Disclaimer: The Harry Potter universe belongs to the proverbial Duchess of Magic, JK Rowling, Scholastic, Bloomsbury, Warner Bros and some other high falutin' companies. No matter how much I whine about not owning anything related to the HP universe, other than a few fanfic plots, I do not profess to own - and would never dream of making any money off - JKR's wonderful world... Damn it!
Chapter 9 - Finite!
After the exams, they had to wait only a few days before they needed to catch the train back to Kings Cross and begin their summer vacation. All of them, including Hermione, felt they deserved it.
However, Hermione was somewhat upset this year they'd not be assigned summer assignments.
"It makes sense," said Harry. "Until we get our exam results, we have no way of knowing what classes for which we'd be eligible for our NEWT years. After all, you need to earn an OWL in a subject to be eligible to undertake a NEWT in that subject."
"But, we don't even know yet when we'll get our OWL results," whined Hermione.
"Unlike first, second, third, fourth and sixth year, which are graded by the Professors, OWL and NEWT exams are graded by the WEA at the Ministry under direction from Dowager Lady Marchbanks," replied Susan. "They always grade the NEWT exams first, as those who sit their NEWTs need their exam results for some of the careers and apprenticeships they're hoping to get.
"OWL exams get graded after that, because there's still over two months from when they grade the NEWT exams before fifth years need their results to get into their sixth year classes. That's plenty of time."
"But, what do we do while we wait?" begged Hermione.
"We de-stress," Harry firmly replied. "OWL year was a mad year. Admittedly, it won't be as bad as our seventh year, but it was still bad enough. You need to let your mind unwind and chill out for a couple of months before we get back to school and knuckle in for our sixth year and the start of our NEWTs.
"It would be unhealthy for our minds to spend all that time stressing and studying. You need to learn to relax, Hermione."
Still pouting a little over it, she was a little while before she quietly admitted, "I don't know how to relax."
"Boyfriends and snogging!" replied Hannah, which had Neville blushing.
"Sunbathing in the summer sun and developing a tan," added Susan. "Playing games. Swimming in a pool. Come on! What did you use to do to relax?"
"Read a good book?" she shrugged.
"Well, I hope you've got a decent bikini," said Hannah, "Because you're now officially invited to come to my home to spend as much time as possible by our pool; or in it."
Harry and Neville just glanced at each other and shrugged. They didn't care. So long as they got to stare at their girlfriends in bikinis, they were happy.
Hermione did join them visiting the pool at the Abbott's place; however, there was a significant delay in that. As a 'secret' reward for doing so well and getting through her OWLs - as if she wouldn't do well in them - her parents took her on holiday over to France for a few weeks almost from the day she arrived home. She only had enough time to send a letter to Hannah, letting her know she was off to France and why, before she was gone.
Even then, she probably wouldn't have been able to send the letter if it wasn't for Hannah using Neville's owl, Krigare, to send Hermione's parents a letter letting them know Hermione was invited to Abbott's Ford to visit whenever she wanted.
Thankfully, Hermione included in her letter when she was 'likely' to be back in Britain and promised to write as soon as she could.
Susan and Hannah agreed between themselves to send Hermione letters by Krigare and Hedwig a day apart. And that they'd solve the problem of travel for Hermione to visit. Hermione's home, being a muggle home, was not connected to the floo network.
Harry just shrugged and said, "Her seventeenth birthday is in mid September, ask Aunt Ami if she can be taught how to apparate early and get her licence early. Then there's the Knight Bus, but it's one hell of a ride and Hermione might not like or be willing to ride it very much. And, finally, see what it would cost for her to have a semi-permanent two-way portkey between her place and Hannah's for the summer.
One morning and only a few days after they'd returned home from Hogwarts, it was a hot day so Harry and Susan floo'ed over to the Abbotts' home to use the pool. However, Aunt Pauline told them Hannah had left a little while earlier to visit with Neville, they were off to visit someone or somewhere for the morning and they, meaning Aunt Pauline and Uncle Heath, were heading off somewhere for the morning, too.
"You two can stay and use the pool, if you want," offered Pauline. "Just because none of us are going to be home doesn't mean you can't use the pool."
Neither Harry nor Susan took much convincing and they were in the pool within a minute.
When Pauline and Heath came out about half an hour later, it was only to tell the two teens they were off and to make themselves at home, both teens were already in the pool and on 'semi-floating' air mattresses.
About twenty minutes later Susan was probably getting bored as she started flicking water with her nearest hand over Harry, who retaliated by flicking more back. Within the minute they were both off the mattresses and 'wrestling' in the water.
Harry manoeuvred them to be next to the wall of the pool closest to the house and started to snog his girlfriend. She seemed to be all for that, raised her arms around his neck and was snogging back. Then her legs came up to wrap around his waist.
Within the minute and while keeping a careful eye on the back of the house for movement, Harry finally got his hands on Susan's bare boobs, currently with pebble-hard nipples, by the simple expedient of sliding the cups of her bikini top aside from each.
He'd gotten that far and the girl hadn't even made a tentative move to stop him so he moved right on to the next stage.
When he managed to lean her back far enough while she slowly ground her crotch into his he was able to duck his head forward and catch one of her nipples with his mouth.
"Oh-ooohhhh... Gods!" she moaned. "Tha- That'sssss... nicccce."
Then he switched to the other drawing similar quiet exclamations of pleasure from his girlfriend.
