Summary: Just before the final battle, Harry asks Ron to make sure he takes care of Ginny such that she never has to worry about the basics of life if he should die in battle. Ron thinks that's a good idea and asks Harry to do the same in regards to Hermione. What happens when Ron changes Harry's promise just slightly and then doesn't survive the fight? (a one-shot)
Ratings: PG-15, Post-HBP (not DH compliant), A/U, Humor
Warnings: Some violence, Adult situations strongly implied
(A/N: Given enough time and stories, many authors write of a situation ending like this one does. Here's my version and how I got there. And no, you should not take this story very seriously; it's meant to poke fun at one of the major questions in HP-fanfiction, hence the humor tag. :-)
Harry Potter's Promise
Harry Potter was sitting in a small Wizarding tent enjoying the evening with his girlfriend Ginny Weasley on his lap. They were discussing their relationship in between snogs, or perhaps they were snogging in between snippets of conversation, Harry found it hard to tell. Whichever way it was going, he was quite happy with this evening, the first one in weeks he and his girlfriend of over two years had had together to relax.
It had been over two years since Albus Dumbledore had been murdered by Severus Snape on top of the Astronomy Tower at Hogwarts. Harry and his two long-time friends were now nineteen, Harry being the last to arrive only a month ago. Ginny was eighteen, as of three weeks ago. In the normal course of events, the Hogwarts Express would have taken a load of children to the Wizarding school yesterday, but that had not happened since Dumbledore had died.
While the time had been very trying, Harry was glad the school had not reopened. A month after the old Headmaster's death, the notice was given that Hogwarts would stay closed due to the war. Harry had immediately returned to The Burrow. Since Ginny would not be at school, there was no reason for them to be apart and for him to have to shield her. Of course, that raised other questions about safety, particularly about where to live.
What was left of the Order of the Phoenix minus Snape (whose membership had been revoked), Harry, and the newly-recruited Filius Flitwick, all got together and decided they could no longer trust the old headquarters on Grimmauld Place. After more thought, Harry came up with the idea of camping out somewhere hard to find, Hermione mentioned the Forbidden Forest, and Minerva McGonagall left to go talk to the Centaurs. When she returned an hour later, she took them all to a clearing that had a stream nearby and was deep in the forest. There, they set up a number of Wizarding tents, established plenty of defensive wards, and put the area under a Fidelius Charm, thanks to Professor Flitwick; Harry was the secret keeper. From that position, they had searched for Horcruxes and waged war against Tom Riddle.
The war and life had been hard. Very slowly over time, the battles started turning towards Harry's side, which nominally included the Ministry of Magic. Rufus Scrimgeour had finally stopped pursuing Harry as a poster boy and had finally started trying to work with him. Between the two leaders, they were starting to win because Tom was running out of Purebloods to recruit. Every confirmed Death Eater was executed after a quick trial. That new policy had been the key to turning the tide. Of course, their side had lost a number of Aurors, Hagrid, Charlie Weasley, Hestia Jones, and a half dozen of the old DA members. The rest of the Order had been injured numerous times in the preceding two years.
Because of the ongoing war, time off to just relax was fairly rare. Harry felt he had maybe one of those days a month. Therefore, he was quite peeved, when an hour after dinner, after only one sweet hour with only Ginny, Ron came running into the tent. That Ron was slightly out of breath did not stop him from yelling, "Harry! Come to the command tent, quick!"
With great reluctance, Harry pulled his lips from Ginny's and turned his head to his best male friend. "Ron!" he growled. "It had better be really good for you to interrupt me right now. You know how little time we get alone." He glared intently at his friend. His girlfriend gave her own glare.
Ron blushed slightly but he did not back down. "I'm really sorry Harry, Ginny, but this is important. I think it's the break we need to end everything."
Harry sighed. While he almost considered replying that it could wait, he also considered that if this was indeed what was needed to end the war, then he could have a lot more uninterrupted time with Ginny soon. He also knew Ron would not interrupt his relaxation time without a really good reason; that was an established ground rule they had with each other. With another sigh and great reluctance, he turned back to his girlfriend. "Sorry, Ginny. Maybe this won't take too long."
Ginny looked a little disappointed. "I know, Harry: duty before pleasure."
He then voiced his earlier thought. "You do know that if this does end the war, we can have a lot more time together all by ourselves?"
"Your optimism is one of the reasons I love you, Harry." She gave him a quick kiss and then stood up. Grabbing his hand as he stood, she walked with him after her brother out of Harry's personal tent and over to the command tent.
Walking in, Harry saw the command team: McGonagall, Moody, Lupin, Shacklebolt, plus Hermione and now Ron, Ginny, and himself. After some long discussions and the revelation of the prophecy, Harry was put in overall charge of the group, although he leaned heavily on his advisors. "What's up?" Mad-Eye Moody smiled, and that that was always good, Harry thought. Of course, it also might have been a bit scary if he had not see that look before.
"We've just captured Lucius Malfoy," the old Auror stated with a large ugly grin.
"An inner circle member, that's good," Harry agreed, although he was not quite sure of the significance of the capture and how it might end the war soon.
"Aye, laddie, but it's better than that. Rumor has it that he's the secret keeper for old Tom. And now that we've destroyed all of the Horcruxes except for Nagini, we can now get the snake, and probably Tom too." Mad-Eye continued to look pleased, although that did not stop him from continually looking around with his magical eye to make sure that no one could sneak up on him. Even in the midst of his friends he practiced constant vigilance.
"Ah," Harry acknowledged and smiled too as he understood the situation better. "He's in our containment area, I presume?" He received a firm nod. "Well then, Ron and Minerva, please start planning our final assault for either tomorrow or the day after, depending on how fast we can get everyone together. Anyone else who does not want to watch an interrogation, feel free to stay and help plan." With a look and a raised eyebrow to Ginny, who gave him a nod, Harry Apparated the two of them to a clearing nearly a quarter of a mile away.
This area was also under a Fidelius Charm, but it was separate so they could do things with other people here. Temporarily holding prisoners was one of the things done here. Five more Apparation cracks sounded around him. Everyone but the two planners had come.
"This way," Moody commanded and stumped off towards a small tent. Inside, they found an unconscious Lucius Malfoy bound to a chair. His head lolled against his chest and he had an unkempt look about him; the war had apparently not been good for the Malfoys.
"Silencing charms up?" Harry asked. He heard an affirmative. "Veritaserum please, Hermione." She was their potions mistress, so she retrieved a phial of the truth serum from her robes. She always had several on her. Lifting the prisoner's head, Harry slowly poured it down Malfoy's throat before he let the man's head go, causing it to flop back down to his chest. After waiting for a moment to let truth potion start to work, he woke the prisoner. "Enervate!" He put his wand up and observed.
Malfoy slowly regained consciousness and lifted his head, but it was obvious he was not in full control of his mental faculties.
"What is your name?" Harry calmly asked.
"Lucius Abraxan Malfoy."
"Are you a Death Eater?"
It was always nice to see the potion work, Harry thought. "Is the Dark Lord Voldemort hiding under a Fidelius Charm?"
"Are you his secret keeper?" Harry held his breath as he hoped for a positive answer.
Harry grinned wildly to his friends, who all grinned back at him. Remus did a little jig, while Kingsley hissed, "Yes!" Harry mimed writing to his girlfriend and returned to the questioning. Ginny walked over to a cabinet to retrieve some parchment, ink, and a quill.
"Is there anything preventing you from sharing the secret to the Dark Lord's hiding place?"
Moody gave him a look of admiration. "Good one, lad. I hadn't considered that he might be prevented from telling us." Harry smirked and pulled his wand back out.
"Harry!" Hermione growled.
"Hermione, this is war and we have to know." He gave her a stern and disappointed look. They had discussed this before. She deflated and nodded, though she still wore an uncomfortable expression. Taking the writing tools from Ginny, he put them on a table in front of Malfoy.
"Lucius Malfoy," Harry commanded, "you will not try to escape. You will also write the secret to the Fidelius Charm that hides your Dark Lord on that parchment." He could feel the man fighting him, but Harry had more willpower and forced it on the man, the potion was also inhibiting the prisoner from fully fighting the curse. Harry removed the ropes and saw Malfoy slowly grab the quill and write. When Malfoy was done, Harry rebound the prisoner before he picked up the parchment to read it. Smiling, he turned to Remus. "Read this, then Apparate to the Riddle graveyard that I showed you last year and look around. If this is correct, you should find the house." Remus nodded, read the parchment, and left. Harry saw Hermione start a Dict-O-Quill over a long roll of parchment.
Turning back to their prisoner, Harry gave more commands. "Lucius, you will tell us how many people are with the Dark Lord in his hiding place, his habits while there, how the place is defended, and if you had to storm the place and kill the Dark Lord, how you would do it."
A little over an hour later, Malfoy stopped talking as the questions had been fully answered. Harry was smiling to himself, not only because of the information he now had, but because Remus had returned smiling and giving him the thumbs up sign. Harry put Malfoy back to sleep. Moody found someone to watch the prisoner, despite the command not to escape, and they all Apparated back to the command tent in the main camp.
One of the things they had found out was that Tom did not usually go to sleep until very late, normally after three in the morning. Minerva had informed him on his return that they had a basic plan ready. He handed the dictation of the interrogation over for them to incorporate that information. She smiled after quickly skimming the long parchment and suggested that early tomorrow morning would be best for an attack; they did not want Malfoy to be missed for being absent too long. Therefore, most of them would take a power nap, get up at four, eat and take a Pepperup potion, and then attack at five in the morning. The hope was most of Riddle Manor would be asleep.
Now, Harry did not mind Ron's interrupting his evening as the end of the war seemed to be in sight. Ginny had accompanied him back to the command tent for a few minutes to discuss the plan that had been started. When that was done, Harry left to go get some rest, and Ginny went back to his tent with him.
Although her parents were not totally happy with her doing it, she sometimes stayed in Harry's tent with him for the night. It had taken a Wizard's Oath of no intimate behavior before marriage from both of them for her parents to agree, but they finally had. Harry thought it a bit unfair for them not to release the teens from the oath now that Ginny had been legally an adult for a year, but he had finally decided that it was more important not to rock the boat, so to speak, in order to keep her parents happy. On nights like tonight when they each desired the most comfort possible from their nerves, they did sleep together -- fully clothed to prevent accidents.
