Don't look back in Anger

Can some angry words change everything?


16. Making Moves

After spending some time with Abi during lunch, the trio then had the opportunity to sit and talk with anyone who didn't have classes that afternoon. Their names being added late to the exam schedule meant all three of them were at the end of the practical timetable. Susan, being a Bones was one of the first. A kiss for luck from Ron saw her set off to keep her exam appointment. That same Ron now began teasing Hermione, partly to keep his mind off his own pending exam.

"This just proves you're not the Hermione Granger I know. What happened to going through the exam paper question by question? Where is the worrying that you might have gotten a tiny part of a question wrong? Why aren't you dragging us away for some last minute practice for our practical charms exam?"

That Hermione was actually smiling at his comments told Ron he was now dealing with a totally different witch.

"That day in Diagon Alley changed all of us. What's important to me now is these two, my family and my friends. If I get ninety eight percent instead of a hundred, all those I just mentioned will still love me. I've done all the preparation work I can and certainly expect to get an Outstanding on my exam, Luna or Harry beating me though I can now handle."

"Of course, your sharing thingy - that must be really handy for exams..."

"Ron, I'm still not kissing you. What would Susan think?"

"Too true, Harry mate, and why would you want to kiss icky Ronniekins..."

"...especially when you have these two beautiful ladies at your side."

"It also came to our attention that the beautiful blonde here mentioned living with a certain two individuals..."

"...individuals Gred and I would really love to meet."

Knowing that information would soon reach the twins' ears, the trio had expected this. "Nice to see you pair again too. Behave yourselves and we just might arrange that meeting, both will certainly be at Hermione and my wedding in September. Believe it or not, we were actually thinking of inviting you two."

"Harry marrying his sweetheart, gets me right here..."

"...and we get to meet two marauders."

"You were actually thinking of inviting us?"

"...and we get to meet two marauders?"

"I don't know, Harry. Can we trust these two not to prank our wedding?"

This had Luna laughing. "You think they're gonna beat Padfoot and Moony to that?"

"Mum will make sure those two big kids don't try anything..."

"...Winky and Dobby will also ensure our day goes off as planned. Who would want to cross those two?" Harry's point was well made, causing both girls to smile. Their devoted elves would soon take care of any trouble.

Again it was a smiling and totally relaxed Ron who headed off to keep his exam appointment as the trio batted banter to and fro with his twin brothers. His friends might have changed a lot but they were still his best friends, that was more than enough for Ron.

Each of the trio aced their practical exam. There was also no way the examiners were letting them go before seeing the three most famous patronuses in the country. All the examiners were amazed as Prongs, Harry the Otter and Snorky had actually gotten stronger since that fateful day in Diagon Alley. All three teens were now almost a year older, and had also grown much closer. The trio didn't have to dig too deep for a happy memory to power their patronus charms, just thinking about the other two was usually enough.

The trio were walking over the covered bridge to the edge of the Hogwarts wards where they were going to call Dobby and Winky to take them home, well to Grimmauld Place. Ron, Susan, Neville, Parvati, Abi and the Weasley twins were all accompanying them when a voice stopped their progress. Ron was actually groaning as Ginny ran up to the group.

"Thanks for waiting. I'm sorry for earlier, it was a bit of a shock but I forgot to congratulate you three." Ginny then proceeded to hug Luna and Hermione, before offering Harry her hand to shake.

Not wanting to offer the slightest encouragement by hugging the youngest Weasley, Harry accepted her handshake of congratulations.

"Thanks Harry. I'll see you guys tomorrow, transfiguration isn't it?" A few nods saw Ginny turn and head back to the castle, leaving Ron to break the stunned silence.

"I know I'm gonna wake up shortly and find out this has all been a dream, today has just been too weird to be real."

This actually earned a chuckle from George. "You three have had much weirder days than this. Giant chess sets and the chamber of secrets are just two that spring to mind."

His twin of course backed George up. "You're just out of the way of it now, Ron. Things have certainly been quieter since these three left - though Snape is still a git!"

This drew nods from all the Gryffindors, with Neville actually offering an opinion. "We're all hoping there actually is a curse on the defence job. The thought of suffering him for another two years is enough to make you want to drop defence."

Parvati looked on the bright side. "Hey, at least potions is so much better now."


