There was much more to 'The Epilogue' than was shown in Book 7. In this chapter, Hermione and Harry make deals.
"Where shall we start?" Hermione asked.
"First of all, what you two decide to do about the Weasleys can affect what we're trying to do to rebuild."
"Then let's leave that for a bit," Harry suggested.
"Very well," the Minister agreed. "Then on to the goblins. . . ."
"Do you know about my deal with the goblins?" Harry asked.
"Yes," Kingsley agreed. "They aren't happy about it as a whole, but they did admit it was not really unfair."
"Then my agreement with the goblins holds for the moment, unless you can give me a good reason to withdraw everything from them,"Harry said firmly.
"But. . . ."
"We're the only large country which relies on one major wizarding bank," Harry pointed out. "That both gives the goblins too much influence here, and it causes too much resentment on both sides. The Swiss bank will be handling some of my investments. The goblins, if they have really thought things through, should see Igave them what they claim they want most from wizards -- the treasures they made for us. They can't have all my business as well, when we don't agree on how business should be done on all things."
"And if they don't think things through?" Shacklebolt demanded.
"Then both sides have to live with the consequences."
After a moment of silence, Hermione asked, "To get back on track, what are you offering us?"
"I want the three of you to go through auror training," Shacklebolt answered. "Mrs. Weasley. . . ."
"Don't EVER call me that!" Hermione snapped.
"But. . . ."
"Harry and I have not decided what we are going to do about all this mess Dumbledore left us. Even if Ron and I officially marry, my name will still be Granger, or if you really must, Granger-Weasley," Hermione commanded.
"You do realize that wizards. . . ."
"Only do that for women when they are marrying some wealthy Mudbloods? So that Mrs. Tonks really should be Black-Tonks? Yes. But as far as I'm concerned, if I stay. . . ."
"We stay," Harry added supportively.
"I know, Harry. Still, if I stay in Britain and with Ron, I will Ms Granger-Weasley, and so will any children."
Shacklebolt shrugged, as he didn't care. "Whatever. In any case, I am hoping you will also take the legal training available. In that case, you will become the Assistant Minister in charge of reviewing cases in about three or four years. That might not sound important, but in actuality, you will be one of three people able to order prosecutions or appeals -- myself as the Minister, the Head of the MLES, and yourself. Mister Potter, you and Mister Weasley will be more active on the auror side. I am also hoping to send you two for some Muggle training, legal and forensic."
"All this will take a while," Hermione pointed out.
"It will," the Minister agreed. "This is part of a long term reform plan, not a quick fix. I'm the youngest minister in European history, and by several decades. I intend to liberalize as much as I can, while preserving the separation between magical and Muggle societies."
"That could be good," Hermione allowed.
"You still have some credibility with us," Harry said. "Don't waste it on the Weasleys."
Shacklebolt winced. "I know, and I said I understood. Anyway, the other choice you have, Ms Granger, is to go in as the Assistant Minister in charge of Magical Creatures. That would take about ayear's training. Lord Potter. . . ."
"Mister is fine . . . from you."
Percy was back with Ron and Ginny in about half an hour."Hermione!" Ron's tone was more snappish than joyous. "There you are! Come on. Mum wants to talk to you about marriage arrangements. . . ."
"What?" Hermione snapped back. "You've never mentioned marriage before. What makes you think I'd marry you now?"
Ron frowned and looked at Percy. "But you said. . . ."
"I said they knew about the bondings," Percy corrected his youngest brother in his usual arch tone. "I did not say how they felt about them."
Ron frowned, confused.
"Do you think I'm overjoyed to find out that I was bonded against my will to my casual boyfriend before I was even eighteen?"Hermione demanded.
"You both agreed to the bondings," Ginny said quietly.
"In a dream-state," Hermione pointed out in turn. "Yes, Ifantasized about marrying Ron. You fantasized about marrying Harry before you had even met Harry." Ginny winced slightly at that, but could not deny it. "I also fantasized about marrying Harry, but Ialso thought more seriously about putting the idea of marrying anyone off until I was well-established in a career."
