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The First Year, an Almost Happily Ever After story by Jet LaBarge
Chapter 11 : Where do we live?
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 2

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The discussion over breakfast on Friday the 15th was about going home on Saturday. No one was going to work Saturday. They were all eager to get home, or at least to a home that wasn’t Hogwarts.

Molly announced, “The Appledorns and Bayleafs are coming home with us. They may build a house on the property, and Rosemary and I have talked about home-schooling the six children. They may end up staying at Harry’s house at Grimmauld Place until their house is built.”

Harry said, “You are all welcome to stay at my place. Dad’s not sure what kind of shape the Burrow is in.”

Everybody looked at Arthur, who explained, “At the very least the Floo is not connected to the network. Everybody has been so busy that I just could not, in good conscience, send someone over to check on my house. I just figured we could all find out together and then make plans accordingly.”

Angelina Johnson said, “We are going to make sure the apartments above the stores are ready for people to stay in. That should take care of some of us at least.”

David, Harry’s bodyguard, went to Gringotts with Harry, Bill and Fleur. They started out with a little meeting.

“We are making good progress with the British Estates, Harry,” said Bill. “Most of the money that’s urgently needed and that’s available in the British Estates is going to be taken care of during the summer. Between the foreign estates and the tying up of loose ends it is going to take us years to finish, Harry, but the urgency is going to be over by the end of July.”

“Remember, I’m supposed to be taking classes starting next month,” said Harry. “How am I ever going to study, if I have to work on these estates every day?”

“We should be able to let you study all but a couple of days a week,” Bill told Harry. “It looks like we should be able to cut way back on the time we need you when it’s time for you to start classes.”

Toward the middle of the afternoon, David and Harry were back at the Ministry where the Potter Estates had a little office. Bill and Michael were working on financial matters, but what they were working on was nothing Harry needed to be involved with. David was amazed at the lack of technology in the British magical community. “You were raised in a Muggle household, and you watched Television, used electrical lights. You learned to control your magic so you did not mess up everything electrical or electronic you got near. Everywhere I have gone in the British Magical Community so much magic energy is leaking out everywhere that nothing electrical or electronic works. Harry, do you want to see what I am talking about?” When Harry nodded yes, David took out a small instrument. If Harry had known what an electrical multi-meter was, he would have said it looked like a digital multi-meter. It had various scales for magical power, with a digital readout. In the Ministry the reading was as high as it could be.

They left the Ministry and went into Muggle London. The meter read very little magic. David told Harry to see if he could get the reading lower just by looking at it and trying to feel like he did when he was watching television. With a little practice Harry could get the magic meter to read less magic. They went into an alley where they could do some magic without being seen, and David asked Harry to levitate something, which he did. Then he said, “Now levitate it without so much magic,” and Harry was able to focus his magic so that the meter registered at a low level.

David pulled out a mobile, turned it on, called a number and said, “No messages. Harry, cell phones are tricky. One of the great things about being a wizard is the ability to quickly move from one place to another, and nothing messes up the cell phone system better than a cell phone suddenly disappearing in one location and turning up in another. That is why we have special cell phones for the magical community. That is also why we have magical pagers attached to cell phones.” When Harry saw the pager and was told how it worked, he pulled out the coin that Hermione had made for the DA and asked if it was similar. David looked at the coin, touched his wand to both the pager and the coin and said, “Hermione Granger made these? She must be a very powerful and bright witch.”

“Hermione is really smart,” said Harry proudly.

“I cannot understand why the Ministry does not use magic like this,” said David, shaking his head with exasperation.

Harry pulled out the business card he had gotten from Griffin and Grunt. He thought there was a Muggle phone number on there and there was. “May I borrow your mobile?” Harry asked.

David handed it over.

“How do you work this?” asked Harry.

David showed Harry how to dial a number, and Harry gingerly pushed the buttons to call the office number. “Griffin and Grunt construction,” the man on the other end said.

“Hello, this is Harry Potter,” Harry said. “Mr. Grunt said I should call him if I ever needed any construction.”

Harry could hear on the other end of the phone: “Mr. Grunt, do you know Harry Potter? … Well, he’s on the phone right now, and he wants to talk to you.”

“Harry Potter, Grunt here. What can we do for you?” Harry heard a sprightly voice coming out of the mobile.

“My future father-in-law is worried that his house is badly damaged or worse,” Harry said. “Can you repair and maybe even expand and improve their house? I can pay for it.”

“Remind me what house it is and who your future father-in-law is,” Grunt replied.

“The Burrow, Arthur Weasley,” Harry answered.

