Disclaimer: I own nothing!
A/N: It's been a while, but I've been stuck. There won't be much longer to this story, but it has at least one more chapter left. Hope you enjoy!
Harry stretched, feeling more content than he had in weeks. He opened his eyes and smiled, taking in the sight of his girlfriend beside him. They had talked out their problems the night before, and Natalia had called Philip to check in on Max, who was sleeping peacefully. He had assured her that he was fine with staying with Max; he was actually happy to be spending the time with his son. This gave Natalia and Harry the chance to go back to her flat and not only be with each other, but Harry felt that it gave Hermione and Charlie the chance to be alone as well.
Natalia stirred, moving closer to Harry. He grinned, pulling her closer; Natalia opened her eyes, realizing where she was and whom she was with.
"Good morning, love. Sleep well?"
"Well…how could I sleep with such a sexy devil in the bed beside me?"
Harry laughed. "Lia, you were out like a light as soon as your head hit the pillow."
"Ahem." Natalia blushed. "About that…I have this kid, you see…"
"Using Max as an excuse already?" Harry teased.
"I'm not using my son, Mr. Potter! I was just bloody tired. I didn't see you making any effort to try and get into my knickers last night."
Harry nodded and stretched. "I'm not ashamed: I passed out as soon as you did. You have a comfy bed."
Natalia nuzzled Harry's neck. "I do, do I? Well then, you'll have to use it more often!"
"Seriously?" Harry pulled back to look at his girlfriend. "Even when Max is here?"
""Well, not immediately. We'll have to give him time to get used to you being around more, but I'm up for more sleepovers if you are." Natalia shot Harry a wicked grin.
Suddenly, the couple heard a knock on the window. Harry stood and opened it, letting the small, round owl fly in and around the room. "Pig! Get your annoying arse back here right now!" Natalia laughed as Harry ran around the room, finally catching Ron's small owl with his seeker's skills. The small owl flew out, never even waiting on a response. Harry read the note.
While I was at your flat this morning (I'm assuming you're with Natalia…), Hermione, Charlie and I were attempting to deal with your latest drama. Yes, mate, DRAMA! If you haven't seen the papers this morning, you don't know that the press has gotten word of you and Natalia. I'm writing to warn you that you might need to stay hidden until we send you word. Hermione and Charlie have everything under control; you'll know if their plan works. Trust me.
Harry groaned. Natalia sat up and held out her hand. "Let me see, love. What's wrong?"
Harry ran around the flat, getting dressed as Natalia read the letter. He felt her come up behind him. "Harry, we knew this was coming. Don't worry; we're ready for this."
"I just wanted to do this on my own terms; I didn't want them to find out before we were ready for them to find out." Harry ran his hand through his girlfriend's short hair.
Natalia smiled at Harry. "Let's just wait around here and see what your friend Hermione has planned. She hasn't let us down yet, has she?"
"Come on, Charlie! We don't know if Harry got Ron's letter or not."
Charlie forcefully pushed the air from his lungs, struggling to keep up with the determined brunette in front of him. "Where the hell are we going, Hermione?"
She reached back and grabbed his hand. "You'll see." The two reached Diagon Alley in record time, and Hermione led Charlie to Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes, which was right across the street from The Daily Prophet's new office. The two went in and sought out George, who was in the back taking inventory for the day. Because it was not quite ten, the shop was still pretty empty.
George's new employee Amelia smiled from behind the counter. "Good morning. Can I help you?"
Hermione's eyes widened. It was rare that she went unrecognized. "Hi, um…I'm Hermione Granger, and this is George's brother Charlie. We're here to see George."
"Oh! Of course! I should have recognized you two." Amelia nodded hurriedly and turned to the door to the back. "I'll let him know you're here." A minute later, both George and Amelia walked back out.
George was speaking. "Amelia, how many times do I have to tell you? Do not leave the cash register unattended? Call me will the charm I showed you."
"But it was just your brother and…"
Before he even looked at his guests, he shook his head. "Even worse! My brothers? Don't trust them!" Looking at Charlie and Hermione, he smirked. "Especially these two! Charlie here is okay, but Miss Granger here is the brightest witch around. She's broken into Gringotts itself! Don't underestimate anyone."
"Sorry, Mr. Weasley."
"Just don't let it happen again. Now, what can I do for you two?"
Charlie and Hermione looked at each other before looking back at George. "Well, Mr. Businessman, we came here to put into motion a plan, and we need your help." Charlie looked at his brother intently. George had come a long way since Fred's death, but he still wasn't up to his normal pranks yet.
