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Part Two

"No, you can't see Gawain Robards. Are you out of your skull?"

Marcus feels a little offended. It's not like they walked into the Ministry and requested an immediate audience with Robards. They would have understood if they'd had to wait. This officious Auror trainee sneering down her nose at them doesn't have to be so condescending.

Again, Harry interrupts Marcus's fun before it can get started. "We didn't think he would be free right now," he says, resting one hand on Marcus's arm. "We just want to know when he will be."

The trainee sniggers. "Probably not for a long time, what with everything he's done…you're Harry Potter." She's abruptly staring at him with worshipful eyes that look too big for her face.

"You only now noticed?" Marcus asks.

Harry nudges him with one elbow, although Marcus knows it's only because he's identified the trainee as a source of possibly useful information if she's infatuated with him. "Head Auror Robards committed some crime?" Harry asks, turning smoothly back to the girl and lowering his voice. They're almost alone in this shadowy corner of the Ministry that contains Robards's office, but that hardly matters when gossip of this kind is apparently floating on the air. "You must know a lot about it."

The girl preens, never realizing the subtle insult that might be contained in Harry's words. "Yes, I do," she says. "It's not all over the papers, because they understand the panic that might spread if people know you can't trust the Head Auror, but it's explosive, all right. Robards is in a holding cell."

Marcus blinks. That is more serious. At least, if Robards is really in the cell and not lying dead in Marcus's cellar right now.

"What did he do?" Harry breathes, playing "enthralled audience" to the hilt.

The trainee ducks her head and blinks up at Harry from under lowered lashes. Harry squeezes Marcus's arm, and Marcus doesn't punch her. "He's being investigated for Dark Arts," she whispers.

"Oh, is that all?" Marcus asks, surprised, and gets another elbow in the ribs from Harry. But seriously, they would demote the Head Auror or imprison him in a holding cell for a crime that might not even be a crime, depending on the spells?

The trainee glares at him. "And who are you?"

"Marcus Flint, Harry's husband."

The trainee gasps and steps back, eyes darting between their hands in an apparent search for their rings. Harry proudly holds up his sapphire one in answer, and she bites her lip and says, "Oh," in a flat voice that rivals the one Harry used to address Theodore.

"We really do just want some information on the Head Auror," Harry adds coaxingly. "I would have worked for him if I'd become an Auror, you know. We would like to see him, even, but I understand why that's not possible."

The girl considers this and finally nods. "Just a glance," she says. "I really can't give you more than that."

Marcus wonders who in their right minds would trust this idiot with the keys, but she's already walking away down the corridor, and he shrugs and follows. This is a chance to see Robards, and they're here to do that and figure out what's going on, not offer the Ministry advice on their security procedures.

Robards's holding cell turns out to be just down the corridor from the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. The girl unlocks a small portal in the door that's probably used to hand food or questions through, and steps aside ceremoniously. Marcus goes to the peephole first, to keep Harry safe if Robards has his wand, and ignores the two scowls he gets for different reasons.

What certainly looks to be Robards is seated in the room beyond, although the body on the floor of Marcus's cellar looks like him, too. Marcus studies him thoughtfully. The bastard doesn't look afraid, just sitting there with a small smile on his lips and a softly tapping foot.

"What Dark Arts is he being charged with using?" Marcus can hear Harry asking the trainee.

Marcus smiles and goes on examining Robards. Together, he and Harry are great thinkers, an unbeatable team. It might take Marcus a little while to reach conclusions and Harry some playing at being a witless lackey, but their enemies are the ones who'll suffer for it, not them.

"The Unforgivable Curses is what I heard," the trainee says, trying to sound mysterious and powerful and knowledgeable.

Marcus would snort if he dared. Sure, that would be the natural thing to say. But he can't tell from that if it's really true. The trainee could have heard that and it could still be wrong. She could be making it up. Or she could just have gone naturally to the worst spells, or what are widely considered the worst spells, without knowing if Robards really did use them or not.

"Can we talk to him?" Harry asks.

"I just told you that one glimpse was all I could give you," the trainee says, but she sounds like someone who wants to be persuaded.

"Maybe we can figure out what happened to make him turn to the Dark Arts," Harry says, sounding as if he's trying not to be eager and failing. Marcus restrains a huge smile. Who knew that Harry had such a talent for acting?

