Don't look back in Anger

Can some angry words change everything?


15. Looking Forward in Hope

Ron was sitting eating breakfast in the Hogwarts great hall, his fellow fifth year Gryffindor prefect disrupting that joyful process by draping herself all over him like a cheap robe.

"Aw, Won-won, When are you going to give me a chance? We could be good together, babe..."

The voice that came from behind Lavender obviously didn't share that opinion. "Brown, how many times have I told you to stay away from my boyfriend? Do I have to take my wand to you - again?"

By way of an answer, Lavender shot out of not only the seat beside Ron but the great hall too - allowing Susan to take her rightful place and kiss her boyfriend on the cheek.

An apologetic Ron wanted there to be no room here for any misunderstandings, he considered his girlfriend to be the best thing that ever to happen to him. "Sorry love, I was going to tell her to piss off - just as soon as I had swallowed what I was chewing. I know you hate me talking with my mouth full."

"For Lavender Brown, we can have an exception to that rule. Maybe getting her face and hair sprayed with a mixture of half-chewed sausage and scrambled eggs would stop her coming back all the time."

This had Ron chuckling. "I doubt it. The only reason she stopped chasing Neville was because he started dating Parvati. Apparently the Gryffindor witches have a code where they don't steal boyfriends from each other. When the witch is from one of the other three houses though, it would seem that all bets are off."

"Well I have no intention of changing out of Hufflepuff just to stop a randy Gryffindor bint chasing after my boyfriend, so I guess that just leaves cursing Lavender until she finally gets the message. I found a new one that will seal her lips together..."

"Oh that's just cruel, how is she supposed to gossip if she can't talk?"

This earned Ron another kiss from his girlfriend. They'd been together the entire school year, with Lavender Brown's continual flirtations and ultra thick skin being the only proverbial fly in the ointment. Susan was about to give her boyfriend some news when she noticed his attention was elsewhere.

"That's Hedwig - what's she doing here? Harry never uses her to deliver mail to Hogwarts, and it's less than two weeks since we last heard from them."

Susan just smiled, having some idea what news the snowy owl might be carrying. She fed the beautiful bird some bacon while Ron read the letter Hedwig had carried, his excitement at what he was reading clearly displayed for all to see.

"They're going to be back in Britain, and Harry says he'll see us soon."

This saw Susan nodding. "I got a letter from auntie this morning, he's finally agreed to pick up his Order of Merlin, First Class. With no sign of Voldemort since his attack on York, they must reckon it's safe enough to pay us a visit."

"Did Harry mention me?" Everyone knew who that snowy owl belonged to, and Ginny couldn't wait any longer to discover the latest news about Harry from her brother. Butting in on a private conversation was nothing new, not when she needed to know something about Harry.

A frustrated Ron answered his annoying sibling. "Ginny, why would Harry mention you?"

"He sent me a Christmas present."

"I think the label said 'from Luna, Harry and Hermione' - at least everyone else's present did - and that was five months ago. After seeing what you got, I'm also positive one of the girls picked it. I've told you before, Ginny, Harry and you is so not happening - get over it."

As Ginny flounced away to the other end of the table in the huff, Ron returned his attention to Susan. "They were all pretty adamant about staying where they were, even being away for Christmas didn't put a dent in that. I wonder what's changed?"

-o- previously -o-

Sirius was laying in bed beside a beautiful woman. It wasn't the first time in his life this phenomenon had happened, though wishing he could wake up beside this particular one every day for the rest of that same life was certainly a first for the self-styled Lothario of the marauders. Claire however wasn't as asleep as Sirius thought, she caught him staring. "See anything you like?"

"If I said everything, I wouldn't be lying."

"Sirius, after the perfect day you gave me yesterday, there's no need to butter me up today. Shopping, dinner, a marvellous show and then spending the night at the Ritz - things like that can go to a girl's head you know."

"I was hoping so because there's something important I really need to tell you - and I want you in as good a mood as possible before I do."

"Oh hell, Sirius. You are married, I knew it! All the good ones are taken…"

This had the marauder smiling, though still somewhat nervously. "You've already met the only three women in my life, Claire, and I'm not married to any of them."

"You told me about Harry's parents being murdered, and you ending up in prison because of it. Surely whatever you have to tell me can't be worse than that nightmare? Unless you lied to me about that?"

