Categories > Books > Harry Potter > To Fight the Coming Darkness

Penny for Your Thoughts

by JBern 13 reviews

It's Harry's birthday! What could go wrong?

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: R - Genres: Action/Adventure, Romance - Characters: Bill Weasley, Hagrid, Harry, Hermione, Ron, Other - Warnings: [!!] [?] [X] - Published: 2006-05-20 - Updated: 2006-05-20 - 8477 words - Complete

Disclaimer - Despite my fondest wishes, I do not own the rights to any of the characters inside this work. Enough of this drivel, on with the show.

Acknowledgements - The team supreme of IP82, Sirius009, ChuckDaTruck, Smeagolita and the always funny FairyQilan deserve lots of kudos for all their help.

Chapter 16 - Penny for your thoughts

Harry lay in his new bed in the Sanctuary room staring at the ceiling. He didn't want to move too much. Susan was a light sleeper and they were still getting used to each other's physical presence, both in sexual and non-sexual ways. The past week was a blur. Most everyone was leaving for Hogwart's tomorrow after Harry's birthday party. He and Susan would finally have a chance to be alone. Dumbledore had politely asked that they come and Harry politely declined asking to wait an additional week and not work on occlumency, spells and physical training, but to work on his and Susan's relationship. He wanted to get to the Room of Requirement to start practicing dueling, but he felt this was more important.

He still ached from his workouts with Tonks. Thank the powers for all his quidditch training! He was in decent shape. Susan muttered some very interesting descriptions of the training regimen. Still each day she dragged herself out to work with him and Tonks. She tried her level best to keep up with him and it showed in the aches, pains and bruises. Harry was always careful to compliment her progress. You couldn't fault her work ethic, but she wasn't physically or magically on his level. There had been several instances where she had gotten very down on herself.

Harry found ways of helping her out of her depression. Their first time was the night Ginny tried to claim him. It was awkward and uncomfortable and their lack of experience showed. Fortunately like most physical activities, they were getting better with practice. He had to admit that it was definitely getting more fun and it was now a serious contender to overtake quidditch as his favorite recreational activity.

The ambush had gone over well. Parkinson and two others were captured. Nott was killed. Two others managed to escape, probably to face the wrath of Tom. The best news was that no Aurors had been injured. The Prophet proclaimed it a major victory. It even managed to drive his name off the front page for a couple of days. Of course, Rita had to mention the ring! She did it in her usual insinuating fashion. He learned a bit of disturbing news, the trial of the two Death Eaters from Susan's house finally took place. One of them was Marilyn Higgs, mother of Terry Higgs.

He felt Susan shift next to him. He noticed the change in her breathing patterns. She was awake. She stretched and rolled over to face him.

"Can't sleep?" She asked.

"No, too much to think about. How about you?"

"I keep waking up. I am so sore from all the workouts. Thank Circe we get a break today and that we are only going to go half days for the next week."

"You're doing great though. Where's it hurt?"

"My calves and lower back."

"Do you want a pain numbing charm or a massage? It's already five AM. I don't think we'll be able to go back to sleep."

"How about the charm and then a massage?" She smiled coyly at him.

"Sheesh, you'd think it was your birthday." Harry said grabbing his wand and applying the numbing charm where she had requested it.

Susan climbed on top of him slowly. Her long hair fell loosely cascading around the both of their faces when she leaned in to kiss him. Free of the plait she normally wore, Harry realized just how much hair Susan had as she straddled him, grinding on him playfully.

"Well birthday boy, do you want to unwrap your present now or wait for later?" Susan asked as she placed his hands on the fabric of one of his own undershirts that Susan had confiscated and decided was her new sleepwear. When he questioned her, she offered him her underwear to sleep in if he so desired. He politely declined. Harry had to admit, it looked much better on her than it ever did on him. "I still get to give you your birthday spanking later, regardless."

Harry ignored the memories of previous birthday spankings administered by his cousin. The only real acknowledgement he had ever had before age eleven. Of course it wasn't his birthday, Dudley simply decided to use that excuse to beat him. When Vernon caught Dudley with the table tennis paddle, he simply shook his head and dragged Dudley out to the garage. For a brief shining moment, eight-year old Harry Potter entertained the idea that Dudley was about to finally get what he deserved. Sadly, Vernon simply showed Dudley how to drill holes in the paddle to lessen the wind resistance and make the paddle hit harder.

"I think I'll unwrap my present now. Tonks did say we should engage in some physical activity today. Nothing like getting an early start to our exercise." He said tugging the fabric upwards. Susan grabbed his wand and performed a contraception charm. The protection charm was actually more effective if the witch used the wizard's wand instead of her own. It was, of course, one of the things the heir compulsion would eventually negate. At least one side benefit was that she would be able to wield Harry's wand nearly as well as her own and vice versa. Harry had already asked Dumbledore to see if Fawkes would provide a feather for a wand for Susan. They were awaiting the answer from the temperamental bird and its keeper.

