You are viewing a story from harrypotterfanfiction.com


Daddy Dearest by reptilia28

Format: Novella
Chapters: 10
Word Count: 20,052
Status: WIP

Rating: 12+
Warnings: Mild Language, Contains Spoilers

Genres: Fluff, Humor, Romance
Characters: Harry, Hermione, Teddy, OC
Pairings: Harry/Hermione

First Published: 10/08/2007
Last Chapter: 02/01/2009
Last Updated: 02/01/2009

Summary:
Seven years after Harry defeats Voldemort, Harry ends up adopting Dudley Dursley's child as his own. Can Harry raise another child in addition to his Godson, Ted Lupin, and maybe find love in his best friend Hermione on the way?


Chapter 1: Meeting the New Kid
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I don't own Harry Potter. I do own Carla Dursley, however.
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Chapter 1 - Meeting the New Kid

BEEP-BEEP-BEEP-BEEP!

BEEP-BEEP-BEEP-BEEP!


BEEP-BEEP-BEEP-BEEP!


BEEP-BEEP-BEEP-BE - thunk!
Harry groaned as he slapped his alarm clock off, covering his face with his hands to block out the light. After rubbing the sleep out of his eyes and slowly rolling out of bed, he slid on a pair of sweat pants and a grey tee-shirt before shuffling out of his room. He shuffled past one particular door on his way down the hall and gently rapped on it.

“Ted, you up yet?” Harry asked hoarsely, still not quite awake.

“Just a second!” a voice yelled from behind the door. A few seconds later, the door swung open to show seven-year-old Ted Lupin, Harry's godson and charge. He used to be watched by him and his grandmother, Andromeda Tonks, but when she died from dragon pox when Ted was three, Harry gained sole custody of him. Currently, Ted was sporting red shorts, a yellow shirt and electric blue hair.

“Are we colorblind today?” Harry asked jokingly, cocking an eyebrow. “What do you want today?” he asked as Ted squeezed past him and went down the hall.

“Pancakes!” Ted yelled excitedly. Harry chuckled as he shook his head and followed his hyper godson downstairs to the kitchen. When he got there, he saw Ted digging through the refrigerator, pulling out the butter and pumpkin juice. With some help from his best friend Hermione (as well as a few favors called in by her father), Harry's kitchen was now decorated with magic-compatible Muggle appliances. Harry measured himself some water and mixed it with some homemade pancake mix he had made last week. Harry always fancied himself a decent chef, and his pancake recipe was one of Ted's favorites. Ted watched in fascination as Harry ladled some of the mix into the pan.

A few minutes, Ted was devouring his pancakes like it was the first time he had ever eaten, Harry watching in amusement.

“Slow down, Ted, or you'll give yourself a stomachache.” When Ted slowed himself down to a reasonable pace, Harry began digging into his own plate. About halfway through his breakfast, the phone rang. Harry stood up and answered it.

“Hello?” Harry greeted.

“Boy,” grunted a voice that Harry hoped he would never have to hear again. Suddenly, Harry lost his appetite, and nudged his plate to Ted, who dug into it greedily.

“How did you get this number?” Harry growled.

“I found it,” Vernon Dursley said. “I found it in Petunia's belongings, and I have a proposition for you.” Harry had to suppress a laugh.

“It must be really big if you're willing to call a freak like me,” Harry said sarcastically.

“Don't take that tone with me, boy,” Vernon spat. “As it is, it is big. Petunia died in a car accident a few weeks back, no doubt due to some freakishness,” he muttered, but Harry didn't hear him; he was too shocked to hear that Aunt Petunia died. “As you probably know, we've been taking care of our grandchild, but in the past few years, she's been displaying...freakishness; the same things you did. So the way I see it, you can either take the brat, or I'll boot the freak out on the streets.”

“I'll do it,” Harry said instantly. “I'll be there in ten minutes.” Before Vernon could respond, Harry hung up and turned to Ted.

“Ted, do you mind staying with Auntie Molly and Uncle Arthur for a few hours? I have something to do,” Harry asked urgently. Ted nodded vigorously, and ran up to his room to get ready.

Five minutes later, Harry and Ted climbed out of the Knight Bus and walked to the front door of the Burrow and knocked. Within seconds, an old, round woman swung the door open.

“Oh, Harry,” Molly Weasley gushed, pulling Harry into a hug. “How are you and Teddy doing? Do you want some tea?” Harry shook his head.

“No thanks, Molly, I'm kind of in a rush,” Harry said, straightening his clothes. “I'm sorry for the short notice, but I just got word of a family emergency, and I was wondering if you could keep Ted occupied for a couple hours while I smooth things over,” Harry said.

“Of course, you and Ted are always welcome, come here, Teddy,” Molly said, pulling Ted inside. “I hope everything is okay with your family.”

“You're a lifesaver, Molly, and I hope things are okay too,” Harry said, hugging her again. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a garden gnome run across the yard. “Hey, why don't you send Ted out to toss gnomes? He needs to work off his breakfast anyway,” Harry said, eyes glittering mischievously.

“Noooooo!” Ted screamed, running away into the kitchen. Barely containing his laughter, Harry waved good-bye and closed his eyes, concentrating on his old bedroom in Number 4 Privet Drive. He felt the familiar compression of Apparation, and opened his eyes to see himself standing amongst a large pile of boxes. Back to storage, Harry thought bitterly as he maneuvered around the boxes and opened the door. Harry slowly walked down the stairs, being sure not to step on the loose steps, and saw Vernon sitting away from him. He was holding a paper, but Harry knew that he was glaring out the window for him.

“You call for me?” Harry asked casually, but Vernon screamed and jumped out of his chair like an explosion happened behind him.

“Don't scare me like that!” Vernon shouted, clutching a hand to his heart. Harry idly wondered why Vernon's massive girth hadn't stopped his heart from beating years ago. Vernon took a few calming breaths, then grabbed a clipboard with some papers on it and shoved it into Harry's hands, along with a pen.

“Sign your name here, here and here,” Vernon said, pointing at the appropriate lines, “and the freak is yours.” Choosing not to comment on the last part of Vernon's sentence, Harry signed the papers and shoved them back to Vernon. “She's in your old bedroom,” Vernon said vaguely before picking up his paper and reading it. For a moment, Harry was confused. He just came from his old bedroom, and no one could live there. Then it clicked, and his eyes drifted to the cupboard under the stairs. Harry did a sweep of Vernon's memories, and saw that the child had been in there almost a month. Harry raised his Occlumency shields, but clenched his fist in anger regardless.

“You're very lucky that I've learned to control my emotions, Vernon,” Harry growled softly in a voice that sent chills down the larger man's spine, “or you would be a smoldering pile of ash right now. As it is, I suggest you leave.” Vernon quickly fled the room as Harry walked over to the cupboard and opened it. Inside, Harry found a small girl with dirty blonde hair and blue eyes, no older than six or seven years old, huddled in a corner, clutching a stuffed dog. Old memories tugging at his heart, Harry bent down until he was squatting down on the ground. “What's your name?” he asked softly. The girl eyed him carefully.

“Carla,” she said in a small voice. Harry flashed his lopsided grin.

“Hi, Carla, my name's Harry,” Harry said. “I'm a friend of your grandma's. You look cramped in there, why don't you come out.” Slowly, the girl climbed out of the cupboard, clutching her dog tighter. Harry noticed that there was a bruise on her arm, and his expression darkened.

“I heard Grandpa say something about giving me away,” Carla said, tears welling up in her eyes. “Are you going to hurt me?” Harry felt his heart break in two at those words.

“No, sweetheart, I'm not going to hurt you,” Harry said softly. “Were you hurt here?” Carla hesitated, then softly nodded.

“Once,” she said, pointing to her bruised arm. Harry sighed. It was times like these that made him wish that he had become an auror like he wanted to when he was younger.

“I'm not going to hurt you,” Harry repeated, “but I have another child your age that you could play with. Wouldn't that be nice?” Carla nodded, a smile growing on her face. “Why don't you go wait for me outside,” Harry said, and Carla ran out the door. With a cold expression, Harry walked up to the master bedroom to see Vernon sitting on the bed.

“There is so much I'd like to do to you, both for myself and for her,” Harry said in a chilling voice. “But as it is, I'll simply leave you with a little reminder of me.” Harry waved his hand in the air, and Vernon felt his trousers tear. “If you try to remove it, it will simply grow back. Good-bye,” Harry said before walking out. Vernon grabbed his large bottom, and felt something curly poking out of his pants. He tried to scream in rage, but he heard only silence.

Harry walked outside to see Carla bouncing on the balls of her feet.

“How'd you get here?” she asked. Harry simply smiled knowingly and waved his hand as if hailing a taxi. Carla heard a bang and spun around to see a large purple bus pull out of nowhere. Standing where the conductor stood was a short woman with frizzy blonde hair.

“Welcome to the Knight Bus, emergency transportation for the stranded witch or wizard. My name is Karen, and I will be your conductor this morning,” the woman read off of a cue card.

“The Burrow,” Harry said as they climbed onto the bus, dropping a gold coin into her hand. “Keep the change.” The woman nodded and yelled something incoherent at the driver, and they drove off with a bang. Soon, they arrived at their destination, and Carla laughed when she saw the lopsided house.

“What a funny looking house!” Carla giggled. Harry nodded in agreement.

“I think the designer was drunk,” Harry muttered mostly to himself before he knocked on the door. The door swung open to show Ted, his hair now bright orange.

“Uncle Harry!” the boy yelled, hugging Harry tightly. Harry laughed at his godson while they walked to the fireplace.

“Thanks for watching him, Molly!” Harry yelled into the kitchen.

“You're welcome, Harry, stop by any time!” Molly yelled back. Harry threw some Floo powder into the fireplace, and the flames turned green.

“You first, Ted,” Harry said. The young boy cleared his throat.

“Twelve Grimmauld Place!” he yelled before walking through, disappearing in the flames. Carla gasped when she saw him disappear.

“Where did he go?!” she asked, terrified. Harry chuckled softly.

“He's okay, Carla, just hold onto me tightly. Twelve Grimmauld Place!” They stepped through the flames and, after much spinning around, Harry landed flat on his back with Carla on top of him. Harry pulled himself up to see Ted stroking a pale barn owl holding a letter in its beak.

“Ted, why don't you show Carla your room while I take care of things.” Nodding, Ted took Carla's hand and pulled her to give her a tour of his room while Harry took the letter and read it.

Harry,

Conference is almost over; be back tomorrow.

Love,
Hermione.

Harry laughed as he looked at the owl.

“You flew all the way from America? You must be tired.” A tired hoot confirmed this, and Harry poured some water into a small dish and fed the bird a few pieces of leftover bacon. As he heard Carla laugh at something Ted had done, Harry sighed. He had a house, a job, a boy and a girl living with him. Essentially, he had everything to make the family he always wanted except a woman to share it with. “So what are you going to do about it, Potter?” Harry muttered to himself. He had no answer. 
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Happy Halloween to you all!

Don't forget to read and review!

Chapter 2: Who's That Man
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Alright, I'm back baby! While the East Coast wasn't as frigid as I anticipated, it was much colder than I'm used to, so I'm glad to be back.

As usual, I don't own Harry Potter.
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Chapter 2 – Who’s That Man

Carla Dursley sniffled quietly as she huddled inside her cupboard under the stairs, nursing her bruised arm and clutching her favorite stuffed animal. Her grandfather Vernon had yelled at her for not making his bacon just right and hit her for wasting good food before sending her to her cupboard.

Ever since her grandmother died a month previous, Vernon had yelled and punished her for every little wrongdoing, and sometimes for things she didn’t even understand, but this was the first time that he had actually hit her. That morning she heard Vernon talk to someone on the phone about giving her away, and she was afraid that whoever he gave her to would hurt her more.

She gasped as she heard someone walking down the stairs. It was soft, but being directly underneath, you practically needed to float down the stairs for her not to hear it. She heard her grandfather scream loudly, and yell something about “freaks” and “heart attacks”, whatever those were. There was some hushed talking, and what sounded like a pen signing something on a board, then who she presumed was the second man said something that she couldn’t hear.

She heard the lock on the cupboard door slide off and the door opened to show a man in his late twenties. He was dressed in blue jeans, a white T-shirt and black over shirt, with messy black hair and bright green eyes. He seemed to have a sad, almost thoughtful look on his face when he saw her.

“What’s your name?” the man asked softly. Carla looked at the man, pulling her toy closer.

“Carla,” she murmured. The man gave a gentle, lopsided smile.

