Chapter 13: Magic and Choice

The sound of a steady wind droned quietly in the background as Hermione read a book. Ron sat next to her with his head looking down and an expression of deep concentration on his face. His hands busily twisted and re-twisted the faces of the cube. Dan and Emma sat in the row ahead of them, each reading a book.

"Would you like something to drink?" said a flight attendant looking down at them.

"I'd like some ginger ale please," said Hermione.

He looked up and said, "I'll have the same."

Then looking down again, he continued to twist the cube for a moment longer. He turned to Hermione. "I think you need to be a Ravenclaw to figure this out."

She looked at him. "How much have you got done?"

"One side."

"Maybe if you leave it for a while and go back to it later, you'll have some fresh perspective."

Nodding, he set the cube on the small tray in front of him.

"Are you enjoying the flight?"

"Yeah. Take off and climb out was great but not as good as being on a broom."

They were quiet for a moment. Then a voice from the aisle said, "I can show you how to do that." They both turned and saw a young boy, about nine years old, looking at them.

"You know how to do this?" said Ron as he picked up the cube and handed it to him.

"Sure." His hands quickly twisted it a few times. "Get the first edge row like this, you can use any color. Then, you turn it like this ..."

A few minutes later, the boy handed the cube back to Ron with each side all the same color.

"Brilliant," said Ron as he turned and examined the cube. "You're really good. What's your name?"


"Thank you very much Jason. I'll practice what you showed me. Would you like to see a magic trick?"


Hermione smiled and laid the book on her lap to watch. Ron reached into his pocket and withdrew a coin. He handed it to Jason. "Have a look at this coin. See, nothing special about it. Remember what it looks like."

Jason examined it for a moment and then looked up at Ron.

"Put the coin here on this tray table. Okay, now," Ron reached into his shirt pocket, "we're going to cover ..." He frowned slightly and reached into another pocket. Still frowning he said, "Hmm... I know it's here somewhere ..." He patted his other pockets and thought for a moment. Then with a look of realization on his face said, "Oh, now I remember, it's over here." He reached behind Hermione's ear and pulled out a bright red silk handkerchief with a flourish. Hermione giggled. Jason had a delighted look on his face.

"Okay ... I'll cover the coin with the magic red hankie like this. ... Now Jason, I want you to use your finger to feel that the coin is still under the hankie."

As Jason touched it several times Ron said, "Is it still there?"

Jason nodded and continued to look at the place where he touched. Then, after a brief pause for effect, Ron took hold of the corner of the handkerchief. "Abracadabra!" He pulled the handkerchief away with a flourish and the coin was gone.

Jason's face had a look of surprise and wonder as he stared at the place where he had last touched the coin under the handkerchief. Then he looked at Ron. "It's stuck to the handkerchief."

"Here, check for yourself." He handed Jason the red hankie.

After examining it for a moment and not finding the coin, he looked at Ron. "Where did it go?"

"Well," said Ron rubbing his chin, "when you make something vanish, it can go almost anywhere. Let's see, where might it have gone?" He searched in different directions around the area. Then he looked at Jason.

"Ah! There it is." He reached behind Jason's ear. As he drew back his hand, the coin was pressed between his thumb and finger.

Hermione smiled broadly as Jason exclaimed, "How'd you do that?"

"Magic," said Ron with a grin. "Okay, now we need to put this stuff away." Ron wrapped his left hand around the thumb of his right hand. Then he pulled his thumb out and dropped the coin into the opening in his left fist. He moved his fist toward Jason. "Put the red hankie in there too."

Jason stuffed the hankie into the opening. Then Ron put the thumb of his right hand into the opening. "Got to pack it down tight." He withdrew his thumb and then wiped the palms of his hands against each other as if brushing them off. Jason's eyes opened wide and then he grinned.

"That was great!" said Jason excitedly. "Thanks for showing me."

"You're welcome," said Ron as he watched Jason hurry away. Then he turned and looked at Hermione.

"That was excellent. Where did you learn to do that?"

