Disclaimer:Harry Potter is the intellectual property of JK Rowling, and the fiscal property of JK Rowling, Bloomsbury Publishing, and Warner Bros. No profit has been made from this work.

"Harry? Do you have a moment?" The voice called from outside the door.

He'd been locked in his room at Grimmauld Place for almost three weeks. Dobby, under Molly's orders, had been slipping food into the room every few hours, and returning to remove the nearly-full tray after an hour or so. He'd been eating something, not enough for a growing young man, but enough to survive on.

"Busy..." Harry mumbled in the direction of the door.

With a click, the door unlocked, then creaked open. In the doorway stood the ever-formidable Molly Weasley. "Up, Harry!" She commanded sharply.

"Don't wanna." Harry moaned.

Molly glared sharply at him. "Do you want some cheese to go with that whine, young man?" She said archly. "Now, get up, and get in the shower. I can smell you from over here."

"Go 'way." Harry slurred into his pillow, before pulling the duvet up over himself. It was a second later when he shot out of bed, holding onto his left arse cheek, the recent recipient of a stinging hex from Molly.

"Mrs. Weasley!" Harry near-shouted. Another stinging hex hit him in the chest, directly on his nipple. With a 'eep' of pain, he ran, heading straight into the bathroom.

"Get showered, dressed, and meet me in the kitchen when you're done." Molly ordered.

Harry, leaning against the other side of the bathroom door, tried to find an appropriate retort.

"Don't even think of saying that, young man!" Molly commanded, correctly anticipating Harry's response. "You have twenty minutes. If you're not down there, I'll come in after you!" She span on her heel, and marched out of the bedroom.

"Christ..." Harry muttered, before pulling off his shirt. As it passed his nose, he recoiled in disgust. Okay... maybe I could use a little shower...

Twenty-five minutes later, he entered the kitchen, before slumping into a chair at the far end of the table. Molly was puttering about the kitchen, earning a sharp glare from Harry as she passed him.

"I'm here, Mrs. Weasley." He said sulkily.

"Good." Molly replied, setting down a full bowl of chicken soup in front of him. "Now, eat up. I'd like to have a chat with you."

No... why does everyone want a 'chat' with me? Harry thought as he started to slurp his soup noisily. Why can't I just be left alone to sulk in peace?

"Properly, Harry." Molly said, sitting down next to him with a cup of tea. "I know what you're doing."

Harry arched an eyebrow at her. "And what am I doing?" He asked, his tone the typically rebellious moan of a fifteen-year old male.

"You're hoping that if you're petulant and childish enough, I'll leave you alone." Molly replied. "You forget, Harry, I've got six sons older than you. I've been there, seen it, and even have the awards for surviving it."

Harry just pouted at her, and took another spoonful of his soup, eating it without slurping.

"Now, Harry... I know that you're grieving over Sirius-"

"Oh..." Harry interrupted. "Is this the part where you tell me that it'll be fine, don't grieve, he wouldn't want you to be sad." He snorted. "Don't wanna hear it."

"No." Molly said frostily. "I wasn't going to say that at all." She took a soothing sip of her tea. "Now, you seem to be forgetting that my parents are dead. My brothers are dead. I've been where you are now, and I know that nothing anybody says will be of any use to you. You need to come to terms with it on your own."

Harry slumped in his chair slightly, properly chastised.

"What I was going to say is, that other people in this house are grieving, too. If you help them with their grief, it might help you with yours." She placed a hand over his. "Don't shut out your friends, Harry, dear. They're your greatest strength. Everyone's seen it. You have family. True, they're not of your blood, but they are of your love. And that's what matters.

"Now, I'm not your mother, Harry, and I would never try to be. Lily Potter was a sweet, beautiful woman, who holds a special place in your heart." She squeezed his hand again, before releasing it to take up her cup. "I would like, though, to be a favourite Aunt." She pursed her lips. "I hope that I'd be better at it than..." She trailed off, not wanting to speak ill of his relatives. He nodded at her uncertainly, prompting her to continue. "Well, to be frank, Harry, dear, I hope I'd be a better Aunt than that horse-faced bitch you currently have."

