Third Time's a Soul Bond?

BY : Wilde_Guess
Category: Harry Potter > Slash - Male/Male > Harry/Ron
Dragon prints: 3645
Disclaimer: I do not own the Harry Potter franchise, nor the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

Chapter 10, "Problems and Solutions," where Ron goes home…

Our first visitors actually arrived at 4:00 PM. Headmaster Dumbledore, Professor McGonagall, and Algernon Croaker walked in to the common room after knocking. I decided to get 'academic' matters out of the way first.

I stood and greeted the group. "Good afternoon, Professors, and Croaker. Professor McGonagall, we only got through the Herbology assignment and that by way of guided discussion rather than reading the text itself. Between other issues that came up after yesterday's meeting adjourned, and our unexpected and early start to the morning this morning, we were not in any condition to actually accomplish anything as either instructor or pupil.

"Both Neville and Harry know the Nox, and basic Lumos charms. We will hopefully have an early yet productive end to this afternoon's meeting, and perhaps even read the Charms text and cover the Lumos variants.

"While Neville's guided discussion may not have matched the order of the text, I'm confident that all the highlights were covered while he discussed his active greenhouses and their management.

Professor McGonagall was silent for a few seconds before answering. "At least you're honest, which is good. I do and will expect better from all three of you in future.

"Harry, give me a quick description of Devil's Snare, whether the plant is dangerous or not, and any weakness one would need to deal with when cultivating it."

Harry paused, but did not parse my memories. "Based on what Neville said, and without picking Ron's brain, Devil's Snare is a magical variant of kudzu, except that it is poisonous to almost all magical and Muggle life if eaten. It is a vine that is equally adept at spreading over the ground and over trees and buildings. The plant is dangerous in that it will attempt to strangle any living moving creature it comes in physical contact with. If a person is trapped, they may be able to escape the plant by remaining perfectly still. Struggling against the plant actually causes it to exert an even greater force in its attack. One attacks Devil's Snare with either intense light or fire, either of which causes the plant to recoil away, and can kill it with sufficient exposure.

"While it is grown here at Hogwarts, it is a highly dangerous and legally restricted plant. Beyond a Ministry-issued license for dangerous plants, deliberate cultivation requires moonlight, and heavily filtered sunlight, preferably through watered Acromantula silk. The plant is used either for security to guard a building or stationary item such as a path, or for assassinations."

Professor McGonagall thought a moment, and decided, "Well stated, Mr. Potter. Five points to Gryffindor."

I said, "I discovered one additional complication Sunday night that I am just remembering now. Our bond has progressed to the point that Harry and I can use each other's eyesight, at least if we are maintaining physical contact. This is not the complication. The complication is that the prescription in Harry's glasses is not remotely correct, to the point that Harry gets moderate to intense headaches if he spends any time doing such detail work as reading and writing.

"He has never seen an eye healer, either magical or Muggle. His glasses came out of a 'charity bin,' and were the only glasses that seemed to work the day he got them. So, along with everything else, he will need a prescription for eyeglasses, and one or more pairs of glasses ground to that prescription."

Croaker spoke for the first time since entering. "Mage Weasley, I will write a note. Are Mr. Potter's frames acceptable?"

I answered, "While Harry would have a better idea what style of eyeglasses suit his appearance, the ones he's wearing look fine, if they are comfortable for him, and have the right prescription fitted."

Croaker replied, "I have an optical healer on their way. They should arrive at the castle gate in moments. They will have a kit with them to create new lenses, install the lenses in Mr. Potter's existing frames, and issue a valid and correct prescription he can fill in Diagon Alley at his leisure. His prescription will also have the correct measurements to size the frames, so that Mr. Potter can owl-order the new glasses if he is unable to visit Diagon Alley.

"On a different subject, Mr. Potter, have you thought about joining the Department of Mysteries? If you have not decided yet, that is fine."

Harry answered, "I haven't decided yet. I have had so many other things on my mind that I have given it little thought. I will try to have an answer before the end of the week, though.

"By the way," Harry asked Croaker, "do you know exactly when Ron's and my soul bond formed?"

He thought a moment, and answered, "Yes. Normally there are three stages when a soul bond is created. All of these stages are recorded.

"The first is when the bond is formed. This means that the soul bond is there, but can be broken if the two people are actually not compatible, or if they recognize that the bond has formed, and that it is not how they wish to live. If the two people deliberately and willingly break the formed bond, it cannot be recreated, even if the two people later marry each other.

"The second stage, which typically happens days, weeks, and sometimes months later is when the bond is sealed. At that point, the bond cannot be broken without killing both people in the bond.

"The final point is when the bond is consummated. This process starts with the first willing sexual intercourse between the two bonded, peaks when the bond itself asserts its presence through 'involuntary' sexual intercourse, levels off with the two bonded fully accepting each other as equal partners, and finally stabilizes with an additional act of sexual intercourse.

"Ron's and your bond was formed at 10:44:44 last Sunday morning. It was sealed at 10:55:55, not quite twelve minutes later.

"I should have been called in by the Watch Officer. He believed the entries were somehow spurious, and would be resolved during the normal course of business Monday. However, had the entries been spurious, I should have been called in at once anyway.

"The bond started the consummation process at 2:28 pm on Sunday. This was also confirmed indirectly by signals interference on the magical railway line between London and Hogsmeade.

"While I understand that my sending Neville the way I did was not only an extra complication, and also unnecessary since he took the initiative himself, and I apologize for that to both Ron and you; I needed to send him to render what assistance he could. He is one of very few people, and the only one that is the same age as you, to have any actual understanding from experience of the process."

It was now 4:17. The knock at the door was the DOM Optical Healer with his kit, and being led by Pandora Lovegood.

The Optical Healer introduced himself first, to the extent that he would. "Mr. Potter, I am an Optical Healer from the Department of Mysteries. I will need about an hour of your time to examine your eyes, generate a prescription, and create new lenses for the frames you are currently wearing."

I asked, "Can you use the bedroom to your left?"

He answered, "I can do so if you have a house-elf to handle furniture as needed."

I called Tansy, told him to help Harry and the Optical Healer, and left them to it.

The rest of the guests arrived at 4:42. They were Mum, Dad, Sirius, and Remus.

To ease my own nerves, I decided to start the 'social hour' with introductions, since Harry was still in the middle of getting his glasses. With a loud whistle, I gained everyone's attention and spoke.

"Welcome, one and all. While I am pretty sure I am not in charge of this meeting, I am one of the two who is supposed to benefit from it, so I will take the lead for now. Would everyone please find a seat?" Amazingly enough everyone actually sat down.

I spoke again. "Thank you for taking your seats. Everyone here knows me, Harry Potter, and the two unique circumstances that tie us together, with the possible exception of the DOM Optical Healer, who is attending to Harry right now. Not everyone here necessarily knows everyone else. Pandora Lovegood, would you please stand?"

She stood, and I spoke again. "Pandora is here along with Algernon Croaker at my request. Once the meeting actually starts, their standing will become obvious.

"Until Harry has his new glasses, which should hopefully be in less than half an hour, we won't be able to get started. In the mean time, between Neville Longbottom's elf and the Hogwarts elves, at the Headmaster's direction, a cocktail, beverage, and snack service should be offered. Is this ok with you, Headmaster?"

He answered, "Yes, it is. We have a fair amount of business to try resolving this evening, some of which is being paced by the youngest person in attendance rather than the older ones. So, patience will be required of all of us."

He clapped his hand twice, and a side-table appeared with an assortment of beverages and foods. The assortment included various finger foods, a rather nice sushi assortment, and several tokkuri of sake.

I quietly entered the bedroom just as the Optical Healer was packing the last of his equipment. Hearing me behind him, he said, "Mage Weasley. I am aware of Mr. Potter's and your relationship, that a mission is involved, and that the relationship is a 'side-issue.' I have no need to know anything else at this time. I gave Mr. Potter two business cards for an Optical Healer and optometrist shop on the Alley that does good and trustworthy work. I wish the both of you a good day."

Harry had been reading some of my feelings as I walked towards the bedroom. As soon as the door closed, he removed his robe and nightshirt and started to dress. I followed suit as we talked.

Since Harry had demanded and received magical recognition as Head off the Most Ancient and Noble House of Peverell-Potter, and appointed me as his Chief Seneschal, both of our uniforms had changed. Our Gryffindor house badges were now on the right side of our robes instead of the left. On the left side of the robes, we now wore the Peverell-Potter badge of a Red Stag Rampant on a gold background. Harry's badge was topped with an Earl's Coronet, as that would be his equivalent rank under Muggle Peerage. Mine was topped by a crossed wand and quill in gold indicating that was Harry's Chief Seneschal. We both had silk waistcoats in Gryffindor colours instead of jumper-vests, and Harry had a pique-front shirt with a wing collar and bow tie in Gryffindor colours instead of a necktie.

