Disclaimer: See Chapter 1
A/N: My readers are AWESOME! I would like to thank you all for getting this story just about to the 2 Million view mark. I never thought I would have a story like that. If anyone would like to join me on Discord, go to my profile to get the invite for the Emerald Library.
May 4, 1997
Sirius stood by the bed. Harry was still sleeping after having been rushed to St. Mungo's. Amelia was across the hall and Dennis Pucey was down the hall, while his father was in the morgue. Bruises and slight marks from where Harry had been cut could still be seen. The damage to his shoulder had been extensive enough they had had to vanish a few bones and regrow them. His magic was strong, but not enough to allow the Healers to heal everything in one go with how much he used in the duel. As it was, it was probably a few more hours before the Skele-gro finished.
Daphne was curled up in the chair next to his bed, her eyes puffy and bloodshot. She hadn't slept all night, keeping a silent vigil over his godson, just like he was.
With the defeat of Pucey, the blood feud should be over, but Sirius wasn't going to take the chance of someone trying to assassinate Harry before he was awake enough to officially claim the House of Pucey and put the feud to paid.
The door knob rattled and he pulled his wand to hand. When the door opened, a green robed Healer came in. "What did I do to make your mum use a cleaning spell on my mouth?"
Andi raised an eyebrow at him. "Which time?"
Sirius gave a small smirk. "Fair enough. How is Amelia?"
"Getting better. The hole in her neck just missed the aorta, she still has a good concussion that I have stabilized but can't reduce the swelling until her neck and the collapsed lung have done some more healing, and the two dislocated ribs will be set later today. Everything else is just bruising or superficial cuts. She was lucky her vest absorbed most of that organ crushing curse. On the whole, she'll survive," Andi told him with a sigh before moving over to Harry.
Daphne let out a sigh. "Thank Merlin. He will want to know she will be okay when he wakes."
"I figured as much. Susan is going to go get some tea and breakfast in the shoppe. Why don't you go and then try to get some sleep? Harry won't be awake until this afternoon," Andi tried to coax the girl.
"I'm not leaving him until I know he is better," Daphne said with a certain petulance only a teen could pull off. Sirius smiled at her tone.
Andi nodded. Sirius suspected she was trying not to push Daphne. Harry had found a good girl.
Looking closer at his cousin, he could see how tired she was. He was pretty sure she had been here all night to keep an eye on both of them. His cousin took out her wand. Running it over Harry's body, he could see a small disk form above him. Runes and words he didn't recognize took up, many of them with numbers or Roman numerals.
"How is he?" Daphne asked, the concern apparent in her voice and on her features.
"He'll live, but will probably be sore for a few days. The bones are regrowing nicely. It will take a few more hours to get the proper density. After that, I can work on healing up the cuts and the holes in him. It will take a few days for his blood to fully replenish. Harry needs to stay until I give him a full bill of health. No duels or anything strenuous for at least a week after he leaves," Andi said pointedly to the girl.
Daphne gave a wan smile, reaching out to take Harry's bandaged left hand. "I'll make sure he is put in a bubble."
Andi gave Daphne a soft smile. "I would pay to see that."
Daphne sniffed. "I can be rather persuasive."
Sirius snorted. "I bet." The glare she gave him had him laughing. He had little doubt she would put Harry in a bubble if she put her will to it...
"Don't rile her up, Siri," Andi admonished him.
"As the Healer orders," he cheekily replied.
The older woman rolled her eyes. "You should check in on Susan too. The Abbotts will be back again later to check in on her, but she's very worried about Harry and Amelia."
Sirius rubbed his face. "I'll go check on her and take her to the cafeteria in a few."
His cousin nodded. "Tell me this is over, Sirius. It was a near thing for Amelia. If the duel had gone much longer she might have bled out. Harry was lucky to win. Mr Pucey is still just hanging on. That last spear destroyed his arm and a few ribs. Harry didn't use anything dark, but the power he put into that transfiguration just about ripped it off. It had to be removed."
"He deserved it. The ashwinders should have bit him too," Daphne venomously snapped.
Sirius raised an eyebrow at her. "Yes, well, they did get the last say with Lord Pucey."
