Sirius. "Though I want you to keep us copies of those papers for when we get back. Hey Moony, doesn't it warm your heart to see the marauders' legacy passing to the next generation?"
"Padfoot, Luna's prank is way better than anything we came up with. At the height of our fame, we managed to prank the entire castle. In one fell swoop, Luna's going to prank the entire country." Seeing his best man smiling again was all the cue Sirius needed to turn the attention onto tomorrow's wedding, something neither the bride nor groom thought would ever happen. That just meant though that Sirius, Amelia and their families would enjoy the occasion even more.
With plans provisionally made for the six younger members of the group to spend the next few days with the Dursleys, followed by everyone bringing in the New Year at the Grangers, Harry and Hermione knew this would be their last night snuggling together until they returned to Hogwarts. The only portion of their families' plans that were provisional was the pencilling in of Amanda's presence - and her father being invited to spend New Year with them in Crawley - none of which would affect their sleeping arrangements.
"Do you really think people will buy into Luna's fiction."
Knowing it was really reassurance Harry was looking for, a gentle kiss was placed on his lips before Hermione answered. "Luna is taking some facts and constructing a story around them. That her story actually contains these facts already puts her ahead of some of the rubbish printed in the Prophet - and their crap stories are taken as gospel. Luna is also telling them things they'll want to believe, the magical population of Britain will eat it up with a spoon. Wanna bet it will be the official version of events by the time we head back to Hogwarts?"
"Nuts, they're all bloody nuts. Where does this leave us though?" Feeling the flash of panic that passed through Hermione at his poor choice of words, Harry returned her tender kiss from earlier. "Sorry for how that sounded. Whatever we decide, we will move on together. You promised to be mine, in the past, present and future - I have every intention of holding you to that."
"Sorry love, it just caught me out for a second there. All our planning has been focused on getting rid of Voldemort. Now it looks like we could have achieved that it's perfectly normal to wonder what we do next..."
This actually set Harry of with a bout of the giggles. "Hermione, I don't think we could ever be described as normal. You're right about us having to figure out what we do next though. Can you see us spending the next five and a half years at Hogwarts? You've already done all of this stuff and spend most of your time teaching it to me. While I love spending time with our friends we need a better reason than that before committing such a big chunk of our lives to staying in the castle."
Watching as Hermione bit her lip while deep in thought had Harry holding her tighter and kissing her cheek. "You have no idea what you do to me when going into 'deep thought' mode. Have I ever told you how sexy I find intelligent girls to be?"
A giggle from Hermione had Harry mock pouting at her. "I'm laying my heart out here - and you're laughing at me?"
This earned Harry another kiss, and an explanation of where Hermione's deep thoughts had taken her. "I was just about to say 'never change' when it struck me just how much the both of us have changed. Neither of us ever had this many close friends before, or close family. We have to keep that intact, while coming up with a compromise allowing us to live our lives the way we want too. I agree completing all seven years of Hogwarts really wouldn't help us become the people we want to be, here's what I was thinking. I can work with you so we can sit our O.W.L.'s at the end of fourth year, taking our N.E.W.T.'s at the end of fifth. That would give us a couple of years where you could help me study for our A levels."
"Do you think we would be allowed to do that?" He'd barely uttered the words before realising how stupid that sounded. With Voldemort finally banished, there would be no compelling reason to keep them at Hogwarts - especially if they indicated they wanted to sit their N.E.W.T.'s before leaving. Harry then had only one thing to add to Hermione's idea. "Providing you make time in there to become Lady Potter then it gets my vote. Married and qualified for further education in both worlds by the time we're eighteen sounds wonderful to me. What we decide to do after that doesn't have to be worked out tonight..."
Harry never got to say any more, he just assumed by the way Hermione was now kissing him that she agreed with that.
The wedding of Madam Amelia Bones to Lord Sirius Black could easily have been the social event of the year, except for the fact neither of the main participants wanted it to be. Both Sirius and Amelia were far more comfortable with the small and intimate ceremony being held in the ballroom of Bones Manor, with invited guests numbering under fifty.
The Minister of Magic himself seemed delighted to be officiating for both these powerful people while Harry sat amongst the guests - holding hands with Hermione. After Sirius and Remus had patched up their differences, Harry had convinced Moony that he really should be the one at Padfoot's side today. Harry had found himself pushing at an open door, with Remus now desperately wanting to be there for his best friend on this special occasion.
Susan led the bridal party towards Sirius, Remus and the Minister of Magic. Her light blue robes proudly sported the Bones family crest. After the ceremony, the Black and Potter crests would join Susan's as she was officially welcomed to the family.
