Chapter 18 – A Christmas To Remember
"Father!" Daphne yelled as she stepped from the green flames of the floo network and into the foyer of the Greengrass manor house. The angry witch didn't even bother to pause to remove the soot and ash from her blue dress before setting off in search of the head of the Greengrass family."Father!" Daphne once more bellowed as she swept through the entry hall, her voice echoing off the vaulted ceilings as she ascended the stairs to the family's private quarters two at a time in her rush.
"My word!" Nora Greengrass exclaimed as the doors to her sitting room were thrown open with enough force to cause them to slam back against the wall rather loudly. "Daphne?" the Greengrass Matriarch questioned as she hastily stood. It was readily apparent were Daphne acquired her blonde hair and good looks as Nora was a slightly older version of her daughter. "Whatever is the matter-."
"Where is he?" Daphne snapped, cutting her mother off in mid-sentence. I'm not about to take this sitting down, she fumed. I will get out of this or by Morgana I'll have my revenge, she declared silently. I'm not about to let Potter and my father dictate my life for me! First though I need answers and Father will give them to me or else!
"I will not have you being rude to me in my own home, Daphne" Nora snapped back. "I have raised you to be better than that, young lady!" Atrocious manners were not something the Greengrass Matriarch tolerated from either of her daughters. We're Greengrasses and hence must set the example for others to follow. We're not some lowly peasants after all! Nora thought to herself.
"Did you know?" Daphne questioned with a threatening glare at the woman who gave her life. If the irate young witch had heard her mother's rebuke Daphne paid it no mind in her pursuit of answers. "Did you know about his deal with Potter?" she asked again. Harry's name was spoken as if it left a vial taste in Daphne's mouth.
Nora Greengrass was not used to being ignored, especially by her daughters. Gerald, her husband, was a strict man and withstood no sass from his children. The elder witch had come to expect obedience from her children, so the fact that her eldest appeared to not care what she said left the woman floundering a bit in unfamiliar waters. "You know I don't meddle in your father's business affairs," Nora finally managed to reply.
"Where is he?" Daphne enquired yet again, certain that either her mother knew nothing or wasn't going to tell her. I'll get the bloody truth out of him even if I have to hex it out of him! Daphne fumed. The young woman was furious at both her father as well as Harry but she was mostly angry with herself for not seeing their duplicity for what it was. I can't believe how stupid I was and that I allowed myself to be taken in by Harry's kind words and handsome face!
"He's not to be disturbed," Nora replied a bit curtly to her daughter's question. "He's entertaining some very important business clients."
Daphne spun about and stormed form the room without so much as a parting word. The former Slytherin flew down the stairs at a reckless speed that was anything but ladylike. If Father is entertaining then there is only one place he could be, she reasoned. Gerald Greengrass always entertained business clients in his study. As if a room that large could be call a study, she scoffed angrily.
It didn't take long for the young woman to storm through the main hall of the manor and down a side passageway lined with pictures of the previous heads of the Greengrass family. The portraits stared down their noses at her, she was merely a female after all. At the end of the long corridor was a set of double doors which led to her father's study. Daphne and her sister Astoria had both been instructed their entire lives to never enter there unless expressly invited to do so. Gerald, so certain of his absolute authority within his own house, never bothered to lock the doors.
A flick of Daphne's wand saw the doors flying open much as her mother's had done previously. The noise startled the dozen or so wizards that were seated or standing about the room drinking liquor and smoking cigars. Gerald Greengrass, who had been in the middle of speaking, fell silent as he regarded his oldest daughter and the tip of her wand which was pointed directly at his chest.
"How could you!" Daphne decried loudly, her wand never wavering. "How could you marry me off to Potter like it was just another business transaction of yours!" Daphne had not been hurt by the first marriage contract her father had arranged, though she didn't stay to fulfill it either. This one hurts so much, she confessed to herself. The bright young witch knew it was because of Harry. Not only had she trusted him but she had allowed herself to fall in love with him as well. Only to be sold to him like some piece of furniture!
Gerald regarded the young woman before him for a long moment before he replied. "Gentleman," the head of the Greengrass family said with an apologetic smile about the room, "if you could please give us a moment. It appears that my teenage daughter would like a moment of my time," he added with a small patronizing smile in Daphne's direction.
Several of the wizards gathered who had teenagers of their own gave knowing smiles as they set their drinks aside and stood to leave. Gerald escorted them to the doors of the study, Daphne trailing behind him. Once everyone had left the elder Greengrass closed the doors and locked them.
Daphne watched her father close the doors and lowered her wand to her side. "Father how could yo-." she started to say only to be struck by her father and knocked to the floor by the force of the blow. Daphne looked up from her position in shock even as her lip stung and began to bleed where the Greengrass family ring her father wore had cut her when he had backhanded her.
