Title: I Dub Thee Unforgiven
Pairings: Surprise! XD
Warnings: AU, whipping, slash
Summary: Harry Potter is the Whipping Boy of the Royal Family. Can he forgive the one who's put him through so much strife?
Disclaim Her: Harry Potter and all character attributed to that series belong to Jo Rowling and her publishers. The plot bunny for this fic was born from a mix of the song "The Unforgiven" by Metallica and a book I read ages ago - The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman.
'New blood joins this earth
And quickly he's subdued
Through constant pain disgrace
The young boy learns their rules
'With time the child draws in
This whipping boy done wrong
Deprived of all his thoughts
The young man struggles on and on he's known
A vow unto his own
That never from this day
His will they'll take away'
Harry scrambled under his small cot and scrunched himself into a ball. He cut his breathing as much as he could just in time for the door to his small room to fly open. And imposing figure stood in the doorway and Harry took care not to move an inch. Oh please don't let the guard look under his co-
The cot was thrown away from him and Harry found himself being dragged from his small room by the back of his collar. His slave collar. Never mind that he was being choked! After all, who cared for the Prince's Whipping Boy!
He winced as he was thrown down on the chilled stone floor of the castle. Directly in front of him were the feet of the stunning Prince Dudley. The Prince glanced down at him as the guard who had dragged him in made way for the Whip Master.
Harry looked away from the Prince as he stood unsteadily and allowed the whip to fly across his back - a dance he was all too familiar with. He didn't even know what Dudley had done this time! Why did the world treat him so unfairly! Why was he forced to feel the whip because of Dudley's discrepancies!
The Whip Master left once Harry had fallen to his knees, tears slowly tracing familiar tracks down his face. Dudley continued to stand next to the small boy as his father berated him for some nonsense involving a dairy maid and a haystack.
Only after the King had left the two boys did Harry speak, 'I was whipped because you couldn't keep your penis in your pants,' was his dull deduction as he struggled to his feet.
'Don't you talk to me that way, whelp!' Dudley turned on his childhood partner, fist raised to send Harry to his feet once again.
Harry offered the bigger boy an empty look. 'Are you going to hit me?'
Dudley's arm fell down to his side and he shrugged. 'Go take a bath before you get blood on everything,' he ordered weakly. He couldn't threaten Harry when the boy gave him that look. Not the boy who'd always been his best friend - well, had once been his best friend. Now they were just passing acquaintances. Too many whippings had destroyed their childhood friendship.
Harry turned his back on his Prince and left quietly, not seeing the wince on Dudley's face as the Prince realized exactly how badly the other's back had been treated. Harry was certainly no stranger to pain. His back was ripped near to shreds and it had only brought him to his knees. Dudley had to respect the small boy sometimes - the Prince himself couldn't even handle a paper cut without bursting into tears.
Dudley made a vow right then and there to give Harry at least a week's respite. No more dairy maids or haystacks for him!
Harry glanced up from his dinner and frowned at his best friend - Ron. 'You're going to get me in trouble.'
'Won't. Come on, mum wants ta check up on yeh. She's 'orried 'bout yeh.' The red-head's open features showed his own concern for the Whipping Boy. They hadn't seen Harry in days.
Harry shrugged, once-expressive eyes shuttered. 'Tell her I'm fine. Really.'
'Yeh don't loo- Oh, 'hit!'
Harry's head shot around quicker than a swinging axe and he found his gaze met by the cold blue eyes of Prince Dudley. 'My Prince,' he murmured politely, though he refused to incline his head like he was expected to. Ron repeated the greeting behind him and Harry sensed, rather than saw, the red-head take a sweeping bow.
Dudley stepped up to his Whipping Boy, ignoring the stable-hand for the moment. 'How are you healing?'
Both Harry and Dudley ignored the started gasp from Ron as the smaller boy shrugged. 'I've had worse.'
Dudley had no proper response for that. 'You should go with your friend for the day.'
Ron looked like he'd just seen the crazed stallion that none could calm be ridden off by the slight form of his best friend.
Harry narrowed his eyes at the Prince. 'And what if you screw up today and they have to come find me?'
'Arry...' Ron whispered in fright. No one got away with talking to Prince Dudley like that!
Dudley sighed. 'Look, I just have some lessons today. I promise they won't have to come find you.'
