Chapter 28 – Mending Bridges
. . .
The heir of the Malfoy family made his way down to breakfast lost in thought. It had been several days since Draco had learned of the dual marriages of Harry Potter and the young wizard was still no closer to deciding what to do with the information than he had been upon first discovering it. I owe Potter, Draco reminded himself. If he hadn't saved me I would have died in that room, consumed by that idiot's flames, he recalled, thinking of Gregory Goyle's foolish actions that day.
I owe Potter a life debt, but is this enough to repay that? Draco couldn't help but wonder silently to himself as he made his way down the stairs and set off towards the dining room. If it doesn't then I am simply giving him information for no reason. It's not like we're friends or anything. Draco quickly recalled that if things worked out as he hoped then he and Potter might actually be related through marriage one day. "Bloody hell!" Draco swore under his breath as he stepped into the dining room.
"I was beginning to wonder if I needed to send a house elf to fetch you," Narcissa stated with a teasing smile upon seeing her son. It hadn't taken long for the Malfoy's to replace Dobby. A simple letter to the House Elf Relocation office at the Ministry was all that was required. The wealthy family had elected to take on several house elves just in case they were to lose one again. "Look, your father is nearly finished with his breakfast already."
"I'm sorry Mother," Draco answered as he stepped to her side and leaned down to give her a peck on the cheek. "Good morning, Father," the young wizard offered as he took his plate to the sideboard and served himself. Draco wasn't surprised when all he received as a noncommittal grunt in return. "Will you be busy again today?" Draco asked. His father had been entertaining associates for the past three days."I'd hoped you might show me more of the family business," Draco added as he seated himself at the table and prepared to eat.
"Yes," Lucius replied. "See that I am not disturbed," the elder Malfoy directed. "There is much work to be done."
"Anything I can help with?" Draco asked. The young wizard didn't know what his father was up to but the fact that there had been several members of the Wizengamot visiting over the course of the last few days spoke volumes when coupled with Harry Potter's double marriage. Father is planning something, I'm certain of it! The question is what?
"I think you've done more than enough already," Lucius replied, a hint of irritation seeping into his words. Seeing the confused look on his son's face Lucius continued. "You met with Potter the other day at Gringotts, did you not?"
Caught out, there was little Draco could do but admit it."Yes. I was concerned about the marriage contract and arranged a meeting with Potter to discuss it," Draco concluded before taking a bite of his food.
"And what did Potter say on the matter?" Lucius asked, setting his fork down and steepling his hands under his chin as he regarded his son intently.
It was clear to Draco that his father was rather irked about something, though the young wizard hadn't a clue as to what. Swallowing his food rather hastily, Draco gave an honest answer. "He would not say one way or the other, Father. He did say that he wanted to speak with Astoria first before he made any decision."
"Then perhaps she is the cause of this," Lucius growled.
"The cause of what, Lucius?" Narcissa enquired."What is this all about?"
"I received a letter from Potter this morning canceling the marriage contract," Lucius informed them. "He has returned the Bride Price as well as paid the thousand gallon fee for backing out of the deal."
"Is there nothing we can do?" Narcissa asked, knowing that her son was more than a little taken with the Greengrass girl. Astoria Greengrass was a nice enough girl but had some peculiar notions when it came to Muggles.
"Nothing at this time," replied Lucius, apparently not pleased by the fact in the least.
"Surely there must be something that can be done, Father!" Draco exclaimed, believing it best to play the part of the scorned and dejected fiancé, than to show just how happy he was by this news. He did it! Potter did it!the young man thought with elation till he suddenly realized that he wasn't exactly certain what to do next. I've done what Astoria requested but now what?
"Must I repeat myself?" Lucius growled in an irritated tone. "I am working on something that may see things turn in our favor which is why it is important that I not be disturbed. If all goes as planned you may very well find yourself the head of a Noble and Most Ancient house, Draco." Lucius wiped his lips before dropping the linen cloth onto his plate. "Try not to screw it up," he added as he stood and made his way from the room to see to business.
