Tonks really didn’t like her assignment. At first, when the boss lady had said that she had a special assignment for her, Tonks had been ecstatic. Ecstatic, until she realised the full details of what that meant; since she was not a fully qualified Auror, she was only a trainee, a ‘special assignment’ meant off the books. That meant no pay, no backup, and most importantly, no acknowledgement, she wouldn't even get any bonus points for her grade at Brixton.
If it was any other case, she would have considered turning it down, but she was almost uniquely qualified for this job. Firstly, her father was a muggleborn, and as such, she was very familiar with the muggle world and could pass in it rather well. Secondly, she was a metamorphmagus, which made it extremely easy for her to create a throwaway identity, and that was extremely useful for undercover work.
However, the real reason that she had been selected for this position was that she was one of the few people Director Bones could trust absolutely with this irregular assignment. Most of the fully qualified Aurors would file an objection to investigating a muggle committing crimes against other muggles. which was understandable as it was well outside their jurisdiction, and was not in the slightest a magical issue.
The other point of concern to Director Bones was the wizard this investigation was connected to. As discreet as most usually were, stuff had leaked to the Press in the past. Especially when the victim already had a lot of interest in the media. And while Tonks couldn't guarantee that she would never find a case that she would want to go to the press about, there was no way in hell she was ever going to set those vultures loose on her little cousin. |Well...not this cousin anyway.
When she revealed to Harry and his cute little girlfriend that both Harry and herself were related to Bellatrix LeStrange, she had expected Harry to make the connection that they were also related to each other. Instead, Harry had a small breakdown about how every member of his family wanted to kill him. And while that was most definitely not true for her and her mother, the story he then revealed about his aunt and uncle made her realise that the Tonks might be the only blood relation that Harry had that would stand by him.
She hadn't dared to tell Harry that in Madam Pomfrey’s office. Harry had just had an emotional breakdown about members of his family trying to kill him. Telling him that he was shut in an office with a previously unknown member of his family could’ve possibly made things far worse.
So instead, she was going to prove it to him. She was going to make sure that one of the sources of his nightmares was put behind bars for a long time, at the very least. If she had to get down on her belly and crawl through broken glass, she was going to prove to her cousin that there are people out there for whom family matters.
She remembered back to when she was a little girl sitting on the sofa next to her mum and her aunt Lily, baby Harry in her lap while her mother and his mother watched and made sure that she supported his head. Harry giggling and smiling up at her. She wanted to see that same smile on his face again.
That was why Director Bones could trust her with this assignment. Even when fully trained Aurors, who would be far more skilled at the job, were available, they would be unsuitable for this more ‘personal’ assignment. Tonks would give it her all, and she would keep quiet and she would prove herself to her little cousin that there was still a spark of light left in the family.
Currently, Tonks didn't look like Tonks. Gone were her feminine and youthful curves, and in their place, a sturdy, middle-aged heavyset and weathered looking bloke. He had a rough accent, an even rougher speech patterns, and answered to the name of Adam. It was one of a number of identities she had created after she had joined the Auror Corps at Brixton. It wasn't a deep cover identity, but it would pass a service background check.
Right now, ‘he’ was off to see a woman about a dog. Or more precisely, a Dursley about a bulldog.
It turned out that Marjorie Evelyn Dursley bred thoroughbred British bulldogs on a farm just outside Guildford In Surrey, and Adam had always wanted a bulldog. Seemed like a good excuse to do some recon.
Tonks drove up the lane that led to the farm. That was one way a lot of Ministry personnel messed up. They would apparate near a place and walk the rest of the way. That was fine in towns and cities as they had public transport. Out here though, it would be weird to turn up without a vehicle. Not that many of them could drive. Her grandfather had taught her.
Her father had offered, as he knew how to drive, but she had gone with her gramp's, as he actually used his car everyday. As a Muggle, it was his best choice for getting around. Her dad on the other hand, got to and from work using the floo, or by apparating, meaning that he could go months sometimes without starting up his car.
Tonks pulled the car up the drive to the farm. She considered using magic to open and close the gate, just to be lazy, but got out and did it the Muggle way in case someone was watching, then drove on up to the large farmhouse.
