White Knight, Grey Queen
4 - Promises
It was amazing how much twenty-four hours could change things.
Although technically, it wasn’t twenty-four hours yet; it was the same day, only they had already been through this day five times, the last being the time she had chosen to celebrate his birthday.
Twenty-four hours ago, for her at least, she was planning on getting them together, and now they were.
She had a boyfriend.
A boyfriend she was totally in love with.
A boyfriend she was pretty sure was in love with her.
A boyfriend who had fought for her, who had protected her, who had made her feel like the most important person in the world.
She propped herself up a little, so that she could watch him sleep. She had taken to doing this most mornings now, as a way of sorting her thoughts out. It was a quiet time when she could look at him without feeling uncomfortable about how much she just enjoyed the tilt of his nose, or the way his mouth moved.
The moves she had seen him make in the fight last night still thrilled her. Her prince had taken out four men faster than she would have ever believed. He had let loose the warrior inside him, the indefinable, virtually unstoppable will power that had helped him defeat the Basilisk, to escape from Voldemort, to save the Philosophers stone.
It had been deliberate, calculated, and while he had tried to avoid the fight, to talk them out of it, as soon as they had attacked, he had reacted - hard. And then when it was done, and they were all on the floor, he had looked at her as if she might reject him for being so violent.
As if that would ever, could ever, happen.
She loved knowing that he was capable of doing whatever was needed to keep them both safe; it meant that her trust in him was even higher than before, and that she knew without a doubt that she could trust him with her heart.
And then there was the kiss. She had opened herself to him like never before, practically begged him to kiss her, and he had. And boy had he! That same passion that kept him alive, that feeling that he wanted to live, no matter what the odds against him, was in the kiss. It was a personal kiss, like it meant everything to him, and he was intent in pouring his very soul into it for her.
He had been firm in his belief that he was where he wanted to be, kissing the girl he wanted to kiss, happy with what was going on. And his kiss had told her that he hadn’t lied.
So, she now had a boyfriend who could fight, who could think, who could protect her, who had magic hands, and who could quite definitely kiss. She smiled softly and lightly reached out, stroking his hair back gently.
After the kiss they had waited for their limousine to pick them up, and take them home. The entire journey, she had sat snuggled against him, her legs over his, his arm holding her tight, making her feel secure. They hadn’t talked or kissed, they had just sat in the comfortable silence, enjoying this new aspect to their relationship.
Once they have arrived home, they had both undressed with their backs to each other; she had pulled on one of his t-shirts, while he had just removed everything but his silk boxers - an item she was going to have to thank her mum for providing him.
There had been a lot more kissing as they had lain in bed together, but he hadn’t pressed her for more, and eventually they had fallen asleep.
She smiled gently. Even in bed with a very willing female, who wouldn’t have minded his magic hands wandering a bit further (well, a lot further), his innate sense of right and wrong meant that he kept to his own guidelines.
Sometimes she wished that he was a little more forward, that he took a few more liberties, but that wasn’t who she had fallen in love with. He had taken things very slowly with their relationship, but when it had happened, it had felt a lot more right than if they had rushed it. She knew him, and she knew that he knew her. It had meant that the kiss, rather than a passionate hint of what was to come, was more like the last thing to drop into place in their relationship.
There had been a small doubt at the back of her mind that maybe he wouldn’t be a good kisser, and that maybe they were destined to be friends, and that he’d end up with Weasley or Granger. She now knew that he thought of Granger as a sister and that while he had been attracted to Weasley, she was dating someone else, and he was happy with that.
But her worries had been smashed when she had fought to restrain the urge to drag him down on to the dance floor straight away.
She slid her fingers gently down his face, lightly brushing them over his shoulder. She didn’t want to go back to Hogwarts now.
Not back to the place where she was a Queen Bitch and he was the heroic White Knight, always rushing in where angels fear to tread, to save a damsel in distress, or rescue a godfather, to do something incredibly brave and noble with no thought for personal gain or his own safety.
Not back to the place where his friends hated Slytherins, and where she was supposed to hate him.
But her concerns were somewhat abated by the fact that he had already mentioned that he didn’t like the way the school was split, and that he planned to do something about it.
It was one of the things that constantly amazed her about him. He didn’t see the world in what was possible and impossible, only in what was worth doing. If something was worth doing, then regardless of the cost, he would do it. It was like the normal everyday worries that most people suffered from didn’t apply to him.
“You’re worrying about school,” Harry whispered suddenly.
“How can you tell?” she asked, looking up into his green eyes. She hadn’t felt him awake.
“You’re broadcasting a little,” he said softly. “I can hear you this morning.”
Broadcasting: allowing yourself to be completely open, so that another Legilimens could pick up your thoughts without trying.
She smiled at him. “I trust you a little more this morning.”
“Don’t worry about it,” he whispered, pulling her on top of him so he could look into her eyes.
She smiled down at him, shaking her head a little, allowing her hair to form a curtain around them. “I do, though.”
“Because it will be different; there will be other people involved, people who won’t like that the golden boy is falling for his grey queen.” His words captured her fears so succinctly and perfectly.
She laughed softly. “Grey queen?”
He nodded, his eyes twinkling. “Yep. My queen with her beautiful grey eyes, and slightly grey outlook towards the world. Not white, but not black.”
“Only Saints act with no ulterior motives, and Sinners have much more fun,” she whispered back, a smile on her face.
He laughed softly, and she could feel his hands stroke up and down her back.
“Don’t worry about school,” he said, again. “I am not giving you up. We are going to deal with Snape, with Umbridge, and the moment he steps an inch out of line, with Draco as well. I’ve got a plan to do it, and I’ll be talking to your dad about it later. I’m also thinking about moving out of Gryffindor Tower. I’m not going to be comfortable there.”
“Because I won’t be sleeping in the same bed as my queen. And I’ve become very used to that.”
She could feel herself smiling widely and gave into the temptation to give him a little kiss. “So, are you asking me to move out of Slytherin Dungeon as well?”
“Yep, we’ll move into the Room of Requirement together and sleep there. As Dobby will be taking care of us, we don’t even need to eat with the others if we don’t want to.”
“And what about Dumbledore?”
“He won’t interfere,” Harry replied calmly. “He is still one of the most powerful wizards in the world, and as much as having an ongoing feud with him is appealing at the moment, it’s not really going to help in the long run. We’re going to have to develop a new relationship between that’s us that is based on trust.
“He’s going to have to prove that I can trust him again, and part of that will be allowing me to break most of the school rules by living with you separately.”
“How can you be so calm about this?”
“Because I’m not going to accept any other answer,” he replied, his face serious. “I need something to fight for, to live for, to help push me, and for me to use to push myself. That’s you, mainly. Some of it is for my friends, for your parents, for the Weasleys, but mainly it’s for you. You’ve personalised it all for me. I’m not fighting for a greater good, or any other nebulous concept. Not any more. I’m pushing myself to keep you safe first and foremost.”
She felt her heart lurch, and her eyes welled up, a tear running down her cheek.
“Hey,” he whispered softly, his hand raising to brush it away.
“Oh Harry,” she whispered, turning her face to kiss his hand gently. “You know how to make a girl feel wanted.”
“That’s a good thing, right?”
She laughed. “A very good thing. Wherever you go Harry, I’ll be right there with you. When you fight, I’ll make sure your back is covered. What ever happens, you’ll never be alone, I promise you. I swear to you that’ll I stand by you for eternity.”
This time she watched as he raised his head and gently kissed her, saying his thanks with actions rather than words.
“Promise me that you’ll win,” she whispered, suddenly dreading what would happen if he lost, if she didn’t have him.
“I can’t promise that,” he whispered back, his eyes losing their sparkle. A moment later they were replaced by a look of steely determination. “I can promise to do everything I can to win.”
She took a deep breath, and held it for a second, and waited till her own confidence came back. “That will do, and it will be up to me to help make sure it happens.”
She felt his smile shoot through her, directly into her heart, as his eyes regained their twinkle.
“So, what are we doing today?”
“We’ll take Thunder and Lightning on a long walk, and spend the evening by stream, until we know that we’ve left for London.”
Harry rolled his eyes softly.
“Yes, I know,” Pansy grinned, poking him softly. “It gives you a headache!”
The next morning, which was the first time through the day after Harry’s Birthday, they walked into their duelling lesson and were surprised to find their martial arts teacher present as well. Next to them were four vaguely human shaped dummies.
“In order to ensure you get the full benefit of our training, we have decided to merge both your duelling and Martial Arts lessons,” Croaker announced. “Harry, we’ve heard what happened last night, and we’d like you to show us what happened. Please use these dummies to demonstrate the position they were in.”
Harry nodded, and after a glance at Pansy, walked over to the dummies and arranged them so he was surrounded.
“The first one threw a punch at the back of my head,” Harry said. “So I slid to one side, and grabbed his arm with my left hand, twisting it. I then punched him as hard as I could in the elbow.
“From there, I kicked out at the guy to my left, smashing into his knee, and then punched the guy to my right, before kicking the man in front of me in the stomach, then kneeing him in the face.”
“Show me,” Croaker demanded. He waved his wand, and the dummy behind him started to move, throwing a punch at Harry.
Harry followed his movements from the day before precisely.
“Excellent,” Croaker said. “Now do it again.”
Harry shrugged and nodded. As the first Dummy moved, he repeated his movements, and then kicked out at the second. Only the second Dummy moved his leg out of the way. He recovered his balance, and he was about to launch a second attack, when the Dummy that was now behind him, kicked him in the back of the knee.
He fell to the ground, rolling to one side.
“Enough,” Croaker said, stopping the Dummies. “You did well, Harry, but as soon as you started to move, you presumed that they wouldn’t.
“Your fight yesterday was caught on the club’s cameras, and we have reviewed it. Your speed was excellent, but your execution would have left you vulnerable against trained opposition. You can’t just presume that people are going to stand there and let you hit them. Death Eaters certainly won’t,” Croaker pointed out.
“The techniques you used were good,” their Sensei continued. “But what were you doing during the fight, Pansy?”
