Disclaimer: I don't own them, I'm not making any profit, I'm merely doing this for my own enjoyment, blah, blah, blah.
Summary: Harry's defeated Voldemort and is ready to start his life—there's just one last thing he has to do. One-shot.
Rating: Um… PG-15ish.
As usual thanks to Kristin and James for correcting all my errors. You two are the best.
For a moment, Harry was filled with an inexplicable sense of dread and foreboding. For the first time in his life, that he could recall, he was filled with an overwhelming desire to run away.
Funny, he thought to himself, that this could provoke such a reaction in him.
Funny when he'd faced much more terrible things and nothing, nothing had ever made him want to run before.
In third year he'd learned the Patronus charm to repel Dementors.
In fourth year he'd bravely summoned up the courage to go face a fire-breathing dragon.
In fifth year he'd agreed to help teach a giant English.
Two months ago, he had stood on a battlefield and won the war against Voldemort like it had been foretold.
And four days ago, he had gotten down on one knee and proposed to his best friend of seven years.
And none of those things had ever caused him such large feelings of anxiety.
"You don't have to do this."
Harry was pulled out of his internal musings, eyes traveling to the girl standing next to him. "I want to."
Hermione gave a delicate little snort. "Don't lie, Harry."
"I do," Harry said again, turning his gaze to the house in front of him.
Number 4 Privet Drive in the Little Whinging.
And who would have thought that this, this would be the hardest thing he'd ever have to face?
"No—I need to do this."
He knew that Hermione was watching him in worry, though he couldn't see her face. He knew that she would be chewing her bottom lip, wondering if it was her place to say something.
"Just…" Harry sighed and took a breath. "Stay with me, alright?"
"Of course," she whispered, taking his hand. "You don't have to ask."
Together they climbed the steps. Silently they stood in front of the door, as Harry shifted back and forth from one foot to the other.
"Don't know what I should do," he mumbled.
"Knock, I guess," Hermione said listlessly. "Or ring the doorbell."
"Yeah," Harry said, not making any moves to do either. "Can't believe that I grew up in this house. I don't even feel like I have the right to open up the door and walk in."
"Well…" Hermione said hesitantly. "It was never really your home, was it?"
"No," Harry admitted. "It may have been where I lived… but it was never my home."
"We don't have to do this, Harry," she said again, looking at him in unabashed worry. "You don't owe them—you don't owe them anything."
"I know," Harry said, swallowing. "But… I want… they're the only living relatives I have, Hermione. They… they took me in. They didn't want to, and they made sure I paid for it, but they still took me in. And I guess… a part of me… needs them to see what I am… see what I've become." Harry stopped, thinking of the way the Dursleys had treated him over the years. "It's stupid, I know."
"Oh, of course it's not stupid," Hermione said quickly. "I didn't mean to imply that it was." She sighed. "I just hate seeing you in pain. You don't… you've been through enough of it."
"Petunia's my mother's sister," Harry said and even after all these years, he still felt a touch of disbelief. "And, well, I s'pose a part of me wants them to meet… well, my… err…"
"Fiancée?" Hermione offered, wryly.
"Yeah," Harry said, blushing a little and turning back to the door. "You know, her."
"Oh, honestly, Harry," Hermione said, in that long-suffering voice of hers. "If you managed to work up the courage to ask me to be your wife, the least you can do now is learn to introduce me as—"
"Wow, hold on," Harry interrupted, holding out his hands to stop her angry tirade. "I believe it was you that said I had better get down on one knee and pop the question or I'd learn, and I quote, 'just how skilled you were at charms' work.'"
Hermione went a little pink. "Well—you'd been carrying around that ring for three months—and don't tell me that you weren't, because I know you were—so I just thought that, perhaps, you needed a little… push."
"I was waiting for the right moment," Harry said stiffly.
Hermione emitted a tiny snort—making it clear that she didn't believe him.
"Well—I was," Harry mumbled defensively. "You're just the tiniest bit impatient, though…"
"Impatient?" Hermione repeated shrilly. "Three months! You carried around my ring for three months!"
"Let's knock, shall we?" Harry said hurriedly, turning back to the door.
He pressed the doorbell, catching Hermione's self-satisfied smile out of the corner of his eye as he did so. With a start, Harry realized that most of his earlier anxiety had completely disappeared. He blinked at the Dursley's front door for a moment in surprise before reaching again for Hermione's hand.
"I love you," he murmured quietly.