Marge Dursley's residence was nice enough, it was a large white-washed old style farmhouse with a large barn to one side. Tonks got out of the car and immediately tripped over her own feet. That was the drawback to being a metamorph. As your limbs constantly changed length, so your brain didn't form the same patterns for movement as a regular person did. She picked herself up just as a woman stepped out of the house.
That woman was Marge Dursley. After Harry had informed Director Bones of the investigation into underage magic, she was able to dig up some DMLE files on the indecent. What the files contained wasn’t worth much; It had basically said Harry lost control of his magic and accidently stuck his aunt to the ceiling, along with a few medical records and a case closed marker.
Honesty, it looked like a bit of a cover up. The question was whether Director Bones had covered up for Harry to give herself time to investigate the Dursley's, or if someone else had done it so that Director Bones wouldn't notice. But the reason that Tonks knew that the woman was Marge was that the joke of a file had also contained a picture of the women.
She was heavyset, had almost no neck, and had a mustache that rivaled Adam’s. It was showtime.
--- ϟϟϟ ---
"The mission was a complete success, ma’am."
Tonks was back to her old self, and was stood in front of the Director’s desk in her office at the Ministry. When she’d walked in, Director Bones had put up more privacy charms than Tonks even knew existed, before inviting her to talk.
"Give me a full report”, a full report wasn't entirely necessary, especially since this was an off-the-books job. You didn't need protocol for these kinds of mission, but it was good practice to keep, particularly for Tonks as she was the trainee.
"I posed as a buyer for a puppy to get my first look around the property. I was shown around some of the dog breeding places of the farm, and everything looked above board. I made an ‘excuse’ not to buy a dog then and there before leaving. Now that I was familiar with the property, I apparated back under the cover of darkness at night, using every stealth charm I knew. A search revealed that she’s involved in a local dog fighting circuit, she has a dogfighting ring hidden inside a patch of forest on the grounds. Charms revealed that the blood within the pit is a variation of old and fresh, and by the results, I would suggest that the pit is used regularly. Also...it wasn't all canine fights.
There was more than a little human blood in there.
She’s also involved with slavery. I found sixteen young children, between the ages of four and thirteen, locked in an out-building. From her records that I found”, Tonks loved that off-the-books missions were so much easier as you didn't need to wait for a warrant to search through a house, "She holds the kids of Muggles who have been trafficked into Britain illegally, so that whoever has the parents is able to control them.
Not gonna lie, Director, she is one sick bitch. If she were a witch, I would already have Aurors bringing her in front of the Wizengamot for the Dementors."
Director Bones had sat silently throughout the report, her expression turning from satisfaction to anger, before finally settling on absolute horror, "You have the needed evidence for the Muggle authorities?”
“Yes ma’am, photos of everything taken on a muggle camera. I also duplicated the records and put low level notice me charms on the hidden buildings. We need to get the muggle authorities in ASAP boss. It broke my heart, leaving those kids there.”
"Do you have evidence for me?"
"Yes ma'am", Tonks pulled a bottle of silvery liquid mist from her robes, “My memory of the mission."
She waited as her boss opened a cabinet which revealed a pensive. Pensive memories were not admissible in the Wizengamot, as memory modification was easy to do. It was even taught at a basic level in OWL’s to maintain the ‘Statute of Secrecy’, but it was a useful tool for Aurors, as an examination of the victim's memories could give them a good lead on where to look for evidence they could use.
Director Bones spent almost 5 minutes in the pensive, examining Tonks’ memory while said person waited. When she returned from the Pensieve, the two of them jumped straight back into the conversation, "We will have them there tonight if we can. We just need to give the police the right reason."
"How will we do that? Even if I was to take all the photos to the cops, it would take some time to get them to move. They need warrants and stuff, just like we do."
"I have a way, if you don't mind going back tonight?"
"If it gets them kids out of there any sooner, I'll go right back there now."
