Categories > Books > Harry Potter > Witches of Westfield

The Truth Will Out

by EJDaniels 1 review

Chapter 25

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Drama,Humor,Romance - Characters: Harry,Hermione,Luna - Published: 2016-06-06 - 9021 words

2Ambiance
Chapter 25 – The Truth Will Out
. . .


Lucius Malfoy downed the remainder of his brandy in a single gulp before rising to his feet and making his way over to the cabinet for a refill. As he passed his desk the wizard absently tossed the parchment he held upon it."So what is your game plan, Gerald?" Lucius enquired as he filled his snifter. "You can't possibly be planning to challenge the boy directly. The Dark Lord couldn't beat Potter in a duel," he stated as he walked over and topped of the other man's sniffer as well. "What makes you believe you'll fare any better?"

"That's because your Master," Gerald said with a sneer,"wanted to kill Potter. Even the most passive of animals, if backed into a corner, will turn and fight for its life. I've no interest in killing the hero of the Wizarding world right now," Gerald clarified. "That would be bad for business. It would be much more satisfying to kill his reputation and fame instead. Once the masses hate him," Gerald gave a dismissive shrug,"accidents happen all the time."

Returning the decanter of brandy to the cabinet, Lucius turned and regarded the seated wizard. "And just how do you propose to do that? The Prophet slandered his name for years under Fudge's administration but that hardly seemed to slow him down at all. That boy has a knack for surviving impossible situations."

"Half-truths and outright lies that Skeeter cooked up," Gerald said, waving one hand in the air dismissively. "If she were half as good at reporting as she is at creative character assassination she might actually be competent at her job," Greengrass scoffed. He didn't practically like the witch but he had to admit that she knew how to incite the masses and lead them around by the proverbial nose.

"That didn't stop you from using her to get the word out about your daughter's marriage to Potter though did it?" Lucius asked with a knowing smirk as he walked back over and seated himself once more. There was little else to explain why Skeeter had suddenly had a front page headline about the marriage.

"Skeeter has her uses," Gerald admitted. In a war waged strictly for public opinion he couldn't think of anyone better to stir up the commoners. It was a trait that he would need on his side if his plans were to work. Daphne had been correct in that pissing off the masses would ruin his business and leave him destitute in a short amount of time. However, if he could get them on his side and clamoring for justice again their hero, well that would do nicely, he thought.

"You've yet to tell of this grand plan of yours," Lucius pointed out, pausing to take a sip of the amber liquid in his glass. "You do have one don't you?" he asked with a humorous edge to his words.

"Of course I do!" Gerald snapped.

"Then let's hear it," Lucius encouraged. While Lucius didn't mind sitting around sipping brandy, he preferred to do it in better company.

Gerald Greengrass had not gotten to where he was in life by being stupid. Stupid was not something his friends or even his enemies would call him. As much as he did not want to reveal his plan he knew he had to. I need Lucius' contacts and gold to see this through. This was one scheme Gerald realized he would not be able to play close to his chest if he wanted it to exceed.

"Potter has married two witches. Something that is clearly against the law. Even the muggles have laws against that," Gerald stated."While breaking the muggle laws carries a sentence of seven years in prison, breaking our law has a much harsher consequence. Ten years in Azkaban would be the minimum penalty along with paying restitution to the families involved."

"I won't have to invent lies or even partial truths concerning Potter," Gerald stated. "He's already provided me with all I need by marrying two witches. All I require is for Skeeter to report the truth, and nothing but the truth, to see the Potter brat brought up on charges." The former head of the Greengrass family could already see the galleons rolling in when asked what amount he wanted for restitution for his daughter's damaged honor. A million galleons ought to do nicely.

Lucius gave a brief bark of laughter. "As if Skeeter could ever report just the truth," he said with a shake of his head. Lucius couldn't deny the fact though that Gerald's plan was a fairly good one."So then you plan to see him imprisoned?" Malfoy asked.

Gerald nodded. "Once he is in Azkaban then he can be stripped of his status as head of house," Gerald confided with a wicked gleam in his eyes. "The Greengrass Head of House will revert back to me as Potter will be unable, as well as unfit, to continue as such. As the Head of House can only pass to a male, your Draco should inherit the Black family."

Lucius took a sip of his brandy, savoring the warmth of the liquid as it traversed his throat to settle in his gut. "So what is it that you wish from me?" he finally asked. While he trusted Gerald about as far as he could throw a hippogriff, with one arm tied behind his back, Lucius was none the less intrigued by the wizard's bold plan.

"You still have contacts within the Wizengamot, do you not?" Gerald asked, receiving a slight nod in answer. "I'm not a fool to believe that it will be easy to get Potter convicted. The boy just offed a Dark Lord for Merlin's sake and saved the country. Even given that he has broken the law Potter still might get off with little more than a slap on the hands and the dissolvent of his marriage to the Lovegood girl."

"I need your influence to sway votes for his conviction," Gerald stated, revealing just what he needed the other wizard for finally. "As I recall there was once a large portion of the Wizengamot that owed you favors or which were in your pay."