Hermione smiled. "You probably just had some silly notion that I would say 'no'…"
Harry was spared having to make an answer by the door swinging open. Swallowing hard, he looked up into the eyes of Uncle Vernon.
Funny that he still looks so big, Harry thought to himself, holding Hermione's hand a little more tightly. Even though Harry was no more than a couple of inches shorter than his uncle, he still felt the old familiar weight of his insignificance settle on his shoulders. His earlier feelings of anxiety seemed to return with a vengeance.
"You!" his uncle said, clearly shocked by Harry's appearance.
Probably thought that he'd never have to see me again, Harry thought bitterly.
Hermione gave a little tug on his hand, reminding Harry that he had yet to say anything.
"Uncle Vernon," he finally managed, tongue feeling thick and swollen. "Err… hello."
It was interesting that his uncle's eyes bugged out in the exact way that Harry remembered. Vernon's hand turned white as he gripped the doorway, looking for a moment as though he might go crashing to the floor.
Fear, Harry realized with a sudden start. Fear so great that the mere sight of him was enough to make his uncle unsteady on his feet. Harry felt a surge of confidence. This… all of this… everything they had put him through, all that he had to endure as a child… was because the Dursleys feared him.
"May I please come in?" Harry asked, careful to keep his voice carefully controlled.
Vernon's face went purple with rage. "You…" he said again. "Petunia!" he shouted. "Petunia, come quick!"
At the sound of her distressed husband's voice, Petunia came running. "Good heavens, Vernon, yelling like that, what will the neighbours…" Petunia trailed off, catching sight of Harry standing at the door. Her hand flew to her throat in surprise. "You!" she said.
Harry sighed. "Me," he said tiredly. "Can I come in?"
Petunia and Vernon eyed him distrustfully. Harry watched his aunt's eyes slide past him to come to a hesitating stop on the neighbour's lawn. Probably wondering what people would say if she was caught associating with the likes of Harry, she opened the door to allow him through.
Still holding Hermione's hand, Harry entered the house of his childhood, trying in vain to keep away the flutterings in his stomach. The house looked much like it always had. Petunia had always been an immaculate housekeeper; nearly every inch of the house was scrubbed until there was not a speck of hair or dirt to be found.
The most notable exception being, of course, Dudley's bedroom, which was so full of gifts from his parents it was a wonder that one could find the floor at all.
Hermione let go of his hand, her curiosity getting the best of her. She'd never visited him before at the Dursley's and Harry watched as she examined the house with a careful eye, her lips pursed together in a frown of concentration.
Petunia and Vernon were both standing by the door, looking at a complete loss for words. Harry stared back at them, hundreds of memories from his childhood flashing before his eyes.
Dudley punching him for the first time when he was only three. Doing dishes for Aunt Petunia with nothing but a toothbrush. Dudley and his friends picking on him his first day of school. His complete and utter lack of birthday parties.
But sometimes Harry thought the worst part was the way they made him grow up without any kind of affection. Hermione still joked that he was about the worst person she'd ever met at receiving any kind of physical affection. He'd never been able to truly explain that she was the first person who'd ever given him any.
So he stared at them, wondering why he had come back to this place, a place that he hated with every fiber of his being, with people that had never treated him with one ounce of respect.
They certainly did not care one way or another about his well being. When he left for his final year at Hogwarts, Uncle Vernon had made it very clear that he did not expect Harry to ever return.
What could Harry possibly tell them?
That he had fulfilled the prophecy? That he had vanquished Voldemort and avenged the death of his parents?
Parents that Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia had been mortified of being associated with?
He glanced at Hermione—she was walking around the living room now, touching things as she went, stopping here and there to study photographs on the wall. Harry saw Petunia flinch at such an intrusion on her things, but she refrained from saying anything.
And to tell them that he was getting married?
Were these the people he wanted to share it with?
No—they weren't. Never had it crossed Harry's mind to share the news with the Dursleys.
His only living relatives.
First they'd told Ron. Ron who had assured them he was fine with it before proceeding to get pissed out of his mind, shag an equally pissed Luna Lovegood, and show up smiling good-naturedly in the morning, declaring that he wanted to be the wedding planner—much to Hermione's horror.
Then they'd told Hermione's parents. Then they'd told the rest of the Weasley clan. Then they'd told their old Hogwarts' Professors—those that were still alive, anyway. Next they sent owls to the Order and, just this morning, their names had been splashed across the cover of the sodding Daily Prophet.