"If you ever embarrass me in front of my business associates again like that you'll receive far more than a cut lip!" Gerald threaten in a steely tone of voice. A house elf popped into existence and presented Gerald with a moist towel which the wizard accepted without a word. "I have better things to do with my time than play witness to one of your childish tantrums," the man stated as he wiped the blood from his ring. Daphne's father looked down at her, regretting yet again that he didn't have a son, before tossing the towel into Daphne's lap. "Clean yourself up," he ordered.
Walking over to the bar the elder Greengrass poured himself two fingers of D'Amalfi Limoncello Supreme into a brandy sniffer before moving over to his large desk in the corner and taking a seat. Daphne, once certain that her father wasn't going to hit her again, retrieved the towel and wadding it up placed it against her lower lip to stop the flow of blood. Tentatively the young witch got to her feet, making certain to keep her distance from the man.
"It's purely business," Gerald stated as he gently swirled the heady beverage in the glass and lifted it up to his nose to inhale the rich scent. "With the Black family wealth we'll be able to expand our business to almost twice its current size," the wizard told Daphne."I think this is a far better arrangement than the marriage contract I had initially negotiated for you. I would think you'd be a bit more grateful."
Daphne could feel her previous anger returning, though she didn't dare show it. It wasn't the first time her father had laid hands upon her. At a young age she had learned to be wary of his temper. All this just so he can expand the family business? Am I no different than some sack of grain? "So you and Potter had this planned all along!" Daphne accused, feeling her anger rise once again at the thought of how Harry had played her.
"Merlin's beard, no!" Gerald replied with a humorous chuckle. "Potter is a boy, albeit a wealthy one, but still only a boy. Boys are easy to handle. Dangle a pretty girl in front of them and they'll do almost anything you want them to," he told her. "I imagine that by the time you are done with him he'll be more than willing to sign over his wealth to me."
Harry didn't know? The young witch's mind spun nearly out of control at this news. So certain had she been that he had been playing her along with her father that at the moment she didn't even know what to think. It was father all along. He played us both, Daphne realized, her anger returning in force at the thought of what her father had done to Harry. "He won't do it. Harry's not like that," Daphne told her father.
Gerald scoffed at her words. "He's a teenage boy who's hardly had any contact with pretty girls, if my information is correct. All boys at that age only have one thing on their minds really. I doubt it will be that difficult for you to persuade him to do this, Daphne," Gerald said before taking a sip from his glass.
Daphne's anger spiked once again causing her to speak before really thinking about what she was saying. "I see. So you expect me to spread my legs like some common street trollop. Maybe if I let Harry amuse himself as much as he pleases he'll then agree to your terms, is that your plan? You're willing to sell your daughter's virginity so that you can expand your business and influence!" the young witch spat angrily, appalled at the lengths her father would go to in order to increase the Greengrass wealth.
"Watch your tone!" Gerald barked at his daughter's crude assessment of what he expected her to do. "You're a Greengrass! I expect you to act like one and do your duty to your family! Potter is your husband now and as such you are his wife and have certain obligations you will carry out to the best of your ability! Do I make myself clear?" the wizard asked in a deceptively soft tone of voice which was all the more frightening as Daphne knew he only used that tone when he was good and truly pissed.
"Crystal!" Daphne snapped, not trusting herself to say more. The elder Greengrass waved her off, a clear dismissal if ever there was one. Harry didn't know? What have I done? she asked herself recalling that she had struck the man who had been nothing but kind to her. Daphne turned and walked to the doors but was stopped by her father's voice just before opening them.
"Daphne, if you ever point your wand at me again you'd best be prepared to use it as I won't hesitate to use mine," Gerald warned her. Daphne opened the doors and walked out and through the group of waiting men with her head held high as was proper for a lady of her standing. Several of her father's business associates smiled knowingly while others had a thoughtful look upon their faces.
He must not have silenced the room so that they could hear that he would soon have the Black fortune, she realized. It would be just like father to do something of that nature regardless of just how embarrassed it would make me. Daphne refused to let these men see just how unsettled she was and walked through them at a dignified pace. Her actions were only slightly successful as it is rather hard to maintain one's dignity while holding a bloody towel in one hand, with a busted, bleeding and rapidly swelling lower lip while your clothes were covered in soot and ash.
Several men were already plotting just how to get in Gerald's good graces as the addition of the Black family wealth, rumored to be substantial, would see the Greengrass interests growing rapidly they figured. In the business world Gerald Greengrass was well known for getting his way and anything he touched always returned a healthy profit. Some people even whispered that he had the Midas Touch when it came to business as there was always plenty of gold to be had.
Daphne walked down the long corridor past the portraits of her ancestors, ignoring their whispered words of disgraceful, disrespectful, insolent and ungrateful. They were apparently in agreement with her father in that she should just be a good little girl and do what the head of the Greengrass family wanted her to do. It really didn't surprise Daphne as all the portraits were men after all. All of which had at one point and time sat in the seat her father now held.
