Harry stepped from the floo and into Westfield Manor lost in thought. He hadn't really expected to see Draco at Gringotts, having thought it would be Malfoy senior summoning him. That would certainly fit his style. Perhaps more startling to Harry were the evident changes he could see in the Malfoy scion. Funny what love will make you do, Harry mused to himself. The distracted wizard nearly walked into Luna before realizing she was there. "Oh, sorry," Harry apologized.
"Everything alright?" Luna enquired in a slightly concerned tone as it was unlike Harry to just walk into a person, even when distracted. The young witch was certain it had something to do with his Seeker reflexes. "How was your meeting?"
"It wasn't with who I thought it was," Harry confided."Though it was about what I thought it would be. Which was terribly odd, I'll admit. This entire afternoon has been a bit off actually. How about you?" Harry asked with a questioning look. "How are things here?"
"Rather quiet," Luna answered with a proud smile at the fact. "An elf brought a letter from the Lupin Home," Luna informed Harry. "I placed it on your desk in the study."
"Thanks," Harry replied. "You wouldn't happen to have a bit of time free would you, Luna?" Harry asked before doing a quick look about to insure it was just the two of them for the moment.
"For you? Certainly," Luna assured him with a warm and caring smile.
"I would like to talk to you about something. I feel as though we really haven't spent a great deal of time together of late," Harry voiced, stepping in and slipping an arm around the petite witch. "I know this entire situation can't be easy for you, what with not being able to tell people we're married and all. You've been really understanding and I want you to know that I really do appreciate that, Luna," Harry said as he leaned down and captured the witch's lips with his own in a soft and gentle kiss.
Luna leaned into the kiss, enjoying the intimacy with her husband. While she had been sharing Harry's bed, the wizard had a rather nasty habit of staying up to all hours of the morning it seemed. So while she spent the night in Harry's bed, a great deal of the time it was without his presence there beside her. "I love you, Harry Potter and I know you love me," Luna told him once she could use her lips to speak. "That is all that really matters."
"You are much too good to me Missus Lovegood," Harry replied with a tender smile. "Why don't you go wait for me in the study. Ineed to nick a book from the library really quick like and I'll meet you there." The young wizard recalled that there were several books on marriage contracts in the library, and Harry hoped one of them had the proper procedure to follow when rejecting one.
"Alright," Luna replied without a care in the world."Don't take too long. It isn't nice to keep a lady waiting," she chided Harry playfully as the two exchanged a quick kiss and parted ways.
I can just gather them all together and tell them, Harry thought to himself as he made his way to the library. Better yet I could do it at dinner tonight and just be done with. It was that very thing which he wished to speak to Luna about. After his meeting with Draco, Harry had visited the offices of Daniel Wright and his partners and told his solicitor his plan to come clean with the women staying at his home.
As much as Harry hated to admit it, the reason he had decided to tell everyone was due to Draco. After seeing just how far the Slytherin would go for the woman he obviously cared about, Harry had felt more than a little guilty that he hadn't done the same for Luna. "Can't let the ferret one up me, now can I?" Harry mumbled to himself as he pulled open the library door.
In the blink of an eye Harry took in the picture of the four bound witches who all started to yell at him. At least he thought they were yelling as he couldn't hear a thing they were saying. Taking that as his cue, Harry quickly turned to his left and disappeared in the rows of shelves in search of the book he was looking for. Upon finding it, the wizard leisurely made his way from the room at a speed of just under a mad dash, but not by much.
Harry wasted little time in making his way to the study. Walking behind his desk he set the book down upon the desktop before seating himself and regarding Luna, who was the picture of innocence. Twice Harry opened his mouth to say something only to have words fail him. "I guess that explains the wands," he finally managed to get out, his eyes glancing up at Luna's headwear before returning to the witch's calm features.
"Well I couldn't very well leave the wands there so they could free themselves," Luna pointed out helpfully. "We would have never gotten anywhere with everyone tossing off spells right and left."
Harry sighed and ran one hand through his hair wearily. This day just keeps getting stranger and stranger. "Do I even want to know what that is all about?"
"We witches had a few things we needed to discuss," Luna told him. "Though I do wish Andi could have been there," the petite girl added in a thoughtful tone. "I'm fairly certain she would have used something a bit more creative than a stunner," Luna mused aloud to herself.
"A stunner?" Harry asked in disbelief. "There were spells thrown?" Seeing Luna nod that there had been the bewildered wizard continued, "Bloody hell, I step out for the afternoon and my home becomes a war zone! What happened?" Harry enquired almost fearful of the answer.
"Language, Harry," Luna admonished, playing the part of Hermione as the bushy-haired witch was rather tied up at the moment."Hermione informed Daphne that she, Daphne not Hermione, was not the only witch to love you, just the latest. Hermione then asked by what right she, Daphne not Hermione again, could invade your privacy. Daphne stated that it was because she was your wife, as if that was all it took. I pointed out to her that I was your wife as well."
Harry was more than a little shocked at hearing Luna's words. On the one hand, he was a bit relieved as well as it appeared that he no longer needed to tell everyone that he and Luna were married. On the other hand, he was frightened by what the others would do now that they knew this fact. Damn I need more hands,Harry thought, realizing he would still need to explain all of this to Marry. I doubt she will take it overly well.
"Daphne didn't seem to like that very much," Luna continued with. "She started to hex me. At least I think that was her intentions. She wasn't very good at it. You might want to do some extra training with her, Harry, like you did for us back in school," Luna suggested helpfully. "She didn't even have a shield up."