A few minutes after four in the morning, Hermione came into the tent and woke Harry and Ginny up. She had a smile on her face, one which made Harry wonder if maybe she had spent the night with Ron too. Those two had also taken the same "chastity oath" for sleeping privileges. With a small pang of sadness, Harry watched Ginny leave and return to her family's tent to change and get ready, he got himself ready once he was alone.
In the community tent, Harry got some breakfast, along with a phial of Pepperup potion. He took a seat at a table and began eating. He was joined a few minutes later by his closest friends: Ron, Hermione, and Ginny.
There was almost no talk as everyone quickly ate, although it was easy to tell that a lot of thoughts were running through people's minds based on their expressions. Looking around the tent, Harry also noticed that those who had a special person in their life were sitting with that person and holding their hand, like he was with Ginny and Ron was with Hermione.
As Harry downed the Pepperup potion and started to rise to take his dishes over to be cleaned, Ron stopped him with his first words of the morning. "Harry? What if this is not the final battle?"
It was a question he had been asking himself for most of the morning. As calmly as he could, despite his nerves, Harry answered, "Then we take out whoever is there and destroy the place so it can't be used again. It will be one less place Tom can hide and we keep on searching until we find him and beat him." What else could they do, he thought. Ron and the two girls nodded and then quaffed their energy potions too.
After they had put their dishes up, Ron surprised Harry when he put a hand on his arm. "Hey, mate? Can I talk to you for a minute -- alone?" The look on the redhead's face was very serious.
"Sure, Ron." He walked his friend outside and over near his tent, wondering what this was about. "What's up?"
Ron took a deep breath as if steeling himself for something difficult. "Harry, you know that I think all the divination stuff we had with Trelawney was a bunch of crap, but despite what I asked a minute ago, I do have a feeling that today is the day we'll battle Tom."
"I hope so, Ron." Harry really wanted to end this war.
Ron seemed to struggle for a few seconds before he went on. "Harry, I need you do something for me."
"If it's in my power to do so, you know I will," Harry promised. He trusted his best friend.
A grim smile and a slight air of relief came over Ron. "Then promise me you'll take care of Hermione if something should happen to me. I don't need a Wizard's Oath, but I want your sincerest promise to really mean it."
"I understand, Ron. I know you're her brother and you would take care of your family anyway, but you'll help Ginny if something should happen to me?"
"Absolutely." Ron then stepped a little closer and put both of his hands on Harry's shoulders. "I promise that I will l look after Ginny for you to the best of my ability should you not live through this battle." It had all the look and feel of an oath, although there were no magical or formal words spoken. "Harry, promise me the same about Hermione," Ron requested as he dropped his hands.
Deciding that his friend needed this for peace of mind, Harry followed the example and put his hands on Ron's shoulders. "I promise that I will look after Hermione to the best of my ability should you not live through this battle."
"And that you'll treat her as well as I would have." When Harry paused, Ron got agitated. "Harry! Please promise me!"
With the barest of sighs, Harry tacked on, "And I also promise to treat Hermione as well as you would have." Ron let out a big breath and stepped forward and gave Harry a man-hug, slapping him on the back before he quickly released him.
"Thanks, Harry! That's a load off my mind." Indeed, Ron did look more at ease.
Harry smiled to himself slightly. "No problem, Ron; but I don't want you dwelling on this. Just do your best and we can all get this over with and live happily ever after." Ron returned the smile and they both started walking back to the community tent. "Let's find McGonagall; I want to know about any changes you made to the plan after I left last night."
Hermione looked out the tent doorway and saw Ron and Harry quietly but urgently talking. She turned to Ginny who had followed her over. "What do you think that's about?"
Ginny shrugged as she looked across the way at the two most important young men in her life. "It's hard to say, but you can almost bet that Ron's nervous and after he gets that off of his chest, Harry will give him a pep talk."
They watched Ron put his hands on Harry's shoulders. "That's strange," Hermione commented.
Ginny smiled. "It's an old Weasley tradition when making promises. I bet their talking about watching each other's back and promising to be there for the other, no matter how bad it gets."
"Yeah, that sounds like Ron." Hermione smiled as she watched Harry return the gesture. "You know that I'll be there for you, don't you Ginny?"
"And back at you, Hermione," the redhead replied. They watched their men a moment more before the two started walking back to their young ladies.
Ten minutes before five in the morning, everyone was gathered around Harry in the community tent. With the exception of Poppy Pomfrey, everyone who was able would go fight; the few who stayed behind did so only because they had injuries that would not let them go, and Madam Pomfrey, who had joined them, was now much more lenient in letting people leave her care than she had been while at school. Harry assumed that was because she was not legally liable for people's health.
Harry looked around and saw that everyone was there; they numbered just under thirty. "May I have your attention?" The many conversations instantly ceased. "Kingsley, how is the Auror squad?"
"They'll be there in about five minutes. We have thirty-two joining us, not counting those in this tent," Shacklebolt said with confidence.
"Excellent," Harry praised him, while doing his best to look the confident leader. "As everyone can guess, the Aurors will lead us in and will be the force primarily responsible for the fifty or so Death Eaters and for guarding the house as a whole to prevent escapees. If you have no assigned task to do, please back them up." Kingsley Shacklebolt nodded in appreciation and then left to go join the Aurors.
"Minerva, Filius, and Hermione? You three are responsible for the Anti-Disapparation and Anti-Portkey wards, as well as making sure the Floo is turned off, even though our informant says the Floo is not hooked up. Ron and Ginny, you're with them as guards, and after the wards are up, the five of you are responsible for finding the ruddy snake and killing it, or destroying whatever artifact it has inside itself. Please tell me as soon as you've done that so I can be more aggressive towards Tom." Harry received five nods.
"Remus, Mad-Eye, and Bill, you're with me." He got three more nods.
"Everyone from the old DA, in addition to taking out any Death Eaters you come across, you're responsible for finding Peter Pettigrew in whatever form he's in. In fact, a new standing order: Kill any rat you see." That got a few chuckles.
"Anyone who does not have a specific assignment, be on the lookout for Bellatrix and Severus. People, do not be timid! Your first reaction to any Death Eater should be a Blasting or a Cutting curse to the head or some other vital body part. I do not want to have to bury anyone else." Harry struggled to keep his emotions in check as memories of past funerals of friends threatened to overwhelm him. "Any questions?" None were put forth. "Very well, everyone should have already seen the secret for our destination, so get in your small group and grab a Portkey; we leave in two minutes."
Harry walked over to his closest friends. He first gave Hermione, then Ron a hug. Finally he turned Ginny and gave her a longer one. He also whispered in her ear. "Be safe, I want a life with you after this."
"I love you, Harry," she whispered back as she held on tightly for a moment. A look of fear flickered across her face, but it was quickly banished and replaced by a look of determination.
"And I love you too, Ginny." Reluctantly, he let go of her and headed over to his group. He lightly slapped and gripped a few shoulders of friends as he walked past them. Molly Weasley pulled him in for a brief hug and told him to be careful.
Harry grabbed the rope Portkey along with the other three who were part of his group. "Bill, you have point so you can check for wards and traps, Remus and I will cover you, and Mad-Eye, you have all of our backs." He received two "Rights" and an "Aye". Looking around, he saw that everyone was huddled in small groups. Taking a deep breath, to help his nerves as much as so he could shout, he yelled, "Activate!" and touched his wand to the Portkey. A jerk behind his navel pulled him and his comrades through another dimension to a location across England.
A few seconds later, he landed in the Riddle family graveyard. Looking around, he saw all the small groups from his camp arrive. In front of him, Kingsley came out from behind a large gravestone. "Have you seen Mars?" Harry asked the supposed Auror with his wand pointing at the man.
"It is bright tonight," the man answered in response and grinned, which Harry returned and lowered his wand. Kingsley waved and the Aurors then started coming out from behind the many grave monuments.
"Silencing charms on your feet, pass it on," he whispered to Moody. He heard the order quietly passed around. Turning around again, he found the head Auror again. "Kingsley, take a small group along with the warders. We'll be two minutes behind you."
"Right, Harry. We'll take out any lookouts and secure the area around the house." Kingsley led several small groups up the hill towards the old manor house that was visible to them now in the low moonlight. Harry did his best not to think about Ginny going into battle. For the next two minutes, Harry did his best to mediate and clear his mind with his Occlumency techniques.
Moody tapped Harry on the shoulder before he softly said, "Let's go."
Harry silenced his feet on the first step. He would have disillusioned himself too, but it was still quite dark with only a sliver of moon showing. A handful of minutes later he was at the house with the remaining Aurors and the Order of the Phoenix at his back.
At the house, he easily found Kingsley. "How's it going?" he whispered.
"There was only one lookout, and he was asleep; now it's permanent." The Auror's big grin was easy to see and infectious. "The warders should be done in just a moment and then we'll go inside for the barracks room first. We'll do our best to soundlessly stun everyone who's asleep. The room at the top is yours." Malfoy had said Tom's room was on the fourth floor; Harry hoped he was in it tonight. Looking over to the side, he saw the warders finishing their task. A slender form with a long braid was easy to pick out. A moment later, Kingsley and his Aurors silently went into the old manor house.
When the last Auror went in, Harry's led the Order in. Most of the Order followed the Aurors; Harry and his small group headed for the stairs and slowly went up. At every turn of the winding stairs, Bill stopped and cast more reveling spells. It was slow, but better safe than sorry. Harry could hear a few soft noises from below him, but for the most part, silence reigned throughout the big house.
They encountered their first ward just above the second floor. That took Bill nearly ten minutes to overcome. Harry did his best not to appear nervous and impatient; he was trying to set a good example. Another defense ward was encountered just above the third floor. This one was harder and took Bill nearly twenty minutes to overcome.
Just before Bill took the last ward down, Ginny came up beside him and cast a soundless privacy screen so they would not be overheard. "How's it going?" she whispered.
"This should be it," he replied. "No snake?"
"No," she told him. "It looks like it probably is with Tom after all. Sorry, we tried." Harry nodded in the low light from someone's wand behind him.
"Anyone hurt?" Harry really did care, but at the moment, it was just idle chatter to keep his mind off the coming fight.
