Ron Has Good Ideas
Xander, having finally gotten around to his Yule shopping, strolled into the school during breakfast a few days after getting back. He smiled as he heard the barking, so Dawn was up and playful. He walked in and gave Draco a deep kiss before handing him a package. "For you." He walked over to the Gryffindor table, kissing Ron on the top of the head. "For you, my apprentice." He handed Harry one. "For you, my nephew and apprentice." He walked back to Dawn, who was pouting at him. He kissed her on the top of the head and handed her three packages. "And you for you, my darling sister and you cannot share one of them with Ron." He dropped another kiss on her head then waved and strolled away. Midnight barked so he paused long enough to give some good ear scratches and pull the rawhide chew out of his pocket for the poor thing, then left for his house. He climbed into his jeep and moved it all the way to LA, onto a side street he had found near Angel's place. He merged with traffic and drove to the Hyperion, getting out and walking inside. He glanced around, catching Wesley's eye.
"He's asleep, Xander. Be yourself this time," Cordelia told him, looking at him. Her eyes went wide at the bags. "What's this?"
He kissed her on the cheek and handed her hers. "This is because I was on a horrible assignment over the holidays. For you. For you," he said, handing Wesley one. "Ethan's is in there and wrapped." He handed one to Gunn and Fred together. "Something simple and nice." He put three larger bags on a couch. "For the three nearly dead." He grinned at Cordelia. "And now I shall leave and go back to pampering myself for I have a spa treatment in an hour."
"Freeze, mister, and what's with the packages?" Buffy asked as she came down the stairs. She looked in the bags, finding hers from the card lying on the top. She gave him a hard hug and a long squeeze. "You're so nice."
"I figured you needed the clothes," he said with a shrug and a grin. "Tara's is in Cordy's bag since Dawnie said they were very close." He smirked and winked at his ex. "Ethan's is in Wes's since I couldn't bring Luna." He put an arm around her shoulders and gave it a gentle squeeze. "Now you tie those boys of yours down and try on everything, making them watch you. It's only fair that they should suffer so you can be beautiful."
Buffy laughed. "Thank you, Xander." She looked over as a little thing came out of the kitchen. "What are you?"
"That would be a goblin, the things I work for," Xander said dryly. "You went to a lot of trouble to hunt me down, what's wrong?"
The goblin opened a bag and pulled out a box, which grew. "From your last job. We cleared these as well." He handed it to Xander. "Address is on the top."
"Can't you have it delivered?" Gunn asked.
"Super-secret military base," Xander said with a shrug. "I doubt UPS goes there."
"Is Brown your sort of people?" Cordelia asked.
Xander nodded. "Definitely." He put the box under his arm. "Any other instructions?"
"Just give those directly to Jackson."
"Sure." Xander kissed Buffy on the cheek, then did the same to Cordy, giving her an extra one. "Pass on the spare to Tara." He strolled out and found a cop instructing a tow truck. "Damn, you're fast," Xander told him. "What's wrong with my jeep?"
"It's not street-legal, sir. The steering...."
"Is British," Xander told him.
"Are British too," Xander said cutting him off.
The officer glared at him. "How did something so *British* get here?"
"An airplane." The officer looked like he was going to explode. "You know, those things that go very fast over the oceans at a very high altitude? They sometimes carry cargo, like things to delight my very British friends inside. But we'll be going back since it's clear that your city has no like of its tourist population." He flicked his wand subtly at the chains and they disappeared, so Xander climbed into his jeep and started it, driving off and disappearing as soon as he had turned onto an unoccupied street. He landed where the homing beacon had sent him, speeding up to reach the gate at a normal looking rate of speed. "Hi," he said, affecting a southern accent. "I was sent ta deliver this box ta Dr. Jackson personally. Something about a recent dig in Iran? Can you summon him up?"
"I'll sign," the guard told him.
Xander swatted his hands with the clipboard he had placed on the seat earlier for this act. "You don't look like no doctor and your tag doesn't say Jackson. My boss said it goes to him and only him. You can xray it and bomb sniff it if you want, but it only goes to him."
"Fine." The guard called his supervisor, who sent back orders. "Park there," he said, pointing at a spot just outside the gates. "Follow me with the box, sir." He watched as Xander got out, following him. Some of those delivery vehicles were oddly configured. He passed the box through a scanner. "What are these, sir?"
"They're artifacts from his last dig in Iran. My boss said that they're ancient electronics and that they've just cleared them for human consumption." He waved as some guy with a dog walked over. "Here." He picked up the box and put it down, stepping away from it. The dog sniffed him, then the box, but it didn't give any signs. "We all okay now?"
"Sure. Call Jackson. He gets strange crap sent to him," the guy with the dog noted. He looked at Xander. "We saw your picture in the briefing on the dig."
Xander grinned. "Well, yes, you did," Xander agreed, slipping back into his own accent. "How very nice of you to remember." The guard's eyes bulged. Xander grinned at him. "I like fucking with people's heads, it's fun." He waved at Daniel as he walked out. "Hello. Tell them I'm not homicidal."
"He's not, just a fun loving guy," Daniel pointed out. He looked at the box, then at Xander. "More?"
"Apparently cleared this morning." He shrugged. "I only deliver this time."
One of the other guards came back from looking over Xander's jeep. "Why is it British configured?"
Xander slipped into his natal accent. "Because, my boy, I am from there. Though I have spent a great deal of time in California and Egypt in my day."
"He's a colleague and a bit touched in the head," Daniel told them. He looked at Xander. "You really are British?" Xander nodded. "Wow. And I thought the Southern California guy was the real you."
"I spent seventeen years there, Daniel, it's a part of me," Xander said, going back to that accent. "Just because I'm originally a Brit doesn't mean much." He winked. "Have fun with the box. I don't know if anything else is coming. Nor do I know what's in that one." He waved and walked back to his jeep.
"Sir?" the guard called. "We need to register your presence."
Xander waved a hand. "Marcus Flintmore the third," he called back. "Archeologist and relic hunter." He got into his jeep and started it, pulling away and disappearing as he rounded a corner.
Daniel looked at the form, taking the pen to make a small correction. "Flintmore is his boss," he told them, taking his box inside. He opened it in his work room, blinking when the light went off. Then he simply smiled, that nice delivery driver had dropped off more artifacts from the dig. These were probably important things. A small thought in the back of his head said he should remember the driver, but he wasn't concerned with it now. It would come to him if he was supposed to remember him.
Xander was relaxing on his couch when he heard the shrieking start. "Oh, shut up!" he yelled. He sipped his tea, proud that he had remembered to go grocery shopping and had remembered the creme for his tea. His short term memory was for crap these days. He looked at the clock, apparently it wasn't that important he go find out what was going on, it had been two minutes and no one had come looking for him. He picked up his book and went back to reading his old works. He loved reading his old works, they put him to sleep and he could use the nap. The door to his study opened and he looked back as his grandmother walked in. "Hey, Grams. What's shakin'?" he asked, going back to his book.
"Xander, we must talk," she announced. He sighed and put down his book, giving her his full attention. "You must continue the family line."
"Grams, blow it out your butt. I don't like kids." She grabbed his ear and twisted it. "Oowww! Sorry!" She let it go. He glared at her as he rubbed it. "I'm still considering you a particularly vivid figment of my imagination."
