A/N- have a heart people, I just wound up formatting my hard twice and now I'm running on a trial version of windows which sucks. Sorry for the delay but then RL really kicked me in the butt. I do apologies for the lateness of this chapter.
Chapter 27: "Winding Up"
Harry walked a little way down the corridor leading to the main hall and stopped. He was wearing his new shirt and trousers, his hair was spelled back and his shoes were polished - twice. He looked fine. That is, if you didn't count the lipstick on his collar or the…
"Snogging girls in a corner, Potter," Draco asked as he walked up to Harry. His wand was out before Harry could duck and he felt a couple of extra strong Cleaning Charms wash over him.
Harry did not reply since his cheek was currently stinging but mostly because he felt that he deserved to be chastised. After all, he had not been able to do anything about the enthusiastic witch, twice his age, who had pursued him with enthusiasm, in full public view. "I couldn't do anything to chase her away," he mumbled, feeling slightly stupid.
"I know you idiot," said Draco, straightening Harry's shirt. "But you could have just stepped on her foot or something."
"I think I'll leave that to you," Harry said with a scowl. "After all, you did upend a punch bowl over her head."
"What's a victory ball with a little fun," Draco scowled.
"But…" Harry felt himself growing a little irritated. "You told her it was my fault."
"It could have been your fault," Draco pointed out. "Admit it, it really could have been you. The last time you tried a Levitation spell, you lifted the roof off the house."
No 12, Grimmuld Place had never been the same after that.
"Exactly," Harry said with a wry smile. "You know I don't have that precise control love my magic to tip the drink exactly over her head."
"It was fun," Draco admitted with a smirk.
"I knew it," Harry smiled as well, feeling relaxed. "I just wanted to get away from it all for a while," he added. "All those people wanting to shake hands with me was making me feel as if I'm one of those wind up toys on display."
"One with so much magic you are making me extremely…" Draco leaned forward as and licked Harry's ear suggestively. "…extremely…" one of his hands started to reach for the waist band of the trousers while…
"Oh, there you are…"
The two parted, cursing as Hermione and Ron walked around the corridor looking slightly breathless.
"Let me guess," said Draco sarcastically. "You were waiting around the corner until Harry and I were…"
"Actually," said Ron hurriedly with a look in his face which said 'I really don't want to hear the rest of the sentence'. "We got news from St. Mungo about Ginny and thought you might want to hear it."
Harry looked up expectantly as the other two beamed at him. "She's awake?" he asked. He had not been allowed to visit Ginny since the Healers had predicted that his unstable magic would disrupt the Healing spells that had been weaved into her. He had gotten daily updates from everyone who had visited her (including Draco) but it was nothing like being there in person.
"And doing just fine," Ron said smiling happily. "And Blaise is there with her."
"He is extremely cleaver isn't he," Draco groused. "He knows that if he comes to the ball he might run across some Ministry cahoots who might want to know what he had been up to - but by sitting at the bedside of his true love he's taking the easy way out."
"He's not Ginny's true live," Ron scowled. "He's just…"
"It's not like Ginny is going to marry him or anything," Hermione said patiently. "Face it Ron, it's time she truly looked around a bit. It's not like she can live forever as Harry Potter's ex-girlfriend."
"When will she be coming home?" Harry asked trying to change the subject.
"Soon," Ron said with another grin. "Are you two coming? I'm starved."
"Ron," said Hermione sounding exasperated. "You just ate a whole plate of sandwiches and…"
"Yeah, but that was half an hour ago," Ron protested. "Come on, before everyone else finishes off the rest."
"You should know there are house-elves working their backs off to make sure that we do not run out of food," Hermione said sternly. "Don't you dare insult them…"
"I'm just going to check on a few things," Ron said as he took a step back. "Didn't you have something to discuss with Draco."
Hermione stopped, looking slightly embarrassed and looked down at the floor. She nodded towards Draco and then looked at Harry, meeting his eyes squarely. Harry noted that her magical eye was shining slightly in the semi-darkness of the corridor – a not so pleasant reminder that not all of them had gotten away unscathed.
"Harry," she said firmly. "I need to talk to Draco about a solution to your problem…." Meaning his magic which had doubled in power but had gotten so uncontrollable he was afraid to sneeze indoors. He was slightly relieved that he was not going to be dragged into the conversation where key words such as magical fluctuations and imbalance f the lay lines were bound to drive him to a stupor in five minutes. Ron usually closed his eyes and started snoring as soon as such discussions started. "I just thought of this…" Harry zoned out hastily as Draco brushed past him, pinching his butt as he did.
