Disclaimer: The Harry Potter universe belongs to JK Rowling, Scholastic, Bloomsbury, Warner Bros and some other high falutin' companies. Me, I'm just a PR professional. I don't profess to own - and would never dream of making any money off JKR's wonderful world. However, its her sandbox and she's left the gate unlatched so we can go in and play a bit. Which, I've done.
Chapter Eighty Six - Heading to NEWTs
During the summer break, both Harry and Daphne gave a lot of thought to their career choices. Thinking of importing muggle devices made to work in wizarding homes, Daphne decided on a career as an Enchantress with further study in business. That would require her to continue her studies in Arithmancy and Ancient Runes, and take up the Business sixth and seventh year elective. She was dropping Astronomy, Herbology, and History of Magic; and keeping Potions, Charms, DADA and Transfiguration.
Harry decided to do similar but, finally, re-dropped Muggle Studies, even if it had become more interesting.
"No more late nights in the Astronomy tower, love," he grinned at her.
"No," she replied. "Another night of snuggling with my honey, instead."
They both knew they had done more than well enough on their OWLs, so submitted their applications for the classes they wanted to take as soon as they received the applications.
Their results arrived on Saturday, 13th of July.
They sat opposite one another at the informal dining table. Each holding the thick envelope in their hands.
"You first, sweetheart?" he asked.
Daphne looked at him a moment or two before finally slitting the seal with her wand, and opening the envelope. She withdrew the sheet to look.
Both sitting in silence, Daphne held her results in her hand. Slowly, she looked up at Harry with a wide beaming smile.
"Well?" he asked. "I know you did well. The question is, just how well?"
She smiled and said, "Not until you open yours," and indicated the envelope he held in his hands.
Harry sighed and used his wand to break the seal.
He withdrew the sheet of parchment from within and read it.
Ordinary Wizarding Level Results
Exceeds Expectations (E)
Harry James Potter has achieved:
Ancient Runes O+
DADA O++ (1st)
History of Magic O+
Muggle Studies O
18/20 possible OWLS. 1 bonus OWL - 1st Europe.
He handed his to Daphne as she handed hers to him.
Ordinary Wizarding Level Results
Exceeds Expectations (E)
Daphne Ophelia Potter has achieved:
Ancient Runes O+
History of Magic O+
17/18 possible OWLS
"Daphne!" said Harry, pleased for her. "You're brilliant! Straight double-Os, except for Astronomy. That's brilliant!"
"Hah!" she said. "You got the same for the same subjects. Plus, you took up Muggle Studies and earned an OWL in that, and picked up a bonus for being top in our year for DADA."
"Well, with these scores, it looks like you're on your way, my dear Enchantress," Harry smiled. "Now we just need to await confirmation of our classes and purchase our books."
"What now, though?" she asked. "Shall we go visit the others and see how well they did?"
"A most superb plan, my dear?" replied Harry. "Lets!"
The entire group did well. Of course, they'd have to wait another year to hear how well Luna would do for her OWLs, but everyone was on their way towards their chosen careers.
Tracey wanted to take the path of a healer; so would be apprenticing under Madam Pomfrey for her next two years, before moving to Saint Mungo's to complete her studies. She was taking Arithmancy, DADA, Charms, Herbology, Potions, Transfiguration and the Healing pre-apprenticeship.
Neville, who had been assisting Professor Sprout, was moving towards his apprenticeship under her for a Mastery in Herbology. He was taking Ancient Runes, Charms, DADA, Herbology, Potions, Transfiguration, and the pre-apprenticeship for Herbology. He'd also be undertaking a few teaching duties.
Hannah still didn't know what she wanted to do; but knew it would involve running a business of some fashion. She'd also be happy helping Neville. She was taking Arithmancy, Business, Charms, DADA, Herbology, Potions and Transfiguration.
Susan was looking for a Ministry role, somewhere. She was taking Ancient Runes, Business, Charms, DADA, Herbology, Potions and Transfiguration.
