Disclaimer all characters, settings, etc, are the copyright of JK Rowlings and Bloomsbury Publishing
Uncle Vernon 'A very nice man'
This had to be one of the oddest days Harry could remember, he was in the park in the dark sat on a swing that was now too small for him, and he remembered some of the times he had walked here to the park to get some privacy. A place he could think undisturbed. He thought back on the day's events, there was no way it could have been for real.
Yet if it was a dream then how come he was still here sitting on the last remaining swing, why had he not woken up? He usually did after a strange dream, he pinched himself jumping when it hurt, "Ouch," I must be awake he muttered to himself. He was so happy, for the first time he could remember life was actually being good to him.
How had it all started, his mind drifted back to that morning, it had been the first day since the last battle that he had woken not feeling any guilt for killing a person. It had finally sunk in that killing Voldemort was not like killing some one normal; it was more like saving numerous other people from death.
He had entered the kitchen in number four privet drive feeling better this morning than he had for quite some time, today was the day he was to search for his own flat and tomorrow he had a meeting with Hermione so she could help him sort it all out.
He had rushed into the kitchen eager to be done with breakfast, turning to sit he had managed to knock a mug of tea over uncle Vernon's breakfast,
Quickly he mumbled an apology as he fled from the kitchen and rushed upstairs his uncle in hot pursuit.
He had only just managed to grab his coat when uncle Vernon started to bellow at him, he was turning a nice shade of purple as Harry said again that it had been an accident and he was very sorry.
Uncle Vernon gave up shouting far sooner than he would normally have done and went back downstairs. Harry had noticed but not really paid much attention to this small mercy, he put on his coat and waited for the sound of the kitchen door to close before he ventured down the stairs.
Leaving the house he quietly shut the front door, he was going to borrow Dudley's unused bicycle to get to the estate agents office where he had an appointment. So instead of turning out on to privet drive he headed around toward the back garden and the rear door of the garage.
Creeping quietly towards the garage he had to pass the open kitchen window, he became inquisitive when he heard a gentle sort of sobbing coming from inside the kitchen.
Intrigued he stooped down low and moved closer so that he was directly under the window. The sobbing had stopped and aunt Petunia was saying "It won't be long dear the war will be over soon, and then it can all end."
"I can't do it any more Pet; it's been nearly eighteen years Petunia, eighteen extremely long, long years." Harry heard his uncle Vernon saying.
'I suppose they will be glad to be rid of me at last' Harry thought, 'get rid of the horrible Harry Potter the wizard blight on their Muggle lives,
Well I've a good mind to stay and to forget to tell them I got rid of Voldemort.'
But from what he heard from his uncle did not sound like he was angry with Harry or anxious to be rid of him, "Why did I ever make that stupid vow?" He was saying "when Dumbledore asked me, do you remember what I was doing Petunia? I was playing with the kids I was rolling around on the floor playing with them both. How I have wished these many years that, that stupid unbreakable curse had never been invented. Dumbledore begging me and saying that it would make Harry strong enough to face anything, I loved that boy like a son, I still do. I hate myself for the way we act day after day when he is here, and do you know what the worst part is? He hates me so much I can almost taste it when he looks at me. He will live his entire life thinking I am an inhuman bully, never forgetting and never forgiving either of us."
Harry could not believe what he was hearing, so he edged a little closer to the open window. "Well if what we have done has made him the way we hope and expect, and saves him then it will have been worth it, he can hate me as much as he likes as long as he is alive to do so," aunt Petunia said, "do you remember how happy we were when he was born, you and James got drunk in the leaky cauldron drinking fire whisky, to how did James put it? 'wet the babies head'."
"Yes and do you remember how we went out with them in their buggies me and James racing around like a pair of nutters?"
"I remember Lily and me had such a laugh at your antics, you and James doing crazy things all day long."
"Well its tearing me apart, when I made that vow I never realized I would have to actually do it and I never considered for a second that it would be so soon or for so long, and do you realize we will go to our graves with Harry and his friends thinking we are evil useless Muggles?"