He leaned close to her and spoke in a low voice. "One day, Dad brought home a muggle book about magic tricks. He picked it up during a misuse of magic investigation. He thought we'd all get a good laugh out of it. Well, Fred and George read it and made up some simple non-verbal spells for the tricks. They put on a good show for the family and you couldn't tell they were using real magic. Ginny and I asked them to teach us the spells too and the family had evening magic shows for the rest of the week."

"That's wonderful. Jason was very surprised when it all disappeared from your hand."

He moved close to her ear and whispered, "Not half as much as when he finds the coin in his pocket."

She smiled warmly and was about to give him a kiss when they heard a voice.

"Mister magician, can you show my little sister the magic trick?"

Ron turned to see Jason and a shy girl looking at them.

"Hello," said Ron to the girl. "What's your name?"


"Pleased to meet you Taylor. You want to see some magic?"

Her eyes brightened and she nodded enthusiastically.

"Okay then. Now let me think. Ah, I know ..."

"Ginny," said Harry, "can I use Pigwidgeon to send an owl?" They had just finished breakfast and were sitting at the kitchen table.

"Of course," said Ginny. "Who are you writing to?"

"I want to send an owl to Andromeda and arrange a time to visit Teddy. Would you like to accompany me?"

"Yes, I would."

"Accio!" said Harry. A drawer slid open and a piece of parchment and quill floated out. They settled on the table in front of him. He wrote a note and then walked to the kitchen window. He called out and a moment later, Pigwidgeon landed excitedly on the windowsill. After folding and attaching the letter he said, "It goes to Andromeda Tonks."

The owl hooted and flew off.

As Harry turned from the window, Molly stepped into the kitchen carrying her handbag. Arthur followed close behind with a book bag slung over his shoulder.

"We're off to the IWROC meeting," said Molly. "We'll likely be there for most of the day. We're expecting witches and wizards from all parts of England and there is much organizing to be done. You are both welcome to attend."

"Harry," said Ginny, "do you have any plans for today?"

"Just a quick trip to Hogwarts for a word with Kreacher. It shouldn't take long. How about we go to the meeting after?"


Arthur said, "The meeting is being held in the auditorium at St. Mungo's. It's on the fifth floor just beyond the visitor's tearoom. We'll see you two later."

Molly and Arthur stepped toward the fireplace and a moment later, disappeared in a flash of green flames.

"Harry, couldn't you just call for Kreacher to come here to you?"

"Yeah, but I also want to see the other elves and thank them for what they did during the battle."

They made their way along the corridors at Hogwarts. Reaching the painting of a bowl of fruit, Ginny tickled the pear. After it squirmed and laughed, the doorway appeared and they stepped inside. The room was deserted so he called out, "Hello, anybody here?"

"Master Potter," came a familiar voice from an adjoining room.

An instant later, there was a pop as Kreacher appeared in front of Harry and bowed very low.

"Greetings Master Potter," said Kreacher in a dignified voice.

"Hi Kreacher," said Harry feeling a little awkward at the elf's low bow. "I wanted to talk to ..." His voice trailed off as he saw house elves coming out of the adjoining rooms toward them. Some were hurrying along and others limped or used canes to walk. Harry and Ginny exchanged an unsure glance with each other as the elves encircled them where they stood. Many bowed and then looked up at him with expressions of wonder and awe.

"Master, with your pivotal defeat of the Dark Lord, all will be well again at Hogwarts. We are most grateful to you and your noble gallantry."

The elves gathered around all nodded solemnly.

"How may we be of service to you?" said Kreacher.

Harry surveyed the gathering for a moment. Some of the elves were helping those with injuries to stand. He caught a brief glimpse of Winky behind some other elves. Besides Kreacher, she was the only other elf that Harry recognized.

"Actually, I came here to see all of you. Were any of your members lost in the battle?"

"Yes Master," said Kreacher in a sorrowful voice. "Two were lost, Thannor and Huron." The expressions on the elves faces became gloomy.

"I am very sorry to hear that. If you don't already know, Dobby was also lost."

"We have heard of Dobby sir," said Kreacher. "The account brought us great sorrow and distress. It is said that he died defending you."