Hermione was looking to go into Magical Research. She'd go into the Ministry, if necessary, but was more interested in the private sector. She also pulled off the top student spot just because she picked up more OWLs than Harry did. But, she also admitted it was because she took more classes. She was taking Ancient Runes, Arithmancy, Astronomy, DADA, Charms, Potions and Transfiguration.
Blaise was going into business with his mother, a renowned Potions Mistress in Europe. For now, though, he was intending to complete his NEWTs and see what happened from there.
Eddie Carmichael was looking towards the aurors, while Justin Finch-Fletchley was going to complete his Hogwarts education before moving to undertake his muggle education. His family owned and operated several large companies.
For the last three, Harry and Daphne didn't visit them. Instead, they heard the news from their girlfriends.
The booklists finally arrived on the 1st of August. The day after Harry's sixteenth birthday; shared with friends and family.
So, the two contacted the others to see if they wanted to make a day of it, going to Diagon Alley to collect their books; increase their private supplies of parchment, ink, quills and fountain pens, and replace what of their uniforms they'd outgrown.
Harry had hit another growth spurt, and was now hovering around five foot ten in height. He now considered he was of 'adult' height and hoped there wouldn't be too much growing left to do. So, all his uniforms needed replacing. Daphne also insisted on another day of shopping, but in muggle London.
They met with Hermione, Susan, Tracey and Luna. Hannah and Neville were going shopping as a couple and would be by the Alley at another time. Justin was shopping with his parents and Eddie with his other friends.
After collecting their books, and waving goodbye to their friends, Daphne dragged Harry off to Twillfit and Tattings for another fitting, and another set of 'school' robes, Wizengamot robes, and formal robes. Then it was over to Madam Malkins for more robes. This time, informal, casual, summer, and others.
"Come on, Daphne," whined Harry. "Why so many?"
"You need robes with the Potter crest, robes with the Potter, Gryffindor and Slytherin crests, at least one set of robes with just the Gaunt crest, and robes with all four," she said. "Now, stop fussing, be a good boy and let us outfit you."
They both knew Daphne was going to get her way, But Harry felt it was his place, as a male, to fuss during clothes shopping. However, he also knew he had to keep up appearances, so didn't make too big a deal of it.
Their last stop was to visit the new shopfront of Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes. The outside of the building was, more often than not, a garish bright orange. However, the twins seemed to have found a way to permanently have it often change into other colours at odd times. And, none of them were of the 'muted' variety. They saw violet purple, fire engine red, lime green, canary yellow, rich blue, bright aqua, and indigo purple to name a few.
Inside, the boys had set the store up just as Harry suggested. To the left were racks between wall racks of stacked board games, boxed puzzles and jigsaws. An open area in the middle showed a half completed small jigsaw puzzle and a couple of unboxed brain puzzles. But the right was set up with shelving and racks filled with joke products - both, magical and muggle. And the place was crowded.
Harry and Daphne were trying to make their way through the crowds, looking for the twins, when voices from above caught their attention.
"Daphne!" called the twins.
Looking up, Harry saw both standing on a flight of stairs dressed identically in bright orange trousers and blue shirts with khaki coloured long frock coats over the top. It was almost as eye-watering as the façade outside.
Looking up at them, Harry grinned back and waved.
"Come on up!" said one.
"Mind the rope," said the other.
Holding tightly to Daphne's hand and leading her, Harry made his way over to the bottom of the stairs. He removed the rope that acted as a barrier to the stairs and guided Daphne up as he stepped through and refastened the rope.
With Daphne leading he followed the twins up the stairs.
Stepping onto the top step he suddenly heard all noise from below disappear.
Seeing the expression on his face, one of the twins said, "A silencing privacy ward."
"Brother Bill set it up for us," said the other.
Looking around Harry noticed they were in the private living area of the twins. "I really like what you've done with the place," he said.
"Thank you," they said, together.
"Any problem with your mother concerning," said Harry before gesturing around with his arm, "this?"
