Can't Have It Both Ways

If you are forced to participate in a competition that's reserved for adults only, doesn't that mean you should be considered an adult? Harry gets some much needed help and advice before having some fun by allowing his marauder heritage out to play. H/Hr

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/5402315/1/Can-t-Have-It-Both-Ways

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8. Chapter 8

Emma was being introduced to the guests as they arrived. She'd already met the Gryffindor contingent in the castle yesterday but the rest were strangers, she definitely wanted to cast her eyes over this Fleur girl. Putting a rival for your boyfriend straight was something Emma could understand but then inviting her to dinner? Only Harry and her daughter could come up with something like that. She noticed the blond girl and, while no one could deny she was beautiful, Emma felt she was right. A worried Hermione had exaggerated the problem. That was until Hermione introduced the blond girl as Daphne Greengrass!

Victor Krum and Cedric Diggory were next to arrive and Emma found her hand being kissed by the handsome Bulgarian. Not to be outdone, the dashing Cedric followed the other champion's example.

Minerva and Pomona followed, expressing their delight at being invited. While Emma's attention was diverted, suddenly a girl who could only be Fleur Delacour was in front of her without warning. Emma's first instinct was to look for Dan but she crushed that mercilessly, if Hermione could invite this goddess to dinner then she was not going to embarrass her daughter. She greeted the girl in French before kissing her on both cheeks, pleased that she'd held herself together while proud of her daughter for the way she was handling this. If Harry could resist the charms of Miss Delacour because of his love for Hermione then any semblance of doubt or uncertainty was removed from her mind. Harry Potter was going to be her son-in-law one day and nothing she or anyone else said was going to matter.

Dan also greeted Fleur in the same manner as his wife, this was the girl who lost out to his daughter and all he could think of was that Harry had impeccable taste. Dan's love for his wife and daughter left him unaffected by any Veela allure. He would quite happily admit she was beautiful but, like Harry, in his opinion Hermione would always be the most beautiful girl in the world. Except for her mother of course.

The next guests shocked Hermione but, being with Harry she was starting to get used to things like this. After the girl stopped hugging and kissing Harry, Hermione found herself with her arms full of a very excited Penelope Clearwater.

"Oh Hermione it's so good to see you again. I was so happy to learn that you and Harry had got together, everyone else saw it but you two. I couldn't believe it when I got that owl from Gringotts, I screamed so much that Percy barged in with his wand drawn. That cheque changed our lives and now it looks like we both got our wizards."

Penelope flashed her new engagement ring and glanced lovingly at her fiancé who was currently talking awkwardly with their host. "Don't mind him Harry, Percy dear has had a rather trying week. Your invitation arrived and I thought that's just what we need, dinner with some friends to celebrate our engagement!"

Penelope and Percy as a couple always reminded Harry of a little weather house his aunt Petunia had. The woman coming out indicating it was going to be sunny while the man's appearance forecast rain, both lived in the same house but never got together. Penelope was pure sunshine while Percy could cast a cloud over anything. If he mentioned 'cauldron bottom thickness' tonight then Harry would revoke both twin's promise of good behaviour and allow them free reign.

McGonagall informed him that Penelope had been writing to her, desperate to thank Harry for his generosity so he decided to get everything over with on the same night. His plans for the weekend included nothing but Hermione and some time to get to know her parents better.

Percy actually looked ill so Harry decided not to tease him too much. "Yeah things must be rough at the ministry when you discover that the Minister of Magic is the biggest crook in the country. Add to that the Head of International Magical Cooperation was using unforgivable's on his death eater son, who he actually broke out of Azkaban, to force his cooperation."

Percy's face lost any semblance of colour but that might just be the fact that he spotted his twin brothers. "Rough week" was his only comment before kissing Hermione on the cheek and moving on with Penelope to meet the others, already wishing he'd stayed at home.

Millicent was using every scrap of her willpower to prevent herself hyperventilating. She just had no way of dealing with this situation without coming across as a stupid, giggling little girl, which would probably ensure she never got an invite again. Merlin's beard though, she, Millicent Bulstrode was sitting across from Victor Krum having dinner!

With four tri-wiz champions, three heads of house, two muggle parents and the new Headmistress of Hogwarts, Millicent had to stifle the giggles at the thought of a partridge in a pear tree. This was illustrious company for the girl who could hardly get any one to talk with her in Slytherin, never mind the rest of the school.