“Hi, Carla, my name’s Harry,” the man said. “I was a friend of your grandma’s. You looked cramped in there, why don’t you come out,” Harry said, stepping aside. Carefully, Carla crawled out of the cupboard. She tried to hide the bruise on her arm, but he must have seen it, because she saw his jaw clench.

“I heard Grandpa say something about giving me away,” Carla said, tears beginning to form in her eyes. “Are you going to hurt me?” Carla looked up, and she thought that she saw Harry’s eyes tearing up.

“No, sweetheart, I’m not going to hurt you,” he said, bending down so he was eye level with her. “Were you hurt here?” Hesitantly, Carla nodded her head.

“Once,” she said, pointing at her bruised arm. Harry sighed when he saw it.

“I’m not going to hurt you,” Harry repeated. “But I do have another child your age you could play with. Would you like that?” he continued. A smile began to grow on Carla’s face; she didn’t have many friends, and she hadn’t seen them at all for a month, so it’d be good to play with someone again, so she nodded vigorously. “Why don’t you go wait for me outside,” Harry said, and Carla ran out the door, so excited that she forgot her few meager clothes.

She was practically dancing with excitement when Harry came out the door a few minutes later. She looked around, and suddenly realized that there was no car in the driveway.

“How did you get here?” Carla asked. Harry simply smiled at her and waved his hand, as if hailing a taxi. She heard a loud bang, and looked around to see a large purple bus pull up in front of them. Where did the bus come from? She wondered to herself.

“Welcome to the Knight Bus, emergency transportation for the stranded witch or wizard. My name is Karen, and I will be your conductor this morning,” a small woman read off of what looked like her grandmother’s recipe cards. Harry took her hand and pulled her onto the bus.

“The Burrow,” Harry said to the conductor, dropping a gold coin into the woman’s hand. “Keep the change.” Nodding, the woman shouted something to the driver, and she barely got into her seat when the bus lurched forward with a loud bang and almost knocked her down. But after she regained her balance, she started screaming with delight as the bus sped across the countryside. In her excitement, she didn’t notice the other occupants of the bus glaring at her, nor Harry’s innocent shrug.

When the bus lurched to a stop, Harry and Carla walked off the bus to see a tall house, its various levels bending out in all directions. Carla couldn’t help but laugh at how silly the house looked.

“What a funny looking house!” Carla giggled, pointing at the house. Harry chuckled softly.

“I think the designer was drunk,” Harry muttered. Carla didn’t know what “drunk” meant, so she just shrugged and held onto Harry’s hand while he walked to the front door and knocked. The door swung open to show a boy a little bit older than her with bright orange hair.

“Uncle Harry!” the boy shouted, wrapping his arms around Harry’s waist. Harry chuckled as he patted the boy’s head. Together, they walked to the fireplace, where a large fire was burning.

“Thanks for watching him, Molly!” Harry shouted into the house.

“You’re welcome, Harry, stop by any time!” a woman Carla guessed was “Molly” shouted from somewhere in the house. Harry reached over to a flower pot hanging next to the fireplace and threw a handful of powder into the flames, and the flames became green.

“Okay, Ted, you first,” Harry said. The boy walked confidently over to the flames and shouted, “Twelve Grimmauld Place!” before walking into the flames and disappearing.

“Where did he go?!” Carla gasped in terror. Where was the boy? Was he dead? Harry chuckled and patted her head softly.

“He’s okay, Carla, just hold onto me tightly,” he said. Carla immediately latched onto his waist. “Twelve Grimmauld Place!” he shouted before stumbling into the flames. Carla spun around and around, and when she thought she was going to throw up, they were thrown out of a different fireplace, and Carla was lying on top of Harry’s chest, both covered in soot. Carla climbed off and Harry stood up, dusting himself off. Carla looked up to see the boy Harry called “Ted” stroking a large white owl that was holding a letter in its beak.

“Ted, why don’t you show Carla your room while I take care of this?” Nodding, the boy took Carla’s hand and led her upstairs. About halfway up, though, they both realized that they didn’t know each others’ names.

“Umm, we’ve never been introduced,” the boy said shyly. “I’m Ted Lupin,” he said, holding out his hand.

“Carla Dursley,” Carla said, taking his hand. “Pleased to meet you,” she added, curtsying. Ted laughed awkwardly.

“Well, let me show you my room,” Ted said, and she followed him the rest of the way up the stairs and into a brightly decorated room. Carla gasped in amazement as the posters of people flying on broomsticks stopped briefly to wave at her before continuing whatever it was they were doing.

“What was that?” Carla asked, touching the poster to feel if it was actually paper. Ted looked at her strangely, his hand halfway to a small cage.

“Magic,” Ted said slowly, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. Carla looked at him as if he were insane.

“Magic doesn’t exist, silly boy,” Carla said, as if speaking to a simpleton.

“Yes it does,” Ted said, as if Carla were the simpleton. “Uncle Harry does it all the time, and all his friends do too.”

“Magic doesn’t exist,” Carla repeated firmly. Ted rolled his eyes and changed his hair color to blue. Carla gasped when she saw it.

“How did you do that?” she asked.

“Magic,” Ted said casually, before reaching into the cage and pulling out a small purple ball of fuzz and holding it out to her. “This is my pet Pygmy Puff, Tribble,” Ted said. Carla hesitantly reached out and gently stroked the fluffball, and it purred in contentment.

“What does it do?” she asked. Ted just shrugged.

“Just eat, sleep and look cute, I guess,” he said as he put Tribble back into its cage. “Auntie Mi gave it to me for my birthday a few months ago. Said that I needed to begin with a pet that was ‘low manintence,’ whatever that means.” They stood in silence for a moment, trying to think of something to say.

“So can you do magic?” Carla asked, breaking the silence. Ted shook his head.

“Other than the hair thing, no. Uncle Harry says I’m not old enough, but I can when I’m eleven.” Carla chewed her tongue to think of something else to say.

“Why aren’t you with your parents?” At this, Ted’s face grew sad, and his hair faded into a dark brown color.

“They died when I was little,” he said simply. Carla felt ashamed for asking such a question, and hung her head low.

“I’m sorry,” she said simply. Ted shook his head as he sat down on his bed and grabbed a picture of his parents from his night stand.

“It wasn’t your fault,” he said as he lightly ran his finger over the glass protecting the photograph of Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks just standing around, laughing at something.

“Kids, lunch!” Harry yelled from downstairs. The two children immediately ran downstairs to see Harry waiting for them at the table with three sandwiches and three glasses of milk. About halfway through their meal, Carla looked up at Harry.

“Harry?” she asked. “I just realized that I have no extra clothes.” Harry stopped in mid-bite as he too realized this.

“That’s right, you don’t,” he said dumbly. “I have a friend coming in from a business trip tomorrow, and I think I can grovel at her enough to get her to take you shopping, so do you think you can last the night without changing?” Carla nodded, and Harry sighed with relief before they continued eating.

“Harry?” Carla asked again as she helped Harry clean the dishes. “Is magic real?”

“Yep,” Harry said simply. He turned to see that she had a skeptical look on her face, and laughed. “I didn’t believe it either, but trust me, it’s real.” After they finished cleaning the dishes, Harry sat her down and spent the rest of the day explaining magic and Hogwarts, even though he blatantly refused to answer her question about how children were sorted into the houses (“It’s tradition that I don’t tell you,” Harry would simply say before continuing). Finally, nighttime came and the children were starting to nod off, so he followed them to their rooms. First he tucked Ted in for the night, then he tucked Carla in in one of the spare bedrooms.

“Night, night,” Carla said as Harry began to walk away.

“Night, night,” Harry echoed as he closed the door and silently walked into his own bedroom before falling asleep himself.
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My mispelling of maintenance was intentional. You have to remember that that's a big word for a seven-year-old.

Don't forget to read and review!


Chapter 3: Hermione's Return
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This chapter will bring Hermione into the story (finally), as well as tell you what happened to Carla’s parents. That should be fun, yes?

As usual, I don’t own Harry Potter. That makes me sad.

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Chapter 3 – Hermione Returns

BEEP-BEEP-BEEP-BEEP!

BEEP-BEEP-BEEP-BEEP!

BEEP-BEEP-BEE – thunk!

Harry groaned as he rolled himself out of bed to face the new day. Taking a shower and sliding into clean clothes, Harry shuffled out of his room and into the hallway. He opened the door to Ted’s room to see him still sleeping, his hair its natural dark brown color. Chuckling, Harry closed the door and walked down to Carla’s room. He opened it to see her sitting on her bed, her arms wrapped around her knees.

“Hey,” he said softly. She turned her head to look at him. “Are you hungry?”

“Yeah,” she responded, nodding her head.

“Come on, then, I’ll make you something,” Harry said. Carla slid off of her bed and followed him down to the kitchen. “What would you like? Eggs? Cereal? Pancakes?” he asked.

“Just cereal,” Carla said. Nodding, Harry pulled a box of corn flakes and a gallon jug of milk out of the fridge and poured some into a bowl.

“How much milk do you like?” Harry asked as he twisted the cap off of the milk.

“Lots,” Carla said simply. Nodding, Harry poured the milk until it almost completely filled the bowl. He carefully lowered the bowl to her to see if it met her satisfaction. When she nodded, he flicked his wrist, and the bowl gently floated to the table, along with a spoon. Carla sat down and began eating while Harry made himself a cup of instant coffee and sat down with her. After eating in silence, Carla looked up at Harry. “Why did you take me?” she asked. Harry sighed as he looked down pensively at his half-drunk coffee.

“Because a long time ago, I lived in a cupboard too,” he said sadly. “The difference was, I didn’t have anyone to rescue me.” Harry took another sip of coffee and sighed again. “But that’s all in the past,” he added in a tone of finality. As Carla finished and Harry gathered her bowl to put into the sink, he saw Ted shuffle sleepily into the room. “How can I help you, good sir?” Harry asked, amusement twinkling in his eyes.

“Cerrl, pease...” Ted mumbled, dragging himself to the table and propping his head up with his arms, trying not to fall asleep again. Rolling his eyes comically, Harry poured Ted a bowl of cereal and set in front of Ted, along with a spoon. “Th’nks,” he mumbled as he slowly began eating. As Harry made himself another cup of coffee, the phone began to ring. He picked it up and looked at the caller ID. Grinning, he activated the phone and held it up to his ear.

“Hey, how was the conference?” he asked.

“Not as productive as I’d like it to be,” Hermione grumbled on the other line. “The people at the French Ministry of Magic are so blood pompous, it’s ridiculous! And I thought our government was bad!”

“Wow, it must really be bad if it drives the great Hermione Granger to swearing,” Harry said, laughing.

“Ha, ha, laugh it up, Potter,” Hermione responded sardonically. “How did you hold up without me?”

“Well, I didn’t burn the house down, if that’s what you’re asking,” Harry said, looking at his surroundings. “Are you coming around later?” he asked curiously.

“In a bit; I need a shower first,” she replied. “Why?” Harry looked at the children, who were talking about something at the table. He quietly walked into another room and cast mufflatio on the door.

“Well, I kind of have a favor to ask of you,” Harry said. He could practically hear Hermione roll her eyes at him.

“What did you do this time?” she asked. Harry rolled his eyes at her before continuing.

“I adopted a little girl yesterday,” he said softly. On the other end, he heard Hermione scream in delight, something she rarely did.

“Oh, Harry, that’s so adorable!” she gushed loudly through the phone.

“Yes, it may, but I just realized that she has no extra clothes,” Harry said, holding the phone up to the ear that hadn’t been screamed at, “so I was wondering if you’d be so kind as to take her shopping? I don’t think I could handle the humiliation...or the tabloids.” He heard Hermione laugh into the phone.

“Alright, I’ll help you with your little girl problem, but you owe me,” she said.

“I’ve been owing you for years, Hermione, but you never collect,” Harry said, chuckling.

“I’ll be there in an hour, see you later,” Hermione said.

“‘Kay,” Harry replied. He was silent for a moment before continuing. “It’s good to have you back, Hermione.”

“It’s good to be back; ‘bye,” she said before hanging up. Hanging up himself, Harry went back into the dining room to see Ted and Carla playing a game of cards. Taking Ted’s empty bowl, Harry quietly washed the dishes, and sat down in the living room, reading a Quidditch magazine, patiently awaiting Hermione’s arrival.

An hour later, Harry heard a knocking from his front door, and immediately shot out of his chair and ran to the door, pulling it open. Standing on the doorstep was Hermione, dressed in blue jeans and a black t-shirt. Her hair had smoothed out over the years, and now hung past her shoulders in small curls.

“I hear you’re having girl problems?” she said, raising an eyebrow.