"A few injuries. Neville took one in the leg, so he's sitting down guarding a hole in the wall that we found, just in case any snakes or rats come out of it. We did lose one Auror. Fortunately, most of the Death Eaters were stunned in their sleep, so the fighting has been pretty minimal." Ginny voice was calm, but Harry could see the hurt and stress on her face. He hoped the damage to Neville's leg was not permanent. That had happened to Hestia Jones and that injury had later led to her death when she could not move fast enough to avoid a Killing Curse.
Bill finished his work and turned around. Ginny took down her privacy screen before her brother whispered, "Harry, it's clear all the way to the door, and the door has nothing on it. Still..."
Harry nodded. Caution was always required. He gave Ginny a quick kiss because she was there and a nod to his other close friends behind her. Remus Lupin was close behind him as he crept past Bill and slowly traversed the stairs to the top landing. He did his own revealing spell on the door just to be extra cautious and found nothing. Now he had a quandary: Should he blast the door down and rush in, or open it slowly and hopefully catch Tom asleep? He decided on the second option.
Casting a silencing charm on the door, in case it squeaked, he crouched and slowly opened it with magic, not daring to touch it. It was barely half open when a green Killing Curse came flying out of the room. Harry easily ducked, as the curse had been cast quite high; although if he had been standing up straight, the result could have been a lot different.
Harry put a hand over his eyes and cast "Solaris!", his wand thrust through the partially opened doorway. That would cause problems for his side too, but he had been prepared and hopefully, that would be all that mattered. He dashed into the room and rolled right while a scream of pain came from in the room. Gasps of surprise came from the hallway, but they were better off as the spell had gone off in the room, so they were mostly protected from the sudden bright light.
"Reducto! Reducto! Reducto!" he cast a small spread of Blasting Hexes in the area the original Killing Curse had come from. Another scream assaulted his ears. He jumped behind a high backed chair and looked around. There was some light coming from a small fire in the fireplace. With his heart beating so fast he was sure everyone could hear it, Harry quickly looked out from behind the chair. There on the floor was a wand in a hand. "Accio wand!" The wooden weapon came flying to him and he easily caught it. A fast look made him gasp in surprise. If he had not really known his own wand, he would have said this new one was his. It also felt just like his as he held it.
Emboldened and hopeful, Harry took a longer look around the chair and saw the hand on the floor again, but his time he realized the arm it was attached to was not attached to a body. Looking up, he saw Tom Riddle standing there with a look of great surprise on his face, looking down at his right arm lying on the floor. Blood was running down his body from the stump of his arm. Hoping for more good luck, he silently cast a Stunning spell. To his great pleasure, the Dark Lord fell to the floor and did not move.
Casting a blue-bell flame charm on the ceiling for light, Harry looked around some more. He saw no one else, including snakes, in the room. Unfortunately, he could not let Tom bleed to death, despite how much he wanted to do just that. That action would let the evil wizard become a wraith again since he had one Horcrux left. Because he had to, Harry cauterized the wound and then bound Tom in ropes -- heavily. He was tightly tied from toe to chin.
Turning back towards the doorway to see where everyone was, he heard a loud "Reducto!" before an explosion came that almost knocked him off his feet. Regaining his balance, he ran for the door and looked out. The devastation of the area was astounding. There were now holes in some of the walls. The railing for the stairs was gone, as was part of the landing. What scared him was the lack of people around. There was less than half the number that he thought there should be. It appeared at least some people had managed to put up shields, based on their lack of injury compared to the explosion that had just occurred..
"What happened?" he managed to croak in his surprise.
Remus Lupin looked up with a very shaken expression on his face, made all the worse by his torn and blackened clothes. "That was Nagini. She came out and we had trouble capturing her. Then Ron ... Ron cast a Blasting curse, and ... the snake exploded."
"And the Horcrux?" Harry asked hopefully?
"It's gone Harry, it's gone. You got Tom?"
"Yeah," a smile starting to grow on his face, "yeah I did. Excuse me a moment, I have one last important thing to do." With new hope and energy, Harry turned and walked back into the room. With the thought of all the evil Tom Riddle had done, and revenge for all of his victims, especially his parents, Harry walked over to the trussed up body and cast "Diffindo!" on the monster's unprotected neck. As the head separated from the body, a green mist rose out of the body and floated away through the ceiling. His task complete, he returned to the hallway without a shred of remorse for what he had just done.
He walked through the doorway just in time to hear a crying wail start. Looking down onto the landing half a floor below where he was, he saw Ginny being laid out straight on the floor there. Rushing past Remus and an injured Moody, he scampered down the stairs to his beloved.
Hermione was tending to Ginny's wounds, trying to staunch the flow of blood. The brunette was the one crying while she worked with one hand, the other was held limply against her body. Even though Harry gave most of his attention to Ginny, trying to determine what was wrong with her, it was hard not notice that Bill and at least one other person was in a crumpled tangle against the wall not far away.
"What happened?" Harry started waving his wand around his girlfriend, casting healing spells as quickly as he could to stop the blood loss.
Through her tears, Hermione managed to get out. "The explosion ... it knocked us ... down here. Ginny and ... Ron ... were the closest ..."
Harry was amazed the witch was able to do anything because of the trauma she had just been through. Looking at her, he noticed she had been singed in places and was bleeding too, though not profusely. "Where's Ron?" Harry had yet to find his friend, but he was sure the body next to Bill was not Ron. He guessed it was Minerva, but all he could see was a body in a robe, the head was under Bill's robe.
Hermione's crying seemed to become deeper and more intense. "He fell ... all the way down." Unable to do more for the moment, she stopped working on Ginny, buried her face in her bloody hand, and just cried.
Shocked at her answer, Harry could only slowly lean over the landing through where the railing should have been and look down. On the ground floor, three and a half floors down, lay two crumpled bodies with a few people trying to help them. Harry closed his eyes as sat back up, praying he was wrong about his guess.
Knowing he had to help where he could, he looked up. "Remus, try to help Moody and whoever else you can. I'll send more up here as fast as I can. Hermione? Try to help Bill and whoever else is here. I'll take Ginny back and then come back for you." As he scooped his girlfriend up, he saw his friend nod slowly.
With strength he did not know he had, Harry carried Ginny down the stairs as fast as he could. Seeing some Aurors on the ground floor, he sent them up the stairs to help out. One look at the mangled forms of Ron and Filius Flitwick as he hurried by them told Harry what the outcome was going to be. Ruthlessly pushing that to the side so he could act for the good of those around him, Harry turned and ran out the front door. Once he got beyond the edge of the wards, he Apparated back to camp and landed directly in front of the medical tent.
Rushing inside, he found Madam Pomfrey already working on someone. He placed Ginny down on a bed and turned to the matron. The nurse came over and did some diagnostics. "Good job on stopping the bleeding. She'll live."
Surprising himself slightly, Harry gave the older woman a quick hug and then left to return to the battle scene. There were more people there who needed his help, people who needed to be brought back here, including Hermione.
Harry barely remembered the hours immediately after the battle. By the time the sun had come up, he had Apparated back and forth so many times ferrying people for medical treatment, he had to stop lest he splinch himself or his passenger in his exhaustion. He was also numb with grief.
With Ginny unconscious and, according to the healers, out for several days, he had spent most of the day in a chair with Hermione on his lap with his arms around her, trying to comfort her after Ron's death. He just held her and stroked her singed hair, which was now half of its normal length on one side. She cried for over two hours, and Harry joined her from time to time. The loss of his first Wizarding friend hit him hard.
Flitwick had also not survived. From the DA, Justin, Ernie, Cho, and Dennis had been lost in the battle. The Auror group had lost eight in the attack, since they had taken the brunt of the fighting, which included the capture of Bellatrix Lastrange. The injuries were too numerous to list, as it was almost everyone. Ironically, Harry was the only one not to be injured, and he had been fighting Voldemort. Fortunately, most of the injuries were quickly healed, being cuts and broken bones.
Now that the war was over, the decision was made to move everything to Hogwarts while they attempted to find some semblance of order. Poppy felt she could do better there, and the less-injured patients could use old classrooms and have some privacy while they healed. She also felt there was less chance of infection for the wounded there too.
The grievously injured Minerva McGonagall agreed, so after dinner that evening, which allowed most of the less-injured to rest for a few hours, they started moving camp to the school. Harry took Ginny himself and claimed the classroom nearest the hospital wing. Even though Hermione was now healed of her broken arm and slight burns, he put her in another bed in the same room; Harry added a cot for himself, so the three slept there. The girls were never alone. If Harry was not there, one of the Weasleys was, usually Molly.
Now that the war was over, Harry avoided the press and most of the public too. It was only early autumn, but the Hogwarts Board of Governors, what few were still alive, decided not to reopen the school until next year. So the Order continued to use the school as a place to heal and to relax, as well as a place to live while many of them had to rebuild their homes that had been destroyed in the war.
Harry spent most of his time with Ginny and Hermione.
Ginny he just sat with while waiting for her to wake up. Madam Pomfrey and a healer from St Mungo's kept her asleep while they did reconstructive surgery on her left side. They had vanished her left thigh bone, pelvis, and most of her ribs on the left side, then used Skele-Gro to put them back right -- which took all night to work. After that came all the work on he muscles, and ligaments. They were to start on a potion to speed the re-growing of skin the next day. Through all of this, Ginny's life was never in danger once Harry and Hermione had stopped all the bleeding; she just needed a lot of medical help. She would not be leaving the healer's care for a couple of weeks.
Hermione took most of the rest of Harry's time, even when he was just sitting with Ginny, as Hermione needed to work through her grief. Harry lost track of the number of times that she said she and Ron had planned to get married after the war. He got to be very good at using drying charms on his shoulders. Once she was no longer a complete basket case, they started talking about what her future might be, the future of the Wizarding world, school and subjects they had taken, anything Harry could think of to keep her brain engaged. By the third day, he took her on walks around the castle, talking about the good times they had had. They even sat down together and wrote her parents, who had moved to Australia, telling them that the war was over and they could come home to England. Strangely, Harry found he enjoyed the time with just the two of them, at least once her tears did not come constantly.
On the fourth day after the battle, the healers finally awakened Ginny. As she opened her eyes, Harry was there engulfing her in a hug, trying to avoid her bandages which covered her entire left side. He was barely aware that he had actually pushed Molly away so he could get there first. Once he realized that, he just kept his face buried in Ginny's hair until his embarrassment went away.
