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The Eighth Year

Chapter Text

The Eighth Year by LouHQ

Chapter 1: Back Story and Prologue

Author's Notes: I wasn't going to start publishing chapters till I got further along, but I saw an interview of Ms. Rowling on American TV while she was in NYC for the charity reading. This interview was on an early morning news program and was on while I was working, so I couldn't just stop and watch. I haven't seen a report on it on Mugglenet, so maybe I heard it wrong or hallucinated. Ms. Rowling said (this is a paraphrase) "In this genre the hero usually has to go on alone, and Hermione and Ron have been with him all along..." My heart just plummetted.
So I decided to start posting this before it all becomes AU.
I hope to hell I was hallucinating, though.


Back Story

This story begins the summer after what would have been the trio's seventh year at Hogwarts. They started their 7th year at Hogwarts, but the school was attacked in late October. Ginny's class had herbology when the attack happened, and she was killed with several of her year mates during the retreat to the castle. A week later there was an attack at the ministry. Percy, along with several others, was killed. The majority of the D.A. left Hogwarts to join the war.

In January Snape helped Draco escape from the Death Eaters, but was caught and executed by them. Draco gave valuable information to the Order and the DA, but was forbidden to participate in the battles, in part because of suspicion about his loyalty and in part because he did not have the training of the Order or the D.A.

A small number of outright battles occurred, but mostly the war was one of espionage, assassination and intimidation. The events of the year culminated in the final battle at Stonehenge on Midsummer's Eve.

The plan for the line of attack was that Harry and the Order of the Phoenix would be in the center and the Ministry Aurors on either side. The Aurors would sweep around the stone circle as the Order would penetrate the circle and attack Voldemort and his minions. The D.A. would come in behind as support and clean up. Instead there was a shield that repelled and stunned the Order members, preventing them from entering the circle. Harry got through and in desperation the Order sent the D.A. through to help and protect him while they worked to take down the shield.

The dementors then attacked, but Ron and the D.A. had expected and planned for this. The D.A. worked together to cast a spell created by Hermione. They contained and exterminated the dementors. About half of the D.A. members that died did so at the backlash of this spell.

About this time the Order broke the outer ward and rushed in behind the D.A. The fighting became general and confused, with individual duels and small group skirmishes. During this time several other D.A. members died.

Lucius Malfoy was killed. Luna and Neville killed Bellatrix. Ron and Harry defeated and captured Pettigrew, but Ron was injured. Draco Malfoy, who joined the battle late, killed Goyle as he was about to attack Hermione from behind. Together they joined Harry and Ron. Harry left the Invisibility Cloak with Ron, told Hermione and Draco to take care of him and went ahead to confront Voldemort. Instead the three of them followed Harry and supported him in the final duel with Voldemort.

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Prologue

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The war is over, Voldemort is defeated. But now what was broken must be mended.

There were Hogwarts students who fought on either side. Most who fought with Voldemort are dead or in jail. A few are missing: whether in hiding or an unmarked grave, their fate is unknown.

The students who fought with the Order and the Ministry fared somewhat better, though there are those who are dead or missing as well.

The question facing Headmistress McGonagall was what to do with those who wanted to finish their schooling, get their N.E.W.T.s, and close their time at Hogwarts on a positive note. She considered returning them to their respective houses and shuddered. No, their wounds, whether physical or emotional, their shared experiences, separated them from their former housemates. No matter which house they were originally sorted to, they were more like housemates to each other now....

'Aha! Accio Sorting Hat' she thought, and the mangy thing promptly landed in front of her. Exchanging her pointed hat for the intelligent one, she explained her idea to it and went over the list of possible students. As she expected, the hat agreed that all of them would fit better together than in their prior houses. But it paused over the last name.

"Will he be able to fit in? His role in the war was rather prominent, and there will be those seeking revenge."

The Headmistress was silent for a long moment. "It's a cliché that war changes people, but very few were more affected than he." Her lips twisted into something that was not quite a smile. "As he says, he has the rest of his life to live, and he better get used to the way people are going to treat him. What better place to start?"

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.

This story archived at Table for Three - http://www.triofic.com/viewstory.php?sid=221

Chapter Text

The Eighth Year by LouHQ

Chapter 2: Chapter 1 "A person doesn't do that for a mere acquaintance." Midnight, July 31st


Author's Notes:


Harry woke with a start, wand in his hand and a hex on his lips.

Around him, the Burrow slept. He sat upright, letting the sounds and sights and smells of his nightmare fade into the quiet.

After a long pause, he slid as quietly as possible from the bed, and crossed the room to the window. The garden below was still and touched with silver from the waxing moon. He rested his hot forehead against the cool glass. His scar felt…. like a scar. Like skin. Like…. normal. No prickling, no pain.

He pushed the window open and took a deep breath of cool air.
Away in the village, the church bell began to toll the hour. Ten, eleven, twelve.

Harry was 18.

His memory slipped back 2 years to the night Dumbledore had come to collect him from the Dursley’s and the Headmaster had said Harry would be coming of age the following summer. Aunt Petunia had said. “No he doesn’t. He’s a month younger than Dudley, and Dudders doesn’t turn eighteen until the year after next.”

Thinking of Aunt Petunia and Little Whinging, Harry’s eyes suddenly felt hot and a lump formed in his throat. “Harry, you are such a sap,” he scolded himself. Imagine, crying over Privet Drive! These days, everything, anything, could make him cry.

There was so much to cry about.

There was a whisper of movement behind him and a hand curled over his shoulder. “Harry,” said Ron, his voice rough with sleep, “All right mate?”

“Yeah,” sighed Harry, leaning back against him, and they stood there, looking out into the moonlight, Ron’s arms around him in a way that had little to do with sex and a whole lot to do with love.

“Come back to bed, Harry,” Ron breathed into his hair, and they turned away from the window, to see Hermione raise her head from the pillow to blink sleepily at them. This time Harry got in the middle, and Ron and Hermione cuddled in from either side. Wrapped in their protective love, he slipped back into sleep.

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Morning

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When Ron woke again, sunlight and bird song poured in through the window and he was alone in the big bed. He took advantage of it by stretching in all directions and sprawling out. He grinned, remembering Hermione huffing “Really, Ron, you are the only person I know who can take up an entire king-size bed by yourself.” Smirking, Harry had asked her how many people she had been in king-size beds with. Which got him a pillow in the face, which led to a pillow fight between the three of them, which led to tickling and snogging, which led to shagging. That was three days ago at the Leaky Cauldron, on their way to the Burrow, after they had all been released from St. Mungo’s.

It stood out in his mind because it was the first time since the war began; really, since Bill and Fleur’s wedding, that they had laughed, really laughed, all together. It was the first time they made love all together that wasn’t tense, anxious, furtive and hurried.

When they arrived at the Burrow, Ron expected it all to go back to being anxious and secretive, but Hermione shocked and scared and delighted him (all at the same time, typical Hermione) by tackling the subject directly with his mother. She had cornered Mrs. Weasley in the kitchen when it was just the three of them, and explained that Harry had horrible nightmares that woke him screaming and throwing hexes about, and then he would be unable to sleep, and the only way to moderate the nightmares and insomnia was to have both she and Ron there, so if Mrs. Weasley wanted to be able to sleep through the night and wake with her house in one piece, and if she wanted Harry to not have a relapse and return to St. Mungo’s, she and Ron had to sleep with Harry. Together. In the same bed. And that if they couldn’t, they would return to the Leaky Caldron.

Ron noted that Hermione didn’t mention that he relived the final battle in his sleep, nor did she mention her own propensity to dream about those who died, and wake up weeping. A tactical omission.

Mum had turned five shades of crimson and sputtered quite a bit, then fixed them both with a steely eye and said that they could sleep together, but if there was ONE hint that there was ANY sex going on between ANY of them they would be out on their ears because she wasn’t having any of THAT going on in HER house, and while they were living there they had to abide by HER rules. Both he and Hermione had solemnly promised, which he had intended to keep as well as all the other promises he made to his parents over the years. He found out that night that Hermione had every intention of keeping her promise, and Harry agreed.

Ron wasn’t selfish enough to really hold it against his loves, but there was such a thing as being too noble for your own good. It didn’t stop him from planning to escape the Burrow as soon as possible. Harry and Hermione may look upon it as a haven, but he felt himself shrinking back to 11 years old as soon as he walked in the door.

The problem is, he realized, is that they don’t have any plans. The last year had been focused on survival, and then getting out of St. Mungo’s and then Harry’s birthday. Well, Harry’s birthday was here, now what?

+++++

His morning shower washed the rest of the cobwebs out of his head, and he realized the answer to “Now what?” was “Talk to Hermione and Harry,” of course, but he also realized today was probably not going to be the day for it. Mum had invited everyone for Harry’s birthday and it would be a busy day. But he could let them know what he was thinking and maybe plant a seed or two….

“Good morning Ron, would you like a waffle?”

“Morning Mum, a waffle or three would be great.” He pecked her on the cheek as he snagged a cup for tea. “Where’s Harry and Hermione?”

She stopped to clench her teeth for a moment and then continued in a pleasant voice, “Your father wanted to talk with Harry about some Ministry business, and Bill showed up and took Hermione off somewhere, they’ll all back in time for lunch they said.”

“Fleur not with Bill?”

“No dear, home with the baby, they’ll be meeting Bill here.” She slid a plate with three waffles in front of him and Ron grinned and growled and slavered over them until she chortled. Eight for lunch then, and how many more for dinner? She already had a number of pots and pans and bowls on the stove and countertops and moved about, waving her wand here, tapping it there.

“Mum, I need your recipe for steak and kidney pie,”

“Why’s that dear?”

“It’s Harry’s favorite and while both Harry and Hermione know muggle cooking, neither of them know wizard cooking and neither of them know how to make that. And while I can do the basics, I don’t know how to do a decent pie either. I’d like to surprise him sometime, when we get a kitchen of our own.”

Ron couldn’t see her face, her back was to him, but her movements had slowed and she seemed to be staring at the wall in front of her. There was silence for a moment and she took a deep breath. “Certainly dear, but there’s no rush. You know you’re welcome to stay here as long as you want.”

Ron chewed over several replies along with his next bit of waffle. “Thanks Mum,” he said simply.

Before the following silence could get too long, Fred and George banged into the kitchen. “Oi, Ronikins, where’s the other two at then?”

Ron, rising with plate in one hand, clasped the other with George, then companionably slapped Fred on the back as he went by to the sink. “Off with Bill and Dad, Mum says; I slept in. Where’s your spouses then?”

“Alicia’s at the shop till noon, Angelina’s got practice, they’ll meet us here.”

Twelve for lunch? “So, who’s all coming for dinner, Mum?” He asked, starting the wash up on the dishes there.

“Oh, let’s see, Moody, Remus and Tonks, Kingsley, Neville, Dean, oh and I invited Luna too but I didn’t hear back from her.”

Eighteen for dinner?

“So, Ron, George and I were thinking you could work for us at the Diagon Alley shop.”

“Oh, that would be lovely dear, you could apparate from here every day.”

“Actually Mum, we figured he could use the flat above the shop, Alicia and I are getting a larger flat.”

“Once we get him trained in we’re thinking of opening another shop in Dublin.”

“Well, I’ll think about the job, but we’d need a bigger flat. Hermione’ll need room for her books, and that bedroom just isn’t big enough.”

Silence fell. Mrs. Weasley was clenching her teeth again.

“Ron, come on out and hit a bludger around with us, we got new brooms,” George said. “Angelina’s going to bring her game broom too.”

“Sure,” Ron said, “As soon as I get these dishes for Mum, she’s got enough going.”

“Er, yeah, right,” Fred said cautiously.

“Yeah, erm, Mum, anything we can do?” George agreed just as cautiously.

“Why, thank you boys,” replied Mrs. Weasley, with surprised gratitude. “Would you set up the tables and chairs in the yard? Thank goodness it’s a nice day, we’d be terribly crowded otherwise.”

After the twins went outside, Mrs. Weasley and Ron worked together in silence for several minutes. Ron finished the last dish, and said cheerfully, “Well, I better see if they jinxed the chairs to pull back just as some one sits down or we’ll all be picnicking on the grass.”

Mrs. Weasley turned and looked at him, “Thank you Ron,” she said quietly.

“No problem Mum,” Ron said affectionately, and kissed her on the cheek as he left.

+++++

Hermione was getting increasingly uncomfortable as Bill showed her around Gringott’s main office.

“This is all very interesting Bill, but – “

“And here is what I really wanted you to see, Hermione, this is the office of charitable giving. Gringott’s currently has an investment fund that gives 50 to 60 thousand galleons a year to families and individuals in need. Some training in this area and with your smarts you could be heading up this department in a year or so."

Hermione’s attention was caught. “What a wonderful program Bill! What kinds of help have been given?”

“We, I don’t know all of it, but I do know there is a standing gift to Hogwarts each year for student scholarships. There are also funds earmarked for victims of the Death Eaters, and another specifically for long term care patients at St. Mungo’s. Then there are fundraising meetings with shareholders and – “

“What kind of political funding does Gringott’s do?”

“Political? They, erm, don’t really.”

“And I expect they want their employees to be apolitical too. And non-controversial?"

Bill nodded. “Pretty much.”

There was a short silence.

“I appreciate the suggestion Bill, but I’m not apolitical, and I’m afraid I’ve become quite controversial as well.”

“You, Hermione? I find that hard to believe.”

“Talked to your mother and dad lately?”

“Nnoooo, Why?”

She smiled grimly. “Ron, Harry and I are together. And I have no intention of living in secrecy, as if I was ashamed of them.”

Bill paused, then his chin rose slightly. “Good on you, Hermione. Let’s get out of here. How about a coffee?”

+++++

“Mr. Weasley – “

“Call me Arthur, Harry.”

“OK, Arthur, let’s see if I understand this. You’re offering me a job as an auror-in-training even though I don’t have any N.E.W.T.s and never graduated?”

“Harry, you can’t say you haven’t graduated from the school of hard knocks.”

“I’m not saying that. But being an auror is different than being in a war. It’s been kill or be killed for the last year, now I would need to be investigating rumors and gathering evidence and presenting testimony at trials. I’d still have people trying to kill me, but now I’d be expected to bring them back to the ministry. I’m not saying I don’t want to do it, and I’m not turning it down. But I don’t think I’m ready for this and I have to think about it. I want to talk it over with Ron and Hermione.”

“Harry, as much as I love Ron and Hermione, you can’t let them make a decision like this for you.”

“No, it’s my decision, but if you were I, you’d want to talk it over with Mrs. Weasley, wouldn’t you?”

“Yes, but I’m married.”

Harry bit his tongue.


+++++

Ron was trying out Angelina’s Whirlwind broom when he saw Harry and his father appear in front of the Burrow. Mr. Weasley went directly into the house while Harry walked out to the field and waved up at Ron. Something about Harry’s stance made Ron think he was unhappy, and he spiraled quickly down to him.

“Nice broom,”

“Angelina’s new game broom, she’s inside washing up after practice this morning.”

Ron glanced around quickly and risked a quick kiss.

“Come on, you can do better than that.”

“I’m trying to follow the no sex edict.”

“Well,” Harry said, pulling Ron closer, “Right now I need a kiss more than I need your mum’s cooking.”

It was a long minute later when Angelina loudly cleared her throat. “Can I have my broom back? And Molly says lunch in 10 minutes.”

Grinning, Ron handed back the broom and she disappeared back to the house as Ron and Harry walked back more slowly with their arms around each other’s shoulders.

“What ticked you off?”

“Who says I’m ticked?”

“I can tell, you don’t have to say anything.”

“Your Dad offered me a job.”

“And that made you mad?”

“Not specifically. Part is that I think the Ministry is trying to cash in on The Boy Who Lived again.”

“Dad wouldn’t do that!”

“I’m sure he thinks I’m good enough, but I don’t think I’m ready for it.” Harry related the rest of the conversation. “He doesn’t take our relationship seriously.”

“I know it. And people seem to think they know what we should be doing with our lives.”

“I don’t know what I want to do next.”

“I do. I want to sleep and eat and make love to you and Hermione.”

“Sounds great! Though we’ll have to get jobs eventually, if we want to keep the bed and proper meals. I could pull enough funds out of Gringott’s for a holiday though.”

Ron scowled. “You shouldn’t have to pay for everything.”

They were just getting to the front door when Hermione and Bill apparated to the front yard. They were both laughing, but Hermione sobered quickly when she saw their faces. “What is it?”

“No, no, no,” said Harry. “A proper hello first.”

Bill clapped his hands over his eyes and stuck his thumbs in his ears. “I didn’t see or hear a thing Mum, la la la la,” he sang and Hermione kissed both Ron and Harry quickly but thoroughly through her giggles.

“Now what were you two looking so serious about?” she asked.

“Can’t go into it now,” Ron said as the front door opened and his mother called them all in.

+++++

Evening

+++++

Everyone was taking seats around the table, chatting and laughing. If the laughter was sometimes forced and the good cheer underlaid by grim determination, no one was going to comment on it.

The line of dishes levitating from the kitchen was taking on absurd proportions. Mrs. Weasley had seized upon Harry’s birthday as the first happy occasion since the ending of the war, and had not only prepared all of Harry’s favorites, but most of everyone else’s as well.

Ron sigh happily as the platter of roasted chicken settled in front of him and Harry’s mouth watered at the sight of the large steak and kidney pie. Hermione smirked at them both.

“You two act like you haven’t eaten for days! What happened to those huge sandwiches from lunchtime?”

Ron thought of a comment along the line of his earlier idea of eating, sleeping and making love, but unfortunately George and Angelina were between he and Hermione, and Harry was across the table and down a few seats. Recalling that Hermione had teased them about Quidditch raising Ron and Harry’s libidos, he said, a bit too blandly “All that Quidditch this afternoon raised my…. appetite.” Hermione smirked and Harry blushed.

Ron frowned down at his plate as he remembered what else had gone on that afternoon besides Quidditch. When Neville and Dean arrived, Dean had joined in the pick up Quidditch game but Neville, still sporting a cane with a limp to match, had sat down to talk to Hermione. A short while later Ron had gone into the Burrow to get a drink and look for his flying gloves as he had lost his broom calluses. He noticed in passing that Hermione and Neville were no longer outside, but it was when he had left his old room that he realized where they had gone.

The door to Ginny’s room was ajar and the sound of sobbing came from it. Ron’s throat tightened and he slowed as he came up to it. Bill had told him that Mum sometimes sat in Ginny’s room and cried. But when he peered through the crack in the door, he saw Hermione and Neville crying on each other’s shoulders.

“Oh Neville, I miss her so much!”

“Me too, Hermione, me too.”

He had backed away silently and gone back outside.

After Quidditch, Ron had found it impossible to sit, or even stand next to either Harry or Hermione without someone intervening. He suspected that his Mum had set the rest of the guests onto keeping them apart, or at least the older ones. Neville and Dean seemed ignorant of the conspiracy, and Remus and Tonks seemed to be amused by the whole dance. The rest of the family knew who buttered their bread however, and Kingsley and Moody had a disapproving air that made it plain what their feelings were. It was repressive enough that even with their classmates’ presence, the three of them were exchanging looks of desperation.

Fred and George were campaigning for any one, two or all three of them to join the Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes crew. Angelina said “Tosh! Hermione would be wasted there,” and thought both Ron and Harry should try out for the professional Quidditch teams, while Arthur, Kingsley and Moody thought they should all work at the ministry, though they disagreed on which department was best for each of them. When the three older wizards had Ron at the Ministry offices in London, Hermione in America at the diplomatic offices and Harry on the continent in yet another ministry office, all three of them said “No!” together. Harry was obviously struggling to stay calm when he stated “Whatever we do, we’ll be together, not in three different countries!”

Arthur harruphed and Kingsley glared, Moody’s eye spun about in agitation and Molly sniffed. A tense silence fell over the table until little Danielle, reacting to the tension, let out a howl of complaint.

After that everyone avoided talk of future jobs and relationships. They ate and drank themselves into a state of soporific silliness and ended the meal with a huge chocolate cake with 18 candles, and when the 2nd verse of ‘Happy Birthday’ (from the twins, with help from Dean and Neville) compared Harry to a monkey, even Mrs. Weasley laughed.

As twilight began to settle, Bill and Fleur apparated home with the now sleeping Danielle over her dad’s shoulder, and Ron and the twins chivvied the other boys into clearing the table, “’cept you Harry, since you’re the birthday boy.”

“Stay sitting Mum, we promise not to break anything on purpose.”

“Yes, let the boys do it Molly, it’s good practice for them,” Mr. Weasley poured his wife another glass of wine. “Not all the girls these days are as skilled in the kitchen as you are. Besides, you ladies did all the cooking.”

Angelina, Tonks and Hermione traded complicit and slightly guilty glances. Their contributions before the meal had consisted of staying out of the way and taking part in the kitchen gossip. Mrs. Weasley had mentioned that she had recipes for some of Ron and Harry's favorites, which Hermione politely expressed interest in getting, but whispered to Angelina that if Ron and Harry were depending on her to provide the meals, they better find a place close to lots of take away.

Remus stretched and groaned, “I’ve got to move or I’m going to petrify. Walk with me Harry?”

As the strolled along the fenceline, Remus remarked “This is the first I’ve seen you since the healers let me out of St. Mungo’s. I was going to visit you after the full moon but Hermione owled that you three were about ready to be released.” The middle-aged werewolf looked quizzically at the young man he thought of as an adopted godson as well as a friend. “I was delighted of course, but surprised. When I left, you were still delirious and exhausted and not sleeping. Hermione and Ron were almost as bad. You all look pretty damn fit now. What happened?”

Harry smiled. “Hermione is what happened. The healers thought we all – and I mean all the battle survivors – needed quiet and put us all in private rooms. Well, maybe that was what some needed, but some of us got worse. For the three of us, it meant we had dreams about each other being hurt or killed. So we’d wake up fighting and didn’t believe the healers when we were told the others were fine, ‘just down the hall dearie, don’t you worry.’ “

Remus snorted, “Idiots! I’m sorry Harry, if I had been more in my right mind I would have inquired more closely.”

“Not your fault, Remus. You weren’t a whole lot better and if they hadn’t been overextended they probably wouldn’t have let Tonks take you home for the full moon.”

“Be that as it may. Our Hermione took steps, did she?”

“You could say that,” Harry grinned. “She found out where Ron was, “borrowed” a float chair and snuck out to find him. Once she convinced him she wasn’t a ghost (Harry smirked at the remembrance of Ron’s description of how she had done that) they took my invisibility cloak – Ron had it from the last battle -- and they snuck around the hospital till they found me. When the healers came in that morning they found the three of us in bed together. What a flap that was! We weren’t going to be separated again, but we had to throw absolute fits, including threats and drawn wands, to get them to let us alone. But we recovered better once we were together, since we could actually sleep, and when the nightmares came, having the others there made it much easier to bear. Amazing what a few good nights of sleep can do.”

“So then you came here?”

“Nnnoooo.” Harry flushed. “We stayed at the Leaky Caldron a few days. We meant to just do an overnight, do a bit of shopping and then come here, but it was so…. good, a big bed and all the privacy and room service we wanted. We never had any TIME before, it was always hurry and be secretive and hide. There we could eat when we were hungry, nap when we were tired, make love when we wanted.” Harry sighed. “It was bloody brilliant.”

“Still, the Burrow can’t be too bad. How’s your birthday been, Harry?” asked Remus, and his tone indicated that it wasn’t an idle question.

Harry took a deep breath. “It was the best of birthdays, it was the worst of birthdays” he paraphrased. Remus chuckled.

“The benefits of an education in classical muggle literature,” he said with a smile. “Let’s see if I can guess some of it. This is a better birthday than the Dursley’s ever gave you, but its hard to properly enjoy it with the happenings of the last year. “

“And everyone wants us to make decisions about the rest of our lives, and we aren’t ready to do that.”

Remus chuckled again, “That ’we’ isn’t making things easier for you either, I noticed. You three certainly managed to surprise a few people this time.”

“You don’t seem surprised.”

“The three of you have been flinging yourselves between each other and various forms of danger on a regular basis since you were 11. A person doesn’t do that for a mere acquaintance. What surprised me was how unobservant people are – and how they let preconceived notions fog their vision. Though I shouldn’t be surprised I suppose, it’s very common.”

“Preconceived notions? Like all werewolves are evil or a person can only love one other person at a time?”

“Or that a person can only be attracted to one gender.”

Harry smiled gratefully at his former professor. Through all the insanity of the last year, Remus had been a solid friend and mentor.

“Ron thinks we need a holiday, but he doesn’t want me to pay for it all. I don’t see why not, I need them with me to make it a real holiday anyway. Ron doesn’t have much money and Hermione isn’t much better off. What else should I spend my money on?”

“As one who’s been in Ron’s situation, I understand his reluctance. He may not be able to verbalize it, but he knows that the inequality of your financial situation can lead to other inequalities, and that can be damaging to a relationship. Harry, for what it’s worth, I think you all could use a holiday too. As it happens, I have a solution to some of the problems. Firstly, the Ministry has passed a resolution to provide a stipend to those who fought against Voldemort this past year. Notices will be going out this next week. There is of course paperwork involved, but I happen to have copies of it at my home. Also, now that you are 18, we can finish the final dispensation on your inheritances from both Sirius and your parents.”

“Grimmauld Place has finally sold?”

“Oddly enough, not long after Bellatrix and Voldemort died. So, I invite you and your partners to my home for a few days to finish up some business, then you all can disappear to a peaceful albeit hedonistic locale.”

“That sounds perfect.”

As they returned to the table Harry could see that a number of people had gotten up and moved around. Cups were replenished and candles lit against the gathering dusk. Ron and Hermione had managed to finally get seats close to one another with an extra space between them, guarded by Crookshanks. Harry headed towards them, eager to share the news of an escape route.

Out of the dark came hurtling several large objects. The effect on the gathering was instantaneous. Everyone was ducking for cover while drawing their wands. Lupin, still a bit back from the table, identified them first. “Owls,” he shouted, “They’re owls!”

Everyone got back in their seats, laughing a bit shakily, as the owls circled overhead. As soon as they were all seated again, the owls landed in front of their intended recipients. The tawny owl in front of Harry held the letter in his bill and shook his head impatiently. He took the letter quickly and offered the owl his pumpkin juice, as were the others. Harry stared with astonishment at the Hogwarts crest on the envelope and quickly torn it open.

Dear Mister Potter,

A number of Hogwarts students took part in the war against Voldemort, to the detriment of their education. It has come to my attention that some of these students wish to finish their schooling and receive their N.E.W.T.s. To that end, Hogwarts is offering a special eighth year to the veterans to replace the usurped year of study. If you are interested, please respond by August 7th.

Sincerely,

Minerva McGonagall
Headmistress

Harry turned to Ron, who looked as astonished as he felt. As one, they turned to Hermione.

Tears were streaming down her face, and she slowly raised her eyes. “I want to get my N.E.W.T.s,” she whispered. “I want to graduate.”

“Me too!” Harry and Ron said together.

“Woohoo!” Dean crowed, jumping to his feet. “I’m going back to Hogwarts!”

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.

This story archived at Table for Three - http://www.triofic.com/viewstory.php?sid=221

Chapter Text

The Eighth Year by LouHQ

Chapter 3: Chapter Two: “Not too bad, really, when you consider that we could all be dead.” August 1st

Author's Notes:


Remus was just taking a tray of freshly baked scones out of the oven when he heard three distinct pops out in the front yard. As he tumbled the scones into the napkin lined bowl, the front door opened and his three expected guests entered, Harry calling out, “We’re here!’

Remus called back, “I’m in the kitchen!”

They filed in, Crookshanks leading the way, Hermione with a bulging book bag and softsided suitcase on wheels, and Ron and Harry with similar old rucksacks. While they all greeted him with good cheer there was a definite air of constraint. Remus poured tea out and they sat at the already set table, but no one reached for their cups. Remus looked closely at them and asked sharply, “What happened?”

Ron groaned and clutched his head, Harry sighed heavily, and to Remus’ great alarm, Hermione was fighting back tears.

“Mum went mad,” Ron said. “I told her this morning that Harry had business with you, including some paperwork for Hermione and I from the ministry. That was alright, but then when we brought our cases down after lunch she started in on why would it take so long and why did I have to be here while Harry was taking care of his business and when were we going to come back to the Burrow and when I said we probably weren’t going to come back to stay she just ….wigged out. First I was an ungrateful son and then Harry was ungrateful too and turning me into a homosexual. You should have heard it, HOmoSEXual, and then Harry came in and we were both deviants leading poor Hermione to ruin and then when Hermione came in she was a deviant too and a scarlet woman and we were all on the road to ruin.” Ron’s voice was shaking and high pitched by this time, Harry’s face was pinched and white and Hermione was sobbing quietly. Both men slid their chairs close on either side and each had an arm around her.

Remus sighed in sympathy and handed Hermione a handkerchief. “I am so sorry you had to go through that, though it was probably going to happen eventually. It’ll be no consolation if I say she probably didn’t mean all of that.”

“She meant enough of it,” said Harry tightly, his left hand making consoling circles on Hermione’s lower back.

“I never thought I’d hear Molly say anything like that to me,” Hermione hiccuped, trying to get her tears under control as Crookshanks wove anxiously around her ankles.

“I feel like we can’t go back there,” and Ron’s eyes filled with tears as well. Remus noticed that the sadder Ron and Hermione became the angrier Harry looked. He was obviously putting the other’s feelings ahead of his. It was not surprising to Remus when Harry burst out furiously, “How dare she – “

“Stop!” Remus held up a hand. “Take some deep breaths and let’s not say things we’ll regret! Molly is reacting poorly to something she is finding very stressful. Can you see that?”

“Yeah,” said Harry grudgingly, “But she didn’t have to say those nasty things to Ron and Hermione.”

“I bet she’s regretting it now,” Remus said and Ron nodded.

“She’s done that before, spoke first and regretted it later.”

“Hereditary trait,” Hermione sniffed, but with a glimmer of humor.

“Give it a day or two and then send an owl, she’ll calm down.”

“All right,” sighed Ron. “But you better know she’s mad at you and Tonks too, for encouraging our ‘depraved behavior’.

“I’ll endeavor to survive. Now drink up you three and have a scone or two, I actually made these muggle style for Hermione and Harry and I want to know how I did.”

“You, muggle cooking?” said Harry, reaching for a scone. “Do you do that a lot?”

“I mix it up,” said Remus.

“Currants! My favorite!” Hermione was obviously trying to reset the mood, and she elbowed Ron. “Try them, Ron! They’re good!”

“Muggle cooking?” Ron said skeptically but accepted the offered scone.

Harry nodded enthusiastically. “These are good! I cooked breakfast a lot at the Dursleys but they usually went for eggs and sausage and bacon. I didn’t do as well with scones and baked stuff.”

They talked about muggle and wizard cooking and afterwards Remus showed them to the guest bedroom where he had transfigured the regular double bed into a king size, even though it cramped the room. He showed them the connected bath and told them to make themselves at home and rest a bit and to come down to the living room when they were ready.

+++++

Hermione came out of the bath, having splashed cold water on her red eyes. On the bed, Harry cradled Ron in his arms, stroking his hair and pressing soft kisses onto his hair and temple. Hermione realized that no matter how shaken she was at Mrs. Weasley’s tirade, it had to be worse for Ron. She climbed onto the bed next to them and wrapped her arms around Ron’s torso.

Ron sighed, “This is so good.” He snuggled further into their arms. Hermione and Harry mmmmmed in agreement, petting him and each other. Crookshanks purred at their feet. As they relaxed their movements became slower and drowsier, and they drifted into sleep.

+++++

Evening

+++++

Hermione woke from her nap as Ron shifted in her arms. His breathing was still steady but lighter and she knew he’d be waking soon. She glanced up at Harry, to see his eyes open. He smiled drowsily and whispered “What time is it?”

She glanced at her watch. “Five fifteen”. Between them Ron murmured softly and they looked at him, then smiled at each other.

Harry began to kiss and nibble at Ron’s ear and to unbutton his shirt. Hermione nuzzled into Ron’s stomach where his shirt had come untucked and began to unbutton his jeans. Crookshanks gave them all a disgusted look and leapt off the bed.

Ron moaned and muzzily opened his eyes. He turned to Harry and languidly moved his lips over his. Their tongues touched and stroked each other, and Harry licked Ron’s lips and kissed his way back to Ron’s ear and the sensitive spot behind it.

His mouth free, Ron moaned again as Hermione popped the last button and tugged his jeans and pants down and off. She kissed her way up the inside of his thigh; he was hard before she was half there.

Hermione took a deep breath and tried to quell the butterflies in her stomach. Ron had said sex was something she couldn’t learn from a book, but she felt she was learning: from studying the books of Harry and Ron. (Never mind the books she got in the adult section of Flourish and Blott’s.) Every gasp, moan and twitch taught her something new. Purring, she rubbed her cheek along the length of Ron’s cock. She loved the silky feel of it against her skin and she loved the sounds Ron made when she touched it. As she wrapped her lips around the head of his cock, she looked up at her two boys. Ron’s eyes were on her, the sleepiness was quickly clearing; his gaze deepened as they looked into each other’s eyes.

Shirt undone, Harry was kissing his way down Ron’s neck while massaging his chest. Ron gasped as Harry licked his nipple, then nibbled gently before sucking hard on it. He moaned again as Hermione’s mouth engulfed his head and her lips slid down his shaft. Harry slid a hand down and grasped the base of Ron’s cock, squeezing lightly while sucking his nipple. Ron tangled one hand in Harry’s unruly hair as he threaded the fingers of his other hand through Hermione’s. He panted and moaned and writhed beneath them, pleasure rolling through him, condensing inevitably in his balls till he exploded, seeing stars and calling Harry and Hermione’s names.

As he relaxed Hermione slowed her tongue, allowing Ron’s limp cock to rest in her warm mouth before gently releasing him. She looked up to see both her lovers gazing at her, Ron with the shine of stars in his sated eyes, Harry with passion and want. He reached down to her, brushing a finger across her lips, swollen from sucking and sticky with cum. “Are you wet, Hermione? Does sucking him make you hot?” His voice was low and rough. She whimpered as she moved up, and they quickly helped each other remove their clothes. Hermione pushed Harry back and straddled him, then sank down to bury him in her as deeply as she could. Harry reached up to cup her breasts as Hermione rolled her hips, each thrust making Harry arch into her and make little grunts of pleasure. Ron, laying on his side and watching them, caressed Hermione’s arse and Harry’s thighs as they moved together until Hermione came with a strangled cry, arching back. Harry felt her inner muscles contract around him and thrust a final time, coming hard with a quiet but deep moan.

Hermione collapsed on top of Harry and rolled to one side, leaving Ron cuddled on his other side. She thought she knew what would happen next and it did; both Harry and Ron dozed off. She slid out of bed and used the bath again. Unsticky, she kissed them both till their eyes opened. “Wash up and come downstairs,” she told them.

“Bossy witch,” Ron mumbled, but they both started to get up, so she went down ahead, to find Remus in the living room at his desk.

The living room was long and narrow, the near end was used as a living room with two squashy couches, a couple of deep armchairs, a fireplace and the required sidetables, foot rests and surprise! A telly with a DVD player! Next to it was a CD player and CD cabinet. Jazz played softly from the CD player. Hermione gasped and Remus, who was engrossed in his work on the far end of room, jumped. “Oh, sorry Hermione! I didn’t hear you come in.”

Hermione gaped at him. The far end of the room, next to the big window, had been done as an office area, with bookshelves and a big desk. But that wasn’t what she was gaping at. On the desk were a telephone and a laptop computer.

“I thought electrical appliances and magic didn’t work together!”

“True to a point. The more magic used in the vicinity the more likely it is the electrical appliances will go wonky. But most wizard households could handle basic appliances if they were just careful about where and when they do magic, or at least shield the appliances when they aren’t in use. But most people don’t want to bother and find it easier to go without electricity. I back up everything on my computer and put it away in a shielded drawer when I’m done. The DVDs are in a shielded drawer and I’ve got a cover for the telly and DVD player. And we don’t do magic in here.”

“Remus, this is wonderful!”

Remus grinned. “It’s even better, Hermione. I’ve got Internet!”

Hermione whooped and hugged him as Ron and Harry came in.

“Oi, Lupin, we’re going to tell Tonks!”

Lupin and Hermione laughed and explained about the telly, computer and Internet. Ron tried to be interested for his partners’ sakes, but obviously didn’t get it. He was happy to switch around on the television and found a football game (“So this is what Dean is always on about!”). Harry and Hermione, though, were enthralled and Remus set up addresses for them and showed them how to log on. They were still at it when Tonks came in a couple hours later, loaded down with Chinese take away.

+++++

After dinner Remus showed them the paperwork for the stipend provided by the Ministry. It was fairly straightforward but required a counter signature at the Ministry when they turned them in. Then he gave Harry an overview of the inheritances, but Harry professed himself exhausted. He and Ron went upstairs to bed, and Remus joined Tonks on one of the couches in front of the fire.

“Do they always go to bed this early?” Tonks asked. Remus shrugged and looked to Hermione ensconced in a wingback chair with a rug over her lap and Crookshanks a warm furry purring puddle on top. She nodded.

“Actually, this is rather late for them, even when they nap in the afternoon.”

“Oh, you mean you really were sleeping this afternoon?” smirked Remus.

Hermione blushed. “Well, most of the time….”

Tonks laughed, then asked, “So, how are you three doing? I didn’t get much of a chance to talk to you at dinner yesterday.”

“Not too bad, really, when you consider that we could all be dead.” Hermione sighed and rubbed her left arm. “Harry got hit by so many different kinds of curses, the healers say even with the shielding he had, his body is going to be a long time recovering. Needing more sleep is just part of it. He gets episodes of ringing in his ears. The disorientation and dizziness seems to be passing. The healers warned of mood swings, but they haven’t been too bad. He hurt his back, it’s still stiff and flares up. He’s been focusing on the present, doesn’t like to talk about the war, especially not….. He’s been fussing over Ron and I. I can understand that. Keeps your mind off of those who – well, those who, um, aren’t here anymore.” Hermione swallowed and blinked rapidly. “Ron and I both caught some hexes we could have done without. Ron was mostly all right but had a problem with a leech spell. He sleeps a lot too, but you’ll notice the huge amount he eats, it’s worse than it was during his growth spurts. He was down to around 8 stone; he looked like a bundle of sticks. Good thing we’re getting that stipend or we wouldn’t be able to feed him….”

Hermione’s voice trailed off and she stared into the fire, still rubbing her arm.

“Hermione? Why are you rubbing your arm?” Tonks asked gently.

Hermione blinked and looked away from the fire. “A bit of damage to the nerves in the shoulder. Gives me odd patches of sensation down the arm, prickles or itches or even numbness. And the arm and hand are a little weak. It’s better than it was, and it will get better, but its probably never going to be 100%.”

“Harry told me about his nightmares – “ started Remus.

“He did? Voluntarily?” Hermione exclaimed. ”He doesn’t like to talk about that. He must really trust you, Remus.”

Remus smiled, “It was in the middle of him bragging about you taking on the staff of St. Mungo’s so I don’t think he realized how much he was giving away. He’s very proud of you, Hermione.” Hermione’s cheeks pinked. “How bad are the nightmares?”

“Bad enough,” she admitted. “We’re still too paranoid to sleep without our wands, and Harry doesn’t really need his wand anymore. He’s blasted the walls at St. Mungo’s and even hexed a few healers. If we all sleep together it’s better, though we, he still has them. He wakes up better from them and can go back to sleep instead of sitting up and brooding.”

Tonks studied the young woman, feeling a rush of kindred spirit with her and noting her drawn features. “Hermione,” she said, “I think you need to get some sleep too.”

Hermione smiled wearily. “Good idea. G’night Tonks, Remus. Sweet dreams.” She made her way up the stairs, Crookshanks following, watched with concern by the other two.

“Poor kids.”

“Yeah.”

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.

This story archived at Table for Three - http://www.triofic.com/viewstory.php?sid=221

Chapter Text

The Eighth Year by LouHQ

Chapter 4: Chapter Three: “I thought I’d die of pure relief….” August 2nd through August 30th, 1998

Author's Notes: Well, do I keep writing? I'm up to Chapter 7....


Sunday bells from the nearby village echoed down the valley to the small house where Harry woke from a good night’s sleep. Though he had woken twice during the night, both times he had fallen back to sleep quickly. He wiggled over Ron to get out of bed, and when Ron murmured a protest and tried to wrap his arms around Harry, Harry whispered, "Go back to sleep, love, I’ll wake you for breakfast.” Ron smiled and rolled over to snuggle against Hermione.

Harry showered and dressed, feeling better than he had in months. Heading downstairs in bare feet, carrying his shoes and socks, he checked through the refrigerator for possible breakfast items and decided on cheese omelets with toast. He also decided that he needed to make a trip to a grocery; it looked like Tonks and Remus lived on tea, toast and take away.

Remus and Tonks came down at the unusual noises from the kitchen and paused at the kitchen door to watch the young man moving about. Harry wore tight cut off denims and a tank top, his unruly hair still damp from his shower. Both Tonks and Remus gazed appreciatively then glanced at each other. Remus pursed his lips into a twisted smile, and Tonks grinned back.

“Morning Harry,” she chirped. “What are you doing?”

Harry wheeled around and smiled. “Making breakfast. Tea’ll be ready in a minute. Have a sit.”

Remus sat but Tonks got out instant coffee. “I have to have coffee in the morning,” she said a bit apologetically.

“That’s not coffee,” Harry said, revolted. “That’s dirty water with caffeine.” He slid a cuppa in front of Remus then dished up the omelets. “I gotta go wake up Ron and Hermione.” And he ran up the stairs.

Tonks and Lupin looked at each other, shrugged and started in on their breakfast. “Wow, this is good!” Tonks exclaimed. Lupin nodded, mouth full of eggs and cheese.

A minute later, Harry clattered back down the steps. With a breathless aside of “They’re coming down,” he started back in on his cooking. Soon a chipper Hermione led in a drowsy Ron, still in their pajamas with robes over. Harry slid a huge omelet in front of Ron and a more proportional one in front of Hermione. Ron grunted his thanks and tucked in, Hermione thanked Harry with a smile and a kiss as he slid into place with his own overloaded plate. The two of them started in on a discussion of omelet ingredients, with Harry espousing more as better, while Hermione defended less as more. Ron slowly came to life as he ate and when the other two tried to get him to take sides, he simply declared that he would eat what was set in front of him.

Remus and Tonks volunteered to clean up the kitchen and shooed the trio out. Hermione and Ron returned upstairs, expecting Harry to join them. They were stripped and in the shower before they realized Harry wasn’t following them up, which disturbed them enough that they kept the play to a minimum and came back downstairs quickly. Remus and Tonks were just finishing up in the kitchen and informed them that Harry said he was going to step out for a turn around the garden. Outside, there was no sign of him.

+++++

Harry walked into Lupin’s house 45 minutes later with two huge bags of groceries clutched in his arms; to be tackled by a white faced Ron and a sobbing Hermione. Lupin, looking a bit grey himself, spoke into a hand held mirror. Harry at first spoke placatingly to his two loves, but when they kept ragging on him about not telling them where he went, he got angry. Remus hastily stepped out to the front steps.

“I’m an adult now!” Harry snapped. “Get off my case! There aren’t Death Eaters at the local greengrocers! No one knows me here! I was fine! I don’t need babysitters!” He began to put the groceries away, slamming cupboard doors. Finally Hermione ran upstairs, still crying, and Ron went after her, with a parting glare at Harry.

Tonks arrived back at the house and sat next to Remus on the front step. “So where was he?”

Remus shook his head, “He went to get groceries.” Tonks started to laugh. “It’s not funny!”

“Remus, neither of us are big eaters. I’m not surprised he looked in the cupboard and thought they would starve. You saw them eat.”

“It’s not that! Even though this is a muggle area and no one knows he’s here, it’s still not safe for him to be out there.”

“Everyone who fought Voldemort could be a target. Should we wrap him in lamb’s wool and never let him be alone?”

Remus sighed. “I know, I know. If he had just told us where he was going…”

“And what would have happened? You would have made a fuss about him buying groceries, Ron and Hermione would have insisted they go with him, it would have been a lot of debate and taken more time, he’d probably just have been leaving by the time he actually got back.” She hesitated. “What are you going to say to him?”

“Me? Not a damn thing.”

“You ARE smart. Come on. Time for your potion.”

+++++

Harry finished putting the groceries away, slowly getting back in control of his temper. He sighed, rubbing his lower back, then made himself another cup of tea while digging out Remus’ unused coffeemaker and setting it up with the freshly ground beans he bought. He was putting together a tray with tea and a couple of store bought muffins when Tonks and Remus came in. Tonks headed directly to the coffeepot.

“I’m not imagining things! I did smell coffee!’

“And not that pathetic dishwater you had earlier.”

“You spoil me, Harry. Remus, are you going to make me real coffee every morning?”

“I’m afraid that complicated muggle contraption is beyond me.”

“Pish and tosh! You set up the DVD player, if you can handle that --.”

Harry left them to their friendly bickering and took the tray up to the guestroom. He could hear more bickering voices on the other side of the door and he took a deep breath before freeing a finger to tap on it. The voices went silent, and he tapped again.

Ron yanked the door open and they stared at each other a few seconds until Harry said, “Sorry, didn’t have a free hand.”

“No problem mate, here, set it here.” Ron swept a few things off the top of the chest of drawers and Harry set down the tray. He looked at Ron, then over at Hermione. There was a moment of strained silence, then they all three spoke at once.

“Harry, I’m so sorry, we overreacted - “

“Sorry mate, didn’t mean to come down on you - “

“I’m sorry, I didn’t think ahead - “

They all stopped again, and burst out laughing, coming together into a group hug and exchanging kisses. Finally Harry pulled back. “Tea?”

“Love some.” “Sure.”

Hermione took the armchair while Harry and Ron sat cross-legged on the bed. Ron mumbled thanks as he bit into the muffin. Harry looked at Hermione, who looked as if she was torn between speaking and keeping their renewed peace. Harry took pity on her. “I reckon we should talk about this.”

Hermione nodded vigorously while Ron sighed. “Harry, you’re right, you’re an adult and can take care of yourself….”

“But Hermione is right too, it’s not safe out there.”

“I did overreact though, but it was just I didn’t know where you went.”

“If I had said I was going to pop over to the greengrocer’s, would you have said ‘Oh, that’s alright then, see you in a bit’? Honestly?”

Hermione looked embarrassed. “No, you’re probably right.”

“It wouldn’t make any difference which one of us it was, would it?” asked Ron. “Really, after all those war stories in the ‘Daily Prophet’ any one of us could be a target. Or any two. Or all three.”

“But what do we do? Go out only together, never be alone? I love you both, but sometimes I’ll want to be on my own.”

“Same here.” “Agreed.”

“We might not fix everything right away, but can we start with not leaving without notice? Let someone know where we’re going?”

