"And does Mr. Potter have his key?" the goblin asked, sneering down at the boy.
Hagrid began to fumble in his pockets.
"I didn't even know I had any money until five minutes ago, Sir," Harry answered, looking up at the goblin, his green eyes wide and innocent behind his glasses.
The goblin's sneer turned into a frown of a very different sort.
"Ah, there's the little bugger!" Hagrid declared, holding up the key with a smile, having miss the by-play completely as he set the small golden key on the goblin's desk.
"Mr. Hagrid, why did you have it?" Harry asked, confused. Everything had been confusing since the first letter had come.
"Dumbledore gave it me for you," the large man answered jovially.
Harry blinked and frowned. "Well, why did he have it?"
"A valid question," the goblin put in. "Mr. Hagrid, do you have any other business with the bank today?"
"Er, oh, yes! Dumbledore gave me this about..." he trailed off, passing over an envelope.
The goblin took it and nodded sharply. "Griphook will take you down," he said, handing back the missive. "Mr. Potter clearly needs some instruction about his accounts. Once that's done, we'll assign one of our human employees to assist him in making his purchases."
Hagrid nodded and bustled off after another goblin that barely came up to his knee.
"Sir?" Harry asked, curious but ultimately confused.
"Follow me Mr. Potter, there is clearly much that you have not been told," the goblin instructed, getting down from his chair and leading Harry in a different direction to the one that Hagrid had been taken. "We had believed that you were being insulting, not responding to our letters. Now it seems that you never got those letters," explained the goblin. "Which changes things completely of course." The goblin opened a door and ushered Harry in. "If you will take a seat, an account manager will be with you shortly."
Harry nodded and did as he was told. Another goblin arrived not long after.
Bill Weasley was brand-spanking-new out of his intern-ship as a curse-breaker, and was now qualified fully in his chosen profession. He was also fresh back from India – where he'd had his intern-ship – and back in London to apply for his own position at Gringotts, either as a curse-breaker working out in the field, which would be great, or as a bank-worker, making sure that all of their own curses and defences were still as strong as they could be.
He had not expected to be assigned to baby-sitting Harry Potter and introducing the kid to the wizarding world. Still, he wasn't going to complain, not when the kid was as shy and self-conscious as he was. Besides, for an under-fed rag-a-muffin who looked like a stereotypical street-urchin, the kid was also kinda cute, and asked intelligent questions once he got the idea that it was alright to do so.
Talking the whole way, Bill and Harry had collected everything except for a pet and the boy's school books and stationary. Harry said that he wouldn't be able to care for a pet, and Flourish & Blotts was the shop furthest from Gringotts.
Harry walked from bookshelf to bookshelf, staring at all of the titles. Bill just smiled and kept an eye on the small boy. Over the course of the day, he'd discovered how much Harry enjoyed learning, even if his relatives beat him for getting better marks than his cousin. Harry had told him he simply did Dudley's test as well as his own so that he didn't have to pretend to be stupid, which made Bill laugh and the boy's genius.
"This isn't right," Harry's voice came, and Bill went to see what was the matter. "This book says it's about me," Harry said, staring at the words on the page. "But it's not right at all."
Bill felt a chill of cold rage. That's right. He'd forgotten about those books. He didn't know how, his sister had a bloody collection of the damn things.
"Mr. Flourish?" Bill called solemnly.
"Yes sir?" the man who was in charge of the book section of the shop answered, coming over. "Is there anything I can do for you?"
"You can stop selling these books," Bill said, gesturing to the Boy-Who-Lived section.
The man went pale. "Why?" he demanded, horrified at the thought of losing such a revenue.
"Because they're wrong Sir," Harry said simply, looking up from the book that he was holding to fix his bright green eyes on the man. "I mean, they're right that I've got this scar, but that's about it Sir," the boy explained. "I don't think people should get money from printing lies about me Sir."
"I quite agree," Mr. Flourish agreed hurriedly, withdrawing his wand and vanishing all of the Boy-Who-Lived books. "I'll have them taken off the orders list permanently," he added. "May I direct you to the family history section though?" he offered. "They're all autobiographies."
Harry nodded slowly. "Yes," he said carefully, clearly thinking hard. "I think that would be much better."
Bill smiled as Harry was escorted to where all the books that were more factual were kept. The kid sure seemed to like learning, and didn't much like it when things weren't true. Kid would probably be keen on making sure that the things he did read were actually true as well, rather than taking them at face value. Bill moved to collect the next few years worth of text books that Harry would need – at least according to his memory of what he'd needed – as well as picking up a few things he thought Harry might enjoy – like Arithmancy and Runes (both ancient and modern).
Final choice would be made by the kid of course, but he figured that a nudge in a useful direction wouldn't hurt. With that thought in mind, he grabbed the books that Charlie had found most useful for his Care of Magical Creatures classes as well. Thinking a little more, he also grabbed up the books on wizarding etiquette and the books that were usually assigned to muggle-born witches and wizards so that they would understand the new social structure that they were entering.
"Are the two societies so different that I'll need that one?" Harry asked when they went to the counter where the books got rung up. He hadn't objected to getting the books that he wouldn't need for a year or two yet, but that one seemed to have caught his notice.
Bill smiled a half-smile of vague despair.
"Afraid so," he said. "It covers things like the importance of shaking someone's hand, the difference between rich families and poorer ones in social circles, which jobs can be done by who and why, all important stuff."
"Shaking hands?" Harry asked, shocked but thankfully not disbelieving.
Bill nodded. "Even if you'd rather break the other person's fingers, you've still got to shake their hand. It's why some people never offer to shake hands, and why other people do it all the time," the red-head explained. "It's a useful and important book Harry, trust me."
At last they had everything but the writing supplies, and Harry was staunch about only getting the parchment.
"Why Harry?" Bill asked.
"Because I don't know how to use a quill and I'd make a mess," he said. "I could probably get a fountain pen that I could use, but I'd still need practice."
Bill nodded. "Muggle London then," he said. "We'll go back to the bank, change some of your gold for Pounds, and we'll get you some new clothes that fit you as well while we're out. How's that sound?"
Harry beamed. "That sounds really good!" he said.
Two stomachs chose that moment to growl however, making them both laugh.
"We'll get some lunch first though," Bill said. "My treat."
Harry shook his head. "I only just found out I've got money, and you're helping me. I've got to thank you somehow!"
Bill laughed, ruffled Harry's hair, and surrendered to giving the boy his way.
Bill had tutored Harry extensively for the full month between their meeting and the first of September, going through the social instruction books and all the basics in his first year texts, even taught him a few useful spells that he wouldn't get to until later years – the shrinking charm and its counter, so that Harry could fit everything into his trunk, even if it was larger on the inside than the outside and with multiple compartments. He also taught him the featherweight charm, so that Harry should be able to carry said trunk on his own if he needed to.