Pansy sighed audibly. “A basic threat assessment showed that they were large, unskilled Muggles. I was making sure to stay out of Harry’s way as he moved. If they had been skilled, I would have done something about it. As it was, it was obvious that he wouldn’t need any help dealing with them.” Her voice was sharp and dry, as she was obviously unhappy with them presuming that either of them hadn’t identified the threat level of the Muggles.
“There are times in life when showing your full hand is not a good idea – this was one of them. As it was, it gave the impression that Harry could handle himself, and that I was pretty useless. That means that any further trouble would have meant that they massively underestimated me, and focused entirely on Harry, which would have given me the opportunity to attack them from behind in their weak spots.”
Harry slowly turned to face Pansy. “Have I ever mentioned that you’re amazing?”
“A time or two,” Pansy said modestly, smiling back at him.
“Well,” Croaker interrupted them. “I see that you are paying attention to your Weapons and Tactics training. Harry, while your sensei teaches Pansy, we’ll go through your fight again, and I’ll show you some opportunities to use subtle magic to help you out.”
“Morning,” Ginny yawned, walking into the kitchen. “What’s going on?”
“Nothing,” Ron said quickly, picking up a spoon and trying to hide the paper.
“Ron, has that ever worked?” Ginny asked curiously.
Ron sighed. “Not that I’m aware of, but sometimes it might be better to trust me that you don’t want to know about it.”
“But now you’ve made me curious,” Ginny replied. “And I can hardly ignore it, can I?”
“I guess not. I’m sorry, Gin,” he said, and held out the Daily Prophet for her. She took it, looked at the front page, and gasped.
“We’re sorry, Ginny,” Hermione echoed.
Ginny held up her hand for silence, before slumping into a chair and reading the article in full.
Harry Potter and the Muggle Princess
By Amanda Snooper
Harry Potter, Boy Who Lived, and eligible bachelor, spotted in Muggle Nightclub
In a move that will devastate young Witches all over the country, Harry Potter, famed for his defeat of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named fifteen years ago, and for his tireless efforts to alert the Wizarding World to the return of the Dark Lord, was spotted in a Muggle Nightclub on Saturday night.
“I was out with some friends, having a great time, and we thought we’d go to Embassy,” Emily Brightherd, a Squib living in London told this reporter. “You can always see some Muggle celebrities there. We were queuing for entry when this gorgeous couple walked by and straight in. I didn’t recognise him at first, but as he turned, I saw his green eyes and the famous scar, and I realised it was Harry Potter.
“Inside the nightclub, we watched him on the dance floor, and we were so jealous of the girl he was with. I’ve been a huge fan of (Gilderoy) Lockhart for years, but after seeing Harry Potter in person, Lockhart doesn’t even come close. He (Potter) is much better looking and is a really cool dancer as well.”
Potter, 16, was then involved in an altercation with several Muggles.
“His girlfriend went to the bathroom, and we watched Harry move to the stairs that separated the VIP area from the dance floor. He was looking really thoughtful, and we were about to approach him for his autograph, when he suddenly jumped over the railings and dropped to the floor. He looked so cool.
“We followed him as he stormed through the dance floor and saw that some Muggles were assaulting his girlfriend. We wondered why he didn’t use magic to rescue them, but then remembered that he’s under-age and can’t, legally. Because of the crowd, I couldn’t see what happened, but my friend told me that they tried to attack Harry, and Harry flattened them.”
Inquiries to the Police (Muggle Aurors) said that four men had been admitted to hospital, and that Vidyo - a Muggle device like a Pensieve - had shown that the four men had been involved with Potter, and that he had acted in self-defence.
Brightherd continued, “After that, we all stood around the bar to watch Harry and his girlfriend. They danced together for ages, and it was so romantic! We didn’t want to interrupt them after that; you could see that she was so grateful for him looking after her. Then at the end of the night, during the final dance, they kissed. You could see the passion they shared a mile off. I really wanted to be that Muggle.”
When asked about Harry Potter’s mysterious girlfriend, Brightherd’s boyfriend, Squib Kelvin Brown said, “She looked amazing. She was by far the best looking girl in the nightclub, but she was obviously a Muggle. My cousin, Lavender, goes to Hogwarts, and when I asked her, she told me that there was no one like that at Hogwarts, and the girl didn’t look like anyone at the school. She was the same age as Harry and had an English accent, so she wasn’t a Beauxbatons student.
“Everyone knows that Harry was brought up as a Muggle, so maybe he met her then. Either way, he must have been really lucky because when they left the club, a Limousine (A Muggle form of transport that only the elite use) picked them up, and the girl was obviously in charge.”
So does this mean that Harry Potter is off the market? With a Muggle? The Daily Prophet is offering a reward of One Hundred Galleons for a photo of Harry Potter and his Muggle Princess.”
Ginny folded the paper and sighed softly, feeling a single teardrop down her cheek. “You’re right; I didn’t want to know that.”
Hermione stood, opening the window to allow Hedwig to enter the kitchen. She pulled the message off the owl’s leg, gave her a treat, and watched as the snowy owl took off again.
“Hey Guys,” she read out loud.
“You’ve probably seen the damn Prophet this morning. I can’t even have a night out on my birthday without the bloody press making it front page news.
“Well, first off, to inform you of some good news. Yes, I do have a girlfriend now, and I have no idea if she was the best looking girl in that nightclub, as I didn’t take my eyes off her all night.
“I’m hoping that you guys will get to meet her, as, appearances to the contrary, she isn’t a Muggle. But I don’t want you telling anyone about that.
“I think the idea of a Welcome Back/Harry Potter birthday party at Hogwarts is a great idea, but on one condition! It has to be a Welcome Back/Harry Potter/Ginevra Weasley birthday party.
“I can’t believe I didn’t know when your birthday was, Gin, and I owe you quite a few missed presents, but I’ve got my girlfriend to help my find something perfect for you. Dean better get you something nice, or I’ll hex him into the next century.
“Ron, and Hermione, that’s great news that you two are together now. So three becomes six? Sure, our relationships are changing around us, but we will always be friends, we’ll just have more people in our close group. I wonder if we can get Neville and Luna together as well. It might get her over her weird crush on Ron (I mean, who’d like Ron like that -- I’m kidding, Ron)
“Well, now on to the bad news. Dumbledore seems to think that my firm “Leave me alone,” is to be ignored at his will. As well as the Portkey that Dobby intercepted, he has tried to track me down again, so my hosts are going to put up some wards that make me undetectable to owls. So you guys won’t be able to contact me, and I won’t be able to contact you.
“I wish it hadn’t come down to this, but the skills I am learning here are going to ensure that the next time I meet Voldemort and the Death Eaters, it will be very different.
“I really miss talking to you guys, and being able to share everything that has happened recently, but I can’t take the chance that someone else, either Voldemort or Dumbledore, might see this and work out what is happening.
“You three are, girlfriend excluded, my three closest friends, and I’ll tell you everything when we get back to school.
Ginny stood slowly and walked back up to her room without paying attention to Ron and Hermione; once there, she collapsed onto her bed and burst into tears.
“So,” Gruoch asked as she entered her husband’s office. “What happened to the Muggles?”
Malcom looked up and sighed. “It did cost me a relative fortune. Peirce was not amused in the least to be dragged out of his bed in the middle of the night to heal them. The list of injuries included one destroyed elbow, one crushed knee, one broken jaw, and one broken nose. They have now all been healed and Obliviated, and they think that they got in a normal fight after a few too many beers. They have a few bumps and bruises but nothing serious.
“They're from Newcastle, anyway, so it's unlikely that they will even realise they were in London last night.”
“What about the police?”
“Oh, you mean from the Prophet? I had a friend give them false information. The police would have arrested Harry if they had known about it. It was a good job our bouncers took them to our home in Kensington, or it could have been a complete mess.”
“I was amused that they think Pansy is a Muggle.”
“I talked to them this morning and kept Pansy's description out of the article, because misdirection is always a good idea, and if people are looking for Harry around the Muggle countryside, they're not going to be looking at Parkinson Manor.”
“Morning, Remus,” Tonks said, sitting down opposite him in a small café.
“Morning,” Remus replied, drinking his coffee.
“I’m here to take you to Harry,” Tonks said, absently leaning to one side.
Her instincts were proved correct when the werewolf spluttered, the coffee in his mouth flying across the table.
“Harry has asked me to bring you to see him. He wants to talk to you.”
“Wait a second,” Remus interrupted. “You know where he is, and you haven’t told Albus?”
“Correct,” Tonks agreed, her wand suddenly in her hand. “I’m sorry Remus, but things are happening that you don’t understand. I can’t let you talk to Dumbledore before you’ve talked to Harry. I will Obliviate you.”
Remus gaped at the Auror in front of him. “But...”
“No buts,” Tonks replied firmly. “If you come with me, you will learn everything you need to know; if you don’t, I’ll Obliviate you of this conversation.”
Remus nodded. “I’ll come with you. I want to see Harry; I need to check he’s alright.”
“Good,” Tonks said brightly, her Auror personality vanishing as she changed her hair a bright pink. “Let’s go. I’ve got a car outside.”
They walked out and sat in the back of the elegant Rolls Royce. Once inside, Tonks tapped the window separating them from the driver.
“I suggest you relax,” she said calmly. “It’s going to be a long drive. And you won’t be able to tell where we’re going – security is very important.” She tapped her wand against the windows, causing them to go dark, and switched on a light.
“What’s going on?” Remus asked, looking around. “Why are you acting like this?”
Tonks smiled sadly. “Hopefully, you’ll understand soon. But at the moment, it’s probably the most important thing in the world. Drink?”
Harry watched as Tonks helped Remus out of the car. He had what looked like a black box around his head, blocking both his eyesight and sense of smell. As much as he hated putting his friend through this, he wasn’t sure where Remus’ loyalties lay. After all, he’d been a Dumbledore supporter for many years.
He moved and sat down behind a desk in the non-descript room in Parkinson Manor.
“You’ll do fine,” Pansy said softly. “Don’t worry about it.”
“I really want him on our side,” Harry replied. “He was the one who taught me the Patronus charm, and in a way, he’s the last firm link to my parents.”
