Portrait of a Wizard as a Young Man
Act V (Final)
A/N: This is the end of the story (for now); while I've laid the groundwork for an action/adventure Voldy chase (at least in my head) I'm going to need to finish Muggle Summer first. Thanks to all who have reviewed.
Disclaimer: Not my characters, no money being made, etc., etc.
Harry allowed the alarm clock to crudely taunt him once last time (Seven O'Cock – Time to Free Willie) before he grabbed his glasses and swung his legs around side the bed. He hadn't slept much, despite the familiar surroundings of his Gryffindor dormitory room.
There was a box sitting atop his desk with a small handwritten note attached.
I suggest that you wear this (and only this) to and from your session with Master Rondino. Trust me when I say it will help compartmentalize any embarrassment or insecurity you may be feeling right now – Headmistress McGonagall
The box contained a red silk bathrobe, trimmed in gold. Harry doubted that his house colors would bolster his courage, but appreciated the thought. He left his pajamas in a ball at his bedside, donned the robe and holstered his wand within a thin pocket that was sewn onto one sleeve.
He found Hermione in the Common Room, dressed in a similar robe and curled up in a chair with a book in her lap. She yawned as she looked up and stretched her arms. Harry couldn't help but notice that her movement caused the hem of her robe to ride high up on her thigh.
"Morning Hermione," he said. "You couldn't sleep either?"
Hermione shook her head wistfully. "I got a bit of sleep, but my alarm clock kept tripping off my adrenaline with the snarkiest little comments."
"I know the feeling…sickles to pickles my clock was channeling Malfoy."
Harry walked over squeezed in next to Hermione. She pivoted around, swung her legs up onto one arm of the chair and lay her head down upon the other. Whether by design or accident, the move also scooted her bum off the seat cushion and up onto Harry's lap, and allowed the hand that Harry had wrapped around her shoulder to fall onto her middrift a few inches south of her navel.
"So," she said with a smile and a bit of squirming, "ready for our big day?"
Harry was quite certain that she was trying to get a rise out of him…literally. The two thin pieces of silk between them...the calculated amount of friction…the short distance between his hand and the delights in either direction. "Hermione," he said, "I do believe that you are going to be the death of me."
Her eyes sparkled. "Well that's what the portrait is to insure against, right?"
Harry shook his head with frustration. "There's something that I have to confess to you."
Hermione's eyes narrowed just a bit, but she maintained her smile. "What's that Harry?"
"Hermione," Harry said, far too seriously for the situation, "I'm so afraid that…I'm so sure that…well, that when we pose that I'm going to have a physical reaction that will make you think less of me."
Hermione sighed, a bit tired for the journey, but happy that they'd finally got to that point. "Harry, you don't have to worry, or be embarrassed. It's a natural reaction, particularly for a teen-aged boy…I'm not going to think any less of you if you get an erection."
"But that's the point," Harry said without realizing his double entendre. "Any bloke with one eye opened and a teaspoon's worth of testosterone would get hard looking at you. I mean…why wouldn't they…you're so beautiful."
"Harry, you are too kind," Hermione said, "and I love you for it."
"But Hermione," Harry said with rising exasperation levels, "I'm not just any bloke; I'm your best friend. And my reaction…it's not natural."
Hermione raised an eyebrow.
"Erm…," Harry said. "It is natural, but it's more than a physical reaction…its due to more than a physical reaction. I mean, sometimes I get hard just watching you study."
"What?" Hermione asked with surprise. "You get turned-on watching me do homework?"
"What can I say," Harry replied. "Smart is sexy…and you are smart, and Merlin, you are sexy…argh, but that doesn't mean I'd shag any girl just 'cause she sorted Ravenclaw…"
"But," Hermione said with a smile, "you would shag me?"
"Oh, Merlin, I've really stepped in it," Harry lamented. "Hermione, you are my best friend. I value that friendship more than anything else in the world. I need that friendship more than anything else...well, there's air, food and water, but it's a close fourth."
"Harry," Hermione replied, "there is a difference between wants and needs, right? Just because you need air doesn't mean that you fancy it."
"But can't you want and need something…the same thing…at the same time?" he asked. "I mean…what I need is your help, and support, and courage, and brains…but what I want is…"
Harry leaned forward and planted a strong kiss on Hermione's lips. For all of the flirtatious banter, it caught Hermione by surprise, but it didn't take her long to respond, with two hands that grabbed the back of his head and caressed his messy hair.
Hermione let out a content sigh when they finally broke for air. "Harry," she said, "there's something that I need to confess to you as well."
"What's that?" Harry replied.
