Disclaimer: I own nothing of the Harry Potter characters.
A/N: Well here's the finished product everyone. I hope you've enjoyed the ride.
Chapter Twenty-five: To thy own self be true
A brisk wind out of the north caught the edge of a dark red cape causing it to billow out, dancing among the falling snowflakes. The movement alerted others to his presence as many eyes turned upward in admiration of the dark clad figure perched on the roof ledge above, watching over them. Parents nodded in grateful reassurance and children pointed and exclaimed enthusiastically, many waving or calling out. Rarely if ever did he acknowledge their hails and none of them really expected him to, but they could always hope.
On this particular occasion he favored them with a wave of greeting, eliciting a cheer from the crowded street below.
Shoppers no longer darted in and out of stores, pretending they avoided the chill winter air, when it had really been their fear that had them so apprehensive. No longer need they fear for themselves and their children's lives. Criminals and dark agents alike steered clear of these streets, there was no place for them here or anywhere else, on these shores, for that matter.
Many had learned hard lessons, many more avoided such teachings.
Now, parents laughed and talked with friends as cold children's faces glued themselves to shop windows delighting at the toys and treats within.
A casual wave of the hand from above sent children squealing in delight as snowmen came to life and began singing Christmas carols and enchanted snowballs chased after the older children.
Parents held each other and sang along and others cheered happily at the display.
He'd grown to love Christmas time, strange that, considering what Christmas had been like only a few years ago and all the lonely ones before that.
Another armored figure stepped up next to him. A warm smile graced her features as she enjoyed the show along with all the rest below.
"A nice bit of charm work, that." she commented appreciatively, wending her arm in his and snuggling up against him to ward off the cold wind.
She thrilled with the knowledge of the pleasure she both gave and received by such a simple gesture.
She never grew tired of seeing the small smile of contentment and the happiness that her presence brought to his face.
It was just one of the many changes that she and all the others delighted in.
His arm dipped out of her grasp, but before she could start to worry that he was regressing, his arm wrapped over her shoulders and pulled her close.
A soft kiss was planted on top of her head and a warm cheek gently followed.
She sighed, relishing in her own depth of warm feelings and contentment.
"Mother expects us for dinner at half nine sharp." She reminded him, smiling softly as he grunted an acknowledgement of understanding.
Noticing the crowd that was starting to form in the square, she asked. "Are you going to sing for them this year?"
A non-committal grunt was all the answer she received.
She elbowed his side, gently scolding, "They'll all be so disappointed if you don't." she nodded meaningfully to the gathering families below.
His eyes shifted to the clock at Gringott's. "If I do I'll be late for dinner as they always insist on several encores."
"Narcissa will understand. She wanted to come herself, but she's looking after Remus and "won't have him out in such weather"." Susan imitated Narcissa's admonishment to her other half.
"They make a nice couple." Harry commented.
"They do." Susan agreed, then nudged him again, prompting, "Come on already? It's freezing and this armor does nothing to stave off the cold."
Harry quirked a half smile as he waved his hand, placing a warming charm over his sister. "I'm surprised it still fits." He chuckled.
She initially sighed in relief before slapping his arm and muttering, "Prat" at the slight.
"Come on, Harry and sing already, you're niece or nephew is getting impatient." Susan complained, patting the swell of her tummy affectionately.
"What am I, one of those dollies that talks when you pull its string?" he griped.
Susan nudged him with her hip, chiding.. "Ginny doesn't seem to have any problems pulling your strings."
"Oh,.. and I suppose my coming niece or nephew was an accident and not Draco's persistence?"
"What can I say, I'm irresistible." She chuckled, her nose crinkling up in that way he always found endearing.
"You are" he agreed, delighting in the reaction he got from the compliment as she colored slightly despite the cold, pulling him into a half hug.
"Why don't you sing with me this year?" he asked hopefully.
"They're expecting you." she reminded him evasively.
"Then they'll get a bonus this year as you've a lovely voice." He urged.
"Maybe.. just one.." she reluctantly agreed, adding quickly,.. "But only if its " 'O Holy Night?"
"What else" he agreed. "But you start off; I'll join in at the reprise."
Susan began the first verse of the carol that had come to symbolize all that Christmas should be and had become in the wizarding world since that night he and his companions first sang it at this very spot.
