(A/N: This is an Omake for an alternate ending. If you don't like Ginny, please do yourself and me a favor and hit the back button now. For those who do read this, feel free to let me know which ending you think works better.)
Chapter 12 - Omake: Three's Not a Crowd, Usually
Harry and Fleur arrived with a soft crack in Hogsmeade, causing a few people to instantly look at them. They had no real fear of being attacked because of the ICW patch on their robes identifying them as "rescuers" and because it would be the rare British witch or wizard that they would meet today that could cast any lethal spell against them.
Looking around the Wizarding town, they saw the damage that had been reported earlier. Most windows were broken and in some cases entire walls had crumbled. The space expansion runes had worn off over the course of several minutes in their tests, so the wizards inside should have had time to leave before the collapse if they acted immediately. However, Harry was sure most just stood there in wonder for the ten seconds or so they had before they fell unconscious.
Once the runes had run out of power, the buildings would have shrunk back to their original size; hence the broken windows, occasional broken wall, and many broken items in the buildings. Sadly, there were going to be a few accidental deaths as well from people trapped in suddenly too small of a space, but hopefully it would be a small number.
Fleur waved politely and Harry nodded at those they passed, especially at the other ICW forces there as well as the extra healers brought in to help with injuries. At the edge of town, they saw the train platform.
"Do you think the Hogwarts Express will run again?" Fleur asked as they turned onto the path for the gates to the school.
"Maybe," he answered. "It really depends on how it ran and how hard it will be to restore it. What I don't know is if that will be the best way to get everyone home from Hogwarts. The Floo Network should be back up fully in a day or two and that might be the best way.
As they reached the gates, Harry greeted the squad and looked at the leader, recognizing his rank after his minimal military training over the last few weeks. "Lieutenant, how's it going?"
"Good evening, Mr Potter, Miss Delacour," the officer replied, as most on this mission knew who Harry and Fleur were by now. "It's all going well. There are two sets of parents up there at the moment, although I expect others, mostly in the morning though," he said with a grin. "We're about to put up some torches to light the area and our relief will be here at midnight. All in all, it's about like we expected."
"That really good to hear, Lieutenant. Carry on!"
They continued up the path towards the school, looking at the small crowd of mostly students in the small courtyard near the front door, who were standing or sitting in groups in the growing darkness as the sun set.
"Can't they even light the torches?" he asked quietly.
"They might not be able to," she replied.
"If they worked together I'd think they could light at least one, then use that to light the other torches, but maybe you can't light them manually with fire," he wondered at the end and she didn't answer.
Harry caught everyone's attention when he shot a spell over their heads and all the torches in the courtyard lit at once, something any of the professors should have been able to do normally, or had been able to do yesterday.
With the new light, he could see one set of parents to the side talking to a couple of Hufflepuffs, probably parents who lived in Hogsmeade. In another direction, he could see McGonagall along with Molly and Bill Weasley, as well as a few of his old friends. He'd have rather not dealt with Molly Weasley right now, but you didn't always get what you wanted.
Fleur shifted from holding his hand to placing her hand on his arm in the more formal tradition as they walked over. Many of the older students slowly moved that way to listen in.
"Professor," Harry intoned along with a nod. "I was looking for my remaining friends. Do you know where Ginny, Katie, Luna, and Neville are?" He purposefully didn't acknowledge anyone else there, wondering who would say what. The rest who should have known him were gaping a bit.
"Mr Potter, Miss Delacour," Professor McGonagall returned. "It's good to see you both. I'm especially glad to see that you're doing well, Mr Potter, after your difficulty last summer."
"A lot of free time and discussions with Fleur helped with that," he replied evenly. "Have you seen my friends?"
"We don't count?" Ron asked a little belligerently.
"Not anymore," he said evenly. "I was sad you threw away our friendship, but I've come to terms with it - for all of you here." Harry shrugged. "If you wanted me to stay your friend you should have stayed in contact with me. My real friends did."
"We couldn't," Ron almost shouted. "You wouldn't let any bloody owls find you."
"And yet," Harry replied with complete calm, "some people wrote me anyway and we stayed friends. If you'd really cared, you'd have found a way too; or better, you wouldn't have let someone stop you from writing when it was easy last summer. Whatever, I've moved on."
"Harry, did you have anything to do with everything that's happened today?" Hermione asked very timidly. "It's hard to do spells now. In fact, the only ones who we've seen that can are Bill and those from the ICW who visited a few minutes ago." She motioned towards his ICW patch.
"Yes, I know something about that," he said with a small smirk, which caused Fleur to chuckle quietly. "I defeated Voldemort this afternoon, which also ended up killing all the Death Eaters."
Everyone who heard that started cheering.
As the cheer started to die down, he heard, "Harry!" by a voice he hadn't heard in a long time. The crowd soon parted and four new students arrived, led by a redhead who threw her arms around his neck and hugged him tightly.
"Ginny, it's good to see you. Are you all right?" he had his hands on her waist and looked at her closely. She had become prettier as she'd grown up.
"Yeah, we're doing well."
Harry noticed that Molly was shocked that her daughter had passed right by her, while Bill looked like he was starting to figure things out.
He passed Ginny to Fleur so the two could hug, while he gave hugs to the other three, even Neville, who slapped his back heartily.
"It's good to see you, mate," Neville told him.
"You too. I've got something special for you," Harry said with a grin as he fished out a note from a pocket. "I think you should take a trip in a little bit. The guards by the gates should be able to help you."
Neville read the note before he looked up in shock. "Really?!"
"It's what I was told. I'm happy for you Neville, however it works out."
"What is it?" Ginny asked.
"It talks about the status of St Mungo's and says that my parents are awake and know who they are." Neville wiped his eyes before tears could fall. "It says that there must have been some curse on them that no one knew about and it's been removed now."
Neville received hugs from all the girls around him, even Fleur.
Harry looked at McGonagall. "When you next see Remus Lupin, tell him he doesn't need to fear the moon any longer. The event this evening should have cured him and he shouldn't be a werewolf any more. In fact, the ICW will probably force all werewolves to go through this to eradicate the disease."
McGonagall looked shocked and nodded slowly.
"Ginny?" Molly Weasley said, unable to be ignored any longer.
"Mum," Ginny replied evenly as she stepped next to Harry, make it obvious where her loyalties lay. The woman took a half step back as if slapped. "Bill," she addressed her brother in the same manner before turning around. "Harry, I think we need to talk."
"You're right. Why don't we walk over by the lake for some privacy," he suggested.
She nodded but turned to Fleur and whispered in her ear for a moment. Fleur smiled and nodded before pushing her towards Harry.
Harry held out his arm and Ginny took it.
"Wait!" Molly Weaselly shouted.
Except for a cold look, Harry said nothing as he turned and led Ginny away, who also didn't answer the call.
As they approached the lake, they saw group of Merpeople suddenly appear in the air just above the water before falling in.
"The Merpeople are back," he said as Ginny gaped at the sight. "The Centaurs and unicorns should be returning soon as well. We didn't bother trying to save the Acromantula."
"I'm glad," Ginny said softly and a little absently as she stopped and turned to Harry and grabbed his hands in hers. "I don't know if I can tell you how hard this is."
"Ginny, I know what you and Fleur have discussed. I do like you quite a bit and I think we can make it work if we all try very hard. However, I do have some reservations about the idea and I don't want you to do this unless you're completely comfortable. I'll do my best for you if this is what you really want, but you have to truly want this because you think this best for all of us."
She nodded slowly. "I believe I do want it, but it's still a scary step to take. I also need to really wait until I'm sixteen, and then there's school, but I think I might be better off coming with you and letting you both tutor me."
He nodded. "Yeah, Hogwarts won't be the same. The ICW is going to have to supply some new teachers and the traditional magic-heavy classes would only have you four and whatever first year Muggle-born start next year, plus maybe a few children of ICW workers. It would be really different here."
"I don't think I want that, but my parents will have a fit if I don't go." She sighed. "This wasn't like I thought it would be."