Harry snorted. "Mrs. Weasley, a naughty chimp would be a better relative than Petunia. A dead chimp would be better."

She nodded. "In that case, Harry, I'd like it if you referred to me as 'Aunt Molly'. Mrs. Weasley makes me feel old."

He looked at her, then nodded slowly. "I'll try... Aunt Molly." He looked uncomfortable at saying it, but decided to give it a go.

"Now, there was one other thing, Harry." Molly now looked uncomfortable. "There are two young ladies in this house, at the moment, that are... very taken with you."

Harry blushed, before looking back down at his soup.

"I realise that you're uncomfortable, Harry." Molly said. "I'm not exactly... easy about this situation, either. However, I do know the benefits of having a loving partner, and I think that's certainly something you could use."

"Are... are you telling me you want me to go out with Ginny, Mrs. Weasley?" He asked timidly.

"No, I'm not saying that, Harry." She smiled, and squeezed his hand again. "Ginny is certainly taken with you, but I know you've not spent much time with her. I believe that quite a bit of her feelings are hero-worship. She grew up with your story, and was always very taken with you. You saved her life at the end of her first year, which has certainly increased her view of you as the champion on the white steed. She may have genuine feelings, or may not, but that's something that you'd need to find out for yourself, if you were interested."

"Hmm." Harry grunted. He'd always been a little wary of the girls he'd met at Hogwarts, since the vast majority of them looked at his forehead before they looked at him.

"Now, Hermione's also very taken with you." Molly continued. "She's been a good and loyal friend for all the time you've been at Hogwarts." She suddenly looked embarrassed. "Even more so than Ron. She tries to hide it, but she does have feelings for you, Harry. I believe that your health and wellbeing is more important to her than her own."

Harry looked confused. "This is... weird, Aunt Molly." He said, smiling at how easily 'Aunt Molly' sounded. "I mean... I'd have thought you'd be pushing me towards Ginny, and Hermione towards Ron."

She burst out laughing, tears coming to her eyes. It took almost three minutes for her to get her breathing under control. She pulled up her apron, using it to wipe her eyes. "You..." She managed a single word before falling into another laughing jag. When she finally got herself under control, she looked at him.

"You... you thought I'd be pushing Ron and Hermione together?" She sniggered, but quickly stamped it down. "Good lord, no! They'd never work as a couple."

Harry looked confused. "What? Why? Everyone at Hogwarts says they act like an old married couple, what with all the bickering they do."

"Harry, I've been with Arthur now for 29 years. We've been married for 27 of those years. Do you really think that if we bickered like Ron and Hermione, we'd have been married that long?" She snorted. "Good lord, those two wouldn't make it past the reception before filing for divorce."

He still looked confused. She took pity on him.

"Harry, Ron is rather... unmotivated." She said it delicately, but Harry could tell what she wanted to say was 'lazy'. "Hermione is a driven girl. She's intelligent, and has a wide range of interests. She excels in high-pressure situations, which require careful thought.

"Ron... well," she sighed, "he's only really interested in food, Quidditch and chess. He hates school and learning in general. Those two would never survive as a couple."

"But..." Harry didn't know what to say.

"Harry, I've seen you study. You hide it well, but you're going to have very high scores on your NEWTs. To be honest, I rather see you as the perfect blend of Ron and Hermione. You have his passion for Quidditch, and her devotion to learning. You know when to buckle down and work, and when to sit back and relax. You would be very good for Hermione. You'd work hard with her, but you'd make her take breaks as well."

Is she really telling me to pursue Hermione, instead of Ginny? He asked himself. "What about Ginny?" He asked her, now engaged in the conversation, not focussing on his grief over Sirius.

"Well..." Molly leaned back in her chair. "Ginny's a good girl, Harry. Would I like her to end up with you? I couldn't say. I do know that you're a grand man, and she'd be lucky to end up with someone like you. However, I don't know if you're compatible. As I said, it's something that you'd need to work out on your own."

"Would... would you be upset if I ended up with Hermione?" He asked, after a few moments.