When Susan questioned this, they finally started watching Harry's memories. She had seen the first four years already and understood his idea when she saw the fight in the graveyard and the brother wand effect. She caught her breath when she saw Cedric Diggory die. She knew it was coming, but it just had such a tragic randomness to it. The memories of the Department of Mysteries were in the pensieve waiting for her, but she had dragged Harry to bed after they watched the tournament and did her best to remind him that life is precious and should be celebrated.

Sometimes they would just stare into each other's eyes, as they were intimate. For Susan, she felt like she was searching to make a connection on a level beyond both the physical and emotional. They had talked about it and she had admitted as much to Harry. When she pressed him for what he was thinking during these moments, he simply said that it was an incredible turn on staring at her like that. It was an honest answer, but probably not his best choice of words. He had to elaborate, struggling to explain how it turned him on before she would accept his faux pas. Thus began Harry Potter's education on the importance of carefully answering a woman's questions.

It was both amusing and embarrassing during one of the first couple of times, when they entered the protected room and began attacking each other as young lovers often do that there was a pounding on the wall after less than a minute. Harry quickly pulled on his shirt and opened the door stepping back out into the library to face a flushed and angry looking Hannah Abbott, who not so politely reminded the two of them that she is a receiving empath and if they are going to 'make like bunnies' to kindly give her a sign so that she can leave the adjacent room. The many people still in the library roared with laughter. Susan and Hannah couldn't look at each other for the next day without blushing.

It was during this week that Remus Lupin had worked hard on making amends to Harry. He was teaching both Harry and Susan how to apparate. Several others including Hermione, the three Ravenclaws, and surprisingly Ron sat in on his lectures in the library. By the end of the day Harry was known as Harry "The Stump" Potter from his first splinching which left both legs from the knees down on the other side of the library. Remus told him that it was actually a good sign that he was able to do that so quickly, as Harry endured the mildly traumatic experience of having your limbs reattached. Susan managed her first splinching incident on day two, leaving a hand behind. Harry kept her distracted during the reversal by telling her how much he needed that hand.

Hermione sought out Harry after the second day. She felt the need to clear the air between the two of them. Apparently, there was more in the air than Ms. Granger had bargained for. It failed miserably. The result was an argument that ranked up there with some of the all time Ron and Hermione arguments. She returned for the next day's apparition lesson, but glared daggers at Harry. In an unusually humorous twist, well at least it was humorous for everyone not directly involved; Ron tried to be the peacemaker between the two. His bumbling attempts to get the two talking ultimately worked mostly because both Harry and Hermione both agreed that Ron was humiliating himself. They both realized that their friendship was damaged, but could be repaired. Ginny was still a sore point between the two. After Susan had moved in with Harry, Mandy had taken the opportunity to move downstairs with Hannah, Chelsea and Lisa. This had left Hermione alone with Ginny. Hermione's biggest error during the initial 'air cleaning' was to attempt to justify Ginny's behavior to Harry. His retort would be repeated endlessly once school started again and quoted often. Even once by Professor Vector, who used the line to break up a particularly long-winded reply by Hermione. The normally stiff and boring instructor had his students including Hermione laughing so hard they were crying.

"Hermione, you stupid bitch, can you smell the shit you are trying to shovel?"


During all this time, Ginny was pretty much alone and dejected. There were only two people outside of her parents who even bothered to come and talk to her, Hermione and Penelope. Hermione scolded her for her rash action, but claimed to understand the intent behind Ginny's motivations. Penny on the other hand, was completely supportive. The only Weasley daughter identified with the only Weasley daughter-in-law. Penny professed that she didn't know how to act around anyone else and Ginny thanked her for being a sympathetic ear. It was easy to talk to Penny. The former Ravenclaw had a relaxed air about her and she encouraged Ginny to talk through all her problems. She always came up with a spot of tea and some pastries when Hermione was listening in on the apparition lessons.

"Ginny, if it's not too much of an imposition, tell me about all your adventures. I don't know Harry all that well and it might help you put your feelings into perspective. You may have been reacting subconsciously to the debt I hear you owe Harry."

"What do you mean?" The young witch asked.

"Well from what little I know about Wizard and Witch's debts, it can cause you to act on what you think is best for the person you owe. Take your case for example. You find out Harry must be married in a year and subconsciously you evaluate all his options. You come to the conclusion that he would do best with you and the debt causes you to act out of character to do what you consider to be 'best for Harry'."

"So what you are saying is that my life debt to him caused all this?"

"Well it's just a theory mind you, but you don't seem the type to run around doing all this for no reason." Penny answered knowing that it could be possible, but it was most likely just the actions of a young teenaged girl who had been scorned by her one time hero. Ginny was such a wonderful resource for information and they talked for hours covering all of Ginny's years in Hogwarts and her observations and stories about Harry Potter and the many other people who inhabited this house.