Harry wondered if he should be offended that Draco had made him squeal in full view of Hermione - who had seen the interaction; then he decided that he was in too good mood to care. On the top of it all, very few people treated him normally theses days; it was relief to be dealt with as a teenager and not the Boy-Who-Killed Voldemort
"Go right ahead," he said, glowering at Draco. He might not mind but that did not mean Draco was going to get away with it.
Draco looked innocently at Harry before winking and turning around, making his hair shimmer in the low candle light. Swallowing back a wave of lust, Harry tried to listen to what was been said without being over whelmed. Hermione seemed to be talking very fast (she always did most of the talking), Draco seemed to be listening, his eyes narrowed in concentration. Harry knew that half the things Hermione said was far too complicated for Draco to understand either. He had caught his lover going over arcane books to decipher Hermione's monologues, late in to the night frequently.
He was debating the wisdom of returning to the Banquette hall and facing the ministry officials (surprise, surprise, Scrimgeour and a few key members was conspicuously absent) who were bent on him making some sort of Ministry poster….Still there was Cybele. Harry wondered whom she was with. Before he had left the main room to escape a particularly rabid witch, Cybele had been dancing rather gracefully with Draco. It had drawn a few glances- the sight of two platinum blond heads swaying to the music. Still, he should join the main group and…
There was the double pop of someone apparating next to him and Harry jumped as both Hermione and Draco looked up. They looked back down again at a rough diagram Hermione was drawing in mid air using her wand so Harry assumed it wasn't anything seriousas he turned around to face the new comers.
"Having a private party are we?' Fred, recognizable from the arm brace he wore, asked.
"I just wanted some fresh air," Harry said with a shrug.
"And deserted corridors are just the place to grab it," George said with a grin.
"Are those to up to that discussion, again?" Fred grumbled. "Come on, Harry…"
"We want you to try out some of our new products," George finished.
"Now," said Harry as he looked around.
"Well," shrugged Fred. "Now's a good time as any and it's not like there's anything to hide. We just want to test it in a crowded room to see it's full effect."
"Somehow, I don't think Molly is going to let you get away with it just 'cause you are war heroes," Harry said darkly. No one mentioned the pending Order of Merlin.
"We didn't think so either," George agreed. "So we got this instead..." and unrolled something that looked like a long transparent wire. It was rather thin and flexible, almost as if it was made of colorless plastic and…had an ear attached to the end. The newly improved Extendable Ear.
"What do we need that for?" Harry asked as he looked at it. "And it's not really invisible is it…I guess that didn't work."
"No," Fred shook his head looking a little sad. "An invisibility field needed to be static but this is too mobile…so we're experimenting on different material. Anyway, we thought we'll give this a field test run by listening to a few conversations. The only good thing with this is, it had a longer reach than the older model, is able to recognize interesting conversation and more flexible. Can go through small spaces and the clarity of sound…and here…watch…you get to see some images as well." Fred looked like a mother boasting about his new born baby. "Got the idea from some Muggle book Hermione had…just don't tell her that will you…"
Harry watched the almost invisible ear sort of shimmy along the corridor and tentatively put the other end close to his ear. The air in front of him shimmered a bit and a grainy picture of the corridor appeared. Hastily, the twins grabbed Harry on either arm and spun him around so they were all facing away from Hermione and Draco – and the visual feed was blacked by their backs. Two red heads bracketed him from either side as the twins leaned in as well. The ear stopped briefly at Hermione's feet and the conversation between Draco and Hermione got carried across…
"…but Harry isn't like that….this isn't temporary so…"
"Look Granger, act your age and…" the ear started to move.
"Wait," Harry said hurriedly. "I want to hear what they are saying. Is there anyway to stop it from…"
"Just squeeze it here like this…"
"I tell you, I'm of age," Draco was snarling when the conversation came back into focus.
"But then again," Hermione sounded mischievous. "I saw you drinking nothing but pumpkin juice the entire time. You are of age so you can drink can't you…"
"Are you implying anything," Draco said, his voice pitching low to hide his emotions.
"Just that you are starting to act as if…you are expecting something …or should I say someone…" Hermione said in an equally low voice, mocking him tone.
"I'm not…" Harry watched Draco hand flutter over his stomach lightly before falling to his side. "I'm just…"
"Keeping it safe until you're sure you're not pregnant," Hermione snorted. "Draco, I know you try out the Pregnancy spell everyday."
"I have no idea what you mean," Draco huffed.
In reply Hermione tapped her magical eye and smiled. There was no way to restore a lost eye. Otherwise Harry would have been cured of his shortsightedness by default by the shear amount of time he'd spend visiting Madam Pomfry. The Healers had replaced Hermione's lost eye with a magical eye which was of much better quality than Mad Eyes. She had stated that she could not see through walls but was grateful for it.
