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 Five – Recovery
January 7, 1998
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
When Neville opened the door he was only slightly surprised to find the Headmaster waiting for them. He had expected the old man to at least wait until after breakfast before starting his latest 'does Harry understand what he has done?' inquisition, but there you go.
"Mr. Longbottom, Miss Davis. Good of you to join us." Oh that wasn't good; the old man appeared to actually be angry. "Where is Mr. Potter?"
"Both the Potters are at their home, trying to heal what was done to them Headmaster." Tracey said before Neville could answer. "They will be making the decision as to if they return to Hogwarts in a day or so."
"Where are they Mr. Longbottom?"
"Safe Headmaster. They are both safe."
"Mr. Longbottom. You will tell me where they are. You will tell me now or you can start packing your trunk."
Tracey Davis was amazed at Longbottom's reaction. The man squared his shoulders and faced the Headmaster with an intensity Tracey had never seen before. "Ignoring the fact that I cannot tell you where they are since I am not Harry's Secret Keeper Headmaster, I would suggest that you step back and consider what you are doing. Making empty threats like that serves no useful purpose…"
"Empty threats?" The old man interrupted. "I assure you Mr. Longbottom…"
"Yes Headmaster, a pathetically empty threat." Neville's voice took on a hard edge of anger. "When you consider that the alliance between the Longbottoms and the Potters was an ancient one before you were born, I was required by both tradition and honor to accompany my friend and blood ally to his protest before the Wizengamot. Had his conflict gone as far as a formal duel, I would have been required to travel to him to stand as his second even if I hadn't gone with him originally." Neville took a step closer to the ancient wizard. "But what makes your threat empty has nothing to do with that. I am Longbottom of Longbottom. I have assumed that position and everything it entails. That means I control six seats on the Wizengamot and three on the Hogwarts Board. Harry controls four seats on the Wizengamot and two on the Board. Harry has been quietly replacing your puppets in his family's positions. Try to expel anyone without cause and you would be gone and your victim would be reinstated before they could make it to their Dorm."
Dumbledore seemed to notice the audience that had been forming in the Entry Hall. "We should move this discussion to my office."
"I don't think so Headmaster. When you felt the need to upbraid me, it was totally in public. I know everything you've done to Harry. Everything. You made sure Harry grew up outside our society, ignorant of his position, ignorant of his family and its history. Harry's far too noble to use what you did to destroy you." Neville moved until he was nose to nose with the Headmaster. "I on the other hand grew up surrounded by some of the most able politicians in the world, and all of them made very sure that I was ready to take my place when the time came. I know my place in the world; I know my responsibilities and the history of my family. Harry made sure I learned to stand up for myself, and showed me how to reach my full potential magically. Threaten Harry or anyone close to him again Headmaster and I will use what I know to destroy you. Unlike Harry I'm not a noble man Headmaster, when I'm done with you no one will remember Grindelwald, your name will be synonymous with corruption and betrayal."
Dumbledore worked his jaw wordlessly. Spinning in place, he stalked away with a swirl of his robes that would have made the late, largely unlamented, Severus Snape proud as the assembled students made way to allow him to pass.
January 13, 1997
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
The Room of requirements:
Neville entered the room quietly frowning at what he discovered. Harry was in the center of a dueling arena surrounded by the debris of destroyed dueling simulacrums. Harry was drenched in sweat, panting as if he had sprinted a mile, and on his knees.
"Harry?" Neville ventured. "Are you ok?"
"No." Harry said without looking up. "I'm slow. I'm weak. I tire far too quickly."
"You also talk in your sleep, and you have the most amazing gas whenever shepherd's pie is served." Neville noted hoping the insult would pull Harry out of his funk.
Harry shot him a dirty look. "What?" Neville asked. "I thought we were listing your more colorful personality traits."
"I've got to get better Nev. I've got to get myself to a level where I can face Voldemort."
"You will mate. You'll do fine, because at very least those of us who went with you to the Ministry will be with you."
