A/N: I don't own Harry Potter and wouldn't particularly care to. I would like a rental agreement with option to buy for Hermione Granger. A short term contract with Nymphadora Tonks wouldn't be turned down. A Long-term agreement with Luna Lovegood would probably be a whole lot of fun. Any time Padma Patil wants to open negotiations, call me and oh for a weekend with Fleur. Oddly Lavender and Padma's sister (despite being her twin) Parvati do nothing for me…
Harry Potter and the Marriage Contracts.
Chapter Fourteen – Terminus
April 20, 1998
Daphne woke in the darkness feeling warm and loved. For the most part the nightmares had ended, she had started dreaming again. Dreaming of life in the Slytherin dorms, of summers riding horses on her father's estate, and once again tonight, of Harry taking her to bed the way he had before.
She cuddled closer to Harry, and his arm tightened around her body, his breathing deep and steady. They had been in almost constant contract for three and a half months. Together they had decided not to return to Hogwarts.
Though it hurt, she knew it was the right decision. They studied together for their independent N.E.W.T.s and were scheduled to take the tests at the Ministry on the first of May. "Leaving that damned place doesn't bother me Love," Harry had said when she had finally told him that she didn't want to return. "I stayed for my seventh year mostly out of inertia. I'm glad I did." He squeezed her hand, "But it wasn't from any need or want, you know?"
During the week it was the two of them, the elves, and what ever tutors they decided they needed for their studies. Weekends had Neville and Hannah Abbott, Tracey, and occasionally Hermione Granger and Justin Finch-Fletchley coming over to keep them up on the latest gossip from the school.
Most of the time it was just the two of them. Harry delighted in cooking for her, and Winky's reaction to harry cooking never failed to make her smile. They went for long walks on the grounds of the manor; Harry paid careful attention to her moods and needs. At times it was annoying that he hovered so much, but other times she craved his touch. Harry actually seemed to understand what she was going through, and knew to be there without putting pressure on her.
Harry had demons of his own. His nightmares sometimes owned his nights, though he seemed to calm at her touch, Daphne was more than a little pleased to think that they were healing each other, slowly, without any real intention to, just by being with each other.
This man had risked so much for her. Harry had spent more money than she had ever imagined falsifying the documents that allowed him to claim that they were married. He had fought a man to protect her, and killed to prevent her from being hurt.
It had been less than six months since Harry had approached her outside the Transfiguration classroom. In less than half a year her life had been turned completely upside down.
Still, it was too late for doubts. When Harry had asked her to marry him through those silly charmed journals in the Chambers of the Wizengamot she had to make an instant decision, life in a foreign land with a man she detested, or life with Harry. She had chosen Harry out of desperation, but she had chosen him.
Cuddled together as they were, she could feel his heartbeat as well as hear it. There was something comforting in that. Daphne felt his growing erection pressing against her thigh. Something in his dream perhaps? Dreaming of her? Between the sleeping man's reaction and her own dream Daphne reached a decision.
She sought out his face in the darkness, kissing her way up his neck. Harry stirred in his sleep to her ministrations. Daphne nipped at his cheek is what finally woke him.
"Who else?" she asked in a throaty voice.
"I don't know. Maybe some sociopath broke in and is molesting me in the dark."
Daphne shuddered as his hands ran down her body. "Don't worry, Ginny Weasley isn't here." She smirked to herself. "Neither are the Creevey boys."
"Thank Merlin for that."
Daphne was on top of him; she took his head in her hands and pulled him into a kiss, her tongue invading his mouth as she ground her body against his.
After the kiss broke, she lay atop him, both of them panting. "Daphne, tell me what you want."
"I'm collecting a debt Mr. Potter." She whispered before nibbling on his left earlobe.
"What debt is that Mrs. Potter?" he gasped.
"You owe me a wedding night Mr. Potter. I aim to collect."
"Oh." His hands found her breasts. "It was wrong of me to let a debt build for so long. I'll have to make sure I make payment in full tonight."
"You've accumulated several penalties being as late as you are."
"Good." His lips brushed hers. "I like paying penalties."
July 12, 1998
Everyone's attention was directed toward Harry as he stood.
"This is the part of the evening where I get to tell you stories I know about Neville and Hannah."
"Oh great, he's making a speech." Neville said hitting his head against the table.
Laughter rippled through the assembled crowd while Harry pointedly ignored the Groom.
"I thought I met Neville on the Hogwarts Express, but it turns out we played together as toddlers… I don't know why that was surprising to me when Gran Longbottom told me, but it was. Anyway, the second time I met Neville, he broke the ice by asking me if I'd seen a toad."