George raised a brow. "Help? How can I help the mighty dragon tamer and brilliant bookworm?"
Hermione frowned at their descriptions, but she then quickly went into a detailed summary of everything that had happened in the last few days. When George (and a seemingly uninterested Amelia who kept sneaking glances their way) was caught up, he nodded.
"So…You want me to…?"
"While you two…?"
George grinned. "There may be hope for you two yet!"
Rita Skeeter sighed as she read the article on the front page. She only hoped Hermione Granger knew that she wasn't the one who had written the piece this time. She had received too many visits from the little minx over the last decade.
Personally, she no longer cared what happened to Harry Potter and his little sidekick. They were old news, and the world had moved on. So what if he had decided to take up with a new girl? She never even believed that he and his friend Granger were up to anything anyway. If she had, she would have written about the two after Weasley had moved out of their flat. That load of nothing no longer sold papers.
"Skeeter!" Tim Rogers bustled into the room. Rogers was Rita's editor-in-chief, and he had run with the story of Potter's new girlfriend after the photographer had brought in the picture the night before.
"What do you need, Tim? I'm busy." Rita laid down the paper and picked up her quill.
"Bullshit. You just don't want to do this for me, but you don't have much of a choice. You know Potter and this new girl will be avoiding the press today, as will Granger. You and Granger have a history, don't you?"
Rita scowled. "You could say that."
"Good. Use it. Go see the girl; see if you can get a word in with her. Get her reaction to this news."
"And if there is no reaction?"
Tim laughed loudly. "Skeeter, the girl just found out Harry-bleedin'-Potter has been cheating on her! There's a reaction!"
Hermione was walking down the street smiling, holding on to Charlie Weasley's hand tightly. However, her smile dropped off her face quickly when she saw the reporter exit the building across the street. So far, she had avoided the press, but Rita Skeeter would not be avoided.
"Miss Granger! How convenient!"
Charlie squeezed her hand. "Love, this is our chance…."
Hermione nodded. "Miss Skeeter! I agree!"
The couple shared amused glances at Rita's shocked expression. Usually people ran from an interview with her, not towards one.
"Miss Granger, I, ah, know our history…" the reporter began, walking more slowly towards Hermione and Charlie.
"Which is exactly why I want to talk to you. I know you didn't write that article on Harry. We have an understanding, correct?"
Rita nodded. "Of sorts. I just wanted…"
"I was on my way over to tell you that Harry and I really appreciate you not writing any stories about us over the last few years. It's really shown a new and improved side of your character."
It was then that Rita took notice of the couple's joined hands. "So, you and Mr. Potter aren't together?"
Charlie looked at her curiously. "What makes you ask that?"
Right about then, George burst from his store. "Oi! So that's how it is, you two-timing slag? Swore you loved me just Saturday, and here you are running about town with my own brother?! I took you living with Potter; you said he was just a cover. However, you shagging everything that moves? You probably were riding him as well!"
"Oh, like you were any better, George Weasley? What about all of your little whores? Don't you think I know about them? You'd better just be glad Harry and I weren't ever together! We just kept that story going to keep the press off our arses!"
Charlie held his hand up. "You don't have to defend yourself against him, love. Let him talk. He knows he doesn't stand a chance with you."
George's face turned red. "Oh yeah, Charlie? And why the hell not?"
"Because she's living with me, you dolt! She woke up in my arms this morning, not yours!" Hermione stepped in.
"Guys, we've attracted too much attention…"
However, the look on Rita Skeeter's face said it all. There would be an evening edition today. "So, you and Potter haven't been seeing each other?"
Hermione shifted her feet. "No…"
"You and Mr. Weasley here?"
Charlie and George both looked up. Hermione asked, "Which one?"
"The tattooed one."
Charlie stuck his hand out. "Charlie Weasley, ma'am. Hermione and I have been together a while. She hasn't been dating this idiot of a brother of mine. He's just delusional."
"She loves all of us Weasleys, George. Get over it." Ron Weasley walked up behind Hermione and kissed her cheek. "I think Charlie is the only one of us who can handle this one though."
George sighed. "I guess so. Plus," he smirked as he whispered to Charlie, "Angelina might be pissed to hear about me chasing Granger all over Diagon Alley."
Charlie laughed, "You'd better go call her."
"Aye. See ya later!" George kissed Hermione quickly, leaving her open-mouthed as he took off towards the store.
It was Charlie's turn to change colors. "Why, that little…"
"Charlie, let him have his moment. He doesn't get many of those these days," Ron laughed.
Rita looked baffled at the entire scene. "Now, what am I supposed to tell my boss? He wants a reaction from you, Hermione."
