"And just when were you going to tell me about this?" Madam Pomfrey demanded, shoving Harry behind a curtain and following her.
"It was a bit of a shock, Poppy, and I have been busy."
"If you don't mind my saying so, you don't seem at all shocked to me," the nurse said, running her wand over her charge.
"I've had some time."
"You've had since Friday," Poppy retorted, stepping back and subjecting Harry to a thorough visual examination, "and it's only Tuesday now. Five days is not sufficient time to recover from the shock of having one's sex changed, yet here you are, looking spectacularly undaunted—getting up to mischief with your new bits, have you been?"
"And they say that nineteen-year-old boys are mad about sex. Hmph! Be still and open your mouth."
Harry complied, allowing the nurse to take a swab of her cheek with the tip of her sanitized wand, which began to glow. "What does that mean?"
"That you're as fertile as you're going to be this month. Anti-contraception charms—you understand how to employ them, do you?"
"What? You're a witch, now, for however long, and it's up to you to consider—"
"But I'm not—"
"—the consequences of your actions. Should you become pregnant, whatever clever spell caused your current state could very well become set forever. Stranger things have happened, and to you, so do be careful."
"Do be careful."
"I will be—I mean, I won't—I mean . . . shit."
"Language, Professor. . . . What is it?" Poppy asked, noting how Harry's mouth was working, but no sound was coming from it.
"The . . . the spell."
"The spell that changed me, it . . . ."
"Merlin's balls! Are you trying to tell me that sexual congress is involved in your un-enchantment?"
"Yeah," Harry replied, too stunned to say anything else as she worried about everything that might go wrong.
"Well, you are in a pickle, aren't you? An anti-contraception charm could interfere with your un-enchantment, but without using one, you could end up pregnant and a witch for at least the duration of your pregnancy. Oh, dear. Oh, damn! You just had to go messing about with Magical Theory, didn't you?"
"Thanks for your support, Poppy. It wasn't my fault."
"Filius is quoted in the Pro—"
"That article was just a cover story," Harry told her, before explaining how she truly ended up as a witch.
"I see. Oh, dear. Well, well, we'll just have to time things correctly. I can tell you when you are at your least unfertile point in the month, and Severus can go about your un-enchanting then."
"All . . . all right."
Poppy sighed. "Harry, are you?"
"Am I, what?"
"Quite all right? You look very pale."
Truth be told, everything had happened so quickly to Harry that she had not stopped to consider her new body. She had just accepted it as the way she was for the time-being, precisely because it was only, she had thought, for the time-being.
And because it was sort of cool, she thought, blushing as she added to herself, and the multiple orgasms from wanking—do girls call it that? I should ask Hermione. No! I definitely shouldn't ask Hermione. What was I thinking? Oh, right. The orgasms—didn't hurt at all, did they? "Oh, God. I could stay this way."
"Would that be so bad? What am I saying? Of course it would be, poor dear. Don't worry. You'll just have to avoid shagging for now—though I daresay you're more than ready to get back to normal."
"I uh, I thought I was."
"It might help you to talk all this out with a professional," Poppy said, sitting down next to Harry and patting her shoulder reassuringly.
"No, I don't think so," Harry replied, thinking, I've already got one of those.
She could not imagine talking things out with Liltington.
"I don't mean me. I mean a psychologist."
"The Wizarding world has those?"
"Not as such, but there are adjustors in the Obliviation Unit of the—"
"No! I dealt with those people once after bringing Muggles in for Obliviation after they witnessed a Death Eater attack. They're," not the sort of people I want crawling around in my head, "horrid."
"Fine. No adjustors. But this has been, it must have been, a difficult few days for you. Sorting out your feelings before deciding what to do would be a good idea."
"But I know what I want to do. I want my bollocks back. I'm not a witch, and Severus' card said 'Mr. Harry James Potter Snape', not—oh," Harry said, stopping herself from being even more indiscreet than she had been. Shit.
"Mr. Snape? Mr. Snape, ah. Well. Yes, I see."