Lucius paused in the doorway and turned to regard his son piercing gaze for a long moment. "Stay away from Potter and that Greengrass girl. It would be better for everyone involved if you had as little to do with them as possible. Do I make myself clear?" Upon seeing Draco give a curt nod the Malfoy Patriarch continued on his way.
Draco turned and regarded his mother who merely shrugged slightly."I know as much as you do," Narcissa stated to the unasked question."Best to leave your father be for the time being. You know how he hates to be disturbed when he is conducting business."
"Yes, Mother," Draco replied as he continued to eat his meal. Sitting back and chewing his food the young wizard was deep in thought. I may not have been a Ravenclaw but it isn't all that difficult to realize that there aren't that many Noble and Ancient Houses that I could be head of. I need to send Astoria a letter and see if she can arrange a meeting with Potter. Draco didn't dare meet at Gringotts as apparently his father had eyes there. I hope she is happy that the marriage contract has been removed.
"I found it!" Astoria Greengrass called out excitedly, causing the other witches in the room to look up from the books they were reading.
"A way to save Harry?" Hermione was first to ask in a hopeful tone. Initially, the former Head Girl of Hogwarts wanted to be the one to find a way to help Harry. What else am I good for? However, at this point she really didn't care who found a manner by which they could save her Harry, just so long as one was found and sooner rather than later!
Astoria's smile dropped from her lips, "No," the crestfallen witch replied. "I found what the penalty is for polygamy."
"How large is the fine?" Daphne enquired. The Matriarch of the Black family had joined in the research to help save her husband. Her future as well as the very thing that made her a witch, her magic, depended on Harry being with her. Even if that were not the case Daphne knew that she would still do everything within her power to save Harry.
"I'm certain Harry can afford it," Tracey stated to reassure her best friend.
"It doesn't actually say," Astoria answered. "It says here that the aggrieved families can ask for restitution, however there is no set amount stated."
"Wonderful!" Daphne exclaimed in disbelief. "So father can ask for all of the Black family wealth if he wants to. He won't even have to steal it! This just keeps getting better and better!"
"That's not all," Astoria said in a hesitant tone, fearful of her sister's reaction to what else the law said.
"Well it can't possibly get any worse," Tracey quipped with a nervous chuckle, her words falling flat.
"I'm afraid it can," Astoria replied, grabbing everyone's attention. "There is a mandatory sentence of ten years in Azkaban."
"Bloody hell," Luna said into the stunned silence following the young witch's announcement.
"Language, Luna," Daphne snapped automatically before she grabbed the next law book and opened it to start reading as the others just stared at her. "I don't know why, but for some reason that doesn't surprise me."
"Daphne what are you doing?" Tracey finally asked after several moments had passed with the others just staring at the reading witch."Harry is going to be going to Azkaban for ten years so why are you just sitting there reading?"
Daphne paused in her reading and looked up, taking in all their looks at once. "Not if we find a way out of this for him," the determined woman stated with purpose. "I refuse to let father win and I refuse to lose Harry just when I have gotten him!"
"Is that even possible at this point?" Hermione asked, voicing the question that was on everyone else's mind at the moment.
"I don't know," Daphne replied honestly. "I do know that these laws were created by the powerful and the wealthy. Most, if not all, of them being purebloods. I can't see them passing a law with that great a sentence attached to it without leaving themselves some way out of it should the need arise. Father always places several loopholes in his contracts to ensure he can get out of them if it is in his best interest to do so."
"It is a bit hard to believe that they would willing go to Azkaban for ten years," Luna voiced in agreement. "They are all rather attached to their power, wealth and comforts of life."
"So now all we have to do is find the loop hole they saved for themselves so that Harry can us it," Tracey said in understanding.
"Knowing what the penalty is, we just need to find a law that allows for multiple marriages then," Hermione spoke up. "We'll have to start all over as we certainly weren't looking for that when we started this search," the former Head Girl said with a determined expression.
"Not necessarily," Luna corrected her friend. "We started with the newest laws and worked our way backwards. I think perhaps we should instead start with the oldest laws and move forward as those will have the greatest possibility of legalized multiple marriages."