“Mmm … Weasley, Arthur … magically built … hmmm … interesting,” Harry heard, as Grunt seemed to be doing something and then, “I’d better take a look. I’ll call you back.”

Harry could not hear anything more, so he looked at the phone. It had a display that said “call ended.”

“Wow, that’s magical!” exclaimed Harry. “What kind of magic is that?”

“Muggle magic,” David responded. “Doesn’t work in an area with too much magic. We can get them to work most places in North America and Hong Kong, much of China too. Britain is particularly bad. Cell phones do not work at Hogwarts or The Ministry or most Wizards’ homes.”

“How close does someone have to be before you can call them?” asked Harry.

“Oh, distance doesn’t matter,” David offhandedly remarked. “Anyone in the world who has a phone, cell like this or land line phone, you should be able to call. Billions of telephone numbers.”

Harry had never been allowed to use the telephone at the Dursleys’ house, and although he had seen mobiles at a distance and on TV and thought Vernon had one, he’d had no idea that you could call anywhere in the world on a mobile. He looked at the little device and remarked, “It must be pretty powerful magic to send your voice around the world.”

“Oh, it just sends your voice to the nearest cell tower,” David explained. “Then the phone system takes over and finds the number you are calling.”

“How does that work?” asked Harry.

“I have no idea,” David said. “Muggle magic. I’m still amazed that my brother in North America and my cousin in Hong Kong and I can share a phone call. And it doesn’t matter where I am in the world, the network can find me.”

Late that afternoon, David’s mobile started to vibrate. They were in a magical space, and David said, “I need to step outside to get this call.” He came back in a short time later and said, “Harry, it is Mr. Grunt. He needs to talk to you.”

Bill looked at the instrument in David’s hand. “Mobile?” he asked.

David nodded. “Much better for a quick casual call than using the Floo, and you can call Muggles too. And talk back and forth, like using the Floo.”

“It’s a lot more portable than a Floo. We need mobiles,” Bill said. “Some of this is Muggle money, Muggle investments, mixed Magic and Muggle property. Glad I have Michael. He’s worked in both worlds.”

Harry went outside and took the call. “Hello, Mr. Grunt. How is the Burrow?”

“Gone, Harry. Destroyed. Just ashes, it and a couple of outbuildings and everything around it is gone. Looks like a small army of dark wizards tried to take all of their anger out on the buildings. A couple of days with the curse breakers, and the property should be safe to build on, but I would rebuild a rather large and substantial house over the place where the old house was and put in some magic in the foundation.”

“Can you meet the family at my house tomorrow afternoon?” asked Harry.

“Will two o’clock do?” Grunt replied.

“Sure,” said Harry. “My house is at 12 Grimmauld Place in London. I will have my house-elf look for you and make sure he lets you in past the wards.”

“The old Black place,” said Grunt. “One of the most secure and hidden in London. That whole block used to be magical. No way I could get in without someone letting me in. I’ll bring books of house plans. Nothing too small. Need a large footprint to cover the curses.”

“Thank you, Mr. Grunt,” Harry replied.

“Grover Grunt, Grover to you Harry. See you tomorrow,” and Grunt hung up the phone.

Harry told David, “I need to talk to Arthur Weasley before we go back to Hogwarts.”

They waited outside Arthur’s office until he was free and then went in, Harry saying without preamble, “Dad, the Burrow is destroyed.”

“I kind of suspected that, but nothing until we get there. I don’t want everybody to be … Harry, I don’t know. Maybe there is a little something left, something we can start with. Please humor me, and we will deal with it tomorrow.”

“Everybody can stay at Grimmauld Place, and I’m going to build you a new place,” Harry insisted, wondering how badly the family would take the destruction of their home. “It’s my fault that the Burrow was destroyed.”

“It’s your fault that we are alive, if you want to put it that way, Harry. Do you really think my family would have survived a victorious Tom Riddle? Yes, people died at the Battle of Hogwarts, but in my lifetime, I have known of many more people killed by that crew, plus all of the estates. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I will probably have to accept help in building a new house. And Harry, the best thing to say when someone says, ‘thank you’ is ‘you’re welcome,’ nothing more.”

“You’re welcome, Dad,” Harry replied, feeling chagrined.

“We arrested Lucius Malfoy today, Harry,” Arthur said. “He was sending a lot of owls and we cannot figure out who he was sending them to or what he was doing. None of his stories quite check out. We are going to try to send him to Azkaban for the rest of his life.”

“I don’t like or trust him either,” Harry said.

“You know Draco,” Arthur said.

“He’s hardly a friend,” Harry replied.