"That's the same line he used on me!' Hannah said loudly.
"Really? Nev, mate you need to work on your material."
"Why? It worked didn't it?"
Harry nodded. "Point." Hannah reached over to Harry and placed something in his hand. Harry glanced at the slip of parchment and continued. "Following that momentous and somewhat disturbing meeting, Neville and I were both sorted into Gryffindor house, and let me tell you, you learn a lot about a guy when you sleep in the same room for almost seven years, but I won't go into that, no sense scaring poor Hannah off before the wedding night." Harry paused while laughter rippled through the room. "Neville is of course a Gryffindor's Gryffindor, brave, forthright, impetuous, and more than a little insane. Hannah is a Hufflepuff's Hufflepuff, loyal, caring, hardworking, and crazy enough to marry Nev and put up with me." Harry reached over and ruffled his friend's hair. "This is my best story about Nev: It's not about Hermione petrifying him first year, it's not about the dozens of cauldrons he destroyed in potions class, it's not even about all the times he came out of the Greenhouses covered in disgusting stuff. This is a story about the day he and I faced down Voldemort."
"Oh, kill me now." Neville said, again banging his head against the tabletop.
"Neville and I were hunkered down outside Voldemort's chambers. By then, it had boiled down to the Dark Wanker, and three of his guards versus Neville and me. I think by now most people know that Voldemort and I were linked via my scar, that sometimes I could feel his emotions through that link. Nev noticed me rubbing on the scar and asked if Voldemort was causing it. It was then that I realized what was different about this time. I told Neville that the Wanker was worried."
"Neville just looked at me, grinned a bit and said 'he's got a Longbottom after him this time, of course he's worried'. Which I suppose is how Hannah feels tonight."
Again laughter came from the assembled in the room. Neville reached over and put something in Harry's hand. "All right everyone. Neville just slipped me five Galleons to cut this short, sit down and shut up… which puts me in a moral dilemma because Hannah paid me ten Galleons to distract everyone long enough so that she could make a break for it. Ah well the only thing to do is to keep going and keep all the money." Harry raised his glass. "Witches and Wizards, I present Hannah and Neville Longbottom!"
Throughout the room glasses were raised and drained in the toast.
May 13, 2000
St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries
The sounds Daphne was making were frankly scaring Harry to death. "Isn't there something you can give her?" He asked the Mediwitch.
"I'm sorry Lord Potter-Black, a potion would affect your daughter."
Harry was sitting behind Daphne on the bed, his left arm around her, his right clutched in hers. He had never felt more helpless or more useless in his life.
"You did this to me you bastard!" Daphne said to the amusement of the attending Mediwitches, "You'd better learn to sleep with your eyes open, I going to…"
"Oh, what you do to me." Harry whispered into her ear. "I do remember you telling me to stop, but as I recall, you prefaced stop with 'don't'"
Despite her pain, Daphne leaned back harder into him, as if to increase the contact between them. Once the contraction stopped, she ground out between clenched teeth, "Did you manage to contact everyone?"
"Yeah." Harry said, wiping the sweat from her face now that they were between contractions. "Your Mum is here, she came with Mad-Eye, who seems to think that he's going to take custody of Beth as soon as she's born. Tracey was on her way last I checked."
"Granddad only wants to make sure she's raised with constant vigilance…" Daphne winced when the next contraction started. "I swear to Merlin you are never touching me again."
"I love you too." Harry murmured into her ear as they waited for their daughter to be born.
February 22, 2001
London, England, UK
"There you are."
Hermione looked up from her book and smiled. "Good morning Justin."
Taking the chair across from her Justin Finch-Fletchley signaled the waitress to bring him a cup of tea. Hermione might like these overpriced coffees, but on some level they offended him. It probably had something to do with his father passing on investing in the currently fashionable coffee boutiques, and missing out on one of the decade's massive successes. The fact that the tea was also horribly overpriced didn't bother Justin in the slightest.
"We might as well cut to the chase." Justin said, leaning on his elbows. "We're here to break up aren't we?"
Hermione looked a bit startled, and then grinned. "I was planning on easing you into it… am I that transparent?"
"No. We've been moving toward a break up since Christmas. If you hadn't called me, I was going to call you." He smiled his thanks to the waitress when she brought his tea, added a splash of milk to the cup and stirred the mixture. "With our schedules and class loads and going to different schools, it just isn't working very well is it?"