The entire bloody wizarding world knew that he was getting married.
Hermione let out a loud gasp and Harry jumped along with his aunt and uncle. Harry couldn't stop the small trembling he felt in his hands—it didn't matter that he had finished Voldemort once and for all—he still couldn't help but feel that the people he loved were in danger.
Calming himself, he followed the sounds of Hermione's shocked gasp, aware that his aunt and uncle were trailing behind him. The sight that greeted him stopped Harry in his tracks.
Hermione's had one hand covering her mouth, her eyes wide and horrified as she stared at Harry's small cupboard under the stairs. Harry felt something inside of him clench up at the sight of her looking so concerned.
He'd told her about his treatment by the Dursleys, of course. He'd told her about it with the vague detached tone one would use to discuss the weather. He'd never wanted Hermione's pity. And, even more than that, Harry had discovered that there was just no easy way for him to describe exactly what it had been like to live at the hands of the Dursleys.
Ron, at least, had some understanding of what the Dursleys were truly like. It had only been a glimpse back in Harry's fourth-year, but it was more than Hermione had ever seen.
Slowly, Hermione raised her eyes until they met his. Harry smiled at her, silently telling her that it was okay. Yes, he had really lived there, but he was fine, now…
Hermione's gaze left his face and she stared with pure, unabashed hatred at the Dursleys.
Harry was pleased to see that her glare succeeded in making his aunt and uncle look rather nervous.
Uncle Vernon adjusted his collar and stood up a little straighter—attempting to look more intimidating. "Just what is the meaning of this, boy?"
"Meaning of what?" Harry asked nonchalantly, remembering how Vernon's anger used to make him cower when he was a child. Without being completely aware that he was doing so, Harry fingered the smooth wood of his wand in his back pocket.
Power, he thought to himself. I have it.
I defeated Voldemort.
I can face my aunt and uncle.
Vernon was sputtering. "Meaning of—grown into a cheeky little bugger, didn't you? After everything your aunt and I went through to raise you—"
"You mean starving me?" Harry cut in sharply. "You mean making me feel worthless? You mean letting me be Dudley's own personal punching bag? Yeah—that was tough on you two."
Harry couldn't look at Hermione—she'd never heard him talk so openly about his early treatment before. He found that he didn't want to see how she was taking it.
Vernon's face was turning purple again. Petunia's eyes were so narrow that Harry was certain she could no longer see.
"Tried to keep it out of you." Petunia snapped, taking a step closer to Harry. "Tried to stop it from turning you into a freak… just like it took that sister of mine…"
Harry wasn't sure when she'd ended up in front of him, but she was meeting Petunia head on, shaking with barely suppressed rage.
"You," she panted. "Have no right to talk to him that way…"
Petunia and Vernon flinched, focusing for the first time on Hermione, as if they were just noticing she was there.
"Bringing strange people into my home!" Vernon roared, eyes still on Hermione. "Who is this, boy?"
Harry found that he was having trouble thinking straight. "Err…" he said, watching his aunt and uncle cower from Hermione's anger. "Err… this is my… err…"
"Fiancée," Hermione finished firmly.
"Fianc—WHAT?" Vernon barked, his face turning an even deeper shade of purple.
"You heard her," Harry said, finally having managed to unglue his tongue. "Now—if you'll excuse us, there are some things I'd like to collect from my bedroom."
Harry saw Hermione's eyes flicker back over to the cupboard under the stairs. He caught her gaze and tilted his head in the direction of the stairs. Relief washed over her face and she gave a barely imperceptible nod. Vernon, spluttering, planted himself in front of the stairs and crossed his arms over his chest.
"You will do no such thing!" he yelled, waving his arms furiously. "This… is… not… your… house!"
"You're right," Harry said coolly. "It's not. And the sooner you let me upstairs, the sooner I'll be gone."
"You can't order me around, boy!" Vernon said angrily.
"Oh, yes, he can," Hermione snapped, brandishing her wand. She waved it around, causing Petunia to waiver on her feet. "Now," Hermione said patiently, pointing it in Vernon's direction. "You will move out of the way."
Vernon moved and Hermione stalked past him, wearing a slightly triumphant look. Harry took one last glance at his aunt and uncle, who were shrinking away from them and gripping each other in fear, before following Hermione up the stairs.
He met her at the top, wearing a look that he couldn't identify. "What?" he asked.
Hermione stared at him for a moment. "I…. Oh, it's nothing. Which one is your room?"