'Perhaps I should follow you around, then. After all, we both know how much your promises are worth!' Harry stood before the Prince, managing to tower over him even though he didn't even reach Dudley's shoulders.
Ron looked like he wanted to grab Harry and drag the boy away. Far away.
Dudley turned away from the small boy, hiding his hurt behind a mask of cool distain. 'Do as you please, then. I don't care.' Then he stalked from the room.
Ron stared at the unmoving form of his best friend for a long moment before speaking, 'Arry?'
Harry turned to Ron, gaze expressionless. 'Let's go. I could do with some of your mum's good cooking.'
Ron nibbled on his lower lip worriedly, but nodded all the same and led his friend out of the servant's kitchen and down the dirt path towards the stables.
Harry was helping Ron and Ginny - Ron's younger sister - care for the horses when they found him.
'Thought you could hide in the stables this time, eh?' the guards taunted.
Harry looked up at the large men quietly. He'd known Dudley's promises were naught.
'Double the punishments for you today, whelp. Let's move it.'
Harry allowed himself to be shoved back up to the castle. He didn't make any show that the constant harshness hurt him - though he was certain he felt fresh blood trickling down his back from re-opened wounds.
Dudley stood in the centre of his writing instructor's classroom with both his instructor and the Whip Master. The Prince shot his Whipping Boy a triumphant look as the boy was shoved into the room. Harry met the pleased gaze evenly, hiding his own triumphant look when Dudley had to look away uncomfortably.
The Whip Master stepped forward and, before Harry could acknowledge him, had already started the vicious dance. The suddenness managed to steal a gasp from Harry's lips and the extra force the Whip Master used forced Harry to his knees sooner than usual.
Harry held Dudley's eyes as the whip continued to fall across his back, biting his tongue to keep his cries at bay - even as the tears made their ways down pale cheeks. Years of knowing one another allowed the Whipping Boy to read the plea in the Prince's eyes sooner than any other could, 'Just scream and it will all be over. Please just scream!'
But Harry wasn't about to free the Prince from this punishment. He knew Dudley had only acted out to spite him, and he prided himself in being able to hold out against the pain of the whip longer than the Prince could bare to watch.
'Stop! Stop!' Dudley finally gave in as Harry's eyelid's fluttered. The Prince dropped to his own knees and caught his Whipping Boy as Harry fainted. He hadn't meant it to go that far. 'You bloody fool,' he whispered to the unconscious form as the Whip Master called for a doctor. 'You bloody, bloody fool.'
Harry woke to a pale, worried face that was only partially recognizable. 'Duds?'
Tears pricked at the blue eyes. Whether they were because of the long forgotten nickname or merely Harry's recovery, the Whipping Boy didn't know. 'You're a bloody fool, Harry,' the Prince whispered.
Harry smiled faintly and gazed up at the ceiling. His cot must have been moved from his tiny room to rest in the Prince's bedroom. Their ceilings differed. 'Perhaps.'
'I'm so sorry,' Dudley whispered, resting his forehead against Harry's chest carefully.
Harry shook his head. 'Why?'
Dudley glanced up at his childhood friend, aghast. 'You-you fainted and the doctor was caring for Mother and you almost died!'
Harry glanced up at the Prince uncaringly. 'So? No one would care if I died. You can always get another Whipping Boy.'
Two fat tears fell from Dudley's eyes. 'I would care, you fool.'
'Why? You like watching me suffer for your crimes?' Harry's voice was filled with venom.
The horror in Dudley's eyes at the statement answered Harry better than the words following ever could. 'No! I can't- I hate watching you be whipped! I hate it!'
Harry turned away. 'I see.'
'You don't see...' Dudley whispered, then stood. His voice, when he spoke again, was filled with authority. 'You are not to move from that bed until the doctor has said you are well enough. I have lessons to go to, but I will see if one of the guards could fetch one of your friends.' He spun on his heels. 'Do try not to overwork yourself, whelp.'
Harry couldn't help the smile that touched his lips when he realized where he was. His cot hadn't been moved into Dudley's room.
He'd been moved onto Dudley's bed.
A week later, Harry got sick of the bed rest, so slipped from the Prince's bed in the middle of the night and crept across the room to the door of his small room. Pulling the door open as quietly as he could, he found himself met with an impossible sight - Prince Dudley was asleep on his cot.
Harry's gasp of surprise seemed to be more than enough to wake the Prince, for his eyes snapped open and he took a long moment to stare at the small boy in the doorway before, 'Harry?'