"When I'm free, you're busy, when I'm busy, you're free." Hermione agreed. "I've been feeling like a horrible person when I notice the men in my classes. Even though I haven't done anything, it feels like I'm cheating on you."
Justin smiled. "Don't. I've been looking and wondering myself. We've done fairly well I guess. We've been together for more than three years. If we were in a position to see each other every day…"
"So…" she sipped her coffee. "Look at us, all grown up about it. Do you have a likely replacement in the wings?"
"No." Justin reached across the table and took her hand. "You know me Hermione, Old Smooth as Gravel they called me in the dorms. How about you?"
"A couple of men in a few of my classes have indicated an interest, but nothing firm." She drained her coffee and gathered her things into her bag. "Come on."
Justin blinked, and then stood. "Where are we going?"
"I took a room at the hotel next door." She rose on her tiptoes to kiss him. "I wanted to say goodbye to our relationship in as nice a way as possible."
Following the bushy haired force of nature from the café, Justin reflected once again that Ron Weasley was an idiot. And perhaps he was as well for allowing himself to grow away from this woman.
June 6, 2001
Ottery St. Catchpole
She stood over the cauldron as it slowly boiled, stirring once, twice, three times clockwise, once, twice anticlockwise, and then the pattern repeated seventeen times. Slowly, so slowly the color changed from a milky white to a shimmering mother of pearl, the steam off the surface in the classic interlocking spirals. Perfect.
Amortentia, the most powerful of all known love potions. Carefully, so very carefully, she ladled a dozen doses into tiny crystal vials. A year's supply. Enough to ensure her future. To each vial she added the hair, and then sealed the vial. That finished Ginny Weasley opened her wedding trunk, what her mother called her 'Hope Chest', and stored eleven of the doses into a carefully hidden compartment within the trunk.
The potion was necessary she told herself. Without it she was doomed to a life like her mother's or one behind the counter at her brother's shop. Quidditch hadn't worked out. She quickly found out that being very good at the sport in school equated being rather pathetic at the professional level. Seven tryouts, seven rejections, only the Canons coach had come close to being honest with her.
"Little girl." He had said. "You've got some skills. But you're too small. You wouldn't last two minutes in a real game. You're pretty good on a broom; maybe you can find a job teaching flying to spoiled rich kids."
Ginny sighed and vanished the remnants of her potions project. Spot on nine A.M. there was a knock on her door. She opened it to find Fleur, Luna and George's girlfriend Angelina staring at her expectantly.
She gestured to let them in, and that was the last decision she was allowed to make for the next three hours. She was washed, and painted, her hair teased and volumized and twisted and who knows what done to. She was stripped naked then dressed a layer at a time until she was firmly wrapped in her mother's wedding dress.
Molly was in and out. Too busy orchestrating the wedding of the century to spend much time personally making Ginny miserable, entrusting that job to Fleur and Luna and Angelina. Her father Arthur came in toward the end, uncomfortable in the formal robes that Molly had picked out, looking proud, and happy and sad all at the same time, fighting back the tears at seeing his only daughter in the gown his own wife had worn all those years before. He didn't know about the love potion and never would.
The girls were done with her and dressed in their own gowns, each more hideous than the one before, and were down stairs waiting for the music to start.
Arthur Weasley looked into the eyes of his only daughter. "It's time Luv."
"I know Daddy. Could I have a minute?"
Arthur smiled knowingly, demonstrating that he didn't know anything. "Of course Luv. Take your time. They can't start without you."
"Thank you Daddy." She said as the door closed. Crossing to her bed, she lifted the pillow to get the tiny crystal vial and unstoppered it.
The scent washed over her. Holly Wood and Owl feathers. She wouldn't cry. She wouldn't. The scents of Harry. She had had the man she loved and didn't know it. She had had him and had driven him away as part of someone else's stupid futile plan.
No matter. The past was the past. She needed this potion to ensure her own future. Ginny Weasley crossed the room to the door, placing her left hand on the knob. In her right hand she held the potion. She paused, and then tipped the potion into her own mouth. Another second and she was awash in love and adoration for Michael. She opened the door to find her father waiting; she gave him a magnificent smile. "It's time to get Married Daddy." She said as she offered him her arm.
March 13, 2008
Rio de Janeiro
Doctors without Borders Clinic:
Hermione Granger sat impatiently in the taxi as it wound its way through the city. She had been here three weeks and hadn't managed to be on time once. The traffic in this crazy city was worse than anything she had ever seen, including London, Paris, and Rome, and seemed to conspire against her arriving at the clinic on time.