"Ginny!" he fiercely whispered in her ear, so happy she was alive.
"Harry!" She threw her arms around him. "Is it over?"
"Yes, it's all over. Tom's dead and I think we've accounted for almost every Death Eater," he told her. He finally felt safe enough to show his face and let her go. Sheepishly, he looked behind him and saw her mother grinning at him, but he could tell she wanted him to move, so he did. Her mother and the rest of her family, minus Bill who was in a bed in another room, gave her a hug and welcomed her back.
It did not take Ginny long to realize there were some people missing. "Where's Hermione?"
"She's right..." Harry turned but did not see her. "Well, she was right her. I'll go find her in a minute."
"And Bill, and Ron?"
"Bill's two rooms down. He's still recovering from the blast that hurt you. In fact, he has many of the same injures as you do," her mother explained. A slight look of sadness flickered across her face and her daughter did not miss it.
"What happened? Where's Ron?" Ginny eyes were searching the room and everyone in it. "I remember him being near me when we were trying to kill the snake."
Her mother sat back down beside her and grabbed her hands. "I'm told that Ron took the majority of the explosion as he killed the snake and tried to save everyone, and he ..." her face started returning to the sad face she had worn earlier in the week, "he didn't survive." Ginny burst into tears and her mother did her best to comfort her daughter, a few tears returning to the mother's face.
Harry looked at Ginny's father and softly said, "I should go search for Hermione. I'll be back shortly." Arthur and the rest of the Weasley boys, even Percy who had returned, nodded to him.
It had taken Harry ten minutes of searching before he found her in the Gryffindor tower.
"Hermione? You left before Ginny could talk to you." He was concerned for his friend. It seemed like she was pulling away again.
A look flashed across her face faster than Harry could recognize it. Her usual "I'm in control of the situation" mask took over. "I didn't want to intrude, Harry. That was a time for Ginny and her family."
It was all Harry could do not to roll his eyes. "Hermione, you're family too. You're as much an honorary Weasley as I am." That look flashed across her face again. He thought he might have an idea about it now.
"No," the girl stoically objected. "I'm not a Weasley. You will be one day soon, but I will not." Her lips and cheeks trembled for a couple of seconds before her mask came back.
As Harry studied her, her mask broke and the other look came upon her a third time. Harry finally understood, or he thought he did. With long strides, he went to her and pulled Hermione to her feet so he could wrap his arms around her. He felt her arms automatically go around him and she started to cry again. He let her cry some more and petted her shorter hair, which she had trimmed to match the shorter damaged length from the battle. He softly spoke comforting words to her from time to time, but mostly he just held her.
Harry had no idea how long they had been that way when he heard a throat clearing behind him. Twisting slightly with Hermione still held tightly, he saw Fred and George.
"Harry, Ginny is asking for you," one of them said.
"I'll be there in a minute; I've been trying to get Hermione to come back too."
"No problem, Harry, we'll pass the word." The two silently left.
"Come on, Hermione, come back with me," he coached her as he softly rubbed her back.
She shook her bushy head. "No, I can't," her voice muffled on his shoulder.
Hermione kept her face buried on his shoulder. "I just can't, can't you see?"
"What I can see," he tried to logically explain, "is a person who needs her friends while she's not feeling her best. I also see a person my girlfriend will want to talk to." Hermione started softly crying again and Harry mentally kicked himself for reminding her about Ron. "Walk with me, Hermione." He had to struggle a bit, but he finally unlocked her arms from around him and got her to move.
Leading her to the portrait hole with an arm around her waist, they walked to back towards the hospital. Outside of Ginny's room, Hermione stopped at the edge of the door and would not budge another step. Exasperated with her stubbornness, he opened the door and looked in. Ginny was awake and only her mother and father were there.
"Molly, Arthur, could you both come help me with the door for a moment?" He had to keep one hand firmly locked on Hermione's arm so she did not leave.
With a look of confusion, they got up and came over to the door. Arriving, they saw the problem. "I, ah, hate to ask this of you, but could you give the three of us some time alone? I think we need to have a counseling session and I need Ginny's help. Hermione shot him a dirty look and he was surprised she did not try to smack him.
"Well, it is about dinner time," Arthur observed as he looked at his watch. "Molly? How about you and I go have a leisurely dinner in the Great Hall?"
The matriarch smiled slightly as she nodded. She also stepped forward and pulled Hermione into a hug. "You'll always be welcome in our house, Hermione. We'll always consider you a Weasley."
The bereft girl stopped her struggling and melted into the hug from the older woman. "Thank you," she softly said.
Harry mentally thanked the older woman for her insight, and decided he would talk with her later about Hermione.
"Now, I want you to go in and talk with my daughter. She could use the company of someone who's not her mother." Molly let her go and smiled kindly at the girl. Without much effort, she slowly turned the girl around and propelled her into the room with a gentle but firm shove. She also patted Harry on the shoulder before she steered him into the room too. Arthur closed the door before they walked off.
Harry steered his friend over to one of the chairs beside the bed and made her sit down, while he went and sat on the side of the bed and gave his girlfriend quick kiss on the lips. "Doin' OK, Ginny?" She had been watching him and it looked like she was trying to figure something out, but Harry did not worry about it. He knew she would tell him when she was ready; she was like that he had found.
"Yeah, mostly. I don't have much energy, but the healer said that was normal." Her voice sounded tired too.
Ginny had stopped there and Harry thought she had something else to say considering how suddenly she had stopped talking. But he did not get to ask her about it.
"What's the counseling for?" Ginny asked. Hermione dropped her head and stared at her hands in her lap.
"Hermione seems to think she needs to go somewhere else. I suspect she wants to brood about how no one wants her around and I've been trying to get her to understand that we all love her and want her here with us, but she doesn't seem to be able to get that into her head."
The girl in question glared at the boy and the redhead snickered, which earned her a glare too.
"Is it true, Hermione?" The brunette would not answer. "Harry? Bring her over here." Ginny patted the bed on her right, uninjured side.
Harry put his hands on Hermione's shoulders to help the mostly limp girl up and guided her over to Ginny. He sat her down and, realizing Ginny's intent, leaned her over so she was lying on the bed too, resting her head on Ginny's shoulder. The redhead put her arm around her friend to hold her tightly, hoping to give her some comfort.
"Harry, go have dinner with my parents. We need some time for girl-talk." The boy nodded before he leaned down and gave his girlfriend a quick kiss. "And my wand?" she asked before he could get away. He picked the wand up from the bedside table and handed that to her before he left the room.
The brunette was already silently crying on her friend's shoulder. "Hermione? It's alright to cry, I miss him too." That was all it took before Hermione really started sobbing and Ginny joined her, mourning the loss of her brother. Each talked about Ron through their tears.
A half hour and many conjured tissues later, Ginny finally got them both settled down. "Hermione? There's something else, isn't there?" The girl only gave a sniffle for an answer. "I know you love us all, so why does Harry say you want to leave us?"
After what seemed like a long time, "Because," was finally spoken with a cracked voice.
"Because why?" Ginny persisted.
"Ginny, I can't stay here. It wouldn't be good for everyone. I need to leave. I can't be a third wheel." She did not look up but kept her face buried on her friend's shoulder.
A sigh escaped Ginny as she thought back to past conversations with her stubborn friend. "You're not going to tell me the real reason, are you?" She felt the brunette head shake "no". She was going to have to play the sympathy card and then get the answer out of her later. "Very well, but you have to promise me to stay until I'm healed. I'm going to need you for things Harry can't help me with."
It took nearly a full minute, but Ginny finally felt the head on her chest nod "yes". "Do you promise?" Another nod. "OK, then the first thing you can help me with is to find a bedpan. I really got to go and the healers won't let me get up."
For the first time since the battle, a smile and a short giggle came to the tear-stained face of Hermione Granger.
For the next week, Harry and Hermione did their best to take care of Ginny. Now that the young woman was doing better, her mother started spending less time with Ginny and more time trying to make arrangements for The Burrow to be rebuilt. Arthur was too busy trying to help rebuild the govenrment to spend too much time there. That allowed for a lot more talks between Harry and the two young women, which Harry liked. They really were the best friends he had left.
What Harry did not like was a change that had come over Ginny. While he understood her need for Harry to leave when she had a need for the bedpan, he did not understand her need for privacy when the healer came in. She always forced him and Hermione to leave whenever the healer came in to check her wounds and change her bandages -- until today.
Today, Ginny had forced him to leave, but Hermione had been allowed to stay. He fumed slightly as he waited in the hall. When the healer came out, he was even more upset when he was told to wait a while longer, as Ginny needed to take care of something before he could come back in. So he sat back down and tried to work out just what had changed with his girlfriend.
"There, that should hold you until tomorrow," the healer told her as he finished re-bandaging her. "And don't forget what I told you."
"Yes, Healer Lenov, I'm to start getting up and getting around as much as possible," Ginny replied with some excitement. She was tired of lying around.
"Very good then. I shall see you and check your injuries tomorrow. They are healing nicely and I expect you to be able to leave in a week. Good day, Miss Weasley." The healer also nodded to Hermione.
"Healer Lenov?" Ginny called before the man had finished his trek to the door. "Can you please tell Harry to wait a little bit longer? I need to take care of something before he comes back in."
"I can, but I will also say that I would rather he be here when you first try to get up and walk around. No matter what you may think, you will need his strength as you start taking your first steps."
"I'll have him here for that, but I need a few minutes first." The man nodded and left. As the healer closed the door, with a determined look, Ginny shot a silencing spell at the door.
"What is it Ginny?" Hermione was concerned for her friend. "He said you're well enough you can get up and start walking again. You'll be out of here soon and you can get on with your life -- your life with Harry." She did her best to hold in her true feelings, but a little of her sadness escaped anyway.
Ginny saw more pain flash across her friend's face. Despite all of their talks over the last few days, there were apparently some more things to be dealt with, and Ginny thought she knew what they were. She knew that she had been having some thoughts that she dreaded to discuss, or even act upon in any way, but for her friend and for Harry, she had finally determined that she must -- no matter what it cost her.
"Hermione, we have a couple of things we must discuss between us ... for Harry's sake." At her friend's curious look, Ginny barreled on. "Look, I can tell that there's something special going on between you and Harry; it's plain for me to see."
