Harry Potter and the Marriage Contracts
I don't own Harry Potter and wouldn't particularly care to. I would like a rental agreement with option to buy for Hermione Granger. A short term contract with Nymphadora Tonks wouldn't be turned down. A Long-term agreement with Luna Lovegood would probably be a whole lot of fun. Any time Padma Patil wants to open negotiations, call me and oh for a weekend with Fleur. Oddly Lavender and Padma's sister (despite being her twin) Parvati do nothing for me…
September 12, 1997
Queens Street Station Apparation Point:
Every color in the universe swam before Daphne's eyes until they coalesced into the blazing green of the eyes of Harry Potter. His hands on her waist kept her upright. She found she could breathe again. Breaking his grasp she stumbled backwards a step.
"Bloody Hell Potter, what did you do? Where are we?"
"We're at the Apparation Point in Glasgow's Queens Street train station."
"Why did you bring me here? We aren't allowed to leave Hogsmeade! You're going to get me expelled! What the bloody hell were you thinking about?"
"In the order you asked. I brought you her to do some shopping in a place you don't know. We are both adults, and can leave the school any time we want and remain completely within the rules. You aren't going to be expelled, and I was thinking that you might enjoy seeing someplace new and completely outside your experience. You did ask me to surprise you. If you like I'll take you back."
"We can leave Hogsmeade?"
"Because we're over 17, yes. The staff doesn't advertise that fact, but it is within the rules."
"What are we doing here?"
"I put a lot of thought in to showing you a good time." He took her hand and led her off the apparition point to one of the benches that lined the spacious room. "You were saying that after three years there was nothing in Hogsmeade that was new. I figured that the same could be said for Diagon Alley. But then I asked myself, what were the chances you had ever gone Muggle?"
Daphne's breathing had calmed. She wasn't quite as angry any longer. "You're sure that this isn't going to get me expelled?"
He nodded. "Not even killed" Her eyes widened. "Sorry, bad joke from first year. We're perfectly safe, and not in any trouble. If Dumbledore trumps up any rules to try and punish you, just claim I took you against your will. There's no trace of your magical signature in the apparition, and I'm a well known malcontent."
"Oh Harry, you idiot." Daphne closed her eyes for a moment. "What is there to do in the Muggle World?"
"Not much. Shopping, restaurants, dancing."
"I like shopping." She said with a hint of a smile. "I've never been to a restaurant."
"The shops are waiting for us." He stood and offered her his hand. "When did I become 'Harry'?
"You scared me almost to death, I wasn't in my right mind Potter." She pushed him. "Where are these shops you were talking about?"
Harry led her to the door of the apparition point. The door opened out into the train station. After the door closed, Daphne looked back to see what appeared to be a maintenance closet. She had never seen so many people, all bustling back and forth, not an obvious wizard or witch in sight. She held on to Harry's arm and pulled tight to him. "Are we safe here?"
"Of course we are." Harry said quietly. "Come on Daphne, Hermione told me you were in her Muggles Studies class; these aren't 12th century peasants willing to burn people different than themselves at the stake. They're just people. Some are bad, most are fairly decent folk. These days they just shun people different than themselves, and write scathing letters to the Editor of their favorite news paper about sending those 'freaks' back where they came from. I'll not let anything happen to you. Just keep holding on to my arm like that and you'll look like my girl friend."
"Are you sure no one will recognize you? I mean, you're famous."
"Not here. No one here knows me from Adam, just the way I like it." They had reached the station exits, and stepped out to the busy sidewalks and the even busier streets. Daphne gasped at the traffic. "Take it easy, those are just autos. Stay out of their way and you're perfectly safe."
"But there are so many people"
"Yes, Glasgow's a fairly big city." Walking with Daphne clinging to his arm was a very different experience. "So what kind of shopping do you like?"
"Tracey and I usually got for our school robes and other clothing. I could use some quills."
"Well, robes never really caught on in the wider world, and I don't think anyone's used a quill for about a century. Let's see what else there is." Harry guided her into a pedestrian shopping district. "I spent a few weeks in Glasgow this summer. I got to know parts of town fairly well." Harry was jerked to a stop when Daphne suddenly halted in her tracks staring at a display window.
"What is this?"
"It's just a shoe shop."
"You mean this entire shop is for shoes?"
"I think they sell other leather goods like purses and handbags, but yes, it's a shoe shop. There are probably half a dozen on this street alone." Harry was confused, why the interest in a shoe shop?
"We need to go in there," Daphne said, her eyes wide. "We need to go in there right now."
"Alright." Harry smiled. A shoe shop? Why did she need to go in a shoe shop? Ah well, how long could it take?
Two hours and forty minutes later Daphne nudged Harry awake. "I don't have any Muggle money."
"Oh, no problem, I've got it." He dug into his pocket.
"I'll pay you back." She said leading him to the register where 9 shoe boxes and a happy sales clerk waited. Harry's eyes widened and the clerk's smile got even wider. She must be on commission Harry thought as he opened his wallet.
The pattern repeated itself in clothing shop a few meters down the road. As soon as Daphne had the sales clerks occupied Harry quietly shrunk the large shopping bags to a much more manageable sized and secured them in a jacket pocket. It turned out that shopping for clothing was far more interesting that shoe shopping. With each outfit change Daphne would emerge from the fitting rooms for his evaluation. Usually his evaluation involved attempting to refrain from drooling on his shoes, which seemed to please Daphne to no end. Still by the time she had decided on the four new outfits he had learned that one didn't buy a single item, everything to be worn with it had to 'go together'. Harry's stomach was growling.
Paying the bill he turned to the happily excited young witch. "Feel like getting some lunch?"
"Oh yes." She leaned into him as they exited the shop. "I don't know about Muggle food. Is it safe?"
"There are more than six billion Muggles Daphne, their food is safe. Have you ever had Pizza?"
"Pizza? I don't know what that is."
Seated in the chain restaurant, Harry placed an order for a Sausage pizza with extra cheese, figuring that would be the least exotic combination available from Daphne's point of view. While he was doing this, she was going over the receipts for her purchases.
"How much is this in real money? I can't figure it out."
"Figure seventy five pounds to the Galleon. That's not exact, but it's close enough."
"Are you serious? All this is so cheap. How is that possible?"
"Something about mass production and competition. The Muggles are in a global market. I don't know exactly how it works, but it has produced fortunes and markets of plenty for those with money. In the Wizarding world, everything is made to order, in the Muggle world almost nothing is."
Daphne nodded. "The clerk asked me for my shoe size, I had no idea what she meant. She had this metal rule thing that she used to find my size. Seven and a Half by the way."
Harry nodded. “There are disadvantages to the Muggle way of course. Those shoes will never fit as well as the ones custom made for you by craftsmen in Diagon Alley.” Harry shrugged. “You can get custom fitted for handmade clothing and shoes in the Muggle world as well, but it’s expensive, even more so than the magical counterparts.”
“I don’t understand, everything fit fine.”
“I’m sure it did. All I’m saying is that the overall quality of your magical made clothing will be superior to the mass produced items from the Muggle world.”
“So, Muggle for fun, Magical for quality?”
Under the table he shrunk the clothing she had purchased, and that joined the shoes in his jacket's inside pocket. "Oh, while you were shoe shopping, I ducked over to the stationary store next door. I got you this." He handed over a small box.
Daphne opened the box, it contained a short stick and three metal shapes. They appeared to be made of gold. She looked up questioningly."
"You said you needed quills. That is what the Muggles call a calligraphy pen. Those nibs should outlast a few hundred quills."
Daphne was amazed at the gift. Examining the pen she found herself wondering why the Magical world didn't use such devices, eliminating the maintenance and constant replacement of quills.
"Thank you Harry." She leaned over and kissed him lightly on the cheek.
Harry started to say something when the pizza arrived. He thanked the server and put a slice on each of their plates. "Ok, first of all, pizza is hot. If you're not careful you will burn the roof of your mouth. I know I do just about every time I have some. Some people like to add cheese to their pizza" he indicated the shaker of ground cheese. "And some people like to add peppers to it" she showed her the shaker of a red flakey mixture. You can cut it with your knife and fork like a civilized human being, but pizza was meant to be eaten with your hands." He picked up his slice and took a bite. Daphne replicated his actions, and her eyes went wide at the flavors.