"So there are other schools apart from Hogwarts?" Harry asked as Bill walked him to the train.
Bill nodded. "There's a school in every country, well, just about," he explained. "Hogwarts does service to England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. There was a time when it was an elite university for people who had already graduated from the school of magic in their own country, but since our numbers have been going down, and higher education like that has been left in the hands of masters for apprentices, things changed."
"Probably the inbreeding," he suggested.
Bill grinned. "Probably," he agreed.
Harry had explained about inbreeding when he'd surprised Bill by throwing a book away from himself and running for the bathroom to throw up. Starting with the casual statement he'd heard that 'inbreeding always produces idiots' to the medical problems of shrinking gene-pools like physical deformity and serious mental disorders. Stuff that eleven-year-old boys weren't supposed to really understand, perhaps, but Harry had gotten curious about it since he'd heard someone say so a few years ago.
Both of them had sworn to each other, though not on their magic – a matter which allowed Bill to give Harry a lesson on magical oaths, debts and the like at the same time – that they would both do their very best to marry either a muggle-born witch, a muggle woman, or snag a foreign beauty unless they could be one-hundred percent sure that they were only related to the witch by marriage. In the event that they married at all of course. Bill had explained that there were potions that allowed men to get pregnant as well, so same-sex relationships were able to have children, even if due to the expense of the potion it was rare.
Harry's mind had boggled.
Bill had worried for a while that he'd actually broken the boy's brain.
"So, that's my family over there," Bill said, pointing surreptitiously. "Percy, the oldest one there, he's a bit of a pill, but he's alright if you need help with something and you're not taking away from his time with his girlfriend."
"Ginny is a year younger than you. I advise you to avoid her at all costs if you can, she's grown up reading those books that you got off the shelves in Flourish & Blotts, so..." Bill trailed off a little weakly, smiling apologetically.
Harry nodded. "As well as being the only girl in a family of probably protective brothers," he added, smiling.
Bill grinned in response. "Right," he confirmed. "Ron is in your year. Mum will never admit it of any of her boys, but I think he's got a bit of a complex due to being the youngest son. I vote him 'Most Likely to Turn Out like Percy', and I'm not happy about it."
Harry nodded his understanding. "And the twins are Fred and George, right?"
Bill nodded. "They'll give Mum a heart-attack one of these days, I'm almost sure of it."
Harry grinned. "Thanks for seeing me off Bill," he said, putting down his trunk for a moment to give the man who was around twice his age a hug.
Bill chuckled softly. "My pleasure Harry. Now go on, you've got a train to catch."
Harry nodded and pulled away.
Bill, having not yet actually told his family that he was back from India yet, headed back to Diagon Alley, his baby-sitting job now complete. It was time to get a proper assignment from Gringotts. It had been nice taking care of the kid though. Maybe he'd swing by and collect the kid for the holidays or something. For an eleven-year-old, Harry was a really good conversationalist.
"You'll soon learn that some wizarding families are better than others Potter," Malfoy said as they waited to be let into the Great Hall. "I can help you there," he offered, holding out his hand at the same time.
Harry sighed, reached out, and proceeded to do his best to crush those fingers as he shook the hand – the etiquette book really was very useful. "I am perfectly capable of telling for myself who I do and do not wish to associate myself with, thank you," he answered, letting the other boy's hand go.
"Harry?" asked a girl who had shared his compartment on the train. Hermione Granger. He'd spent a lot of the train ride explaining that what she'd read in all of those books about him was wrong.
"I'm allowed to crush his fingers," Harry explained, "but I'm not allowed to ignore the outstretched hand. It's in my wizarding etiquette book."
Hermione nodded, stunned, and then they were filing into the Great Hall.
Harry, upon seeing Malfoy instantly put into Slytherin, decided that he really did not, thank you very much, want to join him. Anywhere else seemed fine, though Bill said he and all his family so far had been put in Gryffindor – which both simultaneously recommended it and made it a bad idea, as Ron and Ginny would both also likely end up there.
"Not Slytherin?" the Hat asked, when it fell down over Harry's ears. "You could be great you know, and Slytherin would help you on your way to greatness."
Harry frowned. "Not Slytherin," he confirmed. "I'd like to avoid Malfoy if I can, and who said that I wanted to be great?" he demanded in a quiet but firm tone.
The Hat chuckled. "I see then. Very well."
A moment later, Harry was declared a Gryffindor and he went to join the raucously cheering table and sat between Hermione and a boy called Neville who, it seemed, had finally found his toad.
All Harry could think of was that famous Shakespeare quote: "some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them." Harry was beginning to worry that he fell or shortly would fall, most unfortunately, into all three of these categories.
"Harry Potter, our new celebrity," Professor Snape said, pausing a moment in his role-call to sneer at the named boy. Once he'd finished, Snape approached Harry and started questioning him. "Mr. Potter, what would I get if I mixed asphodel and wormwood?"
"I don't know Sir," Harry answered. "I didn't see any potions in my text that used those two ingredients." Of course, he meant his text for that year, but he'd read ahead and gotten a little bit of a low-down on all the professors from Bill, so he knew that he had to balance on a knife-edge somewhat.
Snape huffed. "Where would you look if I asked you to find me a beozar?"
Harry hummed a moment. "Well, there's one in the first-aid kit I bought in Diagon Alley, so unless it went missing... I guess I'd look in the Hospital Wing Sir."
Snape huffed a little more. "Can you tell me the difference between monkshood and wolfsbane?" he demanded.
Harry brought a blank gaze up to meet Snape's. "Sir, my aunt, Petunia, has aconitum lycantherous growing in the flowerbeds," he answered firmly, "and I'm the one who had to tend it in the middle of summer for hours on end. If I fell into that trick question I'd never be worthy to even pick flowers ever again."
Snape frowned. "Two points from Gryffindor for your cheek, Mr. Potter," he said, turning away from the boy and returning to the front of the classroom, where he expounded the full and comprehensive answers to the questions that he had given, the students taking notes furiously.
Harry got owls from Gringotts on the first of every month, and he usually got a letter from Bill, asking how school was and any dirt on what his brothers were up to, every other week. Harry was always happy to get these letters. Bill usually included stories of what he was doing at the time as well, and Harry was slowly becoming more and more convinced that being a curse-breaker was the coolest job ever. The Gringotts letters, as well as including the latest irregularities discovered, told him about the progress that was being made on the properties that it turned out he owned. Properties which, due to having been uninhabited and forgotten for a little over a decade, needed a lot of work done to them so that Harry could move in come the summer break, rather than going back to live with his relatives. These letters even told him about the sorts of wards that they were laying down to keep Harry safe. One of these being an anti-owl ward, so that he wouldn't suddenly be flooded by fan-mail, as he was, after all, a celebrity.