"I realize that, grandson, but someone has to do the deed. There has to be more new members."
Xander looked at her. "I loathe children. You knew this about me when I was a little kid myself, that's why you told my brother he'd have to have all the kids in the male side of the family." She rolled her eyes. "Besides, I'm not going to be around to take care of kids full time. That would be the only way I'd ever have children, which means I won't be having any. Go nag Harry."
"Harry's a dear, but he's pitiful with women, grandson."
"Then give him a confidence potion and point him at a nice one," Xander said with a shrug. "You did it to Katya before her wedding."
"You did," he said, smirking at her. "She said so."
"Hm." She sat down, looking at him. "You're very handsome. The children would be beautiful."
"Grandmother, you're beating a dead hunter. I'm not a stallion for you to put into a field of mares. I do not like children, do not want children, and will probably not have children."
"What about your family obligations?"
"Justinius had six."
"They are not Dumasses," she said firmly.
"Then make one of them one," he told her, curling up a bit more. "And before you think about cell switching or anything like that, I will warn you I've put guards on them again so you can't do that to me. I hate kids."
"You'd make a stunning father."
He snorted. "Sure, because I've had such good role models in that area," he pointed out. "Dad was gone the first six years of my life. My second-time-through parents were abusive alcoholics. I'm not having kids. If you want kids to carry on the family name, go ask Draco. He has to produce one and since he took my name it'll automatically be a Dumass." He finished off his tea. "Or better yet, go ask Harry. Harry likes girls, even though he doesn't understand the basics of human interaction on any level."
"I noticed. That's why I'm sure he won't have any."
"Grandmother, Harry has a raging crush on two of the younger Banes. Let him play his hand. You might get a lot of kids, but he'll probably be scared to death of them too. I'm not a stud to be used. Go nag one of the cousins."
"Fine," she sighed. "You're leaving me no choice son. We could remove you from the family."
Xander looked at her. "The family's fortune ended a long time ago, grandmother. We were bordering on poor when the plague happened. Most of the family money is mine." He picked up his book and went back to his spot, noticing her wand moving. "Do it and I'll lock you in the cellar with Mom," he warned. She sighed and stomped out. "Love you too, Grams," he called after her.
She came back in and gave him a light hug. "I understand, grandson, but I do not like it." She left him alone with his book. He'd be napping soon. She had some prying to do. As soon as she was sure he was taking a nap, she went through Xander's study. He had imported some things from his other house, including some pictures. She grimaced, touching a few of the faces of the women. Why hadn't her stubborn grandson fallen for one of them? Sure, he'd probably get bored with them after a bit but they were pretty and a few were obviously powerful. She looked over as her daughter-in-law walked in, pointing at the women. "Do you know any of them?"
Xander's mother snorted. "All of them. I've watched over him whenever I could once I figured out where he was." She pointed at the women. "That's the witch who broke the natural laws and was stripped of all magic. That one was her girlfriend, one of her first victims. This one is that one's new girlfriend, or at least they're very close friends," she told her. "I can't decide which." She pointed at another picture. "This is the young girl he adopted as his younger sister. This is her older sister, who is now a vampire after being brought back from the dead." Grandma Des sighed and shook her head. "It was foreseen that he would have one some day. A fairly powerful one. For right now, you need to work on Sev, mom. Sev's miserable."
"He's surrounded by pretty women because he's one of those Banes now."
"Most of them are taken," Xander's mother pointed out. Her mother-in-law shook her head. "For all we know, cousin Severus might have someone in mind, but I don't know who. I do know that he's miserable. Even my newly adopted daughter can see that. I popped around to chat with her recently and she said that he needed someone who would be good to him. She's very intuitive."
"I've met her," Des admitted. "I had to sneak around Xander and that Wesley boy to do so, but she was very sweet. A bit of a hellion but she fits in well around here." They shared a smile. "Do we know with who?"
"No," Xander's mother said with a shrug. "I don't think it's been worked out yet. I know he'll have one or two but nothing else."
"Then we'll have to find a woman to help him," Des decided.
"He'll kill you. Or his consort will."
"No they won't. They know what's needed. We have time on them, I will agree to that. I'll start work on Severus right away." Xander's mother nodded. "Do you think he could use someone like Dawn? Personality wise?"
"I think she'd kill him for brooding," Xander's mother pointed out. "He needs someone like Holly, Justinius' daughter. Or like his second granddaughter. Strong willed, smart, capable, and able to hold her own when he takes one of his dark moods, yet very nurturing and caring."
"Hmm. Yes, she would be a wonderful addition to the family," Des agreed, considering the girl. She had traveled to find Justinius and talk with him. It hadn't been a good meeting but he had admitted she had been right. His family knew of his first family. Holly Ann and Ivy, the twin granddaughters, had been quite something else. "Ivy."
"No," Xander's mother said firmly. She shook her head. "Not a chance. She would kill Severus. She was attacked a few months back, mom. She will hold it against him."
"Then you think Holly?"
"I think she's suitable to be introduced to him, but make it subtle. Let her work on him if she likes him. She likes nerdy little boys." She waved a hand and was gone. She was still torturing her baby's ex and it had been a long-enough reprieve for her.
Des went to make a call. Her grandson wouldn't be happy, but he would understand and he had liked Severus' father.
Ron looked up as McGonagall walked outside and motioned him closer while calling his name. He waved at Hagrid and motioned to her, then jogged over to stand in front of her. "Yes, Professor?" He hadn't done anything really wrong recently, nothing that warranted her coming out of class.
"Mr. Weasley, we've just had an incident at Platform nine-and-three-quarters."
"I didn't do it."
She smiled. "I know you didn't, Mr. Weasley, it's simply your job to fix it." He nodded. "You and Mr. Potter are to go there, talk to the young lady that managed to pass the border. You will meet the Law Enforcement people there and wait while the train comes, then you are to ride back on it. We have packed you a picnic basket for the day. You are not to move off the platform." Ron nodded again, looking eager. "Do you want Mr. Malfoy to go with you?"
"Why would he?" Ron asked.
"It seems she is the niece or some such of your training master."
"Cool! Is she the wiccan, Holly, or one of the others?"
"You know of his family?"
"He sat down and explained everyone to Harry last summer, I was listening too," he admitted. He looked over and whistled, waving Harry over. "We're going on a trip." Hermione trotted over too. "Can we bring her or should she stay here?"
McGonagall pursed her lips. "I shall ask. For now, plan on it being you two." Ron nodded. She looked at Hermione. "One of Xander's relatives somehow managed to get past the wall at the platform."
"I'll stay here," Hermione told her. "I'll give them their homework and all that."
"That's fine," she agreed, smiling at the young lady. "Were there any other questions?"
"Since the train takes most of the day and we're going to have to wait on it, should we pack clothes?" Harry asked.
McGonagall patted him on the head. "That would also be acceptable. Grab your things and go ahead. We've got a portkey ready for you."
"Yes, Professor," the boys said, running inside.
Hermione looked at her teacher. "How did she get through? Isn't it locked unless in use?"