"This is good!" she exclaimed. "Why don't we get this at school?"
"I think Dumbledore's head would explode if someone introduced a new concept to the school." Harry laughed, not without a little bitterness.
"There are other flavors?"
"Sort of. There are several different ingredients that can be put on a pizza in different combinations. Some, in my opinion are awful, but most are great." Daphne had already moved on to a second slice. "So, I'm Harry again?"
She looked deeply into his eyes. "I think so. I'm having fun. More than I thought I would."
"Good." Something seemed to occur to him. "Today is all about introducing you to new things, right?"
"So it seems."
"Does the Wizarding world have works of fiction? Probably a dumb question, but I've never run into any."
"Yes. Novels and plays, like that."
"Have you ever heard of a Muggle invention called a 'Motion Picture'?"
Harry led Daphne to some very comfortable seats in the most luxurious theater she had ever seen. The theater was almost empty for this matinee; Harry found what he considered to be the best seats in the house, front row center, first balcony.
"Any questions about this?"
"No, not really. This is like a play, but done with images, like a Wizards photograph, only it has sound and color."
Daphne had already decided that she wasn't going to tell Harry that she was prepared to be under whelmed. He had shown her so many new and interesting things today, but there was no way that this Muggle 'Motion Picture' could possibly impress her, even if the theater did.
The theater darkened, and the huge white screen in front of her flickered with light. Orchestral music of such clarity it startled her suddenly boomed out into the theater, she craned her neck attempting to spot the musicians, and was surprised to find the orchestra pit empty.
Suddenly the words ‘A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...’ appeared on the screen, followed by the words Star Wars in a stylized font over a field of what appeared to be stars, but not stars familiar to her from Astronomy class. Scrolling from the bottom of the screen towards a vanishing point at the horizontal center were the words "Episode IV A NEW HOPE" followed by more words. She leaned over to Harry, taking his hand into hers "Episode Four?"
"I'll explain later. For now just watch, this is so good."
"That was AMAZING." Daphne was practically jumping up and down.
"I thought you'd like it."
Harry looked at his watch. 5:05. "We've got a decision to make."
"What do you mean Harry?"
"If we want to get back to the castle before they lock the gates we need to leave within the next half hour."
"Then what is the decision?"
"I'm not ready for this date to end. I would like to take you to dinner, then dancing. We could spend the night at my home, then tomorrow one last surprise. But it's your decision. We'll do whatever you want to do."
"Do you want to sleep with me Harry?"
"Yes, but I'm not asking for that. There are 12 bedrooms in my family's home, and three more in the guest house. You can have any of them you want."
"Who else would be there?"
"My two elves."
"You have elves? I wouldn't have thought that what with Granger and her silly SPEW."
"Dobby and Winky are free elves, I pay them, but that's neither here nor there. I'm having a good time with you Daphne. You have no idea how hard that it. Either the girl thinks of me as 'The Boy Who Lived' or is a Muggle I can't be myself around. I don't know how you actually think of me, but I know that you treat me like just another guy."
"You're fooling yourself. If you were just another guy, I never would have had anything to do with you. I do trust you Harry, but …"
"Come on Daphne, take a chance. I'll make you breakfast."
"Yeah, the elves hate it, but I do a killer omelet."
Daphne thought for a moment. There were so many reasons to return to the school. There were also so many reasons not to. She had to admit that she was having more fun than she could ever remember. Tracey would be waiting for her, and would give her holy hell if she spent the night with Harry… Potter… no, with Harry.
Her father would be furious. That alone was the best reason she could think of to stay with Harry. That could be her first down payment on his putting that damned 'clause 9' in the contract he sent Harry.
Word would spread throughout the school in minutes if she stayed with him…
"Alright Harry, but I'll need to send Tracey a note."
"We can stop by the manor and use my owl Hedwig." He smiled. "You could change into that little red number you bought, that'll wow them at the club."
September 12, 1997
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Tracey Davis sat unobtrusively on one of the benches that lined the walls of the Entry Hall pretending to read. 6pm. The last of the shops in Hogsmeade closed an hour ago, the last carriage had arrived half an hour after that. Where were they?
Tracey had been fiercely protective of Daphne since first year. Almost instantly Tracey had recognized that Daphne had been so very fragile back then. Tracey had four brothers and knew how to take care of herself so she had adopted her new friend as a surrogate sister.
A large white owl flew in the door, and landed on the shoulder of one of the suits of armor across the hallway from Tracey. Concerned about her friend Tracey never noticed. The owl regarded the girl for a moment, and then barked to get her attention.
Tracey rose from her seat on the bench and approached the majestic bird. "You're Potter's owl aren't you?" The owl bobbed its head. That startled the Slytherin witch. Did the bird actually understand questions like that? "Is Daphne in trouble?" she asked feeling stupid for actually talking to an owl and halfway expecting a response. Her feelings of shock rose to new levels when the bird shook its head. "Do you have a message for me?" The owl bobbed its head again and offered its left leg.
Trying not to think about the oddity of an owl that actually appeared to respond to direct questions Tracey took the parchment from the Snowy Owl's leg. "Thank you." The owl bobbed its head again, and took wing. That had easily been the most disconcerting thing Tracey had ever been part of. She shuddered, and then unfolded the parchment.
Having so much fun. Harry has discovered that there is no requirement that students over the age of majority remain in Hogsmeade during Hogsmeade Weekends. Harry has taken me shopping and to an amazing Muggle show. Did you know that Muggle have ENTIRE SHOPS dedicated to selling shoes? We had a marvelous lunch and will be going out to dinner and dancing as soon as I finish this. We will not be returning to the castle tonight, Harry's taking me to his home for the night. He tells me he has something planned for tomorrow as well.
Please don't worry about me Tracey, you know you get all melancholy when you worry. I am having a wonderful time. Harry has been a complete gentleman. Don't worry and quit waiting for me at the door.
Mixed emotions warred inside Tracey. Rage at the casual way Daphne announced she was spending the night with Potter. What had that bloody arrogant Gryffindor done to Daphne? He had her calling him by his first name. There was also relief in the face that she was in fact safe. The use of the codeword they had established first year 'melancholy', showed that she wasn't under duress and actually was enjoying herself. This was so infuriating. If Potter hurt her in any way Tracey was going to personally disembowel him.
"They're not back yet?"
Tracey had been concentrating on the letter and her internal turmoil, otherwise Granger would never have managed to get this close without Tracey noticing.
"They're not coming. Potter has convinced her that she should spend the night with him."
"Oh, my." A part of Tracey was pleased that she had managed to shock the Head Girl. "It can't be that. Harry hardly knows her."
"Oh yes. He's taken her shopping, taken her to a show, taking her to some special dinner, then drinking and dancing at a club before taking her to his home for the night. Obviously he's thinking she's his long lost sister."
"I think I know Harry Potter better than you do." The brunette huffed.
"You knew the Harry Potter who was terrified he was going to die. You don't know the Harry Potter who survived and won. You have been too busy fucking Weasley to pay him any attention at all."
Hermione flinched as it struck. "You don't know what you're talking about. I know Harry better than anyone,” she insisted defensively.
"Sure you do Granger,” Tracey smiled. In Slytherin you learned to enjoy your smallest victories to the fullest. “Sure you do."
September 12, 1997
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Gryffindor Heads Suite Common Room:
"You wanted to see me Hermione?"
"Yes, thank you for coming Neville."
Neville Longbottom was more than a little surprised to find Tracey Davis waiting with Hermione. This had to be about Harry, why else would these particular two witches want to talk to him.
"We're concerned about Harry and Daphne Greengrass. They haven't come back from their date, and since you know them both, we were hoping that you might be able to shed some light on where they might be."
"You're both kidding right? What possible business is it of either of you what they might be doing?"
