AN: This story is co-written with Jaquelyne, and was an entry into the HG Live Journal Fic-a-fest.
I'm posting this tonight, as a kinda of a celebration. I've just finished the final version of This Means War! Part 8 - it weighs in at an astronomical 113 pages - over 33000 words. It's going out to my beta's at the moment (Jaq's already got back to me)
This story itself is teeth rotting fluff. It has three parts, and is the first in a trilogy of stories. A lot of this was actually written pre-TMW! And needed Jaq to drag it out and put into shape.
The second part is already written, and the third is about 45% done, so it hasn't been interfering with anything else.
Harry James Potter took a long drink of his Pina-Colada and sighed happily. He stretched out on his sun bed to gaze happily at the beach before him. His eyes surveyed the scene with a casual ease, seeing everything, checking for threats. Seeing none, he touched his sunglasses and admired a scantily clad lady as she walked past.
He could tell that she was checking him out, his muscled form had attracted plenty of attention on his holiday, especially when combined with his bright green eyes and unruly hair that begged for someone to come and tame it. He didn't care though; he wasn't in the mood for a casual relationship. If he was to be honest, his first. Apart from a brief thing with Cho that had been more about mutual comfort than passion, and he had never had a full relationship.
Voldemort had been defeated at the end of Harry's sixth year. The prophecy had come true, and Harry had done what he had been born to do. Win.
As the Dark Lord had fallen, so too had all the loyal Death Eaters; the Dark Mark ensuring that they were as loyal in death as they had been in life.
There had been a sense of disbelief amongst the members of the Order of the Phoenix, as they realised they had won, and they had all looked on in awe as Harry had approached them.
"I need some time to myself," he half whispered. "I'll be back for school next year." And with that, the 'Boy Who Lived', the 'Man Who Defeated Voldemort' vanished.
The Order had been shocked, but with the shift in power and the knowledge that Harry was the most powerful wizard alive, they accepted his wishes and didn't try to find him.
That of course didn't stop his friends, as they were not yet full Order members, but without a clue as to where he was, they had nothing to go on. Owls came back with their message undelivered.
Harry appeared a second later on the hill outside Godric's Hollow and kneeled in the dirt, in front of his parent's grave. Sirius Black was buried next to them, as he had revealed in his last will and testament.
"What do I do now?" Harry asked them softly. "I've done what I was born for, what else is there? I've got nothing to live for, I've pretty much sacrificed everything, and now I'm lost."
Harry stayed there, on his knees, before he finally fell asleep, and started to dream.
"What do you mean nothing to live for?" a voice demanded.
"Sirius?" Harry gasped, before leaping up and hugging him.
"For a bit," the ex-convict agreed. "People upstairs felt that you deserved someone to set you straight, as a small part of a thank you for everything you've done."
"You're dead?" Harry asked, a little disappointed.
"Yep," Sirius agreed. "But, I've found your parents, and they are so proud of you its unreal. They've been watching you all your life, and hated everything you've been through, and are amazed at what you have become. James has all sorts of plans for the Dursley's when they arrive in the afterlife. I wouldn't be surprised if, after we get through with the lot of them, they become the first family in history to request a change of address downstairs."
Harry laughed at that.
"Anyway," Sirius continued. "It was agreed that I'd be the one to come down and knock some sense in to your thick head."
"Harry," Sirius said, sitting down against his own tombstone. "You seem to think that you have nothing left to live for."
Harry nodded in agreement.
"You've got it completely wrong. You've got everything to live for. Harry, you're the most famous person in the wizarding world now, and with Voldie gone, you're gonna have every eligible witch in the world at your feet. It's time for Harry 'I fight the Dark Lord' Potter to retire, and be replaced by Harry 'I'm gonna have some fun' Potter.
"Besides, think of all the pranks you can play now. Think of what you can do to Snape. Harry, you've got to go back to school next year and take up our mantle. Show that you are a Marauders son."
"But," Harry started.
"No buts, Harry. You've won, you've done it, now it's time to move on and be Harry."
"Yes, be yourself. Be irritable, be happy, be mad, be what ever you want, just be because you can, and not because you have a Dark Lord staring down your back."
"I'm not sure I know how to be myself," the green-eyed wizard admitted quietly.
