In the summer of 1996, Voldemort launches eleven attacks against the Muggle-born of Hogwarts while he leads an attack against Privet Drive. In the aftermath of the attack on Privet Drive, Harry i...
After the group had decided Hermione's course of studies, they set down to hammer out the details of the Grangers' move from Norwich. Harry excused himself, but it seemed as if only Hermione and Remus had really taken notice of his leaving.
The group was still at it at noon. Harry came in, bustled around the dining room table, clearing it off, and then came back setting the table. "What's all this?" Dumbledore asked, amused.
"You didn't know?" Hermione asked archly. "Harry is quite the chef."
"If he weren't a wizard, I could get him placed at any restaurant in town," Dan agreed.
Harry merely rolled his eyes, and served up a large pot of chicken stew with dumplings. "Are these the Norfolk dumplings my father talks about?" Tonks asked. Emma explained the reference, since Dan was coughing and Hermione was giggling. They then had strawberries and seedy cake for afters, and went back to the discussion.
"You're unexpectedly domestic," Tonks said to Harry in the kitchen as he finished charming the pots clean.
"Well, I don't care much about neatness or cleaning, but I do enjoy cooking, when I actually get to eat the results," Harry retorted. "And who knows, I could easily end up living more or less alone, and taking care of myself."
"Do you think Hermione, let alone that elf of yours, would allow that to happen?" Tonks asked.
Harry shrugged. "So I'll let Dobby do the cleaning and some of the cooking. I still don't know where Hermione and I will go with this."
"Tonks, you're pretty in your natural state, and you're smart, funny, and nice. Did you date while you were in school?"
"Then why aren't you married?"
Tonks shrugged in turn. "In part because I wanted to start a career, and in part because I didn't find the right person to settle down with. I mean, I'm only six years older than you. . . . I see."
"Exactly. Hermione is brilliant. She won't want to settle down in two years, assuming the war is over, and maybe I won't either. I really like her; she's pretty, smart, and my best friend."
"If a little bossy."
Harry snorted. "That's like saying I'm a little stubborn or Snape doesn't have the most even temperament. Still, if I can ignore the Dursleys I can easily live with Hermione's need to boss people around for their own good. But I'm not even sixteen. How many people do you know who found their life partner before the start of their Sixth year?"
"Not many, although there have been quite a few who were in their Sixth year when they started seeing their 'life partner', including your parents," she answered. "I was at your parents' wedding, you know."
Harry's parents, he knew, had started dating at the end of their Sixth year. "You're the little girl in the photos I have?"
Tonks wrinkled her nose. "Yes, I was four."
At that moment, Dobby appeared in the kitchen, bowing low to Harry. "Hi, Dobby," Harry said. "Have you finished your survey?"
"Yes, Master Harry."
"I told you that you didn't have to call me that," Harry said.
"If Dobby is to be Harry Potter's chief elf, Dobby should call Master Harry Master Harry, especially when addressing Master Harry."
"Chief elf?" Tonks asked.
"Why?" Harry asked. A thought occurred to him. "Does 'chief elf' mean there are other elves?"
Dobby nodded. "All of Harry Potter's property, except for three places, are rented. Dobby cannot find the Black house. . . ."
"The Headmaster has it under an enchantment," Harry said. "That's fine."
Dobby nodded. House elves did not need explanations. "The cottage on one property was destroyed. It was cleared, but not rebuilt."
Dobby nodded. "The third property meets Master Harry's requirements for a country house, except that it is large. Very large. Very very large. Potter Place. . . ."
"Is the manor at the center of the Potter estate. . . ."
"There's a Potter estate?"
"Yes, Master Harry. Potter Place is a large manor house, which has portions dating back to the early Thirteenth century, but most dates from the early 1500s, the mid-1600s, and the late 1800s. It has a hundred-and-thirty-two major rooms. . . ."
Harry shook his head to clear it. "And the house elves?"
"There is a family of house elves living at Potter Place. May Dobby?"
"Sure, whatever," Harry answered in a daze. Dobby snapped his fingers, and five elves appeared, wearing blue pillowcases with a large 'P' on them.
Harry sat on a stool, stunned. "Tonks? Could you ask Remus to step in?"
"Not Hermione?" Tonks teased.
"Not if you value your life," Harry growled.
Forty minutes later, Tonks came into the dining room and asked Hermione to join Harry in the kitchen. "Could you ask Remus to come back?" Dumbledore asked. "We could use you as well, Nymphadora."
Tonks frowned, and Hermione said she would send Remus back. She breezed into the kitchen, and stopped abruptly. Speaking very stiffly, she said, "Remus, the Headmaster would like you back in the dining room." Remus fled. Hermione then said, very tight-lipped, "Harry . . . why are there five elves in pillowcases in the kitchen standing behind Dobby?"
"It turns out that there is an ancestral Potter manor, called 'Potter Place'," Harry said. "Dobby said there are what? a hundred-and thirty-two major rooms?"
"Yes, Master Harry." Harry winced. "Along with sixty. . . ."
"'Master Harry'?" Hermione demanded, her fists on her hips.
