Harry swallowed hard. He didn't know what to expect from his visit with Aunt Petunia but this news was the furthest thing from his mind.
"Are you sure?" It was all he could think to say.
"Quite sure. She has the same look in her eye as your mother and you."
"Well, a lot of people have green eyes…" Harry said
"No, Harry. That's not what I meant. Not just the color, but the awareness. The look like she can see things we…M-Muggles can't. I've tried to ignore it, but six or seven months ago I saw her levitate a drinking glass with her eyes. It's not my imagination or my guilty conscience." His aunt responded. She took a fit of coughing and gestured for the cup next to her bed. Harry frowned, finding it empty. He removed his wand from his pocket and tapped it:
"Aguamenti." The cup filled with fresh, cold water and his Aunt accepted it without hesitation.
"Handy bit of…of…" She stopped short of saying the word, as if her husband's ban on mentioning it was still in effect despite the fact that he had died.
"Magic, yes it is." Harry replied kindly. "So…you wanted to tell me Emmeline is a witch. That's all?" Harry asked.
A small smile flashed on his aunt's face. "You were expecting something else? An apology, perhaps?"
He felt himself nodding, though he wasn't sure if he should acknowledge it.
"Of course, I am sorry for the way I treated you. When we were told that…that…Lily died…" Her voice choked. "Oh, how my heart broke that day, Harry. My darling baby sister. I blamed your father for so many years. I thought he dragged her away from me but I came to know she was truly happy with him, with her life." Harry handed her a facial tissue and she wiped her eyes.
Harry felt his throat close. He didn't anticipate becoming so emotional.
"Vernon was completely against Magic. When I first told him Lily was a witch…" She looked away and took a deep breath. "You remember what he was like, anything outside of the ordinary was unthinkable." She said, Harry nodded. "It doesn't excuse how we treated you. I couldn't bear to look at you sometimes, Harry. Your eyes…" She touched her icy hand to Harry's cheek. "I should have been better to you. I should have been the mother to you Lily would have been but I just couldn't bring myself to do it." She began to cry.
"Shh…it's done, Aunt Petunia. No use crying over it now. Please, shhh…" Harry tried soothing her.
She calmed herself and sniffled. "I have no right to ask anything of you, Harry. You would be well within your rights to get up and leave this house without another word; I wouldn't blame you. However, I have a favor to ask." She tried to take a deep breath.
Harry leaned it, cautious.
"Try to advise Dudley. He has a very confusing road ahead of him and the boy has never been as smart or sensitive as you are. When I'm gone, I won't be able to help him. Maybe your children can play with Lily, erm, Emmeline; show her Magic makes her special, not strange. I don't want him raising her the way Vernon and I raised you." Her voice became very serious.
Harry considered her request and knew immediately what his response would be. He had already been a huge part of his godson Teddy's life. He knew he could serve a similar capacity for Emmeline. He knew first hand that being the only Magical person in your household was difficult, to say the least. He then pondered if Christina even knew he was a wizard. He couldn't recall a single instance of using Magic in front of her, or it ever being mentioned.
"Will you watch out for her, for all of them when I'm gone, Harry?"
He smiled softly and place a reassuring hand on hers. "Of course I will. One of my best friends, Hermione, she's Muggleborn like Mum and Emmeline. Maybe she could help as well."
She exhaled deeply, looking about ready to cry once more. "Thank you, Harry."
They sat a while longer, talking. Harry showed her pictures of his children in his wallet; he told her funny stories about them. He told her about James and his nephews getting stuck in the cupboard under the stairs the night before (minus the bit with Charlie and Jessica). She laughed heartily, they almost didn't hear Dudley knocking.
"Mum? Are you alright?" He opened the door looking grim, his hands shaking.
"Oh, Dudders! Yes son, I'm fine. Harry was telling me a story." She cleared her throat and took another sip of the water Harry summoned for her.
A wave of relief washed over Dudley and he sat on his mother's bed opposite from Harry.
Petunia placed her hands on top of Dudley's and Harry's. "My two boys." She came over very tired looking again. Dudley checked his watch.
"It's time for your medicine again, Mum." She nodded.
"I'll let you rest, Aunt Petunia." Harry said standing. "It was good to see you." He hesitated a moment but he placed a soft kiss on her cheek.
"Thank you for coming, Harry. You won't forget your promise?"
Harry shook his head, "Never." He waved and left the room.
As soon as he shut the door behind him, Harry stopped in his tracks. Emmeline was peaking at him from her bedroom.
"Hi, Emme." He said quietly.
"Hi." She hid half of her face behind her door. "Gran says you do magic."
Harry smiled and nodded.
Harry approached her carefully and pulled his wand from his back pocket. He crouched down and waved it, conjuring several brightly colored butterflies. Emmeline's eyes widened and her jaw dropped. The butterflies circled her and one landed on her nose. She giggled and clapped her hands.