"Ron, before we put on more than trousers and shirts, let me kiss you. I can't believe how great it is to actually see!"

He was still barefooted, but wearing his wing-collared shirt open to the sternum and his trousers. We shared a short but passionate kiss.

We put on the rest of our uniforms, except for his bow tie. We quickly decided to have Mipsy tie it, and we walked out together. He quickly let me look through his eyes. The prescription had done the trick, and everything was reasonably clear.

Harry told me through the bond, "The magic eye doctor told me that I corrected to 20/20 near, and 20/15 far, with great depth perception and sensitivity to motion."

I replied mentally, "Great. One thing done. Hopefully we can accomplish more tonight."

He squeezed my hand in silent agreement.

I gained the attention of everyone else and spoke. "Thanks to the good agency of Mr. Algernon Croaker, one of the smaller if still important issues has been resolved. Harry's glasses are actually helping his eyesight now instead of hurting it. If the Headmaster would start things off, please? While he will conduct things, my personal preference would be to resolve the issues involving our public lives and images first, allowing for those who aren't family to leave and join their families in a more timely manner.

"Harry and I are in school uniform as modified for a Head of House and Chief Seneschal for courtesy to you, rather than our own circumstances. We are still sorting ourselves out, and will likely be doing so for at least the rest of this week. We are trying to resolve ourselves as quickly as possible, but some things will only go at their own pace and no faster. If you would allow us a moment to get some food and drink and take our seats before we start. Thanks."

Harry and I quickly got a plate of assorted sushi and a tokkuri of sake each. Tansy delivered two wingback chairs bracketing an end table in the corner with two tumblers of cold water. We sat down and started eating, Harry still using a fork, and we listened. The first news was certainly not what we wished to hear.

Professor Dumbledore announced, "At 9:10 this morning, a concerned neighbour called the police in Little Whinging. That neighbour noticed the front door to be slightly ajar, with a horrible smell coming from within. The police entered to discover all three of the Dursleys had been tied up and beaten to death. Due to extra measures that I had set up, the Aurors were notified at 9:18 and were on the scene at 9:21.

"Preliminary investigation suggests that Fenrir Greyback was responsible for the attack. I checked for any presence of the wards at Number 4 Privet Drive, there were none to be found, nor were the ward stones even present.

"I returned to my office immediately, and found that the ward monitors actually indicated improved performance in the wards. The indicated health of the wards was actually stronger than I had seen it since the casting. Acting on a hunch, based on the absence of the ward stones, I travelled to a different location. There, I found the stones emplaced in such a manner as to indicate that they had been at their current location for months – yet this was impossible.

"I had visited Petunia Dursley at half-nine Monday morning, to inform her that she and her family needed to relocate at once, and that their expenses would be fully and promptly reimbursed. At that time, the wards were still up and functional, if not functioning at anything near their potential strength.

"The ward stones themselves are polished granite cubes of roughly three feet to a side. With this particular ward design, the ward stones bury themselves upon activation of the ward array, at a depth of roughly eighteen feet, phasing through most common Muggle paving materials, including steel rebar, concrete, and so on. While they could be moved individually prior to being set, once they were set and activated, they could only be moved from inside, and as a unit. One individual could not move them. They could not be moved without dropping the wards. If the wards were dropped, only one person might be able to re-establish them – me. I had done nothing to them.

"When I installed and activated the wards, which was actually after Harry was taken in; I needed the assistance of Nicholas Flamel, Alastor Moody, and Rubeus Hagrid to set them. I Obliviated Hagrid at his insistence.

"Yet, the ward stones were moved, the ward itself never fell, and the wards are stronger than they have ever been. It is as if magic itself moved the stones.

"Acting on another suspicion, I checked a country home and kennel just south of Woodmancote. Marjorie Dursley had been dead since roughly mid-day of Friday last according to both the Muggle Police and the Aurors. She and all of her dogs had been bludgeoned to death, again the likely work of Fenrir Greyback.

"Marjorie Dursley preceded her brother in death, and died without a valid will. Under Muggle law, her entire estate passed to her brother.

"Vernon, Petunia, and Dudley Dursley also died without valid wills. With Harry Potter, being their only living heir, the entire fortune of the estates, valued at roughly £97,592,197 passes on to Mr. Potter.

"The reason I stressed valid wills was because there was magical tampering with the all of the wills, including the casting of the Imperius Curse on both Dursley solicitors for the purpose of attempting to name a 'shell company' as the beneficiary. Fortunately, the DMLE prevented this from happening. Voldemort used this tactic to raise funds in the past.

"Due to the nature of the tampering involved, the probating of the wills has been expedited. Between the efforts of the DMLE Muggle Legal Section and the DOM Muggle Legal Services Section, the combined estates should officially pass to Mr. Potter's control through his Regent and Deputy Seneschal no later than Friday.

"The reason that the process will take that long is because with Mr. Potter being the spouse of a wand-crafter, the estate is entirely exempt from all taxation, magical and Muggle. While we are preserving the privacy of Messrs Potter and Weasley as much as possible, the Ministry cannot legally collect these taxes. The number of non-DOM solicitors involved is only three, and they have all consented to having their memories sealed until such time that the nature of Messrs Potter and Weasley's relationship should become public knowledge, should that ever occur.

"The four Dursleys will be buried a week from this coming Saturday. Harry will be expected to attend in suitable mourning clothes for a mid-ranking noble in the Muggle community.

Harry was in my lap almost as soon as Dumbledore said "Little Whinging." Worse, he was crying silently. This was never a good sign with 'first-Harry,' and it didn't seem to be with this one, either.

Having a feeling that we were on the verge of a major setback, or at the least that Harry would need direct physical touch to get through the next few minutes, I called for Mipsy. I told her to undress us completely as unobtrusively as possible, and get us back into the four-armed robe again. She not only did this, but she also enlarged the robe enough that I could move my arms from outside of the robe to the inside, and back again. She had also put up a privacy screen between us and the rest of the room.

By the time Dumbledore had finished speaking, Harry was emotionally wiped out. He had cried silently in anguish, not even uttering a sound over the bond. I caressed him and held him to my chest, as he curled up sideways in my lap. He fell asleep, still shedding tears, with his head on my left shoulder.

I let the rest of the group know what was going on while I gave instructions. "Deputy Lupin, have you seen even a preliminary statement of accounts for the two Dursley Estates?"

Sensing my tone, he answered, "Not yet, Seneschal Weasley."

I continued, "There is likely a sizable portion of the estates tied up in stock or other securities for the Grunnings Drill Company LLC. We need to verify both the percentages of our exposure to them, and theirs to us. In any case, should my suspicions hold true, we will be entitled to see a copy of their succession plans, under "non-disclosure" terms.

"Ensure that you reassure the company that we will make no large public moves against them on the exchanges, and that our desire is for the company to continue to operate profitably and stably as it has done. Our concern, quietly and discretely expressed is only logical. One would have to assume that Vernon Dursley was at least somewhat competent as a Managing Director; else, the rest of the board would have had him sacked.

"There is also a possibility that the stock will fall anyway. If it does, we need a solid forecast on the long-term viability of the company. We may indeed have to buy additional stock, and in such a way that others in the City know we are doing so, to shore up our position and keep the company solvent. Between the Potter and Black financial staffs, do we have the talent and resources to do this?"

"Yes, we do." Remus answered.

I finished with him, saying, "Please let me know what other issues you encounter including the waving of estate taxes and so on.

"Also, we will need the houses cleaned once both the DMLE and the Muggle Police release them to us. While we will likely sell both properties, that is not a sure thing. Even selling them, we will not make a rush sale. We will ensure that we receive full price for both properties. If needs be, since we are covering up wizarding criminal activity, I suggest that we might simply Obliviate the Muggles in both of the neighbourhoods involved. We could have them believe that al four Dursleys died in a bus crash in Brixton. Will you also handle the funeral arrangements?"

Remus answered, "Yes, I will. I have already started the arrangements. All four Dursleys have adjoining plots in the churchyard of St. James in Dursley. I've already hired the local funeral director to handle the arrangements once the bodies are released. I've seen the bodies. I'm assured that the Muggles cannot repair their appearance sufficiently to allow for an open-casket service.

"A memorial service will also be held in Little Whinging. Due to the slanderous conduct of the Dursleys while in life, we are having difficulty in both disabusing the slander, and not gratuitously bringing the ill repute to the Dursleys in death that they deserved in life. Since the Muggle police are in no particular hurry to release the bodies, this should be solvable prior to Lord Potter and Lord-Heir Longbottom if he should choose to attend, actually attending the service.

"Madam Malkins also has both their measurements and yours on file. Few people know, but they do make correct Muggle formal clothing of the type we will need to wear."

Neville added, "I will attend. Seneschal Lupin, we will trust that you take care of my attire along with Lord Potter and Chief Seneschal Weasley. Under the circumstances, my Gran will have no problem paying, unless it is a proper mission expense, in which case it should be invoiced to the DOM. Pandora?"