"Proper witches have their children, then start any career," Percy pointed out primly. Ron unwisely added, "That's right."
"Then to echo something Harry said earlier, fuck Pure-bloods and their bloody customs," Hermione shouted, stunning Ron, Percy, and Ginny. "Not to mention the fact that I now learn that the only reason you really came back is because you were drawn to us because of your bondings to Harry and myself."
"Those weren't the only reasons," Ron protested.
"But they were the main reasons, weren't they? They drew you back and that stupid device of Dumbledore's led you to us." Hermione turned on Percy. "What penalty would your dear Ministry have inflicted on Ron just a few weeks ago, if they knew he had dared to agree to a bonding ceremony traditionally used only amongst upper-class Pure-bloods to bond himself to a Mudblood?"
Percy gritted his teeth, but said, "They would have given Ron of the option of suicide or killing you, or execution for both of you."
"Did you know that, too, before you came back? You did, didn't you? I can see it in your face."
"Hermione," Ginny started.
Hermione cut her off. "And don't you start. Harry would have likely ended up at least dating Luna our Sixth year and maybe beyond if it wasn't for you. What did you do, feed him jealously potions the whole bloody year?"
"I thought so."
"Ginny!" Percy was shocked.
"Shut it, Weatherby," Harry snapped. "Ginevra Weasley. You have voluntarily bonded yourself to me as my concubine. You are my possession, I am your lord, am I not?"
Ginny hung her head. "Yes, my lord."
"Then take your chair over to the corner, sit on it, and don't say another word." Ginny did as she was told.
"And you probably think I should be acting that way, you sexist, chauvinist git! I'd rather be Harry's slave than your concubine. At least I know he'd treat me with respect. Here are your choices. Expect never to see me or Harry ever again, or modify your bonding oath."
Hermione tossed down a scrap of parchment. Ron picked it up, read it, and flushed even more than Ginny had. "You can't be serious!"
"Why not? All that would do is give me the power over you that you would have had over me if we hadn't discovered what was going on."
"And if he does swear that, will you two stick around and help us put the wizarding world back together again?" Percy asked.
"The wizarding world wasn't all that affected," Harry pointed out.
"Wizarding Britain isn't even one percent of the wizarding world,"Hermione added.
"Here's the deal," Harry said. "One, Ron doesn't change his oath. I supercede it as their over-lord. Hermione and I leave Britain. Ron, you can do whatever you want to do, so long as you do not embarrass us, or try to track us down. You can even marry. Ginny, you'll be staying with your family. Maybe this would be best for everyone, except maybe Ginny." Harry looked at the two Ministry men. "Do you really want someone of my power and reputation hanging about? It didn't work out well with Dumbledore."
"True," Kingsley agreed. "However, if you agree not to try and become either Minister or Chief Mugwump, you'll have lots of influence but you won't be able to interfere as much as Dumbledore did, while still having the power base to protect your interests. We, meaning you and I, can work together, Harry." He smiled. "And you can always leave later."
"True," Harry agreed. "Two, Ron swears the modified oath. That means Ron and Ginny get to announce that they are bonded to Hermione and me a year from next April, on the third anniversary. No public ceremonies. Ginny can call herself Ginny Potter at that point, and any children we have will be considered Potters."
Hermione spoke up. "I will of course call myself Hermione Granger-Weasley, and that's what any children I have will be named. There will be plenty of plain Weasleys." Her face hardened. "In public, we will be good spouses and we'll work hard to make the British Ministry something decent for once. We will expect the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to do a thorough job, and that Ministry corruption is a thing of the past. If it isn't, we'll fight you and anyone else in our way."
"And we either win, or we walk," Harry put in. "We'll be good, if independent, tools. We'll say nice things about that prick bastard Dumbledore, and, if we have to, we'll even reform Snape's image, to that Slytherin doesn't look like a total House of Evil, and so remain one over time."
"We'll be good," Hermione added, "for forty-eight weeks a year."
"And the other four weeks?" Percy asked when Ron wouldn't.