Pansy leant forwards and kissed him gently. “Don’t worry. He’ll listen to you.”
Harry nodded and smiled at her. “Thanks,” he said, as he sat down.
Pansy moved to the side of the desk, and sat quietly, one of her father’s notebooks on her lap so that she could ask him some questions if needed. It hadn’t been hard for Gruoch to find a spell to modify the notebooks so that they could be used in this fashion.
“Sit down,” Tonks said gently, as she led the magically blindfolded werewolf into the room.
Harry watched as Remus sat down in the chair opposite him, and took a deep breath. At a nod from him, Tonks cancelled the spell.
“It’s good to see you again, Remus,” Harry said with a smile, as the black box vanished.
“Harry?” Remus said. “Harry?!” His eyes seemed to go impossibly wide. “Harry?”
“Yes, yes, and yes,” Harry laughed.
“What the hell has happened to you?”
“Good food, good company, good exercise,” Harry replied. “Oh, and some Muggle laser surgery to fix my eyes.”
Remus collapsed back into the chair. “Wow.”
Harry laughed again. “Is that all you have to say?”
Remus looked a little too stunned to say anything else.
“Where am I?”
“My home,” Harry replied, losing his laughter.
“Why all the secrecy?”
“Because I don’t trust Dumbledore anymore. I told him that I was safe, and not only did he send that Portkey, but he also sent a tracking parchment to try and find where I was. It means that I’ve had to arrange for the Wards to hide me from all Owls. Hedwig is rather upset that she doesn’t know where I am all the time anymore.”
Remus gaped at him.
Remus shut his mouth instantly, and took another deep breath. “I see that you’re looking well, Harry. How are you, really?”
“I’ve never felt like this,” Harry replied honestly. “If you saw the Prophet yesterday, you can guess that this is my girlfriend.” He deliberately didn’t name Pansy, not wanting Remus to know anything more than he had to at the moment.
“Hi,” Pansy smiled.
“Err, hi,” Remus said back.
“What do you know about the Werewolf Protection Bill?”
“The what?” Remus asked, frowning.
“It was a Bill introduced in the Ministry last week by Lucius Malfoy that would force all Werewolves to wear tracking bracelets at all times, and would ensure that all Werewolves were kept out of public places.”
Remus paled. “But that’s reprehensible. It’s practically forcing all Werewolves to join Voldemort.”
“Indeed,” Harry agreed. “What was Dumbledore doing about it?”
“I don’t know,” Remus replied.
“Nor do I,” Harry sighed. “The Bill has been dropped. It will not be going through. I had someone make a direct intervention to ensure it.”
“You did what!?”
“I had Fudge intimidated into dropping the Bill,” Harry said calmly, knowing that he was exaggerating a little, as Malcom had only told him after it had happened. “I was not prepared to have all the Werewolves join Voldemort, so I did something about it. It was going to go to Vote yesterday afternoon, as a surprise inclusion to the Council, where it would have passed with a 70% majority.”
“How do you know this?”
“I have my sources,” Harry replied, being as deliberately vague as possible. It was important that everyone they recruited believed that he was in charge and was taking both the credit and the blame.
Remus sat up straighter in the chair. “What is going on, Harry? What is all of this?”
Harry took a deep breath. “What seems like a lifetime ago, I was very close to death. I had Wizarding Flu; I hadn’t eaten anything in weeks. I was starving, almost delirious, when a face suddenly appeared in my nightmares. She was my angel; she promised to take care of me. She got me out of that house despite the wards that Dumbledore said are supposed to protect me. She introduced me to people who backed up their words with actions, who were willing to do what was necessary to help me out.
“I woke up warm and feeling safe for the first time since I left Hogwarts. I made an instant decision then to trust them, because they had saved my life. They healed me, treated me as an adult, and gave me a proposition.
“They would help me form a third way, a way unencumbered with the legacies of old hatreds. A way for the people who want Voldemort defeated to help do that. And they are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve that goal. A group without the prejudices against other races that Voldemort and the Order has. We have the house-elves willing to help; we also have the Goblins. We should be able to get the Acromantulas, and we’d like the Werewolves.
“We have already stopped the Bill, and now we want your help. We want all the Werewolves to help us. In return, we offer two things: Freedom, and full Ministry support to finally find a cure for the Lycanthropic disease. We are not willing to sit back and watch as any intelligent species is looked down upon by wizards as somehow being inferior.
“We have the resources, but we need the people. We need as much help as we can get.”
Remus shook his head slowly, an amazed look on his face. “Why don’t you trust Professor Dumbledore?”
“Why should I trust someone who appoints Snape to teach me Occlumency, despite our history, and then doesn’t check on what Snape was doing? How can I trust someone who knows what my life is like at the Dursleys, but sends me there any way? How can I trust someone whose vaunted blood protection is so ineffective that my girlfriend and her family can spirit me away in the middle of the night without anyone being the wiser?
“I do not trust his judgement anymore, Remus. I don’t blame him for Sirius’ death as that was my mistake; I could have handled things quite differently. A lot of things could have been done differently.”
Remus nodded slowly, his face thoughtful. “It takes a lot of resources to start up another group,” he said.
Harry nodded. “Remus Lupin, meet my girlfriend, Pansy Parkinson.”
Remus gaped again. “Parkinson? Pansy? But you look nothing like the girl I taught.”
“Oh, I was under a glamour spell,” Pansy smiled. “I was hiding from Malfoy at the time.”
Remus slumped back, shock clearly visible on his face. “Malcom and Gruoch?”
“My parents,” Pansy agreed. “They are backing Harry fully. We rescued him and brought him here. They wanted to help out to thank James and Lily, but everything else has been done with Harry in charge.”
“Have you heard the Prophecy?” Harry asked calmly.
“The one that says that I am the only one that can kill Voldemort. The Prophecy that states that one of us must die so that the other can live.”
“When did you hear that?”
“Dumbledore has known about it for many years now, yet hasn’t seen fit to tell me about it, or do anything to help me prepare for my battle with Voldemort.”
Remus sighed. “I’m sure he knew what he was doing.”
“He might have,” Harry agreed. “However, I personally don’t think so. I’ve learnt more about how to fight since I’ve been here than I have in the rest of my time at Hogwarts.”
Remus raised his eyebrows. “Really?”
Harry nodded. “Malcom and Gruoch have arranged for some exceptionally good teachers to help us. There is no point in me facing Voldemort if I don’t have a chance of winning.”
“Are you willing to show me what you have learnt?”
Harry smiled faintly. He had half expected this. “Yes, I am.” He stood and cast a quick spell to move the table out of the way, placing it against a wall. Pansy and Tonks both moved to sit on it and watch.
“When you’re ready,” Harry said with a half bow.
“Don’t you need your wand, Harry?” Remus said. “It’s very bad form to be caught without it.”
Harry laughed, “Just attack Moony, so that we can get this out of the way and get back to the important stuff.”
Remus shrugged and cast Rictusempra.
“What are we, first years?” Harry said mockingly, as he casually swayed to one side. “A tickling charm?”
“Petrificus Totalus,” Remus chanted.
“That’s more like it,” Harry encouraged, as he dropped backwards to the floor, letting the curse pass cleanly over his head, before jumping back to his original position.
“How did you do that?”
Harry grinned, “I told you. I’ve been trained by the best.”
“Confundus, Diffindo, Engorgio,” Remus said in quick succession.
“Protego Magnus,” Harry said, his wand appearing in his hand from his sleeve. He watched as the curses bounced off his shield. He smiled, “My turn.”
“Distendo,” he whispered, causing a bright light to appear directly above his shoulder. He used the momentary distraction to dive into a tight roll, jumping out of it and spinning in mid air, his foot catching Remus’ wrist with as little force as he could put into it, not wanting to hurt the Marauder. He landed, completely on balance, his wand straight between Remus’ eyes.
“I win,” he whispered.
“Damn Harry, that was amazing.” Remus said excitedly. “What was that shield you used?”
“A more powerful Protego,” he explained. “And I pulled the kick; if I’d gone through with it normally I’d have broken most of the bones in your wrist.”
“Thank you,” Remus said dryly, absently rubbing his wrist. “So what does Malcom get out all of this?”
“Money, power, and respect, and the biggest challenge of his life so far,” Harry answered, walking over to Pansy and sitting next to her. He smiled at her as she immediately swung her legs over his and cuddled into him, placing a small kiss on his jaw.
“Doesn’t that bother you?” Remus asked, pulling up a chair.
“Nope. They’ve told me what they want and expect, and as long as they don’t do anything too illegal, it’s a price I’m happy to pay for their support. Besides, all that to one side, I really like them.”
“Okay, I’ll join,” Remus said.
“What?” Harry blinked.
“Sign me up. I’ll join,” Remus said again cheerfully.
“Erm, I didn’t expect you to say yes so easily,” Harry admitted, feeling a little stunned.
“Harry,” Remus said softly. “I have lost my best friends in this war and pretty much every chance of a normal life I’ve ever had. I wanted to take you in myself, but Albus insisted you would be better with the Dursleys, as I was and am a werewolf.
“Albus has been in charge for so long, and I blame him for Sirius’ death. He told me what had happened between you. He took away my best friend, he allowed your parents to die, and he didn’t look after you like he promised. And he certainly didn’t know anything about this Werewolf Protection Bill,” he went on.
“I’ve been a member of the Order of the Phoenix for one reason and one reason alone: to keep an eye on you and to help keep you safe. If you’re forming your own group, there is no reason for me to be in the Order.
“The friendship I had with James, Lily, and Sirius was like nothing else I have ever felt in my life since then. We were closer than family, and we swore to be friends forever. And we have each lived up to that promise. I am the last remaining person, and my promise to them extends to you now.”
Harry felt Pansy swing her legs off him and lightly pat him on the back. He dived forwards and embraced Remus tightly.
He felt the werewolf hug him back and felt a tear escape his tightly clamped eyes.
“Thank you,” he whispered.
“No, thank you, Harry,” Remus said back.
