'Harry?' Ginny Potter walked back into the cottage, calling her husband's name.
'Mmmm?' Came the muffled reply from the study. Ginny smiled to herself, and climbed the little wooden staircase.
'There's a letter for you,' she told him, leaning against the doorframe. Her chocolate eyes took in her husband, sitting at his desk poring over a book on defensive spells.
Harry turned to face her, grimacing. 'Burn it.'
'It's not fan-mail,' she said smirking. The Potter's received a constant pile of letters from admirers; those addressed to Harry were from the wizarding world in general, while letters to Ginny were usually from Holyhead Harpies supporters.
'An interview request?' Harry sighed, 'Because if it's Rita Skeeter again I swear I'll-'
'It's from Hestia Jones.'
Harry's stormy expression cleared instantly. 'Really?' he asked curiously.
Ginny nodded and passed him the letter, which he tore open. His green eyes scanned the page, and then, laughing, he held it out to his wife. Ginny read the message:
How are you? Things are normal here, back in Privet Drive. Mum and Dad are good and I'm sure they'd want me to say hello to you from them... so hello.
I've been meaning to write for about a year, but haven't managed to get around to it until now. What really got me to write was a letter, which arrived at home addressed to you (Dad went spare); there's a ten year reunion at our primary school on Saturday night. I have enclosed the details in this envelope and was hoping you would be able to come. I thought it would be a good place for us to catch up because we haven't seen each other in years.
I would ask you to come around to Number 4, but I don't know how Mum and Dad would react to that.
Anyway, I'll be there on Saturday,
Ginny looked over to Harry, who was looking over the details of the reunion. He saw her watching, snorted, and then lobbed the piece of paper into the wastepaper basket.
'You're not going?' Ginny asked surprised.
Harry shook his head. 'I wouldn't mind seeing Dudley, but not at a school reunion; primary school wasn't exactly a fun time for me...'
Ginny retrieved the invitation and read it. 'It says you can bring a guest... I'll come with you.' Harry gaped at her, apparently lost for words. 'Oh, don't look at me like that. It'll be fun. I've always wanted to go to a muggle party.'
'Ginny... those people... they hated me, and I didn't exactly like them either. It'll just be awkward.'
'Don't be silly. You're older now and so are they.' She smoothed the invitation out on the desk. 'I wish you hadn't crumpled this,' she said crossly, 'we need it to get in.'
'Sorry, love.' Harry wound an arm around her narrow waist, and gently kissed her slightly swollen belly. 'How are you feeling today?'
'Fine,' Ginny said, beaming at her husband. 'I'm just glad I'm past the morning sickness stage.'
Harry grinned, 'Me too.' They both jumped when someone knocked on the front door downstairs. Shortly after, they heard it creak open.
Harry and Ginny looked at each other. 'Ron.'
Harry and Ginny left the study, making their way downstairs. Harry went first, wand in his hand. Ginny smiled as she followed her over-cautious Auror husband. She supposed she was lucky; after the life Harry had had, she was surprised (and glad) he didn't start shooting hexes every time someone breathed too loudly.
'You can't just invite yourself into someone else's house, Ron, it's rude an-' Hermione's familiar scolding made Harry smile.
'Hi, Harry, Ginny,' Ron said, hugging his sister. He clapped Harry on the back and then settled himself on the Potter's couch. Hermione pulled Ginny into a hug, and then Harry, before standing awkwardly next to the couch, playing with her bushy brown hair.
'You can sit down, you know,' Harry said. Hermione smiled gratefully and seated herself next to her boyfriend, but Ginny got the impression she was trying to teach Ron a lesson.
'So, how are you two?' Harry asked sitting on the other couch, grinning at his best friends.
Hermione beamed, and held out her hand, on which gleamed a diamond, set in white gold. Ginny squealed and inspected the ring before hugging them both. Harry was also adding his congratulations, but didn't look surprised. Ginny realised Ron had probably told him beforehand.
