Daphne returns to the UK to be with her sister when Draco and Astoria's first child is born, Harry returns to Hogwarts as a guest lecturer.
Harry Potter and The Chance Meeting
Chapter Three: Daphne
Daphne quietly closed the door to her sister’s suite. She turned from the door to find herself facing an anxious Draco Malfoy.
“Astoria is resting now. It was a hard birth Draco, you should have let me take her to St. Mungos.”
“Scorpius Hyperion Malfoy had to be born here. All Malfoys have been born in this manor since it was built six hundred years ago.”
“So, in pursuit of some idiotic tradition that has no meaning to anyone but you, you risk the lives of my sister and your son? Scorpius Hyperion? You just had to do that to him didn’t you? Don’t you remember the beatings you got before your father threw his weight around?”
“I remember that you tried to stop the beatings. I never thanked you for that Daphne.”
She waved him off. “I seem to recall delivering one or two of those beatings Draco, but certainly not for your having an odd name.”
He led her into his study and gestured her to sit. He poured a high end firewhiskey into two glasses and handed one to Daphne.
“To my son.” He said raising his glass.
“To my nephew.” She agreed tipping the amber liquid back.
“So.” Draco said now that the niceties had been observed. “Are you finished with that Muggle nonsense yet? Are you coming back to do your duty to some pureblood line?”
“Why would I want to do that Draco? Why would I want to waste myself on some pathetic loser clinging to his illusions of superiority in the face of reality when I have a job I enjoy and that pays very well??
“Pays well? How well could it possibly pay Daphne? Astoria has shown me samples of your ‘work’. How lucrative could dressing like a Muggle whore be?”
“As usual Draco, you show your abject ignorance at every opportunity. The job I canceled in order to be here for Astoria was a three day ‘gig’ paying 1000 galleons a day. I average five of those a month bringing in on average 15,000 galleons a month. When I have a film, I get a bit more than half a million galleons for what turns out to be about four months work on my part. In fact the contract my agents just finished negotiating for the film I am in next year, I get that and a percentage of the gross. It seems I am becoming something of a star.”
“Get serious Daphne. No one makes that kind of money.”
“Of course they do Draco, at least in my line of work. Why would I want to give all that up to return to a society that would treat me like a brood mare?”
“Because it’s your duty. You know as well as I do that we all have responsibilities to our lines.”
Daphne shook her head. How was it this idiot ever achieved a position of leadership was beyond her. “Would that be the same duty that had our parents on their knees in front of Voldemort? Draco, you’ve got to quit parroting what your father taught you and learn to live in the new reality.”
“What do you mean by that?” Draco hissed dangerously.
“Draco, the war for the way of life you claim want was over sixteen years ago, and in the end you fought on the side against what you are wanting now, remember?”
Malfoy waved that argument off dismissively. “They were after power for that half blood Riddle, not for anything important for the Pureblood families. That damned war cost us so much, and now in the aftermath, most of the purebloods are diluting themselves. Longbottom has taken up with that Half Blood Abbott, the only Weasley with a pureblood is the insane one that runs the joke shop, the Prewett line is gone, the Goyles are gone, the LeStrange line is gone, and the Blacks are gone. Our culture means something Daphne. You carry the bloodline of more than eight hundred years of magic. You have to help us maintain our culture.”
Daphne smiled. “Draco, do you remember that last Quidditch match between Slytherin and Gryffindor that you and Harry Potter were in, you tried to get Tracey and me to seduce Potter?”
“Yes. My nose never did straighten out. What about it?”
“I just thought you out to know that your plot wouldn’t have worked. Potter was fully capable of shagging us both rotten, and would have still had the energy to destroy you on the Pitch.”
“When Tracey disappeared she ran off with Potter. They’ve been married for almost five years. If they ever decide to come back to Britain, she’ll be Lady Potter.”
“I’ve been living with them for a little over a year now. Harry’s been asking me to join them legally… That would make me Lady Black.”
“Wait, the two of you and Potter?”
“Yes. We really should be thanking you for the idea.” Daphne rose from her seat to go and check on Astoria. “For the record, if we had tried your idea back in school, we would have joined him then… He’s very good.”
The Raven-haired woman left her brother in law gaping behind her, and forced herself not to laugh, and wondered if Astoria would enjoy the joke.
