Chapter 29– For Better Or For Worse
. . .
Harry awoke from a slumber that for once was not plagued by nightmares. The young wizard propped his head up on his pillow causing the still sleeping Luna to shift and snuggle into his side as if she was seeking warmth. Harry smiled tenderly at the sleeping witch, thankful once again for her presence in his life.
"However will I repay you?" Harry whispered towards the resting girl. The last thing he has expected yesterday was to be returning home with Anna. It was a fact that both delighted him as well as scared him. However will I take care of her when I am little more than a child myself? he wondered. As frightening as the prospect of parenthood was, being without Anna in his life was even more scary.
A bit of elf magic had seen the small girl's bed and effects brought over from the Lupin Home. That of course hadn't prevented Luna and the others from taking Anna shopping for clothes and other things they felt certain she needed. Harry still couldn't believe all they had bought or that one small little girl could need so much.
Thankfully it had been agreed that they wouldn't stop by the woman's unmentionable store, though Luna had presented a strong argument for going. The young witch wanted some of the undergarments she had heard the others talking about. Harry personally thought what Luna had on was perfectly fine, especially as it didn't usually stay on long when they were alone together in his rooms.
Harry had tagged along, walking beside Anna and holding her hand. It was the first-time Anna had been out in public and the child clung to his hand like it was a lifeline. Even though Anna wore the necklace Harry had crafted for her she was still fearful. It had taken sometime for Anna to relax a bit and enjoy the excursion. The others doted on Anna and under their combined attention the girl actually started to get into the spirit of the trip.
It had been rather late in the evening when Harry, Anna, Luna, Astoria, Daphne and Tracey had returned home. Hermione had declined the outing in favor of remaining in the library and researching through the old laws in the hopes of finding one to save Harry. The former Head Girl has responded with "The Clock's ticking" when asked to go. The group of them, once they had extracted Hermione from the library, had sat down for a rather late meal.
"Have you given any further thought to schooling, Mister Potter?" Mary asked at one point, having joined them for the meal upon hearing the noise of their return. "Now that you are a parent, you will need to think about Anna's education," she added with a small smile at seeing Anna grin upon the mention of Harry being her parent.
"I hadn't really given it much more thought from our last conversation," Harry confessed. "Things have been a bit busy," he pointed out with a small grin, "and I only just became a parent," he added with a loving look towards Anna who smiled back brightly.
"There are a couple of muggle teachers over at the Lupin Home," Luna offered, causing Harry to look at her in surprise."Missus Robinson taught primary and Mister Hill taught…well I don't recall what exactly but I believe it wasn't primary."
"Probably secondary," Hermione offered in a distracted tone. The bright witch had been rather uncharacteristically subdued ever since the others had return.
"Maybe," Harry agreed. "Do you think they would be willing to teach classes?" Harry directed towards Luna.
"We can always ask them," Daphne interjected before the former Ravenclaw could answer. "I would imagine that just sitting around not doing anything would be a bit boring after a while."
Luna gave a nod of agreement. "I can always speak with them about it tomorrow," the young witch offered. "Teddy has a play date over at the Lupin Home in the afternoon," Luna informed them. "He's become rather popular over there and it's good for him to have others to play with that are closer to his age."
"If you don't mind I would like to go with you and speak to them as well," Mary asked, to which Luna gave a nod of consent. "If we're going to do this then we will need someplace to hold classes," the elder witch said with a pointed look towards Harry.
"I can talk to Gringotts and see about having a building added," Harry offered. "What does it need to have?" He asked only to see blank stares in answer. "Hey, I don't know the first thing about what a school building needs. I went to school in a castle, remember?" he added with a grin. While Harry had attended primary school, he hadn't been old enough to really notice what was there. In addition, Dudley and his gang had seen to it that Harry had very little free time to look about.
"Yes, well, I highly doubt we require something that grandiose, Mister Potter," Mary commented with a grin. "Several classrooms at least though would certainly be nice."
"A few more than several probably," Luna stated thoughtfully. "The children at Lupin Home range in all ages. Having the younger children with the older ones would be too great a distraction for them."
"As well as for the older ones, as well," Tracey hesitantly added, joining the conversation for the first time. "Perhaps splitting them up according to year as they do at Hogwarts?" she suggested. "Not to mention that some will be magical and some won't be."
"It would be nice if the building was easily accessible from almost anywhere," Daphne said. "We do get snow here occasionally and I'm sure no one likes to trudge through that to get to classes."
"Or rain," Astoria was quick to add. The younger Greengrass sister seemed to be a bit distracted as if she had something else on her mind.
Luna's hand paused over the parchment she had conjured, the quill in her grasp was poised ready to add to the list she had started to create."Anything else?"