Amelia had chosen her dress Auror robes to get married in, since that was such a large part of her life. The awards and medals displayed on her robes were impressive, and second only to the Master Auror leading her down the aisle. Alastor had been touched when asked to fill in for his former trainee's father on such an occasion, though no one was quite sure if Mad-Eye actually could smile.
Though the actual ceremony was a rather simple affair, both Sirius and Amelia vowing to spend the rest of their lives together contained enough emotion from these two very private people to have a few of the guests reaching for the hankies. The kiss to complete their vows was such a tender moment that no one who knew either of this couple could fail to be affected by it.
As Cornelius introduced the guests to the new Lord and Lady Black, Sirius' splendid robes changed to a horrible fluorescent green with red writing across his chest proclaiming 'this old dog is now collared!'.
The collective loud gasp was soon eclipsed by Amelia bursting into laughter. Sirius was trying to hold his own laughter in while staring daggers at his best friend. That stare demanded an answer from Remus.
"Hey, Amelia said I couldn't do anything before or during the ceremony - and swore my bollocks would end up in a jar if I messed with your honeymoon. Marauder's honour demanded I pull something but your new Lady Black is scary. Under those circumstances, this is the best I could come up with."
Sirius then bursting into laughter saw the prank end, since both the bride and groom appreciated the funny side of Remus' prank, and his robes began to return to the almost regal set they were before.
The wedding party led the rest of the guests through to the magically extended dining room where a sumptuous meal was served. As all that rich food was digesting everyone was then treated to the best man's speech.
"I first met Sirius Black when we were both eleven year olds sitting on the Hogwarts Express. Of course, meeting Sirius Black also meant that you met James Potter, since the two were inseparable. The bonds of friendship initiated that first of September is one of the highlights of my life as we then spent the years that followed becoming the closest of friends. Minerva McGonagall is sitting here today so I don't want to give too much away about what we got up to in the seven years we spent at Hogwarts castle. After all, she is now my boss."
This generated a fair amount of laughter, with Remus being mock glared at for the second time today.
"A great source of amusement for Sirius at Hogwarts was James' consistently desperate but hilariously failed attempts to get Lilly Evans to notice him. James finally wooed and wed Lily though, with both Potters thinking watching their friend, Trainee Auror Black, mooning over his female instructor was cosmic payback time. Anyone who's ever met Amelia would know there would never be any impropriety where her occupation was concerned. Like James before him, Sirius recognised he would need to fundamentally change if there was ever going to be a chance of him and Amelia being together romantically. This new and improved version of Sirius became so focused on his training that he graduated second in the largest auror class to come out of the ministry in the last fifty years. Still Amelia managed to resist his charms, there was the little matter of the civil war raging in our country at the time. Who would have guessed that it would take Sirius spending over a dozen years in Azkaban to finally get these two together…"
Again there were audible gasps amongst the guests, this was not a subject normally mentioned at these type of occasions. Remus though was just warming up.
"A beautiful lady recently told me that, no matter how dark the circumstances we may find ourselves in, being able to accentuate any positive helps you cope with the situation. After having been abroad for many years I returned to Britain for the funeral of Albus Dumbledore. The positive that dark day for me was Sirius introducing Ami as his fiancee - leading to us all being here today. After being forced apart for all those years, these two took 'accentuating the positive' to a whole different level. Today we witnessed both swearing to be with one another for the rest of their lives, and I can honestly say I've never seen either of them happier than they are today. While our country changes around us, it's reassuring to know some things remain the same. I've known how Sirius felt about his Ami for years and today it gives me great pleasure to propose this toast. Please raise your glasses to the bride and groom, Lord and Lady Black."
After everyone had stood and toasted the couple, Sirius rose to reply.
"Well, I wasn't expecting Moony to go all serious on us..." The groans at that old pun saw Sirius quickly move on. "My wife and I would like to thank you all for being here today, and Ami's first wifely duty was to cut my 'one legged barman and the stuttering witch' joke from my speech." The laugh this raised was more than he would have gotten for telling the joke so Sirius now considered himself ahead.
"While ours could be considered an unusual courtship, I find myself standing here today with everything I ever wanted. We have our friends here, our families too, and we finally have each other. With our county finally becoming something we can all be proud of, this is certainly a day to celebrate. I think it's time for me to shut up now, and let us all get on with the celebrating part."
This received loud and genuine round of applause before everyone started making their way back through to the ballroom, now set up for dancing. Sirius led Amelia to the centre of the floor and the celebrations officially got underway. The dance floor was very busy for most of the evening as a great time was had by all.