Uncle Vernon sobbed a little as he spoke, "Hated by my nephew all because of a promise to that old goat Dumbledore not to treat the boy in any way that could be thought of as kind, well I hope it has been worth it, I hope he has the strength to do it, to kill, to take a life, to get rid of Voldemort. How long can this go on for Petunia, how long?"
Harry heard his aunt sigh quietly, "To be honest love, I have hoped and prayed that someone would slip up, tell Harry some tales of Lily and James, to reveal to him that you and James were as thick as thieves, but that will never happen, thanks to Dumbledore and his spells, charms and other stuff Harry never thinks to ask about the life of his parents before the thrice damned prophecy."
Harry crept back to the front door and very quietly let himself in, he went to his room to think for a while, then having decided what to do he went downstairs making more noise than was necessary. He walked into the kitchen and caught a glimpse of his aunt wiping away a tear, can I get a drink please he asked.
Aunt Petunia passed him a glass and he filled it with orange from the fridge then he went back upstairs. Grabbing a quill and parchment he quickly scribbled a note to Hermione
Dear Hermione, something very strange has happened here at number four.
If you can I need you to come to the Dursley house as soon as possible, I really have to talk to you soon, this afternoon would not be too soon.
He tied the note to his new owl's leg and asked her to find Hermione as quick as she could; he needed to have some one with him, some one who he knew he could trust completely, someone to help him figure this out.
It was after he had sent the note that he changed his plan, the note had made him think about something that due to Voldemort he had put off for far too long. Quietly he went back down to the kitchen, "What is it now boy?" uncle Vernon said over his coffee cup.
Harry sat down opposite his uncle, "I need some advice please uncle Vernon."
His uncle choked on his coffee "Advice from me?" he spluttered while wiping the coffee off the shirt he was wearing.
"Well yes being as you're the only family I have in the entire world," Harry said acting as casual as he could, "and you are a married man."
His uncle was turning a new colour Harry had never seen his uncle go before it was a deep shade of pink.
Harry continued "Its like this, there is a girl that I am really deeply in love with, she was my best friend at school, and… well I did a stupid thing. I never told her how I feel about her so that she would be safe while I went after Voldemort. Now that I have ended his reign of terror and he is no more, I want to ask her to marry me but I don't know the best way to ask her, because she just happens to have one heck of a temper some times, and I did sort of neglect her in the boy girl type thing, and then there is Ron..."
"You did it? You finished him off? He's gone?" uncle Vernon sounded as though he had just had all his prayers answered but was not sure he had heard correctly.
"Yeah with Hermione's help, plus a few other good friends, Voldemort is no more. I did not think you would be interested though," said Harry watching his uncles face light up.
Aunt Petunia then did some thing that caught Harry a little off guard, she dropped a pan she was washing and rushed at him, she flung her arms around his neck and said "Thank the heavens its over at last." She hugged Harry till he thought she might suffocate him.
"Best let him breath Petunia," uncle Vernon said as he stood, "So it's done then, its all over is it, do you want to tell us about it?" Vernon Dursley looked and sounded like a different person as he stood looking at Harry.
"Later I will," said Harry "but I don't have much time, hopefully Hermione is going to be here soon and I could do with that advice before she arrives."
Uncle Vernon stuck out his chest and hiked himself to his full six foot four height, "Got a bit of a temper you say, yes well the best way you can deal with fiery women is head on lad, yes that's it, you face her head on, soon as she is sitting here having a cup of tea, you just come right out with it. Will you marry me? say it and say it loud and clear, none of this whispery stuff, she wouldn't appreciate that, would probably think you're either scared of her or you don't really mean it, besides catching her wrong footed will delay or avert any bad temper long enough for her to think about what you said."
Uncle Vernon looked at Harry's aunt as she spoke "Well seems a good idea to me especially if you are so in love with her. It won't give her time to think of an excuse or to think of how she's been only a friend all this time," aunt Petunia said.