The two broke apart, and Harry turned into Pansy, holding her tightly, vaguely aware that Tonks and Remus were hugging as well.
“Well,” Harry said eventually, not releasing his girlfriend. “Now that you’re joining us, we can sit somewhere comfortably and really catch up with what is going on.”
Remus nodded and smiled. “And perhaps explain exactly why Pansy seems to have lost her sneer.”
Pansy laughed. “Have you tried sneering around Harry?”
Remus shook his head, a smile appearing on his face.
“It’s not possible,” Pansy smiled back. “And besides, I’ve got nothing to sneer about anymore. Draco can shove his wand up his arse; I’ve got the best man in the world.”
Harry felt himself blushing, and then groaned as he saw the mischief in Remus’ eyes. It was going to be a long night.
“So, Harry,” Remus continued, “You’ll have to tell me exactly what you were doing in a Muggle Nightclub.”
“Problem?” Snape asked, entering Dumbledore’s office for a meeting about the schedule for the upcoming year’s classes.
“Here,” Dumbledore said, passing the Daily Prophet across the table.
“So he’s staying with Muggles?” Snape sneered as he finished.
“I don’t think so,” Dumbledore said. “Dobby would not be able to stay with Muggles.”
“Unless he’s staying out of sight,” Snape argued. “We know that he tried to protect Potter and stop him coming to the school in his second year.”
“True,” Dumbledore agreed.
“I’ll bet that’s it,” Snape nodded. “Arrogant child, why can’t he stay out of trouble?”
“I shall send him another owl, without a charm this time, and hope it gets through to him.”
Snape nodded and mumbled, “And I’ll take twenty points when I see him for forcing me to crawl through the Chamber of Secrets to find that damn letter his elf left.”
“It’s been a long time, Remus,” Malcom said calmly, as he joined Harry, Pansy, Remus, Tonks, and Gruoch at the table.
“It has; you’re looking good,” Remus replied.
“You look awful,” Malcom said in return. “Where exactly are you living at the moment?”
“Somewhere near the Shrieking Shack,” Remus said, wincing a little.
“Not any more,” Malcom said decisively. “You’re going to be useless to us if you’re tired and hungry. You’re going to move in here; we’ve got more than enough space.”
“I wouldn’t argue,” Harry interrupted. “If you do, I’ll be forced to bring out some heavy duty emotional blackmail. If that fails, I’ll get Tonks to persuade you to stay.”
“Huh?” Remus asked.
“You think I didn’t see the hug earlier? Or the way you don’t like to go more than thirty seconds without looking at her?”
Remus blushed. “Like you do anything different with Pansy?”
Harry smirked. “But I am officially dating Pansy, and I’ve told her to her face that I think she is incredible. When’s the last time you told Tonks that?”
Remus seemed to change to a even deeper shade of red.
“Come on, Moony,” Harry continued, now determined to tease as much as he could. “It’s not hard to tell her.”
“Pansy, will you please shut him up,” Remus begged.
“Okay,” Pansy said perkily, as she pulled Harry around and kissed him as hard as she could.
Harry tried to protest for a second until he realised that kissing Pansy was a lot more fun than teasing Remus, and he locked his arms around her tightly and kissed her back. He could feel her tongue invade his mouth and groaned as he forgot everything but the feeling of her mouth against his.
Pansy smiled and broke the kiss, sitting back down primly. “That do?” she asked.
Remus gulped. “Yeah, but now I think I’m jealous.”
“We’ll see about that,” Tonks said, while Harry tried to regain his bearings.
She leant over and kissed Remus exactly as Pansy had kissed Harry.
She pulled back with the same self satisfied look on her face.
“That looks like fun,” Gruoch announced and pounced on her husband. When he was as dazed as the others, she smiled happily. “Ladies, why don’t we go next door and leave our heroes to recover?”
“Good idea,” Tonks said. “Come on, Pansy.”
“Are you two sure you know what you’re doing?” Malcom asked wryly, as the three women left the room. “Getting involved with strong women is always a challenge.”
“Better than dating a hosepipe,” Harry said. “And I like the idea of being involved with a strong woman. I wouldn’t give Pansy up for anyone.”
“And I’m going to make this relationship with Tonks official,” Remus grinned.
“We’re all mad,” Malcom grinned.
“To madness,” Harry said, raising his glass.
“Madness,” the other two echoed.
“To get back to business,” Malcom said, “I found out today a lot about Sirius’ will.”
Harry and Remus sat up, dropping their joking expressions.
“There were some problems with it, because Sirius was still a criminal, and the Goblins were not aware that he had passed away. I cleared up the confusion and offered the recording we have of the battle at the Ministry.
“The Goblins are the executors of his will and want to meet you both tomorrow. Erm, that’s tomorrow in real time, Harry. So you’ll have to do it on your next day off.”
Harry nodded, “Not a problem.”
“Real time?” Remus asked.
“I’ll explain later,” Malcom said. “From what the Goblins told me, there doesn’t need to be anyone else there, so we can be pretty sure that you two are going to get everything. Not that I know what he had; I presume the Black fortune, but I’m not positive.
“Harry, with Sirius dead, I’ve started some proceedings to declare you an emancipated minor and allow you full access to your inheritance and family vault.”
Harry nodded, taking a sip of his drink. “This means that I will be legally an adult, and have the right to look after myself, and be able to do anything a full adult can do?”
“Okay.” He took a deep breath and held out his hand. “At some stage, I’m going to want to start legal proceedings against Dolores Umbridge for the illegal use of a torture device, namely a blood quill.”
Malcom and Remus both went white and looked shocked. “A blood quill?” Remus gasped.
“Yes,” Harry said, showing the scars on his hand. “I looked them up, and they are forbidden objects.”
“Evil things,” Malcom growled. “Why not just let me take care of it? I can promise you you’ll never see her again.”
“Because revenge is a dish best served cold,” Harry said, the temperature in his voice lowering.
“How are you feeling?” Hermione asked softly, as Ginny entered the kitchen the next morning.
“Pensive,” Ginny said softly, moving over to the fridge to pour herself a drink.
“Huh?” Ron asked.
“I had a long time to think last night,” Ginny explained quietly. “I didn’t sleep much.”
“Sit down, honey,” Molly said, her voice equally as soft. “I’ll make you some breakfast.”
“So what are you going to do?” Ron asked. “I still think that Harry doesn’t know what he’s missing.”
“Stop, Ron,” Ginny interrupted firmly. “You know what I was thinking last night? Why am I upset about this? Why do I deserve to go out with Harry?
“And I realised something late last night. I don’t. I have no right to date Harry. Life isn’t a beautiful place where we all become one big happy Weasley family. Charlie and Tonks didn’t work; Bill and Fleur are going back to being co-workers after their flirting, Fred and George are enjoying being bachelors.
“And being the youngest, I thought that I’d get the great Harry Potter and finish off the fantasy.
“Life’s not like that. That sort of thing doesn’t happen.”
“Oh, Ginny,” Molly said.
“Wait, Mum,” Ginny interrupted again. “I’ve not finished.
“I got angry at Harry for putting me through this again, for making me fall in love with him, and ignoring me. But you know what I realised? Harry hasn’t ignored me this time. He thinks that I’ve found happiness with someone else, and he is willing to do everything he can to make sure I am happy, and that I am included.
“He doesn’t have to do that, he doesn’t need to do that, but that is exactly the sort of person he is. It is the sort of person that I fell in love with. Harry is willing to let other people get close to him, for me.
“For me. Do you realise how humble that makes me feel? Someone who values his privacy so much is willing to lose some of it so I can be happy.
“That is friendship. That is what friends do. That is someone who obviously cares about me. And about me -- little Ginny Weasley -- as an individual.
“It made me think about friendship, about what his friendship means to me. I became his friend to get to know him better, and to hope that he would get to know me better and fall for me. Do you know how shitty that makes me feel?
“Here’s Harry willing to open his life for me, and I’m crying my heart out because he’s got a girlfriend. A girlfriend that he’s probably only been open to because he thinks that I’m happy with someone else.
“That’s not the sort of person I want to be. That’s not who I am. When we go back to school, I am going to make friends with his girlfriend, whoever she is. I am going to be Harry’s friend as a real friend and try as be as open to him as he has been to me. I am going to accept his girlfriend and try and become friends with her. I am not going to become some sort of jealous shrew.
“I have no automatic right to Harry. I want Harry to be happy, to be supported, to be loved. I always thought that it was going to be me doing it, but it hasn’t worked out. So I am not going to lose his friendship. I am going to try and be as big as a friend to him as he is trying to be to me.”
Molly walked over and pulled her daughter into a massive hug. “I am so proud of you,” she whispered softly.
Ginny smiled tremulously. “I am still upset about it, but by the time I get back to Hogwarts, I swear that I will be okay about it.”
Ginny stood, moving from her mother’s arms. “I’m going to go back to sleep for a bit.”
The others watched as Ginny walked out.
“I still think that Harry would be better off with Ginny,” Ron announced stubbornly. “She’s amazing.”
“She is,” Hermione agreed, “but Ron, we have to accept that Harry has made a choice.”
“A choice where he didn’t have the full facts!”
“Mr Potter, Mr Lupin,” the Goblin welcomed them into his office. “We’ll keep this as short as possible. Mr Black left a message for you both in this Pensieve.”
Harry and Remus looked at each other and reached out to touch the silver memory strands.
There was a brief sensation of falling, as the two of them entered Sirius’ Memories.
“Harry, Moony,” the image of Sirius Black said happily.
“What’s with the sad faces? You’d think you were at the reading of a Will or something. Oh, wait, you are, mine!
“Happy Death Day to me, Happy Death Day to me, Happy Death Day dear Sirius, Happy Death Day to me!” he sang merrily. “Come on, join in.
“Oh, wait, you can’t, you’re not really here, are you. You can talk to each other, but not to me. Oh well, if that’s the biggest problem I have with being dead, then I’ll be very happy.
“So, I’ve passed on. Sirius is no more, I’ve ceased to be, expired and gone to meet my maker. I’m a stiff, bereft of life, resting in peace, pushing up daisies; my metabolic processes are now history. I’m off my twig, kicked the bucket, shuffled off the mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible. I am an Ex-Padfoot!!