Daphne left the hallway and its whispering old men behind her as she crossed the room, heading for the stairs which would lead her up to her room. The young witch's emotions and thoughts were in a jumble and she needed time to straighten everything out in her own head before she could decide what course of action to take. The sound of the floo flaring to life stopped Daphne at the foot of the stairs.
"Daphne!" Tracey Davis exclaimed upon exiting the floo and spying her friend. The auburn haired witch quickly crossed the distance between them and embraced the blonde witch. Tracey pulled back and regarded her friend. "Morgana! What happened to you?" she asked upon seeing Daphne's split lip.
"Father was less than pleased that I barged into his office and interrupted his meeting with some of his business associates," Daphne explained. The fact that they were all there on Christmas Eve rather than with their own families told the oldest Greengrass daughter that they were of the same caliber as her father. Business comes before everything else, she thought bitterly to herself. Even before family apparently.
"I can't imagine that went over well," Tracey replied."Still, I hardly see where that is cause for splitting your lip."
"Well, umm…," Daphne stammered a bit sheepishly, "I might have also threatened him at wand point as well."
"You didn't!" Tracey exclaimed. Having been around the Greengrass family since she was a toddler, Tracey was well aware of the temper of Daphne's father. The young witch was rather surprised that a busted lip was all Daphne had.
"I did!" Daphne assured Tracey. "Father had answers which I needed and I didn't see any other way of getting them."
Tracey slipped her arm around Daphne and ushered them both towards the stairs. "Let's go upstairs so that you can tell me all about it," said Tracey. It wasn't long before they were secluded within Daphne's bedroom suite, seated upon the blonde witch's bed rather than out in the sitting room."So I take it this marriage was your father's plan?" Tracey finally asked once they were comfortable on the bed. I doubt Potter could have come up with something of this nature. He's just a Gryffindor after all.
"Of course it was father's plan," Daphne sighed exasperatedly, throwing herself backwards onto the bed to lay there and stare at the canopy above it. "He wants to use the Black family wealth to expand the Greengrass family business. He thinks that if I am the dutiful wife then everything will fall into his lap."
I thought Harry was different! How could he agree to something like this? Tracey fumed. "Bloody bastard," Tracey spat in anger as well as pain at being so easily fooled. "You should have hexed his bits off when you had the chance!" Tracey added, recalling that Daphne had possession of her wand when the Black family ring appeared upon her finger.
"I hardly see where that would have done any good," Daphne replied, failing to see just how castrating her father would have made any difference at all. Still, it might have been rather satisfying at that, she mused. Obedience and loyalty were traits that were ingrained into every member of the Greengrass family. It was common among almost all pureblood families actually. Daphne knew that she could never do something like that to her own father though, no matter how much she might want to.
"What do you mean it wouldn't do any good?" Tracey gapped at her friend in disbelief. "It will keep him from ever…," her words trailed off as her face turned slightly pink as she stammered for the correct words to use. "From ever…you know…doing the deed!" Tracey finally settled on. The last thing I want is for Potter and Daphne to do that! The thought of the two of them together brought her anger boiling back up though she wasn't exactly sure who she was angry at. It was all rather confusing to the young woman.
"Eww, Tracey! Can you be any cruder?" Daphne replied with a shiver at the thought of her father doing the deed, as it had been put. Father is far too old for stuff like that anyways, she figured. "I doubt he'll ever do the deep again," she added, certain that there must some age where things just didn't work anymore and that her parents had passed that point long ago. No child liked to think that their own parents actually still did that stuff after all.
"Good! Don't give in to him!" Tracey encouraged the blonde witch, seeing a chance to drive the wedge between Harry and Daphne a bit deeper. "Just the thought of the two of you together turns my stomach!" It wasn't all that long ago where Tracey herself had entertained thoughts of possibly being with Harry in such a fashion. Her thoughts at the time had surprised the rather withdrawn witch as she had never had such thoughts about any man since the incident with Gregory Goyle. Bloody hell, how could I have been so stupid!
"Tracey!" Daphne exclaimed in shock at her friends implying that she would get with her own father. "How could you even say such a thing?" she gasped in utter disbelief as she sat up and regarded her friend in disbelief.
"So you do want to get with him?" Tracey asked, her eyes narrowing as she recalled some other facts. It was Daphne's calculated actions which had first brought the blonde witch to be at Harry's side after all. Though Daphne, when questioned, had explained it away as merely using Harry for a place to hide out of her father's reach. The fact of the matter was that Daphne was a Slytherin which left Tracey doubting the blonde witch.
