Harry sat down in his favourite Gryffindor chair with a sense of relief. He was the only person who ever sat in it over the last three years, no one else dared to it seemed, and he wondered whether some idiot would put a plaque on it once he left. NEWT's were finally over, unless he went back in time again, and he had no intention of doing that again, and he would never have to take another exam again. Ron and Hermione slide into the seats opposite him.
She was talking non stop about the last exam and Ron he noticed was doing a good job of pretending to listen and being interested in what she was saying. He glanced quickly at Harry and winked before turning his semi attention back to his girlfriend of the last eighteen months.
It hadn't been a smooth process the courtship, and if Harry was honest with himself he had never expected it to be, but the last six months had been nearly argument free. Ron had finally understood how to deal with Hermione's intense nature, and Harry saw signs of his father's calmness and patience begin to shine through.
"All done then," Ginny said squeezing in tight beside him even though there was plenty of room elsewhere. Harry pulled her into a one arm hug. The last three years had changed Ginny beyond recognition. More than half the looks they got as they walked around Hogwarts together were now aimed at her and not Harry anymore.
The shyness and awkwardness had melted away over the months until the real girl had shone through brighter than ever. Without the worry of a war and the death of a beloved brother Ginny had blossomed into the most popular girl at Hogwarts, and at times he had to pinch himself that they were together. She wasn't the prettiest girl by any means or the most intelligent, but no one had a bad word to say about her and she had time for everybody. She was almost universally liked, and the few that didn't weren't worthy of note. Malfoy's reputation had sunk to an all time low, and his opinions were ignored.
"Yep that's it all done no more education for me."
"Harry you should never stop wanting to learn," Hermione said a scandalised look on her face.
"Life they say is supposed to be one long learning experience Hermione, but from now on it'll be up to me what and when I chose to learn, and best of all no exams."
"Hmph," was all she said in return.
"So Harry when are you going to tell us what you plan to do after Hogwarts?" Ron said hoping to distract Hermione from the subject of exams.
"Yes Harry what is this big secret," Hermione said an edge to her voice.
"I know what it is," Ginny said with a slight smile.
"You told her, and not us!" Ron said raising his voice.
"Yes of course I did. Ginny and I have no secrets from each other," Harry answered. It had taken him over six months to work up the nerve and spill the beans, but if they were going to be together for life he couldn't keep the secret that he had travelled back in time from her. It had nagged away at him as each week passed. The relief he had felt afterwards was so great he knew he had done the right thing. To say that Ginny had just shrugged it off would have been a gross understatement, but as she asked for more and more detail the more relaxed she became about it. Harry Potter doing the impossible it seemed wasn't that surprising. Ginny had taken far better than he hoped. In fact very little seemed to phase her, maybe that was why she was friends with Luna, or perhaps it was Luna's influence on her. The Quibbler's popularity had exploded three years ago, and even now was read by many thousands of witches and wizards.
Other than those involved at the time she was the only new person he had let into the secret. Dumbledore had pressed and pressed, but in the end he had given up trying to find out the real facts. Harry suspected he might have guessed, after all his guesses were usually correct, but he had never confronted him with his suspicions.
"So what's he doing then?" Ron asked pointing at Harry.
"We do have names Ronald," Ginny snapped back, "and I have no intention of telling you anything."
"Are you sure you want to know?" Harry asked, "After all everybody should have a little mystery in their life."
"Just tell us you infuriating little …" Ron paused at the glare Hermione gave him.
"It's too easy," Harry said looking at Ginny.
"I don't think he'll ever learn."
"Maybe I should put him out of his misery?"
"No I don't suppose you would, but I don't think I'm that cruel. Alright I'll tell you."
"Finally," Ron said slumping back into his chair. Even Hermione closed the book she had been flicking through so she could check her answers from the Charms exam."
"Well the last three years have been boring to say the least. No-one has tried to kill me in all that time …"
"Wait a minute what about that crazy woman in Diagon alley," Hermione interrupted.
"What Umbridge," Harry said, "she wasn't a serious threat. I mean how much threat can someone be when they're trying to sell enchanted rings and bracelets and telling everybody that they're really fakes."
"Didn't she used to be really high up in the Ministry?" Ron asked.
"Only in her own mind," Harry muttered not wanting to continue this line of conversation. He had after all taken the opportunity to re-enforce the Imperius curse on the hideous woman. Without the benefit of her Ministerial wage she had fallen a long, long way. He guessed he should feel guilty about it but he didn't.
"Something should be done about her you know," Hermione suggested. "She's not in her right mind."