"Poppy . . . ."
"I'll hex him to the Fourth Great Hell. This is his doing, and it's not right!"
"Poppy, please. It wasn't his fault, either. It was Marcus Gor—it was my fault—"
"Oh, it's your fault, is it, that you come down a woman and, as a side-effect, suddenly want to marry Severus? That's no cure. It's gross manipulation."
Harry stood up and turned on Poppy. "It's not. I swear. I do," fancy . . . want . . . love? Oh hell, "like the idea of being married—of having a home and a family and—"
"Who would know that better than a wizard who's watched you grow up? I ask you," Poppy said in disgust, "who better than Severus would know just how to secure you?"
"Remus doesn't see it that way."
"Remus Lupin is encouraging you in this folly?" demanded Poppy, rising and going to the fire. "We'll just see about that."
Harry watched in dismay as the nurse thrust her head into the fire and called for Remus, and cringed when she began to unleash a diatribe against him for being "stupid and reckless and irresponsible," among other things.
Suddenly, Poppy drew back and Remus stepped out of the fire. He was holding a cup of coffee in one hand and wearing a reasonably un-tattered bathrobe, which, oddly enough, had an embroidered bicuspid decorating the chest pocket.
He seemed unaffected by the nurse's insults as he said, "Good morning, Madam Pomfrey, Harry. What seems to be the matter?"
"You're the matter! How dare you—"
"She thinks Sev—Snape's manipulating me into marrying him," Harry interrupted.
"Who said anything about your marrying Severus?" Remus asked, his eyes widening.
"No one, not really."
"Harry?" Remus pressed.
"You see?" Poppy asked Harry, looking at Remus' shocked expression. "You were mistaken. He doesn't think it's a good idea, either."
"That isn't what I—would someone please explain to me what the hell is going on?"
"Remus, look," Harry began, flustered and upset, "Severus gave me a gift last night," she continued, pulling out the card and handing it to him.
Taking it, Remus looked at it and turned it over, turning it over again before saying, "It's blank. It's blank! Harry, what do you see written here?"
Suddenly annoyed at the officiousness of Poppy and Remus, Harry retorted, "My future."
"Mrs. Harry Potter, or some such?" asked Remus.
"No, 'Mr.'," Harry and Poppy said as one.
"An ungiven gift," the wizard murmured, "I see."
"Yeah? That's great. May I have that back now?"
"Don't give it to her, Remus."
"Poppy," Remus replied, handing the card back to Harry, "this really is none of our business, but Harry, I think you must understand why we're . . . concerned. I know you fancy Severus, but . . . marriage? To be considering marrying him so soon after your enchantment is a bit suspicious. Surely you see that? When we talked yesterday, I thought you only meant to date him."
"Why bother dating someone you can't see having a future with?"
Remus looked at Poppy, and both of them almost chuckled.
"You're very sweet, dear, but—"
"Right. That's it! I don't want to talk about this anymore. I'm going."
"Harry, wait!" called another masculine voice behind her.
Oh, no. No. Not Ron, Harry thought, turning around just in time to see him step out of the hearth. "You were at Remus'? Listening?"
"Obviously, mate. You lot," Ron said, addressing Poppy and Remus, "get out of here."
"Excuse me, young man, but this is my infirmary."
"And Harry's my best friend, so clear off."
"I'll see you back at the house, Ron," Remus replied, smiling slightly in bemusement as he tossed some Floo powder onto the fire and stepped into it.
"I don't like it. I don't like it, at all," Poppy muttered.
But she left, as well.
"Hi," Harry said nervously.
"They really are nice, you know."
"Damn it, Ron! Stop staring at—"
"I meant Madam Pomfrey and Remus."
"It's a sad state of affairs when a man's best mate won't trust him enough to tell him he's lost his bollocks—or that he likes them, in general—or that he fancies some greasy git enough to want to marry him," Ron said, though not rancorously.
"Severus isn't greasy."
