AU, Post OotP summer story: Summer at the Dursleys has always meant Harry is overworked, underfed and lonely. All Harry wanted was a normal summer, what he gets is anything but normal. repost
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter
AN: Thanks to Evan his super beta work.
The first day of tutoring, Philip sat down with Harry to find out just what he wanted to learn.
"I realize, Harry, that you don't have your book list yet and you've only just picked your courses, but what do you want to brush up on or work ahead in?" asked Philip.
"Well, I don't need Potions and I'd hate to ask you to tutor me in something you don't know," said Harry.
"Oh, I don't think that will be a problem. I've completed four years of University with a Major in Magical History with a Minor in Rituals," said Philip rather condescendingly. Neville, who was listening from a table where he was supposed to be reading, rolled his eyes.
Harry's eyes narrowed slightly, "Well you can't have too much Defense, of course, and Neville said you'd been dueling. I'm interested in Runes as well but haven't taken them before."
"Oh, no fear, Runes are a big part of the study of Rituals and, of course, I'm very good at Defense, I've actually put in an application with your Headmaster Dumbledore for the Defense position at Hogwarts. If I can get a foot in the door, I hope to eventually take the History spot when that teacher retires," he said.
Harry and Neville both laughed and Harry said, "Hasn't anyone told you, History is taught by Binns, he's been dead for years but the keep him on."
Philip flushed, "Well be that as it may, lets get you on your feet; you and I can duel so I can see what you need to work on."
Harry grinned and Neville's eyes widened.
"I'd like that, would you like standard, traditional or freestyle rules?" asked Harry, jumping to his feet and drawing his wand.
Philip looked surprised for just a moment and then said, "Neville can judge, standard I believe will do for evaluation purposes."
Neville got to his feet smile spread across his face. Harry strode to one end of the room and took up a regulation dueling stance that he'd read about in Dueling for Fun and Profit.
Neville raised his wand and counted down to begin the duel. The curses and hexes flew fast and furious as shields rose and fell and both young men danced at either end of the room. Finally one of Harry's curses broke a purple shield that Harry had never seen and he followed it up with a stunner that took Philip down.
"That was brilliant, Harry," said Neville as he walked over to enervate Philip.
"Mr. Potter, I must say, that was a wonderful demonstration," said Philip. "I'm not sure that I can teach you anything."
"I don't know that purple shield you used, and a fight with Death Eaters is a lot different than a standard duel," said Harry. "I can always use the practice."
Philip looked puzzled and said, "I understood that most of those Death Eater terrorists had been arrested by the Ministry, why would you need to fight them?"
Harry sighed, "It's a long story that I don't really want to go into right now. Just take in as a given that I will be on the front lines."
"So will I," stated Neville.
"Well from the way Neville spoke the Defense teachers at Hogwarts haven't been the best but you give the lie to that."
"Harry's the one that taught us last year, Flip, he's the reason I got an E for Defense on my OWL's," said Neville.
Harry blushed slightly at the praise.
"Will you show me that shield?" Harry asked and the conversation turned to Defense.
Over the next few days Philip provided Harry with his Defense texts from University and Harry devoured them.
"Hi, Hermione, how are you?" asked Harry.
"Harry, hi, I'm fine are you all right?" asked Hermione.
"I'm fine, I just wanted to let you know that I've left the Dursley's and to give you a new number where I can be reached," he said.
"Aunt Petunia bought me a mobile and I enchanted it to work around magic fields."
"Harry isn't that illegal?" Hermione gasp.
"It's not unless you let the item fall into Muggle hands," he said.
"So where are you? Is it safe? You're not at the Burrow are you?" she asked.
"I'm very safe behind excellent wards and, no, it's not the Burrow. I don't think I'd better tell you though because when Dumbledore finds out he'll probably ask you and what you don't know he can't pry out of your mind."
"I don't like it but I suppose you're right," she said with a sigh.
"Why did you ask about the Burrow?" he questioned.
"Well I got a very strange note from Mrs. Weasley. She said that even though I was always welcome that it wasn't a good idea to visit this summer because Ginny was having some problems and wouldn't be good company. Do you know what's going on?"
"Oh, well, yes, but I'm not sure that it's my place to tell," he said.