"That was you goal all along wasn't it? Get him to give you a place to live and then get him to marry you so you wouldn't have to marry whomever your father had you set for!" Tracey accused the confused witch as her own emotions were a mess at the moment. "You wanted to shag Harry Potter all along!" the insecure witch stated as tears started to form in her eyes.
"Harry?" Daphne stammered as her mind tried to shift gears and understand just what Tracey was going on about. "Tracey, you're not making any sense," Daphne said as she reached for her upset friend.
Tracey shied away from Daphne's touch and scrambled off the bed before moving away and turning her back to the other witch. "How could I have been so stupid," Tracey asked herself aloud. "I should have seen it. I should have known when you said all you wanted from Potter was sanctuary from your father! It's never that simple when it comes to you. Plans within plans within plans is the Slytherin way after all."
"I've been such a trusting fool with both you and Harry," Tracey said with a self-depreciating chuckle that verged on the edge of hysteria. "I trusted you. I trusted you both! I opened by heart to you. Bared my soul to you and this is what I get?" the distraught witch said without turning about to look at Daphne. The thought of being betrayed but Daphne as well as Harry was painful, causing the witch's tears to break free.
"Tracey," Daphne said gently as she scooted off the bed as well and took a step towards her dearest friend. "You know I-,"
"No!" Tracey yelled as she spun about and pointed a quivering finger at Daphne. "You don't get to say that! Not ever again!Don't think I haven't seen it. The way you look at him and how you always have to touch him! Don't think I don't know! You love Potter! Stand there and tell me you don't so we'll both know you for the liar you are!" Tracey spat out angrily even as tears rolled down her cheeks.
Daphne staggered back as if Tracey's words were a physical attack against her person. "It…it's not what you think Tracey," she stammered, forcing the words past the emotional clog in her own throat. It was clear to Daphne that Tracey was in great pain and felt betrayed. Have I betrayed her?Daphne asked herself only to know that in fact she had but not on the level Tracey thought her to have done.
"Say it," Tracey said with a ragged sob. "You don't even have the courage to admit it to yourself," the upset witch accused."You're worthless!" Tracey accused, allowing her emotions to spill forth in her venomous words.
Daphne found herself floundering. Tracey had been the one constant thing in her life, one that Daphne knew she could depend on. No matter what happened there was never any doubt in Daphne's mind that Tracey would have her back just as she herself would have Tracey's should the need be there. How did it come to this?Daphne wondered, having no clue as to how the conversation had taken such a wrong turn to arrive at where it was.
"Pathetic!" Tracey growled with a sneer that would have made Snape proud were he still alive to see it. Lie to me, Daphne! Tell me you don't love him, Tracey pleaded within her head. Tell me I'm being foolish and that everything will go back to the way it was. The young girl really wanted, needed, to hear a lie as the truth would truly break her heart.
Tracey's words hurt far more that Daphne thought they would. Mostly because the blonde witch saw them as being the truth. "Fine!" Daphne yelled a bit defensively from being stung by the other witch's accusations. "Yes, I bloody love Harry Potter! There are you happy now? I admitted it!"
Tracey choked back a sob before seeming to collect herself."Don't ever come near me again," she said through clenched teeth before spinning about and racing from the room.
The sheer anger and venom in Tracey's voice seemed to petrify Daphne. Never before had she heard such hatred from her friend and to have it directed at her was just too much for Daphne to take. It was several moments before she realized that Tracey was fleeing. "Tracey!" Daphne yelled as she ran from her room only to be intercepted by a brown haired human torpedo.
"Daphne!" Astoria Greengrass cried as she threw her arms about her older sister and buried her face in Daphne's chest.
"Tori, I don't have time for this right now," Daphne exclaimed as she tried to disentangle herself from the young girl's grasp to chase after her dearest friend. Daphne was so concerned for Tracey that she didn't even pause to wonder why Astoria was home rather than at Hogwarts. I didn't even get a chance to tell her that Harry was not involved in my father's plan.
"Father's selling me to the Malfoys!" Astoria bemoaned before bursting into tears and burying her face back into Daphne's chest once again. "I'm to marry Draco!" the youngest Greengrass daughter sobbed hysterically.
"Bloody hell," Daphne breathed as she slipped her arms about the crying girl, realizing that the issue with Tracey would have to wait. Family came first in Daphne's book and right now her baby sister needed her.
Making his way down the stairs to the first floor, Harry couldn't help but notice just how quiet the manor was. After breakfast Luna had curled into Harry's side and gone back to sleep, which was something that eluded the young man. Stopping in to check on Teddy, Harry offered a nod to the house elf seated beside the sleeping boy, who was amazingly enough knitting. So they can't accept clothes but they can knit their own? Interesting, Harry thought to himself, making a mental note to pass that information along to Hermione.