Pandora added, "The expenditure will be approved, and I will help write the expense report. You need to be with Lord Potter as part of the mission."

I asked, "Have we made progress on the public story?"

"None yet, though sadly the demise of the Dursleys does buy us some time for that." Dumbledore answered.

I asked, "Croaker, do you have anything we can act on or that we need to know this evening?"

He answered, "No. If I need to know anything, Pandora will inform me. I bid you all good evening." Having said that, Croaker left.

I had Mipsy quietly wipe Harry's face with a flannel and dry it without waking him. She also did my shoulder while she was at it. Being at least sufficiently decent, with Harry cried-out and dozing in my lap, I nodded at Mipsy and had her remove the screen.

I drank a saucer of sake to gather my thoughts. Part of me felt that Harry might benefit with leaving Hogwarts for a few days. But, I wasn't sure, and needed a few questions answered before I could even suggest one way or the other.

I asked Professor Dumbledore, "I'm guessing the blood-wards are now up over the Burrow. Am I correct?"

He replied, "Yes, you are. They are just inside of your family's wards."

I then asked, "Mum? What shape is my room in right now?"

She answered, "Pandora saw that the replacing of your old bed should not be put off, so the bed has been changed for a larger one, completely made up. We can also put Neville up for a few days in Charlie's old room if he's needed."

I asked, "Pandora, have you seen anything that I should be aware of?"

She answered in a slightly far-away voice, "The country air should do you all some good."

I invited, "Neville, would you be interested in being our guest for a few days?"

He replied, "If it's no trouble, and if I can leave the school, sure. May I bring Mipsy as well?"

Mum answered, "So long as she understands that it's my kitchen, and that my kids don't get lazy from your elf doing all the work… If it's only for a couple of days, we'll find her 'extra' work so she feels appreciated."

Professor Dumbledore interjected, "Under the circumstances, I can allow Mr. Longbottom to accompany the two of you, that is, if Harry wants to go."

Harry woke up at the mention of his name. "What?" he asked.

I said, "Harry, I thought you might want to go home to the Burrow with me for a couple of days or so, to see if we can get feeling better sooner."

"Ok, sure. How are we getting there?"

I said, "We'll probably be best off going by either Portkey, or with Fawkes, or with Lucky Boy if he's up to it. We'll all need to appear outside of the blood-wards.

"Assuming that Mum and Dad give their permission, we'll need to key Mr. Lupin into both the blood-wards and the Weasley wards, Mr. Black into the Weasley wards, and we'll probably have to key you into the Weasley wards, since you probably have the capacity to become an Animagus."

Harry sat up and drank a saucer of sake. He said, "Thanks, Molly."

He asked silently, "Sorry about loosing it, Old Man. Thanks for holding me. But why are we starkers in the four-armed robe again?"

I answered, "You were that far gone in grief, and we both needed the extra contact. Are you ready to get dressed in a few minutes so we can go home?"

"Home, Old Man?"

"Yeah, Brat! Home. Even without what happened today, you weren't going back to the Dursleys."

He turned around and kissed me, saying, "Thanks."

I said, "We'll need to move into our bedroom to get dressed in regular clothes. We'll be out in just a minute."

After giving Harry his glasses to put back on, we carefully stood up, making sure the bathrobe stayed closed. We walked into our bedroom and closed the door behind us, after Lumosing the lights. With the lights on and the door closed, we set to getting dressed, at least as far as our y-fronts.

Harry asked, "Can I borrow a pair of socks? You didn't see mine, but they're not the best except for the black ones for the school uniforms."

Feeling his next question, I answered it, too. "You can borrow a pair of socks. We'll get things figured out with your regular clothes in a day or two. If nothing else, Madam Malkins can sell you Muggle or magical clothes by owl order since they have all your sizes. Did you want to borrow mine because you think they'd fit better, or because they're mine?"

He blushed and replied shyly, "Because they're yours?"

"Fair enough," I said, as I tossed him a pair of socks and a t-shirt.

We finished dressing out of my trunk, except for him claiming his trainers out of his. He was wearing the same outfit I wore to the station. I called for Mipsy.

She appeared, snapped her fingers twice, and everything was packed. She said, "Mipsy has also packed big sheet and extra Hogwarts towels for Master Ron and Master Harry, since Masters are coming back in a few days."

It took me a minute or two to realize that the towels were not just for the loo. I blushed bright red. Harry read my thoughts and blushed too, but he also smiled.

He added in a whisper, "The jelly is in my trunk again." If anything, I blushed even worse.

Sighing deeply, I said, "While Mum and Dad probably won't say anything, we'll need to be discrete. It would be rude to 'rub their faces into it,' and Ginny will also be home. So, bathrobe or more to go to the loo, and y-fronts too if we're 'pointy.' We can hug and kiss in front of them, but not make out."

We quickly got control of our complexions, and nodded to Mipsy. She popped into the front room with the two trunks and we followed.

Mum said, "While I'm not happy with what you paid for the trunk, Ron, it was your money that bought it. Can you put a regular trunk inside it and make the whole thing shrink down?"

Stunned, I nodded to her.

As Harry and I put his trunk inside of mine, I told him, "I didn't want to show it off, but the trunk has a few 'extras,' since I'd planned on getting a lot of use out of it, rather than using it for Hogwarts and leaving it sit in an attic forever. It's also harder to make a friend on the train if your luggage weighs much less than theirs."

He thought, and answered, "I guess so. But we pack like this from now on, right? I still don't know how wizarding money works, and I don't want to run out before I can earn more. Besides, Hagrid was taking me around, and while I got good stuff, I didn't really get anything fancy."

I added, "The one thing you need to watch out for with space-enlarged and self-shrinking things is that if you nest too many of them together, they can explode on you. You may or may not get hurt, but your stuff always gets trashed along with your luggage."

Hedwig glided in through the owl port in the ceiling, and landed on Harry's outstretched arm. Harry said, "Hedwig, fly to the Burrow. We live there now." She gently nipped his ear and flew off.

I announced to the group, "We need to see Fred, George, and Percy up here. They know about the soul bond, but not the time stuff. They also have a map that shows almost the entire castle including occupants. I'll have them up fairly quick."

I drew my primary wand and quietly cast, "Adfero Percy Weasley Percy, grab the twins and get up to where you had breakfast this morning right now. Have them look at the map to see why and to not make a scene Adfero."

My Patronus barked once and flew off. Ten minutes later, there was a knock at the door. Remus, being closest, opened it. Percy, George, and Fred stumbled in, looking somewhat worried.

Before anyone got worked up, I said, "Harry and I are going home with Mum and Dad. Neville is going with us, too. We should be back before the weekend, but we don't know for sure how long we'll be gone. Say nothing other than whatever Headmaster Dumbledore says. Got it?"

Percy, not seeing the 'Hand-Blaster,' which was everyone else's nickname for my secondary wand, started to get cocky. "Now see here, Ron, you don't need…"

Nothing like seeing the wand of your nightmares show up in my off hand to make you re-think things. Eh, Percy?

With him calmed down, I added, "Harry's Aunt, Uncle, and Cousin were murdered. While the funeral isn't right away, Harry isn't ready to deal with the rest of our classmates, and I'm not either. But he needs to see something beyond the inside of this room. A few days back home should help."

Fred asked, "How are things back home, Mum?"

George asked, "And how's Ginny?"

Mum answered, "Fine to both. We intended to tall you about Ron and…"

Percy, of all people, interrupted. "We're not upset about that, Mum. But we were so worried, especially me. Ron vanished with the Headmaster Sunday night, and we didn't even see him until this morning! We were scared that he had gotten hurt again, and that he might not make it this time! Then, the twins finally find them on a map in a room that wasn't labelled, lying on top of each other! We were scared…"

Mum hugged Percy, and he returned it. She said, "It was nice looking after your brother, anyway. Behave yourselves, and go back to whatever you were doing."

After Mum hugged Fred and George, they and Percy left.

Professor Dumbledore spoke, while holding a hoop that was about four feet in diameter. "I need all eight of you to grab this hoop. Do not let go until I tell you to."

We grabbed the hoop Portkey, and the Headmaster activated it. We felt the 'hook' behind our navels, and saw the kaleidoscope of dim lights as we sailed through the dusk. We finally landed just outside of the drive to the Burrow.

Professor Dumbledore looked over our group and said, "For the blood-wards, I believe that only Remus needs to be keyed in. Arthur?"

Dad answered, "I'll need Sirius, Remus, Neville, and Harry. I'll do Sirius and Remus first, so you can get Remus set on the blood-wards."

Dad stood by the left gatepost as you faced the drive. He said, "By the time you actually get close enough to the ward line, you're already far enough onto my land that I can prosecute you either through the DMLE or the Muggles. 'No ward-testing allowed.' I can key people in or out of the wards from this post, but I can also do it in other places. Also, it isn't actually part of the wards, and if you attack it, it will magically 'break off.'"