They didn't progress too much past that point that day, except for Susan tentatively and overly gently holding 'little Harry' for a few moments, but Harry was very pleased he'd made progress. He was also really happy she really enjoyed him licking her nipples. To him, that meant she'd be more willing for him to do similar in the future.
Life was great!
Bones wasn't willing to allow Hermione to earn her apparation licence early; but she did organise the girl a short-term, repeated use, two-way portkey. It landed her out front of the Abbott's home going one way, and within her backyard at her parent's place going the other way.
The first time she turned up to go swimming in the pool both Harry and Neville were stunned by what she'd stripped down to wear. According to both of them, it was a really tiny bikini. It wasn't, but compared to what their girlfriends currently wore it was.
Both boys ended up getting whacked on the arm and glared at by their girl, but neither minded when less than two days later, both their girls wore similar. Apparently Hermione took them shopping into the muggle world and they came back with 'something more appropriate'.
Pauline had come out to the pool once after that, saw what the girls were wearing and how the boys were looking at them, just shook her head and walked back inside. Of the five, Harry and Neville were the youngest and less than a couple weeks off their sixteenth birthdays at the end of the month, both Susan and Hannah had their sixteenths a few months earlier and Hermione was just two months shy of her seventeenth birthday. Obviously Pauline had decided she wouldn't get involved and that the teens were old enough and mature enough to make their own decisions regarding their bodies.
Neville and Harry, though; when they got to talk in private and apart from the girls; both confessed they thought Hermione was 'stacked'!
OWL results arrived a little over a week after Hermione arrived back in Britain from the family holiday in France.
As expected they all did well. And none of them failed a subject. That meant they all got to choose what they wanted from their subjects to take into their NEWT years.
Harry's dream job was as a healer - he still had the very occasional nightmare of how he was treated by the Dursleys - he kept Potions, DADA, Charms, Transfiguration, Arithmancy and Ancient Runes and added the pre-Apprenticeship of Healing.
Susan was following her aunt into the Auror force so kept the same first three and last two, but chose Herbology and Muggle Studies for the other two as she wanted to be an Auror/Battle Medic.
The others all chose theirs with Hermione again wanting to take every subject, including at least one pre-Apprenticeship course, into her NEWTS. She received a letter from Professor Flitwick to visit her to discuss her options and she used the floo from the Abbotts' to visit with him. She returned an hour later and said she'd have to think about what she wanted to do. The Professor convinced her to drop down to only eight subjects maximum.
Neville was definitely going into Herbology and chose subjects that reflected that. He'd be undertaking the pre-Apprenticeship for Herbology with Professor Sprout before then, very likely, taking an Apprenticeship under her. And Hannah chose subjects that both supported Neville and added others that could aid Neville in what he'd be doing. Neither of those two teens doubted they'd marry very soon after graduating from Hogwarts.
The last two years flew by for the five.
Harry was offered the position of Team Captain for the Badger's Quidditch Team in his seventh year and turned it down. But that was because he thought the Seeker, constantly having to seek and being right out of the play, wasn't the wisest choice for Team Captain. He suggested to the Team it should be Robert Cadwallader, a fifth year and Chaser, who should have the position. That way, Harry could apply all his focus on seeking.
As Harry was determined to do, just as with his fifth year the Badgers also won the next year and, finally, came out way on top for their third season win in a row. While Harry was seeker the Badgers remained undefeated across all nine games.
Like Hannah and Neville, Hermione had been offered prefect for her fifth year and accepted the role. Then went on to become Head Girl in her seventh year; the Head Boy was Kevin Entwhistle from Ravenclaw. Those two tentatively started dating in their sixth year, were definitely boyfriend and girlfriend in their seventh year (after both teens had spent a little time with each other's family during the summer break) and were practically engaged at graduation. None of their friends from either side doubted the two would not get married within a year out of Hogwarts. They were wrong.
At the graduation ceremony Bones, who was still Minister and appeared would remain so for a great many years yet, stood at the Headmistress's invitation and gave a short speech. Then she said, "Just as I caused a major shift in what people knew back in your... looking at the students... first year, by unveiling the finding of the founders' artefacts and the four portraits themselves, I have another shocking piece of information to impart upon you all."
That had a lot of whispering going on, including among the staff.
"However," she said, "It is not my news to impart. I ask you to turn your attention to the four portrait's of the founders of the school."
The silencing ward had been temporarily removed.
When everyone turned around, Rowena said, "Even today, there are many people who believe this school, this castle and the land it sits upon were equally owned by the four of us. That is not true."
Helga then added, "Until the mid-1800s women folk, be they muggle or magical, were not permitted... by law... to own property of any form. Back in our day, women were even thought of as property, themselves.
"The muggles granted women ownership rights in the early part of the 1800s and wizard-folk granted women ownership rights in the late 1800s, barely one hundred and twenty years ago."
"Therefore," said Rowena. "This school, castle and land was owned only and outright by Godric and Salazaar. Through an arrangement between them, both owned an equal share."
"That means," added Helga. "The rightful descendants of Godric and Salazaar are the rightful owners. Their descendants never sold or otherwise handed over their ownership to another; including the Ministry. It was not possible for them to do so, even if they had tried."
Godric was grinning, while Salazaar was slightly smirking, through that short history lesson.
Godric braced himself up and said, "With the permission of the rightful owner of the Gryffindor share of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I now announce who that is.
"I identify the rightful owner... by right of primogenitor, law and magic... as my many times great grandson... Heir Henry James Potter!"