'We have news too,' Ginny said once she and Harry were seated again. Ron and Hermione looked at each other and then at the now red-faced couple. 'I'm pregnant.'
Hermione let out an ear-splitting shriek, making Harry jump. Ron blinked several times, frowning and mouthing 'pregnant?', until it seemed to click. Then he looked back and forward between his best friend and his sister with a bemused look on his face, clearly trying to decide whether to be happy or angry with Harry. He decided on the first, and soon his freckled face was lit up with a wide grin.
'I'm going to be an uncle,' was all he managed to say for a few minutes. Ginny threw a pillow at him and giggled when it hit him square in the side of the head.
'We don't have to go, Ginny,' Harry said insistently.
'If you say that one more time...' she threatened.
Harry backed away with his hands in the air. She surveyed him critically. The invitation said it was not a formal occasion, so Harry was wearing jeans and a navy blue t-shirt that clung to his toned chest.
She was wearing a simple navy blue dress that looked like a stretched t-shirt. A black belt adorned her waist, but the outfit still concealed her rounded midriff.
'All right,' Harry said, his green eyes looking innocently into hers. 'Are you ready to go?'
Ginny nodded, flicking some of her fiery hair out of her face and walked with Harry until they could Disapparate outside of the cottage's protective charms.
With a loud crack Harry and Ginny appeared outside an old, slightly dilapidated school gymnasium. There were lights shining through the frosted glass windows, and even from outside the loud babble of voices could be heard.
'Are you sure?' Harry asked looking almost pleadingly at Ginny who nodded. He sighed and led her by the hand through the doors.
She supposed she could understand his reluctance after the awful childhood he had experienced among the people they were about to mingle with, but this was something she knew he had to do; her husband, the famous Harry Potter had fought and defeated Lord Voldemort, but he was frightened to face a group of school bullies... She also knew this would be a chance for Harry to gain back some self-confidence, to overcome one of the things that had bothered him for years.
The interior of the gym was much nicer than the outside had alluded to; it was brightly lit, filled with tables, food and talking people. The walls were lined with blue and yellow balloons and a big white screen showed school-day photographs. Ginny noticed with amusement that they were not moving, and was about to ask Harry about that when her husband was pulled from her grip by a tall blonde man.
'Hi, Big-D,' Harry gasped, struggling to be released from the rib-cracking hug. He looked surprised at such a warm welcome.
'Hey, Harry,' Dudley Dursley said grinning as he let go of his cousin.
'Er... wow,' Harry said, looking his cousin up and down. 'You've kept up with your diet then?'
'Yeah. When Mr Diggle and Ms Jones took us away they gave us a huge safety talk on what you were up against. I didn't want to be recognised by any of your kind so I decided to lose weight.'
'Oh...' Harry said, clearly at a loss of what to talk about. Ginny cleared her throat loudly. Harry looked relieved and pulled Ginny closer. 'Ginny, this is my cousin Dudley. Dudley, this is my wife Ginny.'
'You're married?' Harry grinned at Ginny. She thought it was a very triumphant smile.
Harry nodded. 'You?'
Dudley shook his head. 'Nah. I've had a few girlfriends but nothing serious...'
'Interference?' Harry said teasingly. Dudley nodded.
'Mum's a nightmare.'
Harry laughed. 'I can imagine.' From what Harry had told her, Petunia Dursley was too nosey for her own good, and liked nothing better than to gossip and interfere with other people's social lives.
'Yeah,' Dudley said nodding, 'Wait until I tell her about you- Oh hello Mrs Mestre.' A middle-aged woman had just come shuffling over to greet them. Ginny thought she looked rather like a horse, with large teeth, a long neck, and short hair.
'Hello boys,' the teacher said kindly. 'Dudley Dursley is that you?' She blinked at him through her heavy, square framed glasses. 'And you, boy. Is it Piers Polkiss?'
Harry wrinkled his nose, clearly insulted. 'Er...no... I'm Harry Potter.'