"No, you look Davis" Neville interrupted, sitting down. "Both Harry and Daphne are adults; both are completely within their rights to spend the weekend away from this school. They have broken no rules; they have no requirements to report in to either of you. Hermione, you've said maybe a dozen words to Harry since the term began. You have no claim on him or his time. Davis, you have to realize that Daphne isn't the frightened eleven year old who needed you for everything anymore. She's grown up and is capable of making her own choices and if need be, mistakes. Daphne going out with Harry isn't a mistake. It's good for both of them."
"Longbottom…" Tracey's stony facade broke. "Neville, I know she trusts you, but she's my friend too. That means I get to worry about her."
Hermione found herself stung by the truths Neville had just told her about herself. "Can you at least tell us where they are?"
Neville checked his watch. Its 8:30, if everything is going to plan, they should be in a club that Harry and I own in London. No I won't tell you what the name of the club is; they deserve a chance to have fun. Harry plans call for them to stay at the club as long as Daphne wants, then go to his home for the night. He has another outing planned for tomorrow afternoon if Daphne would like, then to return to the castle for dinner."
"So, he's planning on getting her into bed is he?"
"Grow up Tracey. Harry planned out a date to broaden Daphne's horizons beyond School, Diagon Alley, Hogsmeade and you. He isn't executing a master plan to get her into bed. If that's what he wanted he could have had it, and you know that fully well. Will they sleep together? I don't know. I hope they do. They are both good people who haven't had all that much good happen to them in their lives. They are both my friends. If they want you two to know what happened on their date they will tell you." Neville stood up. "If you will excuse me, I'm late for a stroll around the castle with my fiancé."
The two women stared silently as Neville left the room.
"What Happened to that shy little fat boy at the sorting?" Tracey asked rhetorically.
"I guess he grew up. I'm starting to wonder if I did." Hermione was more than a little angry at herself. "First you point out that I'd all but abandoned Harry, now Neville has told me the same thing." The brunette sighed. "I have to make the evening report to Professor McGonagall. Would you like to come along?"
Tracey thought for a moment, and then shrugged. "Why not?"
September 12, 1997
The Toad and The Stag:
Stepping out of the alleyway they had apparated to Harry and Daphne made their way to the line waiting to get in the club.
"Maybe we should try another club Harry; it doesn't look like that queue has moved in a while."
"Don't worry Daphne. Getting in here won't be a problem." He led her to the head of the queue where a large muscular man was standing guarding a velvet rope. "Evening Geoffrey."
The man's glower brightened into a smile. "Evening Mr. Potter, coming in tonight?"
The rope was removed and the pair passed through to the entry.
"Why'd you let those kids in?" Daphne heard from the queue.
"The young man bloody well owns the place mate." Geoffrey responded as the door closed behind them.
"Mr. Potter, good to see you." The well dressed hostess said when she caught sight of Harry. "Will Mr. Longbottom be joining you tonight?"
"Neville's busy Candice, but I'll let him know you asked after him. How's the crowd tonight?"
"Loud, having a good time, and spending money."
"Excellent. Got a table for two?"
"Of course Mr. Potter, your table is always available. This way please."
"So, you own this place?" Daphne asked after they were seated and waiting for their drinks.
"Neville Longbottom and I bought it last May. A partnership to celebrate surviving Voldemort. It was already a popular club, but it was showing its age. We closed for a month, practically rebuilt the physical plant, updated everything to the current state of the art, hired good people to run it, contracted the financials to Gringotts and come by when we're in town." He looked around. "We intended it to be a local club, but it's become something of a tourist trap."
Daphne looked around. A huge bar covered one entire wall, there was a small gift shop that sold shirts and other items with the clubs logo on them. She examined the logo on the coaster in front of her. A disgruntled looking cartoon toad and a laughing cartoon stag. That seemed somehow… appropriate.
The dance floor was huge (and crowded) and lit from below. The sound system pounded out what she had learned was called a techno-dance beat. The music was so unlike anything she had ever heard before, but she couldn't deny it made her want to dance. And the people, like everywhere else she had been in the Muggle world today, there were just so many people.
Their drinks arrived, a coffee for him, a white wine for her ("I'm apparating" He explained.)
"This music is just so… different." She shouted over the pounding beat.
"Yeah, the Muggle born and raised all say the same things about Wizarding Music. I figure a tune is a tune, as long as it's got a beat, you can dance to it. Do you want to dance?"
Together they went to the dance floor. "I don't know these dances." She said in his ear."
"Look at everyone else, there are no special steps, just move to the music, have fun, and try not to make me look too clumsy." Harry responded.
It was as Harry said, just do what the others are doing and fit in. Dancing with Harry was energetic sweaty fun, occasionally the music slowed and the couples clung to one another. These 'slow' dances she especially liked, molding herself to him, enjoying the scent of him. During one of these dances she kissed him, and he returned the kiss.. They quit moving during the kiss, and were startled to find that the music had stopped and the dance floor cleared without their noticing it. They were pulled out of their trances by the whoops from their 'audience', and they retreated back to their table.
"Merlin, it's after 1." Daphne exclaimed looking at her watch.
"Is it? I'd best get us home. This place closes at 2 a.m. Best to avoid the rush."
Harry led Daphne into the back of the club, into the office area. They entered the office marked "Manager". Harry pulled her into a hug, and they were gone.
The pair appeared in the foyer of Potter Manor. Dobby appeared as soon as they did.
"Good morning Harry Potter sir."
"Good Morning Dobby. Did you get a bedroom ready for Miss Greengrass?"
"Oh yes Harry Potter sir. Miss's room is Blue Room next to Harry Potter Sir's suite. Winky will be serving Miss. If Miss is needing help, she should be calling Winky."
"Thank you Dobby." Harry offered Daphne his arm. "Shall we?"
Daphne took his arm as he led her up a flight of stairs. Harry stopped outside a door. "This is your room. If you need anything, just call Winky. If you need me, I'll be in the next room down the hall."
"Do you want to come in?"
"Oh Merlin, yes. But not this time Daphne. If we did, it would only confirm everything Tracey thinks about me, and I’m more than a little afraid that in the morning you would regret it if we did. This is only our second date after all, we hardly know each other. If we decide to make a go of a relationship, we should come in to it without any baggage. I think we should wait until we know what we want to do about us. Is this a onetime thing or the beginnings of something more permanent?"
Daphne blinked. She never expected for him to turn her down like that… "Thank you for today Harry." She said trying to recover her composure.
"Hey now, the date's not over yet, we've still got Sunday…"
She interrupted him with another kiss. After they broke the kiss, he stepped back and leaned against the wall. Daphne heard him mutter "God I hate being noble." Before he looked up and smiled. "Good Night."
"Good night Harry."
September 13, 1997
Daphne woke slowly. This wasn't her room, nor was it the dorm… Where was she? The bed was large and luxurious. The room tastefully decorated; over the fireplace was a family crest… It took a few seconds for her to recognize it. Potter.
The previous day (and night) flooded back. There had been the shock and surprise of the unannounced apparation, the anger that Potter had risked her expulsion for his 'surprise'. She recalled his explanation of their new freedom that came with adulthood. Then the shopping, THE SHOES and the lovely clothing, Harry's gift, that amazing motion picture and the decision to stay with Harry (by then he had become Harry), the dinner, followed by a night of dancing to the oddly hypnotic music, of melting in Harry's arms. Returning to his family's manor, the kisses, and her offer…
Sweet Morgana, had she actually offered herself to him? To Harry? Daphne sat up in the bed, fully awake now. She had offered herself to him. He had turned her down gently, regretfully. Tracey was never going to believe this.
There was a soft pop and a tiny elf stood in front of the door.
"Miss is awake? May Winky serve Miss?"
"Thank you Winky" She recalled this was no ordinary Elf, but a free elf on a salary. Nothing in her experience told her how to deal with an elf as a near equal rather than as a slave. Still, it never hurt to be polite, a practice Daphne's mother insisted on with the Greengrass Elves, though Daphne hadn't always been the kindest of children. "Could you show me where the bath is?"