“I can live with that, I think.” “Me too.”

Harry added, looking a bit abashed, “I know I’m the last person to say this, but how about trying to think ahead? It’s safer here, it’s a muggle neighborhood, not very many people know we’re here. And when we go back to Hogwarts the grounds should be pretty safe but Hogsmeade? I bet the papers will carry at least one story on the war heroes going back to school. Everyone will know where we are.”

Ron and Hermione exchanged glances and Ron shook his head in disbelief. “Who are you and what have you done with our Harry?”

“Harry promoting forethought. Who’d’ve thought it would come to this?”

Ron washed the last of his muffin down with his tea. “You put me off you know, when you didn’t come up with me and Hermione.” he said crossly. “We hardly snogged in the shower at all!”

Harry laughed, “Poor deprived Ron! The muffin doesn’t make up for it?”

“No, but it least it gives me the energy for this - “ and he lunged at Harry, pinning the shorter young man beneath his taller frame. “And now I get to punish you properly!”

“Punish? What!” yelped Harry, struggling. “I’ll get you for that!” They wrestled together, but Harry was unable to gain control of the taller redhead. He was well pinned, flushed and aroused, and he shifted his crotch again so his erection rubbed against Ron’s groin. It was good to know Ron was in the same shape he was!

“That’s cheating!” Ron took advantage of his position to kiss Harry firmly, his tongue forcefully parting Harry’s lips and stroking the inside of his mouth. Harry in turn greedily sucked on Ron’s tongue. They ground together in rapidly heating passion. Finally, Ron pulled his mouth off of Harry’s, gasping.

“Harry,” Ron growled, “I want to fuck you.”

Identical whimpers came from beneath and beside him. They turned their heads to see Hermione kneeling beside the bed, her face flushed, her lips parted. Harry reached over and caressed her cheek.

Ron whispered as he continued to flex against Harry. “Hermione’ll watch, Harry. Hermione likes to watch us. It makes her hot. She’ll watch me fuck you and she’ll get all excited and want to cum too. Do you want that Harry? Do you want her to watch us fuck?” As he spoke, Ron kept rolling his hips against Harry, their cocks rubbing together through their shorts.

“Gods, yes!”

With a groan Ron pulled away, giving them both space to take off their clothes. As soon as Harry stripped off his shorts, Ron grabbed him, flipped him onto his stomach and lay on top of him. He nipped and kissed the back of Harry’s neck and nuzzled into his hair while running his hands up and down his arms. Ron’s long hard cock rubbed between Harry’s arsecheeks, making Harry buck beneath him. Harry’s hands clutched the bedclothes and he moaned into the pillow.

Ron continued to kiss and lick his way down Harry’s back. When he got to the indentation at the top of Harry’s arse, he felt a hand on his arm. He looked up to see Hermione offering the bottle of edible lube they had gotten in London. They smiled at each other and he leaned over to kiss her before he pulled back and let her drip some oil down Harry’s crack. Harry gasped.

Ron ran his hands over Harry’s tight arse, massaging it gently. He dipped his tongue into Harry’s slippery crack. Harry moaned again as Ron continued down to his tight entrance. He lapped against the clenching circle of muscle with his tongue until Harry began to press back up against his mouth.

Ron pulled back and reached for the lube. Hermione quickly poured more onto his hand and Ron rubbed it around Harry’s entrance, making sure it was well coated and slippery. Harry was whimpering and panting, pushing into his hands. Finally Ron slid the tip of one finger into Harry, who groaned and arched his back. “God, Ron, yes!” Ron slowly pushed his finger deeper before curling it slightly to touch lightly against Harry’s prostrate. Harry cried out in pleasure, and Ron whispered “I’m going to fuck you Harry, fuck your tight little ass” as he pulled back before sliding a second finger in and repeating the brush against that sensitive spot. Harry was rocking beneath him, gasping, and when Ron pulled back again he begged, ”Please Ron, please, fuck me now, please!”

Ron rose to his knees, keeping his fingers deep in Harry. Hermione slicked his cock with a lube-coated hand and they kissed deeply. Harry pulled his knees up in anticipation and Hermione lay next to him as Ron positioned himself behind him. He pulled his fingers out slowly, then pressed the head of his cock into him. “So good, Harry, gods, you’re so tight and hot.” The tight ring of muscle gripped his cock as he slowly pushed into Harry.

Harry felt a hand wrap around his cock and he couldn’t hold still any longer. He thrust into the clenching fist, then slammed back into Ron as Ron thrust into him. Harry was always amazed at the intense feelings he experienced with Ron and Hermione, a desperate reaching for completion and fulfillment, while being hyperaware of their feelings at the same time. Ron stroked into his arse, hitting the prostate over and over, filling him, while Hermione’s hand played over his shaft, squeezing him as he thrust into her fist. The waves of orgasm rolled over him, and he nearly passed out from their intensity. Harry cried out as his cum coated Hermione’s hand and the spasming of his arse sent Ron over the edge, his seed spilling hotly inside Harry.

When the two of them came back to the here and now, they turned to Hermione lying next to them. They watched, fascinated, as she stroked one of her breasts softly with one hand while the cum coated one was stroking languidly between her legs. “Gods, Hermione, you’re beautiful!” Ron moved over between her legs and added his tongue to the stroking, lapping at her soft wet folds, darting between her fingers to caress her clit and licking her fingers where her juices mixed with lube and Harry’s cum. Hermione moaned appreciatively and rubbed her cunt up into Ron’s face.

Harry curled against Hermione’s side and kissed her ear. He moved into her hair, then down onto her neck, up over her chin to feast on her mouth. He remained, kissing her deeply until he felt her thrusting and her deep moans, then moved down to her breasts, gently licking a hard nipple. He was rewarded with her whimpers and he strengthened the suction and laved it with his tongue.

Ron slid two fingers into Hermione and thrust gently in and out as she bucked against him. When he felt her thrusts quicken and deepen, he slid a third finger in and fastened his mouth over her fingers where they pressed against her clit. She clutched Harry’s head to her breast and cried out as the heat in her center seemed to explode through her.

Ron crawled back up beside them and he and Harry cuddled Hermione between them. They all sighed and relaxed together, drifting in their own cocoon of bliss. Suddenly Ron started to laugh.

“What?”

“Nothing.”

“Come on, what?”

“Just thinking….”

“Yes?””

“I am one lucky bastard.”

Hermione and Harry laughed too.

“Yeah, you are.”

“Me too.”

“Yeah.”

“I love you both.”

“Love you too.”

“Yeah.”

+++++

Afternoon

+++++

Predictably, the boys fell asleep. Hermione cleaned up and redressed, then slipped out of the guestroom. The door to Remus and Tonks’ bedroom was closed and she could tell they had put a silencing charm on it. She was embarrassed to realize that she and the boys hadn’t; they probably had been very audible! Chastising herself for being rude, she continued to the kitchen, where she fetched herself a cup of coffee, then went to the living room. She picked through the collection of CDs; it was an eclectic mix of jazz, classical and rock, with a little bit of everything else.

She picked out a mellow jazz disc she recognized from her parents’ collection and then went to the desk. She pulled the laptop out of its shielded drawer and plugged in the power and landline cords. She logged on and entered search criteria. A list came up and she picked up a pen, then cast about looking for paper. Nothing. She pulled open several drawers at random until she found a notepad, and started taking notes.

Satisfied, she tore off the sheet of notes and opened the drawer to return the pad of paper, but the back of a picture frame caught her eye. She picked it up and turned it over.

She recognized them, both from their older selves and from pictures in Harry’s photo album. A younger Remus was sitting on what was unmistakably a Gryffindor common room sofa, feet up on a hassock and a book held in one hand. The other hand was gently stroking the hair of the person whose head was in his lap. Stretched out on the couch with Remus was Sirius Black.

The young Lupin smiled down at the sleeping Black with a look of such love that tears came to Hermione’s eyes.

“It’s a beautiful picture, isn’t it?”

Hermione jumped and nearly dropped it. She had been so wrapped up in the photo that she hadn’t heard Tonks had come up beside her.

“It really is.” Hermione agreed. “I didn’t know they were together when they were younger.”

Tonks smirked, “You don’t think they were just good friends?”

Hermione rolled her eyes. “I know what two blokes in love look like, Tonks. It’s odd though, Harry never mentioned this.”

“I don’t think Harry knows. I know Remus and Sirius never told him. They were planning to when Sirius died.”

Hermione stared at her, shocked. “You mean they were together again after Sirius escaped from Azkaban and they didn’t tell Harry?”

Tonks nodded. Hermione and she looked at each other for a moment, and then Tonks shook her head. “I’ll tell Remus the cat’s out of the bag and I’m sure he’ll tell him straight away. Maybe this conversation shouldn’t have taken place?”

“No, I won’t lie and say I didn’t know. But, um, want to go on an errand with me?”

“Ah, avoidance, good idea. Let’s go tell the blokes we’ll be back for dinner and skip out. It’s full moon tonight and Remus always has a lie down after taking his potion, so he won’t be down for a bit.”

Hermione carefully left the picture propped up on the desk.

+++++

When Ron and Harry came down, Remus had been at his desk a good 15 minutes, alternately brooding over the picture and staring out the window. Ron headed directly for the kitchen; Harry stopped and said, “We’re making lunch, want something?”

“Just a cup of tea; that omelet is still with me.”

The two boys were back soon with Remus’ tea and mugs of soup and large sandwiches for themselves. They quickly demolished the food and Harry sighed and said, “I suppose we should get through that paperwork.”

Ron wrinkled his nose and said, “I’ll wash up the lunch things. I think I prefer that to legal stuff.”

Remus plunged into the legal complexities. Harry’s parents had both wizarding and muggle investments that had been managed by a Gringott’s financial officer. A percentage of the profits were reinvested and the rest went to replenish the vault Harry had been drawing from. Remus explained how it all worked and Harry signed the necessary places, opting to have the bank continue to manage his account from the next year with quarterly reports. Harry resolved to learn more about it and take over within a few years.

Sirius’ bequethment was more complicated. All the Black investments had been wizarding and they needed to be diversified. Several pieces of property had been sold, including Grimmauld Place. Harry found that Remus’ home had been bequeathed to him by Sirius, including a fund for upkeep. Funds held in holding accounts needed to be transferred, and Harry noted another reason to visit Gringott’s. By the time they were done going over the inheritances, Ron had fallen asleep on the couch and Harry was much richer. Now Remus brought out the paperwork for power of attorney, medical directives and wills. Harry took great delight in setting up an account available to all three of them and making Ron and Hermione his executors and heirs. They put together packets of information for Hermione and Ron and Harry sat back with a sigh.

“Is that it then?” he asked hopefully, rubbing his neck and arching his back.

“One last thing, and not a legal issue,” said Remus, stealing himself for a possible scene.

“Is something wrong?” Harry asked, concerned. “You look so serious.”

Remus smiled ironically, “It’s a Sirius issue, I suppose. Sirius as in your godfather. There was something we meant to tell you about when he was alive that we never got to. I don’t know how you’re going to feel about it.” He handed Harry the picture that he had kept face down throughout the afternoon.

Harry’s face softened as he gazed at the picture. He traced a finger over Sirius’ hair where Remus’ hand played through it and smiled at the older Remus next to him. “Nice picture. I haven’t seen this one before. I’m glad that you were such good friends with Sirius and my dad. I’m glad we’ve gotten to be good friends. Makes me feel closer to them too.”

Harry’s candid reaction caused a lump in his throat and Remus slid his chair closer to Harry’s and laid a hand on his shoulder. “I was more than friends with Sirius, Harry. We were lovers.”

Harry gave him a blinding smile for a moment, then it faltered. “That’s why -- , Were you --, Why didn’t – ; oh, shit.” He put the picture down and got up to pace back and forth. Remus waited patiently. After a few minutes Harry came back and sat down next to him again. “Did my dad know? And my mom? Were they – were they ok with it?” Harry sounded desperately anxious.

“Yes. They were glad for us. James took this picture.”

The blinding smile was back. “When did you get together?”

“About a month before the end of our 7th year. I’d been pining for him for about 6 months prior. He said he had been lusting after me twice that, but I don’t know if that was true or just romantic blather. James said he had swore him to secrecy and confided in him just before Halloween. Lily said she knew for years, and she probably did. Took us a bit to get our nerve up though. I don’t know what I would have done, but I thought I’d die of pure relief when Sirius kissed me.”

“Yeah,” Harry breathed, looking at Ron, sprawled on the couch.

“We got a flat together after school. Things went well for awhile. I had a hard time getting a decent job but Sirius had enough money and he insisted on paying for the extras. Then the first war started to heat up and we both worked for the Order. Some weird things happened – well, we figured out later Pettigrew was responsible for some of it – and we both suspected the other of being a spy. Then your parents died and Sirius was in Azkaban.”

Remus fell silent.

“Remus, I am so sorry.”

“Hardly anything you should apologize for, considering you inspired him to escape from Azkaban.” He put the picture back on the desk and leaned back in his chair.

“Were you together after that?” Harry’s voice had gotten sharp.

“Not right away. After the Tri-Wizard Tournament, Dumbledore sent him to me and we opened up Grimmauld Place. Just before Christmas, it was. We were planning on telling you that summer. He, well, he wasn’t a happy man. You know that. If he had been a free man, or even if he hadn’t had to live at Grimmauld – and I couldn’t be there very much. We thought, after the war we’d have more time – .”

Remus voice cracked and Harry looked up from his study of the floor between his trainers. Remus was crying. Harry’s heart broke at the sight. His gentle mentor, the man who had remained calm in the face of all that had happened in the last 3 years, who faced his own inner demons with a depth of control unimaginable to Harry, was breaking down before him. He remembered that horrible day at the Ministry of Magic, the feel of Remus’ arms around him, holding him back from going through the veil after Sirius, Remus’ voice saying “He’s gone,” with a level of anguish that Harry had never questioned before.

Harry, tears trickling down his own face, moved over to Remus, sat in his lap and wrapped his arms around the weeping werewolf. Remus hugged him back. It was several minutes before either of them could talk again.

“I’m sorry we didn’t tell you right away. I wouldn’t blame you if you’re angry.” Remus voice was muffled in Harry’s shoulder.

Harry sighed. “I am angry, I guess, among other things.” He pulled back slightly. “Remus, it would have helped me so much. Not only in coming out myself, but I thought I was the only one who missed him.”

“I know. I almost told you, after. Not that it’s his fault, I could have done it anyway, but I think it’s one of the few bits of bad advice I ever got from Dumbledore. He thought it would be another burden to you. I thought it would help to have a shoulder to cry on.”

“For both of us.”

“Yes”

“Dumbledore was always a bit overprotective.” Harry sighed and looked Remus in the eye. “For the record, Remus. I forgive you. I love you. But don’t hide things from me, alright?”

Remus nodded and Harry leaned back in to give him a soft kiss on the lips.

“Oi! Remus! First my girlfriend, now my boyfriend?” Ron was sitting up and stretching. Remus flinched a bit but Harry rose leisurely to his feet, grinning.

“That’s what you get for leaving us unchaparoned in the arousing world of law and finance, mate!”

Remus got up a bit more stiffly; Harry wasn’t a lightweight anymore. He picked up the empty teacups and headed for the kitchen. “I’ll get more tea.”

Harry went over to Ron and they hugged tightly. “How much did you hear?” Harry asked softly.

“How did you know I was listening?”

“You are a tolerant person, but if you really thought I was snogging someone else you’d say more than ‘Oi!’”

“I’m not tolerant at all, mate, you’ll notice I spoke up as soon as your lips touched. Anyway, I woke up when you were asking him ‘What’s wrong?’ Probably your tone of voice did it. So our Remus is bi too?”

“I guess.”

“What else?”

“Well he could have been gay then and straight now.”

“Huh. I s’pos. Or he could still be gay, Tonks is a shapeshifter.”

“Ron, you are so bent.”

“I thought you liked that about me?”

“Well…. yeah.”

Remus came back in with a tray of biscuits and tea things. He had obviously taken the opportunity to splash some cold water on his face, as his eyes were less red and some of the hair about his face was damp. “Tea anyone?”

“Yeah, sure!” Ron said enthusiastically. Harry agreed but excused himself to the loo first.

Ron spiked his tea with sugar and milk, munched thoughtfully on a biscuit and waited till Remus had taken a big sip of tea. “So are you bi or gay or what?”

Ron was disappointed, there was no spray of tea. “Bi. And you?”

“Huh? I’d think that was obvious.”

“You’d think so, but I’ve learned not to assume. So?”

“Bi, yeah. I mean, I’m in love with both Harry and Hermione, I must be bi, right?”

“Maybe you’re really straight but making an exception for Harry because you love him. Or maybe you’re really gay and the exception is Hermione. Or maybe this is just a phase. Or maybe it’s not. How do you know?”

Ron glared at Remus. “Alright then, how do I know?”

“If you want I’ve got a bunch of books on bisexuality and you can figure out where you all are on the Klein scale.”

“What’s a Klein scale?”

“I’ll get the books after I finish my tea.”

“What books?” Hermione and Tonks came in. Hermione kissed Ron and looked around as Tonks went to Remus. They both asked simultaneously ”How did it go?” Hermione added “Where’s Harry?”

“Harry was washing his hands before tea, but I see we need more cups. I’ll be right back,” Harry said from the doorway.

“Did you know about this?” hissed Ron.

“Just found out this afternoon, before you were up.”

“Oh.” And Harry was back with more cups and the rest of the biscuits.

“So where did you two go?” asked Remus.

“Investigating ‘peaceful albeit hedonistic’ places.” Hermione said, pulling out a collection of brochures. “Magic or muggle, modern or primitive, all are private, not too horribly expensive, with a variety of pros and cons.” She scattered the pamphlets on the coffee table and everyone reached for one. The next half-hour was spent comparing facilities, and when they were muggle places, explaining the features to those unfamiliar with things like ‘in-suite hot tubs’ and ‘indoor/outdoor pool with water slide’. The trio got into a lively discussion on what constitutes a holiday while Remus and Tonks slipped into the kitchen and started dinner. Hermione wanted some access to museums and libraries. Ron reiterated his wish to eat, sleep and make love, not necessarily in that order. But what really stopped them was Harry saying softly, almost wistfully, that he’s never seen the sea but once. That struck the other two quite mute with remembrance.

They agreed to some days in London, not only to visit Gringott’s and shop for Hogwarts, but also to take in some museums and to visit their friends still at St. Mungo’s. Then they arranged for 2 weeks seaside, leaving enough time for a leisurely transfer to Hogwarts.

Over dinner Remus and Tonks urged them to consider their home as theirs as well, “Or at least a base of operations, where you can drop in anytime, store stuff in safety and always be welcome.” Gratefully, the trio accepted their offer.

“So where are you spending the night tonight, Remus?” asked Harry diffidently.

Remus smiled reassuringly at him. “Now that I’ve got access to the Wolfsbane potion again, I can stay home. We ward the bedroom and Tonks waits outside until she’s sure the potion has been effective, then comes in and keeps me company. It’s the best it has ever been.”

Harry smiled back. “I’m glad.”

+++++

In London, they took care of matters financial and material in Diagon Alley, visited several museums, took Ron around to several muggle attractions (he especially loved the Changing of the Guard) and visited friends still at St. Mungo’s, all while evading reporters. They exchanged owls with several members of the Weasley clan, and had lunch with the twins at the shop, tea at Bill and Fleur’s and, the last night before their holiday, dinner at the Burrow.

After dinner they arrived back at Remus and Tonk’s with a bottle of firewhiskey and proceeded to pour shots all around. First they drank “To us!” and banged the shot glasses onto the table.

Hermione shuddered. “I hate this stuff. Pour another.”

“To Remus and Tonks!” “To Hogwarts!” “To Quidditch!” “To Family!” and finally “To Absent Friends” after which Hermione turned over her shot glass and said “I’m going to bed.”

Ron shrugged and followed, muttering “Thank the gods that’s done.”

While it seemed the shots hadn’t had time to affect the others, Harry stood slowly and slurred “It could have been worse.” He shook his head, turned green and rushed to the bathroom where he was quite noisily sick. The sound brought out Hermione and Ron, who even through their drunk cleaned up Harry and trundled him off to bed quite efficiently.

Remus and Tonks watched the whole scene with dismay and amusement. Afterwards they cleared off the drinking apparatus in silence punctuated by Remus’ comment of “I’d never want to be 18 again” to Tonks fervent agreement.

Thanks to hangover remedy potions, they were packed and ready the next morning and at 12:03 the three of them grasped an old plastic liter bottle and portkeyed away. They reappeared 2 weeks later, suntanned (Ron was very freckled), their hair sunbleached and with an air of relaxation they hadn’t had before. They sent owls to reassure family and friends and shared muggle and wizarding photos of the three of them by the sea, beachcombing, building sand castles, swimming in the surf and sunbathing. They also brought back a bundle of presents: music cds and software, coffee beans and a coffee bean grinder and a reprise of the take away Tonks brought home their first night there. Remus scolded them for their generosity but the trio shushed him.

“We’ve treated your place like cross between a storage facility and a hotel for the last month.”

“Plus you’ve done more for us than anyone else.”

“Not to mention you’re the best teacher we ever had, and I don’t mean just at Hogwarts.”

“So a few presents are in order.”

“So say ‘Thank you very much, its all lovely.””

Remus blinked at them and Tonks laughed.

“Thank you very much, it’s all lovely.”

“Especially the coffee beans.”

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.

This story archived at Table for Three - http://www.triofic.com/viewstory.php?sid=221

Chapter Text

The Eighth Year by LouHQ

Chapter 5: Chapter Four. “It’s not like you didn’t do everything else together.”

Author's Notes: So far the charactors have been easy to manage, but back at school things are more complicated for both the trio and this writer. Whew! Let me know how I do!


+++++

They walked in a loose bunch from Hogsmeade to the school. Harry noted wryly that they had automatically fallen into a protective formation, with Harry in the middle. Terry and Justin were up front and Hannah and Neville were behind, the rest is a loose circle around him. He thought about pointing out that the war was over and he didn’t need protecting, but he knew also that they would argue with him. He’d just keep his mouth shut and let them be comfortable, but he did check on Neville surreptitiously to make sure his leg wasn’t giving him too much pain. When he whispered his observation about their walking order to Hermione, she said calmly but with a hint of steel “Harry, not all the Death Eaters are in Azkaban.”

On the whole it was a quiet walk, all of them wrapped in their own thoughts. As they rounded the lake, they heard wing beats approaching, and as one, drew their wands. A single Thestral glided down, and Luna slid from its back.

They could all see Thestrals now.

Harry gaped slightly at the changes in Luna. Gone were the butterbeer cap necklace and the loose long hair. This Luna was wearing hiking boots, boot cut jeans, a dark blue t-shirt and a denim jacket. No jewelry of any sort, and her hair was pulled back in a severe queue. And her eyes! Gone was the vague gaze looking for Crumple-horned Snorcacks.

“Hi Luna. What are you doing here?”

She patted and thanked the Thestral, and it trotted off in the direction of the forest. “McGonagall asked me if I wanted to be in with you lot. She thought I might put off the other 7th years.”

Ron snorted. “You did that anyway.”

“Yes, but before they thought I was harmless.”

No one would make that mistake anymore.

As they approached the castle, the doors swung ponderously open, and a brown haired, clean shaven man stepped out. He held a long bow and arrow loosely, but his grip was sure and they could tell that he could have it nocked and released in a heartbeat. His gaze swept over them, and he nodded slightly. “The Eighth Year students, yes.” It wasn’t a question. Harry had the idea that he saw more than their faces.

He gestured them into the Great Hall. The 4 long house tables seemed oddly truncated, and there was a shorter fifth table with chairs for 12 set in the back of the hall. The brown haired man gestured to the shorter table. “The Headmistress will be joining you soon for lunch. Please make yourselves comfortable”. And he paced swiftly from the hall.

“Who’s that?” Ron wondered aloud.

Hannah shrugged. “There’s bound to be a number of new teachers.” She peeled off her jacket and laid it over a chair, then reshouldered her backpack. “I’m going to the loo.”

“I’ll go with you, I want to wash the Thestral smell off my hands.” Luna followed.

Ron looked over at Hermione. “Luna looks like a dyke.”

Ernest sniggered but Hermione punched him in the arm. Justin, Harry and Neville all flinched and Neville said sharply “What’s wrong with that?”

Too late Ron realized his comment could be taken as an insult, and he threw up his hands in surrender. “Sorry! Didn’t mean it in a bad way!”

They nodded their acceptance of his apology, but Neville said, more to the air than directly to Ron, “I’m not taking any crap from anyone anymore.” There were more nods from around the table.

“Greetings. Please be seated.” Headmistress McGonagall was walking towards them from the front of the hall. They murmured hellos to her and settled into chairs. She frowned at the two empty seats. “I was given to understand Ms. Lovegood and Ms. Abbott had also arrived”.

“Sorry Headmistress, they went to use the facilities.” Harry looked around the table and counted. “Only 11 of us returning?”

“Twelve, Mr. Potter, one has yet to arrive and probably won’t be here until later this afternoon.” She tapped on the table and carafes of pumpkin juice, water, coffee and tea appeared. “We’ll wait for the ladies before starting lunch, but please have something to drink,” and she poured herself a coffee. “Invitations went out to all of those who fought in the war who would have been 7th year students last year or this year. Many declined, for various reasons.”

“Who was it that let us in?” Hermione asked.

“Ah yes, that was Mr. Beor.” Her voice softened. “He has consented to take up the duties of Keeper of the Grounds and Keys for Hogwarts.”

Harry felt his face turn to stone. Hermione went white and under the table he felt Ron’s hand gripping his. Around the table people stared down at their plates.

“Headmistress, who – “ Harry began, but was interrupted by Hannah and Luna returning. Whatever their journey to the loo entailed, it seemed to put them in a good mood. Harry caught a whiff of firewhiskey as Hannah passed him to get to an open chair. They greeted McGonagall with good cheer, and she in turn tapped again on the table, and the food appeared.

After a few minutes dedicated to appreciating the food, McGonagall cleared her throat. “Ms. Granger, you will be happy to know that Hogwarts now employs all our house elves. “

“That’s wonderful!” Hermione beamed and the rest of the table voiced their agreements, Ron and Harry with a slice of relief that they wouldn’t be considered traitors to S.P.E.W. if they continued to eat.

“They certainly deserve it, after all they did in the war,” Justin commented.

“Indeed Mr. Finch-Fletchley, I couldn’t agree more. Professor Dumbledore and I discussed it quite some time ago, but I was unable to put our plans into action prior to this summer. With Dobby’s example, many house elves here consented to be freed, but some did not, and had to be placed in homes where we were sure they would not be abused. Also, a number of elves were no longer needed by their former employers and needed to be placed. Professor Sprout and I spent quite some time on it this summer, working with the Ministry, and they have added a subdivision to the Department of Magical Creatures specifically for house elves and the challenges they face.”

“I talked with a Ministry member about this last spring,” Hermione admitted.

“I know you did, Ms. Granger. You’ll appreciate that the Ministry official found that your comments gave him quite a lot to think about.” Hermione and Professor McGonagall smiled somewhat grimly at each other.

The conversation became general for a time as they finished their lunch. With a third tap of her wand, the dishes cleared and dessert appeared, with fresh carafes of drinks.

McGonagall cleared her throat for their attention. “Shortly I’ll show you to the suite of rooms we’ve set aside for you. Your possessions have been deposited in the common room there. I’m afraid there aren’t enough rooms for everyone to have their own, so some of you will need to double up. We decided to leave it to you to decide who will share rooms. You are all adults now and deserve that respect. However, I do expect you all to behave with decorum in front of the regular students here.”

All of them, including McGonagall, were somewhat pink-checked at this, but they nodded even as they blushed.

“Your former heads of house and I have gone over your records and will be meeting with you over the next two days to discuss what subjects you will study to best meet your long term goals. Any questions?”

“Headmistress, who – “

“Do we have a house name?” asked Neville.

“No, Mr. Longbottom, that’s entirely up to you all.”

+++++

Professor McGonagall led the group towards the teachers’ wing, but then turned down a side corridor that ended in large oak door. Beyond it was a large comfortable room with a fireplace, several sofas and overstuffed chairs, and at the far end by the windows, 3 study tables with 4 chairs each. Theirs trunks and suitcases were stacked up to one side. Professor McGonagall left them to explore their suite. Two doors, one on either side, led to short hallways. Each had two double rooms and two singles. Each room had its own fireplace and the standard four poster beds, large wardrobes and writing desks. A double and single together shared a bathroom, and each bathroom was actually two rooms, both with a toilet and sink, but one with a large shower stall with several spigots. Another door on each corridor was to a room similar to, but a bit smaller than then prefects’ bathroom, with a bathtub big enough for seven or 8 people with water jets. The last garnered speculative looks and appreciative sighs from the war-weary lot.

Everyone met back in the common room and they summoned a house elf to bring tea and biscuits.

“Hermione” asked Hannah, “Susan and I are going to share a room, d’you want to take the single next to ours and share the bath?”

Hermione blushed but lifted her chin. “Thank you, but no” she replied, “I’ll be sharing with Harry and Ron.” With a smile, Harry pulled her down onto the sofa between he and Ron, and he put his arm around her shoulders as Ron took her hand.

Hannah blushed beet red and Luna lifted a brow. “So you three are together then?” As they nodded, she shrugged. “It’s not like you didn’t do everything else together.” The rest of the group chuckled and Terry and Justin exchanged a significant glance.

“Well, that makes this easier,” said Justin. “Terry and I are together, so we’d like to share a room.”

Shrugs and nods came from around the room, then Dean said “Well, Neville? I think I could stand to share with you again, since it didn’t kill me the first 6 years.” Ernie quickly asked to take the single next to them, leaving the single attached to Justin and Terry’s, and the single attached to Susan and Hannah’s.

Susan and Hannah picked a suite on the right that was a corner room and had an extra window. Hermione picked the far left double, thinking it would be the quietest. Neville and Dean first said they would like to room next to the other Gryffindors, but Ernie whispered something to them about “girls sharing the common bath” and they took the other suite on the right side hallway. Justin and Terry shrugged and took the other double on the left hall, Justin saying cheerfully “Queers to the left.”

“Well, Luna, looks like you can take your pick.”

“I’ll wait and see what the last Eighth Year wants,” she shrugged.

“Wants what?” asked a voice from the door, and the group wheeled as one.

Draco Malfoy stood in the doorway. His white-blond hair was as impeccable as always, but a barely healed pink scar ran across his left jaw, across his neck and down beneath the collar of his polo shirt. Everyone in the room went still and silent, staring at him, and at the long pause Draco’s face slid into a bland mask.

“You’re the last Eighth Year?” Ron asked, incredulous. “I thought you were going to retire to your family estate and live the life of the idle rich?”

“You don’t get rich by being idle, or uneducated. Which explains your family’s financial status. Besides, you and Granger still owe me and I intend to collect.”

“Up yours, ferret!”

“You wish, weasel!”

“Honestly!” huffed Hermione. “Haven’t you two outgrown this YET?”

“Some things never change.” commented Harry, but he crossed to Malfoy and shook his hand. He explained the layouts of the bedrooms and baths, and said “There’s a free single sharing a bath with Justin and Terry, and one sharing with Susan and Hannah. Luna says it’s up to you.”

Draco gave a long speculative look at Hannah and Susan, who grew visibly agitated under his gaze. Finally he smirked and said “I’ll share with Justin and Terry. I’d hate to make anyone…nervous.”

“We’ll see who makes who nervous,” said Justin. “I’m going to go unpack.”

Everyone took this as a signal to do the same but Neville stopped them, saying, “There’s no ward on this door.”

“Right.” Justin had worked in perimeter security in the war and he took out his wand. “Everyone touch the door.” They crowded around and he traced several runes onto it that glowed silver for a moment, then faded. “There! It won’t open for anyone but us.”

“What about the houses elves?”

“I don’t know any spell that will keep out a house elf in their own home, so I didn’t even try. I’ll talk to McGonagall about a portrait guard or something, and do some better spells too, later.”

“Thanks, Justin.”

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.

This story archived at Table for Three - http://www.triofic.com/viewstory.php?sid=221

Chapter Text

The Eighth Year by LouHQ

Chapter 6: Chapter 5 “A bunch of brats, all of us. Fortunately at least some of us out grow it.”

Author's Notes: Sunday, August 30th, afternoon and evening


+++++

In the larger of their two rooms, Hermione had them shove the two beds together and then transfigured them into one big bed. Then they moved the two desks into the smaller room and the wardrobe from the small room into the larger, so they each had a wardrobe in their new bedroom, and each had a desk in their new study. The third bed they left in the smaller room (“In case Hermione gets so edgy studying that she can’t make it to the other room.” “Ron!”)

They started unpacking their trucks, but Harry noticed Ron was looking rather washed out, so he yawned and said, “I think I’ll take that lie-down now, actually.” He toed off his trainers, lay down in the middle of the big bed and opened his arms, smiling in what he hoped was an enticing way.

Ron didn’t need any more of an invitation. He flung himself on top of Harry and kissed him with enthusiasm. “Mmmmm, this is great, in’nt, Hogwarts with a room of our own! I was afraid we’d be back in the dorms!”

“I know what you mean,” Hermione smiled, sitting down and kicking off her own shoes. “I wasn’t looking forward to sharing a dorm with women I didn’t know all that well AND trying to sneak off to snog like a 4th Year.”

“I wasn’t sneaking off to snog MY 4th year!” Ron said, sitting up. “4th year is too young, especially if it’s with an older guy!”

“Girls mature faster than boys.”

“Not that fast!”

Harry pulled Ron back down into his arms. “Let it go, Won-Won. Chances are I’ll run into Cho again sometime, are you going to be jealous of her too?”

“That was done long ago. She still writes to him!”

“Ron, it is perfectly possible for a man and a woman to be FRIENDS!” Hermione bounced back up in frustration, grabbed her book bag and stomped off to the study.

“Smooth move, you git,” grumbled Harry, closing his eyes. “I was trying to get us all in bed.”

“Sorry” Ron mumbled, flopping back down.

“It’s not me you should be apologizing to.”

“I’m tired.”

“I know.”

Ron sighed and pulled himself out of bed. “I hate being a responsible adult.”

Harry grinned but kept his eyes closed.

Ron padded through the bath into the study. Hermione had her back to him, standing at one of the desks and sorting through her books. Ron stepped up behind her and hugged her from behind, whispering into her hair. “I’m sorry. I’m a right bastard. Forgive me?”

“Yes.” But she remained stiff and unresponsive to his touch.

“What is it?”

“You don’t trust me.”

“That’s not true!”

“I won’t argue about it.”

“I don’t see how you can say that! I’ve put my life in your hands more than once!”

“I’m not talking about your life, I’m talking about your heart.”

“Huh?”

She sighed. “Oh Ron.” She turned around and kissed him. “You’re jealous because you think I’m going to leave you for Victor.”

“Am not!”

“Or Harry, or, or Draco or Neville or the next wizard I meet on the street. Honestly, Ronald, you shouldn’t let your insecurities get the best of you. I love YOU, not because of your Quidditch skills, or your strategy skills, or even your bedroom skills, which are quite wonderful and better than anything else you do. Do you know why I love you?”

Ron swallowed. “You haven’t left me with much.”

“Nonsense. I love you Ron, because you are caring and generous and loyal and you love Harry, and you didn’t make me choose between the two of you. And you love me.”

“Oh. Good.”

“Yes.”

“Can we go lie down now?”

“All right.”

Back in the bedroom, Harry opened sleepy eyes and moved over on the bed, so Ron could be in the middle. Cuddled together, they napped.

+++++

Ron woke alone in the big bed, the light streaming in the window in a late afternoonish way. He wondered when he would no longer need the most sleep of the three of them; he enjoyed waking up WITH someone, or sometwo, and wished they were still with him. He considered a quick wank but decided he’d rather wait and entice them to an early bedtime that evening.

After a quick washup, Ron joined the others in the common room.

Hannah, Susan and Hermione were talking earnestly over pieces of parchment, Justin and Luna were playing wizarding chess, Malfoy and Harry were reading on opposite ends of the same sofa. Ron shook his head, it was a familiar scene, similar to so many other common room scenes, but these people would never have been in the same common room before.

Harry looked up from his book, smiling, and waved Ron over. He smiled back and flopped down on the sofa next to Harry, giving him a quick kiss.

“Disgusting, Weasel; do you have to do that in public?”

Ron felt his ears turn red but Harry just smirked back at Draco. “Poor Malfoy doesn’t have anyone to snog; we have to be patient with him.” Draco snorted and turned back to his book.

“What are you reading?”

“’Dark Rising’, a commentary on events leading up to the first war of Voldemort.”

“Why? You don’t ever have to think about He-Who, I mean, HIM, again.”

“I feel like I don’t understand what happened, how all these different events led up to what they did. Thanks to Dumbledore’s lessons, I kind of understand about Voldemort himself, but why did so many people follow him? Why did his followers give him power over them? Why did people allow it? That’s the kind of thing I don’t understand. And if we don’t understand that part, how can we prevent someone else from taking Voldemort’s place and doing this all over again?”

Draco spoke up. “Part of it’s power. You only caught a glimpse of the kind of infighting that went on in the inner ranks. People want power, and some people don’t care what they have to do to get it.” He sounded sad. “Nothing matters to them but power. Money, possessions, relationships, it’s all just symbols of power.”

“But why support someone else? That doesn’t get them more power.”

“Sure it does. The closer they are to the center, they more power they’re granted by their peers. Look at the Ministry and all the people kissing up to Scrimgeour.”

“I see your point.”

Ron thought it was an odd conversation, both Malfoy and Harry carefully skirting their personal issues while talking about something that literally shaped their lives. He was relieved when Hermione came over and perched on the arm of the sofa. She gestured with the parchment.

“Have you thought about your classes?”

“Not a bit.” “No.”

She rolled her eyes. “Hannah and Susan have already talked to Sprout and McGonagall. They’re saying it all depends on what we want to do next. Are you still planning to be aurors?”

Harry frowned, “I dunno. I think I may have had enough of that.”

Ron smirked and reached over Harry to pull Hermione down to lay across their laps. “I know what I want to do next.”

Hermione hissed “Ron!” and tried to wiggle free, but Ron claimed a kiss before he let her go. Harry helped her to her feet, but took advantage of his position to slide his hands over her arse before she escaped. She huffed at them both and they grinned at her, unrepentant.

Terry came in from the hallway, with a piece of parchment in hand. “Hey everyone, McGonagall says dinner in the main hall in ten minutes, but there will be one table because not all the teachers are back yet. Who’s hungry?”

“Well, Ron seems to be, but I don’t think he needs to go to the hall.” Justin remarked as he and Luna rose from the chessboard.

“Oh yes I do, need to keep up my strength.”

Everyone laughed while Harry and Hermione turned similar shades of pink. Harry muttered, “I’ll go get the others,” and took off down the side hall. He was back quickly with Neville, Dean and Ernest.

“What have you three been up to?” asked Terry, smirking.

Neville looked blank, Ernie scowled and Dean rolled his eyes. Justin nudged his partner, “They’re the straight ones, remember?”

“Oh, yeah.”

The group trooped through the castle to the Great Hall. There they found three of the long tables gone and one table set for 20. Already seated were McGonagall, Vector, Sinestra and Pomfrey. As the 8th years were getting seated, Professors Grubbly-Plank, Flitwick and Madam Hooch also came in and sat at the opposite end of the table. Harry was glad he was sitting by Madam Pomfrey, he wasn’t ready to talk to Hagrid’s replacement yet, though he did note with satisfaction that it took two people to replace him. Mr. Beor, however, was not at the table.

“Well, do you think you three can stay out of my wing this year? Actually, you four,” she said, eyeing Draco as he sat next to Harry.

“As we never ended up there on purpose, all I can say is we’ll certainly try.” Harry said fervently.

“Fair enough,” The healer said, nodding. “But don’t stay away if you need me, all right?”

“It’s a deal,” Hermione said, smiling.

The meal went well. While no one was particularly loquacious, no one overtly silent and all took part in conversation. Harry was aware of eyes upon him, only this time they weren’t from his fellow students, as in years past. All of them had fought together, and while the others treated him with respect, it was the respect between equals. The odd glances were coming from some of the teachers and seemed to be divided between he and Malfoy. He wondered idly how the younger students would react.

“Headmistress,” Ernest asked suddenly, “What about the Slytherins?”

“Professor Slughorn will continue as their Head of House.”

“Fine, sure, but what about those who were Death Eaters?”

Several people spoke out together.

“Not all Slytherins were Death Eaters!”

“There were Death Eaters from other houses too!”

McGonagall fixed a steely stare on Ernest. “Mr. MacMillan, no proven Death Eaters will be allowed at Hogwarts, regardless of what house they were in. There WILL be those who had family members or friends who fought for Voldemort. We will not judge them by their relations but by their actions. That is my final word.”

Harry and Draco kept their eyes down and continued eating, while the other students (and some of the teachers) glanced around at each other and at Draco. There was a moment of silence, then Neville asked Professor Sprout a question on Herbology and the talk again became general.

McGonagall and Flitwick were the first to leave the table, McGonagall asking Justin to meet her and Professor Flitwick in her office in ten minutes. Most of the students and teachers broke up into groups of twos and threes and left the Great Hall. The trio returned to their rooms and had just finished unpacking when Justin knocked on their door.

“Hermione, McGonagall says you’re next.”

“Oh, good!” and she all but ran past him and out the dorm. Justin shook his head. “Is she always like that?”

Ron rolled his eyes. “Always.”

“So what are you going for then?”

“I want to design security systems.”

“Gringott’s?”

“Whatever. I think I’d rather freelance than to get tied down to one business. How about you two?”

“Dunno.”

“Reality or dreams?”

“Both.”

“I’d love to play quidditch professionally. Barring that, I’d like to work for the International Quidditch Association.”

“I can see that. What about you?”

“I’d love to play quidditch too, but I don’t want all that attention. Nothing in public.”

“You could get almost any job at the ministry.”

“No thanks!”

Justin grinned and left.

+++++

Hermione came back excited and happy, chattering about Arithmancy, spell research and Ancient Runes and ready to dive into her books. Harry and Ron talked her into taking a book to the common room rather than studying in their rooms, and when they got there found that the others had produced a quantity of butterbeer and Hannah was passing around her flask of firewhisky. By the time Neville returned from his meeting with McGonagall, most everyone was a little tipsy.

Susan, Hannah, Ernest, Neville and Dean drank the most, and mostly out of Hannah’s flask, which seemed to be bottomless supply of firewhiskey. Draco contributed several bottles of good wine, which everyone sampled but Justin and Luna appreciated the most. The rest of them, besides sampling the wine, stuck with butterbeer, and Terry and Hermione limited even the number of those they drank.

Harry and Ron hung out with their old dorm mates for a while, but as they got progressively drunker and Harry and Ron didn’t, Harry and Ron moved back to the group around the wine bottles. Justin and Draco were comparing life in the upper classes of the Muggle and Wizarding worlds.

“It’s so limiting,” Justin complained. “You’re only allowed to associate with people from similar families; there’s only certain fields of study you’re allowed to pursue. It’s boring. That’s one of the reasons I was happy to get my Hogwarts letter.”

“The purebloods are like that too,” commented Draco. “I was never allowed to meet anyone other than other pureblood children until I got to Hogwarts. All I knew about muggle born were that they were not as good as us, and the half bloods were tainting the purebloods.”

“So was I the first half-blood you met?” asked Harry.

“Of course,” Draco answered. “But I didn’t know that. I assumed you were pure blood and I was trying to impress you. Didn’t work, did it?”

Harry snorted. “No. I thought you a right snobbish, spoilt git.”

Justin laughed. “That describes just about every pureblood, wizard or muggle, at the age of 11. A bunch of brats, all of us. Fortunately at least some of us out grow it.”

Ron’s eyes were drooping and Harry realized he needed to get some sleep but didn’t want to be the first to go. He got up and stretched. “I’m ready for bed,” he declared. He went and leaned over Ron and whispered in his ear, “Notice I said ‘bed’, not ‘sleep’”. Ron grinned and jumped to his feet. He went over to Hermione and grabbed her hand.

“Come on, Hermione, aren’t you tiiirrrred?”

Hermione blushed but got to her feet as the rest of the group smirked.

When Harry came out of the bathroom, washed and naked under his dressing robe, Ron was already in bed, eyes closed. Harry leaned over and gently kissed him, and Ron wrapped his long arms around him. “I meant to get us all into bed early tonight for a good long shag, but now I think I may be too tired.”

“Do you think all that Butterbeer may have something to do with it?” teased Hermione as she slid in next to them.

“That’s all right, love, you get your sleep, we’ll be fine, won’t we Hermione?”

“Oh yes, just fine.” Harry and Hermione grinned at each other, then knelt up next to Ron, winding their arms around each other and kissing deeply.

“Bloody hell! Not fair!”

“Don’t mind us, just get your sleep.”

“I’m awake, I’m awake!”

Harry and Hermione had their arms grabbed from the side and pulled over into a heap on top of Ron. Laughing, they untangled themselves and snuggled up, one on either side of Ron.

They kissed happily, back and forth, till Harry and Hermione pinned Ron down and began to kiss him all over his face and neck.

“Just relax, our tired Ron, and we’ll take care of you.” Harry breathed into his ear, and Ron hummed agreeably, tilting his head to give Hermione more access to the spot below and behind his ear, and that other spot at the curve of his throat.

Harry, meanwhile, kissed a trail down the center of Ron’s chest, occasionally using his teeth to tug on the light dusting of red hair that was spread across his chest and trailed in a thin line down to his groin. He pushed the blankets down around Ron’s ankles and sprinkled little nibbling kisses over his belly and thighs and lovingly stroking Ron’s cock as it twitched and hardened.

Ron sighed and stretched under their ministrations. “Ah, Harry, Hermione, you feel so good, you’re so good to me. I love you both, you know that, right? I love you.”

Hermione stopped kissing him but continued stroking his face and chest lightly. “I love you, Ron, I love the feel of you under my hands, your hair, your skin, I love every single freckle.” She lowered her lips back to his neck, gently mouthing her way down to his chest.

Harry mmmed as he rubbed his cheek against Ron’s stomach. “I love you too Ron, so much. I love to feel you under my hands and in my mouth.” With that he licked his lips and slid Ron’s cock slowly into his mouth. Gently, languidly, Harry tongued and suckled Ron’s cock, and Ron sighed and moaned.

“Ah, Harry, that’s so good, mmmmm.” Ron’s words were muffled as Hermione kissed her way back to his mouth and as Harry sucked his cock, she sucked on his tongue. Their slow exploration became more intense and heated as Ron’s muscles tensed and his breathing quickened. He fought to remain relaxed and prolong their slow pace, but desire coiled within him until he could no longer restrain himself. One hand clasped Hermione to him, the other tangled in Harry’s hair, holding his head to his groin as he thrust helplessly into Harry’s mouth. Each thrust was accompaigned by sharp little keening whimpers, until finally Ron arched up, cumming into Harry’s mouth before relaxing into his pillows.