Harry just sat there smirking as the whole Hall broke out in exclamations of shock before they all wheeled to stare at him. Of course, his family already knew this, as did his nearest and dearest friends - including, by then, Hermione - so they barely reacted.
"My turn!" called Salazaar.
When attention turned to him, he said, "Again with the permission of the rightful owner of the Slytherin share of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I now announce and identify the rightful owner... by right of primogenitor, law and magic... as my own many times great grandson through the line of Peverell... Heir Henry James Potter!"
As all four portraits looked down upon the hall, grinning away - even Salazaar, this time - the hall broke out in even further and louder exclamations of shock.
Finally, Harry stood and looked about. That started to settle folks down.
He then started walking towards the dais and his 'Aunt Ami'.
By the time he reached it he had quiet.
He then stepped up onto the dais, gave Bones a nod and turned to look towards the rest of the Hall over the many faces in the audience.
"To explain how," he said. "Many have known for a long time that the Potters have always had close ties with the House of Gryffindor. Many suspected it was because the Potters were descendants of Godric Gryffindor, which is why almost all Potters ended up Sorted into Gryffindor as students here. That is all true.
"As for Slytherin, it had been reported that Tom Riddle claimed direct descendantry from Salazaar Slytherin. This was true; he was. However, Tom Riddle died on the night of the thirty-first of October 1981. I'm sure you all know the story of that.
"However, when he died many thought he died without an Heir. Yes, he died without an Heir of his... loins... but that still did not mean he didn't have an Heir.
"To find his Heir Tom Riddle's bloodline had to be traced back up through the generations. He was the son of Merope Gaunt, a daughter of the House of Gaunt, so the line first had to trace back up through the line of Gaunt. The Gaunts were a daughter line of the second brother of the three famous Peverell brothers; Antioch, Cadmus and Ignotus. Antioch had died without progeny, so the Heirship passed to Cadmus's younger brother's line, Ignotus.
"The oldest granddaughter of only granddaughters of Ignotus and last remaining Peverell, Iolanthe Peverell, married Hardwin, oldest son of Linfred of Stinchcombe. Hardwin then changed the name of the then clan to the family name of Potter. Hardwin begat Ralston, who begat the first Henry, who begat Fleamont, who begat James, who begat... me.
"And, thus, I was actually Tom Riddle's Heir Apparent when Tom Riddle killed his previous Heir Apparent, my father, on that night.
"Through the cleverness and knowledge of magic of my mother, Tom Riddle was killed by a backlash of magic when he tried to kill me. And, right at that moment, I became the rightful Heir of both lines of ownership of Hogwarts."
He had silence when he gave that short history lesson and, in the silence, turned to Bones. "Minister Bones, has the information the portraits of the four founders and I have relayed to our audience today been confirmed?"
She grinned back and said, "Indeed it has, Heir Potter... or, as I should properly and formally address you... Mister Henry James Potter, Heir Apparent of the Noble and Ancient House of Potter, most recently now due to the death of Lord Arcturus Black, Heir Apparent of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black, Heir Apparent of the Most Ancient House of Peverell, Heir Apparent of the Most Ancient House of Gryffindor and Heir Apparent of the Most Ancient House of Slytherin."
Harry started to smirk at her as she began. When she finished he gave the nod of a rightful Heir of a Noble House to the Regent of another.
After a nod back, she continued, "The information has been confirmed by the portraits themselves, by ancient records within the Ministry, through the Department of Mysteries and through the good offices of Axe-Lord Ragnok of the Goblin Nation through Gringotts' Bank in London and through the use of powerful potions and magics.
"You rightfully hold and are those titles of which I've just made clear."
Harry looked across the audience and said, "I've known of those facts since before I even started as a first year here; as did a few others, including Minister Bones. That information was kept secret as I knew, early on and based on very good advice, that I would be treated even more differently than the rest of you students if it was made known. It is bad enough to be thought of as 'The Boy-Who-Lived'.
"I also did not wish the staff to know, as I did not wish the staff to wonder whether or not I was going to suddenly enact my rights as owner and overrule or order them in their jobs to treat me differently. It is also because I believe the school is currently in very capable and professional hands under the management of Headmistress Minerva McGonagall and Deputy Headmaster Flitwick.
"Perhaps, one day, I will have to step up and act as that owner. However, I do not foresee that happening for a very, very long time. My dream, which I'm currently pursuing, is to be a specialist paediatric healer; not a school administrator.
"I am very happy to say I have already been accepted into an apprenticeship-healer position within Saint Mungo's. After a break of a couple of months to wind down from the nastiness of NEWTs I will commence that apprenticeship."
Harry's eyes then sought out the eyes of Ernie MacMillan, grinned at him and said, "And, yes, Mister MacMillan... in case you were wondering... my ownership is why I was the one of us five guys in Hufflepuff who had a private dormitory."
MacMillan suddenly blushed and looked down and away.
Harry then turned to Bones and said, "I think that's all I needed to say. Thank you."
He was about to step off the dais when Bones said, "One moment, Henry." She was reaching into a pocket of her robes as she spoke.
When he stopped and turned to look at her, she brought a small ring box out of her pocket and opened it. "Your Heir Apparent rings for Gryffindor and Slytherin. I think it's time you began wearing them."
Harry didn't even hear the few gasps that came to his hearing from the audience. His attention was focussed on the rings in the box.
After a curious glance into his now ex-guardian's face - he no longer needed one once he turned seventeen the previous summer - he reached in with his left hand and drew out the first ring.