The conversation was morphing from one subject to the next, no one person hogging it and everyone participating. Victor's deep voice might have been heavily accented but Millie hung on his every word. She was desperately trying to memorise everything around her so she could spend days telling her mother about the best night of her life when she went home for Christmas.

The attention switched in Percy's direction with mention of the new acting minister, Minerva asked him what he thought of Deloris and he mumbled some meaningless platitude back. Harry interrupted him.

"Percy, you're a former Gryffindor head boy, when McGonagall asks for your opinion that's what she wants. Your opinion, not some sanitised press release."

The pressure that Percy had been feeling all week exploded from the young man. "Deloris Umbridge is a cunning, conniving, backstabbing, eat your baby for breakfast if it furthers her career, walking pile of shit! Is that what you wanted to hear Lord Potter?"

"If that is your opinion, then that is exactly what I wanted to hear. Look around you Percy and you'll see our world is changing, yesterday most of the students in Hogwarts drew their wands and stood for justice against a team of aurors. Susan my thanks because I know it must have been particularly hard for you to do."

A blushing but beaming Susan answered, "I did it because it was the right thing to do Harry."

"That's what I mean though, we all have an opportunity here to change our world. We have reshaped Hogwarts and, with Luna's writing and Colin's pictures, we can now tell the truth about just what is going on around us. This will only work if people are courageous enough to stand up for what they believe in. It's time for straight talking and telling people what they need to know, not saying what you think people want to hear."

Penelope's eyes fastened on the little blond, "You write for the Quibbler? Oh I always wanted to be a journalist but you need to have the right connections even to get an interview for the Prophet."

Luna laughed, "If you're looking for a job then I have pretty good connections at the Quibbler. We're swamped at the moment and that's before tomorrows edition hits, we're anticipating a mountain of owls ordering Colin's fabulous picture of Harry that's being printed as a poster for charity."

All eyes turned to Harry at this revelation but there was a look of intense concentration on his face that caused Sirius to audibly gulp. "Oh shit, here we go again! Whose life gets changed forever this time?"

Harry's attention swung to the Bulgarian, "Victor, what is your favourite charity?"

Victor had been given some coaching on how to answer questions after matches but, bearing in mind what Harry had said to the eldest redhead, he chose to be completely honest on this occasion. "My favourite charity is a local orphanage near my home. I do not make a lot of money yet because of my age and all the merchandising sold using my name - I never see a Knut of that! Fortunately a little gold goes a long way in my country but I give mostly of my time with the children which they and I enjoy. I had intended any prize money I won from this competition would be donated there." Victor's English may have been heavenly accented but the emotion in his voice broke through any and all language barriers.

Harry was so pleased he had invited Victor here tonight, "What if I could promise you at least a thousand Galleons to donate to that orphanage? Would you be interested?"

McGonagall cleared her throat, "Lord Potter, is this something that myself and others should be listening to?"

"Professor I'm deeply hurt. My betrothed's parents are here and I'm trying to make a good impression, not helped by you thinking your star pupil is up to no good!"

A round of chuckles turned to laughter at McGonagall's quick answer, "If Miss Granger gets up to no good, it's because of the company she keeps."

Harry steered the conversation back onto topic, "The poster of myself will be sold with all monies raised going to charity. I just had the thought that a poster of the four champions would probably sell even more, providing funds for the champions to donate to a charity of their choice."

Millicent couldn't help herself, "I would definitely buy at least one Harry!"

His smile had the Slytherin blushing, "Thank you Millicent, since you're our first potential customer I'll see that it gets signed as well." Millie just got her Christmas present early.

Harry's attention turned to the French girl who had also decided that honesty would be the best policy here, "I think that is a very good idea though I am ashamed to say that I have never even thought of a charity, but Victor's words moved me so much I would like any share of mine to go to that orphanage."

Ever the gentleman, Cedric came to the French Veela's aid, "There is no need to feel ashamed Fleur, I have no charity in mind either. Like you would really like to see any share of mine go where it's needed most, an orphanage in Bulgaria sounds fine to me."