"Yes," Harry said. "Hermione, these are Toby and Braillu, and their children Cam and Letys. The elf in the back is Toby's father, Coke."
"Hello," Hermione said stiffly.
"Coke's family has been working. . . ."
"Slaving," Hermione corrected.
". . . for my family for hundreds of years. Did you know elves generally live until they're in the late sixties or early seventies?"
"Yes, and they reach their full growth around the age of ten," Hermione said dismissively. "Harry. . . ."
"I asked them if they wanted to keep working for me. All five want to. That's what they want, Hermione."
"Yes, but. . . ."
"I then offered to free them, but to keep them working for me." The five elves started whimpering. Hermione wavered slightly.
"Hermione, I am NOT going to throw these five elves out of what is more their home than mine just to satisfy your ideas of social principles."
Hermione stared at Harry, open-mouthed.
Harry gestured to the elves. "They have agreed to take pay. . . ."
"Really. They do not want clothes." The elves shuddered and whimpered. "However, I have told them that should they ever want clothes or wish to leave, all they have to do is ask. If they take clothes, they are welcome to work for me or to leave, as they please. Both Cam and Letys need to mate soon. I have told them I would support any arrangements they wish to make on the matter."
"Dobby is working for me during the summers until I leave Hogwarts, then he'll join me as my valet." Dobby grinned and bowed. "Remus said that he would arrange for us to visit Potter Place sometime next week. Obviously, I'll have to decide if I'm going to live there at least part time once I leave Hogwarts, but there's no hurry."
Harry was worried about that toneless voice. He shrugged. "That's it for me." He turned to Cam and Letys. "Did you have anything to add?"
"Cam is enjoying working at Potter Place and is enjoying meeting Master Harry," Cam said nervously. "Tradition would say that Cam is going to work for Goldie at the Grindels when Goldie has elfling with Cam. Cam is not able to be going unless Master Harry approves."
Harry picked through the grammar. "So, you work for your mate, at a family called the Grindels, when she has your elfling, but you can't have the child with her until I give you approval?"
"Master Harry is correct," Cam said with a bow.
"You have it, of course." Harry turned to Toby. "Since Cam might be gone soon, would you like more help at Potter Place?"
"We is able to do the work, Master Harry," Toby said.
"Of course you can," Harry agreed. "Could you use the extra help if I arranged it?"
"Free elf?" Toby asked, glaring at Dobby, who glared back.
"Yes, but not Dobby." He turned to Hermione. "I think Winky might be happier working at a place like a manor than Hogwarts."
"Maybe. . . ." Hermione said, softening a bit.
Harry turned to Dobby. "What do you think?"
"Winky is not liking clothes," Dobby said.
"Winky can wear anything she likes, even a pillow case, as long as she takes payment," Harry said.
"Dobby will ask," Dobby said.
"Master Harry will have Dobby inform loyal elves of Master's arrival next week?"
"Yes," Harry said. "I was wondering, would it bother you to call me 'Mister Harry' instead of 'Master Harry'?"
The elves looked torn. "Feel free to talk it over amongst yourselves," Harry said.
The five elves moved to the back of the kitchen, and talked very high and fast, in a language neither Harry nor Hermione had ever heard. After a minute or so, they invited Dobby to join them.
"At least they'll take pay," Hermione said. "How much?"
"Only a Galleon a week, but at least they agreed to two days off a month. I figure we can also give them gifts."
"I can hope, can't I?"
"You know how I feel about house elf slavery, Harry."
Harry nodded. "I do, and you know I basically agree with it. We need to find some way to prevent elf-abuse, and I doubt if it can be done without freeing them at some point. Still, are there any places where elves are free?"
"I don't know," Hermione admitted. "I can't find much out about them."
"Hermione . . . are you aiming to be a spell-builder?"
"I think so," Hermione said. "There are so many things I'd like to study, so many things I'd like to do. However, I am very good at Arithmancy, not to mention charms and such. Why? Are you disappointed I'm not studying medicine or going for auror?"
"Not at all," Harry said. "I thought you might be a civil rights campaigner, or I guess I would say sentient rights advocate, that's all."
"I'm sure I'll do some of that, too. What?" Hermione looked confused at Harry's body language.
"Nothing. You should do what you want to do. If that's spell-building, then that's what you should do."
Hermione shrugged. "There are a lot of careers possible with the choices I made. While I might make a good technical healer, I don't think I'd be all that good with patients. And I did think about working for sentient rights, but there's no infrastructure to support that kind of work in the magical world. There's no Amnesty International. There is not even anything like Greenpeace. You'd think, considering how much Pure-Bloods whinge on and on about Muggles destroying the planet, there's be SOME sort of Green movement, but there's not a thing."
"I never thought I'd hear you say something shouldn't be done because it's too hard," Harry said, amazed.
Hermione glared again, but then got a very horrified look on her face. "I am saying that, in a way, aren't I? But Harry, never mind the up-hill struggle, do you have any idea what that would cost?"
Harry shrugged. "It can't cost more than five tons of gold."
"What are you saying?" Hermione asked, her eyes narrowed.
"Hermione, am I or am I not your friend at the very least?"