“Things are changing, Harry,” Arthur answered. “See if Draco or Narcissa knows any more about the whereabouts of the Death Eaters. See if they know any more about the money, too.”

“I’ll try, Dad,” Harry replied, dreading the task. “What is going to happen to them?”

“If they cooperate, probably house arrest and probation. If they don’t do anything stupid, they will probably be reasonably free in a few years. We will have to see how things work out.”

Harry got back to Hogwarts well before dinner. Ginny greeted him at the fireplace. “I need to talk to the Malfoy family,” Harry said, after hugging his fiancée for a few moments.

“You know they arrested Mr. Malfoy today?” asked Ginny, a little miffed that she hadn’t been the one to share that little tidbit of news.

“Your father told me,” Harry said.

Ginny picked up a sleeping Teddy and put him in the carrier and Harry took out his map. Draco and Narcissa were in a modest-sized room down close to the Slytherin dorm. When they got there, they found the room had eight beds, separated by sheets hanging from the ceiling. The sheets had been pulled back in one area and there were three beds, a couple of chairs and a desk.

“May we talk?” Harry asked.

“Come in, Mr. Potter, Miss Weasley,” Narcissa said politely. “Is this Andromeda’s grandson, my nephew?”

Ginny nodded, remembered Lucius’s snide remarks and almost said something snotty in reply, but she held her tongue.

Narcissa changed the one bed into a comfortable sofa and motioned for Harry and Ginny to sit down. Narcissa sat in one chair and Draco in the other, both facing Harry and Ginny.

“You know they arrested Lucius?” Narcissa asked, sounding almost tearful. Harry nodded yes. “Are they going to arrest Draco and me too?” she then inquired, now looking downright worried. She grasped Draco’s hand for support. Harry was surprised when his old enemy patted his mother’s knee.

“I don’t think so,” Harry replied honestly. “Draco’s too young, and his record is mixed. I know he could not kill Dumbledore, and Ginny says that Draco actually saved some of the students from the worst of the torture. Your lying for me in the forest counts for a lot.”

“Are they just going to set us free?” she asked incredulously.

“No, I think you will be under some sort of house arrest or probation for some time, possibly have to pay some form of restitution. The more you can help us find the remaining Death Eaters and the missing money, the better it will go for you,” Harry said. “The most important thing is to be honest. Arthur said that no one who was talking to Lucius really trusts what he was telling them.”

“I wish I could tell you that Lucius was more honest and open in the family,” Narcissa said, plucking at a loose thread on her robes. “But the more he got in with the Death Eaters, the more he hid things from me. Oh, I supported the pureblood cause. I suppose I still do. I hope Draco marries a pureblooded witch. But I was never one for all of the killing, the torture.

In the end, everybody around Lord Voldemort was just evil! I’m ashamed of the things done in our house.”

“Draco, you’ve been very quiet. What do you know?” asked Harry.

“Lord Voldemort operated by a mushroom school of management: keep everybody in the dark and feed them shit,” Draco said with an uncertain sneer. “I know next to nothing that’s not public knowledge.”

“You want to be on probation for the rest of your life?” asked Harry, trying not to let his frustration show. “You have to know something.”

“Like that nobody liked Greyback?” asked Draco. “Father found him a useful enforcer, but he didn’t like him. Father just used him. I think Father just uses everybody, me included. When I couldn’t kill at his whim, I think he was willing to throw me away too.”

“Draco!” Narcissa said reprovingly.

“How can you defend them after what they did to you?” Draco replied, his cheeks flushing.

Narcissa got a fierce stare, almost violent, that she directed right at Draco, who hung his head.

“I don’t think Greyback is staying with the Lestrange brothers and Bellatrix,” Draco volunteered. “I don’t think she loved anyone, except Lord Voldemort, but she totally dominated her husband and his brother. I bet they are still scared of her, even though she’s dead, if she’s really dead.”

“Do you have any reason to think she’s not dead?” asked Harry, his insides turning cold.

“Just rumors, and I bet you or the Aurors have heard the same rumors. That Bellatrix did the same thing that Voldemort did to stay alive, or that the Lestrange brothers have somehow brought her back from the dead. Nothing that I knew before the Battle.”

“Did Tom Riddle trust Bellatrix?” asked Harry. He couldn’t fathom it; Riddle trusted no one. He had no friends, no confidants.

“I don’t think he trusted anyone,” Draco replied, after a moment of thought. “But I think he knew she was totally faithful to him. She went to Azkaban rather than denounce him. She’s the craziest person I’ve ever met. Loves torture, loves seeing people hurt, especially if she’s the one to inflict the pain.”

“Do you know where any of these people would be?” asked Harry again.

