Chapter 24 – The Boy Who Married
. . .
Say it isn't so! I know my dear readers that must be what you are saying to yourself at this very moment. I can exclusively confirm that it is the very truth. The Boy Who Lived is now officially off the most eligible wizard's list. How did this happen? When did this happen? Who has managed to snag the number one hottie on Witch Weekly Most Scrumptious list you may ask?This columnist wanted to know as well and did some checking into the matter.
It would seem that there are broken hearts all across our great country today, perhaps none more so than the witch I reported on back in Harry Potter's fourth year at Hogwarts. It was clear then to this reporter that Harry Potter's close muggle-born friend, Hermione Granger, was well smitten with our young hero! One cannot fault her for her taste in wizards, even though they are a bit out of reach for the rather plain witch.
A fellow classmate of theirs confided in me that the pair had dated all through their time at school as well as during the war. If not for the fact that Miss Granger became overly bossy and know-it-all when she made Prefect they might still be together, I was told. I can only imagine the heartache Miss Granger is currently experiencing at having lost the love of her life. Apparently she did not let it get her down as she is now Head Girl at Hogwarts, where she can boss all the students about.
During my extensive research I discovered that Harry Potter has a rather long and sordid history of breaking witches hearts. Our hero had accompanied Pavarti Patil, a pretty enough witch of foreign descent, to a Yule Ball only to ignore her for the duration of the evening. Then there was Miss Cho Chang, the late girlfriend of Hogwarts Tri-Wizard Champion Cedric Diggory, who Mister Potter left in the middle of their date. The poor witch was forced to find her own way home as her escort never returned for Miss Chang.
The latest conquest of our hero was one Miss Ginevra Weasley, recently signed as a second string chaser for the Holyhead Harpies. The young Miss Weasley was strung along for some time it seems. Perhaps she was not ready to give up the goods as easily as the others? It is confirmed that Mister Potter proposed to her, gifting her with an enormous engagement ring. Shortly thereafter the two separated. I guess every witch has her price. Is it any wonder Miss Weasley found comfort in the arms of her teammates? It wouldn't be the first time a witch flew on the other side of a broom due to a broken heart.
Then who, you may ask, finally managed to land the hero of the wizarding world? The answer is perhaps more scandalous than Mister Potter's exploits to date combined. Our hero has married a fellow classmate which leads one to wonder just how long has their relationship been going on? Perhaps the two of them enjoyed a long and beneficial relationship from their early days at Hogwarts. Were the previous witches in Mister Potter's life little more than subterfuge to hide an illicit love affair?
I am certain that, like me, you may be asking yourself how could something of this sordid nature happen within the hallowed walls of Hogwarts. Was it perhaps due to the fact that a certain deceased Headmaster knew of their torrid relations and had decided to look the other way? Were word of their relationship to be discovered the very Founders of Hogwarts would be tossing in their graves.
Harry Potter, Gryffindor's Golden Boy, was finally landed by a pure-blood Slytherin, Daphne Greengrass, daughter to Gerald Greengrass of Greengrass Mercantile. Yes, my devoted readers, it would appear as though the centuries of animosity between the two houses at Hogwarts has finally been put to rest with this union. Perhaps that is what Albus Dumbledore planned all along? The late Headmaster was well known for his schemes and plots. See my book,'The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore' for details.
A source close to the new husband and wife informed me that the wedding was small with only the crème da la crème being invited. If you weren't there then you didn't matter. In an apparent effort to appease the Wizarding World the couple was married under the name of Black rather than Potter, a house known for its penchant for marrying muggle born witches. The latest having been Lily Evans who enticed James Potter with her wiles. One can only hope that Mister Potter will be able to live up to the name of Black, a family well known to adhere to our traditions and values.
The young couple apparently celebrated and danced the night away before retiring for the evening. It was apparent, my source told me, that they were in a hurry to consummate their marriage. 'It was as if they already knew what awaited them.' my source confided in me. One has to wonder if there will be a Black heir born sooner than nine months or not. It wouldn't be the first time a wizard had sampled the goods before buying them.
So just how did Lady Black manage to capture and retain our Hero's attention all these many years? Will she be able to keep her wizard's eyes on her? We can only hope. While we are excited concerning their nuptials and wish them the best of luck in the future, we cannot help but wonder what about all the questions my investigation has raised. Rest assured my readers, I will not rest till I have answers for you!
Harry tossed the copy of the Daily Prophet onto the table top. The witches arrayed around the breakfast table eyed the wizard with concern."I see Skeeter hasn't lost her flare for writing rubbish. Why let something as minuscule as the facts get in the way of sensationalism," Harry commented is disgust.