"Things were much easier when that idiot Fudge was Minister," Lucius pointed out. "These are different times now. Shacklebolt seems to be determined to clean up the Ministry." Lucius had used a great many favors as well as galleons to insure that he and his family remained out of jail. While he hadn't actually bought his pardon, he certainly had bought some of the votes that insured it. "Still, I might know a few who would be sympathetic to your cause."

"The more we have on our side the easier it will be to pull this off," Gerald said with a pleased look upon his features. The wizard hadn't been certain that Lucius would even help him but he had figured the former Death Eater was probably his best bet. Both due to the hatred the man would have for the Potter boy as well as for the wealth Lucius still held.

"So, let's talk terms," Lucius said. "I know you aren't asking for my help without expecting me to want something in return," he asked upon seeing the surprised look on the other man's face."Surely you don't think I would help you out of the kindness of my heart?Whom do you take me for, a fool?"

"Isn't getting the Black family wealth enough?" Gerald questioned.

"Gold I have aplenty," Lucius replied with a gesture to indicate the manor house in which they were currently sitting. "I was not ranked number twelve on Forbes fifteen wealthiest in the United Kingdom's list for nothing. No, gold is not what I need. I need something that will occupy my time, something I seem to have entirely too much of these days. You will sell me thirty percent of Greengrass Mercantile holdings and I will become your silent partner."

"That's outrageous!" Gerald Greengrass exclaimed in an angry tone.

"Outrageous would have been to ask for fifty percent, Greengrass," Lucius replied calmly, unaffected by the man's outburst. If I must go legitimate then what better way than buying into an established business that is doing rather well?"In return I will swing you the votes you need for your plan to succeed. Additionally, as your silent partner, I will no doubt invest a substantial amount of the Black family fortune into your...I mean our company. I call that a win win for the both of us."

Gerald fully realized that Lucius was taking advantage of him. I had expected him to do just that, he thought to himself. The wizard had hoped for a lower number than thirty percent though. Seventy percent of something is a great deal more than a hundred percent of nothing, he mused. The fact that he would still be able to use the Black gold to further his own business, which was what he had been after all along with Daphne's marriage to Harry, was the final selling point. "Fine!" Gerald growled out in a displeased tone of voice he hoped was convincing.

"Smashing! I'll have my solicitor draw up the papers for the sale and once they are signed we can see about changing that public opinion concerning our hero," said Lucius as he stood and set his now empty sniffer on his desk. "That can wait till tomorrow though. Now if you don't mind, the hour is late and I am not nearly as young as I used to be," he conceded with a gesture towards the door.

"Always good doing business with you, Lucius," Gerald said as he stood. Finishing off his brandy in a single swallow he passed the now empty sniffer to Lucius, much as one would to a servant. Gerald knew it was petty of him but he just couldn't resist doing so after what Malfoy had pulled on him. "I can show myself out," the wizard stated as he turned and headed or the door.

Lucius set the sniffer aside, recognizing the snub for what it was but deciding to let it slide for the time being. "I wouldn't hear of it," the head of the Malfoy family said as he followed his guest. "It would be poor manners after all." Lucius saw the wizard off and then returned to his study. Pouring himself another sniffer of brandy he seated himself at his desk and regarded the parchment that his uninvited guest had been kind enough to leave behind. "Whatever shall I do with you?" he asked it with a small grin as he sipped his drink.

-oOo-

Harry apparated into Diagon Alley coming to a stop right before the stairs to Gringotts. It was a quick dash up the stairs and through the doors before anyone outside could recognize who he was. With his final defeat of Voldemort his fame, much to his chagrin, had increased and it was hard to go anywhere in public in the Wizarding world without drawing a crowd. Today he just didn't have time for it.

Harry paused once across the threshold of the bank to allow his eyes to adjust to the dimmer lighting. The wizard looked about, still amazed at just how quickly the goblins had repaired the lobby from when a dragon, hell bent on escape, had demolished it. When Harry had enquired to how much he owed for the repairs the goblin he spoke with told him that it had never happened. Furthermore, the goblin had insinuated that should he ever try and tell others that it had, he would see himself in court for disparagement of the good name of Gringotts.

Seeing a familiar face, Harry walked past the teller lines and straight to the goblin in question. "Floor Manager Bogrod, good to see you once again. I hope life had been treating you well and profitable?" Harry asked politely.

"Well enough," Bogrod replied with a toothy grin."Not nearly as well as your Account Manager though," the goblin stated. "Bob is certainly making a name for himself thanks to you Mister Potter. Rumor has it that he will make Senior Account Manager soon."

"Yes, well, Bob has been a great help to me with all my holdings," Harry stated. "Truth be told; all those numbers just give me a headache. I would rather leave it to Bob as he seems to know what he is doing well enough. As long as the gold continues to come in, I have no complaints with his work."

"Few wizards feel so trusting, Mister Potter," Bogrod confessed. Witches and Wizard may allow the goblins to handle their gold but that didn't mean that they trusted them with it. It was not uncommon to have them questioning everything the goblins did and disputing any and every fee imposed. For their part the goblins didn't mind as they just charged the witch or wizard extra for their time while they explained the fees that were assessed.

