AN: wow long time no update. This is what happens when you finally start getting treatment for your depression and end up dropping out of school because of not being ready emotionally or physically to be back in an academic environment and financial stuff. The majority of this has been sitting on my computer for ages I just never got around to finishing it until now. Sorry about that!
The problem with archangels is that they never share things if they can help it. Or if the lack of sharing makes them look a hell of a lot better than they actually are.
"Who's my favourite Gardener?" Gabriel asks and Harry resolutely ignores the spread of glimmering rainbow in the edges of his vision. "Literally, in this case. Really? You actually have a garden that you tend to by hand?"
"It's cathartic and productive," Harry says. It's the reason Hermione gave him, in any case.
"It is cathartic and productive," Hermione says and directs the tray of iced tea and lemon cookies to rest on the little bistro table she'd set up on the patio by the garden. "You gave up having minions for a reason; they require constant tending lest they blow something up."
Harry dusts off his hands against his denims and accepts the warm damp towel that Winky hands him to scrub the rest of it off his arms and face. Hermione politely conjures another chair for him when Gabriel claims the only other to peer curiously across the table at her. "That's what you get for picking the younger ones."
"They're mouldable," Hermione says with a fond sort of exasperation "Give me a few more months and I'll have a properly useable team."
"And then you can get a new batch to start all over again?"
"There's the idea," she grins.
"I'm Gabriel," the archangel announces impatiently. Hermione's lips curl in a secret smile before she turns to look at him. Harry holds back his laughter just barely because seeing an angel put-out at being ignored is one of those things that you only see once.
"I've heard," she says. "I'm still trying to decide if it's your fault that Harry keeps getting involved in troublesome business."
"Completely his fault," Harry says and drops into the conjured seat. "I'm an innocent victim."
"Aren't we all?" Hermione says and then, "You should visit Molly."
"I'm not going to visit Molly."
"She would like you to."
"Does Ginny still live at home?" he asks and stares pointedly.
It isn't that Ginny and Harry don't get along. They get along famously; that's the problem. Harry isn't ready for a relationship and neither is Ginny but put them together long enough and they start remembering before the war and the humour and affection flows easily and then they're deciding to give it a go again. A couple months down the line one of them inevitably attempts to suggest more and then it all falls apart into jagged shards that they leave to pull out piece by painful piece on their own.
Harry's smile is a touch brittle when it pulls at his last time it had been he who had pushed for more. The resulting row had been loud enough that it had broken through the muffling charms on the walls and the neighbouring flat had called the police. Ginny had moved back with her mum and last Harry had heard she'd been promoted to Senior Auror with a squad of her own – the youngest in a decade.
Hermione sniffs and points her chin at his tea. "You've put too much sugar in again," she says.
His lips curl from brittle to warm. "You're a witch, remember?" he says teasingly. She laughs and he chuckles and Gabriel pouts and stares – waiting for one of them to explain the inside joke. They won't, of course, but he doesn't know that quite yet.
"Okay, now you're just being rude," Gabriel says.
"Did you want something in particular?" Harry returns.
"I'm setting up a morphic temporal loop," Gabriel says and Harry has to hold back the resigned sigh that wants to escape when Hermione visibly perks up. She's staring intently at the archangel now and he knows it's only a very fine thread of civility allowing her patience to remain intact. "Figured my favourite wizard should be inside to save the effort of having to fetch him myself."
"I do have a life you know," Harry says. "A life I can't just drop to go sit around in your time loop."
"My morphic time loop," Gabriel stresses. "It's only about a thousand times more awesome. Same timeframe but different happenings! Think of how much fun we could have."
"And what life?" Hermione adds, "Luna will understand if you miss a lunch date and I can certainly make excuses for any of the ones who come looking."
"Don't encourage him," he mutters darkly. "And don't use my social life as an excuse just so you can run tests when I'm back."
