Happily Ever After
With thanks as always to my beta reads, Kokopelli, Gardengirl, Ishtar and Greywizard.
"Harry," Hermione called. "Excuse me," she said to the others who were sitting around them in the Gryffindor Common Room.
He looked up in surprise. "What are you doing here?"
She smiled at him and dropped into a chair opposite. "You know, I’ve not been back in here since I finished," she said, looking around. "It hasn’t changed at all. Anyway, I got a Floo from Bill, asking me to come and talk to you two."
"Why?" Gabrielle asked.
Hermione turned and looked at her. "Let’s go somewhere we can talk," she suggested.
Harry climbed to his feet and silently offered his hand to Gabrielle, who took it. "I’ve got a place," he confessed, as he led her toward the Room of Requirement.
"Somehow I’m not surprised," Hermione said with an amused tone in her voice.
Harry opened the door into a room with three chairs and a small table. "Dobby," he called. The elf appeared carrying a tea set and placed in on the table.
"Thanks," he said.
"Dobby is being happy to help," the elf said as he popped away.
"So, what happened to S.P.E.W.?" he asked.
"I grew up," Hermione replied, "and found that I have to choose my battles, and that battle wasn’t one I could ever win and even winning would be losing."
"So, what’s dragged you to school this evening?" Harry asked.
Hermione turned to Gabrielle and stared hard at her. "You could have told me."
"I didn’t tell anyone," Gabrielle replied, her chin set resolutely. "You would have stopped me doing what I wanted."
"Even so," Hermione, "we had the right to know."
"No, you didn’t," Gabrielle said bluntly. "My problems were my own, and I dealt with them accordingly."
"That’s what I don’t like," Hermione said. "What if you had been wrong? What would you have done to Harry?"
Harry was about to protest, but stopped, was well aware that Gabrielle could look after herself.
"What do you mean?" Gabrielle asked, "I don’t understand."
"What if Harry hadn’t responded like you thought he would."
"But he did," she pointed out.
"I know," Hermione replied. "But hypothetically, what if Harry hadn’t responded like you thought?"
"He didn’t react like I thought, and it was wonderful. He was more of a Prince than I ever dreamed about."
Hermione sighed. "Are you being deliberately obtuse?"
Gabrielle’s back stiffened. "Perhaps if you would get to the point rather than asking obscure questions, I could give you the answer that you’re digging for. I’ve dealt with bloody psychiatrists for seven years now. You’re all so convinced of your mental superiority that you forget exactly who you are dealing with. Please ask the question you mean and stop playing games with me. I’m not going to react how you expect because I’m not going to waste the effort and energy filtering things for you.
"You have questions, ask them, and I’ll answer, or drop the subject."
Hermione blushed. "I’m sorry," she apologised. "I’ve been spending too much time dealing with pure-blood idiots. Okay, you made Harry your focus, and he knows this. Don’t you think that puts him under a lot of pressure to be what you want, to his possible detriment?
"I want to clarify, for Harry’s sake, what happens if he doesn’t love you like you want. What would you do? He needs to know this before he gets too deeply into this relationship."
He could have told her that it was far too late for that, but kept quiet to hear Gabrielle’s response.
She looked at Hermione for a long time, a thoughtful expression on her face, before the expression cleared. "You think that I’m putting undue pressure on Harry to stay by me, and using some form of emotional blackmail on him?"
Hermione nodded. "You wake him up; tell him that you’ve spent all these years working for him. What do you expect me to think?"
"Her Prince," Harry corrected quietly.
"What?" Hermione asked, turning to face him.
"She did it for her Prince, not me," he said softly.
"But you are her Prince," Hermione pointed out.
Harry smiled softly, "I’m her Prince as long as I want to be. Her focus wasn’t on me, but on her Prince. I am her Prince, but if I stop acting like it — for sake of discussion, if I say I’m not in love with her and we break up, then I won’t be her Prince, and she will move on and find her real Prince, having learnt from the mistakes that led her to believe that I was her Prince."
Hermione tilted her head and looked at Gabrielle.
"He is my Prince," she said proudly. "No one but my Prince would ever be able to understand me so well. Harry is correct; if things didn’t work out, then Harry obviously wasn’t my Prince, and I’d deal with the data and make sure I didn’t make the same mistakes with my next search."
Hermione leaned back in her chair. "That wasn’t the answer I expected," she confessed. "When Bill mentioned you were a sociopath, I was concerned about how much pressure you were putting on Harry. All of us have worked for his freedom, and we didn’t want Albus’ cage replaced with one of your making."
Gabrielle nodded. "I can understand that. It’s pretty insulting toward me, as it assumes that I would want to cage my Prince, and it implies that I would willingly sacrifice his freedom for some twisted pleasure on my part.
"There is, at the moment, a thin mental separation between my Prince and Harry, until we are married. Then I will drop it, because I won’t marry him if I am not sure, and if I am not sure that he is sure."
She took a deep breath. "I am already vulnerable to him like no one else. His opinion counts, his views count, and he can hurt me in a way no one else can. It is that feeling of vulnerability that has me more convinced than anything else.
"I did not expect to feel like this — I hoped I would, but I didn’t expect it, especially not this fast. Everything that has happened since Harry awoke has merely reinforced the opinion that my original plan of focusing on my Prince and that Harry was my Prince was correct."
Hermione nodded. "I think you need to explain that to your parents. They were very upset." She held out a Portkey — a metal ball. "They are expecting you."
Gabrielle looked at Harry. "It will make them happy," she said.
"Go," he said with a smile. "I’ll wait up for you."
She stood and moved over to kiss him. "I won’t be long," she promised. She reached into her pocket and took out her small golden key and gave it to him. "This is the key to my Pensieve. You can look at whatever you like, but I’d recommend looking at Ron and Hermione’s wedding first, and maybe the montage I put together for you."
Gabrielle took the Portkey and vanished.
"Happier?" he asked Hermione.
She nodded. "A little. How do you feel about all of this?"
"When I was talking to Neville, I compared Gabrielle and Ginny. It’s like comparing a glow-worm to a Lumos spell. On the girlfriend front I could probably get any single girl I wanted, if I tried hard enough. And I’d probably be happy for the rest of my life.
"Gabrielle is different. She’s going to be a lot more work, she’s going to push me and expect to be pushed back. She’s going to mould me into her ideal of a Prince, and she’s going to continue to mould herself into her ideal of a Princess.
"She is never going to accept anything that resembles normality; she’s never going to take the easy road if it doesn’t lead where she wants to go. And she has the desire, deep inside her."