"Winky draw bath for Miss" the elf said insistently, popping away, returning in less than a minute. "The Bath is this way Miss"
Daphne followed Harry's elf into the room’s private bath, divesting herself of the man’s shirt she had worn as sleepwear. Harry's? She wondered as she stepped into the bath. The water temperature was perfect, this elf was a find. Perhaps Harry was onto something with this paying elves for their services, they were both certainly devoted to him.
"If Miss be needing anything, Miss be calling Winky." Said the elf with a curtsey before she popped away again, taking with her the shirt.
Daphne lay back in the tub, allowing the heat of the water to sooth the emotional storm inside of her. What was this feeling? She had gone on the date the day before knowing she was, at least on some level, attracted to the raven haired Gryffindor, attracted to the point that when helped along by alcohol and the excitement of the day she had offered him her virginity, is it possibly that his reluctantly declining her offer had made Harry even more desirable?
After she had finished with her bath, Daphne, wrapped in a large bath sheet returned to the bedroom, there she found Winky laying out clothing for her. She didn't recognize any of it. A pair of black slacks, a blouse the same shade of violet as her eyes, under things, even a new pair of shoes.
"Winky, where did all this come from?"
"Winky know Miss didn't bring change of clothes when you visit for the night, other than new clothes from Muggle shop. Miss cannot wear clothes two days, even with cleaning charm. Winky make new clothing for Miss." The elf looked slightly frightened. "Did Winky do wrong?"
"No Winky, you did nothing wrong. These are wonderful. Thank you." She knelt to hug the tiny being. "I didn't know elves could do things like this."
"Winky's first family made sure Winky learn. Winky took care of Mistress who was sick. Winky can do many things most elves don't."
"Harry is a lucky man to have you to take care of him. Is he up yet?"
The elf suddenly looked sullen. "Master Harry is in Winky's kitchen… He be cooking! Winky ashamed Master Harry cooks."
"Harry is a very different kind of Wizard. He isn't cooking to insult you Winky. I think he is cooking to impress me." She smiled in that tolerant female to female 'aren't males stupid' way that every woman knows. "Does he cook for every woman he brings here?"
"Master Harry never bring ladies home. Winky not serve lady since Miss Tonks visit in June. Before that not since Christmas at Dogwizard's home when Miss Hermione visit for half hour." Winky shook her head sadly. "Master Harry alone too much." She brightened. "Now he have Miss for friend. Master Harry ask what Miss would like in her Omelet."
Daphne smiled while trying to assimilate what the tiny free elf had just told her. "Please tell Harry that I asked that he surprise me."
September 13, 1997
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Hannah was busy showing everyone the ring Neville had given her the previous evening. Making it official was probably the smartest thing he had ever done. He was quietly amazed that Hannah's obvious joy could inspire such happiness in him. His Gran had been telling him to take this step for more than a month. Gran was smart, Neville resolved to listen to her more.
He and Hannah had been having a quiet evening in the Room of Requirement when Neville gathered his courage and suddenly dropped to one knee and offered her his Great Grand Mother's ring and his life. Hannah had blinked twice at the ring, it seemed that Great Grand Mother Longbottom had been a woman who had gotten what she wanted out of life, and for her engagement ring she had wanted a four caret diamond surrounding by sapphires set into platinum. After she had agreed, and Neville had slipped the ring onto her finger, Hannah had practically raped him right there on the floor. Neville smiled at the memory. It had taken almost twenty minutes to repair his clothing this morning. Just right now, it was good to be Neville Longbottom.
"Good morning Mr. Longbottom."
And just like that, it suddenly wasn't all that good to be Neville Longbottom any longer. Damn. The old man had appeared out of nowhere. How did he do that? "Good morning Headmaster."
"Miss Abbott seems very happy. Congratulations."
"Thank you Headmaster. We're both very happy."
"I noticed that Mr. Potter and Miss Greengrass did not return to the castle last night. Might you have any idea where they might be?"
"I would guess that they spent the night at Harry's home."
"Which would be?"
"Under the Fidelius Headmaster, as you well know."
"I am only concerned about Miss Greengrass' welfare Mr. Longbottom."
"Of course you are Headmaster. I can assure you that Harry has Daphne's welfare at the foremost of his mind. Harry would never do anything to harm anyone, not even for the 'greater good'."
"Mr. Longbottom, I assure you that whatever Mr. Potter has told you, I had his best interest at heart."
"Indeed Headmaster? It was in his best interest to arrive at the point that Riddle reappeared completely untrained? Was it in his best interest your machinations with his life? Was it in his best interest when you set the Weasley's on him, arranging so that he would need to meet the Weasleys in order to make it on to the platform that first year? Was it in his best interest to have Ginny Weasley playing with his emotions on your orders? I've got to tell you Headmaster, I surely hope that you never attempt to help me in my best interests."
"Mr. Longbottom, I…"
"You did almost everything you could to ensure Harry died. Your pet Weasels where quite literally banking on Harry winning but dying in the effort. That phony will they had had your magical signature all over it. That cost Harry the help of Ron and Hermione. He was going to face Riddle alone until I forced my way in to the fight. After a life time of being lied to by you, of being controlled by you, of being robbed by you, perhaps even of being orphaned by you, he was still willing to die for you."
"But he lived, though neither of you have ever told anyone how you won."
"Let me guess, since Harry wouldn't tell you, you're going to ask ME how we did it."
"Mr. Longbottom, please satisfy an old wizard's curiosity, Mr. Potter has been understandably reticent about telling anyone what happened that night, but I need to know. I assure you that I can be trusted to keep secrets; I have never told anyone of prophesy concerning him, you know."
"True, of course you also never told me or my parents about that same prophesy which could have just as easily been applied to me. You keep secrets even when you shouldn't. I find myself wondering if you had determined that I was the subject of that prophesy, would MY parents have been the ones killed and Harry's simply driven to insanity? With our best interest in mind of course."
"Hmm." Dumbledore didn't want to disagree if agreement would net him the information he was after, but why didn't this boy understand that what had happened, what Dumbledore had done was for the good of the community. That sometimes pawns had to be sacrificed to win? "Can you at least tell me what the unknown power was?"
Neville opened his mouth to speak, but paused and closed it again. "I suppose I can. It goes with the whole story, though, so be sure you keep it to yourself."
Dumbledore happily agreed.
"The power was, as you had guessed, love."
The headmaster hid his shock. "Ah," he said, stroking his long white beard.
"After Harry and I fought our way through Voldemort's inner circle, we came upon him in a kind of throne room. Voldemort was totally enraged, like the trapped animal he was. I actually felt pity for him, but I wasn't sure what to do. I was fairly messed up from my fight with Bellatrix. I couldn't believe it when Harry put away his wand. As Voldemort threw curse after curse at us, Harry walked towards him with his arms out stretched. All of Voldemort's magic dissipated around Harry, even killing curses. When Harry finally reached Voldemort, he actually pulled the snake faced bastard into a hug. I couldn't believe it. Then Voldemort broke down crying. As he sobbed for all he had given up, all he had lost for no reason, his dark magic that sustained him fled, and Harry was left with a dying Tom Riddle in his arms. Voldemort didn't last long, but he was finally at peace."
Dumbledore stared in shock. "Neville my boy, that's quite astonishing. I have long believed in the power of forgiveness, but I believe only Harry, once Voldemort's intended victim, could have done such a thing."
Now it was Neville's eyes that widened. "You mean you really bought that shit? Merlin's massive member, Headmaster, you've been listening to your own press for so long you've really rotted your brain if you believe Harry hugged a dark lord to death."
Neville walked away shaking his head and muttering about delusional old men as Dumbledore stared after him gobsmacked.
September 13, 1997
"Good morning Harry." Daphne said as she entered the sunlit kitchen.
"Ah, just in time. He lifted the small pan from the flame and scooped a golden omelet onto a plate, which he placed on the table, then held out a chair for her.
"Showing off a little aren't you?"
"You bet. Cooking is something I'm good at that doesn't hurt anyone." He returned to the range to start his own breakfast.
Daphne shook her head as his claims and reaching for her knife and fork cut her first bite. Then another, and another. "Thith ith wonnaful!" she said with a full mouth.