“Oh please, tell me you recognised Monty Python? They were the finest group of Muggle comedians ever to exist. Besides, I never wanted to be a convict; I wanted to be a lumberjack.
“Okay, okay, I’ll stop.
“Harry, as part of my will, I want you to promise to watch some Monty Python and learn to laugh. It’s an important lesson to learn – watch the Life of Brian and pay attention to the ending.
“Okay, I’ll be Sirius for a bit. Yeah, I had to get one last Sirius/Serious joke in here somewhere.
“Moony, we swore when we entered Hogwarts that we would be friends for life. We managed it. I will never find as good a friend as you and James were. I was thankful every single day of my life for both of you and for Lily when she joined in. Every good memory I have is of you, Lily, James, and Harry.
“Harry, I loved you from the minute you were born. I took you on your first broomstick ride when you were three weeks old, and Lily hexed me out of the house for it, but it was worth it. You are an amazing kid, and I know without hesitation or doubt that James and Lily are looking down at you, as proud as any parent up there.
“Now, knowing both of you, you’re probably blaming yourselves for my death. So listen very carefully, I shall say this once. I don’t care if you stood by and watched as Voldemort Imperio’d me off a cliff. You Did Not Kill Me!
“More than likely, Voldemort killed me or arranged it. So, Harry, if it comes up, and you get the chance, kill the arsehole. Don’t worry about killing a human; he lost his humanity a long time ago.
“Remus, the same goes for you. But your job is to keep Harry alive and to make sure he can enjoy what I’m leaving you both.
“Everything. Split fifty-fifty. You’re both to do your very best to waste my fortune on the important things in life - having fun for the rest of your lives.
“When you both eventually die, and Harry; that better not be for a very long time, I want to hear stories about pranks pulled, fun had, and the establishment mocked.
“Oh, as I’m running out of time, find a way to destroy that painting in Grimmauld place. And deal with Kreacher as well, please; I don’t care how you do it. He is partly responsible for a lot of what has happened in my family.
“Well guys, glad you both came to say good bye to little old me. And Harry, remember this.”
He started to sing again, “Some things in life are bad. They can really make you mad. Other things just make you swear and curse. When you're chewing on life's gristle. Don't grumble, give a whistle. And this'll help things turn out for the best... And... always look on the bright side of life... Always look on the light side of life...”
The memory faded, and they found themselves back out of the Pensieve. They both had identical tear tracks running down their faces but had smiles as well.
“Only Sirius,” Remus mumbled.
“I agree,” Harry mumbled.
They signed the rest of the paperwork, and were told that the Goblins would send Malcom an owl with all the details of what they had inherited.
They took a Portkey back to Parkinson manor where the Parkinsons and Tonks were waiting for them.
“Oh Harry,” Pansy cried, moving first. She ran over to him and pulled him into a huge hug. A second later, he was crying onto her shoulder.
Tonks moved over and hugged Remus. He seemed a little more in control but clung to her as tightly as Harry was clinging to Pansy.
A few minutes later, they sat in the library. Remus and Tonks were sitting next to each other, Malcom and Gruoch as well, while Pansy was sitting firmly on Harry’s lap and showed no sign at all of moving.
“Sirius left us everything. I have to watch some Monty Python and work out a way of destroying the painting of his mother in Grimmauld Place,” Harry said quietly. “And we have to try and waste his fortune having fun.”
Remus nodded in agreement. “A typical Sirius Will if you can call it that.”
Harry slowly started to smile, as an idea occurred to him. “There’s going to be an election soon, isn’t there?”
“There is,” Malcom agreed.
“I was thinking that Remus would make a wonderful Minister of Magic.”
The other members of the room all acquired identical looks of shock.
“But I’m a werewolf,” Remus exclaimed. While at the same time, Malcom said something very similar.
“Fudge is going to sign a Bill announcing that Werewolves are allowed to run for office to show how open minded he is - Malcom, that’s your job,” Harry said calmly. “You need to persuade Fudge that it will get him elected again.
“With a month to go, we’ll announce Remus’ candidacy in a low key fashion. He’ll pretty much be ignored as a special interest token candidate. I’m expecting there to be a Death Eater candidate as well as Fudge. Anyone else, we’ll need to find their weakness and exploit it so that they pull out. I want a three horse race.”
“And then?” Remus asked softly.
“With a week to go, we’ll arrange for the Death Eater to be exposed publicly, and at the same time, go for a massive attack on Fudge. We’ll show that he’s been financially and morally corrupt, and then start that court case against Umbridge, discrediting him for appointing her. I want there to be no time for anyone else to declare themsevles, so that people only have one candidate they can vote for. The day before the election, we’ll release to the Press some of Remus’ history, and I’ll publicly endorse him.”
“Harry, you’re talking about manipulating the Wizarding World.”
“Why yes, I am,” Harry agreed. “Your point?”
“Are you insane?” Tonks asked, gaping at Harry.
“Would I know if I was?” Harry grinned back. “I don’t think so.”
“He’s not insane,” Pansy said firmly, a proud look on her face. It was a look that was warming Harry internally, as he realised he enjoyed having someone to be proud of him like that.
“The difference between insanity and genius is judged by success,” Gruoch said dryly. “Why did you choose Remus?”
“Because you and Malcom both would prefer to be in the shadows to start with, and you’d both be serious candidates. We need Remus to look like he’s doing it to make a point, not because he expects to win. We want Fudge and the Death Eater candidate to underestimate him and concentrate on battling each other.
“And Remus will help end this stupid superiority complex wizards have, a werewolf as Minister? Those that don’t have an apoplectic fit will be more welcome to the Emancipation of the House Elves Act and the Magical Creatures Equality Act he can introduce.”
“So, Remus,” Malcom said slowly, “how do you fancy being our exalted leader?”
“If I do it, you do know that I’m going to do the best job I can and not be swayed by anyone?”
“Of course,” Malcom said. “I wouldn’t expect anything else from you. I’d rather have a competent, honest man in office than an incompetent, corrupt man. We’ll give you some major backing when Harry launches his publicity blitz; we’ll pull on board everyone who owes us a favour.”
“I still think that you’re insane Harry, but sure, let’s do it.”
Harry grinned. “Of course, having a steady relationship will help with the public impressions.”
Remus groaned and turned to Tonks. “Ignoring the interfering git over there, will you please go out with me officially? Not for the office, or because of his bloody teasing, but because I really like you.”
“Go out? What, are we back at Hogwarts?” Tonks teased.
“I taught there,” Remus complained. “I picked up their lingo. It’s Harry’s fault.”
Harry snorted elegantly.
“Yes,” Tonks laughed. “I will go out with you.” She leaned in and kissed Remus gently.
“Yeah!” Harry cheered loudly.
“Sirius wanted a prank with his money and can you think of a bigger prank than putting Remus in power?”
Malcom slowly smiled -- a smile that was echoed around the room.
“No, Harry,” Remus said slowly, “I can’t think of a bigger prank than that. He’d be laughing himself sick.”
“So, how are you really feeling?” Pansy asked when they were alone that night.
“Tired,” Harry sighed softly. “It was hard seeing Sirius again, so full of life.”
Pansy nodded. “And why are you taking that cow Umbridge to court?”
Harry sighed sadly and raised his hand.
She took it and blinked, seeing the scars. “She did this to you?”
“In detention. What I wrote was etched into my hand.”
“Harry,” she said firmly, shocked that someone would dare do that to Harry Potter and horrified that someone would do that to her Harry. “I know you’re going to take her to court, but that’s not enough. No one does this to you. I’m going to make her life hell.” The look on her face would have caused Voldemort to have second thoughts.
“You know, you’re a little scary when you look like that,” Harry said.
“You’re not the one who needs to be scared,” she smiled, losing the look as quickly as she had gained it. She looked up into his eyes. As tenderly as she could, she pulled his hand up and softly kissed his scars, and then kissed his fingers.
She lightly pushed him back onto the bed, moving him so he was against the pillows, and crawled on top of him, resting her hands on his chest, and her chin on her hands so she could look up at him.
“Do you have any idea how proud of you I am?” she asked him seriously. “Since your birthday, you’ve been making decisions, coming up with amazing plans, and living up to your promise.
“You are amazing.” She paused and took a deep breath.
“I love you, Harry Potter.”
He opened his mouth, but she reached up and lightly placed her finger to his lips. “You don’t have to say anything now, Harry. I know that you’re not ready to. That’s not why I told you.
“I told you because I want you to know, without a doubt, that there is at least one person out there who thinks of you as the most important person in her life. And who thinks of you as Harry, not as the Boy Who Lived, or anything else.
“I want you to know that I will always be right there next to you, and I will always make sure that you are never alone. I love you, Harry, for the boy you have been, and the man you are becoming. I love you for protecting me, for fighting for me, for forcing me to fly again, for making me laugh, for giving me a reason to change, for giving me a reason to grow as well.
“Now, when you are ready and you feel it, you can tell me that you love me back. Until then, I’ll wait.”
She looked up and into his bright green eyes. They were swimming with emotions, gratitude, and something else, something that would sooner or later be love for her. But what she didn’t see pleased her as much. The signs of depression were gone and replaced with something that looked like awe.
“But what you can do,” she whispered, “is kiss me.”
He smiled at her, and his hands reached down, and with an ease that thrilled her, he lifted her off his body and slid her up along his body until she was hovering over his head. “Thank you,” he said quietly.
“I meant it,” she said.
“I know,” he replied, slowly lowering her. He held her still, brushing feather-soft kisses over her lips, before he lowered her completely, wrapped his arms around her back, and rolled her over. He kissed her repeatedly and seemed to be trying to say something with his kisses that he couldn’t say in words.
Pansy let her hands roam into his hair, holding him close, and knew, without doubt, that sooner or later he would admit that he loved her, and for him, that would be the final commitment.
On their next day off, Pansy and Harry went to Grimmauld Place. Remus and Tonks had told them that it was unoccupied, as the Order was currently using a different base for their operations.
