Harry and Daphne, sitting in a tree...
Harry Potter and the Marriage Contracts.
Chapter Three – Sharing Experience
September 05, 1997
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
The School Grounds:
The waiting was the worst part. Harry found himself wondering if it was the same for all men, waiting to see if a woman was actually going to show up. He had arrived half an hour early for the picnic date, with a basket lovingly packed by the kitchen elves, who had fallen all over themselves to help him. The little beings were so deliriously happy to help, Harry found himself wondering why more picnics weren’t happening each weekend. From somewhere the elves had produced a bottle of wine. Harry tucked that down at the bottom of the basket and covered it with several bottles of butterbeer. He didn’t want Daphne to get the wrong idea.
“Hello Potter.” Daphne’s distinctive voice came from behind him. His early warning system had let him know she was there, but why not let her think she had succeeded in surprising him.
“Hello Daphne.” He looked up; she was clad in black denim jeans and a black jumper. Her clothing molded to her leaving no doubt as to her femininity. He found that his mouth had gone very dry. “I’ve never really done this before; let me know if I start acting like an idiot, ok?”
She actually smiled. “I think you can count on that Potter. So, are you ready to start your master plan to charm me?”
“The first step of my master plan is to get you to call me Harry.”
She considered that for a moment. “Perhaps after you earn it, Potter. Where are we going?”
“There’s a secluded spot by the lake. I like to study there on nice days, unless you know of a better spot?”
“The large stone near the lake? I’ve seen you there on occasion. No, I don’t know a better spot for a picnic, lead on.”
Harry led the way to the large stone that had become ‘his place’ since his falling out with the Weasley’s the previous year that had cost him Ron and Hermione’s company. “So, are you catching abuse down in the dungeons for knowingly associating with a filthy Gryffindor?”
“All of Slytherin knows that I am not to be trifled with Potter. Since you so skillfully neutered Malfoy, no one challenges me in my house. Have you gotten abuse for associating with me?”
“Nah, I’m fairly untouchable, that and they think I’d do to them what I did to Riddle. What do you mean I neutered Malfoy? I didn’t do anything to him.”
Daphne fixed him with a stare. “Oh yes Potter. Voldemort and his fools kill the son of the Head of the Goblin Nation, you defeat Voldemort and his marked minions die, the Goblins make no mention of any retribution for the death of the Goblin that has attempted to lead rebellions against Ragnak. You visit Gringotts the Friday before school starts and the goblins confiscate the fortunes of all marked Death Eaters. You obviously had nothing to do with it.”
“That’s all I’m saying.” Harry smiled. “Your intelligence gathering is excellent. I didn’t think anyone was paying attention to my coming and goings.” They had reached Harry’s ‘spot’. He spread a blanket (conjured on the spot) on the ground, placed the basket down, and offered Daphne his hand.
“You expect me to sit on the ground to eat?”
“Traditionally, that’s how a picnic works Daphne.”
“Oh.” She seemed surprised. “I’ve never actually been on a picnic before.” She said in a small voice. “I’ve read about them though, they always sounded like fun.” She smiled. “Now that I think about it the stories never mentioned chairs.”
Daphne took his hand and settled to sit upon the blanket. Harry folded himself to sit with his back against the stone, with the basket between them. “I’ve never been on a picnic either. I wasn’t allowed.”
“No, as ass of an Uncle who hated magic, Wizards, and me. Not necessarily in that order. Until I was eleven and Hagrid took me to Diagon Alley for the first time, other than primary school, and the occasional shopping trip when they wanted something carried, my entire universe was an eighth acre lot in Little Whinging Surrey.” Harry reaching into the basket he found a bottle of butterbeer and offered it to Daphne, which she accepted. He found another for himself.
“So. You got seven thousand Marriage contracts?”
“Yeah. I don’t know if that says something about Wizarding Society, or if it says something about me.”
“It says you are the insanely rich head of two ancient and noble houses, Potter. It says that making an alliance with you would profit anyone who could manage it. It isn’t really all that complicated.” She sipped at her butterbeer. “Why am I here?”
Harry studied her face. “I don’t understand.”
“You got offers of seven thousand women, me included. From what I could find out, you’ve declined almost all of them, again myself included. Why am I here? What is the purpose of this… date?”
Harry sighed. “Daphne, I’m seventeen years old. For my entire life I’ve been controlled, manipulated, guided and was expected, by those who claimed to love me, to die gloriously in defense of a culture that has abused and hated me since I was eleven. Well, I disappointed them by surviving and I’ve been free of all that for not quite four months. In those four months I’ve spent some money, I’ve traveled a bit, I bought a house and a company, and I’ve fired an employee. On my seventeenth birthday, I am offered seven thousand women, the vast majority of whom I’ve never met. Yes, I’ve declined most of them. All but fourteen to be exact and those fourteen I will be approaching as soon as I can to personally decline them.”