“You heard right,” Harry said with a straight face. He stepped aside to allow her entry, and once she had stepped inside, he closed the door and wrapped her in a hug. “I’ve missed you,” he whispered into her ear.

“Harry, I’ve only been gone a week,” Hermione laughed. “But I missed you too.” Patting him on the back, they relinquished their holds on each other and walked deeper into the house.

“Auntie Mi!” Ted yelled as he wrapped his arms around Hermione’s waist. “I missed you so much!” Hermione laughed as she patted Ted on the head affectionately.

“I missed you too, Teddy,” Hermione said assuredly. “Is Tribble doing well?” Ted bobbed his head, still holding onto her. Hermione gently pulled Ted off of her and walked into the common room to see Carla sitting on the floor reading one of Ted’s children’s books. Harry cleared his throat, and Carla looked up at the group.

“Hi,” she said shyly, waving to Hermione.

“Hi,” Hermione said, sitting on a chair near Carla. “I’m Hermione, what’s your name?”

“Carla Dursley,” Carla said softly. Hermione looked at Harry, her eyebrows raised. Harry simply mouthed “later”, and Hermione turned back to Carla while Harry nudged Ted away.

“So, Harry tells me that you need some clothes,” Hermione said conversationally. Carla nodded silently, looking down at her book. “Well, Harry decided to be a typical boy and avoid shopping, so it’s up to me to take you. There’s a store just down the road, maybe we can pick up an ice cream later?” Carla immediately nodded vigorously, and ran to get her shoes.

A few minutes later, Carla was sitting in the backseat of Hermione’s silver BMW.

“So, how long have you lived with Harry?” Hermione asked, glancing at Carla’s reflection in her rearview mirror.

“Since yesterday,” Carla said. Hermione nodded at her answer.

“Do you like it there?” she asked. Carla nodded.

“He’s nice, and Ted is fun to play with.” Carla looked like she was about to continue, but decided against it. Hermione pulled into a shopping complex and they walked into Macy’s. An hour later, they walked out with three weeks worth of clothes for Carla and two ice cream cones. “Can you do magic too?” she asked on their drive back to 12 Grimmauld Place.

“Yes, I can,” Hermione said. Carla silently licked her ice cream before talking again.

“Do you have a boyfriend?” she asked curiously. Hermione laughed and shook her head.

“No, I don’t really want a boyfriend right now; my job and Harry are good enough for me,” Hermione said. “Before you ask, I work at the government. I talk to people from other countries to do things, it’s very boring,” she continued, answering Carla’s unspoken question. “How do you do in school?” she asked. Carla shrugged in response.

“I’m okay,” she said indifferently. “I like math, but history is really boring.” Hermione laughed again.

“Yeah, my history teacher was really boring too. I think I was the only one in the whole school who could stay awake through his lessons.” The two continued talking until they pulled in front of 12 Grimmauld Place. Carla dragged Hermione to her room, and she placed Carla’s clothes on her bed, and she began pulling tags off and sorting them into their respective drawers. “Will you be okay by yourself?” Hermione asked. Carla nodded, and Hermione went downstairs to see Harry and Ted playing exploding snap. Hermione watched silently as the two finished their game, several explosions later. When Harry saw Hermione, he told Ted to go upstairs to see what Carla was up to and cleaned himself up.

“Thanks for doing that for me, Hermione,” Harry said, pulling himself upright. Hermione shrugged casually.

“It was nothing,” Hermione said. “Harry, we need to talk.” Harry looked at her confusedly.

“About what?” he inquired.

“Carla,” Hermione said simply. Harry sighed, and waved his hand, soundproofing the room.

“Where should I begin?” Harry asked as they both sat down.

“The beginning usually works,” Hermione responded. Harry sighed and nodded.

“After we renovated this place, I went back to Privet Drive, and I had a long talk with Aunt Petunia. When I left, we were far from complete reconciliation, but we had begun to rebuild the bridges we had burned. I left her my phone number, and a few months later, I get a call from her saying that Dudley had gotten some girl pregnant, and that she was taking care of the baby now,” Harry recited evenly. “And yesterday, I get a call from Vernon saying that Aunt Petunia had died, and pretty much told me to take Carla off of his hands, so I did.”

“What happened to Dudley?” Hermione asked.

“A couple years after Carla was born, Dudley was in an accident. He was convicted of driving while intoxicated and vehicular manslaughter; as far as I know, he’s still in prison.” Hermione gasped at this news.

“And the mother?” she asked in a small voice. Harry shrugged indifferently.

“Wanted nothing to do with her. She dropped Carla in Dudley’s lap as soon as she was born and never looked back.” Harry laughed bitterly. “Even after the war, there are still people out there who are willing to throw another’s life away simply because it doesn’t suit them.” Hermione laid a gentle hand on his shoulder.

“Then it’s a good thing that there are people like you to help pick up the pieces,” she said comfortingly. She stole a glance at her watch and gasped. “I’ve got to go; I’ve got to write my report to turn it in tomorrow!” Harry laughed at her panicking state.

“Yes, being head of the Department of International and Interracial Cooperation is a very demanding position,” he said as he led Hermione to the door. “Don’t hesitate to drop by, Hermione,” he said as he opened the door.

“Don’t hesitate to call me if you need help,” Hermione responded. She gave him a quick peck on the cheek before running out and climbing into her car. Waving good-bye, Harry closed the door and walked back inside. He checked on the children to see Ted teaching Carla how to play Wizard’s Chess, and went back to his magazine.

----

I hope that this chapter satisfies you.

Don’t forget to read and review!

Chapter 4: Riding in the Rain
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I don’t own Harry Potter. Move along.

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Chapter 4 – Riding in the Rain

That night Harry and Ted talked to Carla about magic over dinner, and Harry tucked Carla into bed.

“What do I call you?” Carla asked as Harry lowered the blanket over her, and he paused. To be honest, he hadn’t thought about that himself, and shrugged.

“Whatever you’re comfortable with,” Harry said as he stood up and began walking out of the room.

“Okay, night-night,” Carla said as Harry turned off the light.

“‘Night, Carla,” Harry replied, closing the bedroom door. Harry went up to his office and did some paperwork that he had been neglecting lately before retiring himself.

The next day, Harry woke up and walked down the stairs to see Carla lying on the floor reading a book.

“What are you reading?” Harry asked as he made himself coffee. Carla held the book up to show the cover that read Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. “Ted’s, I presume. Is it interesting?” Harry asked, hiding his grin behind his coffee mug when Carla nodded vigorously.

“Are there really unicorns?” she asked eagerly. When Harry nodded, she squealed in delight and continued reading. Harry took another sip of his coffee and let the warmth run through him, but was quickly pulled out of his stupor by the phone ringing. Harry picked it up and looked at the caller ID. Not recognizing the number, he turned it on and held it to his ear.

“Who’s this?” Harry asked.

“This is Sylvia Jules, Headmistress of East Surrey Primary School, may I speak to Mister Potter?” an unfamiliar voice responded. Harry looked at the phone in confusion before returning it to his ear.

“This is Potter, how did you get my number?” Harry asked suspiciously.

“We originally contacted Vernon Dursley regarding his granddaughter, Carla’s attendance this fall, but he said that she was in your custody now, and gave me your number to contact.” Harry sighed, mentally berating himself for not thinking about Carla’s schooling.

“I take it that this means we’re going to have a meeting,” Harry sighed, rubbing his eyes.

“If it’s not too much trouble,” Headmistress Jules confirmed.

“I’ll be there in a couple of hours,” Harry replied, hanging up before she could respond. Harry made Carla a bowl of cereal and while she was eating, threw a handful of Floo powder into the fireplace. “The greenhouse,” Harry announced to the green fire, and an image of a sitting room appeared in the flames. Harry rapped his fingers on the edge of the fireplace impatiently while waiting for the person he was calling to arrive. Finally, a slightly chubby man in his mid-twenties wearing a brown shirt with a blinking eye, a flashing heart and a swaying tree printed on the front stooped down in front of the Floo.

“Hey, Harry,” Neville greeted as he sat himself down on the floor. “What do you need?”

“Hey, Neville,” Harry replied. “I need to run an errand, and I was wondering if you would mind holding down the fort for me; Hermione’s busy with work and I don’t want to bother Molly,” he explained.

“So you bother me,” Neville said cheekily. “Fine, let me grab my trousers and I’ll be over in a few minutes,” he said, pulling himself up and closing the Floo connection. Harry turned back to Carla, who was eating her cereal slowly, engrossed in her book.

“Carla?” The girl looked up when Harry called her name. “I’ve got to talk to the principal at your school, so a friend of mine will be watching you for a few hours, so behave while I’m gone, okay?” Carla nodded wordlessly, and glued her eyes back to the book. Shaking his head in amusement, Harry walked up to Ted’s room and opened to see the boy clutching his pillow in his sleep. Harry walked over and gently shook him awake. “Hey, kid, I’m going to be gone for a few hours, so behave for Uncle Neville when you wake up, okay?” Ted just groaned tiredly and snuggled back into his pillow.

Harry walked back downstairs just in time to see the Floo flare up and see Neville walk in.

“Hey, thanks for the help, Nev,” Harry said as he shook his friend’s hand.

“No problem, mate, always happy to help,” Neville said. He saw Carla, who was reading her book with wide, unblinking eyes. “Hi, my name’s Neville,” he said loud enough to break Carla from her trance. “What’s your name?” Carla suddenly became shy, and muttered her name so softly that she had to repeat herself for Neville to hear her.

“Okay, behave you two, don’t burn the place down while I’m gone,” Harry said as he grabbed a small toy motorcycle off of the mantel and walked out the door. Casting a notice-me-not charm, Harry set the toy on the floor and snapped his fingers, and it enlarged itself to a full-sized motorcycle. Canceling the notice-me-not charm, Harry slid on his helmet and revved the engine, roaring down the road.

Two long and wet hours later (“Really, you’d think that as often as it rains here, that people would be used to it...” Harry grumbled to himself), Harry pulled into the parking lot of East Surrey Primary School. Home of six years of bad childhood memories, Harry thought bitterly. Shaking his head to clear it, Harry walked into the building, his wet shoes squeaking loudly on the polished tile floor. Walking down the familiar hallways, Harry quickly found himself standing in front of the Headmistress’s office, and knocked on the door.

“Come in,” Headmistress Jules said behind the door and Harry walked in to see a dark-skinned woman in her late thirties sitting behind the desk. Hanging his dripping jacket onto a coat hanger, he sat down on a chair, quickly soaking the cushion. “Lovely day,” she said sarcastically, glaring at the downpour outside momentarily before turning back to Harry. “I’m sure you’re wondering why you’re here; it’s mostly contact information in case of emergency, so if you would just fill out this form here,” she said, handing Harry a survey paper. Muttering darkly, Harry rolled up his sleeves and filled out the form and handed it back. “Finally, how are you related to Carla Dursley?” she asked as Harry rolled his sleeves back down.

“We’re related through her grandparents,” Harry responded vaguely.

“So, you’re her uncle?” Principal Jules asked, her eyebrow raised.

“More like...second cousin,” Harry said, shrugging. “Is that all?” he continued, noticing that the rain was beginning to lighten. When Principal Jules nodded, Harry stood up and shook her hand. “It was nice meeting you, but I should leave before the rain picks up again.” Grabbing his jacket, Harry walked out into the rain and climbed onto his motorcycle. He drove off and coasted into an abandoned alleyway. Checking to make sure no one was watching, he climbed off and shrunk it back to its miniature size. Taking the tiny vehicle into his pocket, Harry spun around and Apparated back to 12 Grimmauld Place. When he stopped spinning, he saw Neville sitting at his table, sipping a cup of tea.

“You look like hell, mate,” Neville observed, stifling a laugh. Harry glared at him as he cast a drying charm on himself.

“Ha, ha, laugh it up,” Harry grumbled as he hung his jacket up and kicked off his shoes. “Where are the little monsters?” Neville pointed upstairs.

“Last I heard, they were playing exploding snap,” he said. He glanced at his watch and drained the rest of his tea. “I’ve got to go, I need to water my plants,” he said quickly.

“Take them outside,” Harry suggested, fishing out a fistful of galleons and placing them in Neville’s hand. “Thanks for watching the kids, mate.”

“No problem, Harry. See you at work next month?” Neville asked as he grabbed a fistful of Floo powder.

“Unless Voldemort comes back from the dead, I should,” Harry confirmed. Waving goodbye, Neville threw the powder into the fire and stepped through. Pouring himself a cup of tea, Harry walked upstairs to see Carla and Ted playing checkers. “Carla, when do you go to school?” Harry asked.