"I should have squashed that bug when I had the chance," Hermione growled from her place to the left of Harry. The young witch's cheek bore a slight tinge of pink as Rita's remarks were surprisingly not that far off for once in regards to herself. I wish I had realized things back in fourth year, Hermione told herself. I wonder how things would have turned out? Would it be me Harry would be married to now? Hermione's return to Westfield had barely caused a ripple, a fact that confused Harry to no end. It's almost as if everyone else expected it.
"In one article she's managed to paint Harry as a womanizer-," Daphne started to say.
"Can't imagine where she got that idea," Tracey coughed with a pointed look about the table and all the witches seated there.
"-and made it appear that we snubbed the entire wizarding world by not inviting them to the wedding," Daphne continued with, pointedly ignoring Tracey's comment. "I apparently have used my Slytherin ways and seduced Harry and am already pregnant and expecting a baby which was cause for the wedding."
"Don't forget about all the young witches with broken hearts," Luna provided helpfully. "They were all just so certain that our Harry would swoop down and whisk them away to marry them and make them the next Missus Potter. You're so evil for stealing him away from them, Daphne," she added with a cheerful grin. "Whoever shall they drool over now?"
"I thought the suggestion that Harry would carry on in the Black family tradition and go dark was rather well done," Andi offered from the other end of the table. "Sadly I think subtle implications of that nature will be completely missed by the majority of the wizarding world though. They just aren't smart enough to understand it."
"So none of it is true?" Astoria enquired in a slightly disappointed tone?
"Sorry to burst your bubble, Tori, as I know how much you love to read those trashy romance novels, but there hasn't been some secretive affair between Harry and I," Daphne replied to her younger sister.
"I don't think Daphne and I even spoke to each other our entire time at Hogwarts," Harry commented, confirming his wife's words."Rita Skeeter on the other hand I have spoken to far more times than I would have cared to."
"Apparently not enough to encourage her to leave you alone, Harry," Tracey said.
"Apparently," Harry agreed, before turning to regard Hermione. "We could always do that."
"I think we may have to," Hermione said, drawing several curious looks from around the table. "Skeeter is an unregistered Animagus. Back during the war, we managed to capture her in her beetle form and forced her to be a bit more truthful in her reporting. Part of her being released was an agreement that she wouldn't tell lies concerning Harry."
"A fact she seems to have conveniently forgotten," Harry quipped.
"But how did she even know about the marriage?" Daphne asked. "We didn't announce it or anything." Harry thought he might know who was to blame.
"There are any number of ways that could happen," Luna stated with Andi nodding in agreement. "Gringotts would have to track such matters if only to know who can access a vault and who cannot. Perhaps someone who knew was not quiet about it?" the bright witch suggested, giving Harry a slight nod as if reading his thoughts which were then voiced by Astoria.
Astoria looked at Daphne, "Father," the younger Greengrass daughter stated.
"It would be something he might do," Daphne conceded in a thoughtful tone. "The story is slanted to make us look bad which would certainly improve his chances at swinging public opinion in his favor. The question is, what do we want to do about it?" she voiced, looking at Harry.
"Nothing," Harry replied after a moment's thought."It's not like we were trying to hide the fact after all," he clarified. "You're not actually pregnant as we've done nothing," the wizard added with a slight blush. "When there is no baby in nine months that part of her story with be debunked."
"Sooner than that," Andi corrected him. "When Daphne doesn't start to show, people will realize that Rita was just coloring her stories with her own unique flavor of the truth once again. You'd think the masses would have learned not to believe a word she prints after all this time."
"But I do have to get pregnant," Daphne pointed out, a hint of fear in her tone as she realized that if she did get pregnant now it would more or less confirm Skeeter's story.
"But not right away," Harry replied, reaching out and taking Daphne's hand in his to reassure her. "It will be alright, Daphne. This isn't the first time Skeeter has tried to smear my name in the Prophet after all. We'll just weather the storm for now. All of us," he added as his gaze swept around the table. "Mary should be returning tonight so that means classes for you lot tomorrow," he reminded them, receiving a chorus of groans for his efforts.
The matter apparently settled for the time being the group returned to eating their breakfast. Talk around the table was about small inconsequential things that fill the minutes but really amount to nothing. Daphne and Harry had already gathered everyone together after their lunch date and had informed them what had transpired with Daphne's father. It would soon be public knowledge and they both wanted the others to hear it from them rather than read about it in the paper.
When the meal was over Harry stood and left the room heading for his study and the ever expanding pile of paperwork awaiting him. I thought I hired others to handle this stuff, the wizard grumbled to himself upon taking his seat behind his desk. In truth he had but it seemed that hiring others also increased the amount of paperwork as there was now payroll and any number of other matters to be dealt with. Hearing a knock upon the open door Harry looked up to see who was there.
"I'm not interrupting am I?" Tracey asked hesitantly, eyeing the stack of papers on the desk before Harry.