Most times it took excessively long to explain it to them as wizards were rather dim. The fact that the said wizard or witch would then be back to question why they were assessed a fee for the consultation only meant that the goblins themselves would get more gold when they billed them for their time to explain that charge. Most magicals never seemed to figure out that it was just an endless circle. "Here to see your account manager, Mister Potter?"

"No," Harry replied. "I have a meeting." Bogrod consulted a clipboard and directed Harry to the appropriate conference room. The young wizard stood just outside the doors waiting for it to be the exact time. The thought to even wait an additional few minutes to make Malfoy squirm crossed Harry's mind but he dismissed it as too petty an action for him to do. No sense in stooping to his level.

At precisely 10 o'clock Harry pushed open the door and entered the conference room. The rooms sole occupant hastily stood upon seeing the wizard enter. Harry made his way over to the seat directly across the table from the man and waited. For several long moments the two simply stared at each other before Harry recalled a bit of pure-blood tradition he had read back when he had first been expecting to meet Andi. I out rank him currently so he has to wait till I have seated myself.

Again there was an urge to be rather petty about the whole matter and keep the wizard waiting but Harry quickly squashed it and seated himself. Taking the higher road and all that rubbish. "Malfoy," Harry offered with a slight nod of his head once the wizard had seated himself. The wizard was dress impeccably as always with robes that were apparently handmade and tailored to fit. I really need to see about getting my own tailor.

"Potter," the wizard offered politely, a fact that rather surprised Harry. He had come to expect a certain level of disdain and scarcely concealed hatred from the man. Not hearing it rather caught Harry off step as it were. An uneasy silence settled in as the two sized each other up.

"I'm rather surprised you called me here, Draco," Harry finally said, having had enough of the waiting game. "Well, I am here so let's get to it, shall we?" Harry asked with a grin that carried no humor. The young wizard was fairly certain why Draco was here and that it had to do with the marriage contract to Astoria Greengrass. As the Head of the Greengrass family, it was now within Harry's rights to cancel the contract.

"I know I already owe you a great deal," Draco opened with, his tone holding none of the usual hostility that Harry had become accustom to hearing in his rival. "You saved my life in the Room of Requirements when that fool Crabbe lost control of his Fiendfyre." There was no mistaking the note of genuine gratitude in the wizard's words.

"I guess I just couldn't help myself," stated Harry with a smirk. "Hermione calls it my 'Saving People Thing'. If you're worried about me calling in a life debt, you needn't bother. You actually helped me defeat Voldemort, though I'm certain you didn't intend to at the time."

"Just how did I do that?" Draco asked, completely baffled by Harry's accusation. Try as he might there was no time that he could recall helping with the defeat of the Dark Lord. Granted he had fought within the castle but only in self-defense as the Death Eaters weren't being all that choosy about which students they hexed. In the end he had managed to leave with his parents and completely avoided the latter half of the battle all together.

"If you hadn't disarmed Dumbledore when you did then Voldemort would have gained mastery of the Elder wand," Harry clarified.

"The Elder wand is real?" Draco asked in disbelief. He, like most wizarding children, had been read the tale concerning the Peverell brothers and the Deathly Hallows. Draco had just never believed it to be anything more than a story to entertain children with. Seeing Harry nod that it was, Draco couldn't help but ask, "So I'm the master of it?"

"You were, once," Harry replied. "Then I disarmed you at Malfoy Manor and so I became its master, having bested you. The wand couldn't betray its owner so Voldemort never had full control of it. I doubt I would have fared so well had he."

"So where is the wand now?" Draco enquired.

"I destroyed it," Harry lied. He had in fact destroyed a wand, one transfigured to look like the Elder wand, which was what Hermione and Ron had seen him do. Being the only person that knew the wand still existed was the safest thing for it, Harry had decided. "It was too powerful to allow it to remain in this world."

Draco could hardly believe his ears. How could he just give up something so powerful?"What of the other Hallows?" he asked, curious if they were real as well.

Harry shrugged dismissively. "Who knows? Never seen them before and have no desire to go looking for them either. We've seemed to have gotten a bit off topic here though. While I, like so many others, find the Hallows an interesting topic, I'm sure you did not come here to discuss them."

"Yes, I have a matter I would like to discuss with you as you are now the head of the Greengrass family," Draco stated, sitting up in his chair smartly, ready to get down to business. "I would take it as a personal favor if you were to cancel the marriage contract between House Greengrass and House Malfoy."

For a long moment Harry just sat there, uncertain if he had heard correctly or not. Cancel?Not keep? "Let's just set the question of why I would ever do you a personal favor aside for the moment, why do you want the contract canceled? Astoria not good enough for you? Afraid of being related to me?" Harry asked with a small smirk of his own.

"It's not like that at all, Potter," Draco replied in a calm tone, once again surprising Harry. This was not the Draco Harry recalled from school. "I do not want to trap Astoria into a marriage she does not want," the blonde wizard confessed. "The Malfoy name is not what is used to be," Draco said, ignoring Harry's amused snort of agreement."I would not see her tainted by it because of something her father and mine decided."

I'll be damned if he doesn't actually sound sincere about this, Harry thought in disbelief. Something certainly has changed him from the tosser I knew during the war. Then again he could just be lying through his teeth I suppose. "What of Astoria's wishes in this matter? It would hardly seem fair to end it just because you wish it so," Harry replied, trying to see what the slimy git was up to.