"So you stunned her?" Harry asked hesitantly, certain that no matter how everything had played out, Daphne was not going to be in anything other than a foul mood.
"Not until she destroyed some books with a cutting curse," Luna pointed out.
"And the others let you?" enquired the wizard in disbelief.
"Well Tracey tried to stop me but Hermione hit her with a full body bind. Of course she then got hit with a stunner from Astoria. You may want to work with her as well as Astoria seemed a bit surprised that her spell actually worked," Luna offered, wondering if she should start writing a 'To Do' list for Harry so he didn't forget anything. "So I stunned Astoria, then Tracey, after stunning Daphne of course," Luna confirmed with a, expression as if she were waiting to be praised for her efforts.
It was with a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach that Harry voiced his next question. He was just certain that he wasn't going to like the answer to it. "And then?"
"Oh that was the easy part," the smiling witch replied with a dismissive wave of one hand. "I tied them each to a chair and then told everyone their deepest secrets. Well, actually, Tracey told hers on her own and I told mine, but Hermione and Daphne aren't nearly as honest with themselves as we are I think. Hopefully they'll come around though as it will be important that we can all be honest with each other in the future."
Harry sat back in his chair for a long moment, lost in thought."Well, I was thinking of telling everyone at dinner tonight anyways," the wizard finally confessed, not certain what to make of everything Luna had imparted to him. While he wasn't exactly thrilled how the information had come out he really couldn't be mad at Luna. If I hadn't dillydallied about none of this would have happened.
"Really?" Luna asked, having thought it would still be sometime before Harry was ready to do that. The bright witch knew that Harry would have told the others sooner or later and really hadn't planned on saying anything at all. She just couldn't stand to see the others fighting over something as silly as who was and wasn't married to Harry. They all loved Harry and he loved them. That's all that really matters, she thought.
"That was what I wanted to talk to you about," Harry told her. "I didn't feel right asking you to hide the fact that we're married when apparently the entire wizarding world knows that I am married to Daphne." The young wizard decided to leave out the part about it being Draco who had finally spurred him to action.
"Harry, you do know it's not exactly legal to be married to the both of us," Luna pointed out.
"And yet I am," Harry countered with. "I admit to understanding it just as little as you do. Perhaps even a bit less actually as you were raised in the Wizarding world while I was raised in the muggle one. Our magic, seems to be fine with it though."
"This is not something that is a normal occurrence in any world, Harry," Luna replied. "It is highly irregular actually." The former Ravenclaw prefect wasn't certain why their magic had accepted the marriage, but then again Luna knew she was no expert on the subject either.
"Story of my life," Harry quipped. "Still, we can't leave them like that. Winky," Harry called only for the she-elf to appear with a soft pop typical of her kind.
"Master Harry has need of Winky?" the elf asked, a large smile upon her face. The she-elf had a glow about her that Harry had never seen before. Not an actual glow but there was a certain radiance that none the less seemed to emanate from the elf.
Tilting his head slightly to one side, Harry regarded the elf before him for a long moment. "Are you alright, Winky. You seem a bit different," Harry stated in a thoughtful tone as if he was trying to determine what had changed about the elf and coming up empty.
"Winky is wonderful, Master Harry!" Winky exclaimed, one hand slipping to her abdomen in a loving manner. "Winky will soon be adding another elf to the Master's household," she explained in a joyous tone.
Thankfully, Luna came to Harry's rescue as the wizard seemed to be at a loss for words. "Winky is expecting," she explained. "When is the baby due?" the petite witch enquired excitedly of the mother-elf.
"Not for some months yet, Mistress Luna," Winky replied all too happy to talk about her pending baby's arrival. "Winky's kind only be carrying our little ones for six months. Our magic helps the baby along," she explained.
"That's wonderful news, Winky!" Harry said, having finally found his voice once again. "Do you have everything you need? If you need time off, please take as much as you require. I'm certain one of the other elves would be happy to help out." The young wizard had no clue what went into a house elf giving birth but wanted to make certain that Winky was well cared for.
"Master is most kind, but Winky will be fine when the time comes. Till then I will continue to cook and clean as Master Harry requires a great deal of looking after," stated Winky matter-of-factly.
"Yes, well if there is anything I can do to help," Harry offered. "If it becomes a bit too much perhaps we can have Kreacher cook up a meal or two so you can rest."
"If Master Harry were to allow Kreacher to do that then it would be a great deal more work for Winky to straighten Master's kitchen out again afterwards," the mother-elf said, looking at the ground nervously as she feared she might have spoken out when she shouldn't have.
"Right, Kreacher is not allowed to cook. Ever," Harry offered with a smile, causing Winky to nod her head slightly and return his smile with one of her own. "I called you here as I need to you to go to the library and release the witches there, if you would please."
"Gladly, Master Harry," Winky replied before disappearing with a small pop. The she-elf was well aware that the youngest of the witches was in dire need of the loo.
It was rather predictable then when with nary a minute's passing the door to the study was thrown open and Daphne stormed in with Tracey not far behind. The irate blonde witch stopped when she saw both Harry and Luna regarding her. "Is it true?" Daphne spat out.
"Yes," Harry simply replied, seeing no reason to deny it as he had planned on telling her anyways. Luna had just upped the time table by a bit was all.