"Not at all," Harry told her, hastily sweeping the papers aside. Paperwork or talk with a pretty witch? There's a tough choice. "What can I do for you, Tracey? Is everything alright? I'm sorry I really haven't had much chance to spend time with you since you returned."
"I'm fine," Tracey replied from the doorway. "It's not like you're obligated to spend time with me after all," she stated harshly, wishing she could take the words back as soon as they left her mouth. Why do I always do that?she scolded herself. "I was wondering if I could talk to you about my parents?" the nervous witch enquired.
Harry cringed at the witch's words but realized that it was just Tracey, who often said things she regretted. I guess it is just part of her charm, he mused before focusing on the matter at hand. I should have seen this coming, Harry chastised himself. "Sure," Harry answered, gesturing for her to come in. Harry waited till Tracey was seated in a chair before his desk with the door closed and sealed before asking, "What would you like to know?"
The young witch played with the bottom edge of her shirt in her lap, her eyes downcast so she wouldn't have to look at the wizard before her."How did you come into possession of Divine Dresses by Davis, Harry?" she finally asked. While she was thrilled to have ownership of the business she was fairly certain that her mum would have died before relinquishing control. It wouldn't surprise me if I had to pry the deed from her cold hand even after she was in the ground.
How do I answer that? There were two possible answers as Harry saw it. One would cause the witch before him pain while the other would be close enough to the truth to be believed and yet not hurt Tracey."It was a business transaction," Harry told her, going with option two. "Your parents approached me with a request for a loan. I was able to work out an arrangement with your father that was beneficial for the both of us."
"How much did they ask for?" Tracy asked curiously. The young woman had never really paid much attention to the financial side of the business, being more interested in design, but her family lived as if they were not hurting for galleons. Trying their best to appear as pure-bloods, it would have hurt her mother's pride to have to ask for a loan. Things must have been pretty bad for that to happen.
"It doesn't matter," Harry told her dismissively."My business manager looked into the business and determined it wasn't a good risk."
"Why not?" Tracey enquired, surprised by the fact that Divine Dresses wouldn't be worth investing in. Growing up she had been forced to listen to her mother go on and on about how wonderful business was and how wealthy the Davis family was. There appeared to be a number of things I was not made aware of.
"There was a loan that was called in," Harry explained trying to recall all the details as it had been several months ago. The amount of the loan your parents requested wouldn't have paid the loan off, only bought them time. The Davises were not favorable to offering part ownership at that time either. My business adviser felt that with the limited clientele the business had that it was a bad investment."
Seeing the questioning look upon Tracey's face Harry explained."The store caters to the wealthy. After the war there are far fewer of them than there used to be. Many of the regular customers are now either dead or enjoying a rather long stint in Azkaban due to supporting Voldemort. Not many can afford the costly materials that go into a dress made at Divine Dresses. It was explained to me that it seriously limits the stores potential income."
"So they couldn't pay the loan or generate the income from the store to do so," Tracey said, repeating what Harry had told her to make certain she understood it. "If they weren't willing to offer you a partnership then what did they provide as collateral for the loan?" Tracey knew that a partnership couldn't be offered as only a Davis could own the store. It was written into the Deed of Ownership that way.
"It doesn't matter," Harry answered, dismissing her question once again, "As we didn't go that route after all. I was able to work with your father and come to an arrangement that was amicable for everyone involved…more or less."
"Which was?" Tracey pressed. The fact that Harry said the deal was with her father spoke volumes to the witch.
Harry sighed, seeing no way around it. It's not like she isn't going to find out anyway, he reasoned. "Your father designated me as his heir and then abdicated his Head of House position making me the head of the Davis House," Harry confessed as he held up his right hand and allowed the Davis Head of House ring to appear. The young wizard held his breath, expecting Tracey to explode.
Tracey stared at the ring for a long moment before slowly beginning to shake her head back and forth. "I don't buy it," she told Harry. "There is no way my mum would give up not only Divine Dresses but the Matriarch position within the family as well. She'd sell me off in marriage to someone wealthy before doing something like that," Tracey said only to see Harry flinch at her words.
The pieces all started to fall into place for the intelligent Slytherin witch. "That's what she did, isn't it? She tried to use me as collateral for the loan?" Tracey asked Harry. "Or did she just offer to sell me to you outright?"
"It's not like that, Tracey," Harry quickly replied as his mind raced for a way to not make it look as if Tracey's mother had done exactly what Tracey thought her capable of. "The Gnomes had called in the loan that your family has been paying on for generations. Your parents sold everything they had in an attempt to keep from having to make the offer they did to me," Harry told Tracey. While selling things came after the fact, it was a technicality Harry chose to overlook at the moment.
"But you didn't take the offer did you?" Tracey asked rhetorically, her eyes dropping to her lap. "You didn't want to marry me. I wasn't good enough to cover the cost of the business," she added, picking at some skin on her finger absently.