"The desire to make a difference, to change things. To do what is right, not what is easy. I’ve defeated Voldemort, but now I have a bigger battle to fight, one for our society’s very survival."
"I’m not sure I like this drive you have," she whispered.
"What did you expect?" he asked. "I have all this knowledge about what is going on in the world, and you said yourself that I have a saving people thing."
"But it’s so fast, and so broad. Your plans are on a scale unheard of."
"And that’s what makes it fun," he grinned. "So, what do you think of Gabrielle? From what I can tell, she’s about as much of a sociopath as I am."
"I think that her psychiatrist is an idiot, taking an easy option of slapping a pejorative diagnosis on her rather than exploring her properly. That’s why I’m a little upset about not knowing about it; I could have helped more and protected her from the damage that useless idiot has done.
"There are seven key signs for a sociopath; Gabrielle barely matches three of them, and as for the other four, only an idiot would apply them to her."
"Things like her dancing with a broken rib? Her inability to understand the way others act?" Harry asked.
"The broken rib could be one indication," Hermione allowed, "and her lack of personal empathy maybe, but she hasn’t done anything criminal, she has long range plans, and while she is deceitful, it has not been for financial gain. It’s only for the personal happiness of others and done in such a way as it does not affect others negatively. She is aggressive on a Quidditch field, but not more so than anyone else.
"This idiot psychiatrist, when faced with something he didn’t understand, broke the cardinal rule of being a psychiatrist and attached a label to a misdiagnosis, which, in Gabrielle’s youth and inexperience, she believed, and has used that as a crutch to explain the little things that bother her. And she’s probably used what she knows about being a sociopath to make herself act like one, in a self-defeating circle.
"She says that she has a lack of empathy, and that she has faked it. Well, that is an impossibility, and that in itself should have been the biggest clue that she is not a sociopath. And having watched her Pensieve memories of Hagrid and Olympe’s wedding, I can say that she is a lot more empathic that she gives herself credit for.
"I’m not willing to attach a diagnosis at this point, but I do want to speak to her, and you, professionally. Just from what Fleur has told me — that Gabrielle started talking at a young age and had a huge vocabulary — is a huge clue about what might be going on.
Harry nodded slowly. "Do you agree with their belief that her Veela nature and her human nature clashing was a cause of whatever she has?"
Hermione looked thoughtful. "That is a possibility," she allowed, "but it’s far too pat for my liking. The mind is an extremely complex thing. I went into psychology because I wanted to study what might happen when you woke up. The whole field was fascinating, so as soon as I left Hogwarts I went to a Muggle university, while Ron started to work for the Cannons.
"Once I had a few years under my belt, I was able to start to really identify some of the root problems in the Wizarding World, and yes, I did talk to you about them."
Harry smiled slightly. "As did everyone else. I’ll talk to Gabrielle about having an in-depth chat with you soon."
"Do you want me there to help?"
"Not to start with," Harry said decisively. "She will accept things from me that she won’t accept from anyone else. Like you said, the mind is a complicated thing, and she has convinced herself that the diagnosis is true, so she doesn’t want to change."
"Do you know why she has a Pensieve?" she asked, not waiting for an answer. "So she could study her own actions and try to understand why she did what she did. Rather than help cure her, I think that was a perfect way to reinforce her behaviour. That idiot she was seeing as a therapist could have created a new Dark Lady. Luckily, she was far too focused on her Prince to go down that route, and she’s succeeded despite him, not because of him. I’ve got his name, and I’m going to pay him a visit soon and then see if he can say anything to stop me having him arrested for child abuse.
"Still, she has shown an incredible amount of trust in you, giving you full access to her memories. I wouldn’t do that for anyone."
"I would, for her."
Hermione nodded. "I think you would at that," she agreed. "It is really good to have you talk back again," she said with a smile.
"I’m not as good a listener as I once was," he pointed out.
"But a far better conversationalist," she countered. "How are you doing with all of this?"
He looked at her for a long time. "Far better than I should be. Because of Gabrielle, and because of everything that was said to me when I was asleep. I don’t feel disconnected with my current time period because I know what is going on. What did disturb me, of course, is my peer group being older than I am, and the dramatic changes in how you all look, but what has helped is talking to everyone and finding out that you’re the same people underneath. Plus, Gabrielle has been there, holding my hand. That’s one of the reasons I’m happy to talk to her about this mix-up — I get to hold her hand for a bit."
Hermione smiled. "Harry, I wasn’t kidding when I said that Gabrielle is a genius — it takes one to know one, and I’ve known Gabrielle for eight years now — and I offer my personal and professional guarantee that she is not a sociopath."
"I believe you," Harry said. "I believed you anyway, you’re Hermione — â€˜She-Who-Is-Always-Right.’"
She laughed, "Not always. If I was, I would have been chasing down Fairy Tales years ago. I’ve got to get back to Ron — he’s cooking tonight. Oh, he’s playing on Sunday, and he’s got tickets for the three of us."
"Brilliant," Harry replied. "We’ll be there in orange to show our support. Actually, no, I’ll be there in orange. Gabrielle has far too much dress sense to wear that colour."
Hermione laughed and stood up; he stood up as well, and hugged her.
"We’re always going to be friends, and we won’t let a little thing like me napping for eight years get in the way of that," he reassured her.
Hermione smiled at him. "You can walk me out before you enjoy Gabrielle’s perspective on my wedding."
"I’ll bet you looked beautiful in your dress."
They left the Room of Requirement and walked down to the Entrance Hall, where they bade each other farewell, then Harry walked up to Dumbledore’s office.
"Harry," Albus said cheerfully as he let him in. "I didn’t expect you this evening."
"Gabrielle gave me the key to her Pensieve, and suggested I have a look at Ron and Hermione’s wedding."
"Excellent," Dumbledore agreed, using his wand to bring her Pensieve out of its hiding place. "I did wonder if I might have a word first?"
"Of course," Harry said.
Harry reached over and took one. "These are actually pretty nice."
Dumbledore’s eyes twinkled merrily. "You’re the first person who’s ever actually taken one," he said happily. "Now, I have a question for you. Can I be the first to sign up?"
Harry blinked. "Sign up for what?"
"My place in the revolution," Albus said eagerly. "After your recruitment speech earlier, you could have pointed in any direction and most of us would have started to march."
Harry groaned. "I didn’t mean that as a recruitment speech."
"No," Albus agreed, his eyes still twinkling, "I didn’t think you did, but your rather incisive deconstruction of Tom’s motives, combined with your obvious passion for change, did give the impression that you were going to change our world for the better. Most of my students are very aware of the current state of the world. They have seen their parents and their elder siblings and friends bemoan the results of the arch-conservatism that has been in control for far too long.