A smiling Harry turned his attention back to Victor, "So we're agreed, the first four thousand galleons go to the orphanage that Victor nominated and we'll discuss any funds exceeding that amount if and when the need arises."

Hermione was so proud of her betrothed she couldn't contain herself, though with her parents and McGonagall here she limited it to a quick kiss o the cheek that promised so much more later. "Harry I think you should see Barchoke about setting up your own charitable company, how about a logo? A snowy owl icon could let people know they're buying a genuine product. We could also find out if there was anyway Victor could stop all these people making money from his name. Ron bought that action figure and it stopped working shortly after the world cup, leaving a lot of people thinking Victor was associated with shoddy goods and poor workmanship."

The expression of adoration on Harry's face confirmed to the entire room these two were meant to be together, Percy though was still smarting from the earlier comment and thought it was time for some payback. "What about Ron Harry, why isn't he here tonight? He was your best friend after all."

The whole mood of the evening changed and Penelope was ready to slap her boyfriend when Harry's cool and steady voice answered. "Ron has also had a very eventful week, when my name came out of the goblet his jealousy overwhelmed him and he accused me of being a cheating liar. As Hermione and I entered the great hall hand-in-hand he celebrated both of us getting together by firing a curse at us. He's now curtailed himself to verbal sniping at every opportunity, hardly the actions of a best friend."

Percy found himself the recipient of quite a few death glares from people who'd witnessed most of Ron's behaviour.

"Hermione and I have also had quite the week, death eaters entering me in the competition, becoming betrothed then Dumbledore cursing Hermione's father to remove her from Hogwarts. Aurors turning up here to arrest us for protecting Luna and my personal guilty pleasure, my godfather pissing all over Lucius Malfoy in the great hall."

Harry felt Hermione's hand slip into his, "Now I think that would give me more of a reason than you Percy to be a grumpy bastard. Instead I choose to look at the situation in a positive manner, I've just spent my evening having a great dinner with friends, family and the girl I love. What could be better than that?"

Penelope had her head down in embarrassment when Ginny spoke to her, "Penelope, if that stupid brother of mine doesn't get off his sorry arse and do something quickly, I'm going to slap him silly. Oh and welcome to the family, we could sure use some more female Weasleys."

Percy cottoned on to the not so subtitle hints and death glares from everyone present, his fiancée was such a likable girl and his actions had left most wondering about her choice of partner. "I'm sorry Penelope, I should be celebrating becoming engaged to the most wonderful woman instead of worrying about what might happen at work. Can you forgive me?"

A quick kiss and make up later earned a comment from George, "Hey Percy, do you give lessons?"

"Yeah because we just happen to know another Weasley who needs to learn to say sorry, wonder if you could talk to him." was Fred's contribution.

Harry decided to nip this in the bud before it went any further, they had been on their best behaviour and now it was time for their reward. "Guys, this is Padfoot and Moony. These gentlemen would like to talk some business with you." Fred and George Weasley were very effectively neutralised for the night, not even their elder brother would be pranked.

Emma nudged Harry and whispered in is ear, he nodded before standing. "I've just been informed we should offer a toast the happy couple since we are the first one's to hear the news. Penelope and Percy, I would like us all to wish you every happiness and strapping's for your ribs after you tell Molly about this. We'll probably hear her squeals of delight all the way from Devon. After all, it is only about five hundred miles!"

Anyone who'd ever seen Molly with her children was laughing as they stood to toast the very red faced but happy couple.

"Emma, could you take the Professors into the library? They should find the books we took from the chamber interesting, there's a volume on transfiguration by Godric Gryffindor that Professor McGonagall may wish to borrow."

Minerva and Pomona practically dragged Emma with Dan following on as they headed towards this treasure.

"Colin do you have…"

Harry was interrupted as Dobby appeared beside the boy with his camera equipment. "Dobby you're amazing! You and Winky did a fabulous job tonight, please thank her for me. Colin and Luna, if you want to come with us we could get this done just now. Hermione love, could you take our guests through to the lounge, I guarantee we will be quicker than the other two groups."

Harry led them through to the training room which they all admired while Colin set up his equipment.

"This is brilliant, the goblins certainly know how to look after their champion."

"Cedric you're welcome to use this, the library or any other facilities at any time, same for Fleur and Victor."