"I didn't really have a dinner date with Romeo," she replied. "I just said that to make you jealous."
"I know," Harry replied with a smile, "Lady Bee told me last night."
"She did?" Hermione asked. "My, but she was a busy bee…she told me last night that you were taking French lessons. What in Merlin's name for?"
"Oh," Harry said, "no reason. Just want to learn to say a few things in French that I've always found it hard to say in English."
"Like what?" Hermione cooed.
"You'll see," Harry replied, with an enigmatic smile. "Come on, it's time to go."
Reluctantly, the two got up and exited the portrait hole. Their arrival in the hallway was met with the sound of resounding applause and cheers. They looked back over their shoulders, only to find the Fat Lady's portrait filled to the frame with echoes. The Ladies Bee and Vee were surrounded by almost most every portrait echo hung in Hogwarts hallways, and quite a few of the former headmasters as well. Dumbledore's echo stood just behind Lady Bee with a raised goblet in hand.
"Good morning, Harry and Hermione."
"Morning, sir," Harry replied, reflexively. "Come to see us off on our next great adventure?"
"We have indeed, handsome," Lady Bee replied. "Thought you might need some support."
"And some liquid encouragement, as well," Dumbledore added, before crying out "Dobby!"
Not a second later Dobby and Dumkie popped in front of Harry and Hermione with a pitcher and two goblets, which they filled and handed to them.
"Good morning Harry Potter, sir," said Dobby.
"Good morning Harry Potter's 'Mione," chimed in Dumkie.
Harry covered his mouth and raised his brown in fake shock as he shot Hermione a playful look. She replied with a slight shake of her head and sparkle in her eyes.
Dumbledore gave a shout out from over their shoulders. "A toast, then," he said, as he raised his glass. "To paraphrase something I said just a few short years ago…it takes a great deal of courage to stand naked before your enemy, but it takes even more courage to stand naked before your best friend."
The other echoes laughed and cheered. Harry and Hermione looked at each other, neither knowing whether to laugh or hyperventilate. They tentatively clinked their goblets together and took a taste of the orange liquid within.
"Oh, this is delicious," Hermione said to Dobby. "What is it?"
"Headmaster told Dobby to make a pitcher of 'Hogwarts Sunrise'," Dobby replied. "Dumkie wasn't sure that Harry Potter and his 'Mione were old enough, but I told her Dobby always listens to Headmaster, even when he's inside a painting."
"Well it certainly is delicious, Dobby," Harry said. "What's in it, though?"
"Dobby used the Hagrid's special recipe…pumpkin juice, fresh cream, nutmeg and Ogden's."
"Really," Hermione said, as she reached out for a refill from Dumkie. "Is this something he drinks on special occasions, then?"
"Yes, Harry Potter's 'Mione," Dobby replied. "Hagrid says every breakfast is special at Hogwarts."
"Smart man, erm giant, that Hagrid," Harry said, before letting out a loud belch.
""Mind your magic, Harry," Hermione said with a smile.
A group of ghosts, led by Nearly-Headless Nick and Moaning Myrtle, joined the impromptu send-off.
"Your honor guard has arrived," Nick said with a grin.
"I asked for their help running interference in case Peeves shows up."
"Oh, great idea," Hermione replied. "Good morning, Myrtle…how did it go last night?"
"It came very quickly," Myrtle giggled. "Three and three-quarters inches, balsa…very soft."
Hermione refused to explain why she was laughing as they started down the Tower's steps and into main hallway.
Though the situation was ripe for Peeves's antics, the poltergeist was nowhere to be found as they walked the halls. In fact, the most interesting thing about their path wasn't along the way, but the destination itself; rather than lead her down towards Firenze's forested classroom, Harry guided her towards the library.
"Harry, why are we stopping here?" Hermione asked.
"Because," Harry said as he opened the doors. The same portable potions laboratory that was downstairs the previous day was set up where the study tables normally were. An empty canvas was set upon an easel facing an open stacks of books.
"We're going to pose here?" she asked.
"That's right Hermione…cleared it with Master Rondino last night."
"Well," Harry replied, "I thought you might be more comfortable posing here rather than in the forest…after all, this is your second home, right?"
Hermione chewed on her lower lip. "Harry, you are so thoughtful…but I'm not sure that this is a good idea."
"Why is that, Hermione?"
"Well…you were right to think that I'd be more comfortable posing nude here in the library rather than the forest," she replied. "The problem is, though, that I've, erm…imagined…being naked here before."
Harry's eyebrows shot up in ballistic arcs. "Oh my…you've fantasized about being naked in the library?"