McGonagall sighed. "It is. We're not sure how she got past it. It appears she's a wandless witch." She went back inside, taking her copy of the Quibbler to read. Miss Lovegood's articles were very interesting on the subject of the wandless ones. That one about the dark rite she had participated in to help the wizarding world at large was a big hit around the school but she was sure that wasn't really the truth. She didn't know how they did their things, but Luna saying she cuddled up to that chaos person Xander had introduced her to was a bit far fetched. He was old enough to be her father.
Dawn looked up as Luna plopped down next to her. "Missing your wizards?" she asked with a grin.
"Yes." She pouted. "Wesley sent me a nice letter when I sent him a copy of my articles and the finished paper. Nothing more than a nice letter though." She slumped. "I miss the pony and my mule."
"I'm sure you'll see Wes again soon enough," Dawn promised. "I'll have to go back this summer."
Luna looked at her and shook her head. "My father threw a fit. He actually sent a howler when he saw what sort of trouble we got into." She glanced around. "Someone said I should write a book, that it'd do great in the fiction aisle at Flourish and Blott's."
Dawn snorted. "I'm sure it might, but it's definitely non-fiction and tamed down. I mean, you didn't mention going to the demon karaoke bar. You didn't mention us going out clubbing and nearly getting eaten by a few vampires who were pissed at Spike. You didn't mention being hit on at the beach by the muggle boys." She shrugged. "You tamed it down very well so no one would panic."
"That was tamed down?" one of Dawn's older housemates asked. Dawn looked at her and nodded. "Then give," she said, sitting down. "I want to hear *everything*, not just the nice parts."
Luna pulled a book out of her bag and handed it over. "The first chapter is our time there. I kept it in a diary format for later use."
The girl smiled. "I don't care what the others say, Lovegood, you're a great girl." She stood up and went to read. Her moans brought her friends running to read as well. By the end of the first page, most of the Hufflepuffs who had been in the library were helping her read.
Dawn looked at Luna. "See, popularity is fun."
Luna nodded. "I never understood before, but I kinda like it now." She pulled out her Herbology book. "Ready for more?"
"Oh, God, no, please? Even Potions would be better than that," she begged. She caught sight of Professor Snape and squeaked, putting her head down. "Shit, kill me now."
"Ten points off for your mouth, Miss Summers. Also, the next time you beg for help in Potions, pick someone who knows what they're doing." Snape walked past them to break up the group of irritating girls. "What is that?" he demanded.
The Hufflepuff looked up at him, blushing. "Lovegood's diary."
"Give it back to her! You do not steal things, especially not as a prefect, Miss Holmes."
Luna coughed. "I gave it to them, sir. They wanted to know what I had left out." She winced as he snatched it. "Hey! I said they could and it's mine!"
"It does not need to be in this school," he said, glaring at her. "Such untruths...."
"What untruths?" Dawn asked, standing up to him, literally. "She tamed it down a lot. She didn't put in there what *really* happened during the rite because a lot of people would be kinda upset at it. I was there during it, I should know. The same as I was there when we were approached by vampires who hated our chaperone while we were at a club, and I was there when the local college boys decided we'd be healthy snacks." His eyes went wide and he slowly went more pale. She snatched the book and tossed it back to her house mates. "Sir, like eavesdropping, please have the whole story before you comment, it makes some of us less cranky when we have to explain." She sat with her sisters and brothers in hugging. "You would *not* believe the hotties we saw at the club. Ginny took pictures of some of them to bring back. They were really cute and very happy to be thought of as hot because it would help their careers. For some reason, Cordy took us to a club that seemed to be *filled* with wannabe actors and models." They giggled and leaned closer. "Luna, come help me tell it," she called.
"Not in my library, Miss Summers," Madam Pince said firmly. "Take it outside or to the Great Hall."
"Come on, we'll let Luna in for tonight," one of the seventh year girls said, dragging Dawn and Luna with them, only letting them grab their things before they were drug from the room by their arms.
"Really," Madam Pince said in disgust. "How very trying. Gossiping in a library." She turned and found Malfoy watching her. "Did you not want to go?"
"I know what happened, I staked one of the vampires hitting on Dawn," he told her, then he shrugged. "It was rather thrilling in it's own way." Snape glared at him and he gave him a sweet smile. "Did you want to hear more, sir? I can only share part of it. The college boys didn't think we few males were as tasty as the girls."
"No." He stomped off, going to write a very tersely worded letter to Wesley Wyndham-Price. How dare he let the students get into such trouble! Especially the emotionally delicate ones.
Ron looked up as they landed, smiling at the woman standing there. "Hi, I'm Ron. This is Harry. We're Alex's apprentices." He handed over his spare cloak, McGonagall had said she didn't have one with her. "Here you are. It'll be a bit before the train gets here."
"Thank you." She smiled at them, then noticed who Harry really was. "You're him," she said.
He nodded. "Yup, it's me. I'm Alex's apprentice too. And great-nephew as well. I'm a Dumass on my mother's side of the family."
"I heard but I didn't believe." She hugged him, then pulled Ron in and hugged him too. "It is nice to meet my cousin's problem children." She pushed them back. "Now, what is going on? Grandma Des only told me that I needed to come here and talk to some other cousin."
"That cousin would be a Snape?" Harry asked.
"That still freaks me out, that you're related to the git," Ron shared.
"Me too," Harry admitted. He looked at the woman, who was smiling. "Professor Snape teaches potions and he has no love for us."
"Most of the Snapes are that way," she told him. She smiled at Ron. "You're a Weasley, correct?" He nodded. "I worked with you brother once upon a time. How is Charlie?"
"Very tired. It's mating season."
"Ah." She nodded. "That's why I got out of conservation." She looked around at her other handlers. "Can they leave now? They're rather creepy."
"They are," Harry agreed. He smiled at the guys. "We've got it if you're done with the questions."
Ron walked over to examine the door. "Harry, come feel this." Harry jogged over and laid a hand on the wall. "It's buckled," he said in awe.
"It was before I got here," Holly admitted. "I only took advantage of the hole and bent it a bit further." She wrapped the cloak better around her. "I had thought you guys had warmer weather."
"We usually do," Harry told her, grinning at her. Then he looked at their handlers. "Can we floo to the Leaky to get her warm? Just for a bit?"
"The train will be here in about an hour," one of the agents told him.
"Fine," Ron agreed. "In the bag is a few extra sweaters in case we needed them, you're welcome to one of mine. I doubt you'd fit into Harry's." She was a well-built and tall woman. She had broad shoulders and was built like she played high-impact sports. A lot of women in Xander's family were built like that, it seemed to be the only commonality among them. He watched as she dove into the bag and came out with one of his new sweaters, sniffing it with a smile before putting it on under the cloak. Hmm, she appreciated clean laundry. Harry nudged him and he shrugged. "What?"
"Perv," Harry said with a grin. "Let's try to unwarp this."
"Boys, let the professionals deal with it," one of the agents ordered. "We've got someone from Spells and Hexes coming."
"It's an energy warp," Harry told him, pointing it out. "I wish I had Xander's chalk pack."
The other agent snorted. "They'll be here before the train, you can tell them." He stiffened and looked around but it was only two people in lab coats apparating in. "Thank you for coming so quickly."
"I want to know how a muggle got in," the female said, looking at her. "And you are?"
"Holly Dumass-Montair." She shook her hand. "Wandless witch." The woman backed away from her. "The hole was already there. I only exploited it."