"Maybe you can," the trainee allows. "I'll go down the corridor and stand there and you had better not say anything, all right? At least, not very loudly." She gives them a wink that seems mostly aimed at Harry, and sighs a little when it doesn't make him move from Marcus's side. She flounces more than drifts down the corridor.

"Are we going to speak to him?" Marcus whispers.

"No, I want to cast a charm they taught me in Auror training," Harry says. "I'll aim it through the portal, and it should detect Polyjuice Potion in the bloodstream, if that's not him." He aims his wand and murmurs a sonorous stream of Latin that Marcus listens to in fascination. He'll have to get back at his husband later for holding out on him.

The spell lands straight and true, and Robards stiffens for a second as if he can sense it. Then he goes back to smiling and tapping his foot, apparently because the spell feels like nothing in particular.

Harry makes a soft, shocked sound, and Marcus immediately steps up to his side, hand resting on Harry's back. "What is it?" he murmurs.

"That's not a Polyjuiced imposter. It might still not be him, but…" Harry's fingers visibly whiten on his wand. "I can't figure out why he's so…complacent after being accused of using Dark Arts."

"He's the Head Auror. He probably won't get arrested or even detained beyond a few days, right?"

"Then why were they willing to put him in the holding cell at all?" Harry demands, not taking his eyes from the little peephole. "Who did this, and if they have serious accusations, why is he smiling? And how does it relate to you-know-what?"

Marcus thinks they could talk about it openly in the Ministry, since it's not like anyone would know what they were referring to, but he just nods. "Well, let's go home and conduct a few tests."

Harry's mouth tightens, and he nods back. Marcus is at least satisfied that Harry's distress is going down, since it means the body in their cellars has to be someone else.

Probably. Marcus hopes it is, since that would mean Robards isn't dead and he can have the pleasure of killing him for upsetting Harry.

"Hominem Revelio!"

Marcus snorts a little as the spell fails. "That's not really a spell that should work in this situation, is it?"

Harry rolls his eyes. "I did want to see if there was something human hiding inside the body, if it was a clay shell or something."

"Well, now we know it's not," Marcus says. They're standing in the middle of an old study that belonged to Marcus's father, where they transported the body (or, rather, let Reginald transport it after he stared at them with huge, teary eyes), and it's lying on a table to keep it from getting bits all over the floor. "We should try the obvious spell."

"You think there's an obvious spell, and you let me try all these other ones? Why?"

"It made you happy."

Harry looks as if he's wavering between being touched and furious, which Marcus honestly doesn't understand. A second later, Harry sighs and shakes his head. "Fine. What's the simple spell?"

Marcus draws his wand and aims it at the body. "Finite Incantatem."

Harry blinks as the body falls apart into the glittering pieces of a slab of Transfigured quartz. "Oh."

"Yeah." Marcus pokes one of the pieces thoughtfully. He hasn't seen quartz used in one of these Transfigurations before, and he doesn't know why it's broken. On the other hand, maybe Robards was desperate and grabbed the first thing he saw to make the Transfiguration happen. Or maybe he had someone do it for him who just wasn't skilled at this type of magic.


Wait. The quartz looks a little familiar.

Marcus bends down, picks up a piece, and flips it over to study the lines on it. Then he laughs aloud.

"What?" Harry comes up beside him, smiling at him.

"This is from a mantel in one of the far sitting rooms," Marcus says triumphantly. "One of my ancestors was pretentious about having everything in marble. Robards must have broken this, Transfigured it into the body, and left the body lying in the cellars on the day he visited the house. Only he reckoned without the fact that we barely use those cellars, so it took forever for it to be found at all."

"All right, but…" Harry trails off. "How could he think he would manage to get away with that when we saw him leave the house, and when he's sitting in a holding cell in the Ministry, not dead?"

"He probably thought that we'd raise the alarm with the Ministry right away," Marcus says with a shrug. He knows most people would do it that way. "Then we'd be in trouble for hurting the Head Auror, and I bet that person sitting in his cell isn't him after all. Robards is probably hiding somewhere, waiting for me to be arrested for murder."

"Not me?"

"I doubt he thought that was ever a possibility. And honestly, he probably knows the temper of the Ministry better than a lot of people."