The trio had tailored their courses to their new circumstances. Herbology and care of magical creatures weren't really practical to do in their new home. The British history of magic course was a joke, so none of them had any qualms about dropping that. Divination wasn't even a consideration and astronomy didn't hold much attraction for them either. That left them studying six magical subjects: charms, transfiguration, defence, runes, arithmancy and potions.

Luna had jokingly suggested that they could also sit muggle studies but none of the pair who were raised as muggles took her up on that offer. The plan was to sit those six O.W.L.'s this summer, and then the same subjects at N.E.W.T. next year. With their non magical subjects, learning Italian and the not inconsiderable work and stress that comes from planning two separate weddings, Even Hermione agreed they had more than enough on their plates to be getting on with.

After transfiguration on Tuesday, their shortened exam schedules saw them have Wednesday off, this though had been timetabled for Harry to appear at the ministry to collect his Order of Merlin, First Class. The family had thought they were going to pop into the Minister of Magic's office and Dumbledore would hand over the award, they really should have known better.

Arriving inside the ministry at the appointed time, all eight of them were greeted by a couple of aurors and led down into the Wizengamot chamber. This was Claire's first foray into Britain's magical community and she held on tightly to Sirius' arm as her eyes roved everywhere. Living in Italy, none of them ever wore robes now - and they had made no concessions toward that wizarding tradition for today's event. It was only now becoming apparent to them that Dumbledore had arranged for this supposed quick appointment to become an actual event.

Being led into the grand bastion of wizarding tradition that was the Wizengamot chamber in their casual muggle clothing left the group feeling a bit like christians walking into ancient Rome's colosseum - they just hoped they weren't about to be fed to the lions. The public and press galleries were also packed to capacity, and every pair of eyes were focused on the boy-who-had-buggered-off-out-the-country.

"It's good to see you again, Mister Potter."

"Thank you, Minister, though it's actually Lord Black now. I was under the impression that today's meeting was going to be very low key, hence the way we are dressed. I'm sure that important fact was specifically stipulated when today's visit was agreed upon."

"For the awarding of an Order of Merlin, First Class, this is low key. Normally there would be a ball in the recipient's honour, with the ceremony being part of that evening. Since you no longer live in Britain, and have refused our repeated pleas for contact, never mind to return for this ceremony, the country was denied this option."

Dumbledore's smile just made Harry angrier. It would appear the Minister was extracting a modicum of revenge for them slipping out of the country without his knowledge, and then repeatedly refusing to have anything to do with Dumbledore's ministry. Today seemed to have been engineered for the sole purpose of causing Harry embarrassment, he certainly intended to return the favour. "Why is this the first I'm hearing about this being an awards ceremony? There was no mention of any ceremony in your letters..."

"I assumed you would research the award. After all it's a great honour to receive one. No matter, it won't take too long to run through what's required of you. I'm also sure some suitable robes can be found..."



"I said no. I have no intention of playing along with whatever you have planned here, and at no point in our correspondence was press involvement mentioned. In case you've forgotten, Voldemort is still out there - and still after me. My family has remained safe because no one knows where we are. Today you are deliberately putting them in danger to further whatever your own ends are here. If this award comes with these type of strings attached then I may have to reconsider, I have no intention of becoming the Minister's poster boy in this conflict."

The grumblings that had started the minute they walked into the chamber disrespectfully dressed as muggles had grown decidedly louder, and a lot more hostile. There was also the fact the Wizengamot wasn't used to people saying 'no' to them. The Chief Witch wanted to clarify exactly what was happening here. "Lord Black, are you refusing this award?"

"Madam Longbottom, I made an agreement in good faith with Minister Dumbledore to come to the ministry today and collect my award. In return for doing this, we would be allowed to sit our O.W.L. exams at Hogwarts. The faith of that agreement hasn't just been broken, but shattered into tiny pieces. For whatever the Minister's reasons behind this, it appears to me to have been done deliberately. At the very least, I should have been made aware of what procedures and protocols were in place for this proposed ceremony today."