"No. No, I'm not going through that again Neville. Ron and Hermione have found each other, finally. I'm not going to risk them. I can't deal with Ginny at all and I won't risk Luna again, what those bastards almost did to her…"
"Fine then. I'm going with you. I stood with you in the Ministry; it will be up to you to make sure I don't break my nose this time. I'm much better now that I've got my own wand."
"No Neville." Harry struggled to his feet. "You're all your Gran has. I owe the pair of you far too much to put you at risk."
Neville reached out and poked Harry in the chest. "Fuck you Potter. I'm older than you remember? Who the hell are you telling me what I can or can't do?"
"Neville?" Harry asked in shock.
"I'm going to let you off this time Harry, because you don't know your family history. If I let a Potter, any Potter go into a fight without going along, my Gran would skin me alive. There has been an alliance between the houses of Potter and Longbottom for most of five hundred years. If a Potter is in a fight there is a Longbottom at his back. If a Longbottom is attacked, a Potter takes revenge. That's how it's always been, that's how it always will be. You're the last Potter, I'm the last Longbottom, and we're stuck with each other." He grinned. "You're going to have to get me up to speed so that I can be pathetic along side you."
The pair regarded each other for a moment, and then Harry extended his hand. With a huge grin Neville took his friend's hand.
"I never knew any of that stuff about our families. Why didn't you say anything before?"
Neville shrugged. "I thought you knew. Hell, everyone knows about the Potters and the Longbottoms. I mean you're Harry Potter, it's hard to think of you as Muggle Raised. As pitiful as I was, I figured you were cutting your losses and forming an alliance with the Weasley clan. It wasn't until that night in the Ministry I realized you didn't have a clue about family alliances."
The room had reformed around them; the dueling arena was gone, replaced by a sitting room.
"I guess the room thinks we need to talk." Harry said gesturing toward the chairs. "Tell me what I need to know about our families."
January 7, 1998
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Hermione Granger watched silently from the edge of the crowd that had formed to witness the confrontation between the Headmaster and Neville Longbottom. As Head Girl she really should be breaking up the crowd, but…
The confrontation between Neville and the Headmaster was thought provoking. She had never really thought about how much had been withheld from Harry over the last seven years, much less over his life. When the Headmaster plowed through the assembled crowd, she finally spoke up.
"All right everyone; let's clear out the Entry hall." It was a sign of the level of respect she was held in that the crowd broke up with only a minimum of grumbling. She approached Neville who was oblivious to the appraising look he was receiving from Tracey Davis "Good morning Neville. Heading back to the dorm? Would you like some company?"
Neville nodded, and then seemed to remember Tracey was standing there. "Would you like me to escort you to your dorm Tracey?"
"Thank you Neville," the strawberry blond Slytherin said. "I'm fine. I'll be seeing you both in the Great Hall for breakfast." The girl hefted her bag and left for the dungeons, and she suspected an interrogation on par with what Longbottom was about to get.
"How's Harry?" Hermione began without preamble as they approached the first stairway heading toward Gryffindor tower.
"Harry's… Good." Neville said simply, knowing that an answer like that was likely to set Hermione off, but offering it anyway.
"Neville…" Hermione consciously bit back on her automatic response. Yelling at Neville didn't work anymore. The scion of the Longbottom family wasn't cowed by anyone, not for about a year now. "You said 'Both of the Potters' when you were speaking to the Headmaster. Daphne didn't return to school, Harry, Tracey Davis, and you all disappear two days ago without a word to anyone, what is going on Neville? Who is this second Potter? Where is Harry?"
The pair had reached the portrait of the Fat Lady. Pausing before offering the password to the portrait, Neville looked deeply into Hermione's eyes. "Not here. Not now." Neville looked pointedly at the portraits. "We'll find some time to discuss it, later."
January 7, 1998
Daphne watched as Tracey and Neville disappeared in the swirl of color and the sharp crack that marked apparation leaving her alone with Harry for the first time since the Wizengamot. She had spent the night sitting with Tracey and talking. Now she needed to speak with Harry.