"No, unfortunately every word of that is true. I think it would be much easier just to show you. Let's get dressed and I'll take you somewhere special for breakfast. I promise all your questions will be answered then."

Nodding in acceptance, Claire had a question she needed answered now. "Just how special is this place? I mean, what's the dress code?"

"This is the most special place in the world to me, and the dress code is whatever you're comfortable in. I will be wearing similar to what I was shopping with you in yesterday, whatever you have with you is fine by us."


"You'll see." With a morning kiss, Sirius got up and started pulling on clothes.

Reckoning that if she trusted Sirius enough to let him spend nights at her flat in Newhaven, she could trust him in this. Claire quickly pulled on a pair of jeans and a loose top, sandals completing her simple but still stylish ensemble. She was about to ask Sirius if she would need a jacket when his arms wrapped around her waist from behind. For some reason, he started singing a country and western song.

"Country roads, take me home..."

At that, Claire felt as if a giant hook had grabbed her midriff and jerked her clean off the planet. Her head was spinning as she tried to scream - before the spinning suddenly stopped. She found herself sitting on a cool marble floor with Sirius beside her. Sirius was also the only thing she recognised - It didn't appear as if they were in the Ritz anymore, far less London.

"Claire Munroe, my name is Lord Sirius Orion Black - and I am a wizard. I'm also madly in love with you, and have been for months..."

At that, people started appearing around them and the woman Claire knew as Emma didn't seem to be happy. "Sirius, what have you done?"

She felt herself go limp after that. Next thing the bemused optician knew, she was waking up on a couch with a cold cloth on her forehead.

"Are you feeling better, Claire? I swear Sirius is a twelve year old stuck in a man's body. What was he thinking of, scaring you like that."

"Where is he?"

"Oh, he's currently getting strips torn off him by Harry and the girls. Those three are the only ones he listens too - apart from you of course. All we've been hearing from Sirius for about the last eight months or so is Claire this and Claire that. We've all been at him to tell you the truth, you certainly deserved to know, it's just his method we object to."

"So he really is a ..."

Seeing Claire couldn't bring herself to say the word, Emma helped her out. "A wizard? Yes."

"And you?"

"A dentist, Dan too. Although our Hermione is a witch, Luna as well and Harry is also a wizard. Dan and I had our own dental practice before all this kicked off, but I wouldn't change our lives now for anything. We've been very happy here."

Glancing around, Claire just had to ask the obvious question. "Where is here?"

"If you look out that window, Mount Vesuvius fills half of it. You're now in southern Italy."

A table with a tea set on it appearing beside Emma was further proof to Claire that magic did indeed exist. Emma proclaiming 'Thank you, Dobby, we'll introduce you and Winky later. Our elves have more sense than Sirius' was just something else added to the list Claire needed to ask about. As Emma helped her sit up before pouring a cup of tea, a sheepish Sirius entered the room - followed by three teens.

"Hi love, how much trouble am I in?"

"Well you're certainly in the doghouse for that stunt..." As this reduced everyone to tears of laughter, Claire was left wondering just what was so funny.

Harry was enjoying his godfather's discomfort, Sirius certainly played enough pranks on them for this to be considered some payback. "Go on Padfoot, you might as well show her everything. At least this time Claire's already sitting on the couch."

Thinking that an optician struggling to believe her eyes was such a bad pun occupied Claire's mind, and saved it from shutting down again. The man she was sure she loved had just changed into a scraggy black dog. Smiling as the animal then tried to nuzzle into her, Claire couldn't help her quip. "Why is there never a rolled up newspaper around when you need one."

Quick as a flash, Hermione, Harry and Luna all had wands out as three rolled up newspapers appeared beside Claire.

Seeing her laugh at that, Padfoot became Sirius again - though he was still trying to snuggle into Claire. "So, am I forgiven?"

"Not even close! You promised to answer all my questions, and my list is growing by the minute. You do that, and then we'll see about forgiveness." Looking around the beautiful room, Claire was seriously impressed. "And here was me thinking getting taken to the Ritz was impressive."

This at least saw Emma relaxing at how well Claire was taking the news. "Thank you, we like to think of it as home - a home you're very welcome in."