This had some people nodding in agreement so Harry continued on the same theme. "I left Britain to get away from Albus Dumbledore's attempts at manip

ulating my life. He's been doing so since I was a toddler, and those manipulations continued right up until the moment I left the country, I'm not about to let him get any sort of hold over me again. I mean no disrespect to this chamber, or the people currently in it, but I will not be collecting my award today. If it is then decided by the members to remove this award from me, I will be disappointed but understand. If the chamber will excuse us, we'll be leaving."

The party then discovered the doors had been closed behind them, and there were two aurors standing guard in front of those closed doors. This led to a momentary stand-off until Sirius turned and addressed the chamber.

"I was under the impression we were invited guests here. Since when did this country's hospitality become so poor - that's poor bordering on insulting?"

It was an embarrassed Amelia Bones who stood and barked out an order. "Aurors, open those doors. Escort this party wherever they want to go, and that is a direct order."

"Thank you, Madam Bones, we shall be heading home." Harry's words left no one in any doubt what he meant by that, causing Amelia to ask a question.

"Aren't you going to sit the rest of your O.W.L.'s at Hogwarts? I've heard nothing but good reports from there, and all your friends were really pleased to see you again."

"All three of us were enjoying the experience but I think the chances of ministerial interference are now too high to justify us risking going back there again. I am now head of two families, and their safety is always my main concern."

Knowing that if Harry headed out of the country again, there was a good chance he would never return, Albus couldn't allow that to happen. He needed to act now. He had hoped to embroil Harry back into their world with an old fashioned piece of pomp and ceremony, with the young man at the very centre of it. Albus had known from the instant they had walked through those doors his scheme was doomed to fail.

This Harry bore only a passing resemblance to the boy who had attended Hogwarts for four years. The new version had walked confidently into this somewhat hostile chamber, with a witch on either arm and surrounded by his family. Even from the way they were dressed, in quality muggle clothing, was a massive clue his manipulations weren't going to work. It looked as if all of them had 'gone muggle' - Black was even marrying one - leaving magical Britain and Albus with very little to offer.

He had only accepted the bloody Minister of Magic position to keep Harry in the country, then they had all slipped away while the ministry were dealing with the York situation. Albus was now trapped in a job he hated, trapped until Voldemort was defeated. The problem with that was Voldemort had gone to ground, disappearing every bit as effectively as Harry had done. Only the target standing in front of Albus had a chance of seeing the Dark Lord surface again, and offering the ministry a chance to end this once and for all.

"My apologies, Harry. Today was never meant to turn out like this, though there was no deliberate misleading on my part. I made certain assumptions that were the cause of this whole misunderstanding and for that I unreservedly apologise to you, your party and this chamber. I publicly give you my guarantee there will be no ministerial interference with your exam visits to Hogwarts - other than to wish the three of you the best of luck with your O.W.L.'s."

The group accepting his apology saw Albus reach for more. "Do you have any other time during your visit to Britain when this ceremony could be rescheduled? I will of course ensure a copy of the proper procedure is in your hands before then, passing it on to Headmistress McGonagall would seem my best option of reaching you."

"I look forward to reading it and will let you know by letter, using the same method." With that, Harry led his family out of there - leaving behind a chamber who weren't sure what they had just witnessed. Amelia and Augusta though would certainly be having a go at getting some answers out of the minister.

As the group were leaving the ministry, Sirius offered his bride to be some comfort. "And that is why we won't be living in Britain."

"That was so intense, I felt as if I'd just dropped into the middle of a spaghetti western. All that was missing was Clint Eastwood."

This warranted a groan from Harry. "Oh great! Hermione is the good, Luna likes to play the bad, that leaves me as the ugly."

Some laughter relieved the not inconsiderable pressure they had all been under inside that chamber. "Sorry about that, folks. There was just no way I was going to jump through whatever hoops Dumbledore had prepared for me."

This found agreement from all of the group, though nothing more was said until they left the ministry. After Dobby and Winky had checked them for any tracking charms, they were popped to Gimmauld to find lunch waiting on them. Hermione soon got the ball rolling

"Do we believe him about Hogwarts or are we heading home after the wedding on Saturday?"

Harry had been running that question through his head since Dumbledore made his public promise. "There was press, a good few of the wizarding public and the entire Wizengamot there to hear him say that. For Dumbledore to then go back on his word would ruin his credibility. I think it should still be safe but suggest we wait until we've seen what the Prophet makes of that shambles today before Dobby takes us to Hogwarts."