"You've got the rest of the summer, take yourself to some where far away, and find yourself. Oh, and no feeling guilty. Yes, people died, a lot of them, me included. And while I would love to still be on earth, it's great up there. Prongs, Lil's and I are creating havoc." Sirius's smile suddenly turned a little evil. "You know, if you listen really carefully at night, when the wind is in the right direction, you can hear Voldemort's screams of pain. They don't accept failure downstairs, and Voldie failed big time."
Harry actually managed a smile for the first time.
"I'm serious, Harry. You've done everything that has been asked of you, now it's time for you to have some fun with your life. Remember us Harry, but remember that we all love you, we are proud of you and we will always be watching after you."
Harry smiled slowly and hugged his godfather.
"You can be everything and anything you want now. If you want to be an Auror, you can be. Personally, I think you should be a professional Quidditch player. What ever, you've got enough money now to retire and spend the rest of your life loafing on a beach. It doesn't matter; all you have to do is be happy."
"What about the prophecy, being the Minister for Magic?"
"The prophecy has done what it was designed for, it's defeated Voldie, and the rest is up to you. If you want to be a Ministry man, you can be, if not, don't. You've paid any dues anyone could ask of you, Harry, now it's time to live your own life."
"I miss you," Harry whispered.
"I know, I miss you too. But, we're never really gone."
Harry nodded slowly, a tear dripping down his face. "Will I ever see you again?"
Sirius grinned. "That all depends on the quality of the pranks."
Harry laughed softly.
"I've got to go now, Harry. Remember to enjoy yourself, and make Snape's life a living-hell."
Harry opened his eyes, and smiled. For the first time in ages he felt good about himself. "I'm free," he yelled into the early morning light, and promptly vanished.
Which left Harry having the first proper holiday of his lifetime, on a small beach in Hawaii. A small charm kept him invisible from owls, and he spent the entire time relaxing and sunbathing.
He idly glanced at his watch and froze. The digital numbers in the corner clearly stated what day and month it was. "Oh, bugger," he muttered to himself. He quickly calculated the time differences, and swore again. He remembered last looking at his watch a week ago, and reminding himself that he had to get back to school in a weeks time. He had then promptly forgotten and went for a refreshing swim.
He was due at Hogwarts, for the start of the new term, in five minutes. He thought quickly, most of his supplies from last year would still be there, so he should be ok for the first few days, till the weekend when he could get down to Diagon Alley. With a wave of his hand, he made all of his belongings vanish from the hut he had been staying in, and took a deep breath.
"Ok, as I can't Apparate to Hogwarts, I hope this works."
Ginny Weasley sat in front of a dresser in her room in the Burrow, examining herself critically.
She moved her hands to her hair, lifting the heavy mass and twisting it up, trying to see what she would look like with shorter hair. With an audible sigh, she released it, and smiled slightly as it dropped down to mid-back.
Her hair was, without doubt, her favourite feature. Flame red, with the ability to match her mood.
Her eyes were pretty good as well, she decided, clear and a deep brown that seemed to attract attention, not all of it warranted.
Her nose was cute, and she had a nice smile. In all, she was happy with her features, feeling blessed that her freckles were more of a highlight than a blemish.
She stood, and felt part of her good mood evaporate. No matter how she posed, she couldn't hide the fact that she was built like a boy. While Lavender Brown had grown udders, she was cursed with boobs that barely needed a bra, a thin body, and straight legs.
"How the hell are you going to get Harry to notice you when he comes back, when you look like this?" She asked the mirror softly.
The mirror, wisely, decided that this was one time when answering would not be a good idea.
Ginny took a deep breath, and then slowly smiled at herself. "Ok Gin," she said, her voice growing in strength. "You may not have the equipment that certain witches like to display for the world, but damn it, you can use what you've got. You've waited this long, and now Voldemort is dead; there is nothing to stand in your way. You're his friend, you know he's attracted to girls like you - Cho was small as well, so that's not a problem. You just have to make sure you're in the right place when he gets back."
She adamantly refused to even contemplate the idea that he wouldn't be back - he was too strong for that, even if he didn't think so himself. She was quite prepared for him to be upset still, and was willing to help him anyway. Besides, not even Harry Potter could remain miserable through a good snog.
With that final thought, she giggled to herself, and pulled on a t-shirt.