"I thought she wasn't hurt badly at the Ministry?" said Hermione.
"I don't think she was, this is something else," said Harry.
"You're not going to tell me are you?" she demanded.
"No, Hermione I'm not. I'm sorry."
"Ok, well, then can you tell me how you learned how to magic a phone?"
"I can do better than that I'll send you a copy of the booklet that tells how. Hermione, would you like to take a look at my Occlumency book as well? I don't need it any longer."
"That would be very nice Harry," she said now sounding pleased.
"I'll send Hedwig in the morning," he told her.
Harry gave her his number and after a few more minutes of conversation hung up relieved that he'd been able to soothe her with the offer of books.
Harry and Neville were studying in the room set aside for lessons when Harry threw down his current book in frustration.
"What's wrong, Harry?" asked Neville.
"I need to do something, I'm tired of studying; even the dueling isn't helping," said Harry launching himself out of the chair to pace restlessly.
Neville eyed him for a moment. "You know, when you act like this at school you and Ron usually end up going out to fly."
Harry perked up, "Yeah, flying that's what I need. Can I fly here, Neville?"
"Sure, there's plenty of room inside the wards but I don't have a broom," said Neville.
"Bloody hell, mine is still locked up at school, I think," said Harry throwing himself back into the chair.
"Gran told me I can have a broom if I want. We could go to Diagon Alley and buy one," offered Neville closing his own book.
"Brilliant idea, Neville, but I'll buy my own. It would be good to get a new broom so I don't have to take a chance on anything happening to my Firebolt. Do you want to go now?" Harry bolted across the room and flung open the door to the hall causing startled screams to emerge from the two girls on the other side.
Harry then reacted to the screams by drawing his wand eliciting another scream and causing the two girls to drop to the floor.
"Hannah? Susan? What are you doing here?" asked Neville, placing a calming hand on Harry's shoulder and gawking at the two girls.
"You scared us half to death, Harry Potter," protested Susan Bones.
"Mum came to discuss the St Mungos auction with your Gran," replied Hannah.
They helped the girls to their feet with Harry apologizing profusely.
"So what are you doing here, Harry?" asked Susan of the still blushing Harry.
"Just spending a bit of the holiday," answered Harry.
"So where were you rushing off to so fast?" asked Hannah.
Harry mumbled something and both girls looked at Neville for a translation. Neville laughed and explained that Harry wanted to go flying but need to buy a new broom, so they were going to go to Diagon Alley.
The girls were enthusiastic about going along and soon Neville and the two girls floo'd to the Leaky Cauldron and met Harry in the back courtyard. He refused to floo when he could apparate.
Harry was wearing his contacts along with the hat Mr. Mann gave him and hoped that would give him a bit of anonymity. The four made their way down the alley toward Quality Quidditch Supply where Harry purchased a new Firebolt Mark Two and some new quidditch gear. Neville, with the promise of Harry helping refine his flying skills, bought a CleanSweep 500, a sturdy all weather broom.
Of course once they were in the Alley and Harry had his broom they couldn't resist a stop for ice cream. Unknown to Harry, Hannah and Susan as they were leaving the ice cream shop, laughing as Neville had to return to the table for his forgotten broom, a photographer for the Daily Prophet recognized Harry.
As Harry sat down at the breakfast table a pale Neville slid the Daily Prophet across the table.
"You'll want to take a look at that Harry."
Harry lifted the paper and there blazoned across the front page was a picture with screaming headlines; /Potter Heir escorts two in Diagon Alley./
The picture showed Harry sandwiched between Susan and Hannah, all three were laughing. Harry had his head tilted, hat pushed back on his head showing his scar for the entire world to see. Harry read the accompanying article by Lotta S Candle.
Is love in the air for sixteen-year old Harry Potter? Potter, seen here in the company of Susan Bones, age sixteen and heir to the Bones Estate, and Hannah Abbott, age sixteen and the granddaughter and heir of Emile Abbott, seems poised to continue the Potter line.
Upon inquiry at Gringotts on the status of any Marriage Contracts for Mr. Potter, this reporter was told that quote Lord Potter's affairs were his own. One wonders if this means that Harry Potter the Boy-Who-Lived has finally claimed his position as Head of the Potter Family.