"As you know, I wanted you to fix things, and I find myself regretting that I was willing to sacrifice your happiness for what I thought correct. I did not realise that there might be more than one way to achieve the goal, or that mine might not be the best way.
"Introspection is one of the gifts of time, Harry, but it is something I have long lacked the desire to indulge in. Your actions, and more, the actions of Hermione, have forced me to undergo a rigorous period of self-examination. If someone as brilliant as Hermione had to go to such lengths to manoeuvre around me, it spoke ill of my goals."
Harry laughed softly, "I did wonder if you’d pick up on that. Gabbi did."
"A remarkable girl, that one," Dumbledore agreed. "You do seem to have fallen on your feet."
"In more ways than one," he agreed.
"Well, I have some more thinking to do," Albus said jovially. "Don’t let me stand between you and your memories."
Harry nodded and walked over to the Pensieve, inserting the key into a lock. The Pensieve opened and a series of instructions appeared — instructions that hadn’t been there when he had looked with Gabrielle.
He pressed a button and felt himself fall in the Pensieve. He landed in a small room. On a console in front of him was a series of switches, over forty of them, each with a label. He read through the labels quickly, and pressed the correct lever.
A door opened to the left, and he slowly walked through. He appeared in what he presumed was Gabrielle’s bedroom. The room was huge and palatial, with a large four-poster bed and matching antique furnishings.
"Hello, my prince," a younger, shorter Gabrielle said from the side. He turned to face her, and somehow wasn’t surprised that she was looking at him directly, even though there should have been no way that she would know where he would be standing.
"It seems like it’s going to be an eternity before you’ll see this memory," she continued, "but as you’re seeing it, it means that I have woken you, and you are my Prince. As you’ve already seen the memory of Olympe and Hagrid’s wedding, you’ll understand that I got the idea from there. I’m now thirteen years old, I’m a Beauxbatons student, and I’m learning everything a princess should know," she said, dropping a perfect curtsy. She smiled at him and shrugged off the dressing gown she was wearing, leaving her in a thin, clinging silk slip.
Gabrielle laughed softly. "I thought that it would be great for you to be able to see my development," she explained. She looked down at herself and sighed. "My hair’s nice," she commented, "but still no sign of puberty." She picked up the dressing gown and put it back on. "Don’t go anywhere," she said with a smile, and vanished.
She appeared again a few seconds later. This time she was wearing a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. "I’m fourteen now," she said, still looking directly at him. "School is strange, really. So many people, all doing things for obscure reasons, and puberty seems to be making all my friends go insane!" She sighed deeply. "I can’t wait until I’m grown up and we can be together."
She pulled off her t-shirt and posed proudly in a cropped camisole. "Look, puberty," she said. "Not much, I know, but at least it’s something!"
She vanished again, and returned once more. Her hair was longer this time, and her face had started to change, showing the more adult look she had now. Once again, she was wearing her Beauxbatons uniform.
"Well, I’m fifteen now," she said cheerfully. "Lady Puberty finally showed up, and we’ve become good friends. I’m getting to talk to you quite regularly. Hermione’s moved you out of stasis, and she’s come up with a brilliant spell so that we can teach you everything a Prince should know. Now that I understand the magic, I’ve been checking Hermione’s research, and it’s good, but it’s so predictable. I think the answer is not going to be found in a normal way. I’m positive that I’ll find it though."
She undid her shirt and placed it onto her bed. For the first time in this montage, she was wearing a bra.
"Not exactly sexy, is it?" she asked, as she looked down at her chest. "I’ll get some new ones before you see me in person." She raised her hands above her head and stretched. "I’m a B-cup at the moment, and still growing."
She smirked at him and vanished once more. The door to the right opened, and an older Gabrielle walked in. She was smiling at him. "I’m a little late," she explained. "I’m seventeen and getting ready to move to Hogwarts. I know how to wake you up now. I knew that I’d find it, and I have!"
Harry moved to the left, walking around the room.
Gabrielle smiled slightly and turned to face him again. "It’s not going to be long, my Prince, until we finally meet again, with both of us conscious, but of course, I couldn’t do that without finishing off the show, could I?" Her eyes were a lot more aware than they had been. Before it had been just something she had done without really understanding why he would be interested, but now she was aware of her own attractiveness, and understood a lot more about her own sexuality, and it showed.
"I can not wait until you undress me," she purred, as she reached behind her neck to undo the halter top to her dress. She wiggled slightly, leaving her dressed in only a pair of black heels and black silk knickers. "I told you I’d get some new underwear," she continued huskily as she slinked toward him. "Do you like my knickers, my Prince?"
Harry gulped and nodded.
She paused in front of him, swaying slightly to music only she could hear. Her hands slid over her body, slowly moving down, until her fingers were playing with the waist of her underwear.
"Do you want me to take them off?" she asked softly, smiling in to his eyes.
"Yes, please," Harry croaked, unable to take his eyes from her, and completely forgetting that he was in a memory.
She turned slightly, digging her thumbs into the waistband, before she paused. "I’m sorry, my Prince," she said, "but I’ve done all the pushing in our relationship so far. It’s time for you to make the next step. You’re seeing this memory, so I know things have gone better than I have hoped. I want you to have me, to possess me totally, but you’ve got to take me. I have to know that you believe in us like I do. Please, my Prince, don’t keep me waiting!"
She faded away, and Harry found himself outside the Pensieve. He exhaled heavily and banged his head against the wall beside the Pensieve. Repeatedly.
"Would you like a drink?" Professor Dumbledore asked softly.
Harry looked up at him and nodded.
"You will, of course, never tell anyone about this," the Headmaster continued as he opened his bottom drawer and pulled out a bottle of scotch and two glasses. He poured out two shots and passed one to Harry.
He took it and dropped down opposite Albus. He saluted him, before draining the glass. The liquid burned its way down his throat, but after the goblin food, its effect was negligible.
Albus smiled. "Sips are often better."
"I’ll remember that for next time."
"Would you accept some advice from an old man who has made a lot of mistakes?"
"Probably not," Harry replied, "but I’ll accept anything from you."
Albus laughed softly. "You have a remarkable young lady there, Harry. I was delighted when she asked to study here. As an educator, getting a hold of the finest students is always a goal, and as you, Hermione and Ron, in your own ways, were the best of your year, Gabrielle is the best of hers.
"But what you have to do is make sure that you keep her -- that you don’t neglect her and lose what you have. Love is the most powerful force in existence, and if you lose the love of your life, you are never quite the same again." His voice was soft and sad.
"So who was she?" Harry asked softly, taking a guess.