Harry mentioned that ward to Bill in his next letter out, and Bill said he'd either find a falcon for sending letters to the house or try sending letters the muggle way, as they'd still get through, but it wouldn't matter while Harry was still at Hogwarts.
School life for Harry was blissfully normal, well, apart from rescuing Hermione from a troll, that was highly abnormal, at least according to Bill. Aside from that, Harry kept to his studies and carefully avoided sitting next to Ron when Fred and George got that look on their faces that said 'now where is a good guinea-pig?'
Harry got off the train at the end of the school year and looked down at the last letter that Bill had sent him before the exams. He wasn't going to be able to collect him from the station like he'd hoped, but if he stood on the curb and held up his wand, he'd be able to catch the Knight Bus that would be able to take him to Gringotts, and from there Harry would be in the safe, clawed hands of the goblins, who would help him settle into one of the houses he had inherited as Heir to the Ancient and Noble House of Potter.
In fact, they settled him into what probably was the original House, all ancient and noble and mercifully restored so that it didn't look like it was going to fall over in the next stiff breeze or go up in smoke if he left a candle unattended.
Bill was waiting for him, a great big grin on his face and a healthy tan on his bare arms.
"Bill!" Harry cheered happily, running up to the young man, excited to see him again.
"Hey Harry," he answered, swinging the boy up, around, and then putting him back on the ground. "I got leave for your summer holidays. The goblins seem to be of the opinion you're too young to be on your own, and they don't want me to suffer from an Egyptian summer just yet."
Bill and Harry stared at the book list when it came, shocked that there were so many books by the same author.
"And he's a ruddy ponce," Bill added. "You walk by a news stand and his face is on the front of at least one rag, smiling and winking. Don't get them Harry," he advised. "They're expensive and the few Mum has quoted at us are always wrong."
Harry nodded his understanding.
"Do you think that I could get away with deliberately not shaking his hand Bill?" Harry asked.
Bill snorted in amused contempt. "Probably," he said, smirking.
They didn't really need to go to Diagon Alley to get Harry's new school books, since Bill had collected all the books that Harry would need for his first three years at Hogwarts all at once – at least the ones that he'd remembered needing – and they'd both grabbed enough extra ones that any gaps had been covered, but they went anyway.
Harry had grown over the summer, he needed new clothes.
With the mass of reporters hanging around the bookshop, as well as the high likelihood of Bill's family being there to do their year's book-shopping as well, Harry and Bill had opted to wear hoods that covered their faces until they got past the bustling crowds.
"Mr Weasley, it's good to see you again!" called the slightly older gentleman who owned the tailors that Bill had brought Harry to. "And I see you brought young master Potter back as well, wonderful!"
"Hello Master Draper," Harry said, smiling up at him.
Last year they'd walked straight past Madam Malkin's Fine Robes for All Occasions, and come to this tailor. He did robes, obviously, he was a wizard's tailor after all, but he also did fine suits and clothes that looked almost muggle, except that he usually made them from more exotic materials. Bill had gotten his dragon-hide vest from here.
"I see you've grown young man," Draper scolded Harry happily. "Do you want me to let out hems and seams, or have you worn out your things and need new?"
"A bit of both," Bill told the man with a chuckle. "Harry lost some of his wardrobe to fire damage while at school this year. He managed to keep most of his muggle-bought stuff though, but they don't really leave much in them to let out."
Master Draper nodded in understanding. "I burned my sleeves on potion flames a few times in my first year," he said. "I'm sure it happens to at least three people in every year, and at least ten first-years every cycle. As for the muggle clothing, I have noticed that they tend to give their out-grown things to second-hand shops and buy new all the time. Charitable I suppose, but hardly as sensible as they were before they had everything made in China."
Neither of them felt like correcting Draper. The man didn't need to know that it was because Harry had been helping Hagrid care for Norbert until Charlie could come to take the Norwegian Ridgeback away to the Romanian Dragon Reserve. They were just pleased to know a wizard who was as aware as he was of muggle clothing and society who they could look to for their wardrobe needs.
"Found you!" Hermione declared triumphantly, slamming the compartment door open.
Harry smiled. "Hey Hermione. How was your summer?"
"I wrote you!" the girl huffed. "You even replied. Why are you asking that?"
They'd used the Royal British Postal Service, rather than Owl Post, since he'd mentioned to her about the anti-owl wards around his property because of the fan-mail. He was hoping he'd be able to take that ward down in a few years.
"Ah, because letters and conversation are completely different!" Harry answered happily. "So tell me about your summer, so I can get all the nuances from you that I couldn't get from your letters."
Hermione laughed, sat down, and started talking.
"I didn't see you at the book shop," she said at last, the two of them having by this point covered basically all of their summer holidays. "You do have your books for this year, don't you Harry?"
Harry smiled. "Bill -" he'd explained to her about his friend and caretaker just before Christmas last year "got my first three years of books last year. Sometimes he sends me a new book that he thinks will be useful or interesting, and sometimes I owl-order things, but otherwise I've got the books I need."
"Have you read any of Lockheart's books?" Hermione asked.
Harry frowned. "I didn't get them," he answered. "I'd taken a look at them when I was in the bookshop last year and they're full of inconsistencies, and Bill says the bloke is a ponce. A ponce doesn't get out into the wilderness, get dirty, and do all the stuff he's claimed to have done."
"That's actually a good point," she said. "I saw him doing a signing in the shop and he seemed, well, very vapid. It comes across in his books too. And you're right, I hadn't realised that they were inconsistent."
Harry smiled at his friend. "There, money wasted unless you want to turn them into story books for kiddies."
Hermione laughed. "I'll send them to my cousin, she's got a baby. Help me change the covers so that it isn't so obvious."
A small croak came from the open door of the compartment.
"Looks like Trevor found us before Neville did," Harry commented, picking up the toad carefully.
Hermione transfigured an empty chocolate frog box into a small aquarium and Harry dropped the amphibian in.
After the first Defence class, Harry found every reason he could to never attend it again, or be anywhere near the blonde professor again. He stayed in his common room or the library during that period usually, studying the books that Bill had picked for him and working on the homework assignments for his other classes.
"Mr Potter, may I have a word with you in my office?"
Harry looked up from his homework to see his head of house towering over him.
"Sure Professor, just let me pack this up and I'll be right with you," he said, closing books on bookmarks, folding half-done essays and standing up.