Hermione considered taking a year off to serve others to be the best thing she had ever done. The gratitude of the people she treated warmed her heart in ways she had never imagined. Upon arriving in Brazil, she had gone directly to the local Ministry and registered her presence and intensions. The idea of a Witch practicing Muggle medicine didn't even raise an eyebrow among the Brazilian Officials. The young woman who interviewed her was impressed with Hermione's Mastery in Healing as well as her Muggle Medical degree, and quietly pointed out that the International Statute of Secrecy must be observed, then noted that no one would be monitoring her actions.
Hermione had been quietly using magic since she treated her first patient, if anything doing so here was even easier due to the awe that the people who came to the clinic held her and the rest of the medical staff in. Many of them viewed what the doctors did as magic anyway.
The Clinic building was surprisingly large, and thanks to the endless effort of local volunteers spotless. What little equipment there was tended to be ancient and frequently out of order, but Hermione was convinced that she did more good here in a single day here than she had ever managed in a week while at Bridgewater Hospital back in Manchester.
The taxi pulled to a stop in front of the clinic… Odd, Agnese the Clinic's receptionist was out front looking at the building. Had they been robbed again? Hermione hurriedly paid the driver and hurried to the young woman's side.
"What is wrong Agnese?" Hermione asked the young woman in halting Portuguese.
"Something has happened inside." The woman made the sign of the cross. "Something… odd."
David Morgan-Mar, an Australian Doctor here on a one year contract came out of the clinic shaking his head.
"David, what's going on?" Hermione asked.
"Someone was in the clinic overnight, and they… Well, they fixed everything." The dark haired man shook his head in disbelief. "All the old equipment is gone. It's all been replaced with better things than I worked with in Brisbane. The cupboards are all fully stocked, there's a new generator, and there's AIR CONDITIONING. There is no bloody way in hell this could happen overnight. But… Hermione, you've got to take a look."
Hesitantly Hermione entered the clinic. As soon as she entered she realized that David was right. The chill of the air conditioner made her shiver for a moment. The walls appeared to be freshly painted, despite there being no scent of paint in the air. New furniture was where the dilapidated antiques had been the day before. She wandered down the hall looking into the examination rooms. Spotless. The exam tables even had the rolls of paper to keep the tables as clean as possible between patients. There was a brand new x-ray machine where the antique that hadn't worked since Hermione arrived. She pulled one of the drug cabinets opened and found it full. She hadn't seen this much in the way of supplies since Manchester. The last door at the end of the hall was her office.
She cautiously opened the door to find her office was as changed as the rest of the clinic. The old table that had served as her desk was gone. In its place was a heavy oaken desk, with an ergonomic office chair replacing the three legged stool that she had sat on the day before. The old black and white tile on the floor had been replaced with carpeting, and her reference books were now in bookcases instead of being piled on the floor.
There was a quite pop behind her. Hermione turned to find Dobby elf standing behind her.
"Good morning Miss Harry Potter Sir's Grangy." The tiny being said happily. "Harry Potter Sir ask Dobby to see if he could help Miss Harry Potter Sir's Grangy with her Muggle Healer Job after he read Miss Harry Potter Sir's Grangy's letter. Did Dobby do good?"
"Oh very good in deed Dobby. But you can't let anyone here see you."
"Dobby knows about Muggles. Muggles not see Dobby."
Of course not. Hermione mentally kicked herself for saying anything like that. "Thank you Dobby, and please thank Harry for me."
"Dobby do. If Miss Harry Potter's need anything for her Muggle Healer Job, she should leave a note on her desk, and Dobby do."
That surprised Hermione, and her surprise showed in her voice. "You'll be coming back?"
"Oh, yes Miss. Harry Potter Sir say that Dobby can help his Miss Harry Potter Sir's Grangy all he want. Winky be so jealous. Harry Potter Sir opened a vault for Miss's Muggle Healer Job. Dobby take care of everything."
"Thank you Dobby. Thank you so much."
The elf popped away. Hermione sat down at her new desk. Coming up with a story that made sense and convinced her coworkers was going to be a lot of work.
August 28, 2010
Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry
Greenhouse # 3:
"Well, as I'm sure you noticed very little has changed since you left." Pomona Sprout said as she led the new potions master from the greenhouse.
"Actually Professor Sprout, I had no idea that so many of our potions ingredients came from the greenhouses. I might have worked harder on my herbology assignments."
"Pomona dear, please. We are colleagues now after all." The older woman smiled, recalling her own first days as a new professor at Hogwarts.
"Thank you Pomona. Your tour has been most informative. I know I learned at least one thing, rather than the useless make work detentions that Professor Snape assigned; my detentions will be sent to the greenhouses to assist in the preparation of potions ingredients." Tracey Davis had plans.