Albus sighed and examined the bottom of his glass. "Her name was Doris. I met her ten years after I defeated Grindelwald. I’d pretty much got over everything by then, and she fascinated me. We married, and were happy for some years, but then I started to hear rumours of a new Dark Lord rising, and I started to believe my own publicity, that I was the only person who could save the world again. To my regret, I pulled away from Doris, dedicating my time and efforts to forming what we now call the Order of the Phoenix. One day, I came home and she was gone.
"I am forced to admit, now, that I left her long before that. She’s a school teacher in a small town called Llanidloes in Wales."
"When did you last talk to her?" Harry asked.
"Thirty years ago."
Harry nodded and glanced down at his glass, then suddenly looked up again, over Albus’ shoulder. "What the HELL is that!?"
Albus turned fast.
"Petrificus Totalus, Incarcerous, Silencio," Harry shouted, pointing his wand at Dumbledore. The spells caught the Professor as he turned back to Harry. Fawkes looked up from his perch and trilled an amused song.
Harry walked over to the Fireplace and threw some powder into it. "Doris Dumbledore, Llanidloes, Wales."
A woman’s face appeared shortly. "Hello?"
"Hi, I’m Harry Potter. Would you mind stepping in? I’d love to have a chat with you about Albus."
The woman’s eyebrows rose, before she nodded sharply and stepped through the fireplace. She was a tall, thin woman, with soft grey eyes that danced with life and mischief. Her hair was grey and curly, and fell down to her shoulders. She looked at the spellbound Albus and turned back to Harry. "Doris Dumbledore, although I’ve used Jones for the past thirty years," she introduced herself, offering her hand.
Harry took it and was mildly surprised at her firm grip. "It’s good to meet you," he said. "I was just having a chat with Uncle Albus, and, well, we were drinking, and Albus was telling me how badly he had mistreated you."
"Oh yes," Harry continued, "He was just saying that if he hadn’t spent so much time trying to save the world, and had put some effort into saving what really mattered to him — his marriage — he would have had you next to him through his darkest days, and he wouldn’t have made some of the basic errors he did.
"Albus said that he lost contact with his feelings, and it caused him to start to treat people like pieces on a chess board. It’s only now, with the introspection and clarity of old age, that he realises just how much he lost when he pushed you away."
Doris blinked and stared at Albus. "He said that?"
"Absolutely. Obviously," Harry continued, "he’s not expecting to resume his relationship with you, but he would like the opportunity to apologise in person."
"He looks it," Doris said wryly.
"I thought," Harry continued innocently, "that you might allow him to go home with you for the night, where he could apologise under optimal conditions. I’m sure he’ll be frozen with delight for quite some time, and would be most attentive if you were to; perhaps, explain a little about what you’ve felt during this time." He paused. "This is a man who, while flawed like the rest of us, did have the best intentions at heart," he continued in a soft voice. "He managed to keep your existence a secret through two wars, and locked his love for you deep inside him."
"It was never his motives, it was his actions, Harry," Doris sighed. "But you may be right; getting some things off my chest would be cathartic."
Harry grinned and levitated Albus into the air. "He’ll follow you."
"Harry, regardless of how this turns out, I thank you. You must come over to dinner some night."
Harry smiled. "If I can bring my Princess, I’d be delighted."
"Miss Delacour? I’d be delighted to meet her as well." Doris turned and moved toward the fireplace. "Come, Albus," she commanded.
Harry smirked as the two vanished into the Floo network. Fawkes sang another amused song, and Harry walked over to him. "Hey, Fawkes," Harry said, and rubbed his head gently. "Long time, no see, for me at least."
Fawkes nodded and crooned softly.
"I don’t think I ever thanked you for my wand," Harry said. "Thanks. I couldn’t have defeated Voldemort without it."
The phoenix puffed up his chest and looked proud.
"Do you know what happened to Voldemort’s wand?"
Fawkes flew over to Albus’ desk and scratched above a drawer.
Harry opened it, and at the back, wrapped in a black silk cloth, was the brother wand to his. "I’ll bet you never expected so much evil to be done with one of your feathers."
Fawkes seemed to sigh, and a small silver tear appeared on the side of his face. It dripped down his face and vanished into his feathers.
"Yeah," Harry agreed. "Do you remember what happened the first time I met you?"
The phoenix looked embarrassed and nodded.
"Why don’t we have our own burning ceremony?" Harry asked.
Fawkes hopped up onto his shoulder.
"I’m guessing you like that idea," Harry laughed. He moved over to Fawkes’s perch and placed the wand down in the pan that caught the ashes. He stepped backward and pointed his wand at Voldemort’s. "Incendio," he said softly.
The wand seemed to resist being burnt for a second, but then it flared brightly. When the fire had died down, Fawkes flew over to it and examined the ashes for a second. With a disdainful expression, he kicked the ashes out of his perch and looked at Harry. He reached around with his beak and snatched a feather out of his tail. He turned and offered it to Harry.
"But I have a wand," Harry pointed out.
Fawkes rolled his eyes.
"Thank you," Harry said simply. "I promise that she’ll make up for everything that Voldemort did with your feather." Fawkes trilled in response and settled down, closing his eyes firmly.
Harry smiled and walked back over to the Pensieve. He entered the room with all the levers again and this time chose Ron and Hermione’s wedding.
Gabrielle looked in the mirror and tried out a smile. It was a little too bright, so she turned it down a little.
Her hair was hidden under a hat, her clothes didn’t really fit her properly, and she’d even cast a spell to give her skin a slightly unhealthy look. Who would have thought that looking bad was so much effort?
Today was Ron and Hermione’s wedding, and she had worked far too hard to get it to this stage to take away any attention from Hermione today.
She walked out into the hall, and down into the huge reception area. Fleur was talking with Bill, and looked at her curiously, before she slowly smiled and looked proud. Gabrielle smiled back, and walked into the large room where the wedding would take place.
As with Olympe and Hagrid’s weddings, there were tables full of pretty flowers. She walked through, and slipped into the back.
"Is everything ready?"
Gabrielle nodded. "Are the photographers ready?"
"They are not here yet, but they are due any minute."
She frowned. "If they are late, I want to know about it instantly."
"Yes, Miss Delacour."
Gabrielle nodded at the wedding planner, and walked down into the kitchens. "How’s the food coming along?"
"We’ll be on time, Miss Delacour," the head chef said, appearing in front of her. "We’ve had a few problems with the equipment, but it was nothing a few curses and kicks couldn’t fix."
"Good," she said with a nod. She paused. "Is that a chocolate fountain?"
The head chef nodded. "They’re popular at weddings these days."