"The Heir Apparent's ring for Slytherin," she called.
Harry calmly slipped it onto his right hand ring finger and slid it up against the combined one he'd been wearing for almost seven years, except for a time during the early part of the school year when he had to 'upgrade' the Minor Heir ring of Black to the Heir Apparent's ring when Arcturus Black passed. A moment later it melded in with the other three.
Once done he reached in and removed the other from the box.
"The Heir Apparent's ring for Gryffindor," she called.
That joined the others on his ring finger.
He then looked at the ring and saw the shield upon it was not so much quartered now, but divided into two columns of three. Potter, Gryffindor and Black; and Peverell, Slytherin and a tiny Hogwarts crest.
Slowly... and Harry later suspected it came from Susan, Neville, Hannah and Hermione... there began applause. It quickly rose in crescendo and lasted well over a minute. Then Bones finally and calmly rose her off hand in a stop gesture aimed at the audience. And the applause died away again.
"Thank you," said Harry. Then he turned to Bones, bowed and said, "Minister Bones." And calmly walked back to his seat.
On return to his seat and as the noise of people excitedly chatting between themselves rose, Bones called, "One moment, please."
As he sat, Susan practically grabbed his right hand and brought it close to her face while she stared and studied the ring. Then she quietly whispered barely loud enough for Harry to hear, "Bloody hell!"
When the noise died off Bones turned to look at Headmistress McGonagall and said, "I told you my announcement would be momentous." And grinned.
Turning back to the audience she said, "I'll now hand you back to Headmistress McGonagall with the final matters for this graduation."
She walked off the side of the dais and stood with a few other important dignitaries, including Croaker of the Unspeakables.
It took a few moments for McGonagall to regain her place in the proceedings, but no one could really fault her. She'd just learned that one of her favourite students, a son of two of her previous favourite students, was actually her boss; and had been - unknown to her, but known to him - since before he was Sorted on the first night of his first year.
She had the ceremony wrapped up soon after that.
Harry and Susan announced their engagement only two weeks later - which came as no surprise to anyone who knew them - and married the following summer.
Neville and Hannah announced their engagement in early July after Harry and Susan announced theirs, but married that Autumn. It might have had something to do with how Hannah was looking a little 'portly' around the middle in her wedding dress; and how their first child, Harfang Neville Longottom, was born on the 31st of March the next year a healthy squalling infant who didn't look anywhere near being a 'premmie'; but no one dared comment on that.
Harry found out at the wedding breakfast that 'Uncle Heath', Hannah's father, had turned up at Longbottom manor wearing dueling robes and said to Neville, "My daughter is pregnant, young man. What do you intend to do about it?" Going direct to Frank, Lord Longbottom, Harry then learned it was more of a prank pulled by both fathers on Neville. They both knew he'd do the right thing and it just shifted the date of the wedding 'forward a little'.
For Harry and Susan's wedding, while Hannah stood with Susan as her matron of honour, Neville stood with Harry as his Best Man. It was the reverse of how they stood for Neville and Hannah's wedding. Neville's parents sat on the front row of guests' seats with a three month old Harfang on Frank's lap.
When Hermione fell pregnant, Entwhistle - who still hadn't proposed to her - developed cold feet and bolted back to his family from the small modest home the two had shared almost right from graduation. At the time, Hermione was studying law as a para-legal working with law-wizard Ted Tonks.
Harry sent Entwhistle a note which said, 'Propose to the girl and marry her before the baby is born or they will never find your body. My future godchild will not be born a bastard'. In a well-hidden charm cast with the Elder Wand, the note was timed to auto-incinerate ten seconds after it was opened by the young man. No evidence, that way.
Entwhistle very publicly proposed less than twenty-four hours later and begged Hermione's everlasting forgiveness for being a scared idiot and bolting.
She accepted and a very pregnant Hermione became Missus Hermione Entwhistle only two weeks before the baby was born. Unsurprisingly, Harry was named godfather. By then, Entwhistle had 'forgiven' him the 'prank' note as he felt it was just the kick in the pants he needed at the time.
Harry and Susan's first was born on the 30th of March just one day before the first birthday of Harfang. Harry was proud to tell only his friends that, though he did not know it at the time, he went to bed on his wedding night with a woman who wasn't pregnant and woke the next morning with one who was.
Over the subsequent years Hannah had a second child, a daughter, Susan bore their second, a boy; and more children followed.
Harry finished his apprenticeship, as did the others, and he went on to become the go-to Healer for all issues relating to the health of wizarding children. He also provided specialist advice to the DMLE regarding child abuse and was a prime 'Ministry' expert witness in many cases of such.
Susan ended up working as an auror for a couple years and then decided it wasn't for her. She wanted to work closer to home and be there for her children. Harry had no problem with that, as they were well off from the long established Potter fortune.
One of the cases Harry was brought in to consult upon for the DMLE about a decade after he finished at Hogwarts, as he still worked in concert with the DMLE after Susan left their service, shocked the hell out of him. He was brought in regarding the treatment of a young eight year old muggleborn girl who had been treated abhorrently by her own father. Her name was Heather Dursley and her father was one Dudley Dursley.
During that investigation Harry found out Vernon had died in prison after being 'mouthy' to another prisoner, a 'lifer'. Petunia was released early on good behaviour but was a real mess. It was at her urging that 'the freaks' were called in and Dudley's treatment of his daughter was discovered by the magical world. The mother, apparently, had died 'under suspicious circumstances'. Marjorie Dursley had died a few years earlier of alcoholism.