“No,” Draco replied. “I know we lost and that I am going to have to suck up to you and your kind to win back anything. Nobody told me anything! Father even said a couple of times, ‘best if you don’t know.’ Nothing useful.”

Harry heaved a weary sigh and turned back to Narcissa with his eyebrows raised. “I suppose I could give you the addresses for some of the old family homes. My sister’s in-laws also have a couple of places on the continent as well. But I don’t really expect that they’re using anything so public,” she said without further prompting.

Harry took the addresses Narcissa gave him. Supposing that this was the best he might be able to do, he thanked the Malfoys for their time and told them to inform him immediately if anything new came to mind or if anyone that was involved with the Death Eaters approached them.

After breakfast on Saturday May 17, a large crew got ready to apparate to the Burrow. Arthur and the Aurors went first, followed by Molly. All of the boys went, as well as Harry, Ginny and Teddy, and Andromeda. Finally, the Appledorn and Bayleaf families Apparated to the Burrow.

The Burrow was gone, destroyed. Both the house and the shed burned and were cursed down to ashes.

“Maybe I should have come here first, before bringing you all here,” said Arthur, his voice hard. “I wanted us all together to make plans on what needed to be fixed, and who would do what. I just did not expect to find nothing.”

“We always planned on having some of us stay at Grimmauld Place,” said Harry.

Arthur said, “We need something to start with to rebuild, and there is nothing here.”

Molly looked around. “All of the memories are gone. The house we could fix, rebuild, but the memories, all of the letters and photographs, my household spell books with all of the notes in them. Oh Arthur it’s all gone!”

Arthur, pulling his wife to him, said, “I knew something was seriously wrong, but was hoping that there was something we could use to start to rebuild, even just some of the possessions that we could repair and save.”

For the second time in her life, Ginny saw her mother break down and cry. Her mother was always strong, always the mother hen in charge of her large brood of children. But the Burrow being gone, totally gone, was just too much.

“So many memories, so many little things. It may not have been worth many galleons, but it was us, our family,” sobbed Molly. “Things we’ll never be able to replace.”

Arthur tried to console Molly with, “Well, Mollywobbles, we are just going to have to start building some new memories with this fantastic family we have around us.”

Ginny was holding on to Harry, wearing Teddy on her front. Harry was also holding on to Andromeda, who was whimpering again. Ginny did not say anything. Harry could see she was trying hard not to cry. Harry had heard the day before that the Burrow was gone, but here seeing the evidence, he was trying hard not to cry himself. Harry thought that a lot of his good memories centered around the Burrow.

Hermione was holding Ron, who was shaking, not with tears but with fury. Hermione was afraid that if she did not hold on to Ron he would strike out at somebody or something. Fleur was holding on to Bill and trying to comfort him. George had brought Angelina Johnson along to help, and they were both crying and holding each other. And Percy and Charlie were just looking at the pile of ash where the Burrow had been, just staring at it, as though willing it to reform into their childhood home.

The Appledorn and Bayleaf families were just staring at the Weasley family. It felt like they were witnessing a grief that should be private, and even the littlest of the children knew that this was very hard. They had just lost their own homes, saw them burning as they fled to first a hotel and then Hogwarts, and they knew the grief of losing the place that was always home, safety, refuge you could count on.

Bill finally said, “I wish we could house some of you at Shell Cottage with Fleur and me, but our bedrooms are full. We have had to take in a couple of displaced families ourselves.”

“Iz ‘ard,” Fleur said, tears in her eyes. “All ze people, all ze hurt people, ze damaged ‘omes.”

Finally Harry took charge and said, “The only place we can go to is my house at 12 Grimmauld Place. Follow me.” Harry took Ginny and Teddy and apparated to the front door. Kreacher was there, and he greeted them, saying, “Welcome Mistress Ginny, welcome little Master Teddy.”

Harry then went back for Andromeda. She looked at the house, at Kreacher and then started to cry. “I can’t go in there!” she said wildly. “I was told never to come back to that house. Kreacher will never let me in. Kreacher will throw me out!”

Kreacher had to repeat over and over, “Kreacher is Harry Potter’s house-elf now. Andromeda is very welcome.” Finally, Kreacher held out his hand, and as though speaking to a young child, said, “Kreacher will hold your hand and lead you inside. Powerful magic when the master’s house-elf leads someone inside. Says you is very welcome, very welcome indeed. Powerful magic.”

Andromeda looked warily at the old house-elf and sort of winced when his hand touched hers, but then she allowed him to lead her inside.