The young witch's features seemed to crumble upon hearing that one word. It hurt so terribly bad which was something she hadn't expected. In her mind she knew it just meant that she had fallen for the wizard seated behind the desk far harder than she has allowed herself to believe. "Why? Why would you do that to me?" Daphne asked in a voice that trembled on the edge of tears.
For some reason the fact that Daphne made it all about her irked the wizard. He'd already had a trying day with its fair share of strangeness. Seeing Draco had called to mind the war and memories he had tried in vain to forget. The fact that he knew he was in trouble for being married to both Daphne and Luna didn't help matters, though his anger was more directed at himself for being so foolish as to have caused the problem to begin with.
"Why?" Harry parroted back at the witch. "Because I could! My parents were killed by a madman when I was little, after which I was forced to live with relatives who hated the very sight of me! I managed to survive by being their house elf till my Hogwarts letter came!" Harry answered, his own temper slipping his control a bit.
"In school I find myself being lied to, manipulated and used in some colossal tug-o-war between two powerful wizards. Every year my life is at risk and it's only through help from my friends like Hermione and Ron, as well as a good dose of sheer dumb luck, that I manage to survive. I finally find out why this is all happening to me and it turns out to be some codswallop of a prophecy that says I'm the only one who can kill Voldemort! Like I'm supposed to just walk up to the git and blast him away all easy peasy like."
Harry's anger started to boil over and dragged the wizard to his feet. "Let's not forget that while I'm the only one who can apparently save the entire Wizarding world, they're all busy thinking I'm an attention seeker and believing the rubbish that the Prophet prints. Makes them all rather endearing to me, it does! Yet off I go like a good little solider because apparently that is what Fate has planned for me!"
"Where the bloody hell was Fate when I stood there in the middle of the Forbidden Forest and took a killing curse from Voldemort himself?You have no idea what that is like, knowing that in the next instant you're going to die! You know what the funny bit is, even when I was about to die all I could think about were of all the people I wouldn't be able to save!"
Harry gave a short bark of laughter but there was no humor in it. The wizard's eyes were haunted by what he had experienced and had gone through during the war. "I should have known Fate wasn't through with me. Better to have me come back and finish the job like some hero out of a book! The part about being a hero that they don't tell you in those books is getting to watch your friends and those you care about die because you weren't fast enough, or smart enough, or lucky enough to save them!"
"Why? Why indeed?" Harry spat out with an angry smirk."All my life I have had no say in anything. That prophecy dictated what my life would be. Others always decided what would be best for me to do. What would accomplish the greatest good. For once I wanted to decide. I wanted to choose something that I wanted," Harry said, his anger and turmoil blowing through the room like a storm, leaving devastation and wreckage in its wake, only to blow itself out just as quickly as it had arrived.
The young man seemed to deflate and his eyes dropped to regard Luna who sat there with tears trickling down her face, not having known what Harry had gone through before now. None of them had known or even had a clue apparently, each focused on their own little corner of the world as it pertained to them. To hear that Harry had taken a killing curse was a bit more than Luna could handle. Harry hadn't talked to anyone, not even Ron or Hermione, about what had happened out in the forest.
"I wanted to have a say in something, if only just this once. I wanted to marry someone not because of some ruddy contract but because I chose to. Because they loved me and I loved them. So I asked Luna to marry me. Because it was what I wanted and because I could."
Silence reigned for nearly a minute before it was broken."May I have my wand back?" Daphne requested in a clipped tone. Luna waited for Harry to nod before she passed the wand to the waiting witch. The former Slytherin spun about and stormed to the door of the study where she paused and turned back towards Harry. "Just so you know, I've been sleeping with Tracey for years! She's the one I'm in love with and couldn't marry!" Daphne yelled in anger before storming out and slamming the door behind her for effect.
"Well, I'm glad that's finally out in the open," Tracey said with forced levity into the silence that ensued after Daphne's departure."I think I better go talk to her," Tracey added gesturing towards the door. Luna and Harry watch the auburn-haired witch hasten after her friend.
Luna rose and walked around the desk and to Harry, who was still standing. The petite witch didn't say a words, rather she slipped her arms around the wizard and hugged him tightly. Several long moments passed before Luna could find her voice to speak with. "I'm sorry, Harry. I never knew."
"You weren't supposed to know," Harry hushed her with, welcoming her warmth as he suddenly felt very cold and empty inside. "None of you were to know. I'm sorry I let that slip out."
"Are you alright?" Luna asked. While she felt that Harry needed to talk about it she was no mind healer and hadn't a clue as to how to get her wizard to do just that.
"No," Harry answered after a lengthy pause.
"Will you be?" Luna enquired, lifting her head so that she could regard the wizard in her arms.
Harry gave her a sad little smile. "Sure," he lied.
"If there is anything I can do…," Luna offered, her words trailing off.
"I'll let you know," Harry assured her, knowing that he would never ask anything of her.
"I think I'll go find Hermione and see what she is up to," Luna said as she disengaged herself from Harry's embrace. The young witch got the distinct impression that Harry needed a few moments alone to gather his emotions and wits.
"Can you stop and see Astoria? Ask her to come see me here please," Harry requested softly. "I have something I need to discuss with her." Luna assured him that she would before reluctantly leaving. The young wizard seated himself in his chair, only then seeing the corner of a letter protruding from beneath the book he had set on his desk earlier. Recalling that Luna had mentioned a letter from Lupin Home, Harry pulled it out and opened it.