Harry and Ron coughed in unison, bringing the attention onto them. "We came to escort her to the school," Ron told them.
"But we're also apprentice curse breakers and we can feel the energy warp. Some of it was older. We can show you where if you want."
"Please," the man said, stepping forward.
Ron looked at him. "You're giving off Draco feelings. Are you a veela? So I know how to set my own resistance? Apparently we're susceptible."
"Your whole family is and I'm shielded, but that is very good sensing, boys. Show me please?"
Harry laid a hand on the blank spot. "There's a hole here, no magic at all in it."
"The lips go here," Ron said, outlining them with the tip of his wand, leaving a small light trail. "This one," he said, tapping it, "is rolled back onto itself."
"Then the magic has flowed to the outer edges so they're thicker," Harry finished. "Especially at the bottom."
He examined it, laying a hand on the doorway. "Very good, boys." He looked at his colleague. "They are correct. Half of the hole was already pushed open and the rest was done by her."
"Sorry. All I know was my Grandmother said it was vital that I go to Hogwarts and talk to my cousin."
"Why?" the woman asked. Holly shrugged. "She didn't tell you that? Didn't give you a message?"
"She did, but it's in something odd and I don't understand it."
"Oh." She looked at the boys, then back at her. "Why you two?"
"She's a Dumass by birth," Harry told her. "We're Alex Dumass' apprentices. His consort was kinda more busy."
"Besides, the Headmaster knows we know danger," Ron put in. Everyone shuddered. "Sorry." He walked back to where Holly was standing. "C'mon, we brought a picnic dinner. Let's see what the house elves packed."
"Maybe the packed Xander's tea," Harry said hopefully. "I swear, that stuff's addictive."
"That's probably the unicorn creme in it," Ron reminded him gently.
"My cousin prefers more subtle blends than I do in my teas so anything is fine," Holly promised. She sat on the cloak, getting comfortable.
"Hold on, stand up," Harry ordered. He cast a warming charm. "Now sit." He plopped himself down and opened the basket, pulling out the jugs of tea. "One for each of us."
"Or one for now and one for later and one for breakfast," Ron pointed out. He looked at Holly. "It takes a while to get there so we'll be traveling over night. The compartment seats supposedly fold out but I don't know how. I've never looked."
"That's fine. I'm sure it will be warmer on there."
"It'd have to be," Ron agreed dryly.
The woman looked at them and cast a warming charm in the shape of a dome around them. "There, so it'll be warm by the time we're cold," she said, smiling at Ron. "Your father said to treat you right when we saw you."
"Tell him I said hi and that you're very nice," Ron told her. "Then kick Percy about a bit if it pleases you." She laughed and got back to work.
"Family spat?" Holly asked. Ron nodded. "My dad got kicked out for the same reason."
"We heard. Xander said something about Des thinking he was too dark or some such."
"Well, he was playing with demons and teaching younger men how to do it too."
Ron's brow wrinkled. "Anyone named Ethan Rayne?"
"You know Uncle Ethan?"
"Yeah, really well. We visited him over the holidays," Harry told her. "He's in LA with Angel and all his group."
"He wrote me to vent about his problem, Willow. Did they finally fix her?"
"Ethan did some rite with another student who was with us and somehow stole all her magic and bound it to himself," Ron told her. "Willow's no longer a problem. She's more of a pipeline from what he said."
"Wonderful. I'm sure he'll enjoy that. He said something about the rite and finding a possible student in one of you." She pinched Ron's cheek. "You are so like Charlie." Ron blushed. "Ooh, did I embarrass you?" she teased. Ron nodded quickly, looking down as he made sandwiches. "Sorry, Ron."
"That's okay, Holly. You're a really nice lady and you're much too old for me," Ron told her. "Because I am nearly jailbait. Xander said so."
She burst out in giggles. "You are, and it's a good thing you reminded me too. Otherwise I would have gobbled you up just like I did your big brother."
"He's seventeen," Harry offered. He loved it that Ron was getting all the attention of the pretty woman.
Holly kissed him on the cheek. "I know, but I prefer them to be on the positive side of twenty at least. In four more years, I'll be more than glad to pounce him and make him growl in delight." Ron blushed brighter. "Now, let's get some food into me. Mom got me up at an ungoddesly hour this morning and only fed me two waffles."
Ron handed over the first two sandwiches, giving her a smile. "Harry and I had lunch before we came. You can have most of it. We'll wait until dinner."
"You're so sweet, Ron. You'll make some woman an excellent husband and sex slave some day." The workers laughed but were still pretending to ignore them. "He will," she pointed out. "I can definitely see him dressed in a tiny outfit and being at her beck and call."
"Dawn would like that," Harry reminded his friend.
"She'd pick out something pink," Ron countered, sticking his tongue out. Harry laughed.
"So you're Dawn's honey. I've heard of you through the family grapevine." She patted him on the head. "You are definitely off limits, my gorgeous young man." She winked at Harry. "How about you? Taken?"
He shook his head. "The women keep giving me back. They seem to think I take to much grooming."
She laughed again and gave him a hug. "I'm sure you'll find someone nice some day who'll think that brushing your coat is relaxing and enjoyable."
"Hopefully," Harry agreed, grinning at her. "Can you share that opinion with the girls at school?"
"Harry, you've got to think bigger and brighter," Holly pointed out. "There's a whole world out there full of witches who want to serve your every whim just because of who you are and what you did as an infant, and then even more when they heard about your school career. All you have to do is say you're available. Trust me, just give an interview."
"I don't like reporters."
"Neither do I, but they make good cannon fodder," she told him. "They can also be used to your own goals."
"Yeah, but they never come to me directly," Harry told her. "Xander gave me a scrapbook of my news articles, the positive ones only, and they always speculate and say what they think they know, or what some of the girls have told them."
"Harry, walk into Diagon, go into the Daily Prophet's offices, and say you want to correct some rumors," Holly told him. "I'm guessing they'll be pretty nice about it."
"Go to Teen Witch Weekly," Ron suggested. "They're more likely to treat you well. After all, they've planted your picture in their books seventeen times in the last year alone."
"Yeah, maybe. I do need to take control of that part of my life too."
"Ask Madam Sprout to help you. She and Flitwick won't be overprotective like McGonagall but they'll definitely make sure that no one bad gets through," Ron suggested. "They'd probably even be really pleased to help."
"Ron, someone put out an unauthorized calendar last year of pictures taken from a distance. I think this is beyond the range of nice people. I'm a cult favorite apparently."
"So ask Flitwick and Sprout to help. Tell McGonagall you want someone gentle to help you because she'd scare them."
"Maybe," Harry admitted. "I'll think about it."
"I thought Xander got you a gift certificate to that Polish antiques catalog."
"He did, and I've used it to order a neat little thing, but the scrapbook was under that and it had a nice note saying he knew it wasn't what I wanted but someone in the family had done it for me and had found it rather funny. He thought I should know someone was sneaking around the school trying to get pictures of me with some of the girls."