It took a while for the people who knew where the house was to bring along the rest, but eventually everybody was there. Kreacher met them inside the front door, proud to show everyone his domain. Harry brought Ginny and Teddy down to the large kitchen and then went to the end of the hall and waved everybody back, directing them downstairs.

When everybody was in the kitchen, Harry said, “Welcome to my house. It consists of this lower floor with the kitchen you are in and a couple of other rooms, the main floor with a living and dining room, and a first floor with a large drawing room. Above that are three floors of bedrooms, two large bedrooms per floor. Let’s all look at the rooms, and when everybody is back down here, we can talk about where everyone will sleep.”

The house was reasonably large, twenty feet across the front by thirty feet deep. It was only visible to magical people, and then only if they were able to get through all of the protections put on the house. You went up a few steps to the front door, which led you to the ground floor. Narrow steps in the back of the main hall led to the basement where there was a very large kitchen, plus a pantry and another small cupboard. There was a fireplace that could be connected to the Floo network. Hermione said the kitchen looked like it had not been updated since the 15th century, although the house was nowhere near that old. The room was stone, with old cupboards. There was a large table and plenty of chairs in the kitchen, big enough for the entire group to eat. There was also a very small half bath in one corner.

The ground floor had a dining room on one side of the main hall, and a living area on the other side. The hall was full of portraits, the most prominent being that of Walburga Black. Although it was covered by curtains, Walburga could sense that Muggles or part-Muggles had entered the house, and she was screaming at the top of her lungs, “Mudbloods! Scum! Spawn of Mudbloods! Get out of my house!”

Harry said, “I wish we could get rid of that. There is no way to remove the portrait. It has a Permanent Sticking Charm on it.”

Andromeda, making sure Walburga could not hear her, in a small voice said, “You could paint over it with Muggle paint. That will keep her quiet.”

Harry looked at Kreacher, who nodded yes. “Not first portrait in frame,” said Kreacher. “Others also painted over.”

The ground floor also had a large formal staircase leading up to the first floor, most of which contained a magnificent drawing room, although there was also a small bedroom and another half bath. Harry later learned that the drawing room was, when it needed to be, thirty by thirty, which was of course impossible given that the house was only twenty feet wide, another of those magical uses of space that Harry loved.

The second, third and fourth floors were very similar. They each contained two large bedrooms, one facing out the front, one facing out the back. The third floor was clearly meant to be the master suite. There was a connecting door between the two bedrooms and each one had a large private bathroom. At the top of the fourth floor was a ladder hidden in the ceiling that led to a large attic. There was no electrical wiring in the house; lighting was by gas lamps or magic. There were radiators and a gas furnace, but it was an old gravity furnace that did not need any electricity to work.

There was a garden area that provided light for the windows in the rear of the house. It was also twenty feet wide by thirty feet deep, the same size as the house. All of the houses on the block had gardens in back about the same area as the house to let in light, houses side by side and back to back with gardens, all surrounded by walls that came up to the top of the main floors but no higher. The back area at 12 Grimmauld looked like it had not been used in decades.

After Harry had led the assembled group on a brief tour of the house, he assembled everyone in the basement kitchen. Kreacher walked around the large table, supplying drinks and putting out a few trays of sandwiches. Harry looked at Arthur, Bill and Michael and said, “I guess I should begin. I need to talk about some financial matters, and I would rather not have the six children here.” Kim and Sue said that they would take care of the children so that Rosemary could stay with Michael and listen to what Harry had to say.

“I need all of you to keep in mind that what I am telling you is confidential. I need your help, and I need you to let me help you. Dad, Bill, Michael Appledorn and I have been dealing with my finances over the last week, and I need you to know some of what we have found.

“I am very well off financially, but with just the Potter and Black estates not filthy rich. Each estate contains about one million galleons: that is about five million pounds or seven million dollars. That is a lot of money for one person or family, but not a lot of money for lots of families.”

Harry took a breath and continued. “Concerning the other estates, while there will be a lot more money coming in, much of it will be going to the Ministry for the time being. Some of it will go to pay for all of the staff that is working on the entire mess. We are hoping that the rest can go to restoring and improving the financial situations of those who need it.

“Please do not try to be nice and turn down help. It is not going to help me or anyone if we cannot use the money to protect everyone. Why don’t we all talk about what needs to happen? The first thing will be for us to rebuild the Burrow.

I need my immediate family in good secure houses. Mum, Dad, we need to build a New Burrow. We can talk about money later, but for right now please let me pay for it. That will help me more than anything.”

Molly asked, “You want to build us a house?”

Harry said, “Yes, a house for you, with an apartment for Andromeda, so that she and Teddy can live in a secure house, and I do not have to worry about my and Ginny’s mum and dad.”