"A library," Hermione said as she finished the last of her meal. "They will need a good library. One well stocked with both magical as well as non-magical books."
"Thanks," Harry said to Hermione with an appreciative smile before turning back and regarding the group as a whole. "There are over two hundred children currently at Lupin Home so I doubt that two teachers will be adequate for all of them."
"Not hardly," Mary agreed with a frown. "The problem is that we have both muggle as well as magical. Magical teachers won't be as hard to find as muggle ones. The Statue of Secrecy doesn't allow for us to tell them about our world."
"Squibs?" Harry suggested in a questioning tone. Though he was well known at school for breaking the rules, even he felt it might be a bit much to break the Statue of Secrecy any further than he already was. If it was well known that there were non-magicals living at Lupin Home he was certain he'd be in more than a bit of trouble.
"Possibly," Mary hesitantly agreed. "I can't say that any come to mind though. Squibs usually don't stay in our world as there is very little employment for them. Most decide to enter the muggle world and take their chances there. The number of those that would have attended the higher education courses required to get their teaching credentials probably isn't all that high."
Harry could only nod in understanding as he hadn't really thought it through that far but it made sense to him when Mary pointed it out."I'm sure that some of the magical teachers can cover reading, letters and numbers well enough. It's the other mom-magical classes we'll need teachers for," he stated with a small sigh at the apparent enormity of the problem before them. "I can have Mister Wright ask about," Harry suggested with a grin. "He did a splendid job of find you after all."
Hermione wiped her mouth on the linen napkin before dropping it to her plate, which promptly vanished by house elf magic. "If you'll excuse me, I want to get back to the library," the young witch said as she stood.
Harry reached out and grabbed Hermione's hand before she could leave. "Are you alright, Hermione?" he asked in a concerned tone."You've been terribly quiet throughout the entire meal. I would have suspected you to be leading this discussion and already have plans and several lists drawn up," Harry added with a small grin, knowing how the smart witch worked through long years spent by her side.
Hermione, acutely aware of all the eyes focused on her replied a bit sharper than she meant to. "I'm fine, Harry! Forgive me if I feel it is more important to try and find a way to keep you out of Azkaban," Hermione snapped as she pulled her hand from his and quickly left for the library leaving a rather stunned table behind her.
"What's got her nickers in a twist?" Tracey quipped into the silence once the witch was gone.
"Hermione doesn't do well with puzzles she can't solve," Harry offered in defense of his best friend. "This is nothing, you should have seen her just before we took our OWLs," he added with forced levity, even though he was concerned by Hermione's apparent sudden change in behavior.
"I heard about that," Daphne offered. "Even Draco was afraid to mess with her during that time."
"No telling what she might have turned him into," Harry had agreed with a genuine grin at the thought.
Harry's thoughts were halted as Luna's pale arm snaked across his stomach and hugged him possessively, pulling the rather nude witch into his side. "A galleon for your thoughts," a sleepy voice said just before soft lips kissed his bare shoulder.
"They're hardly worth that much," Harry replied as he rolled to his side and snaked an arm around the petite witch, drawing her flush against his chest. "Just wondering how I was so lucky to marry such a wonderful witch," he added.
"Daphne is rather fetching and does have some rather perky assets I'll admit," Luna teased with a small dreamy smile.
"And you don't?" Harry asked as he ran his hand up her side before cupping one of Luna's assets and eliciting a small groan of pleasure from the witch as his thumb slide across her perkiness. "However shall I repay you for yesterday?" he asked in a slightly husky tone.
"Well you could keep doing what you're doing," Luna answered, arching her back a bit and thrusting herself into his hand in the process. "Not that you have to repay me at all of course Harry, but that does feel rather wonderful."
Harry grinned as Luna's eyes closed and her head rolled back."Oh, how about this?" he asked as he rolled her onto her back, lowered his head, and capture the young witch's perkiness within the warmth of his mouth. The small gasp of delight was all the encouragement Harry needed to continue his ministrations.
It was sometime later, after their love making, that the young man reflected that there might be better ways of waking up in the morning but right at that moment he couldn't think of any. Luna shifted, snuggling into his neck as her head lay upon his shoulder and he held her close. "So what can I do for you?" Harry asked in a more serious tone.
"I think I'm good for now," the contented witch purred, bringing one leg up and draping it across Harry so that she was practically laying atop of him. "Feel free to wake me up like that anytime," she added, earning herself a kiss to the crown of her head from her husband. It still amazed Luna that she was actually married to Harry. There were times when she feared she would awake and discover that this had all been a dream.
And what a bizarre dream that would be, she mused silently to herself. Married to Harry who is also married to Daphne who is in love with Tracey. Let's not forget that Tracey is also in love with Harry as well as Hermione who has loved Harry for years. The young witch couldn't help but grin at the absurdity of it all. I'm not even certain I could dream something like that up, she told herself with a small grin.