"I'm going too!"


"Sirius can't, he still has wedding arrangements to sort, so that leaves me. You need me there, Harry, just in case he decides credibility be dammed. Dumbledore is also not above getting someone else to do his dirty work for him. I'll take you there in the morning, hang about in the library and then accompany you back here at the end of the day. If you need help, a patronus message spell will have me at your side in seconds."

Rather than objecting, Harry just said thanks before throwing the next question up for debate. "So, do we go along with this award ceremony - or head home as planned on Monday night?"

It was a thoughtful Luna who aired her opinion on that. "If we head home without collecting your award, that effectively finishes us in Britain. There is no way we could even come back for a visit, never mind to sit our N.E.W.T.'s next summer."

As well as confirming she thought Remus going to Hogwarts along with their three was a great idea, Emma offered her tuppence worth. "Why don't you wait and see what this ceremony entails before making a decision? We can all go through it with a fine tooth comb to make sure there's nothing in there that would cause Harry concern."

Hermione liked that idea. "It will be tomorrow at the earliest before McGonagall can hand anything over, Tomorrow night we can check it over. Any questions or points needing clarified could then be passed back over in Hogwarts on Friday. Unless Dumbledore makes this really simple and transparent, we could easily string it along until we run out of time..."

Luna loved that suggestion. "...then they couldn't blame Harry for not collecting it - brilliant. Dumbledore is certain to leave himself room to manoeuvre with the ceremony, there will be areas of ambiguity deliberately inserted in there. We ask for clarification of every single point, and his own 'delivery system' will then work against him."

Both his girls got a hug from a happier Harry. "We give McGonagall all our questions on Friday and Dumbledore will have to answer them all by Monday - otherwise we're back home on Monday night. That works for me."

Now it was only a mater of waiting to see how the Prophet would portray what happened in the Wizengamot chamber today. It would of course take its lead from the ministry, so they may not even have to worry about this ceremony - or returning to Hogwarts. The Wizengamot revoking the award and turning on Harry would see them back in Italy after Claire and Sirius' wedding on Saturday.


Ministerial Misunderstanding Makes Mayhem of Merlin Medal Method

That headline really took the pressure off. The press weren't actually close enough to the action inside the chamber to take any meaningful photographs of the group, all of whom had left before any photographers could catch them. They'd been promised posed shots of the latest recipient of the Order of Merlin, instead they'd had to settle for taking one of a contrite Dumbledore.

His apology, and non interference promise with their O.W.L.'s, was there on the front page. There was also a plea from Dumbledore, and the Prophet, that these problems should be sorted so the delayed ceremony could be rescheduled.

After reading that, four of the group at the breakfast table in Grimmauld then headed off to Hogwarts.

Being somewhat later today, they met their friends heading out of the great hall toward their exam. Having already seen the Prophet, Ron summed all their opinions up in a few words. "Only you, Harry, only you..."

Remus left the trio to go along with their friends. He headed toward the staff table, needing permission from McGonagall to be here and use the library. It was a permission he quickly received, along with the letter from Dumbledore. That Remus cast four different detection spells at the letter before accepting it almost saw that permission revoked.

"Was that really necessary? Surely you don't think Albus would do something like that?"

"Headmistress, I think Minister Dumbledore would do a lot worse than that." Putting the unopened letter in his pocket, Remus headed for the library.

Lunchtime again was longer for the trio, their names once more being added to the end of the practical exam timetable. This saw them being approached by McGonagall.

"Lord Black, have you had time to look over the procedure for the awards ceremony?"

Not even looking up from the book he was reading, Remus dealt with that question before Harry could answer. "Headmistress McGonagall, I'm surprised at you! That letter is still in my pocket, and will stay there until we leave Hogwarts today. These three need to be concentrating on their pending exam, not getting distracted by something that could and should have been dealt with a week ago. We'll look over it tonight, though tomorrow is their busiest day - exam wise. Any discussions on this won't be allowed to eat into their revision timetable Hermione has already set."

McGonagall could hardly find fault with students studying for their exams so stormed away, all four of them knew she would have a floocall to make.

A chuckling Luna simply had to comment on that. "Moony, you're the best."