"Well, erm…yes. I guess."
"And maybe doing things a tad more athletic than just being naked?"
"Erm, well…yes," she admitted.
"Anything you care to share with me?" Harry asked with a grin.
"Not right now, thank you very much," Hermione said rather sheepishly.
"So you've dreamed about Shagging in the Stacks?"
"Bound Amongst the Leather Bound?"
"Harry, you're incorrigible."
"Boinking on the Bookshelves?"
"So would you rather pose someplace else?"
"Not on your life, Potter."
At that moment Nick and Myrtle wafted in through the wall to report that Master Rondino and Romeo were about to join them. They hovered above Madame Pince's desk as the two wizards strode into the room with hands full of fresh limpwort. The Master bade them good morning, and said that it would take just a few minutes to finish their paint preparation.
"Harry," Hermione whispered, "why is Nick here?"
"Oh, I asked him to hang around, just in case," Harry whispered back. "So what's the story on Myrtle?"
"Same, I guess," Hermione said somewhat cryptically.
"Good morning, Hermione," said Romeo. "I am happy to see that you have come prepared…or is it, in English, prepared to come?"
"Come one step closer to her, Romeo, and you'd best be prepared for a rather nasty hex," said Harry.
Romeo sneered at Harry. "Oh look, matching robes, how sweet….do you wear the same undergarments as well?"
Hermione laughed as Harry started to get flustered. "Don't mind Romeo," she said. "He's just making up for his shortcomings."
Harry cocked his head. "Was that one word there at the end, or two?"
Hermione giggled. "Both probably…it turns out that the 'Italian Stallion' here is hung more like 'My Little Pony'."
Harry snorted as he looked towards a rather angry Italian, then went saucer-eyed when he realized something.
"But to make that comparison, you'd have to know just how long…"
"Yes, Harry, that's right." Hermione replied with a broad smile. "Myrtle was very observant…both in yesterday afternoon and last night."
Harry shook his head and turned towards the Master.
"Is there anything we need to do before you start?"
"No, my fine young fellow," Rondino replied, "except remove your robes and stand before the canvas."
Harry turned to face Hermione.
"Are you sure you are ready to do this?" he asked.
Hermione looked right into Harry's eyes, undid her sash, and let her robe drop to the floor. "Not sure at all…how about you?"
Harry smiled a bit as he held eye contact and let his robe join Hermione's. "Same for me."
They stood there, naked before each other in the library, yet neither could have told you that for sure, for neither wanted to break eye contact. Neither wanted to make the other self-conscious with their gaze, and neither wanted to appear more anxious than the other to see what their discarded robes had revealed. They didn't even dare blink. Finally, after twenty seconds or so, Harry broke the spell.
"So at the same time, then?" he asked.
Hermione grinned and agreed. "On three, then….One…Two…Three."
They broke eye contact.
"Merlin, Hermione….you are so…beautiful."
"Merlin, Harry…you are so…big."
They laughed nervously as Romeo stepped out from behind the bubbling cauldrons.
"Merlin, Romeo," he said to himself, "you are so…nauseous."
"Sod off, Romeo," Harry said.
"Oh, what are you going to do about it, Potter?" Romeo asked. "I'm not afraid of the only wand you've got within hand's reach."
Harry looked back at Hermione with a question in his eyes. She nodded in response, took one of his hands in hers, then pointed her other towards Romeo.
"Accio arsehole's wand!"
Hermione's wandless magic flung Romeo's wand up off the table and into her outreached hand.
"How quaint," a slightly flustered Romeo said, "she does the heavy lifting for him."
Hermione snorted as Harry reached his free hand and sent a cauldron of water careening towards Romeo. It dumped its contents on his head before clanging down on his skull. Romeo dropped to the ground unconscious.
"Well," she beamed at Harry, "it seems as if all of our wandless practice is starting to pay off."
"It's either the practice or our attire," replied Harry. "We should cast spells naked more often."
"Yes," Hermione cooed, as her eyes softened and her lips pursed, "perhaps we should."
That statement (or more specifically his physical reaction to that statement,) caused Harry to quickly turn away from Hermione. "Erm, sorry, Hermione."
"Don Potter, please, you must try not to be..or to get so…excited." said Master Rondino, who had been painting at a furious pace ever since the robes had dropped.
"Oh, that's ok," Hermione said sweetly, as she gazed into Harry's eyes. "We're all friends here."
"I'm sorry, but it is not acceptable," the Master replied. "When his blood starts to flow to his cuzzo, the magic goes with it."
"Really?" asked Hermione.
"Yes," replied the Master. "his aura is much too unstable right now for me to paint."
