Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter, etc. See below for an author's note.
"So, another train ride to school," Harry began as he took a seat across from Luna who had beaten them to the station that day. He and Pansy had way too many late nights to make it bright and early, but they still had a few minutes before they were to get underway. The last minute blitz was just beginning to get bad as a number of families rushed their children onto the Hogwarts Express.
"My OWL year begins," Luna added with a pleased smile. "I'm curious to see how difficult it turns out to be."
"You'll be fine, sweetie," Pansy replied as she leaned against Harry. "If we could handle it despite all the crap we had to deal with last year, then I have all the confidence in the world that you'll do amazingly well."
"Thanks," Luna grinned.
"I wonder if Watts will be back to teach Defense again," Harry said. "He was pretty good."
"It would be nice to have a more cohesive Defense Against the Dark Arts class for a few years," Luna agreed. "That would make my NEWT years much more useful, assuming I continue the class on that far."
"Have you given much thought to which classes you want to focus on past the OWLs?" Pansy asked. "I admit that I'd already had it mostly planned out for the two of us even a year ago."
"Not so much," Luna shrugged. "Then again, I don't have anyone that I need to plan a schedule around, like the two of you trying to coordinate things. I suppose I'll see how this year goes."
"I wonder if we'll have many visitors during this trip," Harry said as he yawned. "I could use a nap."
"It's your own fault," Pansy snorted. "Who decided we needed to stay up half the night?"
"You did," he argued. "When you decided to be all sexy and irresistible."
"He does have a point," Luna agreed.
"Thank you, Luna. See, when I'm right, I'm right," Harry grinned. There was a little lurch as the train finally got underway. "I'm glad I don't have to waste any time with that prefect nonsense."
"I turned down the opportunity as well," Luna said. "Authority doesn't interest me. I'd much prefer just doing my own thing without having to worry about the actions of others. It seems like it might be something of a time sink as well."
"True," Harry nodded.
"We could play a game," Luna suggested.
"How about, would you rather?"
"One of us comes up with a scenario, and everyone has to decide which of two options they would take," Luna explained. "For example, would you rather have to help Mister Filch clean up after a nasty Potions mess or spend two hours convincing Moaning Myrtle to stop watching you while you have to pee?"
"Myrtle," Harry answered. "I wouldn't mind talking to her for awhile; much better than having to be around Filch."
"I'd probably have to go with Myrtle too," Pansy added.
"Good choice," Luna smiled. "That would be easy for me, because I wouldn't care if she watched me. But, it could be fun to ask her about the other people she has peeped on over the years. She's probably seen most of the witches and wizards of the last fifty years in compromising situations. Like you two."
"Knowing how things usually go for me, I imagine she'll be trying to further enhance the myths about Harry Potter for years to come." Harry could only shake his head.
"Yeah, but she likes you," Pansy pointed out. "So, at least it will be good things."
"Alright, which of you wants to go next?" Luna asked. "I don't want to have to come up with all of the choices."
"I'll go," Pansy said. She thought for a moment, and Harry had to smile as he watched her scrunch up her nose while she pondered. "Okay, I've got it. Would you rather have to try to shave Hagrid's beard after he's been drinking, or clean bedpans with Madam Pomfrey?"
"Can we use magic?" Luna wanted clarification, while Harry was just trying not to picture anything in bedpans.
"No magic," Pansy smirked. "Just good old fashioned grossness."
"Yuck," Luna turned up her nose.
A few hours later, Harry was sitting in the Great Hall and vowing to never play would you rather with the girls again. They both came up with way, way too many gross things that he would prefer not having to think about. There was plenty of muttering as Professor McGonagall was sitting in Dumbledore's traditional spot at the staff table, but then he supposed that he should have expected that. Harry wondered who would be bringing in the newest students just as the door banged open with Slughorn leading the way. He was a little surprised by that, but maybe Sluggy just wanted to make a good first impression on those impressionable young minds. He did have a reputation as a talent scout for a reason, after all, so Harry guessed that it was never too early to start appraising the new kids.
"Welcome to Hogwarts," McGonagall said. "As those of you who are returning have certainly noticed, Professor Dumbledore is not with us. Unfortunately, he has been missing for a few weeks now. Until we can learn what has happened to him, I will be acting as Headmistress. I will have a few more announcements to make, but let us eat first."
It was no surprise that a lot of talk around all of the tables that evening was about the Headmaster's disappearance. Harry did his best to ignore it, merely speaking with Pansy about what their schedule might look like. He was definitely pleased to think about having more free time due to fewer classes.
He also noticed how Parvati had given him only a couple of sad glances before focusing on Lavender. She hadn't come around during the train ride either, and he had a feeling it was due to the ring that Pansy now wore. He wasn't clueless- he had known that Parvati had a crush on him- and he hoped that they could be friends again if she got over it. Harry wasn't going to push though. Considering she had fought by his side, he wanted to try to be as respectful as possible of her feelings.
It also made him realize how lucky he was. He and Pansy had been together forever, so he had been spared from the typical heartache and pain that most of his peers would go through. Harry thought that maybe that was a bit of karma though, for everything else he'd had to deal with over the last few years. Not many teenagers had to fight terrorists after all.
The next morning led to even more worry on the part of the general populace, as the Daily Prophet covered Dumbledore's disappearance in detail. It also questioned why the story had been kept quiet for so long. Pansy snorted at that- obviously, to keep people from panicking. However, judging by how loud the other students were being, it hadn't worked.
At the same time, Harry knew that they would soon calm down once the Dark Lord's demise was made public. He hadn't heard anything from Alastor yet, but he knew that they were working on trying to catch Barty Crouch, and thus, not revealing what had happened to Riddle. Harry guessed that stake out might last another week or so.
Then there would be the announcement, and Harry had to sigh at how bad things might get. He was already cringing at the idea of them coming up with some new sort of epithet for him. Maybe he could talk Minister Bones into not having him put on display for the press? Probably not, but Harry was strongly considering dragging Alastor up front with him if he had to. Pansy had already told him that she was not interested in sharing credit- or having to be more in the limelight for anything other than being the future Mrs. Potter.
Lavender had shown her the copy of Witch Weekly that had featured a small photo someone had taken when they had been in Diagon Alley. Pansy was very glad that they had mail wards up- Dobby was bound to deal with any nastiness after Harry had warned him that some people might try to be mean to his future mistress. The little guy had looked rather blood thirsty at being given free reign to deal with anyone that would dare to bother his family.
Otherwise, things mostly got off to a normal start for their sixth year. The NEWT classes were interesting, despite Harry already moaning about McGonagall's first essay assignment of two feet of parchment about the Vanishing Charm.
Surprisingly, Ron Weasley had been named the quidditch captain for that year. Harry found out that Katie Bell wanted to be able to focus more on her upcoming NEWTs, and that left Ron as the only other option with any experience. Judging by the way Harry had seen McGonagall looking at him, he was pretty sure that she was very disappointed that he'd preemptively turned down the position.
After the first couple of weeks, Harry started to wish the same thing. Ron was trying to schedule as many practices as possible before Gryffindor would have to play their first match of the season.
On one hand, Harry could understand. The team had two new chasers and two new beaters, all of whom could use the chance to practice teamwork. But that didn't mean that he was enjoying it. For his part, there wasn't a lot for him to work on. Fly fast, catch snitch- it was the same thing he'd been doing for five years.
He was already considering skipping practice one Saturday during lunch when Alastor Moody came stomping into the Great Hall and heading right for him.
"Alastor," he replied as he stood up. "Is it time?"
"Almost, son. We've got the first meeting today, and then things should get really interesting."
"I know, and I'm already dreading it," Harry sighed which only made the old auror chuckle.
"Suck it up, Potter," Moody said. "The world needs a hero, and you've been drafted."
"Have fun!" Luna chimed in.
