Ever After

Hogwarts

"Hogwarts?!"

Earl Harry Potter tried, for the umpteenth time, to reason with his wife. “Well, you did tell Master Dumbledore he could name it,” he pointed out.

Her Royal Highness Countess Ginevra Potter scowled at him. “Well, yes, I did, but seriously; Hogwarts?! It makes our school sound like… well, a warty pig!”

They’d been having this argument for what seemed like hours now, ever since Harry had revealed to Ginny what Master – no, Headmaster – Dumbledore had chosen for the name of the new school they had built. In fulfilment of their promise to Riddle, creating the magic school had been one of the first things they had tackled. It hadn’t been easy. After all, thanks to the Dursleys, Godric’s Hollow was almost completely drained of funds not to mention no one at Court knew Harry at all. Luckily most of the burden had fallen to the Crown but the day to day management – the sweet talking of merchants, the negotiations with labourers – had fallen almost exclusively on the youngest members of the royal family; Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione. But now, nearly two years later, their school was almost ready to open.

“Riddle likes it,” Ron said now, shrugging. “He’s going to rename Newtown ‘Hogsmeade’.”

Harry scowled at Ron as Ginny groaned. Although he personally preferred Hogsmeade to the other name Riddle had threatened (Harione – a bizarre mash up of Harry and Hermione’s names, supposedly to honour them) he didn’t think that was the best way to bring Ginny round. “So we have a school that sounds like diseased swine with a town that sounds like a brewery for pigs right on its doorstep. Just perfect.”

“I don’t think it’s that bad, Ginny,” Hermione said, placing a comforting arm on the younger girls shoulders. “It’s certainly… unusual. Should make us stand out.”

Ginny sighed. “Well, I don’t suppose we can do anything about it now.” She pulled a face. “Once Dumbledore gets an idea into his head it’s very hard to shift it.”

“Look on the bright side,” Harry said, holding her hand. “At least we got to name the houses.”

That brought a smile to Ginny’s face. “That’s true,” she said, squeezing his hand. “And I may be bias, but I think I’ll always have a preference for Gryffindor.”

Harry blushed slightly even as Ron shot his little sister down. “No way – Ravenclaw is clearly the superior house,” he negated, grinning at Hermione who just rolled her eyes.

“Seems we’ve started up house rivalry before school’s even begun,” she commented to Harry with a grin.

“Nothing wrong with that,” Ron said. “Be good to have a bit of competition. Competition means Quidditch, of course.” Rather unsurprisingly, one of the first things they all agreed on for the school was the inclusion of a Quidditch pitch.

“I still can’t believe your parents let us have this castle,” Hermione commented, looking around her with a happy sigh. They were currently standing in the entrance hall to what was formally Lankry castle in Scotland. They had been delighted when their Majesties had offered it up to them for use as their new magic school; it was in a very isolated part of the Highlands, in a beautiful valley surrounded by mountains and forests with a deep blue lake at the base. The castle itself was quite large, although they had had it physically and magically expanded to accommodate dormitories and classrooms as well as the necessarily impressive library.

All in all, the only one who hadn’t been too happy with the decision was Aunt Muriel who had found herself unexpectedly homeless.

Ginny and Ron both shrugged. “Apart from Aunt Muriel no one really lived here,” Ginny said.

“Although I’m bloody glad that Aunt Muriel decided to move back down to Court,” Ron added. “She’s honestly the most annoying old biddy I’ve ever met – not to mention she’s totally bonkers.” He paused and shuddered. “Can you imagine if she’d decided to stay behind like she’d threatened?”

They all shuddered at that. Aunt Muriel was… alright, but she was one of those people that had an opinion of everything and didn’t much care whether you wanted to hear it or not. She was also not particularly impressed with their scheme to open up magical education to commoners and had given them all rather lengthy lectures on the subject. They had all been quite relieved when she had moved back to Court.

“Was there anything else we need to decide for today?” Ginny asked eventually. It was early June and, all things considered, their new school – Hogwarts – would be opening that September. Most of the major projects had been completed already – hiring staff, fitting out rooms, decorating – but there were plenty of little jobs left.

Hermione, ever the organised one, brought out a list she kept with her at all times. “There’s only one thing left to do today,” she said, peering at it. “And that’s assigning values to each house.”

“You what?” Ron asked. Harry was equally confused.

“Ginny and I thought it would be a good idea if each of the houses had a particular trait we value as it’s… motto, I guess,” Hermione explained. “Something to aspire to.”

Harry and Ron considered that for a second. “I like that idea,” Harry said with a smile. “It will certainly help with trying to use Hogwarts to make people more considerate.”