'Sorry to wake you...' Harry moved to close the door.
Dudley jumped to his feet and quickly crossed the stone floor to where Harry stood. 'What are you doing out of bed?'
Harry bit his lower lip in indecision for a moment before he answered truthfully, 'I'm bored. My back doesn't hurt - I want to leave this room. It's boring.'
'Oh, Harry...' Dudley sighed, then, much to Harry's shock, picked the smaller boy up and carried him back over to the royal bed. There, he set Harry back on the bed before climbing on it himself. The two sat there, staring at anything but one another, while Dudley spoke, 'As long as you are in this bed, you are safe. As long as they believe you are recuperating, they won't whip you.'
'And who do they whip in my place?' Harry demanded hotly, fiery green eyes attempting to burn a hole in the side of the Prince's head.
Blue eyes met green unflinchingly. 'Me.'
Harry reeled back, as if struck. 'You! But- Surely your father wouldn't allow that!'
'I admit, it did take a bit of persuading on my part...' Dudley admitted softly.
'Wait. You wanted to be whipped?' Harry shook his head.
Dudley leaned across the distance between them and gripped Harry's chin in one gentle hand. 'I wanted to know what you went through. I wanted to know why you suddenly started hating me so much.'
Harry's eyes were wide. 'I don't hate you...'
'No? They why do you always glare at me? Why do you always work so hard to rile me up when I am kind?'
Harry had no answer for that.
Dudley let Harry go, then looked away. 'I'm sorry. I've done many foolish and petty things in my life, but I hadn't realized how foolish or petty they were until I almost lost you. I wish for your forgiveness, but I don't think I deserve it.'
Harry shook his head. 'I don't-'
Blue locked with green again. 'Can you forgive me for all the pain I've put you through?'
It was Harry's turn to look away. 'I don't know.'
Dudley nodded and rose from the bed with a heavy sigh. 'Get some sleep. I'll see you in the morning.' Then he returned to Harry's room.
Harry didn't sleep that night. He had too much to think about.
'We have no more need for you, whelp,' King Vernon informed the one-time Whipping Boy. Dudley stood next to his father, unable to meet the gaze of the small boy who stood in the middle of the red carpet that led from the doors of the throne room up to the throne itself. 'You will be given money and a horse. Leave.'
Harry nodded in understanding and left. His last request to Dudley was his freedom - and some time to think. He hadn't thought that the Prince would be able to grant his wish, but he had, and now he was a free man.
And so Harry left to find himself and his answers.
Ten Years Later
An excited Neville ran into the town potter's shop. 'Arry! Arry! Da King's 'ere!'
Harry glanced up from his latest piece, which he'd just been adding some finishing touches to, and smiled at the farmer. 'And?' His green eyes glinted with mischief.
'We're all a'posed ta meet 'im, silly! C'mon!' Neville grabbed one of Harry's arms and tugged on it gently, careful not to disrupt the piece of pottery.
Harry chuckled and allowed his friend to lead him from his worktable. 'Should I bring a piece of pottery for the King, do you think?'
'Grab one later! C'mon!'
Harry followed the ecstatic Neville out of his shop and towards the town square. It was a huge event for any member of the royal household to stop by this little town, since it was so far away from the usual course of the Royal Parade. It was one of the reasons Harry had picked the place.
There was a huge crowd in the town square - everyone had shown to meet the King. Neville was determined, though, and, grabbing Harry's hand, dragged him through the crowd and directly over to where Dudley stood next to the stallion that everyone swore could never be tamed, the King's crown on his head and looking far more stunning than Harry could ever remember him looking before.
Neville frowned when the town potter stopped and turned back to scowl at his friend. 'Arry, c'mon!'
Blue eyes swung around at the sound of the familiar accented name and locked with green. 'Harry?'
Silence fell over the crowd and all eyes turned to the town's potter. The man who had staggered into the town nine years previous in the dead of winter - freezing and half dead. They'd never asked him where he'd gained his perfect accent from - but perhaps they were about to find out. Did Harry the potter know the King?
Harry inclined his head towards the man. 'It's been a while, my King.'
Dudley's face broke out into a brilliant smile and he strode across the square - townspeople moving silently out of his way - until he stood before his old friend. 'It has indeed. How have you faired?'