"I'm serious," Harry said, interrupting Luna's thoughts."I want to do something for you."
"I never knew you were an Animagus," Luna quipped playfully. "Though I'm not certain a Grim would be a proper form for you, Harry."
"Ha-ha!" Harry retorted dryly, having heard that joke far too often from his godfather.
"Well, there is one thing you can do for me, Harry," Luna finally said in a more serious tone of voice. "You can talk things out with Daphne."
"What?" Harry asked in surprise. He wasn't certain what he had expected her ask for, maybe go on a trip to hunt snorkacks or some such unusual creature that the petite which was fond of. Speaking with Daphne certainly on Harry's list of possible requests though.
"The two of you have unresolved issues," Luna went on to explain. "It is high time you talked and got everything sorted don't you think? She's your wife, for Merlin's sake. When things work out you'll be together for the rest of your lives," Luna pointed out.
"If they work out," Harry replied, a hint of frustration entering his tone.
"They will," Luna assured Harry. "You have five rather intelligent witches working to save your rather scrumptious backside after all. It's only a matter of time before we find a way to do that. You don't really think Hermione is going to let you down now after all these years? The rest of us are trying as hard as we can as well, Harry. None of us want to lose you."
The two lay in silence for several long moments as Harry thought over Luna's words. Truth be told, there was no one else he'd rather have working to save him. Knowing that they were all working so hard for his benefit made him feel thankful as well as a little unworthy. "Scrumptious huh?" Harry finally asked with a lopsided grin.
"Most certainly," Luna confirmed with a nod of her head as well. "Ask any of the girls, though maybe not Astoria," the young witch said with a thoughtful frown. "She seems to have her sights set on Draco. Still, I have caught her checking out your backside a time or two," Luna said with a brightening smile.
"Really?" Harry gasped in surprise, his cheeks blushing a bit at the news. Feeling Luna give a nod of confirmation Harry looked up at the canopy is wonder. "I never would have guessed," he said softly in disbelief. Somehow, the fact that Draco's girlfriend was checking him out made him a bit happier than it probably should have. Point, Potter, he told himself as if he was keeping score.
The two lay in silence for a few moments just enjoying the company and closeness of the other. "I'll talk to Daphne," Harry finally agreed in a rather resigned tone of voice. I guess it can't hurt matters any, he mused. The young wizard missed their playful banter. Whenever he was around the blonde witch it felt as though he was walking on egg shells, fearful of saying something that would anger Daphne further or worse yet, hurt her again.
Luna shifted, raising her head and stretching up to kiss her husband."Thank you, Harry," she said afterwards. "As much as I love laying here with you," Luna began in a wistful tone, "if we don't hurry we'll be late for breakfast. Anna and the others will begin to wonder," she added seeing Harry's confused look.
Harry gave his wife a quick kiss before sitting up and rolling off the bed. The young wizard turned and caught Luna checking out his nude body and shot her a smirk. Like what you see?" he teased, trying hard not to let his eyes drop from Luna's face and zero in on her bare chest.
"You have no idea," Luna replied without a hint of modesty.
Harry just chuckled, and allowed himself to ogling his wife because...well, because I can! "Meet you down at breakfast?" he asked.
"Don't take too long," Luna said as she slid from the bed and started to get dressed.
"You could always shower with me to save time?" Harry offered with a suggestive leer.
"Somehow I think that might actually make us late for lunch," Luna replied with a dreamy smile as she pulled her pajama top on before walking over to Harry. Standing up on her tippy-toes Luna hastily kissed the man she loved before slipping out of the room with Harry starring wistfully after her.
"She says that like it's a bad thing," Harry said to himself once Luna was gone.
After a quick shower and shave Harry dressed in the clothes Winky had laid out for him. At some point while he had been in the shower the house elf had opened the drapes, changed the linen on the bed and laid out clean clothes for her master. When he finally made it downstairs it was to see that Luna had beat him there by a fair bit judging by her half-eaten plate of food.
After making the rounds and giving the witches present, with the exception of Mary, pecks on the cheeks, Harry served himself and sat to eat."Hermione?" he asked, as the witch's seat was currently empty.
"Miss Granger has already eaten and ran off to the library," Mary was first to answer. "Do be sure to check on her, Mister Potter, before she over works herself on your behalf."
"I will," Harry assured Mary. The rest of the meal passed in idle conversation that didn't amount to much, though it did serve to pass the time. Towards the end of the meal Harry wiped his mouth before addressing the witch to his right. "Daphne, when you are finished, might I have a moment of your time?" the young man asked hesitantly, catching Luna's approving smile out the corner of his eye.