People gasped in pleasure as Susan began to sing, though all waited in eager anticipation for his rich baritone to join in. What had started as a diversion had become a tradition and wizarding folk gathered in larger and larger numbers every year, anxiously awaiting the serenade of Christmas carols that started at the stroke of eight on Christmas eve when freedom and with it, happiness... returned to the wizarding world.
They came here every year for a variety of reasons, to celebrate, mourn, show their respect and gratitude, but mostly they came to reassure themselves that he was here, watching over them as he had done for many years now both on the street and in their legislature.
Many lives he'd improved. Many wrongs he had a hand in setting right. Many hearts he'd mended,... his along with the rest.
Three Years Earlier...
It had been the longest most ghastly night of her entire life. Half of it she'd spent delighting in the afterglow of their first kiss. The other half had warred with the first in the dread possibility that she would never have another kiss to compare it with.
Ginny had spent the night pacing the floor of her apartment. When she wasn't twisting herself in knots with worry, she was shivering on her balcony praying for a voice on the breeze that never came.
Merlin, she hated herself right now. She could have been with him, even if for only this one night.
Would she come to regret this lost opportunity as she had that first kiss that never was?
Her head knew that she'd made the right choice in waiting, hoping for more, but her heart wasn't on board with that notion.
Sleep was out of the question. She even resorted to copious amounts of chocolate, but even that couldn't stave off the hollow ache she felt inside.
Shouldn't the sun be up already? She complained silently to herself, checking her watch and growling in frustration that it was only a half an hour later than the last time she checked.
Finally, blessedly... the sun rose slowly in the east as it always did, though it seemed to take longer than usual this morning.
Ginny flew to her bathroom, trying furiously to wash away the weariness and worry from her face, followed by every magical charm she knew to try and make herself as attractive and appealing as was inhumanly possible.
God, what she wouldn't give for five minutes with Giffindor beauty experts: Lavender Brown and Parvati Patil just now!
She sighed at her still haggard appearance in the mirror... both would have been needed.
She almost threw on her most form fitting dress, but decided against over advertising lest she alarm the customer and drive him out of the store.
She was looking for a lifetime patron, not a window shopper.
It was too early to call, she knew, but she couldn't help it. She had to know that he was still here, still alive.
Besides, the sun was up so it was technically morning-damn it!
With a deep breath and a prayer for courage, Ginny stepped into the floo and traveled directly to Malfoy Manor.
Apparently she wasn't the only one who'd been up all night?
"Is he with you, tell me he's with you?" Narcissa blurted out worriedly hurrying over to the fireplace she'd just stumbled out of. She too was fully dressed and looked as if she'd been walking the floor all night.
"No,.. he.. he said he was going to think things over and let me know this morning what he'd decided. I'm sorry. I- I just couldn't wait any longer." Ginny hurriedly explained in an apologetic tone regarding the hour of the day.
Narcissa waved off the apology taking her younger friend's hand reassuringly. "Quite understandable. Join me for a cup of tea, if we're to spend the day worrying, we might as well be as comfortable as possible. Would you like some breakfast?" she offered kindly steering Ginny toward the sitting room.
Ginny shook her head. "N-No.. I don't think I could..."
"Me neither." Narcissa agreed, patting the young lady's arm reassuring her that she wasn't alone in her anxiety. "He'll be the death of us.''
Ginny nodded at that, hoping so for all the right reasons.
Ginny startled upon entering the sitting room, though in retrospect she wasn't surprised that others would be as concerned as she and Narcissa were.
Susan was there, and.."Luna?" she gasped in surprise. "W-Where have you been?"
A heavily tanned and absolutely glowing Luna giggled happily, answering... "The Amazon."
"The Amazon?" Ginny goggled in surprise.
Before she could ask more, Luna grasped her by the hands excitedly begging, "Come see"
Luna pulled her over to toward the fireplace where there was a little cage waiting.
Ginny peered down through the grate... "Luna,.. there's nothing in there."
"Are you sure?" Luna asked with conviction, unlike her usual airiness
"This was Harry's Christmas present to me." Luna began to explained, patting the cage as she did so. "He port keyed me to the Amazon basin, muggy weather that... Anyway, it was very nice and all, lots of strange things, but nothing to write home about, which I was about to do, but then the rains came..."