She shook her head. "Not for you, Harry. I'd be upset for Ginny, but only because she'd be missing out on such a wonderful boy. But, I want you to make your own choices. I don't want you to feel pressured by me, or anyone else." She leaned forward and squeezed his hand again. "Be selfish for a change, Harry. For all the years I've known you, you think of others first. Do this for you."

Harry pushed his soup bowl away, standing up. He pulled on Molly's hand, drawing a squeak of protest before he wrapped her in a hug. "Thanks, Aunt Molly." He said into her neck as he held her for a moment.

She pushed him away, making a 'shoo' gesture with her hands. "Go on, Harry. Good luck."

Harry vanished back into his bedroom to think, only to recoil when he walked in the door. The room stank! He quickly hit every surface with Scourgify, banishing the traces of body odour with a thought. He sat on the now-clean bed, thinking about everything he'd talked about with Aunt Molly.

Aunt Molly... that's actually kinda cool. He thought. Why couldn't I have actually been her nephew, instead of Petunia's? Damn, she'd have made sure that I was raised properly. No 'Harry Hunting', no starvation, no beatings. I could've had friends growing up, instead of being alone.

She thinks I should get a girlfriend. He cast his mind back to the disastrous 'date' he'd had with Cho Chang during the year. What a flop that was... she was upset because I had to go and meet Hermione... With that thought, an image of Hermione entered his mind. She's certainly very beautiful. Smart, too, which is a major turn-on. She's not enamoured with my fame. She likes me for me, not for the 'Boy-Who-Didn't-Bloody-Die'. Then again, there's Ginny. She's pretty... I guess. At least she's gotten over that annoying bloody squeaking whenever I enter a room. But, Molly was right... She's grown up with the legend of the 'Boy-Who-Lived', unconquerable hero on a white horse. A White Knight, even.

Besides, Ginny's got a boyfriend. Dean's a good bloke. I know he won't hurt her.

His mind switched back to Hermione. It's strange, really... I mean, I'd never see myself having Confrontations in the Common Room with her... and we did have that Silliness at the World Cup... She's always stood by me. She's never Out of Time for me... For quite a while now, every time I see her... my stomach goes into a Quantum Leap. But, does she feel the same for me? Aunt Molly said so, but how does she know?

He stood up, deciding to go and find out for himself.

Hermione was laying on her bed, making a note in her diary. She'd been doing this ever since she'd started at Hogwarts, wanting to make sure that she recording everything that happened. However, shortly after Halloween her first year, it changed from being a diary about Hogwarts, to a diary about a certain dreamy green-eyed student of her acquaintance.

She glanced down at her most recent entry.

Harry's been so withdrawn and distant lately. I wish there was something I could do to make him feel better, but he locked himself into his room when he arrived here at Headquarters, and no-one's been able to get him out.

I know he's barely eating. I've got an overwhelming urge to go and cook him a meal, break down his door, and force him to eat. Only two things stop me from doing that; 1. I can't cook. 2. He's one of the only students at Hogwarts who's better at DADA than I am. He'd end up kicking my arse.

Why can't I get him out of my head? I mean... whenever I'm sitting here on my own, his face just appears in my mind's eye. He stands there, all... good-looking and delectable. I just wanna nibble on him...

A knock on her bedroom door drew her attention away from the journal. She closed the book, and muttered the locking spell, making sure that she was the only one who could open and read it.

With a sigh, she got up, opening her bedroom door. With a squeal, she launched herself forward, wrapping her arms around the young man in front of her.

"Harry!" To her surprise and pleasure, he wrapped his arms around her tightly, pulling her close.

"Hey, Hermione." He said in a thick, husky voice. The surprises kept on coming when he didn't release her straight away. Normally, he was very reluctant to be held in a hug, but he was holding on to her with as much passion as she was holding him.

After almost a minute, he stepped back, putting almost two inches of space between them. "May I come in?" He asked formally.

She nodded, pulling him inside the room, and shutting the door. With a discrete wand flick, she silenced the room, and sealed the door. She saw Harry stood near the chair next to her bed, his hands held loosely behind him.

