A/N: This is the final chapter. I've had it ready for some time, but this is my first chance to upload it (the interface for uploading stories seems to have been broken for a few days). Thank you to everyone who reviewed my story along the way. If anyone would care to comment, I'd like to know what your favorite part of the story was. (I think mine is Umbridge chasing Fudge around the Ministry of Magic.)
A Happy Harry
Five years passed very quickly for Harry Potter after he graduated from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Because of the embarrassing way that the N.E.W.T.s had been designed in his seventh year of schooling, Harry received an Outstanding in each subject he sat, even Divination about which he still understood nothing.
He had been forced to accept the Order of Merlin, First Class, and had been forced into giving a speech. He'd made Sirius' portrait write it for him. Harry hadn't been asked to give many more speeches after that. But Harry had actually enjoyed the experience.
Now, he was laying on a sofa in his Thinking Room in 12 Grimmauld Place. The formerly run-down was actually habitable now, but it hadn't been an easy task. Harry could hear a variety of noises outside his door, but the people who lived with him knew to respect his hour a night in the room. So far no one else had yet been inside it, not even a house elf.
The portrait of Sirius was situated on a reading desk. Sirius seemed to enjoy Harry's fan mail and the other offers people sent him. He also enjoyed the Daily Prophet and the annual issue of Witch Weekly that proclaimed its picks for the most eligible wizard around. Harry had won for the past five years with increasingly ridiculous articles accompanying the photographs they published.
"Bah," Sirius said. "The Quidditch Association sent you another offer to coach a team."
"I guess they've decided I'll never accept an offer to be a seeker for them," Harry said.
Sirius waited for the magical desk to present the next letter to him. He was muttering about Quidditch quite loudly. He'd been a forceful advocate for Harry accepting a position with one of the Quidditch teams. 'The youngest Seeker in a century at Hogwarts,' however, had not washed as a valid rationale.
When there was no scathing comment forthcoming from Sirius, Harry looked over at the magical portrait. Sirius was quite annoyed.
"What," Harry asked. "You know I love flying. I love to watch Quidditch played. But if I were out there, people wouldn't be watching me play. They'd be watching Happy-Potter-He-Who-Won."
Years of being in the brightest light of media speculation had not tamed Harry's shyness at all. If anything, Harry was even more reserved about the facts of his life now.
"Your father would have loved to see you flying…"
"I know, Sirius. I still fly every day, like I said. I love it. But it wouldn't be fun if people were watching me just because I was a… I don't know, a freak. Just because of my fame."
Sirius huffed. He'd lost this argument hundreds of times already, but what could he do? He didn't have arms, legs, or anything else to compel his godson into action.
"Sirius, I know you'd have loved it, but I've had women follow me into the gents, swig back a conception potion, and attempt to maul me right there and then. People aren't normal when I'm around."
Sirius laughed. "It's good that people think you're so virile."
Harry just looked miserable. "Witch Weekly lays the blame for half of all England's illegitimate births at my loins."
"I know," Sirius said. "I'm a subscriber. I have to hear about what you do outside this room from the papers. Because you won't tell me."
"Read the rest of the mail. Anything else interesting?"
"The Aurors want you."
Harry rolled his eyes. "They send four letters a year. Next."
"The Ministry's offering you a seat on the Wizengamot again."
Harry took a second to consider what Sirius said. "Wonder who just retired. They always seem to offer me whatever open seats they have."
"Maybe when I'm an old, boring, nosy wizard," Harry said. "Maybe they'll accept a magical painting. I've got just the candidate. Thinks he knows everything and is never wrong."
"The Daily Prophet wants an interview."
"On what subject," Harry asked.
"Somehow they seem to think you're a humanitarian of sorts. Funding orphanages and the like."
"Well, damn," Harry said. "That was all supposed to be anonymous."
Sirius snorted again. "The Evans Trust. The Black Foundation. Even I can see through those, Harry. And with the amount of money you give out, there aren't many choices for who could be funding it."
Harry was reputed to be one of the richest wizards around, but no one really knew. The goblins weren't saying a word. Harry and the Committee of Marauders still had four Gringotts vaults under the Fidelius Charm and the goblins weren't risking making Harry angry any time soon. Who knew what other things Harry could come up with?
It was an open secret who was involved with the Committee of Marauders now. Harry's creation of a small petting zoo filled with transfigured Death Eaters had seen to that. When he was a seventh year student at Hogwarts, Harry had rented out a small farm near Hogsmeade and had left the transfigured animals there as a petting zoo. He hadn't called it anything as tacky as Tom Riddle's Magical Menagerie, but he'd been tempted.