The Lupin Home has received a request for the adoption of Anna. A nice young couple has come forth and agreed to take her in and give her a kind and loving home. The young family will be by at 10 o'clock on the morning of January 22nd to collect their new daughter. Given your personal attachment to Anna I thought you should know. I am certain Anna would greatly appreciate it if you could be there on the 22nd to see her off.
Lupin Home Director
Tracey watched as her lover and best friend paced angrily back and forth. Absently she couldn't help but wonder just how many passes it would take to wear a path in the throw rug under the angry witch. After leaving Harry and Luna Tracey had found the sought after witch within Daphne's own rooms, fuming about what Harry had done. Well, at least she didn't leave this time, Tracey mused to herself.
"How could he do this to me?" Daphne fumed as she paced back and forth. "If he cared for me at all he would never have married Lovegood!" The young witch knew she wasn't exactly thinking rationally but then again she was rather upset. It felt rather good to vent her feelings, even if what she was saying wasn't exactly the truth. "Bloody hell, how could he not be happy with just me?" Daphne asked, pausing in her pacing to look questioning at Tracey.
"Do you really want me to answer that or is this one of those times you just want me to agree with you?" Tracey asked. The fact that Daphne had cursed said a great deal to Tracey. The blonde witch hardly ever swore at all, unlike herself. She must really be furious. Having been together for as many years as they had been Tracey knew that she could say things to Daphne that no one else could and get away with it.
"He's my husband!" Daphne exclaimed, waving away Tracey's question with one hand as she started to pace again. "I don't plan on sharing him either! I should have hexed him when I was down there. No, I should have hexed them both!"
"That worked out rather well when you tried that on Luna," Tracey quipped. "I have a feeling Harry would be even harder to hex," Tracey added, deciding to leave the question of sharing for later, once Daphne had calmed down some. "He did take down one of the most power wizards in history," Tracey pointed out.
"I don't care!" Daphne spat irrationally. "Did you hear him? Because I could," she repeated in a snarky tone, mocking Harry's words from earlier. "Just who does he think he is? Like he's the only one that's had a hard life!"
"I think taking a killing curse from the Dark Lord, twice, qualifies as a bit more than a hard life," Tracey stated, ignoring the glare from Daphne that her words earned her. In for knut, in for a galleon, Tracey told herself before pressing on."He does have a point, Daph. It's not like he actually chose what happened to him."
"So that gives him the right to do whatever he pleases?" Daphne spat out.
"I would think if anyone could understand not wishing to be married against their will it would be you," Tracey soldiered on determinedly, trying to be the voice of reason. "I mean didn't you actually seek Harry out to avoid that very thing? You avoided one marriage by getting trapped into another only this time you dragged Harry along with you. How did you think he was going to respond to that? You really have no one to blame but yourself."
"I know!" Daphne yelled, stopping in place with her back towards Tracey so the other wouldn't see the look of shame on her face. As much as she hated to admit it Daphne knew she could always count on Tracey to tell it like it was. The young witch's shoulders sagged as the fight suddenly fled her. "I know," Daphne said once again in a much softer tone of voice."What am I going to do, Tracey?" she asked in a voice brimming with tears. "I've made such a mess of Harry's life as well as my own."
Tracey walked up behind the distraught witch and, slipping her arms about Daphne, pulled her into a hug. "I guess that depends on what you want, Daphne," Tracey said as she rested her chin on the other girl's shoulder. "First you have to decide if you want to be a part of Harry's life or not."
"We're married," Daphne said as if to remind Tracey of the fact. "It's not like I have much choice in the matter. Have you forgotten I have to give him an heir within a year or lose my magic," she stated. As if hearing the words aloud were too much, tears began to trickle down Daphne's face. "It's hopeless!"
"Perhaps not as much as you think it is," Tracey said softly as she turned the crying with about to hug her properly. "I doubt if you chose to not remain here with Harry that he would force you to. He doesn't strike me as the type to do something like that. You'd still have to give him a son but there is nothing to say that you'd have to live with Harry," Tracey pointed out.
"You think he would let us live someplace else?" Daphne asked with a loud sniffle. She thought he might but it was rapidly becoming clear to the witch that she did not know the wizard nearly as well as she thought she did. I don't know why that fact surprises me, we've only spent a few months together. Hardly enough time to really know each other at all.
"Us, probably," Tracey replied. "I don't know about your son though," she added, recalling just how Harry had been with the children at Lupin Home at Christmas.
Daphne realized the truth of Tracey's words. There was just no way she could see Harry not wanting his son with him if the wizard's interaction with Teddy were any indication. It was all rather a moot point anyways."But I truly love him," she admitted.
"Then you tell him you're sorry and we figure out how to make this work," Tracey offered.
"We?" Daphne asked with a hint of a smile. Somehow she knew that she could count on Tracey to always be there for her. A part of her hoped that she could someday count on Harry to be the same way. Hopefully someday I'll deserve that from Harry, Daphne thought, vowing to do her best to earn the wizard's trust.
"Hey, you just outed us to the entire house," Tracey said with a smirk. "If you think I'm letting you go now you must still be a bit groggy from Luna's stunner."
Daphne frowned slightly, one hand absently wiping tears from her cheeks. "What are we going to do about her?" Daphne really wanted to blame Luna for everything but she knew that wasn't the truth. If what Luna had told them was the truth, and the petite witch had no reason to lie, then she hadn't known that Daphne was already married to Harry when she accepted the wizard's proposal.
Tracey gave a small shrug. "You're willing to share Harry with me," she offered. There really was no simple solution to the problem.