Ginny waited, but Luna seemed satisfied with her unfinished explanation, so Ginny prodded... "Rains came?"
"Uh-Huh" Luna nodded vigorously. "It's their rainy season. Once things fogged up everything became much clearer."
Ginny rubbed her forehead thinking it must be just her. She was more tired than she thought she was and could feel a headache coming on.
The giggling from Susan and Narcissa told her that it wasn't just her.
"How did foggy things become much clearer?" she bit, thinking she was probably going to be sorry she asked.
Maybe she had fallen asleep in the night and this was just some exhaustion induced fever dream or hallucination?
"Isn't it obvious? Snorkacks are invisible and when it began to rain and get foggy..."
"You could see them?" Ginny smacked her forehead thinking herself a fool for entertaining the notion, while Luna bobbed her head happily in acknowledgement.
Luna tapped her wand on top the cage from before, releasing a fine mist of warm water that she waved back and forth over the entire cage asking Ginny to .. "Look again"
Ginny peaked down through the grate uncertainly before gasping in surprise as an outline of a strange little horned creature ghosted into view.
"Is that... is that a...?"
"It's a crumple horned snorkack!" Luna cut her off cheering merrily.
"B-But how?" Ginny stammered still staring into the cage in disbelief.
"Harry, of course." Luna answered vacantly, some of her airiness returning.
"Of course" Ginny muttered.
Ginny shook her head appreciatively... only Harry, she thought as Luna excitedly informed her of the article she was writing and the lecture series planned for the summer... as snorkacks didn't do well in the cold... of course.
Arthur Weasley arrived to his office via the private floo. He'd decided he might as well get an early start as the entire household had been up half the night with worry.
Molly, bless her, was driving him batty, not that she could help it. If she wasn't crying, she was cooking. She was either going to drown him with tears or stuff him until he exploded!
Even the twins, who's decided to visit, (for no particular reason, or so they claimed), could find little to joke about.
Ron and Hermione arrived late last night, and despite having classes to teach; Hermione spent the entire night keeping worried vigil with the rest, only hers and Ron's eyes were practically glued to the family clock, where Harry's hand still pointed precariously to...Lost.
At least it wasn't the alternative. A fact for which they we're all relieved.
Now, Arthur found himself genuinely surprised to find the object of everyone's concern waiting for him in his private office, enjoying one of his cigars and a sifter of Ogden's finest.
"Have I got a deal for you?" Harry chortled, relaxing back in Arthur's own chair with his feet perched on his desk top as he blew smoke rings into the air.
"Not bad," he commented thoughtfully, " but I prefer the subtle essence of a fine Havana. I'll send you a box." He offered, grinning broadly.
His eyes tracked Arthur's as they perused his office, noting unhappily the empty bottle of his private stock and another open one nearly drained on his desk.
"Better make that a case too. I know a nice cognac from Germany that's to die for. Ask Alastor, he'll vouch for it."
With a sigh, Arthur poured himself a large glass, finishing the bottle. He toasted Harry and downed half the glass in one go, thinking absently that Harry had shown more sense than the rest of them; last night was the perfect night for getting drunk.
Arthur sighed in pleasure as heat vapor rose from his head. He plopped himself down in his guest's chair and asked curiously... "You mentioned a deal?"
Noon...Ministry of Magic
"So a-anyway.. there he was, not a stitch of clothes and the nun says..."
"Arthur Weasley!" Molly rebuked from the doorway.
"Harry...?" Ginny's head peered around her mother's waist through the office door.
The two had come at a run after receiving a hurried floo call from Penny Weasley regarding the ..Current state of affairs.
"O...Oh...this hurts..." Arthur was clutching his sides, trying not to laugh as he continued undaunted by his wife's arrival. "The n-nun says...the same price as down town-f-father... He-He-He..."
Harry burst into guffaws, falling out of his chair. The empty bottle he'd held fell from his grip and skidded across the floor, coming to a jarring stop at Molly Weasley's feet.
"Arthur Albert Weasley... are you drunk?" Molly scolded waggiling her finger in her husband's direction.
"Molly..." Arthur sang out, brandishing his empty glass. "Bring us a bit of something, luv."