"That is true and I will always honor his great sacrifice."

The elves all solemnly bowed their heads.

Harry looked around at them. "I want to honor your sacrifices too. You fought bravely and helped defend us. I want you to know how thankful I am to each of you. You are all a very important part of Hogwarts and if I can be of service to you, just ask."

Many of the elves fidgeted in embarrassment.

Ginny said, "I want to say thank you too. The D.A. could not have accomplished the rescue efforts this last school year without your help. Some of you took great risks and we will always be grateful to you."

"Master and Miss Weasley," said Kreacher, "your words are most kind and appreciated. It is our simple desire to serve." The elves all nodded.

"In that case," said Harry, "could we have something to drink for everyone who is here? I'd like you to join me in a toast."

Their mouths dropped open and many elves appeared dumbstruck. Never had such a request been made of them. After a brief moment, some of the elves snapped their fingers. Glasses appeared on the table beside them filled with different kinds of fruit juice. Once everyone held a glass in hand, Harry raised his voice and said, "To the elves who were lost and to those who faithfully serve. May Hogwarts be once again the place we all cherish."

There were many cheers and everyone took a sip of their drink. A general buzz of conversation ensued and many of the elves talked to Harry and Ginny about the battle.

A while later, Harry spoke to Kreacher in a low voice. "Kreacher, might I have a word with you in private?"

"Yes Master." He pointed across the room. "There is a place beyond that door."

Excusing themselves, Harry and Ginny followed Kreacher. They stepped into a room containing mostly elf size chairs and furnishings. Along one wall were some full size chairs and a tea table. Kreacher closed the door.

"Kreacher, please sit with us and be comfortable," said Harry.

Kreacher looked warily at Harry for a long moment before saying, "Yes Master." Moving toward the chair, he mumbled to himself, "You have failed to live up to your Master's expectations. This will not go well for you, no indeed." He gingerly seated himself and sat stiff with his ears drooping. His face held an apprehensive expression.

"Relax Kreacher," said Harry. "There's nothing to worry about. I just want to ask you some questions. What has happened at Grimmauld Place since I was last there with Ron and Hermione?"

"It is the same as when you left. Kreacher heard your return on the doorstep that day. The sound of a scream and of shouting voices. Then a loud bang and angry voice of my former mistress. Thieves, murderers, and blood traitors! Toujours pur! Defile not the Noble House of Black! Kreacher hurried from the kitchen looking for you. Through the window, Kreacher saw the intruder lying on the ground outside. Master and his friends were nowhere to be seen. Kreacher has kept watch for you since that day."

"We couldn't come back because we thought the Fidelius Charm had been compromised. So Yaxley didn't get inside the house?"

"No Master, he was repelled by an intruder hex. Only Kreacher has entered the house. Kreacher has traveled many times looking for his Master and friends. Master never called for Kreacher to come to him."

Harry thought. The three of them had discussed it a few times; particularly when food was in short supply and they were hungry. But each time, they had come to the same conclusion.

"I couldn't risk it. We were on the run and in hiding. We thought Yaxley might have put a trace on you."

"Yes Master."

Harry hesitated for a moment. "Kreacher, you have served the Black family for many years and you know their customs better than anyone. I am thinking about selling Grimmauld Place. I want you to tell me honestly what you think and how you feel about it."

The old elf grimaced and shifted uneasily on his chair. "Kreacher has considered such a possibility. Kreacher knows that Master Potter is not, and will never be, someone who will embrace the traditions of the Black family ancestry."

Harry and Ginny smiled and nodded.

"The Noble House of Black has achieved greatness and distinction by many centuries of shrewd business dealings. We who have served through ten generations have built and defended their homes, cared for their sick, and tended to their daily necessities. The Noble House of Black must not be dishonored."

"I don't want to dishonor the Black family. Is there a way to dispose of the house and preserve the family honor?"

Kreacher relaxed somewhat. "Yes, the right buyer, with the right agreements, would preserve the Black family honor."

"Do you know of anyone who might be the right person?"