“September first,” Carla replied.

“Okay, carry on,” Harry said, leaving the children to their game. Harry walked to his room and just stood in front of the window, watching the rain.

----

I don’t know how drivers react to rain in England, but here in Hawaii, people slam on their brakes if so much as a single freaking drop falls from the sky! I'm exaggerating of course, but it's pretty bad here.

As far as I know, East Surrey Primary School is fictional.

Don’t forget to read and review!

Chapter 5: School Time Blues
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I don’t own Harry Potter. I do however own Carla Dursley and the plot. That’s it.

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Chapter 5 – School Time Blues

In Harry’s eyes, the next month went by quickly. Hermione came by almost every day to help out around the house, much to Ted’s delight. Carla was quickly learning the ins and outs of living in the magical world, and seemed much happier than when he had first taken her in. However, Harry had noticed that while Carla never brought up the issue about what to call him again, she did not address him by any title, instead waiting patiently at his side until he noticed her. Before he knew it, it was time for both Carla and him to return to their respective schools.

“Okay, Carla, have fun in class today,” Harry said as he and Carla stepped off a Muggle bus.

“Don’t get into trouble, and don’t talk about magic to your classmates, okay?” he asked, and Carla nodded obediently. “Okay, I’ll pick you up tonight, have fun, kiddo,” he said, turning her around and nudging the girl towards the school, and she ran off to join the other children. Chuckling, Harry walked into an abandoned alleyway and Apparated back to 12 Grimmauld Place and Flooed to his office at Hogwarts. After he dusted the soot off of his clothes, he saw Ted scribbling at something, his brow furrowed in concentration. “You working hard there, Teddy?” Harry asked.

“Yup,” Ted said as he erased an answer and added the correct one.

“Good man, Ted, I’ll be outside if you need me,” Harry said, walking into his classroom just as his students milled in. “Fifth year Ravenclaws and Gryffindors, welcome to O.W.L. level Defense Against the Dark Arts. I trust that you remember my name; after all, you’ve only had to see my ugly face every day for the past four years,” Harry said cheekily, the students’ laughter echoing throughout the room. “Okay, for the next month or so, we will be covering the Unforgivables,” Harry said, scribbling the word “Unforgivables” onto his chalkboard. “Can anyone tell me what they are?” he asked, turning to face his students. Immediately, all the hands in the room shot up. “Mister Slater,” he said, pointing to a blonde Gryffindor.

“The Cruciatus curse, the Imperius curse and the killing curse, sir,” he said proudly.

“Correct, five points to Gryffindor,” Harry said as he scribbled the names of the curses onto the chalkboard. “Can anyone tell me why these curses are considered unforgivable?” He looked around, and only a few hands were up. “Miss Barrows?”

“They are considered unforgivable because the intent required to cast these curses is so heinous that you cannot forgive their use on a human being,” the Ravenclaw girl said.

“Correct, five points to Ravenclaw,” Harry said, clapping. Harry drew out a wand and waved it, and the curse names rearranged themselves so that it read Imperius first, Killing second and Cruciatus last. “Tell me, class, what is the significance of this arrangement?” Harry asked. The students looked at the chalkboard in confusion until Barrows shot her hand up again.

“The list shows the curses in their order of creation,” she said.

“Correct, another five points to Ravenclaw,” Harry said. “The Imperius curse was invented first. It was first used by the ancient Greeks and Romans to control particularly defiant slaves. It was banned in 1772 when an assassin cast it on a politician and ordered him to slit his own throat in public.” The class blanched at that little tidbit of information. “The killing curse was invented around the time of the Founders as a way to humanely kill livestock before slaughter. It was banned in 1835 when a serial killer murdered almost a hundred witches and wizards exclusively with this curse. Finally, the Cruciatus curse was invented in 1942 as an interrogation tactic during World War II.” Harry paused when he saw some of the students had a confused look on their faces. “The war against Grindewald,” Harry clarified for those that weren’t versed in Muggle history. “It was such an effective curse that it was banned six months later, and began the process to invent veritaserum.” Harry waited quietly as the students copied this information down onto their parchment. “Okay, for homework—” half the students groaned as the Gryffindors heard the word “homework”, while the Ravenclaws straightened up, “...you’re going to have to read the first three chapters of your assigned reading. I’m not so mean as to assign you an essay on your first day,” he said, chuckling. “You’re dismissed.” Chairs scraped against the stone floor as the students gathered their supplies and left the classroom. Harry stole a glance at his watch. “Ten minutes till the next class. Might as well check on Ted while I’m waiting,” he said to himself as he walked back into his office.

At 4:30 that afternoon, Harry and Ted took the Knight Bus to East Surrey Primary School to pick Carla up from school.

“So, did you have fun?” Harry asked as they climbed back onto the giant purple vehicle.

“Yup,” Carla said chipperly. “We learned about fractions today!” Whatever else Carla would have said was forgotten as the Knight Bus lurched forward with a bang, the little girl squealing in delight. They stumbled out of the bus, still affected by the intense intertia. Harry saw Hermione’s car parked in the driveway, and he frowned in confusion as he unlocked the door and walked in. They walked into the dining room saw Hermione sitting at the table with a newspaper, a red pen in her hand.

“Hermione, what are you doing here?” Harry asked. Hermione looked down at her paper.

“I...needed to do something, I hope you don’t mind,” she said, not quite looking him.

“No, I gave you a key for a reason, but why are you here? Why couldn’t you do it at your flat?” Instead of answering, Hermione’s eyes flickered at Carla and Ted momentarily, and Harry began to understand.

“Kids, why don’t you go upstairs and do your homework while I talk to Hermione?” he asked as he gently nudged the children out of the room. Carla grabbed her pack and ran up the stairs, Ted behind her. After they left, Harry pulled up a chair and sat down next to Hermione.

“Okay, Hermione, talk, what’s this about?” he asked. He looked down at the newspaper and saw that it was advertising flats for rent, with several addresses circled. “Were you kicked out of your flat?” he asked incredulously. Hermione snorted and shook her head.

“My dear landlord threatened to double my rent, unless I did him a ‘special favor,’” she said darkly, quoting the words “special favor” with her fingers. “In return, I gave him a swift kick in the pants and began packing up. I got here a couple of hours ago.” Harry sighed, suppressing his anger at Hermione’s former landlord for even thinking about propositioning her that way.

“You know, you could always move in here,” he offered. Hermione chuckled and shook her head.

“That’s sweet of you, Harry, but I can take care of myself,” she said, turning back to her newspaper. “Besides, I don’t want to be an imposition.”

“You wouldn’t be imposing on me,” Harry insisted. “This place is huge, so space isn’t an issue; you Apparate to work, so location is no problem; the kids love you, and I certainly wouldn’t mind your company.” Hermione didn’t answer, but bit her lip as she considered it. “I’ll charge you rent if it makes you feel better,” Harry added. After almost a minute of consideration, Hermione nodded her agreement.

“Thanks, Harry, but you really didn’t have to do this,” Hermione said stubbornly. Harry stood up, shrugging as he did so.

“Blame my ‘saving people thing,’” he said as he placed the chair that he was sitting on back in its proper place. “I’m thirsty, want something?” he asked as he walked into the kitchen.

“I’ll take a butterbeer,” Hermione said as she crumpled up the newspaper and tossed it into a dustbin like a basketball, pumping her fist in the air victoriously when it fell in.

Over the next couple of weeks, they had settled into a routine. Harry would wake up and prepare breakfast. The other three residents of 12 Grimmauld Place would come down and eat before preparing for the day. Hermione would take a quick shower, get dressed and say goodbye before Apparating to the Ministry of Magic. Harry would then take both the Knight or Muggle bus to take Carla to school before Apparating back home and Flooing himself and Ted to Hogwarts. After day’s end, Harry would pick up Carla and they would do occupy themselves until Hermione returned that night, at which time Harry would prepare dinner. This was a well-oiled routine, until one day, about three weeks after the fall term had started.

“Okay, class, today we’re going to be covering the Cruciatus curse in more detail,” Harry said to his class of fifth-year Slytherins and Hufflepuffs. “Firstly, what makes this particular curse special?” As he expected, no one knew what he was talking about. “Okay, let me explain. The Cruciatus is a very efficient spell, but there are other torture spells invented both before and after it: the fire whip spell in pre-Renaissance France, the blood boiling curse in World War I or even the bone extracting hex from Vietnam. All of these are very effective at causing physical pain, so tell me, what makes the Cruciatus special?” The students looked at each other in confusion. “Anyone? It’s not that hard.” Hesitantly, one of the Slytherin students raised his hand. “Mister Lecross?”

“The Cruciatus doesn’t leave a mark?” the boy said, more as a question than a statement.

“Correct, five points to Slytherin,” Harry said. “That was an easy question. Now here’s a tricky one: why? Why does the Cruciatus inflict physical pain, yet leave no mark?” Lecross lowered his hand, and the students resumed looking at each other in confusion. “I’ll give you a hint: it doesn’t.” Harry smiled to himself at the completely clueless looks on his students’ faces. “Let me explain. Who here can tell me why we feel pain to begin with?” A few Hufflepuff students raised their hands. “Miss Green?”

“We feel pain because our bodies are covered with nerves that, when stimulated, send an electrical signal to the brain, where it is analyzed and interpreted as a painful sensation,” the Hufflepuff girl said proudly.

“Correct, five points to Hufflepuff,” Harry said. “Now basically, what the Cruciatus curse does is increase the sensitivity of these pain receptors to such extreme levels that everything, from the wind blowing on your face to your clothes rubbing against your skin to the pressure applied to your lungs as you breathe activates them and your brain interprets the signals that they send out as extreme pain.” The students paled considerably when they realized that the Cruciatus turned your very body against you. “And the thing is, the only escape from the pain is death,” Harry continued. “Even if you’re levitating stock-still in the middle of a pitch-black, sealed room stark naked, your muscles will still twitch instinctively; your heart will still beat; you will still breathe. As long as this curse is cast upon you, all that will be felt as unimaginable pain. Think about that...class dismissed.” The students shot up and practically ran out of the room to escape the images that Harry had conjured in their minds.

That afternoon, when he and Ted had Flooed home, Harry was surprised to find a message on his answering machine. While Ted went to the bathroom, Harry hit the play button and listened to the message.

Mister Potter, this is Headmistress Jules, calling about an incident that Carla Dursley got into today. If you would please meet me in my office today when you pick Miss Dursley up, that would be appreciated. Thank you.” Harry frowned and called for Winky.

“What can Winky be doing for Master Potter?” the small house elf squeaked. Harry rolled his eyes exasperatedly at his title of “master,” but all attempts at getting Winky to stop ended in failure.

“I need to go on an errand, so could you keep an eye on Ted for an hour or so?” Harry asked.

“Winky will guard Master Teddy with her life,” Winky said, bowing low before popping out of site. Shaking his head, Harry Apparated to his usual alleyway and walked into the East Surrey Primary School Headmistress’s office, where Carla was sitting in a corner, clutching her bag and looking ashamed.

“What seems to be the problem?” Harry asked as he sat down, his face unreadable.

“This afternoon, Miss Dursley got into a fight with another one of our students. As you may know, we here at East Surrey Primary do not permit fighting on the grounds,” Headmistress Jules said in a professional tone.

Yeah, I know; doesn’t mean that you enforce it, Harry thought bitterly. “So what are you going to do about it?” he asked aloud.

“We have spoken to the student that was injured, and we have decided to give Miss Dursley a month detention for accosting a fellow student,” Headmistress Jules said. Harry suppressed a growl as he clenched his fist tightly.

“And how did you come to the conclusion that Carla deserved such a punishment?” Harry asked, forcing himself to remain calm.

“We spoke to the student that was accosted, and she said that she was helping a younger student when Miss Dursley began hitting her. When we interviewed the younger student, he simply shrugged his shoulders when questioned,” Headmistress Jules explained. Harry turned his head to look at Carla, who was looking down at the floor sadly. Harry did a quick sweep of her memories with Legilimency, and found out the truth before turning back to the Headmistress.

“Well, rest assured that this will never happen again,” Harry said, his voice level.

“Thank you for that—” Headmistress Jules began, but was cut off by Harry interrupting.

“...Because Carla will no longer be attending,” he continued, both Carla and the Headmistress looking at him in surprise. “Apparently, things around here run the same way that they did fifteen years ago: the bullies with money can shift the blame to someone else. Well, not this time; I’m pulling Carla out.” Harry stood up and walked out, Carla running to catch up, leaving a dumbstruck Headmistress in their wake. Outside, Harry angrily waved his right hand, summoning the Knight Bus, and they rode back home. “I’m not going to be able to protect you forever, Carla, and you’re going to have to face the consequences of your actions someday, but I know that you were in the right today, and I’m proud of you,” Harry said as the bus rumbled on its brief journey.