“Why did I ask you out after declining your hand in marriage? I am not ready to give up my new found freedom. This doesn’t mean I want to be alone. I would like someone to spend time with.”
“But why me?”
“Liked what you saw then?” her voice went ice cold.
“Of course I did. You are gorgeous. I wasn’t commenting on your body, exquisite though it is. I told you before, it was your eyes. I knew those eyes; I’ve seen them in the mirror. I wanted to get to know the person behind them. That’s why I asked you out.” He shook his head in frustration. “That came out wrong. It wasn’t the photos of you. I got hundreds of photos of women in various states of undress. Hell, the dorm is wall-papered with the stupid things. Only you can answer the question as to why you are here.”
Harry wasn’t surprised by the silence from the girl. He had definitely bollixed this up. She would no doubt be storming back to the castle any second; spreading the word that Harry Potter was a complete and utter idiot. He waited a ten count for her to bolt, and was surprised that she remained.
“If a copy of one of my photos is part of the ‘wall-paper’ in your dorm, no one will ever find your body.”
“None of the pictures in the dorm are of any classmate past or present. I pulled those and have personally returned all but one, and she will get hers back when I decline her family’s offer, just as you got yours.” That seemed to satisfy her; she remained sitting on the blanket. “I think this is where we get to know each other.” He said, breaking the new silence.
“Good idea. You first.”
“You never give an inch do you Daphne?”
Harry laughed, sipped his butterbeer and began to tell his story, his early life, the cruelty of the Dursleys and the odd things that happened around him. He told of his introduction to the Wizarding world at the hands of Hagrid and his tour of Diagon Alley, his first meeting with Draco, then seemingly fortunate meeting with the Weasleys outside platform 9 ¾ and his first real friendship with Ron. He told of meeting Hermione on the train, and the slow bonding of the trio that culminated that Halloween night first year with the troll.
During his story, they both began to eat from the basket, cold chicken, sandwiches of several types, hot sausages, and potato crisps. Daphne gasped at his description of facing the troll and later a Voldemort possessed Quirrel over the Philosophers Stone. She had heard stories, but never truly believed them. Harry’s tales of second year facing the Basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets chilled her. He showed her the scars on his right forearm where the fang had pierced completely through.
His tales of third year with the dementors, the Hippogriff, and the murderer Sirius Black, culminating in Black being cleared, at least in Harry’s eyes, and a rescue involving a time turner. Fourth year had the Triwizard Tournament, which she remembered well. She was surprised that he still denied entering, claiming that a death eater masquerading as Moody had plotted the entire episode. Her eyes teared when he told of the death of Cedric Diggory, of his escape from the Dark Lord and Harry’s struggle to return Cedric’s body to his parents.
Fifth year brought Umbridge, and the fight in the Ministry, his friends falling to their injuries one by one, until only he and a badly injured Neville Longbottom remained standing, the destruction of the prophecy, the loss of his godfather, the shame he still felt over using an unforgivable against Bellatrix LeStrange, the awe he felt seeing Dumbledore dueling Voldemort, and the horror of being possessed by Voldemort and asking Dumbledore to kill him.
Sixth year brought the discovery of the betrayal of Dumbledore and the Weasleys, the discovery that he had been carefully steered to this point, that they expected him to die and had taken steps to profit from his death. The loss of his friend Ron who though innocent of the deceit of his parents and sister, when forced to choose between Harry and his family went with family. The loss of Hermione who remained with the boy she had come to love. Harry’s discovery of allies willing, even eager to stand with him against the darkness. Of the final battle, of pain, blood, loss, and surprisingly survival, even victory.
Harry told her of his first summer of freedom, his discovery of his family properties, of his subtle quiet revenge against the Dursleys, and his first tentative steps toward making a life of his choosing.
Daphne pulled the bottle of wine from the basket and inspected the label. “A pedestrian vintage Potter. You’ve got the taste of a House Elf.” She said, decanting the bottle with a flick of her wand. She placed the open bottle under her nose and inhaled. “Not too horribly bad I suppose.” She put the bottle to her lips and took a long pull.
“Not using a glass?”
“We’re on a picnic Potter, which means we’re roughing it.” She then passed the bottle to Harry who hesitantly took a sip himself.
Daphne moved the basket from between them, and moved next to Harry. “I’m cold Potter. Put your arm around me. But don’t get any ideas.”