"Look Potter, she is a wonderful person," Draco barked, his temper slipping and getting the better of him. "She deserves better than to be associated with the Malfoy family! You'll be doing her more of a favor than me by letting her out of this. You can even keep the bloody bride price!"

This apparently sensitive and caring Draco was more than a little unsettling to Harry. After fighting the wizard for many years Harry was certain he knew everything he needed to know about the man. Yet, this was a side of Draco he truly hadn't known existed and he wasn't exactly certain just how to handle this new found personality. "I'm not buying it, Ferret," Harry said, trying to push the wizard's buttons. "What's this really about?"

"Why does it matter Scarhead?" Draco asked only to see the man across from him waiting for an explanation. Bloody hell I was hoping to avoid this, the Malfoy scion thought to himself. "I've been spending time with Astoria this year at Hogwarts," he finally confessed. "After everything that happened, she is one of the few that would even speak to me."

"Given that we are soon to be married I thought it best to get to know my future wife," Draco continued with. "She isn't anything like I would expect from a family member of the Sacred Twenty-Eight. She believes that muggles should be treated as equals and has forbade me from ever using the term mudblood again. She has the most peculiar notions and doesn't buy into the whole pure-blood supremacy dogma. Mother and father are none too pleased with that actually. Can't help but wonder how family get-togethers would be and all."

Harry sat and listened to the man across from him, becoming more and more lost with each spoken word. It was clear to him that Draco cared for Astoria. He need only watch as the Slytherin's face lite up whenever he spoke of the girl. Harry almost felt sorry for the love sick fool. Thank heavens I'm not anything like that, he thought to himself.

"She's wickedly smart," Draco carried on, not realizing just how he sounded. "Astoria keeps dragging me off to the library and she makes certain I do my school work proper like. I'm sure you understand as often as Granger did the same to you. I will admit that I'll probably have better grades this year than I have in any previous one, and it's all due to her. Best not tell her I said that though," Draco said only to pause as he just noticed that Harry was sitting there with a huge smirk upon his face."What?"

"Bloody hell, you love her!" Harry stated in a tone of disbelief. "That's why you want the marriage called off. You think that being married to a Malfoy will cause her problems."

"That's absurd!" Draco exclaimed. "Just because I do not want her drawn into the mess caused by my father's idiocy does not mean that I am in love with her! While she is most certainly pretty enough to turn my head she is also insufferably bossy at time," Draco pointed out. The fact that Astoria's demands were often for his betterment was conveniently overlooked.

Harry chuckled despite himself, thinking of Hermione. "I can well understand that," he voiced in commiseration.

"I take it then that the sisters are alike?" Draco asked, referring to Daphne.

"No, Daphne is different," Harry shared. "She has her own ways of getting what she wants though," he added, thinking of the low cut dress he had last seen the blonde witch in.

"Don't they all," Draco asked rhetorically. "So, will you cancel the marriage contract?"

Harry sat and thought for a long moment before replying. "I had originally intended to do just that. Even more so now after hearing what you've had to say." Harry saw the hopeful look which appeared on Draco's face and still found the thought that the man cared for someone other than himself a bit unsettling. "However, before I decide anything I will need to discuss this matter with Astoria herself. It seems only fair," Harry pointed out.

Draco gave a curt nod of acceptance before cocking his head to one side slightly. "If you don't mind me asking, how is married life?"

Harry thought for a long moment before answering."Confusing," he finally said. "I have no clue what I'm doing most of the time. Certainly no clue as to what they're thinking. I just try to keep them happy as best I can and hope I don't make too much a shambles of it," he said thinking of Daphne and Luna.

"Them?" Draco asked, having caught Harry's inadvertent choice of words. "You make it sound like you have more than one wife, Potter."

"Heaven forbid! One is plenty," Harry hastily replied with a nervous chuckle. "I do happen to have several house guests at the moment though, all of them women too. I'm rather greatly outnumbered it seems."

"Can't imagine Greengrass is thrilled with that arrangement?" Draco stated.

"Well, Tracey is Daphne's friend and there because Daphne asked her to be. Luna is now my ward and Andi is my cousin. Teddy is my godson so I'm rather responsible for him. Hermione is…well Hermione, my closest friend. I'm sure Daphne understands and doesn't mind them being there in the least," Harry said.

"Better you than me, Potter," Draco said with a small disbelieving shake of his head. Astoria was the jealous type and had made it very clear to him early on that she would not take kindly to his eye wandering towards other witches.

"What are we doing here, Malfoy?" Harry suddenly asked, sitting back in his chair. "Are we actually have a polite conversation like two civilized people?"

"It's like we're almost friends," Draco smirked."Wouldn't Weasley have a cow over that? I'm certain his head would explode."

"Probably," Harry had to agree. Ron was well known for his dislike for anyone from Slytherin, Draco especially. No, we're definitely not friends, Harry thought, finding it equally hard to see the wizard before him as an enemy still. Harry stood. "I'll let you know what I'll do once I have spoken to Astoria and learned of her wishes in this matter."

Draco stood when Harry did. "Thank you," Draco replied, extending his hand towards Harry.