Harry was out of his seat in a second and made his way around the desk only to kneel before the distraught witch, taking her hands in his own."It's not like that at all Tracey. You are worth far more than any business. More than all of them combined," Harry told her. "The thought of essentially buying you made me sick! I couldn't believe that your mum was offering you in such a manner."
"Aren't I worth marrying, Harry?" Tracey asked with a sad little sniffle. Truth be told it was more the fact that her mum had wanted to sell her just to keep the family business afloat that hurt. While she had always suspected that her mother didn't love her, nothing said it clearer than to be sold off like a spare broom. "I know I'm damaged goods."
Deep down she knew that Harry did think of her that way. While her mum had always made her feel worthless, Harry had more than once made her feel special. Still, it was difficult for the confused witch to think clearly and she needed to hear it from Harry himself. If I will be with Daphne and Harry, then I want it to be because Harry wants me there and not because he's doing it for Daphne. "Don't you want me?"
Harry reached up and cupped the crying witch's cheek with one hand, his thumb wiping at the tears that had started to trickle down Tracey's cheek. "How could I not want to be with you, Tracey?" Harry asked with a small smile. "You're a wonderful woman. One any wizard would be thankful to have," he assured her. "Someday you're going to find the right someone and I have little doubt that I will be a bit sad that it isn't me."
"What about Daphne?" Tracey asked with a rather loud sniffle.
"I love Daphne. Truly I do. I plan on doing everything I can to see that she is happy for the rest of her life," Harry replied."That doesn't mean that I can't want the same for you though," Harry added, sincerely wanting Tracey to be happy with Daphne for however long they remained together. The fact that they were two girls was rather arousing and Harry was certain it would be the subject of future, not so dry, dreams. I also promised Mister Davis I would do everything I could to see to it that Tracey was happy.
He wants to make me happy for the rest of my life as well? Tracey couldn't believe her own ears. Does this mean that he loves me? A small smile appeared on Tracey's face as she felt butterflies stir in her stomach and her breath hitched at Harry's admission. I'll be able to be with both Daphne and Harry! But does he love me? Well, there is one way to tell, she reasoned. The girls at school said you can always tell how a man feels about you this way.
Harry leaned a bit forward in an attempt to see around Tracey's dangling bangs. The young wizard saw a barest hint of a smile appear on the witch's lips and breathed a silent sigh of relief, believing the crisis aborted, at least for the time being. Harry was understandably surprised then when Tracey's lips captured his in a heated kiss. Startled, the wizard tried to open his mouth to say something only to have it filled with the witch's tongue.
Tracey feared she had made a mistake as Harry's body went rigid but when he opened his lips and welcomed her probing tongue she deepened the kiss. Feeling the man's arms eventually encircle her and pull her in close was the final confirmation she needed as the wizard's tongue wrestled with hers. He does love me! her voice screamed in her head. Wait till I tell Daphne, she thought, certain that the three of them would now work out just fine.
Harry froze as Tracey deepened the kiss but then slipped his arms around the witch and pulled her in close, returning the kiss. Never let it be said the young man ever turned down a kiss from a beautiful witch. Harry was in no hurry to reside in a small room at St. Mungo's after all. Damn I shouldn't be doing this, he told himself but his mind couldn't help but wonder about the possibilities ahead of him with Tracey and Daphne.
Bloody hell! I'm kissing Tracey! The thought suddenly cut through the enjoyable hormonal fog that had descended upon the young man's brain. With it came the realization that this was the witch that had almost been raped by Gregory Goyle. Maybe I should stop? But if I stop she'll think I don't want her, Harry's thoughts warred with himself as his body went on autopilot and continued to kiss the witch with him who had now slipped from the chair to kneel on the floor with him.
If I break this off now what will Tracey think? The first bloke she tries to kiss rejects her. No matter how he looked at it, Harry was certain that wouldn't be good for the witch's self-esteem. But if you keep this up won't she think you care about her? a voice that sounded suspiciously like Hermione's asked in his head. But I do care about her, he pointed out, a little shocked by how easily that admission came to mind. Is there any wonder why I drink so much? he groaned at the complication that was his life.
Encouraged by the soft moan Harry let slip the witch became bolder. It was the fact that Tracey's hands started to wander in a southerly direction which eventually caused Harry to break their enjoyable snog."Wait Tracey. We can't do this," the flustered wizard stated, leaning back from the witch who automatically shifted forward in pursuit. "What about Daphne?" Harry asked, tossing one of Tracey's questions back at her in an effort to cause the witch to be reasonable.
"Daphne will understand," Tracey growled as she leaned further forward, forcing Harry to lean backwards till he toppled over, taking the witch with him in the process. Far from upset by this turn of events, Tracey was rather pleased. Very sly, Harry, she thought appreciatively as she lay across the prone wizard. Though snogging on the study floor isn't exactly one of my top choices of places to do this.