Director Bones smiled at her trainee, "Here's what I want you to do. Break back into the house, then call the police. Claim to be Dursley and report a burglary in progress in the house, beg them to send someone, then hide till they get there. When you know they’ll be able to hear you, scream bloody murder from inside the barn she has the kids in. Don't be seen, and get out before they open the building. They will find the kids and start an investigation."
Tonks thought about if for a few seconds. It would work, "I'll see to it right away, boss. What about the photos?"
Director Bones thought for a few seconds, "Duplicate them and send them to the Muggle press anonymously. Add a note about where it was and who was running it. Let the vultures have her. With the kids in the press, there is a good chance their parents will see they are safe and may be able to get free of whoever has them."
"Anything else ma'am?"
"As your boss no. But as an old friend of your parents, Dora, good job."
"Later boss. Seems I got some work left to do", with that, Tonks left the office of her superior and made her way out of the Ministry, one thought going through her head the whole way; one Dursley down.
--- ϟϟϟ ---
Most of December was fairly quiet for Harry and Hermione. As the weeks passed they did homework, bought Christmas presents, and spent a few evenings relaxing in the Room of Requirement. Harry was able to finish the modifications to Hermione's accessories so that she could spend time with her gran.
They had had a few more private lessons with Professor Lupin, practicing the Patronus charm. Hermione was steadily improving with each lesson, but Harry had hit a wall in their second lesson and hadn't gotten any better since then.
He was starting to worry that he just wasn't happy enough to cast the charm.
Harry was in his dorm room, packing up his trunk for the journey back to London. It was surprising just how much of his stuff ended up all over the Dormitory, instead of staying in his trunk where it belonged. Stuff like his dressing gown being hung on the back of the door to the bathroom he understood, or even the trainers under his bed.
However, how in the hell his blazer had ended up on top of Ron's four-poster bed, he would never work out; it was just one of those mysteries, like where that goddamn left sock disappeared to!
Ron was grumbling about having to remain at Hogwarts over Christmas. Harry didn't really get it; Christmas was about family, and most of Ron’s family was here at Hogwarts with him. What was there to complain about?
Maybe he just missed his mum's cooking.
Just as Harry was closing up his trunk, Fred and George came into the room, a strange mix of excitement, and a little disappointment, written on their faces. “Harry, we need to talk to you”, one of them called out to him.
“Yes, very important business”, the other added.
Harry hesitated briefly as he eyed the two of them, suspicious at what they were up to. Upon his pause, the twins both grumbled, “We aren’t going to prank you, we just need to show you something-”
“-The secret to our greatest pranks!”
“Behold”, one of the twins held up an old battered piece of parchment which he had taken out of his back pocket. Harry scoffed in disbelief, surely this was some sort of trick , “your secret is an old bit of parchment!? If this is one of your pranks, you guys are gonna have to do better.”
“An old bit of parchment!” the twin holding the parchment cried in mock offence.
“The utter outrage !” The other exclaimed.
“The blasphemy !”
“The disgrace !”
The two of them continued with their back-and-forth for a couple more moments, each time getting more and more extravagant, and it was starting to give Harry a dizzying headache. It was probably the reason the twins did it, just to annoy him.
After they’d finished in their tyrade, they both turned back to Harry, “ This , my dear boy, is no ordinary bit of old parchment. No, no, no, this is one of the most ingenious bits of spellcraft we have ever laid our eyes on.”
“Yeah, right”, Ron said as he walked over from his bed.
“An aid to magical mischief-makers, left to us from a couple of Legends, who have long since departed these hallowed halls of pranking”, they continued, as if Ron hadn’t interrupted.
“This, Harry, is the Marauder’s Map ”, they waited to see if that name meant anything to Harry, but it didn't.
After a short pause, the twins continued, though they seemed disappointed that Harry didn’t recognise the name, “the Marauder’s Map is the most fantastic artefact ever to grace the halls of Hogwarts.”
“It shows not only the corridors and the stairs, helping you to get between classes, -”
“-but also, secret passageways- ”
“ -and, the passwords needed to access them!”
They paused for a moment to let that information process in Harry’s mind. He didn’t see why they were so worked up about this map, there were plenty of items that could help you navigate Hogwarts.