"That's none of your's or anyone else's business," Hermione said."That doesn't necessarily mean Harry and I will be together any or all of those four weeks a year. It means we get time off."
"It's up to you, Ron," Harry said.
"Do you really think I'll go along with this . . . this . . .charade?" Ron demanded.
"It's not more a charade, or farce or burlesque or whatever than what would have happened if we hadn't found out," Hermione snapped."In fact, since we're being, unlike you, open and honest here, it's less of one. Still, Ron, it's your choice. You'll never know if I really love you or not, but you never would have known the other way, either."
In theory, Ron knew he had a free choice. In fact, he knew he really had to swear the oath. He owed it to Harry and Hermione, for having walked out on them. He owed it to himself, because he did desire Hermione, he did desire to prove himself the best of the Weasley boys (while doing as little hard work as possible). He owed it to Ginny, so she wouldn't become an old hag. He owed it to the Family, to bring Harry into it via Ginny. He even owed it to the wizarding world, or at least wizarding Britain, to keep Harry Potter, his friend, the Chosen One, active in that magical kingdom as it was rebuilt.
All it would cost Ron was his pride, which, he finally had to admit, had always caused him more problems than he would care to count.
That was all that could be at stake as far as Ron could believe. He could not conceive of true self-sacrifice. Hermione was willing to honor her bonding to him, albeit on different terms than he had wanted. Therefore, she must want him, and her threat to go with Harry could just be a bluff. Had anyone told him that Harry and Hermione were willing to make this deal not for their good, not for their preference, but for the greater good, he would not have believed it.
Ron fought his pride for nearly a minute.
For once, Ron's pride lost. Ron knelt before Hermione and Harry and then swore the modifications to the Oath.
When Ron was done, Hermione turned to the Minister. "We'll report for training on the First of August. Training in the morning, sitting on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the afternoon." Percy's jaw dropped, while the Minister grinned. "Ron should go with you now, Percy, to start learning the ins-and-outs of the Ministry under your guidance. We'll pitch the tent down near Hagrid's. Ron, you can start coming to visit on weekends starting in July."
"And what will you two be doing there before now and August First?"Percy demanded.
"We'll be working with Professor McGonagall to straighten out Hogwarts, and Harry will also be available in Hogsmeade in the afternoon," Hermione answered. "Ginny will help us."
Ginny looked up hopefully.
"That reminds me," Harry said. He slipped off the light robe he had been wearing, showing he was now dressing in very expensive Muggle casual clothes. "Ginny, you are now my possession. Take off all your clothes."
"WHAT!" Ron and Percy shouted.
"All she has from now on only comes from me, right down to getting her clothes and a new wand." Harry looked at Ginny. "Shouldn't you be naked by now?"
"Yes, my lord," Ginny answered with a smirk. As she quickly complied, Ron and Percy averted their eyes, and growled until the Minister did the same. Ginny stood there, nude, until Harry handed her his robe.
"Gentlemen," Harry said in farewell, even if he was thinking, 'Or rather Minister and Weasleys.' "Come along, Ginny. It's time to start your concubine training."
"Yes, my lord," Ginny answered. It wasn't how she had planned on becoming Harry's, but the important thing was, she was becoming Harry's.
Nineteen Years Later
Sitting nude under an umbrella and big floppy hat and sun glasses, in a beach chair on the fringe of the beach f the Caribbean island sex club, Hermione Granger-Weasley was happy. Magically tanned and covered with a sun-screen potion she had invented, only a few smile and laugh lines betrayed the fact that she was not well under thirty. Still, not even the most critical of the other women would have guessed she was in fact 37 rather than 32 or 33. Most, in fact, would put her at around 28 to 30.
She had found this club on the internet back in 2001, and she and Harry had spent a long week here every winter since. While it was a swing club with a very attractive staff who could be invited to play as well, she had never taken advantage of the fact that nearly all of the males panted over her body. She had discovered her own exhibitionist streak when she had discovered internet porn in 1999, and had been posting anonymously on Redclouds and Watchersweb since late 2000, a vice that only Harry and Luna knew about. Although shyer, Harry let her indulge on the island, and they often drew appreciative crowds here when they had sex. Every once in a while, Hermione would choose one of the attractive woman who flocked around Harry to join them, although the woman's partner at most got to watch and masturbate.