The young, inexperienced witch was rather surprised at just how easy it was for her to kiss Harry. I thought for certain that it would be hard to feel this way about any wizard, a small portion of her brain absently thought. Tracey had more or less given up on ever having a normal relationship with a member of the opposite gender, fearing she was too scarred from what Gregory had done to her. Harry certainly seemed to be the exception to that rule though.
The two of them were sprawled upon the floor in a tangle of arms and legs which Harry tried to extract himself from. I'm glad someone understands, he thought to himself as Tracey seemed to be intent upon staying on top of the wizard. The fact that the witch's chest was pressed into his own was terribly distracting. She is bigger than Daphne, Harry noted absently. "Tracey, we can't do this. It isn't fair to Daphne," Harry tried once again to point out.
Tracey paused in her efforts to recapture Harry's lips with her own. "Didn't Daphne talk to you about this, Harry?" Tracey asked as she sat up in the wizards lap. Daphne had told Tracey the night before last that she was spending time with Harry so that she could discuss their future together. I even took Astoria with me so that the two of them could have the place alone together, Tracey recalled.
The wizard was quick to shake his head negatively. "We talked about her having to give me an heir but that was it," Harry offered in rushed words only to see Tracey's face turn a beet red in color as a frighten expression appeared. "It's alright, Tracey," Harry tried to assure the witch, certain that none of this was alright. Seeing the witch in his lap begin to panic Harry quickly sat up and wrapped his arms around Tracey even as she started to cry. Bloody hell what was Daphne supposed to tell me?
Daphne didn't tell him! I've ruined everything! Harry hasn't a clue about her plans for the three of us! "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry," Tracey began to blather, struggling to get free in her panic."I thought…I mean Daphne…I'm so sorry!" the upset witch exclaimed as Harry rocked her back and forth, attempting to calm her down. "I was so certain that you…," the young woman's words trailed off incomplete as she was finding it difficult to hold one thought long enough to even complete a sentence.
None of what Tracey was saying made any sense to Harry so he readily dismissed it as meaningless drivel that women do when they are upset and crying. "It's alright Tracey. If anything I should be the one apologizing for kissing you. Given what happened with…well, I shouldn't have done this," Harry added, not certain just how to mention what had happened with Goyle.
Harry's words seemed to calm Tracey a bit and she slumped into his embrace, laying her head upon his shoulder facing away, with her arms draped around his waist. "No, I kissed you," Tracey reminded him after a few minutes. "I think it was because of what happened with Gregory that I did," she added, confusing the wizard holding her even more. "After what happened I felt as if I was tainted and that no one would ever want me again," Tracey tried to explain.
"Of course it didn't help that I hated men for the longest time afterwards," Tracey admitted. "Hard for me to find someone that would want me when anytime a guy got even close to me I would panic and run away. It didn't take long for the boys at Hogwarts to learn to leave me alone. Daphne was pretty good at running them off for me as well."
"There was a part of me that was glad when my mum told me I wouldn't be returning to Hogwarts. I wouldn't have to worry about boys hitting on me or panicking if they even looked in my direction," Tracey confessed as Harry gently rubbed her back in a comforting manner, deciding to let the witch talk it out of her system. "Then Daphne writes and tells me she is living with Harry Potter."
"Daphne has never written about a wizard before," Tracey clarified just how unusual that was. "If it had been anyone else I wouldn't have thought too much of it, but this was you after all. I mean who didn't fancy the hero of the wizarding world?"
Harry couldn't help the groan that escaped his lips upon hearing Tracey's words till a thought occurred to him. "Even you?"
"In our third year," Tracey answered with a severe blush at the admission. "I just couldn't resist that hair of yours."
"Merlin, but it was a mess back then," Harry agreed with a small chuckle.
"Well of course I rushed over here when Daphne asked me if I wanted to come and stay for a visit," Tracey said, continuing her thoughts from before. "I was certain you were after Daphne and were just playing her to get into her knickers."
"Not a bad pass time for a boy my age to have," Harry interjected, earning himself a slap on the back for his efforts.
"Quiet you, I'm trying to spill my guts here," Tracey chastised him though there was not anger to her words. "You were a male and hence not to be trusted. I tried very hard to hate you, Harry. You didn't deserve it but it didn't really matter to me at the time. Everything you did I took the wrong way of course. Little by little though I found you were more the boy from third year than the villain I had made you out to be."
"Then came Yule," Harry offered, seeing just how that must have looked from Tracey's point of view.
Tracey gave a nod of agreement. "I was so angry with you for what you had done. I was even angrier with myself for having let my guard down and trusting you. It was Greg all over again. I couldn't believe I had been so stupid once more."
"And now?" Harry prodded gently.