"Get rid of it," she commanded. "It’s too tacky."
The chef smiled. "With pleasure," he said fervently. "I hate them."
Gabrielle smiled. "Is there anything else I need to know?"
The chef shook his head. "I think you should tell them what you are doing."
"No," Gabrielle said firmly. "They don’t need to know."
"You’re the boss."
Gabrielle nodded and walked back outside to rejoin the crowd of people who were now congregating. Remus was talking to a pretty Auror with pink hair, and she made a mental note about that. Remus needed someone to stop him poking his nose too far into what she was doing with her Prince.
"Sirius," she said, as the Auror walked up to her.
"You’re looking awful."
"Thank you," she replied with a smile. "How did your first talk with Harry go?"
Sirius frowned. "Not as well as I would like. I didn’t even know where to start. It was so strange to know that he would definitely hear everything I said."
Gabrielle gave a mental sigh. "Well, did Harry ever have the Talk?"
Sirius blinked, before he started to smile. "No one else would do that," he mused. "And I could actually tell him properly, and not worry about the sort of gumpf people usually give."
"And you could tell him how to become an Animagus," she suggested.
Sirius nodded eagerly. "I should have thought of that myself."
"You would have," Gabrielle said lightly.
Sirius smiled. "I should go and talk to Moony."
"Okay," Gabrielle said. "I’ll go and have a talk with that blonde woman who’s just entered. She looks a little lost."
Sirius looked up and blinked. "Tell you what," he said magnanimously, "I’ll go and rescue her for you." He dashed off without waiting, and she smiled to herself. Of all of her Prince’s friends, Sirius was the easiest to deal with. All she had to do was point him at an attractive female and he was off like a dog chasing a car.
At least the only person she didn’t have to worry about today was Hermione. She was not the sort of person to get wedding jitters, and had insisted that Ron attend some pre-marriage counselling first.
It was a good idea. Of course, it wasn’t something that she would need with her Prince. But then, they were royalty, and different rules would always apply. She moved to a balcony and surveyed everything that was going on, checking for anything that needed her attention.
Why couldn’t these people just be happy? She still didn’t understand.
After she had told Ron how to propose to Hermione, and said proposal had been accepted, she had presumed that they would get married and live happily ever after. But no, they had to make a drama and a crisis out of everything.
She really wished her Prince had been awake, because he would have sorted their nonsense out right at the start, and she wouldn’t have had to work so hard to fix it.
The problems had started because Hermione’s parents, while dentists, were not used to how much things cost in the Wizarding World, and Ron’s parents weren’t wealthy either.
So they had planned to have a small wedding in a local church, with a cheap Muggle dress. They had refused a few offers of help — probably because they weren’t that sincere — and while a little disappointed, were going to go through with it as it was.
Well, she wouldn’t stand for that. This was her Prince’s best friends’ marriage. It needed to be memorable. It needed to be perfect. So, as no one else seemed willing to step in, she had.
The first part had been the most difficult. Luckily, the Daily Prophet was willing to do anything to get a photo shoot with her.
She didn’t understand why so many people wanted to look at her. Sure, she was pretty, but she was only fourteen years old. Photo shoots were boring, and she had to pose in the same spot for hours while the photographers argued about light.
She could have told them how to do it — it was pretty obvious — but they would get upset about it, so she resigned herself to a day of boredom.
In return for her patience, they had produced a competition in the paper for her — a Dream Wedding competition. She had given that particular issue of the Prophet to Ron, and persuaded him to enter it. Ron did, and she then ensured that Ron won.
That was the Prophet’s deed done, and it left her to pay for everything. It had taken a lot of her savings, ensuring that she would have to do a few more photo shoots, but it meant that today’s wedding was going in to happen in a lovely mansion, that the flowers and the food would be perfect, and that Hermione’s dress suited her.
There was the soft chime of a bell, and everyone was called to the main room for the ceremony.
She slipped in back, keeping her head down as much as she could, and settled down to make sure that she caught everything for her Prince to see later.
The room itself was perfect for a Gryffindor marriage, full of red and gold colours. Ron had wanted some orange, but Hermione had put her foot down — to Gabrielle’s relief.
An organ started the traditional Wedding March, and she turned so that she could see Hermione. The girl was looking radiant, her hair sleeked to a silky shine and done up in an elaborate style that included a tiara. A few loose strands framed her face, which was covered in an ivory veil.
Her dress was a very traditional, pure white, off-the-shoulder gown. She walked slowly down the aisle, accompanied by her father. She was trailed by Ginny, who still didn’t look like a princess, and Luna, the strange blonde girl with the unshakable belief in animals that didn’t exist.
Ron stood alone at the front. His brothers were ushers, but the Best Man’s place was Harry’s, and she appreciated the gesture that Ron and Hermione had made. Even if Harry wasn’t there in person, he would be there in spirit.
She watched the ceremony carefully, allowing herself to imagine that it was her Prince who was standing there, opposite her, and they were formally tying their lives together for the rest of time.
After the wedding, she slipped out quickly to check the food — everything was as she wanted — and then the photographers. As usual, the photographers were still talking about the stupid light. She ordered them to do what she wanted, using some of the vocabulary she had picked up from some of the boys at Beauxbatons.
She then retreated to the back of the crowd, blending in as much as she could so that she wouldn’t be in any photos.
It was with a great sense of relief that she was able to take her seat at the reception. She knew that everything had gone as it should, and, more importantly, no one knew that she had arranged and paid for most of the details.
"May I have your attention please?" Fred asked, as he stood on a chair. Molly had bullied him and George into wearing proper outfits, and they looked pretty smart.
"Now, as well all know, the real Best Man is currently having an elongated nap, so we’ve been asked to step in and do the speech."
"Well," George continued, "maybe we volunteered, rather than were asked, but we think that we know what Harry would say in a time like this."
"Oh, shite," Ron moaned.
"Ron, language!" Hermione scolded.
"Whipped already," George said with a grin. "Anyway, the speech."
George held up a bottle of Firewhisky. "It’s always important when doing a speech to get the right amount of alcohol inside you. Enough so that you have the courage to go through with it."
"And not too much that we can’t run away afterwards," George continued. "When it came to writing this speech, we weren’t short of material."
"Sadly," Fred said with a sign, "most of it we had to edit, throw away, burn, or hand over to the Aurors to help with their enquiries, so this is what’s left."
"I think you’ll all agree that this has been a terrific wedding so far. A wonderful venue, an entertaining vicar, a beautiful bride."
"And a somewhat adequate groom," Fred finished. "We have now reached the pivotal moment in our speech, where, in good taste, we are meant to put down the groom."