Other than this one week a year, Harry and Hermione had spent nearly all their private time away from the Weasleys away from each other as well since 2003. Even before then, they had usually spent half the time apart as well.
Hermione spent her alone time at major magical research centers around the world. While she spent much of her time organizing various aspects of the Ministry, Hermione was now also an internationally recognized expert on magical theory. All this allowed Ron to pretend that the time Hermione and Harry spent together was innocent as well.
Between 1999 and 2004, Harry had wielded the elder wand and had gone through and crushed the Darker and criminal aspects of the magical societies of the Atlantic -- Europe, Africa, and the Americas. No one thought that Dark magic practitioners were gone, let alone gone for good. They were just practicing on a very small scale. The same was true of crime. The crime families were broken, and more legitimate ways of trading between the magical and Muggle worlds had been set up. One of Harry's offices in the MLES actually liaised with their Muggle counterparts to make certain that neither world preyed on the other.
Because his activities took him around the world, Harry actually only spent between 30-40 weeks a year in Britain. He generally spent 10-12 weeks a year camping, which included the two or three weeks he kept for himself. Harry had developed a Muggle identity as a travel photographer. He took Ginny and the children camping every July. All this gave him plenty of time to study local conditions. Somehow, Harry, with or without Ginny or his family, managed to fit in without really being noticed. He had developed a nose for the Dark, and local Ministries were often surprised by his tips.
Hermione saw Harry coming towards her, two drinks in hand. She smiled as she saw women (and a few men) licking their lips at the thought of joining, or being joined to, Harry. She noted that Harry hadn't allowed any woman to tag along for her approval.
Hermione had noticed that, over the years, Harry had never suggested a red head, a Chinese, or a woman with lots of chestnut hair. Half had been blondes (natural or otherwise), and most of those blondes were slim and dreamy-featured. The rest were an eclectic mix, and Hermione always had the final say. Hermione's suggestions were a mix as far as their looks, but were always naturally submissive.
"Thank you, my love," Hermione said, accepting the large mix of fruit juices. Harry returned the smile and snuggled next to her, kissing her shoulder. "No pretty little fishes?"
"None are as pretty as you," Harry returned.
"Maybe in thirty or forty years, but certainly not now," Harry claimed. "Honestly, have either of us ever looked at another woman the first two or three days here?" This was, after all, their first full day at the resort.
"Good point." Hermione lowered her voice. "I've been meaning to mention this. I heard that load of goblin dung you told Al last September." This was the first chance they had had to talk about it in private.
Harry snorted as he remembered the scene from three months before."What was I supposed to tell the poor boy? That because he was born three weeks early, I was out of the country and his prick Uncle Percy named him?" He snorted again. "Albus Severus. Poor kid."
"'He was the bravest man I ever knew'," Hermione teased.
"Actually," Harry said thoughtfully, "he might have been. Close, anyway. On the other hand, he was also an emotionally-stunted, snarky, stalker."
"Were you disappointed Al was Sorted into Hufflepuff?"
"Not at all, even if Rose was upset they were separated." Rose, to Ron's disappointment, had been Sorted into Ravenclaw.
Hermione leaned over and took Harry in hand. "Is there anything about the magical world we need to talk about? Or can we relax and have fun?"
Harry pretended to think, and then said, "No, I can't think of anything."
Hermione sat her drink down, removed her hat, and then leaned over. Quickly, a small crowd gathered to watch a true expert work on the most admired tool on the island.
Harry leaned back and relaxed, one hand gently caressing his lover's shoulders and back. He closed his eyes, forgetting about everything except the pleasure.
That night, as Hermione lay cuddled in his arms, Harry reflected. Life wasn't perfect, but it was awfully good. He loved Hermione, but over the years her need to dominate had become so pronounced he knew he couldn't have stood it had they been together full time. This in turn had led Ron, totally dominated at home, to be the most aggressive auror in Britain. It was also driving young Hugo towards either secretly becoming the true heir of the Marauders and the Weasley twins, or worse, perhaps a bully. Only time would tell.