Each night Penny would spend an hour or so with her mother-in-law talking about her dear Percival. By the end of that time, both women would be in tears and Penny would go up into the attic for a private cry. Molly asked that no one pester Penny as she dealt with her grief. Inside Molly was proud of her new daughter. She was such a strong girl and would make a wonderful mother. Molly broke into tears when Penny asked for some parchment and a quill to write letters to Percy so that "Wherever he is, he knows how the baby and I are doing? It's therapeutic and I'll save them for when the baby is older."

Penny sat in the attic that smelled of Hippogriff. The stench had managed to make it into her clothes, but it was the one place in the house where she was guaranteed to have a bit of privacy. Her mother-in-law had convinced her hen pecked husband to bring a comfortable chair and writing desk up into the attic for Penny's use.

Dear Father,

Tomorrow is Potter's birthday. I will need to make my move then. First I will convince one of the idiot twins to take me to my flat yet again to collect some more personal items, while the fool is distracted looking at my underwear drawers, I will send this off with Hermes. I have learned the following things that may be of use to our cause.

1. The Weasley girl is emotionally unstable. She is possible recruitment material.
2. Potter and his fiancé stay in a hidden room off the library on the third floor. The ward is like nothing I have ever encountered before. If I had to guess it is probably blood magic based. The Prophet reported correctly that they are in fact engaged.
3. Potter and Bones are being taught how to apparate. Both have successfully done small distances, but neither has tried a long distance apparition. They are also receiving combat training from an auror named Tonks. It seems to be physical training followed by spell casting training. Both are usually exhausted by the end of the day. If you do manage to access this local, early evening would probably be the best time to attack.
4. According to the Weasley girl, she suspects that Potter knows the entire prophecy. He has not shared this with anyone to her knowledge, but I suspect he has told Bones.
5. All of us save Potter and Bones are to be moved to Hogwarts and stay in the Ravenclaw tower until the start of the school term. The Longbottom boy is still alive and is here as well. If my cover is not blown by my actions tomorrow evening, I will await your instruction on how to deal with him. Potter and Bones intend to remain at this location for an additional week.
6. The blonde girl at the Department of Mysteries was Luna Lovegood. She is currently in Sweden hunting fictional beasts with her mentally unbalanced father. One of Godfather's servants may be able to capture them if he or she were to head into that region and spread a tale of seeing something called a Snorkack. I suppose whoever goes would need to read that rag to understand what the hell I am talking about.
7. One of the vampires, probably the one from the Italy, but I cannot say for certain was the betrayer. He gave Potter and Dumbledore the location of the rendezvous and they passed it on to the Ministry. That is where the leak came from if you do not already know.
8. Granger's pet is part kneazle. I have been doing my utmost to prevent arousing it's suspicions. The Abbott sisters are partial empaths. I am also attempting to avoid lengthy contact with them.
9. I don't know how you can use this information, but it seems very important. Potter and Dumbledore are at odds with each other and are not very pleased by the others actions. I get the feeling that they are working with the Ministry as a result of Potter's actions rather than anything Dumbledore initiated. Dumbledore's organization appears ready to fracture into two factions. I will keep an ear to the ground to determine who may fall on the two sides.
10. The Animagus Podmore is here and his family is still out of the country. They were contacted and asked to remain so for the near future. He has been helping the students with transfiguration and has promised Potter a chance to work on becoming an Animagus himself. He, Tonks, and Mother Weasley are usually the ones here full time. Hestia Jones, a man named Dodge and another named Diggle alternate in the evenings. Various Weasleys are here at different times during the day and night.
11. Much of Godfather's political troubles were caused by Narcissa Black, formerly Malfoy. They received a communication that she is traveling with yet another Weasley spawn and recently left the coast of Portugal. There was no indication where they were headed and they were purposefully being vague about their travel plans.

That is all I can think of. Your grandchild is getting bigger. At Hogwarts next week, I will have the nurse attempt to sex the child. I am feeling little flutters right now and expect the little one to start kicking soon. Mother Weasley agrees with me. Please send my warmest regards to my Godfather. I should go now before the simpletons get suspicious. They could really use more Ravenclaws or Slytherins in their organization. There are far too many Hufflepuffs and Gryffindors for my liking, but their stupidity virtually assures victory.



Penny carefully folded her letter and put it into the pocket of the robes she was wearing. She had already sent an earlier letter, which had some of the more general points, such as the identities of every adult who had been around for an Order meeting. Penny's membership in the Order had been declined after Molly pointed out her pregnancy. Molly assured her that after the child was born, if she was still interested, Molly would then would support Penny's membership. Though the implication was that Penny's commitment to the child should outweigh her joining the fight. The shrill hag had made her job more difficult, but indirectly that had led her to have her first of many conversations with Ginny Weasley. Having suffered through dating and eventual marriage to one of them, Penny was well versed in the methods of manipulating a Weasley. Penny had spent long hours talking with her husband about how the family worked. Percy's opinion of Ginny had been that she had much potential, but would no doubt be side-tracked by the twins. Percy implied that Mother Hag doted on her only daughter and was convinced that her being the only female in so many generations that she was destined for greatness. She remembered some of those specials from the BBC that she watched with her mother about the child models and the mothers that pushed them. Mother Hag was probably unconsciously trying to live vicariously through her daughter.