Minerva had two offices actually. One that was attached to her classroom and one that was a space between the Gryffindor common room and her bedroom. It was to this latter one that they went, as Harry had been studying in the common room this time.
"Have a seat Mr Potter," Minerva said, offering and instructing at the same time, while she walked around the large desk to sit in her own chair.
Harry sat, as was polite in private situations, when the Professor did.
"I am hearing disturbing things, Mr Potter, about your attendance record for certain classes," Minerva said, getting straight to the point.
"I do not attend History of Magic," Harry said. "I instead study the various history books in the library and that I bought last year in Flourish & Blotts. I do not attend Defence because Mr Lockhearts assigned texts are contradicting and the man is a ponce, not a professor."
Minerva smiled thinly. "While I appreciate that you are spending your history period in a more productive manner than attending the class itself, and Professor Binns doesn't really notice the presence or absence of his students, I am afraid that Professor Lockheart is most adamant that you be in attendance."
"I am most adamant that I am able to keep as many walls between myself and him as possible," Harry answered. "The man is insufferable and I'm certain that he doesn't meet the national teaching standard. I'm sure I'll pass all of the exams that are provided by the board of education just fine. Why should I care what the popinjay's favourite colour is? You know that was in the pop quiz he gave us in the first class to see if we had familiarised ourselves with the books? All the questions were about him, rather than the defensive manoeuvres or the creatures he faced."
Minerva's face pinched in displeasure at what she was hearing. Not because she didn't like the way Harry had back-talked, but because if the boy was right – and she had strong suspicions that he was – then there was something very wrong with allowing the man to continue teaching.
Unfortunately, convincing Albus to replace someone he selected for a position after the school year had started was difficult at the best of times. If one of them couldn't teach for some reason, like illness, then it was usually one of their colleagues who was forced to pick up the temporary slack. Getting someone new in was not easy, even if it was desperately needed.
Due to Harry's newly developed habit of spending extra time in places such as his common room or the back corner of the library – both places where Lockheart didn't go – he was well away from the disturbances in the castle, even as he was unintentionally becoming more and more informed about all of the possible causes and cures. He was also finding books that certain members of the faculty probably hoped were long forgotten and misplaced, but when he finally heard about blood writing on the walls and the petrification of Mrs. Norris, a few students, and Sir Nicholas, Harry went straight to Myrtle. After all, she was the one who died last time this sort of thing had happened, so she was most likely to know what was doing it. The record was in one of the old teacher journals that had found its way onto the library shelving. It didn't belong to any of the current faculty though, so Harry didn't bother mentioning it to Madam Pince about getting it back to them.
A short conversation with the ghost later, and Harry was hissing at an engraved snake over one of the sinks. He'd had a conversation with a zoo snake once, so he figured it might work here. When the sink moved aside, it seemed to prove him right.
"Myrtle, could you fetch a few teachers?" Harry asked, his green eyes large and fixed firmly on the dark pit that he'd uncovered. "Er, anybody but Lockheart. Actually, everybody but Lockheart I think might be a good idea."
Myrtle nodded and flew off.
Harry considered the dank looking pit some more before trying to hiss a few more instructions – things like stairs and lights. He got stairs, and they looked dangerously slippery under the very pale, slightly green lights that began to glow.
"Mr Potter, what are you doing here?" Flitwik demanded, shocked. He was the first teacher to arrive.
"It's amazing the things you can learn by taking up private study, rather than going to Mr Lockheart's classes," Harry answered. "I believe I've found the mysterious Chamber of Secrets Professor. Shall we go down?"
Harry, Filius and Minerva – who had arrived just as they were going down – emerged at last from the Chamber, Minerva carrying her student, and Filius casting different charms on Harry as they came out to the crowd of faculty who had stood at the lip and waited, worrying. Fawkes, who had appeared while they were down there, was riding on Harry's shoulder.
"Poppy, two for you," Minerva said firmly.
"I'm fine Professor," Harry protested.
"You are not," Flitwick corrected, growling a little. "A boy does not take a four-foot-long fang to the arm and be fine!"
"Two Poppy," Minerva repeated.
Harry sighed. "I'm gonna get an earful from the red-head for this," he said quietly.
"I suggest that you call in the life-debt that Miss Weasley will owe you as a result of this escapade to make sure that her mother doesn't smother you in her gratitude," Minvera advised, smiling a little at the boy's comment.
Harry shook his head. He meant Bill, not Molly. He was right to be worried too. Bill was furious for an hour and clingy for a week after when he picked him up from Gringotts when the summer holidays began. Bill also decided that if Harry was going to use a weapon like a sword, then he was going to damn well know how to use it properly. As well as buying Harry a sabre that he could actually lift, and giving him lessons with that, Bill took the boy to get a gun and taught the kid how to shoot – and make his own ammunition.
"If you can shoot it from a distance then you're not as close to the danger," Bill insisted. "Sweet Merlin, now I know how Mum feels!"
Harry stared at the figure that was sitting, apparently asleep in the corner of the compartment. It was a little painful actually, seeing this man. He'd found old photos of his parents with this man, as well as with Sirius Black, who had apparently just escaped from Azkaban. When he'd heard that, Harry had asked the goblins to find a transcript of the man's trial for him. He wanted to know why his godfather had been imprisoned and unable to care for him. He'd also left instruction for them to take appropriate action if they discovered any kind of miscarriage of justice. Of course, they hadn't finished cleaning up all the inconsistencies in his accounts yet, but they had a lot of papers to sort through, rather than just finding one court case.
The man that was before Harry now was a different matter though. This man was free, and while apparently coming from far from good conditions, also a close friend of his parents. Remus Lupin. It was even on the man's luggage. Why hadn't he even stopped by to check on him when he was with the Dursleys? Did the man not care?
"Excuse me," Harry said, gently shaking the man awake.
"Huh?" the man snorted, coming awake suddenly.
"I have some questions, if you don't mind," Harry said, "about why one of my parent's best friends never checked on me for ten years."
"Harry?" Remus asked, tears coming to his eyes.
Harry nodded. "I've got photos of you with my parents Mr Lupin, and you're in their will. Why didn't you come and find me?"
Lupin shook his head. "I did," he said, morose. "There were wards around your relatives' house that didn't let me come near. I did my best to watch, but a man can only watch a child for so long before nosy neighbours get suspicious and nervous."
Harry nodded in understanding. "That's alright then I suppose. I'm not living there any more -"
"I noticed," Remus said, chuckling weakly.
"I'd like to invite you to my house to spend Christmas with me," Harry offered. "We can catch up in a friendly setting, and not worry about teacher-student relationships. I assume you are the new defence teacher, right?"
Remus nodded, a smile softening his tired features.