Hermione looked wide-eyed at the reporter. "Reaction to what?"
"Harry cheating on you…" Rita drifted off.
"Doesn't seem like much cause for a reaction, does it?" Ron countered.
"I guess not. Tim's story's going to fall a tad flat if there's no angry ex-girlfriend drama going on to follow it up with." Rita chewed on her bottom lip.
Hermione tapped her chin. "Why don't you come out to dinner with us in a couple of days, Rita? I think you need to meet some people, and we can talk full disclosure for your story."
On Thursday night, Harry rented out a small room at Le Fleur Petit for the night. Around a large round table sat Harry, Natalia, a recovered Max, Hermione, Charlie, Ron, Leslie, and Rita. Philip and his family had gone back to France, promising to be back in a couple months for Max's fourth birthday party. Rita looked around, amazed.
"So, Hermione, what are your terms?"
"The Daily Prophet gets nothing. Once again, we're sending this story straight to our friend Luna at the Quibbler, and she will publish it. The publication is more accepted in wider circles, so you needn't worry about it being seen. Although, why our love lives are this important, I'll never know…"
Rita laughed. "You're celebrities! You three saved the world! Of course people will care who's dating you!"
All three "heroes" shrugged, drawing laughs from their respective partners. Ron took a bite of steak, then said, "I liked the attention at first; it suddenly just got…I don't know…old."
Harry and Hermione nodded. Harry looked at Rita. "What we say here will be it, Ms. Skeeter. Pictures will be taken here, and we have to approve everything."
Rita went to open her mouth, then nodded. "Fine. Does Miss Lovegood have any specifications?"
Hermione shook her head. "She said as long as we approved, she's fine with it."
"Okay then. First question: who's this fine, young man?" she asked, smiling at Max.
The group took turns answering Rita's questions, even Max, until she had a full story. The article would cover not only the new couples, but also the discovery of the new Dragon Pox formula and the warning to the public that all elderly and young wizards need to be inoculated.
Rita smiled. "This is some good information. I promise to do it justice."
Harry put his arm around Natalia. "I have no doubt you will."
The next morning, the Quibbler floated in to Hermione's open bedroom window. The owl, sent by Luna herself, dropped the magazine onto her bedside table and quietly flew back out.
A picture of a smiling group of wizards graced the front of the magazine, with Harry and Hermione as the focal point of the picture. The headline read "Potter & Granger: Together Forever? The Truth behind the Golden Duo's Dating Fiasco!"
Hermione stretched and rolled over, reveling in the warmth of her bed. Whether she liked it or not, the time off from work was needed. If she wasn't careful, she could get used to sleeping in every day. However, her roommate had other plans.
"Hermione! The magazine's here!" Harry yelled from the other side of her door before bursting into her room and jumping on her bed like a twelve-year-old.
"Merlin, Harry! What if I had been naked?"
"Like I haven't seen you naked before!" Harry grinned from his place beside her.
"The walls of that tent were pretty thin, love."
Hermione hit Harry with a pillow. "You've never seen me naked. No man has ever seen me naked."
"But I've seen more of you than anyone else, right?"
Hermione sighed and lay back on her bed. "Fine, Potter! You've seen more skin on me than any other man—or woman—besides my parents. Happy?"
"Extremely." Harry laid his head on her shoulder. "I have a secret."
"Max asked me when I was going to come live with his mum."
Hermione's eyes widened. "What did you tell him?"
"Well, Natalia promised to talk to him. What do I do, Hermione? I don't want to get too attached and something happen."
"Do you love her?"
"Then what's stopping you, love?"
Harry opened his mouth, then closed it again. Then, "What if I screw up? I've never had kids."
Hermione laughed lightly. "Harry, Max already loves you, and I know Natalia loves you. You love them both, and you're amazing with kids. What's the problem?" When she turned to look in his eyes, hers widened again. "Harry…"
"Am I stopping you? Love, I'll be okay; I'm a big girl. I can take care of myself." Hermione smiled.
Harry's eyes widened as well, then he smiled guiltily. "How? You'll starve or burn yourself up. And your clothes…"
"I'll learn. That's what books are for. Plus, I can always guilt Charlie into cooking for me every once in a while. I also have this awesome best friend who will be living with his girlfriend who can whip up a wicked chocolate soufflé."
Harry reached out and pulled Hermione close. "I'll make you a soufflé any time you want. You sure you don't mind me leaving?"
"I'm positive. We need grow up, Harry." She leaned back. "I'll make you a deal: When we get old, we can live in the same retirement home, okay?"