The young wizard eyed the hand for a moment before accepting it and giving it a firm shake. The war is over, Harry reminded himself. Perhaps it is time for all of us to build some bridges.Harry had little doubt that Draco and he would never be the best of friends but that didn't mean they had to remain enemies either. "Don't go thanking me just yet," Harry told him before they parted ways.

-oOo-

With Harry off to a meeting at Gringotts there was little to do for the witches that remained at Westfield. Andi was off to class and then her internship at St. Mungo's. Mary had left to purchase a book she felt she would need for classes. It wasn't long before five youngest of the manor's residence gravitated towards the library. Astoria, once she could breathe again after seeing the library, promptly asked if she could move in for good. The young witch had a love of books that nearly rivaled that of Hermione's.

Luna and Hermione were seated at a table near the middle of the bottom floor, each working on the day's assignment they had received from Mary. Tracey, having plans to get Daphne to help her with said assignment after dinner, was seated upon a couch with a book in hand, reading. Daphne, knowing Tracey far better than Tracey did, knew that her closest friend would wait till the last minute and then ask desperately beg her for help. As that probably wouldn't be till after diner the witch was enjoying some leisurely reading as well. Astoria was off inspecting the many shelves of the library and the wondrous treasures they held.

"Well," Daphne suddenly said into the silence that had persisted for some time. The young witch snapped her book closed, making a rather loud noise and drawing the attention of the others. "I guess I shall go move."

"Move? Where are you going to?" Tracey asked with a touch of concern, this being the first she had heard of Daphne's plans.

"Nowhere silly," Daphne replied with a grin. "I meant move into Harry's room of course."

"Oh goody," Luna commented but was ignored by the others. Drawn by the voices, Astoria came out of the shelves to stand near Hermione and listen to the exchange.

"Why?" Hermione posed, looking at Daphne.

"Why? What do you mean why?" Daphne answered, rather irked at being questioned. What business is it of hers? she couldn't help thinking. "Because I'm his wife of course." Daphne had decided that as Harry's wife she should share his bed, even if they didn't do anything other than sleep for the time being.

"I meant why now?" Hermione responded, irritated at Daphne's tone and the fact that she would be sharing Harry's bed. While rationally Hermione understood that the two were married and that Daphne had every right to sleep with Harry, the heart was not a rational creature though."You've been married for several weeks already. I would have thought you would have moved in as soon as you returned."

"Well, there were issues," Daphne replied a bit evasively. "If you must know, I was waiting for Harry to ask me to move in. As he seems to have forgotten to do so I'll just have to take it upon myself I guess." Honestly, would be that hard for him to actually think of these things and just ask me?she silently questioned.

"Maybe it just slipped his mind," Tracey suggested. While Tracey loved Daphne she also loved Harry and so was rather torn between the two. I know Daphne has to get pregnant and all, she told herself, trying to force down the green-eyed monster within her. The fact that the confused witch wasn't sure if she was more jealous of Harry being with Daphne or the fact that Daphne would be with Harry wasn't helping matters at all.

"Or maybe there was a reason he didn't ask her," snapped Hermione, an angry edge to her words. "Maybe Harry doesn't want you there!" she claimed, trying to protect her best friend's privacy and keep it from being invaded against his will. If that meant Harry had to sleep alone then so be it.

"Why wouldn't he want Sissy to share his room?" Astoria asked, clearly confused by the exchange between the witches. "Don't all married people sleep together?"

"Well it was a forced marriage," Tracey offered, only to receive a traitorous glare from Daphne for her efforts.

"Harry and I talked about what happened," Daphne responded with as she turned and glared at Hermione feeling the girl was sticking her nose in where it entirely didn't belong. "He told me that he realized that it wasn't my fault and that he truly loves me. I admitted that I loved him as well," she added in a smug tone.

Hermione's eyes widened only slightly before they narrowed in anger. "I've been with Harry the longest and know him better than anyone here. Of course he would say it wasn't your fault. That's just how Harry is. He has this need to save people for some reason, often at the cost of himself. You can't help but love him for it," Hermione stated, her features softening a bit at the thought of the wizard.

It lasted only a moment before Hermione's face took on a scowl once more. "You're not the only witch that loves Harry, just the latest," Hermione declared. "I may not have been the quickest to realize it but I love him too. Harry has told me that he loves me as well." The fact that it was how Harry signed his letters to her was conveniently overlooked. I know he loves me. He just hasn't said it as yet is all, she reasoned.

"Oh so he finally told you?" Luna quipped. "Have you kissed him yet?" the inquisitive witch asked, truly happy for them both. It had long been apparent to her that Harry and Hermione were in love, even if they were too Gryffindor to see it. Brave they might be but totally clueless when it comes to each other and how they feel.

Hermione gave a short nod as Daphne's jaw dropped in disbelief."The last being right here up in my room," the bushy-haired witch confessed to the amazement of all. "We had a wonderful snog on my bed. So I guess that makes us at least even. What gives you the right to move into Harry's room against his wishes?" Hermione asked Daphne in a challenging tone.