Mr Mestre took off her glasses, scrubbed the vigorously and pushed them back onto her crooked nose. She peered at Harry with her big eyes and then her mouth dropped open. 'So it is! Good lord, boy, you've grown!'
'Thank you,' Harry said, clearly uncomfortable under her scrutiny.
Mrs Mestre turned her gaze to Ginny. 'And who are you? Rebecca Long?'
'No...' Ginny said wondering who Rebecca Long was, 'I'm Harry's wife, Ginny.'
The teacher squinted at her and then said, 'Married! Goodness! How old are you?' She looked between Ginny and Harry, blinking rapidly.
'We're both twenty,' Harry said carefully.
'How long have you been married?'
'It'll be two years in January.'
The woman frowned for a long moment and then asked abruptly, 'Do you have any children?' Ginny hid a smile. This woman was reminding her of her own mother; wanting to know whether the two of them had married for love, or because Ginny had been pregnant.
Harry looked at his wife, who smiled encouragingly. 'No, but there's one on the way.' He wrapped his arm around Ginny's slender waist.
'Congratulations!' Dudley yelled. 'Mum's going to die of shock when I get home! Oh, Piers is here. Excuse me.'
'Harry? Could you get me a drink please?' Ginny asked sweetly. 'Just water or something though.'
'Not Firewhiskey?' Harry asked innocently, before his hands flew to his mouth and he cast a horrified look at his old teacher. Luckily, she did not appear to have been listening.
'No thank you,' Ginny grinned. She did not realise that muggles did not know what Firewhiskey was.
Harry hurried off toward the drinks table. 'So what work do you do, dear?' Mrs Mustre asked, peering at Ginny through her heavy glasses.
Harry filled a plastic cup with lemonade, grinning to himself as he wondered how Ginny would react to the fizzy drink. 'Excuse me.'
'Sorry,' Harry muttered, moving out of the way.
'No!' Confused, Harry turned to face the source of the noise. It was a pretty young woman, with short dark hair and blue eyes; Desiree Gilberts. 'Are you Harry Potter?'
'Er... yes... I am. It's Desiree, right?'
The woman nodded eagerly, seeming pleased that Harry had remembered her name. Harry could not forget her name if he tried; other than Dudley and his gang, she had been one of his main tormentors.
'You look amazing! Who would have thought that scrawny little bespectacled boy could have grown up into you!' Her azure eyes drifted over his toned chest appreciatively. Harry felt quite uncomfortable under her gaze, and could feel his cheeks reddening as she ogled him shamelessly, looking everywhere bu his face.
'So...er... what are you doing these days?' he asked, trying to divert her attention.
'Oh. I'm in Criminal Law. Court cases and all that... how about you?'
Harry thought for a moment. He couldn't exactly say "Auror" or "Dark Wizard Catcher", despite wanting to, 'I'm a Policeman.'
'Really?' Desiree looked genuinely surprised. 'I always pictured you going into teaching, or accounting or something.' Harry was at a loss at what to say, but Desiree ploughed on, 'You didn't seem like the type to choose a dangerous job.' Harry laughed humourlessly; so much had changed since he had been ten years old. 'Are you still living with your Aunt and Uncle?'
Harry shook his head. 'No, I went to a boarding school when I was eleven and moved out for good a few days before I turned seventeen.'
'Where did you go if you were only seventeen?'
'My friends and I travelled for about a year, and then went back for a final year of schooling.'
'Wow. That's more interesting than what I've done. I finished school two years ago, and am still living with my parents,' she said glumly. 'I'd love to travel but I can't really afford it.'
'So where are you living now?' she asked brightly.
'With my wife,' Harry said bluntly, not liking how invasive this conversation was becoming, 'who I promised a drink. It was nice to see you,' he called as he walked away, leaving her looking rather put-out.
He walked straight into a seedy looking man, with thinning hair yet who looked about Harry's age. 'Sorry!' Harry said.