At that simple statement, Hermione seemed to deflate and collapse into the chair beside Ginny's bed, her head dropping until her face was buried and hidden in her hands.
"Hermione, you care for him, don't you?" Ginny patiently waited for an answer, or rather waited for Hermione to give the answer that Ginny knew she should give.
No matter how much she shook her head trying to deny it, the older girl would not say it -- as if saying it would make it true.
"It's OK, Hermione. In fact, it's probably for the best that you do." Ginny's voice went down in energy, she was depressed to think about this. At the same time, Hermione's head shot up.
"I don't want to say this," the redhead confessed, "but I think you should take Harry and make him happy. I don't think I can do that anymore." She made her face a mask, it was the only way she would get through this.
"WHAT?! ARE YOU INSANE?!" Hermione gave her friend an incredulous look. "Ginny, he loves you more than life itself, he told me so multiple times while we were waiting for you to wake up."
Ginny sighed again. "Maybe he does now, but he won't soon. I'll never be able to make him as happy as you will."
"That's completely daft! Why would you ever say that?" Hermione did not know what had gotten into her friend.
"You were in here with the healer, Hermione. You heard what he said about me. I wanted you to hear that so you'd know what you need to do. I've seen you two together this last week since I woke up and it's obvious to me that you two care about each other, and I need you to take care of Harry since I can't."
Hermione rolled her eyes. "What idiocy is going through your head to make you think that? The healer said you'd be up and around, as well as out of here almost as good as new in a week."
A new look of determination crossed Ginny's face. "You saw what I looked like when he changed the bandages. Harry's wife can't have that, can't look like that. He needs a perfect wife, which you can give him."
The brunette rolled her eyes again and slightly shook her head in dismay. "Ginny, so you'll have a light scar on one side of your body..."
"From my knee all the way up to under my arm!"
"It's just a slight imperfection of the skin. And so what if you won't walk perfectly, the healer said the limp will be very slight," Hermione pointed out.
"Harry can't be seen with someone like me, someone who can't keep up with him, someone who's not perfect." Ginny started to cry, she hated admitting it, but it was the truth; the healer had said she would never heal completely. There were some things even magic could not fix. "However, Harry loves you, and you love him, and you can do this. Just promise me you'll take care of him the best you can."
"Ginny, this is stupid. Harry won't care about a little scarring, nor will he care about your limp -- which may or may not happen. You might walk normally again."
"The healer said I would have a limp, and there was only a sixty percent chance it would be slight," the redhead insisted. "That's a fact, just like it's a fact that you love Harry, and more than as a brother. Admit it, Hermione. That's why you want to leave, isn't it?"
Hermione groaned and put her face back down in her hands. "Ginny, I don't know what I'm feeling, but I don't think I really love Harry like that. He's always been special, but just not in that way. Anything you see between us is the influence of," she hesitated unable to smoothly say it at first, "your brother. I'm just momentarily transferring my feelings -- nothing more."
Ginny did not let up though. "You said a few days ago that you felt like a third-wheel. I now understand."
"My emotions are just confused, Ginny. They're not real, just like your desire to give up Harry is not real." Hermione glared at Ginny. "You love him and want him."
"I know I do," Ginny snapped. She paused, total silence ruled the room for a moment before she took a deep breath to continue on at a more normal volume. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to do that. Look, I know I still love him, but I also know that he needs someone like you, and it also happens that I can tell that you love him. So everything will work out."
Hermione shook her head. "Even if I did love him that way, I could never take Harry away from you. You're my best friend and I couldn't hurt you like that. Look, for some reason, we're both confused. We shouldn't be making any changes to anything right now. Get better and Harry will show you that he loves you like you are right now." Not wanting this conversation to go on any longer, Hermione stood and pulled her wand out. She cancelled the silencing spell and opened the door. "Just talk to him, Ginny, you'll see." Going through the door, she walked out to find some place to be alone to think.
Harry heard the door finally open almost ten minutes after the healer had left. He heard Hermione say, "Just talk to him, Ginny, you'll see." As she walked out, she gave him what appeared to be a brave smile and silently waved him in before she walked down the hall. He wondered what that was all about, but there was only one way to find out. He closed the door behind him.
"Ginny?" He still was not sure what was going on with her; no insights had burst upon him during his wait.
The redhead closed her eyes and leaned back against her headboard trying to decide what to do. After a few seconds, she came to a decision. "Harry, please sit down; we have to talk."
That worried Harry. Still, he walked over to the chair nearest her and sat, silently waiting to see what she had to say, afraid it would not be good. He did not want to lose her.
Opening her eyes, she looked at him studiously. "Harry, I want you to promise me that for this conversation, you will tell me the full and honest truth."
"Uh, Ginny, you know there are some things I want to leave buried, they're just too painful." There were several things in his past he never wanted to think about again.
"I understand, Harry. Don't worry, I won't go digging back past ... say ... the Final Battle. How's that?"
Harry considered that. "OK, I guess I can live with that. What are you so worried about? What's wrong?"
"Right now, how do you feel about me?" She watched him closely. He didn't flinch or hesitate at all.
"I love you with all my heart and soul, Ginny. In fact, I can hardly wait for us to get married."
"Even if I end up having big scars?"
He was not sure why this was a problem. "You've loved me with my scar, haven't you?" She nodded and he smiled, knowing what her answer was going to be before she gave it. "Then I can easily love you with scars too."
"But I'm ... I'll be ... hideous! You can't have a wife like ..."
"Oh, Ginny... You'll never be hideous to me. And any scars you may have acquired lately I'll consider to be scars of love." At her quizzical look, he continued. "You earned those scars trying to protect me because you love me. I tried to get you to stay behind so many times so you'd be safe, yet you continued to come on missions to help me."
"I had to protect you, Harry."
He smiled. "See, you did it because you love me; and that's what those scars prove -- you love me. So I can't, won't even, love you any less because of them. No, I'll love you more."
She shook her head. "And what if I'm not normal anymore, Harry? What if I can ever walk normally? What if I limp along like Mad-Eye?"
"So you limp along. It would probably do me good to slow down and not walk so fast anyway," he told her with a mischievous smile. "Like before, it doesn't matter to me Ginny. The real you is defined by who you are on the inside. I love you with all my heart and soul. Now, what is all of this really about? And be totally honest with me."
"One more for me first," she lightly protested. When he did not say anything, she asked, "Do you love Hermione?"
"Of course. I've loved her since my third year." Ginny gave a knowing nod until he added, "She's sort of like the sister I never had."
Now Ginny expression changed to one of a slight scowl. "Honestly, Harry. Think about the last week while you've been with her. Is she really like a sister or more like a girlfriend?"
He paused for a moment to think it through before he shrugged. "Maybe I do like her more than like a sister, but I don't love her like I do you. It's a different feeling."
"Have your feelings for her changed recently?"
"Maybe, slightly," he admitted. "But I don't see where that matters. As soon as you're out of here, we're going to go have a special and life changing date, Ginny, one that Hermione will not be on. Does that explain the difference between you?" She nodded. "OK then. Now, what is this really all about? This doesn't sound like my confident 'take on the world' Ginny?"
She sighed and slowly smoothed out the wrinkles of the sheet on her lap. "I'm sorry, Harry, but I just don't feel very loveable right now. I'm not going to look like I should -- like your perfect wife."
"I don't care what others think, Ginny, you should know that. I think you're perfect and I'm the only one that really matters," he told her sincerely.
Ginny went on as if he had not spoken. "So since I can't be your perfect wife and I've noticed that you do love Hermione just like I've noticed that she loves you," a look of surprise came over him, "I think you should marry her instead." She barely got the last part out, and tears started to streak down both of her cheeks.
Harry instantly moved to her side and carefully pulled her into a hug. "Oh Ginny, I love you -- you! Hermione may have a special place in my heart just like Ron does, but you're the one I want to marry." She cried on his shoulder and he just held her. When she eventually quieted down, he mumbled, "I swear, it's almost as if there is some magic like a Confundus Charm confusing everyone on what they feel."
That mumbled phrase pulled up a memory in Ginny's mind and she began to wonder. She sniffled lightly before she asked, "Harry? What did you and Ron talk about just before the battle? I saw you two talking across the camp, and it looked like you and Ron were making a Weasley oath."
"A Weasley oath? What are you talking about?" He tried to figure out how this connected to what they had been discussing and came up empty.
"Before the battle, I saw Ron take a hold of your shoulders with his arms stretched out and say something to you; then you did the same thing to him."
Harry had to think about that. After a long moment, he finally said, "Yeah, he made me promise him something. It wasn't a formal oath or anything as we didn't use the formal oath words. We just promised each other to watch out for the other."
"That's all?" she wondered if there was not more to this, because a magical oath would explain a lot.
"I think so. I'd have to go get Dumbledore's Pensieve to really make sure."
She looked at him for a moment before she smiled. "Yes, I think you should. Go get it and bring it here. You can put it in projector mode so I don't have to go in."
"Ginny, aren't you over reacting?" He was trying to be supportive of her, but by her reaction, it appeared not to have come out that way.
"Harry?" She picked up her wand. "If you know what's good for you, you will go get the Pensieve. We really need to look at this closely."
He sighed and got up, knowing this really wasn't a fight he felt that strongly about. "All right, I'll be back in a few minutes." Harry left her to go to the Headmistresses office, since she had kept it when Professor Dumbledore had died. He knew the password.
The Headmistress was not there, as she was still recovering from her injuries, so Harry walked over to the cabinet where the large stone basin was normally kept. He had used the Pensieve multiple times during the war to look for details in both his memories and the memories Professor Dumbledore had left for him. With some effort, he picked up the old artifact and took it back to Ginny, where he placed it on the table beside her bed.
Ginny quietly watched him as he extracted the memory from his mind and placed it in the stone bowl. With an expert motion, he directed the artifact to show the latest memory added to it. The two sat and watched the scene play out over the artifact.
As the memory ended, Ginny sat in her bed quietly pondering what she had just witnessed. Harry took the moment to retrieve the memory and put it back into his head, then he sat back in his chair and watched her think. After a few minutes of silence, he finally gave up and asked, "Well?"