Holly snorted. "You're one hot property, Harry. No doubt about it." She heard a whistle. "I think that's our ride. " She concentrated and the picnic basket repacked itself, making one of their guards back away and make distressing noises. "What? I told you I had magic, it's just without the wand. It runs in my mother's family on and off." She stood up and helped the boys up, then took the basket as the train pulled in. "Warmth," she said happily, climbing into the car. She fell to her knees and looked under the bench, finding the small switch after a few minutes of searching. She plopped her happy body onto the bed and sighed in relief. "Comfort, warmth, and good food. My immediate needs are fulfilled." The boys sat on the other bench, not letting it out. "So, tell me about this cousin. I've only met one of his sisters and that was in a business capacity."
Ron nodded. "Sure. He's slimy, doesn't wash, hates us more than most things, and picks on Harry like he's a disease."
Harry shrugged. "I figured he'll either get over it or one of us will grow up."
Holly snorted. "Good one, Harry." She smiled at him and the train moved, starting them on their overnight journey.
As soon as Ron and Harry walked in, Harry went to talk to McGonagall about Ron's idea. It did make sense. He wouldn't be bothered anymore if he did it. All that embarrassing press would quit. Maybe then he'd find a real girlfriend. He tapped on her office door, walking in at the grunt. "Professor, I know it's early, may I talk to you?"
"Of course, Mr. Potter. What seems to be the problem? Is it out guest?"
"No, Holly's a rip and a half," he said with a grin, shutting the door. He sat across from her desk. "For the holidays, Xander had a scrapbook made of all my press."
"Ah." She nodded. "We've been trying to shelter you from some of that. Each year we ask the young ladies to leave you alone about signing their books and all that nonsense."
"Well, Ron and my cousin Holly suggested I take control of it by doing a selective interview. Ron suggested Teen Witch Weekly since they seem to like me so much."
"That could backfire dangerously," she warned.
"I know, but I'm tired of the press saying I'm an isolationist and that I'm focused on my tasks and that I have no time or inclination for a girl. I'm more than ready for a girl and I think I'd make a stunning boyfriend but it's like they're all afraid of me. And I think it's because of the papers."
She nodded. "That could be. Should I send them a letter?"
"That depends, Professor. Ron thinks you'd scare them and give me worse press. He thinks I should ask Madam Sprout and Professor Flitwick because together those two are very strong and strong-willed but they won't eat anyone. Figuratively speaking of course," he added when her mouth opened.
"I was going to say, I've never *eaten* anyone in my life, only taken rather large bites out of them," she said with a touch of humor. "If that is what you want, then I will approach both of them on your behalf. Is that what you want?"
"I don't know," Harry admitted. "I don't want to be a hermit but I don't want to famous. I'd rather have it all die down but it hasn't in six years."
"Good point. Then I will talk to the two teachers your friend suggested and we'll see what we can come up with. Perhaps a written interview where you answer questions?" Harry nodded. "Just one single one?"
"One single one. I'm still underaged, I only want all the press to go away and if they get the story right then maybe that'll happen."
"Good thinking. I knew you and Weasley would some day find it in your heads to tackle this deplorable situation." She noticed his look at her copy of Luna Lovegood's articles. "Tell me, Mr. Potter. How much of that was true?"
"She tamed it down a lot," he said with a grin. "Nothing was mentioned about the beach with the men hitting on them. The vampires at the club who hated our chaperone. The sexual nature of the blood she spilled in the rite." He winked as he stood up. "She's willing to tell people if you ask."
"I may just do that with our recent influx of wandless witches. Thank you, Mr. Potter. Go eat and take a long nap before joining your afternoon classes." He nodded, heading to do just that. Professor McGonagall stood up and went to search out the other two professors. It was still early, they would still probably be in the Great Hall. At least the girls would no longer have to hide their copies of magazines. It had created an uncomfortable underground for stolen pictures of the boy.
Holly walked up to her cousin and nodded at him. "I'm Holly, Justinius' daughter. Des sent me."
"I heard she was going to. Why?"
"All I know was that I was to come see you, give you this piece of paper," she said, digging it out of her pocket, "then hang around until after you threw a fit to give me an answer." She shrugged. "Grandmother didn't tell me anything."
Severus had a sneaking suspicion it was something to do with training Summers so he opened it. Her voice floated out to him, audible only to him.
"Choose her. She is the one you need and the one who can understand you. Besides, it's handy to have her in a fight. Such a strong, pure light can only help you get free faster."
He closed the note and looked at her. "You had no idea?"
"Not a clue," Holly told him. "Dad thinks she just volunteered me to help in the war effort, which I'm up for if necessary. Mom was thinking something much more sinister about Grandma and her intentions."
"She actually said I'm to choose you to bear my future children and that you're to fight in the war," he told her, unfolding the paper and casting the decoding charm over it. He handed it back, watching as she read it.
"That underhanded, sneaky bitch," she complained, stamping her foot. "I am not some prize in the war. No matter that I do get threats for not joining the wrong side." Her cousin touched her on the arm. "Huh?" She looked up at him. Then she noticed her hair was floating. "Stupid emotional bombs," she complained, calming herself so it'd go back down. "Thanks for telling me about that."
"I was going to ask about the death threats."
"Oh, those." She grimaced. "Some stupid human who thinks I'd make him the perfect consort. He's one of them and said it would mean he'd have power over even his master's other lackeys and possibly his master. I pointed out that I was a nice girl and didn't like him, so he sent me a few death threats. They're on file with our ministry. That Fudge guy is really not right in the head."
She nodded. "That's what name he signed them."
"Come along. We must tell the Headmaster about this. Minister Fudge has been bothering the school as well." He towed her up to the office, barely stopping to knock. "Tell him," he said with a smirk.
"My distant cousin said I'm to tell you about the Fudge guy sending me death threats because I wouldn't join with him."
Dumbledore's mouth fell open and he stared at her.
Snape looked smug. "This is Justinius Dumass' daughter, Holly. The one Des sent to see me. Though she sent her to help us and to hopefully become my consort."
"For some reason the older people seem to think I can't pick out my own. It's a horrible predicament," she told Snape.
He nodded. "Alex and I feel the same way."
"Yeah, I heard the little toy had a consort. How is he?"
"Seventeen," Dumbledore told her.
"Really?" She smirked at that. "I can't wait until Daddy hears about that. He always said Uncle Alex was going to get what was coming to him one day."
"A consort veela was coming to him?" Snape asked.
She laughed. "Definitely. That'll stop his sex urge dead." She looked at Dumbledore again. "It's all on-file with my home Ministry."
Dumbledore pointed at a chair. "Sit, please, tell me more. Severus, you as well. Your classes can wait."
"Of course, Headmaster." He sat down as well, getting comfortable for this amusing story. She was apparently one hell of a woman. Just his sort if it hadn't been forced onto him. She reminded him of Lilly in a few ways.
The response was surprisingly fast. There was a reporter there that afternoon. Harry peeked around the edge of the door. "Hi."
"Come in," he said happily, taking Harry's hand and shaking it. "It was fully explained to me and I agree. The press has been running rampant about you. I understand fully that you want some privacy and some of the wrong rumors to stop. This should take about three hours and I'll try to get everything fixed. I'll even send you a preview copy of my article if you want."
"Please," Harry agreed, sitting down. "I don't really know how this is supposed to go," he said after a moment of silence. "The only interview I've ever done was with Skeeter over the Tournament incident."