"That's an idea that I have been pushing for years Tracey. Detentions should be at least as educational as they are punishment."
The pair paused for a moment. In the distance where Hagrid's cabin had once stood were a large man and a huge three headed dog fighting. Tracey gasped and drew her wand to help. Pomona put her hand on the younger woman's shoulder.
"It's not what it looks like. That's Charlie Weasley, he's the Flying instructor and he doubles as the Care of Magical Creatures Professor. He and Fluffy roughhouse quite often."
Sprout shrugged. "He was named by Hagrid, bless him. Hagrid loved to give his pets the oddest names. You probably didn't know this, but your first year he had a dragon named 'Norbert'."
"Hmm." Tracey couldn't stop herself from looking at the man with the giant dog. "He seems to be very… strong. Is he married?"
"No, I don't believe he is."
November 19, 2010
Ministry of Magic
Department of Magical Law Enforcement:
Nymphadora Tonks carried the box containing her possessions into the small office. Senior Supervisor. The entire night shift was hers. It took all of her abilities to keep a smile from breaking out on her face. No longer was her a drone at a desk identical to the other fifteen in the room. Now she had the office. With a door. And the drones at those sixteen desks worked for her. Finally.
She was still standing holding her possessions when the door behind her opened.
"Admire it later Tonks." She turned to face the speaker. Clayton Davies, the previous occupant of this office and her boss. He went to the desk and dropped several sheets of parchment into the tray on the left side of the desk. "These are the day shift's incident reports. You'll need to be able to speak about them at your start of shift inspection. Starting tomorrow you'll be getting them from the day shift Supervisor."
"Thank you Clayton."
"No Problem Tonks. I remember what it was like when I got this office." He turned to leave the office, and stopped at the door. "You'll do fine Tonks. You impressed Shack as an apprentice, and me as an Auror. Inside of ten years we'll all be working for you."
After the door closed behind Davies, Tonks quit fighting the smile. She dropped the box behind the desk, stopping only to remove a framed Wizarding photo of her parents from the box and setting it on the desk so that she could see it while she worked. The only bad part of this promotion is that it removed her from actually working cases from now on it was going to be all paperwork all the time.
She reached for the Incident Reports and began reading through them.
Ron Weasley arrested for public drunkenness, again. She shook her head. What had happened to that boy? Well at least he hadn't assaulted his latest girlfriend this time. Then she saw the notes at the bottom of the report. Ah, he had assaulted the Auror sent to pick him up. Resisting arrest and interfering with an Auror charges were added.
Dung Fletcher had been picked up with stolen property, again. This one made her sigh. How had this man ever gotten close enough to Dumbledore to have ever been part of the Order?
She worked her way through the reports of crimes committed and solved. Then she got to the next to last item. At 12:36 a report of a dead man had been received. The man was determined to be a Were, who hadn't survived his last transformation. Identified as…
Remus Lupin. Remus was dead. It had been fourteen years since she had kicked him out of her life, but part of her still loved the man. She could never forgive him for what he had done, but now he was dead.
Remus was dead. Remus was dead. Remus was…
Tonks was suddenly very happy to have her new office. It was important for an Auror to be seen as being hard case by his mates. It was especially important for a female Auror to be seen as being a hard case.
It was vitally important that none of her troops could see her crying.
February 1, 2026
The Ancestral Dumbledore family home:
"Thank you for coming." The old man wheezed. "I wasn't sure that you would.
Forty Six year old Harry Potter stood grimly next to the bedside of the ancient wizard, Neville Longbottom at his side.
"I wasn't sure that I would." Potter admitted. "In fact I know I wouldn't have if the request hadn't come officially as part of a session of the Wizengamot."
"Attempting to embarrass us into coming to see you is low even for you Dumbledore." Neville said in a conversational tone.
"Yet it worked." Albus Dumbledore paused to regain his breath. "For here you are." Another pause. "I am dying. The Healers say today is likely my last."
"We know." Neville Longbottom said. "They spoke to us before letting us in here."
"For once in your life, could you please get to the point?" Harry Potter snapped. "What do you want?"
"Do you hate me so?"
"Yes old man. We do. Your actions allowed my parents to be tortured to insanity and Harry's to be killed. You ruined both of our lives and it was only though luck we survived. Now. What do you want?"
"I did… what I did… for the greater good."
"Fuck you old man. Fuck you and your greater good." Harry spat, turning and starting for the door.