He keyed in Remus first, followed by Sirius, using the 'house penknife,' which he had on him. He told Harry, "I'm not sure if you have the potential to become an Animagus or not. I'll have you walk straight down the centre of the lane. If you feel 'strange,' stop, and come right back. The wards are 'graduated,' but they only go 'up' the more you try to get past them."

Harry did as Dad told him. He made it in almost a foot before turning back. He said, "That was amazing! It didn't feel bad, but I could feel it."

Dad keyed Harry in, and had Neville try. Almost disappointingly, Neville made it through both wards without any problems.

With everybody 'keyed in, we walked up the lane to the Burrow, with several Lumos spells cast to lead the way. Harry and I were towards the back. We held hands as we walked up the lane. I wondered if I should carry Harry across the threshold or him me.

Feeling my question, Harry asked, "Does Ginny know about Ron and me?"

Dad answered, "She and Luna both do. They also both know about what happened to your Aunt and her family."

He asked, "Did you send an Adfero or something?"

Dad replied, "Only for your Aunt, her family, and that you were coming home for a few days. We told them the rest this morning."

"Thank you, Arthur," he said in answer.

He said in my mind, "I want you to carry me over the threshold. I'm nervous, though."

I answered, "So am I. But they already know what we've been doing together, and probably think that we've been much 'busier' than we've really been. Worst case, Ginny and maybe Luna if she's staying over take the Mick for a minute or two. But I'll have still carried you over the threshold the first time you've entered our home. If there's a book on this stuff, I've yet to see it, so we'll just keep figuring it out as we go along."

We got about fifteen feet from the back door. I squeezed his hand and told him in our minds, "Stop here. Hug and kiss me, but no hands below the small of each other's backs."

As we kissed, I told him, "Lift your left foot. Your feet are killing you, and we don't normally wear shoes in the house. Sock too?"

He thought back, "Yeah. You too, though, after you get me! What do we do with them?"

As he changed feet, I dropped the first trainer and sock to my left. I thought back, "When I pick you up, put them in your lap, and let them set. You can quietly set them down when I put you down."

Once we were both barefooted, I picked him up so he could wrap his right arm around his neck. He quickly got our trainers gathered into his lap, and I carried him into the house. I kissed him and set him down. He set our trainers down, we kissed again, and we held hands as we walked to the kitchen table. Everyone took a seat except for Headmaster Dumbledore.

He said, "I have nothing to add for right now, except to suggest reviewing your course books as and when you have the time, particularly Mr. Longbottom and Mr. Potter. Even with a soul bond, Harry, you still need to 'finish' learning the material yourself to get the most out of it.

"And Ronald," he added, "Sometimes the smallest of changes make the biggest of differences, Even if you feel as if you've seen the material before, it doesn't hurt to study it anew, perhaps to gain a new insight.

"With that, I'll bid you all a good evening." he finished as he walked out the back door, closing it behind him. Presumably, based on the flash I saw out the windows of the back door, he caught a ride back to the school with Fawkes.

Ginny and Luna had already been sitting at the table, and hadn't said a word until now. "Mum, what are we having for supper tonight?"

Pandora answered before a now-embarrassed Mum could, "We will be having a light supper, at least to start. The appetizers we had set out at Hogwarts looked quite satisfying, but were actually almost untouched. If I may, Neville?"

Neville nodded to her, and she called "Mipsy?"

The full spread from the side-table, minus the hard liquor was spread out on the table, complete with plates, forks, chopsticks, and so on. Harry's and my plates appeared in front of us, still in perfect condition apart from what we had already eaten. There were also enough "English style" appetizers on offer that those who didn't like sushi weren't offended. While Mum didn't look particularly happy with the choice of beverage Neville, Harry, and I were drinking, she held her peace.

We had just started eating (again) when the Floo flared. "Molly Weasley?" Augusta Longbottom's voice was unmistakable.

"Yes?" she answered.

"May I trouble you to come through for a minute, please?" the Matriarch asked.

Mum answered, "Sure, Madam Longbottom."

Neville's Gran came though, in "full-rig," but thankfully minus the hat she had made from her familiar. She looked at Neville, and the several steaming tokkuri.

After pausing a moment, she said, "You're here safe, Neville, and the rapid increase in your sake consumption is for hospitality. Good on you, and two errands down."

I said, "To any who are otherwise concerned, I now know about the comic books, and have personally met the author. The last story cycle will be released early and in full, as part of a hardcover 'graphic novel. We are trying for a release prior to Halloween. We will also include the incidents involving Harry Potter and me, in a manner both as reasonably accurate as circumstances allow, and suitably 'tamed' for the ages of the younger readers. We will also include a memorial listing of all the Honourable fallen from the Voldemort War, and close the book out with 'real-me' and 'real-Harry' at Hogwarts.

"While I don't want my CV competing with a comic book hero, it would be rather churlish of me to just have the series stopped. The author had also done me a personal favour by starting the series in such a way that less reputable people were blocked from doing so, and has also set up a trust fund for me into which they have paid on my behalf, which I understand was not done with most of the money made off of Harry's fame."

Madam Longbottom answered, "Indeed, and well-said. Would you portray Frank and Alice's battle?"

"Please?" Neville interjected.

I looked into his eyes and saw that he actually wanted that, and was not merely "kissing up" to his grandmother.

I replied, "Unless the author refuses, it will be done. Neville will also appear in the closing pages."

"Thank you," Madam Longbottom answered softly.

Gaining her more typical tone, she continued, "I found Alice's wand earlier today. I would like Neville to try it."

Neville was sitting to my left, as Harry was to my right. He stood and accepted the wand from Augusta. He waived it, and got a tepid shower of sparks.

I stated, "It looks like at least somewhat of a match. How did it feel, Neville?"

"I can feel the wand's acceptance, but it also feels hurt," he answered.

"May I examine the wand?" I asked.

Neville handed it to me handle-first.

I felt the wand. It was as Neville had said, though it wasn't nearly as badly damaged as Frank's old wand. I cast the shower-spark spell and got a tepid shower similar to Neville's. I cast Lumos and Nox in quick succession. The light was dim and the response slow.

Curious, I cast Avis. I got one single slightly moulting bird. But, it was a songbird and not a starling. It sang softly and sadly, landed on Neville's shoulder, and rubbed its head affectionately against his cheek before dispelling.

Harry and Neville asked in unison, "Can you bring it back?"

I answered Harry my mind, "Brat? We will be alone together, cut off from the natural flow of time for six days, with only a couple of hours' rest at most between each stint of three days, all of that being in a space the size of four bathtubs, with barely enough room for one person. And this will all happen between seven-thirty in the morning and half-five in the afternoon. Can you handle that?

I felt him read my memory of reconditioning Zacharias Smith's wand. He asked, "Do you have a spare set of your work clothes?"

"Yes," I answered.

"Then tell her we'll do it! As soon as we can, we'll make our excuses and go up to your room. I need you to make love with me, the way Neville says I did to you in the Headmaster's Office. Then I need to sleep naked in your arms. In the morning, we'll get dressed, eat, and take both wands to your Master Garrick's shop and get his help to do this. We will still have Thursday and Friday to see the sky, and perhaps this will help us just as much as the two wands, and our friend who carries them."

I turned back to Augusta Longbottom. I answered her unasked question. "Depending on what else is going on tomorrow, I will speak with Master Garrick first thing in the morning. With Harry's and my soul bond still not settled, he will be experiencing 'trade secrets' of Master Garrick's even earlier than I had anticipated.

"If it can be done, it will be done. The Most Ancient and Noble House of Longbottom has stood beside the Most Ancient and Noble House of Peverell-Potter these past days without fail. My liege-lord stands with his friends.

"The Craft is every bit as much an Art as it is a Science, and wands are in their own way magically alive. Even what appears at first the healthiest of patients, attended by the greatest of healers can pass unexpectedly. But I have not 'lost' a wand yet, and I have no intention of starting with either this one, or Frank Longbottom's."

While we were talking, Harry had picked his pace up on eating. He finished the plate of sushi he had served himself, along with a second. He also sampled the other appetizers to the point that he was actually fairly full. He drank mostly water, but sipped the occasional saucer as well.

Augusta finally said, "I won't keep you any longer then. I wish you all a good night."

She left, which was the start of the great exodus.

Sirius asked, "How are you doing, Prongslet?"

Harry answered, "I'm doing better now, thanks. This is the first time I can remember feeling the wards, despite their being over Aunt Petunia's house since she took me in. By the way, why am I 'Prongslet?'"

"Your father, the Rat, and I became Animagi to keep Remus company when he transformed each month. We gave each other nicknames, since we weren't too much older than Ron and you when we did it. James was a stag Animagus, so his nickname was "Prongs." You are his son, so you were 'Prongslet.'"

"But Remus and I need to get going, so the lot of you can get to sleep. I'll see you around, Harry. Either tomorrow evening or Thursday."