At the Hufflepuff table in the Great Hall of Hogwarts, Teddy (Call me Ted) Lupin reached out to take the serving platter from Neville Bones. Breakfast was his favorite meal of the day. It signaled a new day, and the possibility that today might be the day he finally managed to speak with Victoire Weasley.
He ‘casually’ glanced over toward the Gryffindor table to glimpse the perfection that his ‘sort of’ cousin personified. Having known the girl all his life wasn’t making it any easier. The fifth year ‘Puff sighed.
“You’re doing it again.” Bones said with a smirk, watching his friend’s hair cycle through the rainbow. “For Merlin’s sake, just go talk to her.”
“Who? What are you nattering about?” Ted said in what he thought was a masterful act of misdirection.
Bones presented him with a gimlet eye. “If you want friends dumb enough to not know who you’re mooning over you should start hanging out with some Gryffies. You’ve been staring at Victoire for a year now. You’ve known her all your life, just TALK to her.”
“It’s not that easy Nev. I get around her and I just…” To his embarrassment Ted suddenly noticed that he had lost control of his features and had mirrored his best friend’s appearance.
“Good idea Ted.” Bones laughed. “Now that you’re so damned good looking, she couldn’t possibly say no.”
“Somebody just kill me.” Ted murmured as he forced him self back to his own face.
“Mind if I join you two?” an adult’s voice asked. Ted looked up, and his jaw dropped.
“HARRY!” he shouted, drawing the attention of the eleven other Harrys in the Great Hall. “What are you doing here?”
Harry Potter slid into the seat next to his Godson, leaning a four foot long package against the table between them. “Your DADA Professor asked that I drop by for some guest lecturing last year. It took a while to organize, but here I am, using it as an excuse to get to see my favorite Godson.”
Ted took on a huge smile, and then suddenly realized that he and Harry weren’t alone. “Uh, Harry, this is Neville Bones, my best friend. Neville, this is Harry Potter, my Godfather.”
It was Neville’s turn to boggle. “The Harry Potter?”
“Well, a Harry Potter anyway.” Harry grinned at the boy. “I don’t know if I’m the definitive Harry Potter. So, Neville Bones of Hufflepuff? Any relation to Susan Bones?”
Neville nodded. “My Mum.”
“We were friends, back in the day…” Harry said, wanting to ask about the boy’s father, but suspecting that if his name wasn’t in the picture, most likely the man wasn’t either. “Next time you see her mention I was asking after her.” Harry returned his attention to Ted. “As I recall, I missed your Birthday.”
“No you didn’t. You got me this watch.” Ted said extending his arm to show the timepiece.
“Well, I’ve probably missed, or will miss something at some unspecified time in the past or future. What kind of see-you-twice-a-year Godfather would I be if I didn’t arrive with a present?”
“My favorite Godfather. I don’t expect presents Harry.”
“Good, that means this is a surprise.” Harry shoved the long package at the boy. “Andy tells me that you’re a seeker.”
Ted and Neville’s eyes both went wide as Ted tore at the brown wrapping paper to expose an oaken broomcase. The two boys cleared a space on the table and lay the case on it. Harry sat back with a wide smile of anticipation as the case was open.
“Bloody Hell.” Neville whispered.
“A Nimbus Velocity?” Ted Lupin looked into Harry’s eyes. “You got me a Nimbus Velocity?”
“And what would possess you to buy a schoolboy the fastest broom in the world Mr. Potter?” Minerva McGonagall asked.
“Hello Headmistress.” Harry said rising from his seat to greet his old teacher. “I didn’t. But only because Victor Krum ran into problems with is production facility, and the Blur won’t be in general production for another four months. I got Ted the second fastest broom in the world.”
“Ted, mate. I’m your best friend, right?” Neville Bones asked with deadly seriousness never taking his eyes off the Velocity.
“Of course.” Ted agreed, joining with his friends to ignore the adult’s conversation while admiring the broom.
“So I get first shot at riding this, right?”
“In your dreams Bones.”
Fighting against the smile that threatened to break out after hearing that exchange, Minerva continued. “Fine, not the fastest then, but you still haven’t explained why you would purchase such a thing for a school boy.”
“Do I really need a reason?” Harry smiled himself, not fighting it at all. “Well, I seem to recall a strict, stern and frankly quite scary Head of House who purchased a similar broom for me using her own funds when I was just a firstie… A couple of years later my own Godfather replaced that broom when it was lost to the Whomping Willow, that same strict, stern, and quite scary Head of House allowed me to keep it… After disassembling it and checking for curses of course… You won’t be disassembling this one will you?”