Harry grimaces and nods. He remembers Robards's declaration of wanting to fuck him as well as Marcus does, maybe better. "And then, what? He reveals that he's alive, and you're released, and then what?"

"I doubt he'd reveal it," Marcus murmurs. "Not until I was in Azkaban, at least, and I'm sure lots of other things, Dark Arts things, would coincidentally come out in the trial. Then he might reveal himself to you, or even seduce you in some other persona, the poor heartbroken Boy-Who-Lived whose husband had turned out to be a horrible person after all."

Harry blinks. And blinks. Then he says, "That's twisted."

Marcus grins. "Hence why I could figure it out."

"But it's also why I hate it when you put yourself down," Harry continues, shaking his head with a faint frown. "You're so smart, to be able to figure this out, and it makes me feel like the slow one."

Marcus holds up his hands. "Fine. No one in this house is slow, no one here is stupid, and we're all agreed that we're geniuses in different areas. All right?"

Harry laughs, his face shining with delight, and Marcus thinks that he ought to praise both of them more often. He can give up calling himself stupid if it means Harry will look like that on a regular basis.

The knock on the door is expected, actually, especially since it happens when Harry is away from the house visiting his friends. Marcus opens the door and beams at the Aurors waiting there, which seems to confuse them.

"Gentlemen," he purrs. "Welcome to my humble home."

The Aurors exchange glances for a second, and then the one on the left ostentatiously clears his throat. "Marcus Flint, we have here an order of authorization from the Head Auror to examine your home."

"Isn't this the same Head Auror who's currently imprisoned for Dark Arts?" Marcus asks. It's fun to act the part of the big, dumb arse who's too stupid to figure out what's going on when he and Harry are the only ones who know it's acting.

"It doesn't matter if it is or not," begins one of the idiots.

The other one, who must be marginally smarter, nudges him sharply and snaps off a salute that Marcus knows is mocking. It doesn't matter, not when he's still enjoying himself so much. "It's the Acting Head Auror, sir. John Dawlish."

Marcus shrugs and steps back from the door. "Come in, then. What do you expect to find?"

This time, the smart one catches the stupid one by stepping on his foot before he can say anything. "Just a general inspection, sir," he says easily. "And we thought we'd start with the cellars."

Marcus conceals a snort, with difficulty. He doesn't know if this conspiracy started with the Aurors or the club of people that want to fuck Harry, but either way, they're not smart, not if he can see through their plots. "Of course."

That makes both of them blink. Apparently they expected more resistance. Hesitantly, they make their way down the stairs, with Marcus strolling behind them.

They duck in and out of the rooms, staring at the wine bottles and the boxes of odd Potions ingredients and the like that Marcus's ancestors collected. Marcus trails them, shaking his head a little at how displeased and dispirited they appear. Robards didn't prepare them well at all, did he?

Or maybe they just thought Marcus was so stupid, they didn't need any more complicated plot.

Pleased with himself for figuring that out, Marcus smiles when they go into the cellar with the pile of broken marble he and Harry put back and stare around especially earnestly. "Looking for something?" Marcus asks casually.

"What is this?" The stupid one gestures with his wand at the marble.

"We're saving up for a ballroom."

They stare at him. Marcus grins back and then looks around. There are a few more cellars they can look at, all empty. "Are you gentlemen done?"

"We'll be examining the Potions labs as well," the smarter one declares.

"If you like," Marcus says.

"They were furious?" Harry's holding a glass of wine and grinning at Marcus across the dining room table. It's one of Marcus's favorite poses to see him in, especially since they cut all the unnecessary leaves out of the table and moved the pieces that were left a reasonable distance closer together.

"Yeah. They obviously expected something. Suspected something." Marcus waves his hand, grinning at his own rhyme. "I don't know why they thought it would be so easy to catch us, but thank Merlin they did. Did you hear anything about the charges against Robards at the Ministry today?"

Harry snorts. "No. They're spreading around the rumors about Dark Arts, but also that Robards is perfectly respectable and it might only be rumors. I suppose Robards wants to keep his path open to have a way back in case this doesn't work out the way he planned."

Marcus nods. "And when he figures out there's no body to find?"

"I want revenge."

Marcus blinks a few times before an enormous warmth spreads through his chest. He reaches across the table to take Harry's hand. "Are you sure about that?" he murmurs. "I know we talked about Umbridge, and Shacklebolt, and all the rest who hurt you, and you didn't want me to do anything to them."