Harry stood up and saw both Remus and Sirius out. I could feel his happiness as he hugged the two 'uncles' goodbye, and hear the cracks of apparition.

Pandora stood, and I walked her to the door. As we walked, I quietly asked, "Can we work the Longbottoms in?"

She shrugged and answered, "I'm not sure. Between Harry, Neville, and you, Neville's story was by far the bloodiest. It's still only the third of September, and we haven't announced the graphic novel itself, much a release date for it. I did your story several years ago and put it on a shelf, so it just needs to be 'dusted off.' Harry's will be a little bit trickier, since I will need to run it past Dumbledore as well.

"You are the one who keeps reminding the rest of us that the war is still on, so don't forget it yourself. I'm sure you figured out Luna's spending the night with Ginny. So don't be up too late yourself, especially if you're dragging Harry into the shop. Good night, Ron."

We hugged while standing outside. She took a few steps away and Apparated home.

Harry and I walked back inside. Neville had already fetched Frank's wand to go with Alice's.

I said, "Your grandmother has changed our plans for tomorrow completely. Harry and I will be going in to Ollivander's for at least part of the morning. If we can actually use everything we'll need, we'll be gone most of the day."

Neville, Mum, Dad, Ginny, and Luna were sat around the table. I said, "Good night, all."

Harry added, "Good night, everybody. Sorry I didn't 'visit' more."

Harry and I hugged and kissed around the table, getting a light-pink blush from Luna and a deep red one from Ginny for Harry. Neville only got hugs, but he didn't complain.

We headed upstairs to the door to my room. I opened the door just enough to see that it would open. Harry placed his right arm over the back of my neck, and I picked him up again. I pushed the door the rest of the way open, Lumos'ed the lights, carried Harry into the room, and set him down sitting on the edge of the bed.

I closed the door, and saw that it now had a lock. I locked the door. The room now had a full size bed, and 'felt' smaller for it. But, we still had enough floor space for both of our trunks. The window was open, and Hedwig flew in just as Lucky Boy came in.

We got Harry's trunk out of mine, and set both of them up in the corner of the room, side-by-side. We got some owl treats out of Harry's trunk for Hedwig. We carried both of our familiars and Hedwig's food downstairs quickly, and set both Kneazle and owl up with food and water.

Errol, being somewhat more diurnal than average for a post-owl, woke up long enough to hoot once at Hedwig in greeting before going back to sleep. Finishing taking care of our familiars, we went back upstairs to our room.

The room was aired out enough, so I closed the window. Harry quietly called, "Mipsy?"

"Master Harry called for Mipsy?"

"Yes. Ron and I will need some stuff to clean ourselves off in a while so we can take our showers without being obvious about what we were doing when we go through."

Mipsy popped out, and returned in a moment with a pan. She said, "Use your wand for a water charm to rinse off. Use soap with the charm, too. You can banish the water. Mipsy will clean and return the pan in the morning."

Harry sat down on the bed. I went to the corner, and opened the first compartment of my trunk. I tossed Harry two washcloths and said, "We need to wash each other's feet over the pan. We'll use the washcloths to dry them with."

After we washed and dried each other's feet and banished the dirty water, we went back to our trunks. I got out my toothbrush, bathrobe, and fresh underwear for in the morning, two pairs of socks, and one of the really large towels for under Harry. He took out his bathrobe, fresh underwear for tomorrow, thanked me for the socks, and took out his hygiene stuff.

I told him, "Other than your toothbrush, you will probably only need deodorant, and you can use mine. We don't leave razors in the loo, but we don't need them yet, anyhow. Let me see your toothbrush for a sec?"

I marked his toothbrush and handed it back. Mine had long-since been marked. Setting that aside I got the tube of 'jelly' and we went around to the side of the bed. I moved the pan out of the way.

He asked, "Check the silencing charms?"

I did, and added a lot to them.

I said, "Short of an actual full scream, no one will hear. We only need to whisper if it feels sexier."

"I want you to make me holler when you do me, and I want to hear you moan as you ride me. Wanna do mouths first, too?"

"Yeah." I answered.

"Let me watch through your eyes as you strip me. Then strip for me and watch through mine?"

I nodded, and felt him 'join' me. I stripped him from top to bottom, and then I returned the favour by stripping for him. Being able to get more than arm's length was mind-blowing, as was Harry actually being able to see…

We were doing it to share intimacy and pleasure, not rush or run on all night. This was all for the better, since we were done with the whole works in under an hour! I was the less "messy" of the two of us, so I fetched my primary wand and rinsed off. I got him off of the bed without getting anything to run past the towel, and stood him in the tub after banishing the water that was in there. One more quick rinse later, and we were ready to take showers and get to bed.

As I got into my dirty y-fronts and robe, Harry asked "Mipsy? Is the bathroom open?"

She answered, "Yes, Master Harry."

He put his dirty y-fronts and robe on, and we went down to the loo. A quick but thorough shower and shampoo together later, followed by brushing our teeth and we were good.

I brushed my hair, and he told me how he wished his would actually brush. I brushed his hair for him, and other than being 'after-glow-play,' the time was totally wasted.

We put on our clean y-fronts and robes to walk up the flight of stairs back to the room. We got naked again, and got into the bed. I Nox'ed the lights.

As we lay in each other's arms, he said, "I never wanted them dead, Ron. I only wanted..."

I kissed him, cutting him off. I answered, "You wanted more than they had the capacity to deliver. You wanted them to be family, not merely relatives.

"I won't say that this was for the best. As poorly as they treated you, that still doesn't make things right. But, as sad as their end was, at least it's over.

"I am actually sad only for Dudley. As unlikely as it might seem, he might actually have turned around his attitude and become a decent person. He was no older than us, after all."

We hugged and kissed once more, and were out like lights. It wasn't quite half-midnight.

§§§

-BANG!- -BANG!- -BANG!—

"Ronnie? Harry? It's five to seven. You need to get up!"

"Thanks, Mum, we're moving" I replied as I turned down the covers and sheet.

I rolled lightly over a grumbling Harry as I stood up on the floor and put on my holsters. Harry tried to pull the blankets back up, but a light wandless stinging hex to the hand changed his mind.

"What the fuck! Old man…" he exclaimed.

I answered, "It's like this, Brat. Either you get out of bed and dressed so we can go into Ollivander's and fix Neville's parents' wands, or you explain to Neville why we didn't."

With that kind of brilliant reasoning, Harry started to wake up. He got the y-fronts on the right end after I lofted them on top of his head, and he caught the t-shirt in mid-air. By two past the hour, we were dressed minus trainers, having checked our holsters for clearance with our sleeve cuffs, and were in the kitchen eating breakfast.

Neville walked in, fully dressed in his "gardening clothes," and sat down to eat.

"Good morning, Neville!" Harry and I say in unison.

Too sleepy still to joke around, we each settled for a drink of the coffee that Mipsy has brought along with the orange juice. The rest of the cooking was all Mum.

Mipsy looked longingly at the stack of dirty dishes. Ginny and Luna, who just walked in still in pyjamas and robes, looked longingly at the house-elf who was looking at the dirty dishes.

Neville set the wands by my plate as I finished the last of my food. I said "Thanks, Neville" to him, and took the wands.

Harry and stood up from the table. I grabbed our shoes from by the door. We put them on while sitting on the edge of the kitchen hearth.

"So, how are we doing this, Old Man?"

I answered, "Once we get to the shop and get Master Garrick's permission, he and I will both re-evaluate both wands. The reconditioning potion looks like it will be equal parts essence of Murtlap and phoenix tears, mixed with just enough spring water to make it flow easily. We will make a lot of it. Once we have our potions and so on ready, we will go into the box for three days.

"After we come out of the box, we'll wait the minimum time to go again, while continuing to work on both wands. We'll go into the box a second time. Well come out again after spent six days of effort, waiting, and curing in less than eight hours, and have two like-new wands completed. At least one of those will be a great backup for Neville.

"But it really is on you. Neville'd be miffed if you blew him off so you could sleep in. But he doesn't want you hurting yourself just to fix one or two wands that he won't be using anytime soon if ever.

"You know how you can remote-cast, but I can't? Dual-wielding and dual-casting are almost the same thing. You actually have to be able to maintain two separate streams of thought at the same time during battle, without going crazy while you're at it! You also have to be able to cast your spells without anything more than deliberate desire, including exactly where they hit, without looking!

"It's not an inherited bloodline like yours, and Neville might be able to learn it someday. But now as an eleven-year-old? No. If he's able to use one or both, they will be 'back-up' wands.

"It's just what it says on the tin. Bad guys capture you instead of killing you, and they take your wand. They think they'll have their way, because most people can't cast anything worth talking about without a wand. But, if they didn't find your back-up wand, you can still turn things around.

