Author's Note: Hello readers! I would like to THANK YOU all sincerely for your fantastic reviews, comments, and support of this story! It truly boosts my spirits, so keep it up!
I have been trying to update as frequently as possible, but Internet acess is extremely limited for me, so please be patient!
The idea for the last section of this story comes from something a reviewer said, so I really hope it's satisfactory for him/her, as well as the other readers. Let me know!
And finally, I realized that I forgot to include a disclaimer, so here goes: This is JK Rowling's idea, I just love to play around with it. :)
Enjoy the rest of the story!
“Daddy! Please? Please? Pretty please?”
“I told you, we have to ask your mother,”
“But I want a puppy! Even Lily wants one. Look! She smiles every time we mention it!”
Sure enough, the little girl giggled and clapped her hands together. Harry sighed; her enjoyment of the subject was not helping him to tell the boys they had to wait.
“When Mum gets home, we’ll ask, alright?”
James squealed with excitement. “Yay!”
The boys had been asking repeatedly for a dog for the last four hours now, ever since a Muggle tourist had walked by with one on a leash. Both of them had gone off the wall with excitement, and poor Harry, alone with all three because Ginny was at Luna’s for tea, had done everything within his power to keep them calm. But of course, it was all in vain. The subject was approached again with every spare second.
Harry looked at the clock and sighed with relief; Ginny would be home any time now, and the begging would end with her decision. The boys knew that their mother’s word was the law, and nothing could change it.
“Is Mommy home?”
“No, Al. Not yet,”
“How ‘bout now?”
“I’ll tell you as soon as she is, alright?” In response to his father’s answer, Albus grinned crookedly. James did likewise, then ran out of the kitchen and upstairs into his room, dragging his little brother along in his wake.
“C’mon, Al!” called James as they sprinted upstairs together. “Let’s go play Hippogriffs and Centaurs!”
“I’ma Hippogriff!” Albus shouted. He loved being the hippogriff.
Harry shook his head with a chuckle and looked at his daughter, who was sitting on the floor at his feet, playing with a section of the Daily Prophet. “What d’you think, Lils? You want a puppy?”
“Puppy! Puppy pleeeease!”
“Well, that settles it, then,” Harry grinned as he stooped down to pick her up. “We’ll ask Mummy for a puppy and hope she says yes,”
Ginny arrived back at Grimmauld Place around four o’clock that afternoon. As she was walking up the front steps, she thanked Merlin that the house was still intact. If nothing was on fire, only a few things broken, and Harry’s love of Quidditch hadn’t caused harm to the kids, she considered it a successful babysitting job on her husband’s part. Not that Harry was a bad parent; he was an amazing father. But the Exploding Snap breakfast incident with Percy was just a small reminder of how occasionally reckless Harry could be.
Upon entering the hallway, she hung up her cloak and called, “Hi everyone! I’m home!” but there was no returning call. Puzzled, Ginny walked into the kitchen. It was empty. As was the living room, Harry’s office, and even the play room. She was just about to go upstairs when she spotted her family in the back yard.
Lily was riding on her father’s shoulders, pointing down at a toad that had decided Harry’s foot would be a nice place for a nap. Her love of animals was evident even at only three years old. Harry, however, was watching his two sons, who were zooming four feet off the ground on their little toy broomsticks. He was calling out hints to them as they went, but it was a wonder he could even be heard over their happy laughter and squeals of delight. Ginny stood in the doorway and admired the scene for a few minutes before stepping outside to join them.
“Mummy!” James and Albus chorused together, jumping off of their brooms and racing to get to her. As they hugged her legs, both of them gushed out and endless stream of talk, making it very difficult for Ginny to understand them.
“Guess what? Dad says we might be able to get a dog!”
“Mummy! I wanna puppy! Can I have one?”
“-he said I had to ask you first, though. Can we?”
“-actually, know what’s better, Mummy? A hippogriff! I wanna hippogriff Mummy!”
“No, he doesn’t mean that, Mum. We want a puppy. Even Lil does!”
“You two have honestly got to stop doing that,” said Harry with a small smile. He walked over to them, Lily still riding happily on his shoulders. “The whole talking endlessly thing. You can’t understand a word of it!”
“Sorry, Dad. Just got excited!”
“It’s alright, James,” Harry ruffled his son’s hair, then looked at his wife. “The boys want a dog,”
“Ah, yes, I got that much,” smiled Ginny. “Well, I don’t know, guys. A new puppy is a pretty big responsibility. You have to take care of him, keep him healthy and feed him and everything,”
“He can ‘ave my pea soup, Mummy! I think it’s yucky,” said Albus seriously. Harry bit back a snort of laughter.