“Where am I going to go to school now?” Carla asked as they walked off the bus.

“I was thinking about homeschooling you, that way Ted can help you when you’re stuck. Does that sound like fun?” Harry asked as he unlocked the door to 12 Grimmauld Place. Carla nodded silently as they walked into the house. “Okay, Winky, you can leave now!” Harry said, only receiving a faint pop in response. “Go play with Ted while I prepare dinner,” Harry said, and Carla ran up the stairs to Ted’s room.

That night, the four residents of 12 Grimmauld Place talked over baked fish, although no one brought up Harry pulling Carla out of school. That night, Harry tucked Carla into bed and kissed her hair.

“Goodnight,” Harry said as Carla curled up under her covers. As he stood up and walked out, he heard something that caused him to go to bed with a smile on his face.

“Night-night, Daddy.”

--

Okay, everybody’s one step closer to being a big, happy family. Hermione’s moved in, Carla’s calling Harry “Daddy” now; all that’s left is for Harry and Hermione to admit their love for each other and get married.

My decision to make Ted and ultimately Carla homeschooled is because I myself have been homeschooled my whole life, and really don’t know anything else, so it makes things easier for me.

Don’t forget to read and review!

Chapter 6: Trick or Treat
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Two-hour-long school days: without a doubt, the best part of being home schooled.

I only own Carla Dursley. Everything else belongs to J. K. Rowling.

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Chapter 6 – Trick or Treat

In the weeks following Harry pulling Carla out of school, she had adjusted to home schooling well. While she was upset that she was not allowed to explore the castle, she enjoyed the relatively short hours that home schooling had. A couple of times, Carla had tried to listen in on Harry’s lessons, but she stopped when she couldn’t understand anything that he was saying. The weeks passed by quickly, and soon it two days before Halloween.

“Daddy?” Carla asked during one of Harry’s breaks. “Can we go trick-or-treating for Halloween?” Harry opened his mouth to answer, but no sound came out. After repeating this motion several times, he turned to her.

“Why don’t we talk about that later, sweetheart?” he asked, smiling calmly.

“Okay,” Carla said before grabbing a coloring book and a fistful of crayons from her bag and began rubbing the crayons all over the paper. Harry stole a glance at his watch, then walked back into his classroom, quietly closing the door.

“What the hell is trick-or-treating?” he asked himself.

That night, Harry was tapping his fingers on the table anxiously while the children were playing cards upstairs. A telltale crack emanating from the sitting room alerted him of Hermione’s presence, and ran into the sitting room to see her hanging her robe up.

“Hermione, thank God you’re here, I need you help,” Harry said quickly and nervously, “Carla asked me something and I don’t know how to answer.” Hermione blinked at Harry a couple of times before raising her eyebrow at him.

“Harry, she’s six. What could she possibly ask that could have you this wound up? Did she ask you where babies come from?” she asked, successfully containing her laughter.

“Ha, ha,” Harry laughed sarcastically. “No, she hasn’t asked where babies come from, and hopefully never will. She wants to go trick-or-treating for Halloween. What’s trick-or-treating?” he asked desperately. Hermione laughed for several seconds, but quickly stopped when she realized that Harry wasn’t laughing with her.

“You’re serious?” she asked. Harry nodded his head solemnly. “Umm...” she hummed awkwardly, “trick-or-treating is when kids walk around a mall or their neighborhood dressed up in costumes asking for candy,” she explained, frowning at Harry. “You’ve never even heard of trick-or-treating?” Harry furrowed his brow as he tried to remember.

“I remember when I was five, I saw the Dursleys coming in from something. Dudley was dressed as Superman,” Harry shuddered at the memory, “and complaining about how heavy his bag was. They never went after that. That was a particularly memorable couple of weeks,” he muttered darkly. Hermione decided that she did not want to know what he meant by that. “What about you?” Harry asked, turning to her. “Did you ever go trick-or-treating?”

“Nope,” Hermione said, shaking her head. “My parents wouldn’t allow it. The candy, mostly,” she said, shrugging.

“Great, then we can all go together!” Harry said excitedly, to which Hermione shook her head. “Oh come on, please?” he pleaded, wringing his hands together as if begging. Hermione glared at him, but within seconds sighed in defeat.

“Fine, but only for you, Potter,” she said, pointing a finger at him darkly.

“Oh Hermione, you know you love me,” Harry said cheekily. Hermione scrunched her nose at him and walked upstairs, muttering about work that she had to do. Chuckling to himself, Harry Apparated into his office upstairs to work on the latest stack of essays that he had to grade.

The next day, the four of them rode the Knight Bus to the nearest mall complex, swaying slightly as they stepped out of the vehicle.

“You know, Harry, you should really think about investing in a car,” Hermione said as she tried to regain her balance. “We can’t take the Knight Bus everywhere, and the four of us can’t fit on your motorcycle.”

“I know, I know, I’ll get a car...eventually,” Harry said absently as he held the door open for Hermione and the children to walk in. With Harry holding Carla’s hand and Hermione holding Ted’s, they walked through the mall, which had plastic jack-o-lanterns and fake cobwebs filling every corner in anticipation for Halloween. Finding a clothing store, they walked into the back where the Halloween costumes were. “Okay, kids, go and pick out a costume. One!” Harry said as the two children let go of their chaperones’ hands and attacked the clothes rack excitedly. Chuckling, Harry and Hermione began exploring the adult costumes in the next rack. “Hey, this would look good on you,” Harry said, pulling a Star Wars costume off of the rack and holding it in front of Hermione. Hermione ignored him, continuing searching the rack. Finally, she pulled a costume off of the rack and turned to face Harry.

“And you would look good in this,” she said, holding up the costume for him to see. Harry set aside the costume that he was holding to look at the label, which showed that it was an inflatable costume that depicted an old woman carrying a baby on her back.

“Not on your life,” Harry said, stepping away from her. “I’d rather face the Hungarian Horntail again than wear that.” Grinning smugly, Hermione hung the humiliating costume that she had picked out for Harry before resuming her search. A few minutes later, Harry felt someone tugging the leg of his trousers, and he looked down to see Ted and Carla standing next to him, each holding a costume in their hands.

“You found something?” Harry asked, taking the childrens’ costumes and looking at them. Ted had picked a Star Wars Jedi outfit, and Carla had picked a stereotypical witch’s outfit, complete with pointed hat. Draping them over his shoulder, he looked down and noticed that Carla was dancing nervously. “What’s wrong, Carla?” Harry asked.

“I got to go potty,” Carla whispered urgently.

“I’ll take her,” Hermione said, grabbing a costume and draping it over Harry’s shoulder before taking Carla’s hand to find the nearest loo. Harry looked down at Ted, who was standing innocently at Harry’s side.

“Do you have to go?” Harry asked. Ted shook his head vigorously. “Okay,” Harry said, pulling down the costume that Hermione had chosen. It was a witch’s outfit, similar to the outfit that Carla had chosen, only much larger. Throwing it back over his shoulder, Harry continued perusing the clothes rack, pulling out a dark blue wizard costume, decorated with small yellow stars and crescent moons. “Eh, why not?” Harry muttered rhetorically as he draped the costume over his shoulder and began tapping his foot while waiting for Hermione and Carla to return. Several minutes later, the two returned, Carla looking much happier. “Feel better?” Harry asked, to which Carla nodded happily. “Great; let’s go check out then.” After purchasing their costumes, they spent several hours at the bookstore at Hermione’s prompting before taking the Knight Bus to return to 12 Grimmauld Place.

The next day, Harry and Hermione simply lounged around Grimmauld Place, enjoying their Sunday off.

“I was thinking that we have dinner, then we go back to the mall to collect candy for a couple of hours, what do you think?” Harry asked as he lay on his couch, reading a Quidditch magazine.

“That’s fine,” Hermione said absently, reviewing a report from her job. Harry looked at the clock on the wall and stood up, groaning. “I just remembered, I’ve got to pick something up at Hogwarts. I’ll be back in a few,” Harry said as he Flooed to his office at Hogwarts. Almost a minute later, Carla ran in with a deck of cards.

“Where did Daddy go?” she asked. Hermione couldn’t help but smile slightly whenever Carla called Harry “daddy.”

“Daddy just left; he had to pick something at work,” Hermione replied.

“Oh,” Carla said, crestfallen, but immediately perked back up. “Want to play ‘go fish’ with us?” she asked, holding up the deck of cards. Hermione bit her lip as she looked between Carla and the report in her hand.

“Oh what the heck, the report can wait,” Hermione said to herself before turning to the girl in front of her. “Sure, why not?”

“Yay!” Carla yelled gleefully, running back up the stairs. Laughing to herself, Hermione laid the report face down on the chair and followed her upstairs.

When Harry fell out of the Floo in his office, he dusted the soot off of his clothes and began walking to the kitchen. However, on the way, he heard a voice that he really was not in the mood to deal with.

“Harry, my boy!” Horace Slughorn yelled jovially. The large man waddled up to Harry and laid a hand on the much thinner man’s shoulder. “Harry, do I have news for you!”

“Horace, whatever it is, I don’t want to hear it,” Harry said, brushing off the potion master’s hand from his shoulder and resuming his walk. The walrus-like man had to jog to catch up with Harry’s brisk walk as he attempted to get away from the annoying man.

“Harry, you do know that the Ministry Halloween Ball is tonight, and that Melinda Warren will be attending?” Slughorn pressed, apparently oblivious of Harry’s emerging temper. “I really do think that you two would look good together, and think of the publicity—” Harry abruptly stopped walking and spun around to face Slughorn, causing the larger man to jump slightly.

“Horace, you have been badgering me off and on for three years, and I give you the same answer every time, and yet you don’t seem to understand, so allow me to spell it out for you,” Harry said lowly, his eyes glowing slightly in anger. “Stop introducing me to your other little success stories, and stop trying to hook me up with women I don’t even know. How many times do I have to say ‘no’ before you get it? Besides, I have very important plans for tonight, so even if I was interested in these little parties of yours, which I’m not, I couldn’t go anyway. Now, I would appreciate it if you would leave me alone, good day,” Harry said before stomping away from Slughorn.

When Harry reached the portrait to the kitchens, he took several deep breaths to calm himself down before tickling the pear and opening the portrait to reveal the bustling kitchen.

“How can Sneezy help Master Potter?” the nearest house elf asked, bowing low. Harry grimaced uncomfortably at being called “master.”

“I was wondering if you had any extra pumpkin pies lying around,” Harry asked. Sneezy bowed again and disappeared with a crack. Several seconds later, the house elf returned with a large paper bag. Harry looked inside and rolled his eyes when he saw that there were ten pies in it. “Are you sure you have enough?” he asked Sneezy.

“Oh yes, we’s have plenty of pies, Master Potter,” the house elf said, his large ears flapping as he nodded his head vigorously.

“Okay,” Harry said as he picked up the bag. “I’ll see you guys on Monday; go back to whatever it is you were doing.” With the house elves now ignoring him in favor of their duties, Harry walked out the front door of Hogwarts and out of the wards, greeting whomever he passed on the way before Apparating back to 12 Grimmauld Place. After placing the pies in the refrigerator, Harry looked in the sitting room, but found it empty. He walked upstairs and heard laughter coming from his bedroom. He snuck in and saw Hermione, Carla and Ted sitting on his bed, cards in their hands.

“Got any threes?” Hermione asked.

“Go fish,” Carla said after Ted shook his head. Hermione snapped her fingers in disappointment before drawing a card. “Got and fives?” Carla continued, grinning when Ted handed her a card, a sour look on his face. “Got and sevens?” Leaving them to their game, Harry walked downstairs to begin preparing lunch.

That night, Harry prepared garlic chicken for dinner, along with garlic toast and garlic potatoes. By the end of the meal, everyone was filled with so much garlic that they couldn’t tell whose breath smelled worst. After brushing their teeth and changing into their costumes, they rode the Knight Bus back to the mall that they had bought them from, small bags in the childrens’ hands. For two hours, they wandered throughout the mall, the children announcing “trick or treat!” to the costumed people tending the stores, their bags filling up quickly. Finally, the childrens’ bags and eyelids were growing heavy, so they decided to call it a night and ride the Knight Bus back home.

“That was a fun night,” Harry said after they had tucked the children into bed. Hermione shrugged as she grabbed the report that she had abandoned that afternoon.