Daphne huffed. "He got what he deserved. He was going to kill Harry." Leaning over, she brushed Harry's longer bangs out of his eyes.
"Pup needs a haircut," Sirius said.
"It's not as wild as it was," Daphne told him.
"He's finally learning to really control his power," Andi said.
"He does have some power, doesn't he. Daphne, if you aren't going to eat, try to get some sleep. I'll keep an eye on him," Sirius said in a kind tone.
Tears looked to be welling in her eyes again. "What if something happens?" she asked in a quiet voice.
"I assure you that he will be safe here," Andi assured the girl.
Daphne let out a long breath. "You won't let anything happen to him?" She was looking at Harry the way Erica did when he laid next to her at night. Sirius felt the pull on his heart. This was the life and love Harry should have known his whole life.
"I promise," Sirius said, an echo of the one he made almost seventeen years ago in the promise.
Daphne nodded before leaning over and putting her head on Harry's pillow. They watched as she slowly drifted to sleep.
Andi touched his arm. "You are going to make a good father, Siri."
Siri gave a sad smile. "I should have been one years ago. I was stupid that night, even with Dumbledore's magic and potions."
"You've made it up, and still have time to do more. Go and take Susan to get some breakfast. I'll stay with them for a while," she told him.
Sirius moved to the bedside to brush the hair that had fallen over Harry's eyes again.
"I love you. You promised you wouldn't leave me," Daphne whispered, not noticing him or Andi.
There was no way he would let Harry, Daphne or his unborn child down again.
May 8, 1997
Harry had been out of Hogwarts all week. Andi had declared him healthy enough to leave, but he refused until Auntie Ami was. He stayed with Susan once he was allowed to get out of bed. Daphne stayed with them, and Sirius was around as much as he could be. Both the Greengrasses and Sirius offered for them to stay at their places. Harry and Susan chose to stay with Sirius, not wanting to be alone. Daphne stayed over one night, sleeping with Susan. Erica refused to let Daphne stay the same night in a room with Harry until they were married.
Auntie was finally able to go home on Friday.
"I am alright, Susie," Auntie Ami said in an exasperated tone as Susan made sure the woman was feeling well enough after the Floo travel.
Susan flushed some. "I'm sorry, auntie," she said contritely.
"It's alright, Susie. I understand," auntie said, giving her a hug.
"I was just so worried," she said.
"I know. Harry and I are better now," she told his cousin.
Harry put a hand on Susan's shoulder. "I kind of made a promise she would be alright."
It was mid-afternoon when Harry made his way into auntie's office. Amelia was at her desk with a piles of paper over it. "You take a weeklong vacation and you never catch up," she said to him as she scratched away on a parchment.
Harry didn't say anything as he sat in one of the leather chairs before her desk.
It took her another moment to finish before she spread some sand over it before brushing it back into the container the sand had come from. He watched her very purposely put the letter onto the smallest pile on her desk. Once there, she shifted to fold her hands under her chin. Her eyes met his and she just looked at him for a few minutes.
"I think I am getting to know you well enough to know that something is bothering you," she started.
Harry had been silently chewing on this all week. "I killed someone else," Harry told her. "I maimed another."
Auntie nodded slowly. "Those are possible outcomes of a duel."
Harry rolled his shoulder. It felt so tight, and his arm didn't seem to have the same range of motion it had before. Andi said it might take a few weeks because of the amount of healing they had to do on his shoulder to come back to full use.
"Does your shoulder bother you?" she asked with concern.
"It's tight," he replied. "Auntie Ami, am I supposed to feel guilty?"
There was a long silence. "Do you?"
"No," Harry said in a small voice. It scared him. It scared him just like it had after Voldemort had died. He didn't feel bad.
"When I was trained to be an Auror, and then a Hit Wizard, we were taught to think of it as just a job. Use your wand, hands or a blade as tools that had the power to restrain, incapacitate and even kill. It was desirable in that order. I did everything I could to keep to that mandate. Sometimes, though, taking someone in alive is not an option. When you are facing death yourself, you need to decide whether it comes down to you or the other wizard who will go home to their loved ones," she told him.
Harry looked down, his hand moving to feel the tip of his wand and knife just inside his sleeve.
"Twenty-three," she told him.