“The puppy will not be eating my pea soup,” Ginny replied sternly, shooting her husband a dark look. “You guys think you can handle a dog?”
“Well, alright then,” Ginny smiled down at her sons. “We’ll try looking in Diagon Alley first thing Saturday morning,”
“I told you to bring it in here twenty minutes ago! What kept you?” asked the department Head angrily.
“I had some paperwork to fill out, sir,” Ron answered through gritted teeth. He was expecting another lecture any time now. These lectures were always horrible, and made him feel like a Hogwarts student all over again. It was like Potions class revisited.
“Set your priorities right, Weasley! If your boss asks you a favor, you do it straight away! Understand?”
“Yes sir,” Ron replied gruffly, turning to leave the office.
“And one more thing,” called Robards, just as Ron was leaving. “Don’t be late with my gillywater again, or it’ll be your job on the line,”
“Yes sir,” and with that, Ron stepped outside the door, at the same time nearly colliding with Harry, who apparently had been listening the entire time. Before Ron could do anything more than look surprised, Harry had grabbed him by the shirt and dragged him into the nearest parchment cupboard.
“Ron, what the bloody hell was that all about?” he demanded angrily.
“You know full well what! Robards is treating you like his servant, not an Auror! This ends today,”
“Harry. . . Wait, what? No! I could lose my job!”
“What does it matter, if you’re being treated like that? C’mon, we’re going right back in there and telling him that you are just as much of an Auror as I am, and anyone else in this department! You brought down Voldemort too, you know! And don’t forget it!” Harry’s brilliant eyes flashed dangerously.
“It’s really not that big of a-”
“Yeah, it is a big deal, Ron. It has to stop! You’re my best mate, and I’m tired of Robards treating you like dung just because of some stupid training drill. Let’s go!”
“Go? Go where?”
“Into Robards’ office,” Harry replied, dragging Ron back out of the cupboard and down the corridor that lead to the Head’s office. When they reached the door, Harry shoved it open without a knock or any sort of announcement of his coming, something that was considered extremely rude in the Ministry.
“Gwen, we have to talk,”
Robards looked up from a piece of paper that he was reading avidly with a mixture of surprise and anger on his features. He gently set the paper down on his desk, and Harry saw his eyes dart suspiciously from his top Auror to Ron. “Potter. You know better than to walk in without knocking,”
“And I would think that you knew better than to treat certain Aurors like house-elves, but apparently both of us were wrong,” Harry replied coldly. Robards stared like he had just been doused in icy water. “Ron is no worse an Auror than I am. Or are you forgetting that without him, Voldemort would still be killing people left and right?”
“Weasley proved himself to be inferior as a Trainee, Potter,” replied the head Auror stonily, his voice flat but obviously angry. “And you’d do well not to interfere,”
“Well, I’m interfering, so deal with it,” Harry spat. “Ron’s just as good as I am, he did just as much during the war, and he’s my best friend, so either promote him or I go to the Minister,”
“Potter, you walk on very thin ice,”
Harry ignored the comment. “Do you have some objection to him being equal to me? Because as far as I can tell, there should be nothing holding you back,”
“The decision is mine to make! Not yours!” shouted Robards. “And you are both extremely close to losing your jobs, so I would suggest getting back to work!”
“No,” Harry said quietly, crossing his arms stubbornly and seating himself directly opposite his boss. “Not until you start treating Ron like he deserves to be treated,”
“You would risk losing this job, for him?”
“Without hesitation,” replied Harry though gritted teeth. Ron, who had not spoken once throughout the entire conversation, looked as though someone had recently struck him over the head with a heavy frying pan.
Robards sighed. “You are very lucky that you’re so valuable as an Auror, Potter,” said the man tiredly, staring Harry straight in the eye. “Were it any different, and you would already be gone from this department. However, given your talents-”
“Don’t waste your breath praising me, Robards,” Harry cut in. “Will you promote Ron or not?”
Robards glared fiercely at Harry again, at the same time looking quite annoyed. “Yes, yes, fine. But he had better work hard,”
Harry and Ron grinned triumphantly at each other. “I will, sir,” said Ron, speaking for the first time. Robards nodded. As the two friends were turning to leave, however, the Head called Harry back,
“Oh, and Potter,” he said quietly. “That little stunt will not be making life at work very easy for you from now on. I hope you’re up for it,”
“What do you mean, sir?”
“I’m talking Trainee field drills and lots of double shifts, as a sort of ‘punishment’ I suppose, for lack of a better word,” Robards scowled at him.
“Yes sir,” Harry replied, unfazed by this. It was worth it, for Ron. Robards nodded, and he was permitted to leave.
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