Ginny looked up with a small jump and with some unshed tears in her eyes. "Sorry, I was lost in thought... Well, I do believe that explains a lot. Now we just have to figure out what to do about it." She looked resigned.
"What do you mean?" Harry was not sure what that had shown her. He saw nothing unusual there.
She sighed as she looked at him with a hint of compassion. "It's not your fault really. You weren't raised in a Wizarding household, and you never really had the time to learn some things in our world. You'll probably understand better in another ten years."
"What?" he asked with some exasperation.
"It's basically Ron's fault, although I could question if even he paid enough attention to Mum and Dad to realize what he was doing," she blithely went on.
"What?" Harry growled with impatience creeping into his voice.
"You were right, Harry. You did not swear a formal magical oath..."
"I know, I just made a simple promise," he told her, still not understanding.
"No, Harry; that was not just a simple promise. A simple promise is something like, 'I promise to clean my room before dinner.' It's something you say because you need to and if you don't do it, nothing bad happens. Harry, tell me, have you ever made a promise to someone and felt like you really needed to do it?"
He thought about the question. "Sure. I've still been able to not do it when I thought I had a good reason not to do what I said."
She nodded. "Yes, that's more a magical promise. The burden you felt to carry out the promise was part of your magic, but it's not that big a deal and that's why you can not do what you promised if you feel justified."
"OK, but what does all that have to do with Ron and me?" he wondered.
"I'm just trying to educate you a little, Harry," Ginny explained. "Please bear with me."
He nodded and tried to be as patient as possible, although it was hard with the build up she had given all this.
"At the other end of the scale is the Unbreakable Vow and your death if you fail to keep it. You know about that, right?" He nodded to her. "Down from that is a formal oath, which can cause severe physical problems or even loss of magic if you break that."
"That's what I thought you originally meant, and I'm sure I didn't do that," Harry explained.
Ginny nodded. "I agree. But in the middle between a magical promise and a formal oath is an informal oath, and you did do that."
"Huh?" To say he was confused would be an understatement.
"Like its name suggests, it's not as strong as a formal oath where you swear upon your magic, but it is more than just a promise. The difference is really one of intent, and Ron made it serious enough that the intent was changed from a magical promise, which means very little magically, into an informal oath, which has magical ramifications."
"O...K..." he drawled, still not totally understanding where she was headed with all of this.
"Part of it was triggered when Ron wanted your 'sincerest promise'. The hands on the shoulders while doing that is also part of what escalated the magic; but it was the serious intent about something perceived as life and death that sealed it."
"So you're saying that because we were talking about a subject that had to do with life and death, and because we were very serious about it, that turned our promise into something closer to an oath?"
Ginny shrugged slightly with a mild 'whatever' look on her face. "That's an overly simplistic way to look at it, but basically yes. What it really means to you is that there is now magic at work trying to help you keep the oath. You can get out of doing it and youprobably won't suffer too much, but magic is trying to move us all in the direction of fulfilling your 'promise'."
"I think I understand that now, but I don't see what the big deal is about me promising to look after Hermione."
Again Ginny shook her head at his lack of understanding. "Harry, the big deal is not your promise to look after Hermione. That's so vague that just being a good friend would fulfill it. The big deal is the little phrase Ron tacked onto the end and made you promise. The part about promising to 'treat Hermione as he would have' is the problem."
"And..." Harry prompted her, still not understanding and wishing she would hurry up and spell it all out.
"And what would Ron be doing with Hermione after the war is over?" she asked with a completely innocent face, one which worried Harry slightly as he started to think it all through.
After a moment, everything came together and he finally comprehended where she was going with it all. After all, what did he want to do with Ginny? "Oh bloody hell! He would marry her and look after her for the rest of her life."
"Yes," she simply said.
"But, but," he protested as he tried to work it all out in his head, "but I love you and want to marry you. That certainly hasn't changed."
"No, it hasn't. That's still a major part of us. The magical oath is just adding to that," she explained.
He groaned. "Uh, now what?"
"Well, at least we now know why we're all having such confusing feelings about each other. Look at me, you know how possessive I am, and no matter how much I've liked Hermione over the years, the thought of sharing you with her would have been laughable last month. But now, while it still doesn't appeal to me, I'm not quite so on edge about it and it's becoming less repulsive the more I think about it. This also explains why she seems to be attracted to you and why you're treating her more like you would treat me. Given time, I think you and she would act like you and I do." Ginny closed her eyes to try and reason out any other issues, as well as to come up with solutions.
"We are going to have to tell her. She deserves to know." Harry paused and looked at Ginny very thoughtfully. She was a very smart person, and one he loved very much. "I'm sorry, Ginny, I'm really sorry. I didn't ever mean to hurt you like this."
She smiled with her eyes still closed. "I understand, Harry. Like I said, this is really Ron's fault; he should have known better. I'd get up and send a Bat Bogey hex after him for doing it if I could." A quick look a sorrow flashed across her face before it was gone again.
Harry could easily guess as to what that look at been for. He still missed his best friend too. "I guess I should go get Hermione?"
"Yeah, we might as well get this over with. Maybe she can help us come up with a solution." Ginny continued to sit with her back against the headboard with her eyes closed and think about the problem. She heard her boyfriend get up and leave the room. "Damn you Ron!" she fiercely whispered to his memory.
Half an hour later, Harry returned with some food and Hermione. He had only told her that the three of them had something to discuss after they helped Ginny with her exercises. With one of them under each of Ginny's arms, they helped her stand and gave her support as she walked around the room with new bones and muscles on her left side. She did quite well considering how much she had been hurt. Magic was pretty amazing, Harry thought.
While Harry conjured a small table and spread out the food, Hermione asked, "So what did you want to talk about Ginny? Harry said you'd discovered something special."
The redhead shot a disapproving look at her boyfriend for putting the burden on her. "Hermione, what do you know about magical oaths?"
"I know how to make one. I thought that prudent to make sure I never did accidentally. Losing your magic like that never seemed like a good idea," she replied matter-of-factly.
"True," Ginny agreed. "But do you know about the other forms of oaths?"
"I know about Unbreakable Vows," Hermione answered. "Those really never should have been invented."
Ginny took a deep breath and started to explain about magical oaths, like she had done with Harry. When she had finished, she had Harry put his memory back into the Pensieve and play it for their astonished friend.
The memory had barely finished playing when Hermione looked straight at Harry. "Oh my!"
Ginny could not help herself and laughed. "Yeah," she finally said as she got herself under control. "That's one way of putting it."
"That explains so much, but what can we do? That's specific enough I only see one way of fulfilling the promise without hurting Harry, and I still won't do that to you Ginny. He's yours; I'll never take him from you."
"First, the damage from him not keeping the informal oath won't be that great, but I'm sure he won't like it either," Ginny theorized.
"Oh, like what could it do to me?" Harry wondered.
"Any number of things, but probably something along the lines of you never feeling completely happy, and well as feeling like you were missing something in your life," Ginny guessed. "That's not something I'd want you to experience as I think you've experienced too much of that already, but I suppose we could live with it if we really had too."
"I really wish I had studied more about all of the Wizarding traditions, but some of them just didn't seem so important at the time. I can't believe I overlooked something this important," Hermione lamented. "What are we going to do?"
"Well, the first thing I can think of," Ginny said as she turned to look at Harry, "is for Harry to decide which one of us he likes more and marry her." With an unusually calm voice, considering the circumstances, she asked, "Who do you want to be in a marriage relationship with, Harry?"
"What, chose between you?" Harry was aghast at thought.
"Yes," Ginny answered. "You could marry either of us. You would have a good reason to pick Hermione, as you have magic helping to reinforce your love for her."
Not to be outmaneuvered, Hermione spoke up. "Of course, since you loved Ginny first, I think you would be happiest with her. I've always been a good friend and I can continue to be so."
Harry shook his head at the absurdity of the situation. "I ..." He stopped to really consider the question and the girls gave him time. Looking back and forth between them for nearly half a minute, Harry knew he was stuck. "Look, I can't do this to either one of you; I can't hurt you Ginny, or you Hermione. There has to be some other solution. Surely there's some Wizarding Tradition that covers this too..." He broke off, completely unsure what to even think, much less what to suggest.
With a slight grin on her face, Ginny said, "It's interesting you mention 'Wizarding Traditions'. There is a little used tradition that can help us with this, although I can't believe I'm about to suggest this."
"What?" Harry and Hermione asked together. They looked at the other and smiled for the first time since the discussion started.
Ginny smirked at Hermione. "Here's a little more I bet you didn't read about." At Hermione's questioning look, Ginny announced, "We'll both have to marry Harry."
Harry was so shocked he did not say anything.
Hermione had no such problem. "WHAT?! You can't be serious, that's so ... so out of date it's not even funny. You make us sound like things that Harry will collect." Her voice made it obvious she was outraged at the idea.
Ginny laughed. "First, I seriously doubt Harry feels that way..."
"Absolutely not!" he interjected as quickly as he could.
"Second," Ginny went on, "There were some good reasons for a man marrying multiple wives in the 'old days' as you think of them."
"Sure there is," Hermione said sarcastically, before she went on defiantly. "Name one."
"When the medical arts weren't so advanced, it was common for women to die in child birth..."
"That just meant the man had multiple wives over time, not at the same time," Hermione jumped in.
"For the average man, that would be true," Ginny replied. "But for the noble man who had to produce heirs, and who married to cement political relationships, he might have two or more wives at the same time."
"That's fine in history," Hermione argued and glared at Harry daring him to contradict her, "but none of that applies to Harry."
"Actually, it does, but you probably aren't aware of it." Hermione glared at her now, expecting to be enlightened. "Have you forgotten that Harry was Sirius's godson?" Her friend shook her head. "And what did he formally call the place he lived? And not the address, mind you."
"The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black," Harry mumbled, but he was still loud enough to be heard by the young ladies.
Ginny smiled at his memory. "The same is also true for Harry's birth family, the House of Potter. In this case, Harry doesn't need multiple wives to make sure he has at least one heir should something happen to his first wife, he needs multiple wives to carry on multiple Houses."
"But, but surely there is another way," Hermione protested in her understanding, trying her best to deny Ginny's argument.
"Well, Harry could have one wife and his first born son would be heir to the house of Potter, and his second son the heir to the House of Black. That would be the normal way, but the laws the Purebloods passed centuries ago, and that are still valid, allow multiple wives ... and for this very reason. It is Wizarding tradition," she said as if that should settle everything.