“It was okay,” she said as she grabbed a pen and began marking the report.

“Oh come on, you had a good time, admit it,” Harry said as he sat down next to Hermione and draped his arm over her shoulder. Hermione sighed as she lowered the report and laid her head on his arm.

“Okay, I had a good time, are you happy?” she asked flatly, although she was smiling. Harry grinned before giving her a light kiss on the head.

“Very,” Harry said as he slid his arm out from underneath her head and stood up. “I’m off to bed. Don’t stay up too late, Hermione,” he said as he left her alone to review her report. Sighing, Hermione shook her head as she continued her work. That man can be so adorably silly sometimes, she thought casually.
----

Don't forget to review!

Chapter 7: The Day After
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I would just like to point out that I do not know personally what a sugar rush feels like, as I have never had one.

I own Carla Dursley and not much else. The rest belongs to Rowling.

--

Chapter 7 – The Day After

Harry made a mental note to never feed his children candy again.

It was the day after Halloween, which meant that it was time for another day of teaching. Harry had foolishly allowed Carla and Teddy to eat some of the candy that they had gathered the night before; now, at nearly nine ‘o clock in the morning, the two children were running and bouncing around his office, an effect of the massive amounts of sugar that they had consumed.

A loud knocking broke through the noise that the two hyper-active children, Harry got up from his desk and cracked the door open, seeing Neville on the other side.

“Come in, Neville,” Harry said, opening the door fully, allowing his friend entry.

“What’s with them?” Neville asked, seeing Ted and Carla running around, screaming and laughing loudly.

“A mistake on my part,” Harry said darkly as he closed the door. “I foolishly allowed them to eat some candy, and then this happened,” he explained, waving his hands helplessly at the spectacle before him.

“Well...give it a few hours, they should drop like rocks,” Neville suggested lightly.

“Oh, I hope so,” Harry muttered, turning to his friend. “I doubt you just came in here for a social call, so what’s up?” Neville sighed and began shuffling nervously.

“Please don’t blow up on me, Harry,” he pleaded. “I know you don’t get the Prophet, so you wouldn’t know about today’s headline. I thought it’d be best for you to find out before your first class today,” he continued, drawing a yellow newspaper from his robes. Harry took the paper and nearly bit his cheek to keep himself from swearing at the headline.

Harry Potter: The Man Who Triumphed, An Unwilling Family Man?

By Rita Skeeter

For years, Harry Potter (24) has been considered the most eligible bachelor in magical Britain. Now, it seems that he’s off the market. Last night, while wandering through a Muggle establishment wearing a ridiculous mockery of a wizard, Harry Potter, along with his godson Ted Lupin (7) were spotted with an unidentified girl that acted too close to Mister Potter to be anything but his daughter (age unknown; pictured above), as well as head of International Magical Cooperation, Hermione Granger.

Long time readers of my column will no doubt remember rumors of Miss Granger using a love potion on both Mister Potter and now-retired Quidditch star Viktor Krum ten years ago; rumors that were never investigated. It seems that Miss Granger has sunk her claws into poor Mister Potter again, and has in fact succeeded in becoming pregnant with his child. Judging from the child’s appearance, this incident is believed to have happened no later than during their sixth year at Hogwarts. This reporter only hopes that Mister Potter will see the veil of lies cast over him, and free himself from Miss Granger’s spell.

Above the article itself was a photograph of Harry, Hermione and the children dressed in their costumes while trick-or-treating the previous night. Harry scowled at the image. There had been dozens of people at the mall with cameras that night, taking pictures of their children; Skeeter could have cast a glamour charm on herself and become any one of them. Glancing at his watch, Harry turned to Neville.

“I’ve still got an hour before my first class, how about you?” he asked. The Herbology teacher looked down at his own timepiece.

“I’ve got a while,” he responded.

“Great; do you mind watching the kids for a while?” Harry asked, folding the offending newspaper and slipping it into his pocket, “there’s some stuff I need to do and I don’t really trust the kids to take care of themselves like this,” he continued, waving his hand at the two children expending their seemingly inexhaustible amount of energy.

“It’s no problem, mate,” Neville said, watching the children run around in circles.

“Thanks, Neville, you’re the best,” Harry said. Lighting a fire, Harry grabbed a handful of Floo powder and threw it into the flames, disappearing.

“Where did Daddy go?” Carla asked, finally slowing down.

“He had something to do,” Neville said, shrugging. “I’m sure that it’s important...whatever it is.”

--

The day clerk for the Animagus Registration section of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement was doodling on a piece of scrap parchment, bored out of his mind. When the Floo flared in front of him, he hastily swept away his trash and sat straight in his chair, trying to look as professional as possible. However, he nearly lost his professionalism when he saw Harry Potter stumble out of the flames.

“H-how may I help you, Mister Potter?” the clerk asked, breathing deeply in an attempt to calm himself.

“I’d like you to look up a name in the Animagus registration roster, please,” Harry said in a professional tone. The clerk cringed, as if reluctant to respond.

“I’m sorry, sir, but that information is restricted,” the clerk said, wincing. Harry nodded understandingly.

“To the general population, yes, but I am a member of the Wizengamot, and therefore have a few more liberties than the average citizen, so again, I’d like you to look up a name in the roster, please,” Harry said patiently.

“Of course, sir, apologies, sir,” the clerk said quickly, waving his wand to make a large, thick book appear on his desk. “Who would you like me to look up?” he asked, opening the heavy tome with a creak.

“Skeeter, with a ‘K’,” Harry said. The clerk nodded and began flipping to the appropriate page.

“Here,” the clerk said, pointing to a specific name. “Skeeter, Rita, applied for an Animagus license one week ago.”

“But she’s not technically registered yet?” Harry asked casually.

“Not till tomorrow, sir,” the clerk said.

“Thank you,” Harry said, smiling innocently. “Do you have a quill and parchment I could borrow?” he asked.

“Right here, sir,” the clerk said, producing the requested items from underneath his desk. After scribbling a quick note and folding it into a paper airplane, Harry threw it into the air, where it fluttered out the door.

“Have a good day,” Harry said before walking back into the Floo.

“Umm...Good day to you, sir,” the clerk said awkwardly to empty air before making the large book on his desk disappear.

--

Several minutes later, the head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement was sitting at his desk, slowly working his way through a large mound of paperwork, when a memo flew into his office and landed in front of him. Strange, he thought, I’m not expecting any memos today. Grabbing the paper airplane, he unfolded it and read its contents.

To the head of the DMLE:

I have heard that the Daily Prophet reporter Rita Skeeter is an illegal Animagus. Perhaps you should investigate into this rumor.

The Head Auror crumpled up the unsigned note and tossed it into a dustbin. Skeeter’s a popular lady today, he thought as he returned to his paperwork, I just sent an auror team to pick her up based on an anonymous tip saying the same thing.

--

After Harry had checked with the Animagus Registration department, he Flooed to the office of the Daily Prophet news publication. His face neutral, he marched to the front desk and laid his hand on the counter.

“I’d like to see the editor, please,” Harry said calmly, tapping his fingers on the counter, although his eyes were glowing slightly in anger. Gulping in fear, the clerk hastily scribbled a note and sent it away.

“The editor will see you now,” the clerk said nervously.

“Thank you,” Harry said flatly as he followed the paper airplane fluttering to the editor’s office. Harry waited for ten seconds before knocking on the door sharply. The door opened to reveal a chubby, bald man in green robes.

“Ah, Mister Potter, please come in,” the editor said, stepping aside to allow Harry entry. “What can I do for you today?” Harry smiled calmly as he drew the morning Prophet from his robes.

“You can start by explaining this,” Harry said, slamming the paper onto the editor’s desk with a bang. “Care to explain to me why one of your reporters has written false statements about an influential member of the Ministry of Magic, as well as a personal friend of mine? False statements that seem to be a repeat of the same accusations that the same reporter leveled against the same friend ten years ago?” he asked, his glowing eyes betraying his calm demeanor.

“Umm...” the editor hummed hesitantly, considering his next words carefully. “I...cannot explain why that is so,” he admitted finally.

“I see,” Harry said simply. “Very well then, I want a retraction of that article at the next headline in tomorrow’s Prophet,” he demanded.

“Or what?” the editor asked instinctively. The malicious grin that grew on Harry’s face only made him more nervous.

“Or I’ll sue both you and Skeeter for printing libel against a Ministry department head. Good day,” he said as he spun around and left the office, closing the door with a bang.

--

When Harry stumbled back into his office with fifty minutes to spare, he saw that apparently, the two children had expended their energy while he was gone, since they were lying on sleeping bags on the floor, sleeping.

“Wore themselves out a couple of minutes ago,” Neville whispered to Harry.

“Thanks for watching them,” Harry replied.

“No problem,” Neville said before leaving, being careful to close the door as quietly as he could. Harry chuckled to himself as he sat in his chair and watched Ted and Carla sleeping soundly.

--

That night, after Harry and the children had Flooed back home, Harry got to work preparing dinner for them. An hour later, Hermione Apparated in just as Harry finished.

“Alright, stew’s on,” Harry said, levitating four steaming bowls of stew to the table. “So, how was your day?” he asked Hermione as they ate.

“Same old; yours?” she asked, shrugging.

“More hectic than usual,” he said, gesturing to the children. “Those two monsters wouldn’t slow down until almost nine thirty.” Hermione laughed while the two children smiled innocently.

“I warned you about feeding them so much candy,” Hermione admonished. Harry just rolled his eyes and went to get some more stew.

Later, after the children had been sent to bed, Harry and Hermione were lounging on the sofa, Hermione reading a book and Harry a Quidditch magazine.

“Well, I’m off to bed,” Hermione said, setting down her book. Harry followed suit as Hermione stood up and began to walk up the stairs.

“Umm, Hermione?” Harry asked. She stopped and turned around when she heard her name. “Do you have anything planned this weekend?” Hermione frowned in concentration, then shook her head.

“I don’t think so. Why do you ask?” she asked.

“Well, I was just thinking,” Harry said, shrugging, “we haven’t really done anything together, just us, for a while. So I was thinking that this weekend, I could call Neville or maybe Molly to watch the kids and we could go out for dinner and maybe go see a movie or something, just the two of us.” Hermione smiled and nodded her head slightly.

“I’d like that,” she said.

“Great,” Harry replied, rubbing his hands together. “How about, say, Saturday at seven ‘o clock?”

“I’ll be there.”

“Great.”

--

I don’t think anyone will hate me for giving Skeeter a hard time. And the Harmony is finally taking place, yay!

Don’t forget to read and review!

Chapter 8: Holiday Cheer
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I don’t own Harry Potter, just Carla.

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Chapter 8 – Holiday Cheer

The day after Harry’s “discussion” with the editor of the Daily Prophet, a retraction article was printed apologizing for an inaccurate article. Harry and Hermione both knew that it would not erase any rumors that would no doubt have spread from the previous issue, but both being past victims of the paparazzi, they knew that in a few months, the people would lose interest and things would go back to normal.

A quick call to the head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement had confirmed that Rita Skeeter had been arrested and found guilty of being an illegal Animagus, and was sentenced to six months in Azkaban, as well as being charged a large fine. Harry felt a grim sense of satisfaction when he heard the news.

Soon, Saturday had arrived, and Harry needed someone to watch the children. Neville was not an option this time: he had a large school-related project to work on, and could not be bothered, so Harry Flooed Molly and asked if she could watch the children, to which she readily agreed. This freed both of the adults for a night away from the kids to relax.

The first place they went to was dinner at a small diner in London. At Hermione’s insistence, she drove them to the restaurant, once again telling Harry that he should give up his motorcycle and buy a car. When they sat down and ordered, Hermione asked for a salad while Harry ordered a basket of fish and chips.

“So, anything new and amazing at the office?” Harry asked after they had ordered.

“No, nothing’s planned ‘til next year’s conference,” Hermione said, sipping her glass of water. “What about you?”

“Nothing particularly spectacular,” Harry admitted sullenly. “Just some sixth-years falling on their arses during dueling practice.” As their food arrived, Harry continued to talk, their conversation melding into the cacophony of the evening rush. After dinner, they drove to the cinema to watch an animated movie that had come out during the summer, but both of them had been too busy to attend. As they left the building a scant hour and a half later, Harry was chuckling to himself.

“…Maybe we should get a cat, and dress it up like the one in the movie,” Harry suggested, a grin plastered on his face.

“Harry James Potter, you will do no such thing!” Hermione gasped, outraged. “That would be cruel to the cat!”