The twins weren’t finished though, “However, there’s more . It's real value-”
“-It's true, miraculous power-”
“-lies with in one last ability-”
Harry was getting annoyed with their antics by now, “What is it!?” he snapped. He had places to be, and people to see. Namely, a certain bushy-haired girlfriend of his. When the two of them continued to just grin at him, he said, “well, if you aren’t going to tell me, then I'll be leaving!”
They both moved out of the way so that he could exit the room, though he made no move to. Though he hated to admit it, he was curious, and he knew that if he left now, the secret to that bit of parchment would nag him for ages. And, he knew the twins wouldn’t tell him if he walked away now. He groaned in frustration, “just tell me what the bloody thing does.”
Their grins only grew wider, “Well, since you seem to be so very curious...It shows the location of everyone in Hogwarts at that precise moment in time.”
At Harry’s look of amazement, they laughed, “You want to know where the kitchens are? The Marauder’s Map can tell you.”
“Trying to avoid Filch, or a greasy head slimeball? The Marauder’s Map will help you.”
“And what if you’re looking for a certain bushy-haired girlfriend of yours? The Marauder’s Map will show you where she is.”
Harry’s curiosity was at its peak by now; that map would be very useful, “but why are you showing this to me?“
Right then, the twin holding the parchment held it out to him, “We’re giving it to you.”
“Hey! I'm your brother, why would you give it to Harry?” Ron yelped.
“Ron, it’s probably a joke anyway”, Harry turned to face Ron, trying to placate him. He knew how jealous he could get at times.
“ But , it's not a joke, and as for why we are giving it to you Harry, observe”, The twins unfolded the parchment and laid it out on top of Harry's trunk. While one of them focused on making sure the parchment stayed down, the remaining twin said to Harry, “Tap the map with your wand and say; ‘I solemnly swear I am up to no good. ’ Then, just sit back and watch.”
Fully expecting this to be some sort of strange prank by the twins, and that the parchment was probably going to blow up in his face with coloured smoke that dyed his hair purple for the next three days, Harry went along with it anyway. He touched his wand to the centre of the blank parchment and repeated what he’d been told, “I solemnly swear I am up to no good.”
Suddenly, black lines began to spread out from the tip of Harry's wand as they snaked around the parchment, creating longer and longer lines that crisscrossed with each other. Soon, the lines fell into a definite pattern, outlining the familiar features of Hogwarts; long corridors, marked classrooms, dormitories, the Great Hall, the Dungeons, all of the rooms within Hogwarts became visible beneath Harry’s very eyes, small bits of text appearing in each room. There were even some words that were moving around, many of them in fact. Possibly hundreds.
Some lines seemed to indicate that there were secret passages that lead out of Hogwarts, but what really captured Harry's attention was the large script that had appeared at the top of the page;
Messrs Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs
Purveyors of Aids to Magical Mischief-Makers
are proud to present:
The Marauder’s Map
“Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and...” that last name at the top of the page. It was all that Harry looked at. The more he looked at that name, there more it would seem to burn into his soul.
“ Dad.. .”
“And that is why we are giving the map to you, Harry.”
“When we learnt recently that Harry is the son of the legendary Marauder Prongs-“
“-We felt that who else would be the rightful owner of such an artefact?”
Harry had completely lost track of the conversation as he stared at the map, the map made by his father and his friends. His dad had once held this exact same bit of parchment as Harry was. It was both a happy and a sad thought.
--- ϟϟϟ ---
Unnoticed by anyone in the room, Ron's pet rat Scabbers had run out of the room through the now open door, deciding that now was a brilliant time to spend some time away from Gryffindor Tower. He scampered down the stone staircase, through the busy common room, taking care to avoid his owner’s sister and friends, before exiting the portrait hole. He took a few handy shortcuts through the castle before entering onto the castle grounds, where he ran off in the direction of the Forbidden Forest.
Who knew what Scabbers was up to...
