Banking on Her
A/N The final chapter – always sad to write but a relief to post. As is my usual method of writing, this started with a 'what if?' idea in my head and expanded chapter by chapter from there. I've come to the conclusion that very few people actually read AN's (I am certainly guilty of skipping over them to read the chapter) so let's get straight to the story.
The group portkeyed into the grand atrium and immediately found themselves surrounded by a squad of the most vicious looking goblins ever to make an appearance at the ministry of magic. Rather than being alarmed, the group took great comfort from the close proximity of these warrior beings. The fact that all their razor sharp weapons were pointing away from them might have had something to do with that comfort. Their squad of guards parted to allow Ragnok, Amelia and Croaker to enter their protected bubble.
The goblin leader nodded in recognition to the young couple before greeting them. "On behalf of the goblin nation, I would like to offer our congratulations on your marriage and best wishes for tonight. On a personal note, I would once again like to offer my apologies for not attending your nuptials. Tonight is also an important occasion for my race and I felt, as their leader, I should supervise all the arrangements in person. This is a great thing you do for all magical occupants of our country, your goblin friends certainly appreciate the risks and sacrifices you are making to rid us all of this evil."
Harry bowed to the goblin leader as a mark of respect, and also to show his thanks. "Tonight would not have been possible without the great assistance my wife and I have received from our goblin friends. I shall make a point of ensuring that the rest of the country is made aware of those facts. They may trust you with their gold but tonight you are ensuring the safety of something much more precious to me, for that you have my thanks." Harry's arm possessively around Hermione left no one in any doubt just what he meant as both teens now bowed to the goblin leader.
As Croaker led the party in the direction of the designated room, Sirius could have sworn the goblin guards that surrounded them now held themselves just that little bit taller. Seeing the way their leader had greeted the Potters would account for some of that but Sirius was sure that Harry's answer was the major reason. Calling them goblin friends and bowing in respect to Ragnok had just elevated their status as far as the guards were concerned.
Sirius had been trying not to think of the future in case he jinxed tonight but what he was watching here forced his thoughts down that road. The Potters were currently in the company of three of Magical Britain's most politically powerful figures, and were handling it as if they were out for a stroll down the park. Sirius hadn't wanted to pile any more worries onto Dan and Emma but if, no, when these two pulled this off, the entire country would offer them anything they wanted.
Fudge was finished, only Harry's intervention had saved the man's job at the trial. Handing out ministerial pardons without even reading them just emphasised what a lame duck minister he was. The fact that the entire country listened live as the drama had unfolded meant his goose was already cooked. If he would behave that irresponsibly for a wizard the entire auror department was actively hunting, what else would he sign unread?
Considering Croaker's preference for working behind the scenes, Amelia was a shoo-in for the soon to be vacant minister's job, if she wanted it. With tonight's ritual hopefully draining all Voldemort's marked followers of their magic, she might think the time is right to pass on the directorship of the DMLE to someone else for her shot at sorting the country out. At the very least, Croaker and Amelia would have a major influence in just who got elected to the top post. That both of them had already offered employment to Harry and Hermione was amazing, but Sirius would be willing to bet Ragnok would soon be doing the same.
The marauder was praying their family could all sit down on Black Island and spend the next few weeks discussing what they were going to do next. Apart from arranging the honeymoon, no one had looked any further than tonight. Those were conversations Sirius was looking forward to, the alternative was unthinkable.
The ritual was almost scuppered before it even began, Emma had a death grip on both teens and didn't want to let go. Dan was forced to reluctantly pry his now sobbing wife's fingers loose one at a time before Tonks could shepherd them through the door. As it closed behind the trio, Sirius had to conjure a chair for Emma to be guided into as her legs would no longer support her. All three were now re-evaluating their opinions from earlier, being inside that room couldn't be any worse than waiting out here.