"So, without the good taste, we’ll proceed. As we are older than Ron, we can remember clearly how we first saw him. He was small, bald, and incontinent. Fortunately for us all, he has lost most of these characteristics over the years," George said.
"Although, if you had been on his stag party last week, you would have seen at least one of those characteristics make a reappearance." Fred grinned cheerfully. "If there is one quality that Ron has in abundance, it’s loyalty. And it’s been a loyalty that’s been tested over the past two decades of broken dreams and betrayed trust… as a Chudley Cannons fan. So Hermione, you can rest assured that no matter how badly you might behave, Ron will stand by you."
"I’m sure that you would all agree that Hermione looks stunning this afternoon, and we would like to congratulate Ron for following Bill’s example in bringing another absolute fox into the family. It raises the bar for the rest of us, and Ron, even you have scrubbed up okay today," Fred finished with a wink.
"And Ron," George said, as he went slightly serious, "despite this abuse, you really are a special person, and we’re proud to know you. And we’re desperate to know how you managed to land a beautiful woman like Hermione. Not only did you manage to find her, but you persuaded her to spend the rest of her life with you. Ron, we salute you!"
The two of them saluted formally.
"I think," Fred said, "that we acted as well as we could in Harry’s stead today. Ron was up on time, and enjoyed his final meal as a free man. We got him here in one piece, on time, sober and fully dressed. Our only disappointment was that we were unable to fulfil his last request…"
"…but that was only due to the protestations of the Welsh Sheep Council."
"To bring things to a conclusion, we’d like to thank you for your attention. And if you’ve enjoyed the speech as much as we’ve enjoyed making it—"
"—Then all we can do is tender our sincere apologies!"
"And finally, I hope you’ll join us in a toast. â€˜Ladies and gentlemen, the Bride and Groom!’"
Everyone stood and toasted the blushing couple, and then started to clap for Fred and George’s speech. The two blushed and sat down, looking very relieved.
The rest of the evening passed smoothly, and then Ron and Hermione went on honeymoon. She would have liked to have helped with that, but she had run out of money.
She smiled happily and went to help clean up. Everything had gone perfectly. Her Prince would be pleased, and that was all she wanted.
Harry pulled out of the Pensieve and sighed. He wished that Gabrielle was nearby, because he was so proud of her at the moment, and he wanted to tell her that.
Fawkes was asleep on his perch, and there was no sign of Albus. He walked out of the Headmaster’s office, and headed toward the Gryffindor dorm. He guessed that Gabrielle was still with her parents, repairing her relationship with them.
He didn’t want to sleep in his bed on his own, and he certainly didn’t want to sleep in a dorm, so he talked the Fat Lady into letting him in, then he collapsed onto one of the couches in front of the fire, put his feet up, and drifted off.
He jerked out of sleep, and rolled of the couch. "Zach?" The Gryffindor Quidditch captain was looking a little concerned, and behind him, most of Gryffindor house was looking on.
Harry stretched. "Sorry," he apologised. "And yeah, thanks. I think I’ll go and get changed before I join you."
"Where’s Gabrielle?" Zach asked.
"She’s got a small family matter she’s sorting," Harry replied. "She should be back later — which was why I was sleeping on the couch. I didn’t fancy sleeping in the big bed alone."
Zach blushed slightly, but nodded.
"Anyway, I’ll catch you in a few minutes." He walked out of the Gryffindor common room and jogged to his rooms. He stripped and had a quick shower, before putting on some clean clothes and walking down to the Great Hall.
All the tables were full, and the meal was underway as he arrived.
"Harry," Professor McGonagall called. "You wouldn’t happen to know what happened to Professor Dumbledore, would you?"
"He’s not back yet?" Harry asked, delighted.
Remus sighed. "What have you done to the Headmaster, Harry?"
Harry looked innocent. "Me?"
"Yes, you, the one who is insisting on fitting the eight years that you’ve missed into as few days as possible."
"Oh, that me," Harry said with a grin. "I got me some payback on Uncy Albus last night. I petrified him, bound him, silenced him, and then handed him over to the one person he is truly terrified of."
Not a sound interrupted the Great Hall as everyone stared at Harry.
"Harry, who might that be?" Remus asked softly.
"Doris," Harry replied.
Minerva dropped her glasses on to the table. "Harry," she whispered, "did you get Albus back with his wife?"
"Well, no — I just gave Doris the chance last night to get a few things off her chest, and if Albus is as wise as he’s cracked up to be, he’ll have spent a lot of time grovelling in apology."
Minerva raised her hand and brushed a tear off her cheek. "Bless you, Harry," she said softly. "He’s missed her more than anything else in the world."
Harry saluted casually, and wandered over to the Gryffindor table. As he sat down, there was a burst of flame, and Fawkes landed on his shoulder.
Harry turned to the phoenix. "Don’t tell me, Albus isn’t back and no one’s fed you."
Fawkes nodded and looked sad.
"You old hen," Harry accused. "You’re just getting lazy!"
Fawkes swiped him with a wing and looked hurt.
"Don’t try that look on me, you overgrown turkey."
Fawkes squawked and smacked him again. "Geez," Harry complained. "The years haven’t mellowed you, have they. Dobby?"
"Sir is calling Dobby?"
"Do you know where Professor Dumbledore keeps his phoenix food?"
"Dobby is knowing that, but Firebirdie is preferring sausages."
"Is Firebirdie allowed sausages?"
Dobby shook his head. "Sausages gives Firebirdie gas."
Fawkes squawked again, and whacked Harry once more.
"Stop that," Harry said irritably. "Dobby, will you go and fetch the food please?"
Dobby nodded and popped out. He returned shortly afterward with a bowl and a bag of food.
Harry emptied the bag into the bowl, and floated the bowl so that Fawkes could eat without having to move. "Thanks."
Dobby smiled massively and vanished.
Harry looked up, to find that yet again, everyone was staring at him.
"It’s times like this," Harry said with a sigh, "as I sit here with a phoenix on my shoulder, having played matchmaker for Albus last night, that I realise that I should stop pretending that I’m ever going to be normal, and just enjoy who I am."
Zach laughed softly. "Yeah," he agreed. "It would make it easier on the rest of us."
Harry blinked. "In what way?"
"Well, if you’re Harry Potter, Gabrielle’s Prince, that makes you special, right?"
"And if you’re special, we don’t have to try to keep up with you. We don’t have to worry about fighting a professor and making it look easy, or casually reuniting our Headmaster with a wife that none of us knew he even had, or even the absent mention of magically locking up Albus Dumbledore, the legend. Nor do we have to worry about the phoenix on your shoulder. And it’s because you’re Harry Potter — we don’t have to compare ourselves to you — and that means we can be happy."