"Harry why are you doing this?" Victor asked, in his experience when someone 'gave' you something there was usually a price to be paid.

"It's simple really, this whole tournament is supposed to be about promoting better relations between our schools, I suggest that's exactly what we do. Originally my only aim here was to promote the goblins, tweak the ministry's nose and hopefully survive the bloody thing. I now find myself thinking those goals will only work if we all survive unscathed. I know from first hand experience just how dangerous this place can be and don't want to see anyone hurt, or even worse!"

Harry was now the recipient of thoughtful looks from his fellow champions, "All I'm suggesting is we don't buy into this 'honour of my school depends on me' rubbish, by becoming friends we can sill enjoy a bit of rivalry without the madness that comes with it. Yes we compete to the best of our abilities but watch each other's backs throughout. I know I'm the youngest so could probably benefit most from this but I can assure you I will hold up my end of the bargain."

Fleur was already convinced, "What you did today spoke volumes about your character, I said then that I would be delighted to be your friend and nothing has changed that. I would like to win but not at the expense of someone here getting hurt, I like your idea of supporting one another very much."

Victor was also nodding, "My main reason for coming to Hogwarts was to hopefully make friends but our headmaster has us virtually confined to the ship. He is obsessed with winning this tournament for Drumstrang but I am not. I become a professional Quidditch player this summer and a bad injury could end my career before it begins. All too please a headmaster who is a death eater, I think not. I very much like the idea of someone guarding my back and have no worries that Harry will not be up to the task."

Cedric was already sold on the concept, "Great idea so count me in, does that mean that if one of us discovers what the first task is they'll inform the other three?"

Harry waited until both Victor and Fleur had nodded in agreement before answering, "Funny you should say that, Colin and Luna you need to promise to keep this quiet…"

In the library Minerva was so engrossed in the selections available that the headmistress of Hogwarts forgot all about the Weasley twins meeting with two of the biggest pranksters ever to come through the school. A decision that would have Minerva shaking her head for many years to come and wishing for early retirement.

Fred and George were jubilant, not only was their dream going to become a reality but they were going into partnership with their heroes. With financial backing and pranking input from two marauders, WWW couldn't fail to be successful.

Much to the astonishment of their guests, Hermione had a CD playing as the elves made sure everybody had a refreshment. Penelope and Percy actually had an ice bucket containing a bottle of Champagne as he tried to redeem himself for his earlier crass behaviour.

Hermione found herself chatting with three Slytherins, Tracy was curious how a Gryffindor ended up head of Slytherin, she tried to explain. "Sirius is a pureblood who rebelled against his family's dark beliefs. He doesn't have any pureblood bigotry, Sirius just doesn't think it's important in the grand scheme of things. We're talking about a man who escaped Azkaban because he knew his godson was in danger. A man who has more justification than most for becoming bitter and twisted yet, as you've seen tonight, he's the life and soul of the party. Slytherin house needs to change direction or it will cease to exist, never doubt for a second that Sirius won't do his very best to achieve that, it's just not in him to do any less."

Daphne was desperate to find out how she and Harry had managed to save him, "I mean he was in a locked room in the tower, I know you're both clever but I just can't see how you pulled it off!"

"We had help from a feathered friend who I now wish had ripped Draco's arm right off." The gasps from the three girls made Hermione smile, she had no intention of mentioning the time turner to anyone.

Millicent decided to be brave and ask the question that had been driving her nuts since Hedwig had made her oh so special delivery. "Hermione, why was I invited here tonight? I'm still ashamed that I listened to that arse Malfoy over those badges."

"That's exactly why you were invited Millicent. You realised it was wrong and admitted your mistake in front of the entire great hall, that took a lot of courage and is exactly the attitude Slytherin is going to have to adopt if it's going to be saved. Don't think we didn't notice you girls up on your feet with wands drawn yesterday, that was a pretty humbling experience actually. When Harry offered his friendship he wasn't joking, he doesn't joke about things like that."

"I hope he wasn't joking about that poster either, I really will buy that!" The sincerity in Millicent's voice meant the others just smiled at her, to tease her obvious hero worship would have been cruel and she was amongst friends.

Harry was right, his group was back well before the others, the twins and marauders were swapping tales of pranks while crowbars plus a block and tackle might be needed to get a certain two witches out the library.