Harry argued that he and Susan should be given custody of the girl, with Petunia flatly stating, and signing off on, she had absolutely no intention of fighting for custody.
Dudley ended up in the same prison his father went into, but managed to live through it. As with Petunia, he never remarried.
Heather was formally adopted by the Potters and became yet another child of theirs. The Potters ended up having six children by birth. With Heather, that made seven. Harry declared they now had their own Quidditch team and Susan declared she'd bear no more (or Harry would be 'eunuched').
Hannah bore four for Neville and Hermione bore only two for Entwhistle. However, everyone was happy.
As for others, Sirius eventually married and had two boys, twins. However, his wife died soon afterwards of complications related to a childhood bout of Dragon Pox. Sirius eventually got over it - if, for nothing else, for the sake of his two infant boys - decided marriage was not the life for him and raised his two boys on his own with support from Remus. They turned out be a pair of real rambunctious troublemaking pranksters, but were well loved and cared for.
Harry did eventually forgive Remus his behaviour immediately after when Harry was orphaned, but they never became friends or anything. As far as Harry was concerned he was Sirius's friend, that's it. And he was comfortable enough to tolerate him at that. However, he also gained Harry's respect by how he stood with Sirius when his friend lost his wife.
He eventually died of a heart attack brought on by one of his transformations during a full moon. However, that was not unexpected. From his own knowledge as a healer Harry knew werewolves, if it was a death from natural causes, often died that way.
Harry kept an eye on things at Hogwarts, but never interfered unless the School Board tried something stupid.
One of the things he organised soon after graduation was for the Room of Requirements to be 'stripped' of all the so-called detritus in its 'Room of Lost Things' configuration. That material/detritus was transported through portkeys to a warehouse complex he'd bought and, from there, sorted into what was worth something and what was just rubbish. Apparently, the house elves of Hogwarts spent a lot of time assisting there.
Slowly, but surely, the piles and piles were reduced, with the effects sorted; shelved if saleable and vanished if not. And for that which was repairable, repaired. What was left was slowly and carefully sold or otherwise returned to the school for future use; except for that which was discovered owned by others.
He was given a monthly report of what was found, what had been sold, what they had tracked down to the original owners (or their families if the owners had already passed on) and returned, what had been vanished and what had been handed over to the Ministry for the Ministry to decide what to do with. Artefacts considered too dark were carefully stripped of their dark curses or, when they couldn't be, destroyed.
The school bursary flourished with the constant influx of gold and McGonagall was already eagerly looking forward to using the funds from it to refresh what needed refreshing in the school and even offering full scholarships for the underprivileged.
One of the times when Harry was called by McGonagall was for one of the times Harry thought the Board was being stupid. The Board tried to seize full control of the bursary.
Harry turned up at their next meeting, threatened the lot of them with terminating their positions right then and there as per the school charter and told them to 'keep their sticky fingers the hell out of it'.
Another was when they tried to overrule the Headmistress on who should be offered scholarships. Their choices were all purebloods who, actually, were from reasonably affluent families.
Harry walked in, stared at the Chair-wizard of the Board and said, "You. Get out! You're fired." Then glared at the rest of them. "You were warned not to interfere with the bursary. In almost every case I only give one warning. I've never given a third and will never give a third. The next time I have to come here to sort this problem out, you'll all be fired. That is, of course, if you're alive to be fired at the time. I might just decide to kill you fuckers, right where you sit.
"This land is mine!" he snarled "This school is mine! What was in the Room of Lost Things is mine to do with as I wish! The money raised from it is mine! As a result, I effectively own the bursary. The next time you idiots try to steal from me... you'll be lucky to live through my wrath!"
When the Chair-wizard was still sitting there as Harry finished reeling off his threat, Harry drew his wand and raised it to point it right at the man. "I thought I just told you to get the fuck out!"
The man ran out the door.
"No more warnings!" he snarled at the rest, once the idiot was gone. "The next time I come back I leave bodies behind me."
Over half the Board resigned that night. Their replacements, together with those who stayed, never tried to get anywhere near the bursary again. It was for the Headmistress and Deputy Headmaster to deal with, no one else.
Almost twenty-five years to the day he walked out of Hogwarts as one of that year's graduates, Harry was called back to the castle by Flitwick.
He quickly made his way to the little Charms Master's office and knocked.
"Come in," he heard called.
Entering, Harry didn't even manage to open his mouth in greeting before the Professor said, "Follow me, please, My Lord." He walked around Harry, out the door and started down the outside corridor.
Harry had rarely seen the little man so serious and perturbed about something before. He could only think of three times off the top of his head: One; was when Hermione was so distraught over how the late, drunk himself to death, Ronald 'Waste of Oxygen' Weasley had treated her as a first year she ended up begging to be banished from the magical world. Two; was when he learned from Hermione how badly little Luna Lovegood was being treated by certain Housemates in the 'Claws and he investigated. What followed that was one of the biggest loss of points a House had received in a single instance in the history of the school. Rowena had subsequently demanded the entire House be brought before her and, in a 'closed session' - the doors to the Great Hall were locked with only Flitwick the Headmistress and the Ravenclaws within - she verbally flayed them alive for over half an hour. And, three; was when the School Board tried to seize control of the bursary. As such, Harry knew something very serious was in the wind.