"I'm his wife!" the irate witch growled through clenched teeth, her anger finally getting the better of her and flaring to life. In part Hermione was right, which only served to fuel her anger all the more. If I hadn't placed myself on that curb for Harry to find none of this would have happened. Still, Daphne couldn't believe that Harry would cheat on her and snog Hermione right after they had agreed to work things out between them. The young emotional witch was rather ill prepared to hear what came next.

"So am I," Luna stated, causing all eyes to turned towards her.

Silence reigned for nearly a full minute as everyone stared in utter disbelief. "You lie!" Daphne finally managed to say only to watch as Luna raised her left hand and allowed the Lovegood ring to come into view upon her ring finger. "How is that possible? When did this happen?" Daphne asked, her body shaking with barely contained fury."It isn't legal to be married to two people!" Harry is mine!

"The night of Christmas Eve...or was it Christmas morning?" Luna said in a thoughtful tone, unaffected by Daphne's apparent anger. "All of you had abandoned Harry," Luna accused, her tone changing in an instant to disapproving. "You were not the only one affected by what you father had done. After all the time you'd spent with Harry I would have thought you'd have known him better than that," Luna threw in Daphne's face.

The fact that Luna's words were the truth and caused Daphne to be ashamed of her actions may have been the proverbial straw which broke the camel's back. Daphne reached for her wand only to see that Luna's was already in her hand. /Damn she's fast/, the blonde witch thought as she tossed off a hair-loss hex only to see it rebound off the witch's shield. "You're lying," the furious witch spat sending two more hexes at the nibble witch who side stepped them both.

"Hold still," Daphne growled as she called out Colloshoo in an attempt to adhere the witch's shoes to the floor only to see her hex fly wide of the mark. The witch's temper was working against her, making it difficult to aim accurately. The former Slytherin also did not have the benefit of the training Luna had received during her time in Dumbledore's Army under Harry's tutelage.

The others looked on, uncertain just what to do. For the moment they seemed to be content to allow the two witches to settle it on their own."Not the books!" Astoria and Hermione yelled in unison when one of Daphne's spells went wide and took out a section of shelving and the books upon then. The two book lovers turned and looked at each other, giving a small hesitant smile in acknowledgement of a kindred spirit.

Luna, who had been completely on the defensive so far suddenly went on the offensive upon seeing the books destroyed. Being a former Ravenclaw the petite witch held a certain reverence for the knowledge contained in books. Not nearly as much as Hermione and apparently Astoria had though. Still the last thing she wanted was to see Harry's library reduced to rubble especially after he had worked so hard to make it perfect for Hermione.

The nibble witch skipped to the side to avoid a teeth-growing hex from Daphne and quickly spun her wand through a small pattern, causing alight-blue spell to speed across the room and hit Daphne squarely in the chest.I can't believe she didn't even have a shield spell in place, Luna thought. Harry will want to spend some time training her.

Daphne saw the spell coming but realized she couldn't avoid it or get a shield up fast enough. When the spell hit her in the chest she expected there to be pain but there was none. The former Slytherin opened her mouth to make a sarcastic comment about weak spells only to see a large soap bubble exit her lips instead. Twice more she tried to speak only for more bubble to emerge instead of her words. In a panic Daphne realized that with a single spell Luna had effectively put her out of the fight.

Wasting little time, Luna gestured with her wand and a couch skidded across the floor to knock Daphne from her feet and onto one of the area carpets that covered the floor. A quick swirling of her wand saw the rug roll itself up with the witch at its center like some bizarre pastry filling. Luna gave a tug on her wand and the rug stood itself upright. The only visible part of the witch within were her feet where they rested upon the floor.

It was like watching a train wreck for the others. They just couldn't look away as within but a few seconds Luna had completely incapacitated the older witch. The three of them were held spellbound as there was suddenly the sound of tearing fabric and Daphne's alabaster arm shot out of the ride of the rolled up rug and blindly began casting cutting curses.

Seeing Luna raise her wand to finish Daphne off Tracey grabbed for her own wand only to hear Petrificus Totalus as Hermione cursed her. The witch felt her entire body stiffen up and found that she couldn't move at all. There was nothing Tracey could do as she watched Luna stun Daphne.

Hermione barely had a chance to smile at having defended her friend Luna before she herself was hit from the side by a stunner that Astoria had fired. The youngest Greengrass looked at her wand in wonder, completely surprised by the fact that her stunner had actually worked at all, when she was dropped by the same spell from the only remaining conscious witch in the room.

Luna surveyed the room, amusedly noting that Daphne, while stunned, was still upright thanks to the rug wrapped about her. "Well, that escalated rather quickly," the petite witch said aloud as she walked over and stunned Tracey before using the counter curse to remove the full body bind. I really didn't expect Daphne to be able to silently cast a cutting curse, she mused as she lowered the now stunned witch to the floor. "Now, whatever shall I do with all of you?" Luna asked as she regarded the four unconscious witches.

-oOo-

Daphne slowly awoke and blinked her eyes several times before they could focus clearly. The first thing noticed was that she was still within the library. Winky and Kreacher were busy repairing what looked to be damage from her spell work. The second thing the young witch noticed was that she was bound to the chair in which she was seated. Daphne opened her mouth and yell to be released immediately however no sound came out.