Knowing that information would soon make its way to Fred and George, Harry and Hermione were chuckling too as all three now headed off to their practical exam. With Sirius allowing Harry to share his memories of auror training, and then having him and Remus there to help all three practice what they'd learned, the trio were all confident about today. In the practical side of defence, all three were already well beyond N.E.W.T. level.


Friday saw them arrive in the castle at their more normal time, allowing the trio a chance to chat with their friends before the first exam.

Ron was raving about having a day off while they had their busiest day yet, runes and arithmancy. Harry however teased right back. "Monday though sees us sit our last exam, while you will still have another three to go. You don't finish until after your history of magic exam on Thursday. By then, I'll be lying beside our pool with two beautiful witches beside me."

That comeback was so successful, Ron just sat there stunned - causing much laughter around the table. "I think you broke him, Harry."

Hermione then got in on the act. "If he can't handle even the thought of that, how is he going to cope with seeing his girlfriend in a bikini when you come over for our wedding?"

Ron's mouth was making shapes but there was no sound coming out, his face though was just a massive grin. Susan whispering in his ear they might need to work up to that before then meant that grin was going nowhere anytime soon. Sometimes, it was good to be Ron Weasley.

Neville however had a question for Harry. "Will you be going straight home after your last exam? What I meant was will you be staying in Britain longer to collect your Order of Merlin?"

"I honestly don't know, Neville. We asked Dumbledore for a detailed account of this ceremony, what we got was anything but. Writing down all the questions we had, and all the points we wanted clarified produced a document three times the size of Dumbledore's original. If I don't know exactly what I'm letting myself in for then it won't go ahead, Wednesday was a massive embarrassment for everyone. That can't be allowed to happen again." This found complete agreement amongst their friends, and the trio knew letters would soon be getting sent from Susan and Neville - putting Harry's point of view across to their respective guardians.

It was a contented trio who set of for their ancient runes exam as Remus headed to McGonagall to pass on their response. They expected to be leaving Hogwarts later with Dumbledore's reply to their questions. Apart from the debacle Wednesday became, this week had gone much better than they'd believed possible. Hogwarts appeared a changed school, especially from their perspective.

No sniping from the Slytherins, Snape was keeping an ultra low profile - they hadn't seen him since he was sitting at the staff table their first morning - and even Ginny appeared to be getting her head on straight. Whilst the youngest Weasley still cast the odd glance at Harry, she mostly stuck like glue to Luna. This was a massive improvement in her behaviour and seemed to remove any obstacles from inviting her, along with the rest of the Weasleys, to their wedding in September.


Remus couldn't help but grin after Sirius asked him for about the dozenth time if he had the ring. "Yes I've got it, it's too late to back out now."

"Remus, I've never wanted anything so bad in my entire life. There is no chance of me going anywhere without Claire by my side. Thankfully, she has Harry there to hopefully get Claire here without her changing her mind at the last minute…"

The church elder who popped his head in to say the bride had arrived at the front of the church, and it was now time for them to take their positions, ended all Sirius' worries. He left the small room with Remus and the minister, and also with a wide grin on his face.

Claire had lost her father while still a teenager too, so there was some shared empathy there with Luna. She actually got on very well with both girls and Emma had welcomed her with open arms to their somewhat strange family. Her Mother had almost blasely just dismissed the magical problem as unimportant. Her daughter loved a wizard, Sirius was head over heels in love with Claire, Karen didn't see any problems just because her future son-in-law could perform magic. For Karen Munro, seeing her daughter accepted into this family unit was all she had ever hoped for. That the same family unit accepted her too was simply wonderful. Karen quickly became attached to the three teens, and was sitting beside Hermione and Luna as Harry led Claire down the aisle.

Both Sirius and Harry appreciated the dark humour behind the current Lord Black leading a muggle bride down the aisle, inside a muggle church, to the pureblood member of the Black family who was waiting to become her husband.

With her father having been dead for over a decade, and the Munros not being a large family, Claire's preferred choice of wedding day escort had fallen between Dan or Harry. Since Dan would soon be carrying out this same task for Hermione and then Luna, she had asked Harry. This was an honour Harry took great delight in carrying out, his smile was nearly as big as his godfather's as he passed Claire onto Sirius before taking his seat beside Karen and his ladies.