The organized portion of her mind was still trying to deal with Harry's actions of the previous day. The proposal, the one-sided fight, the death of Benedikte, Harry's admission of lying and fraud to save her. So many things to think about and deal with.
The young woman turned to face her 'husband' as he sat at the kitchen table his attention focused on his mug of tea. He had risked so much for her. Why? Their relationship was less than five months old, why had he done what he had done? She was grateful beyond words for his saving her from life with Benedikte Neacsu, but how did she feel about him? Before the holidays she had found herself telling Harry she loved him. While comtemplating her upcoming wedding, she had come to suspect that whenever Benedikte came to her bed, she would be thinking of Harry, and only of Harry, but…
If not for the events of the day before, she would have been arriving at the Romanian Embassy about now for the marriage ceremony. She would be wearing that horrible monstrosity of a dress that the Romanian court required. She would be preparing to pledge herself to a very old man…
Daphne hadn't been happy about it, but it was what she had expected. She had been raised knowing that as a daughter of the House of Greengrass she existed to bind that house to another of greater status. It was the offer to Harry that had changed things. He had made it clear that he wasn't interested in purchasing her in the manner her father had offered, rather to her surprise he had wanted to get to know her. With Harry she didn't feel like a commodity to be bartered for status, but like a woman…
"I think we need to talk Daphne." She looked down from where she was standing into his blazing green eyes. "We need to decide what we're going to do."
Daphne sat facing him across the table. "I agree." She said simply. "How far are we taking this?"
"I don't know. I don't know who to talk to or even who we can trust. I never intended for the old man to die, what happens to you if we call this off?"
"I'm not sure what you mean by calling it off Harry. We're married." She smiled. "Besides, you asked. You're stuck with me."
"You don't mind that I killed the old man?"
Shaking her head Daphne answered. "Only in that it bothers you Harry."
"What if we take everything slowly?" Harry reached across the table taking her hand. "I've never really been one for plans. I just sort of rush in and bull my way through. This whole thing is just something Tracey, Neville and I threw together, you know? I'm still amazed that it worked."
Daphne squeezed his hand. "I thought I was never going to see you again." She whispered. "I thought that after you got that letter…"
"I didn't handle that letter very maturely I'm afraid. I threw a bit of a tantrum. Cleaning up afterward made Dobby very happy."
"Idiot." She said. Then Daphne smiled. "It just occurred to me; at the Reading of the Banns you said you protested the wedding on the basis of Fraud and Line Theft."
"You've got to admit," Harry said returning her grin. "I committed both."
Harry waited a few moments. "Do you think you're ready to go back to Hogwarts?"
"I… I don't know."
The Daily Prophet
January 7, 1998
Printing All the News That's Fit to Print
Violent Death Leaves Wizengamot in Uproar
Potter Announces He Has Been Married Since November
Charges Father-In-Law with Fraud and Line Theft Before the Wizengamot
By Michael Thigpen
During what was supposed to be the announcement of the linkage of two magical houses through marriage quickly became a confrontation between the Man-Who-Won and his Father-in-Law, the Wizengamot, and the Royal Family of Romania.
The Wizengamot was seated early in order to hear a Reading of the Banns proposing the union between the noted British Noble House of Greengrass to the Romanian Royal House of Neacsu. The session was begun with Chief Warlock Albus Dumbledore announcing that he was reading the Banns, and in accordance with those Banns, asked if anyone objected.
Always mindful of tradition, the Chambers of the Wizengamot immediately became silent. No one expected a protest, because there hadn't been a protest in more than five hundred years.
So, of course, Harry Potter did the unexpected, standing and protesting the proposed marriage. Chief Warlock Dumbledore asked Potter why he was there. The young Lord Potter-Black corrected the Chief Warlock, reminding the elder Wizard of the protocols of addressing individuals before the Wizengamot. The 7th year Gryffindor then went on to define the reasons of his protest of the Greengrass/Neacsu union was based upon Fraud and Line theft.