"That's because it's you!" Daphne was quick to point out.
"I never said it would be easy," Tracey countered with."If you can share with me then I guess we can share with one more?" While the thought wasn't very appealing, Tracey didn't see any other way around their current predicament.
"Of course you are assuming Harry will be agreeable to that arrangement," said Daphne, not all that certain that he would be. With Daphne's new found uncertainty of all things Harry she could only hope that they all could work something out. Preferably without trading hexes.
"Well," Tracey started with in a thoughtful tone,"he is rather stuck with you and Luna as he's married to you both. The real question is me," she posed. "Then again, you did say it was every man's dream to be with two witches at the same time. Three just might kill him," Tracey said with a chuckle.
"Three?" Daphne exclaimed, scandalized by the mere thought of having Luna with them at the same time. "We don't even know if Luna's preferences lean that way!" Daphne pointed out rather quickly to stop Tracey's train of thought.
"I didn't mean with us," Tracey replied with a grin."Get your mind out of the gutter girl!" she scolded playfully, causing the other witch to break out in a blush as Daphne realized she had completely misunderstood Tracey. "It's always the proper ones," Tracey teased, causing Daphne to stammer out a denial while turning as red as a tomato.
"As much fun as it is to stand here and take the piss out of you, Daphne, we still need to figure out what we're going to do with Harry," Tracey pointed out after a bit more teasing. "You did just rather spectacularly blow up at him," she reminded the other witch.
"I really bolloxed things up once again, haven't I?" Daphne asked only to receive a nod of agreement from Tracey. "Just who's side are you on?" Daphne enquired with a small grin.
"Whichever side makes us all the happiest," Tracey was quick to reply. "Right now I think that is Harry's side, or perhaps at Harry's side." The young witch was taking her own words in the library to heart. I wouldn't allow myself to trust Harry then. Morgana knows I should have! I think I can trust him now, she thought as she released Daphne. I guess I have to, considering he is married to the most precious thing I have.
Apparently Tracey wasn't the only one to be thinking about the events in the library. "I really have been rather selfish haven't I?" Daphne asked rhetorically. Taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly, Daphne turned to face Tracey. "First thing I need to do is apologize to Harry. He wouldn't be in this situation if it weren't for me."
"I think that is a good first step," Tracey agreed."How are you going to tell him about me and your oath?"
"I'll have to wait and see how apologizing goes before I can talk to him about you," Daphne said in a thoughtful tone as she worried on her bottom lip, lost in thought for a moment.
"Before we do that though, what are we going to do about Harry being married to the both of you? That isn't exactly legal I would imagine," Tracey voiced her concerns.
"Probably not," Daphne agreed. "I wonder what the fine is? I'd imagine it can't be that bad."
"Not like they'd send him to Azkaban for it," Tracey joked, eliciting a chuckle from the other witch.
Once again Daphne took a deep breath and blew it out slowly."I guess I've put this off long enough," she said as if trying to convince herself of the matter.
"Want I should come with you?" Tracey offered.
Daphne thought for a moment before replying. "No, I got us all into this mess. I should be the one to apologize for it," she finally said.
Tracey nodded in acceptance before giving Daphne a quick kiss and hug. "Good luck," she whispered in Daphne's ear.
The former Slytherin squared her shoulders and marched from the room as if she were going to her certain doom. Daphne wasn't proud of her actions, looking back on them in retrospect. If she were honest with herself Luna had the right of it. I have been self-centered and cared only about myself. Being the intelligent witch that she was, Daphne knew it was something she would have to work on.
As Daphne descended the stairs she saw her younger sister walking towards her with an exceptionally large smile on her lips and a rather dreamy expression. Pausing at the bottom of the stairs Daphne waited for the younger girl to approach. "Everything alright, Tori?" Daphne enquired.
"Couldn't be better!" Astoria exclaimed in a sickening sweet voice. The younger Greengrass sister suddenly engulfed Daphne in hug and squeezed her tightly. Just as quickly, Astoria released Daphne and spun aside to start up the stairs. "Isn't it a glorious day!"
Daphne turned to regard her sister with a surprised look only to see that Astoria was continuing up the stairs, her question apparently a rhetorical one. She's certainly in a good mood, Daphne thought to herself as she turned back and stepped from the stairs to go apologize to Harry. Daphne's steps faltered as she heard her sister's voice behind her.
"If you're looking for Harry, he isn't here," Astoria informed her older sister. "Harry just left via broom. He said he had some business to attend to over at the Lupin Home."
Daphne sighed in frustration, realizing she would have to wait to apologize apparently. Nothing I can do about it now I guess, she thought, seeing no reason to chase after the wizard as he would eventually return home and she could just tell him then. Daphne retraced her steps to her sister's side before slipping an arm around the younger girl. "So, tell me what has you in such a good mood."
"Oh you won't believe it!" Astoria exclaimed excitedly,"Harry canceled the marriage contract!"
Luna found Hermione exactly where she expected the witch to be, in the library. It was with no small amount of trepidation that the former Ravenclaw approached the older witch. She had just admitted, not all that long ago, to sleeping with the man that Hermione was in love with after all. There were an assortment of various books and scroll spread about the table at which Hermione sat, her face buried in a rather large tome. "What are you doing?" Lune enquired.
"The only thing I'm apparently good for," Hermione replied sullenly without even looking up from the book she was reading."Helping Harry get out of another mess he's managed to get himself into," Hermione clarified. "I don't know why I'm surprised? I've done the same thing every year since we first met. I was foolish to think it would just stop once Voldemort was dead." she declared a bit bitterly.