"I thought you two wanted to know what Harry was planning," Ginny said. Hermione and Ron looked sheepish while Harry was grateful for the distraction.
"As I was saying I've become bored so I thought I would do something a bit more risky and rewarding. I intend to procure some of the more dangerous potion ingredients."
"Such as?" Hermione said.
"Well venoms mostly."
"Are you mad?" Ron shouted.
"No Ron he's bored," Ginny said.
"And you're alright with this?" Hermione said.
"I trust Harry to be careful, and when it comes to snakes he has an added advantage over the rest of us. Besides I won't dictate to him, and I don't expect him to dictate to me."
"I don't believe it Ginny. You're going to join him aren't you?" Hermione said.
"Are you mad?" Ron shouted. "What do you think mum will say?"
"She'll yell and shout in much the same way she did when Bill and Charlie told her what they wanted to do, but you're not going to tell her are you?"
"What and be the bearer of bad news I'm not that mad, and you know she'll blame me anyway."
"Good we'll cross that bridge when we come to it then," Harry said. "It won't be until next year anyway.
"What possessed you to make this insane choice," Hermione said. "You do realise that the average life expectancy is ten months."
"Really I thought it was only eight," Harry replied flippantly. He really had no idea how long the average was.
"You're not taking this seriously Harry. It's a very dangerous job."
"It's also very well paid."
"Is it?" Ron said his ears perking up.
"Oh yea and the best thing is I already know a great source for the second rarest venom of all, and I have permission to harvest it."
"What … I mean where, no what …" Ron stammered the thought of vast riches seemed to have lost him the power of speech.
"Calm down Ron this won't be your sort of thing. That's why I didn't include you in on this. Plus Hermione would hurt me, and you know how scary she is."
"You could have at least offered!"
"Ron do you remember Aragog?"
"Course I bloody do," he shuddered at the memory.
"You wouldn't go to his funeral last year …"
"He tried to feed us to his children. Why would I want to go to his blasted funeral?"
"To check he was dead of course," Ginny said with a straight face. Ron stared at his sister with a look that would have curdled milk.
"That's the point Ron if you can't face a dead one how are you going to be able to face a few thousand live ones that are now rampaging through the forbidden forest." Ron's face paled at the thought.
"You're both crazy."
"You just have to take a few precautions that's all," Harry added.
"I'm not interested."
"I didn't think you would be Ron."
"What's the rarest venom?" Hermione asked her curiosity out weighing her horror at what Harry and Ginny were planning.
"But there's one in the Chamber," Ron said excitedly, thoughts of thousands of spiders banished from his mind.
"It was too far gone we looked last year. Shame really it's about twenty thousand galleons per fluid ounce."
"How much do you think was there," Ron said now with an appalled look on his face at what had been lost.
"Four or five pints I reckon."
"How could Dumbledore let that go to waste?"
"He wanted to keep the whole thing quiet for Ginny's sake."
"But all that money …" A quick glance at Ginny though and Ron's complaint died on his lips.
"We wouldn't have got a knut anyway Ron. It would have gone to the school as I guess the Basilisk belonged to Hogwarts."
"Shame though," he said mournfully.
"Oh don't worry we have plans to supply basilisk venom in the works," Ginny said.
"How?" Hermione asked.
"We're going to bred them." Harry found himself faking a cough to cover the laugh that threatened to burst out at the look on Ron's face.
"You two really are bonkers," Ron said.
"No it's quite simple. You put a compulsion curse on the toad to make sure it sits on the egg. A sound proof room surrounded by a dozen or more cockerels crowing at each other just in case they get out," Ginny said matter of factually.
"We reckon there could be a market for basilisk heart string wands as well as the venom. Ollivander seemed quite excited by the idea. None of them need get any bigger than five or six feet …" Harry added.
"And they're easy to kill all you need is a couple of the cockerels shouting at each other and they drop dead," Ginny finished.
"Much safer than using a goblin made sword."
"Mental totally mental!" Ron said shaking his head.
The other Ron or Hermione were never as gullible as the ones he was sitting with. He guessed without the experience of their last three years at Hogwarts they hadn't lost their innocence quite so quickly. He had no intention of chasing any deadly creature. The fact was that he had no idea what he was going to do with himself for the next year, apart from waiting for Ginny to finish her last year. After that the world was theirs for the taking.
Harry had no idea where the Basilisk idea had come from. Ginny's mind moved far faster than his when making things up. It was no doubt a benefit of growing up in a large family, although it didn't seem to have had the same effect on Ron. Still it was an intriguing prospect worthy of further thought at a quieter time, but the future wasn't set and that was the way he liked it.