'You should be!' The man said angrily, wiping some of his spilt wine off of his jacket. He turned to glare at Harry but then realised he only came up to Harry's shoulder.
'Well I said sorry didn't I,' Harry said annoyed. He performed a non-verbal siphoning spell, which removed the red stain. The man was too busy frowning at Harry to notice.
'Do I know you?' Harry suddenly recognised the man; Timothy Williams, one of Dudley's old friend. Harry had left school bruised on more than one occasion after having been used as a punching bag.
'Maybe,' Harry said, feeling quite rude, but he could still feel the ghosts of the bruises.
'You're Potter!' the man suddenly said, 'Aren't you?'
'Yes,' Harry sighed. He wanted nothing more than to leave the conversation now.
'You've grown. I think I'd have a harder time against you nowadays.' Harry couldn't help but agree. 'What are you, an accountant?'
Harry was vaguely amused that his old school-mates assumed that he would have a behind the desk sort of job. 'No, I'm a Policeman.'
'Oh.' Beads of sweat broke out on Timothy's forehead and he looked Harry up and down before saying loudly, 'What? Oh, yeah. Coming! Sorry, Potter, got to go.'
Harry smirked as his old tormentor half ran to the gym doors and disappeared through them. Harry found his wife talking animatedly with Dudley.
'What's this?' she asked suspiciously, sniffing the lemonade.
Harry grinned. 'Just drink it, and no. It's not alcoholic,' he added, seeing the look on her face.
Ginny sipped it gingerly, and then sneezed. 'It tickles,' she laughed, taking another drink. 'What is it?'
'Lemonade,' Harry told her, smiling tentatively at his cousin. 'It's a muggle thing.'
'Well, I like it.' She drained the cup, 'Thank you.' Harry smiled.
'Ginny and I were just talking,' Dudley said, 'we were wondering whether you'd be up for a trip back to Number 4?'
'I'd like to meet your Aunt and Uncle,' Ginny said batting her lashes at him. Harry sighed, staring down at his wife. He felt quite black-mailed. Ginny was as much a best friend to him as she was a wife; she rarely cried, she was quite happy to swear and play Quidditch, and even pull pranks on Percy with George, but she was also perfectly capable of using her womanly appeal to her advantage when she wanted to.
Harry looked up a Dudley. 'Are you sure? I don't want to intrude...'
Dudley nodded. 'You can come under the pretence of collecting your old things... the stuff you left behind when you left.'
'But in the letter, you said they might not react very well.'
Dudley waved a large pink hand, 'Well, it's up to you, but I'm going now. I've got to get up for work early tomorrow.'
'You work?' Harry teased.
Dudley reddened. 'Yeah. I coach Boxing at Smeltings on Sunday mornings, and I help Dad with drill deliveries on weekdays.' Harry nodded. 'Do you work?'
Harry glanced around quickly, and then lowered his voice. 'I'm an Auror. I catch Dark Wizards... kind of like a muggle Policeman.'
'Cool!' Dudley frowned suddenly, looking very much like his child-hood self. 'But, I thought that evil one... the Lord what's-his-name was gone.'
'He is,' Ginny said, a blissful smile spreading over her face. 'But there are others, followers, who are still around.'
'Harry?' Dudley whispered, looking uncomfortable. 'Did you kill him, the one that killed your parents?'
Harry's green eyes met Ginny's brown ones for a moment, and then flicked to Dudley's face. 'Sort of. He's dead if that's what you want to know... I suppose I helped,' Harry added sheepishly at Ginny's skeptical look.
'Er... Dudley? Is something wrong?' Dudley gestured to the white car in the driveway of Number 4, Privet Drive.
'Aunt Marge is here. Sorry! I swear I didn't know.'
'It's all right,' Harry said quickly. 'We can go home from here... Catch up some other time.' Dudley nodded, glancing worriedly at the door. Voices were becoming louder.
Harry snatched Ginny's hand and started to tow her away from the house. She went along willingly, having never seen Harry this worried.