Daphne's eyes widened ever so slightly, though that was the only indication that she was surprised by the request. "Certainly," was all she said in way of a reply before turning back to resume her conversation with Tracey. The two of them had not spent any time alone since the day in Harry's study. The young witch wanted to apologies but the time just never seemed right.
"Harry," Astoria's voice said quietly, "can you please take a look at this?" she asked, sliding a folded bit of parchment towards the wizard. "It arrived last night while we were out."
Harry accepted the parchment and opened it, reading the words.
I hope that this letter finds you well and in good health and spirits. I hope that Potter canceling the marriage contract has made you as happy as you wished.
Speaking of Potter, I need to speak with him directly as soon as possible. I cannot meet him at Gringotts as father is having me watched I fear. He knew of my previous meeting with Potter and has advised me to keep away from Potter as well as yourself.
I cannot help but feel that he is up to something. I have some suspicions, which I dare not include in this missive should it somehow fall into father's hands. With you staying at Potter's residence it would be helpful if you could speak with him concerning this matter.
I remain forever yours,
Harry's brow creased in thought as his eyes slid over the short message once again. Had he not met with Draco, as well as learned of Astoria's feeling for the Slytherin, he would have dismissed the letter as nothing more than a trick. Harry's gut was telling him however that this was no trick and that he could ill afford to not at least listen to what the man had to say.
"Tell him to be someplace alone tonight at six. Someplace where he will not be disturbed for a while," Harry finally said, passing the missive back to Astoria, who simply gave a nod of understanding. Harry stood, having lost his appetite after ready Draco's letter. Reaching out he lightly touched Daphne's shoulder to get her attention as she was still in a conversation with Tracey. "I'll be in my study when you have time," he said, offering her a small hesitant smile before leaving.
So, Malfoy senior is planning something, Harry pondered as he entered his study and took a seat behind his desk. Why doesn't that surprise me? It was only due to the fact that Narcissa Malfoy had saved Harry's life and that there was no direct evidence that Lucius had actually killed anyone that he was not in Azkaban like the other Death Eaters.
Was I wrong for not pursuing the Malfoys? Harry asked himself, not for the first time. It had taken a great deal of soul searching back when the war had finished for him to finally let matters rest where the Malfoys were concerned. In part, looking back, Harry was certain that the fact that he was tired of the killing and fighting had played a part in his decision. A load of good that does me now.
The young man frowned. Then there is Draco. From all accounts from Astoria he has apparently changed his ways and seen the light. In his mind, Harry could hear a voice saying that everyone deserved a second chance. That the voice sounded suspiciously like Headmaster Dumbledore's brought a small smile to his face.
Why though would Draco want to see me to rat out his own father? It was this fact that confused Harry as he had always had the impression that when it came to purebloods, family mattered above all else. In the same sense, he had always thought that Draco was rather close to Malfoy senior. Could Draco have changed that greatly in such a short time? "It just doesn't make any sense," he mused aloud.
"What doesn't make any sense?" Daphne asked from where she stood in the doorway to the room.
Harry looked up, startled by the question as he had been lost in thought and hadn't heard Daphne's arrival. "Nothing," Harry quickly answered as he stood. Upon seeing the skeptical look upon Daphne's face, he relented. "Your sister received a missive from Draco Malfoy asking to meet. Apparently, his father is planning a bit of trouble and Draco felt that I needed to know of it."
"Why would Draco want to talk to you about what his father is doing?" Daphne asked with a creased brow as she pondered her own question.
"That's the part I don't understand either," Harry confessed.
"Are you going to meet with him?" Daphne enquired as she crossed the room the stand before Harry's desk.
"I guess it couldn't hurt," Harry replied, his own brow creased in thought. "I have to admit that Draco did seem to be different than he was while I attended Hogwarts. Astoria has been a good influence on him perhaps."
"Oh, I have very little doubt of that," Daphne agreed with a small grin. "Tori may not look it but she can be rather stubborn when she sets her mind to something. I almost pity Draco as he clearly has no idea what he's getting himself into."
"I know the feeling," Harry answered. "Not that I'm complaining!" the young man was quick to add upon seeing Daphne arch a challenging brow. "I'll meet with him this evening and see what he has to say. Till then, all we can do is speculate as to what Malfoy senior is up to," Harry said in a frustrated tone.
Daphne regarded the man across the desk for a long moment."Things are never easy in your life, are they Harry?" she asked in a concerned and gentle tone.
"Not hardly," Harry agreed with a lopsided grin."I've learned to roll with it for the most part. I mean what else can I do? It's not like I can stop others from doing whatever it is they're going to do."