Glancing around at the books Luna pulled one over noting it was a book on Wizarding law. "Mind if I help?" she asked. Taking Hermione's silence for acceptance, Luna pulled out a chair and seated herself. The two worked in silence for a while, reading through the rather dry verbiage of the law books, before Hermione finally broke the silence.
Hermione lifted her head and set the quill she had been taking notes with aside. "What I don't understand is why. You had to have known how I felt about Harry? So how could you?"
"How could I not?" Luna countered with. "Yes, I knew how you felt. The entire school has known for years just how the two of you have felt about each other. The only ones who apparently didn't know were you and Harry. Was I just supposed to ignore my feelings for Harry on the off-chance that you might come to your senses sometime within the next decade?"
"Yes, that's exactly what you were supposed to do!" Hermione exclaimed, being a bit unreasonable. "Friends don't steal their friend's boyfriends!"
"Harry may be a boy, and he may be your friend, but he has never been your boyfriend," Luna pointed out. "You might be able to fool the others but I know that Harry has as yet to tell you that he loves you."
"He most certainly has," Hermione refuted the other girl's words vehemently. "Not that it is of any concern of yours what Harry and I talk about," she added testily.
"Rubbish!" Luna replied, giving no quarter. "If Harry had told you then you would have been floating around here on cloud nine just as I was when he told me," Luna pointed out. "I saw the look on your face when Daphne said that Harry had declared his love for her. You looked like someone had just made off with your copy of Hogwarts: A History."
"You all abandoned, Harry," Luna pressed on before Hermione could adequately deny her accusations. "You left him here all by himself feeling miserable and believing that he had done something terribly wrong to Daphne. All Harry ever does is try to help people the best way that he can. He took Daphne in when she had no place to go. Allowed Andi and Teddy to move in so that he could help her raise Teddy. He even let Tracey move in so Daphne would have a friendly face and not feel all alone."
"You, he has perhaps done the most for," Luna pointed out. "Harry went to Australia to help you look for your parents even though his girlfriend at the time was dead set against it. I've known Ginny since I was very little and I'll wager that Harry got more than an ear full when he told her what he was planning. You needed him and so Harry dropped everything to assist you."
"It isn't the first time he's done that either, is it?" Luna asked only to see the witch across from her give a small shake of her head. "He left his date with Cho to be with you as I recall. In the Department of Mysteries I saw the look on Harry's face when he saw you get hit by that curse. If you had died there I think we would have lost Harry as well, you mean that much to him."
"When I came home that night I found Harry down in the basement drinking himself silly with Kreacher. I could see Harry was hurting and there was no one about to comfort him. He looked so lost," Luna recalled, her eyes losing their focus a bit as she remembered that evening."By then I had already decided to give myself to him. Why wait and let our magic force us into it?" the young witch asked rhetorically.
"I told Harry I loved him because I did but also because I think he really needed to hear it," Luna continued with though it was as if she was speaking to herself rather than Hermione by now. "Do you know what he did?" Luna asked suddenly, her silver orbs focusing once again on Hermione. "He cried. He told me that no one had ever told him that before. Can you imagine growing up your entire life without once being told you were loved?"
"It's amazing that he's turned out the way that he has," Luna continued without waiting for an answer to her question. "Harry is so loving when he himself has never received love of any kind, at least not till just recently. How can someone who has never known love be so selfless and giving of themselves?" Luna asked, pausing to see if Hermione had an answer. Seeing the witch shrug Luna continued.
"I gave that a bit of thought and came up with the only answer that really made any sense," Luna told Hermione. "There isn't anything Harry wouldn't do for those he cares about. He would give the clothes off his back, the food out his mouth. He'd even die for them," Luna stated, not surprised to see the surprised look that came over Hermione's features.
"Do you know what happened when Harry went out into the Forbidden Forest to face Voldemort?" Luna asked. "Did he ever tell you?"
Once again Hermione gave a shake of her head. "I offered to go with him but Harry wouldn't hear of it. I assumed he dueled Voldemort," said Hermione, only to realize that Harry had been carried back by Hagrid to Voldemort's proclamation that the wizard was dead. Hermione hadn't thought much about it as Harry wasn't dead and had sprung to action shortly thereafter, finally killing the Dark Lord. She had never really questioned what had happened, believing that Harry had tricked Voldemort into believing he had perished.
"It wasn't a ruse as many believed," Luna informed Hermione as if she were reading the witch's mind. "Harry walked out into the forest and stood there, all alone, and let Voldemort hit him with a killing curse."
Hermione gasped, one hand flying to her lips in disbelief as tears collected in the corners of her eyes. "That can't be! How do you know that for certain?"
"Harry told us a little while ago," Luna explained."I'm certain he didn't mean to, but Daphne managed to get him a bit angry and it just sort of slipped out. He said his last thought was disappointment about the people he couldn't save. Who would do something like that?" Luna asked. "I had to think about it for a bit before I finally figured it out. Someone who felt that their life wasn't worth very much, certainly far less than any others."
"If no one loves you then what's the point of living?" Hermione asked aloud as she pondered what Luna had said. While some might argue her statement the intelligent woman knew that humans were social creatures who strove for the love and affection, as well as the approval of others. Harry has had very little of any of those. Hermione found that she could actually believe that about Harry now that Luna pointed it out. I should have noticed it sooner, she thought, reasoning that maybe it was a case of being too close to see the obvious.