Tonks would certainly disagree with that. She had been checking out the circular room that appeared to have mist for a ceiling, immediately noticing the large goblin rune stones around the wall to prevent outside interference. Her eyes were then quickly drawn to the ritual pentagram, enclosed within in a circle that was etched into the marble floor. It may be surrounded by symbols the auror didn't recognise but there was no mistaking the material used, the entire ensemble was etched into the floor using pure gold. She was drawn out of her observations by virtue of having an irate Harry Potter in her face.
"If they expect me to do this with Hermione on the bloody floor then it ends right now. Who the hell came up with this and why weren't we told beforehand?"
Harry was soothed somewhat by a pair of arms encircling him from behind, Hermione whispering in his ear helped pull his temper down a few more degrees. "It's alright love, I knew this before I stepped through the door. We can't risk anything interfering with the ritual, that's more important than a bit of discomfort."
"You deserve a lot better than shagging on the floor Hermione, this is just so wrong."
"We won't be shagging Harry, I'll be making love with my husband. We'll have years to wear out as many beds as we want, doing it on the floor this first time will give us those years."
Harry turned around and now held his new wife in his arms. "I'll spend the rest of my life doing my best to make sure you never regret tonight Hermione, I love you so much."
"Well, I've had this fantasy about me and you on a deserted beach, naked under the moonlight. We do this right tonight, you can spend the next few weeks making my fantasy become reality. You remember the words?"
Harry leaned down and kissed her. "Of course I do, we practiced this for hour upon hour."
Hermione kissed his scar before slowly uniting and removing Harry's robe. As his only item of clothing landed on a clear part of the floor, Harry began kissing Hermione's neck while her robe soon joined its partner.
Tonks became nothing more than an invisible spectator as the two teens forgot about everything except each other. The mist started its descend from the ceiling while a golden light began to surround the couple as they slowly and sensually waltzed naked into the centre of the prepared ritual area. Tonks was certain the room's own magic was adding to the love the couple shared for each other. This light cast the auror deeper into shadow as she watched them begin the ritual, Harry's first chant saw his scar react violently and begin to weep a treacle-like substance. Tonks thought Harry must be in severe pain but his voice never faltered as he offered the correct response to Hermione's answering chant. Tonks had her wand in her hand and tried to be ready for whatever happened next as the golden etchings on the floor began to pulse with magic in rhythm to their chanting.
Tom Riddle knew there was very little left of his once great intellect. His mind had disintegrated to the point where he felt like a child, hiding in the corner of what was once a magnificent room. Madness was slowly snatching all he had studied, strived and suffered to amass away from him a piece at a time. He supposed that using the word slowly could technically be incorrect, currently Tom had no means by which to measure the passing of time.
That fateful Halloween night, when his spirit had been agonisingly ripped from his body, that same spirit still had enough strength to flee the scene before Dumbledore showed up. Tom spent the best part of the next decade possessing small animals, painstakingly and slowly building up his reserves until Quirrell blundered along.
Discovering he couldn't actually touch the Potter brat was another life-changing moment but at least he was able to absorb enough energy by passing through the boy to escape from Hogwarts. His current predicament was at least a hundred times worse than either of those two incidents.
By the time the inferi had ripped apart that feeble body he was residing in, Tom was all out of options. He'd spent every piece of energy he possessed venting his rage against the inferi and that useless servant Wormtail was already in pieces, as was his beloved Nagini. It's impossible to take energy from a creature that's already dead, leaving Tom stuck in a prison of his own making. With the locket now gone from the font, the glow faded within the hour. By this time all the inferi were long gone, back under the surface of their watery trap to await the appearance of their next victim, leaving Tom completely alone in his self-built and heavily warded prison.
As a spirit, Tom had no sense of smell, taste or touch. Possessing an animal for even a little while saw these senses return with a vengeance. The problem here was that not even a mouse could make it into the sealed cavern, denying him that ability and option. By far the worst problem though was as a direct result of the senses he did retain. There was not so much as a glimmer of light for his eyes to adjust to, nor even a heartbeat present for him to hear. Tom Riddle currently floated in what could easily be considered the equivalent of a giant sensory deprivation tank, and it was causing him to lose his mind a piece at a time.