Harry shrugged, far too aware of all the people staring. 'Well enough.' A faint smile twitched at his lips and he allowed his mouth to run off without him, 'You look like you've been doing mighty fine as well, Duds.'
Dudley laughed and drew his old friend into a hug. 'How I've missed you!' He drew away to smile at Harry again.
Neville's voice broke the staring silence of the square. 'Why don't 'is 'Ighness spend some time wif Arry while de 'est o' us take care o' de 'orses and 'is mens?'
Laughter coloured Harry's voice when he spoke again, 'I think you should let the King handle old Thunder there, Neville.'
Dudley shook his head and glanced back at his men. 'William! Help with Thunder.'
A tall man with long red hair bowed. 'As my King wishes.' Then he winked at a startled Harry. 'It's good ta see yeh well, Arry.'
Harry stuck his tongue out. 'Away with your teasing, Bill,' he threw back before grinning at the smiling King while Bill - Ron and Ginny's elder brother - laughed. 'I'll show you to my shop, my King.'
Dudley allowed Harry to lead the way through the crowd - the two friends stopping from time to time so Harry could introduce one of the townspeople who he knew well.
Once in Harry's shop, Dudley's smile fell and he gave Harry a critical look. 'Are you well? Honestly?'
Harry's answering smile was gentle. 'Yes, Dudley, I am. Thank you.'
Dudley shrugged and looked around at the pottery on show. 'You made all of these?'
'Yes.' Harry stepped back over to his worktable and got back to work on his piece. 'You can take one if you'd like. Whatever is mine is yours.'
Dudley turned to give the other a pained look. 'You're not a slave, Harry.'
Harry looked up in shook, his hands pausing over the drying clay. 'I wasn't implying I was. You are the King and I am your humbl-'
'You are not!' Dudley gave the potter a stern look. 'I don't want you to be my humble anything. I'd rather you be my best friend again.'
Harry looked back to his pottery and returned to shaping it again. "We're not children anymore. I don't think that's possible.'
Dudley sat heavily on a sturdy box in front of Harry's table. 'You haven't forgiven me?'
Harry stopped his work and shot the King an exasperated look. 'You said it yourself, you don't deserve to be forgiven.'
Dudley let out a regretful sigh. 'I am sorry.'
'Dudley, we both know that sorry doesn't fix all the world's problems,' Harry replied sharply before returning to his work.
Dudley took off his crown and twisted it between his hands as he watched Harry work in silence. He waited for Harry to finish the piece before he spoke again. 'Is there any way for me to talk you into returning to the Palace?'
'I don't know.' Harry shrugged. 'What would you do with a potter, anyway?'
'Decorate the Palace? Decorate the servants' quarters? Sell your pieces to the city? I don't know.' Dudley stared down at his crown. 'I know you hat-'
'Damnit, Dudley! I don't hate you!' Harry slammed a fist down on his worktable.
Dudley frowned. 'Fine. I know you can't forgive me, but I would like to have my old friend back. So, I'm sure, would Ron and Ginny and the others at the Palace.'
Harry shook his head. 'Dudley, I have friends here as well. Hell, I have a life here. Wasn't that the point of giving me my freedom? To let me live my life the way I wanted to?'
Dudley rubbed at the bridge of his nose. 'Of course. You're right. You're always right.' He stood and placed his crown back on his head. 'We'll leave tomorrow, then.' He spun on his heels and headed for the door of the shop.
'Please take a piece on pottery, Dudley,' Harry called out to him. 'I can't have you leaving in anger. At least take something for Ron and Ginny if you won't take it for yourself.'
Dudley turned back to the other and nodded to the piece that sat on the worktable before Harry still. 'That piece, if it's done?'
A faint smile brushed at Harry's lips. 'I'll bring it over once it's finished drying.'
Dudley nodded curtly, then left.
Harry left out a sigh and dropped his head into clay-covered hands. He was already having regrets. The sooner Dudley was gone, the better.
'You two we'e friends once?' Neville stood in the doorway of Harry's shop. The young potter was staring in shock at the gold that he had found on his worktable over an hour ago. The King and his men had left hours previous to that, but Harry had woken late so he was certain to miss them.
Harry glanced up at the farmer. 'We were but boys then.'
Neville shook his head. 'You wanted te go wif 'im, and you know it.'
'I-' Harry didn't have a proper answer to that.
'And 'e wanted you te go wif 'im. You know that, too.'