Harry reached into his pocket and pulled out a small strap of leather and pushed it into one of her back packets, earning him a raised eyebrow and an amused look from his forwardness. "It's a Portkey," he told her. "It's good through the first of September. Tap your wand on it and say 'runaway'. It will take you to a place that is safe and then you can come to me if I'm not there. You should wait until at least your birthday to avoid trouble, though."
"I understand." She moved her arms up to his neck and pulled him to her slowly and kissed him, leaving a smile on her face. "What if the Portkey gets taken away from me?"
"Hmmm, good question. I'll tell Dobby to listen for you. If you have trouble, call him." Harry pulled her to him and kissed her this time. "Send your letters to Dobby at Potter Manor. They'll get to me much faster. We're going to have to discuss how this will work between the three of us - in detail."
"I know." Ginny looked down for a moment. "We Weasleys are a jealous lot. I've tried to lose mine, but I think a bit is still there. I think it'd be easier if Fleur wasn't a Veela; she seems so perfect."
Harry snorted and then chuckled. "She's not, I promise. She can be a bit arrogant on some topics; she's tends to leave her clothes on the floor; her mating cycles are also a real challenge. Still, she's pleasant most of the time and always willing to help out. I can see where you'd think it might be hard with her because of her looks, but you're becoming very pretty as you get older."
Ginny blushed slightly and kissed him again. "I'll try, I'll try very hard."
"There are multiple bedrooms, so you can come live with us for a while and decide if it's going to work for you or not," he pointed out. "There's no rush and I'll let you set the pace."
"That's probably a good idea," she agreed with a nod. "My mother won't like it when I leave home, but that's my battle."
Harry mentally agreed and stood still, enjoying the feeling for the moment. True it would be difficult for them, but part of him was looking forward to trying to make it all work out. He had two very beautiful girls, no women, who wanted him, wanted to be part of his life, wanted to be family with him. Somehow this seemed even more amazing than his whole introduction to magic.
He focused on Ginny again and pulled himself together, as nice as this was they had other things to do.
"Are you ready to head back?" he asked her, only to receive a nod in return. "Let's go then," he told her as he put an arm around her shoulders and started to walk her back slowly. "I'll probably be in the country for the rest of the summer, so we can talk in person, maybe even go on a few dates. I'll make sure I'm where your Portkey will take you on your birthday and the day after. If you come and I'm away on business, then Dobby will help you come to where I am."
"OK, I suppose that will work."
"Ginny, promise me one thing." He stopped and turned her slightly so they could look eye to eye. "I believe I will soon love you, but please don't do this if it's not what you really want. No fantasy is worth a lifetime of misery."
"Don't worry, I know what I am feeling. This isn't like the silly crush I had on you when I was little," she told him and restarted their walk.
When they arrived back at their group, Harry saw Fleur talking to Bill off to the side. He could guess what that conversation was about based on the less-than-pleased expressions the man had and the frustrated look Fleur wore.
"I'll come find you in the next week or so after you go home and we can spend some time together," Harry told his friends, giving each of them a hug, along with a kiss on the cheek for Katie and Luna. Ginny received a chaste kiss because her mother was watching.
As Harry took Fleur's hand and started to walk away, McGonagall spoke up quickly. "Mr Potter? What will happen to Hogwarts?"
He stopped and looked at her. "I don't really know all the details, to be honest. I worked together with the ICW more on defeating Voldemort than what would happen afterward. I imagine you can continue to teach here next year if you want to. The ICW will install a new Headmaster and bring in a few teachers for the magic-heavy courses, although only the Muggle-born first years and any of these four that want to be here will be able to do the magic for those. The rest of the students will have to take the more academic classes. Good luck, Professor." He turned and left, not looking back or caring about the school behind him.
"Let's go home, Harry," Fleur said softly as they walked. "I still have that Stamina Potion and I want to make sure all of you still works."
Harry grinned at her and she gave him a sexy smirk back. It was good to be him sometimes, he thought.
— — —
(Thu, Jul 3)
Shortly after breakfast, Ginny came down the stairs floating her trunk after her. It was a little strange being in the new Burrow. It had been rebuilt after being burnt down by Death Eaters. It had been completed only about a month before the ICW had taken over Britain, causing it to be damaged. Bill had worked hard over the last couple of weeks and it was fairly well repaired now. It also used very little magic to stay standing now compared to before it had been destroyed last fall.
"Ginny? Where are you going with that? And you shouldn't be using magic either," her mother accused her with a sharp look.
"I'm going outside to the back garden to visit with my friends because I thought you wouldn't want them in the house. I have my trunk because they're going to help me fix it," she said, slowing down her walk only a little as she answered. When her mother said nothing else, she went out the back door, shaking her head slightly at yet another minor skirmish between them.
As she walked over to the trees near her father's shed, and still in view of the back of the house, her two friends stepped out. She put her trunk down and her wand away before giving them each a hug, one a little longer than the other. "Fleur! Harry!"
Harry held onto her with an arm around her waist at the end. "Sorry it took a little longer to get here. The ICW has been keeping me really busy answering questions about people and places here, most of which I know nothing about. How have you been doing?"
Ginny sighed and looked at each of them. "It's been mostly all right, but there's the underlying current here that's frustrating. I suppose I can understand somewhat. My family feels I sold them out and I can sort of understand. The fact that I did what you wanted and prefer you over them is something they can't seem to grasp. Nor can they seem to get it into their heads that they really betrayed you." She shook her head. "Even having Fred and George here and helping me argue did little good, except perhaps for Dad. He looked very thoughtful after the last argument."
"What about Bill?" Fleur asked.
"He's been a little different. He usually supports my mum, but sometimes he'll just stand there and not say anything. Honestly, I think he's confused and conflicted since you saved him." Ginny shrugged, not knowing what else to say.
"I'm sure it'll work itself out in time," Fleur said soothingly.
"Yeah, I'd like to think so," Ginny agreed half-heartedly, "but I'm not so sure about it this time."
"Why don't we look at your trunk," Harry said, obviously trying to change the topic.
Ginny nodded with some relief and moved it over to the side. Opening it, she turned it over to dump the entire contents; clothes and school things plus some short planks of wood came out. "Here's all the pieces. I don't think any of them are broken, but it sort of just came apart. I shrunk them all down to bring them home. Luna helped me put it back together enough that it could be like a simple trunk."
Fleur knelt down and started doing diagnostic charms on it while Harry pulled out a few shrunken books from a pocket. "A few books on charms that she thought we might need to consult," he answered Ginny's unvoiced question.
The back door banged and they all turned quickly to see a very irate looking Ron standing there, wand in hand.
"I was afraid of this," Ginny muttered as she stood and faced her brother. "Ron, just go back in the house or go fly. You'll only get hurt if you try to fight."
Ron looked at them and then the wand in his hand. He put it away after a moment. "Then come over here Potter without your wand, man to man," he said angrily.
Ginny was livid. "Ron!" she cried warningly.
Harry put a hand gently on her shoulder. "Ron, I'm not going to fight you because it wouldn't solve anything. Like she said, you'd be better off if you went elsewhere."
Ron's face scrunched up angrily and Ginny reached for her wand. By the time her brother started charging, she had her wand out and she dropped him with a hasty "Stupefy!" before he was halfway there. A glance showed Harry was still only standing there. It pleased her that he let her handle it, it belayed a certain confidence in her and her abilities. Another glance showed Fleur's wand pointing towards her brother, but she had held back. Ginny guessed that even if Harry trusted her, there was part of Fleur that was hesitant to, or maybe she was just really protective of Harry.
The back door opened again and her father came out and looked at the scene with disappointment. Shaking his head, he walked over to his son and very obviously faced away from the three before pulling his wand out and casting a levitation charm. Ron rose a few feet off the ground and moved shakily as the father took him back inside the house.
A moment later, Arthur Weasley walked back out empty handed and looking quite serious. "Mr Potter, may I have a few moments of your time? Perhaps we could sit on the back porch. I assure you my…" He paused as if trying to work out what to say, then ended with, "my son won't be bothering us."