"We'll still need to check the newer laws if only to see if there are more that overturn the old ones," Daphne interjected.
"Why don't Tracey and I continue to go through the newer laws while the three of you start on the oldest ones," Astoria suggested as if reading her sister's mind.
For the next several hours the five witches kept their collective noses buried in musty old law books which were both dry reading and required a great deal of thought to get through the legalese verbiage that was used. The older laws were even worse as the English used was a great deal different, accented with Thee's and Thou's as it were.
"Merlin's Bloody Balls!" Tracey Davis exclaimed into the silence that had reigned for some time. "I think my head is going to explode!" Tossing her law book aside the young witch began to massage her temples in an effort to stave off a growing headache.
"Tracey Rose Davis, must you always be so vulgar?" Daphne exclaimed, aghast at her friend's choice of words. Even after growing up with the witch Tracey's swearing, her dearest friend still managed to surprise Daphne from time to time.
"Yes. Yes I must or my head truly will explode," Tracy replied with a small smile, unperturbed by her friends reaction. "I need a break as my eyes are starting to cross," the young witch said just as her stomach's need for food made itself rather loudly known. "A…anyone else hungry?" Tracey stammered as her face turned red with embarrassment.
"It's well past lunch. Perhaps a break is in order?" Luna suggested as the others chuckled at Tracey's discomfort. The witches were quick to agree with the exception of Hermione who looked intent on remaining exactly where she was. "You won't do Harry any good if you wear yourself out, Hermione," Luna chided the older girl.
"I know," Hermione replied with a resigned sigh as she set the book she had been reading aside. "I just can't help but feel we are quickly running out of time. This is Harry after all. Bad things happen to him all the time and they seldom wait for a time when we are prepared for them."
"I doubt very much that father will wait either," Daphne said in agreement. "I'm actually surprised that he hasn't tried something already. Then again, he hasn't gotten to where he has in life by being reckless or rash either. I'm certain he has something planned and it is only a matter of time before we discover what it is. However, if we don't take care of ourselves we won't be able to help Harry when the time comes," Daphne added, echoing Luna's words.
"Fine. Fine. I get it," Hermione relented, rising to her feet. "I'll go eat and rest a bit," the young witch conceded as she followed Astoria and Tracey out the library.
Luna turned slightly to regard Daphne. "You wanted to talk?" Seeing the surprised look on Daphne's faces the petite blonde gave a small grin. "It wasn't that hard to determine, Daphne. You didn't leave with your sister and Tracey so you had to be staying back for a reason. While I appreciate the help with Hermione, I hardly think that was the reason."
"You're a great deal more perceptive than people give you credit for," Daphne replied. Indeed, she had wanted to speak to the former Ravenclaw but wasn't certain just how to go about it. The last time they had truly talked it had ended in spells being exchanged. Hopefully things will go better this time.
"Harry has told me that a time or two," Luna replied with a soft smile at the thought of her husband. "Why don't we sit," Luna suggested and she gestured towards the nearest couch. "I'm sure if we're in here too long the others will come to find us or send for Harry," she added with a grin.
"That is what I want to talk to you about," Daphne said as she made her way to the indicated couch and took a seat. "I truly love Harry and I know that he loves me as well."
Luna gave a small nod. "I know that he does," the younger witch said in agreement. "I love Harry as well. As does Tracey as well as Hermione and Harry loves us all in return," she added. "It was Harry's capacity to love that ultimately defeated Voldemort after all. It was the Power He Knew Not according to Headmaster Dumbledore."
"I still find that difficult to believe," Daphne confessed, having heard the same from Harry back when she had first arrived at Westfield Manor. "The Dark Lord was defeated by love."
"Harry put his love of his friends before himself and was willing to sacrifice himself to save them and everyone else. Sacrifices of that nature are certainly something the Dark Lord would never have understood," Luna stated before continuing, "But I'm sure you didn't stay behind to talk about Voldemort."
"No," Daphne answered with a small shake of her head."I wanted to talk to you about Harry."