Emma and the girls then gave Claire the tour of the villa, leaving Sirius to have a chat with his godson.

"So you finally did it…"

"If she'll have me, Claire is the one. You've already reached an age where you don't really need me as a godfather, perhaps it's time to have some younger ones toddling about the villa…"

"Sirius, I will always need you in my life. You've talked about Claire so much we all knew this was coming. That she didn't run out of here screaming is a good sign, then again she's still to be introduced to Moony…" Harry had sensed the other marauder entering with Dan, hence his remark.

"Hey, I've done nothing… Sirius, what are you doing here? I thought you were planning on spending the entire weekend with Claire?"

"Oh, I think that's still Padfoot's plan. He just used his port key to bring Claire here. Poor woman went from knowing nothing about magic to ending up sitting on our floor, having been in London seconds before. I have to say, she took it well."

Dan and Remus had gotten into the habit of taking a hike after breakfast, thus they only took a moment to give Sirius grief over his actions before heading off for a much needed shower. They didn't usually have visitors to the villa and wanted to make a good impression.

Sirius though had something important he needed to say to Harry while he had the chance, and it was just the two of them. "If things go as I hope, I intend to ask Claire if she'll marry me. This will mean I can no longer be head of the Black family though, not after marrying a muggle. That places you in the hot seat."

"What will that mean?"

"Well, for a start you'll need to marry a pureblood - or Draco becomes Lord Black. Just as well we both know a young pureblood witch who would simply love to apply for the job. Of course, being the Head of the Potter family too, there would also be a vacancy for a Mrs Potter to continue that line - with no blood biased on the recipient of that position. Again, we both know an outstanding candidate who would like nothing better than to become Mrs Potter."

It was with a heartfelt hug Harry thanked his godfather for that news. The trio's dreams just took a massive step not so much toward being achievable - all three were so close now they were always going to be together - but this gave them a legal method that was steeped in respectability.

Claire reappeared, now changed into borrowed shorts and a sleeveless top similar to what the other three ladies were wearing. Harry then introduced her to the two missing members of their family, Dobby and Winky.

He was always going to have his request granted but Harry introducing them as the best two elves in the world meant an early lunch on the terrace was prepared immediately. Dan and Remus joined the company for what would prove to be an informative lunch, and of course none of them were going to resist any opportunity to tease or embarrass Sirius.

Since everyone there recognised a certain mutt was desperate for Claire to become part of their growing family, the decision to leave nothing out was unanimous. Claire's introduction to magic might well have been a portkey into the unknown but for her to stay, she really needed to know what she was letting herself in for.

As the day progressed through afternoon and into evening, so the tales being told got darker too. Murder and mayhem were almost becoming commonplace by the end. Mentioning the attack on York really brought it home to Claire just how dangerous their world was, the entire country had mourned over those losses.

"So my government is involved in this too?"

"Our ministry were left with no option but to approach them with the truth. The fact that Dumbledore had been Minister of Magic for less than a week at the time, and his ministry was also executing every guilty Death Eater they could capture, bought the ministry some leeway. That they then organised the best stonemasons in the world to help repair York Minster, and also made a large contribution to the victims fund, didn't do any harm either. I read that people were delighted by the speed and quality of the repair work, I wonder what they would think if they discovered most of the work was being done by goblins." Sirius was growing concerned. Claire appeared to be becoming more and more disillusioned with what she was hearing, and no one there could really blame her.

"Sirius, I'm sure I love you. I'm just not sure I can take all this on…"

As Sirius floundered, it was Emma who came to his rescue. "We have no intention of taking all that on either, hence why we are currently sitting in this beautiful villa. When we left you that day in Newhaven, we really didn't have a clue where we were going - other than boarding the ferry out of Britain…"

"…and finding somewhere I could buy a phone to contact you." Sirius' interruption at least reintroduced a smile to Claire's face, so he kept going.

"We were like nomads, traveling wherever Dan pointed that wonderful vehicle of his…"

Emma and Hermione couldn't hold their laughter at this while Dan pretended to be in the huff, Harry then explained their reactions to a once again bemused Claire. "Sirius and Remus were fed-up being stuck in the back for hours at a time, they magically redesigned the inside of Dan's beloved Range Rover - you could probably hold a dance in it now."