The Headmistress’ eyes moved over the broom with a look of near rapture. “Not bloody likely.” She whispered. The Scot thought for a moment. “Would you like me to keep an eye on your new broom for you while you’re in class Mr. Lupin?” she asked hopefully.
She was rewarded what a pair of looks that suggested that she might be insane and a deep chuckle from one of her favorite former students.
“It’s as I said in my letter Bill,” Harry said. “My schedule will only allow me to be here today. I don’t really see how I’m going to manage to speak with all your classes. I mean I’m more than willing to try, but I’ve got to be in Japan by Friday.”
The former Curse Breaker leaned back in his chair. “That’s not a problem Harry; we appreciate you making time for us.” Minerva McGonagall nodded from her place beside her DADA Professor. “To solve the timing problem, we are canceling the afternoon classes and planning on holding your lecture in the Great Hall for everyone.”
“Knowing your love for public speaking,” the Headmistress added, “We thought you might feel better about only making your presentation once.”
“I can’t say that isn’t an excellent idea.” Harry grinned for a moment. “Just to be clear though, all you expect out of me is a generalized history of the second war with Voldemort as I saw it, right? I mean I’m not teaching anyone any of the things I had to do to take the bastard down.”
“Considering what using them did to you, I think that is wise.” The old woman rose from her chair and laid her hand on Harry’s shoulder giving it a comforting squeeze. “You’re looking well Harry. I’ve duties to attend to; I’ll see you at your presentation.”
Bill Weasley waited until the Headmistress had left the room. “It’s really good to see you again Harry. I wasn’t sure we ever would.”
“It was close there for a while, but thanks to Tracey, I finally grew up. How are the Weasleys these days anyway?”
“Well it turns out that Mum and Dad enjoy being grandparents far more than they ever did being parents. It seems that spoiling the kids, then handing them back to their parents is some kind of sweet revenge.” Bill smiled. “I can assure you that they are quite good at spoiling kids.”
“I bet. Ted pointed out Victoire in the Great Hall. Having a beauty like that on your hands must be giving you grey hair.” Harry said theatrically peering at the red shock of hair atop the other man’s head. “I noticed that she is noticeably lacking in Weasley Red Hair… Does she take after Fleur in other ways?”
“No. Fleur was so relieved that Victoire won’t have to deal with the allure. I’ve noticed your Godson sniffing around her. It would be a shame if I had to go all protective father over her.”
“Your own fault for producing a beauty. Of course Ted has inherited his mother’s abilities; you would have to extend that threat to everyone, given that he could be anyone.”
“I’ve taken that into account.” The big man ran his hand through his hair. “Fleur is teaching French at a local Muggle school. I’m told that she has the best attended language classes in the county.” Bill grinned. “Let’s see now; Charlie has married to a fellow dragon chaser, his daughter Katie starts Hogwarts next year.”
“There seems to be quite a few Weasley women in this generation.”
“Dad has commented on that. He thinks Ginny broke the curse. Percy has Dad’s old job as head of the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts office. He and Penny Clearwater got back together and married about six years ago. Their twins that they named, believe it or not, Fred and George are almost five.”
“No. How did George react to that?” the thought that Percy would name his children after his primary childhood tormentors…
“George has made it his life’s ambition to spoil them rotten and make pranksters of them. The joke is, the pair resemble Charlie at that age far more than they do their father or Gred and Forge, more interested in animals of any kind than anything else. George married Alicia Spinnet about a year after you left. No kids yet, the two of them have just poured themselves into their shop, I think more as a tribute to Fred than anything else. By the way, George wants you to stop by the shop if you get a chance.”
“I was planning on doing it tomorrow before I go to the airport.” Harry hesitated. “How are Ron and Hermione?”
“They’re happy Harry. Ron is the first assistant coach for the Cannons now and Hermione… Well, I don’t know how it’s happened, but she’s channeling Mum. She’s almost deliriously happy raising their children.”
“I have to admit I’m shocked by that. I don’t know, I half expected her to be the Minister of Magic by now.” Harry shook his head. “I just never pictured Hermione as a housewife.”