Hermione awoke in Harry's bed, the problem she had with that though was her intended wasn't there - he was currently sharing Dudley's room. With Luna and Susan bunking in the guest bedroom of number four, Hermione was sharing Harry's room with a wide awake and still hyper Amanda. Checking the bedside clock, Hermione almost groaned at how early it was. This time in the morning was usually one of her favourite parts of the day as she and Harry would snuggle and talk until it was time to get up. That particular luxury wasn't going to be happening again until they returned to Hogwarts, and Amanda had clearly been waiting on her awakening to start chatting.
"Morning Hermione. I'm not usually a morning person but I think I'm still excited from yesterday. An actual Lord's wedding! Things like that don't happen to little old me."
"Sirius is family to us, we don't even think about the whole Lord thing. If we did, we would have to acknowledge that Harry is one too."
This had Amanda shaking her head in disbelief. "We Ketterings at least knew about the magical world yet both me and my father are struggling with all of this being kinda dropped on us. How the hell do you and your parents cope?"
"It's not easy but we sit down and talk about anything that bothers us. They very quickly accepted Harry and Dobby into the family, that was probably harder for them than accepting I'm a witch. Now we're all very close and that's far more important to us than any titles - or awards."
Amanda though was still struggling to come to terms with what she had seen so far. "You walked into that ball on Christmas Day and everyone knew who you were..."
Hermione actually chuckled at that. "First time we met Luna, she told me very few witches are awarded Orders of Merlin, First Class. When the witch wearing one of those is also a teenager, that pretty much means me."
"...and you shot out of that ball with Harry to capture a death eater?"
There was no smile this time. "That particular death eater attacked my mum and dad, with the intention of killing all four of us - that was personal and nothing could have stopped Harry or me going after him. Finding Voldemort like that was a welcome bonus. That story should break today, so let's get up and see what's happening. Neville, Parvati, Padma and Hannah will be coming over later and we can spend the day together."
Between the holidays, the incident happening late at night and then all of the main players being tied up with yesterday's 'strictly no press allowed' wedding, it was only today that the Prophet were able to break the story of how Severus Snape ended up in Ministerial Custody. They were also able to confirm who received the fifty thousand galleon reward, Remus Lupin.
That Remus was a werewolf was certainly reported but with no more prominence than the fact he was a Hogwarts Professor, a good friend of Harry Potter and also best man at Lord Black's wedding to the head of the D.M.L.E. All in all, they were rather pleasantly surprised - it was quite a factual piece that portrayed Remus in a rather positive light.
Then the Quibbler arrived and blew everyone away - even although most of them had already read Luna's draft of the article.
Voldemort Vanquished was a bold headline, bold in more than just in terms of the particular typeset used by Xeno Lovegood.
Xeno's newspaper then backed that boldness up with a story worthy of being written by the author it featured.
The Dark Lord who called himself Lord Voldemort is no more. He has been vanquished by one of wizarding Britain's last true hero's, Gilderoy Lockhart. This seems rather incredulous, considering the circumstances surrounding the last time this wizard made the headlines in our newspapers.
Not even the staunchest supporter of this renowned Honourary Member of the Dark Force Defence League could argue that Gilderoy's time spent in Hogwarts was anything other than an unmitigated disaster. Upon leaving the castle, it would seem our intrepid adventurer returned to what he does best - tackling the wizarding world's most serious problems.
That he tracked the Dark Lord down is beyond dispute, so also is the fact that Gilderoy put paid to the darkest wizard since Grindelwald. What is unsure is just how Gilderoy accomplished this. It's sad but true that we simply might never discover the exact details of how this monumental feat of skill and courage was actually carried out.
Like Gilderoy's predecessor at teaching defence in Hogwarts, Quintus Quirrell, the Dark Lord clearly attempted to possess Lockhart. The evidence we have been able to gather would make it appear that, upon realising this was one fight he was eventually going to lose, our hero turned his own wand upon himself.
Our ministry sources can confirm that the Dark Lord did indeed manage to complete his possession of Gilderoy Lockhart but not before the brave wizard could cast the most powerful obliviate they have ever seen on himself - and his attacker. This resulted in neither the Dark Lord nor Gilderoy being able to remember anything at all - not even their own name.
The same ministry source that broke this story to the Quibbler also confirmed this total loss of memory by both parties hit with this charm to be a condition that is irreversible by any methods currently known. The real tragedy of this story is that Gilderoy's body will gradually shut down - due to the now memoryless former Dark Lord still possessing him.
While awaiting that process to reach its inescapable conclusion, and to protect the public image of the dashingly heroic former five-time winner of Witch Weekly's Most Charming Smile Award, the Ministry of Magic has decreed that no pictures of this unnatural joining will be permitted to be printed.