Luna was now giggling too. "It took Emma and Hermione to convince him that, far from being ruined, he now owned the most exclusive Range Rover in the world. It was touch and go though - Remus and Sirius were nearly left to walk their way across Europe."

Sirius chose to ignore that distraction and concentrate on what was important. "The only time we stayed in the one place for any length of time was when I left to visit you. It wasn't until returning from one of those visits I realised we had stayed here longer than anywhere else. We then started looking for a house here we could live in - and we've been here ever since. None of us have any intention of living in Britain until this problem is solved, we would be hoping you could join us here - permanently."

"You're asking a lot, Sirius. My work, my mother…"

"Your mother would be welcome here anytime and, as you found out this morning, visiting her whenever you wanted to wouldn't be a big problem either. As to work, we spent our time here teaching these three. They have a couple of tutors for magical subjects neither Remus nor I felt confident enough to teach them, plus Emma and Dan give them classes in subjects they don't teach at magical schools..."

Emma again tried to help Sirius, having a better understanding of what Claire was facing here. "Dan and I are still medical professionals, we're treating this as a sabbatical from dentistry. We have no idea how long it will take for the current situation in magical Britain to be fixed, or even if it will be. If it takes us spending the next couple of years here while our children become adults, well that's hardly a horrible chore. Luna is just the youngest, she'll be seventeen next September, we intend to keep them safe until that time then all sit down and see where we are by then. That will be a discussion for all the family, that same family all hopes you'll be sitting down having that discussion with us."

Claire turned to stare into those eyes she'd fallen heavily for. "All I can say at the moment is I will certainly give your offer serious thought." While this remark was met with groans around the terrace, Sirius was now the proud owner of a wide grin.

-o- present -o-

The hall had gone strangely silent, allowing everyone not already facing the doors with their jaws dropping to hear Malfoy's comment.

"So, Potter, have you decided to grace us with your presence again?"

Ron spun around so fast he could have given himself a whiplash injury, and he wasn't alone. Every pair of eyes in the great hall were now focused on the three people who were just entering the hall. The trio had gone for a dress code that was smart but casual, muggle of course. Harry's navy trousers and pale green shirt just seemed to emphasise the colourfulness of Hermione's sky blue and Luna's yellow sundresses. Considering every other teen in the hall was dressed in black robes, this colourful statement alone declared they were different.

Bumping into into Malfoy and his cronies was always going to happen, it was just their bad luck that these were the first people the trio walked into. Knowing this meeting was inevitable, Harry was prepared.

"Mr Malfoy, you have my belated condolences for your loss. We now share something in common, the Dark Lord made both of us orphans. Unfortunately, we weren't the only ones to suffer that fate."

Harry had an arm around each of the girl's waists, he used one of those arms to pull Luna slightly closer for a brief and gentle kiss before returning his attention to Draco. "I know we were never friends but I'm hoping this common ground will at least allow us to work together in this situation we find ourselves in."

A cautious Draco asked the obvious question. "And just what situation is that?"

"Sirius is currently in Britain because he's getting married this weekend. Due to the blood status of his fiancee, he was forced to relinquish his position as head of the Black Family. I am his appointed heir, I was confirmed as the new Lord Black at Gringotts this morning. I know the arrangement Sirius had with you and I see no reason to change anything. If that agreement is still fine with you, let's shake on it now." Harry took his right arm from around Hermione and publicly offered his hand to Draco.

The blond Slytherin stared at the offered hand, his mind shooting back to offering Potter his the first time they met on the express. He couldn't help but wonder how different things might have been if Potter had taken his hand that day. There was a part of Draco who wanted to throw that incident back in Potter's face, and tell him what to do with his offered hand - that was the old Draco though. This Draco knew that refusing the hand that controlled your future would be the move of a petulant child - he had been forced to grow out of that mode. The only way he was ever going to get back on his feet was when he could take control of the Malfoy fortune, a fortune that was now being administered by the person who had just offered his hand.

With the entire great hall as witnesses, Draco Malfoy shook the offered hand of Harry Potter. "I think we are both different people since the last time we tried this, I know I am. I don't think our views on our magical society will ever match, but I'm willing to agree to disagree over that."