"I guess that's good for you, but why didn't you just tell me?"
"I just did."
"Harry, I mean about the your being queer thing! Gods, you think I didn't know you fancied blokes? I slept next to you for over seven years! You're pants at silencing charms, and you talk in your sleep!"
"Yeah, mate. You do."
"But you never said anything—and you're always going on about—"
Ron snorted in disgust. "I kind of figured that you wanted your privacy about the sex stuff—not that you were having it, I might add—but I guess you were too busy or too worried or, maybe, too confused. I don't know—because you didn't tell me."
Harry could not think of how to respond but felt deeply chagrined.
Sighing, Ron continued, "I do know that I'm your friend. Sure, I go on about Snape being a prat. He is a prat. He's never treated you very well. I don't like him—but," Ron said, holding up one hand to prevent Harry's interruption of him, "if he stopped being such an awful git, I might learn to like him. And just because I don't like Snape doesn't mean you that you can't, or that I won't understand if you do."
"So Severus' having to kiss me to—"
"Merlin, Harry! Do you think I'm bloody stupid? I know he's going to have to do a hell of a lot more than just kiss you to break the spell—this isn't a ruddy fairy-tale!—and if you're talking about marrying him, you've got more than snogging in mind, right?"
"Yeah. A lot more," Harry said defiantly, and then wondered why she felt so combative. He understands, you git. He just said— "You understand? You don't mind?"
"Actually, I do. At least, I mind being treated like an idiot by my girlfriend and my best mate—and I have to admit that it does seem like all of this is happening a bit fast. You want to marry him? Really?"
Harry sat down on the cot and sighed. "There's more."
"More?" Ron asked, sitting down next to Harry. "How much more? You're not pregnant, are you?"
"No! No, but . . . I could get pregnant when . . . we break the spell and end up a witch for months—if not forever."
"Oi! That's . . . bad?"
"What do you mean? Of course it's bad! I'm a wizard."
"Not from where I'm sitting."
Harry punched Ron in the shoulder. He immediately punched her back.
"What? You said you were a wizard—except you're not, are you? Shit. I just hit a girl!"
"Prat," Harry replied, rubbing her shoulder.
"I'm really sorry, Harry. This is confusing."
"You think so?"
Ron chuckled. "Right. It's more confusing for you, but you do seem to be taking it all a hell of a lot better than I would be."
"So, did you wear that dress on your date last night?"
"How'd it go?"
"Over my hea—oh," Harry said, grinning sheepishly, "the date was . . . well, we slept together."
"But, no bollocks," Ron replied, looking yet more perplexed for a moment until Harry's meaning became clear. "Oh, you mean you slept together," he said, considering her expression. Then he grinned and asked, "He was that boring, was he?"
"Ron! No. It was . . . nice."
"That's glowing praise, isn't it?"
"It was more than nice, actually. I didn't dream the entire time."
Ron thought about that for a moment, remembering well how Harry, in all the years he had known him, rarely passed a night without a bad dream. "I can't believe I'm about to say this, but . . . but Mum said once as how she made Dad agree to just sleep with her for a night back when they had been dating for a few months."
"To try him out for marriage. She figured if she couldn't be comfortable with him just sleeping then he wouldn't make a proper husband."
Harry laughed. "I guess we know how that turned out."
"Let's not dwell on it."
Still chuckling, Harry nodded her head. "I suppose it could have been all the pillows," she said, before telling Ron everything about her date with Severus.
"So you gave him a gift, and he gave you a gift, but neither of you know what each other's gifts were?"
"Yeah. Liltington said it was better to give something charmed to be something Severus would actually want. He seemed pleased enough."
"Aren't you curious?"
"Sure I am, but Liltington also told me that the gift couldn't be something I wouldn't give, so I'm not that worried about it."
"This is a leprechaun you're dealing with, Harry," Ron cautioned.
"I know, but I trust Fred and George—"
"That's less so—but not by much."
"—and I didn't know what else to do but to agree. I had no idea how to woo Severus."