"One of my favorite topics of choice," Luna offered with a grin, sitting back and waiting for Daphne to continue.
Daphne couldn't help but return the girl's grin as the wizard was also one of her favorite topics as well. "I think it best to start off by apologizing for trying to hex you in here the last time we spoke. In light of everything I can see where it wasn't your fault at all." It wasn't easy for Daphne to admit that she had been in the wrong. When she had talked to Tracey about everything they had both agreed that if they were to have any chance with Harry they would have to work something out with Luna first.
"I can't imagine that it was any joy to discover in that manner that you weren't the only one married to Harry," Luna said, accepting part of the blame. "Not that there is a good way to find that out. Owl post just doesn't seem appropriate," Luna added with a small chuckle.
"No, probably not," Daphne agreed. "It must have been difficult to not be able to tell others that you were married to him as well."
"It wasn't what I would have preferred," Luna admitted,"but I knew Harry loved me and really that was good enough for me."
"He really does love us both?" Daphne voiced after along pause.
"He loves us all," Luna corrected. "You, me, Tracey, Hermione, Andi, Teddy, Anna. Harry has the capacity to love many and apparently be loved by many," the younger of the two added with an accepting smile. "He's a hard man not to love."
"How is that possible?" Daphne asked with a frown as she puzzled over it. Loving multiple people really wasn't a concept she had given much thought. Even in the Wizarding world it was unheard of for people to fall in love with more than one person, even more unheard of to marry them both. Does this mean Harry will want to marry Hermione and Tracey as well? Daphne wondered, thinking they were already in enough trouble as it were without adding more to it.
"It's no different than you loving Harry and Tracey, I would imagine," Luna pointed out. "Life would be rather sad if we could only love one person after all. We love others to different degrees and in different ways but it is still love all the same. Fortunately for us Harry loves us in a romantic fashion."
"I do love Tracey and I do love Harry," Daphne replied in a distracted tone as she thought over her feelings for them both. "I can't imagine my life without either of them in it. It is something I need to discuss with Harry actually."
"I doubt very much that he would prevent Tracey from being apart of your life," Luna said, guessing at what Daphne was hinting at."He loves Tracey as well after all so I doubt very much he wants to be apart from her any more than he does from you."
"We're a packaged deal after all," Daphne replied with a small chuckle, only to see Luna raise a questioning brow. "Back at Hogwarts, in our fifth year, I swore a vow to Tracey that I would never leave her and we'd always be together. At the time, something terrible had happened and Tracey was deathly afraid that I would vanish and that she would be left all alone. The vow, upon my magic, was the only thing I could think of to reassure her that I wasn't going to leave her side."
"I was young and foolish," Daphne continued. "When I swore that vow to Tracey I didn't think about the consequences of my actions. It wasn't till father began to discuss marriage contracts that I realized that I might actually be separated from Tracey at some point. I tried to talk father out of it, even telling him about my vow to Tracey in the hopes that would persuade him to relent, but it didn't."
"Your father was going to marry you off even knowing that it could very well cost you your magic?" Luna asked in disbelief. Having grown up with loving parents it was difficult for her to understand how someone could do that to their own child.
"It was that fear that drove me to run away from home," Daphne confessed. "I knew father was about to sign a marriage contract for me so I hoped to be able to run away and keep from being found till I was of age," she explained. "I knew it had to be someplace or to someone that father couldn't get to. Harry was the obvious choice. I never thought he would entrap Harry."
"I guess that makes sense," Luna said thoughtfully."Harry once mentioned that Tracey seemed to have a fear of vows for some reason. I guess I know why now. Have you told Harry about any of this?"
"Not as yet," Daphne answered. "Things have been abit busy and there certainly hasn't been a good time to do it. Also, things between Harry and I are a bit out of sorts at the moment," Daphne added a bit sheepishly, recalling her last blowup at the wizard. Their relationship had been rather strained ever since.
"You do realize that your father didn't actually need for you to be present to be able to sign a marriage contract for your hand?" Luna enquired.