"My little girl loves butterflies. I do that when she's sick. It makes her laugh, too." Harry said smiling.
"I can do things, too." Emmeline said.
Harry cocked his head and sat flat on the floor. Emmeline looked over her shoulder and saw a dust bunny crammed into the corner. She picked it up and held it in her palm. She squeezed her eyes closed tightly and blew the dust out of her hand. It transformed into dozens of bubbles wafting through the air. Harry's jaw dropped.
"Where did you learn that?" He asked her, watching the bubbles drift over the bannister down to the first floor of the house. Emmeline shrugged her shoulders.
"I was feeling really sad one day and it just happened. Since then, I could just do it."
"Harry?" Ron called up the stairs. "Everything alright?" Harry turned, hearing Ron's feet clomping up the stairs. Emmeline jumped and started to retreat to her room.
"It's alright, Emmeline! He can do it, too." Harry said, reaching his hand out to her.
"I can do what?" Ron said, approaching confused.
"You do magic, too?" Emmeline said shyly, hiding behind Harry.
The sudden look of surprise on Ron's face made Harry chuckle. Ron narrowed his stare on Harry, asking him with his eyes.
"It's true. That's why we're here." Harry said, waving Ron over. Ron sat on the floor, leaning his back against the railing.
"Show him, Emmeline." Harry encouraged her. He reached into his pocket and scraped for a bit of lint. He dropped it into her hand and Emmeline produced more bubbles.
"Fuuuudge." Ron caught himself before he cursed. He turned red and Emmeline giggled.
"My Daddy says that word." She said.
Christina called Emmeline into the kitchen and she hopped over Harry's legs to get to the stairs. Harry and Ron watched her go before they stood up.
"Does Dudley know?" Ron asked.
"I've no idea." Harry said while they went down the stairs side by side.
"Did she apologize?" Ron asked looking behind them towards Petunia's room.
Harry nodded. "I'll tell you on the way back."
They found Hermione and Christina back in the kitchen, chatting casually. Ron put his hands on Hermione's shoulders and gave them a squeeze. She turned her head and kissed his hand on her left shoulder.
"I'm sorry Ginny and the children didn't come, Harry." Christina said.
Harry looked down at his feet. "Yes, so was she as well. Her brother doesn't come home to visit very often…" He started to explain.
Christina waved her hand smiling. "No, no I completely understand. She and I had a lovely chat last time you were all here. We should do that again."
"Well…maybe we can get together more often." Harry said.
"I'd like that. Dudley would I'm sure."
As she was saying his name, Dudley entered the kitchen. "Mum's asleep. Will you be staying for dinner?" Dudley asked.
"Oh, thanks but we already have plans. Soon, though." Harry said.
"After the funeral." Dudley said, sadly. "Mum said you needed to tell us something, Harry." He added, putting his arm around Christina's waist.
Harry gulped, nervously.
"But she said…she said to wait. Until….after." Christina rested her head on Dudley's chest.
Hermione cleared her throat and looked at her watch. "We should be getting back, Harry." She said.
"Yeah, it's a long drive back…" Ron added.
They said their good-byes and headed out to the car.
"Wait! Harry!" Emmeline came rushing out of the house and caught up with them. She wrapped her arms around Harry's waist.
"See you soon." She said in a very knowing way.
Harry gently patted her hair and returned the hug. "You bet." He said smiling. He watched Dudley and Christina exchange strange looks.
"Give this to cousin Lily…" Emmeline said. She handed Harry a piece of paper, she'd drawn pictures of butterflies and written "To Lily Love, Emme" on it.
Harry thanked her and winked before he drove away. They were quiet in the car for a few kilometers, Ron spoke first.
"So. Holy fuck, eh?"
Harry laughed. "You always had a way with words, Ron."
"What am I missing?" Hermione asked. Ron had relinquished the front seat to her for the return trip.
"Well…" Ron began.
"Emmeline is a witch, Hermione." Harry said simply.
"Are you serious?" She exclaimed. "Why didn't you say something earlier?"
Harry shrugged. "My Aunt asked me to help all of them adjust. She said she didn't want them to raise Emmeline the way she raised me."
Hermione put her hand on Harry's shoulder. "So, she apologized then?" He nodded.
Harry told them everything; Petunia's tearful apology, and her request for Harry's help and about Emmeline and the bubbles."
Hermione wiped her eyes. "After all these years, Harry. It's very touching. She loved you after all."
Ron snorted sarcastically.
"In her way, I guess she did." Harry said. His mobile started ringing. He pulled it from his pocket and handed it to Hermione.
"Hi, Ginny. Harry's driving. Yes, we're on our way back." She said. "Is everyone behaving? OH, NO! Not again!"