Harry returned the firm handshake. "I'll happily accept that. We have government and laws in this country, as well as established procedures already in place for when groups of British citizens want to make changes to the way we live. Those changes will never be brought about at wand point, no matter who it is holding that wand - or what changes they want to make."

Nodding his acceptance of that, Draco, Pansy, Greg and Vince continued on their way out of the hall. It then appeared as if the visiting trio were about to be swamped until Harry held his hand out in the universal sign for stop.

"Guys, be with you in a minute. There's something we need to do first." They continued on to the staff table. "Headmistress, we're hoping the Minister warned you we were coming?"

"Yes, Mister Potter, he floo-called this morning. Can I say it's nice to see the three of you back in Hogwarts, and looking so well."

"Thank you, Headmistress, our new lives suit us. Can I just say it's Lord Harry Potter-Black now, along with Hermione Granger and Luna Potter." With a nod, that was acknowledged and they were then free to join their anxiously waiting friends.

After what seemed like hundreds of greetings, they found themselves once more sitting at the Gryffindor table where Ron was first with a question.

"While it's great to see you, what are you three doing here?"

"Well, as I said to Malfoy, Sirius is getting married on Saturday. It didn't take much tweaking of the wedding date to put us in Britain at the same time as the O.W.L. exams - and my girls love their exams - so here we are."

"You travelled half way around the world to sit exams? Bloody mental!"

Since Hermione knew Ron thought places like Paris were the other side of the world, she didn't correct him over that. There was no way he was getting away with that exam quip. "It's important we sit exams, especially because we're tutored. We need to know what level we're at..."

Harry interrupted her. "...and it gets us out of wedding preparations. Trust me, exams are preferable to that."

Ginny hadn't been able to take her eyes off Harry since he entered the great hall, she wasn't alone in that though. While she had thought Harry looked good before, this version was drool-worthy. That gorgeous dark hair was longer, now touching his shoulders. Those same shoulders were broader and encased in a green silk shirt that left nothing to the imagination. Those trousers too should be illegal, he appeared to have been poured into them. With no glasses, that famous scar seeming much fainter and a beautiful tan that just completed the entire package. This was one package Ginny would just love to take her time unwrapping, even if only to discover how much of Harry's body was actually tanned.

Having listened carefully to every word Harry had said to Malfoy, Ginny thought there might actually be a way for her to do that unwrapping. She also decided to get her bid in first, before anyone else thought of it.

"Harry, if you need a pureblood to be your Lady Black, I'm available." She ignored Ron hitting his head off the table, all Ginny's attention was on Harry.

All Lavender's attention was now on Harry too, totally ignoring the beautiful witches sat on either side of him. The news of his return had swiftly drawn Lavender back into the great hall. "I'm a pureblood too, Harry, and here if you need me..." She didn't actually say as Lady Black, leaving the invitation rather open-ended - and herself wide open to being cursed by a pair of visiting witches.

Harry however only had eyes for the witches at his side. "Sorry ladies, that vacancy has already been taken. Miss Luna Potter has already done me the honour of agreeing to become my Lady Black shortly after her seventeenth birthday."

As Harry lovingly kissed the future Lady Black, it was left to Ron to ask the awkward question. With Hermione sitting smiling at the kissing couple, this gave him the courage to do so. "Are you all right with this? I thought Harry was your boyfriend?"

Smiling at her redheaded friend, Hermione gave the answer she knew might confuse their friends. "All I ever wanted was to be Mrs Potter. Harry asked me to be his wife, and of course I said yes. We're getting married in September, after I become seventeen. That idiot Fudge making Harry an adult means he only has to wait for us coming of age."

Harry was now kissing Hermione, to the total amazement of everyone watching. It was just a short kiss before Harry turned back to their Hogwarts friends. "At least Umbridge made sure Fudge got what he deserved. I hope they're sharing a cell, those two deserve to spend the rest of their lives together. Ron, I need a best man for that big day in September, you up for it mate?"

Luna couldn't help but giggle at all the chins hitting the table, she mischievously upped the ante. "Do a good job, Ron, and you might get asked again for our wedding next September..."

All three were now laughing at the confused expressions facing them.

"Two wives?"

"Yes, Ginny, and all of us are adamant there won't be a number three. I have two wonderful witches who both unbelievably agreed to marry me, that's an embarrassment of riches whichever way you look at it. So mate, you up for giving best man a shot?"