"Apparently," Daphne answered. "If he needed me there then Harry and I would never be married. I wasn't exactly thinking clearly," Daphne confessed. "All I could think about was being separated from Tracey and losing my magic when I broke my vow. Not one of my better moments, I admit."
Luna gave a sigh, mentally agreeing with the former Slytherin."So, what is it you wish to do, Daphne?"
"Originally, I was going to speak to Harry and convince him to allow Tracey to be a part of our relationship but that was before I learned he was married to you as well," Daphne replied. "Now I don't know what to do. That's even assuming that we can find a way to keep Harry out of Azkaban!"
"I don't have any issue with including Tracey," Luna replied as her brow creased in thought. "The problem will be convincing Harry of that."
"Really?" Daphne asked in disbelief.
"I'm an only child but I've always wanted siblings," Luna explained. "I imagine you both will be like sisters at some point. One hardly ever gets the chance to choose their family," Luna added with a small dreamy smile.
"Sister Wives?" Daphne asked with an arched brow. It wasn't something the pureblood witch had ever really considered and she wasn't certain how she felt about it. Part of her wanted all of Harry to herself, or at least to her and Tracey. It could be worse, the young witch realized. Luna could be dead set against including Tracey at all. Daphne knew that if she wanted Harry at all she would have to learn to share him with both Tracey and Luna.
"Well, you and I perhaps," Luna replied with a nod of agreement. "Tracey, not being married to Harry, would be more of a sister-in-law of sorts, given her relationship to you. Ultimately I want whatever will make Harry the happiest and I have little doubt that you and Tracey figure heavily into that."
"And you're all right with sharing Harry with us?" Daphne asked in a skeptical tone as she regarded the younger witch. Having trouble adjusting her own thinking to the thought of sharing Harry it was hard to see how Luna could so easily do so.
"I think it would be more appropriate to ask you that question, Daphne," Luna countered with, a small chuckle escaping her lips."So long as Harry loves me and I'm allowed to be with him I don't really care how many others he loves or that love him."
Daphne could tell from Luna's tone that she meant exactly what she said. It must be nice to be able to trust so easily, she thought to herself. "I'm certain things will be a bit awkward," Daphne finally said, "and there is still the matter of convincing Harry."
"Harry won't be a problem," Luna declared boldly, having figured out a way already. Seeing Daphne's doubtful expression, the petite which went on to explain. "Once he knows that it will save you from losing your magic and that it will make you and Tracey happy, I am certain he will do whatever he can to make the best of it."
"He is a male after all," Daphne quipped with a knowing smirk. "I'm certain he won't know what to do with the three of us!"
Luna's lips spread into a wide grin. "Yes, there is that to look forward to as well."
"Y…yes," Daphne stammered, feeling her cheeks heat into a blush. The young woman was a stranger to serious relationships with the exception of Tracey. Daphne wasn't certain if Luna's response was directed at Harry being male or the three of them being with Harry all at once, having had similar thoughts with Tracey not all that long ago. "Perhaps we should join the others?" she suggested as she stood.
Luna stood and the two walked towards the doors of the library before Luna voiced a question. "How does Tracey feel about all this?"
"She was rather hesitant about it of course," Daphne answered. "It was her thought however that Harry would possibly be willing to share."
"I'm rather surprised by that, all things considered," Luna voiced, recalling the rumors of how Tracey had been to males in general while at Hogwarts.
"I was too till she recently confessed to me that she had a crush on Harry in our third year," Daphne said with a giggle. "It seems that Harry has managed to overcome Tracey's dislike of males."
"What's not to like about our Harry?" Luna quipped as the two of them walked into the dining area.
"I know, right?" Daphne agreed with a grin.
The two witches quickly served themselves and found their places at the table. If their sudden friendship was cause of interest with the others they didn't let it show. Luna sat back and munched on a small sandwich as she observed the others at the table. Two down and one to go, she thought to herself as her silver eyes zeroed in on Hermione. Now we just have to get Harry and Hermione together as well...and keep Harry out of Azkaban.