“Not as cruel as when you tied a pink bow around Crookshanks’ neck that one time,” Harry countered, shuddering. “A male cat should never have to wear a pink bow.” Hermione scoffed and rolled her eyes at Harry’s claim.

“Come on, the bow was adorable,” Hermione said. “And everyone else thought so too, except for you.”

“Then apparently I’m the only one who saw the death glares that he was shooting everyone that night,” Harry responded flatly.

“You are not going to get a cat and dress it up,” Hermione said in a tone of finality. Realizing that he could not win this argument, Harry dropped his shoulders and sighed.

“All right,” he said sullenly. Together they walked back to Hermione’s car and drove to the Burrow, a triumphant smirk on her face. When they had arrived, Carla and Ted had already fallen asleep, so Harry and Hermione carefully carried the sleeping children into the car and buckled them in, taking care not to wake them. When they pulled in front of 12 Grimmauld Place, Harry used wandless magic to quietly open the front door as he carried Ted into bed, Hermione carrying Carla.

Hermione carried Carla into her room and, kicking off her trainers, used her foot to pull the covers off the bed. Gently laying the small girl into the bed, Hermione pulled the covers over her and after a moment, gently kissed Carla’s temple. Smiling softly, Hermione picked up her shoes and stalked out of the room, carefully closing the door. She turned around to see Harry sneaking out of Ted’s room, slowly closing the door.

“I had a good time tonight,” Hermione whispered softly after Ted’s door had been completely closed.

“Me too,” Harry agreed, turning to her. “We should do this again sometime.”

“Maybe,” Hermione said, before succumbing to a wide yawn. She looked down at her wristwatch and saw that it was past eleven ‘o clock. “But right now, we should go to bed,” she added. Humming in agreement, Harry tried to walk to his room, but stopped when Hermione was in front of him. They tried sidestepping each other several times before Harry stood aside and let Hermione walk past. “‘Night,” Hermione whispered as she went into her bedroom and closed the door. Harry muttered “goodnight” to the empty hallway before walking to his bedroom.

--

November and December passed by without much incident, Harry and Hermione only spending one other Saturday night out together, until Christmas day, when the four residents of 12 Grimmauld Place decorated the house with lights and tinsel and passed around presents under the tree.

Harry and Hermione had gone shopping with the children on separate days to shop for the other adult, and both adults made them promise to not tell them what they had gotten until Christmas day, so the children were eager to pass out their presents, as well as open their own.

“Open mine, Daddy!” Carla said excitedly as she held out a thin rectangular gift to Harry. Harry peeled off the colorful paper to reveal a moving photograph of himself, Carla and Ted playing in the snow, contained in a simple silver frame. “Do you like it?” Carla asked.

“I love it,” Harry said honestly, pulling the girl into a hug. “Thank you.” They continued passing out Christmas presents and enjoying themselves. When all the presents had been unwrapped, Carla had a stuffed lion that moved and purred from Harry, and a children’s introduction to the magical world from Hermione, Ted had received a toy broom from Harry and a book on pet caring from Hermione. In addition to the photograph, Harry received a handpainted mug from Ted and a recently released defense tome from Hermione. Hermione had received a pair of simple earrings from Carla, a copy of the most recent edition of Hogwarts: A History (no doubt at Harry’s suggestion), and a book on interracial politics from Harry.

Molly had invited them over to the Burrow for a grand Christmas feast. They came over and mingled with the rest of the Weasley clan, but had to leave the party early, the children having slipped into sleep from full stomaches. After the children had been tucked into bed, Harry and Hermione sat in the sofa in the sitting room of 12 Grimmauld Place, watching the slowly blinking lights on the Christmas tree.

“I think that was the best Christmas we’ve ever had,” Hermione sighed as she snuggled into the comfortable sofa.

“Yeah, I think it is,” Harry agreed as he stretched his arms out, draping one over Hermione’s shoulders. “Carla especially seemed to enjoy it; I’ve never seen her so happy.”

“You’ve been a good father to her,” Hermione said, snuggling into Harry’s chest, his arm wrapping around her shoulders.

“Thanks,” Harry said, rubbing Hermione’s arm. For a minute, they simply sat and enjoyed each other’s company before Harry began chuckling to himself.

“What?” Hermione asked, raising a curious eyebrow.

“I was just thinking…” Harry began, before being interrupted by a disbelieving snort from Hermione, “oh, hush. Anyway, I was thinking, we went out, had dinner together, and now we have the night to ourselves.” Almost imperceptibly, Harry began to slowly lean forward.

“Your point being…?” Hermione asked, involuntarily leaning towards him.

“Just saying,” Harry shrugged, their faces mere inches apart.

“Harry?” Hermione whispered softly, stopping her movement.

“Hmm, yes?” Harry hummed, his warm breath tickling her lips. Hermione opened her mouth to speak, but suddenly found herself forgetting what she wanted to say.

“Never mind,” she said instead, and resumed her motion. They stopped briefly, their lips mere millimeters away, before they softly pressed against each other. The kiss lasted mere moments before the two friends pulled away from each other.

“Wow,” Harry muttered to himself before fixing his gaze on Hermione. “So…what does this mean for us?” Hermione blinked in surprise and cleared her throat momentarily.

“Well, the way I see it, there are two options,” she said rationally. “The first is, we ignore this moment and get on with our lives.” Hermione thought she saw something flash across Harry’s face, but it was so brief that she thought she had imagined it. “Or…we can accept this as a new step in our relationship and see where it leads us.”

“I kind of like the second option,” Harry said with a lopsided grin. Hermione smiled softly at him.

“So do I,” she said before they reached over and kissed each other again, this one lasting slightly longer than the last. “Happy Christmas, Harry,” Hermione whispered when they parted again.

“Happy Christmas, Hermione,” Harry replied, reaching down to kiss her again.
----

Yes, this is late (or early, depending on your viewpoint), but at least I didn't decide to wait for five months to post this on Christmas.

Don't forget to review.

Chapter 9: A New Relationship
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More Harmony fluff ahead, and more teacher!Harry.

I don't own Harry Potter.
----

Chapter 9 - A New Relationship

Hermione sighed contentedly as she snuggled closer to Harry. It had been several months since they had shared their first kiss that Christmas night, and they had eased into their new relationship comfortably. During the day, with the exceptional extra kiss on the cheek or sneaking a peck on the lips when the children were not looking, very little had changed in their behavior. At night, one would often sneak into the other's room and spend the night. However, unlike most couples who would have already consummated their relationship, instead Harry and Hermione simply laid in bed together. Sometimes they kissed, sometimes they talked, other times they simply enjoyed each others' company as they drifted off to sleep. However, the visitor always made sure to return to their own room before the children woke up, lest they be discovered and forced to answer awkward questions that they were not ready to ask.

“Knut for your thoughts?” Harry's voice pierced through the darkness.

“Sorry,” Hermione said insincerely, “my thoughts are so grand and complex that they run for no less than ten pounds a piece.” She laughed at Harry's indignant huff. “Seriously, I was just thinking about us,” she continued as she laid her head on his chest, listening to his soothing heartbeat.

“Funny, so was I,” Harry mused. “I guess great minds think alike, eh?”

“You're hardly a great mind, Harry,” Hermione snorted. Harry huffed again and, although she could not see him, she imagined that he was undoubtedly pouting right now. “Don't pout, Harry, it's unbecoming of you.”

“I'm not pouting,” Harry pouted. For a minute, they sat in silence, Harry idly toying with Hermione's hair while she traced the lines of his collarbone. “Just out of curiosity,” Harry broke the silence again, “when did you realize that you had feelings for me, greater than friendship?” Hermione stopped her hand as she considered her answer.

“To be honest…I don't know,” she finally admitted.

“Hermione Granger doesn't know something?” Harry gasped, mirth lacing his voice, “I should call the press!” That comment earned him a slap in the shoulder.

“Shush, you,” Hermione admonished him. “But…I don't know. The truth is, we've always been close—” she began, before Harry interrupted.

“Except for sixth year,” he cut in. Hermione scoffed at the memory.

“Yeah, that was a rather rough patch, wasn't it?” she asked rhetorically. “Anyway, with the exception of that rather abysmal year, we've always been fairly close. And after we graduated, we only grew closer, especially after you adopted Carla.” Hermione briefly stopped her explanation as she shifted to a more comfortable position. “We both know that I'm not a believer in divination with all its pre-ordained tripe, but I think that what we have now is a natural, inevitable evolution of our friendship. A seamless change from the love of a friend…” she trailed off as she looked up at Harry, his eyes barely visible in the darkness, “…to that of a lover.”

“So…” Harry trailed as he shifted so that he and Hermione were facing each other, “you're saying that you love me?”

“I'm saying that I think I love you,” she corrected him.

“That's good,” Harry said as he leaned over and softly kissed her on the lips. “Because I think I love you too.” Hermione smiled at returned the kiss.

“Good,” she whispered before they wrapped themselves in each others' arms and drifted off to sleep.

------

“Alright class,” Harry addressed his fifth year Defense Against the Dark Arts class, “today we'll be covering Dementors, and how to defend against them. Who here can tell me what a Dementor is?” Several hands were raised, and Harry picked one at random.

“A Dementor is an undead being, in the same family as wraiths and poltergeists, but are physiologically closer to inferi,” the student recited.

“Good answer, five points to Gryffindor,” Harry congratulated the student. “Dementors were first discovered inhabiting caves and grottos around Scotland in 1270 and `domesticated' by the Ministry of Magic in 1325 to act as guards and executioners for the newly constructed Azkaban prison, a role that they filled quite efficiently until their roles were reduced by Minister Shacklebolt in 2000: Now, their roles of prison guards is restricted to high-class prisoners only, and have been entirely abolished as executioners.

“No one really knows when or how Dementors were first created, but there are lots of theories floating around, ranging from a dark wizard selling his soul to a demon to a Necromancy ritual gone awry. Their physiology is also somewhat of a mystery, as biologists have only recently been able to study them, a rather dangerous and difficult endeavor considering a Dementor's nature.” One student raised her hand. “Yes, Miss Walker?”

“Since Dementors are undead, can they be killed?” she asked. Harry pointedly ignored the quiet snickers he heard when she asked the absurd-sounding question.

“Well, since a Dementor is not technically `alive',” Harry answered, quoting the word “alive” with his fingers, “they cannot technically be killed, but yes, they can be destroyed. While prolonged exposure to a Patronus will eventually disintegrate a Dementor's body, it requires more power than the average wizard can maintain, and requires that it be continually exposed to a Patronus' effects, which only makes this method feasible in a controlled laboratory environment. A much more effective method is to either burn or crush its body.” Harry continued to lecture his class about Dementors, as well as the Patronus charm, which he taught the incantation and wand movements to his class.

“Alright, for your homework, I want you to practice using the Patronus charm,” Harry told his class over their groans of protest. “This is a difficult charm to master, and it will only improve with practice.” After his students has gathered their materials and shuffled out into the hallway, Harry entered his office and grinned when he saw Ted and Carla lying down on sleeping bags, fast asleep. Harry closed his office door and sat down at his desk, flipping through essays that he had yet to grade.

------

That night, while the four inhabitants of 12 Grimmauld Place laughed and chattered at the dinner table, the phone began to ring. Harry excused himself to answer it, but his mood immediately dampened when he heard the voice on the other end.

“Hello, Harry,” the familiar voice said. Frowning, Harry walked out of the dining room and to someplace where he would not be heard.

“Dudley,” Harry said emotionlessly. “It's been a while. I didn't know you were supposed to be released this early. How did you get this number?”

“I got it from Dad; he didn't seem to thrilled that I was trying to contact you,” Dudley informed him.

“That's another thing, why are you trying to contact me?” Harry asked suspiciously.

“I want to see my daughter,” Dudley said bluntly. “I spent most of her life in prison, and I wanted to see that she was alright. Dad said that he signed over custody to you.” Harry sighed as he rubbed his face with his free hand.

“You lost your parental rights when you went to prison, and Uncle Vernon couldn't sign the papers transferring guardianship to me fast enough, so technically I don't have to do anything,” Harry pointed out.

“I know, but I'm begging you to do me this favor,” Dudley pleaded. “I know I messed up big time, but I want to make it up. Please, just let me see her.” Harry sighed as he rubbed his face tiredly again.

“I'll think about it,” Harry relented. “Do you have a mobile?”

“Of course,” Dudley replied. Harry conjured a pencil and parchment before writing down Dudley's mobile number. “Thanks a ton for this, Harry.”

“Don't thank me yet, I haven't said yes yet,” Harry said before hanging up. Upon returning to the dining room, Harry placed the phone back on its cradle and returned to his seat, picking silently at his food.