Harry looked up. "Twenty-three?" he asked when it was apparent she wasn't going to elaborate.
"I have killed, Harry. Twenty-three people in the twenty-two years I was an Auror or Hit Wizard. I remember each and every face, their name and what they did. Do I feel guilty?" she put to him.
"Only about two of them. Samantha Cartwright, a witch charged with killing her father, refused to be taken in. She thought she was going to die. She killed my partner and I admit it I lost it that night. Only later did we find out she had been abused. Abuse worse than you suffered. I regret my partner and I rushing in as we were trained, instead of trying to talk with her," Auntie told him.
Harry could hear the pain in her voice. He was starting to get an inkling of what she was getting at.
"After that, I transferred to the Hit Wizards so it would only be me. An arrest warrant came in from the ICW. I tracked the suspect down. It took two weeks, but I found him. No one told me it was a kid. Gustaf Hernandez. He was only fifteen. His family had been smuggled into England by the Death Eaters. The ICW thought they were hunting down his father, who had made some enchanted amulets that had been used in Death Eater raids. He didn't even speak English. I came in. He got a jump on me. I think he thought I was a Death Eater. He just kept yelling 'La muerte negra'. The Black Death. My training had me taking out my knife when he knocked my wand away. I buried it in his chest before I could stop. Of course by then I was a little out of it, having been hit in the head a few times and suffered a few stab wounds from a piece of glass, but Gustaf Hernandez died by my hand."
Harry could see that she was rocked by this.
"I'm sorry, Auntie," Harry said.
"Thank you, Harry. I'm not looking for your sympathy though. My point is, I feel guilty because they were relatively innocent or just caught up in a bad situation, I should have been more aware of what I was doing. Except for Quirrell, I think you were very conscious of what you were doing. Do you think you should feel guilty because they were innocent?"
Harry thought of that for a moment. "They weren't innocent, though," Harry replied.
Auntie shook her head. "No, they were not. You did what you had to in situations that meant either your life or the other wizard's. Do you feel guilty about that?"
Harry shifted in his seat. "No. Does that make me a bad person?"
"I say it makes you human. Would you just kill someone because you could?"
He met her eyes with a fierce determination. "Never."
"Anytime you killed someone, were you fighting for your life?"
Harry let out a deep sigh. "I was."
She nodded. "Were any of them innocent of the crimes thought to be committed by them?"
"Lord Pucey was a former Hit Wizard," he said.
"He was also trying to kill you and was the one who called the blood feud, claiming that House Potter had wronged him. Do you feel that you should have done anything different?" she asked.
"I could have used something like a boa constrictor," Harry told her.
She nodded. "You could have, but they can be just as deadly as an ashwinder. They also would have been easier to see."
Harry frowned. "I still killed him. I don't want to kill anyone. Why don't I feel guiltier or something?"
She took a moment to answer. "What do you think he would have done with Daphne or Astoria if he had won? What would have happened to Susan? Or Dani or Terry?"
Harry pursed his lips. "Neville had agreed to allow them sanctuary," Harry told her.
She let out a sigh. "Harry, you know as well as I that if Pucey had taken the House of Potter or Greengrass, he would have exercised his rights, including marriage contracts and Lord rights over conquered houses. It was clearly defined as the spoils. Knowing that, is that why you used ashwinders instead of bao constrictors?"
Harry knew that was exactly where his mind had been. It was also why he didn't feel as guilty as he thought he should about it all. "I'm a killer, though."
She nodded after a moment. "No more than I am. Do you think less of me?"
"No," he said rather quickly. He really didn't. He couldn't about the woman that had given him a home. She had done what she needed to in the situation.
"I don't think any less of you. I rather think you a good man. You protected your family. You were not the original aggressor in this mess, but you did everything honourably and did the best in the situation. I would be worried if this didn't disturb you some, but you aren't a murderer, Harry, if that is what you are worried about," she told him.
They sat for a few minutes, each lost in their own thoughts.
"What else is on your mind?"
"Anders wants to claim the House of Pucey," Harry told her. Harry had been the victor, but the feud was against both their houses so Anders could claim rights during the end of the feud.
"You don't want to claim the House yourself?" she questioned. Harry knew she knew his feelings on this.