"Won't you sit down, Harry?" She asked, feeling as though her heart was trying to punch its way through her rib cage.

He sat down in the chair, resting his hands in his lap.

"How're you feeling?" She asked, sitting on the bed, and taking one of his hands.

"I'm doing better, now." He replied. "Aunt Molly decided it was time for me to get up."

"'Aunt Molly'?" Hermione asked. "And how did she manage that?"

Harry grimaced. "She threw a stinging hex at my arse, and another one of my nipple." He sighed theatrically. "I tell you, there's not much that can resist the commands of Mother Weasley. And she told me to call her 'Aunt Molly'. Said she'd be better at it than Petunia. Can't exactly disagree." He looked around her room. "Not sharing with Ginny?" He asked.

"No. There's enough room here for everyone to take their own." She squeezed his hand, and leaned back slightly. "So, what can I do for you, Harry?"

Time to bite the bullet, Potter... He took a deep breath. "Hermione... you're single at the moment, aren't you?"

She nodded, a little confused. "Yeah. Who exactly would I be dating?" Since you don't fancy me at all.

"Well... you know Ron's into you, don't you?" He asked delicately.

Hermione snorted, rolling her eyes. "I think it's obvious he's into me. It should also be fairly obvious I'm not into him. Don't get me wrong; he's a nice enough guy, but he does nothing for me romantically."

"Is... i-is there anyone you are into, romantically?" He stammered, blushing brightly.

Oh, he's so cute! Hermione squealed mentally. At that moment, she wanted to wrap him into a big hug, making sure his face was about chest height on her. "There's... there's one boy that I like. But, he doesn't like me the way I like him." She said slowly.

Harry slumped in his chair, an air of defeat hanging over him. "Oh." He muttered dejectedly.

"Why do you ask, Harry?" She asked softly.

"Well..." Harry's blush intensified, becoming bright enough to act as a red lightbulb. "I was, er... I was wondering if you'd consider going out with me..." He relied quietly.

Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Hermione's brain chanted. She couldn't chant out loud, however, as her lips were trying to fuse themselves to Harry's. He pulled away slightly, making her moan in protest, which was cut off as he physically pulled her onto his lap, kissing her again. He deepened the kiss, gently massaging his tongue with hers.

When they both came up for air, Hermione leaned against his chest, panting slightly. "Where the hell did that come from?" She gasped.

Harry pulled her close, his hands resting on her hips. "I... I've wanted to do that for a while." He admitted. "But... I thought you were into Ron. That's why I went after Cho."

"Harry, you're really bloody stupid sometimes." She chided gently, taking his hand. "I'm into you, not Ron. How could Ron compare to you?"

"I... I didn't think anyone would ever like me for me, you know? I mean, Cho's the only girl who's shown an interest, and that was 'cause she was trying to recreate what she had with Cedric."

"Well, Cho may be in Ravenclaw," Hermione said snootily, "but she sure as hell ain't bright." She swooped in for another kiss, becoming even more excited when she felt Harry start to react.

"Hermione..." He gasped, after pulling away. She could tell, by the immense blush on his face, that he was embarrassed. "Uh... we... we should stop, now..." He stammered.

She ground down on him, making his 'eep'. "Why, Harry?" She asked huskily. "I think things are getting so much more interesting." With a growl, she inhaled his face again, kissing him all over.

Bollocks to it. Harry thought, giving as good as he got.

After the impromptu snogging session, the pair left the bedroom, intent on searching out the rest of the residents. Upon entering the kitchen, hand-in-hand, they drew the gaze of everyone there.

Ron was devouring his dinner with all the grace of a retarded spider monkey, when his eyes dropped to see their joined hands. His face instantly went red as his temper rose. He gently put his fork down, and stared at his 'best friends'. "Anything you two want to tell me?" He asked archly.

"No." Harry replied, leading Hermione to a chair, and then sitting next to her.

The remainder of the people in the kitchen knew a confrontation was imminent. Had they any shred of decency, they'd have left, letting the Trio work this out in private. However, they were in a war, and any entertainment, especially meal-time entertainment, was always worth watching.