"Lots!" said one, with clear glee.
"She went right spare!" said the other.
"Until we showed her we had financial backing," said the first.
"Now, she's proud of us," said the second.
"Kinda frightening, that is," said the first, a little disconsolate.
Harry grinned at Daphne before turning back to the twins. "I'm glad for you both," he said.
"It certainly looks popular," said Daphne, looking back down the stairs.
"Oh, it is!"
"A crowd awaits every morning."
"And, we have to force them out the door each evening.
"It's wonderful!" they sighed in unison.
After a quick show around their private apartment, the shop floor and the back room. The twins demanded Harry promise he'd let them take them both out to the 'factory' when they had the time.
Both Harry and Daphne promised, but said they didn't know when they'd have the time, just yet, but would when they could.
The other surprise over the summer was learning Sirius was finally settling down with one witch, while Remus was now dating young Nymphadora Tonks, a 'Black', who was a year out of the auror academy. Harry and Sirius both wanted to have fun twigging their honourary uncle and brother, but wisely decided not to lest the old wolf break the relationship off.
Just before returning for their sixth year at Hogwarts, Daphne and Harry were called to Greengrass Estates for a House meeting. There, they learned that young Colin had formally requested of Cygnus the right to 'court' Astoria's hand in marriage.
The view was young Colin had done everything right. And, even warned his parents that there was a high likelihood of a betrothal contract being involved. He even provided them with the information about them and why they existed. Information he was assisted in discovering through his perfect attendance figures at Harry and Daphne's etiquette club.
Because Harry knew Colin came from a lower class muggle family - his father was a milkman and his mother took short term jobs while the boys were at school - he offered to buy the betrothal rings. Colin was no fool too full of wasteful pride; he accepted. So, together, he and Colin went to the Potter family jeweller and found a lovely matching pair. However, when Colin asked, he flatly refused to let the boy know how much they cost. He thought the boy would faint again.
The betrothal contract - this time, not signed in blood - was signed between both families the day before the Hogwarts Express made it's run up to Scotland. And Colin immediately got down on one knee and proposed the muggle way. Astoria, of course, accepted.
The wedding would be held once they both reached seventeen years of age, but there was no time frame in place for when it was supposed to happen beyond that. As per the conditions of the contract, they could stay betrothed for decades if they wanted to. Or, they could individually or mutually agree to cancel the contract as long as such cancellation occurred before the wedding. The wedding would make the contract firm.
The only reason all parties agreed to even have a betrothal contract, was so that Colin then fell under the protection of Greengrass House, and it would stop the purebloods continuing to try and court Cygnus for Astoria's hand. She was now 'off the market'.
Cygnus and Isabel were happy with it because Astoria was happy with it. No one's opinion, other that young Colin's, Astoria's and both parents', mattered.
Back at school after the 1st of September, and Harry was showing the group around the modified combined apartment.
"Wow!" said Neville. "I thought it was amazing last year. But, this? This is astounding."
"Hmm..." said Daphne. "An extra two bedrooms, so no more sleeping on couches; an extra two living rooms cum study areas; a much improved and expanded library, with many tomes not seen in a great many years; our bedroom no longer only half a flight of stairs and a single door away from the, then, only study area; and plenty of room remaining to expand when, and if, necessary."
"I like the decor," said Hermione simply. "Coral in Gryffindor, mint in Slytherin, custard in Hufflepuff and baby blue in Ravenclaw. Nice and modern colours, wall to wall carpeting in the dry areas, and a real 'homey' sort of feel for the place.
Turning to look at Daphne, she smirked and said, "You could easily raise children here; if you were of a mind."
Harry immediately blushed while Daphne just smiled a little. "Children are a definite future for the Potters. But, I very much doubt it will be here when we start having them.
"Although," she mused turning back to Harry. "I can see Harry coming back here to teach DADA, Charms or Transfiguration, in future. We just might have children to bring back with us, if teaching's in Harry's future."