"It was all a lie. Everything I had thought was wrong," Tracey admitted, having spoken to Daphne as soon as the blonde witch had returned with Astoria from the Greengrass residence that day. "I'm confused. When I think I know what is going on I'm terribly wrong. I'm honestly scarred of what the future holds, Harry. I care for you and that terrifies me to no end. I could so fall for you…if I haven't already."
"I love Daphne and I can't imagine being separated from her. We've been together for as long as I can remember. I think part of the reason I mistrusted you was because I could see that Daphne was falling in love with you. I was a little jealous," Tracey admitted.
"A little?" Harry teased, earning himself another playful smack on the back. "I would never try and separate you two," Harry told her, certain that was part of the apprehension that Tracey was feeling. "You're a wonderful woman, Tracey. I won't lie and say I don't care for you, because I do. It's all really confusing actually," the man admitted. "I'm married to Daphne and…," Harry's words stumbled a bit as he realized he had almost included Luna in that statement, "yet I care for all of you," he quickly amended.
"I have no clue as to what I am doing half the time. Like my time at Hogwarts and during the war, I'm muddling my way through it the best I can, trying desperately not to hurt any of you," Harry told her, feeling that if she was going to be open with him then the least he could do was return the favor. "I don't have a lot of experience with women. In fact, I'm rather clueless in case you haven't noticed."
"Really?" Tracey teased back in retaliation for his earlier comment.
"I know! Hard to believe huh?" Harry quipped back playfully, finding that he rather enjoyed this side of Tracey. "I just try to do what I can to make all of you happy. Sometimes that works and sometimes it fails, usually in a spectacular fashion such as Daphne's wand. But I do try and do the best for all of you that I can."
"Which is why all the witches here are in love with you," Tracey said softly.
Before Harry could ask just what Tracey meant by that they were disturbed by the arrival of a large barn owl that swooped in and alighted upon the edge of Harry's desk. The bird gave a rather demanding hoot as it regarded the couple expectantly. "Perhaps I should get that," Harry said a bit awkwardly as he released the witch in his lap who promptly got off him and resumed her seat in the chair once more.
Harry climbed to his feet and turned to the owl accepting the attacked letter to the animal's foot, taking his time to allow time for Tracey to wipe the tears from her cheeks. The owl, once freed of its burden, gave a reproachful hoot at how long it took and flew off without awaiting a reply. Harry walked around his desk and seated himself once more before looking at the letter in his hands. The wizard was a little startled to see that the postage was sealed with the Malfoy crest. "Sorry, business," Harry said with a smile towards Tracey.
"Speaking of business," Tracey stated. "What would you like to do concerning Divine Dresses? I've been giving it some thought and have a few ideas."
Harry set the letter aside with the seal facedown. "I'm all ears," he replied, giving the witch before him his undivided attention.
"The issue you said was that there were too few people to sell to," Tracey started with. "I had been thinking that for some time. There are only so many events a year that would require a new dress after all so our sales as they are currently are limited. We could use less expensive materials, however then our dresses would not be as desirable."
"It's a tradeoff I guess," Harry agreed, not one with ahead for business, especially fashion.
"What if we had more than one line of dresses though?" Tracey enquired. The thought had actually come to her while on a shopping trip with Daphne in muggle London where they had visited several different stores that were almost too large to be believed. "Rather than just cater to the elite we could also carry a less expensive line of clothing for the everyday witch. That would increase our clientele considerably. Do you think that will work?"
"I don't see why not," Harry replied with a shrug."You can be the Harrods of the wizarding world if you want to be," Harry added jokingly.
"That's brill!" Tracey exclaimed excitedly. "Bloody hell why didn't I think of that?"
"Language, Davis," Harry quipped, playing the part of Daphne.
"Oh stuff it, Potter," Tracey fired back, clearly not remorseful in the least. "I wonder if I can sell muggle clothing?" she pondered aloud, more to herself than to Harry. "I bet if I could get my hands on a selection of muggle undergarments I wouldn't be able to count the galleons fast enough they'd be coming in so quickly," Tracey stated with a feverish gleam in her eyes.
Harry sat and watched rather amusedly as Tracey talked to herself. Occasionally he caught phrases such as color schemes, third floor addition and advertising. The young man cleared his throat for the third time without a response and finally rose and walked around the desk. It took him snapping his fingers several times right in front of Tracey to get her attention finally. "I hate to intrude," Harry said only partially joking, "but about what just happened," he asked, attempting to get back on topic.
"Who cares about that!" Tracey exclaimed jumping to her feet. "I have a ton of work to do and not nearly enough time to do it in!" the excited witch told him. "Harry, you were raised in the muggle world, do you know anyone in the clothing business there that could help me?"
Sure, muggles know everyone after all, he thought sarcastically but was wise enough not to say aloud. "I'll see what I can do," Harry offered, figuring it was something he could speak with his account manager about. I need to see him about the Greengrass vaults anyways, he reasoned."I'm sure we can find someone, Tracey."