Lupin sat at the table, watching with undisguised awe. Thanks to his werewolf senses, he could smell Hermione's arousal, something that appealed to his inner wolf but was mercilessly squashed by his human side, and he could smell both teens on each other. If Sirius were still alive, he'd owe him ten galleons...

"Why, Harry?" Ron asked acidly. "How could you betray me like this?"

Harry reached for the potatoes, serving himself a generous portion, I'll need all my strength for tonight... before turning back to his friend. "Please tell me, Ron, exactly how I've betrayed you?"

"You got together with Hermione! Damn it, Harry, you know I like her!"

Harry chewed his beef thoughtfully, before swallowing. "Do I?"


"And how, Ron, do I know that you like Hermione? When exactly did you tell me that you liked her? Because I must have blinked and missed it."

"You know I like her!"

"I ask again, Ron, how do I know? I'm not telepathic... except with Voldemort, and that's something quite different."

"Everyone knows I like Hermione!" Ron turned to the girl in question. "You know, don't you?"

She nodded. "Yes, I know. However, I've made it very cleared that I'm not interested in you."

"But... what about the perfume I gave you last Christmas?"

Hermione looked puzzled. "That was perfume?"

"Yes!" Ron stared at her. "Wait a minute... what did you think it was?"

She blushed, and looked down at her dinner. "I thought it was something to make Crookshanks keep off the bed. I sprayed it round the floor in the dorm. Crooks doesn't dare come in now." Harry snorted, and sniggered behind his hand. Hermione, oblivious to the entertainment she was providing, carried on. "Also, I've been spraying Malfoy with it every time I pass him in the corridors."

Harry coughed. Every eye switched to him. "Sorry..." He muttered. "I wondered what the hell that stench was on Malfoy. I just thought something had crawled up his arse and died."

Somebody at the end of the table sniggered. To Harry and Hermione's immense surprise, it was Snape, chortling like a little girl. When he saw the two teens staring at him, he plastered a sneer on his face. However, these two teens had been subjected to five years of Snape's various sneers, and they could tell this one was half-arsed.

Ron, oblivious to the Snape-byplay, pressed onwards. "Why, Harry? Why do you have to take the one thing I wanted for myself?"

Oh, shit! Duck and cover! The part of Harry's brain the controlled survival called out. Inside his mind, little klaxons went off, with red lights flashing. I wonder if I could fit under the table before Mount Granger erupts... No... too late.

"Ronald Weasley! I am not a 'thing' you can claim for yourself! In case you didn't notice, I am a person, not a possession!"

"You know what I mean, Herms!" Ron protested weakly.

Oh, double shit... she hates that nickname...Harry was considering popping through the anti-apparition wards that covered Grimmauld Place, only to escape from his new girlfriend's fury.

"Do not call me 'Herms'!" Hermione shrieked. "My name is Hermione, and that is all I will answer to!"

Ron dismissed her, turning back to Harry. Ooh... strike three, Weasley. You're out. Harry thought.

"Harry, why? You've got everything! Money, fame, girls throwing themselves at you! Why do you want the one girl I wanted?"

Harry gently placed his fork down, and leaned back in his chair, fully aware that every Order member was watching with undivided attention. "Shall we go through your list, Ron?" Harry asked softly, his tone dangerous. "Why do I have a lot of money, Ron?"

"Because you're rich!" Ron retorted.

"Why do I have a lot of money, Ron?" Harry asked again, speaking slower.

"The Potters are a rich family." Ron replied.

"The Potters are a dead family!" Harry shouted loudly, making everyone present jump. "I'm rich 'cause my parents were killed by a psychotic fuckwit!" He lowered his tone back to the soft, dangerous one. "Why am I famous, Ron?"

"'Cause you're the 'Boy-Who-Lived'!"

Harry nodded. "Yes. The 'Boy-Who-Lived'... when his family was murdered in cold blood!" Again, his voice rose to a hoarse shout, causing Ron to flinch. "Now, your final comment. You said 'girls throwing themselves at me'. Why do girls throw themselves at me, Ron?"

"You're rich and famous!" Ron spat, looking with disgust at Harry.