"Better training yet is to never get captured or disarmed in the first place, which I will stress a lot with you blokes once we start training. But a back-up wand is just one more way to make sure that you come home at the end of your shift, instead of the 'bad-guys.'"

Back to being polite with my family and friends, I startle just a bit to look up at Mum.

"You need to pay better attention when the two of you talk, Ron. It's eighteen past, and you need to get going," she said.

Harry and I stood, hugged her, and kissed her on one cheek each. She said, "No carrying on like Fred and George, now! Where are you going, again?"

I answered, "We're going to Master Garrick's. If it looks like we'll end up putting in a full day, I'll send an Adfero. One thing I didn't think to ask about, but we need to do desperately, is buy Harry some new regular clothes, especially trainers and socks. Since we won't be able to go to Gringotts, and since I have more than enough money in my personal vault to cover it, I'll pay, at least for now. Harry's trust vault might not be set up to make 'signed-for' purchases, anyway.

"Either way, Harry and I will not be seen by the general public, since everyone thinks that we are at Hogwarts, and they need to keep thinking that. If I don't put in a full day with Master Garrick, we need to be back by lunch, and we need to be back before supper otherwise. Are we good, Mum?"

"Yes, Ron. But just to make sure, I want to go first, since it's Harry's first time using the Floo."

She then told him, "Harry, the Floo is a wizarding cross between the fellytone and the moving way-walks the Muggles have…"

At Harry's confusion, I added "telephones and moving walkways."

Mum continued, "Anyway, when you use the Floo to travel, you first throw some Floo Powder into the wizarding fireplace that you are leaving from, and wait for the flames to turn green. That is very important. Anyway, when the flames turn green, or start green if the fireplace didn't already have a regular fire going, you clearly say the name of the fireplace you are travelling to as you step into the green flames. The Floo system will do the rest, putting you out at the fireplace you asked for. I'm going to Floo-call first, then I'll Floo-travel first. You'll go next, Harry, with Ron bringing up the rear, ok?"

Harry answered, "Ok, Molly," and she Floo-called and then Floo-travelled to the shop.

Harry went next. Fortunately, unlike 'first-Harry,' he made it to Ollivander's in one go, though he almost bowled Mum over as he came out, from what I sensed while 'hitch-hiking' in his mind as he went. I finally was able to Floo to the shop, with the Longbottom wands in hand.

"Good morning, Master Garrick," I greeted.

"I've another secret to tell, and I also need to recondition the two wands I have with me."

Master Garrick looked at both Harry and me as Mum Floo'ed home. He said to us, "Just as I told you, young Harry. Great things, indeed!"

I squeezed Harry's shoulders with my right arm as I extended the Longbottom wands towards Master Garrick handle-first.

"Harry will need some time to get used to you, Master Garrick.

"I'll need to use 'the box' twice to get these wands done, if I may? Also, as you can probably feel, Harry and I aren't exactly ready for only one of us to use 'the box,' so he will have to go with me. I've explained it to him, and he understands that 'the box' isn't an amusement ride, and won't be fun. But, it's important to both Harry and me to set these wands back to rights for Neville Longbottom. I'm sure you can imagine how much he has helped us, even prior to buying my ninth wand Monday morning."

He paused in thought. Finally, he said, "You know you will need at least an hour between times in 'the box,' and preferably two, right?"

I answered, "Yes, Master Garrick. If we may 'back-Floo' over to Madam Malkins during our wait, Harry and I both need new clothes. Harry especially does. We'll each need a 'standard bundle' from the Leakey for each run."

After another pause, Master Garrick said, "I suppose I've already gone along with this, so I will again. First, Harry, the secrets that you learn from Ron about my shop are exactly that. Second, if you've any interest especially, help Ron just as much as he asks. You may or may not love the Craft, but you can catch up to Ron far more easily than you think, should you actually have the native potential, and few do; so don't fret if you don't."

"Now Ron, please test both wands, with Frank Longbottom's first."

I did as I was told. Frank's wand gave me a trickle of sparks. I got the weakest Lumos I'd ever seen short of a wand that was truly dead, and didn't even bother with Avis again, since the wand was maybe a dozen spells from dying at best.

Alice's wand gave the same results as yesterday evening, with the exception that the songbird greeted first Harry, then me before dispelling.

Master Garrick decided, "These will probably be the most expensive reconditioned wands to pass the shop. However, we'll try this.

"Ron, the two wands will need the same potion at the same time. Equal parts Murtlap and phoenix tears, with just enough water to flow well into the wand. You will make an entire 'wand-drinking-pitcher,' and hope it will be enough.

"While you mix the potion, I'll show Harry how to clean the wands with lemon oil. We're lucky that there are no chips in the wands, particularly Frank's. They are brother wands, oddly enough, and share unicorn-tail cores from the same unicorn that provided the core to your Grandfather Septimus's wand. Though I didn't realize it when I sold them, the wands, like their wielders were a perfectly matched pair."

I mixed, while Master Garrick and Harry cleaned. Master Garrick cleaned Frank's, which he later told me had the slightest hint of steel wool on the surface. Both wands cleaned up surprisingly easily. By the time I had the drinking pitcher brim-full and ready, the wands were totally stripped to naked wood, and two packages of food and drink were on a side table next to the door to 'the box.'

"Ok, I'll explain to Harry what the two of you will do. The two of you will set the wands, food, and drinking pitcher in the antechamber of the box. You will enter the antechamber yourselves, and I will close the door. The lights will be red at first. When they turn green, enter the main room as quickly as you can without dropping anything, closing the door after you have everything with you. You will be in there for three days. A loud gong will sound thirty minutes prior to the end of the three days, and will sound again then the exit may finally be opened. Do not waste time leaving the chamber. The time you take before closing the door will only keep you waiting to start work beforehand. Do you have any questions, Harry?"

Harry shook his head 'no,' and we set everything up. Master Garrick closed the door on us, and turned the handle. About a minute later, the lights turned green, and we entered the room.

"Old man, take your shoes and socks off right now! My feet are killing me, and I don't want you accidentally stepping on my feet while wearing shoes."

Once barefoot, we got to work. When Harry told me to get barefooted with him, I thought at first he might be having 'ideas,' but was quite pleasantly surprised when he didn't.

"I'm eleven, Old Man, not stupid! We'll stink badly enough after three days, and you like working for Master Garrick. Even if he didn't fire us for 'doing it' in this 'box,' we'd stink the place up so bad that even we couldn't use it again. And, I'm guessing that whatever the Ollivanders did to make this magic TARDIS-y thing, that Master Garrick would play merry hell of ever being able to replace it, so we'd be messing with his livelihood as well.

"Now, tell me about wand-lore. This stuff actually sounds cool, though it's got its boring parts too. We'll be here forever watching those wands soak up two litres of magic syrup!"

If Harry hadn't been with me, that would have been the longest three days of my life. It took almost all three days, but the wands absorbed almost the entire potion, leaving just a centimetre in the bottom of the pitcher. With that much potion down, we had no hopes of finishing the wands that Wednesday at all. We couldn't start refinishing without a full day at least for the wands to 'digest' the potion, and even with the properties of 'the box,' the potions would 'digest' more slowly than in natural time. So, it would really be a 'two day' job in real time.

While we waited, I taught Harry how to cast the "wand-crafter's three" at wand-crafter power, how to evaluate the finish of a wand, and about wand-lore in general. He was a quick learner, even without being able to browse my thoughts at random as well.

I had him polish both of my wands for practice, and we gave his wand a deep cleaning, very light coat of linseed oil, and once it was dry a fine-polishing. We also talked about life, each other, growing up in the Muggle and magical worlds, whatever happened to cross our minds. We laughed, cried, hugged each other, and watched the two Longbottom wands slowly drink their 'healing potion' together, and enjoyed being together.

Finally, though, the gong went off, telling us that we were a half-hour from "freedom," or at least daylight. Harry surprised me with what he said as we put on our socks and trainers.

"Ron, may we try having sex with Neville this afternoon?"

I thought about it, and said, "If he wants to, I guess so. But why now?"

He paused, then answered, "Because I feel that he really wants to do it with us, I'm kinda curious about us trying it with him too, and I also feel that if we don't do it this afternoon that it will never happen. I don't know why I feel that, but I do, and I also feel that if it never happens, it won't be a 'good thing.'

"We won't be able to handle another round of 'the box' today, and even if we did, the wands still wouldn't be done until mid-day tomorrow. I know that Neville will say 'yes,' we just have to be there with him and find a place where we won't get caught."

I answered, "Sure, Brat, we'll try this. We can't use our bedroom or his, since Mum would figure out what was going on, and would freak-out for sure. There's a small clearing almost on the far end of our land that I can throw up privacy charms on just fine. Ginny and Luna will be at Pandora's all day today doing 'whatever,' and no one else will be around.

"You know that every real smile I put on your face puts a hundred on my heart, right? Well, I guess today that I'm greedy enough to share."

He answered, "Me too, Old Man!" and kissed me passionately.