"This is different," Harry says harshly. "These are people going after you, after us, and not just people who hurt me before my marriage or had the wrong idea about how much they could control me." He takes a deep breathe. "Marcus, it made them furious to come here and leave with empty hands? It makes me furious to know they put you in danger."

"Not much danger," Marcus has to point out. "Not when anyone with three-quarters of a brain could see through their plans."

Harry blinks at him. "Three-quarters of a brain?"

"I do think I have more than half."

Harry squeezes his hand, hard, and sighs. "Yes, it doesn't matter that it's not much danger. The problem is that they put you in danger without a second thought, of being arrested and maybe even spending time in Azkaban, just because they think they know who I really am, when they don't have a single bloody idea."

Marcus raises Harry's hand to his lips and delicately kisses the back of it. He can't even name the emotion throbbing in his throat, because it's love but it's also deep and violent and the desire to spread Harry out on the table and fuck him until he screams, too. "What are we going to do?"

"Show them who I really am."

Harry strolls into the Ministry ahead of Marcus, supremely confident, a slight smirk on his face. Marcus follows, studying Harry's back and the set of his shoulders and trying to determine if he really feels this way or if this is a charade he's putting on to get the revenge he thinks Marcus needs.

But Marcus can read Harry pretty well by now, and he thinks it's real. And he also thinks he was the one who gave Harry that confidence, that ability to stand up to the world without worrying so much about what everybody thinks.

Harry marches into the middle of the Atrium, not drawing much attention. People who expect him to be the Boy-Who-Lived always think he's taller and wearing tailored robes and marching with his chest thrust out all the time Marcus hastried to persuade on the robes, admittedly, but Harry says they aren't as comfortable, and it's not like he wears tattered Muggle jumpers all the time anymore.

So they make it into the middle of the Atrium, by the statue, and Harry clears his throat loudly. People turn around a few at a time, and stare at him, their staring attracting more attention, so that by the time about two minutes have passed, nearly everyone is looking. Harry smiles at them and cants his head to the side.

He's so enchanting that Marcus has to glare threateningly at a few people, who are panting after Harry now that they're seeing him as if for the first time. This is Marcus's husband, and he's not above breaking fingers or elbows. Elbows, for preference. They hurt more.

"My name is Harry Potter," Harry says in a clear, carrying voice. He didn't use a Sonorus Charm. He didn't need to. "And I'm not at all the man you thought I was. For example, I see nothing wrong with the Dark Arts in moderation."

There's a gasping murmur that sweeps through the Atrium like a winter wind. Harry doesn't look at all bothered by it, although Marcus knows he would once have flinched from any attention like that. Now he only looks a bit weary, a bit impatient, a bit disgusted.

"In moderation," Harry repeats. "And of course it depends which ones, and how they're being used. But I'm not the image of heroism and perfection you always thought I was.

"Neither am I trying to save the world anymore. I'll do the kind of limited good that appeals to me. For example, I'm volunteering my time for the Reparations Department right now, helping Muggleborns whose property was seized by Voldemort's collaborators get back what they own."

"Volunteering?" someone blurts."Working without pay?"

"Yes, I'm wealthy enough that pay doesn't matter to me."

Marcus nods approvingly. Of course, if Harry wanted to earn all the gold in the world, Marcus would support him in that, but what matters to Harry more is having the independence to do as he likes. If Robards or someone similar tries to stick their tentacles in him because he's technically working for the Ministry, Harry can walk away without losing his job.

"Is your husband supporting you?" calls a tall woman in Auror robes.

"He supports every decision I make." Harry grins back at Marcus, and the murmur starts again, probably at the sight of how happy he seems. Marcus thinks some people would actually prefer it if Harry had trouble in his marriage that they could take advantage of.

"No, I mean monetarily!"

Harry laughs. "No, but why should he? We have a big place to live and huge gardens and enough money to be able to buy the food and clothing we want. What else do we need? What good would vaults full of gold do?"

Marcus can, in fact, think of good things that vaults full of gold would do, but they're not things Harry wants, so they don't matter. And as much as he's friends with Theodore, Marcus still questions his taste in agreeing to marry someone like Malfoy, for whom gold means everything.