Harry was not surprised at this aspect of Hermione's personality, as Hermione had from the start taken great pleasure in 'training'Ginny. Ginny had learned to enjoy her submission in the bedroom, and to enjoy the spankings she now deliberately provoked whenever any woman other than Hermione or Luna got too close to Harry.
Harry enjoyed all his children. Unlike most parents, who think they know their children, Harry actually did understand his. Luna's first child and Harry's eldest child, Peverell, was now asixth year Ravenclaw and rebelling against his mother and grandfather by being nearly a clone of his 'Aunt' Hermione (while only Hermione and Ginny knew of Harry's intermittent but long-term affair with Luna, Harry had made certain that she and her children, and Teddy Lupin, where considered part of Molly's One Great and Happy Weasley Family). James, the oldest of the three publically acknowledged as his, was probably the most well-adjusted of his six: smart, happy, and outgoing; mischievous without being cruel.
Dian, Luna's second child, to the surprise of everyone was aspritely second year Hufflepuff. The more staid Puffers where unsure what to do with a pretty, happy girl who tended to dance rather than walk. Rather than the abuse Luna had had to endure in Ravenclaw, the older Hufflepuff girls had adopted her as a mascot, perhaps because unlike Luna she didn't feel the need to talk about obscure or mythical creatures. Instead, Dian's passions were music and dance.
Rose and Al (Harry generally refused to even think of the boy as Albus) were practically fraternal twins, for although they were conceived nearly four weeks apart, they were born within an hour of each other. Despite loving his father very much, Al was something of a 'momma's boy', and Harry suspected that over time, Al would become his mother's advocate. Harry was glad they had made aconnection on the Platform, and he made certain he wrote Al at least once a week.
Just as Dian was much like Luna, so Rose and Lily were much like their mothers. Harry was glad that Rose was by nature an intellectual, because Hermione was determined that her children would be intellectuals and scholars. ('Good luck with Hugo,' Harry thought. 'That boy is the only slow Weasley I've ever met.') Rose had also inherited the sensual streak her mother had only discovered after the war. While Rose loved and absorbed all the books she got as presents (as demanded by Hermione, nearly everyone gave her children books), she had asked her godfather Harry for makeup and bath oils, knowing that he was the one person who could defy her mother. (Harry was godfather to all of his children from Hermione and Luna, as well as Teddy Lupin and George's oldest son, Fred.) Rose was also a natural flirt, which Hermione blamed on Fleur's influence in the family.
Within the family, Lily was an out-going tom-boy, the most likely child to strip off and jump into Granny and Grandpa's pond on any warm day. With any stranger near by, she was likely to be hiding behind Ginny's skirts, unless she was angry. She had far and away the loudest temper of all of Harry's children. Still, she was one of the youngest of the extended Weasley family, and the youngest of the few girls. She often played the baby.
Yes, Harry decided he was generally very happy with his family, biological and extended. His job was currently fairly easy, with no Dark activities visible. The Ministry was still moderately incompetent overall, but it seemed to be fairly open and honest these days. Since Harry's faction espoused the training of the Muggle-raised in traditional magical culture, and came down hard on any violations of the various secrecy regulations, even the strongest pro-Pure Bloods were still willing to go along with the agenda.
Both Harry and Hermione would have liked Professor McGonagall to have stayed on as Headmistress, but she had refused to officially take the position, and after two years she had gone back to head Gryffindor (until she had felt Neville was ready to take over a few years before) and teach. Like all the teachers who had taught that terrible year that Snape had controlled Hogwarts, she did not feel worthy to become the head of the school.
Harry felt Hermione shift, pressing close against him. He kissed her shoulder, cupped her breast, and fell asleep a very happy man.
He was now Harry Potter, well-respected and certainly one of the most powerful mages alive. He was no longer 'the Boy-Who-Lived','the Chosen One'. He had his own life. He was no longer Dumbledore's puppet with the scar.