"Of course you don't," the reporter agreed. "Let's start simple. Mr. Potter, may I call you Harry?"
"Sure," Harry agreed, smiling at him. "I don't really like to be called Mr. Potter. I only get that from Professor Snape and it's usually not about a good thing." The reporter smiled and wrote something down. "You'll tell me if I'm sharing too much?"
"Definitely. As I suggested, I can easily send you a preview so you can correct anything you think I got wrong. This will go to print the month after this so we'll have about two weeks to fix any misconceptions." Harry nodded eagerly. "Onto the first real question. You know my readers are all teenaged witches?" Harry nodded. "Do you like girls? They'll want to know."
"I do," Harry told him. "I like girls a lot, I'm just really shy and nervous with them. I have no more idea what to do with a girl than I do what to do with an American football. To me, they're both equally confusing."
The reporter laughed and wrote that down, then set his pen to record the meeting for him. "It'll take it down exactly as you say it."
"I trust you," Harry told him.
"Good." He smiled. "Now, what sort of girls do you like? Do you like funny girls? Shy girls? Girls with brains?"
"I'd like all three," Harry told him. "I'd like a real girl, not one who's playing games. Someone who wants to be with me and listen to me babble on sometimes. The few girls I know as friends are all smart but I don't really want someone who has to show me up with her intelligence. Just someone nice who wants me, not the scar and the fame and the pictures and stuff."
"I'm sure every boy in your position feels that same way, Harry. Do you have a preference?"
He blushed. "I seem to like brunettes," he offered. "All my best friends who are girls are brunettes with the exception of one. But she's like my little sister."
"Miss Weasley?" Harry nodded. "I know you're best friends with her big brother Ron. How does he feel about that?"
"I don't know. I know he's glad that I'm not dating his sister because things would get weird between us, but I don't know otherwise. Then again, Ron's got a girlfriend and she's one of my best friends too. "
"Would that be Miss Granger?"
"No, but you'll have to ask him about that," Harry said, relaxing some. "I don't tell Ron's secrets."
"That's fine. We've been thinking about doing more on him anyway. Do you think he'd agree to talk with me?"
"Maybe. You'd have to ask him. Or ask one of the professors to ask him. Just don't ask him about me. It makes him feel odd. Someone came up to him last year and asked him about me and he said it made him feel odd."
"Again, something I understand. My best friend ended up being a really good chaser and girls came up to me all the time to talk about him." Harry nodded. "I'll ask Professor Flitwick when we're done if he'd agree. Back to my list of questions."
"You have a list?" Harry asked, peering over at him. "Why?"
"Things that my editor wanted me to ask, or that some girls have written in. Some things about some common rumors."
"Can I see?" It was handed over and Harry read down them. He smiled at the reporter. "I can make this so much easier. May I borrow your pen?" It was handed over. "Thanks." Harry went down and marked out whole questions, answering groups with one answer. So many of them were about the same rumors. He handed it back. "There, only half the questions left," he said happily.
The reporter laughed and smiled. "That's very helpful, thank you, Harry." He looked at the list. "You're not dating Henrietta? She's an adorable girl."
"Her mother and my father were friends in school and I met her mother during the reunion year before last. We've been talking back and forth because she has some neat stories about him. Henrietta was going to be up here anyway and someone suggested I meet her. We talked a lot that night. She seemed really nice, and she is the sort of girl I want some day, but I'm not for her. We will hopefully stay friends because I think she's really sweet and nice."
"What did you two talk about all night?"
"School. Things we'd read. Quidditch." He shrugged. "Those are about my main three areas of conversation."
The reporter nodded. "You're still young, it'll come, Harry." He moved onto the next question. "Here's one you didn't answer for me yet. One young witch in Gloucestershire wanted to know if you know what you want to do after the war."
"I'm an apprentice cursebreaker under a member of my extended family," Harry told him. "I really like the work and I think I'm okay at it at least. I learned how to sense mazes last term. I'm pretty sure I want to continue with that work."
"Isn't that dangerous?"
"It can be," Harry admitted. "But then so is being me sometimes." He blushed and looked away. "I don't mean to sound cocky but I nearly got mobbed while on holiday with my friends. One witch pointed at me and said my name and a whole group of them rushed over to chat me up. I had no idea what to do and tried to stay nice but they pouted and I felt so trapped. Maybe I am a loner, I don't like large crowds, but I'd like to have someone there to talk to."
"I can't wait until you find her, Harry. Your whole life will turn around. When I met my wife, it was like an explosion went off and scattered my very nice, plain existence. And then there were her friends, and parties, and all sorts of stuff."
"I hope the girl I fall for will want to come help me on the job. I don't want to go to parties. Crowds make me really nervous."
"Maybe you'll grow out of that?"
"Maybe," Harry agreed. "One never knows."
"No, one never knows what's in store for them," the reporter agreed, moving on.
"That was fast," Ron said when he saw the owl two mornings later. He read over Harry's shoulder, grinning and hitting him on it when he saw his name. "It sounds just like you."
"I'd hope so," Harry told him. He went back to reading. There was only one thing he *really* wanted to eliminate and he made a note of it before Dawn trotted over and snatched it. "Dawn! That's mine not Ron's."
"I know, I wanna read it," she said, blowing a kiss. She stood there and read it quickly, then made two grammatical corrections for him. "There." She kissed him on the cheek. "You are so cute when you stutter," she cooed, then she went back to her seat.
"Hey, where's mine?" Ron complained.
Dawn grinned at him. "For yours, you'll have to help me in Magical Creatures tonight," she said smugly.
"Okay," he agreed quickly, smiling at her.
"Do you think this will help?" Ginny asked.
Harry nodded, bundling it back up and sending it back with the owl. "I hope so. Did you know there were rumors that I had taken a vow of celibacy until after the war was over with?" All the girls within hearing distance nodded. "Did you believe them?"
"Yup," Ginny agreed, smiling at him. "It's not like you date."
"Ginny," Ron said sharply.
"Ron, he's said often enough I'm like his little sister. I'm sure the article says that too." Harry nodded. "So it's a sister's prerogative to point out that Harry makes some of his own bad press by being himself sometimes. People jump to conclusions."
"One of his first questions was if I liked girls," Harry told her.
"Did you lie and tell him yes?" Neville asked.
Harry's mouth hung open. "Neville!" he said finally. "I like girls! I adore girls! I simply can't talk to them. I don't like blokes!"
"See?" Ginny pointed out.
"Neville, where did you get that he didn't like girls?" Hermione asked.
"He's never around them, he runs from them, he never flirts, and he seems to be unaware that girls watch him go past. It's reasonable," Neville pointed out.
"That does sound so," Ron agreed. Harry hit him. "Sorry, Harry, I know you're shy with the ladies. It's not your fault."
"No, it's not," Hermione said firmly.
Ginny suddenly laughed. "How long do you think it'd take for the girls to start sending him mash letters?" she asked.
"Two weeks after the article and we'll have a blizzard of them," Dean offered, grinning at Harry. "Am I mentioned?"
"No. He surprisingly didn't ask about you, Dean," Ron said dryly.
"Yeah, because he's never been as stubborn as you, Ron," Neville pointed out.