Pansy climbed to her feet and pulled Harry in for a kiss. "Good luck, Harry."
He smiled as she pushed him off to follow Moody, who was on his way to explain things to McGonagall about why Harry was going to be leaving the castle that day. It only took a few minutes, and then the two of them were out the main door and walking towards the gates of Hogwarts.
"Did you have any luck with Crouch?" Harry asked.
"No, the bastard hasn't shown his face," Alastor grumbled. "Amelia said three weeks was long enough. I'm still going to try to hunt him down, but the primary danger has been dealt with, and the minister can't wait to release that knowledge any longer. The public won't stand for it."
"Yeah, I guess that figures."
"At least this way the geas still holds," Alastor added. "With Albus disappearing, it might be for the best. I doubt little Barty will be able to get into nearly as much trouble without his boss telling him what to do. I should have plenty of time to track him. Like most of the Death Eaters, he's a pureblood who has lived his entire life in the magical world. There aren't that many places for him to hide."
"You're taking backup, I hope?"
"Yes, Nymphadora has been assigned to me starting on Wednesday. After a big weekend, Amelia's going to give me a couple of days off."
"So, what are we doing today, exactly?"
"I'm taking you to the ministry," Moody answered. "We're going to be having a rather blatant meeting with the minister. Then, you and I will 'go off on a mission' and return a short while later with the body. Expect the press to be ready for a big scene when we get back."
"Great," Harry muttered.
"Try to look on the bright side. This will give Amelia a lot of leverage," Alastor pointed out. "She might even be able to hire competent people for a change."
"I suppose that would be nice for once," Harry snorted.
"Hold on," Moody said as they stepped through the gates. "Better let me apparate us both there instead of making them ask even more questions."
A few minutes later, Harry was once again enduring a lot of stares and whispers as he walked through the atrium of the ministry of magic. He held back his desire to groan, although it was a close thing. They reached the lifts and Alastor accompanied him inside an empty one, glaring at a couple of people who briefly looked like they were going to try to join them.
"This old mug of mine has its advantages," Moody laughed.
"I've been told it's the eye mostly," Harry added.
"I suppose so."
"At least I'm getting out of quidditch practice today," Harry said.
"I thought you liked the sport," Moody replied.
"I do, but the team captain has been scheduling way too many of them. I'd rather spend the weekend with Pansy than sitting on a broom for five or six hours." Harry shook his head. "I don't need the practice anyway. I've been better than all the other seekers at school pretty much since my first day."
"Without having a challenge, things can get boring," Moody nodded. "Even if it's something you enjoy."
A ding announced their arrival to the correct floor. Even more stares and whispers followed them as they went to speak with Minister Bones.
"Alastor, mister Potter, welcome," she said as they entered her office.
"Amelia, having a good day?" Alastor asked with a grin.
"It will be a much better one soon," she replied as she turned to Harry with a smile. "I believe I'm going to owe you a very large amount of gratitude, as will we all. Although, you might appreciate the reward money even more than that."
"I won't turn it down," Harry smirked. "I'm not looking forward to the public's response though."
"You can always drag Alastor up there with you," she suggested.
"I was thinking of doing just that," Harry nodded.
"You're both traitors," Moody grumbled.
"You did back me up," Harry pointed out.
"It was your plan, and you did the hard work, lad. But I'll stand by you, if that's what you want."
It was roughly an hour later, and Alastor had shared a fortifying drink with Harry before they were bound to return. They were standing in the shrieking shack once again, a handy meeting place where no one would think to look for anyone. "You ready, lad?"
"I guess so."
"Let's get this over with then."
Harry nodded. "Dobby?"
"Dobby is here, sir!"
"Thanks," Harry chuckled. "Can you bring Riddle's body here?"
Two pops later and the dead former Dark Lord was laying on the floor in front of them.
"How exactly are we going to do this?" Harry asked.
"I'll conjure up a stretcher and sheet to cover the body. You'll walk in front with your wand out, just in case anyone tries to get in the way. It will make you look more imposing too. I'll float our acquisition in behind you. We should have plenty of help to clear space."
"Okay, sounds like a plan," Harry nodded.
Alastor got to work securing their transport. He had to use a sticking charm to hold Riddle's head on. He then turned the stretcher itself into a portkey so they would arrive together.
The atrium was brimming with people when they landed. Harry was happy to see a large auror presence awaiting them, all of whom quickly began to make a path towards a small stage where Amelia Bones looked ready to get the show started. She was standing at a podium with what looked like an old fashioned microphone and she nodded at Harry and Moody as soon as she saw them approaching.
"Ladies and gentleman, I have wonderful news to announce," she began once the duo and their cargo had reached the stage. Alastor stood in the back, still floating the stretcher with the body, and he gently pushed Harry forward. Harry turned and tried to glare, but the old man was grinning at him and it helped him to relax. "With the help of auror Alastor Moody, Harry Potter has recently done something that once again sees us all in his debt. Lord Potter, would you care to say a few words?"
He nodded, even though he didn't really want to, and stepped closer. Amelia covered the mic for a second. "It's got a built in Sonorous charm, so you won't need to yell. At least, not until the crowd starts to get out of hand."
"Thanks," he said as he went to the podium. "A few months ago, there was an attack made on the Department of Mysteries. Along with my allies, which included both our newly elected minister as well as auror Moody, I came here to rescue a hostage from the Death Eaters. While we were successful, eventually, that day also saw the first public appearance of Tom Riddle, the man who called himself Voldemort. Some of you may have seen a photo of the two of us from that day."
A round of laughter swept through the room, causing Harry to pause. He had expected it, just as he had expected several gasps when he said the name of his former foe, and that was in fact why he made the joke. Pansy had suggested it, helping him to prepare what he would say. Once they quieted down, Harry continued.
"Since then, there have been a number of rumors about what happened. Some people have taken to calling me things like the Chosen One." He was able to keep himself from scowling at that by trying to focus on reaching the end of that day's attention. Hopefully, it would come soon so that he could spend the evening with Pansy- she had promised to reward him for having to deal with the 'sheep' by wearing something that would cheer him up. No scowl could form when he was thinking of that sort of fun.
"I don't personally believe in destiny," he said. "Regardless, after a number of setbacks, the so-called Dark Lord was rendered vulnerable this summer. The loss of a number of his troops earlier this year was only one part of that process. Without his masked followers to spread terror, Tom Riddle was only one man. A dangerous man to be sure, and no longer human due to his madness. But only a single wizard.
"I had the help of Alastor Moody, who I would like to thank for all that he has done over the last few years and especially for all that he has taught me. I doubt that I would still be alive today without him. When an opportunity came to strike at the madman who killed my parents all those years ago, it seemed like an obvious choice to call on the aid of a man who had been fighting against the Dark Arts longer and harder than anyone.
"I won't go into specifics about what we did." Harry waited for a moment after the inevitable grumbling that followed that statement. "While I am sure there are many of you who are curious, I do not want to say or do anything that might cause problems in the future. Years before Riddle came along, we'd had Grindelwald's reign of death and destruction. I hope that it will be many, many years before we have anything like that to deal with again. With that in mind...
"It is my great pleasure to announce the end of Tom Riddle," he said and the cheers began immediately, drowning out the few voices from the press that were trying to ask questions. As for himself, Harry felt mostly relief. He waited patiently for the crowd to quiet down.
One of the reporters in the front was able to fire off the first question several minutes after the celebration began. "Is that the Dark Lord's body?"
"It is," Harry confirmed. "I imagine some of you will want to see the evidence first hand, but at the same time, we thought it appropriate to try not to cause any panic."
"Can we see it then?"
Minister Bones stepped in front of Harry to answer. "We will allow a public viewing shortly, but we will be checking our security first and we ask that anyone with children take them home first."