In the beginning, the hallucinations had been company of sorts. Listening to that old muggle caretaker he'd killed, complaining about the injustice of it all, had actually been amusing for a while. Tom now recognised that the appearance of the Potters signalled the beginning of his decent into madness. Every person he'd harmed in his life was now making an appearance in his mind to berate Tom Riddle for his actions, and there was no respite or escape from this torment. Children Tom didn't know he still remembered from those hateful orphanage days would scream at him about how his actions way back then had ruined their lives. The great and powerful Lord Voldemort simply never believed it to be possible, that there could be a fate worse than death. Since Tom Riddle was now being forced to experience that fate, he'd definitely changed his mind.
That Black had found his horcrux offered Tom the faintest of hopes that some day one of the others he'd created might be discovered and activated, either deliberately by one of his followers or a fortunate accident. It needed to be soon though, otherwise the most feared dark lord in history would be resurrected as a drooling imbecile. Should a horcrux be fully activated, his spirit would be summoned to his new body. If he possessed a body when a horcrux was activated, it would stay as a spirit and be drawn directly back to strengthen him. This was the safeguard built into the horcrux anchor system, otherwise there could be multiple versions of him occupying the same time frame. Other than the limit of a few hours while using a time turner, this was not something the laws of magic would ever allow.
When the bit of him that was still Tom felt the first pull on his spirit, he understood at once that he'd lost. While the feral part of his mind fought and cursed this fate with everything it had left, he calmly accepted the outcome. Tom Marvolo Riddle aka Lord Voldemort longed for and now welcomed the release and peace death would bring. Whatever awaited him on the other side, it had to be better than the utter torture this existence had become.
When a crying Tonks came out the door, Emma let out a wail of agony while Dan remained focused on the smile the auror was wearing. Sirius quickly spoke for them all. "For Merlin's sake Tonks, we're dying here!"
"Sorry folks, that was the most beautiful and moving thing I've ever seen. They're both fine and I believe this is what you're after Croaker?"
She handed over a small jar of coal-black gunk to the unspeakable. "Harry's scar burst open and this is what came out. It looked an exceedingly painful process but Harry didn't seem to feel any discomfort, I think the room's magic really helped them. With the amount of love in that room, Voldemort never stood a chance."
Croaker confirmed that the residue was indeed from Voldemort and that it was destroyed.
Dan had a mightily relieved but still crying Emma in his arms, he offered what comfort he could to his wife. "At least if Hermione's pregnant, they managed to finish the bastard for good."
Tonks was still smiling though. "I conjured that jar to collect the residue, then I conjured them a bed. I cast the contraceptive charm on Hermione before I left, I really don't need to see them making love. The room's power and the goblin wards had Voldemort out of Harry before they reached the conclusion of the ritual. They will certainly be soul bound when they come out of there but Hermione won't be pregnant."
Sirius let out a wild victory whoop as he leapt into the air in celebration. "Voldemort suffered premature ejaculation and now our kids don't need to have pups for a good few years!"
Dan thought that was probably the worst joke he'd ever heard but still found himself laughing hysterically at it. The father now knew he could cope with the reality that his daughter was married to a wonderful young lad, it was always the thought of her being pregnant so young in life that gave him the most trouble. This was the result he had prayed for as Dan now held his wife tighter and cried tears of his own. That both he and Emma now wore wide smiles as they cried told its own story. The atmosphere outside the room was now almost festive, Sirius for one was ready to party the rest of the night away.
Amelia though had her practical head on. "Ok, we need to see if this event had the effect we thought it should. Would you like to take a walk down to the holding cells Croaker? I had an old friend of yours shipped over from Azkaban to act as a test case. If Rookwood loses his magic, we can assume it will be the same for the rest of the death eaters."
This news certainly brightened up the unspeakable's night. "I haven't seen dear Augustus since we sent the traitorous bastard to spend the rest of his miserable life with the dementors. He cost some very good people their lives, if anyone deserves to lose their magic then it's him."