Thoughts of Hermione brought to mind that he hadn't given her the Christmas present he had for her. It wasn't just that though, for Harry missed his best friend as well. It pained him to think that she, like the others, had left him. Hermione had never run out on him before. Not once during their entire time during the war. "She certainly had plenty of reasons to though," he mumbled under his breath, recalling the fight at the Department of Mysteries as well as the hunt for the horcruxs they had gone on.
The young wizard made his way to his study and taking a seat at his desk he pulled out a bit of parchment, an inkwell and a quill. In short order a missive was on its way to Hogwarts and the Headmistress apologizing for the previous evening as well as begging a favor of the stern Scottish woman. All he could do was hope that McGonagall would be willing to help him with this matter.
Harry glanced at the clock and saw it was barely half past eight in the morning. With Luna sleeping and everyone else having fled the young man suddenly didn't know exactly what to do with himself. Was it their presence that always kept me so busy, Harry wondered as his eyes fell upon a stack of papers awaiting his attention. "Might as well," he said aloud as he reached for the first piece of parchment.
The young wizard busied himself for the next two hours going over financial and other matters that needed his attention. It was only the soft clearing of a throat at the door to his study that finally brought the wizard's head up from his work. "Abandoning ship?" Harry enquired with a small smile upon see Mary at the door with her trunk beside her on the floor.
"After last night that might be the appropriate course of action," Mary replied only to see the smile slip from Harry's face. Noticing the rather resigned look that settled on the young man's features, Mary took some pity on him. "Be that as it may, we currently have a contract, Mister Potter. So unless you are sacking me?" she enquired with an arched brow.
"Wouldn't think of it," Harry was quick to reply, relieved that she wasn't leaving. He liked Mary and greatly enjoy her stories of his mum and dad. Harry felt that through the older witch he had found a connection to his parents once more, having lost all others with the passing of Sirius and Remus.
Mary gave a slight nod of acceptance before continuing. "Then I shall return after the holidays to resume classes. Right now I am off to visit what family I still have here in England," she informed him.
"I'll walk you out," Harry offered as he stood and came around the desk. "I'm terribly sorry for what happened last night," Harry said as he collected Mary's trunk and carried it for her.
"I must say that I am rather disappointed in you. To think that Lily's son would do something so distasteful. I truly thought better of you, Mister Potter," Mary told him reproachfully. "That poor girl," she added, indicating Daphne.
"If I had known any of that was going to happen I would have done everything within my powers to see that it didn't," Harry stated in earnest. "I wrote my solicitors about it and hope they can discover a means by which to free us both," Harry continued with. "I doubt we'll hear anything till after the New Year though."
Mary weighed Harry's words for a long moment. In the time that she had lived at Westfield she had come to suspect that the wizard beside her was a good man. Last night had left her seriously doubting that belief. He does have one thing right, Daphne's not the only one trapped in their marriage. "So you knew nothing of how the two of you were magically married?"
"Do I look like man who has a clue when it comes to such things, Miss Macdonald?" Harry asked with a self-depreciating smile."Why would I do something like that to her when I already know that Daphne's heart belongs to another? It would be overly cruel for her to marry me and not the one she loves," Harry told Mary with a sad sigh. "I good and truly bolloxed this up haven't I?" Harry asked after a long moment of thoughtful silence.
Hearing the concern in the man's words Mary's heart went out to him. "Mister Potter…Harry, if you truly did no wrong then you are as much a victim as Miss Greengrass is. I think your best course of action at this time is to give the young woman some time to cool off. No woman likes to be forced into a marriage, especially one that is not of her choosing," Mary offered. The teacher wasn't so sure that Daphne's love was solely for another.
"Yes, Ma`am," Harry replied. "I don't think I have much of a choice at this point." I just hope Daphne's alright, he wished in earnest.
"True," Mary agreed. "Waiting is always the hardest thing to do," the older witch stated. "If she wants out of the marriage then I am sure Daphne will contact you sooner or later."
"Susan mentioned to me that you had some questions concerning schooling at the Lupin Home," Harry stated, feeling a change of subject was in order. All he could do was hope that Daphne would allow him to explain before she started hexing. I'm certain this must be far more terrible for her, Harry thought as they entered the living room and made their way towards the fireplace and the floo network.
"I was curious as to what your plans were," Mary answered, wishing there was more she could do for Harry but realizing that there really wasn't as the matter was between Daphne and him.
"I would like to start a school where all the kids can go together. I know most magicals are home schooled, not sure why though. I hope that if they start at a young age with non-magicals and the like then they will grow up to see them as no different from themselves," Harry told her, thinking off the top of his head.
"There really aren't any primary schools for magicals to go to," Mary explained as they reached the fireplace and Harry set her trunk down. "The wealthier families hire tutors while the majority of other families see the mothers becoming the home teacher. In some cases, where there are a number of children near the same age, you might find cousins and other relatives being schooled together." Mary cocked her head slightly to the side, "So what has kept you from starting such a school?"