The sixth year flowed a lot easier than the fifth, OWL, year. They had fewer classes each, but the assignments were longer and required much more detail. The study area, library and potions labs received a lot of work.
On not more than a few occasions they also trooped up to the seventh floor to use the very old texts they knew they could find there; and down to the school library to use the newer ones that had been bought the summer, previously.
The study area within the suites was often occupied by at least one of the group. Now that they were spread across various classes, it was not often when all of them would be there.
And, now that the twins had finally graduated and were running their new business, the group lacked their constant nattering presences, as well.
For their etiquette club, Harry and Daphne were training up Colin and Astoria to take over starting the next year. This year, they'd assist and even run meetings on their own. Then, two years later, they'd train up the next to take it over. Both Potters were happy with their plans for the club to continue to exist - and even flourish - after they'd graduated.
The year flowed smoothly for Harry, Daphne and the others in the group. At least, academically, it did. Susan ended up very effectively 'dumping' Eddie Carmichael in November. When Harry asked her why, she told him it was because he had stopped being a gentleman.
He got the full story from Daphne a couple days later. It seems young Mister Carmichael developed a strong desire to get his hands into Susan's upper robes and play with her, quite substantial, 'girls'. It even got to the point where he nearly forced her when she tagged him with a right cross that broke his jaw. And, if that wouldn't put him into Madam Pomfrey's care, the Hexing he got from the feisty little red head certainly would have done the trick.
However, Susan was soon on the arm of fellow Hufflepuff, Ernie MacMillan. This time, Harry made sure the boy got the 'shovel talk' and advice to take it easy with her because of what Harry told him was 'a very emotionally draining breakup due a betrayal of trust' with the Carmichael boy.
Hermione's relationship with Justin Finch-Fletchley foundered in October, was back on again during the Christmas break, foundered again in early February, and was back on again when he practically abased himself to her on Valentine's Day in the Great Hall and sang her a love song in front of everyone in the key of 'off'. They remained together for the rest of the school year.
"And, you took him back; why?" asked Harry.
"If he was willing to go to the length of completely embarrassing himself in front of the entire school," she replied, "I know his love for me is strong enough for us to weather hardships life may, and probably will, bring."
Harry hugged her and said, "I'm happy for you." He then held her at arms length and said, "But you tell him, from me, if he hurts you again - him, me and my shovel are going to take a walk out into the Forbidden Forest."
She smiled back with her eyes twinkling and said, "I hope you don't mind; but, I've already told him that."
Harry just snorted in amusement and hugged her again. "You're the best Protectee a Lord can ask for, you know that?"
"I do," she replied. "And you're the best little brother a girl could ask for."
As she turned and walked away with a bit of a smirk, he called, "Hey! I'm not little! Just ask Daph!"
"Harry!" his wife, who had overheard, exclaimed and blushed.
Turning to her, he said, "Well, I'm not; am I?" He hated how his question sounded almost - whining.
The year passed and they entered their seventh confident in their abilities. This was the NEWT year. When they called the wizarding test to graduate Hogwarts 'Nearly Excruciating' they weren't making an idle claim. Five to seven feet of parchment for various assignments, classes of casting that left them exhausted, physically, mentally and magically were the norm.
But, get through it, they did.
During the Christmas break, Justin and Hermione came to the decision they would both attend muggle education, once Hogwarts was over, because neither wanted to risk being apart for that long. Hermione was putting her career on hold to better her education, and the money now flowing into the vaults for Dagworth-Granger House were more than sufficient for her to pursue a dream of gaining a muggle undergraduate degree, minimum.
And, Justin was also from a well-to-do family and had the same sort of finances behind him to do the same thing. The Finch-Fletchleys came from what is considered 'old' money, similar to the Noble and Ancient Houses.
Tracey and Blaise had a right royal bust up, but both also realised it was from the stress of study rather than anything else. So, both got back together promising each other to vent their anger on duelling dummies in the Come and Go Room before unleashing their tongues at one another. They often 'fought' side-by-side with their duelling.