Harry hadn't noticed before, but the gathering had grown quite large, and sure enough, he saw a number of families had filled the atrium. There were even a few fathers towards the back holding their youngsters on their shoulders to help them see over the crowd.
The questions came fast and furious, and a number of them were things that Harry had no comment about. Several times people asked for more information about how he had defeated Riddle, all of which he refused to answer. Then a few that started to get more personal, including the eventual mention of Pansy. Other than confirming that they were engaged, Harry would not comment any further. A couple of the more persistent witches earned deadly glares when they asked if he couldn't be persuaded to choose someone else. He was sorely tempted to use his wand on those bitches.
Amelia Bones saw how annoyed he was getting though, so she stepped to the podium and told them that Harry had done more than enough to help them and that any requests for more questions or interviews would have to be sent through his solicitor. He felt very grateful that he had hired Sam McKenzie three years prior- Harry had a feeling he was going to be earning his pay with the furor that all of this was already starting to cause.
A few photos were soon taken, although Harry drew the line when one man from the Daily Prophet asked him to hold up Riddle's severed head. For one thing, he didn't want to touch the thing, but also, he wasn't even sure how he would have been able to pick it up. Riddle didn't have any hair or ears to grab onto, and Harry certainly wasn't going to touch the stump of a neck. The lack of blood might have kept the mess to a minimum, but it was still pretty gross. The stasis charms were the only thing keeping the stench of the corpse in check.
Finally, Tonks pulled Harry out of the spotlight using her most official voice as she would be escorting him back to Hogwarts. When they landed in Hogsmeade, he turned to her with a smile. "You're my favorite cousin, you know that?"
"I could tell you were tired of all that," she grinned in response as they started trudging up the path to the school. "Poor Harry, everyone wants to adore you for being their savior."
"I know," he moaned. "It sucks."
"It could be worse. They could all be afraid of you, like now with Riddle out of the way, you'll become the next Dark Lord or something else ridiculous."
"That doesn't make any sense though."
"This is the magical world we're talking about," she pointed out. "These are the same people that think a baby saved them all those years ago. Although, mum always said that was mostly just because many people wouldn't have wanted to give the credit to a muggleborn witch. And thus, the legend of your magical forehead was born."
"Idiots," Harry muttered. "Thanks for trying to cheer me up too."
"I imagine Pansy will do an even better job once you can get some privacy," Tonks said with a smirk.
"That is why I'm marrying her," Harry smiled.
"Want me to come in there with you?"
"Sure," he shrugged. "If the news has already gotten out, I might have people trying to mob me. I could use a big strong auror to protect me from that sort of thing."
"I can't shift into too much bigger of a form," she replied. "These pants are new, and I don't want to tear out the bum."
"Have you had that happen before?"
"Not since I was a teenager," Tonks frowned. "My third year was pretty rough. I was still getting the hang of shifting partly because puberty was throwing me off in some new and awful ways."
"Sorry. By now I'd think it was worth it though."
"Yeah, everyone has some crappy things to go through during those years." She perked up with a grin. "It let me have an alibi for several things that I won't admit anywhere near Hogwarts though. McGonagall still seems like she might try to throw me in detention. She's got that sort of stern, 'what have you done, young lady?' expression that always makes me want to squirm."
"I think I've gotten used to it," Harry chuckled. A moment later his stomach grumbled just as they were getting in sight of the main door to the castle. "I am starving."
"I guess saving the world builds up an appetite, eh?" Tonks giggled.
The tables were already groaning with food as everyone was eating when they got inside. Harry went straight to the spot between Pansy and Luna. "Thanks for saving me a seat."
"I'm glad you got back in time," Luna replied happily. "Pansy and I had a lovely afternoon."
"Officially, we were studying in your quarters." She looked around furtively and leaned in to whisper in his ear. "Unofficially, we mostly were listening to music and I might have helped Pansy pick out something to wear later tonight. Trust me, you'll like it."
"Is everything taken care of?" Pansy asked.
"Alastor has a long term assignment to catch the last missing one," Harry replied. "But the main event is done. Now I just have to deal with everything that comes afterwards."
"I see," she replied. "I think I'll try to finish my meal and retire early. I'll be waiting for you."
"Waiting for me?"
"Haven't you noticed how McGonagall has been looking at you?"
"No." Harry turned to gaze up to the staff table. Apparently, the headmistress had heard the news, judging by the unusually happy look on her face. "Oh crap. Well, maybe she'll wait until I finish eating before unleashing pandemonium."
"That's why I'll be leaving soon," Pansy snorted at his description. "I don't want to get crushed in the stampede."
"You might want to take Luna with you then," Harry said.
"No, I think I'd rather stay for the show," Luna answered with a smile. "I won't get to be part of your private celebration later."
"We could do something with just the three of us tomorrow," Pansy suggested. "Assuming that Harry will be able to escape his adoring fans long enough, anyway."
"I'll keep my fingers crossed," Luna teased.
"Goodnight, sweetie." Pansy stood up and kissed Harry on the cheek before whispering in his ear, "I'm going to take a nice relaxing bath. That will have to keep you smiling until you see what else I have planned for you this evening."
"I love you," Harry chuckled as she winked and started walking off. He managed a few bites of his dessert before he noticed that there was a lot more than usual crowd noise. Judging by the number of people looking at him, he knew what was coming next. Luna merely hummed to herself as she finished her first serving of plum cake. Professor McGonagall stood at the head table, and people turned to look at her.
Harry took a deep breath and tried to relax. Luna wrapped an arm around his waist and leaned in for a snuggle.
"If I can have your attention please." McGonagall waited for things to quiet down as the students were hoping for an announcement. "I can confirm that this afternoon our very own mister Potter, along with the help of auror Alastor Moody, has delivered the body of Tom Riddle to the ministry."
Cheers and shouting broke out everywhere. There was a surge of people moving to congratulate him, everyone wanting to touch the hero of the hour, and any further comments from the Headmistress were unnecessary. It was bedlam at Hogwarts for the rest of the night, with parties continuing in each house's common rooms- even Slytherin had very few people left who might have supported the former Dark Lord.
For Harry though, the best part was when he finally managed to excuse himself from his well wishers. He entered his quarters to find Pansy waiting for him, dressed in a scandalously short green skirt, with a matching midriff baring top and pom poms.
Or, as she put it, "I had to remind you who your biggest fan is."
Sometimes it was good to be Harry Potter.
Pansy thought that, for the most part, things settled into a routine over the next few weeks. Sure, the sheep bleated a lot more at Harry, and they always seemed to be staring at him, but otherwise it was the calmest year they'd had together. Halloween even came and went without anything of importance happening- which Harry called a miracle once the day was over, so as not to jinx anything.
Many of the people around them were behaving differently that fall. A number of Slytherins were spotted being more sociable with students from the other houses. Without any specter hanging over things, and with good old Sluggy's jovial nature, the house of cunning and ambition was no longer such a millstone for those sorted into silver and green. Pansy even noted her former roommate Tracy Davis had started dating Seamus Finnigan- something that would have seemed impossible only a couple of years past.
She was missing out on much of the gossip though- Parvati was no longer her cheerful self, barely able to glance at Harry without getting visibly upset, and obviously not wanting to chat with her either. Pansy didn't blame her, but she also realized that she actually missed Parvati. Who would have thought they could become such good friends?
As for her second favorite gossip, Lavender was still dating Weasley, and they seemed rather happy about it too. Pansy didn't understand what she saw in him, but she did act as a distraction that helped him reign in the quidditch practice a bit, to Harry's great delight.
Longbottom had become the new Gryffindor prefect, and that meant it was he who now had to roam the halls with Hermione twice a week. Granger was another one who Pansy had noticed staring longingly at Harry on occasion. She knew that he probably wouldn't mind trying to rekindle that friendship, but Granger seemed either too stubborn or frightened to try to approach him.
