A/N: Right. I hear a new Heron fanfic was released last weekend. Thank goodness the hype is over and us fanfic writers can get on with what we do best, namely working on the wonderful couple that Jo created but didn't realize she'd created. DH had no surprises, really. It ended like we all thought it would. Not that I actually read it. I don't read RHr fics, period. I boycotted it. But there was a lot of discussion of it on Portkey Chat (chat dot portkey dot org), primarily of the dismissive persuasion, where we asked questions like 'How come Jo doesnt know if Hermione's middle name is Jane or Jean?', 'Why does Jo never tell us what Hermione's parents' names are?', Why has Hermione's birthday never been even mentioned in the books, especially her 17th?', Why does Jo care so little about Hermione?', Why is Jo so addicted to Weasleys?', Is Jo really a delusional Ginny from another dimension?'... you get the idea.
Anyway... this isn't really an update, though I have thrown in a thousand words of the next chapter. It's really an advertisement for an anti-DH game I wrote while experimenting with a new programming-for-kiddies language. It's called Hermione Detests the Deathly Hallows and is linked to on my profile. There's another game there too (Saving Potter) but this one is more fun. Enjoy! And write your own games!
Harry returned home at around six in the evening, after a productive talk with Petr about protecting his children and himself from any magical coercion his ex-wife might try on them.
He had Apparated directly to his bedroom, which now had a lot more space since Ginny had taken all her stuff with her, clothes included. He hadn't realized how much stuff she had, particularly since most of her apparel had a room of their own.
He walked to a chest of drawers and retrieved a parchment from the second from bottom drawer.
"I solemnly swear that my sprogs are up to no good," he intoned dutifully, tapping it with his wand. A map of the Potter Manor appeared. He tapped it again to zoom onto his children. Normally this was the limit of his invasion of their privacy - it was a lot easier than yelling the house down looking for them - but he'd been rather worried about how they were taking their separation from their mother. Therefore, he activated an aural charm on the map that only he and Ginny knew about. It allowed them to hear anything that was said in most rooms around the Manor, including the playroom where it appeared that Nigel and Amy were in the tail end of one of their endless debate.
Harry grinned; Nigel may be the leader of the Trio that was his kids with Ginbitch, but Amy could certainly hold her own. Listening to their arguments was always entertaining...
... except when those arguments mentioned their mother and the 'dark witch Granger'.
Worried now, he decided to invade his children's privacy even further, and asked the room for the transcript of everything that had been said in the previous hour. Since that all conversations in all rooms were transcribed as they happened, it appeared in his hands in a couple of seconds. It only took a couple of minutes of reading before he shook his head and swore.
Three small figures crept silently in the room. It was dark except for the three shaky cones of light from the Muggle torches each of them carried. There was a slight thud as one of the figures put its toes to their natural obstacle-finding use.
"Make the torchlight go in front of you, you twat!"
"Why can't we get electricity down here?"
"Coz you kept blowing up the light bulbs when you was little!"
"Sez the person who blew the telly when Bambi's mum died!"
"Twasn't my fault! Poor Bambi!"
The dynamics between the three children was quite simple. The twins argued and their younger brother played mediator. Unfortunately, since Nicholas was the youngest, his siblings usually waited till they had exhausted themselves before they listened to him. He'd tried stepping on their toes, but they'd just stepped on his back. But yesterday he'd asked his dad if he could cast a spell on his shoes to make them really hard - on both the top and bottom sides.
The twin exclamations were followed by a scuffle where they tried to step on his feet in retaliation, which ended up with Amy's foot sandwiched between her brothers, causing a loud yelp and a dropped torch.
"Prats! Now we've only got two torches!"
"Wait, it's not broken. See? It just got turned off."
"Oh. I knew that."
The trouble with traditional gestures such as Eye Rolling is that they are of little use in near darkness.
"Hey, this box says 'Old Wheezes'!"
"Cool! Let's open it!"
"No! Keep it for later! We're looking for something else now!"
This was true. They were looking for Clues To The Past. It was Nicholas' suggestion. Not that he believed it himself, but he had suggested that they do so when his siblings couldn't agree on how to deal with their mother's letter. Nigel thought his mother could do no wrong, while Amy allowed for the possibility. Besides, Nicholas was curious about his parents' past - all three of them knew that they didn't hear all of it. And from what they had overheard from the media, this Granger witch was a large part of it.
"Hey, isn't that Dad's old broom?"
"Naw, think it's Mum's."
"Hey, this says Firebolt!"
"I thought dad's first broom was a Cirrus?"
"My memory's all cloudy."
"Shut up. Just - shut up!"
More shuffling and scuffling and searching for boxes followed. Then they squinted their eyes as the door to the basement opened and the room was suddenly filled with light.
"Bloody hell," said Nicholas.
"Busted," muttered Nigel.
Amy said nothing, but dived behind a convenient carton.
Their father came down the stairs, his face impassive. He smiled slightly as he watched his kids try the innocent look while squinting hard at the extra light. They had learnt it well from their mother, who had learnt it from having six brothers. Harry had never had to learn it himself, having learnt from an early age that innocent people often got punished.
"Hi, dad," said Nigel. He had already noticed his sister's disappearance but didn't intend to rat her out - yet. Besides, he didn't think he needed to.
"Hello, boys," replied Harry. He raised his voice and added, "You can come out now, Amy!"
Nicholas giggled as his sister's hair, and then eyes, popped up from behind some boxes. His older brother merely smirked.
"No need to explain anything," said her father. "I can tell that all of you were playing hide and seek and that your brothers were just about to find you anyway."
The kids dutifully nodded. This was tradition. They knew he was joking, and that he knew that they knew he was joking. And it wasn't as if visiting the basement was actually verboten. It wasn't even discouraged. It was merely... not spoken of.
Harry walked ahead of his children in the direction of a large charmed teddy bear that Amy had got for her third birthday. She'd been scared of it then, which explained why it had been exiled to the basement. He pointed out as much to his daughter, who looked rather abashed. Nicholas, on the other hand, seemed rather interested in the animal, so perhaps it would be making a return to polite society in the near future.
"Ah, here it is!" he said brightly - too brightly, really - as he dragged a few boxes aside manually before finding an old weatherbeaten trunk. He lifted it out easily, muttering about how it had got lighter over the years.
"Is that your school trunk, dad?" asked Nigel, his eyes wide. His father rarely talked about the past, so if this was his trunk, something had clearly changed. A glance at Amy suggested she had similar thoughts.
"Yep," replied Harry, dumping it in the centre of the room. He said something in Parseltongue, which was followed by a loud click and the sound opening with an ominous creak that Nosferatu would have admired. He looked a tad sheepish, and mumbled something about it being a fun cliche to copy at the time.
The kids approached the box gingerly. It looked about as exciting as ... one of their own trunks. Still, their father looked a lot more excited than he had of late, so that was worth watching for novelty's sake.
Harry took out various old books and clothes in succession, and it was soon clear that he was looking for something specific.
"Aha!" he exclaimed as he found an old battered book. He rubbed the dust off it and opened it. "Now," he said to his children with a large smile, "this is my photo album from school, and there are a few things I need to tell you..."
A/N: By the way, Hermione Detests the Deathly Hallows needs Java to work.
Anyone still feeling depressed about the DH Epilogue can (ok, shoulud!) read The Writer, a oneshot I wrote five days ago.