"Kreacher knows of some who might be appropriate."

"Okay. I need to talk to Andromeda about this too. I'll call for you when I know her thoughts."

"Yes Master."

Harry looked at Kreacher for a long moment. "Kreacher, what you did during the battle, how you led others in my cause, was courageous and noble. Such action is deserving of freedom, not servitude."

Kreacher looked at him warily. "Kreacher is honored to be a good and trusted servant. Will Master dismiss Kreacher for another who is more suitable?"

"No, it's nothing like that. I just ... want to be sure that you feel like you're being treated fairly. There's a big difference between being bonded to serve and freely choosing to serve."

"Kreacher chooses to be Master Potter's servant."

"Umm ... that's not exactly what I meant."

"Is Master going to give Kreacher clothes?"

Taken aback Harry said, "I've been thinking about it. You should be free to choose."

"Kreacher would choose not to accept the clothes."

Quizzically Harry said, "But I thought elves have no choice when presented with clothes."

"Kreacher has no choice by wizard rule. But Master will not force Kreacher to take clothes. Master wishes Kreacher to choose freely."

Harry thought for a moment. Then he looked at Ginny. "That would be a tough one even for Hermione."

Ginny nodded, "He knows you quite well."

"Kreacher would be most honored to serve the House of Potter."

Looking back at the elf, Harry saw loyalty, sincerity, and pleading in the elf's old eyes. There was no doubt that he had freely chosen his path forward. Harry understood what needed to be done to honor that choice.

"We'll leave things as they are. But if you ever feel differently about it, you let me know. Okay?"

Kreacher smiled, "Yes Master."

Harry frowned. "I don't like being called master. We're going to have to come up with something else."

"Yes, Mister Potter."

"Okay, that'll do."

Harry looked at Ginny. With a grin Ginny said, "Well Mister Potter, we'd best be on our way."

"Okay Miss Weasley," said Harry grinning back at her. He looked back at the elf. "See you later Kreacher."

Kreacher bowed with a satisfied smile.

After stepping through the window of Purge and Dowse, Harry and Ginny quickly made their way through the waiting area of St Mungo's toward the lifts. There were many witches and wizards widely seated around the room. The head of one old wizard was mostly bald. The scattered patches of his remaining hair smoked and crackled with red colored sparks.

They caught sight of a middle-aged witch with an unpleasant scowling expression on her face. She was seated in a chair and leaning back uncomfortably. Under her tightly fitting cloak, her chest protruded about a foot straight out in front of her and her hips were disproportionately narrow. Seated next to her was a middle-aged wizard, his face tinged red in embarrassment, looking down at his feet. As Harry and Ginny passed, they overheard the witch mutter, "Barbie, rubbish."

They rode the lift to the fifth floor and made their way toward the auditorium. As they made their way past the visitor's tearoom, heads turned and faces brightened in recognition of him. Quietly slipping in through the auditorium door, they seated themselves in the back of the room. Most of the seats in the auditorium were filled with witches and wizards. They were all watching and listening to a middle-aged witch standing at the podium.

"... and as you are all aware, there is a great need at this time. Please welcome one of our long standing members, Molly Weasley, who will tell you more about the initial planning."

There was gentle applause as Molly made her way to the podium. Then she said, "Thank you Kelleeka."

Molly flicked her wand. A screen floated up and unrolled itself. Then she flicked her wand at the screen and a map appeared. Many parts of the map glowed in different colors that gently oscillated in brightness.

"As you can see, the steering groups for each region have been collecting names of those who are in desperate need. Support is needed in the following areas ..."

A few days later, following another IWROC meeting, they sat around the Weasley kitchen table eating supper. The conversation was cheerful and spirited as they discussed the meeting they had attended that afternoon.

Molly said, "The outpouring of pledges the IWROC has received is beyond my wildest imagining. It is so very heartwarming to see so many witches and wizards getting involved. Thank you Harry, and you too Ginny, for your help at the meetings."

Harry said, "It didn't seem like I helped very much. I spent most of the time just talking with people."