“You don’t have to tell me Harry, I was here watching as it happened and didn’t believe it. Truth be told, she isn’t totally a housewife. She is quite the successful writer. She’s penned the definitive history of the second rise of Voldemort, and has a fiction series that is hugely popular both in the Magical and Muggle worlds.”
“An Author? Now THAT is the Hermione I knew.” Harry’s smile grew even larger. “I bet Ron got VERY lucky the day her first book was published.”
“Well, I did notice my little brother wandering about with a dazed smile on his face at the party when she published the History.” The red head laughed. “Ron’s in Spain with the Canons for a series of exhibition games just now. Hermione and her wee ones are at their home. I didn’t tell them you were coming; I thought you’d want to surprise them.”
“I’ll stop by tomorrow morning. Maybe I’ll pick up a copy of her History for her to autograph… What’s it called?”
“Dark Lords and Idiots: The Life and Times of Harry James Potter.” The look of horror on the younger man’s face got Bill to laughing even harder. “If you think that’s bad, you should have seen some of the working titles.”
“Oh quit laughing, or I’ll talk her into a history of your grave robbing exploits.” Harry glowered at the laughing man. “So what about Ginny?”
“Ginny’s fine. She’s a starting chaser for the Harpies.” Bill read the question in Harry’s eyes and continued. “In some ways your leaving hurt her, in others your leaving was the best thing for her. You two weren’t right for each other; those of us who were paying attention could see that within weeks of you getting together after you killed Riddle. The two of you were killing each other. She still hasn’t settled on a single person for her life, but she’s only 32.”
The two sat in silence for a moment, each lost in a past they would rather forget. It was Harry who spoke first.
“What happened to the pony tail and earring anyway?”
Bill ran his hand down the back of his head where the pony tail had once been and sighed. “Fleur thought it was time I grew up and quit being such an adrenalin junkie. Same reason I don’t work as a Curse Breaker anymore. I notice that your hair is slicked down like a Malfoy, and you don’t seem to chase Dark Lords anymore… What’s up with that?”
“Tracey thought it was time I grew up and quit trying to kill myself. Daphne said she was embarrassed to be seen with me unless I used the product she buys me.”
Bill started laughing. “Merlin, we’re whipped.”
“Yeah, but it took two women to do it to me.”
“You keep telling yourself that Harry.” Bill swung his feet up onto the table. Leaning back in his chair he continued. “It took a Veela to tie this Curse Breaker down. Don’t you forget it.”
When Harry finished with his presentation the Great Hall was almost completely silent.
“Hello? Have I given Professor Binns a new challenge? After all, he’s never put the entire school to sleep at once has he?” He looked out at the student body. The House tables were gone; the students were sitting in a semi-circle facing him.
A few laughs rippled through the crowd. “Oh, rough crowd.” Harry said waggling his eyebrows. That got a few more laughs from the Muggle Borns in the audience.
“Perhaps Mr. Potter would entertain a few questions.” Minerva McGonagall said from her chair at the heads table.
A few more moments of silence. A small Blond girl in Gryffindor robes stood up. “I have a question Mr. Potter.”
“I’m not ‘Mr. Potter’. I’m just Harry. How about if you have a question, you tell me your name and tell me what year you are?”
“I’m Constance Longbottom, second year Sir.”
“Yes sir. My Mum’s maiden name was Hannah Abbott.”
“I knew your parents well Constance. Your dad saved my life at least once. Bravest man I know. What’s your question?”
“All my life I’ve heard about you and what you did for us all. I thing that among those of us born to magical families stories about you were among the first we ever heard. I’ve always wondered, what’s it like being a hero?”
“I’m not a hero Constance.” Harry said shaking his head.
“But Dad always says…”
“Let me explain, ok?” Harry picked up the glass of water from the table he stood behind and took a long sip. “Let me try to put this so that everyone can understand it. Back in the dim mists of time when I attended Hogwarts, the loving caring teachers would assign homework for the summer holidays so that we didn’t get bored… Do they still do that?”
There was a general murmur of laughing agreement from the assembled students.
“Ok, you go home for the summer, and you have two choices, you do the homework, or you don’t, and the teachers punish you for it. Right?”
Again agreement came from the crowd.
“So you do your homework. Does that make you a hero?”
“But that’s not the same thing.” A voice from the crowd proclaimed.