Harry’s first inclination was to cast a warming charm, then came to the startled realization what Daphne could have done that easily, but chose not to. She was actually asking for him to put his arm around her. Desperately trying to not get his hand tangled in her hair and to avoid touching anything he shouldn’t he lay his arm upon her shoulders. Daphne moved closer, almost molding herself to him. Maybe she really was cold.
Daphne retrieved the bottle and took another pull. Holding the trembling hand of the arm around her shoulders Daphne began to tell her own story, of growing up on the Greengrass estate. Of being lonely, so very lonely. She told of learning to ride a horse, of upsetting the house elves by insisting on caring for her horse herself. Being taught by tutors instead of going to school with other children. Both parents so very busy with ‘important’ things, leaving Daphne with her studies, the house elves and her horse. That pattern continued until her first trip to Diagon Alley, the first time she had seen more than a few people at a time. She told of her own trip to Platform 9 ¾ and the terror she had felt as she suddenly found herself in public without her parents in a crowd of strangers.
She told him of meeting Tracey Davis, and recognizing another frightened soul among the boisterous children, of begging the Hat to place her into Slytherin after seeing her friend go there, those first frightening nights in a strange dormitory, of joining Tracey in her bed to hold each other as each cried herself to sleep.
Daphne explained how she had built her Ice Queen public personae bit by bit until she was so intimidating that few would approach her. Of avoiding the hands of older boys until she was avoiding her own classmates. She told of watching the maelstrom what was Harry Potter from a distance as he inexplicably escaped death every single year, of the despair she felt as the Dark Lord built his power over the years, the terror that reasserted its self when those closest to ‘The Chosen One’ had seemingly abandoned him. (Harry choked when she used his nickname) And of the day last May when in the middle of a potions class Snape suddenly grasped his right forearm and began to scream, thrashing upon the floor until he died, then later that very evening, Harry Potter and Neville Longbottom, both broken and bloodied painfully hobbled into the Great Hall supporting each other and announced that Voldemort was dead. Then her anger and self loathing while posing for the photographs that Harry had returned to her.
When Daphne finished the pair were quiet for a moment. Then Daphne lifted the bottle and shook it, then raised it to her lips and swallowed the last of the wine. “We killed the entire bottle.” She said as she put the empty back into the basket. “That gives me the excuse to do this.” She rose to her knees, straddling him. She leaned over and sealed her mouth to his, her hands on the back of his head pulling him into the kiss.
Daphne had never kissed a boy before, but this seemed right somehow. She broke the kiss when she realized just how much she was enjoying it, smiled at the expression on his face and kissed him again. She then returned to her place beside him, pulling his right arm around her shoulder.
The couple spent the rest of the afternoon cuddled in quiet conversation, watching the antics of the Giant Squid playing with a floating log out in the middle of the lake.
Daphne rose to her feet. “It’s almost five. We should get back.” She smiled. “Tracey will be worried, and might come out her looking for us and hex you.”
“Well we wouldn’t want that.” Harry stood and tapped the picnic basket with is wand. It returned to the kitchens. He was going to have to go down tonight and thank the elves. He then vanished the blanket he had created earlier and together the pair began the walk back to the castle.
As they got to the entrance to the castle Harry said, “Thank you Daphne, I had fun. I hope the story of my pathetic life didn’t bore you too much.”
“I wasn’t bored Harry. You’ve shown me what kind of date you are on the grounds of the castle… Next weekend is a Hogsmeade weekend, I think I’ll give you a chance to really show me a good time.”
The Green eyed wizard smiled. “A second date?”
The girl sighed. “I suppose.” Her eyes hardened. “Don’t be getting any ideas Potter.”
“I’ll see what I can come up with in the way of plans. In case I don’t see you between now and next Saturday, meet here at 9am?”
“I don’t have to get up at dawn to milk the cows Potter, make it a civilized hour, and say 10am.”
“10am it is. Any requests for the day?”
September 06, 1997
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Gryffindor Common Room:
Hermione entered the Common Room. It was odd how little time she spent in the Common Room this year. She would have to work at that. She really didn’t want to lose touch with her friends.
In the chair nearest the fire she saw Harry quietly reading. Hermione sat down in the chair closest to him. “Hey stranger.”
“Hermione!” his face broke into a smile, then quickly glanced around the room. “How are you? Won’t this cause problems?”
“Relax Harry. Ginny is at Quidditch practice. No threats of problems with Molly.” Her smile dimmed. “How are you Harry? Ron and I miss you.”
“And I miss you ‘mione, both of you. It just doesn’t seem right to go through the day without you two. I’ve barely seen Ron at all. What are you doing to the poor guy? I don’t think he’s managed to get to bed since school started.” He waggled his eyebrows at her.