Hermione continued to kiss him gently as Ron sighed and relaxed, drowsing in her arms. She felt relaxed as well, a warm contentment filling her as his hold on her relaxed. It was within this dreamy contentment that she felt Harry’s hands caressing her legs, warm palms sliding along her thighs. Harry moved slowly and gently between her legs and she lay back, sighing softly, letting herself open to him.

Harry rubbed his cheek against her inner thigh, nuzzling her springy brown curls. “Love you, Hermione,” he breathed, and Hermione could feel his breath on her damp mound. His tongue followed, slowly licking his way to her nether lips, tonguing and suckling on each tender fold, laying her cunt open to his attention. He trailed long, deep licks over her opening, reaching partly inside before moving up to her clit, where he swirled around the hard little bundle of nerves.

Hermione trailed her fingers through Harry’s hair as he continued to gently explore her with his mouth. “Oh, Harry,” she murmured. “I love you too. Love you so much.” She shivered as he slid a finger into her warm wet tunnel and continued to lick her clit. Hermione began to flex her hips and Harry gently added another finger and curved them to find the spot inside that made Hermione’s toes curl. She helplessly arched her back and pushed into Harry’s face as waves of pleasure washed through her.

Harry could feel her muscles softening and he gently withdrew his fingers, giving her a last tender lick before moving up to lay beside her. “Haaaarrrrryyyy,” she purred, suppressing a yawn. “That was wonderful. You make me feel sooo good. What would you like?”

Harry held her close and nuzzled her breast. “Hold me, Hermione. Just hold me.” And she did, holding him close and stroking his hair and back, while he nibbled and suckled at her nipple. She wrapped a hand around the base of his cock as he stroked himself; it took only a few strokes before he came, gasping and spurting onto Hermione’s stomach. Hermione continued to hold him close, and they drifted into sleep.

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.

This story archived at Table for Three - http://www.triofic.com/viewstory.php?sid=221

Chapter Text

The Eighth Year by LouHQ

Chapter 7: Chapter Six: “Aren’t we supposed to be too young to be wore out from a few hours of Quidditch?” Monday, 8/31/98

Author's Notes: I'd like to give long over due thanks to MuggleNet and their Encyclopedia. Its a wonderful resource for a writer who needs to check on details without trying to dig them out of the books! (Because when I try to find things in the books I start reading them instead and then I'm not writing am I?)


"Tea or coffee, Mr. Potter?"

"Tea, please. Thank you."

"I'd offer you a butterbeer but the 8th Years seem a bit delicate this today."

Harry suppressed a grin. "I'm fine."

"I see that. I thought it may have been the reluctance of students to drink in front of a teacher, but when Mr. MacMillan turned green at the offer of a butterbeer I realized the 8th Years had a night of it. I trust this won't be an ongoing problem."

"Not for me, though I can't speak for the others."

"I understand. Now then, when we last spoke of your career plans, you were thinking of becoming an Auror. Is that correct?"

"Erm, yes, then, but I'm not sure of that now."

"Why is that, Mr. Potter?"

"Well, I thought about it over the summer, because the Ministry offered me a spot on the training programme -- "

"Without your N.E.W.T.s?"

"Yes."

McGonagall sniffed disapprovingly. "Go on."

"Well, it would be more of the same, wouldn't it? Tracking down Death Eaters, people trying to kill me. And it would all be in the public eye too, all over the Daily Prophet."

"I doubt you will ever get away from the public eye entirely, Mr. Potter."

"No, but I don't have to deliberately stand in the spotlight."

"So if you don't want media attention and you don't want to be an Auror, what do you want to do?"

Harry's lips twitched at the thought of Ron's oft repeated answer to this question. "I don't know, really, besides take care of Ron and Hermione."

"I'm glad to know there is someone who wants to take care of Ms. Granger, who can let herself be consumed by her passions. And I do not sneer at those who chose to anchor a household. Yet even the most dedicated househusband or wife is better off with outside interests. What are yours? What catches your attention?"

He hesitated. "I've been thinking about the two wars against Voldemort. And before that was Grindelwald. There was a whole line of dark lords, some petty, some.... not. And there were the Goblin Wars, but that was a catchall term for all the dark creatures, not all the goblins were involved and there were a number of dark wizards mixed in. It seems that there are rhythms, or tides, or something that brings a re-occurrence of hate between the different parts of the Wizarding world. I've been trying to figure out why. Why it reoccurs, why people follow the Dark Arts when they've been shown, time and again, that the Light Arts are, erm, better? No, that's not right. The people who practice Light Arts fare better, live longer, and are happier. Is resistance to the Dark Arts genetic, is that why families tend to go one way or the other? Or is it something in our personalities, or a forgotten episode of childhood? Do you learn it from home, or school, can it be taught and if so.... "

"Maybe you could teach it?"

"Something like that."

"Harry, you realize that what you are describing is the ultimate point of Defense Against the Dark Arts."

"I guess, but that isn't what we've been learning here."

"I am aware of the lack in that department and have taken steps to alleviate that problem. But is that what you're thinking? Teaching Defense?"

"I guess I hadn't thought of it that way."

"Yet it is a role you have had in the past."

Harry flushed. "That was just because of Umbridge."

"Be that as it may. While it is not policy to give out students' scores to other students, I will tell you in confidence that everyone who took O.W.L.s that year that practiced under your supervision received Outstandings. It seems you have a knack for it."

Harry felt a burst of pride for his students. "They worked hard."

"They were well motivated, and I don't mean just because of Umbridge."

"Do you mean that I should teach here?"

"We will not hire a person still green from their student days. You would need to gain experience elsewhere. Also, we have a strong likelihood of finally having a teacher that I hope will be with us for a few years at least."

"Oh. So maybe working as an Auror for awhile would be good experience."

"Practical defense is where you have the most experience. You might consider other sources of education. There is a loose confederation of witches and wizards in London that aid people in further studies. You might also consider different departments at the Ministry, like M.L.E. or the Mysteries. No? Even St. Mungo's has resources for teaching, and there are also other, less prestigious schools, which would hire you as a teacher. We can think about the next step after Hogwarts, but for now I think you are set with your basic classes. Are you going to continue with Divination?"

"No!"

"Fine. That will be all then. Please send Mr. Thomas to me."

"Headmistress, who is the Defense teacher this year?"

"I'm not at liberty to say at this time. Last year's professor resigned unexpectedly a week ago, and I have a possible replacement; however, details are yet to be finalized."

+++++

Harry found Dean in their common room, alert enough but still slightly ashen under his dusky skin. He sent him on his way and then sought out Ron who would be the next and last of the 8th Years. Ron had still been asleep when he left to meet McGonagall, but was awake now and just out of the shower, towel wrapped around his waist as he rummaged in his wardrobe. Hermione sprawled on their big bed with her Arithmancy book. Harry sat next to her on the bed and ran his hand up her leg as they both admired the view of Ron's backside. He came out of the wardrobe to find them both watching him.

"What?"

"Nothing!"

Harry related his conversation with McGonagall as Ron dressed. At the conclusion, Ron laughed, "Harry, a professor at Hogwarts! What would the Marauders say?"

Harry laughed with him. "One of the Marauders ended up a professor himself for a year, so I think it'll be all right. But I don't have any answers to how to keep kids from going to the Dark Arts. What if there isn't an answer?"

Hermione laid a comforting hand on his back. "There may not be one answer, Harry. But I think you'd make a great teacher. You know, I'll probably end up a teacher myself. It's a position that offers a good deal of opportunity for private research."

"I think we both knew that a long time ago." "Yeah."

"What about you, Ron?"

He turned red and stuck his head back in the wardrobe, muttering something as he rummaged about.

"Sorry, what was that?"

He faced them and took a deep breath. "I want to play Quidditch."

"You'd be good at it!" "All right, mate!"

"You think I can do it?"

"Sure, why not!"

"I don't know if I'm good enough, and I really want to get my N.E.W.T.s but maybe I should be trying to get on one of the teams as reserve or something."

"Ron, you have to get your N.E.W.T.s!"

"Hey, we can practice here, keep you in form, I'll help!"

Ron grabbed Harry's hands and pulled him to his feet. "Harry, try out with me! You're a great Seeker, you could play for any team. Wouldn't it be great, playing on the same team again?"

"Ron, it sounds wonderful, but think about what it would be like for me. All that publicity, the newspapers, the reporters following us around. I'd hate it."

"It... it would great, flying together."

Harry pulled him close "We'll fly together, love, just not in public, all right?"

Ron sighed, "All right. It was a nice dream, though."

"Yeah." They kissed gently.

"So Hermione will be in extra classes and you and I will just be in the basics. We can't be flying all the time, what ever will we do to fill the empty time?"

Hermione smiled at them. "I'm sure you two will think of something."

+++++

Ron's mind was set on Quidditch after his conversation with Hermione and Harry (and McGonagall, who was surprisingly encouraging), and their chatter about it at lunch caught the attention of the other former Quidditch players and fans. Old plays and games were rehashed, old rivalries dragged out and laughed into history.

"Too bad we can't play this year," Harry sighed.

"Why can't we?" asked Ron.

"Well, we don't have enough people for a team, for one," Draco pointed out.

"And we wouldn't fit in the play schedule."

"And it wouldn't be fair to the regular house teams to jump into the competition."

"All right already, it was just an idea."

"Well, we could go hit a few balls around after lunch, just for the fun of it."

"Yeah!"

After lunch everyone went down to the Quidditch pitch. Hermione brought her Runes book and sat in the stands with Neville, Ernest, Justin, Susan and Hannah. Ron quickly organized a three-on-two scrimmage game with Draco and himself on defense and Dean, Terry and Harry on offense. Terry played well for someone not on a regular house team, and the spectators cheered him on, especially when he managed to score. They took a break after an hour or so, summoning pumpkin juice and butterbeer. Terry was teasing Justin about not playing.

"Come on, Justin, you're a fair flyer. It can't be worse than that game on horses you played. What was that called? Marco?"

"Polo."

"You know, if we had 7 players, we could play as a practice team against the house teams," said Ron slowly.

"You mean, no competition? That would be.... fun." said Draco.

"We'd need 7." Ron looked over the group speculatively. "Why not give it a try, Justin? You too, Ernest!"

Justin got to his feet, but Ernest shook his head firmly. "No way. You haven't seen me on a broom. I'm going to stick to apparating to get around."

"Hannah? Susan? Come on, both of you, we can always use reserve players too."

"Well, alright."

"You notice he's not asking us?" Neville muttered to Hermione.

"Yes, well, there's a reason for that."

All three were good flyers, but Hannah had a hard time controlling the ball, and Justin was hampered by not being very familiar with the game. Susan was a slow but methodical player and managed to score twice. They all had fun and at Ron's urging, they agreed to play as a practice team, as long as it didn't interfere with their classes.

+++++

Having not played for awhile Harry and Ron found that they were feeling a bit sore after sitting through dinner. "Let's give that big bath a try." Ron suggested.

"Oh, the whirlpool! I'll come with you!" Hermione volunteered.

"Erm, we better wear bathing suits, it's not private." Harry said. Ron sighed heavily but changed when they did. Justin and Terry were coming back to their room when the trio were headed to the bath, and Terry said, "Oh the baths, good idea! Mind if we join you?"

Hermione said "Sure, meet us down there!" oblivious to Ron and Harry exchanging Looks. They had the pool almost full of hot water and blue bubbles that smelled of raspberries when Justin and Terry showed up with towels, wineglasses and a chilled bottle of wine.

Justin handed around a half glass of wine each before sliding into the pool with a sigh.

"Are you sure drinking again tonight is a good idea?" asked Hermione, eyeing her glass dubiously.

Justin shrugged. "My family has wine with dinner every night. Muggle research shows that a glass of red wine a day has good health effects; antioxidants, you know. But don't drink it if you don't want it." He examined the other knobs on the wall, and turned on the ones controlling the water and air jets.

Draco stuck his head in the door. "There you all are. Is there some kind of group thought going on? All the others are in the other bath!"

"Sore muscles from flying today."

"Yeah," he sighed, undoing his robe to reveal swim trucks underneath. "Aren't we supposed to be too young to be wore out from a few hours of Quidditch?" He sighed on a different note as he slid in turn into the hot water and accepted a glass of wine from Justin.

Hermione leaned forward to look at the scar crossing Draco's chest. "That's looking a lot better." She brushed her fingers across the still slightly pink raised ridge of tissue.

Ron and Harry both stiffened slightly, frowning, as Draco smiled enticingly at Hermione and clasped her hand to his chest. "Glad you like it," he purred.

"Draco!" Hermione gasped, pulling her hand away and turning pink.

"What?" he asked, all innocence.

"Back off, ferret," Ron gritted out between his teeth.

"Malfoy, you're doing that just to get Ron's back up, so quit it."

"Don't insult your girlfriend, Potter, she looks quite fit in her swimsuit. Nice tan."

Hermione turned even redder.

Terry was restraining laughter. "Malfoy and Weasley are going to sprout horns and butt heads any minute."

"Think its funny, do you?" Harry reached over to Justin and ran his fingers over his wet slippery shoulder. "Your boyfriend's looking quite fit as well," he said in a sultry tone.

Everyone else in the pool, including Justin and Draco, gaped at his actions. "Harry!" Terry turned red, sputtering.

"Don't like that?" he asked Terry. "Then don't tease Ron about it." He leaned back against Ron's shoulder.

"But it was just in fun," Terry protested.

"Harry," Ron said, putting an arm around him, "Don't get down on them too hard. They aren't Gryffindors; they don't know." He looked at Terry. "I'm a right jealous berk where Hermione is concerned."

"What, you threw fits in the common room or something?"

Harry nodded. "On a semi-regular basis since 4th year."

"Really!"

"What about Harry, aren't you jealous of him?"

"No reason to be."

"So Granger gives you reasons to be jealous? Do tell!"

"He didn't say they were rational reasons!"

"So are they jealous of you? I can't believe there haven't witches and wizards throwing themselves at your feet since you defeated Voldemort."

"No, no one."

"That's because we've hardly been out in public."

"Even we've gotten a few indecent proposals and we've only been out a few times."

"So are you two out then?"

"Just to my family," Terry said. "Justin isn't ready to come out to his family yet."

"That's because it will be a Muggle media circus when I do," Justin protested. "My family will disown me and it'll be in all the papers, not just here in England but the States too. The Muggle media love scandals with the noble families involved."

"Your family will really disown you?"

"Oh yes. I'm just waiting till after school is done. What about your family?"

"My brothers and their spouses are all okay with it; I have my suspicions about Fred and George as they regularly call their wives 'spice'. Mum went mad at first but Dad talked her around."

"Your father was all right with it then?"

"Yeah, I'm not the first Weasley to fancy another bloke. And he pointed out to her how she always wanted Harry and Hermione to be part of the family, so what if this isn't quite the way she imagined it. She's still hacked off about it, but at least she doesn't call us 'degenerates' to our faces any more. What about your family, Terry?"

"Da's the one who went all tight lipped about it. Mum ADORES Justin, and she's got Da wrapped around her finger."

Justin grinned. "Your Mum's great, Terry! I love the woman. What a sense of humour!"

"Easy for you to say. What about you, Harry?"

"Not much to say. My aunt and uncle hated me since I was foisted on them when my parents were killed. Since I started at Hogwarts I've been back as little as possible. I left the day I turned 17 and haven't seen or owled them since then. No reason to. They're happier pretending not only that I don't exist, but that the whole Wizarding World is imaginary." Old news to Ron and Hermione, and Draco had heard some of it, but Terry and Justin were clearly taken aback.

"Wow. I didn't know. I would have thought, you know, 'Savior of the Wizarding World' and all of that...."

"I know what you mean about the media though. I've been hounded enough even before all this. We were dodging reporters after the end of the war. I hate to think what it's going to be like when the Daily Prophet finds out about us."

"What about you, Hermione?"

"Oh, I told them."

"Yes?"

Hermione voice was thin but hard. "I wrote them when we left Hogwarts last fall, after the attack on the school and the Ministry. I told them I was joining the War with Ron and Harry. They wrote back, forbidding me to go with them and saying I had to stay in school. I told them that not only was I joining the War no matter what they said, but that I wouldn't leave Harry and Ron because I loved them both. They forbade me to come home unless and until I was ready to give them both up." She paused to sip at her previously untouched wineglass. "I write them enough to let them know I'm still alive, and they sent notes back, pretty much the same. So I can't say I'm disowned, really, just... not welcome anymore." By the end of this speech her voice had softened and she sounded immeasurably sad. Ron was holding her hand under the water and Harry had put his arm across Ron's shoulders so he could lay a hand on Hermione's back, also saddened by her story all over again. They knew how much her parents meant to her and were only glad that the door hadn't been shut completely.

"I'm really sorry to hear that, Hermione," said Justin quietly. "Was it a surprise to you? I mean, I know what's going to happen when I come out, but I think Terry would have been knocked for a loop if his parents had disowned him."

"Not surprised, really, but I had hoped.... Disappointed, I guess."

Justin looked at Harry and Ron. "Were you surprised?"

"Didn't know a thing about it! She never mentioned it until after the War when we were all in St. Mungo's."

"What? Why not?"

"At the time I wrote that to my parents, all we had done were a few kisses. Very nice kisses –" she smiled at her boys, "But still. It was hard, working out our relationship. If I had told you then," she said, directing this to Ron and Harry, "You would have flipped out. Am I wrong?"

"No," sighed Harry, as Ron shook his head. "But I hate that you went through that alone."

"There was enough going on at the time." They all were silent for a minute, thinking about what was 'enough going on' back then.

Justin looked at Draco. "What about you, straight boy? Any hidden perversions to tell your mother?"

"The only thing comparable was leaving the Dark Lord, and my mother helped engineer that. It would be hard to confess anything to her now; she's left England and is in hiding, at least until the last of Voldemort's inner circle are captured. How much did you tell your Muggle family about the War and Voldemort?"

"Everything. Fortunately there's a strong military tradition in my family, and I made a lot of comparisons between Voldemort and Hitler, so they were supportive of me joining in and they understood the risks and why it was necessary to do it."

Ron noticed Harry wince as he turned to set down his wineglass. "What's wrong?"

"Just my back again."

"Here, let me get it." Harry obligingly turned and Ron ran his hands down to his lower back and started rubbing the sore muscles there. Harry sighed.

"You should have Madam Pomfrey take a look at it."

"I will, if it's still hurting tomorrow morning. I was hoping it would clear up, but better tomorrow morning than waiting until all the students are here. Thanks, Ron." Harry turned back around and kissed him. "Your hands always make me feel better."

Hermione smiled and Justin and Terry exchanged a warm and amused glance, but Draco rolled his eyes.

"You know," Justin began, bringing everyone's attention back to him and away from the kissing boys, "It's probably occurred to all of us that this is a good place for sex. We should have a signal to show that it's occupied."

"What, like the old school tie on the door knob thing?" asked Ron, as the rest of the group blushed. "Good idea!"

"I was thinking of the Muggle style traffic signals," Justin said. "Red for stop, do not enter, Green for 'come on in'."

"Yellow for caution?" asked Hermione. "What's that for?"

He grinned wickedly. "Come in if you want to join in."

Ron grinned. "Justin, I had no idea you were so bent. I like the way you think."

"Ron!"

"You're not a prefect anymore, and we're all adults now! We can make out own decisions!"

Tight lipped and furious, Hermione snarled "Fine!" She jumped out of the bath and jerked her robe on, not bothering to dry off. She stomped out, slamming the door behind her.

Ron looked at Harry, confused. "Why is she so upset?"

"Mate, you just said that you'd have sex with someone besides her and I."

"What?! No, I didn't!" Ron jumped out, stopping to towel off. "I didn't say anything like that!"

Malfoy nodded. "It could be read that way, Weasel. I think you better get down there and start groveling."

"Bloody hell!" and Ron rushed after Hermione. Harry sank a little deeper into the hot water.

"Aren't you going to go play peacekeeper?" Draco asked.

Harry shook his head. "Not right away. Got to give them some time to yell at each other first. Anyway, this one won't be bad. Ron already knows that he put his foot in it, so he'll go in apologizing, and Hermione has accepted that he blurts things out without thinking, so it'll be quick."

The others were laughing.

"Oh sure, like you two haven't come to terms with at least some of each other's habits."

"True enough," admitted Terry. "It's funny to hear you dissect them like that."

"It's one of the advantages of a triad." Harry admitted. "I watch them interact and provide interpretation when needed, and Hermione does the same when Ron and me are on the outs, and Ron does it for me and Hermione."

"What happens when all three of you are hacked off?" asked Draco.

"Then we have to get away from each other for a bit." Harry grinned. "I suppose I better get back there and see how it's going."

Draco left with him and paused with Harry outside the door. "It's awfully quiet. Have they killed each other?"

"Doubt it," Harry smiled. "Good night."

He slipped inside to find his loves cuddling in bed already.

"Done fighting already?"

Hermione giggled. "I realized by the time I got back here that Ron probably didn't realize what he said, but also that I was putting the worst possible spin on his words."

Harry climbed in beside Hermione, kissing her and leaning over her to kiss Ron. "Nox, " they all said, and cuddled together in the dark.

"Ron?"

"Yes, Hermione?"

"You wouldn't sleep with anyone else, would you?"

"Sleep with them maybe, but not have sex with them."

"Ron! Harry, stop laughing!"

"No, Hermione, I'm not going to have sex with anyone but you and Harry. I love you two, and I don't want to fuck it up."

"Neither will I, Hermione."

"Thank you."

"What about you?"

"What d'you mean?"

"Ron and I have agreed to be exclusive; how about you?"

"Oh yes! Sorry! Presumptuous of me. I'm not going to have sex with anyone else either."

Ron and Harry chuckled. "We forgive you."

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.

This story archived at Table for Three - http://www.triofic.com/viewstory.php?sid=221

Chapter Text

The Eighth Year by LouHQ

Chapter 8: Chapter 7: “Totally inappropriate behavior of a student to his teacher, but I’ll allow it this time.” 9/1/98

Author's Notes: Now that I started thanking people, the next one must be Argyle S, who wrote the first Trio fic I read: "Mental, That One". That series started me on the road to writing about the Trio myself.
Thank you!


+++++

Tuesday morning McGonagall approached the 8th Years at breakfast with a number of parchment sheets in hand.

“The rest of the students will be arriving today. School robes will be required at dinner tonight. Please be here in time for the Sorting.

“I have your schedules here. We have deviated from the past in several instances. One example is that almost all of you expressed interest in some subject which requires individual research. To help you with this, we will give you a short course on research methodology, and the teacher will be able to act as an advisor while you are doing research here. If this proves of value, we will offer this as a regularly offered class. The new librarian, Madam Indigo, will teach this class. She has arrived and can be found in the library.

“Your classes will generally be shared with the 7th Year students, however, you will be held to a higher standard of competence and behavior as suits your experience and maturity. Eighth Years will have special assignments and will have occasional separate classes.

“General attendance at Hogwarts has dropped due to the war, however the greatest attendance drop has been in last year’s 6th Years, now 7th Years. Every class has 2 houses taking it together, but we’ve mixed them up so they don’t have the same 2 houses together for every class. We are starting this for the lower levels as well, more aggressively than we have in the past, with the aim of better understanding between houses.

“You have been put together because your shared experiences unite you more than the histories of your houses separates you. You will find yourselves sharing classes with students from every house. I expect you to set an example for the younger students; that while your house is your family here at Hogwarts, a mature person goes beyond family to form friendships as well as professional relationships.

“Also, we will be starting a Teacher’s Assistant program, where 7th Year, and in this case 8th Year students, with a special talent or interest in a subject is invited by that professor to aid in the teaching of the subject. This would be in addition to your classes, so think about it before accepting, should it be offered to you.

“Lastly, we feel everyone can benefit from a more active lifestyle and better physical skills. There will be a daily physical activity period, and classes will include swimming and flying, and everyone will have self-defense classes.

“Here are your schedules. If a teacher has requested your help as a Teacher’s Assistant, that is indicated as well. Please let the professor or I know by the end of breakfast tomorrow whether or not you wish to take the position. All of the teachers have arrived and can be found in their offices. I will also be in my office should you have any questions.”

She handed out the schedules and went to the head table.

“Blimey, we’ve got Fridays off!” Ron proclaimed happily.

“We’ll need that time for revising for N.E.W.T.s.” Hermione said, reprovingly.

She jumped up and ran to the front of the hall. They couldn’t hear the conversation, but the Headmistress was shaking her head and Hermione returned, looking downhearted.

“Hermione, what’s wrong?”

She sighed. “Three teachers asked for me as a Teacher’s Assistant, and McGonagall said I can only do one.” Ron and Harry laughed.

“So who all asked for you?”

“McGonagall for Transfiguration, Vector for Arithmancy and the new librarian, Madam Indigo for Research. Did either of you get asked?”

Ron shook his head but Harry looked at his parchment. “Yeah, Defense Against the Dark Arts. I wonder about the teacher. It would be okay with the right one, but imagine having to help someone like Lockhart!”

Ron was looking at Hermione’s schedule. “Hey! You don’t have the same schedule as us!”

“Of course not Ron, I have Arithmancy and Ru --.”

“No, no, look at this!” He laid down their schedules side by side. “Harry and I have Herbology on Monday mornings and Transfiguration on Tuesday mornings, but Hermione has Transfiguration Mondays and Herbology on Tuesdays! And we’ve got Charms on Wednesday mornings and Potions Thursdays, and Hermione’s are turned around on those days too.” His eyes flicked back and forth between the schedules. “At least our afternoons are the same.”

Hermione studied the schedules for a minute and a small smile broke across her face. “Well, Ron,” she said a trifle smugly. “I always said you should learn to take your own class notes.” She grabbed her parchment. “I’m going to talk to Professor Vector and then I’m going to meet this new librarian. See you later.”

Further schedule comparisons showed that Harry and Ron had their basic classes with Terry, Luna, Dean and Draco, while Hermione’s schedule matched with Justin, Ernie, Hannah, Susan and Neville. Monday through Thursday mornings they had double classes with 7th Years, then when Hermione had two days of Runes and two days of Arithmancy in single classes, Ron and Harry had that class period off before lunch. Monday afternoons were single class periods of History, Research and Physical Activity, Tuesday afternoons were a double class of DADA followed by Physical Activities, Wednesdays were a double class of either Magical Creatures or Muggle Studies (“Look mate, another time off!”) followed by Physical Activities and Thursdays had Astronomy, Self Defense and Physical Activities.

“Ron,” Harry said soberly, “I think this is going to be intense.” He sighed and stretched, wincing. “Well, I promised I would get this back thing checked out if it wasn’t better. Might as well do it now.”

“I’ll go with you, mate.”

+++++

“Not you two already!” Madam Pomfrey was double checking her supply closets when the boys came in. “What happened?”

“Nothing, Madam Pomfrey, this is old news.” He gave her a brief rundown on his back problem. When she would have sent Ron out of the exam room, Harry insisted he stay. “Ron and I and Hermione are together. We have the paperwork for power of attorney and medical directives and all that. Just so you know. It’s all three of us.”

She didn’t even blink. “I’ll need copies of those papers for my records here.” She examined Harry briskly and asked questions about his other injuries and past treatment, then cast a charm on Harry’s lower back, to his immediate relief. She gave him a parchment with a list of stretches he needed to do daily and encouraged him to use the bath for muscle relaxation. “And Ms. Granger and Mr. Weasley can help with back rubs as well.” Ron smiled. “I can see I need to get your medical records from St. Mungo’s. Were all the 8th Years checked at St. Mungo’s after the war?”

“I think so.”

“Then I think some follow up care is indicated. Also I think the three of you should have further sex education.”

Ron’s ears turned red. “We aren’t the only ones having sex.”

“Then perhaps for all of you.”

“Great.”

They left the Hospital Wing feeling somewhat chastised. Ron wanted to talk to Madam Hooch about his idea of a practice team, but Harry opted to meet the new DADA teacher and see if he wanted the teacher’s assistant position.

It was odd walking through the halls of Hogwarts when there were so few students. So many memories of the years past were here for him. 'Here’s the broom closet we hid from Filch in. Here’s where I jinxed Cedric’s book bag so I could talk to him about the dragons.' Harry felt sadness begin to drag at his heels and was glad to get to the door of the DADA classroom.

As he walked through the classroom, he could hear faint music, becoming louder as he climbed the stairs to the open office door. The scratchy jazz melody reminded him of

“Remus!”

He couldn’t help himself; he threw his arms around the werewolf, giving him an enthusiastic kiss in greeting.

“Totally inappropriate behavior of a student to his teacher, but I’ll allow it this time.” Remus said, returning the hug and kiss.

“Why the hell didn’t you tell me?”

Remus shrugged. “The Headmistress contacted me about it while you all were on hols. I didn’t want to say anything until I knew I could come back on my terms, and that wasn’t until yesterday.”

“Your terms?”

“Firstly, that I don’t have to try to hide the fact that I’m a werewolf. Secondly, that I get Wolfsbane potion, a warded room and a guardian for full moon nights, to prevent a re-occurrence of what happened your third year. And lastly, that I have a regular substitute for the days I have to miss.” He smiled at Harry. “That’s how we came up with the Teacher’s Assistant idea. What do you think? Want to help me out?”

“Sure!”

Harry spent the rest of the morning helping Remus unpack his books and discussing study plans, including the ideas he had discussed with McGonagall. It wasn’t until his stomach started grumbling that he realized that it was lunchtime. He and Lupin went down to the Great Hall together, and ran into Hermione and Ron coming in.

“Harry, where have you be – Remus!” Hermione’s outcry alerted the rest of the 8th Years and Dean and Neville leapt up to greet their favorite DADA professor. After the initial babble of hellos Lupin made a point of walking back to the 8th Year table and saying hello to all of his old students, so as not to seem to favor his old House. He declined their invitation to sit with them, saying he had things to discuss with his fellow teachers.

“Well, Harry,” asked Ron. “Going to take that Teacher’s Assistant job with the new DADA professor?”

“You think?” retorted Harry, who couldn’t stop smiling.

“D’you know him well, Harry?” asked Hannah tentatively.

Harry nodded enthusiastically. “He was good friends with my Mum and Dad. After they died I didn’t see him again until he taught here; didn’t even remember him. But we’ve gotten to know each other real well over the last few years.”

Hermione interjected, “Harry’s got a picture of Re -- I mean Professor Lupin, holding him when he was a baby; it’s really cute!” Ron rolled his eyes as Harry blushed and Hannah and Susan giggled.

Harry added, “He’s been like an uncle to me.”

Terry shook his head. “I really liked him as a teacher, but I have to say, to say a werewolf is like an uncle to you? You really are a Gryffindor, aren’t you?”

“Hey, 28 and a half days takes no courage what so ever,” Ron said. “It’s that last night that takes a bit of spine.” The trio smiled at each other.

“Oh come on, are you telling us you actually saw him when he was transformed and lived to tell?” Malfoy said skeptically.

Ron opened his mouth to retort but Hermione kicked him under the table and hissed, “Ron! We aren’t supposed to talk about it!”

Harry laid a hand on her arm. “We’ll tell you what we can, but not here, okay?” he said softly as two other teachers walked by.

The curious students subsided, but the sharp looks they were given made it clear that they weren’t going to get away with passing this off.

“What did Madam Hooch say about us forming a practice team?” Harry asked Ron.

“She had some concerns but generally thought it would be good for the regular teams.” Ron reported. “She wants everyone who’s interested to come down to the pitch after lunch.” The group agreed, except Justin, who said he was meeting with Professor Babbling after lunch, as he was going to be the Ancient Runes Teacher’s Assistant. Ron allowed that it should be all right if one person couldn’t make it and that they could fill him in later, but asked him to come down to the pitch after he was done speaking to the professor so they could work on assigning positions.

Harry leaned over to Hermione. “Did you decide who you were going to be a Teacher’s Assistant for?”

She grinned. “Madam Indigo, for research. Wait till you meet her, she is so cool! I’m going up to talk to McGonagall after lunch.”

“Did Ron tell you about my visit with Pomfrey?”

“Yes. It’s okay Harry; it’ll be like revising, just on an embarrassing subject. I was going to talk to her after I talk to McGonagall, I’m due for a check up.”

“Do you want me to go with you?”

“No. That would be even more embarrassing. I’ll talk to you later. Can you and Ron meet me before dinner in our rooms? We should clean up before dinner anyway.”

“Okay. I’ll make sure Ron’s there.”

+++++

Hermione was just out of the shower when Harry and Ron came in from flying for most of the afternoon. “Hoo, stinky boys!” she said. “Hit the shower, guys! And no fooling around, we’re supposed to be down there in an hour.”

“Yes, ma’am!” said Harry, pulling off his T-shirt. “How did your meeting with Pomfrey go?”

“She gave me a monthly potion to go with the spells we’ve been doing. She says sometimes the spells lapse when a person has multiple partners.”

“Oh.” Harry stopped to look at her in concern, clutching his sweaty shirt in his hands.

“She also ran a STD screen on me and wants to do one on you guys too. Tonight, after dinner, it takes two minutes.”

“STD?” Ron froze with his denims half off.

“Sexually Transmitted Diseases.”

“Oh. But we were all virgins, so there shouldn’t be a problem, right?” The boys finished stripping down to their boxers and Harry tossed Ron his towel.

“This will make sure. And I had my Pap test done, and I can tell you right now I won’t be up for sex tonight.”

“Pap Test?”

“It’s a test for cervical cancer that requires scraping some cells off the cervix and seeing if there’s any cancer. Women should have it done once a year once they start having sex. The only difference between Muggle and Magical is how they screen the cells, the scraping part is the same.”

“Hermione!” Both boys dropped their towels and grabbed her. “Are you all right?”

“I’m fine, it was just uncomfortable. But nobody is putting anything in me tonight! Now go shower!”

Shaking their heads, Ron and Harry went into the large shower and soaped up.

“I’m sure glad I’m not a girl.” Ron said, tossing back his head to rinse his hair.

Harry slid a hand down Ron’s chest. “I’m glad you’re not a girl too,” he said, his voice dropping. “Now turn your head and cough.” He pushed Ron against the wall of the shower and fastened his mouth over Ron’s, pushing his tongue between his lips, snogging him until Ron wrenched his mouth away, gasping.

“Harry,” he moaned, as Harry’s hands slid lower, “Hermione said we shouldn’t mess around.” He gasped as Harry wrapped his hand around his shaft.

“A quick mutual wank,” Harry murmured, kissing Ron’s neck. “Won’t take long.” His grip tightened as he began to fist Ron’s shaft. “Do you want me to stop?”

“No!”

In the bedroom, Hermione could hear their moans. “Quidditch!” she muttered, shaking her head, and went back to brushing out her hair.

+++++

They made it down to the table just before the carriages arrived with the majority of the students. A few of the older, bolder students stopped by to say hello to the returning war heroes, but most settled for pointing and whispering, mostly at Harry and Draco. Soon the teachers filed in, McGonagall called the school to order and Mr. Beor led in the First Years.

In the back of the Great Hall, the 8th Years couldn’t see the First Years very well and didn’t applaud, as they would have had to clap for everyone. But there were fewer new students than before, so it didn’t take very long. McGonagall introduced the new teachers: Grubbly-Plank for Care of Magical Creatures, Lupin for Defense Against the Dark Arts, Madam Indigo as Librarian (Harry couldn’t see very well but she seemed younger than most of the teachers), Joe Russell as Caretaker and Thomas Beor, Keeper of the Grounds and Keys for Hogwarts.

Finally the food arrived and the 8th Years tucked in, especially the Quidditch players. No one seemed inclined to stick around though; Susan and Hannah slipped out first, followed by Terry, Justin and Draco. The trio left next when they saw Pomfrey leave the teacher’s table.

After an excruciatingly embarassing half-hour with Madam Pomfrey, they returned to their dorm to find Draco and Luna on separate couches, reading in front of the fire.

“Where is everybody else?” asked Hermione, astonished by the quiet.

“Visiting their old Houses; at least that’s what Susan and Hannah said, and Ernie followed them. Justin and Terry went back to their room, I think. Haven’t seen the rest of them.”

“Why aren’t you visiting old friends?”

“I don’t have any.” “Me either.” Luna smiled vaguely in Draco’s direction. He seemed slightly surprised to be agreeing with her.

“Where were you three?”

“Visiting Madam Pomfrey, who wanted to lecture us about sexuality and health issues.”

“Eewww.”

“No kidding. Don’t think you’re getting out of it either, she’s getting our records from St. Mungo’s and is going to give everyone a check up and talk to them about sex again. We just got to be first, lucky us, because Harry went to her for his back problems.”

“Did she fix your back?”

“Mostly; she gave me some stretches I’m supposed to do and she told me to use the whirlpool and get massages to help the muscles.”

There was a knock on the door and Luna jumped up to open it.

“Is Harry Potter here? Can I talk to him?” came a very nervous voice from the hall.

Harry shot up out of the sofa.

“Denny?”

“Hiya Harry!” Dennis Creevey was clearly trying to be his past self, but they could see the effort it was.

“Come on in, Denny. You remember Luna from the D.A., right? And this is Draco Malfoy. Draco, Dennis Creevey was the youngest member of Dumbledore’s Army.”

“Good to meet you, Dennis. What year are you in?” Draco held out his hand and Dennis shook it, looking a little shocked to be doing so.

“Fifth Year, Gryffindor.”

“Glad to be back to Hogwarts?”

“Um, yeah, sure.”

This unenthusiastic response spoke volumes to his fellow Gryffindors, who remembered Dennis’s initial arrival at Hogwarts. When he fell into the lake and was pushed back into the boat by the Giant Squid, he had acted like it was the best thing that could have happened to anyone.

Draco glanced around at the strained faces and said, “Well, I’ll leave you all to catch up.”

“Butterbeer, Denny?”

“Sure.”

“What’s up, Denny?” asked Hermione, laying a hand on his arm. “I’d have thought you’d want to be with your year mates in Gryffindor Tower tonight.”

“It’s hard, Hermione,” Denny said, his eyes brightening with unshed tears. “I know its not their fault, they didn’t know what was going on, they weren’t in the D.A. and they didn’t have a big brother like Colin….” At that his eyes overflowed and he buried his face in his hands. Hermione rubbed his back comfortingly as a few tears escaped her eyes as well. Luna set her book aside and looked concerned as Ron got a box of tissues from the side table. Harry sat on the other side and wiped a tear from his own eyes: Colin may have been irritating with his hero-worship of Harry and his propensity to take pictures at the worst possible time, but they all missed his cheerful enthusiasm of all things magical.

Terry and Justin slipped in from the dorm rooms, obviously alerted by Malfoy that Dennis was there.

“Sorry,” Denny muttered, pulling himself together and blowing his nose. “Colin and the D.A. were the only ones to call me Denny, you know? Colin started calling me that after his First Year here, ‘cause it made my name rhyme with yours, Harry. He couldn’t do it to his own name, he said, because it made him sound like a dog.”

This pulled small chuckles and snorts from his audience. Harry said softly, “We miss him too, Denny.”

“Harry, could you please tell me what happened at the last battle? How did he die? The Ministry official that came to tell us didn’t have any details, just that he died with a number of other D.A. members. Well, he didn’t say D.A., he said children, and you could tell he disapproved. What happened Harry?”

Harry took a deep breath. Fortunately Dean and Neville came in then, giving Harry a minute to organize his thoughts while they greeted the younger Gryffindor.

When the D.A. members left Hogwarts to join the was against Voldemort, Colin had convinced Dennis to stay behind only by agreeing to let him join them on weekends and school breaks. Dennis had participated in some of the skirmishes, stakeouts and informational meetings, so he knew more than anyone else outside of the fighting group, but on the day of the final battle he had been at Hogwarts, taking his exams; Colin had not told him about the upcoming battle.

“Denny, you remember how worried we were about the Dementors joining the Death Eaters?” Dennis nodded. “Well, we worked out a group spell that we hoped would destroy at least some of them. It worked bettevr than we expected, it wiped out all of the dementors there, over 300 by Order estimates.” Dennis’s eyes widened. Prior to this, the best anyone could do was drive dementors away; to destroy so many was a prodigious feat.

“Unfortunately, there was a side effect we weren’t expecting.” On Dennis’s other side Hermione was looking pale and sick: she had done the majority of the research and building of the spell and felt responsible for the unforeseen consequences of it. “The spell drained life energy from the casters. For most of the 6th Years, the strain was too much. They could have pulled back, but they choose to continue. They gave too much; Colin and the others. Michael Cornor and Anthony Goldstein died too.”

“If they hadn’t – “

“If they hadn’t, we would have been wiped out by the dementors long before we got to the center of the battle.”

“He was a hero!”

“Oh yes.”

Hannah, Ernest and Susan had come in during this. They sat together, each with a sympathetic word or gesture for the boy.

“Can I tell my parents? It’s really been hard on them, they don’t know anything about all this.”

“Please tell them Denny, they deserve to know.”

“Who else from the D.A. died?”

Ernie said softly, “Zacharius Smith was killed in the second wave of fighting, he was hit with a Petrificus Totalus, and his energy was so down from fighting the dementors it stopped his heart.”

Dean said, “Seamus intercepted an Unforgivable aimed at me,” and his voice was clogged with tears.

“Katie Bell died during the last battle too,” Hermione said. “No one knows who or what killed her.”

“Marietta died later at St. Mungo’s,” Justin added. “She couldn’t recover from her wounds.”

“Where’s everyone else?” Denny asked. “Where’s the rest of Dumbledore’s Army?”

“The twins didn’t tell Angelina and Alicia about the battle at Stonehenge, so they missed it.” Ron said. “Fred and George are back at their shop, and Alicia is working with them there. Angelina is reserve chaser for the Falmouth Falcons.”

Terry said, “Padma and Parvati fought at Stonehenge but decided to study in India for a year or two. They plan on coming back home after.”

“Lee Jordon was there. He just got a job at the Ministry in Magical Games and Sports.”

“Cho Chang was there too. She’s trying out for professional Quidditch, but she’s in an amateur team playing out of London for now.”

“Lavender wasn’t at the last battle, I don’t know why. She had been reliable up until then.”

“She’s pregnant.”

“What!?”

“She’s been seeing some bloke in London, does potions for an apothecary on Diagon Alley.”

“Lavender or the bloke?”

“The bloke. Lavender wasn’t much good at potions.”

“So what’s she doing?”

“Throwing up and planning a wedding.”

Harry noticed that Dennis seemed much calmer now that he had gotten answers to questions that had been plaguing him for months. Not that he wouldn’t think of more….

“Denny, it’s getting late. You don’t want to get in trouble your first night back.”

He agreed and bade goodnight to the others, and Harry walked him to the door.

“Come back when ever you want, Denny. You’ll always be welcome here with us.”

As he turned back to the room, Neville was saying, “That’s what our house name should be: Dumbledore’s Army.” The rest loudly agreed.

A movement out of the corner of his eye caught his attention. Draco was standing in the doorway to their rooms, a closed and sardonic look on his face. Without a word he turned and went back to his room.

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.

This story archived at Table for Three - http://www.triofic.com/viewstory.php?sid=221

Chapter Text

The Eighth Year by LouHQ

Chapter 9: Chapter 8: “….you’ll wish she had left you bleeding on the battle field.” Wednesday, September 2nd, 1998

Author's Notes: Short chapter, sorry! There's some real life stuff getting in the way of my writing. Also I need to do some serious outlining/plotting before I continue, so it may be 2 weeks before I submit the next chapter. Finally, more sex! Hint: reviews and commentaries make me write faster!


+++++

Harry paused outside the partially open door. He heard Lupin's voice calling the class to order, and he smiled, remembering when he first had Remus for a teacher. Harry slipped silently inside; none of the students noticed him, their attention fixed upon their teacher, who leaned against his desk, calm and relaxed. Harry leaned against the wall next to the door.

"Welcome to Defense Against the Dark Arts; I am your teacher, Professor R.J. Lupin. In order to put to rest the rumors, I'll tell you straight out: I am a werewolf."

There was a collective gasp from around the room. Some had gone quite pale and one or two looked ready to bolt. Denny, Harry noticed, looked absolutely delighted.

"A Werewolf turns but once a month, between sunset and sunrise during the night of the full moon and only when the moon is above the horizon. All other times we are as human as the next person."

'Not quite,' thought Harry.

"At the full moon I will be under the influence of the Wolfsbane Potion, which will not stop the transformation but will enable me to keep my senses. I will either Apparate home or remain at Hogwarts; in either case I will spend the time in a warded chamber, guarded by an Auror."

'In your bedroom with Tonks.' Harry substituted to himself.

"I am telling you this so that you will know that you will be safe during the only time I am a possible danger to anyone. Also, the day after a full moon I am often too fatigued to teach – "

'Completely knocked on your arse, you mean,' Harry thought.

"So classes on that day will be taught by my assistant. I believe you will find him capable. Mr. Potter?"

Heads jerked around and there was another round of gasps. Harry smiled and nodded. He was suddenly nervous under the scrutiny of all those eyes, and tried to maintain his casual pose. 'Relax,' he told himself. 'Lupin is always relaxed.'

"Mr. Potter will be joining us when the class has practical lessons as his other classes permit. Lectures and testing will mostly be delivered by me."

Harry mentally shook his head. Lupin had just made himself seem boring, a dry lecturer. He could see the effect on most of the children already. Those who had been ready to run screaming from the room were already equating him with dullness. It was amazing.

As Lupin outlined the study plan for the coming year, Harry observed the students. This was a 5th Year class of 7 Gryffindors and 5 Ravenclaws. Besides Dennis Creevey, Harry knew Jimmy Peakes, who had been a Beater Harry's 6th and 7th Years, and Natalie McDonald, who seems to have recovered from her early infatuation with Jimmy. He could put names with faces for the other Gryffindors only because he had reviewed the class list. True Gryffindors, all had stuck to their seats when Lupin had announced his condition. The Ravenclaw students had all looked close to passing out, and Orla Quirke and Stewart Ackerly had been poised to flee.

After that was lunch, where he and Ron compared notes about that morning's Charms class and discussed the attitude of the Gryffindor and Slytherin 7th Years that shared their class. It had been obvious that the rivalry between the two houses had not ended with the War, and Harry had made a point of sitting next Draco, who ignored him throughout the class.

"So what was I supposed to do? Ignore the way both the Slytherins and Gryffindors were treating him?"

"Didn't look like he appreciated it, mate."

Draco came in at that point and Luna followed, not looking as if they were walking together but more like they were strangers who happened to be going from point a to point b at the same time.

"Draco --,"

"Shut it, Potter."

"Malfoy -- ."

"You too, Weasel. I don't need to be associated with you two perverts and your Mudblood sl – "

Two wands were at his throat. "Finish that word, Malfoy, and you'll wish she had left you bleeding on the battle field."

He sneered, "After I saved her life? You Gryffindors and your misplaced sense of honor wouldn't have allowed it."