"They only want two things from me, Ron." Harry said sadly, realising that his once-friend just didn't get it. "When girls look at me, they see only the fame and the money. Not the poor bastard who owns these dubious items."

"Oh, cry me a river, Potter." Ron sat back, biting on his lip for a moment. "You know, Snape's right. You are arrogant. I mean, look at you! Just now, rubbing it in that you're rich and famous. What about me? Why do I get, Harry?"

Every eye turned to the Slytherin sat at the end, who flinched slightly when he had everyone's attention. "Hey, don't look at me. I just don't like him 'cause he looks like his bloody dad. Leave me out of it."

Harry cleared his throat, before looking at Molly and Arthur. "I'm sorry."

"Whatever for, Harry, dear?" Molly asked.

Without answering, Harry stood, reaching across the table and punching Ron in the jaw. The youngest male Weasley slumped back in his chair, staring at his ex-friend with fury. "You ignorant arsehole! Do you know what I would give to be in your place? You have five brothers. You have a sister. You have a mother. You have a father. You have aunties and uncles. You have cousins, nieces and nephews. You have godparents! You have a wealth beyond measure, but you're too wrapped up in material possessions to see it!"

Harry reached up, ripping off his shirt, before turning his back to Ron. "What do I get, Ron?"

The Order looked at Harry's back, seeing a series of ropey scars, running from shoulder blade to hip. "This is what I got, Ron! An abusive uncle, who decided that beating me was the only way to get rid of my magic! Who hated me for ten years for something I didn't understand!" Harry span round, revealing more scars on his torso. "I didn't even know my own bloody name until I was five, and a primary school teacher told me what it was! I was always called 'freak'! I didn't know my birthday until I was seven! You think you have a rough life, just 'cause you have a successful family? At least you have a fucking family!"

Harry pulled his shirt back on, before he slumped into his chair, picking up his fork and carrying on with dinner, ignoring the sniffles and whimpers from the rest of his dining companions. After another mouthful of beef and potatoes, he looked up at Ron, who was white in the face.

"You think you've had a hard life, Ron? Just 'cause you had hand-me-downs from your loving, supportive family? 'Cause your brothers are successful?" He snorted and rolled his eyes, before looking down at his meal. "You know nothing."

"H-Harry, mate-"

"Save it, Ron." Harry interrupted coldly. "You do not understand. You will never understand. You expect everything to be handed to you, on a silver platter. Bill was Head Boy. Was it just givento him, or did he have to work for it? Charlie was Quidditch captain. Was it just given to him, or did he have to work for it? Percy, Fred, George, Arthur... each of them worked hard to get where they are." He reached down and took Hermione's hand, noting idly that it was shaking.

"What about Hermione? She's going to be Head Girl. Why? Because she works hard for it. She enforces her Prefect duties every day. You were given the prefect position... what did you do? Did you work at it? No. You just left it to Hermione. All you care about is Quidditch, Chess, food and girls. Your future career goals include fuck-and-chuck, eat, drink and play. That's it. The prefect position that you received wasn't even yours to begin with. It was a gift, and you squandered it."

Ron's head shot up. "What?"

Harry turned to the end of the table. "Professor Snape, who was Professor McGonagall's choice for fifth-year male prefect last year?"

Snape shook his head, but a fierce glare from Harry made him relent. "You were." He sighed.

"And why was I not given the position I had earned?"

"The headmaster overrode her choice. He felt you had enough to deal with, without the added responsibilities of being a prefect."

Harry turned back to Ron. "So, we know what your plans for the future are, Ron. Wanna hear mine?" Ron opened his mouth to reply, but Harry carried on, ignoring the silly prat. "My future plans are basically kill or die."

"What?" Hermione asked in a shaking voice.

"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord shall be born as the seventh month dies, born to those who have thrice defied him, and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not, and either must die at the hand of the other, for neither can live while the other survives..." Harry quoted. "That's my future, Ron. Kill or be killed." He snorted at the dumbstruck expression on Ron's face. "Thank you for dinner, Aunt Molly. I seem to have lost my appetite. If you'll excuse me?" Without waiting for a response, Harry stood and left the kitchen, his new girlfriend hot on his heels.