That little smile made Daphne's heart skip a beat, just as it always did. She had missed seeing that smile and more so having it directed at her. Things had been rather tense between the two of them ever since their confrontation in this very room. "You know, you don't have to face these things all alone now. You have the others and I'm here for you too, if you need me that is?" she offered in a hesitant voice.
Harry, hearing the note of uncertainty within Daphne's voice, walked around his desk and approached the witch who watched his progress with wary eyes Feeling rather uncertain of himself, and just what he was supposed to do at a time like this, Harry took a page from Hermione and hugged Daphne."How could I ever not need you, Daphne?" he said upon feeling the witch in his arms stiffen as he embraced her.
Daphne was a bit startled when Harry hugged her but upon hearing his heartfelt words she slowly relaxed, her own arms slipping around Harry and clinging to him tightly. It felt like forever since he had last touched her."Even after what I did to you?" she asked, fearful of just what his reply would be.
Harry leaned back, then had to reach out and lift Daphne's chin so he could look her in the eye. "Let's get this straight, you are not to blame for this, Daphne. At least no more than I am for getting out of bed that morning," Harry told her, echoing Andi's words from previously. "You couldn't have known what your father was going to do."
"But I should have," Daphne protested. "If I hadn't sat myself by that curb and trapped you into this, none of this mess would have happened," she pointed out, as if reminding him of their current circumstance due to her actions. "It's all my fault!" the distraught witch lamented with watery eyes.
Harry sighed, realizing this wasn't going to be easy. He could forgive Daphne all he wanted to but if she didn't forgive herself they would never get anywhere. "Daphne, did you force me to invite you here?"
"I trapped you," Daphne insisted. "I knew that you wouldn't be able to turn me away!"
"As I recall it, you didn't even suggest that you come live with me. That was all my doing," Harry pointed out to her. "You were planning to stay with Zabini weren't you?"
"Well…," Daphne stammered.
"And I know for a fact that it wasn't your ideas that I purchase your wand from your father," Harry continued before Daphne could say anything further. "Once again you didn't even suggest it, being content to wait till your father returned it on his own. Tell me I'm wrong," Harry said, a small grin creasing his lips upon seeing the look of uncertainty appearing on Daphne's face.
"But if I hadn't been here in the first place….," Daphne started with only to be cut off once again.
"You mean if I hadn't invited you, don't you?" Harry enquired to stop Daphne from that train of thought. Since his discussion with Andi, Harry had thought about everything that had happened a great deal. The more he thought about it the more he realized the truth of the matter, there was a part of him that had wanted the beautiful witch to be at his home. With Hermione off to school, and Ron at Auror training, Harry had felt a bit lonely in his big new house. "If we're going to play the blame game then it would be safe to say that if anyone is to blame it's me, Daphne."
"No! It isn't your fault, Harry!" Daphne quickly replied. The young woman's thoughts and emotions were all a jumble and she wasn't certain what to think any longer. "I refuse to allow you to take all the blame! It was both our faults then. We're in this together after all!"
Harry gave Daphne a small lopsided smile. "I couldn't have said it better myself. We're married, for better or for worse. We're a team and so we shouldn't be angry with each other over this. What's done is done and all we can do is make the best of it," he told her. "That is assuming you still want to make the best of it?"
Daphne arched a brow, hearing the uncertainty in Harry's voice."Why wouldn't I?" she asked.
"Well," Harry began, "I am married to Luna as well," he added with a sheepish grin. "I'm no expert on marriage but even I know that shouldn't be."
"And yet you are," Daphne replied dryly, dropping her arms and moving over to one of the chairs which sat in front of Harry's desk."Perhaps we should talk as there are a few other things you need to know as well, Harry," she said as she seated herself.
"Like you and Tracey?" Harry asked as he moved to the remaining vacant seat and sat. Seeing the questioning look on Daphne's face Harry chuckled. "You did say that you loved her and have been sleeping with her for some time, didn't you?" Daphne just gave a small nod in way of answer. "Umm…I uh," the young man's face blushed red, "I might have also walked in on you two once as well," Harry confessed, embarrassed to admit the fact.
"What?" Daphne exclaimed, her own cheeks turning pink."You knew and didn't say anything?"
Harry gave a slight shrug of his shoulders. "What right did I have to say anything? I mean, sure we are married and all but not by your choice. You've loved Tracey for some time I gather and I certainly don't want to be the one to come in between the two off you."
"But what about us?" Daphne couldn't help but ask. To the young witch, it sounded as if Harry was telling her to have a relationship with Tracey and forget about him. Daphne's emotions were in turmoil as she certainly didn't want to be without Tracey but she equally didn't want to be without Harry either. Harry words sounded to her as if he had already decided she should be with Tracey and only Tracey.