For the first time, Bill wasn't the only one standing there smiling when Harry returned for the summer holidays. Sirius, acquitted thanks to the goblin's hard work and careful application of blackmail on Harry's behalf – though all nasty secrets which were used for this they intended to uncover at a later date anyway – stood with Bill, showered, shaved and properly dressed once more. Remus was with them as well, though he was looking somewhat haggard still from the night they'd forced Peter out of his animagus form, the night he'd been in such a hurry to be there for his students that he'd forgotten the full moon and his wolfsbane potion.
The summer got even better when, along with the rest of Bill's family, Hermione and Neville, they went to the Quidditch World Cup Finals, taking a portkey there, and then back to the Potter House after the game to celebrate Ireland having won.
When they went to Diagon Alley the next day to do their school shopping – and even Harry was in need of more school books by this time, Bill having only bought the first three years worth of books for Harry, and him now going into his fourth year – all of them were shocked to hear about what had happened at the camp sight not long after they'd left. Death Eaters, the Dark Mark in the sky again...
"And a bunch of people running around like chickens with their heads chopped off, even though they're all carrying a weapon as well," Harry grumbled when he heard.
"Huh?" Ron asked, not understanding Harry's comment.
Harry rolled his eyes and drew his wand from its holster. "Weapon," he said, holding it up with one hand and pointing at it with his other. "Capable of rendering any person a statue, or cutting their flesh, or silencing them so that they can't say the incantation for a spell, or turning them into an innocent, fluffy little rabbit."
Sirius laughed, patting Harry on the back firmly. "That's my godson!" he declared.
"I am so dead," Harry said when his name came out of the cup.
"Harry?" Hermione asked, worriedly.
"How could you Harry?" Ron demanded, growling. "If you were gonna put your name in the cup, why couldn't you put mine in too?"
"Ron, think for a moment would you!" Harry snarled back, even as he stood. "I didn't put my name in the cup! I like being alive too much to risk dying just for money and cooked-up fame! I've already got way too much of both, thank you."
Ron flushed in a combination of anger and shame as Harry marched off to the front of the room, stopping in front of the teachers table to glare around the entire, stunned, hall.
"When I find out who put my name in the cup," he told the whole hall, "I will endeavour to personally shove a canary cream down their throat and leave them in a room full of hungry cats."
"Mr Potter!" Minerva exclaimed, standing. "There is no call for such-"
"So Mote It Be," he finished solemnly.
The hall fell silent again. A vow on their magic, for that? It at least proved that Harry Potter didn't enter himself, and didn't like that he was entered. No one noticed the way that Mad-Eye Moody shifted uncomfortably in his chair.
Harry woke with a start.
"I have the second challenge in the morning and now of all times I have my first wet dream?" he grumbled, pulling back the sheets of his bed and getting up.
He had a plan for the morning, he'd been bouncing ideas off of Hermione when Neville joined in and just gave them the ultimate answer: gillyweed. Harry had sent off for a packet of it immediately, and it was sitting in box in his trunk at that very moment. He was also taking a knife down with him, just in case he needed it. So really, the challenge wasn't the problem.
Losing sleep because he'd just woken up from a very steamy dream was. It didn't help that he didn't remember much of it. He remembered that it was great, and he remembered that whoever he was with was a guy, but that was as much as he could recall.
Harry sighed and turned on a shower. Cold. He didn't have a crush on anyone, male or female, though he had taken Hermione to the Yule Ball they went as friends only. So he was suddenly discovering his sexuality at a time when he didn't have the luxury of exploring it.
Brilliant. Just bloody brilliant.
Having won the Tri-Wizard Tournament, a melancholy Harry Potter pushed his winnings into the hands of Fred and George Weasley. He knew they'd been doing their best to raise funds all year for their private enterprise and dream: their own joke shop. He didn't want money that got shoved at him for winning while he was still holding onto the cooling body of Cedric Diggory. Besides, he owed them for that canary cream he'd shoved down Barty Crouch Junior's throat. He had managed to keep the bastard in a cage long enough to get him to Crookshanks, but the sweet had worn off before the cat had been able to do more than break a wing and rip out some feathers.
Still, the man had screamed at the top of his lungs that 'the Dark Lord has returned!', and they'd probably heard him in London, certainly The Daily Prophet had covered the resurrection the next day, once Rita Skeeter had gotten an interview from Harry about what had been involved.
The event itself had not been fun, the recounting was, honestly, not much better. But at least Fudge wasn't getting away with denying Mouldy-Shorts' return. Harry had made sure that Rita's special quill had been dipped in veritaserum as well as ink, and had taken some himself before giving the interview, so everybody knew it was truth that they were getting from the boy.
Sirius and Remus, after holding onto Harry very tightly for an hour each, left the Potter House to find whatever it was that had been keeping Vulture-wart alive. Harry was grateful. He wasn't going to be forced to be the hero... or at least, not yet. Harry was able to invite the Granger family to the house for the summer, and Bill helped him be a good host to his only female friend and her family.
"Harry," Hermione said quietly, sitting down beside him in the library while her parents were at the office and Bill was reviewing notes sent to him by colleagues in the kitchen.
"What's up 'Mione?"
"You know Viktor asked me to the Yule Ball?"
Harry smiled. "And you were radiant, by the way."
Hermione blushed. "Thank you, but... I figured out not long after that... that is to say... Harry you're my best friend, and Viktor was really sweet and all, but..."
"Hermione, are you trying to tell me that you'd rather be kissing Fleur than Krum?" Harry asked.
"I just felt like I had to tell someone," she said. "But I didn't want the whole world to know."
Harry nodded in understanding. "That's fine. I'll keep it under my hat, I promise."
"Thank you Harry."
"So... Anybody you've got your eye on?"
Harry Potter and Bill Weasley were sitting, side by side, in the receiving office of the goblin Greenhook. They had been summoned because of a will. They weren't the only ones in the room, there were others, but for some reason they had been seated at the front of the room, side by side, and Harry somehow doubted it was because Bill had been the one to help him out when he was first introduced to the magical world.
The Tonks family, the Malfoy family, Neville and his Gran, as well as Remus Lupin, Hermione Granger, and the rest of Bill's family were all in attendance. Lady Amelia Bones, head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement was there as well, sitting up beside Greenhook as an officiate.
"This is the last will and testament of Sirius Orion Black," Greenhook stated. "Any who to take issue with its contents will be escorted from the room. It cannot be contested and will not be overhauled. Lady Bones' department has already exonerated Lord Black, as is well known, and the document is entirely legal and any action taken to attempt to alter the outcome of this reading will be looked upon as a criminal offence."
Then the box holding the document was opened and the seal broken.
Greenhook began to read.