"Wait." Harry stopped. The ancient wizard continued. "There are many things I would do differently… If I could. I have many regrets… Don't you regret… anything Harry?"
"Yes." Harry admitted. "I regret I didn't kill you thirty years ago when I could have gotten away with it. What do you want old man?"
"As I've said, I am dying…" He paused. "Before I go to the next great adventure… I want, I need to know… How Tom died…" A look of pleading came to his eyes. "I beg of you… I spent my life… in pursuit of knowledge… I must know."
The old man collapsed back onto his bed, seeming to shrink before their eyes. It was obvious that speaking with them was costing him so much. Neville's eyes softened. Hope came to the eyes of the old man.
"Well…" the head of Longbottom house said. "I guess I could say… Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!" Neville leaned in close to the dying man. "How do you like it?" The blond turned on his heel and left the room.
Dumbledore lay for a few seconds until he noticed that Harry Potter had remained. "Harry…" He gasped. "My boy! I'm begging you."
Harry seemed to consider for a moment, his fingers idly stroking a belt made from an albino snakeskin, then bent at the waist to lean in close to the ancient wizard's ear.
"No." He said quietly, before again standing back up, straightening his robes and leaving the room as well.
Harry and Neville were taking lunch in the Leaky Cauldron two hours later when they heard that Albus Dumbledore was dead. No one noticed the pair clink their glasses in a small celebration.
February 2, 2027
Alerted by the wards, Daphne Potter reached the door just as Dobby popped into the Hall. "It's alright Dobby, I've got it."
"Yes Mistress Daphne." Said the aged elf before he popped away. Daphne knew that Dobby was reaching the end of his life. She was going to have to speak with Harry about arranging for less active duties for their first retainer.
She opened the door to find Nymphadora Tonks standing on her steps. Behind the Assistant Director of the DMLE stood her husband and Neville Longbottom, in magic inhibiting handcuffs, each flanked by a pair of uniformed Aurors.
"Hi Love." Harry said. "I know this looks bad, but…"
"Shut up Lord Potter-Black." Tonks barked before turning back to Daphne. "Lady Potter-Black, there's been a problem."
Daphne raised her left eyebrow. "Indeed? Would you and your people like to come into the sitting room with those two idiots?"
"I think that might be wise." Tonks said wearing her 'business' expression, which told Daphne the metamorphmagus was actually struggling not to laugh.
Daphne led Tonks, her husband, Neville and the four Aurors into the manors sitting room, where Hannah Longbottom and Tracey Weasley were waiting.
Upon seeing her husband in shackles, Hannah set her tea cup down. "Neville, what the hell have you done?"
"Hannah, I swear, it's not what it looks like." Neville began.
"Shut up Lord Longbottom." Tonks ordered. "Lady Potter-Black, Lady Longbottom, your husbands were found in the commission of a rather heinous crime. One that I rather doubt the courts would punish appropriately given who they are. As such, I've decided to turn them over to you for a more just punishment."
"You're no fun anymore Tonksie." Harry pouted from his place behind her.
"Shut up Harry." Daphne ordered. "What exactly was the 'heinous crime' these two over aged delinquents were caught doing?"
"Public urination." Tonks answered.
"Neville!" Hannah barked.
Neville flinched at the tone of his wife's voice.
Tonks wasn't finished. "Public urination on the grave of Albus Dumbledore."
The room went deathly silent for a moment.
"Aurors, release them and return to your duties." Tonks ordered her Aurors.
After the Aurors had left, Daphne approached her husband of almost thirty years. "I assume that the pair of you did a fair amount of drinking prior to your 'crime spree'."
"It was more of a 'crime spray'." Neville snorted. When he saw Hannah's face and shut up.
"We had a few." Harry admitted.
Daphne nodded. "Hannah would you like to spend the night?"
Hannah was face to face with her own husband. "That might be a good idea. If I was to use our portkey on this one he'd probably be sick all over me."
Daphne nodded. "Linco?"
Dobby and Winky's eldest popped into the room. "Yes Mistress Daphne?"
"Linco, the Longbottoms will be spending the night. Would you escort the gentlemen to their rooms?"
"Yes Mistress Daphne. Does Mistress need more tea?"
"Thank you Linco, no."
The four women waited until the door sealed behind the men and the elf before they started laughing.
"Just when I think they've finally grown up." Hannah giggled shaking her head.
"Those two will never grow up, at least not when they're together." Daphne said, wiping tears from her eyes.