"This one," Harry said, pointing to a door on his right. He pushed it open, half-expecting to find that his aunt and uncle had returned it back to being Dudley's second bedroom.
Much to his surprise, Harry found the room completely untouched. A thick layer of dust hung on all the surfaces and he suspected that his aunt and uncle had been too nervous to enter it at all.
For not the first time, Harry wondered what had made him come back to this house. There was nothing in this bedroom that he wanted. No photographs, no old report cards, nothing from his childhood that he would be afraid to lose. And yet…
He flopped down on his old bed, staring up at the ceiling. He could hear Hermione moving around and knew that she was performing the same kind of examination she had on the downstairs.
"Nothing," she finally said, stopping her search of the room and frowning. "There's nothing."
Harry propped himself up on an elbow. "Huh?"
She gestured around her. "I keep trying to find… you here… and there's nothing. This was your bedroom, Harry. Your bedroom. And you're not here."
Though that wasn't technically true, as Harry was right in front of her, he knew exactly what she meant. "Well, you met them, Hermione. The Dursleys pretty much spent my entire life pretending that I didn't exist."
"Oh, I know," Hermione said, looking more and more upset. "But there's nothing… not one photograph…. Why didn't you ever tell me?"
"Well…" Harry said slowly. "I did… sort of. And it wasn't that bad, Hermione. Honest… look, they did take me in… and, well… I never starved… not exactly, anyway…"
Hermione gave a rather large sniff and Harry quickly shut his mouth before he made matters worse.
Gaining control of herself, Hermione went back to exploring his room. Harry watched her in slight fascination, now understanding that she was looking for some kind of tangible evidence that he had actually lived here.
She paused. "Yes?"
"Well… I was just wondering…" Harry felt like his question was rather stupid and he made sure to avoid her eyes. "D'you… do you know why I had to come back here?"
"That's something you should be able to answer yourself, don't you think?" Hermione replied gently.
"Yeah… but…" Harry looked at her hopefully. "You understand me better than anyone, remember?"
A small smile tugged at the corner of her mouth. "Yes. I remember." She sighed. "Well… I suppose this is your way of trying to move on with your life."
Harry watched her steadily. "What d'you mean?"
"I mean…" Hermione said thoughtfully, sitting down next to him on the bed. "That… this… was a time when you could never really fight back. You defeated Voldemort, Harry… yet you're still afraid of your aunt and uncle. But if you face them, if you face your old helplessness, and you overcome it… well, then, you'll be able to move on with your life."
"Oh," Harry said, a little stunned. "Yeah… that makes sense."
She smiled at him warmly, looking a little amused. Harry felt a wave of reassurance wash over him. He reached for her and she wrapped him up in her arms, trailing her fingers through his hair in a gesture that comforted him in its familiarity. He breathed in her scent, body finally beginning to relax.
Clean—Hermione always smelled clean. It was an odd way to describe her, but that's how Harry had come to recognize her. Hermione was never particularly fond of perfume or scented lotions. But clean—she was always clean.
And soft, Harry added mentally. And warm…
"So, how are you doing?" Hermione said softly, startling him from his reverie.
"Oh, just brilliantly," Harry mumbled. "Smashing, really. Never been better."
Hermione sighed. "Oh, Harry…"
Harry wasn't sure how many times over the years he'd heard her say his name in exactly that way. Her voice was always no more than a soft whisper. It was never a sigh of pity, but an expression of her pain for him. Almost as if she was taking his pain on to herself in an attempt to make his load lighter.
Her lips touched his forehead in a comforting kiss and Harry felt her arms wrap tighter around him. His need for her, for her touch was awakened within him.
He started with her neck, her soft, warm, clean neck, pressing gentle butterfly kisses to her skin. His hands wrapped around her back, pressing her closer to him, even as she let out a low moan. He trailed kisses along her jaw, coming to a stop beneath her ear. He took her earlobe in his mouth, blunt teeth scraping her skin.
Her whisper was different now, more plaintive. It was a whisper of pleasure and need. He pulled away from her to give her a small smile before pushing her down on the bed. He followed her, pressing his body on hers, their legs entangling together. His lips found the corner of her mouth, where he pressed a delicate kiss, before his lips met hers.
Funny, he thought, how we've done this a million times and it still feels this good…
He slipped his tongue in her mouth, her taste uniquely her, uniquely Hermione. She arched against him, her fingers sliding under his shirt and her fingernails tracing patterns over his back.