"I met Devorah Gilman today," said Ginny delightedly. "She's a big Quidditch fan and on the governing board of the Holyhead Harpies."

Arthur said, "You both handled yourselves quite well and met some important witches and wizards today. Most seem quite delighted to meet and talk with you Harry."

"It's a bit uncomfortable, people keep thanking me. I have to keep telling them that it wasn't just me. Everyone talks about being happy the war was over. Some just want to hear me say that you-know-who is really gone for good. Others ask what they can do to help. I tell them we need to help each other mend and heal from the dreadful things that happened. I tell them that getting involved in relief efforts like the IWROC is a great way to do it."

Arthur looked at Molly. "Likely your future meetings will be well attended."

Molly smiled. "I think you may be right about that."

Through the open kitchen window, they heard the muffled sound of a whoosh and a pop from outside. A moment later, the kitchen door opened and Ron and Hermione stepped into the room.

"Oh my goodness," exclaimed Molly, "your home. Come here you two."

Everyone stood. Molly gave Ron and then Hermione a bone crushing hug. "I'm so happy you're both back safe and sound."

Ron and Hermione moved around the kitchen greeting everyone.

Ginny hugged Ron. "How was the muggle air transport?"

"It was okay. I like traveling by magic better. It doesn't take so long to get where you want to go."

Hermione said, "You were a big hit with the kids on that flight." She gave George a hug. "He entertained them with some magic tricks he learned from you."

"Really? Was it the stuff from that old muggle book of magic tricks?"

"Yeah, go figure," said Ron. "The kids kept coming back for more and we had to start making up new tricks. Hermione came up with some good ones using books."

Hermione gave Harry a strong hug. "We missed you Harry."

"I missed you and Ron too. How are your mum and dad?"

She released him. "They're doing well. We've been helping them get settled into a rental flat. We had supper with them earlier and then came here."

"You all go into the parlor and get comfortable," said Molly. "I'll bring some tea and you can tell us all about your trip."

The conversation was lively as Hermione and Ron talked about the trip. Hermione told them how happy she was to have her parents back and her plans to live with them.

Ron said excitedly, "Let me show you what I came up with for Hermione and me to stay in touch."

Hermione grinned. Taking her beaded bag, she pulled out three large plastic bags each bulging with items.

Ron reached into one of the bags and pulled out a wooden object that looked like an old dial telephone. But this phone had a hand crank on the side in addition to the dial on the front.

"Is that a muggle pheletone?" said Arthur leaning forward and looking at it with great interest.

"Yeah, I made it magical," said Ron proudly. "To call someone, you spell their name with the dial and then turn the crank a few times. Then you pick up the talkie listenie thing and hold it like this." Ron held the receiver to his ear.

Arthur's brow furrowed. "Isn't there supposed to be a twisted wire connecting that part in your hand?"

"I worked out some magic so the curly wire isn't needed. I call it a wireless telephone."

"Very impressive," said George. "Can we give it a go?"

Ron turned to Hermione. "Do you think your mum and dad would mind if I called them?"

"They would enjoy it very much. Tell them I'll be home late. C'mon Ginny, let's go to your room and talk."

Ginny's eyes brightened. They both got up and left for her room.

As Ron began dialing he said, "G ... r ... a ... n ... g ... e ... r". He then turned the crank and a ringing bell sounded. He put the receiver to his ear and waited.

"Hello ... Mister Granger? ... This is Ron. ... Sorry, Dan. ... Hermione says to tell you she'll be home late. I'm showing my family the telephone. Can they each talk to you and Emma for a bit? ... Great, here's my brother George."

Ron handed the receiver to George. He cautiously held the receiver to his ear. "Hello?" A grin dawned on George's face.

As George talked to Dan, Ron sat back and looked at Harry with a satisfied expression. Harry gave Ron an approving thumbs up.

The receiver passed to Arthur and then to Molly who spoke with Emma. Then Arthur spoke with Dan again and Molly with Emma again. The receiver was happily being past back and forth between Arthur and Molly.

George looked at Ron. "Well done bro."