Luna of all people was the beacon of normality. Other than thanking Harry for doing what needed to be done, she still treated them the same.
However, she noticed that Harry seemed distracted and bored much of the time.
They were eating in the Great Hall before the first quidditch match of the season when her locket warned her of a danger just as he was about to take a drink. She grabbed his hand. "Hold on."
Waving her wand over his cup, she found that there was definitely something contaminating Harry's water. "I think someone spiked your drink."
He sighed. "I should have known that would happen."
"Due to quidditch?"
"That or it's a love potion," he shrugged. "Neither would surprise me."
"One of which would make me a lot angrier though," Pansy replied, her eyes narrowed as she scanned the people surrounding them. Which of these stupid little bitches would possibly try something like that? Ginny Weasley hadn't seemed so obvious about her crush in awhile, and she wasn't looking too nervous either. Turning the other way though, she spotted Romilda Vane, who was watching them too carefully before looking away when Pansy glared at her. "I think I know who needs to be taught a lesson."
"Why don't you take that up to Sluggy?" Harry suggested as he handed over the tainted drink.
"And leave you all alone?"
"Luna will keep an eye on me," he replied, and she did in fact slide over to grab onto him as Pansy stood up.
"He'll be a good boy while you're gone."
"I'll be right back," Pansy nodded as she hurried to speak with the Potions Master.
"Which do you think it was?" Luna asked Harry.
"Love potion," he answered with a groan. "There were a number of enchanted pieces of mail sent my way after the whole thing with Riddle's defeat was announced. Postmaster Dobby's been extra busy sorting everything the last couple of months- which I guess is good since we haven't needed his help with any other dangers lately."
"Does Pansy know?"
"I've tried not to worry her," Harry shrugged. "Dobby's under strict orders to detain me if I start acting funny or try to go off with someone."
"That's probably a good idea," Luna said as she watched her best friend conversing with the head of Slytherin. "You know, if Pansy finds out who did it, I wouldn't be surprised if she tries to scalp whichever witch did this."
"I think I'd like that," Harry chuckled. "A morbid little trophy might scare more people off."
"As long as she doesn't get in trouble."
"Of course," he nodded.
Harry actually felt bad later that afternoon as he once again took to the skies against Slytherin. Goyle had been made captain- he was the only member of the team left from the year before's bloodbath- and most of the others were kids from the lower years. Gryffindor had some newbies too, but Ginny and Demelza were holding their own with Katie and Ron was performing much better than Harry had expected. The only weak spot were the beaters, but even they weren't doing too poorly, all things considered.
His team was already up by two hundred points by the time he spotted the snitch. Harry made short work of it, chasing the little golden ball through a dive and grabbing it just as it tried to change course.
The resulting celebration was as loud and boisterous as any other that Pansy had seen from the Gryffindors as they all flooded back into their common room. She was glued to Harry's side when once again she felt her locket give off another warning tingle just before someone passed Harry a bottle of butterbeer- which had already been opened. She growled as she took it from his hand, and the relaxed smile that had been on Harry's face slid right off as he saw her expression. He pushed his way through the crowd so they could retreat to the privacy of their room.
"Again?" he asked as he sat down on the couch.
"It appears so," Pansy grumbled as she began to pace. "I think I need to kill someone."
"I guess I should have seen this coming," Harry sighed. "The Chosen One has saved the country, again, so now everybody wants a piece of me. Fucking hell, I'm tired of this."
"I'm pretty sure it was Romilda Vane that tried earlier, if it was her again this afternoon, I'll gut the little slut."
"Please don't," Harry chuckled. "I'd rather not have to go to war with the ministry to make them leave us alone."
"So, what do you want to do then?"
Harry looked weary for a moment, and Pansy could tell he was really wondering about that very thing. "Let me ask you first," he said. "What do you want to do? Not now, or even this week, but for the future in general."
"You mean like here at Hogwarts?" she asked for clarification.
"And beyond," he nodded.
"I don't know," she replied as she sat down next to him. "I guess we've never really made too many serious plans about the future, other than things like getting married or taking a ridiculously long honeymoon."
"And shagging all over the world," Harry added with a grin. "Can't forget the most important part, you know."
"Of course," she laughed. "Hell, Harry, I don't know. Why do you ask?"
There was a moment of silence as his face fell when he looked back at the door that led out to the still noisy Gryffindor common room. "I'm not sure that I really want to stay here for a couple more years," he finally admitted. "As much as I like spending time with Luna, I don't really have many close friends. Even quidditch was tainted today. The classes- well they're not too bad, but I don't care that much about them either. I've done pretty well in self-study when there was something I really wanted to learn. So, I'm kind of thinking, why bother?"
"I suppose you don't need any NEWTs to qualify for a job," Pansy said as she leaned against his side, burrowing close and taking the time to think for a second. "I don't know that there are any things like that which would matter to me either. If we really wanted to make money, there are plenty of ways we could do that. I can imagine a few already- magic could give us huge advantages over muggles in a lot of ways."
"Just the repairing charm could do things that would be impossible for them," Harry pointed out.
"And we're already rich, so unless we go splurge on ridiculously expensive things, it's not like we would need to work any time soon."
"So, you want to just... what, pack up and leave?" Pansy asked.
"I was thinking we might try to finish the term," he shrugged. "Assuming we don't get too many more idiots trying to slip me potions. You'll be turning of age shortly after. There's nothing to stop us then from getting started on that honeymoon."
"We could elope over the holidays, make our plans and set out for..." she trailed off and tapped her chin in thought. "Where should we start?"
"If it's the beginning of the year, then I was thinking that we should start in the Southern hemisphere, where it will be much warmer. Maybe Africa? Then we could go see-"
"Elephants!" Pansy squealed before climbing onto Harry's lap and kissing him. "I'm liking this plan already."
"Good," he smiled back at her. "We already have a really fancy magical tent too. I could throw up a couple of charms, notice-me-not and whatever, so we could spend time out in the wilderness if we wanted."
"And we'd still have Dobby to pamper us with food," Pansy giggled. "I take it back- I'm now loving this plan. Other than missing Luna, I don't see any other reasons not to go. We can always write to her about our trip."
"She's got her OWLs coming up too, so we wouldn't want to distract her from studying."
"Since when do you care about something like that?" Pansy snorted.
"I don't care about it for myself, but I know that Luna will want to do her best," Harry corrected her. "She's a little Ravenclaw, our girl, and I wouldn't want to change that about her. We could see her again by the time summer comes around."
"And we can spend part of the Christmas break with her before we leave," Pansy added, still with a huge smile on her face. "We should plan on going to France too. I'd like to visit the Flora, Hestia, the Delacours and some of my extended family. We'll do that once it gets warmer though."
"Agreed. Probably any parts of Europe should wait until at least March or April."
"We've got the six weeks to do some research," Pansy said as she wiggled a bit and snuggled down into Harry's arms. She could feel his appreciation for it too, but she hid her grin for the moment. "We can look up protective charms to keep away bugs for example. And I suppose you'll have to officially learn that sunscreen charm."
"What sunscreen charm?"
"The one that I'm sure you've never used on yourself before spending hilarious amounts of time while covering me in the muggle stuff."
"I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about," Harry said, and she knew he was smirking without even looking up.
"That's fine, but we might not always be sitting around at beaches and pools."
"Okay," Harry sighed.
"Good boy." Pansy took the opportunity to climb off him and pull Harry to his feet. "Now, between your unbeaten quidditch career and today's brilliant idea, I think we have plenty of reasons to go celebrate in bed. And in the shower first."
"This is why I love you," Harry laughed as he followed and watched her sway her hips.
"Alright, what's got you in such a good mood?" Luna wondered as Pansy was still smiling the next day during breakfast.
"You and I are going to the library today."
Pansy nodded. "We might even be able to drag Harry along with us."
"Sure," he shrugged.