Molly gaped stupidly at that.
Harry staggered to his feet and made his way to the service bar, disappointedly he pitched an empty bottle aside informing his host... "That's it for the port." He rummaged under the counter mumbling, "I think I saw a bottle of something or other hidden in the back?"
"Hurry up, I'm parched!" Arthur chortled, chuckling happily at the prospect.
"Harry..?" Ginny asked again, only this time a hint of irritability wending its way into her voice. Though immensely relieved, no sleep and constant worry had her patience at an end.
"G-Ginny.." Harry hiccupped happily in recognition as he pulled his head up from under the service bar.
He tossed Ginny his coin purse, directing.. "Pop on over to the Leaky Cauldron and fetch us a case of Ogden's...there's a good girl."
Ginny eyes narrowed. "I'll pop you on the head, or better yet, how about I pop on over and collect Narcissa to deal with you? All of us up half the night waiting and worrying while you're out getting soused and now you've corrupted my father with your..."
"Narcissa?" Arthur grumbled drunkenly.
"Pretty blonde hair, nice figure." Harry offered, adding.. "Like the way she hugs...sort of moulds right to..."
"Harry James Potter!" Ginny scathed in outrage.
"Pardon?" He asked stupidly, as if just noticing her. "Ginny,.. you back already... where's the Ogden's?"
Ginny stamped her foot and turned to leave.
"You sure you want to court her... she's a temper like her mother that one?" Arthur cautioned half nodding off.
Ginny turned back, wide eyed and gasping.
"Pretty though." Harry added.
"So's er mum." Arthur agreed, to which Molly started blushing next to Ginny.
"True" Harry agreed, plopping back in his chair. "Helluva a quidditch palyer. I like the way she handles a broom stick."
Ginny gapped, blushing furiously as Harry giggled drunkenly.
"Get's that from her mother too!" Arthur was guffawing now along with him.
"S-Seven kids,... speaks f-for itself!" Harry chortled, falling out of his chair.
"He-He-He...did I ever tell you boys about the time Filch caught Molly and me in broom closet by his office...He-He-He...Molly was naked from the waist down and..."
"EEP!" Molly squeaked and bolted in mortification, leaving Ginny to start laughing along with the other two.
Harry poked his head up from behind the desk at the sound of a new voice laughing naerby. "Ginny...? Back already with the Ogden's...?"
Ginny smiled beautifully at that... "I'll just be a minute, luv." She spun around and all but danced down the hall.
"Good girl..." Harry complimented in her wake.
"So's er mum." Arthur agreed then started to giggle again. "Did I ever tell you boys about the time Filch caught Molly and me...?"
Harry spent the initial days, well after that first day, (which was sort of a blur), selling flowers from a cart in the park adjoining the Ministry. It was more of meet and greet, though he did make some nice pocket change.
Also, during those initial days; he took the time to enjoy himself, catching up with old friends.
"Alright Neville, what did you bring me all the way to Ireland to show me?" Harry asked, peering around the snow strewn pasture they'd apparated to. There was nothing but cows dotting the landscape and a dark red barn in the distance with an ice covered creek running along the fence line.
"We're here to serve justice, Harry...Poetic Justice." He clarified.
Neville pulled a small, protesting object from his pocket which he tossed to the ground with one hand and pulled out his wand with the other, casting a quick transfiguration spell and suddenly a milk cow was standing before them, identical, or nearly so, to the other cows near grazing nearby.
"Check out the brand?" Neville pointed toward the cow's left foreleg where a large 'dark mark' was branded into the animal's thick hide.
Harry snorted in approval. "Bella 'ol gal, you've never looked better."
Harry cracked the animal across the backside, eliciting a "Moooo" of displeasure from the animal.
"Same beautiful singing voice." Harry chortled and Neville sniggering his approval next to him.
Neville turned serious after that and looked straight into the animal's filmy brown eyes filled with raw contempt.
"The transformation's permanent. I've sealed it with a code word, that I'll have Harry obliviate it away so there'll be no chance of you ever returning."
The contempt in the animal's eyes gave way to a fearful, panicked expression that worsened when Neville proceeded to outline what her life would be for this moment forward.