"The secret" Harry explained from stove top, "is to get the cheese melted just right. Too soon it's kinda greasy, too late it's crispy and dry." He looked over at the almost empty plate in front of her. "Whoa! Slow down Daphne, breathe. Would you like another one?"
"Yeth Pleasth" she answered
Harry laughed and cracked some more eggs. Concentrating on her plate, heard him stirring for a moment, and then he was at her elbow scooping the omelet he had been making for himself onto her plate. "Slow down enough to taste it this time." He laughed as he returned to the range. A few minutes later he sat next to her with his own plate and poured them each a mug of tea.
"I've never really been a breakfast person. The eggs at school are ok, but I love your omelets."
"Thank you,” Harry smiled. I'm glad you like it. It's always nice to cook for someone who appreciates the end results if not the effort."
"I appreciate the effort and the results Harry. So what are we doing today?"
"Well, Neville Longbottom and his girlfriend will be here at noon, then if you'd like I thought we might go to a theme park."
"Neville never said anything about doubling with him. And what's a theme park?"
"The original plan was for them to be consoling me for my latest disastrous date. Nev tried to tell me that you and I would get along fine, but I've got too much of a track record of failing miserably with girls to believe him." He sipped his tea, pushed his plate away and smiled. "I've never been so glad to be wrong. A theme park is a Muggle thing. They have mechanical rides that will be easier to show you than to describe, games for prizes, food that no one should ever eat, but tastes good anyway. Things like that. I discovered them over the summer, and had lots of fun. I was going to introduce Neville and Hannah to them, and now you if you'd like to come."
"I would like to see this 'park' of yours. If you had fun, we all should."
"Master Harry is finished dirtying kitchen?" The high pitched tones of an annoyed elf interrupted.
"Yes Winky, I'm done." He smiled at Daphne again and winked. "I'll start cleaning up now."
"NO! Master Harry no cleans. Master Harry entertains Miss. Master Harry leaves kitchen NOW!"
"Yes Winky. Thank you Winky."
They made it to the sitting room before they started laughing.
"I don't think I've ever seen a wizard ordered about by his elf before."
"Oh it was worse at the beginning. Winky came to me from a very traditional family. I couldn't believe some of the things she expected to do for me." He shuddered. "I'm just a poor Muggle raised boy; I was almost scarred for life."
Daphne sobered. "Harry, about last night. I said some things…"
Harry sat down. "Daphne, I understand. You had some wine, I dazzled you with things you've never seen. I didn't really…"
"Harry, you idiot, let a girl finish what she's saying before you start apologizing. What I was trying to say is that it wasn't the wine. I enjoyed the shopping, the show and the dancing was exciting beyond everything I've ever experienced, but that wasn't why I asked you to sleep with me. I offered because I am very attracted to you and really want to sleep with you." She slid onto his lap. "The way you turned me down, out of concern for me, showed me I was right to offer. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but I am going to get what I want Harry."
She put her arms around his neck and kissed him. "So, tell me about your history of disastrous dates."
"Well, forth year there was the way I abused Parvati Patil at the Yule ball. I spent my time staring at Hermione and lusting after Cho Chang and ignored Parvarti almost completely. I'm surprised she's speaking to me even now. Fifth year I actually dated Cho, who was mourning Cedric Diggory, and I think using me as a connection to him. That was an utter disaster. If there's a dating guide book, that date is probably in the appendix under what not to do when dating. Sixth year the Ginny Weasley got her hooks into me until November when I found out what she was up to." She kissed him.
"Are you concerned about my hooks?"
"No, not in the slightest. If you were planning on stabbing me in the back, you would tell me about it in advance, and make me enjoy it." He smiled at her blush. "What about you? Any disastrous dates in your past?"
"No. The sum total of my dating experience is a day and a half with you."
"You poor girl. No wonder you're so easily pleased."
"I am expecting you to improve on my experiences. Today had best be impressive Harry. If I'm disappointed, I might have to go back to calling you Potter."
"See what I mean? You tell me about it, and make me enjoy it."
She pulled him into another kiss.
"Ahem" Neville cleared his throat theatrically. Startled, Harry and Daphne broke apart, though she remained on his lap. "I was going to ask how your date went yesterday, but I guess that's fairly obvious isn't it?" Neville smiled.
Hannah smacked his arm. "Quit teasing them Neville. Good morning you two." Then she smiled herself. "You two have stirred up quite the storm at the castle. First the Slytherins were furious that the two of you didn't return, and demanded punishment. McGonagall reluctantly admitted that there was no requirement for those who have reached their majority to remain overnight at the school, then there was practically an exodus of the 7th years this morning, excepting the prefects, who Hermione cajoled into staying. I think couples formed on the spot for the express purpose of leaving the castle."
Harry started laughing. "Anything I can do to make Dumbledore's life more interesting is fine with me. I wonder how long it will be before he attempts to change the rules?"
"I would be surprised if he wasn't doing it now. I think I may have annoyed him this morning. Oh, by the way Harry, you owe me ten Galleons."
"I do? Which story did you tell him?"
"The thrilling tale of how you killed Voldemort by hugging him to death."
"He bought that? I thought that was the most ridiculous story we came up with."
"He took it hook, line, and sinker." Neville said, accepting the coins. "The look on his face when I told him it was fiction was priceless. The only reason I told that one is because I felt guilty when he believed the first one, since I came up with it. The man is gullible to the extreme."
"What are you two talking about?" Daphne asked.
"They're pranking the Headmaster." Hannah explained. "Dumbledore wants to know how they defeated Voldemort."
"If he wanted to know that badly, he should have been there helping," suggested Harry sarcastically.
"Well, yes. These two have made up some fictions to explain what happened. Harry told him a story of having lost the war, and ending up fighting a guerilla war until only he survived of the Gryffindors and is captured, then freed by a Wizarding resistance lead by you and Luna Lovegood, between the two of you, Harry's memories, soul, and magic were sent back in time to prevent Voldemort’s rise."
"I told it better than that."
"I'm sure you did Harry." She returned her attention to Daphne and gestured to Neville. "This one told the Headmaster this morning that Harry defeated Voldemort with 'the Power of Love' and literally hugged the Dark Lord to death. Sometimes I think they both have death wishes."
"Well they are male."
"Hey!" Harry said.
"Come on." Daphne stood up from Harry's lap. "Let’s go get ready for this 'theme park' Harry was telling me about."
Neville and Harry watched as the pair of witches left the room.
"Why do women leave the room in groups?" Neville asked.
"And why does it feel like our shortcomings will be discussed at length?" Harry asked shaking his head. "So, I saw that rock on her hand. You made it official did you?"
"Yeah. God that was scary. Next time, let's just go find another Dark Lord."
"I hear you mate. Women are dead scary."
"So" Daphne had led Hannah to 'her' bedroom. "What does the rumor mill say about all this?"
"Oh, everything from you're the new Lady Potter to Harry is punishing the few surviving Death Eaters by raping their daughters, starting with you."
"Tracey and Hermione tried to interrogate Neville on where you were and what nefarious plans each of you had for the other, so you've got that to look forward to. Oh, and Ginny Weasley is utterly furious. She is telling everyone who will listen that you are trying to steal Harry from her."
"And what do you think?"
"I think Harry is a lucky man. And I think you could do a lot worse." Hannah looked into Daphne's violet eyes. "A word of warning, being associated with Harry won't be easy. The Death Eaters are gone, but there are plenty of opportunists out there looking to profit off Harry. I got a tiny bit of it from Neville's association with Harry, which I believe is the reason Neville offered me this a year sooner than I thought he would." Hannah showed her ring. "Then you factor in the girls who want to be where you are."
"Harry told me he hasn't been dating anyone."
"He isn't, but that doesn't stop those girls from wanting him. He's rich, powerful, the Head of two Ancient and Noble houses, and dead sexy. If not for Neville I might have taken a run at him."
"Harry isn't the type for a harem."