"Why?" Luna asked.
"We've got a very important research project to start," Pansy replied as she started to eat, faster than usual. "You can probably help us a lot too, since you've traveled so much with your father."
"Oh, are we going to start planning a certain trip? For just the two of you?"
"Yes we are."
"Goodie! I know just where to start," Luna grinned as she dug into her plate. "Eat up, Harry, or we won't wait around for you."
Harry chuckled to himself and did as he was told. He was looking forward to it as much as Pansy; a few years prior, he had never been anywhere other than Surrey while growing up. Traveling now was inextricably tied to Pansy in his head, and it made him that much more excited to think of seeing more of the world with her.
"For the record, it was my idea," he reminded them with a smirk.
And so, Harry Potter ended up spending more time in the Hogwarts' library during that November and December than he ever had before. Thankfully, it was for a good cause. Luna's help was very useful, especially as she could write to her father for advice about spells that she might not have otherwise remembered. Despite his reputation as an oddball, Xenophilius was a font of knowledge about how magical people traveled the world.
Before November was over, and despite Pansy's vigilance during meal times, there was a third attempt at slipping Harry a love potion. She wasn't sure how someone had been able to do it either- Harry suggested maybe a switching spell, while Luna suggested someone asking one of the school's house-elves to do it. Unfortunately, it looked like it wasn't Romilda Vane either, so she didn't have any strong suspects.
Harry's celebrity was too great at that moment for her to take anyone for granted. They took to eating more meals in their quarters or down in the kitchens with just Luna for company.
It was at the beginning of December during one such dinner on a Sunday that Pansy decided on something she had been considering for a while. "Luna, are you busy this evening?"
"Unfortunately yes. I've got a paper for Babbling due that I put off so we could spend last night hanging out. Why do you ask?"
"I didn't want you to feel left out, but I've got something that I want to do with Harry."
"Oh? Something fun?" he asked with a playful waggle of his eyebrows.
"No... not really," Pansy sighed. "I've been thinking. With us leaving soon, I'd like to do a couple of things before we go. And I'd like to go down to the Slytherin common room one last time."
"Ah, right," Harry nodded. "I'll go with you."
"Are you going to be alright?" Luna asked.
"I've got some pretty complicated feelings about my time there," Pansy admitted. "My first couple of years were... a mixed bag, I guess. And, with that battle that broke out when Millie... died..."
She took a breath to calm herself and Harry and Luna both reached over to comfort her.
"I'd just like to say goodbye, I guess."
"Okay," Harry said as he kissed the top of her head.
"Can we go after we eat?" Pansy wondered if this was really a good idea, but it felt like something she needed to do- for closure, if nothing else.
"We are fairly close by," Harry pointed out.
"Yeah. I thought that way I wouldn't have as much time to lose my nerve," she snorted. Pansy leaned against Harry and closed her eyes for a moment. "You'll probably need to cheer me up afterwards."
"I can handle that."
Luna departed first, and Pansy's reticence was obvious as she held onto Harry and watched the blonde climbing the steps before she could force herself to start the short trek down a couple of hallways that would lead to her old common room.
"I'll be right here beside you," Harry reminded her and she nodded. They still didn't hurry along their way though.
"Galanthus Nivalis," she said once they reached the entrance, a section of the wall sliding out of the way.
"Leave it to dear old Sluggy to use Potions ingredients as passwords," Harry said.
"Better than some of the crap Snape used to pull," Pansy replied with a scowl. "I was honestly surprised that some of the little shits like Draco didn't convince him to use 'die mudbloods' or something back in our second year. 'Gryffindor sucks' used to show up before every quidditch match against you guys."
Harry chuckled darkly. "I'm so glad he died. Fucking bastard."
"Amen," Pansy nodded as they stepped into the Slytherin common room. It wasn't too packed as there were bound to be some people who stayed late at dinner, went to the library to study, or did various other things in the couple of hours before curfew hit. A handful of people they had worked with last year in Harry's defense group waved hello. They went down the steps, and she forced herself not to stare off to her right side, where she had seen Millie...
She shook that thought off and guided Harry over to the large fireplace on her left. "I remember sitting here a lot in my first year. I was still getting used to this place, and sometimes it could get kinda cold down here. At the same time, it was nice not to have to be around my parents anymore. But I think I like snuggling up on our couch with you a lot more."
"I would hope so," Harry said with a small smile. He wrapped his arm around her waist and Pansy relaxed as she took a minute just to bathe in the warmth of the fire, seemingly losing herself as she looked into the flames. "You know, it's a lot nicer down here than I would have thought several years ago."
"Even us nasty little Slytherins need a decent place to stay," Pansy snorted, bringing a laugh out of Harry.
"You ever wonder why the houses are where they are?" he asked.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, on the one hand you've got Slytherin and Hufflepuff down at the bottom of the school, and then Gryffindor and Ravenclaw are both up at the top of towers," he pointed out. "I would have thought at least one of the founders might have gone for a more centralized location."
"That might be more practical," she shrugged. "But these are witches and wizards we're talking about. Practicality isn't the most common trait in the magical world. Paper and pencils have been around for hundreds of years, but we're still stuck with parchment and quills, you know?"
"Yeah," Harry groaned. "I swear my handwriting suffered a lot when I was trying to get used to writing with those stupid things."
"I've noticed it is better when we're at home." She pulled him on with her, over towards the windows that looked into the murky water of the lake. They produced a greenish tinge to the light that filtered into the common room. "I've always liked these windows."
"It's pretty different to the view up in Gryffindor."
"I like it too," Harry said. "It's sorta calming."
She squeezed his hand and just looked into the water for a moment.
"What are you two doing down here?"
Pansy turned, still holding onto Harry's hand, and saw Daphne Greengrass was watching them. "I just wanted to revisit the place."
"You haven't been down here all term," Daphne said. "I guess you've been too busy- planning for the wedding, maybe?"
"Or something like that," she smirked in response.
"Well, congratulations, I suppose." Daphne's tone was every bit as aloof as Pansy remembered and it made her smile in spite of all the years she'd been jealous of the blonde. "I noticed you weren't at dinner again tonight."
"Is that a question?" Pansy kept on smiling even as Daphne narrowed her eyes ever so slightly. She decided to answer instead of needling her former dorm mate any further. "Too many of the little sluts around here have tried to slip Harry love potions, and I've gotten sick of it. Since he doesn't want me to murder anyone-"
"Because the trip to Azkaban would be annoying," he added with a laugh.
"Indeed," she continued, "I've been trying to limit my frustrations."
"That is quite understandable," Daphne replied. "Astoria dragged me into that shop of the Weasley twins over the summer and I had to restrain myself when I saw they were on sale there, as if it was just another laughing matter."
"Yeah, Fred and George were my friends, but I wasn't okay with that either," Harry agreed.
"I will give them credit for their daydream charms," Daphne said. Pansy noticed a small glance at Harry before she continued. "The one I tried was rather amazing."
"They're pretty inventive guys," Harry answered.
"Indeed." Daphne looked down at their linked hands and smirked. "Are you two lovebirds looking forward to the holidays then? Only two more weeks before we're done."
"Very much so," Pansy grinned while Harry nodded in agreement. Maybe this hadn't been such a bad idea she thought. Daphne bid them farewell and Pansy pulled Harry down for a kiss before they turned away from the windows and left Slytherin behind.
She wasn't in too bad of a mood when they returned to their quarters, but Harry still did his best to cheer her up anyway.
"One last train ride," Luna said while she was sitting down across from them on the Hogwarts express. "Did you make sure to pack everything before we left?"
"Dobby and I both double checked," Pansy nodded. "Harry wasn't too helpful though."
"Just because I wanted us to go out with a bang-"
"We did that last night," Pansy interrupted him. "Twice."