Using all this, Penny was able to push Ginny's buttons playing on her anger at her parent's punishment, her guilt at actually resorting to a love potion. Truth be told, Penny did not know whether it was guilt at trying it, or guilt at being caught. Penny was able to give Ginny a focus for her anger and resentment. It was too easy.

She started back down the steps glad to be out of the foul smelling attic and headed downstairs to arrange for one of the other spawn to accompany her back to her flat tomorrow.


Harry and Susan made their way down to breakfast around seven thirty. They smiled at Hermione and Lisa who were already eating. Harry went over to fix their plates while Susan sat down and poured them both juice. Noticing Hermione's stupid grin Susan had to ask.

"What in the name of Merlin are you smiling at?"

"You and Harry. You're good for him."

"And how exactly did you determine this?"

"His smile. Your smile. They way you both behave towards each other. It's sweet."


"It's also in direct contrast to how Hermione and Ron act around each other." Lisa decided to add in.

Susan chuckled as Hermione shot Lisa a mock death glare. "Well, Hermione's relationship positively reeks of unresolved sexual tension."

"Susan!" The glare of death and embarrassment turned on her as Lisa began laughing so hard her face turned red.


"Just because you and Harry are, doesn't mean everyone should!"

Lisa was now gasping for breath, "Please stop! Stomach hurts!"

Harry returned to the table seeing after hearing Lisa's gasps and saw a blushing Hermione and Susan. "Did I miss something?"

Hermione timed her reply as Susan took a long drink of her juice. "No, apparently I am the one that is missing something." She deadpanned causing Susan to spew juice on Harry and a new round of howling from Lisa Turpin who was now thumping the table with her fist.

Harry simply shook his head and sat down. He summoned a towel from the counter and wiped himself off. He patted Susan on the back as she coughed after inhaling some of the juice.

Susan attempted to change the topic. "So Lisa, who have you got your eyes on these days?"

"I had been thinking about asking Neville out." She said much to everyone's surprise.


"Yeah, but then I found out he is pretty serious about Luna Lovegood. I don't want to interfere with that."


"According to Kevin, he and Neville had been spending a lot of time together lately. I had my little bro scout him out. Cost me my last four chocolate frogs, but it saved me some embarrassment. I think Chelsea might be after him too. In summary, my prospects don't look like they are going to improve until September. The Claws in my year are all involved with someone already. Any good ones in your houses?"

Harry made it a point to avoid the conversation as Susan and Hermione debated the merits of other males in the Hufflepuff and Gryffindor. There was a pause when Hermione asked whom Lisa went to the Yule ball with. The table grew rather quiet when she answered Tony Goldstein. Seeing the looks of horror on their face Lisa quickly explained that she and Tony went only as friends and never really dated. She missed him terribly, but they weren't soul mates or anything.

"Oh before I forget, Harry. Happy birthday."

"Thanks Hermione."

"Looking forward to the party."

"It will be nice to see some of the faces, Remus told me yesterday that Hagrid is back in town and will probably be here today. I spoke with Bill. He and Fleur are coming. Most of the Order who are able will probably stop by, if for no other reason than to help the move to Hogwarts. If I'm lucky, it will be a Snape free day. How's the Occlumency going for you three?" Harry said knowing the headaches Susan had been complaining about.

"Chelsea's actually a better teacher than Hannah. She is has a better grasp of the material. Hannah learned out of necessity. Chelsea learned for the fun of it. I'm having a good time." Lisa answered.

"You're probably doing well because you have an organized mind." Hermione added in. "The exercises are helping me regain my strength." One of the items that came out of Harry and Hermione's argument earlier this week was that Dolohov's near fatal spell had damaged Hermione rather badly. Her unwillingness to admit it led to the ugly scene when Harry asked her to come fight the Dementors. She finally admitted it two days ago when their first Occlumency lessons began. Harry had apologized for being so harsh with her, but told her most of their argument could have been avoided if she just admitted it that night. The school nurse asked that she wait at least one more week before she started using magic again. By conserving her magic and allowing it to help heal her, Hermione would make a full recovery before the term begins.

Susan sighed, "Apparently, my mind isn't so organized. I'm having an awful time of it."

Harry tried to reassure her, "Then again, it's not like you're busy or anything. Lets see, apparation lessons, physical training, advanced spell casting and when you are finished you get to have Occlumency lessons. No cause for being a bit scatterbrained at all." Harry didn't even mention the spells they tried out of the books in their hidden sanctuary.

"You seem to be keeping up. I'm pretty much useless by the second hour working with Tonks."

"What can I say? All that time on the pitch is finally paying off. It's only been a week. You're getting stronger both magically and physically every day. Just give it time."