Without a word, Flitwick led Harry directly to the Infirmary. Walking in, Harry saw that there was a section partitioned off at the back. Flitwick headed directly for it.
Madam Pomfrey, still the school medi-witch but already a year into training her replacement, had just stepped out from behind one of the partition curtains, saw who had entered and appeared relieved.
"She's awake and decent?" asked Flitwick as he walked closer.
"Yes," nodded Pomfrey.
Flitwick barely broke stride as he walked to the curtains and checked inside. He took one look and then held the curtains aside in obvious invitation for Harry to step within.
As soon as he did, Harry saw it was Minerva McGonagall on the bed. She did not look well.
He didn't even hesitate. He immediately drew his wand and began casting detection and diagnosis charms over her.
"There's no need for that, Harry," she quietly said with a soft smile. "I'm dying."
"Not if I can help it," he muttered.
"Damage from that bout of Dragon Pox," she said.
About fifteen years earlier she contracted a dose of dragon pox from a student coming to school when they shouldn't have, when that student's parents knew the child had the Pox. Like some, McGonagall had not been as strict with her own health requirements as she should have been. She'd skipped her required fifteen year inoculation five years earlier and not gone afterwards and rectified that error.
The parents of the child, however, were subsequently charged with child abuse of, not just their own child, but twelve others and simple abuse of two adults who'd contracted it off the platform at Kings Cross and McGonagall. Those children were the students who all contracted the Pox as a result of that first carrier being sent to school, all muggleborns.
Both parents knew their child was sick, still recovering from the Pox and still contagious, yet still sent the child to school. They had long-term plans that would have them overseas and on a private holiday in MaCUSA two days after the 1st of September and believed they could not alter those plans. As well as becoming the primary healer for those children, Harry was a prime witness for the prosecution against the parents. The parents had been tracked down by 'The Pride', the aurors of MaCUSA, arrested and dragged back to magical Britain to stand trial.
It was successfully argued that sending the child to Hogwarts was a clear case of child abuse; not just of their own child, but of every child that attended Hogwarts. Not only did they lose custody of their own child as a result, they were forced to pay for the medical treatment of everyone who'd become sick from it; and then spent three years in prison for the criminal side of the case to go right along with the financial penalty.
However, Harry's detection and diagnosis scans confirmed what McGonagall had told him. Pomfrey was doing everything needed to prolong the witch's life, but such is a constant rearward battle that never ends well.
He sighed in sadness and looked at her. "You need to retire," he quietly said.
"I can't," she argued back. "The Board won't confirm Filius as my replacement."
"Screw the Board," he half-snarled. "Do you want him as your successor? Do you believe he is capable of the role?"
"Yes, to both," she smiled.
"Then so shall it be," he firmly declared. "I need parchment, ink and a quill."
A house elf had that before him before the words were barely out of his mouth.
Quickly, Harry wrote an Executive Order that stated, as of the time he signed and dated the Order, Filius Flitwick was the Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and further Ordered that his termination could only be issued by the current owner of the school as laid down by the school charter as it stood at the time the Order was signed.
Not signing or imprinting his ring upon it yet, he handed it to her without a word.
She quickly read through it and sighed in relief. "Please hand me my wand."
Flitwick, on that side of the bed and closest, plucked it off the bedside table and handed it to her, wandgrip first.
She gently accepted it, held it at an angle across her chest and quietly said, "I, Minerva Genevieve McDonald née McGonagall and of the Clan Ross, in naming my successor, Filius Axedragger Flitwick, hereby retire from the position of Headmistress of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, in this place and at this time, due to health reasons. As I say, so I swear, so must it be."
Harry immediately signed the document and pressed his ring into the soft disc of red wax near the bottom right of the document. It was now official.
All three felt the wards subtly shift, but not move yet.
Flitwick then drew and held his own wand in a similar manner. "I, Filius Axedragger Flitwick, as named successor and wizard in good standing, holding Masteries in the subjects of Charms and Defensive Magics, hereby accept the position of Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from Minerva Genevieve McDonald née McGonagall and of the Clan Ross, in this place and at this time. As I say, so I swear, so let me be judged."
All three again felt the shift of the wards. This time they gently moved from McGonagall and bonded with Flitwick. Harry's own control of the wards, as owner, felt them shift from one to the other.
Harry gently smiled at a very relieved McGonagall and said, "I, Lord Henry James Potter, owner of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, hereby name Minerva Genevieve McDonald née McGonagall and of the Clan Ross, Professor Emeritus of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, in this place and at this time. As I say, so I swear, so must it be."
While Flitwick looked at Harry in surprise, McGonagall practically gaped at him in shock. "Harry!" she quietly exclaimed.
"This is your home, Minerva," he quietly said. "Everyone knows that. I will not have any fool find an excuse out of some dusty old book on traditions or long forgotten law to see you evicted from this place. By naming you Professor Emeritus you cannot be evicted; not by those twits on the School Board voting unanimously, not by that moron the 'Mot elected as our latest Minister since Amelia Bones retired, not by anyone. You leave only when you decide to leave, not before."
With tears in her eyes she quietly reached out and took him by the hand. Very heartfeltingly she said, "Th-Thank you."
"Any time, Minerva," he smiled.
He then looked to Flitwick and asked, "Who do you want to be your Deputy, Filius?" No one missed the emphasis.
"Bathsheda," the new Headmaster promptly replied.
"Then make it so," he ordered. "And, if the Board gives you any guff about that, tell them you're under orders from me to immediately send me an elf and I'll come running. Then they'd better not still be on the grounds when I get here. They'll have all been fired and I'll permanently disband the Board right then and there."