Chief Warlock Dumbledore then called Lord Potter-Black, Romanian Count Neacsu and Cyrus Greengrass before the Wizengamot, where The Man-Who-Won informed the assembled Wizengamot that he had executed an earlier Contract of Marriage between himself and the Noble House of Greengrass the previous November, and that he had paid the Greengrass family's Bride Price without question or negotiation. These facts were quickly confirmed via the Book of Records and Gringotts Statements.
It was then that noted Potter ally and the famous slayer of Bellatrix LeStrange, Neville Longbottom discovered that Daphne Potter nee Greengrass was wearing an illegal Bridal Submission Bracelet. Lord Potter Black was aiding Aurors in the removal of the proscribed torture device from his wife's arm when the Romanian Count Neacsu foolishly attacked the Man-Who-Won from behind.
Lord Potter-Black responded by casting the most powerful shield charm this reporter has ever seen, which resulted in the death of the Romanian. After Aurors verified that all the Man-Who-Won had cast was in fact a powerful shield, the Potters left the Chambers of the Wizengamot together.
Want to know more?
What does the union of the Potter/Black lines with the Greengrass/Moody lines mean? See Page 7.
Cyrus Greengrass found dead in Knockturn Alley Inn. Murder? Suicide? Accident? See Page 3.
Time Line of the Life of Harry Potter. See Page 3.
Biography of Daphne Potter: See Page 7.
Proscribed Torture Devices, what they are, what they do, and how to identify them: See Page 7.
January 7, 1998
Printing All the News That Fits
Harry Potter Marries
Quibbler Publisher's Daughter Heartbroken
Claims Daphne Potter is a 'Lucky Witch' and Hopes She Shares
Thousands of Witches in Despair
By Luna Lovegood
Once again the truism that the all the good men are either married or gay was proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. News reached this reporter that Harry Potter, known to the British Wizarding world as the Boy-Who-Lived, or The-Man-Who-Won, and to the Witches of Ravenclaw tower as Mr. Hot Hot Hottie is married, and widely believed to be straight.
Appearing before the Wizengamot to defend his bride against being sold by her opportunistic father into bigamistic slavery to some old foreigner, Potter 17, defended his lady love with the skills and bravery known and feared by Dark Lords worldwide. Once his Bride was safe, Potter escorted her out of the chambers, ignoring the questions of reporters, including several stringers for this very weekly.
This reporter would like to congratulate her school mate Daphne, with whom I have no classes seeing as she is a year ahead of me, and to remind Daphne that it would be monumentally selfish to keep Harry all to herself.
Foreigners, their insatiable lust for British Witches, and why they are so bad at it: See Page III
Harry Potter, his victories and the part Nargles played in them: See Page 9
Daphne Potter, what does she really look like under that Glamour? Our seers say she's even Hotter: See Page Dodecahedron
THIS WEEKS SPECIAL GIVEAWAY:
X-Ray Specs. Not the silly Muggle Toy that doesn't work, a special offer from Quibbler Technologies ONLY for Quibbler subscribers, see through the clothing of anyone! Find out just how lucky a Witch Daphne Potter really is.
Warning: Using Quibbler Technology X-Ray Specs around certain ginger individuals may lead to nausea, loss of sexual desire, and a general need to scrub out your braincase with bleach. There are some things we just aren't meant to know. You have been warned.
January 7, 1998
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
At the Gryffindor table, Hermione Granger looked up from her copy of the Quibbler. She had received a subscription from Luna as a Christmas gift for the second year in a row. This gift was greatly appreciated because Hermione refused to read the Daily Prophet as a matter of principle. She shook her head. Hermione loved the quirky Ravenclaw like a sister, but this was a bit much… Harry married.
That was when it hit her. Harry was married. Neville had mentioned 'the Potters' as in plural in his confrontation with Dumbledore. Harry was married. Harry was married to Daphne Greengrass.
She looked down the table to Neville Longbottom, who was looking at her as if expecting the questions boiling in her mind. She glanced pointedly at the News Paper in her hands, and he nodded.
"Later." Neville said. "After classes. A walk around the lake perhaps?"