"Hi Guys," Ginny said, as she wandered into the kitchen. As normal, Ron and Hermione were sitting next to each other, patently ignoring the fact that both of them wanted to jump the other. It was one of the most impressive displays of denial Ginny had every seen.
"Ginny," Ron nodded, while Hermione smiled at her.
The red-haired girl sat down at the table and took a deep breath. "When Harry gets back, I'm going to ask him out," she said bluntly. Several years of being his friend, being in the Defence Association, and fighting in the final battle had eliminated a lot of her shyness.
Hermione tilted her head, and looked piercingly at her. Slowly, the bushy-haired witch smiled and nodded.
"You're doing what?" Ron demanded.
"Going to ask Harry out," Ginny sighed, having expected Ron's over-protectiveness of her. None of her boyfriends had ever been good enough for him, not that she had really had that many, just Michael and Dean.
Ron took a deep breath.
"Look, Harry is your best friend," Ginny interrupted. "If you can't trust him, who can you trust? I'm more than old enough to date, to kiss, to do what ever."
"What?" Ron asked, looking completely lost.
Ginny frowned, looking at him as if he was insane. "Your over-protectiveness of me, it's time you stopped it. I want a proper boyfriend, and I want Harry."
Ron bit back what he was going to say first, took a deep breath, and tried a second track. "Ginny, I love you. You're my only sister, and the closest sibling out of all of them. But I'm not sure I want you dating Harry."
Ginny opened her mouth to protest, but was stopped as Ron forcefully held up his hand.
"You are more than old enough to look out for yourself these days, you more than proved that during the battle. If you want to date, I won't stand in your way anymore, I'll even be nice to Dean.
"I haven't been the best friend to Harry I could have been. I've been jealous of him, not stood by him, even came close to hating him. Yet during the battle, he stepped in front of that Cruciatus curse Malfoy Senior cast at me, and he took it.
"I realised then just who Harry Potter is, what it means to be him. I was envious, but I'm not anymore. He has lost nearly everything, and me? Charlie got a broken arm and Percy was knocked unconscious. My whole family survived the war - the war that killed his parents and his godfather."
Ginny and Hermione were both looking at Ron in shock; never had they heard him speak like this before.
"So, I am going to be the very best friend I can be, for the rest of my life. I am going to be there for Harry every step of the way, as a loyal friend should be. I am going to ignore the crap that comes from other people, jealous, because I am Harry's best friend.
"And part of that, Gin, is protecting him. I am going to make sure that anyone he decides to date is not after his fame or fortune, but wants him. I want him to be happy.
"I love you," he reiterated, "but I don't know if you are right for him. And, in case you haven't noticed, you've got a boyfriend."
Ginny thought for a second. Her first reaction was to explode into a temper, till she looked into his eyes, and instead of seeing something like his standard jovialness, she saw something she hadn't seen in his eyes before. It was vaguely familiar - an iron hard determination to follow through on his words. It reminded her of the look in Harry's eyes as he had finally approached Voldemort for their last duel.
"I've never been serious about Dean, and I don't think he has been about me. We've just been together in name - I mean we've hardly done anything more than kiss the whole of last year." She said quietly.
"And as being right for Harry, I think I am. I know Harry better than anyone except for you two. I am his friend, and he is mine. Yes, I did have a crush on him, but that crush was NEVER about him being the famous Harry Potter, it was about him being Harry. I have dated Michael and Dean, as I tried to find out if what I have felt for Harry was real.
"I can assure you, that what I feel is very real."
"How do I know you won't say the same about Harry next year?" Ron asked softly, his eyes pinning his sister. "Harry is the loyal type; it's very likely that if he falls in love, it would be for life. Sure, he can be irritable and secretive at times, but deep down, where it counts, he would put up with anything for a family, and I'm not prepared for that to be used against him."
Hermione was looking on with shock at Ron. Like Ginny, she had expected her friend to go into Ginny-Protect mode. Seeing him much more concerned about Harry's emotional state suddenly made her realise that Ron had grown up - as they all had.
Ginny gulped, she hadn't expected this, and had no idea how to handle it.