Harry gave a rather resigned sigh not liking what he was about to say but feeling as though Daphne deserved it. "I love you Daphne. I'm not sure how, or why and even when it happened but there it is. I want you to be happy so I will understand you wanting to be with Tracey instead. We can go through the appearances of being married. Yours and Tracey's secret is safe with me, I promise."
Daphne breathed a sigh of relief upon hearing Harry's words. Apparently, there was a part of her that had feared Harry might want her to leave Tracey. A small part but a part none the less. "Well that takes care of that, thankfully," she voiced only to catch a questioning look from Harry. "There is something you don't know as yet, Harry. Back in school something rather terrible happened to Tracey."
"Goyle," Harry said with a nod to indicate he knew already. Harry's face darkened as he recalled what had happened to Tracey. I almost wish he was still alive so I could end him much slower this time, he thought.
"Tracey told you?" Daphne asked in disbelief, unaware that Tracey had shared her darkest secret with the wizard. "I hadn't realized that you had gained her trust and confidence. I'm rather impressed," Daphne admitted in a slightly awed tone of voice.
"Well, we happen to bump into each other in the kitchen late one night," Harry answered with another slight shrug. "I think she just needed someone to talk to at the time."
"I see," Daphne replied, though she couldn't help but wonder why Tracey hadn't talked to her or told her she had spilled her guts to Harry for that matter. "Well, as I was saying, after that happened Tracey was hurting in a terrible way and she got it into her head that I was going to up and leave her. Like I would do such a thing!"
"The poor dear wouldn't even let me use the loo by myself. I was at my wits end and couldn't figure out a way to convince her that I wasn't going to leave her," Daphne confessed. "I finally did the only thing I could think of and gave her a magical vow, upon my magic, that I would never leave her side and always be with her."
"Well, that certainly explains why Tracey dislikes vows," Harry replied as the pieces finally fell into place for him."You do realize that you're very fortunate? Your vow could have literally seen you unable to leave her side at all," Harry pointed out.
"Not one of my brighter moments," Daphne agreed with an embarrassed chuckle. "Thankfully magic seems to have taken the vow with the intent that I intended. We can be apart for a while, as you saw when I first moved in here and Tracey was still at home. We really don't know how long we can be apart before the vow will kick in," she confessed."Personally I would rather not find out."
"It was a very foolish thing to do, Daphne," Harry said, holding up a hand to silence the witch as she made to defend herself."Being one who often leaps before they look though, I do understand. Thankfully you are here now and Tracey is too so you've nothing to worry about. Your father has been dealt with and soon you'll be of age and able to do whatever it is you want."
"Thanks to you, Harry," Daphne replied.
"It's just how things worked out," Harry replied dismissively as he didn't feel as though he had much to do with it. "I'll do whatever it takes to make certain the two of you are happy."
"What about you, Harry?" Daphne asked, more than a little relieved upon realizing that Harry wouldn't stand in the way of her and Tracey being together. Not that I ever really thought he would. Harry is far too noble to do something like that. In fact, it is that very nobility that may see him spoil our plans. "What do you want?"
Harry smiled at her question. "I just want all of you to be happy," he replied honestly.
Daphne looked about, shifting nervously. Well things have gone better than I thought they would, might as well go for broke. "So then, you love me?" she asked hesitantly, feeling far more nervous than she thought she would be at this moment. Daphne's fear suddenly spiked and she wasn't certain exactly how to proceed. It was one thing to decide to be honest with Harry but it was an entirely different beast to actually do so.
"A great deal," Harry assured her, seeing no reason to deny it at this point.
"That's good," Daphne said, pausing to lick her suddenly dry lips. "That's very good actually. I love you too, Harry. I hadn't planned on falling in love with you, of course. I hadn't planned any of this. Some Slytherin I am," she added with a force chuckle. "I run away from home to avoid getting married and possibly losing my magic only to still get married and having the possibility of losing my magic if I don't provide you an heir."
"I've never even been with anyone other than Tracey! I'll probably make a terrible mess of it, I'm sure," Daphne said, beginning to babble due to being nervous and the fact that Harry was just sitting there and not saying anything at all. "I mean I love you and I want to give you an heir, but within a year is a bit sooner than I would have liked. I doubt I'll even make a good mother. I'm sure Luna would be much better at it than me or possibly Hermione. She's certain to have read plenty of book concerning it."
"Tracey and I have loved each other for so long. I don't know what I ever did to have her in my life. Truly I would be lost without her! I don't want to lose Tracey but I love you both so much that it hurts at times. Then Tracey loves you as well and I'm not sure if I should be happy about that or jealous and if I'm supposed be jealous should I be jealous of you or of her?"