"I, Sirius Orion Black, Head of the Ancient and Noble House of Black, being of sound mind and in full control of my faculties, do recognise and declare the following to be true: that I took no wife, nor mistress, and have borne no children to my line; that my best friend James Potter was, by blood, my mother's cousin and did bear such an heir to his line; that Arthur Weasley, son of Credella Weasley nee Black who was my Grandmother's cousin, has also an heir. Let it be known that I was Godfather to Harry James Potter, son of James Potter, and recognise him as my blood and heir to my fortunes. Let it be known that, in the event my passing comes before Harry James Potter reaches the age of majority, that I entrust his safe-keeping to William Arthur Weasley, son of Arthur Weasley, and recognise him as Harry's guardian in all matters."
Bill had turned pale beside Harry. Behind them, Malfoy had turned red.
"I, Sirius Orion Black, having declared Harry James Potter to be the new Head of the Ancient and Noble House of Black as my heir, now continue into the division of my properties among family and friends, as is my right. To my heir, I leave everything that was mine and that belonged to the Ancient and Noble House of Black, save the following. To my good friend Remus Lupin, I leave an allowance of five hundred galleons a year and a house in the mountains of Tasmania, Australia. To Hermione Granger, I leave my shares in The Daily Prophet, as well as my collection of muggle crime novels. To William Arthur Weasley, I leave an allowance of one hundred galleons a year and free access to use any of the houses in the Black name. To Charles Weasley, I leave my recipe and patent for fire-proofing agent. To Fred and George Weasley, I leave my notebooks. You will appreciate what a treasure they are once you've started reading them. To Ronald Bilius and Ginerva Weasley, I leave tickets to the next Quidditch World Cup. My cousin Narcissa Malfoy nee Black, I cut from the family, also my cousin Bellatrix LeStrange nee Black. Neither shall ever again have access to the Black fortunes, houses, or name. Anything that either of them has taken from the Black family is to be reclaimed, anything that they have purchased with use of the Black fortunes is to be liquidated and the money reclaimed. To Neville Longbottom, who's great-grandmother was cousin to my grandmother, I leave all of my muggle chemistry books, my old potion journals, as well as unlimited access to the greenhouse that is on the Black property in Suffolk. To Amelia Bones, I leave a letter of apology. I, Sirius Orion Black, do hereby declare this to be my last will and testament."
Greenhook rolled up the will and replaced it into the box, removing the letter that was also inside and had Amelia Bones' name on it, handing it over. She tucked it into her robes without a word.
In Number Four Privet Drive, the Dursley family was being evicted. Someone had finally checked up on their accounts, and not only were there irregularities, there was blatant embezzlement and misuse of funds. Funds such as the allowance that they had been receiving every month for Harry's care, and had instead been spending on toys for Dudley.
In Number Twelve Grimmauld Place, Mrs Black was being evicted. Of course, her portrait still wasn't coming off the wall, but since the wall in question wasn't vital to the building's stability, it was going with her. Kreacher had been ordered to do a full inventory of items in the house, and to alert Harry or Bill if any were missing, since Mundungus Fletcher was a known thief and had been in the house several times after all.
In Voldemort's throne room, Malfoy was being tortured for having been bankrupted because of the execution of Sirius' will.
"Knut for your thoughts?" Bill offered, looking up from the curse he was working on when Harry flopped down on the couch across from him.
"If I don't survive the battle with Vulturewart -" the black haired boy began.
"You mustn't think that way Harry," Bill cut in.
"I know, I know," Harry said, waving the interruption aside. "I'm saying 'if' here. I've got all this -" he waved a hand up in the air around him, "that would probably go to Malfoy by default unless I've got a will. I should probably write one."
"You should definitely win," Bill corrected, scoffing.
Harry chuckled. "Yeah, that too, but more immediately I can fix one, even if I've got to wait about a while before I can deal with the other. Just something simple like... I, Harry James Potter, declare that in the event of my death all of my properties not in immediate use shall be liquidated, and all money be committed to supporting those who were orphaned or widowed by the Dark Lord and his followers."
Bill smiled. "Sounds good," he said. "You'll need to add in that you're the Head of the Most Ancient and Noble Houses of Potter and Black, and who you'll leave headship up to, but otherwise fine."
Harry nodded. "I'll go write it up and send it to Gringotts then," he said, getting out of the couch and heading for the door.
"Hey Harry," Bill called as Harry reached the door. "Who would you name for taking over the -?"
"You, or Tonks, Neville if both of you don't make it, then Hermione. She's not related, but she wouldn't abuse the position," Harry answered.
Bill nodded his acceptance, stunned that Harry would make him ... but then, Sirius had just about done the same thing as well. It was a bit humbling really, how much esteem those two held him in.
It was the battlefield again. It was almost always the battlefield. It was getting to be so that Harry could almost set his watch by when Voldemort would show up these days. Every Sunday at noon, guaranteed, and every week he'd pick a weekday at 'random' and attack at three. Saturdays were for raids around the country. Harry decided that he wasn't going to take it any more.
He picked up his wand, grabbed his broom, and flew straight to where he knew Voldemort would be. He was right, and he'd come without any real back up. A few of his friends and guards had followed him, calling him a few different types of stupid and-or crazy along the way, but now he was landed and he was going to bloody well finish it!
Harry noticed all the splintered wood lying around, and for some reason his mind supplied his first transfiguration lesson, when they'd turned matches into needles. Not thinking much, Harry turned all of the wood bits into pointed metal shafts – proportional to the size of the splintered wood of course. This meant he had some very fine needles and some very large spikes, even a couple of beams had turned into what looked like spears, javelins, lances and pikes.
His first charms lesson was the levitation charm, making things float. Ron had used that charm to knock out a troll with its own club. Harry used it now to send all of the needles flying into the Death Eaters eyes and necks, hard, killing many of them shortly after blinding them.
He really didn't know why they didn't see something like that coming. A flurry of pointed shiny things? He hoped he never got blind-sided by something so obvious.
One of the great pikes, however, rammed itself up. Up through Voldemort's jaw and out the top of his skull. It was really quite gruesome.
Harry threw up.
"Potter!" Snape yelled, striding up to him angrily, only to stop short a few paces away and clutch at his arm.
"I hope that means that he's properly dead," Harry said weakly, wiping his chin and showing tired green eyes to his potions master.
Snape checked his now bare arm and nodded slowly, stunned.
"Good. Now we can all live normal, constructive, and hopefully peaceful lives," Harry said, heading back to collect his broom.
Bill intercepted him.
"No way pal," he said, a hand on Harry's shoulder. "You're in no emotional condition to fly for yourself." He was gentle, but firm.