"I love him," she said softly, looking her brother directly in the eye. "I always have. I've waited all these years for him, and with Voldemort gone, I finally have a chance to have a relationship with him. I don't know what Harry will be like when he gets back, I just know that he promised to be back, and he always keeps his promises.
"Last year, he was totally focused on Voldemort. He said he couldn't have a relationship because of him. Well, that's out of the way now, and I know that he is going to get a load of offers, not just from students. If I don't move now, I will lose my chance, maybe for ever."
"What if Harry is still depressed?" Hermione interjected.
"I'll get him out of it," Ginny said, with complete self-confidence. "I did it last year; I can do it this year. I just want more out of him, and I don't care how long it takes, I'm going to get it."
Ron looked thoughtful for a second. "Ok. I will always love you, Gin, but if you hurt him, I will never forgive you," Ron said, his voice hard. He stood, and walked out of the kitchen. A few seconds later, the sound of a high-pitched scream emanated from his direction, as he took out his frustration by de-gnoming the garden.
Ginny looked shell shocked.
"Not what you expected?" Hermione asked quietly.
"What are you going to do about Dean?"
"Dump him, gently," Ginny replied. "He deserves me doing it face to face."
"Where is he," Ron demanded. "He said he would be here."
"I don't know," Hermione replied. "And don't snap at me. I'm just as worried as you are."
"You saw how he was, who knows what he might have done in that state of mind."
"Ron," Hermione said sharply. "Don't even think that."
"I wouldn't bloody be thinking that if the bloody Order hadn't decided to leave him alone."
"Ron," her voice was a little more understanding now. "He'd just defeated the Dark Lord; it was his right to ask for time alone. The Order had to say yes after everything they've done to him."
Ron sighed, "I know. It's just, you know, I never really got a chance to say anything to him. To tell him I was sorry."
Hermione nodded, "I know, Ron, I know."
Ron smiled slightly, and turned his attention to the sorting. The Hat's song was almost boring compared to previous years with most of the Death Eater's children having left, and the remaining one's publicly disavowing Voldemort, the school was very close to being united once more.
The new students looked around eagerly, hoping to find Harry Potter in the crowd, and were disappointed when they saw he wasn't there. To say that Harry was a hero in the wizarding world would now be an understatement. And only his promise to be back on the first day of school had stopped the press from printing headline-grabbing lies about his heroic death.
"Well," Professor Dumbledore said cheerfully, as he stood at the head table. Everyone who knew him remarked on how much younger he looked, as the pressure of dealing with Voldemort had been removed. "Welcome to a new school year."
His welcome was met with every single voice in the school cheering their approval.
He smiled happily. "It does make a change to be standing here and not having to make a comment about Voldemort."
A second cheer went up from the students, one that some of the staff joined in on.
His next comment was interrupted as a small ball of fire suddenly appeared in the middle of the hall. It slowly grew in size, becoming a perfect sphere.
Dumbledore frowned, unsure as to what it was, and if it was from outside, then how could it pierce the wards? In a second, his genial Headmaster persona was dropped, instantly replaced by the second most powerful wizard in the world. He walked down, his wand at the ready. Professor Snape joined him a second later. Ron, Hermione, Ginny, and the other members of the D.A were there shortly afterwards. Everyone had the same thought running through their minds. "I wish Harry was here." He was their talisman, the unbeatable Boy Who Lived, who never gave up no matter what the odds were against him.
The fire seemed to burn brighter for a second, before vanishing in a puff of smoke.
A loud coughing was heard from the centre of the smoke, followed by a voice muttering. "I'm really going to have to work on this smoke problem. That'll teach me to spend too much time on the beach."
"Acclaro," Professor Dumbledore said, causing all the smoke to start to clear.
"Oh, it worked," the voice said, as it recognised the clear spell. "Thanks, Professor."
The whole school seemed to gasp at one, as the smoke cleared, to reveal Harry Potter.
The gasp was followed a second later, by the sound of female jaws hitting the ground. Hard.
In his haste to get back on time, Harry hadn't bothered to change, and as such, was still wearing the shorts he had been sunbathing in.... And nothing else.
Similar thoughts flew around the room. Fighting the Dark Lord, then taking some time off, obviously had agreed with Harry. This person in front of them, with the unruly hair and faintly visible scar was now six foot tall, but carried himself with an attitude that seemed more suited to a giant. His green eyes, once hidden behind old glasses, were now hidden behind a stylish pair of sunglasses. His sun tanned-torso spoke clearly of a summer spent pursuing sports of all description, as he was glowing with health and muscles.