There's uneasy stirring among the people in front of him, and finally someone asks, "Why are you telling us this?"

"Because there are people who think they can control me." Harry looks directly at the twit who asked, eyes shining with brilliance. "Either through money, through threats, or because they believe they can separate me from my husband and make me their tool." Harry's smile widens, brighter than his eyes. "I'm here to show them they can't, to tell them that their next move had better be to back off. Or else."

"Or else what?" the same twit from before asks. Or, well, given the tenor of his questions, Marcus is downgrading him to berk.

"Just or else," Harry says gently, and he turns and walks out of the Atrium.

Marcus catches up with him and slides an arm around his waist, dragging him back against his groin and letting Harry feel how hard he's been for five minutes now. Harry huffs a surprised laugh and leans briefly back on his own.

"You really like seeing me get angry?"

"I really like seeing you put idiots in their place." Marcus slides his mouth over Harry's cheek. "The bathroom next to that fireplace over there?"

Harry snorts. "All right."

And they have a satisfying sexual experience in the middle of the Ministry, too, although Harry has to maneuver a little to get Marcus's cock all the way in. Marcus comes because Harry's his husband and he loves him, and because Harry was angry, but also because of what everyone who just listened to Harry would think if they could see him now, his neck straining back as he cries out hoarsely and braces his hands against the walls of the cubicle.

But they can't see that. It's a sight just for Marcus, who's starting to seriously consider if he did something by accident that prevented the Dark Lord from rising to power earlier than Harry's fourth year or something, because otherwise the blessing seems almost too great.


Marcus peels his eyes open slowly, wincing and groaning to tell Harry how very not happy he is with being woken up at bloody-o'clock in the morning. Harry just prods him again, unimpressed. "When were you going to tell me you were keeping Robards in the dungeons?" he hisses into Marcus's ear.

"Oh." Marcus yawns. "He came by the house ranting and raving last night while you were visiting with Granger and Weasley. I Stunned him and locked him up."

"Yes, I can see that, but why didn't you tell me?"

"Fell asleep before you got back," Marcus explains.

Harry groans, then laughs, and collapses into bed beside him. He stretches out so that he's pressed against Marcus at every conceivable point, and Marcus turns hopefully towards him. Harry rolls his head and his eyes at the same time. "No, I don't think so. I'm a little angry at you for doing that. It's just going to drag us straight back into those Ministry politics that I wanted to walk away from."

"Not if we don't let him go."

Harry blinks at him. "What?"

"Either his imposter at the Ministry is going to be found out, and then he's missing and we had nothing to do with it, or he's not going to be found out and no one thinks Robards is missing in the first place," Marcus says simply. "Don't know what he's told his minions to do. But either way, not our problem."

"You're suggesting just keeping the Head Auror in your dungeons."

"Our dungeons. And yes, why not? Won't stop bothering us."

Harry laughs and laughs, which makes Marcus sigh, because now he's pretty much permanently woken up and the mood is gone. Harry drapes himself over Marcus, though, and that's nice. Marcus strokes his hair.

"We have to stop him somehow," Harry says finally. "Have to make him realize that I'm not going to fuck him and he has to leave us the fuck alone."

"Then I think you'll have to lead the charge. There's just no way to make him back down if he thinks I'm the one doing this. All sorts of—" Marcus yawns "—excuses will fill his head."

Harry snorts. "You're right. What do you suggest?"

"Leave him at least one day in the dungeons. Soften him up a little. Then make him think it was your idea."

Harry blinks and smiles slowly. "That gives me a real idea. You know what? I'm going to enjoy leaving him there for a day, and I'm going to enjoy what I do next."

Marcus drags him into an appreciative kiss. Every day that passes, he's more grateful to that piece of obsidian. He ought to frame that rock.

"Flint corrupted you," Robards says the minute he sees Harry. He presses insistently forwards against the bars, seizing them in both hands and then drawing back with a hiss. Marcus shakes his head. Even he would be smart enough not to grab those bars after the second time they stung him. "I know he did! You've come to demand my freedom and to say that we can be together after—"

"Do shut up, Gawain."

Robards does, eyes widening. Harry leans against the wall outside the cell, which is really just a small rough place in the rock that Marcus's ancestors once stored old family heirlooms in, and sighs heavily.