Harry looked at each of his girls and they both nodded. He realized the back porch would still be in full view of them, so he nodded and walked over. Harry took a seat in a wooden rocking chair, as did his host.
"Mr Potter, I'm not sure where to start, but if you'll allow me to ramble a bit, perhaps I'll manage say what needs to be said," Arthur told him very calmly and with self-assurance.
Not sure where this was going but glad that the father was not acting like his son, Harry replied, "Go ahead."
Arthur scratched the back of one hand for a moment. "Mr Potter, and I will not be familiar because I don't believe I have a right to be…"
Harry was a little shocked at that and what it implied.
"…I suppose I should be personal first. I'm so sorry for what I did to you last summer. It doesn't excuse me, but I trusted a man whom I had every reason to believe I could trust. Sadly for all of us, he was wrong and he led us astray in regards to you. Even worse, I let him lead me astray. I have children and at times I've even thought that you could be one of them. I've always tried to treat you well and I like to think I did so over most of the years. Unfortunately this last year I did not. I guess I somehow let my blind trust in that man cloud my judgment and for that you have suffered … and I was so very wrong to do so. Ginny always believed and tried to do the right thing. I wanted to, but I didn't and my lack of action is what matters. I don't deserve your forgiveness for what I did to you, but I beg you to please accept my apology for my actions against you. I'll do my best to treat you well now, regardless."
There was no doubt, Harry was in a light state of shock. Arthur Weasley was the first person to take responsibility for his actions and give him a heart-felt apology for what had happened last summer. As he considered the apology, and the man silently let him, Harry saw the girls with their heads close together and working on the trunk with the occasional glance back at him, keeping an eye on him as he was keeping an eye on them.
Surprising himself somewhat, and perhaps this was for Ginny's sake more than his own, he held out his hand. "I accept your apology. Forgiveness is possible."
Arthur smiled broadly and shook his hand vigorously for a moment.
"I do have one request in regard to it, however…"
"Anything," Arthur said quickly.
Harry couldn't help but smile slightly. "I won't take advantage of that, but I will ask that you keep this to yourself. Don't even tell your wife. If someone is going to apologize to me, I want it because they want to give it and they truly mean it."
Arthur's expression fell, but he nodded slowly. "I think I can understand. I'll keep it to myself, I promise." He looked down for a moment then back up. "I also want to apologize for my son. Not for the last year, but for a few minutes ago. I thought I had made it clear to him that he was not to bother you or Ginny, but it seems he ignored me. I'll do my best to prevent a repeat of that."
"Thank you," Harry said quietly, feeling that was all he really should say.
"Mr Potter, my I ask a personal question?"
"You may ask." Harry had a small fear as to what it was going to be, and he was - unfortunately - correct.
Arthur looked uncomfortable, but it didn't stop him. "I understand that Miss Delacour is your girlfriend, yet you've also acted like that around Ginny too, or so I've been told. Since I wish to protect my daughter, will you please explain your intentions towards Ginny?"
Harry looked at the girls and saw them with their heads still close together. At that moment, a pair of giggles faintly floated over, causing him to wonder what they were joking about, but glad they were getting along. They were far enough away that he didn't think they could hear Arthur and himself as they had been talking quietly.
With a sigh, he looked at the man and did his best to appear sincere. "Mr Weasley, I'm not sure what I should say as this isn't my idea. My intentions are to be Ginny's friend in whatever capacity she wants and to support her as needed. Ginny and Fleur have been discussing how our friendship would work out and possibly evolve into something more. Nothing is set in stone except that Ginny is my friend and I'll be there for her however she needs me." It was bit of a cop-out, but Harry just couldn't say explicitly what was happening.
However, it seemed that Arthur had received the message and read between the lines. He looked at the two young ladies across the garden. "My daughter will be happy?"
"She will always be happy if there is anything I can do to ensure it, no matter how things work out," Harry assured him honestly as he looked over, pleased they were getting along so well, hoping that carried through the years if the three-way relationship continued.
"Where do you plan to live?"
Harry tore his gaze from the girls to look at the father for that seemingly random question. "Rarely in Britain, mostly on my island or in Switzerland; France is also a possibility. I have to take my NEWTs in early September and I have a permanent job waiting for me with the ICW."
Arthur nodded slowly and thoughtfully as if talking to himself. "Perhaps that would be good for a few years." He nodded to himself, "Yes, perhaps so." Coming back into the moment, he looked at Harry, "Please take good care of Ginny. She's essentially grown and can decide for herself what to do, but she is still my little girl. I know her mother wouldn't agree with me, but the truth is that we can't stop her from doing what she wants and I'm starting to believe it's been that way for some time."
"I think the Chamber of Secrets was the turning point," Harry said a little quieter to ensure Ginny wouldn't hear that.
"I fear you're correct about that." Arthur stood and held his hand out. "I wish you luck, Mr Potter. I have a feeling you're going to need it."
"Thank you, sir." While he wasn't totally sure about this, he decided to do it anyway. "When it's just us, why don't you call me … Harry."
The man's usual grin resurfaced. "Call me, Arthur."
"Have you heard from the Ministry, Arthur?" Harry asked. "I've heard they're starting to hire a few Brits to help them out."
"Yes. I had an interview yesterday for a consulting position and it went well. I wouldn't get to work with Muggles as much, but I'll be glad to have a job," Arthur told him.
"The vast majority of the former Ministry employees will have to find jobs elsewhere, but all the other businesses should continue on, although perhaps with a few changes," Harry told him.
"I was told something similar yesterday." Arthur put his hand on Harry's shoulder. "I'll let you rejoin the girls as I'm sure they're more pleasant to talk to than I am," he said with amusement. "You'll have to tread carefully, but you're always welcome here, Harry. Also, if you and Fleur want to take Ginny out for dinner, you have my permission."
"Thank you, Arthur."
With a light pat on the back, Arthur left him. Still amazed at the conversation and at having mostly repaired one bridge, he walked back over to the girls.
"What did he say?" Ginny asked as soon as he was near. "That looked like it went well."
"I was surprised that he apologized to me for last summer…"
"Yes!" Ginny hissed loudly. "I knew I was right about him," she said as she jumped up and gave Harry a hug. "I'm happy for you." She tilted her head a little. "You are happy, right?"
"I am. He also said I could take you to dinner, so would you like to come have dinner with us this evening?" he asked her.
She hugged him a little more enthusiastically this time. "I would."
"Would you like me to stay at home so you can have some time with Ginny?" Fleur asked neutrally.
"No, I think we should have dinner together. However, I can have a little time with Ginny alone afterwards so we can get to know each other better." Harry was a little surprised to see her smile at that, then realized she was happy she wasn't being totally excluded for the evening. In many ways, it was the first indication that he'd seen that Fleur had concerns about this relationship too.
"How are the repairs coming?" he asked.
"I think I have figured out what must be done," Fleur answered. "You and Ginny should take the parts and rebuild the dresser drawers and the shelves. I'll renew the runes to deal with the space expansion and dimensional sharing."
Harry learned more about Runes and Charms that afternoon. He also learned more about how the girls viewed each other that evening. His time with only Ginny at the end was also educational; he learned that she kissed very well.
(Wed, Jul 30)
Harry, welcome!" Neville called to Harry and Fleur as they came out of the Floo. He shook Harry's hand vigorously and gave Fleur a light hug. When he finished, he pulled them to the side to a couple that still looked overly thin and pale but had huge smiles on their faces. "I'd like you to meet my parents."
"Mr and Mrs Longbottom," Harry said formally.
"Nonsense," Frank Longbottom said as he struggled to stand, Neville quickly jumping to his aid just in case he was needed to catch his father. "Call us Frank and Alice. We have much to thank you for, so very much." He stuck his hand out, which Harry shook gently.
Harry smiled graciously and replied, "I wished we could take credit for helping you, but none of us knew our actions would help you."
"Doesn't matter," Frank told him, "we're very grateful for what you've done, for helping us and for being such a good friend to our Neville." He wobbled and quickly sat back down. "My apologies, but I'm not very strong yet."
"None are necessary," Harry assured him.