Hermione looked at Harry and shook her head.
"You heard the man, Potter, get it under control."
"I'm trying," said Harry, in a desperate attempt to focus his mind someplace other than Hermione's lovely bits.
Umbridge eating saltine crackers… Ear Wax…Bludgers…
"Please, Don Potter, I can not work when all of your aura is going where your blood has already gone."
Filch cleaning Mrs. Norris's litter box…Neville's socks…Dragon dung…
Master Rondino shook his head in disgust. "This is never a problem with older wizards."
Slughorn's cozy…Troll buggers…Dudley's toothbrush
Rondino threw up his hands in disgust, and reached over to the laboratory bench.
"Don Potter," he asked, "Please…take this empty pot and….take care of your excitement."
"What?" Harry demanded. "You want me to wank off and…and catch it for you?"
Hermione looked shocked, but immediately understood the situation. "Harry," she said, "there's magic in everything that comes out of you," she said. "He probably would mix your, erm…release…in with his paints to conserve the magic."
"Donna Hermione, you are a very smart witch," the Master said with a smile. "Now, Don Potter…"
"Forget it," Harry replied. "Nick, a little help please?"
"Right away, Harry," the ghost replied, as he swooped down from his vantage point and straight through Harry's body. The cold and clammy experience tamed Harry's erection instantaneously.
"Don Potter!" the Master replied. "Why did you do that…the ghost, he just took more of your magic from you than your released seed would have!"
"Oh," Harry replied. "Sorry."
Master Rondino shooed them towards their robes, stating that he'd have to wait some time before Harry regained enough aura for him to continue. Lacking anything better to do with his time, and with his assistant still knocked out cold on the floor, the Master began to paint in the background while Harry and Hermione looked over his shoulder.
"You are very lucky, you know," the Master said. "Usually I have Romeo paint in the background…ah well, this will make the work that much greater, I guess."
"Will the library background be magical as well?" Harry asked.
"Of course," the Master said, with a tinge of indignation. "Just as the forest behind the Headmistress yesterday will really become a forest in every way…animals included."
"And you don't even have to paint all of the animals into the painting, do you?" Hermione asked.
"Correct," replied the Master, "I give the form and intention, and with my magic all of the rest is filled in."
"So the Headmistress's echo will be able to interact with that forest…her animagi form could climb a tree, or tangle with centaurs, or anything," Harry reasoned out.
Hermione's eyes brightened "So if the Headmistress's echo can play in the forest, then our echoes will be able to…"
"Play in the library," said Harry. "The complete library…or read, or do research, or study."
"Wow," Hermione said, "and all of the books would be there. It's too bad that they're just echoes, or they could do some of our work for us."
"Why couldn't they?" Harry asked.
"Because they're just echoes," Hermione replied. "They only know as much as the originals…it's not like they could read a book and retain any knowledge, right?"
"I've been thinking about that," Harry replied, "and the only conclusion that I can reach is that conventional wisdom is wrong. A portrait echo can learn things that the original couldn't have known."
"How can you be so sure, Harry?"
"Simple test," Harry replied. "If we went up to the Headmistress's office right now and asked Dumbledore's echo what the score was in my floo landing contest with Ron what would he say?"
"He'd say to give up while you were behind and on your behind," Hermione giggled before she thought of something. "But that is something that the original Dumbledore would have never have known!."
"Exactly," Harry said. "The echoes can observe, they can report, they can deduce…in short, the echoes can think for themselves."
Hermione looked for confirmation from Master Rondino.
"Donna Hermione, he is quite perceptive," he replied simply. "Shall we try again, now? Donna Hermione, if you would stand behind Don Potter, perhaps he would be less excitable?"
They took his suggestion. Harry sheepishly dropped his robe and faced the canvas. Hermione walked behind him and disrobed out of his eyesight. Master Rondino walked over to the laboratory and swallowed another ladle of potion before returning to his canvas.
"Ahh, thank you, Don Potter, for your cooperation. But now, I think…."
Rondino squinted at the pair intently.
"Donna Hermione," he decided, "you must stand closer to him…his magical aura is still too unstable."
Hermione followed his instructions and stepped up directly behind Harry, so that he could feel her warm breath on the back of his neck.
"You know, Harry," she said, "if it wasn't so important for you to avoid getting stiff I'd compliment your cute bum."
"Not helping, Hermione," Harry replied tersely.
"Right…sorry," she said, in a tone of voice that didn't seem so. "So tell me …what were you planning on saying to me in French?"