She made Harry a pot of tea and set it on the table along with milk sugar and biscuits; she put two of her best coasters and two china cups as well, "Best make a good impression straight away," she said adding "do you want to be alone or would you like us to stay?"
Harry thought about it for a couple of minutes then said "Knowing Hermione I might be safer if you are here."
It was only a few minutes later there was a knock on the door, aunt Petunia went to the door and came back leading Hermione into the kitchen where Harry sat opposite his uncle.
Both of them rose when Hermione walked into the kitchen. Uncle Vernon moved to the top of the table and politely invited Hermione to take the seat he had just vacated.
Hermione sat looking at Harry with curiosity all over her face; she was bursting with questions but did not want to ask them in front of the Dursley's.
Aunt Petunia sat opposite her husband and smiled at Harry.
Hermione's eyebrows shot up and she gave Harry a sort of look and a small nod of her head indicating she wanted to know if his aunt had gone mad.
Harry gently waved his hand a little to quiet her questioning look. He gave a quick look at his uncle that said if this doesn't work it's your fault.
Then he turned to Hermione and across the table he said quite clearly "Hermione Jane Granger will you marry me please?"
Hermione's mouth opened but just a splutter came out, she looked at aunt Petunia then at uncle Vernon, then she looked back at Harry.
"Harry James Potter, what did you just…? I could have sworn… if you think for one moment… I, I, I… what did you just ask me? Never mind I heard what you said, well of all the…" Harry and his aunt and uncle were all beginning to look slightly fearful the tactic might to be failing.
Hermione carried on "You said in that note… now you just asked… have you gone crazy?"
Harry looking more fearful than before, he spoke again "Just a yes would do Mione, I love you with all my heart and now the war is all over I want to spend the rest of my life with you."
Hermione kept looking from one to another of Harry's relatives for several seconds then she looked at him and huge smile broke out on her face, "Harry I never in my… I did not expect… yes Harry, YES."
Harry and the Dursley's looked relieved, "But it wont get you off a good telling off for making me worried," she added as she reached across and took the hand Harry was holding out.
"Now that's all sorted I think you three have some explaining to do," Hermione said looking at them curiously.
Uncle Vernon just blustered and aunt Petunia busied her self pouring more tea. It was left for Harry to say some thing so he got up smiled at his aunt and uncle and taking her hand he led Hermione out of the house. He quietly led the way toward the kitchen window and indicated to Hermione that they should be quiet. Stooping low he stopped under it with her right at his side, he put a finger to his lips, and they listened to the Dursley's conversation.
"Thank heavens it is all over, that means that the vow I made to Dumbledore is over as well," uncle Vernon was saying.
"I must say Vernon, I never thought Harry would come to us for advice, not in a month of Sunday's, you never know, now we're free of the vow never to treat Harry with any thing that could be seen to be kind, to literally make him hate us, maybe, just maybe he may still pay us the occasional visit, maybe even let us see his children when they have them."
"She is a very beautiful girl don't you think? And that wonderful long hair, and her no nonsense attitude, a perfect match for Harry's stubborn streak, and did you hear her, that's one marriage where the woman will be queen," Petunia said, "I am happy for the boy, do you think we have any chance of going to the wedding?"
Uncle Vernon was blowing his nose into his hanky saying "It doesn't matter now dear, he asked me for advice, he will never know how much that means to me. I will be content with that, he did the thing he was supposed to, he has bought peace to the world and no doubt saved a lot of lives."
Hermione was looking at Harry with astonishment; they backed away and walked down privet drive a short way, "What vow Harry? Do you know? Did they say that they had no choice in the way they treated you? What's going on Harry?" she wanted to know.
"It seems uncle Vernon made the unbreakable vow with Dumbledore. From what I over heard this morning seems Dumbledore practically forced Vernon to make a vow he would never treat me with any kindness. I know it sounds mean but they all did it because Dumbledore fooled them, told them it was to make me tough enough inside, to strengthen my reason to take a life, to be able to kill Voldemort. Hearing uncle Vernon made me think, and I realised now Riddle is gone there was no longer any need to hide how I really feel about you."