"Luna says that we'll be like sisters, except Tracey as she isn't married to you and I was alright with that at first but I want Tracey to be like a sister to Luna as well, but that can't be right because then she would have to be married to you and we're already in enough trouble over that as it is," Daphne continued on hardly even pausing to draw a breath."Everything could be for naught though if you have to go to Azkaban and I'm not really certain what I would do if that happened to you. It would be most unbearable to be away from you for ten years, Harry!"
"There are just so many things going on that I don't know what to do. I'm so happy that Anna is here now as I know how much she means to you but what I am supposed to do with her? I'm not her mum and it was Luna and you that adopted her so what does that make her to me? I don't know what to do anymore and my mind it racing in circles to where I think I might just end up going around the bend if I haven't already," the distraught witch declared before bursting into tears.
Harry was out of his seat in a second, crossing the short distance between them he dropped to his knees before gathering Daphne into his arms. Harry had no idea that Daphne had been holding so much inside or that anyone could without exploding. Perhaps that is just what she has done, he thought to himself. "Shh," he said soothing, gently rubbing Daphne's back, "it will be alright," he tried to assure her. The two stayed as such for several long moments as Daphne cried herself out.
"You must think me mental," Daphne finally sniffled into Harry's shoulder.
"Don't be silly," Harry said with a grin. "I've fought deranged dark lords and their mental followers. You've a long way to go to reach that level, Daphne." His words were rewarded with a soft wet giggle from his shoulder. "Here, now, sit up here so I can get you cleaned up," he said after several long moments passed while he let her cry as she seemed to need to.
Daphne hastily raised her hands and covered her face as she sat back. "Don't look at me, Harry! I must be a frightful mess," she commented from behind her hands.
Harry gently reached up and taking her wrists in his hands, pulled Daphne's hands away from her face. Leaning forward the young wizard captured the surprised witch's tear covered lips in a soft and tender kiss. Somewhere in the back of his head he mentally added Daphne to the list of kissed crying witches. It was a long moment before Harry released the captured soft lips."I think your wonderfully gorgeous even when you're crying."
"Charmer," Daphne quipped with a small smile at his touching words. Even though her emotions and thoughts were all a mess at the moment, Harry's words none the less warmed her insides. Damn, how could you not love him?
"It's a work in progress," Harry replied, slipping a white handkerchief from his pocket and beginning to wipe the tears from Daphne's cheeks. "You all right, Daphne?" Harry enquired. The witch made a sad pouty face and gave a noncommittal shrug. Harry couldn't resist himself and leaned in, giving her plenty of time to turn away, and captured her cute pouting lips for another kiss. "Now?" he asked as he withdrew partially.
"One more," Daphne replied in a soft whisper, to which the wizard acquiesced to her request. Once their lips parted Daphne said,"One more," her tone rather low and needful.
Once again Harry leaned in and gently kissed the demanding witch. It was several minutes and a mutual need for air which finally separated them."Will that hold you for a while?" Harry asked once the need for air was less pressing.
"I think so," Daphne answered with a slow nod of her head.
Harry stood, his knees having started to hurt from kneeling on the hardwood floor. I'll have to remember to have Kreacher get some throw rugs or something. Taking Daphne's hand in his, Harry drew her up till he could wrap his arms around her."Hold on tight," he instructed her before he disapparitioned them both only to reappear in another location with a small crack of sound.
Daphne, once she got her bearing and was finally certain that breakfast wasn't about to make another appearance, looked about her curiously."Your private quarters, my but aren't you bold," she teased Harry.
"N...not at all," Harry stammered in denial, realizing just how it might look from her perspective. I'm glad I didn't aim for the bedroom, he thought, causing his cheeks to blush. Still, it was rather a pleasant change to hear her banter once again. "I just thought the couch up here might be a bit more comfortable for us both," he added with a gesture to one of the leather-bound sofas.
The two sat on the couch only for Daphne to slid over and wiggle in as close to Harry as she could get. "So, where were we?" she asked as she leaned in, prepared to continue from where they had left off down in the study.
"Talking," Harry replied, leaning his head, and attached lips, far enough away to where Daphne couldn't reach them only to see the witch's lips form into a faux pout.
"Fine," Daphne said, moving away from Harry enough so that she might turn and face him a bit more. Casting her eyes to her lap she asked, "What do you want to talk about?" The young woman's insecurities suddenly made an appearance. Daphne couldn't help but feel as though she had made a fool of herself downstairs. At least he didn't laugh at me, she thought as her cheeks heated into an embarrassed blush.
Harry, perhaps sensing Daphne's uneasiness, reached out and took one of her hands in his and gave it a gentle squeeze. "It's alright, Daphne," he told her. "We'll get through this together. Remember we're a team now."
"I…I'm sorry about downstairs," Daphne managed to stammer out. Harry was gently stroking the back of the hand that he held with his thumb and for some reason she found this to be very distracting. "I shouldn't have said those things to you. They're not your problems after all. They're mine."