"It also makes me wonder how many people will be missing from work come Monday. Let's go check our suspicions for ourselves. We shouldn't be too long."
It was Tonks who answered. "Take your time boss, I don't think those two will be coming out of there anytime soon."
For some reason that appeared to tickle the goblin's funny bones, with Ragnok leading the guards in loud laughter.
Albus couldn't remember the last time he heard laughter, there wasn't much to laugh about inside Azkaban. No, it wasn't laughter that was disturbing his sleep, rather the screaming of his fellow prisoners. That Albus though he recognised Severus' voice amongst the screams really had him concerned. He repeatedly shouted his friend's name but was being drowned out by all the noise. Albus then began shouting for the guard before realising they had their hands full, the dementors were leaving the wing. It must have been at least an hour later when a guard opened the tiny barred hatch on the door to check on him.
"Are you okay?"
"Yes I'm fine, what happened? Was that Severus I heard screaming?"
"We don't know how it happened but something has removed all the magic from the marked death eaters. You know the effect being close to dementors has on muggles, they were all going crazy until we managed to take the dementors away."
Dumbledore took a few steps away from the door, that was enough to back him into the cell wall. He could only think of one outcome that could generate such a phenomenon, causing him to slide down the wall and sit on the cold stone floor. If they had indeed permanently eradicated Voldemort, and all his marked followers, then he really would be spending the rest of his life in this shithole. With Minerva dead and Severus now a muggle, both his friends had paid a high price for following Albus Dumbledore.
With the dementors withdrawn and the guards busy elsewhere, Albus understood he would never have a better chance than this to follow Minerva into the next great adventure. Whether or not he had the courage to follow it through was another matter.
Harry held his naked wife in his arms and uttered the words he really didn't want to say. "I think we need to get up love, our family will be going nuts outside."
This appeared to have the opposite effect than his suggestion implied as Hermione just snuggled in more. "Don't wanna, too comfy. Tonks will have already told them we're okay."
"Tonks left ages ago Hermione, and you know your mother won't believe that until she sees it with her own eyes."
Hermione lifted her head up to gently kiss Harry's lips. "Our mother my love, and I hate that you are right. The book said we would need to be close to each other for a while after the bonding but I just never want to let you go ever again. Your scar appears so much fainter now, how do you feel?"
"Wonderful! I could never feel my scar unless Tom was close or very angry but I can feel you. I can feel that you are happy and contented and it's the most fantastic feeling in the world."
"I can feel you too darling, and it just blows me away the amount of love you have for me. This should certainly help us adjust to our marriage as we'll both be able to sense how the other is feeling."
"Yeah, and you must feel I don't want to get up either, but I really think we need to." Harry then tried to sweeten the deal. "There's a perfectly good bed waiting on us back home in our room, and we could take another shower?"
"I knew I married a smart wizard, time to face the folks."
Tonks prediction proved correct as Amelia and Croaker returned before the newlyweds emerged, their confirmation that the death eaters would indeed lose their magic was more good news.
"I think we need to get this story to the Daily Prophet in time for tomorrow's edition, I even had Croaker here take a few pictures at the wedding to run with it. I have no intention of mentioning the fate of all the death eaters, merely that the Potters undertook a soul bound ritual to finish off Voldemort for good."
Amelia could see some doubt coming from concerned guardians and parents so tried to put their minds at rest. "I think it would be safe to say Voldemort created a connection between himself and the baby Harry, and that Harry's soul bond with Hermione severed that connection forever. Let those so-called journalists discover the connection between the number and type of people suddenly losing their magic."
She then addressed Ragnok directly. "I agree totally with the Potters in that this entire venture could have ended so differently without the help of our goblin friends, and I intend to state so in the Prophet. I don't want to use the word 'horcrux' if we can possibly avoid it though."
"I agree totally on the horcrux matter and thank you for the public acknowledgement. If you will now excuse me, I feel it's going to be a busy night at the bank. So many pureblood families have just lost their head of house and other members will need to be notified of that."