"I barely finished my sixth year at Hogwarts," Harry admitted. "I don't know the first thing about running a school or setting one up for that matter. I would no doubt make a royal mess of it. I want the children to have a good school. I've lost count of the number of times Hermione has told me that a good education is essential. I want them to have that," Harry stated with conviction. "I want this school to make a difference so that they can make a difference one day."
The elder witch could well recall the many discussions she and Lily had shared concerning just what was wrong with the wizarding world. Lily had been very adamant about how she was going to effect change within the backwards world they were now a part of. Sadly, Lily had died before she could do that. Hearing Harry's words gave Mary hope that perhaps some of Lily's ideas might come to fruition through her son. "Trying to change the world, Mister Potter?" Mary asked with a hint of a smile playing about her lips.
"Just my little piece of it, Ma`am," Harry replied with a lopsided grin.
"Perhaps when I return we can discuss the matter a bit more, Mister Potter," Mary offered as she reached down and picked her trunk up."I have some ideas on the matter and may know a few people who would be willing to help or at the very least assist with setting it up."
"I would like that," Harry said with a genuine smile."Have a nice visit with your family."
"Merry Yule, Harry," Mary offered before stepping into the green flames of the floo network and disappearing.
Harry turned away from the fireplace and headed towards his godson's room. Harry was due over at Lupin Home later that afternoon as he had promised Anna a visit. It was still some time until he needed to wake Luna so the young wizard decided to play with Teddy. Harry knew that it would be polite to wait for Andi to come home to open gifts but that didn't mean that Teddy and he couldn't see what presents were under the tree. If the wrapping paper just happen to fall off, well, accidents happen, he reasoned with a mischievous grin.
"Merlin's beard!" Andi exclaimed upon stepping from the floo and into Westfield Manor. The living room looked as if a small tornado had torn through it. There was giftwrapping paper, ribbons and bows all over the floor and furniture. Wherever there wasn't paper there were toys as well as the occasional plate of food or partially full glass of beverage. Amongst all of this, and much to the apparent delight of Luna and Harry, was Teddy zipping about on a small toy broom. The small child's squeals of laughter were not nearly enough to ease the witch's anger or fear at seeing her grandson flying.
"Harry James Potter! A broom! How could you?" Andi exclaimed, making her presence known to the trio.
"Boom Mine!" Teddy declared loudly only to break into giggles as the boom in question suddenly shot off to the left to chase after bubbles that were issuing forth from a dark wooden pipe which was suspended in the air. With both hands firmly on the handle of the broom Teddy used his mouth to bite the bubbles as he flew past them, finding it great fun when they popped.
Harry quickly raised his hands, palms outward before him as if surrendering. "Don't look at me, it wasn't my gift," the wizard declared with a glance in Luna's direction.
"Luna?" Andi asked in disbelief.
The witch in question promptly stuck her tongue out towards the wizard. "Traitor," Luna said accusingly towards Harry so she wouldn't have to meet Andi's gaze. The young witch's voice bespoke volumes about the retribution she had planned for his betrayal.
"Every man for himself," Harry replied back with a small nervous chuckle, wondering just what the playful witch would do to him. He couldn't help but feel a little excited at the prospect of finding out.
"Hope the couch is comfortable," Luna whispered as she walked past Harry to greet Andi.
"Me too…wait, what?" Harry asked, unsure of what had just happened. But it's my bedroom, he silently added as he followed the petite witch over and gave Andi a peek on the cheek and a hug. "It is good to see you, Andi," Harry said upon releasing the witch. "After last night I wasn't sure if you'd still be here or not."
"No matter what happens Harry, we're family," Andi assured him. "I'll always be here for you. I don't know what you've gotten yourself into this time, though I'm sure we'll sort it out eventually. No word from Daphne yet I take it?" Andi asked only to see Harry shake his head."Well that is to be expected I guess. Best to give her a bit of space and time for now," Andi advised.
Harry heaved a silent sigh of relief. He hadn't been certain just how Andi would take the events of last night and had feared she, like the others, would leave. No Andi meant no Teddy and they were all the family he had as Harry saw it. "Mary said the same thing before she left," Harry stated only to see Andi arch a brow in question so Harry explained their conversation from that morning.
"It shows an uncanny amount of wisdom, admitting when you're out of your depth and allowing others to handle things," Andi said with a small smile. Though outwardly she appeared normal, on the inside Andi was more than a little confused. When it had finally sunk in the previous evening that Harry was married to Daphne the widow had been rather surprised to find that her chief emotion at the time had been jealousy. A rather ugly trait she did not particularly care for.