“Oh, Harry, where do we begin? I have no idea how to build a Muggle house,” said Molly, sounding flustered.

“I have a builder coming this afternoon and everyone can help with that,” said Harry. He turned to Michael and Rosemary. “Now, we need to figure out what you’re going to do. You’ve been talking about keeping the two families together and as close to the Burrow as possible. We have the start if a little street that goes north right here.” Harry pointed out the little road that went from the main paved Muggle road to the Burrow, and a little branch of the road that headed north. “That might be best since it’s close and we won’t have to make paths through the woods or go around the pond for easy access to the Burrow.”

Michael looked pleased, but Rosemary frowned. She said, “But how will we ever pay you, Harry? I know you said that we shouldn’t refuse help, but this just seems like too much.”

“Don’t worry, dear,” said Michael. “With the salary that Harry’s given me, we’ll have it paid off in no time. As it is, we have a nice down payment already.”

Rosemary looked much relieved.

“We only have the Weasley boys left,” said Harry, looking at his future brothers-in-law. They all looked back at him like he was crazy. Harry added, “All of you will need secure homes too. We’ve already got Shell Cottage under the best protection available at the moment, but we’ll need to make sure that anywhere you stay is just as safe.”

They all grumbled, but couldn’t really argue with Harry. They went on to discuss the sleeping arrangements for Grimmauld Place.

The top floor was given to the Appledorn and Bayleaf Children. The third floor had Andromeda in one room and Michael and Rosemary in another. The second floor had Arthur and Molly in one room, leaving Harry, Ginny, Teddy, Ron and Hermione in the other room. The rest would kip on camp beds in the drawing room until the rooms above the joke shop and Percy’s apartment could be secured.

“Not much change here,” said a reasonably cheery Molly, recognizing that at least she and Arthur would be in the same room that they had while staying there during the early days of the Order.

The small bedroom off of the drawing room would serve as temporary housing for the Aurors who would be staying; although the couples each had their own apartments to go to when they were off duty.

Since there was nothing to move or fix, George, Angelina Lee, Charlie, Ron and Hermione left for Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes. There was a great deal of work to do, if they were going to reopen the shop any time soon.

Michael and Rosemary went upstairs to unpack and get the bedrooms ready, as did Andromeda.

After Molly had the room fixed for her and Arthur, she went into the bedroom where Andromeda was going to be staying. Andromeda was almost paralyzed with fear, and Molly had to put the few things that Andromeda had with her away into the wardrobe and appropriate drawers.

Michael and Rosemary volunteered to paint over the portrait. Harry did not have any Muggle money on him and neither did anyone else, so he asked Kreacher if he could get them what they needed. A short time later, Kreacher came back with a bag of two hundred galleons and ten one hundred pound notes. Harry gave Michael one of the hundred pound notes and Michael left to buy paintbrushes and paint.

Kreacher then said quietly to Harry, “Master Potter, there is a potion you can put in Muggle paint to help keep Mrs. Black quiet.”

“Where can we get some of this potion?” asked Harry immediately.

“Potion room downstairs, under kitchen,” Kreacher responded. “I shows you.” And that was how Harry found out that he had a large, very well equipped potions room under his kitchen. They eventually called the area ‘the dungeon.” It also contained a utility room and a couple of small storage rooms.

At about two o’clock the builders came. Both Mr. Griffin and Mr. Grunt were there. Mr. Griffin was the Muggle, so he joked he did the grunt work, a pun that they must have used for many years. They had books of house plans.

Molly looked at the plans and said, “Everything is huge! We can’t accept this!”

“Well, Mrs. Weasley, we have a problem,” Mr. Grunt said. “We need to cover over all of the cursed soil, and it’s going to take one of these here large houses to do it.”

Until the end of her days, Molly was never sure if that was the whole story, although in general it was, so she graciously accepted the offer of a very large house.

After about four hours, they settled on a house that met all of their needs. It was a very large house, although not a mansion by English standards.

There was enough space to accommodate the rapidly expanding family and more to come. The builders suggested a mother-in-law apartment, so that Andromeda could stay with them but still feel like she had her own space. Molly, getting into the spirit of things, insisted that ALL of her children should be able to stay the night without being cramped, allowing for spouses and possibly children.

Harry wanted the house to be built so that it was wired with electricity, television and Internet. Arthur thought this was fantastic. “A house with PLUGS!” he declared excitedly. Molly was not so sure and said as much.