The goblin leader had barely left when the newlyweds appeared from the room, to be totally engulfed in hugs by their family. Emma kept hugging and kissing whichever one of her children she managed to get hold of before Amelia brought both teens up to speed.
Hermione had an all-important, non-negotiable demand. "I want to see whatever wedding picture you intend to put in the paper first." No one there felt inclined to argue with her and the choice was quickly made.
The goblin guards stayed with them until the group portkeyed back home. Goodnight kisses were then exchanged as the Potters headed up to their room, leaving the others to spill all the details to Remus. As he filled their glasses, Sirius then gave the Grangers their last bit of good news for the night.
"Winky brews the best hangover potion it has ever been my privilege to taste!"
Wizarding Britain woke up to a different world that Sunday morning, the front page of the Prophet left very few lives untouched.
Molly Weasley was dripping tears over the wonderful picture. Harry and Hermione were staring into each other's eyes, with Madam Bones clearly visible in the background between them. She obviously had just completed the ceremony because the two teens leant into one another and began to kiss. Molly didn't take time to appreciate the headline 'Killer Kiss', nor the story of how this spelled the beginning of the end for the dark lord. Molly was more concerned about what her stupidity had done to her family.
"Oh Arthur, Ron, Ginny and the twins will be devastated when they see this. Ron's two best friends get married and he finds out about it from the Prophet, all because his mother couldn't keep her nose out of other people's business. How am I going to make it up to them?"
Arthur nervously cleared his throat, knowing this could go very badly. Keeping secrets from Molly was not a good idea. "Well love, you see I was under a secrecy oath, Amelia demanded it. Now that it's all over the paper I guess it should be safe enough."
He now had his wife's undivided attention and figured the best thing to do would be to tell her the entire story. "Amelia arranged for Ron to get thrown out of Hogwarts on Friday..."
"Oh, he wasn't really thrown out, it was all a ruse to get him out the castle without arousing anyone's suspicion. The death eaters had been hunting for Harry, burned Hermione's house to the ground."
"Oh that poor girl, was anyone hurt? Do they have a place to stay?"
"No one was hurt and they are all staying at a secret location. So secret, even with my oath I don't know where it is."
"What's all this got to do with Ron?"
"Harry and Hermione wanted him at their wedding, Ron was their best man at the ceremony."
Molly was now really crying. "Even after what I did, they still wanted our Ronald there?"
Arthur was now trying to comfort his wife, though his words just made Molly feel worse. "They apparently wanted all of our children there, and their other friends too! Amelia was too afraid it might tip off the death eaters that something was happening, which is why they devised the elaborate plan to get Ron away from the castle. Doing that with too many students though would have raised suspicions, especially if they were all friends of Harry and Hermione."
Molly managed to get her sobs under control long enough to at least make some sense. "I sent the girl Harry just married, and is now soul bound to, a howler. They'll never forgive me but at least they're still going to stay friends with our children. That's really more than I deserve."
Arthur poured Molly a fresh cup of tea from the pot, she looked like she needed it. Knowing his wife as he did, and the things she was wont to say in a howler, Arthur also had to agree with her conclusion. Harry and Hermione staying friends with their children was way more than they deserved. Perhaps time would eventually heal the rift, it might even make Molly think twice before speaking her mind. Now that would be an achievement worthy of the front page of the Prophet.
Ron was also studying the Prophet, with a delighted Susan sitting beside him. For some reason none of the rest of the household had made it down to breakfast yet. Ron eyed the happy Hufflepuff suspiciously. "You knew about this?"
"When they discovered Dumbledore was going to use love potions on me and Harry, Hermione thought it was only fair I understood why. Last night was very dangerous for them, it could have cost both Harry and Hermione their lives. I hardly slept a wink."
"How come they couldn't tell me?"
"They told hardly anyone, even the minister for magic didn't know the full story." Susan could see Ron building himself up for an argument so decided to cap the volcano before it could erupt. "Look Ron, out of all the people in Hogwarts, who did they go to a tremendous amount of trouble to make sure that person could be here this weekend?"