"I want to see it all burn," Harry told her. This was part of why he was a little disturbed that he wasn't as bothered about Lord Pucey. He wouldn't deny that he had had a nightmare or two, but it wasn't any worse than the ones he still got about Quirrell or Voldemort at times.
She nodded. "I figured. Is he looking to have you and Daphne take up the House?"
"I refuse to renegotiate the betrothal," Harry told her.
"Then what does he want?" she asked.
"I don't know, but I have a feeling Astoria is going to be involved," Harry told her.
Auntie pursed her lips.
May 9, 1997
Harry was getting too used to these meetings.
Harry sat in a chair in the middle of Headmistress McGonagall's desk. To his left was Auntie Ami and Ted. To the other side of the Headmistress's desk was Adrian and Malcolm Pucey. Malcolm's older brother, Peter, was still in St. Mungo's, no one could find his other brother and their mother had died a few years ago.
With their father dead and the older brother out of commission, it fell on the shoulders of the boys cousin, the twenty-year-old Adrian Pucey, to represent his house. Adrian was a Slytherin that Harry had not had any issues with. What worried Harry was that there was another brother of Malcolm's that was not here, and they didn't have a solicitor.
"Where is your solicitor?" Ted asked.
"We have none. With all of the funds available to my cousin frozen, I was not able to secure any representation," Adrian Pucey told them.
"There really should be someone here to represent the youngest, he is under age," Auntie Ami said.
Ted frowned. "Maybe a professor would be willing to sit in?"
"I will be willing to review any legal documents with the Pucey's, if you want," McGonagall offered.
"Is this acceptable?" Ted asked to the boys.
When the Pucey's agreed, Ted took out the legal documents. "House Potter has claimed temporary regency over House Pucey, which includes the guardianship of Malcolm Pucey until he is of-age," Ted said, passing the proper paperwork to McGonagall.
Malcolm paled. "I thought I was going to live with Peter?"
"Peter and Gerald have declined to take over guardianship," Ted said.
"I told you this," Adrian said to his cousin.
"But... but," Malcolm said, a look of fear came over him to see the look that Harry was giving him. After swallowing, he asked, "Peter is my brother. What is going to happen to me?"
Harry spoke up, "I am going to ask for your permanent suspension from Hogwarts, then..."
Malcolm shot to his feet. "You can't do that! For Merlin's sake! The whole thing is over a stupid mudblood! You killed my father over all this!"
"Sit down!" Harry demanded with a steely edge to his voice. "It was you and your father that started all this."
"I think that enough, Mr Pucey. One more outburst like that and you will be expelled. Mr Potter, may I ask why you are asking for a suspension?" McGonagall tried to interject.
"The House of Potter fears for one of its heirs. The unprovoked attack that significantly hurt Heiress Peverell, and her friends, was instigated by Mr Pucey. He and his family have made threats against mine. I would not have him at this school. There is a petition for a permanent suspension. The House of Potter will not supply any tuition or funds for Malcolm Pucey to keep attending Hogwarts," Harry said.
"What is to happen to Malcolm then?" Adrian asked, sounding concerned for his cousin.
"I really don't care. If his grades are good enough, I am sure Durmstrang, or another school will take him. I just want him out of here and away from my family," Harry said coolly.
"Mr Potter, surely you can't mean to just throw him out?" McGonagall asked. "I could support a suspension for the rest of the year, but a permanent suspension?"
"It is in that paperwork. If Malcolm Pucey and his representative accept, he is to have a permanent ban from Hogwarts. I am not going after his trust vault. There is enough in there for him to go somewhere else and then have a few years to get on his feet. Either way, I want him out of Hogwarts today, " Harry told them.
There was a heavy silence. "You support this, Amelia?" McGonagall asked.
"I do. If Malcom Pucey had done what he did outside of Hogwarts, he would have been brought to the DMLE and I assure you he would have been convicted. If a student is convicted, what would happen to them?" Auntie asked.
"They would be expelled, and their wand snapped if they had not gotten their OWL's yet," McGonagall said, looking at the parchments.
"My wand? My father! All over some mudblood?"