"And you must be Fleur," Alice spoke, not trying to stand. "Neville has told us you helped Harry greatly."
Fleur blushed ever so slightly. "I helped him where I could, but most of it was Harry. I will say that I've enjoyed our time together." She flashed her boyfriend a blinding smile and he gave her a loving look and took her hand in his.
"Well, I'm sure we have a unique perspective on what happened with everyone's magic, but we'd trade all of our magic for being able to get out of the mental void we were in and get to know our son," Alice told them.
"Yes," Frank added with a nod, "a very worthwhile trade. I'm glad you agreed to come over today."
"Neville is our friend and we wanted to wish him happy birthday personally. We'd stay for the party, but I'm not sure that would be a good idea," Harry admitted.
"Nonsense, Harry," Neville objected.
"I told you what happened with Ron when I went to the Burrow at the beginning of July," Harry reminded him.
"It was sad," Fleur said before she smiled slightly, "but also a little amusing that he though he could best Harry."
"He has a point," Frank told his son. "The newspaper is filled with letters from people angry at the ICW for what they did, and since they know Harry worked for the ICW, their anger falls on him and Fleur too. I think it's unfortunate they can't see the problems they've created for themselves, and narrowly escaped the slaughter that happened to magical Peru, but our people are a proud people, a proudness that leaves them blind too much of the time. I'm hopefully that they will wake up to the problems and help fix them in time, but I wouldn't hold my breath waiting on that either."
"Frank," his wife said with a contemplative look, "perhaps we should consider how to help that along. The Longbottom family has been a leader in generations past and our absence has given us a unique and more balanced view since we haven't been mixed up in it."
He smiled at his wife and patted her hand. "A capital idea, Alice. Perhaps a few letters to start while we regain our strength?"
The Floo flared to life and everyone looked at the clock on the wall, surprised by the time. Hermione Granger stepped out of the fireplace and looked around, freezing at the sight of Harry and Fleur.
Neville stood up very straight and walked over. "Hermione, welcome to Longbottom Manor. May I introduce you to my parents?"
After the introduction, she looked at them all for a moment. "My apologies Mr and Mrs Longbottom, but I arrived a few minutes early for a reason. May I step away to talk to Harry for a moment?"
"Oh, it's no problem at all, Miss Granger," Frank told her with a pleasant expression, "you can join our conversation. I'm sure no one will mind."
That moment made Harry wonder just how much time Frank Longbottom had spent in the company of the Marauders. "Of course," Harry added smoothly. "You can say whatever you want here, Miss Granger." A glance showed the other three were working on holding in their amusement.
Trapped, all she could do was attempt to go forward. "Harry?" Hermione said tentatively. "I wanted you to know that I tried to contact you," Hermione told him, struggling to hold his gaze. "I'd still like to be your friend."
Glad that Ron wasn't here as he might have ratcheted up the tension, he asked calmly, "Why?"
He wondered what she would say because Neville's parents being present.
"Because we were friends before and I'd still like to be your friend," Hermione told him with a hint of exasperation.
Harry looked at her for a moment and she held his gaze, when she wasn't looking at Fleur. "Why now? Did Dumbledore ask you to do this too?" He knew that was slightly unfair, but he wanted to make a point and see if she truly regretted her actions and had started to think for herself.
Her face lowered and she didn't say anything, nor did anyone else for a moment.
"You really hurt me," Harry finally admitted softly when she didn't own up to anything. "It was hard, but I moved on beyond that and beyond you." He shrugged, "Or I guess that's the best way to explain it. I could shout and say things we'd both regret, but I realized some months ago that wouldn't help either of us, so I let the anger go and it took the friendship too."
He looked at Fleur for a moment who gave him silent encouragement. "For us to be friends again, we'd have to start completely over." Hermione looked hopeful until he said, "But that would require we spend time together and I don't see that happening unless you get a job at the ICW too and that can't happen until after you have your NEWTS. I suppose it's possible you could work there one day, but I think that would be unlikely … Hermione. I don't know for sure, but I suspect I'll be the only Brit employed there for some time to come."
Hermione nodded slowly, but it wasn't until she put a hand to her face to wipe tears away that Harry realized she was silently crying. He felt bad about that, but not too bad. He hadn't raised his voice or been rude; he'd just stated the facts as he saw them.
Harry looked at the birthday boy. "I think I should probably go so I don't ruin your party, Neville. I'll see you soon. Frank, Alice, I'm glad we met. I liked your idea and I'll do my best to come talk to you about it another day." He looked at the last guest, who was still looking at her feet. "Good-bye, Hermione," he said softly as he grabbed Fleur's hand. The Veela quickly said good-bye before the couple left.
At Potter Manor, Fleur said, "I don't understand why she didn't apologize. She seemed sorry for her actions."
Harry shook his head. "I don't' know either, but I'm not going to even attempt to rebuild anything with her unless I hear true regret and an apology from her."
(Thu, Jul 31)
The Floo flared and Katie stepped out, the first guest to arrive. As she was giving Harry and Fleur a hug, Neville came through the Floo. Katie hugged him too and Harry noticed that Neville's was a little longer than theirs and wondered if she liked him.
Ginny and Luna came last, each with a small bag. After they were greeted and Dobby took their bags, Fleur guided everyone to the dining room, since the party was for dinner and a few hours after. They all started eating and talking about whatever came to mind.
Eventually, Harry looked at Ginny and asked, "Did you have any trouble coming?"
"No, I convinced them I'm spending the night with Luna," the redhead replied. With a mischievous grin she added, "I didn't bother to mention which house I'd stay at," causing the others to laugh.
"How is everything at home, if I can ask?" Fleur queried.
Ginny sighed. "Generally still not well, although it's a little better than when you were there a few weeks ago. Mum used to love to cook, but not so much now when she can't use magic to help. So I get recruited to do a lot of it, but then she doesn't like me to use magic to make it go faster because I'm only about to turn sixteen. I've pointed out to her that I won't get into trouble, but she still resists because she thinks I shouldn't be using magic at home. That upsets me a little, which causes me to work slower on purpose to make a point, and that causes her to get upset at me. It really makes me look forward to living elsewhere, wherever that might be." She smiled and winked at Harry.
"At least Dad has a job at the Ministry now as a consultant." Ginny looked at Harry a moment. "Did you help that out?"
Shaking his head, he answered, "No, he earned that on his own, and I'm glad to see him there. I think his honesty will help him greatly." He looked at Luna and said, "I didn't have much to do with your Dad leaving the country when he did. I just sent an anonymous tip to him because of what he did in my fourth year. He decided to follow it and saved himself."
Luna rose from the table and went around and gave the birthday boy a kiss on the cheek. "Thank you, Harry."
"I'm sorry, Katie," Harry said, but was unable to go on.
The girl sighed. "I am too, but I understand now that I've thought about it and I don't hold it against you. I will admit I was a little upset at first, but after I considered that it was very likely they would have been attacked by the Death Eaters eventually as things became worse, just like in the first war. I decided that having them like they are now is better than them being dead. I was a little surprised when they told me that they felt the same way and they don't hold it against you either."
"Thank you," Harry told her quietly.
"I don't hold it against you either," Ginny told him. "I know both of my parents hurt you directly and yet you made sure they stayed alive. I know Ron hurt you directly too, but you allowed Fred and George to prove themselves and they were saved." She looked at Fleur, "And Bill has you to thank. I suppose Charlie has himself to thank for simply not being here."
In the silence that hung for a moment, Fleur suddenly stood and looked at them all. "It looks like everyone is finished eating, so let's have cake."
Dobby appeared and cleaned the table with a few snaps of his fingers. Then a large cake floated into the room. They all sung Happy Birthday to Harry, which he bore with quiet embarrassment.
As they were eating the cake, a ball of fire flashed in and Fawkes landed on the table next to Harry. With only a small hesitation, Harry took the letter from the bird and started to read while he petted the Phoenix.
"What does it say?" Fleur asked for everyone, who was watching Harry closely.