"You know, it sounds as if Snape's sort of wooing you back, doesn't it?"
"I think he was just doing what he was told, as well. My courtship consultant's kind of hard to ignore."
Ron appeared doubtful, but he did not say anything more about his suspicion. "Getting back to my earlier question: do you want to marry Snape?"
"I don't know," Harry said, turning the card over in her hands and smiling to see her name written out upon it with Snape's attached. "That's . . . a lie. I do know. Yeah, I think I like that idea."
"What? You said you under—"
"I can't believe I'm about to say this, either, but here goes. Look, Harry, if you're thinking of marrying Snape because of . . . some need for . . . for security, that would be wrong."
Harry burst into laughter.
"What? It would be. You can't go marrying a bloke just for—why are you laughing?"
"Because here's everyone else worrying about Severus taking advantage of me, and you're worrying about me taking advantage of him. That's funny. You know it is."
Ron snorted. "I suppose so. Still, that isn't why you're thinking about it, is it?"
"Maybe a little," Harry admitted, "but I do like him. I've sort of always liked him, I guess. At least, I wanted to when he wasn't being such an arse."
"I know. Pants at silencing charms, remember?"
Harry flushed. "I didn't."
"You did. It was mortifying. I asked Hermione to Obliviate me once, but—"
"You told her what I said in my sleep?"
"—she wouldn't because I wouldn't tell her why," Ron finished, smirking at Harry. "I'm your best mate, you suspicious git. Of course I didn't tell Hermione what you said."
"But you slept in close quarters to her, as well, so . . . ."
"Shit! What did I say?"
"Standard wet dream stuff—for a poof, at any rate—I've tried to forget it."
Harry would have been more embarrassed, but for the smile on Ron's face; yet she thought she would punch him when he added, "the stuff about Lockhart was the worst."
"I never dreamed of him! It was Hermione who used to—"
"What?" Ron demanded, as his freckles were lost in his rapidly reddening face.
"Ha! See how you like it, you lying prat."
"Bastard," Ron muttered. "Some friend you are."
"How's Hermione taking all this, anyway?"
"How else? Calmly. It's maddening, how calm Hermione can be."
"Is she with Remus, too? What were you doing at his place, anyway?"
"Oh, er, well . . . ."
"Don't be mad. There hasn't been any time to tell you, and—"
Harry stood up. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing," Ron said, standing up, as well. "Uh, we were asking him to give Hermione away. I asked her to marry me."
"That's . . . that's great, Ron. But why didn't you—"
"I was going to tell you on Saturday, but you never showed up to the Three Broomsticks—and I didn't think I could ask you to be my best man when you were . . . weren't a man anymore."
"I completely forgot about Saturday."
"You had plenty reason to forget. I'm not mad."
Harry offered Ron his hand and said, "Congratulations. When's the wedding?"
"Mum and Mrs. Granger want a spring wedding, but not in April."
April was the month in which Mr. Granger had died of a heart attack two years previously.
"Well," said Harry, "I hope I've got this all sorted out by then so I can be your best man."
"Hell, it doesn't matter to me if you do. You'll always be my best mate, Harry," Ron said, and then he surprised himself by tearing up and pulling the witch into a hug—before both of them jumped back.
"Right. No more hugging until I've lost the breasts."
Ron shuddered. "Agreed."
"And don't you dare fantasize about—"
"Too late," Ron said, grinning mischievously at Harry until she punched him.
This time, he did not punch her back.
"Weird," they both said as one.
"Right," said Ron. "You'd best be getting to your classes. I'll deal with Madam Pomfrey." And Snape, too.
"Mr. Weasley," Severus said, "what a singular surprise to find you here, this morning."
"It's ten past noon. Are you going to invite me in?"
Sighing, Severus stepped back, thinking, Best get the histrionics over and done with. Closing the door, he turned to find Weasley holding out a document to him.
Taking it, he asked, "What's this?"