The next obvious thing about Harry was that he was smiling happily, as if he was pleased to be back.
Ginny's eyes went wide, and if anyone had been looking closely, they would have seen them dilate. She licked her lips slowly, and complimented herself on her decision to dump Dean.
"Sorry I'm late, Professor."
"Quite alright, Harry. Did you have a good summer?"
"Excellent," Harry grinned. "I'd recommend Hawaii to anyone looking to get away from it all."
A small rising of an eyebrow was the only sign of the surprise that the headmaster felt.
"Potter," Snape sneered, deciding that he should put the boy down now, before his head got to big.
"Sevvie!" Harry called delightedly, and jumped straight into his Potions Professor's arms.
"What are you doing?" Snape growled.
"You didn't say that, that night; didn't it mean anything to you?"
The whole school gaped once more, and focused on the professor.
Severus Snape, spy to the Order of the Phoenix, a man who prided himself on his ability to remain cool no matter what, was flabbergasted.
"Come on, give me another kiss like you did then," Harry cajoled, his voice soft and loving.
He looked around wildly, and saw all his colleagues smirking at him, and, for the first time he could remember, blushed furiously.
Harry grinned, and without seeming to move, was out of Snape's arms and had a camera in his hands. He snapped pictures as quickly as he could, getting the Potions Professor in as many angles as possible.
"POTTER!" he roared.
"Gotcha," Harry grinned happily. "And, unless you want Tonks and Moony receiving copies of these photos, I'd sit back down."
Snape snarled, his face going red, before slowly paling. He glared at Harry and returned to his seat.
Dumbledore stood in place, his eyes twinkling merrily, suddenly realising that what ever had happened to Harry was good, and that the boy seemed determined to have fun this year.
"Err, Harry...did...you...you know, with Snape?" Ron asked, slowly. He had re-holstered his wand, as soon as Harry had appeared, and had watched in disbelief.
"Of course not, I'm as straight as they come," Harry reassured his friend happily. "But I now have pictures of our Professor blushing like a bride."
Harry didn't notice the sigh of relief that swept around the female half of the room.
"Well, I'd hug you, but you're not dressed."
Harry looked down at himself in surprise. "Damn it. This has not been my day. I completely forgot that I was due back at school today, till around ten minutes ago, and have been in a panic ever since."
With a wave of his hand, Harry seemed to blur, before reappearing in a pair of tight blue jeans and a pure white t-shirt. Brown boots appeared on his feet at the same time.
"Better?" he asked Ron cheerfully.
His only response was a deep hug from his best friend.
Harry was released, only to be hugged by a crying Hermione. "We are going to talk later," she sniffed, trying to look mad at him.
"Of course, wait till I tell you what happened this summer."
Hermione smiled at him, "It is good to see you."
"Anyway," Harry disengaged himself smoothly. He shot an impish grin at Ginny, before continuing, "I do seem to have interrupted the speech, and I'm guessing that by the rumbling of Ron's stomach, a lot of people would be much happier if we all sat down and let our illustrious leader finished his words of wisdom."
Dumbledore laughed softly, and nodded. The rest of the D.A. members smiled wildly, and decided to welcome back Harry in person as soon as they could.
"Well," an extremely happy professor continued, as everyone once more took their places. "A few more notices. The Forbidden Forest is still that, forbidden." He tried very hard to ignore Harry's smirk at that. "I have decided that, for the first time in Hogwarts History, the school club, known as the D.A. will be taught as a full subject, and will concentrate on the practical aspects of Defence, while the Defence Against Dark Arts will continue as normal, to be a mainly theory based subject."
Gasps of shock echoed around the hall, for the fourth time that evening. All of the students now knew about the D.A. because the press had made much about how the students, led by Harry, had been key figures in the final battle. The remaining members, those who hadn't graduated, let out a sudden cheer.
"Whoa," Harry's voice easily rose above the cheers; a silent Sonorous charm took care of that. "Quiet!" The D.A members instantly stopped cheering, and looked at Harry. "Thanks," he grinned, before turning to his headmaster. "Who's going to be teaching it?"