Ron was floundering so Susan pushed home her advantage. "Hermione has been wonderful to me and their support has meant there's been no backlash over the potions thing. Remember what happened to Hermione last time? We've grown quite close since then but they still wanted their best friend at their wedding."
Ron really couldn't argue with that and Professor Lupin's arrival stopped him pursuing it any further, he was too busy listening to the answers to Susan's questions.
"How is everyone after last night?"
"Knackered probably describes it best, it was a rough night for everyone."
"What happens next Professor?"
"Well, you, me and Ron will be returning to Hogwarts today..."
Ron couldn't help but butt in at this point. "What about Harry and Hermione, are they coming back with us?"
Remus just smiled at Ron's naivety. "Your friends got married yesterday Ron, a wedding is usually followed by a honeymoon."
"Okay, but after that?"
"I honestly don't know, and I doubt very much whether they know themselves yet. Everyone's focus was on last night, there wasn't much planning done for what happens now."
Again, Ron could understand that, didn't make him feel any better though. "Hogwarts just isn't the same without Harry and Hermione, I really miss them both."
Remus and Susan echoed those sentiments but they, like everyone else, would just have to wait and see what happened next.
If the chaos caused by today's Prophet was any indication, Hogwarts might never be the same again. It was hard to decipher what part of the story caused the biggest stir inside the castle, that the dark lord was no more or that Harry Potter was now married and soul bound to Hermione. Again the mixture of jubilation and indignation washed right over an uninterested Draco, he had his own problems to deal with. What did garner his undivided attention though was a somewhat majestic owl that arrived with a letter for him, or rather recognising that the seal on the letter was from the Gnomes of Zurich.
With shaking hands, Draco removed the letter and broke the seal. What he read there changed his life forever. Draco was shaken out of his now pleasant daydreams by Goyle shoving a similar letter he'd received from Gringotts in his face.
"Draco, this says I'm now going to be head of my family. Does that mean something's happened to my da?"
Draco cast his eyes up and down the Slytherin table to see who else had received letters from their family's bankers. In a matter of moments, he understood what was happening here. All the eldest sons of death eaters were staring at letters like the one he and Greg held. Draco had no idea of the how but Potter hadn't just finished off the dark lord.
At that precise moment, Draco would have knelt and kissed Potter's feet. Shit, he would even have kissed the mudblood's tootsies. Then his sense of worth reasserted itself, Malfoy's bowed to no one. That Potter's intervention meant that Draco and his mother were no longer destitute would certainly buy the Gryffindors some slack, but not too far. He was still a Malfoy and a Slytherin, though one that vowed to be as unlike his bastard of a father as it was possible to be. Draco also wanted to restore some honour to his family name, that same honour would demand he acknowledge the debt the Malfoys now owed the Potters. Considering the future that had been facing both him and his mother before the Potters' actions, Draco thought he could live with that.
He wouldn't be able to touch the money until he was seventeen, unless he allowed his present guardian to act on his behalf. That would be no problem as far as Draco was concerned, shit - he might even have his mother get the Potters a wedding present! He needed to write to his mother at once, and tell her all their problems were solved. First though he needed to answer the worried boy sitting beside him.
"Yeah Greg, I think it's safe to say something has happened to both our fathers."
Draco then shot out of the great hall, he'd a letter to write before heading to the owlery.
Draco would have been delighted to see exactly what had happened to his father.
Lucius woke in a lot of pain, and in strange surroundings. He was lying in a bed but there all his knowledge ran out, he currently had tubes sticking out his body that were attached to things that produced a bleeping noise.
This drew a young woman dressed in white who changed a bag of fluid. Noticing the patient was now awake, the nurse attempted to speak with him. Obviously realising that Lucius wasn't local, she tried German and French before getting a response to English.
"Ah, British. We will contact your consulate at once. The people that mugged you took everything, including all your identification. Can you tell us your name?"