Susan smiled at his encouragement. "You won't say I'm the weak link will you."

"You motivate me to train harder. Nothing weak about that."

Their conversation was interrupted by Ron coming down the stairs and clapping him on the back. "Morning, mate. Happy One Six. If you're looking for a birthday wish to use, I was thinking about the Cannons and the league championship."

"Please Ron if I was truly getting a wish, I don't think that's the one I would use. Besides Ollie is on Puddlemere, I can't abandon an old teammate like that can I?" Ron really wasn't listening to him as he filled his plate with a very large helping and sat down next to Hermione giving her a quick peck on the cheek before starting to devour the food in front of him.

"If only he would attack his schoolwork like that." Harry said in a tone that sounded very Hermione like eliciting a few chuckles from everyone.

The real Hermione came to her boyfriend's defense. "Actually, Ronald has completed all his summer assignments and is taking very detailed notes during Professor Lupin's lessons." Ron put a big smile on his face and continued chewing. His girlfriend's obvious pride in his hard work was a nice reward. Most everyone now considered Ron 'officially whipped'.

"Anything useful in that thing they call a newspaper?" Harry asked Lisa.

"Oh, for a change nothing about you the front page. Must be disappointing? It's mostly Wizengamot stuff. There's an article about an escaped dragon from one of the preserves. There were a couple of Dementor sightings. Lets see, the first mention of you is on page 5 in the sports section, where they are debating if you'll go pro and where you would be drafted. They predicted if you came out in this year's draft you'd go sixth to The Tornadoes. Do you think the Headmaster will have our OWL results finally?"

Hermione responded, with a hint of frustration in her voice. "We should have already had them if not for all the turmoil at the Ministry. Hopefully, we'll get them soon enough to get our books for the next term."

"Wonder if Snape will let people without an Outstanding into his NEWT class?" Ron asked between mouthfuls. Dating had also apparently reigned in his troll-like table manners.

Harry took a moment before answering, "You know something, I don't care. The main reason I wanted to be an Auror was to fight. I'm going to fight anyway. Susan mentioned that I should talk to real Aurors and so I have been talking with Tonks a lot. She hates the amount of paperwork she has to do. If I am eligible, I'll probably take it. If not, I won't lose to much sleep."

"Plus, we could hire a private tutor for potions next summer and right after we graduate and take the NEWT during the summer after graduation." Susan chipped in.

"Really?" Harry asked having never thought of it before.

"Of course, silly. A NEWT in potions is required for many job fields; Healer, Auror, Potion brewers, and Dangerous animal handlers to name a few. I'd guess a whole cottage industry has grown up around how poorly Snape teaches potions. If you don't want to take his class Harry, then don't." Susan answered firmly.

Lisa looked up from her paper. "He's basically the best thing that has ever happened to private tutors and correspondence programs. Well between him and Binns."

The floo roared to life and Emmeline Vance stepped out. She smiled to everyone and carried several packages. "I've got some presents from your admirers."

"Who's sending gifts?"

"Well this big one is from the Minister. He had Lavender bring it by. Lav's all excited. She may not go back to school this year. She's on full time at Auror HQ now, in charge of the backshift floo operators. She wants me to ask the Headmaster about attending only morning classes. She also sent a box for you, Harry. It sounds like chocolate frogs. The last one is from Bill and me. We chipped in to get you something."

"Wow, sounds like she is really happy about the job. You guys didn't have to get me anything."

"Oh hush and enjoy your birthday. I think that she feels it is her contribution, without doing and I quote 'the whole messy fighting thing'."

Everyone got a good laugh at that. Harry actually remembered that Lavender wasn't that bad. She was actually a fairly competent spell caster. She outclassed Parvati by leaps and bounds. Harry would even notice that she would hold back a bit when dueling with her best friend, another of those people that frustrated Hermione, by not applying themselves.

While they were talking one of the twins popped in through the floo. He smiled and waved. "Have any of you seen the latest addition to family Weasley? Mum asked me to meet her here in the morning and escort her back to her place for a few items."

"She went into the loo, when I came out. So, I know she's up." Ron answered.

Within five minutes Penny came back downstairs and apologized for holding George up. Emmeline begged off saying she would try to get back for the party. Harry and Susan split up. He decided to go back to Sanctuary and do some reading and Susan decided to go annoy those 'late sleeping Abbott sisters'.

Three hours later, Susan came and fetched him from their private room for Remus' lesson. He showed her some of the combat spells he had just been reading over and planned to practice when they could finally use a dueling chamber. Many of the things Tonks was trying to teach them required lots of space that just wasn't available at the home. The had been tempted to use the private floo and go to one of the lesser known Black properties that had plenty of room, but in the end decided against it. No one other than Dobby had been allowed into the Sanctuary room. They explained it away by saying that you had to be wearing a Black family ring and what not. Fortunately, Tonks never asked to see it, as she actually was a Black family member. Harry and Susan agreed that the private stash of tomes in this room should remain their secret.