"I've got so much to research," Hermione said with a slightly dazed voice.
"If there is another way to solve the problem," Ginny commented, "I can't think of one."
"Do you really want to do this, Ginny?" Hermione was amazed at her friend. Sharing a husband was such a foreign concept to her, as well as something she did not think was in Ginny's personality.
"Not particularly, no. But I'd rather share him with you, my best friend, then magically and/or emotionally cripple him in some way." She turned to her boyfriend. "Harry? What do you think about being married to two witches?"
Harry looked thoughtful for a minute before a large smile came to him.
Ginny's voice boomed. "And get that thought out of your head this instant, mister!"
"What?" then he turned red as he realized what she meant. "I -- I wasn't thinking about both of you that way until you said something. I was only thinking that I'd get to have both of my best friends living with me, each of whom is curvy in some very nice ways, while differing from one another." Now both girls blushed.
"So what are we going to do? Besides research the laws?" Hermione asked.
"For one thing, we need to think about this and consider if we can really make it work." Ginny got two nods. "Beyond that, we need to plan how to make it work and how to tell our parents."
"Oh bloody hell!" Hermione muttered and dropped her face into her hands. "My parents are going to have kittens over this."
Both Harry and Ginny laughed at their friend's uncharacteristic response.
"You think you have it bad, Hermione, not only do I have to tell my parents about this," Ginny pointed out, "but I also have to tell them this is Ron's fault for making Harry do this. You don't know how many of my mother's dreams this is going to wreck."
Harry looked at her. "We are going to be in so much trouble. I don't know how I'm going to be able to face both of your parents."
Ginny could only nod in agreement as she closed her eyes and leaned her head back again while she envisioned that moment. She shuddered to think of how much yelling that conversation would contain.
It was a Saturday nearly three months after the Final Battle. Hermione had spent the night with Ginny at The Burrow. It was eight in the morning and both girls had been up for two hours already. In fact, most of the house had been up for that long taking care of last minute details as well as having breakfast. In two more hours, Ginny would be getting married and Hermione would be her maid-of-honor.
Ginny had been completely correct in her prediction. The conversation where the three young adults broke the wedding plans to the parents had been a very vocally loud time. They had decided to invite the Grangers out to The Burrow and tell the four parents at once. In the end, no matter how much they did not like it, Arthur and Molly Weasley, along with Dan and Jane Granger did not have a better solution to the problem once they understood all the details. It was also decided that until the honeymoon was over, only the seven of them would know about both of the girls marrying Harry.
Ginny had brought forth one other fact of the Wizarding world that probably saved the day. The Ministry of Magic did not have to recognize Muggle marriages, while Muggles did not recognize Wizarding marriages at all, as the Muggles did not know about them. This allowed them to carry on the charade of each girl being the only wife with Ginny marrying Harry in a Wizarding ceremony to become Ginny Potter, and Hermione marrying Harry in a Muggle ceremony to become Hermione Granger-Potter-Black (or Hermione Black in most cases). This also made Hermione's parents happier as they could have a "normal" wedding to invite their friends to. Ginny's wedding would be when all their magical friends came.
While the weddings were being planned, Harry had spent the time getting Potter Manor ready to live in. It needed to have a house within a house for Hermione, since Ginny would be mistress of that house in general. Grimmauld Place needed the same problem fixed, as well as general renovation. While Hermione would be the mistress of the House of Black, Ginny would want a small area to call her own there too.
The details and ramifications of having two wives were making their way into Harry's brain and he felt there were still surprises in store for him. He was not sure why the idea that each of his "queens" would want their own castle was a revelation to him, but it was. The idea of having two mothers-in-law had been slightly traumatic when it had hit him.
Half an hour before the ceremony, Harry Apparated to The Burrow with Neville coming seconds after him. Neville was the exception to the rule about everyone else not finding out about the double weddings for a few more weeks. He would be Harry's best man in both weddings.
Harry immediately walked into the house, leaving Neville to make sure everything on his checklist was taken care of. As Harry passed his first mother-in-law-to-be, she reached out to try to stop him from going up the stairs.
"Harry, you know you can't go up there. It's bad luck to see the bride before the ceremony."
"Mum," he had found she liked him calling her that, "I'll obey that tradition the moment my life becomes normal." At her stunned look, he walked passed her outstretched arm and up the stairs to knock on Ginny's door.
Hermione opened the door and let him in. "Hi Harry." She gave him a big hug and a quick kiss on the lips.
"You look great in that dress." He was not just saying that either; the dark ivory dress did indeed look very good on her. Turning, he saw his other wife-to-be. "Ginny, that looks incredible on you."
Ginny stood up and walked over to him and give him a quick kiss. "You wait until you see it on Hermione; she looks great in it too."
"I can't wait," Harry told them with a smile on his face. "Well, this is it. Are we all still really sure about this? If we're going to back out, now is the time." He looked at both of them.
Ginny gave him a big smile. "I'm up for it, Harry." She kissed his left cheek.
Hermione smiled at him too. "I still think it will work, Harry." She kissed his right cheek. "And think of all the love you'll have over the years with an extra wife and an extra child." Hermione had told him she only wanted one child.
"That's right," Ginny chimed in. "More love to make up for what you didn't have in your childhood."
Harry put an arm around both girls and pulled them to him. The three enjoyed the hug. "I better go back downstairs. I'll see you in a few minutes. Oh, Hermione?" His second fiancée looked at him as he pulled something out of his pocket and handed it to her. "Here, you'll need to give this to Ginny later." It was a ring for him. She took it and then he left.
The next few minutes seemed to drag, and then in a blur, Harry was marrying Ginny. He slipped a wedding ring onto her finger next to her engagement ring, then she slipped a wedding ring onto his hand. When they kissed at the end of the ceremony, a glance at Hermione showed him that she could hardly wait for her turn.
The reception lasted longer than an hour, but Harry and Ginny did not stay. After the first hour, they left for Potter Manor. The next four hours were Ginny's to do whatever she wanted, and she spent them in a very energetic manner with Harry. When the end of their afternoon came, the two lovers were asleep, entwined with one another.
It was a few minutes after four in the afternoon and Hermione was putting the finishing touches on her makeup. She had already shrunk the bridesmaid dress down one size. She just needed her wedding dress and her maid-of-honor, or really her matron-of-honor, if the facts from about five hours ago mattered, she thought with a mental chuckle.
Noticing it was now almost ten after the hour, and Ginny still was not there, she picked up her wand and cast a Patronus spell with a message in mind. A translucent silver otter streaked out of her wand and through the wall.
"Ahem, hem! It's after four o'clock!" shouted a voice, a voice that woke Ginny up and startled Harry so badly a Stunning curse went through the apparition before it finished its message. A naked Ginny jumped up out of bed and ran to grab the wedding dress that was hanging up on the door.
Harry could tell she was about to Apparate away as she picked up the last of her things, so he finally spoke up with a smirk on his face. "As much as I like seeing you that way, shouldn't you put some clothes on before you go? Hermione might not be the only one in the room when you get there."
Ginny looked down and gave an "Eep!" like sound before she set all the clothes in her hands on the bed. Rushing to the dresser, she pulled out some sweat pants and a T-shirt, pulling them both on. That done, she ran over to Harry and gave him a quick but soulful kiss. "Thanks, my love." Picking the wedding clothes back up, she left for Hermione's house with a faint crack.
Harry fell back down into bed with a chuckle. As he thought about the time with Ginny before their nap, he wondered if he'd have enough energy for Hermione this evening. Since he did not need as long to get ready, he set his alarm clock for an hour from now and turned over to continue his interrupted nap with the most wonderful thoughts he had ever had.
As a faint crack sounded behind her, Hermione looked slightly left at her mirror and saw her sister-wife with her wedding dress. Ginny hung it up and pulled out her wand. With an enlarging spell, she made it one size bigger. "There." Pulling it off the hanger, she helped Hermione into it.
"It's about time," Hermione told her with no complaint in her voice as she stepped into the dress.
"Sorry, but we fell asleep," Ginny told her with a blush as she zipped her friend up.
"I only want one detail... Was he good?" Hermione appeared to be waiting with bated breath.
A huge grin and blush came over Ginny. "You'll have a good time tonight!"
Hermione hugged her. "I'm glad it's you I'm doing this with. I don't think I could handle being this close to any other woman."
Ginny returned the hug. "I know, I feel the same way. Of course, a lot of it is Harry's magic making this happen."
"At least some. Now help me with my hair; it's the last thing I have to do." Hermione sat in the chair and let Ginny go to work behind her.
At six that evening, Hermione started walking up the aisle of a little Muggle church not far from where she had grown up. She saw Harry at the front as her father slowly escorted her towards him. Ginny and Neville were also up there waiting. Hermione was so nervous. She was glad Harry had stopped by before the wedding to give his ring to Ginny, the one Hermione would place on his hand. His presence and telling her he loved her had given her just enough confidence to see this through.
They went through their vows to one another, before they place the rings on each other's fingers. To prevent problems, Harry had disillusioned his ring for Ginny. Hermione looked at her new husband and kissed him deeply when the official had directed them to. As their mouths met, Hermione thought about how much Harry had done for her since the war and how much she truly did love him. He was not Ron, but she was still quite happy to be with Harry, her best friend for the last nine years. She knew he really did love her.
During the reception, they went around and thanked each of the guests. It was a fairly small wedding, with no more than about fifty people there. She could tell that Ginny really wanted to be over with them, much as she had wanted to be with Harry and Ginny at their wedding, but Ginny played the maid-of-honor role consummately.
After an hour, the new couple left the reception in an limo, which took them to a nearby hotel. They went inside and found a secluded nook and Apparated to the House of Black. It had been fixed up and looked quite nice, if Hermione did say so herself. It had taken quite a bit of time for her to redecorate it.
As Harry took her into the master bedroom, she felt a thrill and a desire. While she and Ginny had promised each other and Harry that there would be no fighting with each other over him or his attentions, while he promised to treat them equally, Hermione saw no problem with a little bit of healthy competition. She had plans to show him what a good wife she could be. She unzipped the wedding dress and slowly took it off, all the while watching Harry watch her. He made her feel special and wonderful, and they had not even done anything. She planned to fulfill several of her fantasies in next four hours, as well as one or two of his.