Half an hour later Hermione had gone to a nearby phone box to phone her parents at work, Harry had walked on to the park. His feet seemed to be floating somewhere above the ground as he walked, Hermione the love of his life had consented to marry him, his family were not as bad as he had thought and the war was finished.
He checked the time, it was after twelve, shocked at how the time had flown while he had been lost in thought he started for home, Hermione was staying at number four until lunch. At lunch time they were off to tell the Granger family about his proposal and Hermione's acceptance.
At eleven forty-five Hermione had knocked on the door of number four privet drive, aunt Petunia answered the nock and flung her arms around the startled Hermione, "Come in dear, Harry's not back yet so we can wait in the kitchen if you don't mind," she led the way and an aroma of cooking food assailed them as they walked along the passage.
Sitting at the table aunt Petunia spoke "I know you don't like me and I don't blame you, but would you do me a favour and make Harry very happy, if there ever was someone who deserves it, it has to be Harry."
Hermione did not quite know what to say, so she said "I love him and always will, I fell in love with him when I was eleven years old, the very first time I set eyes on him on the train to Hogwarts, if I live forever I will still love him, I have waited seven years to hear him ask me out on a date, I thought he simply didn't see me that way, and then today when he asked me to marry him, I remembered all the times he has revealed his love for me, oh, he's asked me to marry him and we have never even kissed." she said before she turned and looked at the pots on the cooker.
"Hermione dear, from what I know it seems you two have been dating for seven years already. Anyway I'm just doing something for lunch, if you wanted to stay, we could talk a little, get to know each other."
While they talked Hermione noticed aunt Petunia seemed to be a different woman to the one she had known, and was eager to talk about the world of magic.
"Harry and I have arranged to go to see my parents, tell them the news other wise I would stay," Hermione said, she felt a little uncomfortable it did not seem right somehow, the Dursley's were supposed to be horrid people they always had been.
Aunt Petunia stood "I'd like to show you something if I may, but you mustn't let Harry know you have seen what I am about to show you, promise,"
"Ok," Hermione said following Petunia into the living room.
Petunia walked over to a small bookcase and from the top she removed a small jewellery box, opening it she tipped the contents onto the coffee table then she reached inside it and pulled out what was a false bottom.
"Don't forget Hermione you must not tell Harry you've seen these," She held out her hand and there rested in the palm was a beautiful engagement ring and a wedding ring with Griffin motifs moving slowly around it.
Hermione gasped "They are magnificent," she said taking a closer look at both rings.
"They were Harry's mums, if you like them then I can give them to their rightful owner to give to his true love, that's what Lily would have wanted," Petunia said then started to cry.
Hermione asked what was wrong and Petunia told her the entire story, and finished with how she had never been able to talk about her sister while Harry was about, all so he would be able to grow up to be as near normal yet a mentally as tough a boy as possible till he reached eleven. but we were to… we… we…, it kept Voldemort from finding him, It was much worse for Vernon he had to be the bully, than it was for me."
Petunia stopped crying and snatched back the rings, while Hermione grabbed a news paper and sat as though reading when they heard Harry walking toward the living room.
"Ah Hermione are you ready love, we can apparate from the garden as the street is empty?" Harry said as he entered the room.
"Well your aunt has cooked you a meal for lunch so as I am a little hungry I think we should stay a while and eat; besides I have the rest of the day off today." She replied as she folded the paper and placed it on the coffee table.
"Hermione do you think you could just nip out to the back garden tell Vernon his lunch will be on the table in five minutes please?" Petunia asked.
Hermione nodded and headed out for the back door.
"Harry while we have a minute, your mother left something… I would like you to have them now," Petunia said as she handed the small box to him.
Harry opened the box and did not know what to say, he was so confused.
"They were your mum's engagement and wedding ring, I promised my self when I got them I would give them to you when you met the right girl," Petunia had a tear trickle down her cheek as she spoke.
Hermione and uncle Vernon entered and after washing their hands they all sat to eat, aunt Petunia served up a tasty stew followed by ice cream and fruit, having finished eating Harry was so confused decided to ask what was going on what had been going on?