'Dudders!' a huge woman shrieked. 'There's my neffy-poo!'
'Er... hi.' Dudley allowed his Aunt to hug him.
'And who are your friends?' Harry froze mid-stride, shooting a worried look at Ginny. 'You there! Are you friends of Dudleys?'
Harry took a deep breath and turned around, hoping Aunt Marge wouldn't recognise him; it had been seven years since they last saw each other. He stood protectively in front of Ginny. 'Yes, we are. But we were just leaving.'
Petunia and Vernon Dursley had joined Aunt Marge by the door. Petunia looked horrified, and Vernon looked angry. 'Don't be silly. Come inside! I'd love to meet some of Dudders' friends.' She clearly didn't recognise him. He supposed he had changed a bit.
'No, no,' Uncle Vernon huffed. 'They were just leaving. Have somewhere to be I expect.' His piggy little eyes were fixed on his nephew with dislike. He was too busy glaring at Harry to feel Ginny's angry stare.
'Yes, that's right,' Harry said quickly.
'Boy, I just invited you in,' Marge said loudly, 'Surely you can cancel your other appointments?' Harry was surprised Vernon didn't protest.
Harry slumped and said, 'Sure,' just as Ginny said, 'Anything for Dudley.'
'So,' Marge said, once Harry and Ginny had seated themselves on the couch. 'What are your names?' Uncle Vernon made a funny gesture over her shoulder that Harry understood to mean "say-Harry-Potter-and-you-die".
'Remus Lupin,' Harry said, knowing Marge would recognise "James" and probably even "Sirius". Harry looked helplessly at Ginny who smiled.
'Dora. I'm Remus' wife.' Ginny laid her hand on Harry's knee.
'Wife?' Uncle Vernon exploded. Petunia looked ready to faint. 'You got married?'
Harry carefully arranged his facial expression to one of innocent surprise, 'Why do you seem so shocked, Mr Dursley? I've been married for almost two years.'
'Figures,' Vernon muttered into his moustache.
'Oh, do you know each other?' Aunt Marge said, looking between Vernon and Harry.
'No. Today is the first time we've met,' Harry said cheerfully. 'But Mr Dursley seems to know me quite well... Why is that, sir?' Ginny knew Harry was enjoying himself.
'Dudley talks about you... at home,' Petunia said shakily.
'Oh. That explains a lot,' Harry said.
'So, Remus, Dora. How do you know Dudders?'
'Remus introduced us,' Ginny said politely. Marge nodded, her jowls wobbling.
Harry grinned. 'Funny you should ask. Dudley and I practically grew up together. We went to the same school; we came from the reunion just now.'
'Lovely, lovely,' Marge boomed. Harry couldn't quite believe that he was having a cheerful, polite conversation with the Aunt he so loathed. 'So what do your parents do?'
Ginny grinned at Harry and said her answer first, to give him time to think. 'My Mum stays home, cooks, cleans, does housework... a very motherly type of woman. My Dad works for the government. He's sort of like a social worker; he takes people away from places where they're mistreated.' She smiled sweetly at Harry's purple faced uncle.
'My parents died a while back, but my Mum was a Nurse and Dad was a Policeman. I was raised for a bit by my Mum's sister, but she didn't work. Her husband was a handy-man. He put bars on windows, sealed letter-boxes, things like that... A little bit odd really...' Harry could taste sweet revenge for his Hogsmeade permission slip, albeit it being seven years late.
'How... interesting,' Marge said, her lip curling. 'Sounds like you've had it rough, boy.'
Harry nodded dramatically, fighting a smile as he looked innocently at his livid Uncle. His green eyes danced mischievously. Ginny giggled, happy to see him so happy and whispered in his ear, 'I love you.'
'Love you too,' Harry murmured, catching Dudley's eye. Harry's blond cousin was red in the face from trying not to laugh. 'Well,' Harry said loudly, 'I think we're done here. Thank you very much for your hospitality.' He helped Ginny to her feet. 'I'll see you around, Dudley.' The two young men shook hands, and Ginny, for the sake of appearances, gave Dudley a hug.