What was going on? Why was Neville acting like it was some big secret?
The January sun had set long before classes let out. Neville and Hannah met Hermione in the Entry Hall. Bundled against the cold the trio set out on their 'evening walk'. Once they were well away from the castle, Neville seemed to relax then looked around. He then waved his wand about in a complex pattern while the two women looked at him like he had lost his mind.
"Harry and I can see Dumbledore when he's ghosting around the way he does, when we were training we got fairly good at finding monitoring charms. Like the one that was on your Head Girl Badge Hermione.
The bushy haired Gryffindor reflexively put her hand on the badge.
"Don't worry, I removed it. There probably isn't a nefarious reason for monitoring the Heads, it was probably there to be able to locate you if you're needed, but why take chances." Neville took Hannah's hand and started on the path around the lake.
"Neville," Hannah said quietly. "If you don't start talking Hermione's going to hurt you, and I'll probably help her. You've been doing this secretive stuff all day."
"When Daphne went home for the holidays she arrived to find her father had issued another marriage contract to a member of a Romanian Royal House. Greengrass needed to have the contract recognized by the Wizengamot to accentuate his status among the houses, so the actual wedding wasn't going to be until today."
"But the Prophet said…"
"I know Hannah. Daphne just disappeared; she wasn't answering Harry's floo calls, or his letters. In fact Hedwig came back hurt after being chased off by the Greengrass elves. Then Harry got a letter from Daphne saying it was over between them."
"Harry told me about that at Christmas." Hermione said. "He said that she had broken it off."
"I told him to wait it out, to talk to Daphne when she got back to school." Neville said. "I was an idiot. It frankly never occurred to me what Cyrus Greengrass was willing to do to his own daughter. When Tracey came back to school she told Harry what was happening. Harry and Tracey and I spent Monday making arrangements to stop the marriage from happening. Yesterday we got lucky, it worked."
"The Prophet said that the Romanian died." Hannah noted.
"He had a Bridal Submission bracelet on Daphne. Harry reacted pretty violently to that. The man then cast a cutting curse at Harry and Daphne, Harry, well he responded with a Praecise shield out of reflex. That shield accidentally killed the man."
There was several seconds of silence. "Harry killed someone with a shield?" Hermione asked. "How is that possible?"
A Praecise is a high energy shield intended for extremely powerful curses. When a low powered curse hit it, well, the energy just reacted badly." Neville explained.
Hermione took on the look that her friends knew to mean she was going to be researching something in short order. "All right, but I don't understand, if Daphne's father had one of those vile contracts with the Romanian, how did Harry…"
Neville bent down and picked up a stone that he heaved out onto the frozen lake. "Harry and Daphne married in November." He said simply.
"No they didn't, Harry said…"
"Hermione." Her fellow Gryffindor said quietly. "Harry and Daphne married in November."
Hannah's jaw dropped, but Hermione plowed on. "But Neville, he couldn't have…"
Hannah put her hands on the Gryffindor Witch's shoulders, looking her straight in the eyes. "Hermione, listen carefully. Harry and Daphne married in November. We know this because we are his friends."
Realization finally came to the smartest witch of her generation. "Oh, my." She covered her mouth with a mitten covered hand. "That means…"
"That means," Neville said as he led the pair of witches on the path back to the castle, "That Harry and Daphne married in November."
January 7, 1998
Harry entered the master suite toweling his hair dry to find Daphne waiting for him in his bed.
He stopped in the doorway to the bath, surprised, wondering what he should say. He had expected her to stay in the room that had become 'hers'
"Quit gaping at me and come to bed." Daphne huffed. "It's chilly and I need your body heat."
Harry hesitated for a moment, and then slid under the quilt. Daphne cuddled in close.
"What's wrong Harry?"
"I didn't think you'd want me to touch you after… Well after what you've been through." Harry stammered.
Daphne lay beside him for a moment in silence. The room lit only by the banked fire in the hearth. "I need you to hold me Harry. I want… I need some control of my life. The last few weeks have been… difficult." Daphne pulled Harry's right arm around her, interlacing his fingers with her own and resting her head on his bicep. "I need to have you here. I need to be with someone I want to be with."