“So this is where you stayed last summer?” Pansy sniffed, not looking too impressed.
“Yeah,” Harry agreed. “I stayed in a room with Ron upstairs. Sirius was here with Buckbeak all summer; I think he almost went mad with boredom. We did a lot of things wrong.”
He smiled slightly, “It was also here that I realised Ginny had grown up. She was curled up on the couch, and I noticed the firelight in her eyes.”
“Should I be jealous?” Pansy asked.
Harry shook his head. “Nope. I’m just reminiscing. Things could have happened between us, maybe, but you never know. It could have been weird with her being Ron’s sister and everything. But that doesn’t matter, anyway; she’s with Dean, and me?” He paused, and turned, lightly crowding her against a wall. “I have this gorgeous girl with long brown hair, mysterious grey eyes, and extremely kissable lips, who loves me. Would I give her up?”
He dropped his head down and kissed her lingeringly. “Not for anything.”
She smiled against his lips. “I’m glad, because I’ve seen her Bat Bogey Hex, and I don’t want to get into a fight with her.”
He laughed, “I heard about that.”
“I could have kissed her,” Pansy grinned. “I’d wanted to curse Draco for so long.”
“Well, I’m glad you didn’t,” Harry replied. “Because then I’d have the girl I’m currently falling for with the girl that I might have, and I’d be alone.”
“And we couldn’t have that,” Pansy replied, kissing him deeply again.
A few minutes later, with Harry’s hair distinctly more mussed than usual, they approached the curtain covering the portrait of Mrs Black.
Without ceremony, Harry ripped it open.
“Oh, it’s you,” the portrait sniffed. “And who’s your filthy trollop?”
Pansy glared at the portrait. “Parkinson,” she said in an ice-cold voice. “And I’ll think you’ll find that my bloodline doesn’t contain any imperfections unlike your great uncle, the Muggle.”
The painting seemed to pale. “You’re Malcom and Gruoch’s child?”
“Indeed,” Pansy sneered. “And you’re nothing more than a filthy Mudblood.”
“How dare you!” Mrs Black thundered.
“I dare, Mudblood, because unlike you, we did not tolerate that sort of nonsense in our family. Harry, this painting is useless, you’ll have to remove it.”
“You can’t take me down,” Mrs Black said scornfully. “No one can!”
“Who said anything about taking you down? Harry owns this place now, and I like your frame.”
“So my good-for-nothing son is dead. Good riddance to bad rubbish.”
“One of the things I’ve learnt recently,” Harry said, entering the conversation, “is that revenge is good for the soul. My soul in particular. I hated you last year – now I have contempt for you. Sirius’ last wish was that you be destroyed, and I’m going to do that.”
“And how are you going to do that, half-blood?”
Harry smiled and lifted up a can. “Muggles are fascinating,” he told her cheerfully. “And so inventive. This is turpentine, otherwise known as paint remover.”
“You can’t!” Mrs Black said, going white again.
Harry dipped a brush into the can and passed it to Pansy and pulled out another one himself. “Oh, I think we can.”
“Kreacher!” Mrs Black bellowed.
A dirty, twisted house elf appeared. “What is sir doing?” he snivelled.
“Destroying this painting,” Harry replied calmly, testing it on the bottom corner. He smiled as the paint vanished.
“Sir can’t be doing that,” Kreacher said.
“Oh, I can,” Harry said without looking at him. “With Sirius dead, I own this place. And as Sirius asked for this painting to be destroyed, we’re going to do that now.”
“Kreacher is glad Black is dead,” the elf muttered to himself.
“Stop them, Kreacher,” Mrs Black shouted.
Kreacher raised his hand, slowly, “Mistress give command,” he mumbled and threw a curse at Harry.
The curse never arrived, as with a pop Dobby appeared between them, catching the spell casually.
“How dare Filthy Kreacher attack Harry Potter,” Dobby spat, obviously incensed. “Harry Potter is a great and powerful wizard; is friend to all house-elves, and Filthy Kreacher try and break that friendship?
“Filthy Kreacher has been warned, now Dobby will be dealing with Filthy Kreacher.”
“Kreacher is sorry,” the old elf cried, falling to his knees and grovelling.
“Dobby doesn’t care,” Dobby replied harshly. “Dobby has called for Council meeting. Council will decide fate of elf that attacks Master.”
“No,” Kreacher cried, as Dobby walked up to him, grabbed him by the ear, and popped away.
“Have I mentioned that Dobby’s wonderful?” Pansy asked.
“Not to him,” Harry grinned. “You might want to do that.”
“I think I will,” Pansy laughed. “I’m glad you invited him.”
“I thought that Kreacher might cause a problem, but I am going to have to ask about this Elf Council though. It seems that we know so little about how house-elves operate.” Harry commented as he reached down and loaded the paintbrush with turpentine.
“Stop, I command you,” Mrs Black shouted.
“I think,” Harry said to Pansy casually, “that this will be a lot easier after I do this.” He moved the paintbrush and carefully removed the painting’s mouth. He smiled happily as Mrs Black lost the ability to talk.
“Perfect,” Pansy agreed.
Together they set to work, and it took them less than thirty minutes for Mrs Black to become a mess on the floor.
“I think it needs one more touch,” Pansy said, looking at the now black canvass.
She reached out with her wand and left a small message in red letters.
“Thank you,” Harry said, wrapping his arm around his girlfriend. “Let’s go home and go for a ride. Maybe we can watch the sunset together.”
“I’d like that, Harry.”
Minerva McGonagall waked into the Headmaster’s office, and sat down opposite him.
“Good morning,” Albus smiled.
“Good morning, Albus,” Minerva said formally.
“What can I do for you on this lovely day?”
“Albus, I must protest once more about Severus’ behaviour. It is simply unfair on the rest of the students that he practises such an appalling bias in his actions, and it makes a mockery of the House Points institution.”
“Now, Minerva, it’s not that bad,” Albus said lightly.
“In the past four years, Severus has taken nine hundred and forty two points from Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Gryffindor. In the same period, he has removed forty-eight from Slytherin. He has given one hundred and six points to the other houses, and one thousand two hundred and thirteen to his own.
“It is appalling that he has been allowed to get away with this. And let’s not talk about his attitude. We are here as educators, yet we are producing generations of people who hate Potions as a subject, except for his Slytherins, obviously.”
“I am aware of the situation,” Albus said firmly.
“What are you doing about it?” Minerva demanded.
“I will talk to Severus.”
Minerva rolled her eyes. “You can talk to him all you want. While you are there, you can tell him that he will not be teaching Harry Potter potions this year. I have decided to tutor him myself in the subject. I will offer the same to any of my students who desire to study potions but will not do so under Severus.
“Filius and Ponoma are offering a similar scheme to their students.”
“You will do no such thing,” Dumbledore said, leaning forwards.
“I already have permission from the Governors,” Minerva replied a bit testily. “I have given you many years to sort this mess out, Albus, and you have failed to act. At every opportunity you have pushed Harry to work with Severus to Harry’s detriment. I will not see a fine student wasted due to a Professor, a Professor who is a supposed adult, holding a grudge against the boy’s parents for actions long before the boy was born.”
“It is important that Severus continues to help Harry.”
“Not any more,” Minerva replied firmly. “Severus has had his chance and has failed.
“I find myself in the unusual position of losing respect for you, Albus. You have been blind to Severus’ faults for too many years, and I will not stand for it anymore. The future of our students is more important than what ever you hope to get out of Severus.
“You can, of course, use your powers as Headmaster to override the governors. I sincerely hope that you do not follow that path. If you do, I shall be forced to seriously consider my position at Hogwarts.”
With a firm nod, Minerva stood and marched out of the Headmasters office, suddenly feeling relieved that she had finally broached the subject that had been bothering her for so many years.
She had an inbuilt sense of fair play, and Severus’ behaviour had been far beyond that. The other two heads of house had agreed that this year any points taken by Severus would be examined in great detail, and any found unfair or over the top would be reinstated. They had considered treating Slytherins like Snape treated Gryffindor, but they had decided that they should not be punishing the children for Snape’s behaviour, and that they did not want to sink to his level.
It had taken her a long time to reach the stage when she felt that she had to go behind the Headmaster’s back, but her protests each year had fallen on vague promises to deal with the issue.
She didn’t know why Albus protected Snape like he did, and why he forced Harry to work with him, and she didn’t care any more. Harry’s future, when all this Voldemort stuff was dealt with, was more important than the settling of old grudges.
She entered her suite and made herself a cup of tea. She sat down in her favourite arm chair and picked up the potions book she was currently studying. She was determined that any pupil taking her class would out perform Severus’.
“Harry,” Pansy called, walking into the bedroom. Harry was lounging on the bed, engrossed in a book.
“Yes?” he asked, folding the corner of the page he was reading.
“You know we have bookmarks for that sort of thing?”
Harry grinned. “What’s up?”
She held up the parchment in her hand. “Daphne wants to come round for the afternoon.”
“Does she know what you look like normally?”
“No, I’ve not told her.”
“What do you want to do?”
“I was thinking of confessing to her. She was my best friend at Hogwarts,” she added the distinction, hoping he’d realise that he was her best friend otherwise. “And she’s pretty good in a fight, so she could help us out.”
“Do you trust her?”
Pansy nodded. “I do; she hates Draco, and that’s always a good start. She knows I hate him as well, and she’s helped me deal with him.”
“So you’re going to tell her everything and hope she joins us?”
“Okay,” Harry said, “but if she says no, we are going to have to Obliviate her.”
“I know,” Pansy said with a smile. “She’s due this afternoon. We’re going to have to be careful to make sure that she doesn’t run into any other versions of us running around.”
“As we haven’t seen her, we did, and she didn’t,” Harry said dryly.
“What, no complaints about a headache?”
Harry grinned, “I’ve accepted it now.”
“When is she due?”
“A couple of hours.”
“Good,” Harry said, suddenly on his feet.
“Oh?” Pansy asked warily.
“Yep, good,” Harry replied, stalking towards her.
“Why is it good?”
“Because it gives me plenty of time.”
“Plenty of time?”