"Thanks. I've got some other stuff I want to show you. C'mon, let's go up to your room. You too Harry."

Ron gathered up the remaining packages and they made their way toward George's room. The telephone receiver continued passing back and forth between Arthur and Molly.

"... and after lunch," said Hermione, "we went to the Melbourne botanical gardens. It's such a beautiful place. It was so nice just to spend some quiet peaceful time with him. Sometimes, we still jump when we hear an unfamiliar noise. But he makes a joke about it and we laugh. Okay, enough about Ron and me. How are you and Harry getting on?"

Ginny smiled warmly. "Really well. We went to Godric's Hollow and had a wonderful time. We stopped by the church and the priest gave Harry some of his parent's possessions. Harry asked me to wear his mum's necklace."

Hermione moved closer and gazed at the pendant. "It's beautiful."

"I like it very much and haven't taken it off since that day. Then we went ..."

"I like your ideas for this spring thing," said George. "And I think a line of little stuffed animals that can magically talk would be a hit with the younger ones. What about this colored cube?"

"No ideas for that," said Ron. "It's a muggle puzzle. You mix it up and then figure out how to put it back right again. It's not easy to do."

"Dudley had one of those once," grinned Harry. "He got mad trying to get it right and smashed it." They all laughed.

George picked up the cube and turned it in his hand. "The colors are a bit drab. It might do better with some sparkles. Or maybe it could sprout hands and twist itself."

"With letters and numbers on it," said Harry, "maybe you could use it to decode messages."

"Yeah," said Ron. "Or maybe when you line up the letters right, it magically opens to show something that's been hidden inside."

"Hmm ..." said George with a thoughtful expression. After a moment he said, "Well, it's getting late and I have an early meeting with a vendor." He set the cube down and said to Ron, "Why don't you come by the joke shop and we'll work on your ideas some more."

Harry and Ron made their way back to the parlor. The room was deserted and they flopped down into the chairs by the fireplace.

"You have some really good ideas and that telephone you came up with is brilliant."

"Thanks. Hermione was the one who first mentioned it. She went to the library one day while I helped her mum and dad at their dentist office. Her parents are really cool. When I went to go fetch her from the library, I saw some magically connected muggle computers. The librarian gave me some written instructions about them. I changed the instructions a bit for the telephone and after a few tries, got it working. I'll be able to talk to her on days when we're not able to see each other."

"That's great. So how did you and Hermione get on after we left?"

"We packed her mum and dad's belongings at the house. Hermione showed me photos and things she did in muggle school before we met her. We went sightseeing to different places and saw the gallery and botanical gardens. We had a great time and we're doing really good together." He grinned. "Hardly any arguments, if you can believe that. I reckon it must be something in that potion Madam Pomfrey gave us."

"," mused Harry. But he knew that everything had changed between his two best friends after their first snog.

"What did you and Ginny do when you got back?"

"We went to Hogwarts and McGonagall put Ginny in charge of mending the Quidditch pitch. We assessed the damages and she suggested some other improvements. She's met with the contractor and the pitch is going to be better than ever. I went to the Ministry and gave depositions for Draco and his mum. I also had a talk with Kingsley about becoming an Auror. Are you still thinking about that career?"

"Yeah. I want to finish the Auror lessons at Hogwarts this year. I've taken a fancy to making things but I also want to be prepared for a career if that doesn't work out. I'm not too sure about those NEWTs though."

"Yeah, maybe we can study together. Kingsley's going to talk to McGonagall about including some Auror program studies along with our Hogwarts classes. We'll have a leg up on the Auror academic training. Kingsley's keen on getting the Auror department up to scratch as quickly as possible."

They heard footsteps on the stairs and a moment later, Hermione and Ginny entered. Hermione sat down with Ron and Ginny sat close to Harry.

"When Ginny and I were at Hogwarts, we met up with Hagrid. He's worried about the centaurs. They had a separate battle in the forest. Hagrid says there's division among them now about working with the Ministry."