The other three champions were a lot more relaxed. Yes a dragon was certainly no picnic but at least now they were aware of what faced them and could plan for it, the unknown had been getting to them. Luna had taken a small bio from each of the four champions which would appear on the poster while Colin was delighted with the shots he took and already planning the best way to take pictures of their contest's against the dragons.

The dinner was splitting up as people headed home when Harry pulled Ginny aside, "Could you give this to Ron but it's probably better if you don't mention my name."

Ginny read the piece of parchment before throwing her arms around Harry and kissing his cheek, "You're a far better friend than that jealous arse deserves."

Harry just smiled, "I can be a moody git as well sometimes, you do realise he's eventually going to push it too far and it will come to blows? There's no coming back from that so we'll just try and stay out his way for now."

Hermione noticed what Ginny held in her hand and her reaction was the same as the redheads, though this time the kiss was not on the cheek. "You Mr Potter have continually surprised me tonight, now I think it's time we bid our final few guests goodnight then you can start working on saying goodnight to me!"

Ginny tried not to laugh as Harry almost pushed her out the door, after all she couldn't fault his motives.

-oOoOo-

On discovering that he was the only Weasley sibling in the country who never got invited to Harry's dinner, Ron was gutted. He was so gutted that his famous temper never ignited, there was just no spark there.

Ginny sat beside her brother and handed a slip of parchment, "This is for you."

Ron read it and his hands began to tremble 'to Ron Weasley, Best wishes Victor Krum' He had his arm around his sister and tears in his eyes, "Thank you Ginny, you know how much this means to me? I wouldn't have had the courage to ask him for his autograph."

Ginny felt such a fraud, "I'm sorry Ron, I didn't get this for you. Harry did!"

Ron didn't know what to think, his big mouth had insulted Harry again today yet he'd asked Victor Krum for an autograph because Harry knew that Ron was desperate for one. He slowly made his way up to bed, eyes never leaving the precious parchment as his mind once more worked on the problem.

-oOoOo-

Acting Minister Deloris Umbridge sat at the ministers desk and smiled at this morning's edition of the Prophet, a toad faced woman wearing a pink cardigan smiled back at her from the front page as she began her quest to lose the word 'acting' from her job title.

Her plan was amazingly simple, tell the people exactly what they wanted to hear, claim credit for everything positive that happens while blaming her rivals every time something negative couldn't be silenced. Deloris had built her career using this method, that and being utterly ruthless with anyone who stood in her way.

Her front page story in the Prophet was the typical example of what the newspaper stood for, take a few facts and write the story whatever way suited their current needs. With Deloris leaning on them their current needs were to make her the next minister.

The headline set the tone of the entire newspaper.

You-Know-Who Dead!

Lord-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named Delusional!

The newspaper then went on to rubbish reports of a dead death eater teaching at Hogwarts while a ministerial conspiracy involving Fudge / Malfoy / Crouch was discovered and acted upon by none other than Deloris Umbridge.

As the wizarding public didn't want the dark lord to return, the acting minister was sure they would fall over themselves to believe every word of this. That theory lasted until an edition of the Quibbler landed on her desk and fairly ruined her morning. Something would have to be done about this!

-oOoOo-

Ginny rapidly approached a smiling Colin at breakfast, clutching a copy of the Prophet. "How can you sit there all calm and smiling, everyone here knows this is a load of tripe but others will believe this. I thought Harry was your friend?"

"Ginny calm down, yes Harry is my friend and I'm not worried because I know what's coming next."

Before she could grill any information out of the boy, Ginny was interrupted by the arrival of the Quibbler and a strange silence settled over the previously restless great hall. She managed to catch the front page and never even noticed the headline, her entire being was focused on the picture that was causing most of the females in Hogwarts to drool. Sweet Merlin but Harry was so hot that boy should carry a ministerial health warning! Ginny eventually noticed the headline but had no idea how much time had passed in the process:

Dual Hogwarts Heir Wields Gryffindor's Blade in Defence of Castle!

The story went on to report on the captures and confessions, the exoneration of Sirius Black, the arrests and the background story that led to the whole episode, namely Draco Malfoy's attempted rape of a young pureblood witch. Luna's name wasn't mentioned but Draco and his cronies being stopped in their attempt, expelled from Hogwarts and their magic bound was all present in great detail.