"Whatever you want Daphne." Harry pulled her closer. "Damn you've got cold feet. How can your feet be that cold?"
"Don't make me laugh damn it."
"Sorry." Daphne could feel his heartbeat. "But your feet are cold you know."
That was the final straw. Daphne began to giggle helplessly. The giggles became full blown laughter when she saw in the dim light of the banked fire that he was waggling his eyebrows at her. While she laughed, Harry pulled her closer, all the while desperately attempting to force his body to stop responding to hers.
Daphne noticed of course. After her giggles died down, she cuddled even closer. "Do you want me Harry?" she asked innocently.
"Always." He whispered. "But I can wait until you're ready."
February 15, 1998
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry:
Hermione pulled herself up into the carriage. She was supposed to meet Justin at the Three Broomsticks at one o clock. The tall Hufflepuff had offered to wait while she got her Head Girl responsibilities out of the way, but she told him not to be silly, there was no reason for him to wait around the castle just to wait on her.
Today, she and Justin were 'celebrating' their three month anniversary, a day early. Hermione was a bit amazed at how well they had meshed as a couple. While Justin wasn't the bookworm she was, he recognized the need to study, conversely he had introduced her to the joys of a quiet evening of talking about nothing sitting before the hearth in the Head Girl's suite or the Hufflepuff common room. Justin had charmed her parents, and his parents and sister all seemed to be happily accepting of her.
All in all Hermione found herself to be surprisingly happy. They hadn't gone beyond kissing yet. She had learned her lesson in that regard. She dug into her ever present book bag for something to read on the short ride to town when the carriage door opened and someone climbed in.
Hermione looked up to find Ron Weasley sitting across from her smiling. Her first reaction was to simply get out of the carriage without saying a word to him, but before she could move, the carriage jolted into motion.
"Ron." She said quietly.
"How have you been?" the youngest male Weasley asked.
"I've been fine Ron, and you?"
"About the same I guess." The carriage was passing the gates of the school. "I've missed you Hermione. I've missed you a lot. I was thinking, you know, maybe we could try again."
"We were good together, you know… I'd like to get back together with you."
Hermione found herself thinking about it. She smiled brightly. She leaned forward and placed her hand on Ron's knee. She suddenly realized she was wearing a scoop necked jumper he had liked when they were together, and she saw that his eyes bugged out when her movement had presented him with a view of her cleavage. When they were dating that look had thrilled her, now… "You know what I think Ron?"
Weasley forced himself to raise his eyes from her breasts. She had fantastic breasts. "What do you think Hermione?"
"I think you're out of your fucking mind if you think I'll ever let you touch me again." With that she sat back and crossed her arms.
Justin was waiting at the drop off point for the Hogwarts carriages. He had told Hermione he would meet her at the Three Broomsticks, but he found himself missing her. This caused him to wonder, not for the first time just how the hell he had gotten to this point.
The day that Hermione had spent at his parents' home had gone very well. His father was never a worry. Dad accepted everyone without question, only one of the reasons he was so good at what he did. Mum on the other hand had high standards. In his seventeen years, Justin had brought home six girls before Hermione. His mother had disapproved of every one. Julie, the girl who had broken up with him the previous summer, Mum had deemed as 'too flighty. She lacks the fire to make a relationship work'. Hannah and Susan from school were foolish, giggly girls who just weren't right for him. The other three were dismissed for similar reasons, so Justin felt he was justified in his concern over how his mother received Hermione.
The day went very well. As soon as Justin had brought Hermione through the front door and introduced her to his family, his mother had taken the girl on a tour of the house. Justin made to follow, but his father placed a staying hand on Justin's shoulder.
"Leave them be Justin." The elder Finch-Fletchley said softly as the women mounted the staircase. "This is the first girl you've brought home that wasn't a 'buddy' on the first appearance."
"It's not like that Dad." Justin protested.