"The farmer that owns this land and these animals is an unforgiving sort. No milk- No life. As soon as you stop contributing to his livelihood you'll be butchered and your meat sold out to some fast food chain where muggle children will fill their bellies on your useless hide.
I'm told you have no love for children and no wish to have any of your own? So much the better, for only pregnant cows give milk which means you'll either debase yourself by letting some randy bull impregnate you, or it's the butcher block.
You're calves will pull at your teats 24/7 and when they've had their fill the farmer will take the rest. Then you will repeat the cycle all over again if you wish to go on surviving. I can think of no more fitting punishment for a mad cow!"
At his pronouncement, the cow lost its bladder, lowing deep in its throat as it peed over its own hooves.
Harry patted Neville's back appreciatively. "Good one, Nev."
Neville shrugged. 'It won't bring back the Bell's but it's the best I could do to make sure she suffers for what she's done. I won't grant her the mercy of a quick death. She doesn't deserve that kindness."
In a moment of inspiration, he conjured a brass bell on a rope which he tied around the cow's neck.
"There now" Harry stepped back to admire his handiwork. "Every time that bell clangs you think of the Bell family. Let it serve as a reminder of what you could have been instead of what you did and allowed yourself to become. You think about the offer Dumbledore made you to spy for the light. You had the chance to be free, to regain some sense of honor. Instead you chose to torture and murder innocents ,... mad cow that you are."
With a last stern glare of disgust, the two wizards left Bellatrix Lestrange to her fate.
The Knighting ceremony, later that month, had been one for the books. They dined- they danced- they drank. The ministers had led the charge and even her majesty had risen to the occasion, along with the rest of her loyal subjects.
Lovely singing voice, the queen... good sport too.
Though not one for accolades, being knighted and designated protector of the British realm gave one certain perks, and Harry took advantage of the opportunity.
"Clear your mind!" he barked entering the holding cell.
"Legillemens" Harry cast entering the Death Eater's mind. Though initially startled and off guard, Snape quickly rose his occulomency screens to their highest level, much good that it did him.
Harry tore through his memories exposing every dark secret and dragging all the horrific acts he'd relished into the light of day. Though it sickened him, Harry tore through every hidden passage. Walls of the mind were crushed, barricades torn asunder till not a shred of defense, or dignity, was left him.
Harry pulled out of the fetid mind, gagging at the exposure. Snape was cowering on the floor in a fetal position, wide eyed and gasping.
"How'd you like a taste of your supposed -learned tutelage, Snivelus?" he drawled sarcastically.
"You can't...Y-You can't...?" Snape gasped trying to deny that Harry could do this to him.
"Ah, but I can... I was knighted by the queen you see. I am now an honorary servant of justice within the British realm and I could think of no better way to serve justice than to make sure the punishment for your many crimes is met out to the fullest measure."
Harry went on to explain. "You begin a life sentence at Azkaban on the 'morrow, however, we both know that with your considerable occulomency abilities, such a punishment would not be fitting as the dementors would not be able to invade your mind and expose you to the horrific memories therein. I've paved the way for them, so to speak."
Snape's face paled as he threatened impotently. "You can't do this, you've no right!"
Harry's eyes narrowed dangerously, sending Snape cringing back and away. "Where was the right..." he hissed, "when you betrayed my mother to your true master? She was your friend and stood by you, yet you spat on her and the memory of all that she had once meant to you. Where was the right when you mind raped me, time and again, so that you opened my mind to your master's petty torments?"
Harry's voice rose as he towered over the trembling swine at his feet. "How many have you personally raped, tortured and murdered all in the name of bigotry, greed and wanton lust?"
Harry spit at the coward's feet. "How superior do you think yourself now, Severus Snape?"
Piteously, the contemptible wretch that had delighted in tormenting mere children sobbed despairingly.
"Pity yourself if you must, but I have none for you. You are beneath contempt when you might have had an honorable, distinguished career. You could have been a hero in this war had you found some semblance of courage and consideration for your fellow man.
You could have had friends..."
With a last glare before he left the, now despondent man, Harry surmised: "Were I you, I would rather the dementor's suck out my worthless soul once they've deprived you of all else. Better that than face Lily and the Marauders on the other side."
A year later...