He could still remember their first kiss, two years ago, at the beginning of sixth-year. It happened at a time when he'd had very little appreciation for what the world had to offer. And like everything else, she seemed to know exactly what he needed then, just as she knew what he needed now.
She tugged his bottom lip between her teeth, her fingers like fire as they traced over his back. His hand slid down her side, playing with the hem of her t-shirt, before slipping under to smooth over the soft skin of her stomach. Hermione writhed beneath him, her hips jerking violently against his.
Their kisses became more desperate, as they surrendered themselves to the burning heat surrounding them. Harry trailed his fingers up her stomach, over her ribcage before coming to a stop just under her breast. Hermione let out small gasp as his fingers encircled her nipple.
He lowered his lips back to her neck, nuzzling her skin as his fingers curved around to unhook her bra. She responded in kind, her hands making their way down to struggle with the clasp on his trousers.
Some kind of common sense wormed its way into Harry's mind. "Lock the door," he managed to pant in her ear. "Lock the—"
He didn't need to say anything else. She shifted, managing to find her wand. Pointing it in the direction of the door, she hurriedly whispered the words to the spell before turning her attention back to Harry.
Her eyes met his, full of warmth and desire. They kissed again, this time with a heated desperation. Hands slid down to remove barriers, the need to be joined now almost overwhelming.
Amazing that I lived here for seventeen years and this is the only time I can ever remember truly being relaxed…
Harry's eyelids drooped to a close as he pressed his face to Hermione's shoulder. She was rubbing his back in slow, circular pattern, turning every once and while to press her lips to his forehead.
"Well, something good came out of this place at least…" Harry mumbled without opening his eyes.
Hermione started wriggling underneath him, a move that Harry was beginning to find very distracting. "Bed's too small," she finally complained. "And you're really heavy."
"Well, it's true!"
"D'you want me to move?"
Hermione thought about it. "No," she finally said. "I don't mind if you're crushing me."
Hermione half-heartedly slapped him on the shoulder. "We should probably—"
"Been here for a while already… your aunt and uncle are probably wondering what we've been doing."
"Yeah," Harry said again, lifting himself up. He glanced around his old room, eyes lighting up at the bits of clothing scattered about. "You know, I think I'm actually growing quite fond of this place."
Hermione rolled her eyes. "I much prefer our flat."
"Me, too," Harry admitted. "Sad that this is the only good thing that's ever happened to me in this place." He thought for a moment. "Well—besides the time when Ron rescued me in a flying car—that was pretty neat."
Hermione smiled in amusement. "Harry?"
"Yeah?" he said, studying her suddenly serious expression.
"Remember when you defeated Voldemort?"
"Of course," he said, voice betraying his surprise at her question. "How could I forget? Thinking of you was the only thing that kept me alive." A smug smile tugged at his lips. "So, naturally, I defeated him in a scene of blazing glory before returning to you where we then lost our virginity to each other in a night of burning passion."
Hermione looked completely unaffected. "You spent three weeks lying unconscious in the hospital wing," she said bluntly. "The only thing you did after defeating Voldemort was take a very long nap."
Harry's smile faded. "Oh, yeah," he said dully, as if just remembering. "Well—I prefer my way."
"Yes, well, you would," Hermione said, getting out of bed and beginning to get dressed. "Though, honestly, so do I—those were a difficult three weeks for me."
"I remember." At the look of disbelief on Hermione's face, Harry rushed to explain. "Feelings, I mean. I think… I knew you were there. After all, after it… it was like everything had been sucked out, like every piece of magic in me had been taken until there was nothing left. So, yeah, I was a little tired… but I could feel you there with me. Honest."
"I believe you," she said, tossing him his trousers.
"And then I woke up and we lost our virginity to each other."
Hermione shook her head in disbelief. "Honestly, what is with you and this fantasy? You do remember that neither of us were virgins when you left to face Voldemort, right?"
Harry grinned as he pulled on his pants. "Guess I'm just a romantic at heart."
"Mmhmm," Hermione mumbled vaguely.
"But I meant what I said," Harry said seriously, finding her gaze. "About you being the only thing that kept me alive."
It was endearing to watch the flush that crept over her face. "Well—that's what I was wondering." She took a breath. "When did you… when did you decide to ask me to marry you?"
"I didn't," Harry said neutrally. "If I recall correctly, you—"
"Yes, yes I know," Hermione interrupted impatiently. "But you know what I meant."