Dumbledore's expression instantly put Harry on his guard. The twinkling blue eyes were now so bright, the boy was positive they could have turned the lights out and the room would have kept its brightness.
"You have got to be kidding me," Harry demanded. "Are you insane?"
Some of the students, even though they knew how close the two of them were, gasped as Harry queried his headmaster.
Snape was the second person to realise what Dumbledore meant, and his groan echoed around the hall as he put his head in his hands. This had not been a good day - even though it had started so well, what with Harry still missing.
"I assure you, I am in complete control of my facilities," Dumbledore replied, grinning widely.
"No, you're bonkers." Harry replied.
"Well?" Dumbledore asked.
Harry thought about it for a second, and then nodded once.
"Thank you," the headmaster smiled. He faced the rest of the school once more, who were now looking confused. "I see no need to change the structure of the D.A, after it has done so well. The teacher for the new D.A. class will be..." he paused for a second, and hid a full-blown laugh, as the student body seemed to lean in. "Harry Potter."
The D.A. members were the first to react, cheering loudly, while Hermione looked stunned. "Not in the history of Hogwarts," she mumbled to herself. Ron and Ginny didn't care, they were cheering with the rest of the students.
After the noise had died down, he continued, "You will find sign-up sheets in your common rooms. Now, a few final words before we eat. Swizzlepop, canary creams, red monkeys." The professor sat down as the food appeared.
Harry dug into the food lustily; he was starving after transporting himself half way around the world.
Opposite him, Ron and Hermione started to argue again, over Ron's eating habits.
Harry turned and caught Ginny's attention, raising an eyebrow, indicating his arguing friends next to him.
"All summer," Ginny mouthed back, instantly understanding where he was coming from.
Harry looked down mournfully at his food, and sighed. He banged his hands loudly on the table. "No more," he said loudly. "I've had enough."
Ron, Hermione, and the others close by turned and stared at Harry, expecting an explosion of bad temper like the previous few years. What they got instead was something none of them would ever forget.
Harry jumped to his feet and stood on the table. The whole school, teachers included, were now silent, watching him.
"Does anyone here, in any year above the third, not know that Ron and Hermione have feelings for each other?" he asked, his voice rose to carry across the four tables.
Complete silence was his only reply.
Harry strode down the Gryffindor table to the end, dancing a little to avoid stepping on any plates. At the bottom, he jumped, landing on the Hufflepuff table. He walked up that, stopped in front of a student. "Susan, what do you think of them two?"
"That they are in love with each other," the quiet red haired girl replied with a smile.
"Thank you," he cried happily. With a magically enhanced leap, he somersaulted backwards, landing on the Ravenclaw table. "Luna, what do you think?"
The blonde girl looked up at him and smiled slowly. "That they are meant for each other," she said loudly, with complete conviction.
Harry raised her hand and kissed it gallantly. "Luna my dear, I adore you." He looked down the Ravenclaw table; "I do hope that no one is calling you names anymore." The threat was unmistakable in his voice.
With a Ravenclaw backing him up, he jumped again, landing on the Slytherin table. The table was noticeable for its absence of Draco Malfoy, who was suffering from a bad case of Death, his punishment for his eager support of Voldemort.
He strolled up the table, and decided to take a huge gamble. "Pansy, Queen of Slytherin," he cried in a loud voice, going on one knee in front of her. "Please, pass on your wisdom to us poor peasants. What do you think they should do?"
Pansy looked at him closely, her bright blue eyes meeting his, before she slowly smiled. "I could like you when you act like this, Potter," she said quietly, so that only her table heard. "I think they should kiss each other and stop this infernal arguing that's driving the rest of us insane."
"Thanks," Harry whispered, before he jumped over her head, and approached the Professors table. Snape was not looking amused, so Harry shot the professor a look that reminded him of the blackmail material the boy held. "Professor Dumbledore!" Harry called.
"Yes, Harry?" Dumbledore's eyes were twinkling wildly.
"You always have words for this sort of occasion, please don't disappoint me now."
Dumbledore climbed to his feet. "I think that when times look dark, the light of love can lead the way forward."