"STOP CALLING DANI THAT!" Harry bellowed, any sympathy he had been feeling for the boy gone. His magic flared at the arrogant ponce. "Malcolm Pucey, the House of Potter is your guardian. If you keep using that language, I shall impose a penalty every time. Do you want to try my patience?"
The deadly tone to his voice had both Pucey's back away from him.
"Be grateful I only want you suspended. Most other schools will still take you. I could have you expelled and then no other serious magical school would let you within miles of their walls. He will be gone today, or I will make it so he never comes back," Harry threatened. It bothered him a little at his anger. He really didn't want to kill anyone again, but there was a tiny part of him that thought it might be too easy and he didn't want to go down that dark path.
McGonagall regarded him. She looked at the paperwork. Malcolm had gone white at the anger and power that had just been directed towards him. Adrian looked just as scared. After a few, the headmistress sighed. "There is nothing untoward in this. If you choose to sign this, I will honour the terms to give Mr Pucey a permanent suspension. He will have to be off the grounds before midnight tonight. Should he cause any issues while still on the grounds, the Aurors will respond. Do you accept this?" she asked, passing the parchments to the boys.
Malcolm was shaking. "Adrian, I can't leave."
Adrian took up the papers. "Do you have a choice? If you get expelled, most other schools won't touch you once they find out why. I told you how stupid you were. I warned you not to mess with Potter and Greengrass, but you, my uncle and others were all to stupid and blind to see it. Scion Potter-Greengrass, if I accept this for my cousin, what will happen to my family? I have a sister that will be starting next year."
"I don't really care. If she leaves us alone, we'll leave her alone. I am going to bankrupt your entire house. I won't touch any trust vaults beyond leaving enough for schooling and a few years to live afterwards, but the Pucey's will never be a Wizengamot House again and they will never threaten my family again," Harry told the boy with a hard face.
"Adrian, you can't let this happen. All my friends. Who will take me in? I can't leave Britain," Malcolm said.
Adrian gave his cousin a nasty look. "Shut up you spoiled little brat. This is all because of you. Can I have a quill?"
An upset McGonagall passed a quill to the boy. Adrian wetted it and sighed. "Sign," Adrian ordered.
Malcolm looked to his cousin, then Harry, then McGonagall. Harry was sure the boy was not really stable at the moment because of his father. He found when it came to protecting his family, he didn't care. After a loathing look to Harry, which turned to fright when he met Harry's blazing green eyes, Malcolm took the quill and parchment.
When they left, McGonagall turned to him. "Was that really necessary? You found ways to forgive the others."
Harry looked to the woman. Auntie answered first. "Pansy Parkinson had never done direct harm to Harry or anyone he cares for. He gave her a way to seek redemption, and from what I understand, she has become a good student and doesn't bother anyone. Mr Frost was decided upon by Lord Black. If Harry and I had had our choice, we would have done the same thing. That can still happen if Mr Frost doesn't keep his nose clean. As for Mr Pucey, he has made multiple threats, including threatening to kill Heiress Peverell just the other night. I know this was reported, but there is a clear danger that must be removed."
Harry nodded, agreeing with auntie.
After a moment, McGonagall sighed. "I don't agree, but I can understand. I will get the suspension notice drafted and let you know when Misters Pucey leave the castle."
"Thank you, headmistress," Harry replied.
June 21, 1997
Harry was hoping this wouldn't become something he did again. He stood at the podium facing the Wizengamot. Anders was standing next to him. "House Potter and House Greengrass are declaring the feud with the now defunct House Frost and House Pucey to be completed. Enough blood has been spilt. As spoils of the duel on May fourth, nineteen-ninety-seven, House Potter is claiming regency over House Pucey, as well as all properties, heirlooms and moneys. As requested by Lord Greengrass, the House of Potter will pass regency to the House of Greengrass, who will hold the Lordship and claims of the house in propriety until a new Scion or Lord is appointed. House Potter has taken its spoils and declares all current Scions or Heirs to be disbarred from taking up the Lordship in the future," Harry said to a mostly silent hall.
With the loss of the Houses of Frost and Pucey, the last of the backbone of the Blood Purists was broken. Others could take up the mantle, but part of the reparations were to break the alliances around those two houses, which cost some quite a bit. Those that would have protested this outcome were quiet. They knew the way things were blowing, and they didn't want to risk losing any more.