"Morgana! No wonder I love you!" Tracey proclaimed before throwing her arms around the startled wizard and kissing him. Just as quickly she let him go and spun away, leaving Harry a bit dizzy and worse for wear. "I'll be at the store," Tracey hollered over her shoulder as she raced from the room.
"What just bloody happened?" Harry asked aloud to the empty room before returning to his seat and sitting. It was then that he realized Tracey had never finished explaining why she had kissed him. Perhaps she just wanted to see if she could actually kiss a wizard after what happened to her at Hogwarts, Harry guessed.
The young wizard retrieved the letter from his desktop and broke the seal on it, certain no malicious mail would make it through the Westfield wards. Inside the envelope was a bit of fine parchment, clearly of the expensive kind, with a short message written upon it. Reading the letter over he couldn't help but wonder what had caused this. His presence was requested for a meeting at Gringotts tomorrow morning at 10 o'clock. Apparently a room had already been booked.
"Do people think I have nothing better to do than just sit here and await their letters for a meeting?" he wondered, recalling that Gerald Greengrass had done a similar thing. Like I can just drop everything and rush off to Gringotts at a time that is convenient for them. Despite his grumbling Harry knew he would do just that which perhaps irked him more than anything.
The Goblin stared across his desk at the wizard seated before him."Mister Potter," he acknowledged respectfully.
"Bob," Harry replied with a slight nod of his head in greeting.
"You've been busy I see," Bob offered, glancing down at the copy of the Prophet on his desk.
"A little," Harry commented evasively.
"How little?" the Potter Account Manager enquired."Whenever you get a 'little busy' my work load seems to increase exponentially." Rather than reply Harry held up his right hand and allowed the Greengrass Head of House ring to become visible. Bob reached down and opened the bottom drawer on the desk and withdrew a folder of substantial size. The account manager closed and reopened the drawer several times but took nothing from it.
The goblin grumbled with a frown upon his face, as he wrote out a message and slipped it into a different desk drawer. In a minute there was a knock on the office door and a young goblin entered carrying a folder. The new arrival quickly made his way to the desk and presented the folder he was carrying. "My nephew," Bob explained as he accepted the folder."He's learning the ropes."
"I guess Bob really is your uncle," Harry quipped only to receive toothy stares from both goblins. The young wizard couldn't tell if they were grinning or angry at his humor. Then again Harry hadn't as yet been able to tell what constituted a humorous grin on a goblin.
"I had him bring me the Greengrass accounts as they were not in the system," Bob explained as he sat the folder down upon his desk."First things first," he said, sliding a parchment across towards Harry. "This will transfer control of the Greengrass accounts and vaults to my management," Bob explained.
Harry quickly signed and slid the parchment back having signed the same form before for the Black and Lovegood accounts and vaults, the Davis ones having been closed out. "Take your time to look them over and let me know where we stand with them. If there is enough gold to work with perhaps we should invest it as you did with the Black and Lovegood gold."
"Of course," Bob acknowledged. The fact that the file hadn't been in the system did not sit well with him but there was no need to mention that at this time. Better first to look the accounts over and see what is there first, he reasoned. After looking the parchment over Bob slipped it into the Potter-Black-Lovegood-Davis and now Greengrass portfolio folder. "Is there anything else I can assist you with today?"
Harry was thoughtful for a moment when he remembered Tracey's request. "Do you know where I can get my hands on women's undergarments?"
Bob's eyes widened a bit at the wizard's request, completely surprised by it. "Mister Potter, that is not a service Gringotts has provided for nearly a hundred years I'm afraid," he finally answered."Still, I might know an establishment or two that would meet your requirements."
Harry gave an appreciative smile only for it to slowly dip as it dawned on him what his request must have sounded like. "No, I think you misunderstood me," he tried to explain.
"It's quite alright, Mister Potter. You're young yet so it is very natural for you to have these urges. I'm certain if I were living with several attractive young goblin females I would have similar desires as well," Bob told him.
Try as he might, Harry couldn't block the images that Bob's words brought to mind. How do goblins even mate? he absently wondered and then wished he hadn't."That is not what I meant," Harry stated with a shake of his head to clear the images from his mind. "Tracey wants to introduce a line of muggle clothes and women's undergarments to Divine Dresses in an effort to boost sales and patronage. The only issue is that we do not know how to go about acquiring the merchandise."
"I see," Bob replied, not really certain if he was glad or disappointed by Harry admission to not wanting to get his hands on women's unmentionables. Perhaps he already has his hands full, Bob thought, recalling that Harry was now married as well as living with several witches. "Gringotts can certainly arrange that for a small fee."