Phineas Nigellus Black had been very helpful at identifying all the artifacts on the shelves. Many of which could only be classified as Dark Items. There was a necklace of ensnarement, binding the wearer to the one whose blood was shed onto the chain. There were three poisonous knives including one that dripped silver instead of poison. It required that a silver coin be placed in the handle and was supposed to be extremely useful against werewolves. The one item that really struck his fancy was a crossbow that was permanently disillusioned to all those not wearing a Black family ring. It fired bolts that were coated in paralytic venom. Harry hoped that he could talk Hagrid into teaching him how to correctly fire a crossbow. Other things included cursed books that the reader could not stop reading, candles that would shoot jets of fire in random directions attempting to set a house on fire and a quilt that would act just like a lethifold and kill the unfortunate person by dissolving their body.


Penny arrived back to headquarters through the floo. Apparition was no longer recommended past the first trimester according to the latest 'Magical Mommy and Me'. She was slightly nauseous, though she did not know if it was from the baby or her present company. She hadn't cared for either of the twins much when she was at Hogwarts. Now, she was actively contemplating their deaths. 'Father would be proud. Merlin! If it wasn't bad enough to have been married to Anal Retentive Weasley. They were like the damn seven dwarfs from that fairy tale her mother and father, well actually the man who thought he was her father, used to read.'

It was only yesterday when she could actually manage to get by Mother Hag without being enveloped in the hug of a desperate woman. No matter how hard Molly Weasley hugged her it wasn't going to bring her precious Percy back. Penny's godfather made sure of that. Percy had always held his mother up as some kind of gold standard of parenting. Penny's week here had gotten rid of those illusions. She smothered her children until they either no longer cared, or openly rebelled. It seemed the Cursebreaker and the Dragon Handler set the tone for just going along with their mother until they were of age and then doing whatever they wanted. The twins opted for an early rebellion. The youngest boy at least had enough brainpower to latch on to a smart witch. He'll go as far as Granger's repeated kicks in his ass will take him. Finally, there was her witless helper, Ginny. The girl was so stunted by her obsessions and smothered in attention that she ought to hit puberty around age thirty, provided she eludes Darwin's theories that long. Penny had never met someone who seemed that desperate for validation. She hadn't even resorted to using the fact that Ginny was indirectly responsible for Penny being petrified. Toss a couple more obstacles in the little bitch's way and she'll probably snap and become this generation's version of Bellatrix.

'Hooray for the first Weasley girl in a century! Gee, do you think there was a reason that they stopped making them for awhile.' She thought as she worked her way back to her room. The items she picked up were mostly worthless and could easily be abandoned when she port keyed Potter out of here during his own birthday party. Both father and godfather thought it was delicious irony. She had just the item to use as the portkey, Percy's Headboy badge. She placed it into the gift box and cast the portkey creation spell on it. Looking in the mirror, she scrunched her face up into a pained expression.

"It was his most prized memento. I just know he would want you to have it, Harry." She then laughed in the mirror.


Harry sat in his chair in the center of the room, wearing the birthday boy hat that everyone insisted he and Neville wear. Neville looked as uncomfortable as he was. Chelsea Abbott was chatting with him livening up Neville's mood. They shot each other competing looks of dissatisfaction and then chuckled at their misfortune.

"Oh, do look like you are trying to enjoy yourself Mr. Grumpy." Susan said coming up behind him with Hannah.

"Why is it that everyone stops wearing the pointy hats after their first year?" Harry asked to no one in particular.

"I think it looks brilliant."

"I'm glad you do, because your birthday is in September while school is in session." Harry added watching Susan's eyes grow wide in shock. Hannah smiled brightly.

"Hey Hermione's is in September too!" Ron added earning a smack.

"I most certainly will not wear that at school!" Hermione exclaimed.

"Of course you won't Mione, that one says birthday boy. We have to get you one that says birthday girl." Ron added pausing between the two sentences to offer her a glimmer of hope. "I bet Fred and George could make up a special one just for you. It will be great. I can see it now. It will be pink with lots of frilly things."

Hermione's face was a mask of annoyance. Susan didn't look all that pleased either, but both Harry and Neville were smiling now.

Harry looked over at Hagrid and Remus Lupin who had entered the house from the street. Both men looked tired; Hagrid's entire left arm was wrapped up in bandages. Harry rose to greet the half giant and was crushed into a powerful hug. After many years it was not too difficult to understand the man's butchering of the English language.

"Good to see you, Harry! I hope your having a happy birthday."

"What happened to your arm?"

"Nothing to worry about, just a little reminder of my latest trip to see the Giants. Ran into some not-so friendly critters out there."

"Is Madam Maxine okay?"

"Oh, Olympè is just fine. She's back in France resting and getting her strength back."

"The Giants are going to help him aren't they?"

"Won't lie to you Harry, it doesn't look good. They're a proud and violent people. Don't reckon anything the new Minister can do will make a difference."