"I guess that makes sense," Harry said. "But a lot of that was pure luck and acting on impulse. Still, if it means people start to talk to me, rather than stare at me, I’m willing to go for it." He absently scratched Fawkes’s head. "But just remember that I am human."
"Sure," Zach agreed. "Just a special one. Like Gabrielle. She’s seventeen, and is already an international model and Quidditch star, and she managed to wake you up, when even Hermione Granger failed."
Harry smiled and finished his breakfast. "I’ll see you later; I’m going to Gringotts to have a chat with Grapplegus."
Zach smiled faintly and nodded.
Harry moved through the school and back up to Dumbledore’s office. He borrowed some of the Floo powder and Floo’d straight to the Leaky Cauldron. It was quiet; most of the shops weren’t open yet, so he was able to walk down Diagon Alley slowly. His first stop was Ollivander’s, and he waited patiently for it to open.
"Mr Potter," Ollivander greeted him as he opened up. "I did not expect to see you."
"I need a wand," Harry explained.
"There is something wrong with yours?" Ollivander asked in surprise. "Eleven inches, holly wood with a phoenix core."
"No, mine’s fine, but I need one for my girlfriend. It’s a surprise."
"Does she not have one?"
Harry pulled out Fawkes’s feather. "Fawkes gave this for Gabrielle."
"I see," Ollivander whispered reverently, his protestations stopped abruptly. "Do you know what wood she would prefer?" he asked eagerly.
Harry thought for a second. "What have you got?"
"Pretty much everything," Ollivander replied. "I have to have a stock, as each wizard and witch is unique, and you never know what you might need." He turned and pulled out a case. He tapped it, and the case unfolded several times, presenting samples of many different kinds of wood.
Harry looked down it slowly, before he stopped. "This one," he said.
"Are you sure?" Ollivander asked. "I’ve not used Australian Blackwood in a wand before. I’m not sure how the wand will turn out, combined with a phoenix feather."
Harry nodded. "That’s the one. How long will it take and how much?"
"Twenty-five galleons and you should be able to pick it up by lunch. Most of my time is spent with cleaning and polishing wands at the moment, so it will be a pleasure to make a new one."
"Thanks," Harry said gratefully. "I’ll stop by later."
"A pleasure, Mr Potter."
Harry nodded and walked out and headed back up Diagon Alley toward Gringotts. Between the Magical Menagerie and the bank was a small building that proudly proclaimed itself as the Quibbler.
He walked inside. A witch was sitting at a desk, reading a magazine.
"Ginny Weasley," he said.
"Floor forty two, office negative three," she replied without looking up. "Have you seen the pictures of Harry Potter?"
"No," he replied in surprise.
The witch wolf whistled loudly. "If I was a few years younger, I’d show him what an older woman could teach him."
"Right," Harry agreed and shuddered deeply. He moved off quickly, praying that she wouldn’t put down the magazine until he was long gone. He stepped into the lift and paused. The button labelling made absolutely no sense — there were two floor ones — until he squinted, and realised they were Catalan numbers. He was pretty sure that Hermione would have been the only person who thought that knowing various integer sequences would be useful.
He pressed the button for forty-two, and went up the six floors needed. As he walked out, to his left was office one, to his right, office minus one. It made sense, in its own way.
He walked forward to door negative three and threw it open, expecting to find Ginny’s office. What he found instead was a large room full of people and desks and oddities. He looked to the side, and sighed as he realised that all the doors on this side led to the same place.
"Ginny Weasley?" he asked the first person he met. The person was busy interrogating a large squirrel.
"Through there," he grunted, pointing with one hand.
Harry walked forward and kept his eyes straight; he really didn’t want to know what else went on in this place.
"You!" a voice shouted. "Do you know what you’ve done?"
"Yes," Harry replied instinctively.
"Good," the man responded. "So many people come in here and don’t know."
Harry nodded at him and continued on his way. He knocked on a door and walked in. Ginny was bent over a filing cabinet. Harry took a seat and made a point of not staring at her bum. Which wasn’t that difficult -- he could happily picture Gabrielle’s chest for hours on end.
"Harry!" Ginny squeaked.
"Nice place you have here," he said casually.
"Thank you," she replied. "I wouldn’t normally get a private office, but I can’t work with the others. They all think I’m a bit strange."
"By being the only normal person here?"
"Something like that," she agreed.
"So who was the Muggle with a sense of humour who devised the floor naming scheme?"
"You know, 1, 1, 2, 5, 14, 42, 132, 429, 1430."
Ginny blinked at him, and then picked up the phone. "Someone’s cracked the floor code," she called.
The door opened two seconds later and the same man who had shouted at him entered. "Locutios Lovegood," he introduced himself. "What’s this about you cracking the floor code?"
Harry decided that the only way forward from this point was to treat everything as if it was completely normal. "You asked what I’d done, and this was it," he replied.
"My dear fish, please do explain."
"They’re called Catalan numbers, named after a Belgian who discovered them." Harry paused for a second. "If I was to say â€˜binomial coefficients’ to you, how would you respond?"
"No matter how good looking you are, I don’t swing that way," Locutios responded immediately.
Harry nodded, having expected that sort of response. "Let’s just say that the next floor would be 132 and be done with it," he suggested.
"Remarkable," Locutios said softly. "Do you know what this means?"
"This is what I like about you," Locutios announced. "Now, what do you know about Snorkacks?"
"That they can only be caught in Sweden by busty, bare-chested blondes wearing lederhosen."
"Lederhosen!" Locutios gasped. "Of course." He threw open the door, and shouted "Luna!" The blonde who had been one of Hermione’s bridesmaids walked in. "Luna, this remarkable young man has decoded the floors! And he knows how to catch Snorkacks."
"Hello, Harry," Luna said.
"Quick, Luna, whip your top off, there’s a good girl, so that Harry can see if your breasts are big enough." He turned his back on them and started to whistle the Indiana Jones theme.
Luna shrugged and did as she was told.
"They’re big enough," Harry said before she could unhook her bra.
"Are you sure?" Luna asked, a disappointed look on her face.
Harry looked at her solemnly. "Do you have any lederhosen?"
"Of course, I would hardly be able to cook breakfast without them."
"Then you’ll do fine."
"Excellent," Locutios stated. "Luna, book us a trip to Sweden, immediately."
Luna nodded. "It was nice seeing you again," she said to Harry, and turned to walk out the door.
"Luna," Locutios called, "put your top back on first, there’s a dear."