Harry had quickly learned when he took over his inheritance and started working with Bob that Gringotts idea of small and his idea of small were two greatly different things. Still, this is for Tracey. She seemed really excited to get started on the new lines, Harry recalled. "Please see that she has everything she needs. Open a vault for Divine Dresses as well as a new one for the Davis family, making certain Tracey has access to both. Transfer galleons from the Potter vault to the Divine Dresses vault as you need to in order to cover the costs. Place an additional twenty thousand in the Davis vault so there will be galleons there should Tracey need to purchase personal items."
"I'll see to it today. I am assuming you do not want Miss Davis' parents to have access to the new vault?" Bob enquired only to see Harry shake is heads that he didn't. "Speaking of your other vaults, now that you are married, do you want your wives to have access to all the vaults or just specific ones?" Bob asked in a non-judgmental tone.
"Wives?" Harry asked in a nervous tone. "So you know about Luna then?"
"The Heads of all Houses are known to us as the lines of succession alters with each marriage, birth or death," Bob explained."The Goblin Nation took over the tracking of this matter as it mostly ties into who can and cannot access vaults. The Ministry was far too lazy to be bothered with something of this mundane nature and so it fell to us."
"I see," Harry replied. "In that case I think my wives should have equal access to everything."
Bob's respect for his client went up a bit. "Setting different access would show favoritism and show one was better than the other," he reasoned aloud, echoing the thoughts that had prompted Harry's decision in the first place. Miserable wife, miserable life, Bob thought, recalling an old Goblin saying.
"My thoughts as well," Harry stated. The last thing he wanted was to imply that one wife was better than the other. I'm certain that wouldn't go over well at all. Harry accepted the parchment from Bob and signed it, authorizing the change in access. "Anything further you need from me today, Bob?"
"The Black and Lovegood investments are starting to turn a nice profit," Bob offered. "Your Potter holdings are doing better after a few minor adjustments to them. If anything comes up I will be certain to let you know," Bob said as he walked Harry to the door. The two said their goodbyes and parted with Bob returning to his desk. The Goblin knew it was going to be a long day as he opened the Greengrass file and started reading.
The hour was late and the night was dark when the man appeared outside the manor gates with the telltale crack of apparition. The individual gave a hasty look about to insure that there were none present to observe his arrival. Satisfied, he strode forward, pausing only to push the gates open far enough for him to slip through. It wasn't long before the cloaked figure made its way down the cobbled lane and to the front doors of the large manor house. Raising one black gloved hand the figure pounded upon the sturdy door several times and then waited.
The door when it opened spilled forth the bright light from within the home. The sudden light momentarily blinded the man waiting without. As the visitor's eyesight adjusted he saw before him a rather tall man with pale skin and a pointed face. Cold uncaring grey eyes regarded him without the sparkle of a friendly welcome or the heated hatred of an enemy. They were simply dispassionate as if nothing could serve to surprise this man anymore.
"Lucius," the man outside the house offered in way of greeting. "I had a feeling you might still be up."
"As I had a feeling you might be visiting," Lucius Malfoy replied mildly. "A bit late though for a social call is it not, Gerald? Then again I guess when you no longer have a house to run you suddenly find yourself with far too much time on your hands."
"Are you going to invite me as would be proper or not?" Gerald Greengrass growled. He had known that Malfoy would waste no time in rubbing the fact that he was no longer the Head of the Greengrass family in his face. "The Malfoy hospitality isn't what it used to be now that you've fallen from grace," Gerald added with a contemptuous sneer.
Lucius merely chuckled. "And yet here you are, begging at my doorstep. Never let it be said that I am not a gracious host," the Head of the Malfoy family said, stepping aside so Gerald could enter. In short order the two men were seated in the study, each with a sniffer of brandy in hand. Lucius eyed Gerald who seemed to be deep in thought. He certainly doesn't seem to be any the worse for wear. Then again it was just the other day when he was outplayed by Potter. "To what do I owe the pleasure of your company?" Lucius asked, jolting the man from his thoughts.
"How would you like that boy of yours to be the Head of the Black family?" Gerald asked, seeing no need to beat around the bush about the matter.
"As tempting as that sounds, the Black family already has ahead as you very well know. As I don't see Potter making my Draco his heir anytime soon I don't see how that could happen," Lucius replied.
"And if Potter wasn't the Head any longer?" Gerald pressed, reaching into his pocket and extracting a rolled piece of parchment. The information on the scroll had cost him a considerable portion of his emergency stash of gold that he had squirrelled away in case of an emergency. Bloody greedy goblin, Gerald cursed at the memory.
"What are you playing at?" Lucius enquired, his interest aroused. Gerald merely grinned and handed the scroll over. Lucius read over the scroll, a predatory smile spreading across his face. "Well, now that is interesting. Potter certainly has been busy it seems," Lucius stated as he read the parchment once more.
Harry James Potter married to Daphne Annabelle Greengrass 25/12/1998 20:37 House of Black
Harry James Potter married to Luna Constance Lovegood 26/12/1998 01:13 House of Lovegood
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