The older man shrugged. "Your mother thinks it might be, I've learned not to go against her on these things." Miles Finch-Fletchley grinned at his son's discomfort. "From what I've been able to find out, she's a good girl from a good family."
"Dad, please don't tell me you checked them out."
"I didn't have to. Marty Granger is a client. I've known him for years. I'm going to have to get him into my office to talk about what you two get up to aren't I?"
Justin managed to laugh with his father despite wanting to hex him a time or two. The women returned smiling, which Justin found oddly… disturbing.
Dinner was a pleasant affair, with lively conversation and stories of Hogwarts. Hermione became somewhat circumspect when the conversation turned to the recent War and her part of it. Justin was surprised when she spoke of what she called her betrayal of Harry Potter.
Following the meal, Hermione accompanied Justin on a tour of the estate where he showed her his childhood haunts and former forts, while she made remarks about 'boys and their toys'. They found a quiet place in the old empty stables (remnants of previous owners of the property twice removed, the Finch-Fletchleys had never kept horses) to steal a few moments together. So it is understandable that both of them were a bit flushed when they returned to the main house so that Hermione could say her goodbyes.
Upon his return home (again, oddly flushed) Justin found his mother waiting for him in the kitchen.
"I like her." She said simply.
Eunice Finch-Fletchley pulled her only son into a hug. "It's about time you found a smart girl. Some of those bubbleheads you insisted on bringing home had me worried about you." The woman smiled at Justin's discomfort. "I'm not going to ask how far you've gone with Hermione; it's none of my business. Just remember I was eighteen once. Just be careful until you're SURE. And don't make me a grandmother until you're twenty one, all right?"
The arrival of the carriage broke Justin from his memories, but it wasn't the sound of the carriage its self that captured his attention, rather it was the sound of the row taking place inside of it. He instantly recognized Hermione's voice, and he had been in the vicinity of enough of the famous Weasley/Granger arguments to know Ron Weasley's voice when he heard it. The carriage came to a stop and the door burst open.
"I don't care what excuses you've got Ron Weasley. You just stay away from me."
Justin rushed to help her down from the carriage. This didn't go unnoticed.
"Him?" Ron Weasley bellowed. "You're throwing me over for a bloody Hufflepuff?"
Justin was trying his best to guide Hermione away from the confrontation, but she whirled about to confront Weasley again. "I would smack you in the mouth for that Weasley, but I don't want to get stupid on my hands. You left me you egotistical mouth breathing moron. And yes, I'm with Justin now. Now that I've been with a man, I just can't bring myself to lower my standards back down to whatever the hell you are." She then spun on her heel and stalked away. Justin rushed to catch up.
Once he did catch up, Justin matched her pace and said nothing, just waiting for her to calm herself. She finally did, and glanced at him sideways.
"Letting him get to me." She frowned.
"Ex's are like that. Personally I'm hoping you can find time this summer for us to 'accidentally' bump in to my Ex, just so she can see how much better I did after she was out of the picture."
"Why, Mr. Finch-Fletchley, are you flirting with me?"
The tall Hufflepuff smiled. "You bet. How am I doing?"
The Head Girl took his hand interlacing her fingers with his. "Very well." She leaned into him. "Very well in deed."
April 2, 1997
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
The Room of requirements:
Albus Dumbledore stood under an obscure disillusionment charm watching as Harry Potter and Neville Longbottom continued with their pathetic attempts to train themselves. The ancient wizard smiled. The level of their abilities had improved since their adventures at the Ministry of Magic certainly, but they would lose spectacularly when pitted against any moderately trained wizard. And they both knew it.
Yes, this was an excellent development. It wouldn't be long before the guilt over Tom's atrocities drove Harry back into the fold. The boy would be begging Albus Dumbledore, the greatest wizard of all time to train him to be capable of fighting Tom. It was perfect, just perfect.
The Headmaster gathered his magic around himself and passed through the hidden exit from the Room of Requirements. There were plans to make and steps to take.