"Yeah, but you rejected me this morning," he pouted. "Luna, my wife to be is so mean to me."
"You should spank her if she's being a bad girl," Luna suggested with a leer over at Pansy. "And she is, so very often, being a very, very naughty girl. Santa's going to put coal in her stockings."
"I'd much rather Pansy just wear those stockings," Harry said with a smile. "You should do that tonight to make it up to me."
"I might be persuaded," she smirked.
"So, what about one last train ride shag?" Luna asked with a grin. "I vote yes."
"If we do that, we'll have to wait awhile," Harry said with a frown. "I ate a big breakfast because I know how long this ride is."
"Me too," Pansy agreed.
"Me three," Luna smiled before turning thoughtful. "I suppose it wouldn't be as pleasant to try to have sex on a full tummy."
"Yeah, and my sex drive goes down after I've eaten," Harry shrugged.
"I think mine does a bit too," Pansy said.
"I'll have to keep that in mind for the future," Luna frowned. "It's too bad really. I always thought the idea of combining sex and food sounded fun."
"I think that works best if it's just a bit of something sweet, like perhaps chocolate, instead of anything too filling," Pansy suggested.
"Or honey," Harry said with a dreamy smile. "We should definitely do that again."
"Let's talk about something other than sex," Pansy said. She ignored the boos coming from her companions and shook her head, turning to Luna. "Are you going to be unavailable at any time over the holidays?"
"I'm just doing the usual with daddy," Luna replied. "No travel or anything. Why?"
"I was hoping that you and Xeno could come along when we go to the ministry."
"It's too bad you are just going to elope, but I can understand wanting to get away and start on the honeymoon."
"We might do a ceremony of some sort later," Pansy shrugged. "Maybe after you finish school and are free for the summer. I couldn't very well not have my bridesmaid with me, now could I?"
"I would enjoy that," Luna nodded happily.
"I still think we might want to use glamours to sneak into the ministry," Harry said. "I don't want to deal with a crowd, if at all possible. Just getting to the right department could be a mess."
"I could get there first," Luna suggested. "Then I could call you two on the mirror and let you know how busy it is. I would think it might not be too bad with the holidays coming up. A lot of people are bound to be taking time off during the Christmas season."
"That's not a bad idea," Pansy replied.
"Yeah, thanks, Luna," Harry added.
"No problem," she grinned in return. "Is there anyone else you were wanting to say goodbye to?"
"Um, maybe," Pansy said with a sigh. "There's Parvati, but..."
"But neither of you are sure what to say to her?" Luna finished.
"I think it should be Harry," Luna said.
"Really?" he asked.
"You might not always be as eloquent as Pansy, but it would mean more to her, I think," Luna replied. "Any feelings of envy she has are towards Pansy, not you, so that might make it easier on her too."
"I guess," he said as he looked out the window for a moment. That had been one of the things that bothered him about the fall term, seeing Parvati's previously cheerful self seem downright depressed, as well as knowing that there wasn't really much he could do about it.
"Don't put it off, Harry," Luna said firmly. "It might help us all feel a bit better."
"Okay." He stood up and made his way for the door.
Pansy sighed as he stepped outside. "Are you sure about this, sweetie?"
"Not completely, but I am fairly certain that talking to you wouldn't help as much."
"I hope you're right."
Harry took a deep breath and knocked at the compartment door where he saw Parvati sitting alone, staring out the window. She looked startled when she saw him standing there but she waved him inside.
"Hey, I didn't expect you to be riding all alone," he said, not sure how to get started.
"Lavender and Ron are busy together," she shrugged. "My sister will be probably be back in awhile, but she wanted to visit a couple of her dorm mates, so..."
"Ah," Harry nodded. "I, um, wanted to talk to you."
"Well, not really." He saw her face fall and Harry realized he was already screwing this up. "Wait, that's not what I meant. I do want to talk to you. It's just... I'm not sure what to say."
"Did Pansy put you up to this?" Parvati frowned.
"No, we-" he paused and tried to figure out the best way to put this, closing the door behind him. "We both have missed hanging out with you. You're our friend, Parvati, but we could tell how upset you were with... well, with Pansy's ring and everything. I'm just... I'm sorry, Parvati. I never meant to hurt you."
"You must think I'm so silly," she replied as Harry noticed her wiping a stray teardrop that had escaped.
"I don't think that. Not at all. I just don't know what I can do to make things better."
"I've been trying to come to grips with it, you know?" she said as he sat down across from her. "A part of me probably knew I was being a fool. 'I'll be your second girlfriend, Harry;' how silly of me to think that would somehow work. You and Pansy have been living together for years, how could I hope to somehow top that?"
"I... um..." Harry sighed and ran his hand through his hair.
"It's not your fault, I should have known better," she shook her head.
"I'm still sorry," he said. "We care about you. And I will still help you if you want to get away from your parents after school, you know? That hasn't changed. I just... I didn't want to try to act like, I don't know. Like I expected you just to get over it, or something."
"Thanks, Harry." Parvati rubbed her arms and stood up. "Can I have a hug?"
"You're a good guy," she said as she leaned into him. "I'll pull it together one of these days."
"Well, it might be easier soon," Harry began. "Maybe..."
"What do you mean?" Parvati asked as she stepped back and sat down again.
"I've been kinda sick of some things lately," he shrugged. "All the attention and stuff, girls trying to slip me love potions, and some of the mail from people I've never met- I don't really know why some grown woman would think sending me her underwear would be a good way to introduce herself."
Parvati giggled at him. "A lot of guys would probably like that sort of thing, Harry."
"Yeah, well, a lot of guys aren't me," he answered with a frown. "If they were, or if people really knew some of the things I've seen and done-"
"I think they'd be even more in awe of you," Parvati argued. "I didn't see everything that happened that day when we went to the ministry, but I was still amazed at your courage that day. You walked into the middle of a dozen Death Eaters, Harry- willingly. That was the bravest thing I've ever seen. Either that or the craziest, maybe."
"Probably some of both," he chuckled. "There are other things though, things that even you might be shocked by."
"I'm a killer, Parvati," he cut her off. "Maybe it's easier because they were terrorists, but it doesn't take away from the fact that I'm not normal. If all those people had really seen me have to fight, if they'd seen me literally get blood all over my hands, it wouldn't seem so damn heroic. It was never about being a hero to me- it was about making sure that someday I could just live my life in peace without worrying about who else was out there that wanted to try to kill me."
"I guess no one really thinks about it like that," she replied with a frown. "I'm glad I wasn't you in that case."
"I wouldn't want most people to have to go through some of my life," Harry said. "Although..."
"What's that grin for?"
"The one part that would have been pretty cool if you were me," he answered while still grinning. "You and Pansy in bed together."
"Harry!" Parvati laughed.
"What, I'm a guy," he shrugged. "Two hot chicks? Sounds pretty good to me."
"I guess I should be flattered," she said with a smile. "But I think you were going to say something before you got off track."
"Oh, yeah," Harry scratched his head. "Right. I'm kind of worn out on... just everything really. So, I'm done with Hogwarts. The magical world has always been so fickle and crazy about the way they treat me. I'm sick of it, so Pansy and I are going off on vacation."
"Oh," Parvati frowned, looking down at her hands. "I'll miss you."
"Maybe a few months will help."
"Maybe," Parvati shrugged. "Do you think we could hang out some next summer?"
"I don't have anything planned out that far yet, but yeah, probably."
"Sorry it took so long," Padma said as she opened the door, stopping when she saw Harry sitting there. "Um, am I interrupting anything? I can come back in a bit."
"No," Parvati shook her head. "Harry and I were just talking, but I think we're done."
"Um, yeah, I guess so," he said as he stood up. "I hope you two have good holidays."
"You too, Harry," Parvati smiled at him. "Happy Christmas."
"Happy Christmas," he nodded as he left the compartment.