Harry's expression hadn't changed the entire time, but everyone noticed he continued to pet Fawkes. Clearing his throat, Harry read out loud:
My Dear Harry,
I'm sorry I was unable to meet with you at the end of June, but the injuries from my last fight with the other side didn't allow for that and my healing has been very slow. I don't believe I ever realized just how much my magic helped in that regard. I don't blame you for what you did, as terrible as it was. Sometimes sacrifices must be made for the greater good. I know you didn't believe in the prophecy, but even you must admit that it worked out as was foreseen.
It appears that I shall return to teaching this fall. While I won't be Headmaster anymore, I know enough to teach History of Magic since Professor Binns is gone. The ICW has been kind enough to hire me to do so for the next year.
I do hope that you'll stop by to talk with me now that you're back in the country. I would enjoy a conversation with you.
When he finished, he laid the letter down and absently petted Fawkes while he thought.
"Well?" Fleur asked when he remained silent.
"Dobby?" Harry called.
"Yes, Master Harry?" the elf called from the doorway.
"Could you bring me a quill and some ink?" Harry asked as he continued to pet Fawkes slowly. A moment later, Dobby put the writing materials in front of him, including some fresh parchment.
Harry ignored the unasked for parchment and turned Dumbledore's letter over and wrote a short reply.
Fleur walked around the table and looked over his shoulder. "'Thank you for sending Fleur to me. I appreciate that more than I can express. Good luck with your class,' is all you plan to say?" she asked a little incredulously.
"As I don't plan to be in the country for very long whenever I visit, it's all I feel the need to comment on," he returned as if it didn't matter. "Did you want to add something to it?"
"No, the letter was for you," she told him as she sat back down in her chair, amazed at his reply and the amusement on their friends' faces. She watched him give the letter to the phoenix and then send him on his way with the reminder that Fawkes could visit anytime he liked.
The next couple of hours were spent in the living room telling stories about their Hogwarts' experiences in generally happier times of years past.
At the end of the evening, Neville and Katie readied to leave and Harry heard her ask Neville, "Would you be willing to come over for a while? I'd like your opinion on a few of our plants."
Harry bid his two friends good-bye for now with amusement and noticed that Fleur looked like she wanted to giggle.
"So now what?" Harry asked the group at large, not sure exactly what they were going to do with Luna there too. However, he needed not to have worried.
"I think Fleur and I should talk for awhile," Luna announced and stepped over to grab the older girl's hand to lead her away. "Don't worry, Harry. I'll send her back to you in a few hours for your birthday sex while Ginny and I talk about you."
Harry just blinked at the two while Luna led Fleur away, who looked like she was about to burst out laughing. He looked at Ginny who was holding a hand over her mouth with her shoulders shaking. "Come on you," he told the redhead and wrapped an arm around her shoulders and led her to the living room. He sat on the sofa and she planted herself on his lap.
"Do you still think this is a good idea?" he asked her, knowing she understood the question.
She leaned over and put her head against his. "Most of the time, but I don't know that I can really answer until I'm living with you two." She kissed him on his temple before settling in again. "A couple of years ago I asked my dad what it was like being married and he said something very interesting."
"He said that most of the time it was just living with your best friend and doing things with him. I've enjoyed being around you and Fleur, and your visit when you fixed my trunk showed me that Fleur and I can get along. So I think we can work this out," she told him.
Harry had one arm around her back and the other was holding her hand, rubbing his thumb over the back of her knuckles. "Explained that way, it doesn't sound so hard, but there's more. You once told me you had jealous feelings, which I guess we all have. How do you plan to deal with that? I mean, as embarrassing as Luna's comment was, that is what Fleur and I will do later tonight. How do you feel about that?"
"Honestly? I try not to think about it, but I also realize it's going to happen. I wished I didn't have to share you that way, but I think I can deal with it. There are some advantages though."
"Really?" he was surprised. "Like what?"
"With two of us, odds are one of us will always be in the mood for you," she teased him.
"As if that's really important," he snorted. "Really, what are the advantages?"
"I think the biggest is that I've always heard how busy my parents were trying to take care of the family, house, job, everything. With another adult, it should all be easier. Also, when we start having children, there's an extra person to watch out for them. Our children will never lack love with the three of us; have you considered that?" she asked as she sat up to look him in the eyes, something she enjoyed doing.
"No, I can honestly say I haven't because I haven't thought about children other than I want some one day, and I've been told I need to have some," he returned with an easy grin.
"In a few years," she told him. "I think I'd like to get my Charms mastery then have our children. I'm not sure after that."
Harry looked around before he put his mouth to her ear and whispered. "If it matters and gives you some hope, Fleur told me a secret that will affect you. Veela are like a shooting star in that they flare brightly then go out quickly. She said they rarely reach 100 years of age and most don't reach 90."
Ginny jerked around and looked at him in great astonishment. "Seriously?"
She moved a little to whisper in his ear. "So if we don't do something too stupid and live out our full lives, it could be just the two of us for the last 20 to 50 years?"
"That's what I understand."
"Interesting," she whispered before she tilted his head a little and began to kiss him. Their conversation was minimal until Luna came in and grabbed Ginny's hand while sending Harry to his bedroom.
— — —
The next morning, the four had breakfast together with Fleur looking very pleased with herself, Harry looking a little shy, and his two guests trading knowing looks with the occasional random giggle. It was the first time Harry had ever seen Luna giggle.
As the two guests readied to return to Luna's house, Luna hugged Harry and told him, "You're on a good path." She then moved over to Fleur and after her hug said, "I don't think you'll have any problems, but if you do, let me know." After the cryptic advice, she left.
Ginny shook her head and hugged each of them, with Harry getting a kiss also.
"What did she mean?" Harry asked, looking at Fleur, who shook her head slightly in answer.
Ginny turned a little pink but answered, "I think she meant that if I didn't join you that she'd be willing. I told her last night that if Fleur had to take the potion to have a boy, that as Fleur told me, it would essentially cost her all of her Veela magic, making her like a normal witch."
"I see," he said slowly. Luna was a fun friend, but he wasn't sure he could be married to her. With the look Fleur was giving him, he suspected she was thinking the same thing.
"See you soon," Ginny said and left quickly.
(Wed, Aug 13)
Harry and Fleur were finishing breakfast as Fleur looked at him. "Do you think Ginny changed her mind? Her birthday was yesterday."
"It's possible but I doubt it," he replied. "She said it was a hard decision, but she always said she wants to join us. She hinted that she wanted to spend her birthday with her family before she left, which I thought was a good idea" he told her. "Are you ready to go back to the island for a short holiday now that we're finally done here? I need to revise more for the four NEWTs I'm going to take soon."
"Yes, it'll be nice to relax after the busy months we've had…"
A pop stopped the conversation. There in the dining room was Dobby holding Ginny's hand - a Ginny who was dressed only in a T-shirt and some thin shorts that reminded Harry of his boxers. She didn't look happy.
"Wow, Ginny, that's quite an entrance and a look," Harry said with a grin.
Ginny expression changed from stormy to embarrassed as she looked down at her attire. She also shifted from foot to foot as if not sure how to stand. After a few seconds, she hurriedly took a seat at the table and seemed to try to hide there; she also crossed her arms over her breasts. "Err, hi. When I called Dobby, I didn't expect him to take me straight to you."
Harry pushed his empty plate a little forward and leaned his elbows on the table. "It's not a problem; I really do like that look. I find it kinda sexy."
Ginny nervously brushed some hair back and looked at Fleur. "He's teased me before, but never outright flirted. Is he like this frequently?"
Fleur had been smiling and finally chuckled. "Yes. It took a while, but he likes to flirt now when it's just us. I find it to be fun."
"I think it will be, but I was just surprised," Ginny admitted.
"What happened?" Harry asked. "It doesn't look like you planned this."
Ginny's expression turned a little stormy again. "My mother, with Ron's help, are doing their best to stop me from coming here. I had planned to come this morning anyway, but they saw my packed things this morning and took it all while I was in the bathroom, including my wand. All they left me was what I was sleeping in."
"Hmmm, well, that's easily fixed. Dobby!"
The elf popped back in. "Yes, Master Harry."