Luna gave a brief nod of agreement. "But that's not the case now," the younger witch pointed out. "You love Harry. I do too, as well as Daphne and Tracey, Andi and Teddy. Let's not forget Anna and the other children at Lupin Home. He just doesn't see it I think."
"This is Harry so more than likely he doesn't believe it," Hermione offered, knowing the man better than any other. For years it had been her mission to keep Harry alive and in one piece, even when he was hell bent on doing otherwise. "He just doesn't see himself being worthy of love, I think. Harry has trouble sleeping at night," Hermione shared, recalling the time she had gone to speak with Harry only to have Kreacher prevent her from doing so. The bushy-haired witch realized that she probably didn't have to tell Luna that as she would already know.
"He drinks excessively as well," Luna added. "When he does sleep it is fitful and he has bad dreams most nights. I've had to wake him a time or two. More often than not he is already up when I stir in the morning. I think one of the reasons he has such a large library and is constantly adding to it is so he doesn't run out of books to read. The man hardly sleeps at all and passes the nights with reading."
"So what do we do about it?" Hermione posed, her anger at the younger witch all but forgotten, eclipsed by her concern for Harry. Rationally Hermione could understand why Luna had done what she'd done. If it had been me I probably would have done the same thing, she thought, experiencing a little shiver at the thought of taking Harry to bed. "This is Harry we're talking about so the fact that he is married to the two of you is going to come out sooner rather than later."
"Then we continue to do what we're doing," replied Luna calmly. "We try and find a way to get him out of this latest mess he's in." The two returned to their research and for a while there was nothing but the sound of turning pages and the scratching of quills in the library."Hermione?" Luna said, breaking the silence finally. Seeing the other witch looking at her expectantly the petite witch gave voice to her question."Are we alright?"
Hermione sighed, setting her quill aside so as not to drip ink on her parchment and have to recopy her notes onto a clean sheet. "I can't say that I am thrilled that you slept with Harry," the witch answered truthfully. "That really hurt. However, I can understand your reasons. The fact that you were attempting to help Harry to is something I can't overlook either. I love Harry and I know he loves me, even if he hasn't said so as yet," Hermione confessed. "Everything has just gone pear shaped so quickly!"
"This entire thing has been a series of misfortunate events, none of which were really your fault, Luna, or anyone's for that matter. I'm certain you didn't know your father was going to call Harry to St. Mungo's and then extract an oath from him. No more than we knew Daphne's father was going to trick Harry into a marriage contract. Given the circumstances, I can't honestly say that I wouldn't have done the same thing you did."
"So you would have shagged Harry's brains out till he couldn't move and finally succumbed to sleep?" Luna deadpanned with a straight face.
"What?" Hermione exclaimed, her checks taking on a red hue to them at the thought of doing something like that. "Certainly not!" Hermione added deep into a full blush by that time.
"And here I thought we were being honest with each other," Luna quipped, making the cutest pouty face.
The blushing witch worried her lower lip for a long moment as her eyes darted about to insure they were alone. "Not senseless, but once or twice wouldn't be bad," Hermione admitted, doing a fair impersonation of a Weasley.
Astoria Greengrass lay back on her bed and couldn't help but replay what had happened earlier that day in her head. It hadn't started off as the best of days. Being stunned and then tied to a chair probably wasn't at the top of anyone's list of things to do after all. Learning the dynamics of Harry and all the witches currently staying at Westfield had certainly been an eye opener. I'm glad I haven't set my sights on Harry. I doubt I would fare very well given all of them here already.
The youngest of the Greengrass sisters had been called to Harry's study. Stepping into the room Astoria had knocked upon the open door, drawing the wizard's attention. "You wished to speak with me…what do I call you?Mister Potter? Mister Greengrass? Mister Black?" she asked a bit nervously. This was Harry Potter after all. The Vanquisher of Voldemort, the Chosen One, the Savior of the Wizarding world!
"Harry will do fine," the wizard said with a grin as he beckoned her to enter. "Please have a seat," Harry instructed with a gesture towards the two seats situated before his desk. "Other than today, how have things been going? Everything alright? Need anything?"
"No, I'm fine. Everything has been going splendidly," Astoria assured Harry as she took a seat. "I greatly appreciate you allowing me this time with Daphne. Even when she was at school we didn't see that much of each other. Different glasses, different schedules and different friends," Astoria explained.
"Yes, well, we're family now," Harry stated."You're welcome here anytime you'd like," he assured Astoria."Speaking of family, I recently assumed the Greengrass Head of House," Harry offered, lifting his hand and allowing the Greengrass Head of House ring to appear to remind the younger witch of his status. "I'm not certain if you are aware of it or not but there is currently a marriage contract between House Greengrass and House Malfoy for your hand."
"Yes, father had informed me that such an arrangement had been made," Astoria replied in a rather detached and emotionless voice. The young witch wasn't certain what Harry would do and decided to play it rather indifferently till such time as she knew his intentions.
Harry was fairly certain he knew the answer to his next question but asked it none the less. "How do you feel about that?" If he hadn't just recently met Draco Harry would have been willing to bet that there wasn't a witch alive who would have wanted to marry the git. However, it appeared as though the Malfoy scion had changed since the war and now Harry wasn't so certain of his speculation.
"I'm prepared to fulfil my obligation as an obedient daughter of the Greengrass family," Astoria assured her Head of House. The young witch was sitting up straight and proper like with a serious countenance which Harry couldn't quite read. "If my Head of House feels that it is best for the family that I marry the Malfoy heir then I shall."