Her sister sat down across from her and Padma's concern was obvious. "Is everything okay?"
"I..." Parvati looked back at the door and then shook her head. "I think maybe it will be."
In the end, getting married was one of the easiest things Harry and Pansy had ever done. With only a couple of days till Christmas, the crowd at the ministry was thankfully thin. Getting in and out of the correct department and signing the papers that officially made them Mr. and Mrs. Potter turned out to be a breeze. Luna was smiling the whole time, with her and Xeno there as witnesses, and they all went out to eat Italian food for lunch afterwards.
It was one of the most laid back and simple ways to get married imaginable.
In spite of that, Pansy thought it was perfect. She and Harry got dressed up and went to a very fancy restaurant for dinner before celebrating their wedding night in the usual way.
Their Christmas shopping was much more practical than it might have otherwise been. They needed all sorts of supplies needed for their trip, not the least of which were clothes for much hotter weather than they would be used to. Harry and Pansy both practiced their cooling and drying charms, in preparation for what they expected as well- and that felt more than a bit odd as it was so cold and wet outside. No snow though, which made Pansy a bit nostalgic for the first holiday break they had spent together.
Harry bought her one other gift- a new mirror that he enchanted out the wazoo so she would only need to carry one of the things while still being able to get in touch with several people. Namely, he had made several connections for it, one of which brought them to visiting Steven, Vanessa, and little Grace Frost a couple of days later.
The bag full of presents though was mostly for Gracie, and Pansy had been delighted to be shopping for a baby. Not so secretly, Harry might have enjoyed it as well.
"Come in," Steven answered the door in a quiet voice. "But not too loud, we just got her down for a nap."
"Aww," Pansy whined with a little smile on her face. "I was hoping to hold her again."
"You'll just have to stay until she wakes up," Vanessa replied as she stepped into the hall. "It might not even take that long. How was your Christmas?"
"The best ever," Pansy grinned as she stepped forward and hugged her friend.
"How come?" Steven asked.
Pansy flashed her rings with a huge smile on her face. "I am now officially Mrs. Pansy Potter!"
"Oh my god!" Vanessa squealed, her hand coming up a second later to quiet herself before she woke the baby. Then she grabbed Pansy's hand to take a closer look. "It's beautiful. I was hoping to come to the wedding though."
"We didn't have a ceremony yet, but we might next summer," Pansy replied. "Harry's bad influence has worn me down, so we are done with school. We're going to leave on a honeymoon in a little over a week."
"Damn, Harry," Steven whistled. "That's a nice rock. It must have cost a lot."
"Yeah, but I figured this was the sort of thing worth splurging on," he shrugged. "Pansy plans on wearing it for the next hundred years or so, so I could hardly scrimp, now could I?"
"Hah!" Pansy snorted. "As if I'm ever taking this off. You can bet that I'll be buried with it."
"Whatever you want, dear," Harry grinned.
"See, I've already got him trained and everything," Pansy giggled.
"How long are you going to be gone?" Vanessa asked.
"I'm not sure. We had joked about a year long honeymoon, but I think we'll be back for the summer to visit you guys and Luna, if nothing else."
"And Parvati," Harry added.
"I'd like that, if she's over everything," Pansy agreed.
"What about Glastonbury?" Steven asked. "I know you guys had talked about wanting to go once you were out of school. I've started hearing about some of the bands that are going to be there this coming June."
"That's a good idea," Pansy smiled. "We'll have to see about getting tickets. Are you going to try to go?"
"Maybe," Vanessa replied. "Grace might be old enough to stay with my parents by then."
"Well, speaking of the little princess, I hope you won't be upset to learn that almost everything in here is for her," Pansy smiled as she held up the bag of gifts. "There's one for you too, but I'll have to give credit to Harry for making it."
"Let's go sit down," Vanessa suggested.
Pansy followed her and they were soon sitting on the couch together and spreading out the gifts across the coffee table. She pulled the one oblong box out that was wrapped in less colorful packaging and handed it to Vanessa. "I'll explain once you open it."
"Okay," Vanessa said as she raised an eyebrow and started to tear off the paper. "A mirror?"
"A magical mirror," Pansy replied with a grin as Harry handed her purse over and she pulled out her own. "It connects to mine, and you activate it by saying my name. This way, we can stay in contact no matter where we go."
"And considering we won't be near a phone, that can be handy," Harry added. "Other than when we're at the flat, we often aren't easy to reach."
"Which will be even more true soon," Pansy said with a huge smile. "We're going to start in Africa."
"And assuming she ever gets enough of elephants," Harry said which Pansy snorted at, "I might even get her to go to a few other places too."
"Does magic help with travel?" Steven asked.
"Yeah, a whole lot," Harry replied. "There's a couple of different ways that are basically teleportation."
"No way," Steven said with a grin. "You're going to make me jealous."
"The ride can be pretty bumpy with a portkey," Harry said. "So that kinda sucks, but since we haven't been to Africa before, it's still the best option for us."
"You know..." Pansy tapped her chin for a moment. "We could probably get a magic carpet while we're there."
"Those are real too?" Vanessa asked with a shocked expression.
"Yes, but they're illegal in England," Pansy replied with a frown. "However, if we're traveling in other countries, one could be really useful. Especially if we could disillusion it."
"That means invisible," Harry added, translating magic to muggle for their friends. "That's a good idea, love. Especially if we ever go on a trip with Luna and Xeno."
"Now you're making me wish I could go on vacation with you," Vanessa said with a smile.
"Maybe once Gracie is older," Steven suggested with a shrug.
"And once I'm able to afford the time off," his wife nodded. "I'm going back to work starting in the new year. I mean, I've been doing some things from home, but I'll be back in the office soon. What I want to know is about you finishing school though. Aren't there any rules about that sort of thing?"
"Not really," Pansy replied. "Most of the time, parents would probably make their children stay for all seven years. We don't have that issue, obviously. And now that I'm of age-"
"Seventeen is when you reach your majority in the magical world," Harry added.
"Right, since I'm now legally an adult, there was nothing to stop us from getting married. With Harry's fame probably at an all time high and all the annoyances that go with it, we both have decided that we don't need the stress anymore. We can learn what we want through self-study or hire tutors if we decide to in the future."
"But Harry, I thought you wouldn't turn seventeen until next year," Vanessa wondered.
"Yeah, but I was able to get legally emancipated," he answered. "It was one of the only really nice perks about being the last member of an old magical family. I still would have preferred growing up with decent people, but it helped the two of us in the long run."
"Well, I'm not sure where you're going, but parts of Africa are dangerous," Vanessa said. "And there are always poachers to worry about if you're going on a savanna trip."
"We can take care of ourselves," Harry said with a smirk. "And Dobby will be there to watch over us as well. Plus, we're starting out in Botswana, and according to my research, it's a pretty nice place."
"That's good," Vanessa replied. "After all the stories about Rwanda, the war in Somalia, and then Gambia had a coup a couple of years ago too- I would be worried to travel there. I'm sure it's beautiful, but people with guns frighten me."
"We're basically armed anyway," Pansy said. "We know how to defend ourselves with magic- and there are several spells that will divert attention away from us."
"Yeah, I could probably cast the notice-me-not charm in my sleep now," Harry added with a chuckle. "It's a spell that pretty much does what it says- people will just walk past and ignore you once you've cast it unless you draw attention to yourselves. I wonder how well it works on animals though."
"Luna said it does well unless the creatures are magical," Pansy answered. "Which means we should be able to get even closer to the elephants without bothering them or scaring them off."
"Just remember," Harry grinned. "Our flat isn't nearly big enough for you to bring home a pet."
"We'll have to think about moving then- won't we?" she teased in return.
Grace chose that second to wake up and make her presence known with her crying. "I've got her," Steven said as he left the room.