“I don’t know how to explain it Harry. I’ve never felt like this about anyone, I love him so much.” She blushed. “I hadn’t realized we were being so blatant about it.”
“If you don’t share a dorm with Ron, you wouldn’t know Hermione. You two just appear to be a normal couple. I doubt that anyone outside of the 7th year guys know for sure.”
“Harry, we’re in love.” She whispered desperately.
“Hermione, after all we’ve been through, you don’t have to justify yourself to me. I know you; Ron is the luckiest guy in this castle. You’ve done pretty well too.”
“How about you Harry? I’ve heard you went for a picnic with Daphne Greengrass.”
“Yeah, we had fun.”
“Ron is convinced she’s going to kill you.”
“Ron needs to relax. The War is over.”
“I wish we had been there at the end.”
“I don’t Hermione. Neville and I were luckier than we deserved, if anything had happened to either of you that would have killed me. I was deliriously happy that you two were out of the fight. Seriously Hermione, everything worked out for the best. Nev and I are closer than ever, I’m amazed, he and I are closer than Ron and I ever were.”
The portrait swung open and one of Gryffindor’s new beaters entered, covered in mud. Hermione’s eyes widened. “Ginny will be up soon. We’ll talk later Harry.” She stood and made toward the door.
“Good bye Hermione.” He said sadly. The three of them had faced Death Eaters, but their lives were being controlled by a vindictive 16 year old girl and her mother.
September 08, 1997
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Neville looked up from the clingvine he was repotting. These Nocturnal Carnivorous plants were a pain to work with, but he was at a point where he could stop.
“Back here Millie.”
Millicent Bustrode made her way back to the carnivorous section of the greenhouse followed by a Daphne Greengrass. Greengrass’s nervousness annoyed Millie. Like most of ‘The Gardeners’ (a small group of herbology students made up of students of all houses) she never really understood that the rest of the school was indoctrinated with the truism that you didn’t go into Greenhouse #6 unless you were very tired of living and you were interested in particularly slow and painful ways of dying.
“Greengrass wants to talk to you Nev. Where you at in this?”
“Got the primary root-ball repotted. I’ve got the nine secondary root-balls all staked and marked. I was sure that’s all we’d get to tonight; we’ll get to the tertiary root-balls tomorrow.”
“Has anyone got a census on them yet?”
“Su said that she thought that there were nineteen, but she hadn’t staked them yet.”
“Sweet. Ok, I’ve got this; you go have your talk.”
“Thanks Millie.” Neville inspected his clothing. He frowned. “Daphne, if you want to talk to me, we probably ought to get out of the greenhouse.” He edged around her, giving her as wide a berth as he could, then led them back to the exit. Outside he stood beneath a large shower head, and gestured with his wand, a torrent of a purplish liquid fell over Neville for more than a minute, he then stepped clear of the spray and waved his wand again cleaning and drying himself.
“Sorry about that, Clingvines have some nasty toxins, and I was covered in its sap. If I’d touched you, you’d wake up in a few days in the Hospital wing.”
“How bad could it really be? You were covered with it.”
Neville smiled. “We ‘Gardeners’ build up something of an immunity over the years. What can I do for you Daphne?”
“Is my picture wallpapering the 7th year Gryffindor dorm?”
Neville shook his head. “No. There is quite a collection of photos on the wall, most but not all coming from Harry’s collection of Marriage Contracts. None of the photos Harry allowed the others to see were of anyone we were or have been in class with, though he did get a few of those. I believe he has returned those to the ladies in question. You got yours didn’t you?”
“Do you know why he’s asked me out?”
“Ah a dilemma. Do I do what I think is right for Harry, or do I keep his secrets?” Daphne started in on the intimidation she used so effectively. “Daphne, quit it. We’ve known each other far too long, that isn’t going to work on me.”
Daphne blushed. Neville was one of the few playmates she had as a child. Her maternal grandmother and the Lady Longbottom were friends from their days at Hogwarts.
“Daphne, Harry’s a damaged guy. He was deeply in love with a girl who turned out to be the way you are supposed to be, but aren’t. When the vindictive little bitch didn’t get what she wanted, she went out of her way to take Harry’s best friends away from him, running to her mother every time they even speak to him.”
“Harry isn’t looking for a life time commitment just yet. He wants to have some fun with someone who doesn’t want anything from him. He doesn’t want anything exclusive from you. I believe he’s planning something very special for this weekend, and I’m not going to spoil it for you.
“Daphne. Trust Harry. He isn’t looking to use you. He isn’t looking to get anything from you. He wants to have fun and enjoy life, and he wants to do that with you.