--- ϟϟϟ ---
Harry and Hermione were aboard the Hogwarts Express, headed back to London for the Christmas break. Unlike the last time they were going ‘home’ to London, Harry was completely relaxed, and was even looking forward to seeing the people who would be waiting at King’s Cross to greet Hermione and himself.
That’s a first , Harry thought.
The only thing Harry wished he could change was the amount of homework they were doing. Sure, he liked his school work and enjoyed it, but there was a lot less homework and a lot more cuddling last time, and like any teenage boy, he would obviously prefer the cuddling.
It had made sense last time they were going home, as they weren’t going to be staying together for the holiday, so Hermione's logical ‘ get the homework out of the way ’ approach had been pushed aside for, ‘this is the last time I will see my boyfriend for over a month, best make the most of it’.
At the Grangers’, Hermione had the chance to spend at least some of it with her gran, so she had wanted to get as much of it done now, so that their homework wouldn’t get in the way of spending time with her gran. This had led to the trip mostly being dedicated to their Christmas homework, but Harry didn’t mind, as long as Hermione would get to see her gran more. After all, he’d spent so long working on her hairband just for that reason, so it would be stupid to let something like homework get in the way now.
The two of them were just finishing up a particularly tricky Potions essay that Snape had set, when they heard the compartment door slide open.
“Well, well, well, if it isn't the perfect pair”, of course it was Malfoy, flanked by ‘thing one’ and ‘thing two’, otherwise known as Crabbe and Goyle, “Off back to the Muggles for Christmas this year then? Learnt your lesson about curious Mudbloods playing with magic at Christmas? Tell me, what would you do if I threw that hairband of yours out of the window Granger?”
Hermione froze for a second. If Malfoy did that, her Christmas with her gran would be ruined before it started. The problem was, you never show fear to a bully, that only encourages them, and even if Hermione had only reacted for a second, it was still enough for Malfoy to see and to use against her. Malfoy was unfortunately very perceptive. He reached out for Hermione's hairband, but his hand was stopped part way.
“If Hermione’s hairband goes out that window Malfoy, I will throw you out after it”, Harry had gotten to his feet in a flash and had caught Malfoy's wrist in his left hand, his right already holding his wand, pointed straight at the point where Malfoy’s jaw and neck met.
Things one and two lumbered forward, trying to intimidate Harry, but he ignored them, knowing they wouldn’t risk anything while he had his wand on Malfoy, “Just walk away Malfoy.”
Nobody moved for a few moments, but in his head, Harry was planning just what spells to use if this did take a bad turn. Malfoy was trying to think of a way out without looking weak to the two of them. Meanwhile, Hermione was silently begging for a prefect to come along, so that they could diffuse the situation. Thing one and two didn’t do much thinking, they were most likely wondering about what was for dinner, if that counted as thinking.
It was Hermione who was the closest when, Penelope Clearwater, the Head Girl and girlfriend of Percy Weasley, came along, doing her prefect rounds, “What's going on here?” she demanded.
“Nothing, we were just leaving. Crable, Goyle, come on”, the two Slytherins followed behind him without a word.
Penelope let them pass, but stayed where she was, a questioning stare aimed at the pari, making it obvious that she expected answers. While Hermione felt compelled to supply that answer, she didn’t want to include why the hairband was so important. Harry didn’t seem to have any problem though, as after Hermione had filled in what happened, he strongly added, “I won't let him keep Hermione from her family.”
When Penelope looked at Hermione for an explanation, she hesitantly told the prefect about what Harry had done for her with the hairband and how much it meant for her. Penelope then realised why Harry had reacted so strongly.
Penelope gave them a warning about not rising to provocation in the future, but smiled knowingly at Hermione when Harry said that he didn’t care if that provocation was towards his girlfriend. She then went off to go complete her rounds. Despite the fact that they found it harder to concentrate after the run-in with Malfoy, they spent the rest of the trip working on the transfiguration homework for McGonagall.