Grunt said that eventually the Weasleys would learn to keep their magic under control so that they could use electricity and watch the telly, but when there were a lot of magical people over who could not control their magic (such as young children), they would still need to use gas and/or magical lights. So plenty of non-electric lighting was also included. There was another problem that they were going to have to deal with, however. The house was going to be much harder to hide magically if it had Muggle electricity running through it. You could still shield it from magical attack, but it was going to be a very visible house to the Muggles.

The outside was stone, and there was muggle and magical reinforcement included. They could start building June 1, and be done by July 17. When asked how the company could finish such a large house so fast, they were told, “It’s magic!”

The next order of business would be to build a home for the Appledorns and Bayleafs. There would also be a small school, so that Molly and Rosemary could teach the children in an easy atmosphere. It might also serve well once Molly’s children started having little ones of their own, she thought.

Harry was happy they had a plan. Arthur, Molly and Ginny were amazed at how Harry had taken command and engineered the plans for this complex of homes. He explained that he wanted eight to twelve houses in the area, with wards over the area, more wards over the individual houses, and some additional layers of muggle and magic security.

The families had decided to take Monday off to bury their dead, and so they needed to go to both Godric’s Hallow and Ottery St. Catchpole first to make plans.

Just before dinner, Neville Longbottom asked if he and Hanna Abbott could come over at about 8:00 PM. Harry and Ginny sat in the smaller downstairs living area on a love seat, and Neville and Hanna sat in another love seat. Neville said, “Hanna and I are getting married next Saturday afternoon, and we would like you two to be our best man and maid of honor.”

Harry and Ginny looked at each other and nodded. Harry said, “We would be delighted to stand up for you. When is the baby due?”

“Mid-December,” said Hanna, blushing prettily.

“We have another favor to ask. We know you are going to share a suite of rooms at Hogwarts. There is another suite of rooms next door. If we moved into that, the kitchen area would be available for both of us,” said Neville.

“I’d really appreciate it if you could let us live next to you Ginny,” said Hanna. “You are so comfortable with children.”

“When I was small and at home, Mum would have new mothers over to show them what to do. She has become the expert in anything mothering. So, I saw nappies being changed and changed a few myself, held a lot of babies, heard my mother talking about nursing to lots of women. And because I was a girl, they did not mind me looking at them and seeing what they were doing. If I do not know the answer to a mothering problem, I can always call the expert, my mum. It’d be great to have you living next to us,” said Ginny. “Are you going back to school, Hanna?”

Hanna said, “I left school after my mother was killed, and I really want to see if I can finish more schooling before becoming the full-time proprietor of the Leaky Cauldron. Uncle Tom is really ready to retire. He only stayed open the last few years to give everyone a sense of normalcy.”

Later that evening, Ron came over and saw his father, saying, “Hello, Dad. There is an apartment over the Hogsmeade store, and I’m going to be staying there.”

Ron turned to go, but Arthur said, “You need to talk to your mother and me about this.”

Ron got a sort of downcast look on his face and said, “Yes, Dad.” The two men went downstairs to where Molly was.

“Tell your mother where you are going to be staying, Ronald,” Arthur said in a serious tone of voice, startling his son by the use of his full first name.

“There is an apartment over the Hogsmeade store, and I’m going to be staying there,” said Ron, putting every bit of power he had behind it. “I’m going to be working for George, and he said I could stay over the store.”

“Where is Hermione going to be staying?’ asked Molly, looking up from the dough she’d been kneading.

“I’m going to be in my own bedroom,” Ron quickly replied, kicking himself mentally. He’d just said the exact wrong thing.

Where is Hermione going to be staying?” Molly asked again.

“Above the Hogsmeade store, closer to Hogwarts, but in a different bedroom,” Ron said, sweat beginning to bead on his forehead.

“Whose idea was this?” a suspicious Molly inquired.

“Angelina and George’s, because they and Lee know more about the big store and wanted to be there.”

Molly continued the interrogation. “Not your idea or Hermione’s?”

“We all talked about it,” Ron replied, on the defensive. “I’m not saying I didn’t want to stay close to Hermione, but it’s not like I insisted, or Hermione, that we stay together. It just sort of worked out that way. And it’s not like we’re sleeping together.”

“I’m not sure what we can do about it tonight, but I’m not happy, Ronald,” Molly said with a frown.

“Yes, Mum,” said Ron, as he quickly beat a retreat out of the house. He couldn’t believe his luck. Had his mother really bought it? Then he groaned. Of course she hadn’t, but at least he had a reprieve. He and Hermione could talk about it.

As soon as Ron left, Ginny went into the bedroom and made sure there were only two beds, side by side, for her and Harry, plus the crib for Teddy next to her bed. Shortly afterwards, Molly came into the bedroom.