Neville pivoted on his left foot and cast a spell at Harry. As was the case of most of the spells Longbottom had cast this night, the cast was wide never coming close to the stationary target. The electric blue light splashed against the wall of the Room, and spread to cover every surface in the Room of Requirements before pulsing twice and fading from view.
"He's gone. He didn't bother to leave any monitoring charms this time." The sandy haired Gryffindor said.
"Good, he still hasn't sussed out that we can see him now." Harry posited, willing the room to start the exercise sequence that Dumbledore's arrival had interrupted. The stationary targets started moving. Each of the fifteen target simulacrums began firing heavy curses at the two young men. "First one to eight makes the run to the kitchen for the midnight snack!"
"Your sandwiches, oh great and powerful Cheater." Harry said through clenched teeth.
"Oooh, tuna." Neville said with a wide smile. "My favorite."
"I'm serious Neville; convincing the room that you needed all the drones to target me was cheating!" Harry took a bite of his own sandwich and grimaced. He hated tuna, especially at Hogwarts where the elves always used too much onion.
"You call it cheating; I call it using all the resources at my disposal." The larger man chuckled. "We're ready mate."
"I agree. Now all we need is a time and place." Harry chewed for a moment then continued. "I think I know where Riddle is. Little Hangleton."
"Only an idiot would hang out where he's known to have been." Neville nodded. "So, given that it's Riddle we're talking about you're probably right. So, we've got the place. I've got an idea about the time."
"I'll probably hate it, but what's your idea?"
"Riddle's been conducting all these nighttime raids, hitting several places at once, then moving and hitting several more. The Auror reports that Tonks has been getting us seem to be claiming that the same wizards are hitting several times throughout the night."
Harry ran his hand through his hair. "Yeah, they do. What's your idea?"
"The next time they pull one of their all nighters, we hit them early in the next morning."
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 pharmacy 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.
March 13, 2008
Rio de Janeiro
It had been a hellish day. It was odd that despite the fact that having the new equipment had made the treating of each individual patient easier, the cumulative effect had meant that more patients came through the door.
Hermione slid her key into the door lock reflecting that she had seen more patients today than any three days since she had been here. Despite her fatigue she smiled wondering what the hyper little elf was going to do tonight. She would have to remember to write Harry to thank him for the help.
As the door clicked shut behind her Hermione's instincts perked up. Someone was in the apartment. Hermione searched her memories for the proper spell, she hadn't even thought about using her wand in anger for more than a decade. With a trembling hand she held her wand in the first of the seven approved dueler's grips, and carefully eased the door to her kitchen open.
To find Justin Finch-Fletchley sitting at her small table pouring a cup of tea.
"Hi Hermione," the sandy haired man replied, his eyebrows raised at the sight of her wand aimed between his eyes.
Hermione lowered her wand. "You scared me to death. What are you doing here?"
"Well," the investment banker said, pouring a cup of tea for the lady of the house. "I wanted to see you."
"To see me?" she sputtered. "We haven't seen each other in seven years, why did you want to see me?"
"This is going to sound stupid."
"I'm used to stupid." The bushy haired woman said with a grin. "I dated Ron Weasley."
"Ok. I got my annual bonus in December, three million pounds."
"You got three million pounds as a bonus?" She shook her head. "I'm in the wrong business."
"I had a good year," Justin grinned. "Anyway, I had all that money and I realized I wasn't happy. And I haven't been happy for a long time. So I was sitting on my sofa wondering what was wrong with my life when a little manic elf popped into my apartment and told me where 'Miss Harry Potter Sir's Grangy' was and popped out again."
"I guess so, I never could tell them apart. So the elf tells me that you're in Rio helping sick people and I remembered the last time I was happy. So I thought that I'd come out and see if you were happy with your life."
"So you thought you'd hop on a plane and come down to Rio for a little slap and tickle?" Hermione asked wondering if she should be getting angry.
"Well, no. I wanted to see you… Though if you're a doctor of love these days…"
That was when Hermione hit him. Then she kissed him.
"So," Justin asked when they came up for air, "do you want to go out sometime?"
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 Mistress 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.