It all came back to Lucius in a rush. Feeling unwell, so leaving the establishment early to head back to his hotel room in the magical section of the city. Stepping into the alleyway only to discover that for some reason he couldn't apparate came as a bit of a shock. His second major discovery of the evening was that the alley hadn't been as deserted as he first thought, that paled into insignificance though when measured against his third discovery of the night. When the four people approached him, their intent glaringly obvious, Lucius' sneer was going full blast as he drew his wand. The sneer turned to shock and then terror as no magic left his wand. These actions were the cause of much laughter amongst his attackers before they swatted the stick away, then expertly began to beat him senseless.
His current circumstances hit Lucius like a bludger. He had no magic, which on its own was his worst nightmare. That this also meant he couldn't access his hotel room and all his money in the bank would now be gone certainly didn't improve the situation. He'd just lost his magic, as well as every single thing he owned, so the now muggle death eater did the only thing left available to him. Lucius Malfoy began screaming hysterically until a stinging pain in his hip saw him gradually lose consciousness.
The nurse and doctor were holding a conversation about the certain types of tourists who frequented the area where this one had been found, and also how certain sections of the locals now made a living by preying off them. They fully expected this John Doe's passport, credit cards and other belongings to have already made their way through the black market system.
They had no idea that four muggers were currently celebrating their extreme good fortune after discovering that their blond victim had no papers or cards, but something much more profitable. Gold was a universal currency, accepted the world over and practically untraceable, especially in the criminal underworld.
Amelia had issued an emergency summons to her entire department, wanting to see if anyone was missing before issuing instructions regarding their duties for Monday morning. Not every auror would be there though, Tonks would continue with her assignment to protect the Potters. If that duty saw the young auror spending her time on a tropical beach, Amelia had to concede she had earned it. Amelia was considering all three members of the trio for top honours, with only the actual designation of the award up for discussion.
Amelia also had a massive personal decision to make. Should she leave her current post to take charge of the ministry? Two factors were currently preying on her mind. Her niece deserved to grow up in a magical society where Susan and others like her don't have to worry about the threat of imperius curses or love potions. The other factor was even simpler, Amelia couldn't think of anyone else who could do a better job than she could.
There would be a wave of popular support for the Potters right across their society, and Hermione had practically guaranteed Amelia's election with the wedding picture she chose for the Prophet. Every reader could clearly see Amelia smiling as she told Harry he could now kiss his new bride, Fudge would have sold his grandmother for positive publicity like that.
Having been involved in the final solution to Voldemort and his death eaters, Amelia was one of the few who understood that their society stood at a crossroads. The direction the ministry took in the coming months would determine their society's future for generations to come. When faced with that reality, Amelia really only had one choice she could make. She would put her name forward as a candidate to be the next minister, just as soon as she explained to Fudge why it was in his best interests to resign from that position.
After the revelations in the Prophet, Remus and Susan returning to Hogwarts was a logical conclusion. Ron's reappearance raised more than a few eyebrows, especially amongst his three siblings.
"Well, well, well, there's a sight to make my eyes sore."
"Don't you mean a sight for sore eyes Fred?"
"I think I got it right the first time George. This mongrel not only has the audacity to beat our detention record, he then goes and gets himself thrown out of Hogwarts as well."
Ginny pushed through the twins to get a good gander at Ron. "He looks okay though, I thought mum would at least have scalped him. Did she have you degnoming the garden all weekend?"
"What are you lot talking about? I haven't been near the Burrow."
This certainly grabbed all three Weasley's attentions. Ginny was still closest so asked the obvious question. "Where were you then?"
"Oh, Harry and Hermione arranged everything, I spent the weekend with them. Who else do you think would be best man at their wedding?"
The total shock at this ludicrous statement stopped anyone answering Ron's question, before rapidly leading to him being mobbed as everyone demanded details on the wedding of this and any other decade. Ron found himself centre stage, with the entire school hanging on his every word. Once more life was good for Ron Weasley, and once more it was due to the Potters. Ron supposed he would need to get used to calling them that though it would take a bit of remembering.