Gerald Greengrass stepped from the fireplace and with a flick of his wand removed the soot and ash from his clothes. The elder Greengrass turn to greet his host. "I don't enjoy being summoned here like some servant, Lucius!" he spat out in an angry tone.
Lucius, unruffled by the man's apparent darkened mood gave a welcoming smile. "If I recall correctly it was you who came to me for help, Greengrass," the head of the Malfoy family replied drily. "So why ever would I come to you when I am not the one in need of assistance?" Lucius continued before the former head of the Greengrass family could respond."We can stand here and discuss the finer points of etiquette or we can adjourn to my private study and talk about the reason I asked you here."
Gerald, always a smart businessman, bit back the words he wanted to say with some difficulty. "Fine. Lead on." It wasn't long before the two men were closeted away in the study, each with a snifter of brandy in their hand. "I'm assuming you have news?" Gerald asked, breaking the silence as his impatience got the better of him.
Lucius allowed himself a small condescending smile which he hid behind his snifter as he took a sip of the amber liquid. He had purposely waited to see if Greengrass would cave and speak first. It is the small victories in life that are the most satisfying, he reminded himself. "I do," Lucius replied. "I have spoken with many of my associates. After a great deal of discussion, and no small amount of galleons, they have agreed to back your cause."
"How quickly can we move on this?" Gerald demanded, sitting forward in his seat, the snifter in his hand all but forgotten in his excitement. Potter will finally get his and when he does I'll have all the Black wealth to myself!"We are under a time constraint after all if this is to work," Gerald added.
"Yes, there is your daughter's birthday," Lucius agreed."The tenth of February is it not?" Seeing Gerald give a sharp nod Lucius continued. "Should she reach her maturity, you will not be able to assume guardianship of her."
"I know that," Gerald growled through clenched teeth. It pained the proud wizard to no end to have to seek help from the likes of Lucius Malfoy. "All the more reason haste is needed," Gerald added. "If that were to happen then all our plans would be for naught!"
"The Wizengamot will open its first session of the year on the 25th of January," Lucius replied, pausing to take a slow sip of his brandy. The wizard was rather enjoying watching Greengrass hang upon his every word. The fact that it clearly irritated the man whenever Lucius paused in this manner only added to Malfoy's enjoyment. "They will ask if there is any new business to address at which time you can stand and make your claim."
"Me?" Gerald exclaimed in surprise. "I thought you would be the one as I do not have a seat upon the Wizengamot."
"I'm not the one with a grievance against Potter," Lucius pointed out rather smugly. "It is your plan, therefore you must carry it out. I, and those following my lead, will support the matter when the time comes of course. If I were to present this matter it would just appear as if I was out to get Potter. Everyone knows there is no love loss between us two after all," Lucius side. "New business can be brought before the Wizengamot by anyone. I would have thought you'd have known that, Gerald?"
The elder Greengrass bit his tongue once again, knowing that for the time he needed Lucius and the votes the man could bring their way. Once I have the Black family wealth I'll no longer have need of a silent partner. Gerald thought it over for a long moment, finding no flaw with Malfoy's logic. "You're certain that you have the votes?"
"You wouldn't be here right now if I didn't," Lucius assured Gerald. "When this is all done, Potter will be in Azkaban, Draco will be the head of the Black family and you and I will be business partners," stated Lucius with an evil grin. And the Malfoys will be back where they belong among the prominent families of our world!
January 22, dawned with all the makings of a bright and beautiful day. Harry Potter rolled out of bed, squinting at the bright sunlight as it streamed through his bedroom window. "Must you always throw the curtains open first?" he whined plaintively.
"Master Harry wouldn't get up if Winky did not," the small she-elf replied as she busied herself with laying out her master's clothes for the day. "Master Harry has a busy day today after all."
"Thank you, Winky," Harry said, resigning himself to his rate before making his way to the bathroom for a shower. Despite the weather outside the young man felt that the day should be an ugly one given what was to happen in a few hours. In short order Harry showered, shaved and dressed before making his way downstairs for breakfast. "Good morning, Andi," Harry greeted the older witch with, pausing to exchange pecks on the cheeks before collecting his plate and heading to the sideboard to serve himself. "Where is everyone?"