"Please return to the Burrow and retrieve all of Ginny's things, especially her wand. Do try not to hurt anyone too badly. If you have to knock someone into a wall to get them to release an item, you have my permission."
The elf nodded happily and popped out.
"Have you had breakfast yet?" Fleur asked her.
"No, we had an argument instead," Ginny answered.
Fleur conjured a plate and silverware for the girl and let her help herself to the remaining food on the table.
As Ginny was finishing, Dobby returned with a trunk.
"Good work, Dobby. Was it very hard?" Harry asked the little guy.
"Only the wand, Sir," Dobby answered. "I attached it to the trunk to bring it." They all saw it attached as if by a Sticking Spell, his way of transporting it without holding it as he was forbidden to do. "The trunk was hidden but not hard to find or take. Little older brother is bruised a little now."
"Good, it serves the stupid prat right," Ginny said a little vindictively as she reached for the wand. Dobby snapped his fingers and the wand fell off the trunk and into her hand.
Harry looked at the trunk. "It looks normal. Could they have taken anything from it?"
"Nope, I locked it with magic last night and it was keyed to me; that's why I couldn't get the Portkey because it was inside. Even if they knew which spell I used it would be hard to overpower because of what has happened to their magic," Ginny said impishly. "Fleur helped me set that up when we fixed it and you were away."
"Oh, all right. It's good you have it. We have to travel to Berne frequently, so you'll want something for your things," Harry said as he stood and pulled a black stone from his pocket. "Dobby has already sent our things forward and now we can go. Grab your trunk and touch the rock."
"Err, shouldn't I change first?" Ginny asked quickly.
"I already told you that I think you look great like that, but you can change at the other end; we'll change there too." He nodded towards the rock which Fleur already had two fingers on. When Ginny touched it, he activated it.
A long Portkey ride later, they landed in front of the cottage.
"Welcome to Black Island, Miss Weasley. We'll be here about two weeks and then I have to go to Berne Switzerland to take four NEWTs. We have a chalet with extra rooms there, so it'll be easy for you to stay with us." He led her into the house. "There are four bedrooms here, so we each can have our own."
"I'll take her to it," Fleur spoke up suddenly. "Why don't you go change and we'll meet you on the beach soon."
He gave her a quizzical look for a moment before nodding and heading into his room and shutting the door.
"This way," Fleur said and Ginny nervously followed her.
"You can change the colors of your room if you want," Fleur told her. "You saw where Harry's room is; my room is across the hall, although I'm rarely in it, at least until you decide to make this permanent. The last bedroom is presently the library."
Fleur sat down on the bed and patted the spot next to her. Ginny took it but looked like she was ready to jump back up at a moments notice.
"I won't bite," the Veela told her with a smirk, "unless you want me to."
Ginny shook her head and smiled ever so slightly.
"Ginny, now that you're here, I want you to know a few things. I have my reservations about this too, even if it was my idea. I'm glad the two of you came up with the idea of trying this out for a time before making it permanent. I'll try very hard to make this as easy on you as I can, but it will be hard at times.
"I'm used to having Harry to myself. Also, my fall mating cycle will come around the middle of October, if I follow my usual pattern. You will want to stay out of my way during the first week of that time; in fact, it might be easier on you if you stayed in the chalet for the week. I will promise you that I'll try to make it up to you in some way." Fleur grinned. "Maybe I'll leave Harry all alone for you for the week before or something."
"All right. I suppose it would be honest of me to say I have concerns too, but I'll try to be fair and talk with you about them, just like we'd planned," Ginny told her. "And again, thank you for allowing me to try. I'm sure even if I tried, which I wouldn't of course," she hastily added, "I couldn't have taken him from you, and so no matter how weird this all feels at times and how I might have wished it was different, I am grateful for the chance."
"You're welcome. This is good. We must be honest and talk." Fleur stood and turned to the trunk. "Now, enough of the talk. It is time to show Harry that you belong here. Where are the swimsuits I sent you?"
Blushing a little, Ginny opened her trunk and rummaged in the drawers for a moment, pulling them out as she found them. "There, I think that's all of them."
Fleur looked them over. "It is up to you, but I would suggest the little black one as that would show off your pretty skin. Be sure to use a Sun Block charm here or you will burn very quickly. Better yet," she became conspiratorial suddenly, "have Harry put suntan lotion on you." Sounding normal again, she said, "If you don't want the black one, I'd suggest the dark blue one. Change and I'll wait for you in the living room."
With Fleur gone, Ginny breathed deeply for a moment. That hadn't been too bad, she thought. Looking at the swimsuits, she decided on the dark blue one. The black one was so small it was hard to tell it was back.
A few minutes and several hair-removal charms on her legs later, Ginny looked at herself in the mirror and shook her head, hardly believing she was about to do this. She wished she had a towel to wrap around herself, but didn't see one. Holding her wand in her hand, she left to find Fleur.
Slowly and peeking around each corner first to see who was present, she made her way to the living room. There she saw Fleur in a bikini that was as small as the black one she'd sent Ginny, except that Fleur's was white and looked really good on her tanned skin. Ginny shoved a small flare of jealousy against the beautiful witch down as she reminded herself that Harry had said she was pretty too.
"Ready? Oh, you can put your wand under the string on the side." Fleur turned to the side to show her wand tucked under the string at her hip and hanging down the side of her leg. "There is a place to lay it on the beach so you don't lose it. Come."
Not wanting to look like she couldn't handle this, Ginny took a deep breath and walked forward, trying to act much more confident than she felt.
"Don't worry," Fleur told her, "Harry will love you like this. He already loves you anyway. He always looked forward to your letters before our return and his visits to you this summer."
"I can still hardly believe I'm doing this," Ginny mumbled.
"Me neither, but I don't want to have to take the potion to give him boys and I know he's always thought a lot of you." At Ginny's surprised look, Fleur laughed. "Yes, he told me always thought highly of you after your struggle in your first year, even if he never said anything before last year."
They walked out of the path and onto the beach.
"Wow, this is nice," Ginny said as she looked around. "I can see why he said he likes it here…" She stopped, unable to say more, as she saw Harry in only his very brief swimsuit.
"I think you'll like our chalet in Switzerland too," Fleur told her as they approached the hut.
Harry turned around at the sound of their voices and smiled. "Whoa, two beautiful girls."
"Thank you," Fleur said before she lightly kissed Harry and Ginny blushed at the compliment. "Good, I see that Kreacher brought your broom. Why don't you take Ginny on an aerial tour. You can even have a private talk on that hill of yours. I'll stay in the shade until you get back."
"Yes, dear," Harry said with a chuckle as he grabbed his broom. "Come on, Ginny." He mounted the broom at the edge of the hut and moved forward.
Self-consciously, Ginny sat behind him and put her arms around his bare stomach. She was very aware of how much they were touching like this.
Launching them upward, Harry showed her the island from the air pointing out each of the islands' few features. At the end, he landed on the hill at the end of the island.
"Have you put a Sun Block charm on yet?" he asked her.
Harry pulled his wand out of his wrist holder and put the charm on her. "You'll burn quickly here without that or our magical sun block lotion." He put a hand on her bicep and slowly caressed it up to her shoulder. "Like I've told you before, you have nothing to worry about here. You're very pretty yourself and you'll fit in if you want to."
She blushed a little put a hand on his chest. "I've always thought you looked handsome, but seeing you like this is something else."
He pulled her to him and kissed her. "I want remind you that there's no pressure on you here. I'm going to let you set the pace. If you want more than kisses from me, then you're going to have to tell me. I won't treat you like Fleur; that wouldn't be fair to you. You are your own person.
"Also, while I know we've talked about this relationship some already, don't be afraid to talk to us, either of us. I know we're going to have problems and the sooner we address them, the better it will be."
"Are you still really sure you want this?" he asked. "Or are you just trying to get away from home?" He wanted Ginny there, and yet he didn't want anyone to get hurt needlessly.