"You want to go and you know it, Harry. My reasoning is flawless and as thanks for providing you with a clear path to a morphic temporal loop," her voice quivers with excitement over the words, "you'll swing by my labs and let me run just a few, tiny, little tests." She's tapping her feet and her eyes look entirely too wide and bright to be anything but terrifying to her friend. He's seen Hermione in research mode; as a friend he gets out of having to deal with her by virtue of her having a perfectly good husband whose duty it is to bring her back home and face near-certain death for interrupting research.
"But you'll miss me," Gabriel wheedles and Harry has to grudgingly admit to himself that, yes, he will miss the Trickster.
"Alright, I'll go," he says.
He forgets momentarily that Gabriel's going to be stuck in the temporal loop so if Harry is outside it no time will actually pass.
By then it's too late and he's agreed and Gabriel's vanished off with a promise Harry feels tugging suspiciously like an Oath. Hermione is beaming at him and clapping her hands with a delight so palpable he's actually concerned she's putting off accidental magic.
"This is your fault," he says and she snorts.
"Just admit you want to spend time with him and then do that," she prods him with the tip of her wand and he leans back in his chair to avoid a second attempt. Her eyes are soft even if her lips are twisted in a smirk. "I can think of worse blokes you could be gallivanting with."
"Gallivanting, are we?" he asks. "How sordid."
"It would certainly be a change," she agrees placidly but her eyes are sparkling now.
"If anything disastrous happens I'm blaming you to anyone who asks."
She sniffs. "As if they'll believe that." Her watch chimes suddenly and her eyes widen. "Oh! Ron'll be home soon."
"So?" he watches in slight bewilderment as she quickly gathers up the few things she'd brought with her – eyeing her wrist anxiously. "What's the rush?"
"It's nothing, don't worry."
"It's not nothing. Tell me."
"Really, Harry, it's just a little thing I'd promised nothing to get all uppity about."
"I'm not uppity; I'm asking a question. Mione – Mione just - just stop a moment!" he grabs her arm and halts her in mid farewell. His eyes flick across her face searchingly and she visibly wilts. He lets go and waits patiently for the explanation just barely clinging to her excuses.
"Oh fine. Ron and I are trying to have a baby," she mutters and her face flushes in the almost blotchy red it usually does when she's frustrated or angry rather than simply embarrassed.
"What?" he gapes a little and her flush darkens. "Seriously? I just – what?"
"It's not that ridiculous," she hisses. "I've finally got the department in a functioning order and Ron's been settled with the Aurors for years now and why are you looking at me like that?" her voice rises to a shrill note.
He can't help it; he laughs. "Mione! I'm not saying it's a bad thing I'm just surprised is all. I had no idea you two were thinking about a family," he smiles gently and his eyes are warm and fond – even teasing – as he gently pulls her hands to him to clasp them gently in his own.
She's smiling again although she's clinging to her indignation in the twist of her mouth. "I wasn't thinking about it at all," she admits in a sort of whispering secretive way, "but then we visited with my family and my cousin just had a little girl and I don't know…" she shrugs helplessly.
"And you thought – what would a little Granger-Weasley look like?" he fills in and she laughs.
"Merlin, but that isn't a mouthful of a last name! Yes, that was it, essentially. You should've seen her, Harry, all little fingers and toes and just the sweetest thing. Ron was asking to hold her all evening – claimed something about not having done something of the like since Ginny was little or some nonsense." His friend is almost glowing in excitement and he can't help the tight embrace he pulls her into.
"I'm happy for you," he says.
"Thank you," she murmurs into his neck. Then, "I really do have to leave now; it's to do with ovulation cycles and optimum times and I'm not saying anymore because I can feel you pulling away now." She shoots him a playful glare and he laughs.
He escorts her to the kitchen hearth so she can Floo to the International Apparition station and then he's left alone in his kitchen.
"A baby," he says out loud, testing the thought. His closest friends bringing new life into the world. A new little one for him to spoil and to brighten his days the way Teddy does. The grin that overtakes his face is wide and very nearly hurts. "Fantastic."