Uncle Vernon sat back a very sad look appeared on his face, "Harry all those years ago after your mother and father were killed by Voldemort, Dumbledore came to see us, he told us what had happened. He was convinced that part of the reason they died was because they were too good to perform any of the magic that might have saved them. They never even thought of using the killing curse or such stuff, James and Lily were two of the nicest people you could wish to meet. Dumbledore thought you would be like them, he needed a way to get you to be able to fulfil your destiny and survive, we promised to make you capable of hate while not destroying the good in you, for all these years I have been bound by that promise, remember that howler well it reminded us of that promise, that and the protection we could give you."
Vernon stopped talking rose to his feet and with a sort of nod and a sad look he left the table and walked back out to his garden, aunt Petunia followed soon after.
Hermione took hold of Harry's hand and led him to the garden to say goodbye to his aunt and uncle before they left for Hermione's home.
Looking up from his unnecessary hedge pruning uncle Vernon sniffled before he asked Harry how he had finished off Voldemort.
Harry could think of no reason why he should not tell them so he gave a quick rundown of the events leading up to and including Voldemort's last spell and how he deflected it killing the dark lord.
Finishing his tale he and Hermione thanked aunt Petunia for the meal and saying bye for now they walked out of the back garden, into the driveway where after checking that they could not be seen they disappeared with a pop.
They arrived in the garden of the Granger home, Harry asked Hermione to wait a moment as she started for the back door.
"I reckon we are what you call engaged now," Harry started "so I need to ask you some thing," he took a deep breath unsure how this would go down with Hermione, "over the years I've known Ron, he as always gotten a little jealous when any boy looked at you, I even told him I only thought of you as a sister so he wouldn't run off again, if you still want to marry me and are ready for him to start yelling at us…" he paused while she told him that what Ron thought would not stop her loving him, before he continued "any way if you want a brand new engagement ring I will understand, but aunt Petunia gave me this."
He fumbled in his pocket for a second then he pulled out the rings,
Hermione took the engagement ring from Harry for a moment then passed it back to him. Harry took hold of her hand and slipped it on her ring finger, at first it looked to small but it adjusted itself to fit. Hermione held up her hand admiring the ring, "Its wonderful Harry," she said and she kissed him hard and passionately for the first time.
Hand in hand they walked into the Granger kitchen to find Mrs Granger busy over at the stove cooking a stew, she turned to see who had entered and just for one fleeting moment she was shocked to see Hermione and Harry were holding hands. She knew what had happened between them from the phone call, and from Hermione's letters she had been certain that although her daughter loved him they would never get together.
Very quickly over coming this initial surprise, she rushed forward and gave Harry a greeting consisting of a huge hug and a kiss on the cheek, "Welcome Harry," she said then welcomed her daughter, "your dad is in the living room dear," she said to Hermione.
"I would like a word with Mr Granger if that's ok?" Harry said, leaving Hermione with her mum in the kitchen he went into the living room.
"Mr Granger Sir," Harry began.
Richard turned around, "Oh hello Harry, isn't it?" said Richard Granger shaking the young mans hand.
"Mr Granger sir I would like to ask you for your daughters hand in marriage," Harry said wondering how he would react.
Richard Granger looked at Harry for a while before he spoke "Its taken you long enough to figure out Harry." His face burst into a wide grin "I can think of no one in the world I would rather have as a son in law than the one she has been in love with for years," he said he took Harry's hand again and shook it vigorously.
Harry let out his breath he had held as Mr Granger had spoken, before he had chance to speak again the two women rushed in from the kitchen, Hermione's mum congratulating Harry for finally coming to his senses.
Hermione held out her hand to show them her engagement ring as they both admired it she told them it had been Harry's mothers and that she was so proud to be wearing it.
After spending several hours at the Grangers, eating supper out on the terrace and kissing the girl of his dreams, Harry apparated to the park in Little Whinging where he sat on the last remaining swing and thought of what a wonderful life he was going to have with Hermione Jane Potter…