“Who was that, Harry?” Hermione asked him. Harry simply shook his head, silently saying that he did not wish to talk about it. Hermione understood the message and did not press further.

That night, after the children had been prepared for bed, Hermione was tucking Carla in for the night.

“Can you tell me a story?” Carla asked as Hermione laid the covers over the young girl.

“Can you have a story, what?” Hermione echoed.

Pleeeeeease?” Carla added. Hermione sighed and sat down on the girl's bed.

“Alright,” she said before clearing her throat. “Once upon a time, there was a little boy who lived with his mummy and daddy, and they loved him very much. But a bad man came and hurt them, so the boy had to live with mean people who did mean things to him.

“But when he turned eleven, he discovered that he was a wizard, and that there was an entire world of magic. He went to a school so he could learn how to use his magic, and there he met two other children who would become his best friends.

“Over the next seven years, they went on too many adventures to count. They fought snakes, dragons, and other fantastical beings. Finally, the boy defeated the bad man, but a lot of his friends died in the fight.” Hermione went silent as she remembered her fallen friends from so many years ago.

“What happened next?” Carla asked, intrigued. Hermione smiled and gently rubbed her thumb on Carla's forehead.

“Then he met this wonderful little girl that he could call his daughter,” she said, “and he finally got the family that he wanted for his whole life.”

“I like that story,” Carla said, her eyelids growing heavy. “It had a happy ending.” Hermione chuckled softly.

“That it did,” she agreed before kissing Carla on the forehead. “Good night.”

“`Night,” Carla mumbled tiredly. As Hermione got up and turned to walk out, she heard Carla call for her. “Can you be my mummy?” Hermione was surprised by the question took a moment to answer.

“Well, you'd have to ask your father first,” she said, “but I'd love to be your mum.”

“Okay, `night,” Carla said before curling underneath her blanket and drifting off to sleep. Smiling, Hermione gently closed Carla's door before going into her own bedroom. After changing into her night clothes and checking to make sure that the children were asleep, she snuck into Harry's room and crawled into bed with him.

“Hey there,” he said as she curled up close to him, kissing her gently on the lips. “What are you smiling about?”

“Oh, nothing,” Hermione said as she laid her head on Harry's chest. “Carla just asked me if I could be her mother.”

“Really? That's great!” Harry said, pulling her closer. “What did you say?”

“I told her that she'd have to ask you first,” Hermione replied honestly. “So, what was that phone call that had you so worked up earlier?” she asked him. Harry's face tightened when she mentioned it.

“I'll tell you tomorrow,” he said simply as he caressed her arm.

“Alright,” she said, dropping the subject for now, “but I'm going to hold you to that,” she added.

“I know you will,” Harry chuckled before kissing her again. “I love you,” he whispered into her ear.

“I love you too,” she whispered back.
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I hope you liked this chapter, and don't forget to review.

Chapter 10: Meetings
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I don’t own Harry Potter.

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Chapter 10 – Meetings

“Okay Harry, spill,” Hermione sternly said the next morning, her arms crossed. “Whoever called you last night obviously upset you, so ‘fess up; who was it?” Harry sighed; he was hoping that Hermione would forget or somehow overlook the fact that he was supposed to talk to her about the call that he had received from Dudley, but it was a fool’s hope.

“It was Dudley,” Harry finally said. Hermione’s arms dropped to her sides in surprise.

“Dudley? As in your cousin, Dudley?” she asked. “Why? How did he even get your number?”

“Vernon,” Harry said simply. “Apparently, Dudley has just been released from prison, and asked me if he could see Carla. I told him that I’d think about it.” Hermione sighed as she rubbed her forehead.

“I think you should do it,” she finally said. When Harry looked at her in confusion, she explained. “Think about it, Harry. He’s been in prison for most of Carla’s life, so he probably wants to see how she is. I know that you two have a lot of negative history, but you managed to reconcile with your aunt; maybe he’s changed too. Just give him a chance.” When she saw that he was still hesitant, she added, “But you should probably ask Carla before you decide anything. This does involve her, you know.” Harry ran his fingers through his hair as he considered her words.

“Alright,” He finally conceded. “I’ll talk to her after breakfast.” After that, he left towards the kitchen to prepare said meal while Hermione stayed behind, knowing just how dangerous she was in the kitchen. After nearly burning the house down trying to make dinner one night, she refused to perform any cooking operation more complicated than reheating something in the microwave.

The smell of cooking bacon soon permeated the house, rousing the children from their slumber. The two children, still dressed in their pajamas, came down the stairs, led by the mouth-watering scent. Once Harry slid the food onto the plates and set them on the table, the four began to dine on his exceptional cooking.

“Carla, could you help me wash the dishes?” Harry asked as he gathered the plates. Carla wordlessly slid out from her seat and followed Harry into the kitchen. While Harry scrubbed the dishes in hot soapy water, Carla stood on a stool with a towel in hand to wipe them dry. “Carla, how would you feel about meeting your father, your real father?” Harry asked the young girl. Carla shrugged neutrally as she fiddled with the towel in her hand, so Harry handed her a clean fork to dry. “So, it’s okay, then?” Harry pressed, trying to elicit a verbal reaction from her.

“Yeah, I guess,” Carla said, shrugging again as Harry passed her a plate to dry. Harry sighed to himself; her apparent apathy was not making things any easier for him.

“If you don’t want to do it, we don’t have to,” Harry tried another route.

“It’s okay,” Carla said. Again, her voice did nothing to betray her emotions on the subject. Harry sighed again and sent Carla off to brush her teeth, dwelling in his thoughts. As he finished washing the dishes by himself, Harry came to a decision; he dried off his hands and grabbed the phone off of its cradle and began dialing numbers.

“Yeah?” Dudley asked from the other end of the line.

“When are you available?” Harry asked.

“I’m free today,” Dudley replied. “So you’ve decided then?”

“Is Hyde Park at eleven good?” Harry continued, overriding Dudley’s query.

“Sure,” he agreed. “Where?”

“The Weeping Beech is a good spot,” Harry suggested.

“Alright, I’ll meet you there,” Dudley said. “And Harry, thanks for this. You don’t know how much this means to me.”

“And I hope I never have to,” Harry replied as he ended the call. He exited the kitchen to find Hermione sitting at the table writing a report. “Where’d Teddy disappear to?” he asked as he sat down next to her.

“He went upstairs to feed Tribble,” Hermione answered, looking up from her papers. “So, did you think about what I said?”

“Yeah,” Harry said. “We’re meeting him at Hyde Park at eleven.” Hermione nodded in satisfaction as she returned to her work.

“It’s good that you’re giving him this chance, Harry,” she said to him. Harry sighed and ran his fingers through his hair nervously.

“I suppose, but I can’t help but be suspicious of him,” he admitted.

“That’s understandable, but like I said earlier, he might have changed. Think if it this way: If you were sent to prison and you got out, wouldn’t you want to see Ted?” she asked. When he nodded, she continued, “And how would you feel if you were denied that? And Carla at least deserves an opportunity to get to know her birth father.”

“I suppose,” Harry said sullenly. “I guess it’s not only my bad history with him, but…” he trailed off.

“But you’re afraid that Carla won’t want to be with you anymore,” Hermione finished his sentence. Harry shrugged his shoulders uncertainly. “It’s perfectly understandable, but Carla loves you; I don’t think you have anything to worry about.”

“I guess,” Harry conceded with a sigh. “Tell me again why you didn’t go into psychology?” he asked her.

“Because I have enough grief listening to your angst; I don’t need to hear other people’s problems too,” she replied with a straight face. They stared at each other for several seconds before they both burst into laughter.

At the top of the stairs, two young children were listening in to the commotion happening below.

“What was that about?” Carla asked curiously. Ted shrugged.

“I dunno; grown-ups are weird,” he replied.

--

Harry and Hermione had told the children to dress for the cold February weather and took the Knight Bus to Hyde Park; the magical vehicle’s powerful notice-me-not charms made the nearby Muggles ignorant of two adults and young children appearing out from nowhere, as well as the loud bang as the bus arrived and departed. They walked (or rather, the adults walked while the children chased each other) to the snow-covered Weeping Beech. Harry and Hermione watched while Carla and Teddy played together in the snow. As eleven ‘o clock neared, both children expressed their need to use the loo; Hermione volunteered and took them to the nearest public lavatory. As Harry stood out in the snow waiting for them, he heard a familiar voice behind him.

“Harry?” it said. Harry turned around to see the person that had addressed him. The man’s hair had been cropped short, and he had lost much of his infamous girth, but his watery blue eyes gave away his identity.

“Dudley,” Harry replied cordially. For several moments, the two cousins simply stood in awkward silence. “So…you look different,” Harry observed, breaking the silence.

“Umm, yeah,” Dudley agreed, “I spent a lot of time at the gym; figured that I should start taking care of myself.” Several more awkward seconds passed in silence. “So…where’s Carla?” the larger man asked.

“Using the loo,” Harry responded. As if on cue, Hermione appeared with two giggling children. When she saw Dudley, she looked down at Ted and said, “Why don’t we leave Carla and Uncle Harry alone for a while?” Hermione pulled Ted away, leaving Carla with Harry and Dudley. Upon being left with Harry and a stranger, the normally easily excitable girl suddenly became shy, trying to discreetly hide behind Harry. Dudley got down on one knee and swallowed nervously.

“Hi there, Carla,” he said gently. The girl looked up at Harry for guidance.

“It’s okay, Carla, say ‘hi,’” he whispered. Carla turned her gaze back to Dudley and shyly waved.

“Hi,” she said softly. Dudley ran his large hand over his short hair as he tried to think of something to say to his daughter. “Are you my real daddy?” she suddenly asked, catching him off guard.

“Err…yes, I am,” he said.

“Why did you go away?” Carla continued. Dudley cringed slightly at the question, and wondered how he was supposed to answer it. Harry was also curious as to how Dudley would respond.

“Umm…” he hummed hesitantly. “I…hurt someone, very badly, and I had to go away to try and make it better.” Harry raised his eyebrow at him, impressed. Meanwhile, Carla seemed unsure of what to say next, so Harry laid a hand on her head.

“Why don’t you go play with Teddy and Mum while we talk, Carla?” he asked. The young girl noticeably perked up and ran off towards Ted and Hermione, who were currently working on the beginnings of a snowman. Dudley stood up and wiped off the water and snow clinging onto his trouser leg.

“Well, she seems like a nice kid,” Dudley observed, “kind of quiet, though.”

“She’s not normally like this,” Harry defended. “But she’s not exactly used to talking to strangers, so I guess it makes sense.” They both watched as Hermione and the two children fooled around in the snow.

“Harry,” Dudley began, “I know that you don’t trust me, and for good reason, but I want to fix that. I want for you to be able to trust me, to know that I truly am sorry for everything. And I want to be a part of Carla’s life. I won’t take her away from you, it’s clear that she’s happy with you, but I want to be there for her. I missed out on almost five years of her life because of my screw-up, but I’m here now, and I want to make the most of it, if you’ll let me.” Harry looked at his cousin, fighting to keep the incredulity that he was feeling from showing.

“I’m surprised, Dudley,” Harry said evenly. “That’s probably the noblest thing that you’ve ever said in your life. Alright, I’ll consider it.”

“That’s all I ask,” Dudley conceded. He looked down at his watch and sighed. “I should go now; I need to get back to job hunting. It was good seeing you again, Harry.”

“You too,” Harry muttered absently. Harry turned his attention to his girlfriend and children, and seeing that they were not watching him, bent down and scooped up a snowball. Hiding it behind his back, he snuck over to them and threw it at them, where it impacted on Hermione’s back. She glared at him indignantly, and he shrugged innocently before he was suddenly pelted by fistfuls of snow.

After pelting each other with snow, they walked to a nice warm diner for lunch, then took the Knight Bus home to 12 Grimmauld Place and changed into fresh, dry clothes.

“So, how did your meeting with Dudley go?” Hermione asked. Harry shrugged neutrally.

“Okay, I guess,” he said indifferently. “Things were a bit awkward at first.” They both sat down on the couch and Harry draped his arm over Hermione’s shoulders. “You know, I’m still feeling a bit chilly,” he said, pulling her closer. “Maybe we could put the kids down for a nap and…warm each other up,” he added, kissing her on the cheek. She giggled lightly as he began placing kisses along her jaw line. She turned her head and kissed him on the lips.

“That…is a brilliant idea, Mister Potter,” she whispered. With a smirk, she released herself from his hold and left, presumably to find the children and put them to bed, Harry right behind her.
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Two more chapters left, yay!

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