"I—alright," he said heavily, bowing his head. "I s'pose… it was after I won. You're right… I carried the ring around for three months. But I didn't want—I wanted to make sure that there would be a life for us to live together. And after Voldemort was gone, there didn't seem to be anything holding us back anymore. There didn't seem to be any more reasons for why we shouldn't get married." He paused. "I know we're young but that doesn't really—"
"Matter," Hermione finished. She looked down at her engagement ring. "It's only one more symbol. I'm already yours."
"Well, if you're sure," he said jokingly. "Now that you've seen the kind of people I grew up with…"
Hermione narrowed her eyes at him. "I'm not even going to dignify that with a response."
"It's appreciated," Harry said wryly, taking the chance to take one more look around him. "Okay," he said, sighing. "Let's go home."
"Thank goodness," Hermione said, straightening out her blouse. "This house is beginning to give me the creeps."
"I wasn't aware anything was capable of giving you the creeps," Harry said, taking her hand. They faced the door to his old bedroom together. "Although, there is something rather life-sucking about this place, isn't there?"
Hermione waved her wand at the door. "Alohomora."
"We're always going to need that one," Harry muttered, as they made their way down the stairs. "D'you think we'll still be sneaking off for illicit affairs in other people's houses when we're in our 80's?"
"Oh, no doubt," Hermione said. "I just hope it's with each other."
Harry cast her a weary look. "You're joking, right?"
He didn't receive a response and Harry quickly realized that it was because her attention was riveted elsewhere. He followed her gaze and immediately wished that he hadn't.
Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon were sitting at their kitchen table; backs ramrod straight and faces pale. Sitting on the opposite side, staring at them with his mouth hanging open was Harry's cousin, Dudley.
All the joy that Harry had felt within him in the last half hour seemed to evaporate with the sight of his cousin. Though it had been years since Dudley had picked on him, there was something about his cousin's round, piggy eyes that brought back Harry's earlier feelings of nervousness and hesitancy.
"You!" Dudley breathed, eyes on Harry. Aunt Petunia let out a small whimper. Dudley's eyes slid past Harry to come to a stop on Hermione. "And who are you?"
Harry cleared his throat. "This is my… err… my…"
"Fiancée," Hermione filled in helpfully.
Harry shifted uncomfortably. "Yeah. That."
"Your fiancée?" Dudley squeaked out. "Someone's marrying you?"
Hermione made an odd choking noise, looking like she was restraining herself only with great effort.
Dudley studied Hermione with an intensity that immediately raised Harry's hackles. "Yeah, 'someone's' marrying me," he snapped. "But you know what? That doesn't matter to you." Harry took a breath and faced the people he'd never been able to think of as family. "You took me in. You didn't want to, but you did. And I know the last seventeen years haven't been easy for you because of what I am." The Dursleys all flinched. "So… thank you. Now," Harry paused. "I'm about to walk out of your lives forever. I hope to Merlin—" the Dursleys all flinched again "—that we never see each other again. You will not be invited to my wedding—not that you would have come, anyway." Harry fixed his eyes on Dudley, who was still staring at Hermione. "And if you so much as dare put a hand on my fiancée, you will regret it, I assure you."
Petunia and Vernon paled, and Dudley gulped, hastily casting his eyes to the floor.
Satisfied, Harry glanced at Hermione. Seeming to read his thoughts, she nodded. "Let's go home."
The Dursleys all sagged in relief. Without bothering to say goodbye, Harry and Hermione turned and left the Dursleys sitting in their kitchen, in what Harry hoped would be his last image of them.
"Well, my love," Hermione said when they were outside. "That was a very inspiring speech. I particularly loved the part where you defended my honor: 'Touch my woman and you will die.'"
"I didn't like the way Dudley was looking at you," Harry said defensively.
"He's certainly a large boy, isn't he?" Hermione mused. "I must say, I found myself rather glad that you didn't inherit those genes."
"However," Harry said cheerfully. "Even if I had, you would have fallen helplessly in love with me, anyway."
Hermione looked at him skeptically. "Yes, dear."
When they were a good black away from the house, Harry turned back around for one last look at number 4 Privet Drive. He felt Hermione's hand on his arm and he looked into her shining eyes.
"You really did need this, didn't you?" she whispered.
Harry shrugged. "Like you said—time for me to move on." He took a deep breath. "Let's go live our life."
And, joining hands, they apparated back to their flat.