"You realize that there was never any chance I was going to choose or fuck you?" Harry asks. "That even if I hadn't married Marcus, I never would have married you?"

"It's all right, Harry," Robards says soothingly. "I can see what happened. He has you confused. You think that I'm your enemy and he's your friend, but what it really means is—"

"No, I don't think he's my friend. I think he's my husband, my lover, and the man I love."

Marcus sighs. He will just never get tired of Harry putting idiots in their place. He does wonder what Harry's position would be on doing it in a dungeon cell, but reckons they ought to get rid of Robards first.

"Harry, the Dark Arts—"

"You know whose idea it was to leave you down here an extra day to think about your sins?"

Robards smiles indulgently, which makes Marcus want to smash his face in for treating Harry like a condescending prick. "Tell me."


Marcus could have sworn that Robards would just have disregarded that and gone on trying to persuade Harry out of their marriage, but instead, the man swallows and stares. It might be the way Harry said it, even flatter than the way he talked in the Ministry Atrium or to Theodore after Marcus's accident. His chin is up and his teeth bared a little and he looks good enough to eat.

Marcus tries to direct his attention from his cock to Robards, but it's bloody difficult. Robards just isn't as important as Marcus's cock in any capacity.

"You—you couldn't have," Robards mumbles at last. "You're a good person."

Harry surges forwards, seizes Robards by the hair, and drags his face against the bars. Robards yelps and flails, and Harry lets him go with a contemptuous little shrug. Marcus smiles. The bars won't leave any visible mark, but the sting of them will linger in Robards's cheeks for several hours, and he'll remember that it was Harry who held him there.

Oh, yes, by the look on his face, he'll remember a lot of things he had a tendency to forget.

"I'm not a good person to people who keep stalking me and trying to frame my husband for murder," Harry says softly. "I'll never be yours, and you'll never be worthy of me." He shakes his head and turns away. "Marcus, do whatever you want with him."

Marcus blinks. "What about being against holding the Head Auror prisoner?"

"I really don't give a damn about him anymore. Why should I, with someone who's shown he won't give up trying to impose his will on me even when he is imprisoned for a day and apparently under accusations of Dark Arts use within the Ministry?"

"Wait, wait!" Robards gasps.

"Yes?" Harry drawls, turning around. He looks utterly magnificent, and Marcus has to adjust himself.

"I'll go away," Robards whispers. "I'll take up my place as Head Auror again and never mention what you said or what I did or what I planned to do. You can count on that."

The bitterness in his voice makes Marcus cock his head. "How can we trust you to keep your word?" he asks.

"Because Potter is right," Robards says, still more bitterly. "He's not a good person, not if he can suggest leaving me here and hurt me like he did. Not if he chose you." He looks at Marcus with loathing. "I don't know what I was thinking, what it says about me, to have chosen him in the first place. I suppose I let my eyes be blinded by the Boy-Who-Lived mystique and didn't see who he really was. Believe me, I'll keep quiet about this. I was a fool."

Harry catches Marcus's eye and smiles from an angle Robards can't see. Marcus holds back the urge to wink, and shrugs.

"I'm not as complex as my husband," he says. "Bother him again, and I'll break your bones."

"You have no need to worry about that," Robards says.

And, yes, Marcus believes him.

"Will you tell me why you only like to garden in short bursts?"

Harry sits slowly back from the flowers and glances at Marcus. There's a way he turns his head when he's on the verge of being upset about something serious, and Marcus blinks and pays attention to his face rather than his arse. Not that that's really a hardship, but the lines around Harry's mouth make him uneasy. He wants to do something to stop Harry from hurting, and he has the feeling he can't.

"It's my family," Harry says quietly. "I mean, the Muggles who raised me. The Dursleys. They made me do all the gardening, and…" He shrugs.

"For hours?" Marcus asks quietly.

"For hours."

Harry says it firmly enough that Marcus knows he won't say anything else, and that's okay with him. He can imagine enough to fill the gaps, and someday Harry will tell him in more detail. He might not want to talk about it, exactly, but they don't keep secrets from each other.

Marcus holds out his arms, and Harry comes over to stand within them. For long moments, they simply sit there, holding each other.

Then Marcus murmurs, "Garden sex?"

And Harry laughs, and that moment is over, with the promise of many better ones to come.

Even if Harry does say no to garden sex.

The End.