The two men waited expectantly at the altar, one's anxiety growing with each passing moment, the other's in amusement at his friend's expense.
"You're sure about this?"
"Right now I'm not sure of anything?"
The wedding march rose signaling the bride's arrival and it would've been Remus' departure if it hadn't been for Harry clamping a strong hand on his trembling shoulder and whispering reassuringly into his friend's ear.
"She's stunning, you lucky sod."
Remus' eyes found Narcissa's and all thoughts of anything but how lucky he was flew out the window.
"A galleon says you've a litter on the way by Christmas." Harry chuckled at his own joke earning himself a withering glare from the approaching bride and a scowl from Mrs. Weasley, though the twins and Ginny seemed amused by his antics.
He had a full rich laugh and was constantly finding new ways to amuse himself, in that he rivaled even the twins. His friends and family never tired, well almost never tired, of his antics as they enjoyed his own sense of wonder at all the things he took enjoyment from that he'd never experienced before. He had yet to seek permanent employment, not that he needed to work as the Gryffindor vault was filled with treasure beyond imagining. He spent some of his time as a guest instructor at Hogwarts or fulfilling his role on the Wizengamot. Mostly, he did what he'd always done best, watched over and protected the public's safety, which he did far more than he let on though he always found time for his friends and family.
Remus found in him a curious mix of both Sirius and James' personalities with a touch of Lily thrown in for good measure. The two became good friends and cohorts, and in a special private ceremony- a new marauder was added to their distinguished annals.
"We should do this next year." Harry commented, dancing with Ginny at Remus and Narcissa's wedding reception.
"Well, maybe they'll have a party to celebrate their anniversary with the rest of us." Ginny returned, hugging him close as they swayed around the dance floor.
"No,... I mean we should do this next year?"
Ginny froze in place, trembling as she looked up moist eyed and hopeful.
Harry dropped to a knee in the center of the dance floor, many couples stopping, gasping excitedly in anticipation, Ginny loudest of all.
"I love you, Gin. I always have. Please marry me?"
"Yes! Oh, Please,.. Yes!" Ginny shouted exuberantly pulling his chin up and kissing him with everything she was and ever hoped to be.
The entire gathering erupted in cheers around them not that either noticed.
The rest of the family was happily toasting the happy couple's impending nuptials when he pulled his friends outside with him, away from prying eyes.
"I've something to ask of you, but I need to get this out of the way first."
"Funny you should ask, Ron."
"Whoa...!" Draco exclaimed. "That's gonna leave a mark."
Harry hit Ron so hard that he pitched over backwards and fell face first down the porch steps, sliding to a stop on the gravel walkway.
Neville pulled him over, laughing as a bleary eyed Ron spit out a mouthful of gravel, mumbling... "Whaahapppenned?"
Unfortunately, it was at that same moment that a suspicious Hermione came to check on the absent boys.
"Ron! What happened?" She screeched worriedly hurrying down the steps to her husband's side.
"Ah, poor fellow can't hold his drink." Neville offered, pulling him upright and dusting off Ron's shirt while he wavered groggily on his feet, staring vacantly.
"I...don feel so good..." he mumbled just before he spewed his supper all over his wife's blouse.
"EUW!...For the love of..." Hermione vanished the vomit from her clothes and reluctantly did her husband's, noticing as she did so that his mouth was not only bleeding, but hanging at an odd angle. "What's that matter with your jaw?"
On closer inspection, she shrieked in alarm, "His jaw's broken!"
"Is it?" Harry asked far too quickly and happily for the supposed accidental circumstances.
Catching the tone in his voice, she rounded on their friend, her eyes slits of rage. "Did you do this?" it wasn't so much of a question as an accusation.
"Nah... he looks too good for me to have a hand in it." Harry lied with a snicker.
"Oh, very funny, Harry. Very mature." She scolded.
"We're even now." Harry reminded.
"You already punished him." She countered, Ron's vacant gaze shifting back and forth between the two.
"I punished him for not apologizing. He finally did, much later, but I never settled the debt with the broken jaw until just now. If he's got a problem with it he can come and see me about it-ANYTIME." Harry snapped back angrily.
Hermione stamped her foot to display her level of outrage. "It's not right, Harry. Family shouldn't be fighting between themselves like this." She scolded.