It was only after negotiating stiff sentences for all of the Death Eaters that Harry transfigured them back into their human forms and turned them over to the Ministry. The Ministry had agreed that no pardons would be forthcoming. All of them went to Azkaban and the legend of the Committee of Marauders received a new tall tale.
"Maybe I should transfigure some reporters," Harry said, "and open another petting zoo…"
"But who would go to see a place filled with slimy toads, ugly beetles, and blood-sucking bats?"
Harry laughed. Sirius had done a good job summing up his view of the journalistic profession.
"You have three letters requesting that you accept apprentices in various disciplines," Sirius continued.
"But I don't have my Mastery in any discipline. How could I take on an apprentice?"
"Well," Sirius decided, "you're a master prankster. You're a one-third owner in the most successful wizard joke shop in Britain. That's gotta count for something."
Harry rolled his eyes and returned to staring at the ceiling in the room.
"No one wants an apprenticeship in pranking," Harry said. "The best ones are all self-taught, right, Padfoot?"
Sirius had to laugh at that. The idea of studying pranking did seem a bit off.
"Have you decided what you're doing for Halloween yet, Harry?"
"The usual," Harry said. As if 'the usual' were nothing special. Halloween was the one time per year when Harry opened his home, actually Sirius' family home, to any and all who wanted to come. He staged the grandest haunted house in the entirety of the wizarding world and more than three thousand witches, wizards, and children had come to the last one he'd put on.
"Well, can I be the portrait on the wall this year?" The portrait was the master of ceremonies. It was a great honor among portraits to be selected. Some of them in Hogwarts started lobbying months in advance.
Harry tipped his head up and looked at Sirius. "You? Not your half-insane mother?"
"I can channel the Black madness, Harry. I shout out inappropriate things at the top of my lungs, too." Here Sirius began to look more delusional and terrifying. "You blasphemers. I'll hex you within an inch of your lives. I know you've come to steal the Black family heirlooms." Then Sirius just started to laugh. "But I just want to help scare the children."
As much of a hound dog as Sirius was, and as many illegitimate children as he had sired, Sirius really was fond of small children. So long as they weren't exactly his.
"Fine then, Sirius. Consider yourself hired. We'll put you in the main hall. We'll have the usual opening: the hall of ambushes, just like we did for the Death Eaters with their own wands. But we just use fun jinxes, nothing dangerous. Then downstairs we'll have a half dozen ghosts and one well-mannered ghoul. First floor we have the vampires and the silenced banshees. Second floor is for the poltergeists and boggarts. The third floor, well, that's special this year. I managed to get a sphinx and a blind basilisk. Should be fun for the kiddies. Then there's the maze out in the back yard."
"Like the Tri-Wizard Tournament?"
"Yes, like the ruddy Tri-Wizard Tournament. Constantine and Elisabeta insisted on it again. With a troll in the middle and a small lake to swim across and, well, I don't want to spoil the rest of the surprises. We'll just magically enlarge all of the rooms and the backyard. It's what Constantine and Elisabeta want."
"And you can't go against them, right?"
Harry looked confused for a moment. "Well, of course not, Sirius, they're my children."
"Harry, you have nine children now. How in the world do you listen to all of them all of the time?"
Harry finally sat up on the sofa and looked at the portrait. "Sirius, it's not hard to listen to nine people and then decide what's most important to them. Before I was out of Hogwarts I had hundreds of different voices screaming at me all the time. Just having nine, plus you, Remus, and a few others, is quite a relaxing thing, actually."
"I will never understand why you adopted all those orphans, Harry."
Harry rolled his eyes. Sirius was so concerned about family, pureblooded family. He'd never understand Harry's need to save others, or his desire for a happy family, or his love for having lots of people around him most of the time. If he had a pack of people who needed care, then that meant Harry could do the caring. He was doing the fussing now.
"They weren't all orphans, Sirius. And some of them have 50 Black family blood in them, your blood, if the genealogical parchments are correct. Didn't anyone teach you contraceptive spells?"
Sirius muttered something about spells altering the pleasure he'd received from the act. Harry rolled his eyes. His godfather was a Marauder, but it really was better he was just a portrait now. Without any procreative powers.
"I had to teach Ron a few after his first near accident," Harry said. "That's when Hermione dropped him, you know. The git started denying the pregnancy could be his, worrying more about what his mother would say. When it turned out that the baby hadn't lived, Hermione never spoke to him again. He's on his second wife now, no kids thankfully, but he'll be moving on to his third wife soon enough, if his wandering eyes are any indication."