Ginny put her arms fully around his neck. "The answer is still the same, some of both but mostly because I want to be with you. Like I've told you before; you're special and you always make me feel safe. Dad's been great, but Mum was being a real arse about everything, so it's good to escape that. Still, there are other ways I could have escaped if that was my only desire. However, it's not; I desire you, Harry. I know we'll have issues, but we'll work them out."
He kissed again. "Shall we go back?"
"I would prefer if we stayed and," she paused as she gave him a lingering kiss "enjoyed ourselves. Just for a few more minutes."
After a little while they both pulled apart breathing heavily and leaning their heads together, each with a large smile. Harry looked at the broom and said, "I suppose it's best if we returned."
It didn't take long for them to fly back to the beach. When Fleur saw them, she moved out from the shade of the hut and into the sun. She took her top off in full view of Ginny and then laid down on her stomach.
Harry grinned at Ginny's shock. "Yes," he answered the obvious question, "she's very open about nudity."
"It's just our bodies and we all have one," Fleur commented and looked at Harry pointedly.
"Yes, dear," he said and grabbed the pot of lotion from the table and started to apply it to the Veela.
"Grab a towel and join me, Ginny," Fleur told the other girl. "The warm sun feels almost as good as Harry's hands."
Ginny watched for a moment longer before she moved. She had not failed to see that Harry touched Fleur everywhere Fleur's suit didn't cover and that was practically all of her. Pulling up her Gryffindor courage to match Fleur, while trying to shove down her normal feelings, Ginny grabbed a large towel off the table and put it on the sand where Fleur had pointed. It put the two of them face to face. Copying Fleur, she untied her top, but not until she was already lying down. She wasn't sure how far she wanted to go now, but she truly appreciated Harry letting her set the pace.
"Harry tells me you passed all of your OWLs." Fleur commented after a few minutes of silence and attention from Harry that she had enjoyed.
"Err, yeah, I did," Ginny said as she watched Harry finish putting lotion on the Veela. He picked up the pot and moved over to her, starting at her feet.
"If you're uncomfortable with anything, be sure to tell me," he told the redhead. "I won't do all of you yet. In fact, I'll retie your top after I do your back so you can put lotion on around you bikini bottom."
"OK." She closed her eyes as he started.
"You know, you don't have near as many freckles as I expected. Your brother has quite a few," he said.
"Yeah, I'm lucky, I guess," she said softly, breathing slowly while Harry put lotion on her and touching places a boy never had before. When she managed to open her eyes again, it was to see Fleur smirking at her.
"It feels nice, yes?" the blonde asked.
"Yes," the redhead answered, knowing she was going to have to put the rest of the lotion on herself and wondering if she should have Harry do it anyway.
"We will talk about your classes later. Enjoy the moment," Fleur told her. "There is a Veela saying that is roughly translated as: Enjoy the sweet moments in life, especially the unexpected ones."
Harry, recently back from taking his NEWTs, walked into the living room and froze. He was trying to figure out what was going on as well as not laugh and draw attention to himself. On the other side of the room stood Fleur and Ginny, each glaring at each other. Neither had her wand out and it didn't look like Fleur was about to transform, so he stood there and watched. This was the closest to fighting that he'd seen so far, unless they'd had a fight without him knowing about it.
After about ten seconds of watching them glare, scowl, and shift slightly, he decided to break it up. There was no need to allow something to go that far, although he realized that they would fight one day no matter what he did.
"Is there a problem, ladies?" he asked in a normal voice.
Both girls jumped, with Ginny letting out an "Eep!" like sound and Fleur making something like a growl. They stared at him for a couple of seconds before each of them turned pink and suddenly looked away very embarrassed.
"No, no problem," Fleur said hurriedly, the first to recover.
"Yes … no problem," Ginny added.
He couldn't help but notice that neither were able to really hold his gaze. "Are you sure?"
"Yes, no problem," Ginny told him again before glancing at Fleur. "We were just discussing the afternoon. No big deal."
"Absolutely, just a normal discussion," said Fleur.
"Uh-huh, right," Harry said, not really convinced and unable to keep the smirk off of his face. "I don't think I've ever been glared at like that in a normal conversation."
Fleur winced and looked down. As Ginny started to smile, he added, "With either of you." Ginny's smile was lost and she looked down again too.
Shaking his head, he walked over to them, stopping in front of Ginny first. "Behave or no kisses," he told her gently before a short kiss to the forehead, followed by a soft slap on her derrière, causing her to jump again before smiling shyly at him as she nodded her understanding his message.
Moving over to Fleur, he gave her short kiss on the forehead as well. "Behave or you'll be sleeping alone tonight."
"That's not fair," Fleur huffed.
"Sure it is," he replied, understanding that she was comparing the potential punishments. "Ginny is already sleeping alone tonight, so you'll end up the same, not with me and with no kisses."
Fleur's mouth moved but no sound came out as she couldn't come up with a retort.
When Harry was certain he had the last word, he said, "I'll be out on the beach working on my Runes so I can take the NEWT next June." Then just because, as he walked past he softly slapped Fleur's derrière, making her jump and give a soft exclamation of surprise. He knew he might pay for that later, but he thought it'd be a fun payment.
Harry looked at his two girls and studied the contrast. Sure, one was blonde and the other a redhead, one was tan and other more pale and slightly freckled, but those differences weren't what caught his attention. Fleur was reading a parchment intently, something she'd written he thought, while Ginny was mostly picking at her lunch. There was also contrast in the fact that both of them were usually quite talkative, but now they were both quiet.
"Is something wrong?" he asked finally, wondering if he'd receive a meaningful answer. They'd never lied to him that he was aware of, but they did sometimes keep things from him. He actually didn't mind that too much because they would usually tell him eventually, and he had his own secrets that he delayed in telling them at times, or else just never shared with them at all because it wouldn't have been either safe for him or fair to them.
Fleur answered him after a few seconds, although it was a distracted reply. "I'm not sure I have all of the facts I need for this, yet I have to present it to my manager this afternoon." She finally looked up at him. "I did tell you that I have to go to the branch office in Vienna, yes?"
"Yes," he replied, "but I didn't realize that was today."
"It is. It may be late when I return." She looked at Ginny and then back at him. "I could stop by my parents' house on the way back and say hello. Do you mind if I also spend the night there if it becomes too late?"
"Err, no, that's fine. I'm sure Ginny and I can play cribbage or some other game by ourselves." He looked at Ginny just in time to see her look up at him and give him a nervous smile and nod, making him wonder just what was going on.
Fleur smiled at him as she stood. Reaching down, she grabbed his face in both hands and gave him a searing kiss. "I love you, Harry. Oh, and you're in charge of Ginny's lessons this afternoon while I'm gone. It's supposed to be on Charms and she can show you where she is." Letting him go, she moved over and gave Ginny a hug and whispered something in her ear, making the redhead blush but also nod.
"Kreacher, my bag please?" After the elf delivered her overnight bag, she was gone a moment later without a look back, another unusual behavior for the Veela.
Somewhat confused, Harry said, "Since I'm finished, I'm going out to the beach. You can join me when you finish lunch and we'll do your lesson out there as usual."
"All right," Ginny said quietly.
A few minutes later, after Harry had settled into his cushiony chair and started reading, Ginny came out and joined him. The first thing he noticed was that she was in her little black string bikini, one that she'd only recently started wearing. The second thing he noticed he commented on. "I think you forgot your Charms book."
Ginny smiled a little nervously and shook her head before gently pulling his book from him and setting it on the table. She turned back and crawled on top of him so that she straddled him and put her arms around his neck.
When he put his hands on her waist, Harry couldn't help but notice how nervous she was; she was even shaking slightly despite the warmth of the day. "What is it?" he asked as he watched her breath deeply a couple of times and snuck glances down at her barely covered chest.
"I'm ready," she said finally. "I want to stay here. I want to be Mrs Potter. I want you for all time, Harry."
He blinked as he finally realized what the strangeness that he'd witnessed today was all about. "I don't want to assume anything, so have you and Fleur worked this out? For that matter, maybe this should wait until I've heard her give her blessing."
"You saw her take her overnight bag, right?"
"Yeah," he replied.
"That's her blessing. She told me she won't be back until noon tomorrow; and yes, we've talked about it a great deal lately while you've been busy with your job."