“I sort of feel married already,” Ginny said to her mother, somewhat excited and slightly frightened as well.

Molly thought of the formal betrothal contract they had signed. She did not have any idea how to respond to Ginny. She really did not want to tell her sixteen year old daughter that engaged witches and wizards, especially if they were betrothed, seldom waited until the wedding night for sex. Molly was not even sure why, but she hoped that Ginny would wait until she was seventeen and they’d had a formal wedding ceremony to give herself to Harry. A very frustrated Molly gave Ginny a big hug and walked out of the room without saying anything.

Before they went to bed, Arthur stopped at Harry and Ginny’s room. He looked at his daughter and said, “Your mother and I are not comfortable with you two sleeping together like this.”

“I promise we will not have sex, Mr. Weasley,” said Harry volunteered.

Arthur looked at him sharply for the renewed formality. But he quickly realized that Harry had done it deliberately. Harry was being the polite and responsible man that he was. Arthur knew where the blame lay and looked at Ginny, who glared back and did not say anything.

“We’re doing our best to be good,” Harry added. “And I get up when Teddy fusses and change him, and it really is handy having both of us here taking care of Teddy.”

“Well, I guess it is acceptable then,” said Arthur, kind of heavily. He really did not know how else to arrange the room, and he was anxious to get back to sleeping with Molly in a private room, and to be honest, do more than just sleep with Molly.

“Uh, if we do get married when Ginny turns 17,” said Harry kind of warily, “I don’t want to sound stupid, but Aunt Marge kind of acted like it was … like sex was … kind of dirty and … when is it all right?” Harry was very red, obviously nervous and very naive. Ginny was looking at Harry, staring at him like he was crazy.

Arthur was a little taken aback by the question and took a moment to compose an answer. “Harry,” he said gently, “once you are married, everyone expects you to be sexually active and to enjoy it. If you and Ginny both want to do something, you should not feel guilty doing it. You are not married if you are still virgins. You have to have sex to be married. Sexual relations between a married couple is a beautiful thing, and once you start, no one expects you to stop. Thank you for waiting, but when the time comes, enjoy each other, with my blessing and I am sure Molly’s too.”

Once Arthur left the room, Ginny looked at Harry. With a mixture of anger and resignation, she said, “Wait, wait, wait. It seems I spend most of my life waiting to be grown up enough for something. I’m always too small or too young or too something!” She looked at Harry with a questioning look. Although she already had her suspicions, she asked, “Who said sex was dirty?”

“No one at the Dursleys’ taught me anything about sex,” said Harry, his embarrassment obvious. “Vernon thought I was a freak and should never breed. So I am sure that if I asked him anything, I wouldn’t get an answer. I overheard Aunt Petunia, my mother’s sister, and her sister-in-law, Vernon’s sister talking. Aunt Marge said something about being glad no man had ever violated her body, and Aunt Petunia said that Vernon could not do it anymore and something like, ‘I told him to forget those pills,’ or something like that. I don’t understand it, but it doesn’t sound like they still do it.”

“I’m almost sure Mum and Dad still do it,” said Ginny, looking as though she might be sick. “I wish you had said that we’ll try to be good and not have sex instead of ‘We won’t.’”

Harry laughed. “You’d just consider that a challenge, wouldn’t you?”

“Still do,” said Ginny, pouting but with a sneaky smirk. Finally she said, “Harry, I don’t know why, but in some ways I just feel so married already, having signed that contract, with theses rings on our fingers.”

“I know, Ginny,” Harry answered, looking at the rings. “Somehow, after signing those papers, I just felt like we were really sort of married too, even though we won’t be until August 11. But I promised your dad.”

For Ginny and Harry, the best thing about not having Ron and Hermione in the room was that it made it much easier to talk to each other and do some snogging. The worst part for Ginny was that Harry still insisted that anything beyond snogging should wait until she was 17. He even backed off on where he would touch her or allow her to touch him, something not easy to do. “I promised your parents,” he would say over and over.

Ginny, for her part, used the Touch-of-Lust spell very little, most Sundays but almost never any other time, trying to keep from being TOO horny, too desperate for sex.

Her thoughts then turned to what his relatives had done to him. Now he felt inadequate because they’d implied that making love was something of which to be ashamed. Although her patience was wearing thin, she had a feeling that she wouldn’t be able to break Harry’s defenses until after they were married. But when she turned 17, she would be able to use every weapon in her arsenal as both a woman and a witch. She determined that, no matter what happened, she would show him that sex was a beautiful thing to be cherished between a man and a woman.

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