"No, he isn't, and only a very few have a chance with him. Your only real competition for Harry would be other women who think of him and treat him as Harry, not the boy who lived, not the chosen one, not the Man who conquered. Just plain Harry. That's a select group. Off the top of my head, the only ones who qualify would be you, Hermione Granger, Luna Lovegood, Lavender Brown, The Patil twins and Sue Bones."
"I haven't decided that I want him."
"Yeah, right pull the other one. Daphne we haven't been friends all through school, but I'm a Hufflepuff. I have my sources. You have shown zero interest in any guy at school, and then you're with Harry. You've decided. I saw you down stairs. You’re not in love with him, but you are seriously in lust with him, and you know it."
Daphne didn't say anything. Her mouth set into a line.
"Alright" Hannah continued. "Going through them, Lavender and Parvarti aren't really in the running. They're nice enough, but far too giggly for Harry. He likes smart girls, and doesn't give a damn about anything those two find interesting. That leaves Luna, Padma and Sue. I doubt that Luna cares one way or the other, unless she decided that sleeping with Harry would allow her to find one of her animals. Padma might be interested, but when ever I've spoken with her she spoke of returning to her family's home in India to continue the Patil line. Sue is definitely interested. She's had a thing for Harry since third year."
"What about Granger?"
Hannah smiled at the Slytherins interest. "Hermione is a special case. She's with Weasley, at least for now. I don't see Weasley as the type to settle down with her. He has far too much insecurity to be able to deal with a wife more successful than he is, and she will be. She is Harry's friend."
"I know that, at least until she abandoned him"
"She didn't. She actually is or thinks she is in love with Weasley, and is with him for that reason. It's complex, but what matters is she is Harry's friend. Harry pushed her away so that she would be safe and happy. He intended to kill Voldemort by dying, and if Neville hadn't forced himself into the final fight, he probably would have. Whatever happens, you are going to have to face the fact that if Hermione calls Harry will go to her. I don't think Harry's in love with her; I think he cares about her. Any woman in his life is going to have to share him with Hermione Granger."
"Why are you doing this? Bones is your friend."
"She is." Hannah admitted. "And I'd love to see her with Harry, but I've seen him with you, first last weekend and now today. You've got him excited and happy, happier than I've ever seen him. I'm his friend. My future husband is bound to him. As long as you make him happy, you have my unquestioning support."
"He's not serious about me. He turned down a contract for me."
"Daphne, he turned down one for me as well. Harry would never accept any contract. He's just not wired that way."
"Thank you. I was wondering. Is it supposed to happen this fast?"
"I have no idea. I fell for Neville about a week after he asked me out. We'd best head back down stairs so that today's great adventure can begin."
September 13, 1997
American Adventure Theme Park
Nightmare Niagara Log Flume ride:
“You’ll want to hold on for this.” Harry said.
Daphne gave him a sideways glance. This ‘ride’ thing looked to be interesting, but really? The carriage they were sitting in, made to look something like a hollowed out tree log, jerked into motion beginning what appeared to be a longish climb up to the top of an artificial hill made up of a small gauge track, like a miniature rail road.
“Harry, please. Compared to a broom how fast can this be?” She looked over the side of the carriage. It did seem to be getting somewhat high above the ground…
“It’s not so much the speed, though it can be pretty fast…” Harry said as they crested the top of the first incline and the log in which the pair sat began the seemingly freefall portion of the first drop.
Daphne’s scream prevented Harry from completing his thought. Harry’s eyes bugged out as his left hand was nearly crushed in Daphne’s grip and the car reached the bottom of its first drop with a splash.
“… it’s not being in control that’s frightening.” Harry concluded his comment, struggling not to laugh at the look on Daphne’s now very wet face.
“You’re trying to kill me,” she gasped, wiping the spray from her face, barely aware that the car was climbing another incline, and then she grinned. “Can we do it again?”
“At least twice more,” Harry gestured in front of them. “This ride has three drops. That was just the first… and the smallest.”
As the car rolled over the second peak and began its second drop, Daphne screamed again.
“I don’t believe you two rode that thing!” Hannah exclaimed as Harry and Daphne exited the log flume. “You’re soaked to the skin.
"”Thrill seekers the pair of them,” Neville opined. “So, what’s next?”
Harry examined the map of the park he had gotten when they had arrived. “Well, what are you in the mood for?”
“Something less death defying I hope,” Hannah answered.
“Ooh, they’ve got a carousel!” Daphne said poking the map with her finger. “I’ve always wanted to ride a carousel!”
“And then, something to eat,” Neville said. The other three turned to stare at him. “What? I’m a growing boy.”
September 13, 1997
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Hermione Granger found herself waiting in the entry hall. She knew that Harry would be back this evening. She needed to regain what she had lost with Harry. Tracey and Neville both had pointed out that she had all but abandoned Harry. If she didn't fix that… It was only then she realized that she hadn't seen Ron all weekend. He was probably dealing with Ginny and his mother.
She spotted Neville and Hannah first, holding hands and laughing. Following them was Harry, carrying a large purple stuffed rabbit. It was only then she noticed Daphne Greengrass practically molded to Harry. Harry shifted the rabbit to his left arm and pulled Daphne into a kiss, which was enthusiastically returned.
Hermione was shocked. She had never imagined Harry actually kissing anyone, other than Ginny, but that was obviously not going to be happening anymore. The couple began walking again and strolled past Hermione without either of them ever noticing she was there. It took her a few seconds to gather her courage and follow them. On the stairs she found a confrontation forming.
"Daphne Ophelia Greengrass! What the hell do you mean spending the night with this… Thing?"
"Hello Tracey. When were you made my mother? Using my middle name and everything."
"Daphne I warned you about him. I warned you what he was going to try."
"Yes you did, and you were wrong. Harry didn't try anything. I did." She turned to Harry an initiated a deep kiss. "Harry, you did very well today, I'll keep using your first name. Tracey and I need to talk a bit. See you after dinner?"
"Oh, yes, certainly. Of course." Daphne took her large purple rabbit from his grasp.
Hermione watched as Harry watched his weekend date descend into the dungeons with her very upset best friend. Her oldest friend had a goofy grin on his face. After Daphne was no longer in sight, he turned and started up the stairs toward the Gryffindor Tower. Hermione couldn't believe her eyes. Was Harry… skipping?
September 13, 1997
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Slytherin 7th Year Girls Dorm:
Daphne led Tracey back to their Dorm. Once inside, she sealed the door and cast privacy charms on all the walls, the floor and the ceiling. Slytherins learned to be very thorough. She then laid her large purple rabbit lovingly on her bed, removed the shrunken shopping bags from her pockets and expanded them on the bed as well. Through all this Tracey stood glaring at her. Daphne sat primly on her bed.
"So, Tracey. You wanted to discuss my weekend?"
"Damn it Daphne. What did he do to you?"
"Harry treated me with respect. He didn't do anything I didn't want him to do. Well after he explained about it being alright to leave Hogsmeade anyway." Daphne smiled at her flustered friend. "In fact he didn't do something I wanted him to do."
"Daphne. Everyone knows that you spent last night with him. There are even idiots saying you married him."
"Anyone who thinks that is wrong Tracey. We had fun. For the first time in my life I got away from what I knew. I didn't play it safe. Harry took me shopping, he took me out to eat at some surprisingly wonderful Muggle restaurants, and we saw a Muggle show that was so amazing I can't really describe it. We went drinking and dancing." Daphne reached out to take her friend's hand, and maintained her eye contact. "Tracey, you already knew I found Harry attractive, and yes, he dazzled me with his unannounced whirlwind tour of the Muggle world. I was the one who decided to stay with him last night. I was the one who drank the wine he was buying me. I had four glasses of wine Tracey. We routinely have more than that when we go out together. Have you ever seen me drunk?"
"Harry took me to his family's home; he walked me upstairs to the bedroom his elves had prepared for me. I kissed him, and I invited him to stay with me."
"Daphne, I'm sure that's what he wanted you to think, but…"
"So you think I'm some empty headed moron like Parkinson who can be fooled into a man's bed?"
"Daphne, that's not what I said. But we talked about staying on your guard with him."
"Tracey. He. Turned. Me. Down."