Luna giggled. "You are so silly, Daddy," she replied. The two walked out the door, Luna doing her shirt up again.
Harry shut the door behind them and sighed. "I think that Hermione has just played a very delayed prank on me."
"Hermione?" Ginny asked.
"My answers have been just a little too pat," Harry explained.
"I’m more impressed that you didn’t flinch," Ginny said. "I was blushing like a lighthouse."
Harry smiled. "Luna’s breasts are okay," he agreed. "But Gabrielle has breasts that deserve to be sculpted and used as an example of how breasts should look."
Ginny smiled faintly. "Luckily for the rest of us mere mortals, that won’t happen."
"Damn right," Harry agreed. "So, you wanted an interview, interview me."
The door opened again, and Locutios peered around. "Luna mentioned that you’re Harry Potter."
"Yes, but that happened quite some time ago," Harry replied.
"Why are you here?"
"Interview with Ginny."
Locutios looked at Ginny as if seeing her for the first time. "Be promoted, two grades," he said. "You’re in charge while we’re in Sweden. And keep up the good work." Before Ginny could respond, he was out the door.
"Oh," Ginny muttered. She slowly smiled. "Thank you."
"What for?" Harry asked.
"For coming in here — you didn’t have to do it."
Harry shrugged his shoulders. "I didn’t plan it. I was just passing by and remembered that I owed you an interview."
"Most people wouldn’t have," Ginny said. "Locutios might be nuttier than a fruit cake, but he is a good manager. Neville is going to be so pleased with the pay raise." She smiled brightly and pulled out some parchment and a quill. "It’s not a Quick Quotes," she said, as it started to scribble. "It’s the same spell that lawyers use, so it just takes down what you say."
"Okay," Harry agreed and settled down. "Interview away."
"How did Gabrielle Delacour waken you after all these years?"
"She kissed me," Harry responded. "And any red-blooded male would react to a kiss from her. And no, I’m not into sharing, so they will have to take my word for that."
Ginny giggled, before she cast the spell that paused the Quote Quill. "Is that what really happened?" she asked.
"Kinda," Harry said. "She also used a potion on me, the same one that was the basis for Sleeping Beauty."
Ginny nodded. "The public will like your story better."
"That’s what I thought."
"Okay, next question. I am a journalist, Harry, and I swear that this is stuff I’ve found out from other sources, and not what you’ve told me."
She cast the spell and the Quill started again. "Since you returned to active duty, we’ve been hearing all sorts of rumours around Diagon Alley. The goblins have purchased two shops on your behalf. Parvati Patil has been gushing about you hiring her as a hostess. Fred and George Weasley quit their jobs in such a fashion that they are personae non grata at the Ministry. All of these rumours place you firmly in the middle of them. Would you care to comment?"
Harry looked at her for a long moment, before he decided that she was doing her job and asking about rumours, and not betraying his confidence in her. "Mostly true," he agreed. "Gabrielle and I have decided to try and shake up the Wizarding world a little. We’re in the early stages of planning a couple of new ventures. I’m not going to go into any more details at the moment, as some of the details are still in play. You can say that I had a crash course in the current economic climate, and as I’ve inherited a lot of money, I figured I’d so something with it."
Ginny nodded. "Gabrielle Delacour. She’s the best Chaser of her age, she’s an international model, and she’s wealthy in her own right."
"How on earth did you manage to nab her so quickly?"
Harry laughed. "I think it was more a case of her nabbing me. After all, she woke me up, not the other way around. I just reacted to the situation. Ask yourself this, if someone who looked like Gabrielle woke you up; wouldn’t you see what you could do to get her to stay with you?"
"No, I prefer men," she replied drolly. "But I think our readers, both male and female, will be able to understand."
Harry pulled out his wand and stopped the quill. "You do know that Neville has slight concerns about you and me?"
She sighed. "Yeah, I’ve tried to get him out of it. I did have a huge crush on you, years ago, as you know, but he can’t get it through his thick-headed skull that it’s him I love, and him I chose."
"If you want," Harry said, "I could get Gabbi to have a word with him."
Ginny shook her head. "I’ve got Nev’s ring on my finger, and that should be good enough for him."
Harry nodded in agreement. "I think it’s going to be nice getting to know you, Ginny."
"As a person, rather than as an irritating crush?"
He grinned and started the quill again.
"These aren’t in any order," Ginny said. "I’ll write the article later. At your press conference, you gave some details about what happened with your fight with the Dark Lord."
Harry sighed. "Call him Voldemort; call him Tom, anything but a stupid honorific. He was not a lord, and was in no way deserving of that title."
Ginny smiled broadly. "Thank you," she said, "Printing that will have a bigger effect than anything else."
Harry swung his feet up and relaxed back. In a low voice, he started to recount what had happened that night so many years ago.
When he finished, Ginny cancelled the spell. "Thank you," she said softly. "This is going to go a long way toward establishing me as a credible journalist."
"That’s what friends are for, Ginny," Harry said as he stood. "Actually, I have one question. What did Fred and George do?"
Ginny smiled broadly. "Somehow, they managed to get a full weeks worth of rubbish squeezed in to Fudge’s office. When he arrived in the morning, and opened the door, the pressure pushed it out like a hose. It threw him all the way along the corridor, and practically filled all of level one.
"And, as soon as people started to use spells on it, it multiplied, so they tried to get House Elves to clean it up, only the rubbish wouldn’t respond to their magic, and as they tried to use their hands, the rubbish actually ran away! So Fudge ordered the secretaries to clean it up, but that didn’t work either. The only people who can move it are either members of the Wizengamot, or high ranking Minister officials! Fudge is having an absolute fit about the whole thing, only there’s no proof that Fred and George did it."
Harry laughed. "Those guys are insane, but I love them."
"Me, too," Ginny agreed and gave him a quick hug.
"I’ll see you later," Harry promised as he walked out the door. He was able to get to the lift without problem, and pressed the second first floor button. As he arrived, Luna was talking to the receptionist. "It was nice meeting you again," Harry said to Luna. "You have nice breasts."
"Why, thank you," Luna said happily. "Any time you want to see them, just let me know."
Harry nodded, knowing that would never happen. He nodded to the awe-struck receptionist and walked back into the sunlight. That was one of the strangest things he’d done yet.
I was kinda going for slightly uncomfortable with Fred and George's speech - and used a lot of generic jokes because of it. I didn't want it to be flat out funny, because I imagined them
being a little uncomfortable doing Harry's speech.
Thanks to Geert Lups
Two more chapters to go - is it any clearer who the bad guy is now?
And some of you have far to high an opinion of my intellect. *grumbles about dragons*