Ginny nodded. "Ron, have you thought that someone will give a copy to mum before it's a week old?" He went pale and hurried from the room to call his mother and admit to all sorts of things. Just in case. She smirked at Harry. "You might want to do the same."
"Why? The reporter didn't ask me anything except about girls and my future. He totally stayed away from my exploits, as he called them, and said he didn't want to talk about them when something brushed against the topic. His readers weren't interested in it in the least."
"That's because it was Teen Witch Weekly and they're only interested in mushy stuff," Neville told him. "If you'd have given them a picture of you just out of the shower, it'd be the best selling publication for months on end."
"No, no pictures," Harry said firmly. "Especially not shirtless ones." Draco strolled in, looking glowing and smug. "I guess Xander was over last night," he said dryly. The whole table laughed, making Draco look at him. "How is my uncle this morning?"
"Not here," Draco told him. He turned a bit more to look more at Potter. "Did you enjoy giving the interview, Potter? Feel better now?"
"Much. Apparently there was a bunch of crap going around about me that I didn't know about. Some of it would have even made you blush. As long as the story's straight we'll be fine and I won't have to do another one for a long time."
"Hopefully they'll get it right," Hermione told him, glaring at Malfoy. "Go away, I'm trying to eat and you're making that difficult."
"Oooh, do you have feelings now, Granger?"
"No, it's the nausea from looking at you being so smug," she said sourly. "Now please, leave us alone. We've got things to discuss that don't impact you." She waited until he had left to look at Harry. "Don't let him dig at you, Harry."
"If that was a dig, it was a weak one," Harry pointed out. "Don't worry about him, I'm in too good a mood, even Snape can't wreck it."
"Wanna test that theory?" Neville asked.
"Not really," Harry admitted. "But I can." He stood up and walked up to the head table. "Thank you for helping me the other day, Professors. It means a lot that the truth can get out there instead of some of the crazy crap they've made up over the years."
"Did you enjoy the attention, Mr. Potter?" Snape sneered.
"No, but it was a lot nicer than being thought to ...." He shook his head. "I can't mention that rumor in polite and gentle company, it might upset Madam Sprout or Madam Pomfrey." He grinned at him. "Needless to say, I've seen the article and made one single correction before sending it back. We answered a lot of rumors, including those spread by certain Slytherins." He went back to his seat while Snape spluttered.
Professor Snape glared down at McGonagall. "Do you see what you started?"
"At least he's trying to counter the rumors. I'm sure it's better than having to listen to the one that went something like his was cut off," she pointed out, glaring back at him. "Did you ever have a talk with Miss Bulstrode about that one, Professor Snape?"
"There was no need, she did not start it, she only repeated it."
"If you say so," McGonagall put in.
"Hopefully we won't be inundated with fanmail," Dumbledore pointed out. "The poor boy may need to hire someone for that. Some young women can be quite silly about such things I'm afraid."
"I'm sure the ones around here will just bug him to have their magazines signed," Madam Pomfrey offered. "It should be fine. Why did they want to talk to Mr. Weasley?"
"Because people have started to hear how Ron helped Harry all those times and how he's been a true friend," McGonagall said firmly. "It's probably some passing fancy."
"Hopefully. The poor dear's girlfriend would be most upset otherwise."
"I'm sure Miss Summers is more than able to deal with such matters," Dumbledore said calmly. "She can quickly find the truth by asking her boyfriend about such things." He picked up his fork. "We should finish breakfast and get the day started."
"A good breakfast will keep you out of my infirmary," Madam Pomfrey agreed.
Though each of them had their doubts about the efficacy of Harry's ploy, they kept it to themselves. For now. Gossiping would come after dinner.
The first issue went out to subscribers and the response was phenomenal. Ron was getting lots of letters from girls all over the world. Harry got a few every day but most of them congratulated him for doing what he had to do.
Luna and Ginny were keeping Dawn from doing something to Ron's fanmail. Her sanity seemed to slip a little more with each letter. The final straw came with the pair of panties. The ones with the lipstick kiss on them. They couldn't keep her from grabbing Ron and hauling him out of the Great Hall, and into a conveniently locking closet. "I won't have it, I'm not sharing," she said angrily.
Ron lit up the closet. "I told them I had you. I don't need another girl, I've got the best," he said. She frowned at him so he stopped her. He kissed her. She melted against his chest. "I'm sorry they're doing that to you, Dawn. You know I don't want them. Especially not the ones who send panties. Who sends their bloody underwear through the mail to someone they've never met?"
"Apparently half the women in the world," she pointed out dryly, pouting at him.
He kissed her again, pulling her closer until she was resting against his body. "You know I'd never ask for them and I don't want anyone else."
"But they're poaching and it's wrong," she pointed out.
He kissed her again. "Why do I need some pantyless woman when I've got you, Dawn? You've got the only knickers I want to touch and smell."
She wiggled and handed hers to him. "There." She watched to see what he'd do. Usually the guys laughed about them. This time Ron sniffed them, then smiled at her and tossed them into his bag before taking her to hold her again. "Ron!" she giggled, swatting at him.
"You offered," he pointed out.
"Yeah, but not that much."
"Bet me. Do you want me to stop?"
"Then I'm not." And he went on to prove it. Which was how they were found about a half-hour later by Madam Pomfrey. Her shriek brought the rest of the teachers. Dawn thoughtfully closed the door and went back to what she had been doing, and enjoying.
Professor McGonagall reached in and grabbed them both, dragging them to her office. The yelling went on and on as they were drug down the halls. At least Dawn got to push her skirt back down and Ron got to zip up his pants. That way his mother didn't see them hanging out when she showed up to yell at her son.
Dawn decided she had had enough of this. "Shut up!" she screamed. Everyone looked at her. "Ron is mine. He is all mine. I don't care if we broke every damn rule in the book, Professor McGonagall. He was reassuring me that the women who were sending him panties meant nothing to him. There's a first time for everything and I'm damn glad he was mine. Now, I've still got class and there's a draft in here. Can we please be excused?"
"No," Molly said, glaring at her. "What are your intentions, young lady?"
"To finish my education, learn cursebreaking myself from my big brother, and then follow Ron into the field to help." Molly blinked a few times. "Us Summers women aren't fading flowers. I already know a lot of it. I already know how to fight too. Cursebreaking's two main skills and I are very well acquainted. Besides, like I said, there's a really big draft in here."
"Accio bags," Ron said, pointing his wand at the door. They thumped against them, so he went to get them, handing Dawn her panties back. "Sorry," he whispered.
"Totally my fault, I lost it and you reacted." She kissed him on the tip of the nose. "There, I feel better now." She looked at Molly again. "I'm sorry if I broke your heart and I'm not the witch you think Ron should go for, but he's mine and I'm only letting him go after a long and bloody fight. There's two vampires and a chaos mage who will back me up."
"Three vampires," Ron reminded her.
"Angel stays out of family squabbles," Dawn told him. She looked at Molly again. "I'm only fifteen. Ron's seventeen. We're smart enough to know what we just did and what I plan to find a better place for in the future, but I'm not giving him up."
Xander came out of the fireplace, staring at Dawn. "You were caught doing what?"
"Shagging," Dawn told him. "Ron's been getting panties sent to him and I got upset so we went to have the fight in private. Things got out of hand."
"Ron, what are your intentions toward my little sister?" Xander demanded, staring him down.