Daphne reached over and gathered her rabbit in her arms. "He turned me down. He thought we were going too fast. He was worried about you and what you would think, because he knows that you and I are friends."
"He cared about what I thought?"
September 13, 1997
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
"Nice of you to return to us Mr. Potter."
Harry looked up from his dinner. "Good evening Professor McGonagall." He smiled at his head of house. "Should I assume that the Headmaster would like to speak with me?"
"That would be a safe assumption Mr. Potter. I will be there as well."
"Now, or can I finish my meal?"
"As soon as you are done Mr. Potter."
Harry watched as the Scots witch left the Gryffindor table.
"Harry's in trouble" Neville said in a sing song voice, a huge grin on his face.
"And it's such a surprise too." Harry laughed, returning to his meal. "I'm a baaad boy."
"One of the worst." Hannah agreed. "Why didn't you invite Daphne to eat with you?"
"Couple of reasons. I'm guessing that Tracey needs to hate me for a while, and that wouldn't be conducive to a pleasant meal, and Daphne sitting here would cause certain Gryffs to stroke right out. AND I expected Dumble's summons."
"Go easy on the old man Harry" Neville's grin hadn't faded at all. "He's had a rough day. Some students actually learned something new today…"
Harry pushed the door open and stepped into the Headmaster's office. "Good evening Headmaster, good evening again Professor McGonagall. You asked that I stop by?"
"I would like to know what you think you were doing Mr. Potter."
Harry found himself wondering if Dumbles knew that his eyes lost their twinkle when he was angry. "You'll have to be more specific Headmaster. What did I think I was doing when I was doing what?"
"You know full well what the Headmaster is referring to Mr. Potter." McGonagall was livid. Harry wondered why. "What were you thinking when you spent the night with Miss Greengrass?"
"I'm afraid I'm not clear on just how what Miss Greengrass and I did this week end is any of your business Professor, or yours Headmaster."
"As Headmaster I am tasked with the safety of all of the students at Hogwarts Mr. Potter."
"Really? Where was this responsibility when you allowed a possessed Professor to let a troll into the castle? I wonder where this responsibility was when you brought a magical object that attracted a Dark Lord into the castle. Where was this responsibility when you allowed Lucius Malfoy to sneak a Horocrux into the castle with an innocent first year? Where was your responsibility when you allowed a polyjuiced Death Eater enter me in the Triwizard Tournament against my will? Where was your responsibility when Snape routinely abused and even injured student in what was laughingly called his potions lessons? Is this a new policy you've started just this year?"
"You will show the Headmaster the respect he deserves Mr. Potter."
"Believe me Professor, I'm showing him far more than he deserves." Harry returned his focus to the Headmaster. "Alright Headmaster, perhaps you could enlighten me as to what school rule or regulation I violated."
"That is neither here nor there Mr. Potter. It is the appearance of impropriety I am concerned with."
"Because of your actions, almost every 7th year left Hogsmeade and was roaming about the country." McGonagall added.
"Because of me? I never told anyone other than Daphne that since we were adults we had no travel limitations. From what I've heard, that information was promulgated by you Professor McGonagall. I'm not the one who made the age of majority seventeen. Nor am I the one who decided that one had to be eleven to start at Hogwarts ensuring that each and every 7th year will always be legally an adult. All I did was discover the realities of the actual rules as opposed to those the students are allowed to believe, and exercise my rights as an adult. Miss Greengrass did the same thing. As far as your hypothetical 'appearance of impropriety' Daphne and I are free adults with no obligations to anyone as far as impropriety goes."
"The school does have a morals clause Mr. Potter." Dumbledore spat.
"Really? How interesting."
"Indeed. Perhaps a check on the status of Miss Greengrass's virginity is in order." McGonagall looked at the Headmaster like he had lost his mind.
Harry's voice went very cold. "If you insult my friend like that Headmaster, then we will duel."
"Surely your success against Tom Riddle hasn't made you believe you would have a chance against me?"
"It doesn't matter Headmaster, even if you beat me, you lose. Every newspaper in Magical Britain will have the story because I will make sure they do. If you win, the board will sack you before I hit the ground. If I win, you will never regain your 'moral' superiority." Harry smiled but it didn't reach his eyes. "We both know your 'moral superiority' is a lie. We both know what you are. Have you ever shared your machinations with Professor McGonagall? I'm sure she would be so very proud of you."
After the door closed behind Harry Potter, Minerva McGonagall turned on her oldest friend and mentor.
"What the devil are you playing at Albus? Threatening to verify Miss Greengrass's virginity? Have you lost your mind?"
"Sometimes I think I might have. What is the problem Minerva?"
"I would be surprised if more than a dozen of the young women in 6th and 7th years pass such verifications with their virginities intact. Do you even read the reports I submit to you detailing those found out of bounds, be it in a broom cupboard, an unused classroom, or the Astronomy Tower? It wasn't much different in my day. Hell Albus I wouldn't have passed such a test after my 5th year."
"An empty threat" Dumbledore waved off her concerns. "We need to reassert control on this situation."
September 13, 1997
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Daphne turned to see who had called her name. "What do you want Weasley?"
"What the hell kind of game do you think you're playing with Harry?"
"What business is it of yours Weasley?" Tracey asked. "Didn't he kick you out of his life for being a slut?"
"Or was it thief? I lost track there." Daphne added.
"Let me be clear Greengrass. So clear even a Slytherin can understand. You will never get your hands on the Potter fortune. That is mine. Harry will come crawling back to me. Get in my way and I'll destroy you."
"You insignificant little…"
"Alright. Let's break this up." Hermione Granger stepped between the Slytherins and the irate Gryffindor. "I think the last thing anyone wants is a fight in the halls."
"Piss off Granger. This slut is coming between me and Harry."
Hermione had had enough of the vindictive 6th year. "20 points from Gryffindor Miss Weasley. Return to your dorm now. Or would you prefer to be having a week's worth of detention with Mr. Filch?"
Ginny huffed, and stalked off, her robes billowing behind her.
Hermione turned her attention to the pair of Slytherin witches. "I apologize for that."
"Thank you for dealing with it. If I had hexed her, who knows what might have happened between our houses."
"Daphne," Hermione hesitated. "I need to apologize to you as well, for what I was thinking when you stayed with Harry last night. As Tracey pointed out to me, I don't really know Harry all that well anymore, and as Neville pointed out, I have no claim on his time or his actions."
"You were hardly the only one to be jumping to conclusions Granger." Daphne said with a pointed look at Tracey. "There is nothing to apologize for. I think I surprised myself with Harry this weekend."
September 24, 1997
Tonks took a moment to compose her features before opening the door. Living in a Muggle neighborhood necessitated her making sure she was wearing the 'right' face whenever she answered the door. "Can I help you? Harry! "
"Evening Tonks. Have you got a few minutes?"
"Of course Harry, come on in" She showed her favorite Head of family to her sitting room. "Now why would The Man Who Conquered come calling on little old me?" She chuckled at his wincing at his newest nick name. "Girl problems?"
"Am I that transparent?"
"What else would you be coming to your lovely vivacious cousin for?" She ruffled his hair. "I'm so proud. Skipping out of school and everything."
"No, that's no big deal. We can leave the school anytime we're not in class as long as we're at least seventeen."
"What? Is this a new rule?"
"No, as far as I can tell, it's always been that way. The staff just didn't tell anyone."
"I spent every bloody weekend at that damned school 7th year and I didn't have too?"
"Yeah, pretty much."
"Bloody hell. Alright, what's your problem?"
"How do you make a psycho bitch go away?"
Tonks paused for a three count. "Weasley problems?"
"Yeah. I've been trying to date a very nice girl, but Ginny keeps trying to pick a fight with her. How do I fight that, without, I don't know, smacking her?"
"I've heard about your dates. McGonagall put out an alert on you and the Greengrass girl when you kept her out over night." She smiled. "As far as your Weasley problem goes, I would recommend you knock her upside the head, stuff her in a sack, and apparating her to the outback in Australia"
Harry blinked, then regarded the young woman with a gimlet eye. "Are you sure you're an Auror?"