"I don't blame them for that," said Hermione. "In the Melbourne library, I read about some awful things the Ministry did to them thirty years ago. But I think I know a way for them to improve their rights. It will take some time and a lot of research. I should go to Hogwarts and talk to the centaurs about it."

Ginny said, "When you're there, Hannah wants to ask you about putting the Hogwarts library back in order. I'm going to Hogwarts early tomorrow morning. A work crew will begin clean up of the damaged parts of the pitch."

"The security wards must be back in place by now," said Hermione. "How do we get in?"

"The fireplace here at the Burrow is still connected to that meeting room," said Ginny. "And anyone who drank that Elixir of Novum Vitae can pass through the entrance gate after touching the bars with their hand."

"I've never heard of that elixir," said Hermione. "What is it?"

Harry said, "It's the red potion that Madam Pomfrey gave us. McGonagall said it's credited to the Hogwarts founders and is a closely guarded secret."

"That's very interesting," said Hermione thoughtfully. "I'm going to ask professor McGonagall more about it." She looked at Ron. "What are you doing tomorrow?"

"I'm going to the joke shop to lend George a hand. I'll meet up with you at Hogwarts."

Ginny said, "Harry, when are we going to visit Teddy?"

"Tomorrow afternoon. Andromeda said Teddy usually takes his kip about three."

Hermione smiled. "That's so nice of you Harry."

"Thanks. I also want to talk to Andromeda about Grimmauld Place. I want to sell it. Oh ... I talked to Kreacher. He said Yaxley didn't get in. Apparently, Walburga has a hex on the place that repelled him. No one except Kreacher has been inside since we left."

With an exasperated expression Hermione exclaimed, "You mean we could have stayed there that day?"

Harry nodded in resignation. "Yeah."

Ron said, "Any thoughts on who'd want to buy it from you?"

"No, but that's one of the things I want to ask Andromeda about. Kreacher doesn't want the House of Black dishonored and neither do I. So I need to find the right buyer."

After a moment Hermione tentatively said, "Harry, what are you going to do about Kreacher? Are you going to set him free?"

"I talked to him about that. He wants to serve the House of Potter. Kreacher would feel shame and dishonor at being freed."

"I think so too," said Ginny. "Kreacher told Harry that he wouldn't accept clothes from him."

"My word," said Hermione. "So he's choosing to remain enslaved?"

"He doesn't see it that way," said Harry. "To him, it's more like being a contracted servant. You know, like a butler. It's like I have a magical contract with him. He just wants to do what he knows best. For him, that's being a servant. I told him that if he ever wants out of it, to let me know."

"That's an interesting perspective Harry. I'll have to give it some thought."

"Does that mean," said Ron, "that Winky could have refused clothes from Mister Crouch?"

"No, I don't think so," said Harry. "Kreacher said that to me because he knows I'd never force him to accept clothes from me."

"I wonder what became of Winky?" said Hermione quietly.

"We saw her in the Hogwarts kitchen," said Ginny. "She kept her distance and didn't talk. It seemed like she was embarrassed to see us. When Harry asked all the elves to join him in a toast, I saw her quietly slip out of the room."

They sat quietly for a short while. Hermione yawned. "I'd better go and get some sleep." She stood. "Goodnight everyone."

"Goodnight," said Harry and Ginny together.

"I'll apparate you to your mum and dad's flat," said Ron as he stood and followed her toward the door.

Harry and Ginny glanced at each other with warm knowing smiles. Then they snuggled close.

This is an original fan fiction story based on the seven book series 'Harry Potter' written by J. K. Rowling. Harry Potter, the characters, names and related characters are trademarks of Warner Bros., Inc. Harry Potter publishing rights © J.K.R. This is an unofficial, not for profit site and is in no way connected with J.K. Rowling, Scholastic Books, Bloomsbury Publishing or Warner Bros., Inc. This site is not endorsed by any of these aforementioned parties. Rights to characters and their images is neither claimed nor implied. This fan fiction story is owned by the author and subject to copyright law under transformative use.

Copyright © 2015-2017 Don Buczynski
San Diego, California
Published: 8/30/14
Last Updated: 10/13/17