"You'd think Moody was a peeping tom," she'd said with a laugh when she'd tried it out and Harry had felt distinctly uncomfortable thinking of the number of people Mad-Eye might have scrutinized under their robes.
"I can see the remains of spells cast," Hermione said triumphantly. "It's like faint color vapour trails…dies up after a while …sort of disperse away but it is so interesting. And as for you…I know you cast in every morning in the bathroom as regularly as cleaning your teeth. It's hard to recognize the spells by the color trails but I'm getting the hang of it and in your case…"
"And then you should know it's negative," Draco snapped back angrily. "I'm not…" again the fugitive look at Harry who had his back turned to Draco. "And what about you Granger…don't think I don't know what your secret is…"
"I have no idea what you are talking about…"
"Let me remind you," Draco said earnestly. "Remember that Calming potion which was supposed to keep your emotions in check. Well, guess what…on the day of the Final battle I had drunk the entire bottle. But you didn't utter one stupid word…how did it feel like to pretend to be uninhabited and tell people exactly what you feel like…"
"I see that's going to blow up," Fred said with a grin. "As entertaining as this is, I think we'd better step into it and…"
"Yeah," said George. "The dancing must be over by now."
"Ah…" said Harry remembering the original reason for him to step out of the way. "That should stop people from wanting to dance with me."
"Yeah, at least Snape was in a better mood by the time we left," Fred said with a wink. "He was trying to get McGonagall to admit that Slytherin deserved the house cup based on Draco's actions alone."
"You mean, Tonks is no longer dancing with Lupin," Harry asked feeling a smile split his face. It had been a rather daring gesture by the Metamorphmagus since she and Lupin had not been in very good terms. Since Snapes' leg was still healing he was not able to dance …not that anyone could imagine Snape slow dancing with Lupin.
Lupin had not been much of a dancer but he had accepted Tonks' offer of friendship –which had led him to do a slow shuffle dance around the dance floor with a medusa haired Auror.
"Nah," George grinned. "Lupin switched to Cybele now. I guess that's the only way to keep Snape happy is by showing him that dancing with your ex-girlfriend was not some random occurrence."
"Speak of possessive Slytherins," Fred said gesturing for Harry to move towards Hermione and Draco. Harry looked around of the Extendable Ear but it seemed to have slithered off and he knew the twins were listening into other conversations. There was an amazing amount of information that could be collected at such a gathering and Harry knew the twins weren't beyond a little blackmail. As Harry walked by the duo discussing magical theory Draco snagging Harry around the waist, scowling at Hermione who was glaring back at Draco.
"I sympathize with you," George told Harry, patting him in the manner of someone offering condolences at a funeral.
"Piss off, Fre…George," Draco snarled.
"Anyway," said Fred smoothly. "I did wonder. Whatever happened to Lucius Malfoy?"
"Probably under the rubble," George offered.
"He's too evil to be stopped by something ordinary like that," Hermione said with a grimace. "But still…he could be dead."
"If he was…Mad Eye wouldn't be missing the Victory Ball," George pointed out and Draco scowled. "Moody might be crazy but he's still sharp."
"Any idea where he is?" Draco asked in a low voice as they followed the twins and Hermione back to the Main Hall. Lucius had disappeared taking Umbridge with him. Umbridge's body had appeared a few days later, clearly killed by Lucius or by someone wielding his wand. No one had shed a tear over the despicable woman apart from a few ministry officials who wanted to stir up discord. Much to everyone's disgust she had been given a hero's funeral at the Ministry. Harry knew he might have to deal with Lucius Malfoy later on but at that moment it seemed like something in the distant future.
"Venice," Harry offered.
"Get real," Draco scowled. "We have property there. That's one of the first places anyone would look for him."
"I don't know," Harry shrugged. "I guess he's doing well wherever he is."
"Yes." Draco looked pensive. "I guess he will."
He looked at Harry then held out a hand. "Ready to join the crowd."
There was so much to do, so much to deal with. He had to go back to school and finish his exams. He had to make sure Cybele was provided for. He had to decide on what to do after school. He had such a lot of plans to make…
…be he had time.
Eventually….he will make the decisions but he no longer had a death head painted on his forehead. He was going to do everything at his own pace….and he had Draco to do it with. He knew there would be more obstacles, people to fight over. People would be prejudice about his choice of partner…
He took Draco's hand and grinned at his lover. The Wizarding world might as well get used to the fact the future Potters might be platinum blond
"Dance with me!"
A/N- it's over. No one sequels…no more chapters. Thank you to all of you who've stuck with me to the bitter end. I know as stories go this is far from perfect and there are loads of plot holes. Things I haven't addressed and need to deal with. Drop me a line if you can. Please…R & R ppl.
I'm going to go back and start betaing the previous chapters.