All three had certainly expected Karen to be emotional during the service but, probably thinking about their own pending weddings, Harry found himself with three crying females. That these were certainly happy tears allowed him to pass out the hankies with a smile, a smile he shared with Dan who was behind them and comforting an emotional Emma.

There were no tears from the bride or groom, neither saw anyone else in the church as the minister said those immortal words - I now pronounce you man and wife. The wedding party may have been small, Sirius had only invited the Tonks, with about a dozen or so of Claire's friends there with dates/spouses making up the numbers, but they applauded like crazy as the new Mister and Mrs Black were presented to the congregation.

As the photographer then took over and herded people into the positions he wanted, Claire tried again to discover the information Sirius was keeping from her.

"Okay, you had playing the mysterious fiancé down to perfection. I think though that, as the new Mrs Black, I at least deserve to know where our wedding reception is being held? You have no idea the amount of ribbing I've taken from my friends over this, they don't even know where they will be spending the rest of the evening."

It would have taken a broken jaw to wipe the grin from Sirius' face, that his prank was still in play just widened that smug grin. "All will be revealed shortly, Mrs Black, I'm certain everyone will love it. I think you are a very special lady, a lady who deserves nothing but the very best. Fortunately in me, that's exactly what you're getting - and this is my chance to show you that. I know you'll love it, I really pushed the boat out with this one."

After the obligatory photographs in front of the church were taken, Claire and Sirius headed into the bridal car - only the drivers of the car and minibuses knew where they were going. All Sirius would say was that they would see everyone soon.

Being a local, Claire soon sussed where the road they were on led. "Sirius, we're hardly dressed to get on a ferry - and there's not one due for a couple of hours yet."

"Oh I hope not, we need to be gone before that."

The bridal car had to edge its way through a throng of gaping locals, then Claire got a glimpse of what they were gaping at. The ocean going yacht docked where the ferry usually sat was the only thing those two ships had in common. This sleek one hundred and six foot, three decked brilliant white piece of marine sculpture absolutely glistened in the June sunshine. Even having been around boats for most of her life, the sheer beauty and elegance of this sight took Claire's breath away.

"We thought about some flags or bunting but I didn't think this ship needed them. The captain though assures me the crew can have them up in less than thirty minutes, if my beautiful wife wishes so."

"Oh Sirius, it's perfect. Won't the ferry need to come in here though?"

"Yes. That's why once everyone's on board, the captain will take us out and our wedding reception will be held while the ship cruises along the coast. We'll return phere after the last ferry has left."

Sirius found himself being passionately kissed in the back of the car, the chauffeur politely waiting until they were finished before opening the door. It was a very happy husband who offered his new wife his arm. "I think this would be the time to tell you we'll be living on board for the next month. We'll be cruising around the Mediterranean, finishing of course in Sorrento so it's only a short drive home. We start in Gibraltar on Wednesday, then it's up to us what we want to see - and where we want to go…"

Claire's eyes were sparkling but she caught something Sirius had just said. "Why Wednesday for Gibraltar? I'm sure this boat must be faster than that…"

"It is, but I don't want to get too far away until our family are all back home."

Catching on at once, Claire checked if she was correct. "You don't want to leave Britain until Harry, Hermione and Luna are finished with Hogwarts on Monday - and safely away home."

"Just married five minutes and already you can read me like a book…"

"I know how close you are to those three, it's something I certainly approve of. I think it just shows what a great father you're going to make." Emphasising her point with a gentle kiss had the crowd cheering.

Some in the crowd recognised Claire and word soon passed around that she was a local girl. The crowd had come down to the harbour to stare at the beautiful ship. Now, one of their own was the focus of their attention. The local press were there too, the Newhaven Independent photographer knew having a local girl involved in this just moved the story to the front page. He almost elbowed the official wedding photographer out of the way to get a picture of Sirius and Claire on the ship's gangway.

Claire's best friend was her bridesmaid, and on Remus' arm as they too headed from their transport to the ship. "Claire told me her new husband was wealthy - but this?"

Remus couldn't help but chuckle. "Sirius always had a taste for the dramatics, especially when there was an audience around. I have to say though, this one tops everything. Then again, you only get married once."