Further investigation at the Ministry shows no Marriage Contracts on file there for our Mr. Potter either. Potter's name has been linked with Muggle born witch Hermione Granger, who made top scores on this years OWL's, and Cho Chang, Seeker for the Ravenclaw house team. So the question now is which of these two witches might Mr. Potter be dating or is it both?
"Bugger!" was Harry's only comment.
"Harry I'd like to get with Amelia and Emile to work out a press release before this gets out of hand," said Gran.
"I don't want to give them anything more to smear me with, and they've made Hannah and Susan targets," said Harry.
"That's why you need to clamp down on them, Harry and why you need to work with Amelia Bones and Emile Abbott." Gran sighed, "I take it no one has discussed how to handle the press with you? Of course not and that explains the bad press of the past," she muttered half to herself. "May I handle this for you Lord Black, you will have the final word on what we do. You've used Remus Lupin as your agent once I can include him in this as well if you like or perhaps Andromeda Tonks."
"Thank you, Gran," said Harry, "Please help me sort this out. Contact Remus if you want. I trust you."
He was heading up to the practice room when his phone rang.
"Hello?" he answered.
"Harry I just saw the Prophet what were you thinking?" asked Hermione.
"Hi, Hermione, Susan and Hannah came to visit Neville and went with us to buy brooms. I'm not sure just how my hat got pushed back. I thought it was a good disguise," complained Harry.
"Neville? You are at Neville's? Oh, I'm so glad. I thought maybe you were staying with Susan or even at the Leaky Cauldron."
"Why would you think I was staying at Susan's, I don't know her that well," asked Harry confused.
"That's not important," she said, "I just want to make sure you'd seen the paper."
"Say, Hermione, are you still on restriction?" he asked changing the subject.
"No, why?" she asked.
"Are you on the floo? I was thinking you might be able to come here one afternoon."
"I'm not on the floo but I can take the knight bus to the library and floo from there," she said.
"Brilliant, why don't you see if you can come one day next week, then?"
He gave her the floo address and hung up smiling.
Halfway through practice his phone rang again.
"Harry that awful man with the freaky eye has been here looking for you. I told him you weren't here and he said he'd wait in the yard until you came. I just know he's out there now, even if I can't see him. What should I tell him, is he dangerous?" said Petunia frantically.
"Aunt Petunia, calm down, I'll come home and get rid of him. Don't worry; I'll take care of it. I don't think he'll hurt you," said Harry.
"How soon?" asked Petunia.
"I'll be there with in the hour."
He hung up and stomped out of the training room to clean up and change.
Harry apparated into the corner of the yard between the fence and the shed and entered the house from the back garden.
"Aunt Petunia?" he called.
She came down the stairs just as Moody opened the front door and entered the house. Harry's wand came up and he stepped between his Aunt and Moody.
"Identify yourself, tell me what you said about carrying my wand," snarled Harry.
"Don't leave it in your back pocket, Potter, you'll blow a buttock off. What did I show you last Christmas?" answered Moody.
"Picture of the old Order. Don't you know how to knock or do rules apply to everyone but you?" said Harry.
"I could ask the same thing, boy. Where have you been and what do you think you were doing in Diagon Alley yesterday? And put that damn wand away before you get yourself in trouble," thundered Moody.
Harry drew himself up and snarled, "That's Lord Potter to you, Auror Moody. I am legally an adult and where I go and what I do is none of your business."
"Dumbledore," started Moody.
"Is merely the Headmaster of the school I currently attend," interrupted Harry, "not my guardian or even my chosen advisor."
Moody looked startled and then his mouth crooked up in a horrific grin. "Well said lad, well said. I apologize, Lord Potter, Mrs. Dursley, for barging in. I had been led to believe that you might be in danger."
"I'm fine, Moody," said Harry, "If you'd care to check you'll see the wards are at full strength and I'm not required to stay here. With the consent of my Aunt, I am spending some of the holiday with friends. Do you know how to use a muggle telephone?"
"Yes, lad, I do," said Moody. Harry summoned the pad of paper and pen by the phone in the hall with a tiny flick of his wand and wrote down his number.
"I'd be most disappointed if I were to discover Dumbledore on the other end of the line when I answer," he said.