"Ron! Harry! What are you doing?" Hermione broke off her conversation with Justin and the table swiveled to see what was happening. Ron and Harry sheathed their wands and Malfoy smirked at them.

Harry looked him in the eye and said softly, "Do you want me to tell her, Malfoy? We wouldn't need to hex you then; she'll kick your arse all by herself."

Draco glared at him, shoved some roast beef between pieces of bread and stalked off.

"What's with him?"

"Caught flack from both Gryffindors and Slytherins in this morning's Charms class."

"Poor baby. Didn't take him long to fall back on his old ways, did it?"

+++++

After lunch Harry rushed off to another Defense class and Hermione dragged Ron to the library. He got half way through his Charms homework when he noticed a young woman with short spiky blond hair tipped with deep blue and multiple piercings in each ear, one in her nose and tattoos visible on both arms. She was re-shelving an armload of books. He nudged Hermione. "Transfer student?" he asked.

Hermione looked up and grinned. "Nope," she said. "That's the new librarian, Madam Indigo."

"Bloody hell." Ron breathed. "Things are changing around here."

Later they went to the Quidditch pitch for their first Physical Activities class, Harry and Ron with their Firebolts.

"I don't understand why we have to have flying classes," Hermione complained. "It's a waste of time. You two are already great at it and I'm not going to get better."

"Sure you will, Hermione," Ron said comfortingly.

"Why do we have to do this?" she wailed softly. "I DON'T LIKE FLYING!"

"We'll help you, Hermione," Harry assured her. "We won't let you fall."

She whimpered.

Madam Hooch strode up the group. "If you are wondering why flying is part of the curriculum, you aren't the only ones. The answer is simple: for your own protection. Some of you are already excellent flyers. For you we have a course of training to increase your stamina and agility. Those of you who have average skills will be coached to a higher level of performance. And those of you who are unskilled will become comfortable and competent. One of the lessons of this last War is that skill on a broom can save your life." She looked briefly at Draco, standing off to one side with his Nimbus 2001.

She put them all through a short series of maneuvers and soon had them sorted into three groups: Neville, Ernest and Hermione in the smallest and least skilled group, Dean, Draco, Ron and Harry in the most skilled group, and the rest in between.

She set the smallest group practicing taking off, flying low across the pitch and coming back to dismount. The middle group she set to flying a complicated pattern at hoop level before coming over to talk to the four top flyers. She was holding an unspelled Bludger.

"Feel free to think up challenges for yourself, " Hooch said. "To start you off I'm spelling this Bludger just chase you four." She held it out. "Touch it," she said and they all did. "Mount your brooms and get up above hoop level and I'll let it go."

It was fairly easy to dodge the Bludger as it wasn't being aimed at them by Beaters, and they were getting bored by the time Hooch had spent a little time with each of the other groups and called them back down.

"Obviously too easy for you," she said. This time she gave them all Beater bats and set two Bludgers after them. None of them were Beaters and so none had handled the Quidditch bats on a regular basis, and keeping track of two Bludgers was more of a challenge. It kept them occupied the rest of the period; all of them getting hit a couple of times. Hooch called them down and spoke with them about training ideas. The other two groups had landed and Hermione was waiting for them.

"How did it go, Hermione?" asked Ron anxiously.

"All right," she said, rather sulky.

The 8th Year table was quiet at dinner that evening, and all were aware of the stares and whispers aimed at some of their members. Draco seemed marginally better and ignored the attention but it bothered the others enough that the former prefects from Hufflepuff and Gryffindor had words with their replacements about controlling their house members.

Hermione and Justin were working on their Runes assignment, Hannah and Susan on their Muggle Studies, and Dean and Luna on Care of Magical Creatures. Neville was Teacher's Assistant for Professor Sprout for Herbology, so he was just starting his Potions assignment as Harry started his Charms. The rest of the group was sitting around the common room fire, reading or chatting. Ron had challenged Ernest to a game of chess and he was finding out he wasn't an easy opponent.

"Harry, could you read over my Potions assignment when I'm done?" Neville asked.

"Sure, if you read over my Charms work."

"I'm not that good in Charms."

"I'm not that good at Potions, either."

"Yeah, right, you were Slughorn's favorite last year."

"I had Snape's old classbook, it had all sorts of extra notes in it."

"You were cheating?!"

"Um, I guess."

Neville fell silent, but Harry could tell he was not impressed.

"Sorry."

"It's your education, Harry; it's up to you what you do with it."

"Yeah, well, it didn't seem so important last year."

"I s'pose."

They finished up as Susan and Hannah did and joined the group around the fireplace. Hannah pulled out her flask and poured some into a teacup for herself. "Anyone care for a snort?"

Ernest accepted a splash into his cup as well, but the rest shook their heads. Susan asked, "Hannah, doesn't that flask ever run out?"

"No," she replied gleefully. "It was a present from my auntie. What ever you put in, that's what you get out, endlessly. She gave it to me with cold fresh water, but I put in Firewhiskey. Much more useful during the War."

"Say, Harry, Ron, you were going to tell us about seeing Remus transform."

"Oh, yeah." Ron and Harry carefully told the story, omitting everything they could, just saying that Ron's rat Scabbers had escaped; they had chased him into the Forbidden Forest and gotten into some unspecified trouble there. Remus came to their rescue, but in his rush to help them had forgotten his Wolfsbane potion, so when the moon rose, he transformed.

Everyone seemed to think it was a great story, but Draco spoke up for the first time that evening. "My question remains however. Having seen his transformation, however did you live to tell us this thrilling adventure tale?"

"Be careful what you say, Harry!" called Hermione from the study table where she and Justin seemed to have finished their work.

"I know, I know! Look, Malfoy," he swiveled to look directly at the blond, "there was lots of stuff that happened that night, and when I tell you the next bit, that's it, that's all I can say. Whether or not you believe me is up to you." He took a deep breath. "We were rescued by Sirius Black, my godfather, who was an Animagus. Who changed into a large dog and drove Remus away."

"Was this before or after Snape captured him?" Draco asked sharply.

"Before."

"And I suppose you're going to tell me you three had nothing to do with Black's escape later that night?" Draco's voice was oily and sarcastic, and Harry was eerily reminded of Snape.

"No," said Harry firmly. "We three had nothing to do with his escape."

Hermione grinned at him.

*~*
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.

This story archived at Table for Three - http://www.triofic.com/viewstory.php?sid=221

Chapter Text

The Eighth Year by LouHQ

Chapter 10: Chapter 9: “Some people need to be protected.” Thursday September 3rd

Author's Notes: Thanks to my husband who lets me bounce ideas off of him even though he doesn't like HP fanfic.


+++++

Thursday afternoon was their first Self-Defense class, a double class.

"Another physical class!" Hermione complained. "There are more important things than this!"

"Buck up, Hermione, it's for our own good," said Ron in a bracing tone, but she glared at him.

"You LIKE this sort of thing," she said. "I hate this! Just wait till swimming after this." Their weeks at the sea in August had established that Hermione was by far the best swimmer of the three.

Susan and Hannah were giggling about their teacher, Mr. Beor. The 8th Years hadn't seen much of him as he seldom took meals in the Great Hall with the rest of the staff and teachers. His youthful appearance (he appeared to be about thirty years old) and his long blond hair and grey eyes ("A very male Veela," Hannah sighed) had captured the interest of many of the students.

Since the class was right after lunch they had all walked down together. Malfoy was still maintaining a chilly standoffishness from his dorm mates, and the trio fell silent in the midst of the group as they approached the hut where they has spent so many happy hours with their large friend.

Mr. Beor stepped out of the hut as the group approached. "Good afternoon," he said in a mellow tenor. "During the course of this school year we will find weapons to match your natural abilities: at least one long range weapon and one close range weapon, and we will also develop your skills at self defense without weaponry. Today we will be matching you with appropriate weapons."

They worked their way through a variety of weapons. Ron was unexpectedly good with the long bow. Almost everyone was able to handle a short bow, but Justin and Luna were best with throwing daggers and Draco with throwing stars. Hannah and Susan asked lots of questions and repeatedly asked Beor to help them with their grip on the bow. He was unfailingly patient and calm, but never smiled at them or the antics of the others.

Hermione was embarrassed that she was unable to handle any of the distance weapons. She repeatedly twanged her arm with the string of the bow, broke two arrows and hit her self in the head with the throwing dagger (fortunately not with the blade end) and cut herself on the throwing stars. When Beor set the others practicing at a variety of targets and approached her, she wanted to run and hide, certain he was going to tell her she was hopeless and half hoping he would send her away. He stopped next to her and she looked at him, sullen and defiant. After a long silent pause he did something that surprised her: he smiled. "You aren't getting out of it that easily."

The smile changed his face from good looking to gorgeous. Hermione felt a bit light-headed. "Wha--what do you mean?"

"I'm not giving up on you and sending you away."

"I'm not good at this stuff."

"You will be."

Hermione shook her head, but accepted the odd contraption he handed her. "What's this?"

"American style wrist rocket."

"What?"

"Slingshot."

"A child's toy."

"Definitely not."

He showed her how to wear the arm brace and hold the handle, how to aim and release the cup. On her first attempt Hermione somehow ended up holding the shot after releasing the cup. It took her many attempts to get the shot to fly out of the cup rather than falling, but Beor seemed satisfied. He stopped everyone and moved them on to hand to hand weapons. Justin had prior experience with a rapier; Draco, Terry and Harry ended up with short swords, Ernest, Susan, Hannah and Luna with daggers and Ron, Dean and Neville with staves.

Again, Hermione was the odd one out, until Draco made a comment about her best weapon being her hand, rubbing his cheek as he spoke. Ron and Harry smirked as Hermione blushed and Beor smiled again. "So! Slap or punch?"

"Slap," she said, sulky all over again.

"Very good. So you can be drawn to direct action when provoked. That's good to know. You will learn to effectively fend off unwanted attention."

"It wasn't – " Hermione sputtered.

"I DIDN'T – " Malfoy gasped.

Harry and Ron almost fell over laughing.

Again, Beor proffered an odd contrivance that laced onto her hand. "You punch with it like so," and he demonstrated how the pointed bits would project; "or you slash like so," and the sharp blades projected beyond her curled fingers in a decidedly menacing way.

Hermione felt nauseated. "That could hurt someone badly," she blurted out.

"That's the point."

"I won't, I can't!" Hermione said, dropping the hand weapon and backing away. "I can't do that to someone," her voice rising. "THEY do things like that, it's like Crucio only not magic, I won't, I WON'T!"

"Hermione – " began Harry.

"This, THIS isn't self defense!"

"Was what you did to the Dementors any different?"

"YES! They were innately evil!"

"And the Death Eaters aren't?"

"No! They are human, they can change!"

"So you're going to let them walk all over you, hoping they repent? Are you going to let them do THIS?" And with a lightening fast move he grabbed Hannah's dagger and had it pressed to Harry's throat with his arm twisted up behind his back.

There was a flash of bright white light and Beor was blasted away from Harry. He landed in a stunned heap twenty feet away.

Terry rushed over to him and cast Ennervate. He helped the shaken teacher to his feet. "Are you all right?"

"Yes, thank you." When Terry was sure he could stay standing he went back to stand by Justin.

All the students were in a loose bunch around Harry. All but Terry and Harry had their wands drawn; Ron and Hermione had theirs pointed at him. "Sorry," said Harry, not sounding sorry at all. "Automatic reaction."

Beor held his hands up in wry surrender and they all holstered their wands with varying degrees of willingness. "I should have known better," he admitted grudgingly. "But the example stands. Not everyone can do the things Potter can."

Harry nodded shortly. "Some people need to be protected."

Neville said softly, "Hermione, remember when we were fighting Lestrange?"

She nodded.

"How did you distract Bellatrix, giving Luna and I time to get our spells ready?"

She rolled her eyes. "Neville, everyone who's read the Daily Prophet war stories knows I threw a rock."

There was a moment of silence as everyone just looked at her.

"All right!" She threw up her hands in an unconscious parody of Beor's gesture. "I get it! I'll learn your damn weapons."

"Thank you," Beor said, without a trace of irony or amusement. "I appreciate it."

++++++

Hermione's capitulation did not mean she was happy about it, and Ron and Harry carefully left her alone as they went from Beor's class to swimming. She was mollified somewhat when she passed every test Madam Indigo gave her, and she wore off the rest of her bad humour by swimming laps as the others were evaluated. Indigo knew of Hermione's swimming skills from their prior discussions and planned to use her as a teacher's assistant even here. Everyone else was of average skills except Malfoy and Neville, who had never been in water deeper than the prefect's bath. They admitted that their pureblood families thought of swimming as a Muggle activity.

It began to drizzle shortly before dinner, so Professor Sinestra distributed her lesson plan outline to the 8th Years at dinner, admonishing them to read over the first two chapters of their class book, memorize the star charts therein, and write a short essay on the effects of Mars on the casting of wards.

Harry spent the first part of the evening tutoring 2 Fifth Years who barely passed DADA last year, then met with Lupin. It was nearly ten when he got back to the dorm and started in on his homework. Ron was already done and wanted Harry to put off his homework until later in the weekend, since they didn't have classes on Friday, but Harry insisted he do at least the Astronomy work. He would be involved in DADA classes almost all Friday and wanted to leave plenty of time for Quidditch on Saturday.

When Ron couldn't get anyone else to play chess with him he tried to read for a bit, but fidgeted so much Dean threw a pillow at him and Harry told him to go bother Hermione, who was studying in their rooms.

"Herrrrrr-miiiii-oooo-neeeee."

Ron was leaning against the doorframe, still dressed but barefoot, smiling at her hard at work in the study. She leaned back, smiling back at him and asked, "What time is it?"

"Almost eleven." He stepped up to her desk and shut the book she was taking notes from. "Time for bed."

"It's not that late, I could get another 2 or 3 chapters done before midnight."

She tried to reopen the book but Ron spread his large hand over it and pinned it shut. He leaned in closed and whispered in her ear, "You've been working hard already this week, let me help you relax. I could reward you for your good behavior."

"Reward? What did you have in mind?"

He moved behind her, brushed her hair back off her shoulders and rubbed her shoulders gently. "I'd start here," he whispered in her ear, making her shiver. "Then I'd see where else you want to be rubbed."

"Mmmm, sounds nice," Hermione sighed. "You talked me into it."

When she stood up Ron scooped her up in his arms. "Ron, what are you doing?"

"Fairly obvious, I'd say. Carrying you off to bed. Now stop wiggling or I might drop you."

Ron dumped her onto the bed and barely controlled his fall on top of her. He propped himself up next to her and tenderly brushed her hair from her face. "Hermione," Ron sighed. "It hasn't even been a full week of classes, and I miss you and Harry."

"Oh Ron, it's not like we've been gone."

"No, but it's not like when we were at Lupin's or at the beach either. I got used to having you two around all the time."

"You miss the sex three times a day."

"Of course, I'm a randy teenager with the sexiest girlfriend and boyfriend a bloke could have. But I miss the time we had together too, eating and sleeping when we wanted, just being together.

"I love you, Ronald."

"I'm rather fond of you too. Ouch!" That last as Hermione grabbed a fistful of Ron's fine red hair and used it to pull him down into a kiss. Her hands smoothed and soothed his abused scalp as she gently pushed the tip of her tongue between his lips. Ron in turn wrapped his arms around her and held her tightly to him, loving her soft curves against him. They continued to kiss eagerly, becoming more passionate and intent until both were breathing heavily. Ron pulled back and unbuttoned Hermione's blouse, kissing each inch of skin as it appeared and occasionally licking a particularly enticing bit. Hermione giggled beneath his hands and lips as he hit upon the ticklish spots and stopped him long enough to pull off his jumper so she could run her hands freely up and down his back. Ron hissed as she lightly raked her fingernails up his spine and he latched upon her throat and sucked until she moaned.

Hermione pushed him away and sat up, tugging at his denims. Ron obligingly yanked off his trousers and pants, then reached behind her to undo her bra. "So beautiful, Hermione," he murmured, trailing his fingertips across her nipples, and at his light touch they crinkled into hard nubs. "I love when they do that," he sighed as she moaned softly.

Ron laid her back down and pulled off the rest of her clothes with the same attention to skin as before. He lay next to her and they faced each other, Ron caressing her breasts as Hermione ran her hand down his side and over his hip, coming back up to cup his arse in her hand and squeeze lightly. He in turn pulled her closer, kissed his way down to her breast and nipple, finally flicking it with his tongue.

Hermione gasped as pleasure shot through her and she squeezed his arse more tightly, then trailed her fingertips between his arsecheeks. She could feel his penis hardening against her leg and rubbed her thigh gently between his legs. He groaned against her skin.

He rolled them so that Hermione lay on top of him, straddling his hips and supporting herself by her arms as he fondled her breasts and took turns suckling each nipple. She could feel liquid pleasure pooling in her and spreading through her soft folds, and she rubbed against Ron's hard cock, mixing her wetness with his precum as she teased him.

"Hermione," Ron gasped against her skin, "Move up, I want to taste you."

Blushing, Hermione crawled up over him till she straddled his face and hovered over him. She was unsure how much she should press against his face and waited till he grasped her hips and guided her down to his eager mouth.

When either of the boys had gone down on her before she had been lying on her back; she was unprepared for how different it felt in this position. She felt powerful and in control, yet more wanton, more involved. His tongue played between her folds, gently opening her up and tasting her juices. It was so overwhelming she had to grab the headboard to keep from slamming herself onto his face.

"Mmmmmm, so good," Ron moaned, his voice sending vibrations through her, and she shuddered as it sent her over the edge, orgasm rippling through her. Through it he continued to gently lick, and when she relaxed and would have moved away, he held her in place. Now he probed harder, pushing his tongue past her folds and into her cunt, then moving to her clit, firmly stroking the nub at her center. The pleasure this time was tighter, harder, and she gave in, pushing against his mouth. "Gods, Ron, yes, harder!" Then the hands gripping her arse and hips moved, and she felt his hands spreading her arsecheeks, wet fingertips rubbing around her puckered entrance, and she came again, hard, crying out his name.

When she moved away this time he let her go, and she saw his face wet with her juices. "Oh my goodness, Ron, did I drown you?"

He laughed, "No, but gods, what a way to go! Mmmm, Hermione, that was delicious."

She collapsed next to him, blushing, embarrassed by how wet she was, but unable to deny how pleasurable it had been. "That was wonderful, Ron, you were fantastic." She ghosted a hand over his cock, touching it lightly. It was hard, hot and twitching. "Mmmmm, your turn. What would you like?"

He propped himself up next to her and trailed a finger down her face, her neck and between her breasts. "Let me show you," he whispered, and picked up the tube of lube from the bedside stand. Hermione stiffened slightly in surprise, but when Ron moved back to her he straddled her this time, laying his cock between her breasts. Squeezing a little lube onto his hands, he massaged her breasts and then pressed them together so that they cradled his cock between them. "Is this all right, Hermione? It feels so good. I love your breasts. Is this all right?"

Her nipples hard again, Hermione couldn't deny her arousal. "Oh yes, Ron, please!"

Ron began to slide his cock between her breasts, hard and throbbing and close to coming already, just from the taste and smell of Hermione's orgasms. Now looking down at his cock fucking her perfect breasts, he felt the tightening in his balls and thrust hard, not able to hold back. When Hermione bent her head and licked the tip of his cock as it thrust up between them, he couldn't hold back and he came hard. Hermione caught most of it in her mouth, but some spilled out onto her neck and chest.

When Ron could think again he carefully climbed off of Hermione, feeling a bit embarrassed by the position and how it had affected him. "Erm, sorry, Hermione. Are you all right?"

"I'm fine, Ron, thank you, that was, um, really interesting."

"Interesting? You're not -- Did you like that?"

"Oh yes. I, I guess I'm little embarrassed by how much I liked it."

"Yeah, me too. I s'pose we're a couple of perverts, huh?"

"I don't think that quite qualifies as perverted, just, erm, advanced."

Ron laughed. "I'm glad I'm advanced at something!"

Hermione giggled. "Me too." She reached for her wand and cast a Scourgify. Ron's eyes were sagging as they snuggled in. "Ron? Where's Harry?"

"He's studying in the common room. I was bothering him too much so he told me to go bother you instead."

"Mmmm. I'll have to think of a way to properly thank him."

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.

This story archived at Table for Three - http://www.triofic.com/viewstory.php?sid=221

Chapter Text

The Eighth Year by LouHQ

Chapter 11: Chapter 10, “Another shining example of interhouse cooperation.”


Author's Notes:


+++++

Ron woke up alone in the big bed, having slept in while Hermione and Harry attended to their teaching assistant duties. Groggily sitting up, he spied a muffin and cup of tea on the bedside table with a note.

Ron,
Hope you enjoy your lie in, you lucky prat! See you at lunch.
Harry

Dear Ron,
I hope you aren't too tired this morning after our advanced studies last night!
Love, Hermione


Grinning, he demolished the muffin and sipped the tea, appreciating the warming charm they left on it. After a shower he took his Astronomy homework out to the common room. Hannah, Ernest and Susan were sitting around the fireplace, and Draco and Luna were at separate study tables. He took another table and got to work, the chatter and laughter from the three by the fire soothing him: it was so much like the constant background noise of Gryffindor Tower.

This wasn't soothing to Malfoy, however, who was sending glares at the Hufflepuffs. Finally he called over to them, obviously trying to restrain his temper, "Could you please keep it down? I'm trying to get some work done!"

"This is the common room, Malfoy, we've got as much right to be here as you. Go to your room if you have to have quiet," said Macmillan in his usual pompous voice.

Draco sighed in frustration and Luna smiled sympathetically. "The Ravenclaw common room was usually quiet. Was the Slytherin common room quiet too?"

"Yeah," Draco said grudgingly.

"Gryffindor Tower was MUCH noisier than this."

"That explains Gryffindor test scores."

"Hey, Hermione's a Gryffindor!"

"She spent a lot of time in the library."

The three Hufflepuffs left shortly after and the other three settled down to work. Ron found it harder to concentrate when he could hear every time Luna or Draco turned a page, but managed to finish his Astronomy essay. After careful consideration he asked Luna to read it over for him, which she did so silently, then handed it back to him with the comment, "You misspelled 'perigee'".

"All right. What else?"

"Do you really want me to critique it or are you just trying to get me to do your work for you?"

"Hermione would tell me if I made any mistakes and if I left anything out."

"Ravenclaws aren't that helpful. We're too competitive about our scores. It must be that Gryffindor loyalty that made her coddle you along."

"I did my own work!"

"You wouldn't have gotten help from a Slytherin either. We're more likely to sabotage each other's work."

"Have you watched the Hufflepuffs study together? It's practically a group mind. Flitwick told me Hufflepuffs get almost exactly the same grade levels."

"Well, thanks anyway, Luna."

"I will tell you this Ronald, you left something out."

"Bloody hell! What?"

"That you have to figure out for yourself."

Dean wandered into the room and dropped down in front of the fire, so Ron gathered up his stuff and went over to talk to his old dorm mate. Dean confessed to being a bit bored.

"Ernest is sort of a prat and, besides, he's always hanging out with Susan and Hannah. Not that they aren't nice and all that, but, I don't know. And Neville's all wrapped up in this Teacher's Assistant thing, he's always down at the greenhouses, and I'm not all that into plants, you know?"

"Yeah, Harry and Hermione are always rushing off to their stuff, too. Justin, too. Terry seems all right but I swear he's worse than Hermione, always with his nose in a book. And that leaves...." Ron glanced over at Luna and Draco, both immersed in their separate piles of books.

"No thanks!" whispered Dean, following his glance. "They've been almost normal, but I expect them to go back to being nutters any day now!"

Ron stifled a laugh. "Have you been back to Gryffindor Tower?"

"Not since the night of the Welcoming Feast. It was too weird. Either people totally avoided talking about the war, or they asked such stupid questions! Either way hacked me off. You?"

"No, I didn't. The only people I spent time with were our dorm mates and Hermione and Ginny. And the rest of the D.A., I guess. I know what you mean about people asking stupid questions, though. The only person over there I'd want to see would be Denny."

"I think we need to keep an eye on him. He's really feeling off, too young to hang out here, too, too.... experienced to get on with his age mates."

"Maybe I'll go see him tonight, invite him over here for chess."

"Good idea."

Ron excused himself to put his books away so he could go meet Harry before lunch at the DADA classroom.

He weaved through the tide of students heading to lunch to arrive at the door of the DADA classroom as the last students left. Harry was tidying up the classroom while Lupin was heading out the door himself.

"Hi Harry. Hi Re -- , Professor Lupin."

"Ron!"

"Hi, Ron. You can call me Remus when we're not in class. Harry, I'll see you after lunch."

"All right."

As soon as Lupin disappeared down the hall, Harry grabbed Ron and pulled him wordlessly up to Lupin's office and firmly shut the door behind them, then pushed him up against the wall. He kissed him hard, thrusting his tongue into his mouth and fisting his hands in his hair.

His blood rushed to his cock so fast he became lightheaded; Ron moaned into Harry's mouth and helplessly ground his pelvis against him. Harry was already hard and thrust back against him.

Harry finally pulled his mouth away but continued rubbing his hips against Ron. "I get done with my work last night and come back to a room reeking of sex and my lovers are sleeping the sleep of the well fucked," Harry growled. "This morning I get out of the shower to find Hermione standing naked in front of the mirror, looking at her breasts. When I go to touch her she says she doesn't have time for that this morning, then laughs and says, 'But thank you for sending Ron to me last night, he really BOTHERED me.'"

Ron grinned and reached around Harry to grab his arse and grind harder. "Jealous, Potter?"

"No, you prat, horny!" With that he pushed back enough to reach between them and start unbuttoning Ron's denims.

"Harry, what are you doing? We're in Lupin's office!"

"Who won't be back for an hour." Harry waved a hand at the door and Ron heard the lock click. With a groan Ron slid to the floor, pulling Harry with him. Harry roughly pulled Ron's denims and pants down and would have immediately started on him, but Ron stopped him and said, "Take your trousers off, Harry."

Impatiently, Harry did so while Ron took his trainers and socks off, then removed his denims completely. Then he lay Harry down and sat on his chest, the tip of his hard cock just grazing Harry's chin. He began to stroke himself.

"Do you know what we did last night, Harry? Last night I had Hermione straddle my face so I could lie on my back and lick her. She got so wet, Harry, she was dripping, and so sensitive she came without me touching her clit. So then I sucked her clit and fingered her till she came again. After that I laid her down like this, but with my cock between her tits. I rubbed her tits with lube and got them all slippery and then I fucked them till I came."

Harry was moaning beneath him, and Ron leaned forward to thrust his cock into Harry's willing mouth. "And Harry, she LIKED it." And came down Harry's throat.

As soon as he could Ron moved down until he was between Harry's legs. He concentrated on licking Harry's shaft, teasing him with licks and nibbles while cupping his balls in one hand and sliding his fingers of the other hand between his cheeks to tickle the tight opening there.

The teasing was too much for Harry after his long morning and Ron's bedtime story. He grabbed Ron's head, pushing it down and arching his back. "Ron! Suck me, you wanker!"

Ron simultaneously slid his mouth over Harry's cock all the way to the root while he thrust a finger into Harry and crooked it slightly to rub against his prostate. Harry cried out wordlessly, convulsed under him and, as Ron stroked him with tongue and finger, came hard into Ron's mouth.

"Ah, Ron," Harry groaned. "I love you so much."

"Yeah, but will you still love me if you miss lunch?"

Harry laughed although he started dressing quickly. "I'd just have to find something else to eat."

"Uh huh. In DADA? I don't think so!"

They raced to the Great Hall where Hermione and the rest of the 8th Years were finishing their lunch.

"Where have you two been? You almost missed lunch." Hermione scolded.

Ron concentrated on loading their plates with food while Harry leaned over to whisper in her ear.

"You DIDN'T!" Hermione shrieked, then blushed crimson as the entire table looked at her. Ron and Harry grinned although they both blushed lightly. Ernest snorted in disgust and Draco rolled his eyes.

The rest of them finished lunch before Ron did and he took his time eating while the number of students and teachers dwindled. He was just finishing his pumpkin juice when he heard "Mr. Weasley!" and saw Madam Hooch heading towards the back of the hall from the teacher's table.

"Madam Hooch? What can I help you with?"

"Just what I wanted to hear, Mr. Weasley. I could use a hand down at the pitch. Can I commander you for an hour or two?"

"All right. What do you need?" They headed out of the castle.

"When McGonagall proposed continuing flying lessons at all levels, I was delighted, of course. Couldn't agree more! But after only a few days I can see I underestimated the job. Keeping skilled flyers busy and interested and coaxing along the unskilled while advancing those in between – it's a challenge, Weasley, a challenge."

"What do you want my help with?"

"Well, Weasley, you've got experience in dealing with balky and damaged brooms. With the workout the school brooms have had this week, I'm afraid the lot of them need to be checked over and tuned up. Can you help me with that?"

"Sure."

Ron spent an surprisingly enjoyable afternoon checking over brooms, making minor repairs and chatting with Madam Hooch, who not only loved Quidditch as much as he did but had an encyclopedic knowledge about brooms. When they discovered a broom with a handle cracked beyond repair, she asked him, in a decidedly bland voice, what he would recommend as a replacement broom. He gave the question careful consideration.

"You wouldn't want anything like Harry's Firebolt or even a Nimbus for a school broom. Those are all too fast and need a sure hand to handle them. You want some thing sturdy, that can take a beating, something steady but with enough responsiveness to reward an improving flyer. Last year's Cleansweep was very good. Plus if you went with last year's model it would cost less than this year's."

"Very good, Weasley." She hesitated. "When she made this a full teaching position, the Headmistress offered me a Teacher's Assistant. I turned it down because, well, I already told you I underestimated the time and work involved. Would you be interested?"

Ron gaped slightly at her, surprised. "Do this on a regular basis?"

"Maybe help with the little ones too, getting up on a broom the first time."

"I do have extra time...." Ron hesitated. "Dean Thomas is good with brooms too, and a fair flyer. Could we split the work?"

"Jolly good idea! Go ahead and ask him. Are the 8th Years flying tomorrow?"

"We signed out the pitch 9 to 11:30."

"Come down a bit early and bring Mr. Thomas, if he's interested."

"Great!"

Ron practically bounced back to the castle to find Dean. No one was in the common room, so he went to Dean and Neville's room and tapped on the door. "Hey Dean, you in there?"

He heard a muffled noise from inside and footsteps approaching the door. It was cracked open and Ron could see a sliver of Neville.

"Dean's not here, I think he went to the library."

"Hey Neville, guess what, I was talking to Hooch and she -- ."

"Sorry, Ron, can't talk now." And the door clicked shut.

Ron gaped slightly at the door and wandered off, shaking his head. Bemused, he headed to the library and found Dean doing his Magical Creatures homework.

"Dean, what's up with Neville? I went to your room looking for you and he acted like he had a naked girl in his room."

"Probably because he had a naked girl in his room."

"What!?"

"He chatted up a Gryffindor 7th Year the night of the Welcoming Feast and must have been seeing her all this week when we thought he was at the greenhouses. He asked me after lunch to make myself scarce this afternoon. Who am I to get in the way of true love?"

"They're in love?"

"Well, lust at least. Who am I to get in the way of Neville finally losing his virginity?"

Ron snorted.

He filled in Dean on how he had spent the majority of his afternoon, Madam Hooch's invitation and his suggested inclusion of Dean.

"Wow, thanks, mate! I was wondering if I was condemned to a year of boredom."

They spent the rest of the afternoon talking about brooms, Quidditch and flying in general, trading tips on what had helped them overcome problems they had when flying. They headed down to the Great Hall at dinnertime. Ron noticed the amount of whispers and pointing had died down, though there was still some. He also noticed that while people still sat at their House tables, there was more interaction between them, and not the insults and threats that had been common between Gryffindor and Slytherin. However, Slytherin table was still keeping to itself. When Neville and the Gryffindor 7th Year came in together and split apart at the door, Dean and Ron carefully did not look at each other.

To Ron's surprise, Hermione suggested a walk by the lake after dinner. "Not that I'm complaining, but I'd have thought you would hurry back to your books."

"I need a break. I think this last year spoilt me in one way."

"How's that?" asked Harry, surprised, thinking of the uncomfortable camping conditions, the danger, stress and sorrow.

"No studying for classes and tests."

"Right, just saving the Wizarding World. I can see how that would be a load off your mind."

"Oh, Ron!"

"Hey, I nearly forgot!" Ron told them about his afternoon with Madam Hooch, her offer of a Teacher's Assistant position and his idea to include Dean Thomas in the job.

"Wow, Ron, now we're all Teacher's Assistants! And it was really thoughtful of you to include Dean."

"Hermione, he wasn't being thoughtful of Dean, he wanted someone to split the work with!"

"Oh, I was being thoughtful, all right. I was thinking of keeping enough time available so I can keep 'bothering' certain people!"

They all laughed as they sat at their favorite spot under the trees. Hermione was between them and Ron looped his arm across her shoulders as Harry slid his around her waist.

"Not that I don't like this, but we should probably be discreet outside of the dorm."

"Hmm, let's see, my family knows, the staff at St. Mungo's, all the 8th Years know, Lupin and Tonks a'course, and Pomfrey, and if McGonagall's anything like Dumbledore, she knows already...."

"No, she's right, Ron," Harry said, reluctantly moving his arm. "If the Prophet got hold of this, it would be awful."

Ron sighed, taking his arm away too, and then Hermione's shoulders drooped. "I hate not touching you two."

"I know." "Me too." Their fingers crept towards each of in the grass.

"It won't be forever, will it? We won't have to hide the rest of our lives?"

"I was thinking about what Justin and Terry said. Indigo archives the Headmistress's correspondence, and she says McGonagall has been getting a lot of criticism for the changes she's made to the curriculum. But she's been getting a lot of approval too. So far it's just been the parents who have been owling, but you can bet the Prophet will be running something on it. Imagine what it would be like if they found out about us, or Justin and Terry."

"Boys buggering boys in English schools can't be anything new."

"No, but we're 'war heroes'. Bet they would play that for all they're worth."

Harry shuddered. "I hate to think of you two being subjected to that."

"Eh, too late, you know."

"Anyway, I love you two, I'm proud of you and I'm proud that you love me."

Both boys blushed, but murmured their agreement.

"So we should think of what we'd do if we get outed."

Harry shook his head. "Yeah, but not tonight, Hermione. Let's just relax a bit."

"Okay. Want to go back to the dorm?"

Ron hesitated. "I was thinking of looking up Denny." He related the conversation he had with Dean about Dennis Creevey, sidetracked to the news about Neville's love life, then got back to his decision to challenge Denny to chess that night. Hermione and Harry agreed with the plan, and they headed back to the castle.

When they got to the Fat Lady's portrait she looked at them suspiciously. "You three don't belong here anymore," she said haughtily.

"We're looking for Dennis Creevey."

"One moment."

A minute later a 7th Year stuck her head out and asked them in, then sent a 1st Year to go find Dennis. The trio looked around the Gryffindor common room, which hadn't changed a whit, including the number of people pointing and whispering.

Romilda Vane sauntered over. "Hullo, Harry," she said in what she obviously thought was a sultry voice. "Good to see you again."

"Erm, hi," he muttered back, not looking at her and wishing he could hide behind Ron, except Ron was trying to hide behind Hermione. He was relieved when Denny came bounding down the stairs.

"Hiya, Harry, what's up?"

"Ron was wondering if you wanted to come over to our dorm and hang out."

"Maybe play some chess, I need a new person to challenge."

"Sure, great!"

They headed back and Ron asked how his first week had gone. He said fine, especially his DADA classes, how cool was it to have a werewolf as a teacher AND have Harry to help, and did they know Lupin was a werewolf before? And that Madam Indigo was so much better at helping people than Madam Pince ever was, and he had swimming which he was okay at, and the Beor guy was kinda spooky but was a good teacher anyway, but that Slughorn was a bit weird, the way he favored certain people.

The 8th Year common room was cheerfully noisy as the group celebrated the end of the first week of classes. Justin had brought a CD player to Hogwarts and he, Dean and Terry had worked out a system of spells that powered the box while protecting the mechanism from interference from magic. Hermione was quite intrigued and started talking with them and going over the small collection of CDs Justin had while Ron set up the chessboard and Harry summoned a house-elf and asked for butterbeer and biscuits. Hannah, Susan and Ernie were passing Hannah's flask as they played Exploding Snap and Luna was in her favorite chair with a book in her lap but not reading, just watching everybody else. Harry called her over.

"Luna, why don't you play me while Ron plays Denny? Then we can switch around."

"All right."

"Say Luna, where's Malfoy?"

"I don't know."

"Oh, I just thought – you two are hanging around together a lot, I thought you were getting to be friends."

She shrugged. "Neither of us have anyone else to hang around with."

"Oh."

Luna and Ron won the first round so they played each other while Harry played Denny. Denny asked a lot of questions about Lupin, and it was clear that the boy was extremely curious. It was towards the end of the game when Dobby brought Harry a note.

Dear Harry,

Tonks and I were wondering if the three of you would like to come to dinner tomorrow in my Hogwarts quarters. About 6? Since it's the night before full moon we'll have to make it an early night, but Tonks wants to hear how the first week has gone for us all.

Remus


Justin came over then with a new bottle of wine and offered them both a glass (a very small one for Denny), and Creevey of course had some questions, so Harry took the opportunity to whisper Remus's invitation to Hermione and Ron, who both agreed. He wrote their acceptance back, then, looking at Denny's happy face, added a postscript. Dobby was back with the answer before the next round of play was completed.

Certainly.

"Denny, Ron, Hermione and I are having dinner with Remus and Tonks tomorrow night. He says it's all right for me to ask you. Want to go with us?"

"Wow, could I? That's so cool! Who's Tonks? An Auror! Wow!"

The Sorting Hat, Harry reflected, definitely put Dennis into the right House. How many people would consider dinner with a werewolf to be such a treat?

Ron barely beat Luna, who surprised both of them, and Harry won his game with Dennis, but he believed it was only because Denny was too excited to concentrate. The Snap game was getting louder and rowdier as more firewhiskey was consumed, and everyone else chattered about school and the new teachers and classes. Denny asked what they had all done during summer hols. While he was envious of the trio's trip to the ocean he was positively agog over Luna's expedition to Loch Ness. Luna, for once having an eager and accepting audience, gave glowing descriptions that, while they didn't totally believe them, at least made them willing to suspend disbelief.

Harry didn't realize how late it was getting until Neville stumbled in, looking very happy and distinctly disheveled. Harry whispered to Ron and Hermione, "I'm going to walk Denny back, it's after hours."

"Hurry back," Hermione whispered back. "Ron might start bothering me again."

"Hey, Denny, let me walk you back to Gryffindor Tower."

"I don't need a babysitter, Harry, I can go myself."

"Its after hours, Denny."

"Already?"

The hallways were quiet as they walked to Gryffindor Tower, Denny happily talking about the evening and anticipating tomorrow's meal with Lupin. Harry listened to Denny's happy burbling as they walked, but slowly became aware that someone was walking behind them. As they turned a corner he glanced as if causally behind them. It was just a shadow, but it confirmed his suspicions. At the Fat Lady's portrait he said good night to Denny, reminding him that they would meet him here a few minutes before 6 tomorrow night, and not letting on about their follower.

When he turned away from the door he held his wand at the ready but hidden at his side. He headed back, listening carefully and rounding corners with caution. No one showed, and by the time he made it back to the 8th Year dorm, he was wondering if it had been his imagination. In his heart, though, he knew better.

The common room was empty except for Luna, paging through a Muggle magazine.

"Where did everyone go so quickly?"

"You missed all the fireworks."

"What?"

"Thomas and MacMillan were teasing Longbottom about his girlfriend and he got upset. When Boot told them to back off and leave him alone, MacMillan called him a pouf, and Finch-Fletchley tried to punch him, but Thomas and Longbottom stopped him. MacMillan said some more hateful things and Bones and Abbott hauled him off to his room, but you could hear them yelling at him and each other for a bit after that. Abbott was drunk and seemed to be trying to yell at MacMillan at the same time she was defending him from Bones. Dean apologized to Longbottom but Longbottom told him to go to piss off, so Thomas got mad again and they yelled at each other and when Boot tried to intervene they both yelled at him. Then everyone stomped off to their respective rooms."

"Another shining example of interhouse cooperation."

"Yup."

"Where were Ron and Hermione during all this?"

"Oh, they went their room before it started."

"Damn!" And Harry tore off down the hall.

Hermione and Ron were lying on their bed, Hermione in her bra and knickers and Ron still in boxers, but so intent on each other that Harry was surprised that they noticed him. They broke from their kiss and Ron moaned his name while Hermione reached her arm out to him. Harry quickly stripped and crawled on to the bed with them. "Why are you two still wearing clothes? Not that you aren't fetching in these." He trailed fingers around Ron's waistband and over Hermione's lacey cup.

"We've been waiting for you, mate," Ron said huskily and pulled him down on top of them. There was several minutes of wonderful, squirming chaos, as the three of them tried to divest themselves of remaining clothes while continuing to caress, kiss, nibble, lick and suck on whatever bit of skin they could reach. Finally Ron pushed away, panting. "I've got an idea."

"More advanced study, Ron?" Hermione purred with a hint of amusement as she lay back between them. Ron slid his hand down her stomach and slid a finger between her soft folds, gently tickling her entrance. Hermione hummed with pleasure and arched against Harry, who was rolling a nipple between his fingers.

"An experiment. Harry, do you want to eat Hermione or fuck her?"

"I've been thinking about eating her since you told me about last night."

"Brilliant." He pulled away from Hermione who sighed in frustration. "Sorry love, but you'll like this, I think." He stuffed pillows behind him so he was half sitting up and stuffed another under his arse, then grabbed his cock, wagging it at her. "Come sit on me, Hermione."

"Mmm, in a minute," Hermione and Harry glanced at each other and both licked him, base to tip and their lips met over his head, tongues playing with each other and Ron's head. Ron groaned at the sight, his hands sliding over the back of their necks and arching into their mouths.

When he began to writhe under their mouths they let him go and Hermione began to mount him. "No," he gasped, "Face away from me." Her eyebrows went up but she did as she was told, straddling his hips and moaning as his cock filled her. The new position pressed inside her in a whole new way, making her gasp and shudder, her muscles clenching around Ron's cock and making him rock up against her.

"Ohhhh, fuck," he moaned. "Please, Hermione, hold still. Now lean back a bit and spread your legs."

Harry's eyes widened at the sight, Hermione impaled on Ron's cock yet spread open before him. He needed no further instruction from Ron, who was incapable of coherent speech at that point anyway. He dove down, grasping Hermione's hips as he licked eagerly at her clit.

The touch of Harry's tongue on her center sent a jolt of pleasure through her and Hermione began to rock gently against his face. The movement made Ron gasp and he began to flex his hips up into Hermione. Harry moaned against them as his tongue licked around Ron's cock where it spread her nether lips, then moved back to her hard little bundle of nerves to nibble and suck. Hermione cried out, pushing against his mouth, against Ron's pelvis, and they pushed back, building a rhythm of sensation that passed back and forth between them until it built to a crescendo of pleasure that broke between Ron and Hermione, both of them coming at the same time.

Harry sat up and Hermione collapsed into his arms. He gently laid her down and looked at Ron, who was glassy-eyed and gulping for air. If he weren't so hard and horny he would think it was funny; as it was he was feeling slightly annoyed and not a little desperate. He lay next to Ron and began to stroke himself, but Ron, recovering from his stunned-with-pleasure state of mind, rolled over and patted his hand away. "Harry," he said, sliding his own hand over Harry's cock, "That was stupendous. Next time you can fuck her."

Hermione moaned, "Just give me a minute."

Ron asked, sounding impressed, "You can go again already? Hermione, you are incredible!" He moved away from Harry, leaving him hissing in frustration, and grabbed the pillows. "Sit up mate, this'll be worth the wait, I promise." He arranged them around and under Harry, eagerly making sure he was comfortable as Harry moved gingerly into position. Hermione, having recovered somewhat but cunt still throbbing, let Ron help her slide down onto Harry.

Harry's cock, thicker than Ron's, filled Hermione with different sensations and she began to shiver, little pulses of pleasure rippling through her body.

Harry nearly came immediately, feeling Hermione's hot, wet tunnel encasing him. He held absolutely still, wanting to feel Hermione come again, and moaned, "Ron, eat her now, I want to come when she does."

His words flickered through Hermione and she was impressed that in the middle of all this, when he was hard and aching and had already waited and watched and aided both she and Ron to orgasm, still he wanted to wait until she came again. The words lit a warmth in her belly separate from but attached to the fire already building. Ron's eager tongue, firmly licking her clit, lit a fuse within her and she could feel it burning closer and closer to explosion.

Ron felt rich, like it was Christmas Day and he had huge presents for them, that because of him they could enjoy such a feeling of joy and completion, he felt almost reverent as he bent to lick Hermione's moist folds, Harry's hot, swollen cock. He licked and sucked and slid his hands beneath Harry's arse, squeezing his globes and reveling in the joy of the moment. 'Yes,' he thought, 'this is what I want, forever.'

It was a matter of moments: the lit fuse burned down and Hermione exploded, rocking back as her pleasure, almost an electric shock, flashed through her. Her shuddering body, her intense cry of pleasure hit Harry directly in his belly and his orgasm hit him so hard he thought his heart would stop.

Ron eased Hermione off of Harry and for the first time felt three was too many, as he wanted to cuddle both in his arms and whisper soothing words in their ears. He knelt over them, petting their faces and murmuring "love you, love you," as he waited for them to recover. Finally Harry sighed deeply, rolling over and spooning behind Hermione, who curled into him as well.

"Ron, hold me," Harry muttered, and Ron obligingly spooned up behind Harry.

"Ron, you are wonderful," Hermione sighed happily, "I love you."

"Mmm, you and your ideas," Harry said, "Keep thinking, mate."

Ron fell asleep, glowing. Maybe it was Christmas after all.

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.

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Chapter Text

The Eighth Year by LouHQ

Chapter 12: Chapter 11: “Oh my dear, I shall find out. I have my sources, you know.” Saturday, September 5th, 1998

Author's Notes: I want to thank HystericalHystorian for her care of this site generally and her editing skills on my behalf. I also want to dedicate this chapter to my kids (though I'm not going to allow them to read my fanfic till they are thirty -- at least!). Two lines in here are lines that have become catchphrases in my family. Ten points to Gryffindor if you can figure out which ones!

You are very welcome, and thank you! HH



+++++

Ron bounced out of bed the next morning. "Come on, mate, Quidditch this morning!"

"Geroff."

"Harry, wake up, breakfast!"

Harry sat up groggily while Hermione rolled over and pulled a pillow over her head.

"Ron, its 6:30! We don't have to be on the pitch till 9!"

"Dean and I have to go early."

"Fine, go early, I'm going back to sleep."

"Awww, c'mon Harry."