"Good morning, yourself," Andi replied with a warm caring smile. "In the library, I believe," she added as Harry returned to the table and seated himself. "Well everyone but Luna. She took Teddy over to the Lupin Home to have breakfast with Anna so they could say their goodbyes."
Harry gave a grunt of acknowledgement before starting in on his food even though he had very little appetite at the moment. A few days past, the witches living under his roof had informed him as to the penalty he faced for being married to both Daphne and Luna. Harry had already known, thanks to his solicitors, but had refrained from telling the witches that. Instead he had thanked them for all their time and effort on his behalf. Harry hadn't even realized they had been researching it but given Hermione's penchant for research and getting him out of a jam, he should have.
"Are you going to be all right?" Andi finally asked after the silence had dragged on for several minutes. She knew that saying goodbye to Anna today wasn't going to be easy for Harry. He's already lost so many that he's cared about, Andi thought to herself, wishing there was some way she could spare him this pain.
Harry opened his mouth to say that he'd be fine only to pause upon realizing that Andi wouldn't believe him. "Probably not," he finally admitted. "Are you working tonight?" Harry asked.
"Yes, but I can call off if you need me to?" Andi offered. Truth be told she had nearly done just that already. Only the fact that she wasn't certain how Harry would take her doing so had prevented her from sending an owl. He'd probably feel guilty if I took the time off, she had reasoned.
"No, that's all right," Harry finally replied after a few moments. "I'll have to learn to deal with this sooner or later and I would hate for you to get into trouble at work. The others will be here if I need someone," Harry added with a forced smile. "I guess it is time for me to be an adult about this, huh?"
Andi stood and walked down to the other end of the table before seating herself in what was typically Daphne's chair. "Being an adult doesn't mean not showing your emotions, Harry," Andi told him as she took his hand in hers. "In fact it means just the opposite. Being able to show your emotions and that you love and care for others, regardless of who sees, is part of being an adult."
"From what you have told me Anna is happy about getting a new family. This could be exactly what she needs to help her get past what happened to her sister and parents," Andi said. "Merlin knows that child deserves some happiness in her life."
"She is happy," Harry acknowledged, his eyes dropping to their clasped hands. "It just hurts to let her go, Andi."
"I know Sweetie. I'm certain it is hard for Anna as well which is all the more reason you need to be strong. If not for yourself then for Anna," Andi told Harry. "You've been that little girl's knight in shining armor and probably the only thing that has kept her from losing it completely. You can't let her down now, Harry."
"I suppose not," Harry replied after a moment's thought.
"So, go and see her off with a smile," Andi suggested."Hug her, tell her you love her and that you'll see her soon. Reassure her that no matter what you'll always be there for her. Anna is probably just as scared of losing you as you are of losing her, Harry."
Harry gave the hand in his a gentle squeeze. "Whatever would I do without you, Andi?" The older witch always seemed to know just what to say or do to help Harry through the rough emotional moments of his recent life, such as his falling out with Daphne. It was a fact that he was very thankful for. That reminds me, I still need to speak with Daphne and apologize. Their relationship had been strained of late and he missed their playful banter.
"Morgana help us!" Andi exclaimed playfully. "Let us hope we never have to find out!" Andi stood, Harry following suit and standing as well. "If you need me," the elder witch said as she pulled Harry into a hug.
"I know where to find you," Harry finished, returning the hug as his lips slipped into a genuine smile. The two remained that way for several long moments before Harry stepped back. "Well, I best be about it then. If I hurry I can spend some time with Anna before her new parents arrive."
"See that you do," Andi told Harry before walking the young wizard to the door and seeing him off with another hug and a quick peck on the cheek.
Harry landed his broom and shrunk it with a wave of his hand before placing it in his pocket. Making his way into Lupin Home he ran into Padma Patil. "I wondered when you were going to show up," the former Ravenclaw witch greeted Harry with upon seeing him. "As the owner of Lupin Home there are some papers you need to sign off on concerning Ann. Why don't we go to my office and get them taken care of before you go and see her?"