"FAMILY's.. fight all the time. Doesn't mean they don't love each other and it doesn't mean I don't love the git, but he still had it coming."
Hermione blew out an angry breath in place of a retort, knowing it would do no good, especially as Draco and Neville looked anything but understanding of Ron's plight.
"Come on, Ron. Let's go inside where we're appreciated." She pulled her vacant eyed spouse up the steps. When they reached Harry's unassuming position, Hermione huffed, "I think he's got a concussion as well,...Happy?" she spat sarcastically.
"You sure he wasn't always like this?" Harry asked skeptically, looking over Ron's swaying form with interest whilst Draco and Neville guffawed on the steps below.
Hermione lips began to tremble and her eyes grew suspiciously moist.
Oh.. alright,.. here..." Harry acquiesced in regret, more for upsetting her than for Ron's sake.
Harry's hand glowed blue and he smacked Ron across the side of the head, whose own head then glowed blue for a moment before dissipating.
Before Hermione could vent her outrage, Ron blurted..."Hey! What was that for?"
Draco and Neville broke into a fresh round of sniggers at that.
"Ron?" Hermione gasped in surprise, asking. "Are you alright?"
Ron's gaze shifted momentarily to his wife. "I'm fine 'Mione." Then back to Harry. "What's the big idea of smacking me across the head?" he growled angrily.
"Which time?" Harry asked showing sudden interest.
"Whadayamean, which time?" he bit back.
Harry rolled his eyes. "I think he was better before, 'Mione."
Irritated, and Ron being Ron, he cocked his fist back as if intending to return like for like.
"Ron, don't!" Hermione barked in warning, much too late.
"Ah, that was gratifying." Harry sighed in pleasure as Ron ricocheted off the door frame like a ping pong ball.
"Damn it, Harry!" Hermione wailed, half angry/ half worried as Ron's eyes rolled up and he passed out in a heap over the wicker loveseat.
"What?" Harry retorted indignantly. "Aw, come on, 'Mione, you can't blame me for defending myself. The git was gonna hit me!"
Hermione stamped her foot and huffed.. "You'll be sorry." She threatened, launching herself into the Burrow to enlist its occupant's support for her plight.
"Why don't you whine to the git's brothers? They seem a forgiving lot." He called after her with a knowing chuckle.
Draco and Neville were chuckling in between saluting him, with the drinks in their hands, in appreciation of his antics.
Harry smacked his hands together appreciatively and chortled. "Now that Ron's bowed out as a potential Best Man, what say you two share the duties, hmm?"
The two paled slightly as Draco was the first to ask... "Depends,.. was that the initiation?" he thumbed at Ron's unconscious form.
Remus was carving the prime roast at the head of the table with Narcissa on his right and Draco on his left hand. Harry was next to Narcissa, (as she insisted on this), and Ginny was stationed on his other side.
Harry like the table arrangements as he was between his favorite women with a luxury view of his sisters across the way.
Ginny was engaged in a conversation with Luna, trying her best not to lose her patience with yet another of Luna's ludicrous ideas. She was just in the initial stage of venting her frustration when Harry's hand wandered to her thigh under the table...
"If I've told you once I've told you a hundred times, Luna, there are no such things as nargles and even if there was they certainly aren't precursors of impending conception..urp!"
Ginny gasped, for some reason distracted. Her eyes went temporarily out of focus and she began to pant breathlessly. "Um...ohhh..."
"Are you alright?"Harry asked in concern leaning toward her, which only seem to heighten her duress as her eyes blinked rapidly as if she was going to faint and moment.
"I..I better get you to bed, Gin... you don't look well?" Harry offered chivalrously, to which Ginny nodded dumbly her agreement.
He hefted her easily out of her chair, lifting her bridal style into his arms. Ginny curled into him, clinging for all she was worth and still gasping.
Harry apologized as he swept Ginny from the room, waving off offers of assistance from the other worried females around the table.
"Well, if there's no such thing as Nargles then how come she's crawling with them?" Luna groused offhandedly as she buttered her roll.
Neville and Draco burst into laughter at that.
The two never did make it back to dinner that evening as Ginny was apparently 'quite unwell' and Harry, (attentive spouse that he is), was occupied with catering to her every need.