We at the Quibbler support this stance, since being led to believe Gilderoy Lockhart now has a likeness of the former Dark Lord growing out of the back of his head.
This memoryless figure was smuggled back into Britain by none other than the wanted death eater, Severus Snape. This recently released prisoner of Azkaban intended to use the darkest of rituals to try and return his master to a new body - and hopefully restore his memories too. Every expert that the ministry consulted on this attempt have confirmed this ritual would not have worked, and that the Dark Lord will pass away when Lockhart's body eventually ceases to function. The timescale for this has been indicated in weeks, rather than months.
These two will certainly outlive Severus Snape however, whose trial has been set for the thirty first of January. No one in Britain can seriously doubt Snape's guilt, nor what the ministry's response to that guilt will be. At a minimum sentence, Severus Snape will find himself becoming better acquainted with a dementor. After the crimes he's committed, and already serving a stay in Azkaban, the witches and wizards of Britain really won't settle for anything less than that.
The silence that had descended on the Dursley breakfast was broken by a loud and joyous whoop of sheer delight from Harry. He was out of his chair, had a giggling Luna in his arms, while repeatedly kissing her cheek and proclaiming his thanks. Harry then wrapped Susan in a hug before kissing her cheek too. Repeating this scene with Amanda had Dudley about to jokingly object before Harry then had Dudley in a bear hug too. This had the four girls in stitches of laughter as Harry moved on to his aunt and uncle.
As Harry's arms wrapped around Hermione, her laughter stopped as the couple celebrated this momentous news with a kiss that curled both their toes.
A confused Amanda aimed her question at the grinning Susan and Luna. "Why is Harry so happy? That article didn't mention his name once!"
"And that is exactly why Harry is so happy." Putting her arm around the younger blonde sitting on her other side, Susan pulled her into a grateful hug. "Luna, you did a wonderful job with this. Harry has enough trouble handling the amount of attention and adulation that comes his way, any more would push him over the edge. We could have lost both of them..."
The three Dursleys were now listening closely to what the girls were saying too as Luna confirmed she agreed with what Susan had just said. "Both Susan and I have noticed these two are far more comfortable in your world than they ever are in ours. They already have the boy-who-lived, Orders of Merlin and being Dumbledore's apprentices to deal with. If the British magical community discovered just how big a part they had played in finally taking down Voldemort, they would never have a moment's peace. In the muggle world, they can just be two teenagers. Knowing these two, that's all they want."
Hermione then had her arms around both her friends. "You must also know we would never leave you two, we think of you both as family. This should allow us to live our lives they way we want while Lockhart gets all the attention. Now that's what I call win-win." Her intended didn't say anything, the ear to ear grin Harry was sporting said it all.
Word of the sensational Quibbler story spread like wildfire, with Xeno easily selling every copy of the issue he was able to print. There was still a degree of scepticism though, this was after all the Quibbler.
With the country's magical population turning to the Ministry of Magic for answers, Fudge was forced to make a Ministerial Statement that was broadcast live on the WWN. With all the death eaters having been dealt with, the listening audience were ready to celebrate the moment Cornelius confirmed the main facts in the Quibbler's front page story.
With the current year approaching its end, it was now beginning to dawn on the magical populace of Britain it would be a lot more than just the calendars that would be changing this Hogmanay. The world as they knew it was becoming unrecognisable, and almost everyone was now accepting that this probably wasn't a bad thing.
-oOoOo- 6 Years Later -oOoOo-
For a Sunday night, the uni bar was pretty quiet. Then again, tomorrow was the last day of university before the Christmas holidays. The older students had taken the broad hints their lecturers had been dropping for the last few weeks and all buggered off home on Friday night or by Saturday afternoon at the latest.
The group sitting in the corner were all firsties, and all taking the same course. None of them really thought a 'Christmas piss-up' was a good idea. By the same token though, none of them wanted to be the one who said they weren't going when the idea was talked about. They were students, they were supposed to get pissed - weren't they?
At least they were currently being entertained. They had all noticed a beautiful girl sitting by herself. A beautiful girl who had politely but firmly rebuffed every attempt from anyone who had tried to chat her up. The odd thing was, all of them were sure she kept looking over in their direction. Martin had of course decreed that she must be looking at him, so confidently set off to conquer. He initially appeared to be making progress before his deflation was visible from the other side of the pub.
"I'm your density? Shouldn't that be destiny? Oh, I see - you're using some form of cultural reference and hoping that this joke will break the ice between us. The problem with that approach is, if I don't know the reference, I will think you are calling me thick - or that you are rather stupid and don't know the difference between density and destiny..."