He smiled back with a twinkle in his eyes. Minerva lightly chuckled.
Minerva McGonagall passed a few months later, only a few weeks after Christmas. She'd held on long enough to see her near-lifelong friend, Filius Flitwick, be confirmed by the School Board as the new Headmaster with Bathsheda Babbling confirmed as Deputy Headmistress.
According to both Filius and Poppy who were sitting vigil beside her bed at the time, her last words were, "Here I come, Jamie."
Harry knew her deceased husband's name was Jameson MacDonald. She and he were only married a little over a year before he was killed by members of the Knights of Walpurgis back during the last days of the Grindelwald War. She lost her husband, unborn child and any chance to have any more children as a result of the attack. It was why she was such a lioness in protecting the children under her care in Hogwarts. Though a widow and legally required to use her married name, she'd 'unofficially' reverted to her maiden name of McGonagall while a Professor and, later, Headmistress.
Poppy Pomfrey retired as the school's lead medi-witch only a couple of weeks later. She cited she'd only stayed as long as she did because of her dedication to her friend, Minerva McGonagall, to be there for her when her friend passed.
Harry eventually did fire the School Board. He fired them when, after a great many years and his children had all grown up, married and had children of their own and those children graduated from Hogwarts, he decided it was time for a career change and 'wouldn't mind giving being Headmaster a shot'. At the time he was a Master Healer; holding masteries in Healing, Mind-Healing, Defensive Magics and Arithmancy.
Flitwick was still Headmaster and looking to retire. However, his Deputy, Bathsheda Babbling had also chosen to retire and did not want the post if Filius wasn't going to be there.
Harry had to work hard to convince her to stay for another couple of years and train her replacement. She agreed, but only if he would become Headmaster. The School Board did not like that decision and decided they would not confirm his appointment. Stupid move.
So, he fired them, ordered them permanently off the grounds and took the reins of the school.
Bathsheda stated her replacement would be the Professor of Herbology, Professor Neville Longbottom.
Harry laughed and said, "I am not surprised."
As Harry was moving to the school, so too did Susan. She trained under Bathsheda to become the Professor of Ancient Runes, having already attained her Mastery of the subject, plus a Mastery in Arithmancy. And actually took over almost a year early.
In place of the Board, Harry created a new body and purposefully named it 'The School Advisory Panel'. None of the old members of the School Board were invited to sit upon it, nor their spouses, nor their children. Far too many of them considered sitting on the Board was an 'inheritable' position when it wasn't.
Harry fulfilled the role of Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry with distinction. He held the post for over sixty years and became the longest serving person in that role in history. His only aim was to outstrip the length of Dumbledore's tenure. He exceeded that by a wide margin.
Under McGonagall's, Flitwick's and his Headship, a period that last well over a century of a golden period of Magical British history, the school had flourished. The Great Hall had to be expanded, expanded again and expanded yet again. The same with the areas and towers of the four Houses. Sortings now started with the first year students all brought to the school a day early with their families and Sorted then.
If they hadn't done that, the Feast would not have started until most students would have otherwise already been abed and asleep. Their latest intake was one hundred and thirty-five first year students. Each class now had a Head of Department, Senior Professor, and three Adjunct (Junior) Professors. Electives now numbered twelve. And each House had a Junior (second and third years), Middle (fourth and fifth years) and Senior (sixth and seventh years) Quidditch Team; a Broom Race Team; and a Football Team. There were also now two Deputy Heads; a Deputy Headmistress and a Deputy Headmaster; one for the girls and one for the boys. And there were a lot of other changes, besides.
Better yet, as far as Harry was concerned, the cost of admission for a student to the school was even less than it was almost a century and a half earlier when he was a student. It was now one of, if not the, cheapest to attend schools in the world. And the number of scholarships per year outstripped the number of the entire student body when he attended. Which helped explain why they now had so many students.
Scholarships, as they were right from the start of the bursary fund, were awarded on a case-by-case basis according to need. It went from full scholarship to partial scholarship with only about twenty-five percent of the full fee charged. It was something the four founders heartily approved of and stated to one and all they wished they'd have been able to do it back when the school was first built. They claimed the purpose of the school was to be both a sanctuary and place to learn for all magical children, irrespective of their station in life, their financial status or anything else. And Harry had worked his damnedest to make that vision a reality. There was barely any naysayer who believed he had not met that, considered impossible at the time, target.
One wizard, Abraxas Malfoy and grandson of the late Draco Malfoy, had tried to change the laws to have muggleborns ineligible for any 'discount' offered in the wizarding world. His clear intent was to make it so muggleborns would be ineligible for scholarships. Lord Neville Longbottom had publicly laughed at him and said, "A scholarship is not a discount, you git. The full fee is still paid, just not by the student or the student's family; and is, instead, paid by Lord Potter's personal bursary."
Susan, sitting as Lady Bones and proxy for Potter while Harry was at the school, added, "And discounts are a business decision and, currently, not for this body to determine due to current laws. If Mister Malfoy wants this body to determine such, then I will happily second a Bill to so amend the law for him. I've been wanting to get rid of bigoted practices by wizarding businesses for as long as I've known of them; and such a Bill will enable me to do that."
It never happened.
It was during his sixty-fourth year as Headmaster Harry had begun to feel ill. And, like healers/doctors everywhere, believed he could treat himself.