"Of course," Harry replied in agreement, falling into step beside the witch. "Anna seems pretty happy with her new parents. I'm assuming they have been well checked out?"
"Of course they have been Harry," Padma assured him."That is what you pay me for after all."
"I know," Harry quickly agreed. "It's just strange that a magical couple would take in a non-magical child."
"I think the fact that Anna is a child had more to do with it than the fact she was or wasn't magical," Padma replied as she ushered the wizard into her office and closed the door. "Honestly, after having met and spoken with the new parents, I am fairly certain that magic had nothing to do with their choice of adopting Anna."
"You've met them?" Harry asked.
"Of course!" Padma scoffed. "Do you honestly believe I would give Anna away to people I've never met before?" she asked in an angry tone at having her judgement and professionalism questioned.
"No! No, of course not," Harry hastily backpedaled."What are they like?" the concerned wizard pressed.
"You'll meet them soon enough, Harry," Padma said as she withdrew some papers from her desk drawer. "Rather than go by my opinion of them, why not wait and form your own?" she asked. "Sign here," she added, sliding a paper across to Harry and indicating where he needed to sign it.
"I know…I mean I will," Harry stammered as he hastily signed where indicated before passing the paper back. "I just want your opinion of them is all."
"And here," Padma said, sliding a second paper towards the wizard. "I think they will take very good care of Anna. She is quite taken with them just as they are with her," Padma assured the concerned wizard as she accepted the signed document back before sliding the last one over to be signed. "One more."
"As long as she is happy," Harry said as he quickly signed the last one and slide it back across the desk. "I just want to make certain that she'll be well cared for and receive all the love and attention that she deserves."
"She will, Harry," Padma replied with a grin as she came around her desk. "Come on, let's go find Anna for you, okay? I'm sure she is anxious to see you."
The two walked out of the office only to see the girl in question walking down the hall holding onto Teddy's hand. On the other side of Teddy was Luna, holding the boy's other hand, as the three of them slowly walked down the hallway. "Harry!" Anna exclaimed upon seeing the wizard before sprinting in his direction.
Harry dropped to one knee and held his arms open to accept the human projectile. "How's my girl?" Harry asked in an emotionally strained voice as he hugged the child in his arms.
"Much better now that you're here," Anna answered as she clung tightly to the kneeling wizard.
Luna scooped Teddy up and deposited him on one hip before making her way over towards the group.
"Sorry for keeping him," Padma apologized to Anna."I needed for Harry to sign off on the paperwork so it could be filed with Gringotts."
"Don't you mean the Ministry?" Harry asked in a confused tone.
"No," Padma explained. "Adoptions are far too mundane for someone at the Ministry to be bothered by them. The goblins have managed them for some time now."
"Oh good, we caught them before they left," Susan Bones said as she and Parvati joined the group in the hallway.
"Not like we wouldn't see them again," Parvati quipped with a smirk, "They're just a short broom ride away."
"Who knows when Harry will invite us over," Susan countered with. "All this time and he has yet to invite any of us to his home. I guess we really are just employees."
"What? No," the confused wizard managed to get out, not really certain just what was going on. "You are welcome over any time," Harry assured them.
"That was easier than I thought it would be?" Padma stated with a grin.
"Why don't we let them get settled though before we descend en masse," Susan suggested.
"You're no fun!" Parvati said, sticking out her tongue at Susan, causing everyone but Harry to laugh.
"Well now that's settle, perhaps we should be off?" Luna asked.
"Off?" Harry parroted back at his wife, completely at a loss. "Where are we going? I thought we were meeting Anna's new mum and dad?"
"Shopping," Luna informed her husband. "Anna needs a bed, furniture, clothes and many other things if we're going to get her settled today, Harry?"
"What?" was the best that Harry could manage at the moment.
"Don't worry Anna, he's usually not this slow," Luna said to the small girl who still had her arm wrapped around her new father's neck.
"I know," Anna replied, slipping from Harry's stunned grasp only to take one of his hands in hers and give it a slight tug."Let's go home, Papa!"
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