“But it is. Before I was born, a seer, who shall remain nameless, issued a prophecy saying that someone who could defeat the Dark Lord was to be born at the end of July. Two magical children were born at the end of July in 1980, Constance’s father Neville, and me. The next line of the prophecy is what made the difference between Neville and me. ‘The Dark Lord will mark him as his equal’. Voldemort attacked my home, and killed my parents, then SOMETHING happened and Voldemort’s body was destroyed and his soul made into a wraith. In doing that, he marked me.” Harry pointed to the scar, still clearly visible on his forehead.
“So, what does that mean? It means that I had two choices as far as facing Voldemort, just like you have two choices about your summer homework. I could face him, or run and have him chasing me until he caught me and then I faced him. I made no heroic choices, I just did what I had to do.”
“So it was the prophecies fault?” came from the crowd.
“No. It was all Voldemort.” Harry explained.
“But you believed the prophecy?”
“Nope. As far as I’m concerned, all divination is just a pile of flobberworm droppings. The teacher when I was here predicted my horrible death every class, yet I still seem to be breathing.”
A young boy in the front row wearing Ravenclaw robes looked perplexed. “But you said…”
“I didn’t believe in the Prophecy. Voldemort did. He was attacking me, not the other way around.”
“So there were no heroes?” The boy asked.
“I didn’t say that. The War with Voldemort had many heroes; I just wasn’t one of them. Going back to the homework example. I think we’d all agree that doing your homework doesn’t make you a hero, right?” Harry looked about for disagreement. “Ok, so there you are with a killer Charms essay… say thirty six feet on warming charms and their uses.”
“What a wonderful idea!” Filius Flitwick said from the staff table, garnering a groan from the crowd.
“You’re evil.” Harry said to his grinning former teacher. “If any of you want to know how evil he is, challenge him to a duel. He’ll cut you to bite size pieces, all the while smiling and critiquing your technique and assigning homework designed to improve your dueling. Anyway you’ve got homework. Then some of your friends show up having done their homework on the train ride home. They take a look at your assignment and roll up their sleeves to help. That is heroic.”
Harry paused to let everyone digest what he was suggesting. “There were many heroes in the war against Voldemort and his Death Eaters. The heroes had names like Lupin, Bones, Weasley, Diggory, Abbott, Longbottom, Granger, Lovegood, Finch-Fletchly, Li, Chang, Finnegan, Davis, Greengrass, Flitwick, Dumbledore, McGonagall, Hagrid and Thomas to name a few. These were people, who could have just laid low or run for the hills, and Voldemort would never have looked for them, but they stood by me, protected me, and in some cases died for me. They were heroes. All I did was what I had to do to survive.”
A young man in wearing Slytherin colors stood in the back. “There are a lot of stories about those times bandied about. As the head of two Ancient and Noble houses, what are your real feelings about Blood Purity? And did you really consort with a Muggle Born back then?” he then sat back down.
“And you are?”
The boy scrambled back to his feet. “Sorry sir, Evan Bulstrode. Seventh year.”
“Quite alright Evan. Any relation to Millicent?”
“My older sister sir.” He blushed. “I was something of a surprise.”
“I imagine” Harry said as laughter rippled through the crowd. “Millie was a friend and one of the heroes I spoke of earlier, which isn’t to say we didn’t have our differences… in our fifth year, she bopped me pretty good when she was on an enforcement squad for a certain unlamented temporary Headmistress… You asked about blood. Blood is very important, especially when you keep it inside your body. Blood purity is a silly concept at best, a sad bit of delusion at its worst. I, for example, am a half blood. So was Tom Riddle. Who was Tom Riddle? Anyone know?”
A girl wearing Slytherin robes and a prefects’ badge stood. “Slytherin Headboy in 1944.”
“Yep. If I could give points, you’d get some for that obscure bit of trivia. But Tom Riddle had another name. Lord Voldemort.” Harry was amused that the children in front of him didn’t react to the name at all, while some of the staff flinched. “Ok, so getting back to Mr. Bulstrodes’ question. I am a half blood. If blood purity meant anything at all, then surely one of the purebloods here would be able to take me in a fight… Right? Anyone want to try?”