Ginny said good-bye to Neville before she started helping the Grangers clean up after the reception. After all, it was only a little before eight in the evening and she really had nothing to do until midnight. When they had finished cleaning up, Dan and Jane invited her out to eat so they could get to know her better. Ginny had a lot of sympathy for them as she knew they still found this marriage arrangement weird. Of course, she found it a little weird and she had understood these things were possible since she was a little girl.
By the time she left the Grangers, she still had another two hours to kill, so she went back to Potter Manor. She changed into something a lot more comfortable and sat down at her desk in the study. The study was unusual as it had three desks in it, instead of the usual two. Taking out her bridal registry, she killed time by writing thank you notes. Of course, she did not go very fast, as images of her wedding and her time with Harry in the early afternoon kept returning to her.
Before she knew it, it was midnight. Eager with anticipation to return to her new husband, she put her quill up and Apparated to Black Manor. Quietly, she went up the stairs and opened the master bedroom door. Looking in, the half moon let in just enough light through the window for her to see two nude bodies in the big bed -- Harry spooned behind Hermione. Ginny slowly peeled off her clothes, watching them all the while. They looked so right to her; they looked so in love.
Now nude herself, she slipped into behind Harry, making a Harry sandwich she thought with a mental giggle. She and Hermione had agreed to this, and this would be the only night the three of them would share a bed.
Harry's head turned to look at her as she snuggled up behind him. With a smile, she stretched and kissed his cheek before she settled in. It was hard to tell, but he seemed to smile back at her. Yes, part of this was still weird, but Ginny knew it was the right thing for the three of them.
Ginny was bouncing little James Arthur on her knee as she sat on the back patio and watched Harry fly. She knew he loved the thrill of flying along with the competition of professional Quidditch, so it had been hard to make him quit the sport after only three years. But after the near fatal accident he had had, both she and Hermione had agreed that it would be best for both of their families. Fortunately, Harry had not put up much of a fight, probably because the team had offered him a coaching job; therefore, he was still involved in the sport.
The thing that had clinched the argument to make him change jobs was the fact that Ginny had just found out she was pregnant. He had caved when Hermione pointed out that if he wanted to see Ginny's baby, much less hers too some day, then he was going to have to permanently avoid being hit by Bludgers high above the ground. The words of Hermione's argument had barely left her mouth before Harry was looking for a quill and ink to write his resignation.
Now, they had recently celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary and little James had just turned sixteen months old. Hearing the backdoor to the house behind her close, Ginny turned to see her sister-wife walk over to join her.
"Good day at the office?" Ginny inquired.
Hermione leaned down so Ginny tilted her head to receive a kiss on the cheek, then she kissed Hermione back on her cheek.
"After I got through the bad part of the morning, it went reasonably well." Hermione sat down and made herself comfortable in another patio chair.
"Are you going to tell him now?" Ginny asked with a knowing smile.
"I suppose I might as well. He'll guess it soon if I don't. After all, it's getting harder to hide," Hermione responded with a sigh. She watched her husband for a moment. "How long has he been up there?"
"Oh, about an hour. He should be down soon. What are you going to do? With your time?" Ginny switched the giggling baby to the other knee.
"I'm thinking about quitting my job and going back to the university for a masters in Chemistry. I know I only just finished my second year at the job, but I think the timing will work out well."
"What will work out well?" a male voice asked.
"Oh! Harry! I didn't see you come over. No fair sneaking up on us." Hermione glared at him a little, but there was no power in it.
He just laughed and climbed off of the broom he had flown over on. He welcomed Hermione home with a kiss before he took a seat in a chair. "Now what are you going to do?"
"I'm going to quite my job and go back to the university to get my masters in Chemistry," the brunette wife replied.
"OK, but why?"
"Well, I need to take some time off, and this will give me something to do, as well as help me try to figure out the last set of connections between chemistry and potions," Hermione informed him.
"And why do you need time off?" he asked suspiciously, as she seemed to avoiding something.
Hermione stood up and walked over to him to sit in his lap. Putting her arms around his neck, she looked into his eyes and told him, "Because, we accomplished our goal."
Harry held her for a few seconds, staring at her as he worked out her clue. Finally, he understood and his face changed to sport a big smile while he hugged her tightly.
"Hermione, my love! That's wonderful!" He kissed her soundly and without worry. The girls never got jealous as he did his best to be very loving to both of them. "And did the potion work?"
She smiled at him and nodded while she said, "Yes, dear. We will have a son. He'll be Ronald Bilius Black. As for the side-effect of the potion we'll have to wait and see, but there's no reason that won't happen either."
He sighed. "I hate to think that it will cause you to become almost infertile, but I know you don't think of that as bad."
"No," she agreed. "I only want the one child, but he won't be lonely either, thanks to Ginny."
Both Harry and Ginny laughed. "No," Ginny said, "I don't think so. I think I'm about to be ready for my second, although I think I should probably wait until you give birth. It wouldn't be fair to Harry, or anyone else, to have two pregnant women in the house at the same time." All three of them chuckled about that.
"This will be it for me," she stated as she reached down to lightly rub her still flat stomach. "It's strange that I, a Muggleborn, would take the same potion that many pureblood families use, and with the same results, but it is what I want. I just don't understand why they use it. Sure, it raises the chances of the woman to have a male son, but it also prevents them from having more children. I do suppose we should be thankful, as it's helping them to die out faster."
"There is that," Harry agreed.
"Shall we go in for dinner?" Ginny suggested. "Winky should have it done by now." She pulled little James to her and stood to go in. Harry stepped over and pulled him from her arms and carried him in.
Ginny fell into step beside Hermione; the redhead's limp was so slight it was barely noticeable. "How far along are you?" She had noticed Hermione's morning sickness nearly a week ago.
"About four weeks," the brunette answered. As they entered the house, she looked at her sister-wife with a question on her face. "Do you mind if I have him tonight? I'd like to celebrate."
"Is an hour enough time?" There was no jealousy in Ginny's voice.
"Probably, but make it an hour and a half to make sure. There's no need to embarrass anyone." Hermione thought back to a time early in their marriage when Ginny had walked in on her and Harry. She was not sure why it was embarrassing, they were all adults and knew what happened behind closed doors, but it still had been.
Ginny grinned. "Sure, no problem. I need to give James a bath anyway and I can spend a little extra time with him before I join you." She again thought back to their first year of marriage.
Their original plan had been to have two manors, one for each "family", and each wife had a suite within the other's house to call her own, for when she was there. The two young women had made it very clear to Harry that he would move from one of their bedrooms to the other as needed. The three would not be sharing a bed -- no kinky stuff. But the magic of their union had had other plans for them. By the end of their first week of marriage, all three of them found it hard to sleep if they were not together. So the rules changed such that Harry would spend private time with one of the wives, and the other wife would come join them later to sleep. The women had quickly taught Harry that the occasional roaming hand was the most he could get away with when they were in bed together. He had had no choice but to agree; he had quickly acquiesced to the two stern looks he had received, as he had not wanted to face two powerful (and potentially angry) witches at the same time.
The two witches entered the dining room to find their loving husband putting the Potter heir into his high chair for dinner. With a smile, each for slightly different reasons, they took their places to eat.
It was the first of September and the Potter Manor was full of chaos. Children were running every which way. Only the head of the household was calm, and that was because he out of the house at the moment.
"James, bring your trunk down to the front door. We need to be leaving in a few minutes," Ginny called out in a forceful voice.
"Yes, Mum," the eleven year-old black-haired boy answered from the top of the stairs.
"And Ron, help him carry it so we can leave sooner," she directed at the boy sitting on the bottom stair step.
"Yes, Mum Ginny," the nine year-old brown haired little boy answered as he stood and went up to help his half-brother.
Ginny turned her attention to the other children. Spying her second son, she called to him. "Sirius Remus! Put your broom down and come stand by the door and don't move until I say so!" She watched him put his training broom down and slowly walk over. Scanning the area, she could not seem to find her youngest. "Lily! Lily Molly Potter?!"
"I've got her, Ginny," Hermione called as she walked into the big foyer with a little redheaded girl in tow, a doll tucked firmly under her free arm and a pout on her slightly freckled face.
"Finally, now as soon as Harry brings the car around, we can go," Ginny said with a combination of exasperation and exhaustion, even though it was only half nine in the morning.
As the two oldest boys came down the stairs with a trunk between them, Harry walked in the front door. "All right, everyone out the front door and into the car. Here, I'll take the trunk." He reached down and took a hold of the trunk as the two boys brought it to him. He carried it out to the car while the two women herded the children into the auto.
Closing the lid of the boot, he saw the children arguing over who got to sit in the front seat. His wives were looking at each other, before they both turned and smiled sweetly at him. They did not have to even say anything, he had seen that look plenty of times before.
"Listen up you lot!" The four children quieted down. "Since it's James's special day, he's in the front and the rest of you are in the back. Move!" As the children scrambled to follow his directions, he looked at his two wives.
"Well done, Harry," Hermione succinctly told him. "Ginny, why don't you take the front so you can be with James?"
"That's fine. It'll be your special day up here in two more years," Ginny replied with a smile.
"And in five more, it'll be just the three of us for most of the year," Harry added with a wistful look on his face.
"It will almost be dull around here then," Hermione commented as she got into the back seat.
Ginny slid into the front passenger seat, with her oldest child in the center; Harry seated himself behind the driver's wheel. "Dull? Where Harry Potter is?" She rolled her eyes.
Hermione laughed. "You're right; sorry, I don't know what I was thinking."
Harry harrumphed as he started the car. "Oi! Look what I have to put up with!"
"You're happy and you know it, Harry Potter," Ginny Potter told her husband with a smile on her face.
"And everyone else is happy too, aren't we children?" Hermione asked the carload of kids.
She received four "Yes, Mum Hermione!" answers. She ruffled the three heads with her in the back seat.
Harry just smiled as he drove the car towards King's Cross station. He was happy, blessed, and loved -- very loved.
(A/N: This is probably as close as I'll ever get to a harem!Harry story, but I thought this was an amusing way to answer the much debated "shipping" question: Which girl should Harry end up with, Ginny or Hermione? So my answer for this story is: Why not both:-)