And, quickly, too. We'd spent fifteen minutes putting on our socks and trainers while talking about that, and still had to gather the rest of the stuff we brought in with us! That accomplished, we were both ready to step out of 'the box' when the gong sounded. We removed everything we took in, Master Garrick hit the bed with the cleaning and making charms, and we were done in there for the day.

Master Garrick asked, "Have you checked the wands, yet?"

I answered, "I didn't want to check them until they had had at least a minute or two back in real time. There was only a centimetre of potion in the bottom of the pitcher. So, they drank two litres or potion between the two of them. That's a lot of potion. So, we won't be using the box today even if both wands are 'coming around.'"

Five minutes later, Master Garrick took each wand in turn, and felt it. He said, "Ron, take Frank's wand first, and feel it. Don't try to channel any magic. Harry, 'ride along' with Ron's senses since you seem to be able to do that."

I did as Master Garrick asked, with Harry 'riding along.' I could barely feel it, but it was there – Frank Longbottom's wand was "coming around!" I set the wand back on the repair stand on the bench before I accidentally tried to channel any magic through it. The look on Harry's face was of pure astonishment.

He exclaimed, "I could feel it, Master Garrick! The wand is alive!"

He answered Harry, "Just so, Harry. If you decide to apprentice under me with your bond-mate, you may – but there is a price!

"You will have to give me your word – but only your word, that you will do your best every day, and that you will make at least one honest attempt to take and pass your journeyman's examination. I do not require magical oaths from my apprentices, because if you need magic to make you keep your word to me, then I will never trust you enough to teach you so much as how to tie your trainers, much less anything useful in the Craft."

Harry faced Master Garrick, and bowed deeply from the waist. He answered, "I am Harry James Potter. I am many things, but I am now also your apprentice in the Craft. I give my word without magic, or any doubt, that I will do my best every day under your charge to learn and work the Craft. I place myself in your care, Master Garrick."

Both Master Garrick and I were surprised. Master Garrick was stunned as well. But he recovered quickly enough, and replied, "Well-said, Apprentice Potter."

He then asked me, "Are the two of you going shopping, now?"

I answered, "Not today, Master Garrick. Harry appreciates the box a little more now that he has worked in it. We will go home, eat an early lunch, and spend the rest of the day out-of-doors until dark.

"If we may, we'll return to the shop tomorrow at half-eight, and pass through to Madam Malkins then. We will buy the clothes we need, and return here as quickly as we finish.

"The earliest I'll want to go into the box with the Longbottom wands tomorrow will be half-eleven. We can show Harry the shop and teach him with what time there is before we go in to the box to finish-up."

"Did you promise the wands by a time and date-certain?" Master Garrick asked.

I answered, "I only promised my best possible effort. Like the three of us here, they only hope for, but don't completely expect the return of the wands in usable condition."

"Just so, Ron and Harry. While Frank Longbottom's wand is the worse of the two, and while it feels like it's coming around now, we won't know with any certainty until tomorrow that they have turned the corner in a favourable direction. We won't know until after you've come out of the box if we've succeeded.

"It's now half-ten. The day is as young as you are, with an unexpected break from classes to boot. So, go home, have fun, and I'll see you tomorrow."

We Floo'ed home, Harry going first. Other than barrelling out of the kitchen Floo in the Burrow, he did fine. I followed him, to find Mum working in the kitchen on a stew for supper.

"Why are the two of you home early? And, where's your shopping?" she asked.

I answered, "Mum, the wands are coming along, but they needed even more work than I thought. That's good as well as bad, though. They have to 'rest' for a full day before we can finish them up.

"Harry and I decided to come home and play outside with Neville in the sun, since part of what might have been holding us back was being just in those rooms. Plus, one use of the 'trade secret' was enough for both of us today. Neville?"

Neville was at the kitchen table, drinking a mug of tea and reading his potions text. He said, "That sounds good to me, too." He was wearing his "gardening clothes," which were basically clean but old Muggle play-clothes.

I said, "Harry and I will need to shower and change clothes, then the three of us will want an early lunch. If we may, and Neville wants, Mum, I wanted to stay out until dark. May we?"

She said, "I suppose so. But stay on the property. Muggle School is in session, and Hogwarts is as well. While the answers to any questions asked are perfectly fine, I'd rather not be obliged to answer them in the first place. Now get cleaned up and changed, while I make some sandwiches for your lunch."

Harry and I rotated through showering, shampooing, and stuff. Mipsy had already cleaned our clothes from yesterday, so that's what we put on. Since the pockets on Harry's trousers were deeper, and since his (my) trousers were looser, he was 'elected' to carry the 'jelly' for our afternoon, should it be needed. He also made sure that I unlocked my trunk to Mipsy enough that she could fetch a pain-relief potion (or two or three) if we needed them. I still had my doubts, but Harry has always been full of surprises.

Just under an hour later saw us enter the clearing I'd told Harry about. It was more or less round, and about twenty feet across. The brush surrounded it well enough that you couldn't see into it from the outside or sneak up on it. There were wild grasses covering the field that were flattened, especially in the middle.

As we entered, I wandlessly cast privacy and repelling charms around the perimeter of the clearing, and the three of us sat down in the middle. Harry was the one to speak.

"So, Nev? What do you think?"

Neville looked around, and said, "Cool. Just like a play fort!"

"Neville, did you still want to do anything?"

Neville blushed, but smiled. He answered, "Kinda, but I'm still scared it'll hurt." in a quiet, shy voice.

Harry said, "It will hurt, but it won't really hurt, if you get me? I also had Ron unlock his trunk so we can take pain-relief potions when we're completely done, if you want, too.

"But using one of our special skills at Ollivanders has moved things up for Ron and me from what Pandora said. If you want to do it with us at all, it has to be right now!

"If you don't want to, that's cool. If you do want to, provided you have a good time with us and don't get mad at us later on, that's cool, too. But if we do 'do it,' we have to 'do it' now. Whadd'ya say?"

Neville sat there quietly for a moment. He didn't say anything at first. He did lean over, close his eyes, and kiss Harry on the mouth. He said, "Ok, we'll do it. Just don't hurt me too bad?"

Harry answered, "We'll start off gentle enough. We're also going to be 'playful and teasing,' rather than being romantic, but without being mean, either. Also, I don't take my glasses off for sex, only for showering and sleeping. My eyesight is rubbish without them, and I like to see clearly… and, you can holler as loud as you want. Unless you really want to be heard, no one but us will hear.

"Now, stand up and back away from us, so we can see you from top to bottom."

Once he had, Harry said, "Now, strip as quick as you can without magic, keeping just your trainers and socks on."

"Holsters too?" he asked while stripping. He had to sit down as he got his trousers off over his trainers.

Harry said, "Yes. Ron's good enough with wandless magic if we need any. Fold your clothes, and give them to me."

He did, with his holsters, wand, and y-fronts on top. Harry unbuttoned his right sleeve, removed his holster and wand from underneath it, and added his holster to the stack.

"Ron, do just like I did with both of yours?" Harry asked.

I added my holsters to the stack. He set the stack of clothes out of the way, but not particularly close to the edge of the clearing.

He said, "Now, Neville, take Ron's and my shirts and t-shirts off in turn."

Neville did, and Harry lay down on his back, having me join him. "Trousers next, Neville, but leave the y-fronts. He did, after Harry took the 'jelly' and two or three washcloths from his pockets.

Harry and I stood up. Harry said, "Now, kneel in front of each of us. Pull our y-fronts down to our ankles, and help us step out of them. Then kiss 'us' on the end of it, then on the mouth. Me first."

Neville was blushing to his navel, but did exactly what he was asked.

Harry said, "Now get on your hand and knees facing away from us. We're going to be doing mouths, bums, everything. You will be tasting both our semen and yours, and just a little poo and 'jelly,' too. But the thought of it is loads worse than the taste itself. You won't go running out to get a half-pint for dipping crisps, but it's not really all that bad."

Neville kissed us again, and then got down on his hands and knees. He said, "Ron and you do it, so I want to try it, too!"

Harry said, "Now, look straight ahead and down slightly, so you just see the ground in front of you. Don't turn around unless we say!"

He then thought to me, "Your left trainer and sock, Old Man, and throw it to land in front of Neville when I do."

We did it, and Neville almost turned around before Harry said, "No peeking!"

We did our other trainers as we did the first, and kneeled behind Neville's bum. Harry thought to me, "We remove the trainer, stick the sock in it, and throw it to the rear so it makes noise, but not so hard that it leaves the clearing. We'll find them when we're cleaned up and getting dressed.

"After I talk out loud to Neville, we'll start licking. Do you want his feet, or his arse?"

"Arse, please?" I answered.

We removed Neville's trainers and socks, and he shivered in nerves and anticipation as he heard them crash in the grass a few feet away.

With a nod to me, Harry said sexily, "We like what we see. Now, we'll lick what we like!"