Anders spoke next. "House Greengrass gladly takes up the mantle of regency. House Greengrass declares all those currently in-line for the house are forever barred from taking up the name as Lord again. This title shall pass to one of my daughters, or hopefully, to a new child, as my wife and I have just recently learned she is expecting again."
Harry blinked. There had been some hard arguments about the Greengrasses taking up the name. Neither Astoria or Daphne wanted to carry on the name of Pucey, but if Iliana was pregnant, then on the birth of a child the House won through contest could be transferred to the new heir. More importantly, the name of the original house could be absorbed into the new family, meaning that the House of Greengrass could continue. It would also have the blood line traits of both Houses. The Puceys were excellent duellers and battlemages. The only caveat would be that it would be a cadet line to the Greengrasses as the primary line was already given to Daphne and him.
There was applause at the announcement. Many could tell what Anders' plan was and seemed to approve.
Harry managed not to roll his eyes.
He left the podium to join auntie. He looked over to Daphne, who had joined her father. She was seventeen and could as the recognized heir of their house. She gave him an approving nod when he went to sit back down. Sirius, a few seats away, did the same. Hermione was sitting just behind Daphne with Lady Zabini. She gave him a small smile.
The blood feud should be over now. Malcolm Pucey had been shipped off to Norway. From what Harry understood, Adrian's family and Malcolm's other brother had followed him. Dennis had lost his arm, making him have to give up his Hit Wizard status, instead taking up a desk job in Sweden. As far as Harry knew, there were no Pucey's left in the country. Two other Wizengamot houses that had been allied with them had fled too.
After sitting, he let out a sigh. Auntie leaned over as the Chief Warlock called for the next business. "You did good. I'm proud of you."
He gave a small smile before taking on the mask he was supposed to have. "Thank you."
When they got home, Harry was happy to loosen his robes around his neck. "I can breathe again," he muttered.
Susan smirked. "I think that is how they get you to sit so straight for hours."
He snorted. "You're probably right."
"Why don't you two go get ready for dinner," Auntie Ami said.
"Sure," Harry replied. He was happy he decided to stay here for now. He was still feeling a little shaken that she had almost died a month-and-a-half ago. Harry had lost so many people that he couldn't stand the thought of losing the only person that had ever truly been a parent to him. He was getting close to seventeen but had realized he would always need his auntie.
Susan took his arm as they went up the stairs. Harry looked to her. "What's up, Susie?"
"I wanted to say I'm glad you're staying for the summer," she told him.
"I am too," he replied. "I don't think that's it though, is it?"
The redhead gave him a smile. "Not really. I know it's a way off, but I was wondering if you wouldn't mind going away for our birthdays?"
Harry raised an eyebrow. "What are you thinking?"
"Dean mentioned his mum was going to take him to Greece for two weeks and I'm invited. I wanted to go and thought it would be fun for all of us," she told him.
Harry smiled. He had never been out of country like that before. Though, he was wondering if there was something else. Seeing the expected look in her face, he tentatively asked, "You want me to convince auntie to go?"
She gave him a huge smile. "I'm glad you suggested it."
Harry laughed. "You hang out with Daph and Tracey too much."
"Well, if they can learn to be loyal to all of us, I can learn to be sly," she told him with a cheeky grin.
"Fine, but you are telling her it's because you want to shag Dean on some Greek beach," he shot back.
Her mouth dropped open and her face went red. "I... you... HARRY POTTER!"
Harry laughed at her. "You can't tell me you don't."
After a moment, she shook her head. "Fine. I'm not telling her that though."
He gave a disappointed sigh. "Fine."
She squeezed his arm before skipping away. He was about to go into his room when she stopped at her door. "Oh, Dean says a girl can go topless. Not that Daphne would do that... right?"
Harry stared at her, the image of Daphne topless and tanned flitting across his imagination...
Susan giggled at the look on his face. "Let's not mention Dean and I shagging, or I'll find a way for you not to go."
"I'm surrounded by minxes," he grumpily said to himself as he entered his room. Images of Daphne in a bikini, like last summer, or without, just wouldn't get out of his head for the rest of the night.