--- ϟϟϟ ---
When they finally reached King’s Cross Station, they were both tired of homework, and eager to return home. Or, in Harry’s case, return to Hermione’s home. While he did really enjoy living with the Granger’s, he had always felt like he was intruding on their family life. Hermione helped him with his trunk, as they only brought the one trunk, which was Harry’s trunk, but held the few things Hermione wanted to bring home with her. Hermione already had a lot of clothes and everything else that she would need at home, and she didn't see the need to bring all her stuff back with her.
Instead, she had just put a few things into Harry's trunk. 10-12 specific outfits she wanted, a few books that she thought would help with her homework, and a couple of nic-nacs she couldn't bear to be apart from, though these were mostly photographs or gifts from Harry that were special to her.
The platform was filled with the Wizarding parents of the returning Hogwarts students. Muggle parents were unable to get onto the platform and would be waiting in the muggle part of Kings Cross. Harry and Hermione fought their way through students that were greeting their parents, making their way towards the Archway that signified the border between platforms nine-and-three-quarters, and the rest to King’s Cross Station.
Hermione’s parents were waiting on the other side, along with a number of other parents and guardians of Muggle Born students. Hermione ran to her parents and threw her arms around them, as they held each other in a tight embrace. After 4 months, the three of them were ecstatic to see each other, but Harry, who was spectating them with a mixture of sadness at missing out and happiness at seeing Hermione so happy, hadn't expected Mrs Granger to walk up and hug him as well.
It wasn't one of the bone crushing hugs that he got off Hermione, or that Hermione got of her parents. It was just a quick side-hug but was one that said Harry was missed as well, and while he hesitated for a few seconds, unused to hugging anyone but Hermione, he did return the hug in kind. He had missed Mr and Mrs Granger as well.
After all the greetings were out of the way, Mr Granger steered them all to the car. Once they’d loaded Harry's trunk in the back, they all got in the car, but they didn't pull out as Harry had expected. Hermione was looking just as confused as him, and was about to ask why they were waiting, when Mr and Mrs Granger turned around in their front seats to face the two of them in the back.
“Something has happened in the last few days that I think you need to know about Harry. In fact, you probably deserve to know this more than anyone else, seeing as you have experienced it”, Mr Granger passed a puzzled Harry a copy of the Daily Mirror. Harry checked the date before he unfolded it, noticing that it was from two days ago. When he unfolded the paper, he saw the front page, the part that Mr Granger said he should see;
Evilest woman in Britain
Pleads not guilty
Trial set early January
But what captured his attention the most wasn't the headline, it was the picture that went with it. That picture, the one in relation to the title, was of Marge Dursley, walking down the steps of a courthouse;
There was more drama this week in the case of
Marjorie Dursley. After police were called out to her
residence a few weeks ago, they discovered that Ms
Dursley was not the clean, upstanding citizen she
pretended to be. A search of her property found not one
but SIXTEEN minors, all of whom were children of people
who had come to the UK in search of work. However,
instead of finding employment and safety here, the families
were brutally ripped apart, and these children it would seem,
were held to force the compliance of their parents.
This, however, was not the only crime that was found
to be organised on the property, as Ms Dursley also had
apparently kept a “Pit”, mostly for dogfighting, though details
are sketchy at the moment. One source at the [insert
forensic lab here] has said that there was fresh blood in those
Shockingly, despite all the evidence against her,
Dursley has decided to plead ‘not guilty’ to the charges, though
not on the grounds that she didn’t commit those crimes, or that
the evidence found against her was illegal. No, she is pleading
not guilty as apparently the police had entered her property
without a warrant.
Authorities are claiming that they had had a report of
a burglary from inside the house, and once there had been
a reasonable suspicion of a crime in progress on her property,
They were allowed to proceed with an investigation.
Would the trial set for early January see Miss Dursley
Charged as guilty? It won’t be long until we find out. And this
reporter hopes that the police have solid grounding for their
Actions, as the evidence against Miss Dursley is very strong
And I'm sure we all would hate to see Justice missed over
For more on the stories of the children see page 5
Harry didn’t know what to say. He handed Hermione the paper so she could read it. “Oh well, this is good, isn’t it?” Everyone in the car looked at Hermione, “for Harry I mean. It will keep her out of his life.”
“Unless they let her go. With my luck, she’ll get off scot-free.”