Harry nodded quietly.
'Den go afta 'im.'
'It's not that simple, Neville...'
Neville gave the potter a stern look. 'You jest like makin' thin's hard. Go afta 'im.'
Harry chewed on his lower lip for a long moment before he spun and hurried into the back of his shop for his few belongings. Neville was right. He wanted to return to the Palace - it was his home - and Dudley had pretty much begged him to come back too.
The group of King's Men were all taking a lunch break when they heard sharp hoof beats from the direction they'd come. The two archers of the company strung their bows and aimed them down the path while the four guards formed a shield around their King. Bill shimmied up a tree and gazed out over the path.
The stable hand grinned when he recognized the rider. 'It's a friend!' he called down.
'How can you be sure, William?' the guard master called back.
Bill hopped back down and shrugged. 'Cause I'd know Arry's mop o' 'air anyw'ere.'
Dudley's eyes lit up at the mention of the potter and the guards all relaxed.
The new horse picked that moment to gallop into the camp and Harry slowed it with practised ease. Once the beast had stopped entirely, he hopped down and handed the reigns to the waiting Bill, who took a moment to hug him.
'I'm surprised to see you here,' Dudley commented as his guards all retook their seats.
Harry shrugged. 'It was pointed out to me that there are other places that I'd much rather be.'
Dudley smiled faintly. 'Sit. Eat.'
Harry remained standing. 'Did you mean what you said? Can I continue making pottery?' His voice was filled with concern and a strange sort of sadness that tore Dudley's heart to pieces.
Dudley met the green eyes watching him. 'I swear it on my crown.'
Harry smiled faintly and allowed Bill to push him into a seat across from the King. 'Well, I suppose I'll just have to wait and see what your word is worth now.'
'Indeed you shall,' Dudley chuckled while the King's Men surrounding the two stared at Harry in shock.
Dudley managed to talk Harry into sharing his room at the inn they stopped at that night, as it had two beds anyway. The two prepared for bed in silence, both falling back on the pattern they'd created as children with ease. Except, this time, there was no wall separating their beds.
Neither spoke until after the sole candle in the room had been blown out for a while. Then, it was Dudley who spoke, 'Thank you.'
Harry shifted on his bed so he was looking towards where he knew the King rested. 'Why is it so important that I return, anyway? Will you tell me?'
Dudley also twisted so he was facing Harry's dark form, which was outlined against the window. 'If, once I'm done, you wish to return to your town, I will not hold it against you.'
Harry's frown went unnoticed in the darkness. 'Tell me, Duds.'
Dudley took a deep breath. 'When we were boys, I treasured your presence because we were friends and equals. As a prince, I treasured your presence because you took my punishments and you didn't look up to me like everyone else. After you left, I spent a lot of time wondering why I needed your presence still - especially after Ron and Ginny took your place as my friends and people who didn't look up to me. I realized after Father's death that it was because I loved you.'
Silence sliced through the room while Harry stared across the shadows towards where he knew the King lay. He understood what the other had meant. It was not the love of close friends or brotherhood that Dudley spoke of. It was the love of a husband and a wife, or - in this case - two men. It was a sexual sort of love that Dudley sought.
Harry shifted again, so he could stare up at the colourless ceiling. 'I see,' was his whispered response after the silence became too much.
Dudley turned onto his other side and closed his eyes tightly. It could have gone worse, he knew.
Harry's return to the Palace was a day filled with celebration and joy. He allowed the parties and the reunions with his friends with the same quiet smiles that he'd gone through much of his life with. His friends weren't fazed by his lack of enthusiasm. Rather, they dragged him to more and more parties about the Palace grounds and begged him to participate in multiple drinking games.
But Harry didn't drink and, around midnight, he finally begged off his friends with the excuse of exhaustion and allowed Bill to show him to his room, which was situated on the Palace Craftmasters' Hall.
Harry spent an hour tossing and turning before giving up and pulling out some clay to work at his new worktable with.
But the clay would not form and Harry found himself at a loss. Always in the past eight and a half years when he found himself too restless to sleep, he was able to make pottery to settle his mind. Now that was a lost case, he found himself without a thing to do.
In his youth, when he couldn't sleep, he'd slip into Dudley's bed and they would talk or just lay together. During their trip back to the Palace, Harry had found no trouble sleeping with Dudley nearby. It was as if the King was a calming agent for him.