"I guess little princess Gracie decided she wants to see her gifts," Vanessa laughed. "Hopefully she isn't hungry again. That or she might be in a bad mood."
"Aw," Pansy pouted.
"She just started teething. It makes her cranky. We've taken to making sure there's always something for her to chew on other than me." Vanessa shook her head and sighed. "Here's something for you to remember for the future- cold helps with a little one's gums. Sticking her pacifier in the freezer for awhile makes her feel better. We're going to try frozen fruit once she's older."
"She just needed changing," Steven said as he returned carrying his daughter.
"Ooh!" Pansy tried to keep herself from squealing too loudly. "Can I hold her?"
"Sure," he chuckled as he handed Grace over.
"Then I guess it's time to see what sort of presents you've brought," Vanessa smiled as Pansy was already entranced, cooing over the baby who had started giggling at her.
"Are you done packing yet?" Harry asked as he finished sorting the last of his clothes. They had decided to take a few things for cooler weather, just in case.
"I finished half an hour ago," Pansy answered from the bathroom.
"What are you doing then?"
"Just making sure I look fabulous," she chuckled.
"For when we go to Hogwarts."
Harry wandered down the hall to peek in at her. "You always look fabulous though."
She rolled her eyes and snorted at him. "I want to impress other people, Harry. Not just a simpleton like you."
"Why are you calling me simple?" he wondered with a grin.
"Do you like my outfit?" she replied with a raised eyebrow.
"Yes." The skirt was shorter than usual, always a plus in Harry's book, and her top was dark burgundy with a couple of buttons undone. He was a little concerned about why she was wearing heels, as that didn't seem very practical, but it sure did look nice. As for the stockings, well, that was just a reminder that he had married the greatest woman ever. Plus, he was already imagining peeling her out of the clothes as soon as she would let him.
"Judging by that goofy smile, I can guess what's on your mind," she giggled. "That's why you're simple."
"I know what I like," he shrugged.
"And I love that about you, but I want to make a statement as we leave," she said.
"Is that why we're doing this?" Harry asked with a grimace. "We could have just sent the letters with Hedwig. Or Luna."
"That wouldn't be nearly as amusing to me," Pansy replied, making him chuckle. "Besides, I want to gloat a bit. Announcing myself as Mrs. Potter will be too much fun for me to miss seeing all the faces of those stupid little girls, like whoever kept trying to slip you love potions. You wouldn't let me go on a murder spree, so I had to find another way to get my revenge. I'll even let you get handsy before we disappear, if you want."
"Rawr," Harry laughed. "For the record, a murder spree could have caused a delay in our honeymoon, which is the main reason I was against it."
"Understandable," she nodded as she peered into the mirror above the sink, turning one way then the other as she did one final check of her makeup. Harry didn't understand that either- she didn't seem to be wearing much other than some eye shadow, but then he was just a simple guy, so what did he know?
"Do you have the portkey?"
"It's on the table right by your purse," Harry said.
"Good." Pansy shooed him down the hall, turning off the light behind her. "Dobby?"
"Yes, mistress?" The little elf appeared in the middle of the living room, apparently waiting for them.
"I just wanted to make sure you've got everything placed in our tent."
"Dobby has finished and double checked everything," he agreed happily as he snapped his fingers and the magical tent appeared, closed up and rolled down to no bigger than a suitcase. It made Harry grin to think that contained inside it was more than half their belongings and almost a dozen rooms, including a fully stocked kitchen for Dobby and, most importantly according to Pansy, three bathrooms. They weren't likely to need more than two, but she had been firmly in favor of them both being able to get cleaned up from any hot, sweaty weather whenever they wanted. Harry had admitted that they might not always have time for shower sex, even though he pouted at her while doing so.
"What about our records?" Pansy asked.
"Dobby made sure of those, of course, mistress Pansy."
"Thank you, Dobby," she smiled at him. "I guess we're ready to go then."
It was very dark as Dobby transported them back up to Scotland, where they landed just outside the main doors leading into the castle. Harry looked around one last time, grinned, and said, "I think they're bound to be in the middle of dinner still."
"All the better for us to appear fashionably late," Pansy smirked.
"And make sure all eyes are on us when we go strolling in," Harry finished.
"You know me so well, husband."
Harry grinned and offered up his arm before they strode inside. Sure enough, everyone turned to stare when they came strolling down the center aisle of the Great Hall. He noticed a few faces- Luna smiled and winked at him, as she was off to his right, opposite from Pansy. Harry was pretty sure she knew exactly what his wife had planned.
And he smiled as well, just happy as the words 'his wife' flew around in his mind. They had survived, and now, somehow, he was actually going to get to experience that fabled happily ever after.
He noticed plenty of other people staring and whispering about them. Parvati looked better- he noticed that she was giggling, probably also realizing just how much of a scene this was going to cause. Of course, the fact that she was maybe the only other person there who knew that they were leaving likely helped.
Harry didn't have to look at Pansy to know that she was smirking triumphantly when they reached the staff table.
"Mr. Potter, you are a wee bit late," McGonagall said as she stood up.
"Sorry about that," he replied as Pansy reached into her little clutch purse and removed two pieces of parchment. "My wife and I just had to make sure we had finished packing everything."
You could probably hear a pin drop as everyone was trying to listen in, and in fact there was the sound of several pieces of silverware clattering onto the tables at his statement.
"Your wife?" McGonagall asked with a shocked look.
"Congratulations," Slughorn said with a merry chuckle.
"Thank you, professor," Pansy replied as she handed over the first piece of parchment. "As head of Slytherin, I am turning in my official notice to you. We are resigning from Hogwarts."
"I will miss you, my dear," he answered with a sigh. "But I suppose you must be excited for the honeymoon."
"Indeed," Pansy nodded with a smile.
"Headmistress," Harry said, drawing her attention as he handed over his own official notice that they were withdrawing from school. Professor McGonagall took the parchment and sat down with a frown as she began to read it. He turned to Pansy with a grin. "All set, Mrs. Potter?"
"Ready when you are, Mr. Potter," she smiled back at him as she pulled the portkey out of her purse and handed it over to him before taking his free hand in her own.
"Well then..." he turned back to look out over the Great Hall one last time. "Adieu."
Harry and Pansy disappeared together, leaving Hogwarts behind for the final time.
Author's Note: I'd like to once again thank everyone who has supported me as I've written this. All the reviews, favorites, and whatnot have been greatly appreciated.
It is a month from the three year anniversary of when I started writing this story. Although I wrote a lot as a kid and all through my teen years, it had been a decade or so since I had written anything at all before I started We're In This Together. And I'd certainly never done anything even close to this long either. I think that shows to some extent as I feel the writing quality improves over the course of the story, but I'm not the type to go back and rewrite the beginning.
I'd rather work on a new project instead.
On another note- I have recently begun posting over at ao3. I generally prefer ffnet, but the archive does have a couple of nice features like the fact that I can embed the music for something like when Pansy does her strip tease to NIN's Closer after the first task. You can find me under the same name over there.
Next, speaking of new projects, I have a few things in the works. First of all, my comedic take on Harry as a muscle bound bro is in the early stages of planning for year 3. If you like silliness, I'm pretty proud of Does Voldemort Even Lift, Bro?
Also, I have my first true crossover story that I'll probably begin posting soon once I can get a bit more planning and polishing done to make sure I've got the plot outlined. More to come soon.
And, finally, the characters in this story have claimed such a large portion of my imagination that I will be writing a sequel to this story exploring what happens in the years after Hogwarts. I imagine I'll answer some of the typical 'epilogue' questions like what are everyone's jobs, who marries who, who has kids, etc. Plus, one that I know some of you are looking forward to- will Pansy and Harry ever have a threesome?
I'll probably take a bit of a break before starting that up though. You can expect an update here to announce when I do start posting it.
Coming 2021- The Further Adventures of Harry and Pansy.