'It was nice to meet you,' she whispered.
Vernon all but shoved them toward the door and Harry heard it lock behind them. 'What a lovely young couple!' Marge boomed from inside. Harry laughed as he took Ginny's hand and Disapparated.
When Harry and Ginny reached their front door, they were surprised to hear noises coming from inside. They were worried for a moment, but then relaxed as they recognised Ron's laugh.
'Ron! What are you doing in my house?' Harry yelled as they walked in, but he was smiling. Shock registered on his face when he registered who was sitting in his living room; Ron, Hermione, George, Angelina (who was holding baby Fred), and, surprisingly, Draco Malfoy.
'Er... hello?' Harry said, looking quite uncomfortably around, especially at the presence of the latter.
'Hey, mate,' Ron said, shooting a dark look at Malfoy, whose pale cheeks reddened. 'I was looking for the clo- for the Perverell inheritance and you weren't home.'
'The door was locked,' Harry said, looking very confused.
'I am a wizard,' Ron said proudly. Harry pretended to look surprised. 'Anyway, we- Okay, I,' he said, when he felt Hermione's glare, 'was looking around and then George, Angelina showed up, so we let them in. About five minutes ago this one showed up and we settled in to wait for you to come home.' Ron's expression made it blatantly obvious he didn't trust Malfoy.
'Right. Could I ask why the rest of you are here?'
'We thought Freddie might want to see his Godmother...' Ginny squealed and ran to hug her brother and his wife.
'Godmother? Me? Thank you so much!'
'No, we mean Harry,' George said in a very patient voice. Ginny swatted at his arm.
Harry laughed and then turned to the pale Slytherin, who shrugged. 'I wanted to say thank you.'
'What?' Harry blinked.
Draco's eyes shone defiantly. 'I got released from Azkaban last week.' Draco had been allowed to return to Hogwarts with Harry, Ron and Hermione to complete their seventh year, but as soon as he graduated, he had been sentenced to two years in Azkaban. 'I wanted to thank you, for everything you did in the last battle.' He took a deep breath. 'You saved Goyle and I, twice, you told my Mother where I was and you killed the Dark Lord. And thanks for defending my Mother at the trial, for telling them what she did for you, even after everything that happened between us at school.'
He held out his hand. Harry took it, and the two shook hands. 'Oh, and thank you for giving me my wand back.' Draco smiled, 'It means a lot to me.'
Harry was at a loss for what to say. 'You're welcome,' he finally stammered.
Draco nodded, and fastened a thick black travelling cloak around his neck. 'I'll see you around Potter. Weasleys, Granger.' He walked out quickly and a distant crack echoed out a moment later.
'Wow. Er... what just happened?' Harry asked softly. Hermione looked close to tears probably because he had not called her Mudblood, Fred looked confused, Ron was staring at the door, his mouth hanging open and Angelina was cooing at her son but Harry had eyes only for Ginny.
She walked over and kissed him lightly on the lips. George and Ron pulled faces but Ginny ignored them. 'I'm proud of you,' she whispered, wrapping her arms around his neck. Harry grinned down at her. Ginny let go of him and turned to address the other two couples. 'We've had a long day...' She grinned and pointed at the door.
'Please,' Harry added from quietly behind her.
She rolled her eyes. He was always too polite. 'Right. If your last name is not "Potter" then you can get out of my house,' she said grinning again.
George smirked and picked up his son. He and Angelina left laughing. Ron rather disgruntled, but Hermione ushered him out saying, 'You broke into her house, Ron, you can't not leave. Especially when Ginny asked us so nicely!' She flashed Ginny and Harry a smile.
'I can,' Ron muttered. 'Harry wants me here, right, mate?'
Ginny shot Harry a warning look. 'Er...'
Hermione caught Ginny's eyes and grinned, before walking out into the street, dragging Ron behind her. They disappeared with an audible crack.