"I understand. Don't suppose you'd care to tell me where you're staying and just how you got those wards so strong? They weren't even close to this last year," said Moody head tilted to one side as he examined the wards.
"No I wouldn't, on either question. Suffice it to say that if the old man didn't play his cards so close to the vest and had shared some information, the wards could have been this strong a long time ago. I may be young but I've never been stupid, just uninformed."
Moody nodded appreciatively and said, "I'll just be going then, Lord Potter, Mrs. Dursley."
Moody's wand touched the top of his head and he shimmered out of sight. The door opened and closed. Harry then felt him leave the wards at the end of the walk and they heard the pop of Apparation.
"What's that Lord Potter business about?" asked Petunia.
"My father is from a very old family, I claimed adult status under some old rules because I'm the last Potter and officially that lets me use the title of Lord Potter. As far as I can figure out it doesn't mean much and there no money or real title involved," said Harry.
Aunt Petunia sniffed and said grudgingly, "Thank you for coming and dealing with that man."
Harry smiled, "You're welcome. Any one else comes, call me." He retreated back to behind the shed and popped away.
Neville was waiting for Harry in the entryway when he returned to Longbottom Hall.
"Everything go ok?" he asked.
"Yeah, I think so. Told Moody I wasn't going to take any crap and he seemed ok with it," said Harry.
Neville took a look at Harry's hand and said, "You need to put on your other ring too and come into the drawing room, Hannah's grandfather and Susan's Aunt are here and they want to meet you."
Harry looked hard at Neville, "Why? Are they angry with me for putting Hannah and Susan in danger?"
Neville rolled his eyes, "Come off it, Harry. You didn't put them in any more danger than they already were; you're such a martyr. Come on they've been here for a while."
Harry pulled the Black ring out of his pocket and shoved it onto his finger straightened his shoulders and followed Neville into the drawing room with a feeling of doom.
"Ah, Lord Potter, please come in," said Gran as he entered the Drawing room. "Harry this is Lord Emile Abbott and Madam Amelia Bones."
Harry gave a short bow as he had learned was proper and nervously sat on a chair. He noticed that Hannah and Susan were seated together not far away and Neville went to join them.
"I'm pleased to meet you, Sir, and to see you again, Madam," said Harry.
Mr. Abbott looked Harry up and down and said, "I demand to know what your intentions toward my granddaughter are."
All the color fled out of Harry's face and just in his line of sight he saw Hannah flush and then hide her face in her hands.
"Hannah is my friend, Sir, nothing more. I have no intentions toward her nor has she done anything inappropriate," said Harry firmly.
"Well said, lad," said Mr. Abbott with a chuckle, "Though it would have gone over better if you could have said it without looking as if you might faint."
Gran frowned and Madam Bones smirked at Harry slightly.
"I am sorry that both girls were linked to me, it could put them in danger," said Harry.
"Augusta explained your fears, Susan and I have always been targets as the last of our family and the fact that we are well known light supporters," said Amelia.
"I lost most of my family to the dark in the first war. It galls me to have to call it that, now. My Hannah tells me you've been claiming this so called Dark Lord was back all last year. Tell me about it would you?" asked Mr. Abbott.
"Of course Sir," said Harry and began to tell them of the last task and the rebirth of Voldemort.
By the time the afternoon was over and all the questions answered Harry had gone hoarse and Mr. Abbott and Madam Bones were both outraged at the cover up by Fudge.
Lord Abbott had pledged to call for investigation by the Wizengamot.
Gran was escorting Amelia and Susan to the floo to take their leave when Mr. Abbott leaned into Harry.
"Lord Potter, I see that you are wearing the Black ring as well," at Harry's nod he continued. "Young Neville's grandfather and I were in negotiations for a Marriage Contract between Neville and my Hannah when he passed, poor man. As the Head of Black, a family to which young Neville owes allegiance, you could negotiate on his behalf. Speak to him if you would. I'd like to insure my Hannah's future."
Harry's mouth dropped open and he wasn't sure just what to say. "Uh, sure, I mean yes I'll speak to Neville. Er, does Hannah want to, I-" Harry stopped speaking as he caught sight of both Neville and Hannah red faced and studiously ignoring each other.