Still in shock, Ron could only nod. This had Harry reaching over the table to shake his hand while Hermione pressed ahead with plans they had already made. "Susan, I love the effect you're having on him. We always knew there was a good wizard in there somewhere, it just took the right witch to bring it out. Ron's a keeper..."

This jolted Ron out of his shock-induced stupor. "Okay, okay, way too much there. Luna's sitting her O.W.L.'s a year early, Harry's marrying two witches and, strangest fact of all, Hermione Granger just cracked a quidditch joke! Who are you three, and what have you done with my best friends?"

This had everyone laughing as Hermione came back at him. "Thanks for proving my point, Ron. What I was going to do, before being so rudely interrupted, was to ask if Susan wanted to be one of my bridesmaids - Luna obviously being the other."

A surprised and delighted Susan quickly accepted, putting Harry in to bat again. "That still leaves me short of a groomsman then, you fancy helping me out here, Neville?"

If Susan was shocked, then Neville was flabbergasted. "Me... Are you sure?"

"Of course I'm sure, well?"

The massive smile that illuminated Neville's face was all the answer the trio needed. While a crushed Ginny slinked away, someone else had a question she wanted to know the answer to. Figuring her former dorm mate wouldn't provide an answer without her using anything less than the torture curse, Lavender thought the younger blonde was fair game to being put under a bit of public pressure. "And what will you be doing with your nights, Luna, after these two get married in September?"

The unbelievably crass question saw deep intakes of breaths being taken all around the trio as gasps of disbelief could also be heard inside the hall. If Lavender thought she had picked on the weakest member of the trio though, she was about to discover there wasn't one. The witch Hogwarts once knew as Loony Lovegood hadn't existed since the day she became friends with Harry and Hermione - Hogwarts was about to discover that.

Luna's gaze became steely grey as she focused on the nosy witch. "Miss Brown, to my knowledge you never once spoke to me in the three years I attended Hogwarts. What gives you the right to think you can then ask me a very personal question, not even in private but in front of everyone too?"

Seeing the hostile glares coming from all directions, Hermione appeared ready to scalp her former dorm mate, Lavender started to back-pedal. "Eh, I just wanted to know..."

"I would like to know what's going to be in the charms paper we're going to have to sit shortly, I think it would be extremely impolite of me though to ask Professor Flitwick or the examiners that question - don't you think?"

"Oh this one just doesn't think, and an 'extremely impolite' won't get the message across, Luna. Explaining in language even a child could understand that Ron's my boyfriend has made no difference to her either, I've had to take my wand to Lavender to demonstrate when she's crossed the line into inappropriate - a line I'm not even sure she knows exists."

Without anyone even seeing how she managed it, Luna's wand was in her hand. "I can easily do that, and I live with two marauders so know some brilliantly wicked curses. Padfoot and Moony make the Weasley twins appear as if they're not really trying."

With the former Ravenclaw's wand now pointing right between her eyes, and no help coming from her housemates, Lavender again took the wise option and got out of there. This resulted in much laughter and even some cheering. Parvati was sitting beside Neville and shaking her head, her friend had really lost the plot lately.

"I can't believe she actually said that out loud, sorry guys. Hermione - you look amazing! You too, Luna, I just don't know you well enough to really comment. Harry, whatever you're doing - it's certainly working. While you're now hot, you've missed you're chance - I'm with Neville now."

Parvati's remarks opened the floodgates and the banter and laughter was soon flowing, the trio easily holding their own. At the back of Harry's mind though he was wondering if it was right to deprive his two ladies of this. The letters from Ron and young Abi had kept them informed of all the positive changes happening inside Hogwarts under McGonagall, you could feel the different atmosphere the moment you entered the castle. A nudge from Hermione got his attention.

"This is nice, Harry, but I prefer what we've got."

Luna had of course picked up on this too. "You know she's right - she's always right. Hermione and I would need to use our wands every day, chasing away the witches drooling over you."

"I've seen more wizards than witches with drool running down their chins, and I don't think that's because of me. You two lit up the hall from the moment you walked through the doors. Then again, you light up my life every day you are both in it…"

Parvati certainly wasn't the only one listening in, she was though first to comment. "Smooth, Harry, really smooth. Neville, Ron, I hope you're both taking notes?"