"Sod off; I'm sleeping till at least 8."

Ron sighed with frustration and left the room. He had more sense than to try and wake anyone else; he had reminded everyone of their pitch time before going to bed – except Malfoy, he realized. He hadn't been around all night last night. He slipped a bit of parchment with the reminder under Malfoy's door, and another under Dean's so he would remember to come down to the pitch early. Then he shouldered his broom and went down to breakfast.

There were few students in the Great Hall this early. Most were Ravenclaws, but there were a few at each of the other tables as well, mostly younger. There were quite a lot of stares and whispers when he appeared in his Quidditch robes with his broom, but he ignored them in favor of eating slowly and well.

It was a gorgeous morning, cool and clear with just a bit of a breeze, and Ron was ready to fly. But he stood there for a minute, a bit depressed in spite of himself.

He wanted to fly with Harry, he realized. He loved to see Harry on a broom. He loved the way his hair flew around his face, how at ease he was in the air, how his hands and legs gripped the broom....

"Nice day for a fly, eh?"

"Harry!" Without thinking, Ron flung his arms around him and kissed him.

"Glad to see you too, mate, but you're mashing my toast."

"Erm, sorry. S'pose this is the kind of thing Hermione was worried about."

"Yeah, well, no one's around yet." Harry smiled.

"I thought you were going to sleep in."

"I couldn't fall back asleep." His smile widened to a grin. "I kept thinking about how good you look with a broomstick between your legs."

"I was thinking the same about you."

Harry looked at Ron, appreciating how the breeze played with his fine ginger-red hair, how his happiness lit up his electric blue eyes, how his lips parted just a bit.... Harry shook his head, feeling that familiar tide of warmth that was only part lust wash through him. "Ron," he said softly, seriously, but with a small smile, "Do you know how much I love you?"

Ron's blue eyes darkened. "I love you too, Harry." He leaned close. "Now, stop looking at me like that or I'm going to drag you to the broomshed and shag you senseless."

"You'd have to catch me first!" And Harry shot off on his Firebolt.

He's never catch Harry in a straight out race with his Cleansweep, so Ron didn't try. Instead he went through his paces, warming up his muscles and reacquainting his body with flight after a couple of days off. As he did, he spiraled higher and higher, keeping a half an eye on Harry, who zoomed back and forth, sometimes whipping around the pitch, sometimes streaking out over the lake. Sometimes flying close to Ron, Harry would taunt him; "C'mon, Ron, betcha can't catch me!" Ron would smile and Harry would zoom off again.

Finally, Harry pulled up next to him. "Not gonna try, huh?"

"Oh come on, Harry, chase your Firebolt with my Cleansweep? Why do something so futile when eventually – " and he goosed Harry's rump through his robes, "what I want comes to me?" He flew away, laughing.

Dean and Hooch were waiting at the base of the stands, and Ron flew down to them, thinking that this was going to be the best year ever at Hogwarts.

+++++

Ron wasn't so sure after Quidditch practice. Hannah didn't show up; Susan said she was sick but Ron knew it was from a hangover. Susan was sluggish and slow, and when Ron mentioned it she told him to stuff it up his arse. Malfoy and Harry got into a vicious argument over who was going to be Seeker. Ron said they could either flip a Knut for it or trade off, and they reluctantly chose to trade off, and flipped for the first game, which Harry won.

With Harry as Seeker, Ron as Keeper and Dean reprising his role as Chaser, that left 2 Chaser and 2 Beater positions open. Draco and Susan chose Chaser, leaving Terry and Justin as Beaters. Justin would have picked that position anyway, and Terry just shrugged and went along with it.

Then there was another blow-up when Ron tried to get everyone started. Susan, still angry over his earlier remarks, asked who died and elected him Merlin, and shouldn't they vote on captain. They finally agree that it should be someone who played Quidditch regularly; Dean and Harry point blank refused to do it, leaving Ron and Draco as possible candidates. Malfoy's history told against him as no one wanted to vote for him, so Ron got the job by default. It wasn't the ringing endorsement he would have liked but it was better than Malfoy running the show.

By the time that was all sorted there was barely an hour left, so Ron set them all to their respective jobs. He released the snitch for Harry, got Justin and Terry batting Bludgers back and forth and the Chasers passing the Quaffle around. After a quarter hour of these drills, he took his position and told his team, "Try and score, I dare you!"

They tried, Ron had to give them that. But his daydream of 8th Year glory went down in flames that morning. Terry and Justin let the Bludgers through about half the time, and since the Chasers weren't so good at dodging and carrying the Quaffle at the same time, they got hit, which made them drop the Quaffle and get mad at the Beaters. Ron was sure no one would be talking to him, or each other, by the time the practice was done. There were only two attempts at a goal and Ron saved them both easily.

They all trudged off the pitch, tired, sore and sweaty, and Susan asked, "Did you sign out the pitch for next Saturday morning too?" Ron nodded, sure that she was going to tell him that she wouldn't be there; after all, she had had to be talked into playing to begin with. But instead she suggested that he see if they could do another night that week, like Tuesday or Wednesday after dinner, as she thought she could use the practice. And everyone else agreed as they went off to shower, leaving him standing with his mouth hanging open.

Harry poked him. "I think they enjoyed it."

+++++

Hermione was in the study when she heard the door of the bedroom slam shut and guessed Ron and Harry were back from Quidditch practice. She expected them to come in to see her but they didn't, and she heard several thumps. Curious, she went through the connecting bath and peeked through the door.

Ron had Harry pinned to the wall, snogging him hard as Harry struggled against him. For a minute their mouths fought for domination, then Harry managed to push Ron back enough to spin him around so that Ron's back was against the wall. With an almost feral growl Harry latched onto Ron's throat and Ron tilted his head back, allowing Harry access as their fingers scrambled to undo their Quidditch robes.

As the robes dropped to the floor Harry backed off, leaving a red mark on Ron's neck, so that he could push Ron's jumper up and off. Ron did the same to Harry, then pushed him backwards to the bed, jumping on him and pinning him down as he began to bite and suck his way down Harry's body. Harry thrashed beneath him as Ron grabbed his trousers and pulled them off. As Ron's hands went to his zip, Harry grabbed him by the waistband and flung him down onto the bed next to him. Harry pulled Ron's trousers down and Ron kicked them off as Harry straddled him and began to thrust their cocks together. They grappled together and Ron rolled them over so that he was on top.

Till now their conversation was comprised of grunts and hissed curses. Now Hermione, her heart racing and with heat pooling in her abdomen, heard the first clear sentence between them.

"Harry, I want to fuck you."

It nearly brought her to her knees.

The lube smacked into Harry's hand in response to what Hermione knew was a silent, wandless Accio. Her hands were shaking as she gripped the doorframe tightly. 'I shouldn't be watching this,' she thought. She had watched them before, but this was different, they didn't know she was there. She eased back, shivering as she heard Harry hiss "Now, Ron, now!" and leaned against the bathroom wall, the tile cool against her hot face. But something inside of her had turned hard, frozen: a gelid lump of something not of jealousy but of sorrow, of loneliness. She shut her ears to the slapping of skin on skin, the hoarse grunts and breathy moans. She went back to her desk and sat staring, dry-eyed, at the wall.

+++++

She heard them in the shower, all laughter and horseplay, heard them talking in the bedroom as they cleared away their gear and dressed in clean clothes. Heard them tap on the study door as they walked in and she looked at them with a smile pasted on. They greeted her cheerfully and kissed her and petted her, like they usually did. They urged her from her chair to go to lunch with them, affectionate and teasing like always. Like everything was the same. Like nothing had changed.

Maybe it was just her.

+++++

Hermione insisted on going back to her books after lunch and the three of them tried out their study room together. Ron and Harry were beginning to think of it as 'Hermione's Study', since she had been using it all week, whereas they mostly used their desks to organize and store their work and books rather than a place to study.

Hermione was almost done with her assignments but there were classes she wanted to read ahead on. Harry was further behind than either Ron or Hermione. Since Sunday night was going to be a full moon, Remus had him preparing to take over his classes on Monday, so he needed to do that as well as his past week of school work. Plus he had to work ahead for Herbology, History of Magic and Research, which he was going to miss on Monday so he could teach for Remus.

Ron finished up the last of his work and had Hermione look over his essay (he had forgotten to include the effect of Mars on the offensive aspect of wards, i.e. the damage they do to the person attempting to breach them).

Ron took a short nap and then lured Hermione out for a walk. Harry refused, saying he needed to get through the lesson plans before their dinner with Lupin that night, so if he had any questions he could ask him then.

Ron and Hermione were running down the steps towards the lake when Hermione recognized the blond woman in the bottle green dress walking up the steps. She stopped short. "What are you doing here?"

Rita Skeeter smiled icily at her. "I'm here for the Daily Prophet," she said. "There's a good deal of interest in our young War Heroes returning to school." She got out her green quill from her handbag and poised it above the pad of paper. "And how are you and your fellow soldiers finding Hogwarts? Recovering from your ordeals? Found any love on the battlefields?"

Ron flinched but Hermione said, "Like anyone of us is going to tell you anything."

"Oh my dear, I shall find out. I have my sources, you know."

"Remember, Rita, no lies or half truths or I'm going straight to the Ministry."

She tossed her curls back and let out a tinkling little laugh. "Who needs a lie when the truth is so much better? Now if you'll excuse me I have an appointment with the Headmistress." Skeeter brushed by them and went into the castle.

Hermione gave a hard look after her, then shrugged. "McGonagall can handle her."

"I should think so! Come on, let's go."

It was a beautiful afternoon; all the more pleasant since they knew the warm weather wouldn't last much longer. They enjoyed talking with each, occasionally bickering in a friendly way as Ron couldn't resist teasing her, and Hermione couldn't help herself and had to snap back. But none of it was serious and before they knew it they had walked past the lake and up the hill towards the Forbidden Forest and Hagrid's hut. When they realized where they were, they sat on one of the stones jutting out from the hillside.

"I forgot, for a minute," Hermione said sadly. "As we were walking up here I thought, 'Oh, let's stop and see Hagrid' and then, well, I remembered." She sighed. "He was so exasperating-- baby dragons and flobberworms and blast ended skrewts. But he was kind, too. When you weren't talking to me because you thought Crookshanks ate Scabbers, he would give me tea and those awful scones and say 'Never you mind, Hermione, never you mind, he'll come 'round.'"

"Remember when he wanted you and Harry to take care of Grawp?"

Hermione choked, caught between laughing and crying. "I don't think he ever realized how terrified we were. If Grawp didn't do what we told him to, what could we do? Bite his ankle?"

Ron snorted. "Don't forget him sending me and Harry to talk to the spiders! Blimey! I didn't think we were going to get out of that one!"

"Or when he took you and Harry and Malfoy looking for the unicorn killer?"

A voice came from behind them. "Just how many times have you been in the Forbidden Forest?" They turned to see Beor standing behind them.

Hermione felt a wave of guilt; a teacher had found out that she had been breaking rules! But Ron shrugged and said "Dunno; we'd have to stop and add it up."

"Ron!"

"Oh, like he's going to expel us."

Beor came around to them. "Couldn't if I wanted to," he admitted. "It happened before I got here and it's all hearsay anyway."

"See?"

"I'm intrigued, I'll admit. Everyone tells me you're smart and how four of you took out Voldemort. It doesn't go with your principled reaction to weaponry."

"You're not angry about that?"

"No, not at all. You surprised me though. Threw me off balance. If I had been thinking I wouldn't have grabbed Mr. Potter for my little demonstration." Ron snickered and Hermione's lips twitched. "Go on and laugh, it's wasn't my brightest moment."

Ron laughed aloud and Hermione shook her head giggling. "You aren't the first to underestimate Harry."

"Where is Mr. Potter? I understand from McGonagall that you three are seldom parted."

Ron could feel his ears getting hot. What had McGonagall been saying? But Hermione, though blushing lightly, said evenly, "He's studying. He's Teacher's Assistant for Professor Lupin, and full moon is tomorrow night, so he'll have to take the Defense Against the Dark Arts classes on Monday."

"You don't seem concerned about him associating so closely with a werewolf."

Again Ron and Hermione tried to stifle their laughter. "Hardly!"

"Professor Beor, have you met Professor Lupin?"

"Only at staff meetings so far."

"He's an excellent teacher, and he's been a good friend to us for several years now."

"I was under the impression he was a last minute addition to the staff. I can't say I was happy to find out I'd be in such close quarters with a werewolf."

"He taught Defense Against the Dark Arts our Third Year."

"He's quite calm and relaxing to live with, actually."

"You lived with him?"

"For a bit during summer hols."

Beor shook his head. "You two are certainly an education. I've a feeling I'm going to learn as much from you as you are from me." He nodded at the cottage. "Join me for tea?" He was surprised to see them both turn white. "What's wrong?"

They both slid to their feet, unaware they were holding hands. Hermione choked out, "We can't, not yet."

"Not without Harry," Ron added.

"We, we were friends with Hagrid," Hermione said. "It's too soon. We appreciate the invitation."

"I'm sorry."

"Not your fault. We'll just -- go now. Maybe next time."

Beor watched them walk back towards the castle, still holding hands. At one point they stopped and hugged, and he could see them both wiping their eyes. Then they continued, no longer holding hands, and disappeared into the castle. He cursed himself for a fool, for pushing too hard. This was not the way to get closer to them, and Harry Potter.

+++++

Denny was waiting for them at the door to Gryffindor Tower, looking a bit disgruntled. "What's up, Denny?" Harry asked.

Denny grimaced. "My dorm mates think they're funny. They were taking the mickey out of me for having dinner with a professor and you all."

"Jealous prats."

"Yeah. I s'pose." He was quiet for a minute, then burst out, "They're a bunch of ignorant gits! Calling me a teacher's pet and asking if I'm the 8th Year's mascot!"

Ron swore and would have turned back to give them all a piece of his mind, but Hermione and Harry grabbed him. "Denny, I'm sorry," Harry said. "When I asked if you could come tonight I was thinking only that you would like it, not how your dorm mates would react. It's never easy being the odd one out."

"He's speaking from experience there."

"Like you weren't too."

"Hung around with you, didn't I?"

"Denny, are you top marks in your year?"

"Yeah, usually. Though there's a Ravenclaw girl that usually does better than me in potions. I can't slow down enough to do potions well. Otherwise, I don't think its because I work real hard. I just.... remember things."

"I know what it's like to be singled out that way."

"What did you do?"

"When you have friends --," she smiled at Ron and Harry, "you don't care what people like that say. It's all crap, Denny." The three boys looked slightly shocked at her language. "It's just a fact of life you have to endure." She gave her voice a portentous tone. "The arseholes will be with you, always."

There was a moment of silence, and Harry and Denny, the Muggle-born, burst out laughing. Grinning, Hermione knocked on Lupin's door.

+++++

Dinner went well. Denny's energy level, unmoderated by classroom etiquette, sometimes took Lupin aback, but Tonks had developed an instant liking for the young boy. Denny had been absolutely bowled over by Tonks and thought the Metamorphmagus was possibly the coolest person to walk the earth. After dinner Hermione and Ron coached Tonks through a reprise of her changing noses to Denny's great amusement. It gave Harry and Remus a few minutes of relative quiet to go over the study plans for Monday. Then they all sat down together and compared stories from their first week of school.

"Remus, what do you know about this Beor bloke? He doesn't seem to know much about the War."

"What do you mean?"

The trio related the story of Hermione's refusal to learn weaponry and Beor's attempt at a 'lesson' that threatened Harry, then his questions to Ron and Hermione that same afternoon. Denny, of course, thought it just proved Harry to be the best wizard in the world, but Ron was skeptical that someone who knew so little about the war could be the best teacher in self-defense.

Lupin shook his head. "All I know is that he had been working in a magical animal preserve of some sort in Ireland. He hasn't said much to me, but I've only seen him in a couple of staff meetings."

"He doesn't have an Irish accent."

"I didn't say he was Irish, just that that was his last job."

Tonks chased them out about 10:30, reminding them all that Remus needed a good night's sleep. On their way back to Gryffindor Tower, Denny asked if Professor Lupin was going to be all right. Not satisfied with the vague answers Harry gave him, he kept up with the questions until Harry gave in and explained that they had been at Remus's home the summer before and that they knew Tonks would take care of them.

"Are they married?"

"No, the Ministry won't allow werewolves to marry."

"Well, that's not right! Is somebody doing something about that?"

Ron and Harry grinned and Hermione laughed and hugged him. Denny seemed equally embarrassed and pleased by her reaction. Just before he slipped through the portrait door, Harry said, "Denny, come by the 8th Year dorm whenever you want. We can't make your year mates less stupid, but remember, you're one of Dumbledore's Army."

+++++




Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.

This story archived at Table for Three - http://www.triofic.com/viewstory.php?sid=221

Chapter Text

The Eighth Year by LouHQ

Chapter 13: Chapter 12: “I don’t know, but I like it. Not all the time, but rough can be fun too.” Sunday and Monday, Sept. 6th and 7th

Author's Notes:


+++++

Hermione woke slowly Sunday morning, early as usual. She carefully slipped from the bed to wash up and dress. She stood for a moment looking at the two boys still in bed. Harry lay curled on his side, facing the empty spot Hermione had filled, breathing lightly and evenly, one hand creeping out as if seeking warmth. Ron sprawled out, one foot hanging off the side of the bed, one arm flung over Harry, snoring softly.

Last night they had gone to bed after walking Denny back to his dorm, and they had cuddled and talked for hours. They talked about Denny at first, agreeing that Hermione would talk to the Gryffindor prefects about his dorm mates and that they would make a point of asking him over to their dorm regularly. Then they segued into the effect of the war on the rest of their dorm mates: Neville's increased self-confidence, Hannah's drinking, Ernie's overbearing attitude. "Though, dunno if we can blame that on the war; he was always a pompous git," was Ron's comment.

The three of them agreed that they were doing much better; as far as the nightmares went, Hermione was, too. The nightmares were getting fewer and further between for all three of them. She hadn't told them, however, about the anxiety attacks she had had. It was easy to conceal them, as she had been alone when they came on her. She shivered a bit, remembering the slowly building pressure in her chest, like a vise closing so that she couldn't breathe, the increasing feeling that something was wrong, something horrible was coming, someone was watching her, following her. Twice she had regained control of herself, once a group of students interrupted her (and thankfully didn't notice her odd behavior) and once Nearly Headless Nick popped out of the wall and she was able to pass it off as being startled by him. She almost felt guilty about how apologetic he had been.

Hermione took her Ancient Runes book with her to breakfast. She was surprised to see Justin already there. He waved his Runes book at her as she sat down and poured herself some tea. He obligingly slid the basket of scones over to her, and they studied in companionable silence for a while.

Draco came in next, looking rather happy for a change. He sneered slightly at both of them as he sat down. "Where's the rest of the queer contingent then?"

Hermione stiffened but Justin yawned. "Including yourself in our little group, Malfoy?"

"Are you as thick as Weasley then? I've told you, I'm not gay."

"Neither am I."

"No, you're a beard. Isn't that what they call it?"

"I prefer fag hag, though it isn't quite right, as Harry and Ron are bi, not gay."

"Whatever your sick little threesome is up to, I don't want to know about it."

"Then why do you keep bringing it up, Malfoy? Better latent than never?" Justin and Hermione looked at each other and laughed. Draco snorted in irritation and, wrapping several scones in a napkin, marched out of the Great Hall.

"He doesn't finish many meals, does he? That's one way to keep his girlish figure."

"Does he annoy you and Terry? What with sharing bathrooms and all?"

"No, I don't think it's really homophobia with him, though he's a bit twitchy about getting painted with the same pink brush. He mostly uses the gay card when you three are around. "

"And you and Terry get caught in the crossfire. Sorry about that."

"Not your fault. I'd rather deal with Malfoy than MacMillan any road."

"I heard about Friday night."

"I don't know what his problem is; none of us want his sorry arse."

"Maybe that's his problem."

"Hermione, do you mind if I ask you a personal question?"

"You can ask."

"Fair enough. Are you bi too?"

"Honestly, Justin, aren't two boyfriends enough? I don't think I could handle yet another lover! No, seriously, I'm not. I've admired some girls physically, and I'm not against it, but I haven't met a woman that I'm attracted to, not the way I'm attracted to the boys, and blokes in general. How about you?"

"Same thing, I guess. When the others in my dorm started talking about girls, I just didn't feel the same way. I appreciate girls aesthetically, but not sexually."

"So when did you and Terry get together?"

"Beginning of last year. We had always been friends but he had been dating girls, so I thought he was straight, in spite of, you know, the feeling I was getting from him."

"Your gaydar was pinging."

"Yeah, well, like I said, we were friends and when there was all that Death Eater activity going on, there was one night we both couldn't sleep and sat up in the common room until almost dawn, talking about what we were going to do if it got worse. He had just broken up with his last girlfriend and said one of the reasons was that he didn't want to be involved with anyone if it came down to fighting, and he asked me if my not dating had to do that. I said no, not really, and we just sort of looked at each other. Spent the entire summer Owling, and I knew I was in love with him but was afraid to do or say anything about it. Everyone I had been involved with before had been just for the sex. Coming back to Hogwarts last year, we met on the platform, rode on the train and in the same carriage, went to the feast, all without saying more than 5 words to each other or hardly looking at each other. I thought that he had figured out I was attracted to him and was embarrassed or disgusted. I went up to the dorm early and he came up right after, and said, 'I better do this before the rest of the blokes come up,' and he pushed me against the wall and kissed me."

"Wow. Say, what is it with blokes pushing each other around like that?"

"I don't know, but I like it. Not all the time, but rough can be fun too."

"Huh."

"So how did it all come together for you three? Did two of you get together first and then bring in the third or did you start out as a threesome?"

"Well, Ron and I had been attracted to each other for a long time, but by the time we actually acknowledged it we were both aware of our feelings towards Harry as well. It's been the three of us as friends for so long, I couldn't fathom any part of my life without them both. And it was all tied up with looking for the Horcruxes and Voldemort and the Death Eaters and the War.... So we talked about it and then Ron and I talked to Harry – separately -- and we, well, we started working towards being together. But we were together too, I mean, we shared rooms and living quarters and tents. But we didn't start having sex beyond some snogging until all of us were committed to it."

"In it for the long run, are you?"

"Oh, yes."

Dean, Neville and Luna came in, followed a short time later by Terry, then Harry, then Susan and Hannah, who looked rather green. Conversation remained general for a while, but lapsed when Ernie sat down. Hermione and Justin waited for their significant others, then walked back to the dorm with Dean and Neville, Luna trailing after them, leaving the Hufflepuffs sipping tea and chatting at the table.

Harry and Hermione had pocketed some scones that they brought to Ron, still sleeping in their bedroom. The Leach spell he had caught during the final battle meant he still needed more food and sleep than his fellows, though he wasn't quite as bony as when they had left St. Mungo's. He was still softly snoring, so they left him to his dreams and joined the others in the common room.

After Ron woke up, they decided on a picnic and got supplies from the kitchen before stealing off to a remote cove in the lake. It was a pleasant afternoon, laying in the sun, talking, teasing, with a little discrete snogging added. They came back early enough that Harry and Ron talked Hermione into flying around a bit and when she declared herself done for the day she let them zoom around the pitch for awhile before they all headed back into the castle for dinner.

+++++

Monday was Harry's first time he was taking over Remus's classes and he was very nervous about it, even though he had detailed lesson plans for each of them. Fortunately he had overseen each of the 4 classes before so he wasn't unknown to them.

The first class was Slytherin and Ravenclaw 4th years.

"You went over Doxies and Dugbogs last class and read about them over the weekend. I've got a short test to see how well you absorbed the information, then we'll start the overview on Dragons. Before the test, any questions?

"Professor Potter?"

"Mister Potter, please, I'm not a professor."

"Mr. Potter, is Professor Lupin all right?"

Fortunately Harry was prepared for that. "Yes, he is. I got a note from him this morning. He is resting comfortably and will be back to teaching tomorrow."

"Was he here last night?"

Harry frowned. "Not my business, nor yours. Are there any questions about Doxies or Dugbogs? No? Well, let's get on with the test then."

With variations, this was repeated in each class. First they wanted to be sure Remus was all right, THEN they were curious about something that affected their own safety. He reported that when he checked in with Remus after dinner, delivering the corrected tests and a synopsis of how the classes had gone. Remus thought he had done well and told him so, but cautioned that things might get harder, rather than easier, in the future.

"After one or two months the children will feel that they know you and your limits, and will start to push those limits. October is when the trouble starts."

+++++

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.

This story archived at Table for Three - http://www.triofic.com/viewstory.php?sid=221

Chapter Text

The Eighth Year by LouHQ

Chapter 14: Chapter 13: “No, I’m nude. I get tired of wearing clothes. Does that make you uncomfortable?” Tuesday, 9/8 through Friday, 9/18

Author's Notes:


+++++

"Mr. Weasley?"

The trio stopped on their way out of the Great Hall after dinner Tuesday. Headmistress McGonagall was walking toward them from the front of the Hall.

"Please follow me. Ms. Granger and Mr. Potter may accompany you if you wish."

The three of them exchanged Looks and followed the Headmistress to the antechamber to the Great Hall, where they found the new caretaker, Mr. Russell, with a mid-size box.

"Mr. Russell found this box in the storage room and brought it to me. I believe it should go to you, Mr. Weasley."

Ron opened the box and looked inside. Photos, bits of parchment, clippings from the Daily Prophet. "These are....these were....Ginny's."

McGonagall nodded. "Her effects were sent home after the attack on Hogwarts. However, this was found later. We thought you might wish to have it."

Ron was white under his freckles. "Thank you, Headmistress," he whispered. He took the box, carrying it like it might explode, and they went to their room, not saying a word.

Ron set the box gently on the bed, and they all sat around it. Harry and Hermione looked at him, and he took a deep breath. "Okay," he said. "Let's see what's in here."

The first thing was a Hogwarts envelope addressed to .... Harry. "Why is this in here?" Harry asked, mystified. In it was Harry's book list from his second year. "Oh, Mrs. Weasley took my book list when we went to Diagon Alley. Ginny must have kept it."

Beneath that were a dozen or so pictures that they recognized as Colin Creevey's work from Ginny and Colin's first year at Hogwarts. There were a couple of Ginny and her dorm mates, one of Ron and Harry, another of the three of them together, two more of Hermione and three of Harry. There was a hilarious one of Hagrid and Fang, where Hagrid was sitting in front of his cottage and Fang was licking his face. Fred and George in the common room. Then there was a slip of parchment with the Dursleys' phone number. "You gave this to me when we got off the train at the end of the year," Ron said. "When I called you at the Dursleys' it was such a disaster I left it on the kitchen table. She must have picked it up."

Next out of the box was the clipping from the Daily Prophet that showed the Weasley family in Egypt. More pictures, several of Harry flying. Fred and George posing with their brooms and beater bats. A Hippogriff feather. "Bet this is from Buckbeak," Hermione said.

Next were a battered green rosette and a program from the Quidditch World Cup. More Creevey pictures of Harry. ("I told you they would be your fan club, Harry!") The menu for the feast at the Yule Ball. A picture of Ginny and Neville, dressed for the Ball and looking a bit stiff. Fred and Angelina and George and Alicia, in their dress robes. Harry and Ron with the Patil twins, Ron looking very sullen and Padma a bit desperate. Hermione with Krum, smiling at each other. Ron promptly tossed it to the side. Then there were the Rita Skeeter articles about Harry from that year. More pictures: students from Ginny's year, she and Neville again, this time in the common room and looking much more relaxed. Hermione reading. Ron and Harry playing chess.

Then there were two pictures of Ginny with Michael Corner, one at the dinner table in the Great Hall and the other in Hogsmeade. The D.A. galleon. Harry swallowed hard, holding it in his hand. A couple of the lumpy knitted hats Hermione had made and left out for the House Elves. Hermione started to sniffle. A picture of Gilderoy Lockhart, one of the ones from when they saw him at St. Mungo's when he had just relearned 'joined-up writing'. A picture of Luna and Ginny in the Room of Requirement during a D.A. meeting. A group picture of the D.A. A copy of Harry's Quibbler interview. A picture of Ginny catching the Snitch. One of Ron being carried up to the castle after the team won the Quidditch Cup while he was Keeper. A wrapper from a box of George and Fred's fireworks. A tear rolled down Ron's cheek as he reached back into the box. Pressed between two sheets of parchment, a bit of marsh grass. The Prophet article about the return of Voldemort after the battle in the Department of Mysteries.

The next was a parchment with a drawing of Ginny on it. It was a simple pencil sketch, but it captured her expression beautifully. "D.T." said Hermione, pointing at the lower corner. Ron nodded. "Dean Thomas." A handful of other sketches, obviously done quickly but very well, of Ginny, of Ginny and Hermione looking at a book together in the common room, Ginny holding her Pygmy Puff. Then there was a pamphlet on the care and feeding of Pygmy Puffs and an advertising flyer from Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes. A piece of parchment with the line-up for Gryffindor team that year. More pictures by Colin Creevey, including one of Ginny scoring during a game and one of her spectacular crash into the commentator's box at the end of the Gryffindor/Slytherin match. They all laughed through their tears at that. Then there was a note Harry had passed to Ginny asking her to walk around the lake after dinner, and a picture of the four of them, sitting together in the common room, Ginny leaning against Harry.

At the bottom of the box were the Marauder's Map, the empty bottle of Felix Felicis, and the dried flowers from Ginny's bouquet for Bill and Fleur's wedding.

They reached for each other's hands and for awhile just sat there, not crying so much as simply grieving anew their loss, for Ginny was something different for each of them. Ron's little sister, Hermione's best girl friend, Harry's first love. Finally Harry slid off the bed and retrieved tissues for all of them.

"I think we should give some of these pictures to some of the people in them." Ron said softly.

"Yes, but, you pick some first," murmured Hermione. Ron pulled out the picture of Ginny's crash, then picked four or five other pictures. Hermione picked the drawing of her and Ginny, the picture of the four of them in the common room and the picture of her and Krum, ignoring Ron's scowl. Harry chose the picture of Hagrid and Fang and one of the three of them from 2nd Year, and the Marauder's Map.

Then they sorted through them again. Fred and George's stuff in one pile, Dean's drawings and pictures in another. Another pile for Luna, another for Neville. Hermione rescued the one of Harry and Ron with Padma and Parvati over their protests, saying she was going to send it to the twins in India. Ron picked out the group picture of the D.A., wondering aloud if he could get copies made. Harry was reminded of a photo of some of the members of the Order of the Phoenix and bit his lip even as he nodded. They also picked out an assortment of the photos to give to Dennis, and some for the rest of the Weasley family. Eventually it was all sorted out.

Gathering up the piles of pictures, they went out to the common room. Only Ernest, Hannah and Susan were there. The trio went down the other hallway, Ron and Harry stopping at Neville and Dean's door, and Hermione continuing to Luna's. When she heard a "Come in" in response to her knock, she opened the door.

Luna was lying on her stomach on her bed, stark naked, book in front of her.

"Oh, hi, Hermione."

"Um, is this a bad time?"

"No, I'm just reading."

Hermione was looking all around the room, terribly embarrassed. Of course Luna was totally oblivious. "We got some old pictures of Ginny's, some that Colin Creevey took. I brought you the ones we thought you might like."

"Oh, that's very thoughtful of you. It'll be sad to see them but I like to remember Ginerva." Luna sat up and patted the bed next to her. "Let's see them then."

Hermione edged over towards her and held them out, still not looking at Luna. Luna looked at her quizzically. "Hermione, is something wrong?"

"Um, Luna, you, um, you're naked."

"No, I'm nude. I get tired of wearing clothes. Does that make you uncomfortable?"

"Well, yes, yes it does."

"Would you like to take yours off or do you want me to put some on?"

Hermione resisted rolling her eyes and reminded herself that this was Luna she was talking to. "I'd prefer it if you would put some clothing on, please."

"All right," Luna agreed cheerfully. She got up, got a dressing robe out of her wardrobe and slipped it on. "Nudity not only helps you adsorb magical radiances, but also prevents googlemites from nesting in your pores."

"Yes, of course," agreed Hermione, more self-confident now that the other woman was at least partially covered. "You just surprised me is all."

Luna looked through the pictures Hermione had picked out for her. "I did so like Ginerva Weasley. She was always nice to me. Once she told off my dorm mates for calling me 'Looney'. She said that just because people had different interests it was no reason to be insulting. She sometimes had a bad temper. I saw her hex a boy for saying that Potter was off his nut when the Prophet was spreading those stories about him. It was a very powerful hex. She cared for Potter very much. I was surprised she was so calm about it when they broke up. I wonder what she would have thought of you three. Oh, this one was during a D.A. meeting. Creevey liked her you know."

"He did?"

"Oh, yes. He had lots of pictures of her."

"Well, that's true."

"And they both liked to talk about Harry. I think they wouldn't have minded a threesome with him."

"Luna!"

"Yes?"

"Never mind. I'm going to study Ancient Runes."

"Thanks for the pictures."

"You're welcome."

She was back in their study for almost an hour when Harry came in.

"Hullo, love."

"Been with Dean and Neville all this time?"

"With Dean; Neville wasn't there. Dean liked the pictures and was glad to see the sketches. He was quite proud we wanted to keep some of them and ended up showing us several of his sketchbooks. He's very good. How did it go with Luna?"

"Fine."

"What?"

"Oh, it was just, you know, Luna! Started off with her starkers."

"What?!"

"As the day she was born. Said that it prevented googlemites nesting in your pores."

"Uh-huh."

"Anyway, she liked the pictures. Said Colin liked Ginny and the two of them would have liked a three way with you."

Harry turned bright red and Hermione giggled. "I love Luna. She can be so disconcerting while you're talking to her, but afterwards? I love her. So, where's Ron?"

"Still with Dean. Neville still wasn't back and they started talking about flying class with Hooch and I decided I better work on the Transfiguration essay. Mind if I join you?"

"Not at all!"

+++++

It was an hour later when Ron came in and kissed them both, then tossed himself into his desk chair to work on his Transfiguration essay. At 10 Harry and Ron played a game of chess and then insisted that Hermione come to bed with them, where they cuddled and talked about Ginny until they drifted off.

Ron dreamed:

He was playing Quidditch. Fred and George were beaters, Alicia, Angelina and Dean were chasing, and Harry circled around. The other team was wearing masks, not the Death Eater ones, plain dominos covering their eyes.

He watched as the teams wove around each other. One by one the other team lost their masks. Seamus and Colin and Katie. Michael and Anthony. Zach and Marietta. He ignored them, though it felt like his heart was shredding inside him. He had to protect the goals! He dodged around, saving goal after goal, until the last masked player came out of nowhere and whipped past him like he was standing still. The Quaffle went through the hoop as neat as you please, and he turned to look at the chaser who showed him up so badly.

Ginny pulled up next to him, smiling broadly. "Game's not done, brother dear." She looked at the goal hoops, and he turned to follow her glance. Harry, Hermione and Draco were standing in the hoops, waving at him. He looked back at Ginny, but she was gone.

Harry dreamed:

He was teaching Dumbledore's Army in the Room of Requirement and everyone was there. One by one, those that had died disappeared. When there were just the survivors left, he heard a knock on the door. Everyone froze and Harry walked up to the door, but hesitated to open it. Ron and Hermione came up behind him, wands drawn. Then he heard Ginny's voice from the hallway.

"Open the door Harry."

He opened it, and Draco Malfoy stood in the doorway.

Hermione dreamed:

She was leaving the library with an armload of books, passing members of the D.A. in the hallway. When she got to the portrait door of Gryffindor Tower, she realized that everyone she had passed were dead. She turned around, but the hallway behind her was empty. The portrait door swung open and all the 8th Years were there, even the ones from different houses.

+++++

The partial week of school last week was just a taste of things to come. Between his own classes and the DADA classes Harry felt he was constantly on the verge of slipping behind. When Ron reminded him of the extra Quidditch practice on Wednesday night, he almost refused, regretting the time it would take.

This time Harry played Chaser while Malfoy took the Seeker position, and he found it harder than he expected to hang onto the Quaffle. Hannah and Susan had an even harder time however, and they yelled at each other and at him, and when Ron tried to give them some tips, they yelled at him. Susan's language in particular was inventive and he had to hide his face lest he be accused of laughing at them. Terry fell off his broom swinging at a Bludger but Justin broke his fall, then they both broke their bats when they swung at the same bludger and missed, slamming their bats together instead. Ron blocked every attempt at a goal, but at least there were a number of attempts, and a few of Harry and Dean's came close. After practice the entire team gathered in the hot tub and talked Quidditch until they were yawning and pruney. Harry found it very relaxing and agreed with Ron that it was worth it.

Harry was following his classes fairly well, though staying awake in History of Magic was still a struggle. 7th year classes focused on wandless and/or silent spell casting, and the war experience ensured that the 8th years had this pretty well down pat, although several people were still moving their lips. Harry was by far best at silent, wandless spells, just needing his wand and voice when learning new spells. There were plenty of those. The charms, spells and potions they were learning were quite advanced. Charms and Transfiguration were going well, Astronomy and Herbology was fine, and the class on Research was interesting. Potions was difficult because Slughorn was still treating him like a celebrity and a potions whiz, even though Harry had told him about the 'Half-Blood Prince' book.

Helping Remus with the Defense Against The Dark Arts classes was extremely rewarding but very challenging, even exhausting at times. Remus was revamping the entire program and was constantly bouncing ideas off of him and questioning assumptions. The idea was to prepare students to not only defend themselves from an outright attack, but to teach them to examine what they were told so they could think for themselves. It was daunting, but Remus reassured him that he didn't expect the remodeling of the class to be truly finished for several years.

Harry made sure he always had meals with Hermione and Ron. He knew Ron wanted to spend more time with him and Hermione, but couldn't manage much throughout the week. He made a point of stopping his studies by 10 each night and seeking out his loves. Hermione was usually still studying, but Ron would be ready for a game of chess or a nice shag.

He was busy, but he knew if he just kept on top of things he could handle it.

+++++

Ron would have been enjoying his 8th year at Hogwarts much better if it weren't for the classes.

Not that he was doing so badly. He worked hard on the lessons he was assigned and was doing passably well. He was probably the worst at non-verbal spells, and he could only do wandless spells if he swished and flicked his pointer finger as if it was a wand. But as far as he was concerned, the classes were the price he had to pay to be with his loves and to play and talk Quidditch.

He understood that Harry and Hermione needed the mental stimulation of the classes and that they were truly interested in the subjects. They needed these classes and their N.E.W.T.s to get to where they wanted to go. He wanted them to reach their goals because they were worthwhile and he wanted them to be happy. But for him, his primary subjects were Harry and Hermione.

And then came flying, and Quidditch.

If he couldn't spend all his time with Harry and Hermione, flying and Quidditch were his consolation and reward. He found he enjoyed coaching the least skilled flyers and loved seeing them improve. He had the time and impetus, no, DUTY, to practice and refine his own flying skills. He enjoyed working with Dean, who had the same relaxed attitude towards life that he did. Madam Hooch turned out to be a kindred spirit, and the three of them had long discussions about flying in general and Quidditch in particular.

Despite the continuing arguments on his team, he was enjoying practicing with them and being their captain. He had spent enough time with Harry during his stint as captain that he had some ideas regarding leading a team.

He knew that his team was mostly inexperienced players. Even Harry and Malfoy would be playing an unfamiliar position half the time. The day after their first Wednesday practice, he brought an extra Quaffle to the common room and tossed it to Susan.

"Here's the deal. You can throw it to anyone of your fellow chasers, including Malfoy and Harry. In the halls, here in our dorm, not in classes or in the Great Hall, or if you do, don't get caught. Justin and Terry will try and block it. If anyone else interferes, that's fine, consider it a natural hazard. This is to get you all used to passing it and carrying it."

They grumbled and argued at first, of course, but they did it, and their ball handling skills improved.

He also had them read some Quidditch books, and they complained about that too. But they did it anyway, and he saw their understanding of the game increase.

He stayed busy enough that his time away from Harry and Hermione wasn't too onerous. At least he had his classes with Harry, and then they had Quidditch together. Harry always finished his work by 10, and they would try to get Hermione to stop then, too. Predictably, she almost always insisted on studying later. It was disappointing, but he didn't mind the chess games, blowjobs or shags he shared with Harry. He missed Hermione though, and he knew Harry did, too.

+++++

Hermione was enjoying her classes more than ever. Her constant research over the past year had put her well ahead of any other 7th or 8th year. The only other person who came close was Justin, who was not only naturally brilliant but also had good study habits and self-discipline. Since they were the only two 8th years in both Ancient Runes and Arithmancy, they often studied together. Justin was Teacher's Assistant for Ancient Runes so his schedule was as busy as hers; in fact, it was worse since he also played Quidditch. They often studied together, and Hermione was usually up until midnight or later.

Her thorough understanding of the back ground and foundation of each spell made it relatively easy for her to learn new spells and potions, but could only do silent spells when she knew the spell very well, and she had a hard time working without her wand.

Working with Madam Indigo in Research was wonderful. She was learning about new sources of information everyday. Madam Indigo even invited her to go along to London the second weekend to pick up some new books for the library and visit an elderly witch with a collection of rare books. She also had some new spells for the upkeep of the library in general and the books in specific: spells that repaired damaged bindings, renewed dried out parchment and repelled dust. Already the library was brighter, more usable and less likely to bring on allergy attacks.

The same wasn't true though for her anxiety attacks. The third week of school Madam Indigo caught her in the midst of one and didn't believe her when she tried to dismiss it. She hustled Hermione to her office and pressed a cup of tea into her hands. "Now then, Ms. Granger, what's this all about?"

"Really, it's nothing, I was just a bit light headed is all."

"Pull the other one, it's got bells on."

"What?"

"Never mind. Let's see, you seemed to have trouble breathing, you were pale and sweaty, your hands were shaking and you were almost hiding behind that stack of books. Let me guess, you were feeling scared, in a panic, for no reason you could see."

"Yes, but, how – "

"Have you had these before?"

"Y-yes."

The librarian reached into her desk drawer and brought out a package of biscuits. "Have a couple," she instructed the pale young woman. "It might just be low blood sugar and I don't want you collapsing on the way to see Madam Pomfrey."

"I don't need to see her!"

"Hermione, don't make me make it an order."

At the use of her first name by the woman she was coming to respect as much as the Headmistress, Hermione's eyes watered and she ducked she head. "No, Madam Indigo, I'll go."

"That's better. Now eat and drink a bit. You know, I think it's time you drop the Madam part. Just call me Indigo, that's what my friends call me. Oh, I suppose around the kids you should still. My first name is Porphyra, I hate it, all my friends just use my surname."

"Do you know Nymphadora Tonks?"

"Believe I do. I think she was a first year when I was a 4th. Why?"

"She only uses her surname too."

"Good on her! How do you know her? The last I heard she was going into Auror training."

"She's an auror for the Ministry. She's living with Professor Lupin."

Indigo choked on her tea. "What? But she's -- ! But he's -- ! Oh goodness!"

They spent a companionable 10 minutes gossiping, but if Hermione thought Indigo forgot her anxiety attack, she was mistaken,

"Well, I certainly will have a bit of a chat with Professor Lupin the next time I see him. Now then. Feeling a bit more stable? Good. Off to Madam Pomfrey then, and mind, tell her everything."

Hermione walked slowly to the Hospital Wing, dreading it every step of the way. She peeked into the infirmary, hoping no one was there. All was quiet. She crept through the large open room, past the empty beds, to Madam Pomfrey's office door, which was slightly ajar. Maybe she wasn't there. Maybe she was out. Maybe....

"Can I help you!"

Hermione jumped and turned. Madam Pomfrey was entering the Infirmary with several potion vials in her hands.

"Madam Pomfrey, can I t, t, talk to you?" Hermione's voice broke on the last word and the healer hurried forward to usher the young woman into her office.

+++++

Hermione insisted that Madam Pomfrey NOT tell Ron and Harry about her anxiety attacks. While Madam Pomfrey was reluctant to agree, she acknowledged that it was Hermione's decision and she would abide by it. She prescribed a daily potion and insisted that Hermione come in twice a week to talk to her.

She knew she should tell Harry and Ron, but just couldn't bring herself to do it.


Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.

This story archived at Table for Three - http://www.triofic.com/viewstory.php?sid=221

Chapter Text

The Eighth Year by LouHQ

Chapter 15: Chapter 14: “I appreciate the courtesy Mr. Potter, but the school regulations are the least of my concerns.” Friday, September 18th.

Author's Notes: Short chapter, the next installment will either be one long chapter or 2 or 3 short ones. Leaving tomorrow to visit family, so it'll be at least a week before the next update, maybe more, even though the story is practically leaking out my fingers. And remember, reviews cause writing.
(18/10/06)


+++++

As usual, Harry and Hermione went down to breakfast together. Hermione was her chipper self; Harry, as normal, a bit groggy. Justin and Neville were also at the table, but only Justin and Hermione were up to a conversation. Since it was about Arithmancy, Harry let the words flow in one ear and out the other, as none of them would have made sense to him anyway. When Hermione finished her porridge, she turned back to Harry.

"Still with me?" Hermione asked, amused. Harry nodded. "I'm going to spend most of today in the library. Indigo has me researching some stuff for McGonagall, and then I want to get as much of my homework done as I can. It's the first time in a long time tomorrow lands on a Saturday when we can actually spend time celebrating, so I want to be able to finish my work by the time you and Ron are done with Quidditch. Then we can spend the rest of the day together."

Harry smiled. "That'll be great!"

Hermione gathered up her books. "You know where to find me." She squeezed his hand in lieu of a kiss and bounced off out of the Great Hall.

Justin was shuffling through some notes. "So, Harry, what's tomorrow that it being a Saturday is important?

"Dunno, I ...." Harry froze. A look of horror crossed his face. "Justin," he asked hoarsely, "What's the date today?"

"September 18th."

"Shit!"

"Shhhh! What is it?"

"Tomorrow's Hermione's birthday."

"And you and Ron forgot."

"Yes! We are so dead!" He buried his face in his hands.

"Well, you've today to think of something. Let me know if I can help."

"I gotta go get Ron." Harry leapt out of his seat.

"Harry, wait! Don't you have Assisting with Lupin this morning?"

"Argh! Do you have a bit of parchment I could use?" Harry borrowed Justin's quill to dash off a quick note and flagged down a Hufflepuff third year who was in his first class, instructing her to take the note to Professor Lupin. Then he grabbed a dozen scones and some fruit before he tore out of there, making quick work of the hallways between the Great Hall and the 8th Year dorm.

"Ron! Ron, wake up!"

"Bloody hell! Harry, what's wrong?"

"We have one day to save our lives!"

"Harry, what is it? Death Eaters? Dementors?"

"Hermione's birthday is tomorrow!"

"We are so dead."