Ron shuddered. Xander was suddenly very scary. He wasn't that nice guy who fed him cookies when he had done good, he was now a big brother who would more than happily kick his ass and do it very well because of his training. "You know I adore her, Xander."
"And?" Molly asked.
"I'd like to stay with her if she agrees," Ron offered. "But I'm not doing anything more legal until she's been out of school for a year. That way she has time to make decisions and to dump me if her life gets in the way of our happiness."
McGonagall sighed and shook her head. "I take it you are officially engaged then?" Dawn went pale and sat down with Ron's help. "We'll make a note of it and say it's a long engagement due to schooling." She looked at Dawn. "You could have waited until later, when you wouldn't get caught."
"I'll remember that in the future," Dawn told her.
Xander pulled her back up to face him. "We will be having a long talk. You, me, and Emilia. Ron's already had it and I want you to know everything that can happen, Dawn. Until you have it, I want you to promise me not to have sex."
"How long will that take?" Ron asked.
"That depends on Emilia's schedule and you can yank off, Ron. It won't be much different than what you've been doing." Ron blushed and looked away. "Dawn?"
"I promise, Xander, I'll get the whole safety and everything speech from whomever you pick, but I'm not giving up my Ron."
"I'm not asking you to. I'm asking you to be careful, to be thoughtful, and to make choices before they're forced on you."
"Check. No babies for years. No STD's. No fooling around. Nothing like that."
"Good," Molly agreed. "I can agree with that. Ronald?"
"That's fine with me," Ron agreed. "I'm not thrilled about the engagement part though." The adults all glared at him. "It's not like I've got a ring or anything. Can't we go steady for a bit longer until I find her something?"
"I've got that one solved," Xander said, pulling something out of his pocket and tossing it over. "Buffy sent it and said I should staplegun your ass to a wall and use the thick staples on your tool."
Ron shuddered as he opened the box. "It's pretty," he said, looking at Dawn.
"It was mom's," Dawn said, misting up again. She hadn't cried in a while.
Ron pulled her close immediately and held her. "Then it should be yours." He kissed her on the head. "Shh, it's all right. She didn't mean to upset you."
"She didn't. It's incredibly special. Buffy said I could have it when I found a good guy who would take me away from all that stuff. She was saving it for me because she said she'd never need it."
"I doubt Spike would wear it," Ron agreed. Dawn chuckled and pulled back, giving him a kiss. "Go wash your face, Dawn, and then come right back here." She nodded and Ron waited until the door was shut to turn on everyone. "Butt the hell out," he ordered. "It's my life, my relationship, and I can find Dawn my own ring, Xander. Buffy's approval means a lot to her."
"It does, and she did approve," Xander agreed, tossing over something else. "Cordy and Tara sent you that."
"What is that?" Molly asked. She blinked at the catalog. "Where is that from?"
"LA. To give them an idea of what she wants besides her mother's ring." He lifted Ron's chin. "If you ever treat her wrong, apprentice of mine or not, I will kick your ass into next year and make you beg to be put into a cell with Frolanx demons. Do you understand me?" Ron nodded. "Good." He backed off. "Dawn will get the same speech because I do think you're both capable of hurting each other." She walked back in. "Tara and Cordy sent you a ring catalog so you could pick one out of your own. And I mean it, missy. You hurt Ron on purpose and your sister won't be there with her size fives. I'll be there with my size twelves and you will feel my foot up your ass."
"I know, Xander. I won't hurt Ron." She hugged him. "Thank you."
"You're welcome, Princess. Remember, you're a Dumass now and there hasn't been a wedding in years. Expect something big and extravagant." He looked at McGonagall. "Can I go steal my consort?"
"It's the school day," she reminded him.
"And? He's not doing anything other than picking on Pansy for her shit. It may save someone's life, and it will definitely keep me calm."
"If you can get the headmaster to agree," McGonagall sighed, watching as he left. "You two, back to class." They hurried off, grabbing their bags on the way out. "Molly?"
"She's a nice girl?"
"She's a very nice girl," McGonagall assured her. "Very delicate and very possessive of your son."
"Then that's all I need to know." She smiled. "It's about time too. That article has caused Arthur and I no end of misery. All those women sending him letters."
"He's been getting panties here, that's what started off all this," McGonagall told her. "A pair with a lipstick kiss in a very indelicate spot."
Molly snorted. "I bet. Hussies." She shook her head and went back to the house to tell her husband the decent news. She wouldn't tell him how this had come about, let him find out through the grapevine if he was going to.
Xander walked into Charms and grabbed Draco, waving at Flitwick. "I'm going insane," he said when the little teacher cleared his throat. "I just snapped. He's going to keep me calm." He walked his consort out and took him away before anyone could say anything, going to rest on a nice secluded beach with him for a while. He needed the comforting. "This means you'll really be related to Ron," he said quietly.
"I can stand him. If it had been Potter I would have worked to break them up. She's had enough heros in her life. Besides, he's a pureblood and I can't argue against that since he treats her like a doll." They snuggled together in the warm sand, comfortably together for a little bit. Later was soon enough to deal with it.
Harry looked up as the door opened, eyes going wide as the Headmaster brought in a letter and handed it to him. "What's this?"
"Something from your relatives," he said quietly. "You'll want to read it outside." He led Harry outside and watched as he read it.
Harry burst out laughing. "Really? They want paid back for taking care of me?"
"They did do so, meagerly," he said at the glare Harry sent his way.
"I'll let Xander handle this, sir. He's the one my aunt and uncle will listen to." He tucked it into his pocket and went back inside. Ron gave him a look. "Aunt Petunia wants reimbursed for her good care," he said quietly.
Ron snorted. "A prison outfit for child abuse?"
"Sixty thousand pounds a year for the next five."
Ron dropped his pen to look at him. "What? That's ridiculous. What did they do that earned that?"
"They said they risked their lives and the life of their son when they took me in."
"He was dead," Hermione pointed out.
Harry nodded. "I'm letting Xander handle this."
"I've got one better," Ron pointed out. "Tell Professor Methos. Ask if we've got a lawyer among us." Harry's catty smirk made him smile. "Besides, Draco and Xander are somewhere together, this will just ruin both their moods."
Harry looked at the teacher. "May I please be excused a bit early?"
"Go." Harry headed out, going down to the Defense classroom to wait on the class to get out. When the first years ran out, he walked in and handed over the letter. "Ron suggested I ask you if you know any good lawyers instead of bringing this to Uncle Xander."
Methos unrolled the scroll then slowly sat on the edge of his desk. "Harry, I need to know how far this is going to go," he said quietly.
"They locked me in a room without food."
"I meant, are you taking this to the press?"
"Not if I can help it. If I do, do you think someone would blow them up?"
Methos gave him a quick pat. "I'll pass this onto Tip Top. She's got a law degree to protect her patents." Harry grinned. "You go back to class. I'll see you after dinner."
"Yes, sir." He jogged out, heading outside. He had herbology. He barely made it in time. "Did you know your sister-in-law had a law degree?" Harry asked Ron.
Ron burst out in giggles. "I'm sure she'll be more than happy to help in this thing." He hit Harry on the arm. "Remember, Ron has *good* ideas."
"Ron has excellent ideas," Harry told him.