"Hey, I'll have you know Susan had me working on my charming right up until curfew last night."

Hermione was enjoying the banter and again pitched right in. "At least she's got you studying, something I could never manage."

"Susan has methods of persuasion you never tried…"

"Just because she never tried them on you, Ron, doesn't mean Hermione doesn't posses a full range of wonderful methods of persuasion. Her methods of persuasion are so good, I'm sitting ancient runes and arithmancy too at the end of the week."

"I'll say it again, who are you and what have you done with my best friend…"

Somewhat unbelievably, it was a very happy and relaxed group of fifth year students who left the great hall to go and face their first O.W.L. exam, the written portion of their charms exam.

The trio had made sure to let Abi know they would catch up at lunchtime, Abi and her family would be receiving an invitation to the Potter wedding too. Parvati had also found herself added to that exclusive list, though Lavender's name would now have a score right through it. Ginny was more of a problem however, since the rest of her family - sans Percy - were going to be invited. They would just wait and see how things settled down over the exam period, though the trio would not be staying in Hogwarts - rather returning to Grimmauld Place every night.


Ginny was in a toilet, sobbing her heart out. All those hopes and dreams that sustained her while growing up had just come crashing down around her - shattering Ginny to her core. Even when Harry was taking two wives, she still wasn't going to be one of them - that was just too cruel. No, what was really cruel was having to accept Luna would be one of those wives.

How in the name of Merlin had Luna managed that? This was the witch who was so strange, the entire school shunned her. To go from that to marrying the hero of their world, and becoming a Lady to boot, was simply unbelievable. Watching as Harry had kissed Luna was like salt being rubbed into the open wound that was her broken heart.

Ginny's sobs were interrupted by a voice outside the cubical door. This was not someone here to offer her support however, the witch on the other side of the cubical door had an entirely different agenda.

"Aw, the brave Gryffindor reduced to sobbing in a girls' loo by a loony former Ravenclaw - that's just pathetic. I heard a rumour this is how Granger became friends with Potter in the first place, when he rescued her from a toilet after a troll got in the castle. I don't think he'll be crashing into this one to stop little you from sobbing your heart out, I watched him leave the great hall with a girl on each arm and a smile on his face."

Recognising the voice, Ginny thought history just might repeat itself. This situation now had all the right ingredients of that story, Millicent Bulstrode wasn't nicknamed 'the troll' because she was petite and dainty. "What's it to you, Bulstrode? Shouldn't you be at that exam too?"

"I have more important things to do than sitting exams I know I'm gonna fail. With my father gone, I can't afford to come back here for my N.E.W.T.'s anyway. I want to leave here with at least a bit of revenge, and you can help me do that..."

"I will never help anyone hurt my Harry..."

"Ah, but that's the problem - he's not your Harry. He never will be either, not with Lovegood in the picture."

"What about Granger?"

"Please, use what little sense you have. Even in Slytherin, we couldn't miss that those two were always going to get together. Take Granger away and he would simply marry the looney. To become Lord Black, he needs to marry a pureblood. Granger is no threat to that position, it's the looney that's stopping you realising your dreams of marrying Harry Potter. Waking up beside your prince every morning, with being a Lady thrown in too..."

The crying from the other side of the door had greatly reduced since she started talking, Millecent now pushed for her goal. "You interested, Weasley, or will I leave you to continue your sobbing?"

"Harry won't be harmed?"

"It's that blonde bitch, Lovegood, I owe a beating to. I don't give a shit about your golden boy-who-lived. She made a fool of me in front of the entire school, no one does that to Millecent Bulstrode."

"What would I need to do?"

It was just as well there was a door separating the two, even Ginny couldn't have mistaken the look of evil glee on Millicent's face. Draco might now preach that the Dark Lord was the one responsible for their families no longer being with them but it was Dumbledore who ordered her father pushed through the veil of death. She would have her revenge on Dumbledore, his boy-who-lived and Lovegood too - with this stupid little bitch setting it all up. She would prove who the real Slytherin was, and the Dark Lord would reward her.

"First you need to stop sobbing and get your skinny freckled arse out of that toilet, we have plans to make..."

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