"Maybe I should talk with the boy," Sirius said. His thoughts always turned to other men. Harry thought of his friend Hermione. She was so involved in her work at the ministry. Then she still went out on weekends trying to speak to pureblood families about their house elves. At least she had the good sense to prank the ones who didn't bother listening to her.
Harry saw that Sirius was still waggling his eyebrows about what advice he'd give to Ron. "You'd just give him dirty ideas," Harry shot back.
"Well, there was this time in Majorca when I was introduced to the Swedish Witch's Volleyball Association. Forty-seven very beautiful, very willing witches. Very flexible, you know, almost like gymnasts."
Harry shuddered a bit. His godfather was too old, and too dead, to be talking about sex like that.
"Or that time when I was trapped in a spooky hotel with the Nymphomaniacs Anonymous Convention. I'll admit that that did really wear me down. I mean, we were stuck there for nearly four days. We ran out of water first, before we ran out of chocolate sauce and marmite. That kind of work is thirsty business, you know…"
"Sirius, is this your way of getting me to change the subject to something you really want to talk about," Harry asked. Sirius and his sexcapades usually got Harry's defenses down. Then Sirius could zip in and ask for something or pry some unpleasant information out of Harry.
"Well, I was going to ask how your last date went, Harry."
Harry groaned and flopped backwards on the sofa.
"Another one. A Harry hunter, a notch seeker. I've not had more than a first date with a single woman in four years. Four years, Sirius. They're all a little bit different, but it all boils down the same way. They want the Boy-Who-Lived. They want his child and his reputation and his wealth. I haven't even told any of them about my kids. Nor that I prefer to run around my house in a dressing gown until noon on the weekends. Nor all the other things that make me human and vulnerable, rather than the Boy-Who-Lived."
"Rough luck, mate."
"I guess," Harry said. "But, I don't know that I ever needed to have a cloying woman hanging on me to be happy. I have my official role of prank tester at Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes. And I have my job as a dad and trainer of future Marauders. That's all I ever needed. That and some anonymity."
"Simple, aren't you? You could have the whole world."
Harry finally sat up again. "I do, Sirius. I have the world I want."
He turned and walked to the edge of the room. His hour in the Thinking Room was over. "I'll be back tomorrow, Sirius. See if you can think anything up for the haunted house for Halloween. I'll let you put your touch on it, too."
Sirius laughed and then went quiet. He was already plotting.
Harry opened the door to his private study and stepped into the hall. As he did so, a small container of a potion fell on his head. Suddenly, Harry's unruly hair turned into a swarming mop of unruly snakes.
"The Medusa Potion. I say, getting rusty, kids," Harry shouted out. They'd dumped this formulation on him two months earlier. It was a problem being so regular in his habits using the Thinking Room. His kids knew the perfect time and place to prank him.
Harry heard giggling coming from around the corner. He stomped over there to see six of his children looking at him, barely able to restrain their chuckling.
"Nothing more creative than that? Uncle Fred and George are coming over later and they'll be disappointed." Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes now had eight branches in three countries. Harry's friends were doing well for themselves, what with stable marriages, a set of families started, and many, many pranks coming down the pike.
His oldest girl, Beatrice, shook her head. "And Remus is coming, too, but he hasn't seen the snakes yet. So we changed it, dad. Centarion liked the snakes, but we added a color potion to it. Tonks should like that. You're more colorful than she is now." Remus and Tonks, who weren't allowed to marry, were still together. And Tonks probably would love the new hairstyle Harry was sporting.
Harry walked over to a mirror in the hall and took a look. It was extraordinary. He had hundreds of different snakes on his head and each one of them was a different color, dozens of shades of greed, red, gold, silver, and blue.
"Not a rainbow," Harry asked. He always strove to help his children with their pranking.
"We thought the gold and silver needed in there. Looked more dramatic," Beatrice said.
Then the snakes started squawking in anger so Harry hissed at them in Parseltongue to calm them down. That was when little Centarion presented himself. He loved to hear his father make the hissing sounds. Centarion screamed with laughter.
"Go wash your hands for dinner, you hoodlums," Harry said.
Harry bent down and picked up his youngest child, one of the two Umbridge and Fudge had produced during their nine marriages and subsequent divorces. Harry had adopted both of them, figuring babies needed good places to grow up, even if their birth parents were beyond despicable.
Harry was happy when his youngest, three-year-old Centarion, reached up and rubbed his forehead on his way to grabbing at the snakes on Harry's head. It made him glad his son could touch his forehead not because of what was there, but because he wanted to touch his father. Centarion loved his father and not because he knew about Harry Potter's former scar.