“And by people you of course mean the nobles,” Ginny teased with a laugh. Harry stuck his tongue out at her but didn’t deny it. “Well, I call courage for Gryffindor,” she said, getting back to the matter at home. “It is, after all, named after one of the strongest people I know.”

Hermione smiled as she wrote that down. “Gryffindor, bravery; check.”

“Well if that’s how we’re doing it then Ravenclaw has obviously got to be brains,” Ron said.

They all laughed at that. “I think you’ll find most people have already got brains, Ron,” Harry said.

“I don’t know… that certainly explains a few things,” Ginny said, a mockingly pondering expression on her face as she stared at her brother.

Ron scowled at her. “You know what I mean; being ridiculously intelligent, like Hermione.”

Hermione blushed. “I don’t think we can put intelligence – you can’t exactly aspire to it,” she said, frowning.

“How about hard work then?” Ginny suggested instead. “Or dedication?”

“Dedication… I like that,” Hermione said with a smile adding that to her list. “For Hufflepuff?”

They all considered that for a while. “Loyalty,” Harry said firmly, thinking of Tonks, Sirius, Remus and Hermione.

“Right, loyalty,” Hermione agreed. “And I think Slytherin should be ambition.”

“No!” Harry exclaimed as Hermione went to write that down. She and the others looked at him shocked although Harry himself couldn’t see why. He was rather more shocked that Hermione had suggested it in the first place.

“Why ever not, Harry?” she asked, confused.

“Remember the Dursleys?” he said, shuddering. He still had his full memories of them although there were some days he was tempted to use Dumbledore’s gift, especially after a frustrating day dealing with snobby nobles who still looked down on him and Hermione for having been servants. “Everything they did was out of pure ambition; Petunia’s ambition,” he continued bitterly, “for more power and to get her son next to the throne. I don’t think we should be encouraging ambition at all.”

The other three exchanged glances. “That’s rather ironic coming from you, Harry,” Ginny said slowly, “considering you’re the most ambitious person I know.”

Harry gaped at her. “What?”

“Not all ambition is at gaining more power,” Hermione said watching him carefully. “It’s about having a big dream and doing something to fulfil it – even if it’s a completely selfless dream like yours.”

Harry stared at them both, still gobsmacked. He looked at Ron who shrugged. “What they said, mate. Changing the way everyone in the country thinks, opening up a school that integrates commoners and the nobility, demanding everyone gets an education… if that’s not ambition I don’t know what is.”

Harry closed his mouth. “I guess I never really thought about it that way before,” he admitted, feeling a little shaken. “And I didn’t think I’d ever find something I had in common with Petunia.”

“You do not have anything in common with that… that hag!” Hermione said, so vehemently that everyone jumped. “Harry, there is a world of difference between wanting to make the world a better place and destroying other people for your own selfish desire.” She took a deep breath. “Petunia is an example of the worst of humanity. You’re an example of the best.”

“You know, Hermione, you’ve been making it very hard these past couple of years for me to feel sorry for myself,” Harry said eventually with a smile after staring at his sister for a long moment.

Hermione smiled at him. “It’s my job.”

“And I, for one, thank you for that,” Ginny said, leaning on Harry with a grin. “I don’t particularly want to live with a mopey husband. With Hogwarts and everything else we hardly get enough private time together as it is.”

Ron pulled a face. “I don’t really want to hear that. Or see that,” he added as Harry gave his wife a kiss.

Ginny poked her tongue out at him. “If I have to listen to Hermione gush on about you then you can handle a little bit of embarrassment.” As if to make her point she gave Harry another massive kiss. Hermione smothered a laugh as Ron spluttered. Harry didn’t really notice; he was too busy enjoying the kiss.

“Alright then,” he said after he broke from the kiss, “you’ve convinced me; Slytherin is ambition.”

Hermione couldn’t help the smile as she added that to her list. “So then here we are; Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Headmaster Albus Dumbledore. Comprising of courageous Gryffindors, dedicated Ravenclaws, loyal Hufflepuffs and ambitious Slytherins.” Hermione paused and looked at the others a little uncertainly. “Think it will work?”

“Of course it will, Hermione,” Ron said with a grin. He pulled his wife into a hug. “In a thousand years Ravenclaws will still be trouncing the others at Quidditch.” Hermione rolled her eyes but looked reassured nonetheless.

“A thousand years?” Harry repeated dubiously. “Isn’t that a little optimistic?”

“More like… ambitious,” Ginny corrected, with a grin. “But ambition, as we said, is good.”

“Well, I can’t argue with that,” Harry said, giving her a squeeze. “To Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry!”

“To Hogwarts!” Ron and Hermione echoed, grinning.

Ginny didn’t say anything. “What’s wrong, Ginny?”

She sighed. “I just… really hate that name.”
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