Mr. Abbott turned and only said, "Come along my dear," and left Hannah trailing behind.
Neville stood staring into the fire, back stiff.
"Neville?" asked Harry a wealth of questions in his tone.
Neville shrugged a bit and said, "I don't think I want to discuss it right now, Harry."
"Not a problem. I think I'll go have a fly before dinner, if you don't mind. It's been a rough day," said Harry. He left Neville with his thoughts.
Harry was stretched out in bed doing his Occlumency exercises when some one knocked on the door.
"Come in," he called sitting up.
"Harry, can I talk to you?" asked Neville.
"Sure, come on in." Neville came in a sprawled on the foot of the bed and then blinked at the blanket.
"This isn't one of ours, where'd you get it and why did you bring it with you?" asked Neville puzzled.
Harry blushed slightly and said, "I found it in a junk shop, it's spelled for sweet dreams and sometimes I can hear phoenix song when I'm sleeping. I haven't had nearly as many nightmares since I got it."
"You know you're going to catch hell from the other guys if you bring a security blanket to school?" said Neville with a smirk.
"Yeah but I think it'll be worth it not to wake up to my screaming, yes?" said Harry.
"I suppose but Harry Potter with his blankey is just too good to pass up," said Neville beginning to chuckle.
"You wanted something?" asked Harry, acting annoyed even though he could see the humor of the situation.
Neville sobered suddenly, "Uh, yes, I -well it's about Hannah, actually. I don't know what to do. I mean an arranged marriage would take a lot of the pressure of having to talk to a girl and ask her out off but then what if she doesn't, well you know, like me?"
Neville was blushing furiously by the end of this ramble and Harry wasn't far behind.
"Well, Nev, uh, have you discussed this with her or maybe with your Gran?" asked Harry.
Neville shook his head frantically and nearly shouted, "No!" He lowered his voice and continued, "I know Gran likes the idea. An alliance with the Abbott House would be good business."
"Business?" asked a surprised Harry.
"Well, yeah, the Abbott's are one of the largest suppliers in potion ingredients in Britain. They own some of the best greenhouses. If I married Hannah I'd be guaranteed a Herbology apprenticeship there," said Neville.
Harry stared at him for a moment, "But, Neville, is that a good reason to get married?"
Neville shrugged again, "I haven't a clue, Harry, that's why I'm talking to you."
Harry's eyes bugged out at this and though he tried he couldn't help but laugh. Neville looked hurt for a moment but then laughed too.
"Honestly, Neville, I think we might need more expert help on this unless you just want to ask Hannah what she thinks about it." At Neville's headshake Harry pulled out his phone. "Ok, we call Hermione."
Harry was somewhat surprised when a man answered the phone but quickly recovered.
"Uh, sir this is Harry Potter and I'm calling to speak to Hermione."
There was a muttered answer that Harry didn't catch and then a wait.
"Harry do you know what time it is? What's wrong?" said Hermione breathlessly.
"Er, no, sorry Hermione I didn't realize that it was late. There's nothing wrong but I need your advice about a situation," said Harry now glancing at the clock and wincing at the late hour. "I could call back tomorrow."
"No, Harry, it's alright I'm awake now, what is it?" she said with a huff.
"Well, it's about a girl, really, and I wanted to ask you because you're a girl and I need to know how does one actually go about finding out if a girl likes someone well enough to marry them with out actually asking that girl and what do you think about arranged marriages and is it being good business and good for someone's career make it a good idea to marry her?" he blurted it all out and then sat there with Neville staring in shock at him and silence on the other end of the line.
"Hermione, are you there? I think we got disconnected Neville should I call her back, do you think?" he asked Neville.
"Harry?" she said.
"Oh, you are still there, so what do you think? Should Neville just ask her or should we-"
"Shut up!" yelled Hermione. Harry closed his mouth and he could hear her teeth grinding.
"Neville is there with you?" she asked.
"Yes," he said hesitantly wondering why she sounded angry.
"What girl are you talking about?" she grated out.
"Hannah Abbott, her grandfather wants to arrange a marriage between her and Neville," said Harry.
There was a long silence but Harry could here her breathing this time. Long slow breathes.