However, he just couldn't figure it out and eventually had to visit another Master Healer. He did it in secret. During that visit he was given the bad news, though it did not come as a surprise.
"Simply put, you're getting old, Headmaster," said the Healer. "Those early years of your life, full of neglect and malnutrition, did you no favours."
Harry sighed, thanked the man and left. He didn't even ask how long the healer thought he had left as he really did not want to know.
He returned to the school, began to update his personal file relating to what he wanted to happen if he suddenly died and finally took the bit between his teeth and told his wife what he'd been told.
Most stoically, she sat there for a long moment before she quietly asked, "How long?"
"I did not ask, nor do I believe it is useful to know," he calmly replied. He reached to the side of his desk and tapped the folder that sat there on top. "I've just finished updating my 'What to Do when Harry Dies' file and will make sure it is left out in the open and easily found."
Susan just gave a nod, walked around his desk, transfigured his office chair into a two-seater, sat alongside him, cuddled in and cried.
Harry and Susan spent as much time together as they could. Neither was interested in letting on to anyone else that anything was wrong, so remained working.
They didn't have even as long as they thought.
Two months later Harry was lying in one of the infirmary hospital beds. However, these beds were of a far better quality and standard as the ones that were in here when he was student. The Infirmary also now rated full time a Senior Healer, an Apprentice Healer and two medi-witches/wizards.
He'd been pretty much restricted to that bed for the past two weeks; and not been able to even get off it for the past three days.
The entire Potter family, those who remained, were finally notified once it was apparent Harry wasn't going to be leaving the Infirmary any way but, as he put it, 'toes up'.
Nearly a week later, Harry was woken in the middle of the night by his name being called. He wasn't lying flat on his back but, as requested due to his current difficulty in breathing, he was slightly propped up.
Susan was sitting on a chair alongside his bed, asleep. She was holding his hand while her head rested on the side of his bed.
When he opened his eyes and looked to see who had woken him he could see 'Grandpa Iggy' and 'Uncle Tos' standing beside one another at the foot of his bed.
His surprise was enough to wake Susan when his hand firmly twitched in her grasp.
She took a moment to blink the confusion out of her eyes before she looked at him in surprise. "You're awake?" she said in clear surprise.
"Yes," he simply replied.
"You've been out for two days."
Surprised, he said. "I see."
Then he turned his attention back to Ignotus and Thanatos. "It's time?"
"Yes," Ignotus replied as Thanatos simply gave one slow, simple nod of his head.
"Who―" began Susan.
"Sweetheart, listen to me," he cut in.
When she didn't say a word and withheld comment, he said, "Remember this above all else. I believe I have loved you since I first laid eyes on you. I may have not realised that then, but I knew that later. Thank you for being my friend, thank you for being my wife, thank you for being the mother of my children. Thank you for just being you."
"Harry," she begged, suddenly realising why he was saying what he was. "Please. I love you!"
"I know," he smiled. "I always have."
Turning to look to the two at the foot of the bed, he said, "Thank you, gentlemen."
Ignotus replied, "From both of us, you are very welcome, Harry."
Thanatos simply bowed.
"Who are you talking to?" asked Susan, as tears started to fall from her eyes.
For one last time, he turned to his wife and smiled. He simply replied, "An old friend."
Then he closed his eyes, drifted off with a contented smile on his face and, a few moments later, died peacefully in his sleep.
"HARRY!" she screamed.
Susan didn't even make it to his funeral before she, too, passed. It was then she met both Ignotus Peverell and Thanatos. It was then she knew who Harry told her was 'an old friend'.
At the demand of the Ministry upon House Potter, Harry's funeral had been delayed so important VIPs overseas could attend. Then, at the demand of House Potter upon the Ministry, Harry's funeral was delayed even further so he and his wife could be buried together.
Up upon the Elysium Fields, Harry had scooped his wife up in his arms on her arrival, spun her about as she laughed in joy and said to her, "Silly girl! You didn't have to chase me up!"
"I don't think I can trust you anywhere, even here, without me there to keep an eye on you!" she replied as he lowered her back to the ground.
"Come on," he grinned, taking her by the hand to lead her. "There's some folks I want you to meet."
Upon the dual and matching tombstones of the two - below their names, dates of birth and death - was inscribed the following at each of their requests:
◊ Ω ◊
Here lies arguably the greatest wizard of modern history,
who believed his greatest achievement was successfully asking his wife to marry him.
Here, too, lies the witch who stood beside him in all things,
who believed her own greatest achievement was convincing her husband to ask her to marry him.
A love that will transcend time and space
A/N: No, the Deathly Hallows played no real part in the story other than the Elder Wand. The Stone and Cloak, after returned by the Unspeakables to Madam Bones, were placed in the Potter Vaults and never really left.
The actual 'master of death' - lower case initials - component was going to be Harry's ability to leave the Elysium Fields and return to the mortal plane whenever he wished. Unlike Ignotus, he would come back in a corporeal form. However, that didn't end up playing a part in the story; as, for this story, I was aiming for 'short'. Then I thought for it just to mean 'Master of the Deathly Hallows' (which he, of course, is) and finally thought; 'Nah!'
In a way, him becoming a healer meant he was somewhat a master of death. Think of how many lives he had to have saved over his career up to being a Master Healer within Saint Mungo's? Think of how many, due to his expert testimony in trials, led to the death of others in Azkaban or via the Veil. Master of death did not have to mean he had to be involved in a person's death... directly.