Harry gave a small sigh, seeing that this wasn't going to be easy."I didn't ask you what you thought I wanted. I want to know what your wishes are, Astoria," Harry replied.
"I am a woman of House Greengrass," Astoria stated."My father taught me that my wishes were of little matter."
"That may be, however I am not your father," Harry pointed out, hating the man even more for what he had apparently done to the witch before him. "Your wishes and wellbeing mean a great deal to me," Harry added. Upon seeing that the witch planned on saying nothing further he continued. "Apparently for some reason your well-being also means a great deal to Draco Malfoy as he's asked that I cancel the marriage contract between the two of you."
"Really?" Astoria exclaimed in surprise, to which Harry simply gave a nod of confirmation. "He really did it," the young witch said aloud to herself, a look of wonder appearing upon her features."I can't believe he actually did it."
"Did what?" Harry enquired, worried that maybe he had read Draco wrong and the git hadn't changed at all.
Astoria looked up at Harry only then realizing that she had spoken aloud. A deep blush spread across her features at having been heard."Draco and I had been spending time together while at Hogwarts," she slowly explained to the waiting wizard. "There weren't a great many that wanted to be associated with the son of a former Death Eater," Astoria said.
"I was rather surprised to find that Draco wasn't the man most others thought him to be. He was kind and considerate as well as thoughtful and caring. Everything a former Death Eater shouldn't be. Did you know he took the Dark Mark?" Astoria suddenly asked only for Harry to nod that he had known. "I didn't believe him at first, at least not until he showed it to me."
"I told him I bet he had wished he hadn't agreed to that now and he looked at me and told me he was glad he'd taken it," Astoria told Harry in the distracted tone people get when they are thinking about some event from their past. "When I asked him why, he said because it reminded him every day just how stupid and foolish he had been. He hoped it would prevent him from ever making the same mistake a second time."
"It sounds as though you two talked a great deal," Harry voiced.
"We did," Astoria conceded. "Word of it must have reached my father as it wasn't long there after that the marriage contract came to be. I guess father didn't want to risk the chance that Draco would take liberties with my person and so he withdrew me from school. Being unsoiled I'm apparently worth more. Father said that it was one of the largest bride prices that he had ever heard of in the last few hundred years."
Harry recalled Draco stating that he could keep the bride price. Once again the wizard couldn't help but marvel at the changes in his rival. Being in love really has changed him, Harry thought to himself. "So Draco was in favor of the marriage contract?"
"At first," Astoria replied. "Draco came to me the night before I was to leave Hogwarts and confessed his love to me. I was already very taken with him by that time of course and saw no reason not to tell him so. All my classmates and friends tried to persuade me to leave him be and that he was no good for me, but I saw something. There was something in Draco and I just couldn't let it be as I was certain it would wither and die without me there to nurture it."
"Draco was none too pleased that father was pulling me from Hogwarts. I'm sure he felt it was rather unfair to separate us just when we had found each other. He said that everything would be alright as we'd be together because of the marriage contract and once married, no one would ever come between us again," Astoria told with a small chuckle.
"I told him that I didn't want to be together because of some marriage contract. The fact that we loved each other should be the only reason we would be married. We actually had a bit of a row over it, truth be told," Astoria admitted. "When I left in the morning Draco came to see me off. I told him that if he truly loved me and wanted me to marry him then he would find a way to break the contract."
"It would appear that he took your words to heart," Harry voiced, begrudgingly offering up a bit of respect for the wizard. The two sat in silence, each lost in their own thoughts for several long moments. "So you love him, but you don't want to marry him?" Harry eventually asked just to be certain he understood things correctly.
"Not like that I don't," Astoria confirmed.
"Very well," Harry acknowledged. "I'll see that the contract is canceled then." It was what he had planned to do from the start but he had at least wanted to hear Astoria's thoughts on the matter. Harry certainly hadn't expected to hear the tale that he had. It was difficult to think of Draco actually loving anyone other than himself. From what little Harry had seen, Draco hadn't treaty Pansy bad while at Hogwarts but rather with indifference. It was as if he had tolerated her presence at best.
"Harry," Astoria said, drawing the wizard's thoughts from where they had wandered. "Might I ask a favor?"
"It never hurts to ask," Harry advised with a small grin.
"Should Draco ask for permission to court me," intoned the nervous witch, "would you please find it acceptable?"
It was with a sudden spark of surprise that Harry realized that one day he and Draco might very well be related by marriage. I'm not entirely certain how I feel about that. Looking over his desk at the hopeful expression on the younger girl's face there really was only one answer Harry could give. "If that is what you wish," he replied, only to see Astoria's face light up with a blazing smile as she nodded her head implicitly.
The young wizard stood and walked around his desk. "If you'll excuse me now, I have to make a trip over to Lupin Home to check on a few things," Harry explained as he ushered Astoria out the door.
"I have heard some wonderful things about that place," Astoria told Harry as she walked beside him towards the front door. "I would like to come and see it if I might?"
"Perhaps another time," Harry offered as he took his Firebolt out of the closet beside the front door. "When I have more time available and can give you a proper tour?"
Astoria agreed and saw the wizard off before making her way back up to her room so she could write a different wizard a letter. Now, what sort of hint can I drop in order to get Draco to ask Harry to court me? the happy witch mused with a dreamy expression upon her face.
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