"That's the addendum you signed. I got it from George. Note the highlighted text where blank space used to be. It's seems like you've agreed to persuade Harry to marry you."
"What business is that of yours?"
"None, really, but if you don't succeed in getting Harry to marry you, I doubt you'll like the penalty," Ron told him, inclining his head at the contract.
Snape scanned the relevant section and read aloud: "'In the event that the secondary courter, Mr. Severus Sebastian Snape, fails in his intent to marry the secondary courtee, Mr. Harry James Potter, in the next month'—she included a time-limit?"
"'—he forfeits his flesh to'—"
"'Courtship Consultant Mrs. Laura Lilac Liltington of the Love Department of the Courtship Divsion of Weasleys' Wizarding Wheezes'," Ron finished for the other wizard, stepping forward to catch the contract addendum that Snape had allowed to fall from his fingers. "Nasty buggers, leprechauns. I can't believe you didn't read the contract."
"She wants to eat me?"
"Someone didn't pay enough attention during Care of Magical Creatures, it looks like."
"Well, you must be quite pleased with yourself."
"Why do you say that?" Ron asked, feeling quite pleased with himself. "I wouldn't wish such a horrid thing on anyone."
"But you'd make an exception for me, wouldn't you? You've never cared for—"
"You're wrong. I've pretty much always hated you for being such a nasty, bullying prat, but all that is about to change, isn't it?" Ron asked, making himself comfortable on the sofa. "You ought to sit down. You don't look well."
"What are you talking about?"
"You look a bit green, and—"
"Weasley! Why are you here?"
"Oh, sorry. I misunderstood you."
Severus just glared at him.
Best put the git out of his misery. "So, the way I see it, you've got to marry Harry before he gets his bollocks back, but to restore them, you have to shag her—and that could end in pregnancy, which means that—"
"Harry could remain a witch past the contracted deadline. That bitch Liltington's written 'Mr.' here. She's counting on my getting Harry with child. In the next month. Oh, gods."
"It's not that bad, really."
"How can you say that?" Severus demanded. "We've only had the one date!"
"I'll tell you how if you'll answer a question for me."
"What was Harry's gift to you last night? I know it was a book. I want to know the title."
"I . . . don't think I should tell you that."
"You do, and I'll tell you what you gave Harry—in addition to telling you what else I have to say that you might find helpful."
"That's two favors for one."
"I'm a Gryffindor, remember?"
Ron sighed. He's still a Slytherin, so we've got to do it his way, or he won't go along. "All right. We trade gift information, and you give me your word that you'll be good to Harry in marriage to him as I define it, and I'll help you get married."
"As you define it."
"A marriage between yourself and Harry."
"And how would you define such a marriage?"
"I'd define a marriage between you and my best mate as a union in which you treated Harry with love, respect, and faith—fidelity, and," Ron said, pausing to think, What was it that Hermione said? Oh, right— "one in which you treated your relationship as 'a partnership'. I don't want you bullying Harry and having your own way all the time. That wouldn't be fair."
"That is a remarkably firm opinion on the subject of marriage for one so young to possess. I take it Miss Granger helped you to develop it?"
"So what? I agree with her."
"You never could do your homework without help."
"Do we have a deal or don't we?"
"Yes," Severus said, shaking Ron's hand on it. "She gave me a book on the use of Potions to ensure the successful pregnancy of wizards," he told him, before the younger wizard could rethink the deal.
"Cor! No wonder Harry doesn't seem to mind being a witch that much! He's half-way there!"
"You said something about respect?"
"Knowing how many children my mum's had, you think I'm being disrespectful?"
"Forgive me. Now, what did I give Harry?"
"Your name," Ron said, grinning at how stunned the Potions master was to hear it. "And there was a 'Mr.' on that card, so you don't have much to worry about, I'd imagine."
"That's easy for you to say. You don't have a wedding to plan."
"Actually, I do."
Severus sat down. More Weasleys—Granger-Weasleys, too, no doubt.
"So, I suppose we'd better discuss that second date of yours, yeah?"