Also covered was the probation of Slytherin house, how Lord Potter became the Heir of Slytherin as well as Gryffindor, the contempt Salazar Slytherin held for the half blood bastard Tom Riddle aka Lord Voldemort and a full section entitled, Dumbledore – worst headmaster ever?

With Dumbledore, Snape and Binns all losing their positions, the new staff structure at Hogwarts also made great reading.

Ginny could now understand why Colin was smiling, next to the Quibbler the Prophet was at best a joke with the new acting minister made to appear an arse. The most interesting thing in the entire edition of the Quibbler though was the order form for the Harry Potter poster. Since this was the only way to lay hands on the much coveted item, the paper sold every copy of its record breaking print.

The picture of Deloris Umbridge that adorned the front page of the Prophet was no longer smiling, in all honesty she appeared ready to commit murder. The fact that no one even noticed as they were far too interested in the Quibbler did not improve the toad's disposition.

Ron Weasley was once more sitting alone, when he'd spied the front page of the Quibbler he'd almost started off on an anti-Potter rant again, almost. His thoughts drifted to his trunk that now contained his most prised possession, a possession that the person he was about to rant against had acquired for him. A calm Ron knew Harry well enough to know that it would not be an easy thing for him to ask for an autograph, he absolutely hated it when anyone asked for one from the-boy-who-lived.

'Why would Harry do this for him?' was added to 'Why would Harry prefer Hermione to a Veela?' as questions he needed to find the answers to, he also figured that the longer he took the less chance there was that he would ever get his friend back. Ron was sitting pondering this when Hermes flew towards him with a note from Percy, his brother was offering to help Ron work out his problem. Citing how he had recently allowed his ambitions to hurt Penelope, a thing he swore would never happen again, how he had the error of his ways forcibly pointed out to him and quickly apologised to his fiancée.

The passage that really got Ron's attention, and reminded him of just how clever Percy actually was, came near the end of the letter. 'Saying sorry isn't meant to be easy but sometimes it's not just the right thing to do, it's the only thing left you can do.'

Ron left for a wander around the castle, hoping for some inspiration to solve his problems. Instead he got Sir Cadogan following him from painting to painting, continually berating Ron and challenging him to a duel, sometimes you just couldn't catch a break!

-oOoOo-

Harry and Hermione were currently enjoying a break from all the troubles that seemed to follow them around wherever they went, instead the pair were like young couples the world over and spending their Saturday on a date. As if to illustrate that they weren't like young couples the world over they had Hermione's parents along with them, to prove this point even more they had to keep their eyes on the adults as they meandered through the magical village.

Dan Granger was a happy man, his daughter was walking in front of them, holding her boyfriend's hand as they chatted away to each other. Discounting the magical surroundings, this is what Dan had been mentally prepared for. Not the betrothal, life mate because a Veela was after his daughter's boyfriend, this Dan could handle.

He also felt better after his discussion with Remus. Dan was concerned about the power these rings wielded over Harry, maybe he'd just read Tolkien one too many times but a ring talking to you was not a good sign in any book he'd ever read. Remus explained that the rings offered Harry advice and helped to communicate with the castle, the decisions were still his to make. That a teenager found himself in this situation in the first place was a whole different ballgame and Remus had to prevent Dan bringing this up with Sirius. He'd just got his friend back and didn't want him ending up in Azkaban for attacking the Dursleys or Dumbledore for their treatment of Harry.

Hermione had alluded to Harry's home life not being what it should be, then with everything that happened to him in Hogwarts it's no wonder the boy grabbed the first opportunity to gain control of his life. For all this Dan couldn't fault the boy's manners or treatment of his daughter, how do you ask a lad about his prospects and if he'll be able to look after Hermione when he gives over a million pounds away because he didn't think he had earned it? Both parents had looked back over Hermione's letters sent home since she started attending Hogwarts and it was now easy to see her affection building for this boy, the fact that she always talked about him when at home was something they had just gotten used to.

Harry was so happy even the stares from the villagers couldn't dent his mood, the fact that it wasn't a Hogsmead weekend and his picture was on the front page of the Quibbler only added to the attention he was receiving. The reason for his happiness was currently holding his hand as they window shopped and explained to her parents what some of the sights were, Harry thought having to face a dragon was a small price to pay for Hermione being his girlfriend.