Harry walked up to Blaise in the Great Hall from behind one day, carrying 'his' shovel, and tapped the boy on the shoulder. When Blaise turned around he saw Harry standing there brandishing the garden implement.
"Shovel, Mister Zabini," mock-growled Harry. "Shovel!"
"Merlin, Harry! I..." said the boy, before he was interrupted by a clearly angry Tracey.
Harry didn't know she was already in the Hall.
"Harry James Potter!" she screeched, standing up from where she was sitting. "You will not harm..."
Harry handed the shovel to Blaise by literally tossing it to the boy, and bolted from the Hall. Thankfully, no curses or hexes flew, due to the many young students already in the Hall, and he made it out without harm. Only Blaise's, and a few other students', laughter chased him out.
Susan and Ernie's relationship bloomed, too. And, in their seventh year, Eddie surpassed Harry's Valentine's Day efforts by giving her the whole day as one long, romantic endeavour before, in the evening, dropping to one knee and proposing to her. She bawled her eyes out and Ernie looked gutted before she finally threw herself into his arms, sending them both sprawling to the floor - and accepted.
MacMillan was a Noble and Ancient House, and Ernie was the oldest son of the second son of Lord Iain MacMillan; ex-Head of the School Board of Governors. Madam Bones and Lord MacMillan soon had a betrothal contract drawn up and signed where the first son would carry the name MacMillan, and the second would carry the name Bones; unless the son of the oldest son had a son first. In which case, the oldest son of Ernie and Susan would carry the name Bones for Line Continuation purposes. Susan would also retain the name 'Bones'.
Aunt Amelia was over the moon. Alastor Moody found himself resoundingly kissed when he walked into her office the day of the signing to 'just see how his favourite student was doing'; and immediately Stunned her and scanned her for potions and other mind-altering substances. When Master Auror Shacklebolt walked in and founded her bounded to a chair and unconscious, he Renervated her and found out what had happened and ended up having a giggling fit that morphed into roaring laughter. However, Aunt Amelia's good mood could not be shaken, even after being so surprisingly Stunned and bound.
Moody stomped off muttering about young chits getting all 'girly' with him and barked at a poor unsuspecting cadet auror, who was passing by, how 'it just wasn't right'.
Neville had already asked Harry to be his Best Man, who immediately accepted. And, over the course of the next few months, whittled down his choices to Blaise and Ernie to be his other two groomsmen. He was happy to just have Harry stand with him, but he - just like Harry a couple years earlier - was outvoted by the bride. He would have three stand with him to match the Maid of Honour and two bride's maids Hannah would have - or else! And they both knew Hannah had a temper when she was properly riled.
Susan and Ernie were getting married in June, and Neville and Hannah in August. Susan would be taking up the Headship of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Bones immediately after graduation, as she would have already attained her majority; while Neville and Hannah were holding off on their nuptials until Neville attained his majority and took up his Head and Lordship for the Noble and Most Ancient House of Longbottom.
As they headed into the final weeks before their NEWT exams, Harry began setting aside a bit of time to plan Neville's stag party.
He was working in his office when he was interrupted by a knock on his open door. Looking up, he saw Hannah walk in as Daphne smirked and walked away.
"Lady Hannah," he began, before she cut him off.
"Don't start, Harry," she snapped. Then her voice dropped to an ominous pitch. "I know it is your - responsibility - to organise a buck's party for Neville." Before he could say anything she just glared at him and continued. "ON the day of our wedding everything is to be perfect. You will ensure Neville awaits me before the Minister as I enter the wedding marquee. He is to be sober. He is to be alert. He is to be standing proudly as I approach.
"He will not be marked, missing hair, anything but his natural colour, or suffering from any other - affliction - that will make me angry. If I am angry - or, if I have reason to be angry - the Potter line ends with you. Have I made myself perfectly clear to you, Lord Potter?"
Harry gulped and nodded.
"Thank you, Harry," she said before leaving again.