July 4, 1997
The friends were all enjoying the picnic on the lawns of Longmarche. Neville had invited them all over to just have a nice day. It had been too busy lately. His seventeenth birthday was fast approaching and they would be in their last year of Hogwarts soon. The last few years, Susan, Harry and Neville had spent their birthdays together and he was feeling a little disappointed that they wouldn't this year. The Bones, Greengrasses and Thomas's were all going to Greece for two weeks at the end of July.
Tracey was off on a blanket a dozen feet away talking with Hermione, Daphne, Luna, Susan and Hannah. They were all laughing about something.
"You think they are talking about us?" Theo asked. Neville didn't miss the boy looking to the blonde Hannah. He suspected they were on to each other, if not already seeing each other by the way she gave him a winning smile when she noticed him looking.
"Most likely," Dean replied, then suggested, "We could always talk about them."
Blaise chuckled. "You mean how Theo and Hannah are snogging?"
Most suddenly looked to Theo, who had a goofy grin. "Oh, it was more than snogging."
Blaise gave his best friend a sly look. "I know. She left her bra at my house last weekend."
Harry and Dean laughed at Theo's face. "And you didn't tell me!" Theo incredulously replied.
"I was the gentleman and gave it to Hermione to give it back to her," Blaise replied.
"I bet that went over well," Harry teased.
"Two galleons she blew up at him," Neville said.
"Three she hit him before he could explain," Harry added.
"Five that she gave him the cold shoulder," Theo put in.
"I only have a few sickles on me," Dean said, looking put out.
"I'll take it all," Blaise told them smugly.
They all laughed. "You would," Theo said. The girls all gave them looks at the way they laughed. "So, what did she do?"
Blaise gave them all a cheeky grin. "Let's just say I got something to add to my collection."
They all looked at him surprised for a moment before Harry laughed. "What have you done with my best friend?"
"Let's just say she's not as restrained as most think. Pay up, gents," Blaise told them.
Neville fished out his coin pouch, adding to the pile that Harry and Theo already made. Dean looked at Blaise expectant face. "I didn't make any bet."
Blaise snapped his fingers. "I had to try."
They all laughed again. Neville liked their carefree days. No studying. No practicing. No Wizengamot. No feuds. It was just his friends enjoying time with each other.
"So, how did it go with the goblins the other day," Blaise asked to Harry.
Harry looked up curiously. "Who said anything about goblins?"
"Hermione and I were at Fortescue's when you went into Gringotts with Madam Bones and Lord Black," he said. "You didn't come out for a while. We were leaving Flourish and Blotts."
"You actually got her out of there?" Theo asked in a disbelieving tone.
Harry chuckled. "He must have dragged her out."
"There may have been some cajoling," Blaise admitted. "It was only an hour though."
They all sniggered at Blaise. "She must really love you to leave her books," Harry teased.
Blaise looked a little smug. "I have my methods."
Dean gave a knowing wink. "They say it's the uptight ones that are always a little wild in bed."
Most of them chuckled. Neville was not disappointed at all in the way Tracey and him got along.
"And they say redheads are wild no matter what," Theo responded.
Harry got up. "Right, if you are going to talk about my best friend and my cousin that way, I'm out of here."
Neville got up to join him. "I'm with you," he said. What Tracey and him did were between her and him... well, and Harry every once in a while. Neville was pretty sure that Harry only ever talked about Daphne that way with him too. He suspected it was something about maturity as Dean made a crude comment about Susan and him.
"I hope the girls don't overhear that," Neville said lowly.
Harry chuckled. "I get in enough trouble to not be involved in that."
Neville chuckled back. "Yeah."
They walked down the lawn to where a lawn bowl had been set up. Of course, this was the wizarding version, and thus played more like gobstones. At least these only shot out ice cold water, not the stinky, sticky sap of gobstones.
"Up for a game?" Harry asked.
"I'll be red," Neville told him.
"Sure. I'll take the green ones." Harry reached into the box, taking the four of his. Neville did the same. Harry threw out the white marker, then the red and blue penalty stones. Unlike regular lawn bowl, if you hit or got within a meter of the penalty balls, the ice water would shoot out at you from your own balls.