Being a Black she knew how to control her emotions though. Her mother had schooled her and her sisters since they were old enough to talk, on just what a purebred lady should say and do. Showing one's emotions was certainly not a part of that. It was only thanks to her upbringing that she managed now to keep her voice and features from reflecting her inner turmoil. I would have been far too old for him anyways, she had tried to tell herself all day while at work with little success.
Andi may like to say that she was getting older but she knew that she was still quite young actually. Magicals lived a great deal longer than non-magicals so a twenty-year difference in ages was not all that much actually. The Black daughter had known early on that she held strong feelings for Harry but had played it off as what one would expect for another family member. Her unexpected feelings of jealousy had her questioning her own feelings and leaving her wondering just what they truly were.
"I've been out of my depth almost my entire life," Harry replied with a grin. "I've gotten sort of used to letting those smarter than me figure things out. Sometimes I feel like a healer who delivers babies. Everyone else does all the work and I swoop in at the last minute for the delivery and get all the credit."
"Oftentimes it is you who deserves that credit Harry. You're the one who placed your life on the line so often," Luna reminded Harry. The young witch disliked it when Harry tried to belittle himself. He was a hero, of that there could be no doubt, but more importantly he was also her Harry. Luna was not about to let him speak poorly on himself. "You are far smarter than you think you are, Harry. I seem to recall Hermione mentioning with some pride just how well you did on your OWLs."
"That was mostly due to Hermione and her constant studying," Harry admitted with a bit of embarrassment. "If not for her, Merlin knows how I would have done."
"Which brings me back to what I said earlier, knowing when to count on others," Andi said. "Now, let's clean up a bit and then get some dinner. I'm rather famished," she admitted just before plucking Teddy from his broom as it flew past the trio. "That will be enough of that, young man," Andi stated.
"Boom!" wailed Teddy upon being rudely separated from the best toy ever!
"There will be plenty of time for that tomorrow," Andi told the upset child. "Preferably when I am not around to witness it," she added.
The four of them had a nice dinner. Harry gave Andi her present, a necklace of black pearls which the older witch loved. Harry also provided her with a key to the Black family vault as he had realized that Andi would need to purchase books and other supplied for school. As Andi was once again a member of the Black family he felt that a key would be the best way to handle the matter. He didn't feel right in asking her about her finances directly and didn't want her to do without due to a lack of galleons.
It was some time later in the evening, Luna had taken Teddy to read him a bedtime story before tucking him in, when Harry found Andi in the library reading a book. The sound of the door opening caused the witch to look up from her book, a soft smile appeared upon her face upon seeing Harry standing there. "Andi, can we talk?" he asked rather nervously.
Hermione Granger, Head Girl of Hogwarts, member of the Golden Trio, Brightest Witch of her age was hiding. The young woman was sequestered away in the only place that offered her any solace, the library of Hogwarts. There, tucked away among the many books, lost in the musty old scent of parchment and bindings, she didn't have to think about the fact that Harry was now married and just how broken her heart was.
The young woman hastily wiped the tears from her cheeks, rather upset with herself for crying yet again. "Will it never stop?" she questioned as she scrunched her eyes shut to stop the flow of water. It wouldn't do to have her tears stain the tome she was currently reading after all. I'm certain Madam Pince would be none too pleased either, she thought only to snort in amusement. The man I've been in love with for some time is suddenly married to someone else and I'm concerned with a few tear stains on a book!
"Alright Hermione, get yourself together. You can't help Harry if you're a blubbering mess!" she scolded herself, sitting up straighter and returning to the book on Wizarding law she had been reading. The table was cluttered with just about every book she could find dealing with marriage in the wizarding world. "There has to be something in here that can help Harry," she growled out. If she could help Harry than she would be helping herself as well.
The young witch had berated herself over and over again through the course of the day for waiting too long to let Harry know how she felt. If I had just been honest with myself all of this might not have happened. She had almost done it, confessed her feelings, on their trip to Australia to find her parents. However, that had gone so spectacularly wrong that Hermione had been far too upset to even think about telling Harry.
For someone who is supposedly intelligent I can certainly be rather daft at times," she told herself, not for the first time. Looking back there had been plenty of opportunities to tell Harry but something, namely her overactive brain, always stopped her from taking that last step. It was fear she realized in looking back. Hermione had been afraid that Harry would reject her and she would lose the best thing in her life. Now, when I finally managed to show Harry my feelings, it is too late.
"No, focus on the task at hand," Hermione said, feeling her eyes starting their waterworks once again. "I'm certain Harry must be miserable at the moment with how everything has turned out," Hermione added as she wiped a tear away. Poor Daphne too, she realized. To be forced into marrying someone is just so barbaric! The young witch turned the page of the book with a new sense of determination to save Harry as well as Daphne from a fate which neither of them wanted.
A soft pop announced the arrival of a Hogwarts house elf dressed in black tails with the Potter family crest blazon upon the left breast."The Headmistress has asked for your presence within her office, Head Girl," he announced.