"You called me in the middle of the night to find out if Hannah Abbott likes Neville enough to marry him and you thought I might know because I'm a girl?" she finally asked.
"Well, it sounds kind of stupid when you put it that way, but yes," said Harry.
She gave out a long sigh, "Look Harry it's late, my parents said I could visit you, can I come tomorrow?"
"Yes, that would be fine," said Harry.
"Good, have Neville floo Hannah and invite her over too. I'll see you tomorrow." Then she hung up.
Harry set the phone aside.
"Well what did she say?" asked Neville.
"She's coming over tomorrow and you need to invite Hannah too," said Harry.
Neville paled and asked, "Are sure that's a good idea?"
Harry shrugged, "What else can we do? Maybe you should have asked that before I called her."
They sat there for a few minutes.
"Say, Neville, did your parents have an arranged marriage?" asked Harry.
Neville grinned and said, "Sort of, they had an arranged courtship. The agreement was for them to date for two years. Then they could finalize the contract or terminate it. Dad had a back up contract if Mum turned him down but Mum's parents were free thinkers and wanted her to have at least a bit of a choice. They didn't want her bound to someone she hated."
"Sounds reasonable," Harry said and then he yawned, "Sorry, it's getting late."
"Yeah, good night, Harry, and thanks."
Hermione and Hannah entered the training room together the next day to find Neville and Philip battling Harry. Hermione watched opened mouth and then spoke to Hannah.
"Won't they be in trouble for using magic?"
"No, there are excellent wards here; the Ministry can't track through them. Harry is legal now, anyway, and Neville has a tutor. So they're covered," replied Hannah.
A wild hex flew their way and Hermione drew her wand and blocked it with hardly a second thought. Then the two girls glanced at each other and together sent a barrage of stunning spells at the three combatants. Both Neville and Philip thudded to the floor, while Harry shielded and looked surprised then with a smirk returned fire. Two minutes later both girls yielded and Harry enervated Neville and Philip.
"How did you do that?" asked Neville.
"I didn't," said Harry with a smirk, "you were attacked from behind," and he pointed to the girls.
"Oh, hi Hannah, Hermione," said Neville with a smile. Then he suddenly turned pale and dropped his wand.
"Are you all right Neville?" asked Hannah.
Neville nodded jerkily and said, "Pardon me, I need to clean up," and rushed from the room.
"I suppose that's it for the day, then," said Philip, he bowed to the girls and followed Neville out of the room.
"I should clean up too," said Harry smiling, "you don't mind do you?"
"No, Harry, of course not. Hannah and I have an awful lot to talk about," said Hermione in a sweet voice. Harry's smile froze on his face and a chill ran down his spine.
"Well, I could keep you company until Neville comes back," he said.
Hannah was looking from one to the other with a look of confusion.
"No, Harry, that's perfectly fine, you just go clean up. We don't want to smell you."
Harry walked out of the door uncertainly, behind him he heard the mummer of Hannah asking a question and the peal of Hermione's laughter. He wondered if it were too late to run away.
When Harry returned to the training room, he found Neville lurking outside. They stared at each other for a moment.
"Oh, come on, how bad can it be?" asked Harry.
Then laughter burst from the room and both boys blanched.
Harry fingered the House rings on his right hand and straightened his shoulders and marched into the room with his head held high. Neville straighten as well and trailed behind him.
Harry sat down at the table the girls were sitting at and Neville with a glance at the table stepped up to the mantel and rang a small silver bell. Then gave a horrified glance at Hermione as Tippy popped into the room
"What may Tippy be doing for Master Neville?" asked the happy little elf.
"Please inform Gran that I have guests and that we will be lunching in the school room and then bring sandwiches and butter beer for four," instructed Neville.
"Right away Master Neville," said the elf and she popped away.
Hermione opened her mouth only to find Harry's hand across it.
"This is neither the time nor the place for that, Hermione. This is Neville's home and his Gran is in charge. Please don't start," said Harry.
Hermione's eyes narrowed at him but she gave a short nod.
Neville sat down with a sigh of relief.
"So Harry, why did you call me last night?" started Hermione.
Hannah giggled, Neville paled and Harry scowled.
"All right; I'm sorry I called you a girl," said Harry as he crossed his arms.