+++++

The rest of the morning was a mess of frenetic planning punctuated by floo calls, owls and 2 trips to the kitchen. They arrived at lunch late, dodged Hermione's questions and ran off to the Assisting duties they couldn't get out of. Fortunately their teachers were understanding and let them go early, especially when Harry realized, in the middle of helping a 2nd year with a fire suppression charm, that they had forgotten buying birthday presents. After relighting all the candles, torches and fireplaces in the Defense classroom and Lupin's office, Remus told Harry to get out. Being Remus, however, he winked and added, "See you tomorrow."

Justin's aid was called upon as well as the rest of the 8th Years, in order to speed communications and store things away from an inquisitive Hermione. After a dinner where Susan and Hannah couldn't stop giggling and the rest of them were smirking and exchanging significant looks, Justin lured Hermione off to work on Arithmancy, and Draco said he'd join them. Suspicious, Ron pulled him aside.

"Don't blow the surprise, Malfoy."

"You really think well of me if you think I'd deliberately do that, Weasel."

"Whatever, Malfoy, just keep your gob shut." Draco scowled and stalked after Justin and Hermione.

"That.... was a bit over the top, don't you think?" Harry said uncertainly.

"Whatever. I wouldn't put it past him to try to spoil it for us."

"I don't think so. Anyway, let's see if McGonagall is in a good mood today."

They approached the head table with some trepidation. Usually if the three of them needed to interact with the teachers, especially McGonagall and excepting Lupin, it was Hermione who handled it. None of the teachers could say 'No' to the girl that regularly got 114% on her exams.

But this time it was FOR Hermione, so Ron and Harry took a deep breath as they stopped before McGonagall.

"Headmistress?"

"Gentlemen?" Her expression was slightly suspicious.

"We need to get a birthday present for Hermione."

"We'd like to go to Hogsmeade, but we thought we should check with you first."

"So you realize that I can't forbid it if you decide to go against my wishes."

"I thought we should ask; it's only polite."

"I appreciate the courtesy, Mr. Potter, but the school regulations are the least of my concerns."

Ron stored that away. He couldn't wait to tell Hermione that McGonagall said that.

"My concern is about your safety. There is going to be an article in this week's Sunday Prophet about Hogwarts that will include information about the 8th Year class as well as the curriculum changes. Some of the story has already leaked out to certain elements of our society, including the fact that you, Mr. Potter, are here along with Mr. Weasley and Ms. Granger. The three of you, with Mr. Malfoy, are quite probably the people the remaining Death Eaters would most like to.... retaliate against. While they can't enter Hogwarts, I'm sure they will be in Hogsmeade. Can I convince you to take a teacher with you? Or maybe two?"

Harry looked over the staff table. "Where's Re – I mean, Professor Lupin?"

"He went home, but will be back for tomorrow evening, along with Auror Tonks."

"Maybe Madam Indigo?"

"She would be an acceptable escort. Go ahead and ask."

With some apprehension they walked down the table where Madam Indigo was talking to Mr. Beor. To their relief she was happy to walk to Hogsmeade with them. Surprisingly, Mr. Beor volunteered to go with them.

Harry took deep breaths of the cool evening air. It was a beautiful early evening. Indigo and Beor were walking ahead of them and Harry deliberately let his footsteps drag a bit until he and Ron were a way behind. He brushed his hand against Ron's, and Ron smiled at him.

"Hey."

"Hey, you."

"Forget something else today."

"Oh, gods. What?"

"To tell you I love you."

Ron's smile widened. "I love you, too."

Harry had to look away. "Damn, don't look at me like that."

"Why not?" Ron's voice dropped an octave.

"Makes me want to snog you."

Ron chuckled low. "All day today, planning all this with you, made me glad that it's the three of us, you know? Doing this alone would have driven me mad. Instead it was fun, 'cause I was doing it with you."

Harry bumped Ron with his shoulder, Ron bumped him back and they both started laughing as Indigo and Beor turned around and she called out, "C'mon, you slackers!"

They sped up and Harry asked, "So are you both going to come to the party after dinner tomorrow?"

"Sure," Indigo said, nodding, but Beor frowned slightly.

"Are you sure she wants teachers there? Me, specifically?"

"This is Hermione we're talking about."

Indigo laughed, "She'll consider it a compliment. Don't worry about it, Beor. Show up, have a piece of cake and if you're feeling awkward still, leave. Is Lupin coming?"

"Yeah. Say, didn't Hermione say you knew Tonks? She's going to be there too."

"Really? Good! I intend to quiz her about this living with a werewolf thing."

"What!?"

"Didn't you know? Auror Tonks and Professor Lupin are shacking up. Beor, you miss all the gossip living in that hut and only coming up to the castle for staff meetings and an occasional meal."

They were approaching the outskirts of Hogsmeade and Indigo asked, "What are you planning to get Hermione?"

"Dunno." "No idea."

"I figured we'd start at Scrivenshaft's and go from there."

"Good enough."

The witches and wizards of Hogsmeade were so used to students that Harry and Ron (as well as their escorts) were unprepared for the stares, pointing and whispering they were subjected to. The bolder people came over and asked to shake Harry's hand, or ask for an autograph. Some recognized Ron and shook his hand too, which made him smile until the crowd around them started to slow them down. He copied Harry, who smiled, shook hands quickly, smiled, ducked kisses and moved along with a steady stream of "Thank you, sorry, no autographs, thank you so much, sorry, must move along, thank you...."

They ducked into the stationary shop, leaving their admirers behind, and took their time picking out a couple of nice quills and some fresh ink. Thankfully the witch behind the counter was too engrossed in Witch Weekly to notice that she was serving the person on the cover. By the time they got out of there the crowd had dispersed and they slipped over to Gladrag's, Beor and Indigo scarcely pausing their low voiced conversation to follow them down one shop. Hermione needed new gloves and Harry carefully examined the selection, thinking of the tiny hole in Katie Bell's gloves that allowed her to be affected by a cursed necklace in their 6th year. Ron wandered around the shop, eyeing the different robes and other clothes with some apprehension. Then he turned a corner and stopped, mouth dropping open.

"Harry! Harry, come here! Let's get one of these for Hermione!"

Harry, holding the gloves he had picked out, went over to where Ron was gaping at the display. He gulped. "Ron, these aren't presents for her, these are presents for US!"

"Yeah." Ron whispered reverently, eyeing the scraps of lace and silk. "Exactly."

They ended up with three outfits plus the gloves and left the shop to find that Beor and Indigo's conversation had become rather heated, albeit still low voiced, and they didn't notice the two students approaching.

"Sorry we took so long," Harry said loudly as they approached the two teachers. They both jumped, Beor's face distinctly disgruntled, while Indigo immediately smoothed her scowl into a smile for them.

"That's all right. Anywhere else? What about this one?" she asked, gesturing at the George and Fred's new shop. "Aren't they your brothers?"

"Yeah, we should stop in. But we don't need to buy anything here, they're coming to the party and bringing some decorations."

"Are you sure that's a good idea?"

Ron laughed. "They have a whole line of party decorations coming out, and they consider this advertising. It'll be brilliant."

He did, however, make a point of telling George, who was at the shop, that the teachers would be there for the beginning of the party, "Including the Headmistress" and George nodded in understanding.

"Are we done yet?" asked Madam Indigo as they left the joke shop.

"We just want to get some stuff from Honeyduke's." But Harry had stopped at a shop window, and flapped a hand at Ron.

"Lookit."

Three strands of fine links twisted around each other and each strand was a different color. With one glance between them, Ron and Harry marched into the shop. Harry asked the witch behind the counter, "That necklace in the window made of three chains together, what's it made of?"

She leaned over the display case and picked it up. "This one? It's three different kinds of gold; red, yellow and white. Pretty, isn't it?"

"What magic is on it?" asked Madam Indigo, who had followed them into the shop.

The shopkeeper sighed. "None, I'm afraid. Not even a non-breaking charm. That's why I haven't been able to sell it."

"It's perfect!" said Harry. "How much?"

"25 galleons."

Ron gasped but Harry just reached for his moneybag. "Harry, we can't!" Ron exclaimed, his hand gripping Harry's wrist. "Gladrags just about cleaned me out. I can't afford this!"

"But Ron, it's perfect for her! Look, let me pay for it now and you can pay me back."

"Yeah and how'm'I s'posed to do that?"

Harry leaned in and whispered in his ear, "Sexual favors."

Ron turned red and sputtered. Finally he threw up his hands and said "All right! But we aren't done talking about this." Ron stomped out of the shop as Harry paid for the necklace.

Ron was already entering Honeyduke's with Beor following after when Harry and Indigo stepped out of the jewelry shop. Harry dashed ahead, trying to catch up, when he bumped into a stocky figure, both of them falling to the ground. "Sorry!" he exclaimed, mortified, and scrambled to his feet, offering a hand to help him up. The other person grabbed his hand and he began to pull him up when their eyes met.

Vincent Crabbe.

Harry let go of his hand and jumped back as Crabbe flinched away and scrabbled to his feet. Harry's wand was already in his hand and they both stared at each other for along moment. Then Crabbe was running down the street, Harry was chasing him and Indigo was calling "Harry! Who was that? Where are you going?"

Crabbe dashed between two building and by the time Harry got there, he was gone.

"Harry! What's going on? Who was that?"

Harry glared down the empty alley.

"One of my old year-mates," he bit out. "A Death Eater."

Indigo marched him into Honeyduke's and made a floo call that got several Ministry Aurors there within 5 minutes. "Not that it's going to do a bit of good," sighed Shacklebolt. "He probably Apparated out of here before she made the call."

"I don't know if he ever passed Apparation."

"Oh? Maybe we'll get lucky."

Harry wandered away, looking at the candy displays without really seeing them. Ron drifted up beside him. "Harry," he said, softly but urgently. "Sorry, mate."

Harry took a deep breath. "Let's not talk here," he murmured. "I don't think I can talk to you without touching you right now, and if I touch you I won't be able to keep it together."

Ron paused, then leaned close. "All right," he said softly, and Harry felt his breath stir the hair over his ear. He shuddered.

The bell over the door jangled as one of the Aurors stuck his head back in. "Didn't find anything."

Kingsley sighed. "Of course not. Come on, you lot, we'll walk you back to Hogwarts grounds."

Everyone was quiet. At the gate, Kingsley said, "Harry, I can't restrict you to the school. Just remember that everyone knows where you are." He paused significantly. "Tell Draco."

"Yes, sir."

Shacklebolt Apparated away as they continued to the castle.

"Harry, Ron, I'm sorry," Madam Indigo said. "I feel like I let you down."

"What?" "Why?"

"I didn't take it seriously, when you said McGonagall wanted an escort for you two. I thought she was being overly protective."

"Nothing happened, really. I ran into him, we were both surprised, he ran away. It wasn't like he attacked me."

"He could have."

Harry flapped a hand in annoyance at Beor's comment. "Sure he could have. I wasn't exactly alert either and I knew better. A simple Jelly-Leg Jinx and I could have captured him myself. Instead I let him surprise me and I froze."

"We'll work on that."

"Great. Um, could you two not mention this to Hermione?"

"Harry, you can't hide this from her."

"We'll tell her, just not tonight or tomorrow, okay?"

"She'll go spare. Sunday is soon enough. In fact, all the 8th years will need to know," said Ron. He glanced at Harry. "Dorm meeting Sunday, you think?"

Harry nodded.

"All right," Indigo sighed. "You have until Sunday."

Beor said harshly, "No. You can't put this off. What if one of your fellow 8th Years decides to run to Hogsmeade tomorrow afternoon? Did you stop thinking strategically just because Voldemort is dead?"

"No!" Ron flared. "We talked about this last summer! We haven't gone out much at all; we let people know where we are going. We didn't have to ask permission or for escorts to Hogsmeade but we did anyway!"

"If you respect Hermione, you'll tell her the truth."

Ron and Harry looked at each other. "All right," Ron mumbled. "We'll tell everyone tonight."

"Good," said Beor firmly. Indigo said nothing, watching her feet as they climbed the steps to the main doors of the castle.

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Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.

This story archived at Table for Three - http://www.triofic.com/viewstory.php?sid=221

Chapter Text

The Eighth Year by LouHQ

Chapter 16: Chapter 16: “Isn’t this the pot calling the kettle black?

Author's Notes: My deepest apologies for this taking so long. I ended up rewriting the majority of it about 5 times and it went in a totally different direction than I expected.

As has often happened in the past, I knocked the last of the writer's block out by writing a different story. It's a Hurt/Comfort fanfic that takes place right after the last battle and before Harry gets to the hospital, but its not Trio. It features Draco and Harry and its pretty intense. If you want to read it I'll need to friend you into my HP fanfic LJ. Let me know if you want me to do that.

For those of you waiting for the next installment of 'In Pursuit of Forever.' I'm afraid it will be awhile yet. I can't post the next chapter as it has a number of spoilers for 'The 8th Year'. Sorry!

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Harry and Ron headed for the 8th Year dorm, but halfway there Ron pulled Harry into a deserted classroom.

"Ron, what are you doing?"

Ron didn't reply, just wrapped his arms around him and held him close. Harry stood stiffly in his embrace as Ron's hands described small circles on his back. Muscle by muscle, Harry relaxed slowly into Ron's chest, until finally, with a sigh Ron felt came from the bottom of his soul, Harry put his arms around Ron and buried his face in Ron's neck.

When Harry's grip on him became one less of tension and more of contentment, Ron ran his hand up his back and into his hair. He tugged lightly and Harry tipped his head back. Ron said, "I love you."

Harry whispered, "When you look at me like that, I want to kiss you."

"Kiss me, Harry."

And he did.

When Ron thought about, he thought Harry was so intoxicating to kiss because he was just so fucking intense, like the kiss was the most important thing in the world, like it was the first and last and only kiss he'd ever had, like he had never been loved before. That was what Ron thought of when he thought about it, but he never thought about it when he was kissing Harry. He couldn't think very well when Harry kissed him, because it was Harry.

When Harry thought about it, he thought kissing Ron was like drinking sunshine, because Ron loved to be kissed so much. It was like waking up from a nightmare and realizing that Voldemort was dead and he was alive. That's what he thought when Harry thought about it, but he never thought about it when he was kissing Ron. He couldn't think very well when Ron kissed him, because it was Ron.

+++++

Almost everyone was in the common room when they got there. Hermione took one look at the two of them and all but screamed, "What happened?!" as she flew across the room to them. They met in a three-way hug, both Ron and Harry assuring her they were fine.

"Well, THAT got everyone's attention," said Justin. "What happened?"

Harry looked around. "Where's Draco? And Neville and Luna?"

"I think they're in their rooms. Is this something that needs everyone?"

"Yes."

With startled looks, Justin went to get Malfoy and Susan and Dean for Luna and Neville. Neville was obviously getting ready to go out, as he was freshly shaved and there was a distinct scent of cologne. He wasn't happy to be interrupted, but his expression changed as Harry told them all what had happened. When he was finished, curiosity and irritation had been replaced by apprehension and gravity. Draco wore a blank and shuttered look. Hermione was wringing her fingers together. There was a long moment of silence.

"Sssooooo, now what?" asked Dean. "Are we forbidden to leave the grounds or what?"

Ron shook his head. "When we talked to McGonagall before we left, she thanked us for the courtesy of requesting permission but made it clear that on this count, we are not subject to school rules. She can't forbid us to go anywhere. The only rules we have to follow are the ones we set for ourselves." He hesitated, but no one interrupted him. "Last summer, Harry went missing for all of an hour. Hermione and I freaked out. He had gone to the greengrocer." There were some chuckles at that, but the eyes on him with sympathetic, not ridiculing. "We talked about this kind of thing then. We agreed that we'd always tell someone where we were going, and that we'd think ahead. Well, Harry and I did that tonight, and more, but it still could have turned out badly."

"Not to be crude about it, but I don't think the rest of us are as much targets as you three."

"Uh-huh. Rodolphus Lestrange doesn't care who killed his wife." Ron began to pace in front of the fireplace, feeling his mind clicking like it did over a tough chess game or planning the next moves in the war. "Besides, no one knows where he is, so why worry? No one cares who designed the warding systems for the Order, or who was in the team that captured their reserves. No one cares that a bunch of snot-nosed teenagers took out some of the most feared wizards under Voldemort. Not to mention those of us that are muggle-born or half-blood or considered blood traitors. Yeah, I guess there's no reason for you all to worry. Sorry I bothered you."

"Ron," said Harry, "They get it."

"I don't think so, Harry. Maybe they understand that no one can forbid them from going to Hogsmeade. Maybe they even realize that Hogsmeade isn't safe, that they will need to be as cautious there as anywhere else. But I bet they still think they are safe now that Voldemort is dead "

"They are."

"Safer, not safe. And I bet they think they are safe here. I bet that's part of why they wanted to come back. Nice, safe Hogwarts." He looked around at the faces staring at him, some shocked, some angry, some with realization blooming. Now he looked at Draco, still wearing that closed expression. "But Hogwarts isn't safe, is it? It wasn't safe when Quirrell was carrying Voldemort around in his turban. It wasn't safe when the basilisk was loose in the castle. It wasn't safe when a Death Eater drank Polyjuice Potion for an entire bloody YEAR and masqueraded as our Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, NOR when we had a power-hungry Ministry toady, no, TOAD, as a teacher and then a Headmistress, and it sure as hell wasn't safe here when Malfoy used Vanishing Cabinets to let in a bunch of Death Eaters, including a fucking feral werewolf." Malfoy was so white as to be almost colorless, with undertones of green, and he looked close to vomiting. "It wasn't safe when Voldemort's forces breached the wards and attacked almost a year ago, and its NOT BLOODY SAFE NOW!"

"Ron," said Harry softly, but Ron was not to be pacified.

"Justin, tell me you didn't put extra wards on your rooms. Draco, tell me you didn't ask Justin to put extra wards on YOUR room. Dean, tell me you haven't put Muggle tripwires in yours. And those are just the ones I know about. I bet every single one of us is hiding something. From each other, from ourselves. Telling ourselves we're perfectly safe because we're here. Am I wrong?"

Hannah said, "There's no extra wards on our room."

"Susan?"

"Yes...., yes, there are. You don't notice them because you always fall asleep first."

"Besides, you have that flask as a security blanket."

"Excuse me?!"

"Am I wrong?"

"You don't seem to mind it when I'm sharing it out!"

"Wait, wait; stop. It's just, we've been doing these things and hiding them from others. We've been feeling bad about it because it destroys that pretty illusion that Hogwarts is safe."

"Okay, Mister Strategy. What should we be doing?"

"To begin with, we need to acknowledge that we aren't in a cocoon and react appropriately. We aren't putting extra wards up because we're paranoid, we're putting extra wards up because they are needed." Everyone looked a bit relieved. "All right then? Good. Anybody have any little stories like ours to share?"

Dean said, "I've removed several slipping jinxes from the brooms we usually use for Quidditch."

Neville said, "I've been followed a few times. Late at night, between here and the greenhouses, or between here and Gryffindor tower or the Ravenclaw Dorm."

"Me too," muttered Malfoy.

"Yeah, me too, between here and the DADA classroom and here and Gryffindor Tower," Harry said. "I've never been able to catch them."

Ron, who had been nodding in acknowledgement as each person spoke, froze at Harry's words and his eyes became flat and hard. "You didn't mention this."

"No."

They locked eyes for a moment, then Ron tore his eyes away. "Okay, give me a minute here." He paced back and forth for a minute. The others waited patiently, remembering too many meetings of the D.A. that happened just like this.

"First, we need to secure our base of operations. Wards for the individual rooms, extra wards for the dorm, pull in Dobby on the dorm wards, we know we can trust him. Justin, you're the obvious one to head that up. Will you take it?"

"Yes."

"Who wants to work on this with Justin? Conversely, Justin, anyone in particular you want to work with you?"

Justin, Draco and Luna spoke up simultaneously. "Draco and Luna." "I'd like to." "I'll do it."

"Great. Next, we've got to widen our scope of thinking. If we aren't safe, neither is the school. So we need to convince the teachers, and most important, the Headmistress. Beor will back us up, probably Lupin too. We need someone to liaison with McGonagall. I think that's quite obvious too." He was looking at Hermione.

"No," she whispered.

"What?"

Hermione closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "I've been having panic attacks ever since we've been back." She opened her eyes and looked directly at Ron. "I'm seeing Madam Pomfrey for therapy, and she told me to avoid additional stress. I'm sure she's reported me to the Headmistress. Right now, somebody else should be the liaison. Not only am I unable, I'm also unsuitable." Her eyes dropped to her shoes.

Harry, sitting next to Hermione, gave her a searching look she avoided entirely. He began to reach for her and she flinched away from him. Harry hesitated for a moment, then firmly put his arm over her shoulders and pulled her closer. She shivered, still holding herself stiffly, and slowly, slowly raised her eyes back to Ron.

Ron's eyes were chips of blue ice. In a flat voice he said, "Both of you." Then he turned away from them. "Susan, how about you?"

"All right, but Hermione --."

"See if you can set up meetings for tomorrow afternoon."

"Ron," said Harry, "Remus won't be back until dinner tomorrow." Harry narrowed his eyes at Ron. Ron slanted a glance at Hermione. Harry raised an eyebrow. Ron looked back at Susan.

"See if you can see Beor tomorrow then," and she nodded. "Now then, research – " He looked at Hermione and he asked, low, "Indigo too?" Hermione nodded without looking up. Ron's lips thinned. "Neville, can you head that up?"

"Yes, but --."

"Fine. We'll need to work with Pomfrey, too. Terry?"

"Certainly."

Hermione stood up, trembling slightly. "Excuse me," she whispered, and walked out. Harry stood up as the hallway door closed behind her. He scooped up the packages from Hogsmeade that they had dropped by the entrance and looked over at Ron.

Ron sighed. "Let's get some food and drink and sit down. It's going to be a long night."

Dean said tentatively, "We have the pitch signed out for tomorrow morning."

Ron closed his eyes briefly. "Justin, can you add an extra ward to the entrance tonight? We'll hope that will be enough for now."

"Sure."

Neville announced, "I'm not staying, I have plans. Dean'll catch me up later."

As everyone got up and moved around, Ron walked over to Harry. "Harry," he said, "I have to – "

"I know," Harry said "You have to do this and we have to talk and it's still Hermione's birthday tomorrow. Let me take care of this and I'll talk to Hermione. Quickly though," and he reached out and grabbed Ron's shoulder. "I know we both should have talked about this; we shouldn't be hiding this stuff from each other. I'd be hacked off too. But can I tell Hermione – ('and myself' his eyes said) that we're not going to break up over this?"

"Oh, Merlin, Harry!" Ron pulled Harry to him, the packages squashing between them. "Of course we're not going to break up over this! Don't say stuff like that! This is enough of a nightmare as it is."

"Hey, it's all right," Harry hugged him back. "Do what you have to here; I'll talk to Hermione and take care of the presents. If I can I'll come back out."

"Take care of Hermione first. I want to choke her and I feel like I'm missing a leg out here, but I love her. And I'm gonna kill you too, you bastard."

"I know. Love you too."

+++++

Hermione wasn't in the bedroom when Harry got there, so he took a moment to stash the presents in his wardrobe before hurrying to the study. She wasn't at her desk either: she was curled up on her side on top of the covers of the single bed they had left in there, her back to the room. Harry carefully lay down behind her and slid his arms around her, feeling the slight tremor that shook her stiff body.

"Hermione, love," he whispered. "It's all right. I love you. He loves you. He's a bit steamed right now, but he'll come around."

Her shoulders shook as a single sob escaped her control. "How do you know?" she asked in a tight, choked voice. "He's right to be angry with me. I've failed him."

"Oh gods Hermione, no! We'd all be dead twice over if not for you! How is that a failure?"

Hermione turned in his arms to bury her face in his chest. "But not now, Harry!" she sobbed. "He needs me now and I can't help him! I should be the one dealing with McGonagall and heading up the research. Instead he's out there and I'm in here and I can't help him; I'm letting him down and now you're in here with me too, so I'm taking you away from where you'd rather be, where he needs you!"

"What is this, 'where I'd rather be' crap?" he asked, tipping her face up to his. "Hermione, I never wanted to deal with this shit again! And Ron would rather be here with us too, he's just too responsible." Hermione snorted softly but didn't contradict him. "Hermione, he IS hacked off at us. We withheld information, and you know that's treasonous behavior to a strategist. Not to mention personally – " He rubbed his cheek against her hair. "Hermione, why didn't you tell us?"

"I wanted to, Harry, I really did. But I just, I couldn't...." She sighed. "I didn't want to worry you and Ron." She pulled away and sat up. Harry sat up too, and summoned a box of tissue for Hermione, and she mopped her face and blew her nose before levitating the tissue to a rubbish bin.

"Worry us! Hermione, that's what we're here for! Well, one of the things."

"Honestly, Harry!" Hermione rolled her eyes. "Isn't this the pot calling the kettle black? You never mentioned being followed about the castle and that's much more dangerous than me hyperventilating once or twice!"

"Well, erm, I..." Harry looked down at his trainers but she ducked her head until she caught his eye.

"Didn't want to worry us?"

"Well.... yes."

"Idiot boy."

"Bossy know-it-all."

"Love you."

"Love you too. Ron loves you, too."

Her eyes welled up again and she shook her head. "He's going to hate me for this."

He put his arm around her again. "No, he's not! He's worried about Hogwarts' security and our safety and he's angry we hid things from him but I asked him flat out, 'Is this going to break us up?' and he almost cracked in half, Hermione; he hugged me in front of everybody and said he wanted to come back here with me, and Hermione, it HURT him to stay out there! You know you're first in his heart. But he's a responsible git, got this taking-care-of-people thing." That wrung a smile from her.

"Now then, what next? Do you want to go out there? Show him you're all right?"

She hesitated, obviously tempted, but shook her head. "I'm tired. Madam Pomfrey said I needed more rest, that therapy would tire me out, and it has. And this evening's been.... too much already. Tell Ron....tell him I'm sorry, and I love him."

Harry guided her to the bedroom and helped her undress, tucking her in and petting her till her eyes sagged shut. "We'll talk tomorrow, love," he said, kissing her forehead. "Sweet dreams."

+++++

With Hermione asleep he rescued the packages from his wardrobe and took them to the study to wrap. The sweets, gloves, quills and ink he left at the foot of the bed, then squirreled away the rest. He snatched the Map from the mantle and slipped out to the Common Room.

There were two groups around the study tables. On one corner were Malfoy and Justin with several sketches of different areas of the castle they were poring over and making notes about. Luna sat next to Malfoy, doodling on the paper in front of her. Harry couldn't tell if she was listening to Justin and Malfoy, to the others at the table or to some celestial choir only she could hear.

Susan, Hannah, Ernie, Terry, Dean and Ron sat around the rest of the table, everyone with parchment and quill, discussing the details of their proposed contact with Beor, Lupin and McGonagall. "The unknown stalker will be a difficult point," Ron said. "No one has seen this person, how can we convince her he or she is real?"

As Harry passed behind Ron, he dropped a kiss on the top of his head and a note he had hastily scribbled in front of him before sitting between Dean and Luna.

"Ron,
Hermione's asleep. She says she's sorry and she loves you.
Presents are wrapped. I hid the outfits from Gladrags and the
necklace so we can give them to her later."

Ron nodded at him, a ghost of a smile on his face, and Harry felt a bit of tension leaving him. He turned to Luna, Justin and Malfoy.

"I got something that will help you." He dropped the Map onto the table and placed the tip of his wand onto the beat up piece of parchment. "I solemnly swear I am up to no good."

Malfoy and Justin's eyes widened as the Marauder's Map wrote itself in front of them. Luna glanced up from her doodling, humming slightly off key, and smiled at Harry. "It's very thoughtful to share that with us, Harry."

"You've seen it before?"

"Ginny and I used it several times before she died."

"Oh, what for?"

"Ginny asked me not to tell."

Harry thought of reminding her that Ginny was dead and wouldn't know if she broke the promise, but then considered who he was speaking to and kept his mouth shut. Luna went back to her doodling.

Harry let his mind drift, catching bits of the conversations to either side of him. He didn't really have anything to add to either group. This had nothing to do with Riddle, and his part in the war had been quite specifically focused. It left him, he thought, quite well out of the loop, just another pawn rather than the king. He told himself he was happier that way.

It was getting on toward 12 and Harry was yawning so hard his eyes were watering when Luna handed her paper over to Draco. It was a large pentagon with a castle in the middle. All around were elaborate curlicues, tiny drawing of animals and some symbols that didn't look like anything out of Ancient Runes. Draco laid it down between he and Justin and they both examined it silently while Luna took the last biscuit and ate it, nibbling around the edges and spiraling into the center.

Draco looked up. "The old magics on the property are, well, old. You don't think they will cancel each other out?"

Luna licked a crumble from the corner of her mouth. "I don't think the old magics will even notice it's there. What's more, I don't think anybody else will either."

"Until they hit it."

"Right."

Draco pointed to two symbols drawn at right angles and almost, but not quite touching. "You'd have these overlap?"

"Yes."

"You have a twisted and devious mind."

"Why, thank you, Draco!"

"You're basing the entire thing on the 5 sacred things. That means we'll need a high priestess and priest to cast this. Who can we get for that that we can trust?"

"There are 2 High Priestesses and one High Priest already here, but they don't all know each other yet. I can take care of that part. The biggest problem I see is that it needs to be cast during the waning moon. New moon is Sunday, and we won't be able to get it done by then, so the earliest we can do it is October 6th."

Justin's shoulders drooped, "We can't wait that long, but we can put it the queue. It's too good to ignore. The only thing I can see viable for the immediate future is reinforcing the established wards and plugging the holes."

"Tomorrow on some of these."

"Oh, yes."

The other group was wrapping things up, and Ron and Terry joined them as the other disbursed. Justin and Draco gave Ron a quick recap on their work. Finally the others left and Ron and Harry were alone again.

"Did you want to talk?"

Ron shook his head.

"Yell at me? Punch me? Call me names?"

"What, like 'masochist'? Let's just go to bed."


Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.

This story archived at Table for Three - http://www.triofic.com/viewstory.php?sid=221

Chapter Text

The Eighth Year by LouHQ

Chapter 17: Chapter 16 “’Messrs. Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs.’ Who are they, do you know?”

Author's Notes: As always, constructive criticism is appreciated.


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When Hermione woke, she kept her eyes closed and gave herself a little pep talk. 'You're 19 now, you're an adult, you can deal with this. Whatever Ron says or does, you can handle it. You aren't going to hyperventilate.'

She opened her eyes and jumped a little. Harry was looking at her.

"Sorry," he said. "Your lips were moving." He leaned forward and kissed her lightly. "Happy Birthday."

"Thank you, Harry." Hermione sat up and slid her feet into her slippers before shuffling off to the loo. When she came out, Harry was prodding Ron, who had pulled his pillow over his head. She went to the wardrobe and starting pulling out some clothes.

"Hermione? Aren't you coming back to bed to open your presents?" Harry asked, abandoning his efforts to wake Ron.

"Oh, um, I guess." She glanced uncertainly at Ron, who still had the bedclothes pulled up around his ears, and came around to sit at the foot of the bed on the side away from him.

"Here, open these." It was the quills, ink and sweets they had gotten from Hogsmeade.

"Is this what you went to Hogsmeade for?"

Ron turned over and blearily opened his eyes. "Among other things," he yawned. Hermione smiled nervously at him and even though his eyes narrowed a bit and his lips thinned, he mumbled, "Happy Birthday, Hermione."

"Thanks," she whispered, her eyes on the quills.

Next, she opened a present from Mrs. Weasley, a warm knitted scarf in the Hogwarts colors of scarlet, yellow, blue and green.

"Wow, nice! I guess she still likes me."

"'Course she does. She just doesn't understand what a smart girl like you is doing with a couple of berks like us."

"What's with the colors?" "Yeah, where's the old scarlet and gold?"

"Oh! I mentioned to her that we weren't really Gryffindors anymore, that we were all Hogwarts now, and I wished there was something I could wear, like the school uniform tie, that would show that. This must be what she thought of. Ron, your mum's a smart woman."

"Smarter than the rest of her family, present company excepted."

"You wish."

"This one will go with that then," Harry said, handing her the package with the gloves. "I'm starved. Can we go to breakfast?"

They dressed and Hermione waited as Ron and Harry gathered their kit for Quidditch after breakfast. Before they left the room, Hermione touched Ron's elbow. "Ron, I'm sorry."

Ron pulled her into a hug. "I don't want to fight today," he muttered into her hair. "Can we talk about this tomorrow?"

Hermione leaned into him, her forehead on his chest. "All right," she sighed, dread settling in her stomach.

All the other 8th years were already at their table, the other Quidditch players with their Quidditch robes and the rest with books. Suzanne flung the Quaffle at Harry, but Ron blocked it and snatched it out of the air. "Ha!" he smirked. "You Chasers are going to have to move faster than that to get by me today!"

A small flight of owls flew in, several of them dropping letters in front of Hermione. "Hermione, why are you getting all these letters today?" asked Justin in a too-bright voice.

"It's my birthday," Hermione said softly, blushing. She was having a hard time looking at the others, knowing they were witnesses to her confession yesterday.

"No, really?" Justin replied, ignoring Terry's elbow in his ribs. "We'll have to get the house-elves to do a cake for you for pudding tonight. So are you 19 now?" At her nod, he flashed a grin at harry and Ron. "Going for the older woman, eh, chaps?"

Deciding it was best to just ignore that last comment, Hermione reached for the nearest owl delivery as Ron and Harry laughed. The first was a thick letter from Parvati, thanking Hermione for the pictures she had sent. The letter was long, with details on her studies in India, so much different than her Hogwarts education, and finally mentioning that Padma had heard from Justin as well, and for her birthday they were sending a special incense to be burnt during 'intimate times'.

"Justin!" she hissed. "What did you tell Padma?"

"Relax, Hermione, she and Parvati know it's a D.A. matter." Draco shot him a slight sneer, but he went on. "They won't say anything outside the group."

The next envelope Hermione opened cautiously: it was from Fred and George. Her caution didn't help; the envelope exploded, raining confetti down on her and singing 'Happy Birthday' in a shrill, off key tone. Everyone laughed, including Hermione.

The Quidditch players left for the pitch and Ernest went back up to the dorm, leaving Hermione, Luna and Neville at the table; Hermione with her remaining post and the other two with their books.

Next was another lengthy letter, this time from Victor, and Hermione was grateful Ron had left for the pitch. Victor was still playing for Bulgaria and happy to be able to do so again, now that his country had settled down after Voldemort's defeat. He admitted that he was dating but in his typical fashion, declared no other woman would ever compare to her. She was flattered, but knew it for the hyperbole it was.

Hermione picked up the last letter; it was from her parents. She sighed; it would be another short missive, Hello, I'm fine, how are you? Fine, everything is fine. She fingered the envelope. It felt bulkier than the usual one page.

Dear Hermione,

Happy Birthday, Sweetheart.

I am so happy you are back at Hogwarts. I know you assured us time and again that you would finish your schooling, but I'm afraid all we saw was a headstrong girl following her heart, and we feared it would lead you to ruin. We should have trusted in the good sense you have shown all your life. Also, we've always felt your school was a safe place in an unsafe society. After this last few years I know this isn't so, but preconceived notions are hard to give up.

Nineteen years old! Part of me says that you're an adult in years, but I'm afraid another part of me insists that you are still a child. Maybe it's impossible for a parent to think of their child as an adult, but darling, I WILL try.

In regard to your young men, I realized not long ago that you have known them now for 8 years and under much more stressful conditions than your father and I have ever faced. By the time I had known your father 8 years, we had been married for 6. Your father and I agree that it is time we rethink your situation.

Speaking of your father, he has been having a great deal of trouble with his stomach, going beyond simple indigestion. He has been taking medication for acid reflux but it has helped only mildly. He will be seeing the doctors again next week to have further tests done. He seems to think he just needs the right antacid, but I'm afraid his days of left over tandoori take-away for breakfast are long gone.

Otherwise, I am well and the clinic is as busy as ever. We are going to a seminar on digital x-ray technology this week and are looking into bringing it into our practice. As the investment is several thousand Euro, we need to be sure of it.

My dear, would you visit us soon? I would very much like to spend some time with you, and your father wants to talk to your Ron and Harry. It shouldn't be too traumatic, he insists he just wants to know if they have sensible plans for the future. How he expects to judge that, I frankly don't know. How does a non-magical dentist make sense of magical society? It eludes me, frankly, but your father says he knows what he needs to know.

Let me know when you and your young men can come to visit. Perhaps a Sunday dinner? Write soon and let me know.

Love,
Mum

Hermione sat, stunned, staring at the pieces of paper in her hand. Her breath became faster and shallower, and as she struggled to control it she felt her skin prickling with chill at the same time sweat sprang out on her forehead. Through the high pitched whine in her ears she vaguely heard Neville saying, "Hermione? Are you all right?" just before her vision narrowed onto the letter, and then went dark.

+++++

Neville burst onto the pitch, shouting for Ron and Harry and waving his arms in the air. The entire team converged on him as Harry and Ron each grabbed an arm. "Neville, what is it?"

"Hermione," he panted. "She was reading her letters in the Hall when she fainted. She came to right away and tried to shrug it off, but McGonagall saw it and had us take her to Madam Pomfrey. When we got there Pomfrey had her lay down and when she asked her what happened, Hermione started crying and gave Madam Pomfrey one of the letters and Pomfrey said I should go get you two."

He hadn't even finished the sentence before Ron and Harry were streaking towards the castle on their brooms and were soon charging into the infirmary. Madam Pomfrey held up a hand for quiet, pulling a curtain around Hermione's still form and gesturing the two young men into her office. "I've given her a calming draught," she informed them. "She'll sleep for an hour or two. We need to talk."

+++++

Hermione blinked sleepily awake, focusing on the two concerned faces hovering over her. "Hullo," she said, smiling dreamily.

They slid in close on either side, despite the narrowness of the hospital bed. Harry didn't say anything, just burrowed his face into her hair, and Ron murmured, "Just because Harry and I have each spent a birthday or two in the hospital doesn't mean you should too."

"I feel better now," she yawned.

Madam Pomfrey bustled up, and Harry and Ron reluctantly moved away so she could wave her wand over Hermione. "You can go back to your dorm," she pronounced. "But I'm sending a calming draught with you. Two ounces every 4 hours. Come and see me tomorrow morning. No alcohol between now and then. The three of you need to talk, spend the afternoon together, rest."

"Yes, Madam Pomfrey."

Ron and Harry got the still yawning Hermione into bed again, where they all cuddled together and spent hours talking, first about Hermione's panic attacks, then the security issues at Hogwarts. Ron assured Hermione she was not letting him down, that it was good for the others to take some of the responsibilities that Hermione tended to heap upon herself.

Ron excused himself for bit, as he needed to check on the work Justin and the others were doing to plug some of the weak spots in the wards protecting the school. He found them in the tunnel that lead from the statue of the One-eyed Witch to Honeyduke's, where the tunnel went under the school boundary. He watched in silence as Justin, Draco and Luna finished the casting, then gently touched it. From the inside of the ward it felt like he was laying his hand on the surface of a bowl of not quite set gelatin, but gelatin that was coating a layer of electricity.

"Is this going to interfere or trigger any of the wards already in place?"

"No, unless someone breaches them. If that happens I have a tripline attached that will set off the old wards as well."

"These aren't permanent?"

"No, they will fade in 7 to 10 days, but by then we'll have McGonagall's permission to do some thing more permanent, or she'll have taken care of it herself."

"And if she doesn't do either?"

"We'll do something else."

"What's next?"

"That's it for the internal wards. Luna's got some ideas for outdoors, so we're going to take a walk around the grounds. By that time we'll need a rest before dinner."

They climbed out of the Witch's hump and headed towards the front of the castle. "I certainly know a lot more about this castle than I did before. Where did Harry get this?" Justin asked, waving the Marauder's Map.

"Harry got it originally from my brothers, Fred and George, who nicked it from Filch's office. But Filch had confiscated it from the original owners."

"'Messrs. Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs.' Who are they, do you know?"

"Um, I shouldn't say without permission from Mr. Moony. He's the only one still alive."

"Ron, I'm not asking out of purulent curiosity. Fred and George are D.A. and Order members, you three and Ginny and Luna are, were, in the D.A., and Filch was a squib and wouldn't have been able to work it. But who else had it? This, in the wrong hands, is a map to Harry!"

Ron grinned slightly, remembering the conversation with Lupin Harry had told him about. "Mr. Moony said almost exactly that, back in our third year. Don't worry Justin, I'll check on it but I think he won't mind me telling you. I bet Luna knows, and she's not worried, are you, Luna?"

"It's really obvious when you think about it, Justin," she said happily, shaking her head.

Justin and Draco just exchanged looks and shrugged. "Let me know when you can, all right, Ron? My mind is going to pick at it until I know."

"Sure. Tonight or tomorrow."

"How's Granger?" Draco asked abruptly. "Are we still doing the party tonight?"

"She's resting right now, and she's taking a potion. Madam Pomfrey said the party is all right as long as it doesn't get wild and Hermione can't drink any alcohol."

"Damn! I was going to pop open a really good vintage for her! I'll just have to hold onto it until she can partake again. A lesser vintage, I think, for the rest of you plebes."

"Thanks for lumping me in with the rabble, you blueblood."

"Eh, if the name sticks, Malfoy..." Justin waved a careless hand as Ron parted ways with them.

Susan and Hannah were in the common room, and they told him Beor agreed to meet with them Sunday afternoon. They were planning on asking Lupin at dinner if he was there and at the party if he wasn't. They too asked about Hermione and Ron told them the same information he told Justin, Luna and Draco, and excused himself to go check on her.

Ron entered the room quietly. They were both asleep, Harry with a book on his chest as if he had fallen asleep while reading. Ron carefully lowered himself onto the bed next to Hermione, and she sleepily opened her eyes and smiled at him. Ron carefully gathered her to him.

"I love you," he whispered into her hair.

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.

This story archived at Table for Three - http://www.triofic.com/viewstory.php?sid=221

Chapter Text

The Eighth Year by LouHQ

Chapter 18: Chapter 17. “I already have two boyfriends; I couldn’t handle three.”

Author's Notes: A/N: Thanks to my bestest friend Jody for her help on this one.


+++++

Ron and Harry made sure Hermione washed up and got to dinner in the Great Hall that evening, and she was content to sit and listen and watch the people around her. She wasn’t very hungry but she ate a little bit of everything set in front of her.

She could tell the calming potion was in full effect. Everything seemed a little fuzzy and removed and Hermione felt happy like happiness was a thick layer of frosting and she was the cake. Intellectually she knew it wasn’t real, and she resented that a bit, except she felt disconnected from her resentment too.

She felt pink, she decided. She never liked that color, but she knew other people expected her to. Girls were supposed to like pink. Lavender liked pink. Lavender had rosebud pink nail polish and pastel pink nightgowns and hot pink knickers. Parvati had several saris in different shades of pink and Hermione thought if she had the Patils’ warm toast skin tone and sleek black hair, she might like pink too. Instead she had her pasty English skin and bushy plain brown hair and she didn’t like pink. Not pale pink or coral or flush, not salmon or fuchsia or rose. And she didn’t like pink slips or pink collars or pink flamingos. Though she did like the Pink Panther and Pink Floyd, she thought, smiling hazily. And she quite liked the color orchid, but that was a purple, wasn’t it? Purple was good. Purple and plum and violet….

“Hermione?” Ron’s voice swam into her awareness, and she realized he had called her name several times. “Are you all right?” She focused slowly on his bright blue concerned eyes.

“I think I need to take less potion.”

+++++

Hermione had a couple of cups of dark strong coffee and after dinner Ron and Harry walked her to the Hospital Wing at her request. After she described how she felt to Madam Pomfrey, the healer advised her to halve the dose during the day but to take the original dose before bed.

Whether it was the coffee or the last dose was wearing off, Hermione was more clearheaded by the time they went back to their dorm. Ron stopped her before they went in. “Hermione, we have a surprise for you.” And he opened the door.

“Surprise! Happy Birthday!”

All the 8th Years were there, along with Dennis, Remus and Tonks, Indigo, Beor, McGonagall, Babbling, Vector, Sinestra, Flitwick, Hooch, Sprout, Slughorn, Cho Chang, Lavender, Fred and Angelina, George and Alicia, and Lee Jordan. There was a banner reading “Happy Birthday Hermione!” with flashing lights and changing colors, and WWW No-Burn fireworks whizzing about the room.

Hermione whirled to look at her boys, both hanging back as the room full of people cheered her. “You did this? You planned all this?”

They both nodded and she threw her arms around their necks and hugged them. “Oh, thank you! No one’s ever given me a birthday party before!”

She turned to her guests and began to talk to them individually as Ron and Harry looked at each other and grinned in complicity.

The first group she approached was a small group of professors in a grouping of a sofa and chairs close to the fireplace. Slughorn, Flitwick, Vector, Sinestra and McGonagall, with glasses of gillywater and cups of tea, greeted her warmly. Slughorn, Flitwick and Vector questioned her post-Hogwarts plans, each encouraging her to pursue their particular areas. When she admitted that she wanted to pursue further education they all had offers of advice and referrals.

Next was a group of teachers and students: Sprout, Neville, Hooch, Dean, Ron, Babbling, Justin, Remus and Harry, all talking about the experience of working together as teachers and assistants. She enjoyed the discussion but realized that her experience of working in research was different from teaching regular classes. She looked around for Indigo and found her in one corner, heads together with Tonks and Beor. Between Tonks’ bubble gum pink, Indigo’s blue and Beor’s gold, it was a most colorful corner.

“What are you three whispering about?” she asked, walking up to them. Indigo and Tonks grinned and beckoned her closer while Beor looked repressive.

When she had her head down with theirs, Tonks said, “Gossiping about Remus, Indigo has an inquiring mind.”

Hermione rolled her eyes, “Don’t I know it, she never runs out of questions!”

Tonks grinned. “You two are well suited then.”

“Hermione and I get on well.” Indigo affirmed. “Tonks has been filling us in on this living with werewolves thing. Sounds like you all had a good time this last summer.”

Hermione nodded vigorously but slanted an anxious glance at Beor. “We are hoping to keep our relationship away from the press at least till we’re out of Hogwarts, you know.”

Beor nodded shortly, still frowning slightly, and Indigo waved her hand dismissively. “No teacher is going to give that away. So, Remus has Internet access. Would he advise me on setting up a system?”

“Sure, but there’s no way you’d ever get a system to work at Hogwarts, or even Hogsmeade. Too much residual magic.”

“I was thinking about setting up a lab in a muggle area and do field trips.”

“Ohhh. Or you could make arrangements with a muggle school to use their computer lab, tell them Hogwarts is a religious school or something.”

“Good idea!”

“Hermione,” interrupted Beor, “Some of the 8th Years are coming for tea tomorrow afternoon. Harry and Ron are two of them; are you coming too?”

Hermione blanched, “I’m, um, I dunno. I should go say hello to Lavender. See you later.” She slipped away quickly, missing the sharp looks and hissed reprimands directed towards him by the two colorful women.