Harry grinned at him, "Perfect." The green-eyed wizard walked back over to the Gryffindor table. He stood at the front, looking down at his housemates, before finding the one person other than himself that had the best insight in to Ron and Hermione. "Ginny," he began taking her hand in his. "They are our best friends. What words do you have for Ron and Hermione?"
"That they should stop denying their feelings and let the rest of us have some bloody peace."
Harry winked at her before glancing at the rest of the table. "Do you agree, Gryffindor?"
The roar of approval was deafening.
Harry finally turned to his two friends, both of whom were shooting daggers at him, while blushing furiously. Next to them, Ginny was killing herself with laughter.
"Now, we have the entire school requesting that you two get together and that you do it now. So, here's the deal. Ron, Hermione loves you, has for years. Hermione, Ron feels the same way. Now, you can either kiss each other, or I'll take you to the Room of Requirement and lock you in 'till you give in."
Ron and Hermione looked at each other and found the same thing in each other's eyes. Slowly, they leaned in and kissed each other.
The cheer that roared through Hogwarts was louder than when one of the Houses won the cup.
Harry grinned at his two best friends, who were no longer paying attention as six years of hormones were released.
As the feast ended, and with Hermione and Ron still making up for lost time, Harry decided to take care of the new first years. He jumped to his feet, "Gryffindor First Years, follow me."
Harry strode off confidently, fully expecting them to follow. And follow they did.
He took them through the corridors, pointing out some of the more esoteric aspects of the school, till they reached the portrait of the Fat Lady. It was only then that Harry realised he had no clue what the password was. He grinned at the younger students, and to their awe created a small fire circle in front of him. "Ginny," he said into it. A second later, the stunned face of Ginny Weasley appeared in it. "What's the password?" Harry asked.
He could see that she had a few thousand questions for him, but bit her tongue and replied with only, "Voldemort."
Harry smiled his thanks, and his approval of the password, and dropped the circle. "Voldemort," he said to the Fat Lady.
She smiled back at him. "It's good to see you again, Harry. In you go."
Harry entered first; the first years following close behind him.
"Welcome to the Gryffindor common room. Your dorms are up there, and you'll find that your trunks will be next to your beds. If you have any problems, the prefects will be happy to help you out, and if they can't, try me as a last resort. I might not be a prefect, but I can normally sort things out."
Having seen him talk to the headmaster as an equal, and as they knew he defeated Voldemort, they could truly believe this.
"Now, any questions?"
Just about every hand went up as one.
Harry laughed under his breath. "Yes, I am Harry Potter, yes I did fight Voldie, and yes I have been away all summer on a very nice holiday. Any questions that aren't covered by that?"
Most of the hands went down.
"You," Harry pointed to one of them. "What's your name and question?"
"Maggie Bell," the blonde haired girl started.
"Katie's sister?" Harry asked.
"Yes," the girl blushed a little.
"How is she?"
"Err, fine. What I wanted to know is, is Professor Snape really as bad as people say?"
Harry smiled at her. "Worse," he said cheerfully. "But let's make a deal. Every time he does something mean to you, I'll play a prank on him. Then we'll measure how long it takes for him to realise the correlation."
The new students all laughed together, till a shocked voice interrupted him, "Harry!"
"Erm," Harry smirked at them. "I meant to say that Snape is a fine professor who will cause you no problems at all." He followed his statement with a wink, one that the entranced students all grinned at.
"Ok, off to bed the lot of you. You'll get your timetables at breakfast tomorrow. Sleep well."
"'Night, Harry," they chorused, and then vanished into their dorms, all chattering about how cool Harry was.
"Now then," Harry said with a smile, moving over to the corner where Ron, Hermione, and a smattering of sixth and seventh years were sitting "Ron, can I borrow Hermione for a second?"
"Sure," Ron agreed, ignoring the displeased look his brand new girlfriend was shooting at him for treating her like a piece of property.
Harry smirked, and reached out and grabbed the bushy haired girl's hand. With a quick tug, he pulled her into his arms, bent her over backwards, and kissed her as hard as he could.
There was complete silence in the group as they watched. Ron was stunned, literally gaping at the two of them, unable to comprehend what was happening.
Ginny gaped along with the rest of the old D.A. members. She could hardly believe what she was seeing, or the feeling of devastation that was coursing through her at seeing Harry kiss someone she knew he loved in one way or another.