"What's the best way to fight one?"

"Well, I'm not the best one to ask on that. I usually end up going toe to toe with them. Olympè, she's the smart one. She goes after their eyes first. Their skins too thick for most cutters and whatnot, but a really strong lad like you could do some damage. It takes like six or eight stunners to bring one down. Anyway, Olympè, she blinds 'em first then throws a binder around their legs and trips 'em. You get one on the ground in front of you and you hit it in the head with your most powerful stuff. That usually does the trick. If you're fighting more than one, well unless you got a whole heap of help, you best be running."

"Makes sense, hope I'll never have to use your advice though."

"So what are you bringing into class with you this year?"

"I might not be there for the start of the term, Harry. There's things to be done and people that need watching. Mrs. Grubbly-Plank will be there though and she is one fine animal handler. Now what's this I hear about you getting engaged? Who is the lucky lady?"

"That would be Susan right here and I'm the lucky one." Harry answered earning a smile from Susan.

"You take good care of him Susan. You don't run across men like Harry everyday."

Susan smiled at her teacher. She really never got into the spirit of handling dangerous creatures and preferred the substitute's more benign selection of magical beasts. She vividly remembered having to get her trademark hair regrown after a particularly nasty encounter with a blast-end skrewt in her fourth year.

"I will Professor. Harry is my number one priority." She answered making Harry's face redden a bit.

"Oh before I forget, go ahead and open mine and Olympè's present." Hagrid said handing Harry a box wrapped crudely in plain brown paper. Harry was relieved that it didn't feel alive.

"Thanks Hagrid." Harry said removing the wrapping. Inside there was a box with a crest on it. When he questioned Hagrid, the half-giant told him that was Madam Maxine's family crest. Opening it there was an amulet on a thick rope. The disc was made of gold and had a series of redish runes hammered into it. It was heavier than it looked.

"It's a giant's blood amulet, Harry. It's been in Olympè's family for generations. Wear it and it will take more than just one stunner to bring you down."

Harry was open mouthed as he put the heavy amulet around his neck, "Thank you Hagrid. It's fantastic."

"I figured you could use it more than another batch of rock cakes."

Harry didn't say anything as he thanked Hagrid yet again. He wanted to make a joke that rock cakes could be banished at your enemies and cause a surprising amount of damage, but the joke just felt wrong. Instead he accepted yet another bone jarring hug from the man that introduced him to the wizarding world.

"Well, I reckon I ought to go over and say hello to our other birthday boy." Hagrid said moving picking up a box that moved slightly. Harry watched as Hagrid greeted Neville and handed him the box containing a replacement toad for Trevor, who was yet another victim of the Death Eater massacre. Harry was distracted from the proceedings by Dobby tugging on his shirt. The small elf motioned for him to follow as they headed upstairs.


Penny was getting nervous. She wasn't nearly that nervous when Percy on the night of his death. Then again, she was in the company of the most powerful man on this planet and Percy had no wand. Here, she was in a house full of enemies alone and pregnant. She would make her father and godfather proud of her.

She finished rewrapping the gift. The first time her hands shook too much and it looked rather poor. She considered just leaving it as is and chalking it up to her emotional distress over Percy's death and that she felt that she shouldn't be celebrating anything right now. These people were so easy. Besides, her father wanted her to be a consummate professional and this was no time for a bout of anxiety. She grabbed her few important things, including a couple of very nice books she had discovered in the Black Family Library and tossed them into a bag, before casting a shrinking charm on the bag and dropping it in her pocket. She looked around the room one last time for anything she had forgotten and started to make her way out of the room.

They were already unwrapping presents when she came down the stairs. Potter and Longbottom were seated at the table with various boxes around them. The inhabitants of the house made sure that the Longbottom boy had an ample supply of presents even though half the adults barely knew him. Penny planned her approach carefully, get the portkey into his hands, activate it and grab onto him. Her success or failure would depend on the next minute.

Instantly, Molly was by her side. "Penny dear, are you feeling up to a party? I know it's hard to find reasons to celebrate, but it's important to try."

"I'm fine Molly, really. I've got a bit of indigestion, but other than that I think I need a change of scenery." Penny failed to mention exactly how much of a scenery change she needed.

"Well let me know if I can get you something. Most of my pregnancies weren't hard on my stomach. Though with the twins, I ate a terrible amount of chicken broth. It should have been a warning to me how much trouble they were going to be." Penny painted on her very best smile and for what seemed like the millionth time pretended to be interested in the cow's endless tales of her pregnancies.

"Is this Percy's wife?" Yet another red haired man approached her. Disregarding the bandages covering one side of his face, the man was attractive.

"You must be Bill. Percy always spoke well of you. If you'll excuse me, I would like to give Harry a gift."