“Lavender, it was really thoughtful of you to come.” Lavender turned, a little awkwardly, from where she was talking to Hannah, Susan and Ernie.

“Hi Hermione, Happy Birthday. I was glad of the excuse to get out for a bit.” She slipped an envelope to Hermione. “Wedding invitation.”

“Congratulations! When is it?”

“October 24th, and not a minute before time. Though I guess I should be happy to just get the wedding and the baby in the right order.”

“You’re not getting married just because you’re pregnant, are you?”

Lavender cast her an irritated look. “No. So I was right about you and Ron and Harry, wasn’t I?”

Hermione gritted her teeth. “Not at that time you weren’t. You gave me the idea, remember?”

“Riiiight.”

Hermione shook her head. “Whatever. So where’s this fiancé of yours?”

“His name’s Oden. He’s dropping some potions off in Hogsmeade before coming here.”

“Did he go to Hogwarts?”

“No, Beauxbatons. His family is in Marseilles but his uncle lives in London. We’ll get to vacation on the Mediterranean.”

“Nice!”

“You can come to the wedding, right? I’ve invited all the D.A., and Parvati is going to be my Maid of Honor.”

“Absolutely.”

“Hermione, I’m sorry I wasn’t there at the end.”

“If I was in your shoes, I wouldn’t have been there either.”

Hannah offered her flask and both Hermione and Lavender waved it away, but then Dobby popped up beside her with a distinctive green can in his long-fingered hand. “Dobby, is that Ginger Beer?”

“Yes Miss Hermione Granger, miss. Mr. Harry Potter sir said you liked this muggle drink.”

“I do, thank you Dobby! Excuse me,” she said to Lavender, and heard as she left, “Dobby, do you have more muggle drinks like that?”

Looking around, she saw the groups of people had shifted about and spotted Harry and Ron with a few people over by the door to their hallway. She made her way over and hugged him, pulling his head down to kiss his cheek. “I can’t believe you got me muggle soft drinks!”

Harry laughed, hugging her back. “I don’t deserve that much credit; I just told Dobby what you liked and he did the rest.”

Ron slid an arm around her waist. “So what’s this drink then?”

Hermione popped the top and offered the can to Ron who took a small sip. “Wow, that’s strong! Are you sure there’s no alcohol in it? It tastes stronger than the champagne at Bill and Fleur’s wedding!”

Several people in the circle laughed and Harry and Ron exchanged a warm look. Hermione looked around and blushed a bit when she realized Madam Hooch and Cho Chang were in the circle with Draco, Dean and Justin. “Sorry,” she said shyly, “I didn’t mean to interrupt.”

“S’alright; we were quizzing Cho on flying with a real Quidditch team.”

“Please!” laughed Cho. “It’s not like I get paid or anything.”

“Still, the London Lights are a strong district team.” Dean said in a very admiring tone.

The Weasley twins and their spouses came over and Cho said “This is who you should be talking to, Angelina’s with the Falcons; she’s a real Quidditch player!”

Dean looked directly in Cho’s eyes and said “But she’s married,” and smiled.

Fred and George swooped in to give Hermione kisses on either cheek. “Happy Birthday – “ “Hermione.” “Do you like the – “ “decorations?”

“They’re wonderful! New products?”

“Yes, we’re working on – “ “A new holiday line – “ “For Christmas too.”

There was a sudden commotion over by the study tables and Terry called, “Hermione! Come over here!”

It was a big cake with icing on it saying “Happy Birthday Hermione!” and 19 candles and a pile of presents and cards beside it.

They all sang “Happy Birthday” and she blew out her candles. Dobby made sure everyone was served as Hermione opened her cards and presents.

Her teachers and most of her fellow students just gave her cards, the teachers since it would be inappropriate to give gifts to a student and the students since most of them were short on pocket money. However, Indigo’s card had the key to the archives in it, with the note: “McGonagall knows I’m giving this to you.” Hermione looked at Indigo, then at the Headmistress, both of them smiling fondly at her. Remus’ card was also from Tonks and had a card for a gift subscription to PlayWitch and a gift coupon for a London sex toy shop. Hermione flushed deeply and tucked them into her pocket before letting anyone else look at the card.

Terry and Justin gave her several bottles of wine, Neville gave her a gift card for Flourish and Blott’s, and Draco gave her an extremely rare book on Celtic Runes, which made her throw her arms around his neck and kiss his cheek. Not one to pass up an opportunity, he pulled her close and kissed her back – on the mouth -- causing her to pull back quickly out of his arms as Ron shot to his feet, hands balled into fists and his ears turning red. It put a very smug look on Draco’s face until she opened the jewelry box with the necklace and she burst into tears and insisted that Harry and Ron put it on her Right Now.

Dean gave her a drawing of her, Ron and Harry sitting on one of the common room sofas together. Cho Chang gave her a pile of London Lights Quidditch tickets, Fred, George and Alicia gave her a big box of WWW products, and Angelina gave her 3 season tickets for the Falcons, at which Cho looked a bit put out. Lee Jordon brought a case of ale, which he kept out of sight of the teachers, and Lavender gave her a pink makeup case with makeup, quadrupling the amount of makeup she owned and making her lips twitch a bit as she thanked her.

After the cake was consumed and everyone had been thanked, the teachers began to take their leave. In the midst of this Lavender’s fiance showed up and was introduced around. The 8th Years got out their CD player and Tonks and Remus (who had lingered as the other teachers left) had brought along some of their CD’s that they knew Hermione liked.

Justin popped open several bottles of wine, Lee brought out the magically chilled ale and Hannah began to hand around her flask, several students mixing the fire whiskey with the muggle soft drinks.

The trio sat with Tonks and Remus for a bit and Denny bounced over to say hello and enthuse about the party and the cake and then bounced away again to talk to Luna. They weren’t sure what he wanted to talk to Luna about but they both seemed enthusiastic about it.

Justin came over with a fresh bottle of wine and glasses and offered a glass to both Tonks and Remus. Remus accepted and praised the vintage, which made Justin preen a bit, but Tonks said she was more of a beer kind of girl, which had Lee, Fred and George falling over each other to fetch her one.

Hermione saw Oden talking to Draco and since she had only spoken to him briefly when he arrived, she went over to say hello. They were deep in a potions discussion which she could just follow and occasionally chime in on. When Lavender came over the conversation diversified, and Hermione could understand why Lavender loved him and he her. He coddled her in an old-fashioned way that Lavender appreciated. Hermione acknowlendged to herself that she was a little envious, but also that it would drive her crazy in a short amount of time.

The engaged couple left shortly after and Draco turned to Hermione, his eyes bright. Hermione suspected he had had a bit to drink and while he wasn’t slurring there was a relaxed tone in his voice she had never heard there before.

“So you liked my present?”

“It’s marvelous Draco! Where ever did you find it? Hogwarts doesn’t have it and Indigo says she knows of only two other copies.”

“I have to admit, it’s from the family library.”

“Draco, you shouldn’t be giving me something like that!”

“Why ever not? If I ever need information about ancient Celtic Runes, I’ll know who to go to.”

“Well, thank you again.”

“I liked the other thank you better.”

“Draco, are you flirting with me?”

“Trying to. I don’t seem to be very successful though.”

“I already have two boyfriends; I couldn’t handle three.”

“Well, if you ever decide you’d like one straight one instead of two gay ones, let me know.”

“Bi, Draco; they’re bisexual.”

“Whatever. Just remember I’m here if you want me, all right?” He caressed her cheek and leaned in like he was going to kiss her, but she ducked away.

“Maybe you should have coffee or something. You’re not really interested in a muggle born like me.”

“I think I am. Pomfrey says I should follow up on my interests, that I’m repressed.”

“Are you seeing Pomfrey for therapy too?”

“I just said so, didn’t I?” Now his voice was sounding tired and sarcastic, and Hermione patted his arm.

“Are you on a potion too?” He nodded vaguely and Hermione sympathized with his cloudy state. “I think you should get some sleep. You aren’t supposed to drink on that you know.”

“It was just one glass of wine.”

“In this case, one too many.” She grabbed his arm and steered him through their hallway and to his door. He was leaning on her so she supported him over to his bed where he sat and began to toe off his shoes. She took the opportunity to look around his room.

He had spelled the walls a light mellow green that made Hermione think of mint ice cream. Instead of the student issue furniture he had obviously brought in furniture from home, all of it was handsome, well made and tasteful. An inside room, it had no window, but he had a painting on the wall.

“Is that a Monet?”

“Yes,” he replied, groggily taking off his shoes.

“A copy, surely.”

“Don’t call me Shirley. No, an original.”

“Wow, it’s beautiful. I’ve never seen it before.”

“It’s the view of the garden from my bedroom window at home. We actually have several Monets in the gallery.”

“Really?”

“You could come and see them sometime.”

“Really?”

“Really.”

“Can I bring Ron and Harry?”

“If you have to.”

“I do.”

“All right then.”

Draco had stretched out on the bed and Hermione pulled the comforter over him.

“Good night Draco.”

“Good night Hermione. You are beautiful you know. Thanks for tucking me in.”

“You’re welcome.” She dropped a kiss on his forehead and spelled the lights off as she left.

Back out at the party she found the noise had gone up a couple of notches and Remus, Tonks and Denny saying goodbye to Harry.

“There you are Hermione! We’re taking Dennis here back to Gryffindor Tower.”

She followed them out to the hallway so she could give her werewolf professor and his metamorphmagus partner a hug and kiss out of sight of the other students, then embarrassed and delighted Denny by doing the same for him.

Back inside Harry asked “Where were you?” and goggled at her disbelievingly when she answered “Tucking Draco into bed.” She left out the attempt at flirting but relayed the invitation to his manor.

“He was drunk, wasn’t he?”

“Well, yes.” She didn’t mention that he was in therapy and on a potion too.

The groups of partiers had shifted again. The twins, with their spouses, Lee and Ron were sitting around the study tables, where Dobby had left a selection of party foods, and the former students were talking about some of the WWW products they brought along and setting off more No-burn fireworks. Everyone else was bunched up on the seating around the fireplace, including Dean and Cho, but Neville was missing. “Where’d Neville go?”

“To see a girl, he said. I don’t know if it’s the Gryffindor or the Ravenclaw he’s seeing tonight.”

“He’s seeing them both of them?”

“Yes, but not together.”

“And they’re OK with this?”

“They don’t know about each other.”

“Like that’ll work at Hogwarts. Doesn’t he know that gossip is the only thing that moves faster than light?”

“Don’t swing that brush too wide there.”

“Yeah, I know.”

They sat with the group by the fireplace for a bit, and a short while later Fred, George, Angelina and Alicia came over to say good night. Cho asked to walk with them to the gate where they could apparate.

Now that only the 8th Years were left they settled down into their usual patterns. Hannah and Ernie were drunk, Susan, Dean and Justin were a bit tipsy and the rest were happy and chatty. It wasn’t long though, before Hermione felt drowsy and noticed Ron was yawning behind his hand.

“Thanks everyone!” Hermione said brightly as she stood up. “It was a great party, but tomorrow, well, tomorrow’s already here! I’m going to bed!” To a chorus of “Good night!”s Hermione went off to their room, with Ron and Harry hastily following.

She blinked with surprise at the package on the bed. “Another present?” she said as they came in behind her.

Ron and Harry grinned at each other. “One more present, but this is also for us.”

“What?”

“Open your present, Hermione,” Harry said, his voice already going low.

She tore open the wrapping paper and the three outfits tumbled out. Hermione choked a bit. “What?” She picked up the top one. It was a red silk camisole with matching knickers. The next was a sheer black lace baby doll nightie and the last a orchid satin spaghetti strap night gown, low cut both front and back with a full skirt.

Hermione was amused, pleased and embarrassed all together. “These are beautiful.”

Harry smiled, “Just gilding for the lily.”

Ron murmured in her ear, “Will you wear one of these for us tonight? Please?”

“Which one?”

“Any of them.” “Your choice.”

“All right.” Her lips quirked a bit. “I’ll go wash up. Why don’t you two, um, get comfortable.” She swept up the lingerie and headed into the bath.

Harry and Ron scrambled to wash up and were jumping into bed naked in just a few minutes. They fluffed up all the pillows, arranging and rearranging them, tussling over them until Harry managed to pin Ron down and kiss him.

“Gods, I’m so turned on.”

“Me too. I wonder which outfit she’s going to wear.”

The click of the opening door told them their wait was over.

Hermione stood in the doorway, shyly clutching the doorframe. The orchid nightgown barely covered her nipples, but then flowed like liquid down her body to pool at her feet. The thin straps gave the appearance of being both on the verge of breaking from the weight of the satin and being the only thing stopping the dress from slithering down her body to the floor.

Ron and Harry gaped at her from the bed, struck mute from the sight of her. She blushed and took a deep breath (the boys nearly gasping, watching the rise and fall of her chest) before taking a few steps into the room. Feeling a bit more confident, she spun in place, letting the long skirt of the gown swirl around her, then settle in waves from her torso on down.

Ron sat up and reached out to her, his lips moving without making a sound. Harry was frozen, barely breathing. She floated over and took Ron’s hand, and he jumped out of bed so she could slide into the center. She fumbled a bit with the long full skirt, but Ron helped smooth the fabric around her with gentle fingers, then sat facing her, taking her hands in his. “Merlin, Hermione,” he whispered. “You are gorgeous.” His tone was so tender and reverent she blushed all over again. They leaned together, his lips gentle but inquiring against hers, her lips parting as the tip of her tongue trailed over his lips. He hummed against her mouth, opening his mouth to invite her in. Breathing into his mouth, Hermione brushed her lips against his over and over, the friction and heat building between them, then slid her tongue in to caress the inside of his bottom lip, behind his upper front teeth, around the tip of his tongue. Ron whimpered, every sense focused on their mouths, and when she pulled away his mouth tingled.

Hermione turned to Harry, who hadn’t been able to tear his eyes away from her. It seemed to him that their kiss had used up all the oxygen in the room: he panted shallow and fast. As her dark eyes met his, he choked. “Hermione – “ gasping as if he had run a marathon, “You, I, oh gods, you are so, so beautiful.” He took her hands in his and turned them palm up, kissing each palm and curling her fingers over them, then kissing her knuckles and pulling them to his chest.

Hermione pushed him back onto the pillows, laying partially across his stomach and chest to kiss him lightly, then reaching over to Ron to bring him in close for another kiss. The satin of her nightgown flowed over Harry, the material cool over his skin with the heat of Hermione behind it. He rubbed up against her with a soft moan and she turned back to him, smiling, slid over him, covering him with her satin-draped body. She cupped his face in her hands and kissed him, softly at first, but with increasing passion as he slid his hands down her sides to her hips, holding her against him as he pushed his rapidly swelling cock against her satin smooth mound.

Hermione loved to feel their bodies against hers and the satin of her gown seemed to increase the sensation. Ron caressed her satin covered back down to her arse, appreciating the sight of her curves accented by the shiny material draping so provocatively over them. His hands drifted down her legs, over her thighs straddling Harry’s hips, down over the calves of legs tangled together. Hermione’s skin tingled in the wake of his touch.

Harry slid his hands up to her shoulders and brought the thin straps down her arms, and guided her arms to pull out of each side. He palmed her breasts, enjoying the feel of the satin over the softness as she pressed against his hands.

Ron slid up Hermione’s body, take most of his weight on his hands and knees, but pressing her between them. He nuzzled at her neck and kissed around the side of her face to kiss Harry as well. When they broke from their kiss, Ron breathed in her ear, “Tell us what you want, Hermione. Tell us what you want us to do. We are yours to do with what you will. Tell us.”

And Harry, underneath her, whispered, “Tell us.”

Hermione moaned just from the intent of their words, delivering themselves into her hands, and lay for a moment between them as her mind raced over the possibilities. Then she smiled.

“Oh yes,” she hissed and flexed against Ron, indicating that she wanted to get out from between them. When he moved back she pulled away from Harry and he gave her a pleading look, but obeyed with alacrity when she told him to put some pillows behind him and sit against the headboard.

“Spread your legs, Harry.” She took a moment to appreciate the sight of him spread open and under her control. Then she sat between his legs, her back against his chest and his cock rubbing against the satin over her arse. She wiggled against him, making him gasp and thrust against her, then took his hands and brought them to her breasts.

Harry moved one hand away long enough to brush her hair aside so he could kiss her neck, then returned his hands to her breasts, kneading them gently and enjoying the feel of them in his hands. He captured the nipples between his thumbs and forefingers, squeezing lightly and giving them just a bit of a twist. Then he played his fingertips over the hardened nubs, strumming them through the satin. He kept his mouth moving over her ear, neck and shoulder, open-mouth kisses and tasting touches with his tongue.

Hermione sank into Harry’s support, feeling like she was dissolving under his touch. She hazily opened her eyes to see Ron kneeling at the foot of the bed, watching with dilated eyes. “Ron,” she moaned, “Touch me.”

Ron moved slowly to kneel between their legs. He stroked their legs through the satin draped over them, moving steadily up over Hermione’s thighs, hips and stomach until he was moving his hands over her breasts and Harry’s hands. He leaned in close to kiss Hermione thoroughly, sucking on her lower lip and exploring her mouth with his tongue. Then he did the same to Harry as he leaned over her shoulder and she nuzzled into Ron’s neck with little nips of lips and teeth.

Ron returned his mouth to Hermione, kissing down her jaw and neck, across her collarbone to where Harry’s hands still fondled her breasts. He licked and sucked Harry’s fingers on her left breast as he slowly tugged, bit by bit, the satin from between Harry’s hand and Hermione’s skin. Each millimeter of newly exposed skin was laved, and he tongued the exposed nipple between Harry’s fingers, until the breast was completely freed and Hermione was moaning, her hands in Ron’s hair. Harry cupped the uncovered breast, offering it up to Ron’s mouth.

Hermione felt she was floating on a sea of arousal. Each touch through the satin, each caress on her skin, each touch of lips and tongue flowed through her like melted chocolate, pooling in her center. When Ron's lips closed around her nipple and he sucked, HARD, it went through her like a bolt of electricity.

Harry was making little whimpering noises, trying to contain himself but flexing his hips into Hermione’s arse. His hands on Hermione’s breasts seemed supersensitive and the sensations as he moved his fingertips over her hard nipples was entrancing.

Hermione slid her fingers through Ron’s silky red hair. He released her nipple from his mouth and angled up to kiss her. “Ronald,” she breathed into his mouth, “Eat me.”

Harry moaned and shivered, cock twitching at her words. “Ohhhh, yesss!” Ron hissed, breath catching. He moved back eagerly, then slid his hands up Hermione’s legs, pushing a wave of satin up into her lap. Laying down between their legs, he slid his hands between her arse and pressed up as he bent his head to take a long slow lick from perineum to clit.

He continued with the long licks as she writhed in his hands, anchored by Harry’s hands on her breasts and his mouth on her neck. He broke the kiss, leaving a small bruise, and whispered. “Oh, fuck Hermione, he’s got such a good tongue, doesn’t he? And he loves to use it, a bit oral fixation, our Ron.”

Ron began smaller licks, unfolding each fold and sucking on them in turn as he slowly exposed her opening.

“Nnnggh.”

“Cat got your tongue there, Hermione? Or is it Ron’s tongue that’s the problem. Look Hermione, his head’s so pretty there between your legs, all that pretty red hair spread out on your thighs as he licks up your juicy cunt.”

Hermione opened her eyes and looked at the halo of ginger hair trailing out on her thighs and whimpered. Ron ran his tongue around and around her entrance, then plunged it in as far as he could, wiggling the tip against the upper side of her slick tunnel. Hermione was breathing erratically and tried to reach down, desperate for a touch on her clit, but Harry caught her hands and moved his arms over hers, pinning hers in place before resuming his steady caressing of her breasts.

“No no love, no touching yourself. Ron and I will take care of that. Just a little patience.” He finally pushed the satin still covering one breast out of the way and began to pluck at the nipples, tugging then releasing them.

Ron replaced his tongue with two fingers, sliding in past his tongue as he moved up. His fingers pressed more firmly into the area he knew would make Hermione crazy, and she jerked beneath him, crying out, “Oh Ron, fuck!”

Ron glanced up at Harry and Harry was grinning down at him; they loved getting her worked up to the point that she would swear. Then he fastened his mouth onto her clit, sucking it and rubbing hard with his tongue, and she convulsed, coming hard enough to see stars.

When she came back to earth Ron had moved up to wrap his arms around her waist and lay his head on her stomach. Harry craddled her with one arm, hand still cupping, but no longer teasing her right breast, the other hand petting Ron’s hair where it spread across her belly. She could still feel Harry’s cock, hard against the top of her arse.

She felt lethargic; heavy and boneless in every limb. Regardless of her naps during the day, she was exhausted. But she knew Ron and Harry were still aroused and that they’d want more sex. In just a minute, she thought. I’ll do something about that in a minute.

“Hermione?” murmured Harry. “Would you like to lay down so you can sleep?”

“Hmm? I thought you and Ron would like a go.”

Ron raised his head and smiled up at her. “I think we’ve worn you out, love. No need to stay awake for us. A quiet wank’ll do us fine.”

“We’ll just close our eyes and think of you in this gown.”

“Flattery will get you everywhere.”

“Eh, she’s discovered our secret, mate, we’re in for it now.”

“Here love, sit up a bit,” Ron got up and Harry slid out from behind Hermione and they both fluffed her pillows and tucked her in. Then Ron slid in next to her and Harry climbed on top of him.

“Am I about to be molested?”

“Like you aren’t as hard as I am!”

“Mmmmm, yeah, I guess I won’t fight too hard.”

“That’s good, I’m a little tired too.”

“Don’t feel too tired to me.”

“Yum. You taste like Hermione. Mmm.”

“A little lube?”

“Good idea. Here, let me -- .”

“Thanks.”

Giggle.

“Shhhh, you’re supposed to be asleep!”

“With you two wanking next to me?”

“We’re not wanking now.”

“It’s called ‘frotting’”.

“Need another hand?”

A moan and a gasp.

“Oh, yeah!”

“Shit, yeah!”

Panting.

“I love satin.”

“Me too.”

Giggle.

+++++

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.

This story archived at Table for Three - http://www.triofic.com/viewstory.php?sid=221

Chapter Text

The Eighth Year by LouHQ

Chapter 19: Chapter 18:

Author's Notes: Sorry it took so long, but I wrote 4 other storys in the meantine (only one was trio) did the holidays and all that etc, etc, the usual excuses. Anyway, sorry, the next one will be faster.


+++++

When the trio entered Hagrid’s – now Beor’s – hut, they were pale and subdued and it had nothing to do with being awake late the night before. Susan, Justin, Draco and Luna were already there. Justin seemed fine but Susan was a tad worse for the bright sunshine. Luna was Luna and Draco wouldn’t meet Hermione’s eyes.

They accepted Beor’s offer of tea and used the cover of cups and saucers to look around the hut. With the removal of Hagrid’s clutter and oversized furniture it seemed larger, less confining. Fresh paint helped the transition. The extra space made it almost big enough for all of them.

There was no ghost of Hagrid here, Harry realized, just as there was no ghost of Snape in the dungeons, and if Dumbledore still inhabited the school it was as a portrait on the Headmistress’s office wall. It was a thought that left him feeling both bereft and oddly hopeful.

Remus arrived a few minutes later and accepted the proffered tea as well. Beor looked about. "Well, we’re all here. What’s this all about?"

Susan launched into an obviously prepared speech. First she talked about Harry and Ron’s experience in Hogsmeade, then explained how that brought out revelations of a possible problem within the school, which definitely got their attention. Then she turned the presentation over to Justin, who outlined their exploration of the castle and ground’s defenses and the problems they found. It was the first full report Harry and Hermione heard, and they were shocked at the number of gaps Justin and his team found. By the look on Beor and Lupin’s faces they were rather taken aback as well.

"The Headmistress needs this information! Why are you telling us?" asked Lupin. "You should be taking this directly to Minerva!"

Ron stood, drawing everyone’s attention to him. "We want in," he stated, "and we want your backing."

Beor asked suspiciously, "What do you mean?" Lupin merely narrowed his eyes.

"We believe the D.A., and Malfoy, are targeted. We believe there’s a threat already in place here, as well as the threats from the remaining Death Eaters. We want to be involved in the assessment, the planning and the execution of whatever needs to be done. We realize the Headmistress may feel differently, and we want you two to back us up when we take this to her."

Beor snorted. "While it’s to your credit that you uncovered these problems, you are students here. I’m sure the Headmistress doesn’t require your help."

Lupin threw him a rather irritated looked, but said in a mild tone, "Susan, how many Dementors were destroyed during the last battle?"

"312," she replied crisply.

Beor raised an eyebrow.

"Luna, who cast the spell that did that?"

"We did; Dumbledore’s Army."

Beor’s other eyebrow went up.

"Harry, who was in charge of the strategy for the D.A. during the final battle?"

"Ron."

Beor blinked a few times rapidly.

"And Ron, who ended up in charge of the entire security system for the war camp?"

"Justin."

Beor’s jaw fell slightly open.

"Justin, the spell the D.A. cast that destroyed the Dementors? Where did you find that?"

"We didn’t find it. Malfoy and Hermione researched it; Hermione designed it."

"What!" Beor broke his silence during this questioning and shot to his feet. "You created a spell that destroyed over 300 Dementors?!"

Hermione looked at Beor with a stiff expression, a combination of pride, sorrow and irritation. "Harry isn’t the only one you shouldn’t underestimate."

Lupin nodded sharply, "Indeed. Beor, may I use your floo?" Beor nodded rather dazedly and Lupin contacted the Headmistress, asking her to meet with him and several students regarding a security issue. Her response was all they could have wanted as she asked that they come to her office immediately.

In the Entrance Hall, Beor received another surprise as Harry and Hermione headed for their dorm rather than staying with the group. Beor called after them, "Where are you going? I thought you were the leader of this group."

Harry snorted. Hermione said softly, "No, we’re weapons. Ron will let us know when he needs us."

+++++

Harry and Hermione were in bed when Ron came in: fully clothed, on top of the bedclothes and reading their textbooks.

"Ron!" "Hey mate, how’d it go?"

"Not bad. Come on, we’re meeting in the common room." His tone was abstracted and there was a line of tension between his eyebrows.

Harry and Hermione marked their places in their books and climbed off the bed, but when Ron went to open the door again, Harry said, "Wait a sec, Ron."

"What?"

Harry and Hermione wrapped their arms around him and took turns kissing him until the stiffness went out of his shoulders and he chuckled at them. "You know, if old Tom had gotten laid more often he wouldn’t have been such a pain in the arse."

"Is that why?"

"That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Let’s get this meeting done then, eh?"

Everyone was gathered in the Common Room except Neville who was off with his girlfriend ("and I don’t remember which one, so don’t ask," muttered Dean.) and the trio was the last to arrive. Susan called for everyone’s attention.

"The news is mostly good. Professor Lupin was very supportive and set up a meeting with the Headmistress right away. She was very impressed with the work we’ve done so far and agreed to keep us involved. She’s informing the staff this afternoon and wants representatives from the 8th Years to meet with selected staff members after dinner. We’ll be testing the Hogwarts wards by tomorrow."

There was an appreciative murmur from the students.

"She was less convinced by the idea of an internal threat or threats. She felt that since we hadn’t actually seen the person or persons following us that there was no proof of ill intent."

"We knew that was a weak point," Harry pointed out.

"Granted," Ron waved a hand. "I was more disturbed by her attitude on this one. She thinks we’re being paranoid." Hermione visibly flinched, and Ron glanced at her but went on. "She was willing to believe that there were weaknesses in our defenses, and that there were remaining outside threats, but she obviously didn’t want to believe that a teacher or student already here could be planning harm against us." He snorted. "You would think she wasn’t here two years ago. Or several of the years before that."

There were a number of covert glances at Malfoy.

"So we will need to address that problem ourselves." Susan finished.

"Right," Ron said. "Any ideas on that?"

"We need to know what’s going on in the Houses." Dean said. "I can’t speak for everyone, but I don’t know the first thing about House gossip these days."

"So how can we tap into that?"

"Those of us with friends in the House dorms can chat with them."

"Neville should be hearing something; he can’t be shagging all the time!"

"The Teachers’ Assistants can keep their ears open, maybe a little judicious prodding…."

"We can let the teachers know what our concerns are and see if they are willing to keep an ear open for us."

"Better be careful with that one; Slughorn would let it slip, I’m sure."

"That’s a point. But he is the Head of Slytherin, and no offense Malfoy, but we know there are people related to Death Eaters in that house."

"No offense taken, as long as we don’t ignore the rest of the houses."

"Lupin and Beor will help – "

"Sure about that? Beor was awful skeptical today."

"He came around."

"Sinestra once said she over heard a lot from her students; that when they were up on the tower and in the dark they seem to feel that they were hard to hear as well as hard to see."

"What other teachers would be likely to hear things?"

"Grubbly-Plank, Sprout."

"Pomfrey."

"Indigo."

"Joe Russell,"

"Who?"

"The new custodian."

"I’ve hardly ever seen him."

"Yet the castle is cleaner and better maintained than it ever was under Filch."

"Hmmm."

"We all have classes with 7th years. We should be talking with them anyway, we’ve gotten too insular."

"We need a gossip coordinator, someone who’s good at putting things together."

"Or two. We should be talking to the D.A. members who aren’t at Hogwarts too."

"I’ll do that," Dean said. "It’ll give me a good reason to talk to Cho."

"Want some London Lights passes?"

"Sure!"

"They’ve got a game this Saturday up here against Glasgow. A bunch of us could go; I bet she’d like that."

"Then Dean can chat her up and take her for a pint."

Dean smiled.

"We need to talk to Lavender; if anyone would know the gossip it would be her."

"I need to go to London soon, I could talk to her then," Hermione volunteered.

"You need to go to London?" asked Ron, confused.

"And you want to talk to Lavender?" asked Harry, even more confused.

Hermione rolled her eyes. "We’ll talk later. In any go round, Dean, do you want to split up our D.A. members and other contacts?"

"All right by me. Are you up to it?"

"I’m feeling much better now."

"Good."

"So, everyone keeps ears open and follows through on keeping the channels of communication open here in school. Dean and Hermione work out who talks to whom outside Hogwarts. Who’s going to be our gossip queen? Someone who knows how to interpret little details. Hannah, you used to be good at the gossip grapevine."

"What do you mean ‘used to’? I can do it."

"All right, that’s great."

Hermione resolved to keep her ear to the ground, though gossip was

not her strong point.

"So who’s meeting with the teachers this evening?"

"Susan and I for sure," said Ron. "And Justin, I think. Who else wants to go?"

Most of the students made various noises indicating that they would prefer to do almost anything than spend their Sunday evening in a meeting with the Headmistress and her picked group of teachers and staff, but Luna volunteered. Ron hoped that little wrinkle wouldn’t backfire on them.

+++++

After dinner Ron and his team went off to meet with the teachers and Harry and Hermione returned to their books on the bed. However they hadn’t been reading long before Hermione felt a hand ghosting up the back of her leg. "Harry!"

"What?" he asked, all innocence.

"I’m studying!"

"Mmm, me too."

Hermione shivered as Harry’s hand brushed up under the hem of her skirt and caressed her arse. His other hand pushed aside her book and touched her face, turning her towards him for a sweet, slow kiss.

Even as warm love and joy rose in her, Hermione’s doubts trickled coldly back into her mind. She pulled back gently from Harry’s lips, and took a deep breathe. "Shouldn’t we wait for Ron?"

"As much as I love Ron, I have to admit I’m feeling quite greedy about having you to myself for once."

"Oh Harry, you don’t have to flatter or coddle me. I know we don’t have the same kind of relationship you and Ron have."

Harry looked at her in confusion and disbelief. "What d’you mean?"

"You and Ron share a special relationship Harry, and I know that. I don’t mind, really." Her voice quavered a bit at the last, giving lie to her words. "You were friends before I even met you on the train, and best mates before we were all friends. I don’t expect…. I don’t want to intrude on that."

"Hermione." Harry whispered, his voice breaking slightly. He stopped and swallowed before continuing. "I thought we had something special too. What about all those times Ron and I would be on the outs, or you and he were fighting, and we’d be together, just the two of us?" Harry pushed to his feet. " What about the Time-Turner? And the Accio spell for the Tri-Wizard Tournament? Doesn’t all that mean something special?" Harry started off confused but as he went on his voice got sadder and sadder. "I thought we had something special Hermione. I thought we shared something, something different from what you and Ron or Ron and I share. I love you. I thought you felt the same." Harry stopped and swallowed hard. Hermione jumped up and went to him, looking up into his eyes.

"Oh Harry, I do, I do! It’s just, you and Ron, it’s so intense between you."

"It’s pretty intense between us too!"

"Yes, but – " Hermione looked away. "It’s not like you and Ron. Sometimes I think you want to devour each other. You shove each other against the wall, pin each other down, slam into each other." Hermione shivered, aroused just thinking about it. "With me you’re always so, so restrained."

"I see," said Harry, a note of discovery in his voice. "I think I understand. Hermione, we’re both blokes. We fall off brooms, get hit by bludgers, crash cars into the Whomping Willow. Blokes push each other around and wrestle and punch each other. Of course we’re rougher with each other."

He reached over and took her wrists in his hands. " And you, you’re not into the physical stuff so much, so I always think of you as, well, not as tough as Ron. Not that you’re fragile or weak, but, well. You don’t like flying, you’re not into sports, not even the Muggle ones, and you’re, you’re always clean and neat and organized."

During this last Harry slowly moved closer to Hermione, pressing against her and putting his arms around her, holding her hands behind her back. "You don’t look like someone who wants to be pushed up against a wall and fucked." He pinned her arms behind her and whispered in into her ear. "But maybe I’ve been wrong about that."

"Harry, you don’t hav -- " she whispered.

His lips crashed down on hers and he thrust his tongue into her mouth, silencing her words with his mouth. He pressed her wrists to her back, arching her against him as his mouth pillaged hers, possessive and commanding.

Hermione felt herself melting and fought against it, pushing back against Harry. But he pulled his lips from hers, muttered "Wingardium Leviosa" and she felt her feet leave the floor.

Trapping her between his chest and the wall, Harry fastened his lips to her throat, sucking hard, and reached under her skirt to tug her knickers down. He pushed his fingers into her crinkley hair, feeling her wetness coating them.

"Is this what you want, Hermione? Something hard and fast?" Harry’s breath was raspy and hot against her throat and Hermione whimpered, nodding frantically. She grabbed onto his shoulders, pressing her hips forward. Harry pushed three fingers in firmly, letting her juices coat his hand before beginning to thrust them in as far as he could.

Hermione was thrusting back, low, hard moans vibrating from deep in her throat. Harry was panting as his other hand unbuttoned his trousers and he pushed his pants and trousers down just far enough to release his cock. It sprang out, hard and purple, and he brought both hands to her hips to push her down, hard, onto his stiff member.

Hermione cried out, wrapping her legs around his waist to hold herself against him, thrusting against him as he fucked her into the wall. He roughly pushed up her blouse and bra and his mouth descended on a hard nipple and he sucked savagely.

It was enough; it was too much. Hermione came, stars sparkling behind her clenched eyes as her muscles squeezed around him, trying to push that much closer, that much tighter. Harry pushed harder, feeling her release, intensifying it with his assault and hurling himself over the edge.

They clung to one another until Harry realized he was mashing Hermione into the wall and staggered over to the bed with them still joined together. He lay down, holding Hermione on top of him and muttered "Finite Incantatum." Hermione’s weight returned to her and Harry sighed happily as she pressed down on him. "Oh fuck, Hermione, that was great!"

She chuckled against his lips as she kissed him. "Fucking great, that was, I think. Now I know what Justin meant."

Harry squinted his eyes open. "Huh? You talked to Justin about sex?"

"A bit. I guess I’d classify it as girl talk, except Justin’s not a girl."

"Yes, I noticed that!"

"Have you now? Should I be jealous?"

"No, should I?"

"Pfft."

"So what did he say?"

"Oh, I asked him what was it with the rough sex and he said it was fun but not for all the time."

"That might be more than I wanted to know."

"Harry, you’ve been doing more and more wandless magic, haven’t you? And silently?"

"Yeah. Wandless is easier than voiceless; I have to think about how I say it and say it clearly in my head, but I really only need my wand when I’m learning new spells now."

"Wow, Harry, you’re getting even more powerful than when you fought Riddle."

Harry frowned slightly but said depreciatingly, "Well, you still know tonnes more spells than I do and Ron can think circles around me in chess, and I still don’t understand plants like Neville does and – "

"Yes love, we all have our strengths and weaknesses. Let’s get under the bedclothes, shall we? I don’t feel like studying any more tonight."

"Hermione, are you feeling all right?"

"Hush, you. Oh, Harry! I put fingernail marks on your shoulders!"

"Oh? You should see the love bite on your neck! Want me to heal it?"

She touched the bruise thoughtfully. "No, I don’t think so. How about those nail marks?"

"Leave them."

They grinned conspiratorially at each other as they got back into bed.

As they settled into each other’s arms, Harry asked, "You do know I love you Hermione, don’t you?"

"Yes, Harry, I do. I love you too."

"And Ron adores you, you know that, right?"

Hermione rubbed her cheek against Harry’s chest. "Yes, I know. I love him too."

"So what’s going on then? What have I done to make you think I don’t love you?"

"Oh, Harry. It’s not anything you’ve done, it’s all in my own head, assigning motives and meanings to things that are meaningless or don’t mean anything like it. Madam Pomfrey’s been helping me recognize when I’m doing it. She says over-analyzing is a common stress reaction for analytical people."

"Knows you, she does."

"She also says some paranoia is common with people who have gone through traumatic situations like a war. All of us are susceptible to that."

"Paranoia? Is that why you reacted when Ron said McGonagall said we were being paranoid?"

"Yes, but personally it means that when I over-analyze things I add them up to something bad."

"Like what?"

"Well, most pertinent, one time you and Ron came back from Quidditch and were pushing each other around and, um, ended up having kind of rough sex and I felt really excluded."

"Shoulda just joined in."

"But the dynamic would have changed, you two were fucking, if I had come in it would have changed to making love."

"And what’s wrong with that?"

"Nothing, but….damn it! I’m not explaining it well."

"Hey, it’s complicated, I know it. The way I see it, we’re really dealing with 4 different relationships here."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, there’s the relationship Ron and I have. It’s a guy thing, we don’t talk about feelings much, we shove each other around, we play Quidditch and have a few laughs together."

"Oh, I’ve seen you two have heart to heart talks and be sweet to each other!"

"Yeah, when?"

"Um, let’s see. When I was hospitalized after I tested the Dementor spell, and when Hogwarts was attacked, and before the last battle –."

"Extreme circumstances, wouldn’t you say?"

"I suppose."

"Ron and I were best mates first, and that’s how we treat other, with sex added."

"You’re over simplifying things."

"Yeah, ‘course. And you make them more complicated."

"Point."

"Now you and him, that’s a whole different caldron."

"Well, I know I’m not his best mate."

"You’re his best girl. He’s loved you since third year at least, and you know it."

"Yeah," Hermione smiled into his chest. "And you and me?"

"You’re my best friend in every way Ron’s not."

"And you’re the same to me."

"Completes the circle, doesn’t it?"

"Mmm. And the three of us?"

"A team. The reason we went through all we did. Our future. Our family."

"Nice. I don’t know if I’d put it all the same way."

"Probably not."

"Ron certainly wouldn’t either."

"No, he saves his analyzing for battle tactics. He loves who he loves, and he gives everything to them. And we should know, he loves us most of all. Right?"

"Right. I love that about him. That and his hands."

"Oh, yeah, he’s got great hands." Harry ran one of his up Hermione’s back and she shivered a bit. "His hands feel so good because he loves touching us. And I love his mouth." Hermione twisted up a bit and began to nibble at his neck. "He sooo good with his tongue and lips." Harry was beginning to get a bit breathless.

"Oh yessss." Hermione said against his neck, and her hands began to stroke his torso. "I love his mouth on me, any where. And I love to watch his mouth on you, especially when he sucks you in."

Harry drew her face to his and they kissed gently but thoroughly. They had just broken apart for air when Ron walked in. "Merlin’s balls! What a great sight to come home to!"

Hermione stretched enticingly and Harry made a show of running his hands over her as he asked, "How’d it go, mate?"

Ron was stripping his clothes off as quickly as he could. "We got a plan worked out, everyone’s happy except Beor and Luna is insane. And I’m tired of all that. I’ll tell you about it tomorrow; right now I’m much more interested in using my mouth for something better than talking."

Hermione and Harry grinned at each other and together pulled Ron into their arms.

+++++


Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.

This story archived at Table for Three - http://www.triofic.com/viewstory.php?sid=221

Chapter Text

The Eighth Year by LouHQ

Chapter 20: Chapter 19:

Author's Notes:

I apologize for taking so long with this chapter!



Chapter 19: "Well, that’s quite the start to the day, isn’t it?"

Monday, September 21st

Hermione woke first the next morning. It was Monday, but it was early enough that they didn’t have to get up yet. She was lying on her side, facing Ron, Harry spooned lightly behind her; she carefully squirmed over to her back and stretched out, trying not to wake them.

Hermione could feel soreness in certain muscles. She smiled, thinking about how she had gotten so sore. The sex with Harry, fantastic as it was, had left her a bit bruised in places. Then Ron had joined them; first Ron had fucked her, then Harry, both of them sucking on her breasts during both sessions, and taking turns fingering her pleasure center while the other pushed into her.

She sighed contentedly, and her hands drifted to her breasts. She touched them gently, assessing their tenderness. She rolled them softly, and felt a sliver of desire slide through her as her fingertips grazed her nipples. She shouldn't be getting aroused so easily as this, she thought. After all she had come three times last night. Except sometimes she thought that the more sex she had, the more she wanted it.

And it felt good, she thought, giving up on the idea of stopping. She circled her fingertips around and around her areola, then raised her hands to her mouth to lick her fingers and moisten her nipples. The movement pushed the bedclothes down below her breasts and the nipples hardened further as they were exposed to the cooler air.

Circe, that felt good. Hermione pinched the nipples a little harder, and the feeling made her lower muscles contract. She slid her left hand down between her legs, brushing the tight curls there softly, slowly working her fingers through her pubic hair. Her labia were slightly swollen; again, or still, she wondered. Didn’t matter. She smoothed a single fingertip up and down her nether lips, slowly parting them. Her silky liquid coated her fingertip, and she gently inserted it into the entrance to her vagina.

A bit sore there too, she realized, circling her finger about. But a little experimentation told her the soreness could be played with, adding to the sensation if not pushed too far. Her right hand was wandering back and forth between her breasts, rubbing and squeezing. Finally she abandoned her breasts in order to touch her clitoris while she added a second finger to the one probing her entrance.

The fingers on her clitoris touched lightly at first, dipping down to gather a bit of moisture to smooth over that sensitive bundle of nerves. Circling lightly with those fingers, she could feel the muscles clenching around her other fingers in her cunt. The feeling sent another pulse of desire to her clit, which caused her to rub a bit harder, which made her clench more.

The circuit of desire drew her in and she lost track of her surroundings, her hips undulating as she pleasured herself.

Her reverie was broken when she felt hands brush across her stomach from either side. She jumped slightly and opened her eyes to see Harry and Ron gazing at her.

"Hermione," Ron breathed, "Are you wanking?"

"Yes," she moaned, "I’m almost there," not stopping as they pushed the bedclothes down a bit further, laying her bare before them. They wondered at her hands, fingers disappearing and reappearing between her legs as the other fingers rubbed faster and harder. "My breasts", she gritted out between clenched teeth. "Suck my nipples, not, ow! Not too hard! Oh yes! Ah!"

Her breath shuddered as she tried to breathe through the pleasurable convulsion, and as the waves receded she brought her hands to their heads and patted them gently away from her chest. "That's, that's quite enough, stop, thank you. No more, thanks; they’re a little sore. Mmm." and she lay quietly for a minute between them, while Ron and Harry looked between her and each other, a bit stunned.

Then her eyes popped open and she grinned saucily up at them. "Well, that’s quite the start to the day, isn’t it? I’m off to shower."

She scrambled off the bed and bounced, jiggling pleasantly, to the door, where she turned and smirked back at them. "Coming?"

+++++

The trio had a bounce to their step and smiles on their faces when they made it to the breakfast table that morning. The other 8th Years smirked a bit, but some of them had their own happy faces. Conversations were general and revolved around classes and studies, but when Susan and Hannah started to leave, Ron spoke up.

"Can everyone meet in our common room after dinner?"

Nods all around, except Terry said he was doing an extra study session with Madam Pomfrey right after dinner and Neville said he was going out later so it couldn’t run too late. Then as the rest of them were gathering their books to leave for class, Beor, who had been eating in the Great Hall for a change, approached the table.

"Ms. Lovegood. Madam Indigo and I would like to speak with you."

"That would be nice, you both have beautiful voices."

Beor blinked. "Please meet us in Madam Indigo’s office in 10 minutes," and he stalked off.

Luna smiled a smile that was almost sly. She asked Ron to tell Professor Sprout that she would be late, and wandered out the doors of the Great Hall. Ron and Justin exchanged a smirk, and Hermione remembered Ron’s comment from the night before.

"So what happened with Luna last night at the meeting?"

"It’s a bit of a story and we’ve got to get to class. Ask Justin."

The 8th Years split up, with Justin, Ernie, Neville, Susan, Hannah and Hermione heading to Transfigurations on and the rest to Herbology.

"Luna’s really good with group magic and wards," Justin began. "I knew that from working with her on security last spring. I didn’t know where she got it from though. Then when we were talking Friday night about the security here at Hogwarts, she drew up a protective warding that was based on coven magic."

Ernie and Neville both gasped. "What?" asked Hermione.

"They practice sex magic in covens!" explained Neville, blushing bright red.

"And have orgies!" sputtered Ernie.

"Oh, honestly! Most covens are based on spirituality, so that can’t be the only type of magic they do! And who are you to point fingers, Neville? And orgies! Really!"

"I don’t know much about coven magic," said Justin. "I doubt it’s all about sex. But the ritual Luna designed to raise new wards for Hogwarts is based on sex magic."

"See!" "Told you!"

Hermione gaped at Justin.

"The teachers and staff that were there obviously knew what she was talking about, and McGonagall, Beor and Indigo all commented on the ritual as being well designed. Then McGonagall pointed out that to do it properly they would need a priest and priestess, and Luna said there was a Priest and two Priestesses in the room."

"What?!" "Huh?" "Who?"

"Indigo, Beor and Luna herself."

They gaped at him, Hermione’s mouth working but no sound emerging. He grinned at their gobsmacked expressions. "That’s probably why they are talking to her now. From what they said last night, I think they are deciding who is taking the parts of the priestess and priest." He slid into his seat, adding, "Though Sprout said they only really needed one trained spiritual leader in the ritual, that the trained person could guide the untrained one."