“Yes,” he agreed as he pounced forwards suddenly, catching her. He wrapped his arms around her waist and lifted her easily. “Plenty of time to see how many times I can kiss you.”
“Oh,” Pansy smiled. “’kay.”
He lowered her onto the bed and lived up to his word by spending an hour kissing her.
“It’s good to see you again, Quality,” Daphne said with a smile.
“I told you not to call me that,” Pansy groaned, hoping that Harry couldn’t hear the nickname.
“You were the one who turned up at the Ball looking like a Muggle confectionery,” Daphne countered.
“Sit down, Daph,” she told the slim blonde. “We need to talk.”
“I’ve got a confession,” Pansy sighed. She sat down as well, leaning forwards. It had never occurred to her when she had first worn the glamour spell that she would have to confess to her best friend about it later. It wasn’t until Harry had pointed out that her friends might be upset that she had lied to them that she had looked at it from the other side of the coin.
Daphne raised one of her elegantly perfect eyebrows inquiringly. “Go on.”
“This isn’t what I really look like,” she confessed quickly. “I’ve been wearing a glamour spell because I wanted to make friends for who I am, not how I look, and because I wanted to hide from Draco.”
“What do you look like?” Daphne said coldly, her body language closing.
Pansy winced and moved her hand to her wand, using it to remove the glamour spell.
“You’ve looked like this the entire time I’ve know you, and you didn’t tell me?” Daphne shouted. “You’ve lied to me the entire time we’ve been friends?”
“Don’t interrupt,” Daphne spat. “Is this your idea of friendship? I’m shocked, horrified, hurt, betrayed.
“Or at least I would be if I hadn’t known since the second year,” she finished smugly, in a calm voice.
“You may be able to fool Draco sweetie, but he’s an inbred idiot. Did you really think you would be able to spend all these years at Hogwarts and not be found out?”
“Well, yes,” Pansy said, her stomach suddenly unclenching, “I did.”
“I was suspicious in the first year,” Daphne explained. “So in the second year, when Brown and Patil brought up glamour spells to hide spots, I suddenly wondered if that was what you were doing. I cast a spell to let me see through them, and I saw you properly for the first time.
“I was annoyed with you for some time.”
“So that’s why you suddenly ignored me!”
“Yeah, I didn’t want to break your secret, but I was still upset you didn’t trust me. But then I remembered that we’re Slytherin, and that’s our way, so I forgave you.”
“And you’ve known all this time?”
“Evidently,” Daphne said dryly. “It was kinda fun, especially watching Draco ignore you when I knew that if he had an inkling of what you really looked like, he’d chase you harder than he chased me.”
“We do work well together,” Pansy smiled, relaxing now.
“It’s not hard to play with the idiot boy.”
“Well, while I’m confessing, I’ve got another one for you.”
“Don’t tell me,” Daphne said. “You’ve fallen in love with Harry Potter.”
“How did you know?” Pansy asked, feeling herself go pale.
Daphne looked at her, and then shook her head. “What!?” she squeaked.
“How did you know that?”
“I was joking! You can’t be in love with Harry Potter!”
“I am,” she said quietly.
“But... but...” Daphne stuttered, completely stunned. “You... Harry... But I was joking. Tell me you’re joking.”
“I’m afraid not,” Pansy said. Now that she realised it had been a sarcastic comment, she started to enjoy her best friend being lost for words. “Harry’s brave, honourable, gorgeous, a pretty good dancer, looks great in a tux, loyal to the end of the world, and is a great kisser.”
“He’s a what?!” Daphne screamed, her face showing total shock. “How the hell can you know he’s a great kisser; you couldn’t have time to kiss him last year?”
“Funny story,” Pansy grinned, now enjoying herself. “Dad had a falling out with Lucius, who then went running to Voldemort,” she noticed that Daphne paled at her use of that name and remembered that other people didn’t normally go around speaking of him. “So we had a meeting. Dad and Dumbledore don’t get on, we can’t back Voldemort because we’d lose everything and I might have to marry toad-face, so we went to see Harry.
“He was in a bad state, so we stole him, brought him here, and I fell in love with him. Oh, and we helped him deal with a few of his problems and hired a few tutors to make sure he can defeat Voldemort.”
“...” Daphne tried to say, before shaking herself. “Okay, now tell me the real story.”
“That pretty much was the abridged version,” she said. “Look, you can’t tell anyone what’s going on.”
“I gathered that,” Daphne replied. “I’ve kept your secret for four years, and I always will.”
“Thanks,” Pansy said gratefully, smiling at her friend.
“You know that you’ve changed?”
“In what way?”
“You’re smiling a lot more, and you seem content.”
“That’s all Harry’s doing,” she admitted. “Being with him up close, and realising just how impressive he is, forced me to grow up. I wanted him from the start, but he wasn’t ready for a relationship, so I’ve had to be patient and let him get to know me first. The strange thing was that I got to know him as well and realised that if I didn’t change, I wouldn’t have a chance.
“All the time I’ve spent with him made me realise that I had the opportunity of my life, that I could actually get my hands on my prince, but I had to make sure that I could be what he needed as well. He deserves everything.
“There’s a prophecy that Dumbledore knows, that says that Harry is the only person alive who can kill Voldemort, and that one of them has to kill the other.”
Daphne gaped at her again.
“He’s powerful, really powerful; we’re friends with a house-elf, and I’ll tell you about that later, and the house-elf says that Harry is one of the three most powerful men in existence at sixteen. The other two are Voldemort and Dumbledore.
“He’s also just inherited the Black family fortune from his godfather, Sirius.”
“The one who died at the end of term?”
“Yeah. So, now he’s rich, powerful, handsome and intelligent. Can you imagine Draco with those attributes?”
“Well, toad-face’s rich,” Daphne said with a shudder.
“Yeah, well, Harry is the exact opposite of toad-face. He is still the most honest, humble, self-effacing person I’ve ever met. He would still give everything he has to help any of his friends.”
“You are really in love with him, aren’t you? You’re glowing!”
Pansy nodded, so pleased that she could finally gossip about Harry to someone her own age.
“Let me start at the beginning,” she said.
An hour later, with many questions answered, she finished with, “And then he kissed me like he was trying to pour his soul into me.”
“Wow,” Daphne said, collapsing back into the chair. “That’s so romantic!”
“I know,” Pansy sighed happily. “Want to meet him?”
“Sure, I’ll perform the girlfriend test for you.”
“No need,” Pansy smiled. “This is Harry we’re talking about.”
Daphne watched as her friend walked out to get Harry. Pansy had been her friend for her entire time at Hogwarts, and she was very glad she had her. While she was rich herself, her parents spent all of their time in other countries; they were curse hunters, who specialised in tracking down rare and obscure curses. They had left her growing up with a series of Nannies. She was pretty sure she had been put into Slytherin because she was determined to make her parents notice her one day.
She had spent most of the summer so far with her parents, as she was now sixteen, but even then they had treated her more like an old acquaintance than an actual daughter, so she had come home and Owled Pansy the next day.
And now her best friend was in love with a Gryffindor – not that his House really mattered. She knew about him, as much as everyone in school did, but didn’t really know him. Pansy was her best friend, and she deserved to know if her boyfriend could be trusted or not.
She absently undid the top few buttons of her shirt and applied a quick glamour spell to give herself some red lipstick. She’d yet to meet any boy who could resist looking at her chest, or stuttering when she used her looks to get what she wanted. It had helped her with homework many times.
“Daphne, meet Harry Potter. Harry, this is my best friend, Daphne Greengrass.”
“Hi,” Harry said casually.
Daphne looked him up and down and licked her lips. Damn, but the boy had changed, and she actually felt jealous of Pansy for a brief second; who wouldn’t want a powerful dark haired man with brilliant green eyes?
“Hi,” she simpered, throwing her long blonde hair back. She stood and sashayed over to him. “It’s good to finally meet you.”
Harry’s face seemed to go blank, as he lost all expression. “It’s nice to meet you too,” he said, his voice as emotionless as his face.
She leant forwards, watching his eyes. They flicked towards Pansy, and then met hers again. “Why don’t you come and sit by me,” she whispered breathily, “and tell me about your summer?”
“I’m sorry,” Harry said evenly. “I’m afraid that I’ve got a prior appointment I can’t miss.” She watched him throw a look at Pansy before turning on his heel.
“Damn,” she said out loud. “Harry, stop. I’m sorry.”
He paused and turned to look at her. She grabbed her wand and removed the glamour spell. “Pansy told me not to do it, but I couldn’t help it.”
“Help what?” he asked, looking confused.
“The girlfriend test,” she explained hastily. “You see how your girlfriend’s boyfriend reacts to you flirting with him. Most guys fold like a pack of cards instantly. I just wanted to check that you were serious about Pansy.”
“You could have just asked,” Harry said, emotion returning to his face in the form of a scowl.
She winced. “Can we please start again? Please.”
Harry flicked his eyes over at Pansy.
“Please,” she heard Pansy ask.
“Harry Potter,” he said dryly, holding out his hand.
“Daphne Greengrass,” she replied. “Professional inserter of foot into mouth.”
Harry smiled slightly and sat on the side of Pansy’s bed. Pansy walked over and sat next to him, and he wrapped an arm around her.
“You two look cute,” she grinned.
Pansy smiled back. “I told you that wasn’t necessary.”
“I know, Pan, but you’ve never been serious about a boy before,” she explained. “And I wanted to make sure he wasn’t going to hurt you.”
“Daphne,” Harry called, and as she looked up, she felt his eyes seem to bore into her, bypassing her defences.
“Can I trust you?” he asked, his voice soft, verging on the hypnotic.
“Yes,” she answered honestly, unable to even think of lying. She felt like she’d confess anything with him looking at her like he was.
He nodded and blinked, and she felt herself returning to normal. “What the hell was that?”
Pansy smirked. “Didn’t I mention that he was powerful?”
“Well, yeah, but...”
“You’ve just been the recipient of what I like to call the Truth Stare.”
“Pansy,” Harry groaned.
“Oh shush, sweetie,” Pansy grinned. “You might not think of yourself as anything really special, but I do. Now let me boast about you for bit.”