The question was met by silence. “Ah, you lot are no fun. Back in the day, I could have counted on at least one Slytherin at least to make a snarky comment. So, in a final roundabout answer to your question Evan, I consider the whole ‘Blood Purity’ argument to be a waste of good air. Magic isn’t from your blood or from your breeding. I’ve known Muggle Born who were scary powerful, and do we really need to discuss the alarmingly high incidence of squibs in Pure Blood families? Whatever it is that makes someone magical, it doesn’t make one person better than another. That comes from your actions, not your magic. Now, did I ‘consort’ with a Muggle Born? Yes. The smartest, best friend I ever had is a Muggle Born. The Goofiest, best friend I ever had is a Pure Blood. They’ve been married for almost 16 years. Next question?”
A small boy in Gryffindor robes stood after a few seconds of silence. “Harry Weasley sir, second year.”
“Hello Harry.” The boy had Ron’s hair, but Hermione’s features. “It’s nice to finally meet you. How are your parents?”
“Mum tells me everything is fine at home sir. They named me for you.”
“You and half the bloody boys in the school mate.” A voice came from the crowd.
“Not a fate I would wish on anyone. What was your question?”
“All my life I’ve heard my parents talk about you. The one thing I’ve always wanted to know is why you left, and where you went.”
McGonagall stood up “Mr. Weasley, that is hardly…”
“Professor, please.” Harry quieted his old teacher. “It’s a fair question, and if anyone deserves an answer to that question it is Mr. Weasley. The short answer is I left because I was having problems dealing with what I had to do during the war, and I was feeling sorry for myself. From first year, every year I ended up in a fight for my life, then in March of seventh year the fight was over, and somehow I had won. I didn’t know how to not fight. As soon as Voldemort was gone, I started fighting with my friends, just with words, but sometimes it was a close thing. I was stupid and hurt the people closest to me, until the day I couldn’t do that anymore and I picked up and left. I went Muggle, got a job and tried to build a life. I was working as a courier taking a package to Paris when an up and coming Dark Lord wannabe recognized me and we ended up in a fight.”
Harry took another sip of his water. “Frankly he wasn’t all that good; he thought throwing killing curses around made you a Dark Lord. He was slow, couldn’t shield to save his life and his regeneration time was pathetic. It turns out that the French had a bounty on his head, and I collected a pretty penny for my time. Unfortunately the package I was transporting got trashed in the fight, and I got sacked from my Muggle job. That was when I got an owl from the German ministry, asking if I was free to deal with a blood purist faction they couldn’t handle. That’s how I started. I started clearing out Dark Idiots for a living. I did that for almost eleven years.”
“Why did you quit?” a girl in Hufflepuff robes asked.
“The same reason most men quit doing stupid things. I met a woman. She went with me on a job, and I got hurt pretty badly. She nursed me back to health, and then gave me a choice. Hunt Dark Idiots, or be with her. Well, she was a lot more fun…” He smiled at the ‘ewws’ from the younger boys. Had he been like that? “These days I manage my investments pretty much full time.”
“What happened with the girl?” The Slytherin prefect asked.
Harry held up his left hand to display the gold wedding band on his ring finger. “Like I said, she was a lot more fun.”
Ted’s friend Neville stood up. “Neville Bones, sir. Fifth year. We’re doing our O.W.L.s this year, and I’ve been listening to the 7th years complain about preparing for their N.E.W.T.s. They tell us that good test scores are vital to getting a good job, but I remember reading that you left school and never took your N.E.W.T.s yet still seem to have a great job that lets you travel and see the world. Are they really necessary?” Neville sat back down and Harry hid a smile when he noticed Ted smacking his friend.
“Ok, I’ll probably get into trouble with the Headmistress for this, but I’ll let you in on the secret of having a great job like mine without higher qualifications from school. Take notes if you want. Everyone ready? Ok, the first step is kind of complicated: First, survive multiple attacks from a reining Dark Lord and his minions, then end up the head of two Ancient and Noble houses because your parents and godfather are murdered so that you are also the heir of two massive fortunes, go into a deep funk feeling sorry for yourself, flailing away at your friends and drive them away. The final part of the first step is to be a recipient of an Order of Merlin first class. Of course if you can’t manage the first step, then you probably ought to study for your tests…”
The crowd broke into laughter. Harry answered questions for another hour.
Harry whirled out of the fireplace and end up flat on his back staring up into a pair of bright cinnamon brown eyes set in a face ringed by bright red curls.
“Hi.” Harry said. “Is your mum home?”