Harry just nodded weakly and let Bill do the steering until they got back to the house they'd been living in since Sirius' will had been read, a nice little place in Manchester that had a lemon-yellow picket fence and wild roses growing all up the arbour.
When they landed in the back yard, Bill practically carried Harry inside, then stripped the younger boy of his shoes, jumper and glasses before pulling a blanket over him on the recliner that Harry had gotten for the lounge room.
"That was one of the most crazy and terrifying things I've ever seen you do Harry James Potter," Bill scolded. "And that includes that time I watched you fly around that dragon!"
Harry chuckled weakly. "Nah, the dragon was scarier," he protested weakly. "It had all the pointy stuff and was aiming at me, this time it was the other way around. Much safer."
"Except that Death Eaters are -" Bill protested.
"Much feared, but basically unimaginative pureblood oldsters," Harry interrupted. "They're feared for using the Unforgivables, but aren't really known for using much else. A dark curse hear or there, a painful hex if they ever get someone fighting back. Bunch of hype really. Psychological warfare more than anything," Harry explained.
Bill's brow furrowed in consternation. "Where'd you get all that stuff?" he asked.
"Hermione is the source of all knowledge I swear," Harry answered with a weak chuckle. "And what she doesn't know immediately, she knows which book is most likely to help. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred anyway."
"Oh?" Bill asked, amused.
"Yeah. She didn't know about mermaid's sounding like banshees out of water," Harry explained.
"I think I should probably marry her, actually," Harry said.
Bill stopped laughing. "Harry?" he asked. He hadn't liked the tone that Harry had used.
"I mean, Hermione will get to benefit from being married to someone who is two Head of an Ancient and Noble Houses, I'll have unrestricted access to her fount of knowledge, we can probably work on there being a couple of kids running around to carry on the lines, and otherwise we can both be free to enjoy the pleasures of persons of our own gender."
Bill damn near choked.
Harry half-raised an eyelid, though his vision was blurry since Bill had taken his glasses away. "I guess you didn't know. Hermione and I are both very much for our own camp, but good friends help each other out, right? I'll send her a letter in the morning, unless she charges over here first."
"Unless who charges over here first?" Hermione's voice demanded from the door.
"You, oh sweet and wonderful woman of answers and knowledge, personification of Artemis and my guiding light when I am lost," Harry answered, smiling as he twisted on the recliner to look over at where she stood, even if he still didn't have his glasses on.
"Harry, what are you cooking up in your brain now?" Hermione demanded, somehow both angry, flattered, and tired at the same time.
"Marry me 'Mione?" Harry asked.
"Harry," Hermione started, frowning. "You know I'm -"
"Yes, and I am too, but the Ancient and Noble Houses of Potter and Black need heirs, you'd make a great mother, and having my backing would help you in whatever brilliant things you wanted to do. I'd even be delighted to have your girlfriend over for dinner every night of the week if you don't mind me doing the same, once I find a boyfriend that is," Harry offered.
Hermione was struck dumb, and Bill could see her brain ticking over. He didn't like to admit, but given the circumstances, it was probably a good idea for both of them. No expectation of romantic love between the two of them, just a solid friendship with leave to have their boyfriend or girlfriend right there with them, and a couple of kids. It actually sounded really nice. It was a bit of a surprise to hear that Harry was more interested in men though, and it disappointed the red-head that Harry had never told him about this when the boy told him pretty much everything else.
"Alright Harry," Hermione said. "But I draw the line at two kids, you'll have to settle for whatever gender they may be."
Harry chuckled and nodded. "I'll find you a ring tomorrow, alright? Make it all nice and official and public."
"Okay," Hermione agreed. "I'm going to have to just kiss you a couple of times at least, aren't I? For appearances sake."
"Probably," Harry agreed. "But I doubt either of us are bad kissers Herms."
Bill just shook his head. "Crazy, both of you, and the worst of it is that it's logical!"
Harry joined in Hermione's laughter, and Bill not long after that.
The engagement and ensuing marriage was, just as Harry had promised, nice and official and public, but most of all it was public. After Voldemort's official and final defeat – bit hard to argue with a pointed metal shaft through the head after all – Harry's celebrity status had sky-rocketed. There were reporters trying to get an interview from Harry every time he went out – either in company or alone – until he finally called a press conference to get all the questions over with. That it happened to be the day before the wedding just made everybody scramble.
There were questions about how they'd met, how long they'd been dating before getting engaged – and wasn't everybody surprised to hear that they hadn't been! There were questions about what had attracted him to her over all of the other girls that would have jumped at the chance to marry him, and if there were any love-potions involved. There were even questions about if they wanted children. Then the questions moved on to be more specific to the wedding which would be happening the next day. Who their caterers were, their best man and their maid of honour, where they were getting their robes from – and everyone was surprised to hear that they had gone to a muggle shop and were getting suits and dresses rather than robes – where the wedding was going to happen, where they'd be going for their honeymoon, and eventually what Harry intended to do after the honeymoon.
"I think," he said, "that I'd like to just sit back and be a stay-at-home-Papa and support Hermione in whatever she wants to do. Maybe someday I'll figure out if there's something I actually want to do for myself, but for now... doing nothing for a little while sounds good to me."
The questions stopped coming after that, and he was grateful. After all, he was marrying his best friend tomorrow. Her girlfriend was the maid of honour, and Bill, who was still taking care of Harry even though he was finally a legal adult in every respect, was going to be Harry's best man. Ron might have filled that position once, but he'd died back when they were still sixteen, when Voldemort had somehow gotten Death Eaters into Hogwarts. Of course, Ron could have just as easily gone off on a jealous rage about Harry marrying Hermione in the first place, since he had a crush on her and didn't know the girl's preference.
"So, how are we doing this?" Hermione asked as she let Harry carry her over the threshold of the Potter House he'd been living in since entering the magical world – exception of since he'd been living with Bill in the cottage after Sirius died destroying horcruxes and Remus had moved to Tasmania.
"Doing what?" he asked, putting her down and closing the door behind them. Hermione's girlfriend would be coming tomorrow.
"Since we aren't actually interested in each other in such a way as would allow us to create a child, we have two options," she explained to Harry. "One: artificial insemination. You provide the sperm in a cup, and some doctors do the rest. Option two is a lust potion coupled with a fertility potion. Both have a high success rate."
"Hermione, as much as you are my wife and best friend, I'm not sure that I want to give you my virginity under the influence of a lust potion," Harry admitted, smiling just a little. "I'd expected we'd be doing it the muggle way from the beginning."
Hermione grinned. "That's why you're my best friend Harry," she said. "You wouldn't force me anywhere near your icky male bits!"
Harry laughed. "Hey! I could just as easily object about your icky female bits!"