Harry smiled slightly, and then kissed her hard, running his hands down her back.
He pulled away, and Daphne could see that her friend was in a daze. “Wow, that works on her as well,” he grinned. He looked over at a smirking Daphne, and blushed slightly. “Sorry, she did that to me the other day, and it was very effective at getting me to shut up.”
“So Harry,” Daphne said, smiling a little. “What’s a Gryffindor doing with a Slytherin?”
Harry moved up the bed, pulling Pansy with him, and settled down. She felt her smile grow as Pansy draped herself over his side, so she could join in the conversation, and watched as Harry absently started to play with Pansy’s hair.
“I really don’t like that,” he said. “I’m not getting at you, but I’m getting pretty fed up with the school being four separate islands. And while there are bridges between some of the houses, they are not all connected in a way they should be.
“The school house system should be to encourage friendly competition and to encourage good behaviour. It shouldn’t be the basis of all out war. It shouldn’t be divisive. I think that we need to have a talk with the Sorting Hat and try and persuade it to change its ways.
“This segregation of people with similar traits into the same house is counter-productive. It reinforces certain character traits and diminishes others. Students should graduate from Hogwarts with well-rounded personalities, not just with some overpowering aspects.
“If you look at the current crop of students, you’ve got Hufflepuffs who are scared of their own shadows and so timid, they wouldn’t say boo to a ghost, but at the same time will help anyone who needs it. They’d make perfect nurses and carers.
“Then you have the Ravenclaws who are perfect for research jobs and for being doctors and the like.
“And that leaves Gryffindors and Slytherins for everything else. We are much more alike than we would ever admit, but if you look, it takes courage and brains to do what both houses want, and while the Slytherin is supposedly based on ambition, it comes down to the same thing.
“It’s like the purpose of the school is to prejudge the future of the students, to lock them into character roles and make them play them forever. And it seems to be getting worse. At least in our parents’ days, a relationship between a Ravenclaw and a Slytherin only meant some teasing; nowadays it’s almost looked on as taboo.
“Well, I’m not going to stand for it. I’m going to break down the walls between the houses. I want the school unified, and I’ll do what ever it takes to accomplish that.”
“Old Merlin on a bike,” Daphne cursed slowly, shaking her head. It hadn’t just been his words; it had been the way his eyes had gleamed with purpose.
“Are you serious?” Daphne asked.
“Absolutely,” Harry replied evenly.
“So, is there a secret handshake?”
“A secret handshake, or maybe a t-shirt – you know, something to identify us as your back-up crew.”
Pansy laughed. “Typical: wave a revolution in front of a Slytherin and the first thing they do is ask to sign up.”
“What about you?” Daphne asked with a grin.
“I’ve already promised to follow Harry into Hell, if necessary; I’ll be standing next to him on the battlefield and making sure he lives through it. Hogwarts? That’s merely something to keep him busy.”
Harry laughed. “Well, yeah. Things have changed, Daphne. I’m not who I was, and I’m not yet who I will be. But I like the path I’m on.”
“The White Knight,” Daphne said slowly. “You are the perfect White Knight.”
Harry started to blush, “I’m just me,” he protested.
“Sir Galahad was a White Knight, Joan of Arc, Don Quixote, Godric Gryffindor, and there are loads more throughout history,” Daphne said, now convinced of her words. “White Knights are modest, they expect nothing in return for their good deeds, and they are givers. They are the anonymous philanthropists who share their wealth, maybe by setting up their friends with a joke shop. They share their time, their energy, and their life with others and their only reward is to be allowed to do it.
“You’re merciful, sympathetic, helpful, giving and heroic, but you’re not perfect. You’re impulsively decisive, overly sentimental and misdirected.”
“But what happens if a Grey Queen falls for the White Knight, and helps him change?” Pansy asked softly.
Daphne thought for a second, running the scenario through her mind. She almost smiled as she realised she was conditioned to think in terms of Hogwarts Houses. What would happen if the Gryffindor took on some Slytherin perspectives? And what would happen to the Slytherin as well?
They would no longer be either anymore. They wouldn’t be able to look at the world in such black and white terms. The grey would lighten, and the white would acquire a faint darkness.
“Then the White Knight acquires the edge he needs to ensure that he doesn’t die tilting at windmills,” she said, as she finished her ruminations. “And I pity the Death Eaters that stand in your way.”
“Why don’t we go riding?” Harry said suddenly.
“Because I’m really comfy?” Pansy offered.
“You can sleep like that tonight if you want.”
“’Kay,” Pansy smiled brightly.
“Err, you two are sleeping together?”
“Sure,” Pansy said, absently taking off her jeans and searching for her Jodhpurs. “You want to wear my spare pair?” she asked, as she pulled them out of a drawer.
“Sure,” Daphne said, a little shocked at how comfortable her friend was around Harry. She hadn’t expected Pansy to be sleeping with him, and she realised she would have to get her alone very soon to make her spill all the interesting details.
“So, what did you think of her?”
“Nice, really; she’s just another student, you know. Not a Slytherin or what ever. Just another person.”
Pansy smiled. “She really liked you. You got to see the real Daphne, not the fake blonde act she likes to show everyone else.”
“How did you both fool Draco?”
Pansy smiled, absently pulling her t-shirt off. “It was simple. Whenever Draco started driving me nuts, Daphne would wander by, smiling blankly. Draco would then go straight after her, and then when she’d had enough, I’d go looking for my Drac-y-poo, and the game would go on.”
“I need a shower,” Pansy sighed. “Sometimes, I really think I should get my hair cut.”
“You’ve seen how long it takes me to look after it – it would be a lot easier if I just cut it all off.”
“You can’t do that,” Harry said firmly. “I love your hair.”
“Fine,” Pansy sighed, “wait here.” She walked into the bathroom and stripped off her underwear, jumping in to the shower. It didn’t take her that long to wash and condition her hair. She had absolutely no intention of cutting it off. It was one of her best features, but she wasn’t adverse to a little manipulation here and there of her knight in slightly grey armour.
With her hair conditioned, and a thought accepted that she was going to have to get him into the shower with her soon, she pulled on a robe, rubbed her hair half dry with a towel, and walked back into the bedroom.
“Here,” she said, handing him a brush. “You want me to keep it; you get to help looking after it.”
Harry smiled slowly, and then moved back onto the bed. “You could have just asked,” he commented mildly.
“Where would the fun in that be?” Pansy asked, realising that he hadn’t been fooled at all.
He laughed. “I have no idea. What do I do?”
“Brush my hair, Harry, till it’s dry.”
He gestured her to sit in front of him, and he slowly started to stroke the brush through her hair.
“I’ve always loved having my hair played with,” she said softly.
“And I love playing with your hair,” he said back, one hand reaching out with his wand to dim the lights.
She closed her eyes, and sat as still as she could, luxuriating in the feel of his hands in a steady rhythm, brushing her hair slowly and surely. His magic hands obviously worked on hair as well.
She frowned as she felt something, like an echo, a whisper of sound. She concentrated and slowly it became louder. “You’re broadcasting?” she half asked, half stated quietly.
“I know,” he replied calmly, not stopping his movements.
She breathed deeply, and used the feel of his hands to empty her mind completely, focusing on him and him alone.
She saw Daphne approach him, through his eyes, and felt his revulsion at the thought of anyone else touching him like that. She felt that his confidence and ease with her didn’t mean it applied to anyone else. He had wanted to curse her friend, to stop Daphne from worrying her. Daphne was coming onto him, and all he had thought about was her.
She smiled, leaning her head back further. He had made a realisation then, something inside him had changed, but she couldn’t see what; she couldn’t make out what he was trying to teach her.
“Relax,” he whispered. “Let your mind go. You don’t need Legilimens for this; it would be overkill. Just sink into my thoughts – come into my mind.”
She did as she was told, pushing her mind towards his, feeling his welcoming touch, as he helped her along.
With her eyes firmly closed and the repetitive feel of his hands, she watched the memories he wanted to show her. How he felt waking up next to her for the first time; how he had decided to trust her because he wanted a clean break from things. How he had grown to understand her and her family. How free he had felt riding Thunder for the first time.
And then the images changed, and like a slideshow, pictures of her started to appear. Her running away from him, looking at him over his shoulder, pretending to be his girlfriend, dancing alone by the lake.
The pictures came faster; her at the top of the stairs, her changing in the Limo, her dancing with him, the look she gave him as she practically begged him to kiss her, and finally, her stripping her jeans off earlier today.
There was a feeling behind all these pictures, a message he was trying to pass to her. It was something to do with his reaction to Daphne, and his reaction to her.
She gasped suddenly, her mind focusing, scouring his. She felt him open up, completely without hesitation, in what was for him the ultimate expression of trust.
“You love me,” she whispered, awed.
She felt his response to the words he didn’t know how to say.
“If you feel it, just say it,” she whispered again.
“I don’t know if I can,” he replied. “Everyone I love gets hurt.”
“That’s part of life Harry. Pain is as important as pleasure. Without one, the other is meaningless. You have to live your life for you, not for others. You can’t hide your feelings and hope that bad things don’t happen. Bad things will happen, but if you’ve shown your love, at least you’ve had that happiness. Live every moment.”
“How can you be so sure of yourself?”
“Because I have you.”
“I love you,” he whispered. “You’re the first person I think of when I wake up and the last before I go to sleep. You inhabit my dreams and defeat my nightmares. You’re my saviour and my reason.”
Pansy felt her own tears slide down her cheek, and she turned, straddling him and sitting on his lap.
As softly as she could, she took his face in her hands and pressed her lips to his. Inside his mind, she felt the response he had and knew he could feel hers.
She could see now that he admitted it to himself, and that it was over. She had won. Her prince had come; and what ever happened from here, she would never be alone again. She could feel his reassurance and agreement, so she sent her own back.
‘I love you. Always.’
As always, thanks to my beta crew for all their hard work and for keeping me going when I was writing this. John, Cami, Rachael, Susie, Julie, Leslie, and Ellie.
This is the shortest chapter of all of them.
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