"You should have seen the earnest young Apprentice that found and arrested them. She was beyond indignant that anyone would 'desecrate the grave of Albus Dumbledore'." Tonks chuckled. "She didn't realize who they were until she was at headquarters doing the paperwork. That's how I found out about what happened, the poor girl came running into my office begging me to protect her from retribution from two Wizengamot Lords and the slayers of You-Know-Who."
Hannah tsked. "We'll make sure those two idiots apologize to her tomorrow."
"We can't have these overgrown children frightening the next generation of Aurors." Daphne agreed.
"I would have thought that you two would have had them either trained or gelded by now." Tracey interjected.
"Gelding would remove one of the reasons I keep him around Tracey. You haven't managed to 'train or geld' yours yet have you?" Daphne asked with a smirk.
"Hey, mine's a Dragon handler. He's supposed to be feisty." Tracey's face took on her own self satisfied smirk. "Just the way I like him."
May 13, 1997
Little Hangleton, England
The Riddle House:
Neville scampered across the open space to take up position on the opposite side of the open doorway from Harry.
"Is that what you call giving cover?" He asked rubbing his shoulder where a dueler's healing charm was knitting up the wound from a glancing cutting spell.
"I don't know. Is that what you call running? If I'd known you were going to stroll over, I'd have built you a paved path." The raven haired wizard scoffed.
"You know, you could never hit a target to save your life, not since first year!" Neville shot back.
"Yeah? Well you're arrogant, just like my father!"
The two stared at each other for a few moments across the doorway. Then they started to laugh.
"I was fine until you started channeling Snape." Neville laughed. "He's in there isn't he? Voldemort?"
"Yeah." Harry rubbed his scar. "He's worried. I don't know why, but he's worried."
"Well, he's got a Longbottom after him this time, of course he's worried." Neville paused for a moment. "I've got a great idea about where we should go next."
"I don't want to hear it." Harry tried to peek around the doorway to see what was waiting for them in the next room. He pulled his head back out just avoiding being hit by a spell he didn't recognize.
"You'll change your mind when I tell you what the idea is." Neville said confidently.
"Look, just shut up OK?" Harry said.
"OK, OK. Sheesh."
"It's your great ideas that got us here." Harry pointed out.
"It's not all my fault. Forget about it."
"'Hit them early in the morning after they do one of their all night assaults Harry' you said. 'They'll all be exhausted and won't be able to put up a fight' you said. I don't ever want to hear another one of your ideas. All right?"
"OK then. You ready to go yet?" Harry asked.
"Australia" Neville paused and smiled. "I figured secretly you wanted to know, so I thought I'd tell you before we go in. Australia." The sandy haired Wizard explained.
"That's your great idea? Australia?" Harry asked.
"Oh, the greatest in a long line. I'm an idea man after all." Neville said.
Harry thought for a moment. "Australia's no better than here."
Neville shook his head condescendingly. "That just goes to show what you know."
"OK then smart guy, name me one thing that's better in Australia." Harry scoffed.
"In Australia, the girls think English accents are sexy."
"That's right, Mr. Negative, so we could be kept men. They've got Quidditch in Australia. You can play and I'll be your agent. And they got thousands of mountains you can build a house and hide out in when the fame gets to be too much. And Australia's got a good climate. Nice beaches. You could learn to swim." Neville said hopefully.
"No swimming! I had enough of that fourth year. It isn't important. What's that about the Quidditch? What are the leagues like?" Harry asked.
"They've never seen a player like you mate, they're easy. Easy, ripe, and luscious."
Harry appeared to be torn. "The Quidditch or the women?"
Neville laughed. "The way you play, once you're in the game, you've got the women."
Harry didn't seem to be convinced. "It's a long way, Australia, isn't it?"
"Ah, everything's got to be perfect with you." Neville said disgustedly.
"Look Nev, I just don't want to get there and find out it stinks - that's all. What about Hannah?"
"She's a sport. She'd come along. At least think about it."
"All right, I'll think about it."
"OK then, when we get inside, when we get to Voldemort, just remember you need to… Hey, wait a minute!" Neville suddenly looked worried.
"You haven't seen LeStrange out there, have you?" Neville asked.
"LeStrange? You mean Bellatrix? Nev, you killed her 20 minutes ago." Harry said, clearly worried about his friend.
"Oh yeah." Neville said, shaking his head as if to clear the fog from his thinking. "Good. Gran would kill us both if we missed her. For a moment there, I thought we were in trouble. Ready?"
The pair stood up on either side of the doorway. Harry counted off to three and they entered the room that contained Voldemort and the last of his Death Eaters firing spells from their wands.