Harry gripped the steering wheel tightly, his knuckles turning white. That did not sound good.
"She…wait…what? Say that again, Gin..." Hermione plugged her opposite ear, straining to hear what Ginny was saying.
"Her…her hair? It's what? Fucking Charlie really thinks he's funny, doesn't he?" Hermione said, laughing.
Harry glanced at Ron in the rearview mirror, they shared a nervous expression and waited for Hermione to hang up the phone. When she finally did, they couldn't wait to find out what happened back at the Burrow.
"Well…Triple Trouble is now officially a quartet." She said.
"So…Albus?" Harry asked, dreading her answer. He and Ginny would surely go prematurely grey if both of their sons joined forces with their cousins.
"Not a bad guess, but think…taller. And older." Hermione said.
"Victoire?" Ron guessed.
Hermione shook her head. "No, it's a boy."
"Well it can't be Hugo! He's too little to get into trouble with them!" Ron said indignantly.
"Wait…is it George?" Harry asked. Hermione giggled.
Ron sat back and laughed. "It's got to be Charlie."
Hermione gave him the "thumbs up" sign. "Yep. He gave them more firecrackers. They blew up the downstairs toilet at the Burrow."
"Oh good grief." Harry said. "Ginny must have been shitting kittens." Harry said. "Ooh…I'm so glad I wasn't there." He said, laughing.
"Actually…Percy was the one ahem…using the loo at the time." Hermione said, trying very hard to be an appalled adult, instead of finding it hilarious.
Ron, never one to make much of an effort to pretend funny things aren't funny, started howling with laughter in the backseat; holding his stomach and wiping the tears from his eyes.
Harry was laughing, too but he knew he was really going to have to give James a long talking-to when they got back.
"Rose is quiet as a mouse and Hugo is so well-behaved. You two are so lucky." He said when he was able to control his laughter.
"I didn't finish. Jessica doesn't look like me." Hermione said, crossing her arms over her chest.
"What? Didn't we establish on the ride to Dudley's that she does?" Ron asked, leaning forward from the back seat.
"Ginny said Charlie took her for a walk in the orchard and when they came back...she had blonde hair and blue eyes." Hermione said.
"So she's a Metamorphmagus? Like Tonks?" Harry asked, again thinking of Teddy Lupin. He made a mental note to call Tonks' mother.
"Probably not, Harry. It's a very rare condition." Hermione said, puzzling. "At any rate, Charlie said he put her up to it. He thought it would get a rise out of you, Ron."
"Well, it sort of worked." Harry said.
"The wanker." Ron said, fuming.
"It's just…odd to me." Hermione said. "Why would he do that?"
"Fucking wanker." Ron said again.
"He knows what a jealous git Ron can be, Hermione. I imagine that's the only reason." Harry offered.
"It's because the pervy fucking wanker used to have a crush on you. Like most of my brothers did." Ron growled.
Hermione turned in her seat, "They what?!"
Ron nodded. "Freddy did. Then George. Charlie, well, Charlie's a bit of a dick. He used to tease me about my crush on you. He made some stupid comment to me during the Triwizard Tournament. He 'couldn't wait for you to be 17.'"
"So…why didn't Fred or George ever ask her out?" Harry asked.
"Harry!" Hermione elbowed him.
"Ouch! I'm sorry but, come on, it's not like they were very shy about girls, were they?" He said, rubbing his arm.
"Probably because they knew she wouldn't put out." Ron said. Hermione glared at him again. "What, am I wrong?"
She sighed. "No, Ronald. I would not have shagged one of your brothers when we were at school."
"Interesting." Harry observed. They both looked at him, questioning. "Well, Hermione – you qualified it. You said you wouldn't have shagged one of his brothers…"
"So, does that mean you would have shagged me at school?" Ron asked with an eyebrow raised.
"I might have. If you weren't so…clueless." Hermione said, grinning.
"You're full of it!" Ron said.
Hermione shrugged. "We'll never know, will we?" She asked provocatively.
"Bloody hell." Ron said, sitting back. He started gnawing on his thumbnail.
"Charlie dated Nathalie. I never told you that, did I?" Hermione asked.
"Nathalie?" Harry asked.
"The witch McGonagall sent to mentor me before I started school. She used to talk about her boyfriend Charlie, from a Pure-Blood family who moved away to work with dragons. It actually took me a few years to make the connection." Hermione said.
"Your Nathalie was that Nathalie? I sort of remember her, she used to come round for dinner. Mum loved her, even though she always wore those big clunky boots." Ron said.
Hermione nodded, smiling. "She really loved him."
"Yeah, very nice but let's get back to this talk about you possibly being willing to shag me at school..." Ron said.
"Forget it, Won-Won." Hermione teased.