Neville groaned in ecstasy as we started…

§§§

It was almost four o'clock before we finished doing it. We had each had both of the other two climax at least once in our mouths and bums both. We were careful to not really get in each other's hair, literally, since I explained that if we came in from 'playing' smelling freshly shampooed that it would be an even bigger hint to Mum that we had done what we did than if we came in smelling of sex.

I knocked down the charms enough for Mipsy to hear us. I had her bring the three pain-relief potions, soap, towels, and the "shower pan." We laid out a clean towel to step out on, and took turns getting cleaned up and dressed.

We had just finished, and Mipsy had just left to return all the stuff including the 'jelly' to the Burrow. Neville suddenly sat hard on the ground (which he probably felt even with the pain-relief potion after we had all got done with each other) and started to cry, sobbing, "She hates me!"

I hadn't a clue how to handle him. Fortunately, Harry did. He grasped Neville's face by the cheeks, and knelt between Neville's legs, looking him straight in the eye. Neville was much less surprised than I was with what Harry said.

"Hermione? Hermione! I know you're still there! Please listen? Please?" Harry's eyes started to glisten with tears, before he sighed in relief, still holding Neville by the face.

"First, Ron, I, and especially Neville are sorry for hurting you and making you mad. But, I could feel through my bond with Ron that this was the only way to get Neville and you to see yours!

"Ron and I haven't shown up since the Welcoming Feast Sunday night because we had formed a male to male soul bond the minute we met at King's Cross, before we were even on the platform! When Neville and you first met me on the train, I did have a headache, and an everything else ache, because I needed to have sex with Ron! I was more 'myself' when you came by to tell us to change into uniform because we had already finished our first time together!

"Ron's and my bond is kinda crazy even for male to male soul bonds. The Headmaster had to 'hide us,' because we were not able to let go of each other without hurting really bad, and we had to be starkers, too! Neville's Mum and Dad had a male to female bond like the one you have with Neville right now, so he was able to help us. And, I was able to sense the potential for the bond between the two of you, but the only way I could figure out how to actually open it for the two of you was to let Neville 'experiment' with us like you saw.

"While more guys don't 'experiment' than do, far more guys do try some of the stuff we did than will ever admit to it. And, even in the wizarding world, your husband is much more likely to not be a virgin than you are! In the Muggle world, forget it!

"Neville helped Ron and me when no one else could. He was also my very first friend, from when we were babies together, and my closest friend after Ron, along with you, 'big sister.'

"When I was growing up, I fantasized about having a slightly older sister who loved me, instead of a boy cousin who hated my guts and loved to bully and hurt me. When I met you on the train the first time, I knew that it was you!

"So, I owed both Neville and you a lifetime's happiness if I had any way to deliver it. This was the only way I knew.

"Yes, Hermione, this is real! But, it's still fragile for you as well. Right now, you could break this bond between Neville and you. But please don't! If you do, magic will never allow you to have anything truly precious ever again!

"If you want to keep the bond, forgive Neville, apologize to Neville, ask him into your heart, and ask him to have you in his. He will do the same to you. Then for as long as you can keep the bond open, in the back of your mind if not the front, talk with Neville and listen to him. With doing that, the bond will strengthen and will quickly support itself, and both of you with it."

He kept his hold and gaze, though he did blush as if he was eavesdropping on someone else's most private conversation.

He then said, "Thank you, Hermione. Just to prove that this isn't a day-nightmare that turned back to a daydream, I will tell you where I'm at, and why. I am at "The Burrow," which is what Ron's family call their home, and since I'm part of the family now, my home as well.

"My aunt, uncle, cousin, and uncle's sister were murdered. That pushed me mentally into a really dark place, and I hadn't been handling things that well before that. So Ron thought we should go home for a couple of days to let our bond get better, and so the Headmaster could more easily have Ron and me share married quarters without telling the whole world that two eleven year old boys are in a lifetime-long sexual relationship. Our bond is in great shape now, I've truly never felt better even though I'm still slightly guilty over my aunt and her family being murdered, even knowing that it wasn't my fault.

"It's my hands you feel on your cheeks, big sister. I can't let go and keep talking to you, but Neville will stroke your cheek by stroking his cheek without knocking my hand loose."

Neville stroked his right cheek around where Harry still held it.

Harry said, "If you call for Tansy the house-elf, he can tell you about what I went through since Sunday night. A house elf is a magical being that lives on doing work for wizards and witches. It sounds like slavery at first, but it really isn't. It's like there was something to eat and drink in addition to food and water, and that the house-elves only get that from the satisfaction they get from doing work for witches and wizards. Anyway, call Tansy, tell him that Masters Harry, Ron, and Neville asked him to speak to you too, and ask him how things went for us. If you ask Percy or the twins, be real careful how you do it! Ron and I are a 'family secret,' and the Weasleys take those more seriously than you can imagine.

"The kiss you feel on your cheek will be your bratty little brother kissing you, and stepping out of your bond. We'll see each other at school in just a few days, I hope. 'Bye, Hermione!"

Harry kissed Neville on the cheek, and let him go. Neville sagged as if he were a marionette whose strings had been cut.

Harry asked me, "Ron, can you help us clean our faces again, so we don't look like we were crying?" Then, I think we need to get back to the Burrow before Molly gets mad."

§§§

Mum wasn't mad yet, but with another ten minutes, she would have been. As the three of us boys were toeing off our trainers inside the door, Madam Longbottom Floo-called and Floo'ed in.

"Neville, you look like you had a great time," she said.

Neville took a moment, before he answered, "Sorry, Gran! But yes, we had a great time just playing. Oddly enough, that and the work Ron and Harry did on the wands has helped their bond stabilize further."

I added in, "Good evening, Lady Longbottom. I can't say for sure if either reconditioning will be successful, but neither one has failed, so that is a good sign.

"Partly because of the bond, and partly because he has some actual talent and interest in the Craft, Harry is now apprenticing alongside me with Master Garrick. As unimaginable as it may be, some of the skills unique to Master Garrick's teaching line are every bit as magically, physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting as if one were to work for three days straight! I am doing all of the work on the wands, with Master Garrick's supervision and blessing. I have yet to mess up a wand in the four and a half years I've apprenticed under Master Garrick, so if the wands are saveable, they will be saved."

"Do Harry and you still need Neville's help, Ron?" she asked, hesitating on how exactly to address me at the moment.

"We couldn't possibly spare him, Madam Longbottom. We are helping each other with our studies, as well as Neville helping us with the bond. The Most Ancient and Noble House of Peverell-Potter once again thanks their closest and truest ally in this continuing hour of need."

"Well stated, Chief Seneschal. Are you doing well, Neville?" was her answer.

Neville said, "Never better, Gran, and I hope I can stay and help for a few more days at least, as long as I'm needed. Ron taught us the Aguamenti charm this afternoon, too!"

He drew his wand perfectly, incanted "Aguamenti" with confidence, and put a three second cast of water dead centre in the kitchen sink without spilling a drop. Madam Longbottom actually smiled!

"Just so, Neville. And thank you again, Molly, for allowing my grandson to visit with yours. I have other engagements I am unable to break, so I will step out after bidding you a good evening."

"You're welcome, Madam Longbottom" Mum answered as Madam Longbottom left through the back door, and Apparated away with a quiet 'crack.'

The rest of the evening was wonderfully "ordinary," or at least as ordinary as my life was to get. Neville was rather distracted for the rest of the evening, yet still enjoyed two large bowls of the stew, and was passable company at table. Harry had two, and I had three.

Harry and I did the dishes quickly, Harry learning how to oversee the magical more-or-less washing up that happened when you didn't own a house-elf.

Afterwards, Harry and I each had a tokkuri of sake along with Neville, who was still distracted. Though I already had all of the pieces, it didn't quite click.

Harry asked in my mind, "Did first Hermione ever stop for more than a breath when talking about something she was excited about?"

I answered aloud, "I guess not, Harry. Neville, Harry and I are going to bed, now. Good night." He nodded in acknowledgement, but otherwise ignored us, not that I blamed him.

Harry added, "Good night, Hermione, Neville."

Neville blushed, and answered, "Good night from both of us, Harry."

We went upstairs to our room.  Other than being earlier, and me being on the bottom, this night went a lot like the night before. After that and showering, we lay together nude beneath the blankets, holding each other. As Harry and I held each other beneath the blankets, he asked me, "Did I really do them a favour making sure the bond opened, took, and stuck?"

"Of course you did, Harry. Besides, I couldn't imagine any Hermione sharing, and I'm starting to 'crush' on Luna now, just like you're starting to 'crush' on Ginny."

Even in the moonlight, I could see his blush as easily as I felt my own. He finally answered, "I'll be nice to her and behave, Old Man."

I replied, "Me too with Luna. 'Night, Brat."

"'Night, Old Man."

We kissed once more and were instantly asleep. We had no idea that this would be the last night ever where it would just be the two of us alone.



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