"So, then the prospect of me going to Azkaban is not your problem either?" Harry countered with.
"Of course it is!" Daphne barked, her head jumping up so she could look at him. "How could you even say such a thing?"
"If my problems are your problems then your fears and concerns are mine as well," Harry answered, a grin spreading across his features. Seeing a look of understanding pass over Daphne's face, Harry continued. "I guess the pressing problem is what do you and Tracey want?"
Daphne gave a mental sigh, realizing that what Harry said was true. They were married which meant that they shared everything or at least were supposed to. If we are going to make this craziness work somehow, we first have to learn to not try and do everything on our own I guess. Daphne had a feeling that would be easier for her to do than for Harry.
"Tracey and I have spoken about this and we have a proposal we'd like to suggest," Daphne finally said, stealing herself for what was to come. "I have already spoken with Luna and she has agreed to it as well though the details will still have to be worked out." Swallowing her fears, Daphne pushed on boldly. "We would like to share you among the three of us."
Harry thought over Daphne's words carefully, trying desperately to ignore his raging hormones which were screaming their ecstatic support for the witch's proposal. "If that is what the three of you want and you feel it will make you all happy then I will do my best to support it," Harry finally replied, hastily raising one hand to forestall Daphne from saying anything further as he wasn't done just yet.
"However, I would like to add that if at any time one of you change your minds you be forthwith and tell all of us. The last thing I want is any of you feeling trapped or pressured into this arrangement," Harry stated. "I realize it may seem like a simple and easy way to resolve this but once we are actually living that way it may prove more than any of you are willing to deal with."
"I think that is acceptable," Daphne answered, touched that Harry seemed more concerned about her, Tracey and Luna than anything else."Let me discuss it with the others and see what they think, though I doubt they will have any objections."
"There is one thing else I need you to do," Harry began in a rather serious tone, causing Daphne to begin to fret as she wondered what it could be. "Talk to me," Harry continued with, his expression softening. "If this is going to work we have to be able to talk to one another about what is bothering us. I'm sure I'll have a more difficult time doing that than you will," he added with a small lopsided grin that unbeknownst to him, always caused Daphne's heart to skip a beat.
"I…I'll do my best," Daphne assured him to which Harry gave a nod of acceptance. "So, these are your private quarters," Daphne said looking about her. "How about a tour?" she suggested in an effort to change the subject, feeling that they had at least covered the major issues for the time being.
Harry chuckled, glad for something to do other than continue with their previous discussion. "Not much to see really," He said as she stood and then used Daphne's hand he still retained a hold on to draw her to her feet. "Other there are books, a billiards table, the fireplace and that door there leads to my bedroom."
"Can I see it?" Daphne asked in an innocent tone.
"Sure," Harry said, before leading her over to the door and opening it and motioning her through. "Nothing to unusual," Harry commented with a chuckle. "Bed, wardrobe, fireplace, loo," he stated he as went and stood by the foot of the bed and surveyed the room while pointing out the item he spoke of. "Pretty average I would think," he added turning to look towards Daphne who was suddenly a great deal closer than she had been. "Daphne?" Harry squeaked out as the witch invaded his personal space.
"So," Daphne purred in a soft husky voice, "I heard while at Hogwarts, that after making up from a fight there is something called a makeup snogging? As Tracey and I never fought while in school I never got to have one of those," she confessed as she slowly walked two fingers enticingly up Harry chest. "I always wondered what one would be like, Harry."
"R…really?" Harry stammered. He would have expected the alarms from his flight and flee preservation instinct to be going off right about now but apparently, the hormones that had been screaming before were busy pummeling said instincts into submission. Not to mention that there was a rather serious change in the direction of his blood flow which he thought might account for the sudden light-headed feeling he was having.
Daphne backed the wizard up till he hit the bed and then with a gentle, but insistent shove, pushed Harry down on to the bed before climbing on top of him. "You will show me what that is like, won't you Harry?" Daphne asked, slowly batting her eyes in what could only be called a come-hither look.
Harry, fully on the side of his hormones by this time, didn't need to be reminded of what he had told Andi and Luna. A padded room at St. Mongo's was the furthest thing for his mind at the moment. "Well, if you insist," Harry said with a cheeky grin. The two would finally surface for air just in time to make it to the midday meal.
After seating Daphne in her chair with a loving smile the wizard seated himself. Serving himself a sandwich, Harry opened his mouth to ask what everyone's plans were for the afternoon only to be interrupted by the arrival of a Patronus in the form of a Jack Russell Terrier. The very anxious voice of Ron Weasley issued from the conjured animal. "Harry you're needed at St. Mongo's immediately! Ginny's been seriously injured!"
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