Mind decided, Harry slipped on a night robe and allowed his feet to guide him through the once-familiar halls to where Dudley and he had once slept.
Two guards stopped him outside the door. 'State your name and purpose,' one ordered.
'I'm Harry and I was hoping to have a word with the King,' he whispered, mouth dry. What was he thinking! Dudley was probably asleep!
The doors of the room creaked open before another word was spoken and Dudley smiled out at Harry. 'I was hoping you'd come by,' he offered as he motioned Harry in.
The potter slipped past the frowning guards and into the room he'd once shared, offering the King a nervous smile. 'I couldn't sleep. I'm sorry...'
Dudley shook his head with and understanding smile. 'Nor could I. What shall we speak of?'
Harry didn't answer. Instead, he took a moment to look at his old friend without all of Dudley's royal gadgets. The King had grown up to be handsome indeed - his sunlight-blonde hair falling over sky blue eyes and framing a gentle face that rarely, it seemed, smiled. He looked to have reached almost six feet - a good four inches taller than Harry himself - and his boyhood pudge had slimmed to make a perfect figure. The King was a man any woman would die for.
'Harry?' Dudley frowned at the scrutiny.
Harry's eyes met Dudley's and he smiled. 'You've only gotten more handsome, Duds.'
Dudley's breath caught and he was barely able to force out a warning, 'Be careful, Harry.'
But Harry's mind had cleared while he stared over his childhood friend and he knew that Dudley's feelings weren't entirely one-sided. He stepped up to the other man and, wrapping his arms around the King's waist, rested against his chest. 'I'm always careful, my King.'
Dudley carefully raised Harry's chin with one finger so they met each other's eyes. 'Can I kiss you?'
A strange smile slipped over Harry's features. 'Whatever is mine is yours.'
The King took that as the yes it was meant as and dipped down to brush his lips against the chapped ones of his childhood friend. When Harry's mouth opened, Dudley took the invitation and dipped into the awaiting heat. Harry tasted of rosemary, with a touch of cloves, and Dudley had to drag himself away to breath when he started to feel light-headed. He wanted more of that bittersweet taste that he'd taken so long to gain permission to.
Harry rested his head against the King's chest once again. 'I'm tired, Duds.'
Dudley smiled faintly and swept Harry up into his arms - smile brightening when the potter let out a squeak of surprise - and walked over to his bed. He settled Harry in the bed before climbing in next to him. 'We can talk tomorrow.'
Harry burrowed himself against the King's warm chest, smiling when he felt two possessive arms surround him. And then he let himself drop off into peaceful dreams.
Neville smiled down at the formal letter he held:
Your presence is requested at the wedding of King Dudley and the Master Potter Harry on the twelfth day of the fourth month. Gifts not required.
On the back of the letter was another note, this one written in the soothing script of the Master Potter himself:
Ignore the formalities on the other side, Dudley wouldn't let me sent out anything too informal. I'd love to have you and others from the town come. If you'll be needing transportation, let the courier know and I'll be sure to have it sent for you all.
And, I know you'll be asking, and the answer is; yes. I'm happy. I'm happier than I've ever been in my entire life. If it hadn't been for you, I probably wouldn't be this happy, so thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
And in response to your last letter; no. I haven't forgiven him for what he's done in the past - and that's between him and myself, so you'll forgive me for not explaining it - and I doubt I ever will. But it is behind us now.
And Dudley seems to think I'm spending too much time on this letter, so I'll leave it here! I hope to see you at the wedding!
Master Potter Harry
Neville glanced up at the courier who was awaiting his response with the patience of a saint. "Please tell de Masta' Potta' that I'll o' course be attendin' 'is weddin' and shall be brin'in' a couple old friends as requested.'
'Will you be needing horses?' was the brisk question.
Neville shook his head, thinking back on the group of horses that King Dudley had sent their way many months previous as a thank you gift for the care they took of Harry. 'I think we'll be fine.'
The courier nodded sharply, then re-mounted his waiting horse and turned it away without a second look.
Neville smiled down at the letter he still clutched, then he turned and walked towards the town square where people were already gathering to hear the Master Potter's latest correspondence. They would be so glad that their friend had found his happiness.
A/N: It was...startlingly cute, I think...
Please don't flame me too harshly. -smirks- And you all should know me well enough by now than to click a link that says it's a 'surprise'. XD