Ron drew so much attention that Susan approaching Cedric, Fleur and Viktor went unnoticed, and that was just the way the little Hufflepuff liked it.
The six of them were sitting around the bluebell fire Hermione had conjured on the beach, comfortable in each other's company as the sun slowly sank into the ocean. Sirius had a guitar on his knee but the few chords he could strum could hardly be considered music, the rhythmic and relaxing sound of the surf greeting the beach was providing the main soundtrack as they chatted the evening away. Harry and Hermione were the first to break from the circle as they claimed it was time to turn in, the four remaining adults all pretending not to notice as the newlyweds strolled past their cottage and headed further down the beach. As the couple were swallowed up by the darkness, Sirius stopped strumming long enough to say what he was thinking.
"I'm beginning to wonder if I did the right thing by arranging for some of their friends to come out here for the weekend?"
Tonks quickly set him straight. "Oh I think you were right to have Susan ask them, the last thing we want is those two becoming isolated from their friends. It will also give us some idea of what's happening back home, and help them decide what they're going to do next."
Emma was leaning into her husband, feeling more relaxed than she had in months. Since meeting Harry off the train just before Christmas, it almost felt as if they were on a roller coaster ride. The difference being that this roller coaster didn't let you see what was coming next, and you had to build the track while still on the ride. Even with everything they had lost, Emma still wouldn't change a thing. Harry had hit the nail right on the head that morning they discovered what a pensieve could do. Life wasn't about the memories and mementoes they'd lost, it was about all those memories they still had to create. Glancing around her, Emma couldn't help but smile with the thought that Harry was certainly helping them create some wonderful new ones.
"I wouldn't be against them going back to Hogwarts now that the teaching personnel have changed, though Harry would have returned to the Dursleys over my dead body."
She could feel Dan shaking against her and turned her head to see the wide grin on his face, and mischief in his eyes. "Daniel Granger, I recognise that look. What have you been up to?" This proved too much for Dan, he couldn't hold it any longer and burst out laughing.
"Okay, I know when I'm busted. I've been dying to tell you all anyway. It suddenly dawned on me that, after promising to be in touch, we never answered the Dursleys on how the Harry / Hermione situation resolved itself. I sent them a couple of prints from their wedding and told them not to expect Harry at the summer. I might also have let slip that we would all be spending time on Lord Black's private tropical island. We need to take some pictures of them along with their friends when they arrive here, we did promise after all!"
Sirius stared at Dan in awe as the laughter built from his toes up, this appeared to be the reaction of Tonks too as both of them were soon helpless with laughter. Emma kissed her husband to show her approval before voicing a challenge.
"We're four smart people here, there must be a way for us to see their reaction when they open the next envelope? I would have given anything to see their reaction to the first."
That got them focused as Emma thought there were worse ways to spend an evening than brainstorming with your family on a tropical beach.
Harry led his wife along the deserted beach until they reached the little cove with the surprise that the elves had helped him arrange. A small decking area had been built on the sand, surrounded by poles from which hung coloured lanterns. Sitting on a table in one of the corners was a portable CD player, along with a selection of discs.
"I made a promise that night in the ministry that I would help turn your fantasies into reality, I hope this is just the first of many." As the music started, Hermione melted into his arms.
She was carried along by the music and the romance of the entire situation. As her husband slowly led her around the improvised dance floor, Hermione caught sight of the four poster bed Harry must have arranged to be here.
For the first time in her life, Hermione Potter thought a book was wrong. The information on soul bonds had said a couple would have to stay close for around forty eight hours. That time had come and long gone, leaving Hermione feeling no different. She wanted her Harry in her arms for the rest of their lives. Through their soul bond, she could tell that Harry was banking on her to be there too. That was a future they all could live with.
A/N Thanks for reading
A/N2 Just closed the poll on my profile page with over seventy percent of voters wanting to see 'Taking the P.I.S.S.' posted here. My intention is to finish 'A Different Halloween' before moving onto any other projects, we shall see.