He had been a little extra busy lately and traveled to Berne for a number of day trips, so they really had had the opportunity to talk. There was also the fact that Fleur had never before gone to work and not come home that evening. "All right," he told her finally, "if you're sure. I feel privileged to have you join us and I'll give you all the love that I can."
"I only ask for two things. First, please treat me as me. I'm not Fleur and I won't try to be."
"That's a good idea," he told her. "I won't compare you to her, nor her to you. I also promise to treat you both fairly, although not exactly alike."
"Thank you," she told him gratefully. "Second," she started in a much quieter toner, "please be gentle at first. I'm told it can be a bit painful the first time or two."
"Tell me what you need and want and I'll do my best to give that to you," he promised, "and I don't mean just this afternoon."
For the first time in front of him, Ginny untied her top and let it fall to the sand before they started kissing. While they kissed, she slowly moved one hand down and undid the ties to her bikini bottoms.
— — —
"Fleur! What a surprise," Apolline told her as she hugged her. "I didn't expect all of you here for another couple of weeks. Is anything wrong?"
"I just finished my job for the day in Vienna and decided to say hello and see if I could spend the night here." She looked down for a moment and willed herself to stay strong.
However, her mother caught the slightly distraught look. "What's wrong, my dear?"
Fleur sat on the sofa and looked at her hands. "I'm now paying the price for keeping my Veela powers. I didn't think it would affect me like this."
Apolline sat beside her daughter and hugged, aware of the situation between the three. There wasn't really anything to say, so she just held her daughter.
After a long moment, Fleur felt she could talk again without her voice wavering. "How did you do it, Mother? How did you escape the pressure of taking the potion to give Dad a son?"
Her mother patted her back. "I have an advantage you do not, my dear. Your father has a brother with sons."
Fleur nodded; she knew that, but she hadn't really considered it.
"Harry didn't force this, did he?"
"No, Mother. He's left it all up to Ginny and me." Fleur considered that as well. "Perhaps that's why it hurts so much more than I expected; I've done this to myself. It seemed so simple at the beginning, but now my heart isn't so sure that was the best decision."
"Why are you here then?"
"This is their first time and I didn't want to be there," Fleur answered honestly.
"What of the future?"
She looked at her mother. "Your simple questions are so difficult."
Her mother smiled and brushed her daughter's hair back from her face. "Life is difficult at times, but my question?"
Fleur sighed. "I will push this away and I will return tomorrow and I will be with my husband-to-be and sister-wife-to-be, and I will love and support them as I should."
Apolline kissed the top of her daughter's head. "I'm glad you've figured that part out. Now, you only have to do it."
Fleur sighed again, although she did consider that this would only work well because of Harry. He really was the epitome of fair.
(10 years later)
Ginny sat on the beach and watched her three boys and Fleur's daughter play in the sand. She had no worry about the sea, as there was an Age Line Ward to keep the children out of the water unless an adult was holding the child.
She wondered if she wanted to try for girl or not. It could be nice to have one of her own, but she would not be like her mother and keep having children until she had a girl. Her youngest was two, so if she were to have one more child, she thought she should start trying to get pregnant soon. Although there was no potion for her to guarantee a daughter, so she could well end up with a fourth boy, especially when you took into account that she seemed to take after her mother on this. There was also the extreme effort it took to get back into good shape afterward.
Fleur didn't plan to have any other children.
A glance showed her that the Veela was still reading her book and enjoying the sun as Ginny was: topless. Technically, there was no competition between them, but in reality there was always something there, even if it was only in Ginny's mind. She tried very hard to minimize her jealousy, but it never really went away.
"The usual arrangement?" Fleur asked suddenly.
"That's fine," Ginny answered.
Somehow, she'd learned to share Harry, which had been her biggest concern. Fleur had made a large effort to make it work, as did Harry. Still, a small part of her wondered from time to time if she'd made the correct decision.
When Harry had to leave overnight for a trip without them, which wasn't very often, Fleur would usually take him when he returned, which was almost always in the afternoon. They'd have a late dinner, when Harry would give them any news he had, then he spent the night with Ginny. Normally, they each slept with him every other night.
While most women would think that being a sister wife with a Veela would be unbearable, it really wasn't so bad as long as the husband made an effort to be fair, and Harry was the epitome of fair. A positive benefit is that she had a husband who was trained by a woman who was very talented in sex, so as long as she could ignore Fleur having sex with him, there was no complaint about Harry's performance in bed.
They had tried sharing completely with the three of them a few times, but it just felt too awkward and there was always something there that made the girls uncomfortable. It didn't mean they never did it, why just this year on Harry's birthday…
An almost silent crack grabbed her attention.
"Daddy!" screamed four children as they rushed to him, the smallest toddling slowly in the deep sand.
He let himself be tackled to the sand and played with his children for a few minutes, tickling and kissing them. As he stood, so did his wives, and he looked back and forth at them.
Ginny made the first move and hugged him and kissed him. "I'm glad you're back."
"I've missed you too," he told her as his hand strayed low past her back and patted her, causing her to smile before she released him.
Fleur walked over and also hugged and kissed him. Whatever she whispered to him caused him to smile and chuckle. She kept one arm around his waist as she otherwise let go. Looking at her daughter, she said, "Stay here with Mum Ginny and mind her while your father and I go talk for a while."
"OK," the little girl told her, used to the command to obey Mum Ginny, just as the boys knew they had to obey Mum Fleur.
"Harry?" Ginny called. "Did you get it?"
He smiled at her. "Yes, I received the promotion. We'll be moving to our chalet in Switzerland soon for six months to a year. We'll talk more about it this evening."
Ginny smiled to herself as she returned to her chair and her thoughts while she watched the children. While Fleur preferred the island, even if it was harder to commute to her part-time job with Gringotts, Ginny preferred living in Switzerland, where it was easier for her to go out and talk to other people since she didn't have a job at the moment because she normally watched all four children while the other two were at work. She had little doubt that with Harry's influence she could get a part-time job at the ICW when she was ready and the children were older.
Perhaps she'd take the children back to Britain for a visit to see her family and Luna for a short time soon, assuming her friend was available. Harry travelled there only a few times a year for quick visits. Even ten years later he wasn't very welcome there by most people. Surprisingly to her, by the time she had her wedding, her mother and Harry had worked things out so that he was welcomed in her parents' home, at least as long as Ron wasn't there.
Ron still hadn't forgiven Harry for "taking his magic" (as he put it) and she suspected her brother would always hold that grudge. He presently worked as an assistant coach for the Chudley Cannons and didn't even have a steady girlfriend, much less a wife.
Hermione had retreated back into the Muggle world, eventually getting her A-levels and marrying a Muggle man at the university she'd attended.
Luna was working for her father at their newspaper, although she disappeared regularly on safari with one of the other journalists who was born in Ireland, and hence had all of his magic. Ginny suspected marriage between them was only a matter of time.
Neville had married Susan Bones. The Hufflepuff had been good for him and his parents liked her. He currently raised exotic magical plants, selling mostly to Hogwarts' large potions classes and sometimes to St Mungo's.
Katie was still playing professional Quidditch and doing well. She was reported on frequently in the Quidditch magazines having obtained star status. She hadn't picked a husband yet, despite the multitude of offers.
As Ginny watched little Victoire suddenly scream and run from her oldest, Nigel, as he chased her with a tiny crab in his outstretched hand, Ginny decided that three sons were enough for her and she'd enjoy having a daughter through Victoire.
A small part of her, one she had to suppress whenever it popped up, was secretly looking forward to sixty or so years from now. Currently, she would enjoy her sweet moments as they came, glad for her decision to join Harry and Fleur.
(A/N: There's the unofficial ending. This turned out longer than I'd planned as I tried to show a little of them trying to work things out and how everyone felt.
BTW, the point of the Omake is to not only show the alternate ending, but that even when people get what they want, it may not be what they thought and life still isn't perfect. Of course, life isn't perfect because people aren't perfect.
I hope those who read it enjoyed it. - Kevin)