Harry got to Hermione's bedroom, and threw himself on the bed. After a moment, he heard someone else enter the room, before the door shut with the characteristic 'squelch' of a sealing charm.

"Harry?" Hermione's voice was soft and trembling.

He rolled over on the bed, looking at his new girlfriend. "Come here." He said, opening his arms. She threw herself forward, wrapping her arms around him in a tight hug. "Shh... It's okay, Hermione."

"It's not!" She sobbed. "You've been through so much, Harry... so much pain and misery... and I've not been able to help you."

"Hey, none of that." Harry whispered into her hair. "You have helped me, more than you know."

"How?" Hermione spat. "I've belittled you, nagged you... I don't deserve to be your friend." She tried to pull away, only to find a pair of impossibly strong arms wrapped round her. "Harry, let me go!"

"Sit!" Harry roared. Hermione's butt hit the mattress instantly. "Now, as I was saying, you have helped me, Hermione. You've supported me, helped me, been there for me, whenever I've needed to talk. No-one else, not even Ron, can claim to have done that. The fact that I've not brought up the Dursleys is no reflection on you. It's just... I've never been comfortable talking about them. So, I let it go. When I got back from Hogwarts, Vernon began to realise that physically assaulting me would get him in far more trouble than it was worth, so he stopped."

"But, still-"

"No, Hermione." Harry said firmly. "Now, you listen to me. You mean more to me than anyone else. You're my best friend. My girlfriend. Hopefully, my lover." She nodded emphatically. "Now... if you can find it within yourself to see past my scars..."

"Of course, Harry." She leaned up and kissed him tenderly. "They're part of who you are, but they aren't what you are." She tugged on his shirt. "Take it off, and lie on the bed, on your front."

Smiling at his bossy little bushy-haired friend, he complied, pulling off the shirt, and lying down, his arms under the pillow. Hermione clambered up onto the bed, straddling Harry's arse, and began to gently stroke his back.

Harry felt some of the stress of the evening leave him, and slowly started to close his eyes.

Hermione, starting to massage him, smiled as he made himself comfortable. He's a good man. She thought fondly, starting to press harder on his back, spotting the tangled muscles and bullying them back into shape. As she encountered a particularly stubborn knot, Harry moaned. Okay... not a good noise for me to hear. She leaned down low, so she could whisper in his ear. "Does that feel good, Harry?" As a bonus, she flicked out her tongue on his earlobe, before gently sucking on it.

She pulled back slightly, and started to nibble on the back of Harry's neck, all the while kneading his back.

"Hermione?" Harry's muffled voice emerged from somewhere in the pillow.

"Hmm?" She grunted back as she kissed his neck.

"Thank you."

She sat back up, stopping her work on his neck and ears, and carried on with his back. "For what, Harry?"

He turned his head, trying to look up at her. "As long as you're by my side, I'll be able to face whatever comes."

She leaned closer and kissed his cheek. "I'll always be by your side, Harry." She promised. "Forever, Harry. You and me."

21 Years Later...

Platform 9¾ hadn't changed in over two centuries, ever since the advent of rail technology. The trolleys containing student trunks still couldn't be steered worth a damn; in that respect, they were like shopping trolleys. Always one wheel that tried to go off in it's own direction. Owls squawked, cats hissed at each other, toads croaked, and students hugged, kissed, cried and fought on the ancient platform.

Harry led his wife and children through the Muggle barrier, onto the platform proper. He was pushing the trolley, where two trunks rested; this was James' fifth year, and Lily's fifth. Little Rose, only nine, wouldn't be going for another two years.

"Dad..." Lily pouted, watching people rush past. "Can't you do something about all these people pushing past?" She raised her nose into the air. "The little people should learn the proper respect for us."

Harry, in disguise so he wouldn't be swamped with people wanting to speak to him, just shook his head. "Lily, we've talked about this."

She grinned at him. "I know, Dad. It's just... ever since I heard that the little bastard was gonna be here, I thought I'd see if I can 'out-snob' him."

"Lily..." Harry warned.