Both of them laughed for a while before calming down and arranging an appointment at a clinic to get Hermione impregnated.
"We can get both of the kids done at once," Hermione suggested happily.
Harry frowned. "I don't like the idea of the risks that come with twins," he said. "You're important to me 'Mione, I don't want to risk your health like that. Besides, two kids at once? Even with Kel to help-" Kel was Hermione's girlfriend "-and me being a stay-at-home-Papa, I think we'd go spare. One at a time, please?"
Hermione nodded. "Alright," she conceded.
"So are you Harry's boyfriend?" Kel asked Bill as they sat down to dinner in the Potter House.
Bill was struck momentarily dumb by the question, and his shock must have shown on his face.
"Oh, I'm sorry, it's just... You were Harry's Best Man, I thought that maybe you two were like me and Hermione," Kel said, blushing in embarrassment as Harry set plates of food on the table before them.
"No Kel," Harry said gently. "While Bill is the reason I took Ancient Runes, Arithmancy and Care of Magical Creatures in school, he's not my boyfriend."
"Father figure then I guess," Kel observed quietly.
Harry chuckled. "Not exactly that either," he admitted, a crooked smile on his face as he sat down at the table himself. "Even if he does fill the role sometimes."
"Well what then?" Kel nearly demanded. "I've been trying to figure it out all week, and Hermione's been too busy getting knocked up for me to ask her."
It was why it was just the three of them at dinner that night too. The doctors were keeping Hermione overnight for observation, to make sure the procedure took.
"A distant relation with whom I am close," Harry answered after a little pondering.
"How distant?" Kel asked, curious now. "I mean, like, would it be bad for you to get together? Speaking as an impartial and uninterested third party, you do look good together."
"Kel," Harry scolded. "You're talking about the man who's grandmother was my grandmother's cousin!"
Kel nodded. "Not too close then," she allowed, smiling like the cat that just got the canary.
Harry snorted. "My godfather's parents were cousins."
"Well, that's cutting it very close, but I'd say you'd be safe if you have to go back that far to find any relationship. So Bill, want to try it on with the saviour of the wizarding world?"
"Kel!" Harry objected, blushing furiously before turning to Bill. "Don't listen to her Bill," he advised. "Kel just seems to make everyone sound fast as loose, even when she knows they're not."
"I've got to get my digs in Harry," Kel said. "You did marry my girlfriend, and you're getting her knocked up."
Harry groaned. "She agreed Kel. You agreed," he reminded her.
"I know," Kel said, smirking. "It's just so hard not to hang it over your head sometimes. Especially as you're somehow still single even though you're married."
Bill, who had been silent through this whole conversation, just processing everything, finally emerged from his daze to focus on Harry and Kel once more. He immediately redirected his attention to the dinner plates, the food having disappeared as the two talked. Bill stood, collected the plates, and went to the kitchen to wash them up.
Later that night, Bill let himself into Harry's bedroom after Kel had retreated to Hermione's.
"Harry -" he started, stopping short at the sight of the empty room. He was a bit surprised, since Harry had said something about going straight to bed last he'd heard. Then the sound of the shower in the attached bathroom reached his ears. Moaning reached him as well, the sound muffled by the water and the walls.
Bill left, returning to his own room. A man deserved privacy, particularly when they were doing what he thought Harry was doing.
Harry stared in horrified awe at what Hermione had created for herself that morning. The cravings had started.
"Morning Harry, morning Herm- Dear sweet Merlin what is that?" Bill asked, walking into the room only to stop short and stare at Hermione's food right along side Harry.
"Peanut-butter curry, asparagus, and cold roast chicken, all mixed together with rice," Kel answered from where she was sitting, eating her cereal, beside Hermione.
"It's actually not that bad," Hermione defended once she'd swallowed.
"Right," Harry said, moving towards the toaster. "White or whole-grain for you Bill?" he asked, even as he dropped a slice of white in for himself.
"Don't care as long as I've got the option of marmalade," Bill answered, tearing his eyes away from Hermione's bowl. "And we need to talk later Harry."
Harry just nodded and slipped another slice of white into the toaster.
When Kel took Hermione out an hour later, Harry joined Bill in the lounge room.
"So what's up? You off to Egypt again?" he asked.
"No," Bill answered.
"Somewhere else? India? Brazil?" Harry guessed.
Bill shook his head. "I'm not going anywhere Harry," Bill said. "Unless you want me to of course."
Harry laughed. "My house is your house Bill," he answered. "I've got that written down even, in case I have a heart attack or get targeted by some homicidal maniac."
Bill blinked. "You changed your will after the war?"
Harry nodded. "Yeah. Joint between you and Hermione, all titles to go to the baby when he or she is old enough," Harry explained. "So, what's on your mind?"
"I've been wondering if I'm not a dirty old man, actually," Bill admitted with a weak chuckle.
"Blame Kel. She'll be good for it," Harry offered with a smirk. "What's up? And when did we change roles? You used to be the one asking me that."
Bill's next chuckle was a little stronger. "Probably when the doctors told you that you'd be a father come the new year," he said.
Harry nodded, accepting the explanation. "So why d'you think you're a dirty old man? You're not old after all."
"Harry, I've been the adult in your life since you entered the wizarding world."
"Yeah," Harry said. "But you were only nearly twice my age back when I was eleven. You're not still twice my age."
Bill sighed, got up out of his chair, crossed to Harry's, planted his hands on the armrests of Harry's chair, leant down, and claimed Harry's lips.
They were both breathing harshly and heavily when Bill finally pulled away.
"I've wanted you to do that since I was in fourth year," Harry said when he finally got his breath back.
"I'm behind the times then," Bill answered weakly. "I've only been wanting to do that since the day you got Hermione the ring. Didn't quite realise that was what I was wanting to do until Kel asked if I was your boyfriend the other month though."
Harry laughed weakly and pulled Bill back down for another of those soul-searing kisses.
When Hermione and Kel got home later that day, and Harry told them, they only had one thing to say: "About time!"
As for offspring, Hermione's first child was named Marius Arcturus Potter, and her second – as she had promised Harry only two – was dubbed Sirius William Black. One to head each of the Ancient and Noble Houses that Harry was currently the Head of. He'd make sure the boys got equal shares of responsibilities. Bill also managed to get Harry pregnant, having gone out and gotten that very expensive potion to make his male lover capable of bearing children. Harry was only amused until the morning sickness started. Of course, after Jennifer Hermione Weasley was born, and Harry was holding his little girl in his arms, he didn't seem to mind any more. Not that there were any more pregnancies after that. Bill and Harry had found that sex around a baby-filled stomach was a difficulty that they didn't care for.