She tried to move out of the way, but he trapped her in a hug. This of course, attracted Mother Hag like a fly to dung. Penny found herself the middle layer of a Weasley sandwich. If it hadn't been for the burning need to get out of this house Penny would have whipped her wand out and started cursing them where they stood. The Hag started to tear up as Bill released her. It was obviously a signal for the foul wench to hug her even tighter.

After a short stint in Weasley hell, Penny was freed. She noted the look of disgust on the face of Severus Snape, who looked very much out of place at any gathering other than a funeral. She knew him to be one of godfather's servants at least nominally. Penny and her father believed that the only side Snape was actually on was his own. Penny did not know whether or not the man was aware of her identity.

There was her quarry, the golden boy of Gryffindor opening yet another book from Granger. 'Get a clue, you stupid bitch. He has a whole library up there, minus a few very nice tomes currently in her possession.'

"Hello Harry, happy birthday." She said holding the box out to him.

"Thank you Penny. How are you holding up?"

"Its hard, but I'm trying to do it one day at a time." Hopefully, that didn't sound so cliché.

Potter set her box on the table. "I'll open this in just a minute, but first I need to open the one from the Minister. I've been wondering what is in it ever since it got here this morning."

Penny fumed, but kept her composure as Potter attacked the large box. Inside he held up a pair of dragon hide vests, four dragon hide gloves and two matching wand holster. Body armor was expensive and illegal for anyone other than aurors and hitwizards.

Potter held up the three pieces of parchment. His fan club was still fawning over the expensive gift as he read the letter from the minister.

"Dear Harry,

Please accept this for yourself and your fiancé. May they protect you in these dark times ahead. You are no doubt wondering about the legality of this gift, so let me put your mind at ease. The accompanying documents for Harry James Potter and Susan Marie Bones do herby recognize the two of you as Professional Hitwizards in Britain and by treaty extension Europe and North America. The initial fee has been waived by my signature. A hitwizard or witch may wear body armor and have a second wand on their person. I encourage you to take all necessary steps to protect your welfare. Be safe. Be well. Be Happy.

Rufus Scrimgeour."

The silence was impressive. Finally, Potter spoke again. "Well Susan, here you were worried about not knowing what you wanted to do after school. We're the first ones in our year to get a job!"

Emmeline Vance spoke up causing everyone to laugh, "Actually, Lavender has a full time job, but yours seems more exciting."

"Oh right, forgot about that!"

Penny waited, quickly losing her patience as everyone wanted to see the body armor. She listened in near exasperation as a couple of the females went on about how the Welsh Green matched his eyes. If she wasn't already anxious, she might be sick. After a time, Potter turned back to her.

"I'm sorry to have kept you waiting, Penny." He said smiling at her as he reached for the box. He made a big show of shaking it to see if he could hear what was inside and then started carefully unwrapping the paper. He opened the box and put his hand to his chin. "This is Percy's head boy badge."

"It was one of his most prized possessions. I am sure he would want you to have something to remember him by."

"I'm touched, but I can't accept this. You should save this for your child."

"No, I insist. He wanted to apologize to you especially. His pride got in the way."

"Okay." Harry said taking the badge from the box.

Penny immediately grabbed his arm and said, "Activate!"

There was a moment of silence. Then Harry spoke, "Did you charm it to do something? I remember Fred and George charmed it to read Big Head Boy."

Penny tried to apparate, but could feel a dampening field in place. In desperation, she whipped her wand out and put it in Harry's face. "Come on Potter, we're leaving."

Everyone was shouting. Harry raised his voice above the din. "Quiet! Penny, we are not going anywhere."

"I'll kill you."

"Go ahead and try Penny. Do you have it in you? It's one thing to lead a person in to a trap. It's another thing to actually kill someone point blank. What's it going to be?"

"Lacero!" Penny screamed a severing curse. Nothing happened. Well not exactly nothing, the wand in her hand turned into a rubber chicken. Everyone was murmuring. Bill produced Penny's real wand.

"You don't look very happy Penny." Bill said looking at her dangerously. A whirring sound caught everyone's attention. Penny's hand on the Weasley clock moved from Visiting Relatives to Imprisoned.

Harry spoke again. "Bill's right. You do look upset. Perhaps this will cheer you up. Ron! Would you please open the front door? I have a special birthday guest on the front step with Professor Dumbledore. Please ask them to come in."

Ron looked at Harry like he had grown an additional head for a second, but then went to the front door. The group collectively held its breath. At the door Ron gaped openmouthed and paled. "Bloody hell!"

Albus Dumbledore stepped in across the threshold and following him was the ethereal ghostly figure of Percy Weasley.

The group watched the ghost float through the room. He stopped just short of Penelope. "Hello darling. Funny thing about that oath you tricked me into swearing, I need to protect my unborn child. I won't be able to cross until he is safe. The child's a boy by the way. I fear the thing I have to protect him from is you."

The next sound that could be heard was the sound of Molly Weasley fainting and hitting the ground.

Author's notes - Full discussion on Darklordpotter. Well by the end I hope you were ready for Penny to get hers! I know I was.
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