September 11, 1997
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
The Great Hall:
Daphne had just sat down for breakfast when a small brown owl lit in front of her and offered its leg. She untied the letter, and thanked the bird as it flew off. Who might be writing her? Her mother’s weekly letter always came on Wednesday. This was the first time in her memory that she had ever received any post on a Friday. Most odd. She opened the letter.
Daphne: It read.
Your surprise is ready, dress casually.
See you at 10…
What was he up too?
September 12, 1997
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
The Entrance Hall:
“Just don’t be stupid Daphne.”
“I can handle Harry Potter Tracey. It’s just a little fun. Ignore Malfoy, no one has ever come back from a date with Potter and claimed rape. That isn’t something Malfoy can say. “
“Voldemort thought the same thing Daphne. Just be careful.”
“Voldemort never tried to handle Potter. He tried to kill him, a very different thing. This is nothing serious, just a little fun.”
They arrived at the Entrance Hall exactly 9 minutes late in the theory that waiting on a woman is good for a man’s soul. Together Tracey and Daphne exited the castle. Harry was waiting.
“Good morning ladies. Ready for an interesting day?”
“I prefer my days to not be all that interesting Potter.” Tracey said. “Your level of interesting tends to end in the Hospital wing.”
“You wound me Tracy. I haven’t been under Madam Pomfrey’s care for four months now. Granted that ‘s a new record, but still.”
“Quit teasing him Tracey. What do you have planned Harry?”
“You told me to surprise you; do you want me to ruin the surprise?” He offered Daphne his hand as she climbed up into the carriage for the trip to Hogsmeade; he did the same for Tracey, and then climbed in himself. “Will you be joining us today Tracey? There will be plenty of room.”
Tracey glanced to her friend. Her answer was in Daphne’s eyes. “No thank you Potter. I just need a few quills, and then I’ll be back at the castle.”
“If you’re sure. Is there anything special you’d like to do Daphne?”
“After three years I doubt that there’s all that much new to do in Hogsmeade Potter. I don’t know how you think you’re going to ‘surprise’ me.”
“Ladies, please. It’s Harry, just Harry. You asked to be surprised, so surprised you will be.”
The thestral drawn carriage pulled into Hogsmeade; Harry hopped down and assisted the girls out of the carriage.
“You’re sure you don’t want to come with us today Tracey?”
“No thank you Potter. Daphne?” The tall raven haired woman went to the shorter blond. “Be careful Daph. He’s up to something.” She said in lower tones.
“I know, he thinks he’s going to sweep me off my feet. I won’t be swept Tracey.”
Daphne returned to Harry’s side and together they watched Tracey make her way into the crowd of students in the town. Harry turned to face her, and startled her by putting his hands on her hips and pulling her close to him. Their faces were inches apart when he spoke.
“Do you trust me Daphne?”
Her Slytherin instincts made her want to laugh in his face, but when she opened her mouth to respond she was surprised by the words that came out. “Yes”
The green of his eyes burned into the violet of hers. “Hold your breath.”
Tracey looked back to her friend in time to see them disappear in a shimmer of color. Where had that arrogant Gryffindor taken her friend?
A/N2: Many thanks to tarkas1956, ralph.sch, wt4dave, rijl_kent, and meteoricshipyards for their input that improved the ‘first date’ scene immeasurably. Thanks guys.
A/N3: To answer some of the many many questions about this fic.
1. When I outlined the story, I had no intention of ever telling how Harry won, nor what went wrong between Harry and Dumbles/Weasleys/Remus. The readers have spoken so I will have to figure out where I can put the explanations into the story.
2. What is ‘wrong’ with Hermione? Nothing. She is young, healthy and horny. She has an itch and Ron scratches so very well. No potions, no compulsions, no blackmail. She loves the big lug. Who would have guessed that Ron was good at something other than chess?
3. Ron is NOT the bad guy in this story. In the aftermath of the falling out he had to decide between Harry and Family. Family won. Harry supports him in that. Hermione had to choose between being with the man she loves and being with Harry. Ron won, and Harry supports her in that. He doesn’t like it, he isn’t hostile toward Harry. The separation is enforced by Ginny running to mummy every time she sees them together. The same with Hermione.
4. The ‘story’ told to Dumbles (Harry from the future) was NOT real. Just my little dig at the gullibility of Wizards in canon, canon, and some fan fic clichés.
5. One or two people considered the prank on the Twins to be cruel. Of course it was, that’s what made it funny. Fred was of sound mind despite his change, and is fully capable of apparition to escape with only the taste of his brother in his mouth… If on the other hand he hesitated, well that’s what essence of murtlap if for…