The three balls landed in a way that there was a narrow channel to get the balls to the marker ball. "You did that on purpose," Neville said, dropping three balls at his feet.
Harry gave a cheeky grin. "Where's the fun if it's not a challenge?"
"Mental. You know that, right? Completely mental," Neville told him.
Harry shrugged. "Never tried to deny it."
Neville laughed. He went first, just missing the penalty balls and getting close enough to the marker to not get sprayed.
"Nice bowl," Harry said, aiming his.
"I've gotten better," Neville replied.
They played a round, each getting sprayed once. On the warm day, it felt nice. When they were resetting, Neville asked, "So, how did it go with the goblins?"
Harry huffed. "Croaker is still being an arse. I'm getting closer, but something is missing. Are you sure you don't have any journals or books that I haven't looked through?"
Neville shrugged. "Not sure. There is stuff in the family vaults I can't get at until I'm seventeen. If it's family magic, I don't know if you can see it."
Harry nodded. "I know. My Latin and Futhark is getting good enough I can now read most of the stuff in my library without having to translate it. The more I get into it, the more the meaning changes at times as I understand it better."
Neville nodded this time. "What does my uncle want this time?"
"The same. Hermione. My library. My bloodline. Daphne's bloodline. He mentioned wanting to get back into the Longbottom vaults. I don't know, but it sounded like your gran cut him off," Harry told him.
"Yeah. Gran wasn't happy with him last summer when she found out what he was asking for. She's taken him off the ward list too. Let me tell you he threw a fit when he was bounced off the wards and we had to meet him at the end of the drive. To have a Longbottom rejected by a Finch had him really upset," Neville told him. This time he threw the marker and penalty balls.
"I bet. Auntie Ami and him were supposedly long-time friends, but she's only talking to him through official channels now," Harry said. They were quiet for a few as they took their first bowls. Harry cursed as Neville's second ball knocked one of Harry's away and into a penalty ball. Neville smirked. Harry whipped his face of the water before saying, "Neville, I feel like Croaker is hiding something. He doesn't want us to get in. I know what my and the Greengrass ancestors have written about Camelot, but I feel like I'm missing something."
"Like what?" Neville asked before trying to sidestep as Harry hit his ball into the other penalty ball. The spray of ice cold water followed him, causing him to cry out in shock as his arse was suddenly frozen. Harry laughed at him.
"Are you boys going to keep playing or invite us too?" Tracey called down. They looked up to see Daphne, Susan, Luna, Blaise and Dean walking down. The rest were still up on the blankets talking.
"I'm thinking of getting my swim trousers. My clothes are getting a little wet," Harry said, pulling his wet shirt off his chest. Neville saw Daphne looking at her betrothed as the shirt peeled off his fit body.
Luna had a dreamy smile on her face. "Why get your swimming suit when nature already gave us one?"
Neville went a little red as the girl went to reach for the hem of her shirt. Tracey was quick though. "Luna, love, not here. Poor Matron Longbottom wouldn't know what to do to see us all in our all."
Luna seemed to think about this for a moment before nodding. "You're right. Good thing I remember to wear all my underclothes today."
"Luna!" Daphne cried out before they could stop her from pulling her shirt off this time.
Harry was laughing nervously as they turned away. The slight blonde had grown some since she had first hung out with them, now growing into a body most boys would like. She was actually really nice looking under her shirt. Neville caught sight of some lacy thing before he had turned. Harry gave him an amused look. "I'm glad you got us all together today."
"I am too," Neville replied with an abashed smile.
"Do I have to keep my shirt on? I don't like wet clothes sticking to my body," Luna pouted.
Neville could see the amused smirk on Tracey's face, even if he wasn't looking at her. "Yes, Luna. Unless you want a bathing costume."
"Oh, fine," the girl huffed.
"We'll be back in just a bit," Daphne told them.
Once the girls had left, Blaise and Dean joined them. "Bloody hell, did you know she was hiding that below her clothes?" Dean asked.
Blaise shrugged. "She's cute, but I'll take Hermione any day of the week."
"I bet you do," Dean said. Apparently, they were still on this kick.
Harry turned. "I don't want to hear that. La. La. La," he said, putting his fingers into his ears.
They all laughed at him.