"That's not likely Harry", said Mrs Granger, "I spoke to a friend from university who was studying law. It doesn't matter at all that she didn't invite them in, if they had a phone call calling them there for an emergency, then they had every right to go to the house, and anything they happened to see while there is legit, as far as the law is concerned*", She looked at her husband, apparently hoping for some support.
Harry found out why a few seconds later when Mr Granger spoke up, "The problem is, when we told Jean the light version of why Harry was living with us, we had no reason not to use the name Dursley."
"Jean?" Harry asked.
"My Nan. Mum's mum”, Hermione filed in.
"So...she knows everything?"
"No, but she has guessed that Marge is related to your uncle. We said we don't know. Mum can be like a dog with a bone sometimes. She will probably ask you.”
Harry really couldn't find it in himself to be upset. After all, they were letting him live with them, and obviously Hermione’s gran would’ve asked why, and it was better that she knew the truth, rather them a lie, ”that's alright Mrs Granger, I'm such a bad liar, it would have probably come out pretty quickly anyway, Don't worry about it.”
A look came across Mrs Granger’s face as Harry said those words, and to him, it seemed that she was upset that he wasn't angry at her, but that made absolutely no sense. “Harry dear, I think Mrs Granger is a little too formal at this point. Why don't you try calling me Emma.”
He was a little taken aback by the gesture, “um...are you sure? It’s just-”
She cut him off, “yes, I'm sure.”
She then elbowed her husband, “Uh? Oh yeah, and call me Dan.”
“Um, but what should I call your...mum?” Harry first looked at Mrs Gr- Emma, then Hermione, who was giggling uncontrollably at the awkwardness of the conversation for Harry, “What is her last name? Hermione just called her Nan when she talked to me”, he asked.
“Call her Ms Richards. At least, until she tells you otherwise.”
“How much do you think i will have to tell her?”
“That’s up to you Harry. I love Gran, but she doesn't have the right to force you to tell her about them ”, the venom and disdain dripped from Hermione's voice as she referenced them .
“Hermione is right Harry, you can just say you aren't comfortable talking about something. And honestly, that’s going to be easier than talking about where your sleeping.”
Harry was confused, “Where am I sleeping?”
Hermione got an embarrassed look on her face, turning bright red, “Um...sorry, I forgot to tell you. Nan needs to use the guest room. She can’t share with me because my hairband might slip. There is the cat hair problem and she can’t know about my magic problem. So...you will be sharing my room, on a fold-out bed. We can change in the bathroom, and it’s not like we haven't slept in the same room, or even the same bed before.”
Harry froze, positive that Mr Granger may kill him this holiday. He looked at the man, ready to run. Mr granger looked back at him, and as though he sensed the fear in his eyes, he smiled reassuringly at him, “Calm down Harry. Hermione told us about her nightmares. Just promise me one thing, you two. Don't do anything that you wouldn’t do in front of us”, he indicated Emma and himself.
Harry was just about to agree, but Hermione jumped in to tease her dad, “Maybe...how about we promise till the end of the day?”
“How about you promise until you are twenty-one?”
“Till your 30?
“How about till you go back to school!?” Emma jumped in, as she knew what her daughter and husband could be like when they got going like this.
“Just no grandkids till you finish university. Or the magical equivalent”, Mr Granger added.
Harry sat there uncomfortably, his face as red as a quaffle, He wished the car seat would just swallow him, if only so that he could avoid this conversation.
“Mostly, the Magical world works on an apprentice system. There just isn’t enough people for a university. The only exception is Healers and Aurors. For everyone else, they either go straight into work as a job apprentice, or you find a witch or wizard that will help you get a mastery in a discipline. A mastery is our equivalent to a PhD, most of our teachers have a mastery in the subject they teach.”
Harry sat listening as Hermione described further education in the Magical world, but he wasn’t really paying attention. He was thinking about what Dan had said about grandkids. The idea of getting Hermione pregnant was a...complicated thought, but not a particularly unwelcome one. But they would definitely wait a while longer. However, the idea of kids, It really did appeal to him.