Hermione blinked and then laughed, "All right; I'll quit teasing you. I am glad however that you've finally realized I was a girl."
Harry grinned back, "I've always know that, Hermione, if you weren't you would have been in our dorm."
Neville groaned and Hannah was red faced with laughter.
"Yes, I suppose you're right. Well, now that we are all here and my father isn't sitting on the stairs glaring at me, I would like to know why you are involved?" said Hermione.
"Oh, that's because my grandfather likes embarrassing me and asked Harry, as Lord Black, to speak to Neville," said Hannah, "Though I thought maybe Neville would speak to me."
"I was afraid you'd laugh at me," said Neville in a small voice.
"You're my friend, Neville, I'd never laugh at you, Grandfather should have kept his mouth shut," she said putting a hand on Neville arm.
Harry glanced at Hermione to find a smug look on her face.
Neville smiled at Hannah and said, "So, what do you think about it?"
Hannah looked down at the table. "Oh, Neville, it such a huge decision, I don't know what to say."
"If I may make a suggestion?" said Harry.
"As Lord Black?" asked Hannah.
"No, as Harry, clueless guy; Neville was telling me that his parent had an arranged courtship. They dated for two years and then decided. You could do something similar. Date for the next year. Get to know each other like that and then after Neville turns seventeen he can do the negotiations with your Grandfather, if the two of you want to continue."
"Harry," started Hermione.
"Actually, I like the idea. How about you, Neville?" said Hannah.
"I think I'd like it as well. Harry could speak to Lord Abbott for permission for me to court you. Do you think he'd go for it?" said Neville.
"I think so," she turned to Harry, "Lord Black, may I ask my Grandfather to speak with you about an arranged courtship?" she asked formally.
"I'd be honored," said Harry, "but you need to decide the exact terms you want."
Hermione was looking mystified, "But why do you need to have your Grandfather's permission to date and I still don't see why Harry has a say."
"I'm Head of the Black Family as well as the Potter Family, Hermione. Neville is a Black on his great grandmothers side and as the Head of the Longbottom Family is incapacitated, I can bargain on his behalf," explained Harry.
Their lunch arrived then and they spent time talking about what each of them wanted out of a relationship.
Remus showed up late that evening.
"Hi, Remus, what's up?" asked Harry as he entered the receiving room where Remus waited for him.
"I just came from an Order meeting, I thought you might want to know what's happening there," said Remus.
"Oh, something special?" asked Harry.
Remus smirked and said, "Well apparently Albus has quite a bit of trouble. Did you know that we met a couple of times at the Burrow because Albus thinks the Fidelius can be breached by Sirius's heir? Well Molly won't let Albus on the property now because of Ginny and so we had to meet this time at Hogwarts."
"Wait a minute, what do you mean about Grimmauld Place?" asked Harry.
"Well, Albus believes that Draco Malfoy is probably the Heir to the Black Estate and we're lucky because he is still underage; even the Fidelius can't hide a property from its rightful owner. Once he comes of age, he could find the house and take possession; that would break the Fidelius," said Remus.
"I see," said Harry.
"So the Order got to Hogwarts this evening and Peeves was waiting. Either he'd been saving some stuff from the school year or someone has re-supplied him. Half the Order is multi colored now," Remus said, grinning.
"Oh, the twin's paint balloons?" asked Harry.
Remus nodded and continued, "So, finally we're all sitting around the table with tea and sweets and Albus announces that you've left the Dursleys and asks for volunteers to try to find you and take you back to the Dursleys. Moody objects and informs every one that you are Head of the Potter Family, that his inspection of the wards showed them to be at full strength, and that you have the right to do or go anywhere you wish. Albus started harping on your safety. Snape started in with his sniping comments, Minerva started complaining that Albus had removed the guards on you just to watch Grimmauld Place, and Shacklebolt started in with the demands that you be given extra training." Remus smirked, "Since the, er, incident at the Ministry, Kingsley has really pushed for training for you and your friends, I think he just wants to see what you can do. The rest of the Order started arguing over the same old arguments. Forty five minutes of bedlam later Albus sent us home with nothing decided."
Remus was grinning at Harry but Harry wasn't amused at all.
