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More Harmony fluff ahead, and more teacher!Harry.

I don't own Harry Potter.
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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.

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“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.

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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.

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