“Harry? HARRY!” The little redhead was replaced by a somewhat older version of the same face with bushy brunette hair. A pair of very strong hands took hold of the front of his shirt and pulled him to his feet, and then wrapped him into a hug. “You prat! Just showing up like this, you couldn’t call first?”
“Hi Hermione.” He said into the mass of hair in his face. “I didn’t know I was going to be in the country until last week, and I thought I’d surprise you.”
Hermione Weasley pushed him away, but kept her hands on his shoulders as if she was afraid he was going to disappear. “You succeeded you prat. My god you look good. Has it really been sixteen years?”
“This coming May, yeah. I’m sorry Hermione. I just couldn’t stay. I was hurting you, hurting Ron. I was likely to kill Ginny.”
“Sit down. I’ll make tea.
While the tea was brewing (“Of course I boil water Harry, it’s better that way.”) Harry was given a tour of the Weasley’s home. In many ways it was like the burrow, but far more organized to reflect the personality of its mistress. As part of the tour he was introduced to the four youngest of the house hold. Carrie who he had met at the fire place was three. Arthur who was five was playing with a small fleet of trucks in the garden. And the fraternal twins Melissa and Michelle ten were busy in their room preparing to out do their mother’s scores at Hogwarts by studying from Hermione’s first year texts and several volumes of notes.
“Ron is going to be furious that he missed you.” Hermione said pouring the tea into mugs. “He’s in Spain.”
“Bill told me. I met your eldest at Hogwarts. He’s his mother’s son. During the question/answer period he made me explain why I disappeared.”
“What did you tell him?” Hermione hadn’t changed a bit, looking across the table at her is was almost as if they were in the Gryffindor common room.
“The truth. I left out the details of course, no sense terrifying the children.”
Hermione reached across the table and took his hand. “Harry… We’ve missed you.”
“Why did you hang ‘Harry’ on the poor kid? Do you know how many ‘Harrys’ there are at Hogwarts now?”
“Honestly Harry, as far as I’m concerned, we had first claim on naming our son after you.” Hermione huffed, making the smile on Harry’s face even wider. He had missed being told ‘Honestly Harry…’
“Speaking of Names, Teddy’s best friend is Neville Bones. He says he’s Susan’s son, who’s the father?”
“Yeah, Neville Bones.”
“No you prat. Neville Longbottom is the father of Neville Bones.”
“But… When did this happen?”
“Well, since young Mr. Bones is fifteen, I’d say about sixteen years ago.” She struggled not to laugh at him. “Harry, don’t forget the toll the war took on our population. We have a real shortage of Wizards in our age group. Sue Bones and Hannah Abbott were more than just friends. They decided to share a husband, Neville Longbottom. Sue is the last of the Bones, so she didn’t take the Longbottom name, and both her children are named Bones. Hannah is Lady Longbottom since Augusta died and all three of her children hold the Longbottom name. They are rebuilding two families that way.”
Harry nodded. “Lucky man.”
“So, who is she?” Hermione looked deeply within his eyes.
“The woman who got you to deal with that hair of yours. And the one who got you to marry her.” She tapped the ring on his finger.
“Oh very funny. You shouldn’t joke like that Harry, Tracey went missing a few years ago the night before her wedding. The DMLE had a huge investigation, they finally decided that she had wandered into Muggle London and somehow ended up in the middle of a Muggle crime.”
Harry just grinned at his old friend. It slowly dawned on her that he wasn’t joking.
“You ran off with Tracey the night before her wedding?”
“Yeah, we spent a few days in New York, and then went on to La Paz. I got hurt, and after I was healed up, she presented me with an ultimatum, I could keep chasing dark morons, or I could be with her, but not both. We got married in Las Vegas. Five years ago come December.”
Hermione shook her head. “You’re something else aren’t you? How do you get yourself into those situations?”
Harry shrugged. “You manage to live in interesting times yourself. Bill tells me you’re an author. He tells me you wrote the definitive history of the Voldemort’s second rise and fall.”
Hermione blushed. “I didn’t know that Bill thought that way.”
“Oh, he does. Imagine my surprise when I go to Scrivenshaft's to pick up a copy for you to autograph and I find this.” From his pocket he withdrew a shrunken book, which expanded to its original size in his hand. The placed it on the table and turned it so that she could read the title. “Dark Lords and Idiots: The Life and Times of Harry James Potter. Catchy title there. Have you got anything to tell me Hermione?”