"You are," Hermione agreed, "and more."
"Don't I care about the rights of beings like elves and centaurs?"
"Honestly? You seem more concerned about individuals than groups, but you're a very unprejudiced person," Hermione agreed.
"Therefore, I would fund a movement like that, not because I'm humoring a girlfriend, but because I believe in the cause."
"Really. Look, I like Luna. I have no idea what a snorkack is. If I were dating her, I'd happily go on a snorkack hunt. I'd post a reward for the capture of a live, healthy snorkack. I wouldn't launch the International Friends of the Snorkack, or fund the Snorkack Protection Association unless I was certain there were such a thing as snorkacks and that they should be befriended or protected." Harry suddenly smiled a self-depreciating smile. "Besides, if I beat Voldemort, just think what a good patron I would be of any organization."
"So that's what you think I should do?" Hermione said slowly.
"Absolutely not," Harry answered. "I meant it when I said that I think you should do what interests you the most."
"What interests you the most, Harry? What do you want to be seeing yourself doing in twenty years?"
"I want to live as normal a life as possible, which includes having a family. I also will want to protect that family, so I will get the best training I can get. If I don't make it into auror training, then I'll get it some other way."
"I do want to understand magic better," Hermione said. "For that, I need Runes, Arthimancy, and Spell Building, plus practical work in Charms." She sighed. "We'll figure out some way to start a Green movement and a rights movement. I promise."
"So, more cooking?"
"How about we send Remus out for take-out."
"We haven't had Chinese in a while." Hermione pulled out some take-out menus. She was till explaining some of the dishes to Harry when Dobby reappeared, saying that Winky had agreed to work at Potter place. The Potter elves had requested that they be permitted to address Harry as 'Master Harry', and had agreed to accept Winky and Dobby.
While Hermione checked to see who would be staying for dinner (they all would be there, plus Moody would be coming), Harry heard a noise by the window. He saw that it was Hedwig, who had brought a note back from Ron. Harry ducked into the dining room and showed Hermione, and then took Hedwig up to the guest room. Hermione joined him there a few minutes later.
"Well," Hermione said, "what does he have to say?"
Harry took a deep breath and looked. "He says his scores haven't arrived yet, and then he just says. . . ."
"He said, 'Is that all the two of you have to tell me?'"
"Well, we do have more to tell him now," Hermione said.
"Let me try and write him a note that won't upset him too much."
Hermione looked doubtful but only said, "So he doesn't know what he'll be doing, either."
"True," Harry agreed. He turned the letter over. "Actually, he started another letter over here. If he doesn't make the scores for auror, he wrote alternative courses on the back."
Hermione took and turned the parchment over. "Charms, Care, Defense, the Ministry Prep course, Transfiguration, and the Living with Muggles course. Well, his father will be happy about that."
"True. How does this sound. 'Ron, when we wrote yesterday morning, we didn't have anything else to tell you for certain. Now, we do. We don't know how things will work out, but we're going to try things out as a couple. We both hope you know that we are still your close friends. There is likely to be more news about other things. We wish we could put them in a note, but we can't, since owls are being intercepted. We hope to see you soon, but if we can't, we'll try to get you a note through other means. We both hope you get your scores soon.' Then we can sign it, 'your friends, Harry and Hermione'."
Hermione thought about that. "Maybe you should rewrite in just the first person. I don't think he'll want to see our names together. And what other news are you thinking about, and what other channels?"
"It looks like you're not only still going to America, but that I might come along, too, not to mention the info about Voldemort and visiting Potter Place. And we can ask Tonks or Remus to pass a note to Ron."
"Once we send that, Ron is going to be very hurt, and angry," Harry said.
"I know," Hermione agreed sadly. "I hope it doesn't hurt our friendship with him, or with Ginny or Luna, for that matter."
"I don't think it will Luna, but it's hard to tell with Ginny," Harry said.
Hermione stepped up to Harry and hugged him. Harry hugged her back. They noticed that Hermione, only an inch shorter than Harry, fit with Harry in some very nice ways. They pulled slightly apart, and then kissed very deeply.
"Wow," Harry said three minutes later.
"Wow," Hermione agreed.
And then they kissed again.
The next few days passed by in a whirl. The only events of note in Harry's view, besides a slight escalation in the physical affection between himself and Hermione, were notes from Ron, Ginny, and Luna. Luna's was very happy for Harry and Hermione. Ron and Ginny's were bland, almost chill, but at least they weren't hostile.
Ron's was the worst, because he had not scored nearly as well as Harry. While he had, to his own and nearly everyone else's surprise, managed to achieve every one of his O.W.L.s, his only O was in Defense, and his only E's were in Charms and Care. He therefore had no chance at auror training, and was very uncertain as to what career path he might even prepare for, other than that it was likely to be with the Ministry.
Harry barely noticed two attempts by Voldemort to break into his mind. Harry drove him out easily. He didn't notice that Voldemort had picked up some of Harry's surface thoughts, such as his impending trip to Potter Place and Godric's Hollow.
Author notes: The good folk of and around Norwich are apparently called 'Norfolk Dumplings' by others. I hope it is not considered a very offensive term!