"Oh," Harry admitted, "I never really decided. Je t'aime sounded a bit corny, if accurate, and anything longer than that sounded like the name of a 70's disco tune."
"Really," she asked, "like what…'Voulez vous couche avec moi'?"
"Why Hermione, I thought you'd never ask…of course I would," Harry said, prompted Hermione to swat his derriere.
"So were you able to come up with anything more original?" she asked.
"I don't know," Harry admitted. "Just that…just that you're ma raison d'etre, et aussi ma raison de vivre apres Voldemort."
"Oh," she replied, is a quiet and wondrous voice. She placed a hand on each of Harry's shoulder blades and leaned into Harry…her cheek on the base of his neck…her breast cuddled up against his back…her pelvis spooned up against his bum.. Harry closed his eyes and leaned his head back, savoring the sensations that had every square inch of his body more alive than he could recall. It was only when he began to think about exactly which parts of Hermione he was in contact with that he got in trouble again.
"Don Potter," Master Rondino said, "perhaps it is time to bow to the inevitable?" He reached for the paint pot again.
"Well take care of things, Master Rondino," Hermione said, as she walked over to her robe. After tying her sash she grabbed Harry's robe and threw it at him.
"Let's go, Harry."
"Where are we going?"
"Someplace where we can take care of your aura imbalance."
As Harry donned his robe, the Master handed Hermione an empty paint pot. "Make sure he doesn't spill any of his magic on the ground."
"Oh that won't be necessary," Hermione replied sweetly.
"And why is that?"
"Because I have my own container."
The Master's eyes went wide as Hermione turned and grabbed Harry's hand and led him out of the library. "We'll be back in a few minutes," she called out over her shoulder.
Master Rondino was chuckling to himself as a tabby cat came out from its hiding spot. The cat's Cheshire grin remained fixed as the body that surrounded it transformed into Hogwart's Headmistress.
"Master Rondino," she said with a laugh, "you are a dirty old man."
"Why Donna McGonagall," he replied, "am I the one that has been peeking behind a tree all this time?"
"I have a duty to protect my students, you know," she said with a smile. The Headmistress then looked at him appraisingly. "You really didn't need her to pose with him, did you?"
"No," the Master admitted, "I didn't. With all of their unresolved sexual tension it is actually harder for me. But now…if we see some resolution…I am certain their combined auras will be as strong as I've ever seen."
The Headmistress shook her head with a mischievous smile. "Stronger than even ours?"
The Master's eyes twinkled. "Minerva, I was too enraptured yesterday afternoon to notice."
"Well," the Headmistress replied with a saucy grin, "perhaps I'll give you another chance to compare and contrast."
While the older couple entertained thoughts of coupling, Hermione led Harry downstairs towards the main entrance area.
"Just where are we going?" Harry asked. "What are you planning to do?"
"You heard Master Rondino," Hermione replied. "We have to take care of your little problem." She giggled. "Well, actually, it's not so little right now, is it?"
"Merlin, Hermione, I'm sorry…I've never been so embarrassed."
"Harry, we've already discussed this, remember? You have nothing to be sorry or embarrassed about."
"Why aren't you letting me take care of it?"
"Well, since I caused the problem, I ought to be part of the solution, don't you think?"
"Are you saying what I think you're saying…why didn't you take the paint pot?"
"I told him that I have another container in mind."
Hermione pushed open the doors to the Great Hall and led Harry to the Head's Table, which was set for lunch.
"Hermione, are you sure that you want to do this?"
Hermione spun Harry around, put both of her hands behind his head, and pulled him into a deep, open-mouthed kiss.
"Erm, okay," Harry stammered, "I'll take that as a yes."
She pulled Harry around behind the Head's table, pushed back the Headmistress's chair, and carelessly swept the place setting in front of it to one side.
"Sit," she ordered, as she pointed to the space she'd just cleared.
Harry followed orders. "Hermione, but…whenever I dreamed of this happening, well…I never…I wanted our first time to be special. I wanted your first time to be special. Not rushed, or anything."
"Oh, don't worry," Hermione replied with a grin, as she untied Harry's sash and lifted the tented material up and off of what was, at that moment, the very center of his magical core. "You're not getting off the hook so easily. You'll still have the chance to plan for our first time."
"But…erm…I just thought that you said…not needing a container?"
"Harry," Hermione said with a smile, "I've got more than one place for your magic."
Harry nervously looked back over his shoulder towards the rest of the Great Hall and the open doors at the far end.
"Erm, right here?"
Hermione looked up at Harry's face and cooed.
"Why not, Harry? After all, this is the Head Table."
She buried her head in his lap, and began to work her magic on his.