Across the table from Daphne she could see Hermione, apparently bound to a chair as well. Turning her head Daphne found Tracey seated beside her and Astoria beside Hermione, both bound in a similar fashion. Daphne struggled against her ropes for a moment before realizing that she didn't have her wand. A shiver of fear traversed the young witch's spine. While she didn't truly think Luna would harm them Daphne had just been casting curses at the petite witch not all that long ago.

"Oh good you're awake," Luna's jovial voice came from behind Daphne, startling the bound witch. The witch in question walked around and into Daphne's field of vision causing her eyes to widen in disbelief. Luna's hair was drawn up in a very McGonagallish type bun, though that was not the part that surprised Daphne. Into the bun, thrust like some comical version of the peacock's plumage, were five wands.

"Let us begin," Luna announced as she seated herself at the only empty seat at the table, the one at the head of it. "First, my apologies Astoria. You obviously don't know what is happening here and certainly don't deserve to be tied up, but I can't very well have to freeing the others," Luna explained while apologizing to the younger witch with a sincere smile.

"You see, the issue here is that Harry is a very loveable wizard," Luna continued addressing Astoria, who had little choice but to listen. The four bound witches found it a bit unnerving as Luna was speaking as if the five of them has just sat down for a spot of tea rather than the fact that they were being held prisoner after exchanging spells at wand point."Many of the witches here are in love with him, myself included," Luna confessed with a warm smile as she folded her hands before her on the table.

"Hermione has loved Harry for some time, though it has only been recently that she's realized it," Luna continued with. "It took her a bit to gather her courage and tell him of course. Sadly, that was not until after your father forced the marriage between Daphne and Harry. Everyone at Hogwarts had always known they were meant to be together…well everyone but apparently themselves. If she had told him sooner this entire mess might have been avoided."

Everyone turned to look at the bushy-haired witch. "I was afraid it would ruin our friendship," Hermione mumbled sadly only to look up rather startled that she could speak. The young witch yelled for Luna to release her only to once again have no sound come out. "What have you done to us?" Hermione asked in a normal tone of voice.

"There will be no yelling or screaming in this conversation," Luna informed her. "Was it just your friendship that you were worried about? It seems to me that if you truly loved someone you'd be willing to do anything, risk anything, for a chance at being with them and having them love you too," Luna pressed, hoping that her friend would confess what was truly the reason she had not pursued Harry.

Hermione hung her head in shame. She knew the true reason she had not told Harry how she felt. The bright witch wasn't certain how Luna had figured it out or even if she had. "I…I couldn't stand the thought of losing Harry," she finally confessed to the surprise of everyone but Luna.

"If I had told him that I loved him and by some miracle he loved me in return…," the witch's words trailed off for a moment as her emotions got the better of her. "There was a madman after him and war to be fought. Harry's life was always at risk. Every year there was some attempt on his life which he just barely managed to survive. I…I don't think I could have survived something happening to him knowing that he loved me as much as I love him," Hermione admitted as tears slowly trickled down her cheeks to drop onto the tabletop before her.

"You were scared," Luna summarized, in understanding. The others about the table couldn't help the sympathetic expressions that graced their faces as they regarded the weeping witch. "Because you were scared you denied Harry perhaps the one thing he wanted most in this world. To be loved," Luna stated, causing Hermione to sob even harder as she realized what she had done. "That doesn't make you a bad person, Hermione, just a stupid one."

"Now your sister on the other hand," Luna said, addressing Astoria but looking at Daphne, "saw Harry as a way to escape the marriage your father had arranged for her." The former Ravenclaw missed very little that went on about her. Through snippets of conversations as well as simply observing the others she had pieced it all together. Harry had told her some of it of course but there were things that he wouldn't divulge for fear of hurting the others.

"I love, Harry," Daphne stated in a calm voice," believing she had figured out the spell from what Hermione had done. As long as I do not raise my voice or yell I can speak.

"A fact I am certain you hadn't counted on in your original plan," Luna was quick to counter with. "Did you really just happen to be seated there right at the precise moment Harry walked up or were you waiting for him?" Luna asked, making an educated guess. It would be a rather Slytherin thing to do the bright witch had reasoned. Seeing Tracey flinch at the question Luna knew she had surmised correctly. "Perhaps we should ask Tracey, she seems to know. I'm certain the two of you have not secrets from each other."

"Fine. I admit it," Daphne replied, seeing no reason not to as she had already told Harry the truth. "I planned the entire encounter. I needed a sanctuary. A place where even my father couldn't touch me. Harry was the only logical choice having just defeated the Dark Lord and all. It was either that or get sold away into slavery as someone's wife I didn't want to be."

"Yes, well we see how well that worked out," Luna quipped, causing Daphne to take her turn at hanging her head in shame. "It was due to your own actions that Harry got roped into this entire situation in the first place. When your well laid plans blew up in your face, rather spectacularly I might add, who did you blame? That's right, Harry. I'll bet you never once apologized to him for dragging him into your mess, have you?"

Daphne gave a little shake of her head to indicate that she hadn't. "I never meant for any of this to happen," she said with a soft sniffle. "I just didn't want to marry someone I wasn't in love with. Is that so terrible a thing?"