"Did Headmistress McGonagall say why she needed to see me?" Hermione enquired, hating the interruption of her research. Between the crying and feeling sorry for herself, Hermione's research wasn't progressing as nearly as fast she would have liked.
"Dinny is sorry but the Headmistress did not say," the small elf replied.
"Thank you, Dinny. Please inform the Headmistress I shall be there right away," Hermione said as she started to collect the books from the table. The elf gave a nod and disappeared with a pop. What now? Hermione wondered as she starting returning the books to their places upon the shelves. I need to help Harry! I don't have time to have a chinwag with anyone. What if Professor McGonagall has heard from Harry though? That thought stopped her in her tracks for a long moment. Maybe he needs me?
"Don't be foolish," she tried to tell herself as she returned to the task at hand and placed another book upon its shelf. Try as she might Hermione couldn't deny the fact that her heart had skipped a beat at the thought that Harry may have come for her. "He could have sent me an owl at least," she groused until she realized that owls were not allowed in the library as Madam Pince did not want her books damaged from owl droppings.
I should have just stayed there and been there for him, she told herself. But you needed to come here and use the library, the rational side of her mind countered with. How else are you going to save him from this latest mess he's gotten himself into?it asked. While Hermione knew that to be true she also knew that a part of her had wanted to flee. To get as far away as possible from Harry as it hurt too much to be with him knowing he was now someone else's and would never be just hers.
It was a very distraught and emotionally drained witch that finally made her way up to the Headmistress's office. "Professor, I hope this is important as I-." The words died on her lips upon what she saw awaiting her.
"Hello Pumpkin," a familiar male voice greeted her.
"Dad, Mum, what are you doing here?" Hermione asked, her mind a whirl with confusion.
"Hello Sweetheart," Emma Granger said with a small smile at the look of confusion on her daughter's face. It wasn't very often that the elder Granger got to see that particular expression on Hermione's face after all. All too often the bright girl understood too much.
"Why aren't you in Australia," Hermione asked looking back and forth between her parents, still not certain if perhaps she was seeing things. The last time she had seen them was when she and Harry had left Australia. At the time her mum and dad were both put out with her for erasing their memories and sending them away. The married dentists had decided to remain in Sydney where they had made a life for themselves.
Daniel Granger, who was standing behind his wife, laid a hand on Emma's shoulder and answered his daughter. "We were wrong Hermione. We were upset and reacted poorly when you came and found us."
"He said that he couldn't understand how the parents of such a brilliant woman could be so stupid," Emma said as she reached up to her shoulder and laid her hand upon her husbands as if drawing strength from him."He told us that if it weren't for you he would have been dead many times over."
"Said you were the brains of the group, he did," Daniel continued with in a rather proud tone. "Gave us a good talking to, that man of yours. We had no choice but to sit there and get an ear full as we couldn't move and all. I guess he figured that was the only way we'd listen to a bit of reason."
"We're so sorry, Dear," Emma spoke up emotionally."Can you ever forgive us? Sometimes we feel so very distant from you and this new world you're a part of. I feel like I've lost my little girl. I sent you off to become a witch and have gotten a strong young independent woman back whom I hardly know. Where'd my baby girl go?"
"I'm right here, Mum," Hermione replied emotionally as her eyes once again sprung a leak before she crossed the distance between her and her parents to be accepted into their open arms. "All I ever wanted was for us to be a family," Hermione sobbed into her Mum's chest."I've missed you guys so much!"
Several minutes passed while the three Grangers clung to each other. It was Daniel Granger who first broke the silence. "So where is he?" the dentist asked.
Hermione, who had been enjoying the three-way hug was momentarily confused by the apparent change of topics. "Who?" the bright witch asked.
"My future son-in-law!" Daniel Granger answered with a grin. "A man doesn't travel half way around the globe to lecture a girl's parents about how daft they are being unless he plans on spending the rest of his life with her!"
"What are you going on about, Dad?" Hermione questioned as her father wasn't making any sense to her. "Who lectured you?"
"Harry, Dear," Emma supplied the missing piece with a wide grin. "Harry Potter came and found us in Sydney and had a long talk with us. He made it so that we could be here with you for Christmas. He wanted it to be a surprise so asked us to wait till today. The day was almost over so we thought maybe he had forgotten us till Headmistress McGonagall came and collected us."
"So, where is the lad?" Daniel Granger pressed, anxious to thank the boy for giving them their daughter back.
It finally sunk in. Hermione hadn't noticed Harry being gone for any great length of time and so would have never of thought that he had made a trip to Australia for her parents. It was only now that she realized that Harry could have done it with the use of an international portkey. Though they were difficult to come by if there was anyone who could obtain one it would be Harry Potter. "Bloody hell," Hermione sighed as she didn't even know where to begin to explain things to her parents.
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