"Do mean to say Remus that they aren't doing anything to get rid of the rest of Voldemort's Death Eaters or to figure out what he's going to do next?" asked Harry angrily.
The smile disappeared and Remus said, "I'm sorry, Harry, we are still compiling intelligence, it was just a bad meeting and I thought you might find it amusing. The work is still getting done; I just found it funny that Albus didn't get the volunteers he was looking for to hunt you."
Harry scowled and shook he head, "All he had to do is send an owl, why does he think I'm hiding from him? I just didn't inform him where I would be ahead of time."
The next morning Harry received a shocking letter.
I wish to apologize for my daughter Ginevra's actions on your birthday. The healers at St Mungos have informed me that with treatment she will fully recover. Investigation shows that Headmaster Dumbledore was advised that Ginny might benefit from further treatment after the incident with the cursed diary and the Chamber of Secrets. He did not pass that on to us.
I recognize that in no way is an excuse for not seeing the problem before now.
I have always felt honored that some one of your position and status would chose my children as friends and share yourself with us. I have now discovered that you did not know of your position in our world and if upon reflection you should choose now to sever ties with us I shall surely understand and do my utmost to make sure that my children do not cause you any further embarrassment or annoyance.
Harry paled and his hands started shaking and Gran leaned across the breakfast table and placed hand on his arm.
"Harry, what's wrong?" she asked.
"They don't want me," he whispered holding out the parchment to her.
She scanned the letter.
"Harry, that isn't what this says," she reported.
Harry shook his head and said, "No, Mr. Weasley doesn't want me to be friends with Ron. I'm dangerous."
Neville rolled his eyes, "This again?"
Gran gave him a glare and turned back to Harry.
"No it isn't. This says that he thinks you don't want to be their friend. That you should find better friends," she said, shaking his arm.
He blinked at her and asked, "What?"
Neville had read the letter by then and chimed in, "He thinks that now that you know you're the Head of Potter, you're going to act like Malfoy, queen of the world."
"Neville that is not very polite," said Gran.
Harry stared at Neville, his brows drawn together in a frown.
"Well, we'll just see about this," he said as he stormed away from the table.
Fifteen minutes later Harry Potter stormed into the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts office causing Arthur Weasley to jump to his feet.
"Lord Potter?" he said.
"Mr. Weasley do you blame me for Ginny's illness?" demanded Harry.
"No of course not," said Arthur.
"Are you angry that I brought Ron and Ginny here and got Sirius killed?" he asked eyes blazing.
"Oh, no Harry, I mean Lord Potter, that wasn't your fault at all," exclaimed Arthur.
"Then why to you want me to cut ties to your family? Don't you know that I love all of you?" asked Harry in a small voice.
"Dear Merlin no, Harry I don't want -" Arthur stopped talking and rushed around the desk to gather up Harry into a hug. "I'm so sorry, son, I was only thinking of what was best for you."
"You, and your family, are what's best for me, sir," said Harry voice slightly muffled in Arthur's robe. "Please don't send me away."
"Never, Harry, you are family," said Arthur.
Harry pulled away and asked, "You said Ginny would be all right?"
"She'll be fine once the treatment is finished. I'm sorry that we didn't notice that there was a problem. She hasn't done anything to you has she?" Arthur asked.
Harry shook his head, "No, but you need to know I think of her like a sister not-well you know."
Arthur smiled and said, "That's fine, son. So does this mean you will be coming to the Burrow anytime soon?"
"Er, I'm visiting Neville right now but could I come for dinner, sometime? I miss Mrs. Weasley's cooking."
"How about tomorrow evening, then? I should think you could call me Arthur if you'd like," he said.
Harry blinked, "Er, maybe. I'm sorry for interrupting you at work but I just had to straighten this out right away."
"I always have time for my children, Harry," said Arthur. He was rewarded by a large smile.
"Thanks, I should go," said Harry and he bolted from the room.
As Harry stepped on to the Apparition point to return to Longbottom Hall he saw Dumbledore emerge from one of the many floo points in the Ministry atrium. He just had time to see Dumbledore's eyes widen and his mouth open before he smirked and popped away.
He spent the rest of the day studying paired dueling with Neville. They had found that they worked very well together and their spells when combined didn't just double their power but increased it exponentially.