This beautiful blonde may have managed to say all that without seemingly taking a breath but Martin was left speechless. His jaw was certainly moving up and down but there was no decipherable sound being produced. Martin thought that the voice coming behind was going to save him from any further embarrassment. Turning to see a couple who'd just entered the bar, he should have known better.
"Hey Biff, even if you had a flux capacitor, this girl is light years ahead of you."
The blonde shot out her seat and was now wrapped in Hermione Potter's arms.
"Hermione love, how many times have I got to tell you. It's Martin, not Biff. Hey Luna, how have you been?"
Luna then threw herself into Harry's now open arms as a totally dejected Martin was joined by a grinning Brian. "Why am I not surprised that Harry Potter ends up with the two most beautiful girls in the place on his arms. Give us mere mortals a break, Harry, and tell us your secret."
"Sheer luck, mate. This is Luna, she's one of our best friends and was bridesmaid at our wedding. We weren't expecting her but she's always welcome." Turning his attention back to Luna, it was a slightly puzzled Harry who asked a question. "I thought we would see you on Tuesday, why the change of plans?"
"Joy wanted to head off to the island earlier, and has her daddy wrapped around her little finger. As soon as her godparents hit London, we're all off to Black Island - so I was sent by the little madam to collect you both."
"We have classes on Monday..." A look from Harry stopped Martin saying any more, before comically weighing up the choice before him.
"Let me think about this for a moment. Classes on Monday with you lot, or lying on a beach with these two lovely ladies. I'll see you guys after the holidays."
This had Brian laughing but Harry held out his hand in the universal stop sign, though not at his laughing friend. "Martin, if you were about to make a comment that is in any way disparaging to either of these young ladies then I would advise you to make like a tree and go. Shit, he's got me doing it now."
As Martin made his way back to the group, Brian greeted both ladies. "Hi Hermione, how's English literature treating you? You sure have Martin's number, you're the only person I know who can get him to shut up about his obsession. Hi Luna, I'm Brian, pleased to meet you. How did you get tied up with this pair?"
"Hi Brian, I met these two when I was eleven and on my way to the same school. We've been friends ever since. I'm hoping to come here next year to study journalism..."
That last bit really peaked Brian's interest, the thought of having this beautiful girl here next year, and his obvious interest had Luna smiling too. Hermione had to ask her twice if Neville was going to the island this year.
"Oh yes, Parvati will want to make sure Harry has his best man duties down before the big day arrives. Something just occurred to me. If Neville ever forgets their anniversary, will he be in double trouble because it's also Valentine's Day?"
The blonde giggling along to her own joke was a sound Brian thought he would never tire of hearing. He was Harry's lab partner and liked the Potters a lot. Luna was looking like another reason to remain close to these two. "Are you really heading off to a tropical island?"
Hermione missed very little, and certainly not her best female friend's interest in Brian - someone she also liked and thought could be good for Luna. "Yes, the island belongs to Harry's godfather, our entire families have spent the last five Christmases there. Joy is his daughter, our goddaughter, and a little minx. She has her father and Harry here wrapped around her little finger..."
"Oh, and her godmother is such a stern character. 'Read me another story, Hermione - your's are the best."
"Now Harry, your jealousy is showing - just because I read better stories..."
Brian was laughing again, and grasping any excuse to keep talking to Luna. "These two crack me up. Have they always been like this?"
"I've known them since they were twelve, and that's a big yes. Even back then, Hermione wore his ring and they were as close as they are today."
Kissing his wife's cheek, Harry's grin was infectious. "Hey, I always knew exactly what I wanted - and here we all are. Brian, we really need to be going. We'll see you when we get back." Harry shook Brian's hand, Hermione hugged him, giving Luna the perfect excuse to do the same.
"I enjoyed meeting you, and now I have another reason to want to come here next year..."
Brian wasn't about to turn down an invitation like that. "We don't need to wait until then to see each other again, do we?" Luna's smile was all the answer he needed.
The three left the bar and headed to an enclosed part of the car park.
"He was nice, much nicer than Ron Weasley hitting on me."
"How's that going?" Both girls could practically hear the protectiveness in Harry's question.
"I can handle Ron, Harry, and since Ginny started dating Colin he's much more focused on them. Ginny has hexed the stupid prat at least three times."
As the trio held hands and prepared to disapparate to London, Hermione and Harry couldn't help but think this was so much better than the last time they walked out this bar. Instead of having to perform a decidedly dangerous ritual at a bloody freezing Stonehenge tomorrow, they would be lying on a beach surrounded by family and friends. Both thought that was a far more fitting destiny than the one they escaped from all those years ago.