"Come on, Dad, you know it's true." She glanced up the platform, seeing the Malfoy heir walking forward, his nose high in the air. "Look, there he is."

Hermione just gripped her daughter's shoulder. "Lily Potter." She said quietly, not wanting to draw attention to the crowd. "You shouldn't pick on him. It's not his fault his father's in prison."

Lily looked up incredulously. "Are you kidding, Mum? Look at him! He's just as stuck up as Draco!"

Harry glanced at his wife, nodding and shrugging. "It's true. He's probably got the same speech memorised as his dear old Dad."

"Still... he might be nice..." Hermione trailed off, refusing to believe that the son of Draco Malfoy could be anything but a stuck-up little prick. "Besides, Draco's been in prison for all his life."

"Still think he should have been executed." Harry mumbled. It was still a sore point for him that Draco Malfoy, Death Eater and murderer, hadn't been kissed or killed for his crimes.

"Well, he's not getting out of Azkaban... ever." Hermione said. "Besides, I doubt anyone in their right mind would take a child to that dreadful place."

Harry just wrapped his hand around Hermione's shoulders. "True." He kissed her temple. "Anyway, folks, let's get you all on board the train."

"Are you going into work today, Daddy?" Rose asked, looking up at him with her emerald-green eyes.

"Yes, I am." Harry replied, kneeling down next to his daughter. "If I don't go in, the Ministry would fall apart. Same for Mummy."

Hermione rolled her eyes. "Somehow, I doubt the DMLE would collapse without me, Mr. Minister."

Harry stood up, kissing his wife squarely on the lips, ignoring the disgusted cry from James and Lily, who grabbed their trunks and rushed onto the train. Harry broke the kiss, looking down at the now-empty space. "You know, that never fails to work."

Hermione rapped him on the back of his head. "Is that all I'm good for, Mr. Minister?" She asked archly. "Getting rid of your children?"

"No." Harry replied, grinning his usual goofy grin, the same grin that had given him control of Wizarding Britain, and the key to his love's heart, not to mention three healthy, happy children. "You're perfect for everything you do."

The three Potters watched the Hogwarts Express vanish in a trail of smoke. Harry and Hermione sighed together, watching their children be carted away. Harry pulled his wife closer, feeling her rest her head on his shoulder. "You know... this gets a little more painful, every year."

"I know..." Hermione said. "Still, you knew that you'd have to let them go, Harry."

He sighed again. "I know... I don't like it... but I know." He kissed her neck, then started to nibble on her earlobe. "As long as I never have to let you go..."

"You soppy prat." Hermione said. "Get to work!"

"Ooh, I love it when your bossy!" He retorted, giving her puppy-dog eyes and the grin. Even now, twenty-one years later, it still set her blood on fire.

"Stop it, Harry!" She hissed. "Don't you remember what happened last time you did that?"

His grin grew wider. The Minister of Magic of Great Britain and the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement making love on the Minister's Desk. For three hours. During the work day. Hermione's blush and rapid breathing told him that she remembered it, too.

"Mummy?" A little voice called up. "You're doing it, again."

"Sorry, sweetie." Hermione replied, picking her daughter up, and resting her on her hip. "You'll be going to Hogwarts soon."

The trio started to walk out of the train station, Hermione breaking off for a quick visit to the Ladies before they got in the car.

When they arrived at the vehicle, Harry put his daughter in the back seat, fastening her in. She'd be dropped at magical daycare, where children learned basic magical history and Latin, in preparation for attending school.

Harry was about to get into the car, when his wife slammed the door shut, pressing up against him and kissing him harshly. She placed something soft into his hand, before stepping back. "I'll be back to collect those when we arrive at the office, Mr. Potter." She stalked round to the other side, getting into the passenger seat.

He glanced down to see a pair of black lace panties in his hand, grinning at the thought. As he stuffed the fabric into his pocket, he absently reached up to his forehead. The symbol of his fame, that had faded shortly after defeating Voldemort at the end of his seventh year. The scar hadn't troubled in him nineteen years. All was well.

Author's Note:

There is an '18' (NC-17) version of this file available in my Yahoo group.