'Damn!' thought Harry. 'Now, what am I going to do?' With a sigh he started crossing ideas off his list. 'I was really looking forward to that one, too. And, that one. Leaving him potioned up with Stamina and Pepper-Up Potions naked in the middle of a Veela enclave in France was such a good idea, too.'
During the couple of weeks leading up to the exams Harry and the others took a stressed out Hermione to Madam Pomfrey, who immediately forced the girl into bed with a Dreamless Sleep Potion. The next day, a much better Hermione came down for breakfast.
That's when Harry and Daphne ordered the girl to move into one of the bedrooms in the owners' apartments. During that time, they found out Maisey was a fair masseuse. And the Slytherin elf then took to giving them all back and neck massages before they each headed for bed.
Harry had told Daphne he found the best form of relaxation was a good and proper shag. To which she replied, "If it wasn't for the fact I believe the same I'd accuse you of just wanting to get into my knickers, Lord Potter."
"Oh, no," he piously replied. "I always want to get into your knickers. But, each time I do, I know how much better I feel the next day."
As exams were held, the combined owners' apartments ended up with a full house. All bedrooms full.
Harry and Daphne were in their room in Ravenclaw. Tracy and Blaise in her room in Slytherin, Hannah and Susan in the room, next door. Neville and Ernie each had a bedroom where the Slytherin kitchen was.
Hermione and Luna shared the Gryffindor master bed. And Justin slept down in the Hufflepuff master bedroom.
With exams finally over, the now much extended group of eleven thought of partying but found they were all just so relieved it was over, the party - fizzled. Instead, they all headed for bed and slept in the next day.
A late breakfast for the group was in the Gryffindor kitchen. The dining table had been extended much earlier for sittings of the size. Harry preferred to sit alongside his wife, but - on these sorts of days - had to sit at the end while Daphne sat to his left. Everyone else just sat where they wanted.
Remaining at table after their breakfast dishes were cleared away by the suites' house elves, they talked.
"I'm going to miss you," said a sad Luna.
"Neville and Hannah will still be here, dear Luna," said Harry. "And, I believe others will be coming and going, at times, during the year."
"I know," she sighed. "And, I'm grateful Neville and Hannah will be staying. But, he will be an Adjunct Professor and an apprentice under Madam Sprout. I'm the only student of our group left."
"I'll be staying, too, Luna," said Hannah. I'll be living, here, with Neville. Harry's letting us use these wonderful suites for the year and we'll be sleeping in the Gryffindor master. You'll always be welcome to come and stay, when you feel you want to."
Looking back at the other girl with a grateful smile, Luna softly said, "Thank you."
Harry was going to be helping his wife set up Daphne's business in enchanting muggle-based goods for the wizarding home; while he would also be working towards stripping the laws away that forbade enchanting muggle items.
Hermione and Justin were soon to be off to a specialist facility to tailor their education to allow them access in to Kings College at the University of London. A quite prestigious research-based university that would work well with Hermione's intention to go into spell and other magics research.
Blaise was going to remain in magical Britain to be nearer Tracey, whom he still hadn't made an 'honest woman', and was setting up a magical Britain based business for his mother's potions business. Tracey, of course, was heading to Saint Mungo's to begin the next phase of becoming a healer.
Susan was going to work in the Ministry but wouldn't say what she was doing. They'd all already figured out she was going to work for the Unspeakables. Ernie would be working with Harry and Daphne.
Though she still had a year of Hogwarts to go, Luna was going to research her magical creatures and write better books on them. She'd already written to, and been invited by, Newt Scamander to work on her research.
Colin was looking forward to starting up his own independent photography company; and Astoria was looking towards working with him in that business. Harry had offered to spot the boy - the young man, now - the start-up capital, but had been beaten to the offer by Cygnus.
As far as Harry was concerned, the boy would soon be 'family'. So, he'd help in any way he could. One of those ways was to give the boy free rent on one of his vacant shops in Diagon Alley that had an upstairs apartment. That would be his 'wedding present' to the newlywed couple.