A few minutes later the sounds of combat faded, only to be punctuated by a single, sibilant voice crying out, "DAMN YOU POTTER! This cannot be! I cannot lose! I am invinci…."
"Would you please just shut the hell up? Every bloody time we've faced each other you told me that I can't possibly be doing what I'm doing. It's very annoying."
"You know Harry… That's not really what I expected a Dark Lord's last words to be."
August 25, 2011
"Here he is, my first magical friend."
Harry Potter gestured through the plate glass at the large Boa who was pretending to be sleeping.
"Ohh, he's so big Daddy." Eleven year old Beth Potter said while holding her father's hand. "And you talked to him when you were younger than me?"
Eight year old Neville Potter ran broke free of his mother's grasp and ran up to the glass. Young Neville raised his hand to rap on the glass but Harry stopped him. "Don't do that son, he really hates it."
"He does?" the eight year old asked, his eyes round in wonder.
"You bet." Harry nodded. "Imagine if you were locked in a room and had people you couldn't talk to tapping on the window all day long. How would you like that?"
The boy nodded his understanding. "Are you going to talk to him Daddy?"
Harry smiled. "I'm going to try. Last time I saw him he was a bit put out with me."
Harry looked about to confirm that no one was paying any attention to him and his family, then covertly drew his wand and muttered an incantation to make the glass permeable to sound.
"Hello old friend."
The Boa lifted its head sluggishly. "Ah, it's you again Amigo. I should have known, a small crowd with no one tapping on the glass."
"My children have heard the story of my meeting you and asked that I bring them to meet you."
Neville was tugging at his belt. "Daddy, I thought you said that snakes talk their own language. He was talking English plain as anything."
"You understood him Nev?"
"I did too Dad." Beth said excitedly
"Your hatchlings speak the One True Tongue Amigo? Lucky them."
"Wonderful." The very pregnant Daphne interjected. "Now the three of you can have secret conversations while I have to wonder what you're up to."
Harry smiled at his wife's comments. So parseltongue bred true? He certainly never expected that. He would have to sit the kids down for a conversation about keeping this talent quiet. There were far too many people who associated Parselmouths with dark magic. Beth and Neville ran over to the next window which had a rattlesnake shaking its tail.
"How are they treating you old friend?"
"I can't complain." The snake said, its coils rippling. "The food has gotten a lot better since you dropped old Pasty off."
Harry turned his attention to the smaller snake in the enclosure. The creature's scales were snow white, its eyes, blood red.
"Hello Tom. Enjoying your home?"
"Damn… You… Potter…" the miniature boa gasped out. "I… will.. esca…" the snake's diatribe faded as the creature lost consciousness.
Harry smirked to himself. What better punishment for a fallen dark lord? His magic destroyed, his body transfigured to a miniature snake with a metabolism one third that of most snakes. With no way to communicate, with no magic, trapped in a body that was incapable of doing much more than just surviving, Harry had jumped at the punishment when Neville had suggested it, and left the oh so very changed Riddle in the care of the first friend his magic had found.
"Keep an eye on Pasty for me old friend."
"Always do Amigo. It's too cold out there for me to head out to Brazil, what else have I got to do?"
Harry laughed, and guided his family out of the reptile house. Both the children wanted to see the lions and tigers and bears.
"What are those Daddy?" Neville asked pointing. "They look funny."
Harry spotted the pair of animals and suppressed a grin. Spotting the sign for the exhibit he answered. "Those are Aardvarks Nev."
"What are they doing Daddy? Are they wrestling?"
Harry glanced about. Daphne and Beth were at the next enclosure down the path. "Yes Nev, that's a special kind of wrestling called 'humping'."
As soon as the words had come out of his mouth, Harry knew he had made a mistake.
"Hey Mum!" Neville Potter shouted. "Look! Two Aardvarks humping!"
The look Harry received from his loving wife suggested that he wasn't going to enjoy the conversation that was coming.
A/N: A few thoughts:
Much thanks to Slayer6 who suggested Tom being stuck in the zoo Harry visited before his eleventh birthday… Oh, for anyone about to tell me that Harry's snake buddy wouldn't be alive, Boas in captivity have an expected life span averaging 28 years, and some have survived more than 40 years.
Many thanks to Fenriswolf001 for his suggestion of the Snakeskin belt in the Death of Dumbledore scene.
Why, yes. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is one of my favorite movies, why do you ask?
Why that last bit? Well:
It's funny (at least I think so)
Pretty much every guy has made the mistake of being 'funny' with his young son at some point in his life.
KafkaExMachina started the whole Aardvark thing, so it's his fault.