"No, it's not," Luna confirmed, shifting her gaze to Tracey. "Especially when that someone loves you in return. But to use someone else to get what you want is not alright," the witch stated as she once again stared at Daphne. "Harry loves you despite what you've done to him," Luna continued with, causing Daphne to break down and start to cry just as Hermione had done. "It's not my place to say that your actions make you unworthy of Harry's love but they do show you to be rather selfish and self-centered."

Seeing Luna look her way Tracey spoke up first. "I know. I have treated Harry horribly. All he has done is shown me kindness and compassion and when I should have, I didn't trust him. I turned my back on him and scorned him for what I had thought he had done to Daphne. While I could blame what happened on Gregory Goyle, the truth is that I have been terrified of trusting anyone ever again and I took that out on Harry."

"Bloody hell, he saved me, my family and our business only to hand it over to me as a gift," Tracey continued with as a tear trickled down her face. "How did I repay him? When I should have believed in him I accused him and called him vile names. It was far easier to believe that he had betrayed me than to actually trust him," she confessed, openly weeping but determine not to hang her head and try to hide it. "I may not deserve his love, if he even does love me, but I do love him all the same."

Luna gave the crying witch a warm caring smile, glad that there was at least someone who was finally being honest with themselves. "I'm certain he loves you, Tracey. Harry is just sometimes a little slow to say so."

"What about you?" Astoria asked, finding it difficult to believe that Luna was the only one who didn't have ulterior motives for her actions. Especially as she was married to Harry as well.

"I'm just as bad as the lot of them," Luna confessed rather calmly, drawing looks from all the witches present. "My loving father, upon his death bed, extracted an oath from Harry. I'm certain he felt that he was doing me a favor. There were certain conditions that needed to be met for Harry to fulfill the oath. He needed to protect me, provide for me as well as give me a place to call home," Luna explained. The others listened raptly as this was all news to them. "He also had to provide me with a family."

Astoria gasped in disbelief, "He needed to give you a child?"

"Adoption," Hermione spoke up. "Harry could have adopted you as well to provide you with a family," the quick thinking witch voiced.

"Yes he could have," Luna agreed. "But I was selfish and convinced myself that he needed to get me with child in order to fulfill the oath. Truly, I should have thought of the adoption angle sooner. Harry's solicitor eventual reached that same conclusion," Luna confessed much to their surprise.

"I was so certain that the magic of the oath would eventually force us together that I decided not to wait," Luna informed them. Daphne couldn't help but understand the witch's reasoning as she herself had reached that same conclusion just the other day when she had practically thrown herself at Harry. "I hurried back here to tell Harry only to find him distraught and a little drunk in the cellar."

"So I took him to bed," Luna declared brazenly. "I was rather scared but I needn't have been as Harry was a tender and sweet lover even though we were both a bit awkward that first time. He proposed to me just before he took me," Luna confided in them, perhaps skirting the edges of too much information in the process. "We've both gotten loads better with practice though," Luna added with a bright smile.

"It wasn't till that morning afterwards that I learned you were married to him as well, Daphne. Had I known I'm not so certain that I could have gone through with it," Luna admitted. "Then again, I truly hadn't expected Harry to propose either. At best I had hope for a rather memorable first time with a present nine months later down the road, but Harry told me he loved me. Me, as unbelievable as that was," Lune voiced in a slightly awed tone.

"I knew I was in love with Harry even before my father passed away. I just never believed that he could love me as well. I should have known though," Luna stated with a frown at herself. "Harry has always had the ability to loves those closest to him. Dumbledore believed it was the ability to love that was Harry's greatest asset and allowed him to defeat Voldemort. In the Department of Mysteries, it was Harry's love for his friends that allowed him to cast out Voldemort."

"How could you know that?" Hermione asked, totally surprised by Luna's words.

"You couldn't tell?" Luna countered with, a surprised look upon her face as Hermione shook her head slowly. "I thought it was obvious."

"So what now?" Astoria asked into the ensuing silence.

"That is the question," Luna replied with a weary sigh."We all love our Harry but none of us deserve him. We're all far more concerned about ourselves than we are about him. Mummy once told me that to love another is to put their happiness before your own. Clearly none of us have been doing that," Luna stated as she stood.

"Where are you going?" Tracey enquired upon seeing the petite witch stand.

"To greet my husband when he returns," Luna replied as if it was the obvious answer.

"What about us?" Daphne asked trying to keep her temper in check. She certainly didn't like being called out in front of everyone else. It was humiliating and degrading as she saw it, even if she wasn't the only one for it to happen to.

"Clearly you three have issues you need to resolve," Luna answered as she walked around the table and headed for the doors to the library. "I think now would be a good time for you to talk things out," the petite witch advised just before she slipped from the library, closing the door behind her.

It wasn't long before Daphne and Hermione were trading insults. Hermione feeling that Daphne was so not deserving of her Harry. For her part Daphne was certain that Hermione was just trying to claim Harry for herself. Tracey and Astoria tried to be the voices of reason but soon grew tired of the snarky comments that their efforts bought them. Eventually silence reigned throughout the library as the witches were too angry to even speak.

"I have to pee," Astoria whined, fidgeting in her chair.

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