"He really does love her, doesn't he? Some of us have been a bit worried about Claire, and this mysterious man who she met in the opticians. This tall, dark and handsome man who use to travel halfway across Europe just to spent a few days with her. It sounds like something out of a fairy tale, then he treats her like a princess on her wedding day. I'm so happy for her."

"She makes him very happy too, and Claire has been an instant hit with the rest of us."

"Yes, Claire and Karen make this villa you all live in sound wonderful..."

Knowing what was being hinted at here, Remus wasn't offering any encouragement or invitations. "To us, it's just home."

Harry let out a low whistle of appreciation as he led both girls toward the ship. "Way to set the bar high, Padfoot."

"Harry, we don't need or want anything as ostentatious as this. What's far more important to us is that we're all together. The conversation the new Lord Black needs to have with my mum and dad is far more important than any cruise. Luna, we've discussed this - you know what needs to happen."

"I know, I just feel as if I mucked things up for you two..."

"There is no two, Luna, we're a three now. I agree a hundred percent with Hermione on this, there will be no sneaking around behind peoples' backs. This is for the rest of our lives, we need to establish how we're going to live those lives right from the very beginning. Those new lives begin in September, and we will have everything in place before then."

Catching the beautiful blonde's attention, Hermione spoke right from the heart. "Love, you know how we both feel about you - we also both know this is something you want with all your heart. Without you, Harry and I feel like there's a part of us missing. That is not something we're prepared to endure, even for the year it takes for you to become the Lady Black. September is all of our wedding day, a day I'm very much looking forward to."

"I have got rather addicted to cuddling at night, I don't think I could give that up now."

"You won't have to, I promise to look after both my wives. Let's just enjoy today, we'll sit down with Emma and Dan after we get home. I still think this will be a better conversation than me having to discuss performing a love ritual with Hermione to get a bit of Voldemort out of my head."

He now had a giggling girl on each arm. Harry was sure though they were giggling at him, knowing full well he was dreading the approaching confrontation with Emma and Dan. With this knowledge of what the immediate future held, all three were determined to enjoy today. With their stalling tactics over the award working well, it was looking ever more likely they would be returning to Italy after their last exam on Monday. That would make Tuesday a far more important day in their lives than any award ceremony, that would then be conversation day.

A lot of Claire's friends were locals too, so everyone was on deck and waving to the crowd as the yacht pulled out of the harbour. The wedding party then made its way down to a massive dining room, a room dressed with what must have been bales of white satin that perfectly matched the bride's dress. There was one table set aside for the main bridal party with everyone else being allowed to chose their own seats. With all the tables set out for six people, the trio sat beside Dan and Emma. It was a flabbergasted Karen who joined her daughter and new son-in-law at the bridal party table. Claire had said Sirius treated her like a princess, here was proof that everyone could see.

Seeing the wide smile Claire now wore was enough to tell Sirius he got today right. Now they would have a fabulous meal and then there was only Moony's speech left to worry about.


After the trio headed off to the first part of their potions exam on Monday morning, Remus handed McGonagall a copy of their latest latest points for clarification. That he hadn't received a reply by lunchtime had Remus concerned. When the trio were ready to leave Hogwarts and there was still no reply, this had the marauder on full alert.

Harry was walking while chatting with Ron, Neville and the Weasley twins. Remus was right beside him, ready to bring his wand into play at a second's notice. Hermione was behind them, telling Susan she would send some pictures of bridesmaid dresses for her to consider. Parvati was hanging on every word, knowing she too was being invited to the wedding.

As had become their new norm, Luna and Ginny were chatting while bringing up the rear.

Crossing the clock tower courtyard and entering the covered bridge over the deep gully saw Remus begin to relax. At the end of the bridge they would clear the Hogwarts wards, allowing Dobby to collect the trio.

A thud and a groan coming from behind ended any thought of relaxation. Anyone who had played quidditch recognised that particular sound, a beater's bat striking flesh instead of the bludger was quite a distinctive noise. Hermione's scream of terror had them at her side in a few seconds, even then they were too late.

Ginny was lying sprawled on the courtyard while a sobbing Hermione was lowering her wand. "There were at least two people, disillusioned and on brooms. They had Luna over the wall before I could even get a spell off, she looked hurt too. They will be outside the Hogwarts wards in seconds, then they could take her anywhere..."

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