Harry broke the kiss, and then smiled at the girl. "Thank God for that!"
"What was that?" Ron croaked.
"The most passionless kiss that could ever be exchanged by two non-blood related people."
Ron blinked, and felt his temper trying to explode.
"Huh?" Only the fact that every other time he'd exploded with Harry in the past, he'd been proven wrong stopped him now.
"I had to know," Harry explained simply. "I had to make sure that there was nothing between us. There's always been this tension between the three of us, maybe Hermione and I might find our love for each other was more than merely platonic, and it's been holding all three of us back. As you can tell from earlier, I think you'll be great together, but we all had to know that there wasn't going to be anything between us. Well, now, I can state, without a doubt, that I love Hermione as the closest thing to a sister I will ever have, and as my best friend."
Ron looked to his girlfriend, who nodded slowly, then smiled at her boyfriend.
"You could have done it another way," Ron said slowly, a smile starting to form. "One that wouldn't have given me a heart attack."
Harry grinned, "I figured that doing it in front of you would mean that you didn't hear about it from someone else, and you'd be able to understand."
"Is this a sign of maturity?" Ron asked suddenly sounding scared.
"I think so," Harry agreed with a smirk.
"Well," Ron said. "I better put a stop to that instantly." He grabbed his girlfriend and repeated Harry's movements; only this time the passion was almost visible as the two kissed.
As they finally broke, Harry said dryly, "I'm glad you stopped there, seeing that's my sister you were mauling.
"Harry," Hermione said quietly. "What the hell happened to you over the summer?" The very fact that she swore was notable in itself.
It was a question that Ginny wanted answered as well. The rush of relief that had shot through her when Harry had explained that he thought of Hermione as a sister had been intense, and now she wanted to know how he had changed so much. For the better. She was having trouble keeping focused on his words, as she kept imagining her legs being wrapped around his hard waist. It didn't help that she was sat next to Dean, who had been oblivious, as he sat next to his soon-to-be-ex girlfriend.
Harry removed his sunglasses for the first time, and looked his adopted sister directly in the eye.
"My freedom," he replied simply. "With Voldie and the Death Eaters dead, which, by the way, sounds like a cool name for a band, I thought I had nothing left to live for.
"I've been concentrating on that for so long, that I didn't know what to do with myself. After I Apparated from the battlefield, I went directly to my parents and Sirius graves, and fell asleep. I had a dream about Sirius, and he told me that far from having nothing to live for, I have everything to live for. I'm young, rich, okay looking and have paid any debt that society might want from me.
"He told me that the prophecy was done with, that I had my own life to live, and I can do what ever I want with it. When I woke up, I felt better than I had in years, so I Apparated to Hawaii. I spent the rest of the summer relaxing on the beach, playing with my magic and sorting out whom Harry Potter really is.
"I decided that I was not going to let this opportunity go to waste, and that I was not going to spend the rest of my life sulking, or worse, moping, and I was going to enjoy what ever it is that I end up doing. Be that professional Quidditch, international play-wizard, or Minister for Magic."
All of Harry's friends had huge smiles on their faces, as they realised that there biggest fear - that Harry might become so down heartened and disillusioned that he would either kill himself, or worse, become a second Voldemort, had been vanquished instantly.
"Mr Potter," The stern voice of Professor McGonagall interrupted them. "The headmaster would like to talk to you."
Harry smiled at her, and absently waved his hand in front of himself. A circle of flames appeared in front of him. "Albus Dumbledore," Harry stated, and a second later, the surprised face of the Hogwarts Headmaster was in front of him. "Professor McGonagall said you wanted to talk to me, Sir?"
The ancient headmaster's eyes twinkled merrily. "Perhaps I was a little to literal in my request. I was wondering if you'd join me for supper, I have a few questions."
"Of course sir, I'll be right down."
With a casual wave of his hand, the fire vanished, and Harry jumped to his feet. He flashed his friends a grin, then followed his head of house out of the common room and down to the headmaster's office.
As Harry left the room, Dean jumped to his feet. "I'd love to stay and chat," he yawned, "But I've been up all day. I'll see you guys later." He paused, and then dropped a quick kiss on Ginny's hair. "Night," he whispered, before walking up the stairs, leaving a frustrated girl behind who really wanted to talk to him.