Just holding her in his arms was enough to keep Harry smiling all day but when she kissed him like she did last night then there was nothing that could wipe the grin off his face. Hermione seemed determined to make up for all the years he was without affection and love, she promised to let him know how she felt about him every single day from now on and that was a future Harry was looking forward to.

It was hard for him to accept that Hermione had so little self esteem that she struggled to believe Harry could want to be with her, the kiss when he explained to Fleur that Hermione was the only girl for him blew his mind. Their kissing had escalated to the point that his hands had began wandering and he was forced to stop before he blew it, pushing her into something she wasn't ready for was just not going to happen. They had every intention of being together for a long, long time so there was no need to rush.

He was already making plans for Christmas to convey how much he loved this girl who had radically changed his life, it would have to be something special though as his Hermione deserved the best.

Hermione was currently in heaven, she was with Harry and her parents were accepting the situation, though she would have to be careful to keep her 'displays of affection' to a minimum in their presence or that could quickly change. She understood her mother's concern because as soon as she started kissing Harry all her common sense and intellect left her, it was replaced with a hormonal teenager who had the boy she loved in her arms. Harry had been the sensible one up until now but she'd been physically close enough to him last night to understand how hard it was for Harry to make that decision without him needing to say anything. Her boyfriend had a will of iron, which was probably just as well.

Hermione hadn't envisaged herself kissing ever so the fact that Harry thought she was attractive and professed to love her had released something from inside that she was struggling to control, probably because she wasn't sure if she wanted to control it. Her whole life was about control yet when Harry glanced at her with those sparkling green eyes she would have said yes to anything. Part of her knew she was going to have to get a hold of this but she was so going to enjoy building up her 'kissing Harry' tolerance levels, it could take years of extensive research and practical studies with very little written notes being taken!

-oOoOo-

Albus read the article concerning him in the Quibbler and thought he was probably fortunate that Harry had forced him to step down as headmaster, this article would not only have cost him his job but also seen him kicked out the castle as well.

When his blunders were listed like this there would have been no other option left open to the board, employing Voldemort with the stone in the school, that clown Lockheart and the Basilisk, the whole Sirius Black / Dementors fiasco. This was then topped off by one of his friends being replaced by a polyjuiced death eater, who was thought to be dead yet managed to enter an under aged student into a dangerous competition. That his decisions had endangered students, especially Harry Potter was beyond refuting.

Getting from this position to one where Harry Potter trusted him again could go down as his greatest ever achievement, especially with most of the students now so loyal to the boy. This was when the old wizard had his brain wave, not all the students had supported Harry and one in particular came to mind. He could subtlety inform Ronald Weasley what Harry would be facing in the first task, thus the boy would be back with his friend and it would soon become clear where Ronald gained the knowledge, ingratiating Harry to Albus. The only problem that he could foresee was using the words 'subtlety' and 'Ronald Weasley' in the same sentence, even Hagrid handled the concept better and may be a good back-up plan.

-oOoOo-

Peter Pettigrew was currently disguised by use of a glamour charm, applied by his master because it was beyond his capabilities as a wizard. The dark lord demanded information and, thanks to Potter his rat form was a one-way ticket to a wooden box so Peter was now the proud owner of red curly hair and a bushy ginger beard.

His eyes were almost popping out his head at the details revealed by this issue of the Quibbler. Informing his master that Potter was now the heir of Slytherin because he'd defeated the half blood bastard Riddle three times in combat was an even quicker and surer way to end up in the aforementioned wooden box.

Panic set in immediately as he spied the young couple strolling toward him, he had no trouble recognising Potter and Granger though didn't know the older pair who were with them. The death eater only had seconds to make up his mind whether to flee or hope his disguise fooled them, remembering how smart Granger was Peter decided not to take the chance. As he apparated away, his copy of the Quibbler floated to the ground, his master could read the shit that the Prophet printed because the truth in the Quibbler would get him killed.

Ending up as snake food was a long haul away from the wealthy and powerful future Peter had imagined for himself all those years ago when he became a death eater. Spending thirteen years as a rat and then nursing the most powerful but ugliest baby on the planet was not mentioned anywhere on the death eater recruitment brochure!

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