September 27, 1997
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Gryffindor 7th Year Boys Dorm:
Harry entered the dorm, and went directly to his wardrobe. Sorting though it he finally found the shirt he was looking for, and laid it out on the bed. A quick shower, then change. He was to meet Daphne after dinner. She said she had something important to discuss with him. He found himself wondering if the Room of Requirements would be in use that evening. That would be a superb place for a quiet date.
He turned from his bed and for the first time noticed Ron. His first friend was busy enjoying the art on the wall.
"Hey Ron. Watch it Mate, Hermione would be pissed if she found out you were looking at those pictures."
"This is amazing Harry. You're really not going to take any of these witches up on their offers?" Ron asked his eyes moving from one animated naked woman to another.
"Not really my style Ron. I can't imagine what they were thinking, or why they thought it would work. I mean I can appreciate the pictures on an artistic level, but I'd prefer to actually get to know the girl I'm going to marry before I propose. Why?" he asked with a smirk, "you interested in my rejects?"
"I might be," Ron laughed in reply, "gotta settle down someday, don't want to wait until all the good birds are gone."
Harry gaped at him. "What about Hermione? I thought you two--"
Ron shook his head as he lay back on his bed, a slightly dreamy expression appearing in his eyes. "She's a right bit of fun in the sack--really a great shag if you can believe it, I guess what they say about the quiet ones is true--but marry her?"
He missed the thunderous expression growing on Harry's face as he continued, "Mum'd pitch a right fit if I tried to marry a Muggle born, Harry, you of all people should know that! Besides, when I get married, I want it to be to a girl who knows her place; keeping a home and having babies, you know, like my Mum--"
"Ron." Harry interrupted. "She loves you. Loves you with all her soul. How can you talk that way about HERMIONE?"
Ron's face contorted in a frown. "Loves me? No, you've got it wrong Harry. It was just sex. Great sex, but just sex. We're friends… what's the Muggle term she told me? 'Friends with benefits'."
"Ron, you can't possibly be this dense. She loves you. I've heard her tell you that. I've heard you tell her."
"Harry, that's just words. I mean I just broke it off with her, my other girl didn't like sharing, you know? Hermione didn't say 'boo', just nodded and said she hoped I had a good time."
"Ron, what is the password to her suite?"
"Library Keeper. Why?"
Harry rushed from the room.
Ron rose from his bed and followed his friend to the door. "Harry?"
Harry arrived at the door to the Gryffindor Heads suite at a full run. The Portrait that covered the door was of an armored knight astride is white charger.
"My apologies good Sir, Head Girl Granger has changed the Password. She regrets that she is unavailable at this time. Head Boy MacMillan is receiving students and is currently in the Hufflepuff Heads Suite."
"Thank you Sir Knight. Could you please inform Miss Granger that Harry Potter wishes to speak with her?"
The knight and his horse left the frame to relay the message, and then he returned.
"Head Girl Granger wishes me to tell you that she is not receiving any visitors."
"Sir Knight, I believe the Head Girl to be upset. I need to see her. Now. Open your door Sir Knight, and then report this breach to whomever you portraits report too, and I will gladly take any punishment doled out. But for now open your door."
"Do you think I would forsake my duty on the word of a mere student? I say thee nay boy. Only the Headmaster may enter this suite without the express permission of the Head Girl."
"Sir Knight, the Headmaster is away for the weekend. I don't have time to wait. If you have another frame, I would suggest you go to it. I am entering the Heads Suite, either through the door, or through your portrait and then through the door. Either way, it makes no difference to me."
Harry placed his hands flat on the portrait, and channeled his magic through his hands, subvocalizing "OPEN"
A small crowd had gathered during his conversation with the painted knight, when Harry's Magic flared into a visible aura, the crowd backed away
The alarms spread by the portraits brought Minerva McGonagall and Filius Flitwick hurrying to the Gryffindor Heads Suite. They arrived in time to see the entire door frame indent into the wall three inches from the force of Harry's magic.
"Mr. Potter, Stop this now!" McGonagall called over the sound of the castles' very stone being warped.
Not letting up on the pressure to open the door Harry replied through clinched teeth. "Can you open this door?"
"No, only the Headmaster can."
"Then stay out of my way.” He ground out. “You can punish me later."
Harry redoubled his efforts on forcing his magic into the stone to cause the door to open, his aura flared brighter. And he fell though the portrait.
From the professor's perspective, he vanished, when the glare from Harry's aura faded, the castle walls around the portrait repaired themseves.
Harry found himself lying on the floor of the darkened common room of the Gryffindor Heads Suite. How the hell had he done that? The door never opened, he seemed to have passed though the stone. How was that possible?
Shaking his head to clear it, he stood and looked around. The common room was a disaster area. Sweet Merlin, she had shredded her books! Damn you Ron. Harry waved his wand murmuring "Reparo" at various items around the world, hoping that Hermione's precious books could be recovered this way. He made his way to the first bedroom. The chamber was empty, the bed unmade. This must be the head boy's room. Moving on to the other bedroom he found Hermione on her bed, sobbing.
"Just get the fuck out Harry. I told that stupid painting no visitors." She snapped, her eyes wild.
"I'm not going anywhere Hermione."
She sat up suddenly furious. "Oh is it your turn with the fuck doll? Do I get to worship your mighty penis now?"
"Hermione, I came as soon as I heard what happened. Ron is an ass. I came because you are my friend. I'm staying because you are my friend."
Hermione looked conflicted for a moment, and then rushed to hug him. Harry returned the hug, and then he lifted her into his arms. Hermione continued to sob into his chest. He considered the bed for a moment, but decided that would be wrong. He carried her out to the common room and settled onto the sofa with Hermione on his lap, rocking her gently. After a few moments her tears subsided.
Harry kissed her on the forehead "Why does the sun go on shining?"
Hermione looked up perplexed; Harry continued "Why does the sea rush to shore?"
"What are you doing?" She asked.
Ignoring her question he continued, "Don't they know it's the end of the world? When you don't love me anymore."
"Merlin you are such a goof."
"Why does my heart go on beating? Why do these eyes of mine cry? Don't they know it's the end of the world? It ended when you said…"
Hermione kissed him. It was a hungry needful kiss. Her hands reaching for his face and pulling him into the kiss. "Love me Harry. Let me love you."
"I can't Hermione. I'm with someone now. But even if I wasn't, I couldn't not with you."
"Am I that repulsive?"
"Hermione, god no. You're my friend, my Hermione. I've never thought of you like that. You're my… my sister." He blushed. "I know I don’t know what it’s like to have a sister, but if I did have one I hope it would be like being with you. I'd do anything, go anywhere for you, but I can't do that. I love you, but not like that."
"God, I'm pathetic."
"Oh don't be silly. There would be a line around the castle if you were taking applications."
"I don't need any more brothers."
"Har de har har. You know what I mean. Take some time, heal, get over the ass, and date better. Believe me, that's the very best way to deal with not loving a Weasley anymore. I'm talking from experience here."
"What if I want to cry all night?"
"Then I'm here all night. As a matter of fact. Dobby!"
There was a quiet pop. "Yes Harry Potter Sir?"
"Dobby, could you bring us a quart of Ice Cream?" He looked into Hermione's eyes. "Cherry Vanilla please. Bring two spoons please."
Daphne had been pacing back and forth in the Entry Hall for almost an hour. Where the hell was he? Harry had always been prompt for their dates. In spite of herself she was becoming more and more angry at him. She had even taken to asking passing Gryffindors if they knew where Harry might be. No one had a clue. It was as if the man had vanished.
Of course there was that insane story of Harry somehow burrowing his way through the castle walls to get into the Head Girl’s suite. Where did those mad stories get started anyway?
Daphne turned to see the male Potter elf… Dobby? "Yes Dobby?"
"Harry Potter Sir, asked Dobby to bring Miss this note."
"Thank you Dobby." The elf bowed and vanished with a pop.
Daphne opened her note.
I'm so sorry, I'm going to have to miss our date tonight. I cannot apologize enough, and I promise to explain everything tomorrow, if you still want to see me.
I hope you can forgive me.