The rest of them scrabbled for their seats as McGonagall walked in, but Hermione leaned over to Justin to hiss "Luna and Beor can’t, you know! He’s a teacher! And she’s a student!"

"Didn’t seem to bother her last night."

+++++

Ron told Harry, Dean and Draco what had happened at the meeting with McGonagall’s picked staff last night as they walked to Herbology; Terry had already heard it from Justin but enjoyed Ron’s version of events. This group was less impressed with Luna being in a coven than they were that she had proposed a Great Ritual before staff and teachers. Ron laughed again as he told about Luna calmly saying that Beor was a Priest and that either she or Indigo could play the part of Priestess.

"The look on Beor’s face! You’d think she was volunteering him for an orgy!"

"Wasn’t she? I’ve heard all sorts of things about coven magic," Dean asked.

"I don’t know a thing about it," confessed Harry. "I always thought covens were a Muggle fantasy."

"Pfft!" snorted Ron. "Mum and Da were in a coven before they had us. It’s a bunch of witches and wizards who do spiritually based group magic. Some of them use sex magic, but not all of them."

"What’s this Grand Rite then?"

"The Great Ritual," Malfoy corrected. "Oh, that’s sex magic, all right. The other participants focus their magic on the priest and priestess, and they use sex to focus and amplify it. Very effective."

"The weird part is, when and where did Luna become a priestess, and how did she know the Beor and Indigo had reached that level?"

Sprout’s entrance cut off their speculations and they formed partnerships for the day’s lesson. Ron and Harry took their Scotch Broom plant off to the end of the table; Ron began to harvest the shaggy, brownish-black pods and Harry split them to remove the seeds.

"I gotta tell you about Hermione," Harry whispered, and proceeded to tell him the details of their conversation and the subsequent sex from the night before.

Ron gulped. "Blimey, mate, wish I could’ve seen that!" He squirmed a bit, trying to get comfortable, and thanked the gods for student robes. "So she wants it rough sometimes?"

Harry nodded, his hand on Ron’s thigh beneath the table. "She left fingernail marks in my shoulders."

Ron whimpered, just a bit. "Mate, stop talking, I can’t take it."

Harry smiled into Ron’s eyes, that warm loving look that went to Ron’s cock via his heart, and slid his hand further up his thigh. Ron closed his eyes lest he start rubbing himself against Harry’s hand, and he got up and moved around the table to get at the pods on the other side of the plant. Harry watched him and leaned over to breathe into his ear, "I don’t have to help Remus after this. We’ll have a whole class period free before lunch."

Ron grinned, but still couldn’t look at Harry.

+++++

At lunch, with all the other students around, nobody asked Luna about her meeting with Beor and Indigo, but Hermione noticed she was frowning slightly.

In the library during their research session, Hermione made a point of asking Luna if she needed help finding anything. Luna was wandering in the aisle with the school’s small collection of muggle fiction.

"I don’t think it’s here," said Luna, sounding sad. "I don’t need it, except to make me happy."

"What is it?"

"’The Fifth Sacred Thing’ by Starhawk".

"Would Flourish and Blotts carry it?"

"No, it’s a Muggle book."

"Foyles, then?"

"Possibly, but Gay’s The Word would be more likely."

"Let’s see if Madam Indigo would go with us to London Saturday morning while the others are at Quidditch practice."

"You would go to a gay bookstore with me?"

"Why not?"

Luna beamed at Hermione. "Yes, why not?"

Hermione hesitated, not wanting to offend, but then this was Luna, who would most likely not be offended, but who would interpret the question to mean, well, who knows what she would make of it? This was Luna.

"Luna, I don’t know anything about Coven magic, but Ron says you designed a security ritual for Hogwarts using it. Would you tell me about it?"

Luna’s smile became brighter, almost overshadowing the sad look still in her eyes. "How about after the D.A. meeting after dinner?"

"All right."

+++++

Madam Indigo was mending a book that looked like it had been a plaything for a hippogriff when Hermione stopped before her desk. Mindful of the other students around them, Hermione asked politely, "Madam Indigo?"

"Yes, Ms. Granger?"

"Luna is in need of a book not in the Hogwarts library. It’s a Muggle book, available in London. Would you consider accompanying us on Saturday morning?"

Indigo grinned. "It doesn’t take much to convince me to go to a bookstore. Why not?"

+++++

Chocolate biscuits were the sweet afters for dinner that night and Hermione was amused to see that everyone had smuggled some out to their dorm. She wondered if they forgot they could summon a House Elf to bring them cookies now, or if it was just habit from their earlier years at Hogwarts to pocket sweets for later.

Once everyone was there Ron got their attention and summed up the meeting with the staff and teachers the night before. "McGonagall asked Sprout, Beor, Indigo, Babbling, Vector, Lupin and Flitwick to work with us. I’d wish for fewer, but each have their area of expertise and they’re all relevant. Sprout and Beor are going to investigate the wards outside the castle. Neville, Luna and Dean, I’d like you to work with them. Babbling, Vector and Flitwick are going to work on internal security; Justin and Malfoy, can you work with them? All right then. Lupin and Indigo are on research; Susan, can you liaison? Thanks. Other than that, the only thing on our plates is the Great Ritual. Luna?"

"Beor told me this morning they decided not to do it."

Reactions ranged from "Of course they wouldn’t!" to "Why ever not?"

Luna responded to Malfoy’s indignation with uncharacteristic bitterness, "Why do you think they refused it? It involves sex magic. Can’t have students involved with anything to do with sex. Can’t endorse anything to do with sex at Hogwarts. It’s more important that parents believe their children are safe at Hogwarts, and that includes lack of sexual activity, than to do something that actually will make them safer."

The room became noisy as the students broke into arguments. Ernie, Neville and Susan were adamantly supportive of the teachers’ decision while Dean, Ron and Luna argued for it. Hannah and Hermione seemed to vacillate while Draco, Justin and Harry mostly stayed quiet. Finally Ron called a halt to it. "It doesn’t matter anyway, McGonagall will not condone it, so what we think doesn’t matter." He didn’t bother to mask his bitterness.

+++++

Luna slipped away after Ron called a halt to the argument, and when the rest of the group started to move on to different activities, Hermione followed her down the other hallway and tapped on her door. When she heard Luna’s soft voice calling "Come in." She spared a second’s concern about whether or not Luna would be dressed. She was; she was at her desk, scribbling furiously in a notebook.

"Make yourself comfortable; I just want to get this down," she said absently to Hermione, and Hermione sat on the bed and looked around.

The last time Hermione had been in here she had mostly looked at the floor. Now she noted that the bed, desk and wardrobe were standard student issue like theirs, but Luna also had a set of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. Hermione was immediately jealous. Each shelf had, besides books, a scattering of odds and ends: colorful or oddly shaped rocks, a fossil of a gastropod, a small animal skull, a Muggle toy car, a small round mirror. One shelf had a clear area in the center of the books holding a small censer, a short bone hafted knife, a blown glass goblet, a short, fat candle and a small pottery plate with a pentacle inscribed on it. There was a beautiful painting above the desk of a man with horns on his head, leaning back as he blew a large, curved horn and silhouetted against bare-branched trees. On the opposite wall was a picture of a bare breasted woman, blindfolded and holding a sword, with a crescent moon behind her.

Hermione looked at the bedside table, piled high with books. Beside them was a simple framed photo. A very young Luna and a man and woman she assumed were her parents were mugging for the camera, grinning and laughing. Looking at that carefree little girl, Hermione wondered what she would have been like had her mother lived.

"There!" exclaimed Luna, slapping the book closed. "I just had to get that thought down before a Wrackspurt came through here. You wanted to know about coven magic?"

A couple hours later Hermione was feeling overwhelmed by information, a sensation she wasn’t accustomed to. Luna had started with an overview of the different types of Paganism with a brief history of the major branches, outlined basic coven structure, went over the ritual tools and their symbolism, explained esbats, sabbats and the wheel of the year and finished up with the meaning of the saying "An’ it harm none, do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law. Love is the law, love under will." For Hermione, whose religious education to that point had been her parents’ tepid Protestantism, it was a revelation.

"So it’s not all sex magic then?"

"No, some covens do quite a bit of it, some don’t do any at all. My coven does the Great Ritual maybe twice per year, and then it’s usually between only the High Priestess and the High Priest. I haven’t taken part."

"You haven’t?"

"I’m a virgin. That’s why I was hoping to do the ritual here."

"Um…why?"

"The Great Ritual is an extremely powerful ritual. Doing it as a virgin would multiple the power exponentially. It would give the act such meaning, to do it for the safety of Hogwarts."

"That’s, um, very self-sacrificing of you."

"Nonsense. I have to get rid of it some time, might as well do it when it will do someone some good. Besides, I don’t have a regular boyfriend, and boys seem to be squeamish about virginity. Don’t you think?"

"I think my experience was out of the ordinary. We were all virgins together."

"How sweet!"

"Don’t tell Ron and Harry I said that! Ron would be ssooo embarrassed!"

"Not Harry?"

"Oh, a bit, but not like Ron."

"All right. I won’t say anything."

"Luna, how did you get involved with a coven? Is it like Christianity, where a child is baptized?"

"Oh, no. People can only be initiated through their own will. My parents were very involved with the coven and took me to the open feasts and celebrations, but they made sure I knew the basics of most of the major religions of the world and encoraged me to make my own decision. My coven accepts a woman as an initiate after menarche. I spent a year and a day studying neo-paganism in general and my coven’s system of beliefs in particular and then they accepted me as a full member shortly after my 14th birthday. My studies were so interesting I kept at it and the High Priestess named me priestess two months ago."

"Wow, I’m impressed!"

Luna shrugged. "Want a few books to take with you?"

"Sure!"

As she chose three books for Hermione, Luna said, "If you want a bookshelf like this, just talk to the custodian, Mr. Russell. He’ll install it for you."

"How did you know I was wondering about that?"

Luna smiled. "I saw you looking."

+++++

That night Harry woke from a nightmare where he flew above Hogwarts, watching a circle of darkness slowly closing around it, and though he flew close to the windows and called out, no one paid attention to him. He woke as the darkness lapped at the steps and began to flow into the Entrance Hall like some dirty tide.

Harry quietly slid out of bed. For a nightmare that one was fairly mild and he hadn’t woken up his bed partners. However, he could tell he wasn’t going to fall back asleep right away and thought to get a cup of something hot and sit up in the empty common room for a bit.

His assumption that there wouldn’t be anyone else awake was proved wrong. Justin was slouched down on the sofa in front of the fire, a disregarded Transfiguration book in his lap.

"You aren’t up this late studying, are you?"

"Not on purpose," he confessed. "I couldn’t sleep, and I figured why keep Terry awake just because I’m insane?"

"Yeah, I know what you mean."

"So what are you doing up?"

"Nightmare."

"Riddle?"

"No, dreaming about an unidentified threat to Hogwarts."

Justin sighed heavily. "That’s exactly what I’m afraid of. I feel responsible about it too. I have to believe that if the ‘War Heroes’ weren’t here, everyone else would be a lot safer." The last two Sunday Prophets had featured articles on the 8th Year students and the changes in curriculum, and both McGonagall and Harry had received a disproportionate amount of mail. The other students had received more mail as well, but not the same level as Harry, and of course the Headmistress, had received.

"I understand why McGonagall squashed the idea of Luna’s rite," Harry admitted. "But I keep thinking it would have been an effective safeguard."

Justin nodded, "Me too."

After a few minutes of silence, Harry said slowly, "Justin… what if we….did it ourselves?"

"Without McGonagall’s consent?"

"Without her consent, without her knowledge."

"I don’t know if we can."

"So we look into it, see if we can. If it’s feasible, are you willing to do it, even against McGonagall’s wishes?"

Justin starred into the fire for a long minute, then said quietly, "It may well be the difference between life and death for the teachers and students here. Yes, I’m willing. I’ll talk to Luna tomorrow and see what she thinks."

Harry let out a breath he didn’t know he was holding. "Good. That’s, well, I feel better now."

"Let’s not mention this to anyone else until I talk to Luna, yeah?"

"Yeah. I think I can get back to sleep now."

"Me too."


Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.

This story archived at Table for Three - http://www.triofic.com/viewstory.php?sid=221

Chapter Text

The Eighth Year by LouHQ

Chapter 21: Chapter 20:

Author's Notes: Not only did this take a horribly long time, but its short too! Sorry everyone, but the next chapter is partially written, so will be faster. I'm employed again, which is good, except it takes most of my time and energy. Wish I'd win the lottery, then I'd stay home and write!


Harry was groggy the next morning but he managed to pass it off as his usual morning megrims. His nightmares had diminished slowly over the summer, though all three of them still had the occasional flashback. He didn’t want his loves to know that they were getting more frequent again, even though they weren’t the old Riddle horrors.

It was easier to hide it because Ron wasn’t a morning person either, and Hermione had left early to go up to the Owlery. She had written letters to her parents and to Lavender and said she’s meet them at breakfast. A cool shower had helped him wake up and he managed to get to the Great Hall quickly enough to have a cup of strong tea before Hermione got back.

The day was busy, first with double Transfiguration, then with assisting in DADA. Remus had him training the 4th Year Slytherins and Ravenclaws in 3rd degree shields. This class was always a handful, as both Houses were sure of their superiority and ready to prove it. For some reason, having The Chosen One testing their shields brought them in line fairly quickly.

The 8th Year DADA class was right after lunch, and that was always tough, either mentally or physically or both. Professor Lupin was determined to make up for the shoddy DADA classes they had in the past and pushed them to not only be able to defend themselves against Dark spells, but to understand why things were considered Dark or Light and to think for themselves about the classifications. The class usually triggered at least one vicious argument that evening at dinner or in the common room.

That night his dream featured Riddle sitting at the Head Table in the Great Hall while dinner proceeded as normal and teachers and students alike ignored him. Harry was the only one who saw him, and as he stared, Riddle raised his goblet in a salute to him, drank deeply, and then threw back his head and laughed.

No one was in the common room when Harry stumbled into it. He was relieved; he didn’t want to talk to anyone. It wasn’t that he thought Riddle was returning; it was the idea of evil being present in Hogwarts and no one noticing. Ron was right, he wanted Hogwarts to be a safe haven. Denial was a long, long river.

+++++

Hermione noticed the circles under his eyes the next morning and nagged him until he admitted that he wasn’t sleeping well and was having nightmares. Ron jovially chastised him for not waking him up ("Mate, I’d’ve helped you get back to sleep!") and Hermione wondered if he shouldn’t start seeing Madam Pomfrey as well. All in all, he preferred Ron’s idea.

Justin pulled him aside at breakfast and said he had talked to Luna the night before, and she was willing to go through with the ritual without the McGonagall’s approval. Harry was a bit worried as they would need to hide this from many of their fellow 8th Years as well, but Justin said he had a plan. As this was Justin, not Fred or George, that comforted him rather than alarmed him.

Late that evening, when most of the 8th Years had gone to bed, Harry, Hermione and Ron slipped into the room with the hydrobath. Draco, Justin and Luna were already there.

The Quidditch players were appreciative of the hot bubbling water. The tactic of throwing Quaffles to each other at unexpected times in the hallways and common room was paying off, and as a result the pace of play had increased. The players were a bit sore and everyone accepted the sparkling blush wine Justin handed out.

"Not one of your usual reds?" asked Ron, taking a sip. "Ah, bubbles! Takes me back!" He smiled at Harry who blushed more pink than the wine.

"What’s this? Did Potter need some mental lubrication before another sort?" asked Draco archly.

"Nothing that lurid," Harry said dryly, though his cheeks remained pink. "We weren’t that drunk to begin with, and it was just a kiss."

"JUST a kiss!? Harry, I’m hurt! Just a kiss, he says." Ron’s joking tone and laughing mouth didn’t quite disguise the trace of honest pain in his eyes.

‘Oops,’ Harry thought, and laid a hand on Ron’s thigh under water.

"Well, not JUST a kiss," he admitted. "Our first, and a quite nice one at that!"

"Ugh, too much information," protested Malfoy.

"Draco, you can’t ask leading questions and then complain when you get them answered," chided Justin.

"Fascinating as Harry and Ron’s sex life is, let’s talk about sex with a purpose," proposed Luna. "I take it everyone here supports us doing the ritual on our own?" Nods all around. "Forgive me if I offend, but you all must realise this is not just another spell for me. This ritual has strong spiritual meaning for me, and I must be sure those participating are respectful of that." Her eyes rested on Hermione.

"I do respect your beliefs," said Hermione quietly. "The information you gave me was fascinating, and I would like to learn more."

"My Mum and Dad were in a coven before they had kids," Ron said. "Though they weren’t participating any longer, they made sure we understood the significance of the Wheel of the Year. I may not practice, but I certainly respect it."

"I’m not religious at all," Harry commented. "But I do respect YOU."

Luna nodded acceptance, and then glanced at Justin. "Justin and I already discussed this, several times." Then all eyes turned to Draco. To some of their surprise, he was smiling slightly.

"As you may have guessed, the spirituality my family practised was much darker than yours. Out of the many things for which I may or may not respect you, your coven practices are not one of them."

"I’m glad." Luna’s sunny look returned and Hermione noticed a bit of tension leaving her shoulders.

Justin said, "Let’s turn to logistics. When are we going to do this?"

"I was thinking about that," commented Ron. "We need to do this during the waning moon, right?" Justin, Luna and Draco all nodded. "Luna, are the teachers going to do the ritual themselves?"

"Beor and Indigo said McGonagall said she would not sanction doing it."

There was a moment of silence as they all processed that.

"Sssooooo," Justin said, "that could mean several things."

Ron began to tick them off on his fingers. "That she told then not to do it and they aren’t. That she told them not to do it and they are going to go behind her back. That she winked at them as she said it so they are going to do it while she carefully does not look."

"Plausible deniability," Hermione said, nodding thoughtfully. "So if there is any record of this, she’s down as forbidding it, but in the meantime, Beor and Indigo go ahead with it and we get the protections anyway."

"If that’s the case, why do we have to even think about doing it?" Draco asked. "Wouldn’t it be redundant?"

Justin shrugged. "Maybe I’m paranoid, but I think we should do it as well. The doubled protection can’t hurt. Maybe cast our circle further out than theirs."

"Or closer in," Luna said, nodding. "Besides, out ritual will be much more powerful than theirs, as we are more innately powerful than them, and with two virgins."

Silence fell as everyone looked at her, slightly confused.

"Surely you’ve thought this through already? Indigo is very clever, but she’s neither as smart as Hermione nor does she have the depth of learning Hermione does. I’ve heard her say so herself. While she reached Priestess status in her own coven, that was several years ago and she has not been practising for the last three. I have, and I don’t mean to sound immodest, but I have a stronger magical core than she. Probably has to do with my habit of absorbing the magical radiances. Beor’s natural talents do not lend themselves to warding the way Draco’s, Ron’s and Justin’s do, with all their practice during the war. And there is no denying that Harry is the most powerful wizard that we know of. As for the other, four of you have vowed sexual exclusivity. I won’t be part of the breaking of vows. That means Draco would be in the centre with me."

Draco was so red that Harry thought the water in the hydrobath would evaporate.

"Draco’s a VIRG--," Hermione clamped her hand over Ron’s mouth and Harry fought back laughter while Justin grinned broadly before bringing his features back under control.

"Thank you, Lovegood, for blurting out that bit of information." Draco snapped out.

Luna looked puzzled. "Why does it bother you, Draco? Do you really care what they think? I’m happy that it’ll be your first time as well; it will be a much more powerful ritual because of it."

Justin redirected the conversation. "Do we do this before or after they do theirs?"

"After," Ron stated. "If we get caught before we complete it, at least their protections will be up. If we get caught after, they might decide they don’t need to do theirs. This way there will be two layers of protection in place."

"Presumably Indigo and Beor will be their centre; who else will be involved?"

"I think Sprout, she was for it."

"Remus," the trio chorused together.

Ron added, "But that means they won’t do it the first night of the waning moon; he’d be knackered."

"We should see if we can pick up some information from them."

"What, spy on them?"

"No, not really."

"Well, yes, really. We need to know when they do it."

"We don’t have to follow them around though, we have the Marauder’s Map."

""You never did tell me who made it."

"Oh, sorry! My Dad and three of his friends while they were here."

"Really! You were going to ask if you could tell me the names. Did you?"

"Yeah, then I forgot about it. It was my dad, Sirius Black – "

"Black!"

"Yeah, he was my godfather. Peter Pettigrew and – "

"Bloody hell, Potter!"

"And Remus Lupin."

There was a moment of silence as Draco and Justin gaped at him. Even Luna looked impressed. Finally Justin shook his head. "Potter, has anything been normal in your life?"

"What’s normal?"

"I guess that answers my question."

+++++


Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.

This story archived at Table for Three - http://www.triofic.com/viewstory.php?sid=221

Chapter Text

The Eighth Year by LouHQ

Chapter 22: Chapter 21: Friday, 9/25.

Author's Notes:

Deepest apologies for missing a large part of the last year.  New chapters will come faster, I promise!

-*



Chapter 21. Friday, 9/25

Remus was starting his Third Years on a new chapter and left Harry off the first 2 classes on Friday, for which Harry was extremely grateful. He had stayed up late Thursday night in a desperate bid to catch up on his homework. He managed to finish his reading in Herbology; he thought he had a good grasp on the text, especially after the 8th Years spent their lunch time talking about it around their table and Neville complimented him on his understanding of wide leaf nettles and their compainion plant, the spotted touch-me-not.

He had also finished his essay on the difficulties of transfiguring ferrous based metal objects into carbon based objects, so spent the free time Friday morning reading the chapters on weather charms and completed the worksheets for them before joined Remus in introducing the 5th Year Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs to the Kelpie living in the far end of the lake and helping them practice their placement charms.

That left his reading for history (which he had tried to do all week but kept falling asleep), the first five chapters of a book on ethics for Defence Against the Dark Arts and a Potions essay on the differing effects of human hair, nail parings and skin in potions. The topic made Harry’s stomach churn a bit, so he decided he'd do that next and get it out of the way. If he could do that this evening, he was sure he could get the rest done on Sunday, even if they were all out late Saturday night after the London Lights game.

He had finished the essay and taken his history book to the common room in hopes that the activity out there would keep him awake long enough to get through a chapter. Instead he let Ron talk him into a game of chess. ("Just one game, mate, then we’ll go to bed!"). Hermione had finished studying for the night and was perched on the arm of the sofa next to Ron. She was rubbing his neck and occasionally blowing in his ear, which was distracting him and helping Harry’s game immensely.

"Check!"

"What!? That’s cheating!"

"I’m not doing anything!"

"No, Hermione’s doing it for you! Ganging up on me like that!" Ron dramatically tipped his king over. "That’s it! I’m going to bed!" Putting the back of his hand to his forehead, he started to swan off towards the hallway when the entrance door banged open, startling everyone and drawing all eyes.

Terry panted, clutching the doorframe, "Neville’s been attacked! He’s in the hospital wing!"

Everyone was on their feet and heading towards the door. "What happened?" Dean demanded, hurtling out the door and grabbing Terry’s arm as he went by.

"I don’t know! I was working on some healing spells with Madam Pomfrey when Emma and Natalie brought him in. They were going to Griffindor tower from the library when they found him beaten and unconscious and levitated him to the infirmary. We got him stabilized and Pomfrey sent me to let you know."

Draco and Justin exchanged a glance and peeled away from the group. "We’ll check the hallways." Justin said grimly. "Pomfrey won’t let us all in anyway."

"You’re right," Ernie said, following them, and Susan, Hannah and Luna went with them as well, leaving the Gryffindors to continue with Terry to the Hospital Wing.

Madam Pomfrey and the Headmistress stepped in front of them as they ran into the infirmary. "He’s sleeping and he’s not to be disturbed," the mediwitch said firmly.

"How is he?" asked Dean.

She smiled reassuringly. "He’ll be fine by tomorrow. He has a concussion, a broken nose, numerous contusions and three cracked ribs. From the evidence I’d say someone hit him from behind, knocking him down and possibly rending him unconscious right off. The rest of the injuries were probably from kicks and punches while he was down. I’ve healed the soft tissue injuries and administered Skelegro potion. There will probably be residual bruising but physical injuries are much easier and faster to heal than magically administered injuries. I’ll probably be able to release him in the morning."

"Can I sit with him?" asked Dean.

"Yes, but don’t wake him."

Dean disappeared behind the curtain and McGonagall herded the trio towards the door. Three Fifth Year Gryffindor girls sat on a bench beside it.

"Go back to your dorm and let the others know he’ll be back in the morning," she instructed them. They were almost to the doors when Tonks slipped in.

"Headmistress. I came as soon as I received word. What happened?"

"Auror Tonks, good of you to come so quickly." Hermione rolled her eyes as Ron and Harry hid smirks. Tonks had made the journey so quickly, not because the Ministrey Aurors were so fast to respond, but because she had been upstairs in Professor Lupin's rooms. Hermione mentally gave her points for being fully dressed; she looked like she had just Flooed over from the Ministrey.

MacGonagall gestured towards the three girls on the bench. "These young ladies are the Fifth Year Gryffindors that found Mister Longbottom, beaten and unconcious in a corridor. I asked them to remain because I thought you may want to question them."

"Thank you Headmistress," Tonks smiled reassuringly at the nervous looking girls. "Where were you before you found Longbottom?"

They glanced at each other and the girl on the right answered softly, "The library, Auror Tonks."

"Think back to there. Did you see anyone or a group of people leaving together."

"We were studying at a table behind the Herbalogy section, by the windows. We couldn't see the entrance from there. I didn't notice anyone in particular when we were checking out our books." The spokesperson glanced at the others, who shook their heads.

The girl on the left spoke up. "But when we left the library, Davie Cooper, a Third Year, was just outside the door, tieing his shoe. As we came out of the library he finished and grabbed his books and ran off ahead of us." She hesitated, and Tonks smiled at her encoragingly. "There's two different ways to get to Gryffindor Tower from there. One is slightly longer and better lit and most kids use that. The other one is shorter and darker. Since it was getting close to curfew we took the shorter way and that's where we found Neville. I didn't see Davie after we left the library. He must have taken the longer way."

"Anyone else in the hallways?" They all shook they heads. "When you found Mr. Longbottom, was he conscious?" They all shook their heads again.

"We checked his breathing and heartbeat, and put an 'Imobilious' charm on him in case of neck injury. Then we levitated him here."

"Did you see anyone on the way here?"

"I know we passed several people but I don't remember who they were."

"I wasn't paying attention either."

"One of them was Romilda Vane, I remember hearing her voice as we came down the last set of stairs. There was a bunch of students from all the houses outside the Charms classroom, the Charms Club had just finished."

"No keeping this quiet then."

As if to illustrate her words, they heard shouting out in the hall. "Now what?" sighed the Headmistress. She strood to the Infirmary doors and flung them open. The trio, the three Griffindor girls and Tonks all followed her out.

Out in the hall were the two girls Neville had been seeing, both shouting that they were Neville’s girlfriend and the other should get back to their dorm and keep their claws off him. The Gryffindor girl said she was his girl friend because he had been with her that night and then the Ravenclaw said that it was her fault Neville was hurt.

"Quiet!" thundered the Headmistriss and the young women fell silent.

"Who are these young ladies?" asked Tonks.

"To your left is Rita Wendell, Gryffindor Seventh Year. On your right is Barbara Depry, Ravenclaw Seventh Year. Mr. Longbottom has been keeping company with them both of late."

Tonks' eyebrows arched in surprise. "At the same time? I knew he was brave but that seems rather fool-hardy."

Both girlfriends burst into angry and embarassed denials that the other was at all involved with Neville while vigiourously defending themselves as the only claiment to Neville's affections. They were interrupted when Susan and Ernie arrived, panting from their run, to report their findings. 

"We found where Neville was attacked, but all the tracing spells we’ve done haven’t shown us anything."

Tonks looked briefly torn, then turned to the Headmistress. "May I ask that these two be escorted to your office, so that I may question them there? I need to process the crime scene as quickly as possible. It shan't take me long."

"Certainly, Auror Tonks. Miss Wendell, Miss Depry, come along. You three," she addressed the 5th Years Gryffindor girls, "Please return to your dorm and don't speak of this to anyone until the investigation is complete."

"Let's go," Tonks commanded Ernie and Susan, and the trio and Terry followed them as well.

Justin looked up from where he was crouching beside a smeared blot of blood on the floor. He and Tonks nodded quickly at each other and he spoke as she started scanning the area with her wand.

"I think this is where he was attacked as well as where he was found; there's no signs that anyone was carried or dragged to or from here. All the blood on the floor matches Neville. These traces here -- you see here? and here? They look like robe hems have dragged through the blood. And there's a clear half print of someone's trainer here, leading away. No spell signatures I could detect."

"That matches his injuries. Pomfrey says no hexes, no jinxes. Physical damage only," Terry said.

"Muggleborn."

"Malfoy, this isn't the time for your pure-blood mania."

"That's not a far-fetched idea," Tonks said. "It's not a hard and fast rule, but Muggleborns often use their fists first and think of attacking magically second. But most people know that, and when planning ahead, Wizardkind have been known to try and throw off suspicion by using physical force only, and Muggleborn to use magic as well. But it is something to keep in mind."

Justin and Malfoy made faces at each other, then both grinned as they turned back to watch Tonks complete her examination of the area. After a few minutes she pocketed her wand and dusted off her hands. "That's it then." As if waiting for her words, two house elves popped in with buckets and mops. Tonks led them away and said, "I'm going to go talk to Neville's girlfriends now. Anything I need to know about them before I do?"

"He hasn't told us much about them."

"When I've asked he mostly tells me to mind my own business."

"Dean would be the one to ask; he's sitting with Neville.

"All right then. You lot get back to your dorm. No going around alone, hear me?"

"I'd like to go with you, if I may."

"You're not an MLE apprentice yet, Justin. Go on to bed. Weren't you all playing against the Slytherin House team in the morning?"

+++++


Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.

This story archived at Table for Three - http://www.triofic.com/viewstory.php?sid=221

Chapter Text

The Eighth Year by LouHQ

Chapter 23: Chapter 22:

Author's Notes: Thanks to a hateful online rant by a SF writer, a group of LGBT writers have formed The Outer Alliance. Our first group action is this September 1st Pride posting.

As a member of The Outer Alliance, I advocate for queer speculative fiction and those who create, publish and support it whatever their sexual orientation and gender identity. I make sure this is reflected in my actions and my work. 

Thanks to my betas, Leviathan and Mrs. Q. They do their best for me; any remaining errors are my own fault.



The next morning the 8th year Quidditch team, with the addition of Luna and Hermione, stopped to see Neville on the way to breakfast. His bruises were at the green and yellow stage and his nose still swollen. He was embarrassed by his appearance and the attention focused on him, but the others traded stories about their own stays in hospital and he felt less conspicuous. Harry, they all agreed, won the "most frequent patient" award.

"Pomfrey can put a sign on the wall, 'Harry Potter slept here'".

"'And here, and here, and here...,'" Ron continued, pointing at the different beds Harry used while recuperating under Madame Pomfrey's care. "Blimey, mate, they should just name the whole hospital wing for you!"

"Shut it, Ron!" mumbled Harry, embarrassed, but Malfoy laughed scornfully.

"That's not how you get wings named for you," he smirked. "You do it by giving whomping big piles of galleons."

"You'd know, wouldn't you, Malfoy?" snarked Ron.

"I knew you wouldn't, Weasel!" snarled Draco.

"Boys!" Hermione called them into line and they both clamped their mouths shut and looked away. The rest of the 8th years shared smiles and rolled eyes at the exchange.

Pomfrey chased them, including Dean, off to breakfast, assuring them that Neville would be released later that morning. Dean said he'd be back after breakfast to make sure Neville got back to the dorm.

"I'm not up to playing Quidditch today," he said apologetically. "While Neville's face was still swollen he breathed really loud and hoarsely. Then once in awhile he'd sort of hold his breath and then snort really loud when he started breathing again." The others laughed but Dean shook his head. "Laugh all you want, but it was impossible to sleep, waiting for him to start breathing again."

"S'alright," Ron said. "That's what we got extras for."

"What are you two doing with this rabble then?" Dean asked Luna and Hermione.

"We're going to London with Madame Indigo to buy some books," Luna said.

"The Lights game starts at 2 o'clock," Ron reminded them.

"We'll meet you at the Leaky by one then," Hermione assured him.

+++++

 

"Aren't we going to Foyle's?" asked Indigo as the cab turned onto Marchmont Street.

"We weren't planning on it, unless you want to go there after,"

"After what?"

"After Gay's The Word," Luna said, as the vehicle stopped at 66 Marchmont.

As they climbed out of the cab, Hermione took note of the somewhat perplexed and doubtful look on Indigo's face.

"Surely this doesn't bother you?" asked Hermione, disturbed that this could be a problem for a woman she considered a friend and mentor.

"On a personal level, not at all," Indigo replied. "I'm weighing the consequences here. On one hand, I go in with you and the Board of Governors fires me for taking students into a gay bookstore. On the other hand, I let you go in on your own, something happens to you, and McGonagall transfigures me into a bootscraper."

Hermione snorted and Luna said, "If teachers aren't allowed to use transfiguration as a punishment, that must apply to the Headmistress as well, don't you think?"

"I don't want to find out!"

Hermione asked, "Are you going to forbid us?"

Indigo rolled her eyes, "Oh yeah, and that's worked so well in the past, hasn't it? Remus and Tonks have told me about you lot, you know. No, let's go in. But I want you to know I really love my job!"

"We understand," Luna said, patting her on the shoulder. "We'll tell them we forced you."

"Right. And they'll believe that because?"

"We killed Voldemort."

"Oh, right. Forgot about that."

In the store the three of them split up and explored the store in their own individual fashions. Luna wandered off with no apparent destination, humming softly and occasionally touching the spines of the books as if she were greeting old friends. Indigo marched over to the main desk and began asking questions about teaching materials and resources.

Hermione wove a pattern through the store, getting a feel for the layout. History. Politics. Civil Rights. Arts. Fashion. Coming Out. Sex. Relationships. Pregnancy. Adoption. Parenting. AIDS. Legal issues. Media. Spirituality. Religion. Travel. International cultures. Lesbian studies. Gay Studies. Anthologies. Transgenderism. Drag Queens. Drag Kings. Gay Husbands. Lesbian Wives.

Hermione didn't go through the fiction section. She didn't want fiction, she wanted facts and figures. It had to be here. She woven through the store again.

"Can I help you find something?"

The woman was not much older than she was, but she made Hermione feel naive and inexperienced, which, she reminded herself, was ridiculous. The clerk had multiple piercings, tattoos, stylish eye glasses and multicolor hair that Tonks would have liked. But neither Tonks nor Indigo intimidated her by just a eye sweep up and down her body.

"I'm looking for the section on bisexuality."

"No such thing, dearie."

"No section?"

"No such thing as bisexuality."

"What?!"

"It's just a phase, dearie, for people afraid to come out all the way."

"I see." Hermione's voice would have froze the woman solid if she had been at all perceptive. "There are two books in specific I'm looking for: 'The Bisexual Option' by Fritz Klein, and "Bi Any Other Name', edited by Lani Kaahumanu and Loraine Hutchins."

"OK, dearie, let's just look them up and see if they are available." There was something in her voice that made Hermione think the clerk thought she was making them up.

They did have a copy of 'The Bisexual Option' and Hermione was glad of it; she had read it when they were staying at Lupin's but she wanted a copy of her own. She saw several other titles listed but none seemed available at Gay's The Word. The clerk made several other references to bisexuality being transitory, which bothered Hermione greatly. Was she just a stop along the way to gay for Ron and Harry? She didn't think so, but what if...?

Indigo had gathered several book lists as well as a hand written list of recommendations, and Luna held a copy of a thick book with tenderness and joy. Luna was also chatting and giggling with another clerk, this one with long hair and purple eyeshadow. Indigo herded them through the check out process. Indigo was obviously familiar with muggle money and even had a credit card, as did Hermione, and Luna surprised them both by having and easily using muggle money.

"If we don't dawdle, we can make a quick stop at Foyle's and still make it to The Leaky in time to meet the others before the London Lights game," Indigo pointed out.

"Are you going to the game?" asked Hermione, surprised.

"No, but I'll stick with you two until the others arrive."

Luna and Hermione rolled their eyes at each other but they knew the teacher had a point. They browsed through a small portion of the big (straight) muggle bookstore before heading over to the Leaky Cauldron. Since the rest of the 8th years weren't there yet they all ordered a bite to eat.

Ernest, Susan and Neville had stayed at Hogwarts, but the rest of the 8th year tromped in while Hermione and Luna debated dessert. They made quite a large group in the pub, and Indigo encouraged them to move along. After buying a supply of food and drink, they went out to the courtyard behind the pub to apparate away to the Quidditch playing field.

It was a much smaller field than the World Cup, of course, about the same size as Hogwarts' field. As the group climbed up into the bleachers on the home team side, a number of people pointed and whispered, first at Harry, then they began to realize who the rest of the people with him were as well. The attention began to make the group uneasy, and they made sure to put Harry in the center. Justin and Terry made it a point to sit above and behind the main group, giving them a better view to watch for problems.

Harry was staring intently out at the empty field, ignoring the murmurs around them. Ron and Hermione shared worried looks.

"I didn't think it would be so bad," muttered Harry to Ron.

Ron brushed his shoulder against Harry's. "Buck up, mate. Once the game starts, everyone will settle down."

“How did the game with Slytherin go?” asked Hermione, trying to get Harry's mind off the crowd.

Harry grinned and Ron groaned.

“Not the stunning victory Ron planned.”

“Our offense needs a lot of work. I kept the score down but we only scored twenty points to their ten when Harry caught the snitch.”

“So you won!”

“Yeah, but... I dunno, Hermione.”

“What?”

“I don't know if we're really doing them any good.”

“Ron. Is your team having fun?”

“Well... yeah.”

“Have they improved since they started playing?”

“Oh sure!”

“If it weren't for the Eighth Year team, would the house teams have any experience playing another team before they compete?”

“No, but -- ,” Ron was interrupted by the cheers of the crowd as the two teams flew onto the field.

The game between the London Lights and the Sherwoodshire Merry Men was intense but clean. The Eighth Years were unconditionally on the side of the Lights and cheered Cho on, screaming with delight when she out-maneuvered the Merry seeker and nabbed the snitch, ending the game with the Lights winning by 40 points.

Both teams and a number of their fans then repaired to a nearby Wizarding pub and took turns buying rounds of the local ale. It was after the third round when Harry turned around to avoid an overly enthusiastic fan to find himself face to face with Chang.

“Good catch, Cho!” he congratulated his former rival and crush.

She waved it away. “It wasn't anything special. I just got there first. Harry, I've been practicing the Wronski and I just can't get it. I almost lose my grip, no matter what angle I try it at. You pulled it off the first time you tried it! What am I doing wrong?”

Harry frowned. Cho was an excellent flyer and shouldn't be having trouble with a maneuver like that.

She continued, “Harve says women have less upper body strength and a weaker grip, but I exercize and I know I match most of the blokes on the team!”

Harry closed his eyes and pictured Cho on her broom. Mentally, he checked her posture, her arm position, her grip. “Cho, are you right or left handed?”

“Right.”

“This may be rubbish, but try advancing your right hand on the broom handle and keep your elbow tucked in. Lead with your right shoulder.”

“Krum rolls to the left.”

“He's left-handed.”

“Ah-ha.” Cho's eyes were slightly unfocused as she murmured his words to herself and went through the motions as she envisioned it. Then she grinned at him and said “I'll give it a try, but it sounds good to me. Harve always seems to have helpful suggestions for the boys, but he told me he doesn't like coaching girls. I'm the first woman on this team since he started coaching them 45 years ago.”

“Where's this Harve?”

She tilted her head and rolled her eyes towards a beefy, grey haired man with a walrus mustache. Harry thought he bore an eerie resemblance to Uncle Vernon.

“Why are you putting up with that, Cho?”

“It's a solid local team. A lot of their flyers have been brought up to the regional clubs. I'm hoping I won't be here long.”

“But you should be getting the same level of coaching as the blokes. It's not fair."

Cho shrugged and looked uncomfortable. "Harry," she said, "I've been meaning to tell you, I'm sorry."

"For what?" he asked, astonished.

"For coming down on you about the whole thing with Marietta and the D.A. It wasn't your fault, and she could have gotten us in a lot more trouble than she did. And you were right all along."

"You make it sound like I actually knew what I was doing. I was fumbling around like everyone else. I think the only one with a half decent grasp on things was Hermione."

"I suppose. At least I was right about being jealous of her."

"But I wasn't, I mean, I didn't think about her like that then!"

"Aye, but if someone had asked who was the most important woman in your life, what would you have answered?"

"Hermione," Harry admitted sheepishly.

"And now?"

"Hermione. It's been Hermione since First Year."

"See? Even when she wasn't your girlfriend, she was still your girl."

"Hey you two, what's got you looking so serious?" Dean intervened.

Both Cho and Harry shook their heads. "Just talking about what an idiot I was when we were younger," Harry volunteered.

"And how long he's been in love with Hermione."

"And don't leave out Ron; it's been just as long with him."

"Is that what all the fights were about? Aie, didn't think you'd all live through Fourth Year."

"Oi, Harry! C'mere!"

"True love calls."

"You mean bellows."

"Oh shut it you two!" Harry made his way over to Ron, feeling that one more unresolved issue had been laid to rest.

++++++

A/N: I mean no disrespect to Gay's the Word. I have no idea if they had a section on bisexuality either then or now. I know people like Hermione's clerk are still with us.

Both "The Bisexual Option" and "Bi Any Other Name" are real books. There are lots of others as well. I'll go ahead and recommend "Bi America" by my friend Bill Burlson; it's really good, and I'm not just saying that because I'm in it!
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.

This story archived at Table for Three - http://www.triofic.com/viewstory.php?sid=221

Chapter Text

The Eighth Year by LouHQ

Chapter 24: Chapter 24:

Author's Notes:

Short, but... I'm back!

 



A Pepper Up potion took care of the worst of the hang over symptoms but Harry still felt tired Sunday afternoon. With Hermione studying at her desk in the study and Ron reading on the bed next to her, Harry stretched out on the big bed in their bedroom. The herbology book he had used as an excuse was never opened as he pressed his face into the cool, soft pillow and let himself drift.

He was so relaxed that when someone knocked on their door, he had no idea if it was 5 or 50 minutes later, and he automatically said "Come in" as he released the wards on the door.

"Potter? Are you awake?"

"Sort of," Harry yawned and rolled onto his side, facing Malfoy. "What's up?"

"I can come back later."

Draco was clearly uncomfortable seeing Harry sprawled out in front of him like that. So Harry stretched lazily and said "No, s'all right. What is it?"

"Well, Hermione was the one that was interested, but I suppose I have to ask you all." Draco glanced around nervously.

"Spit it out Malfoy, so I can get back to my nap."

"Hi Draco!" Hermione greeted him brightly as she and Ron entered from the study through the bathroom.

Ron took one glance at Harry spread out on the bed and immediately climbed up behind him, spooning to him tightly. Harry leaned back into him, obligingly tilting his head so Ron could nibble on his neck. Draco took one look at the boys on the bed and turned away from them, blushing brightly.

"Hi Hermione. We talked about the artwork at Malfoy Manor. I have to meet with the family solictor at the manor this Saturday morning. I thought perhaps you could meet me there for tea, stay over night, and come back on Sunday. All three of you, of course." He nodded vaguely at Harry and Ron without actually looking at them.

"I don't think we have anything planned."

Ron stopped nibbling on Harry's ear long enough to say "Fine by me."

Harry opened bedazzled eyes and hummed "M'hmm," then visibly shivered as Ron's mouth dropped to his neck.

"Anytime," Ron said between kisses, "after" "the Quidditch" "game" "against" "Ravenclaw."

"Fine, I'll plan on it then." Draco said hastily, and left the room as if chased by the Grim.

"Honestly!" Hermione scolded the boys on the bed. "He's making an effort! Couldn't you wait till he left?"

"Hermione, I was just lieing here. I didn't do anything!"

"Hermione, look at Harry! How could I resist?"

Hermione looked over Harry. His hair was even messier than ever, his face relaxed and open from his nap and Ron's attentions. The very lines and valleys of his body spoke of sensuality, and the bulge in his denims told a tale as well. Hermione felt warmth pooling in her belly as she walked over to the bed. "I see what you mean," she said, trailing her fingers down his chest and stomach to rest warmly on his cloth covered groin.

Harry hummed again, leaning further back against Ron, who returned his attenion to Harry's neck while unbuttoning his shirt. Hermione unbuttoned Harry's denims and pulled off his trousers and pants. She got out the tube of lube and squeezed a bit into her hand before laying next to Harry and gently massaging his hardening cock.

"Mmmm, Hermione," Harry sighed, and he pulled her to him, burying his face in her hair. Ron leaned over Harry's shoulder to kiss her, and his hands left Harry's body long enough to push his own clothes off. Harry pushed up Hermione's skirt and found no knickers to slow him down. He fumbled over Hermione's shoulder to where she had left the tube of lube on the bedside table and smeared some on his own fingers.

"Give me some of that, mate," muttered Ron, and Harry obliged.

Now Harry's fingers delved into Hermione's folds as she pulled him closer to completion. He tugged lightly at her nether lips and dipped into her slick opening, exploring the delights of her cunt and teasing every kind of pleasure from her.

Ron's fingers caressed Harry's cheeks and crevice. The tender tracings around his opening built up until Harry began to push into his touch, and when Ron's fingertips first entered him it was all he could do not to impale himself on them. Instead he let Ron reach inside him, opening him slowly.

Finally, Harry could take no more teasing. Brushing away Hermione's fingers, he rolled her onto her back and pushed her knees up and out. She moaned as he sank his cock into her wet, gripping silk. When he could go no further, when he had filled her completely, he gasped, "Ron, fuck me mate."

Ron filled his eyes with their moving bodies. Damn, she looked so debauched split open like that, and so did Harry, hunched over to drive into her while keeping his arse open for plundering. Ron kissed her gasping mouth, tonguing her roughly before moving swiftly to her breast, sucking the nipple briefly yet strongly. He and Harry kissed then, all tongues and teeth before Ron broke away. He quickly positioned his lubed and leaking cock at Harry's arse before pushing, in one slow firm push, all the way into Harry, as deep into him as Harry was into Hermione.

They all cried out together as they ground into one another. Harry pushed into Hermione, then pulled away to push himself into Ron's thrust. They grunted and moaned and said "fuck" and "harder" until Hermione slammed into Harry and shook as her climax hurtled through her. Harry ground into her rippling cunt and bucked as his come filled her.

Ron criend out as Harry's clenching arse pulled his orgasm from his very soul. They melted into a pile of arms and legs and sweat and come smeared torsos, breathing liquid and replete. They were almost asleep when's Ron's eyes popped open.

"Did I really just agree to go to Malfoy Manor next weekend?"


Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.

This story archived at Table for Three - http://www.triofic.com/viewstory.php?sid=221