Chapter 31 – Family
. . .
It had been a long day for the young witch. However, Hermione's hard work had finally paid off. An extensive search of the library at Westfield Manor hadn't provided Hermione with the answer, but it had set her upon the correct path. A path that led her to the Ministry of Magic. If one needed to read up on magical laws, then there was no better place than the library within the Ministry of Magic she had reasoned. While Westfield had an impressive library, it wasn't geared towards wizarding law and hence was missing a large number of books. It was an oversight that the young witch vowed would be corrected.
The day had been spent reading through one dusty tome after another, only to be a bit short of the answer she sought. Still, having learned that some of the old ways had not been prohibited or outright outlawed was certainly a step in the right direction she figured. Hermione had more or less already been aware of this fact, given that Gerald Greengrass had used a rather old and obscure means of joining Harry and Daphne in marriage. Though the intelligent young woman had a possible answer to Harry's current predicament, it wasn't one she actually was in favor of.
"There has to be a better way," Hermione mumbled to herself as her brain scrambled to find some other solution. Preferably one that wouldn't cost her the man she was hopelessly in love with. "We've been going at this for weeks, and this is the first glimmer that has offered any hope of keeping Harry out of Azkaban." It's just not fair, she thought, neither to Harry our me. Why must these things always happen to him?
The tired witch sighed heavily, before using a hand to massage the bridge of her nose and rub her eyes. All the reading had her eyes feeling rather dry and irritated. How can one wizard get himself into so much trouble, she pondered not for the first time in her lengthy association with the man in question. In all the time that she had known Harry, it seemed like they had jumped from one crisis to another. He never hesitates to throw himself in front of whatever danger there is, especially if it will spare someone having to do so. Granted, this time the only danger is Harry being married, more than once and sadly not to me.
First year there was the troll, Hermione recalled, a small smile gracing her face. To a young girl of twelve, who had never known what having a friend was like, having someone risk their own life for yours was nothing short of heroic. The fact that their friendship had started in a girl's loo was something they had joked about over the years. In the end, she had been forced to let Harry go on without her to face Voldemort alone that year. It was a fact which to this day she still regretted and felt terrible about.
Second year wasn't much better, Hermione mused, recalling the whole Polyjuice incident. Harry didn't even question my brewing ability. He just took the potion and drank it down, she remembered. Ron had a good laugh upon seeing me with whiskers. It was a simple mistake after all!How was I to know they were cat hairs? Harry had been rather worried if she was alright or not. Upon the boy's return from the Slytherin common room, Harry had retrieved his invisibility cloak and given it to Hermione so she could make it to the hospital wing without everyone gawking at her as she walked past.
"I didn't realize I would be spending so much time in the hospital wing that year," Hermione spoke aloud softly to herself. Months wasted petrified while Harry once again had to face Voldemort alone. It wasn't until that summer at the Burrow that she had discovered that Harry had gone to the infirmary and visited her every day. Ron had mentioned it in passing, remarking how mental Harry was at times. To this day she had never told Harry that she knew. If he wants me to know he'll tell me, she figured.
The young witch, knowing Harry as well as she did, knew that he would never tell her. It was one of the many reasons that she loved him. He's so unassuming at times. Harry probably just saw it as something that needed to be done and did it. Much as he did when he saved Ginny. Something only he could do. Why must it always be him?She asked herself once again.
Third year hadn't seen much of a change of their yearly routine. The trio always managed to be involved in whatever trouble was taking place. Dementors, Hermione recalled with a shiver at the memory of the foul creatures and the effect they had on Harry. "If I never see one of those again it will be too soon," she stated. The Ministry had removed all Dementors from the Ministry after the war, confining them to the island of Azkaban.
Third year had also brought to light the fact that the then young girl of thirteen hadn't known how to deal with at the time. It was a seemingly innocent event that she had pushed to the back of her mind due to the pressing need to rescue Sirius. While seated behind Harry on the back of Buckbeak, holding on for dear life, she had an almost overwhelming urge to kiss the nape of his neck.
All summer Hermione had wrestled with that thought and what it had meant. It certainly wasn't something that just a friend would want to do, she had reasoned. In the end, the young witch had come to the realization that she was falling in love with her best friend, Harry Potter. By summer's end, Hermione had convinced herself that Ron would be the better, safer, choice as a boyfriend. If Harry were to die I'm not certain I could handle that were I to completely fall in love with him, she had told herself.
The young woman's thoughts were interrupted by a soft clearing of a throat. "Pardon the intrusion Missus Granger," stated a young Ministry employee who was probably a few years older than Hermione.
What is her name again? Mary? Margrett? Maggie?"That's alright Maggie," Hermione replied with a warm smile, attempting to ignore the hero worship which clearly shined in the woman's eyes."What can I do for you?"
"I was just wondering if you would be much longer?" Maggie asked hesitantly. "The library closed a while ago. Not that I mind waiting till you're done, mind you," the nervous woman added quickly. The last thing she wanted to do was offend one of the Heroes of the Wizarding World. The Minister himself had sent a memo upon learning that one of the Golden Trio was at the Ministry. The instructions had stated in no uncertain terms that Hermione Granger was to receive any and all assistance she might require.
Hermione silently cringed, not having realized just how much time had passed apparently. "Sorry to trouble you. You should have said something sooner. Just let me put these books away, and I'll be on my way."
"You needn't bother, Missus Granger. I'll take care of them," Maggie was quick to offer. "It is my job to see that they are returned to their proper places on the shelves after all."
Thinking it would be rather silly to argue over who would put the books back, Hermione thanked the woman before making her way from the library and to the public floo fireplaces. A few moments later saw the young witch step from a fireplace and into the Three Broomsticks. Thankful for the hood on her cloak, which helped to hide her identity from the few patrons in the establishment, Hermione quickly slipped out into the cold January night. A warming charm and a brisk walk soon saw her approaching the main doors of Hogwarts.
"A bit late for a social call, Miss Granger," spoke a well know voice with a Scottish accent to it. "Or do you miss being Head Girl so much you just couldn't stay away?" McGonagall asked with a hint of humor in her voice.
"Can't I come and visit my favorite professor?" Hermione asked with a grin.
"Oh, most certainly," McGonagall replied, "Shall I see if Professor Binns is up for company?" The elderly witch couldn't help but crack a smile at the look on Hermione's face. "You'll gather flies that way," Minerva teased. "Come in out of the cold," she added while waving the stunned witch into the castle. "I find these days that I am less inclined to stand around shivering than I used to be."
"Sorry Headmistress," Hermione offered out of habit. She has a sense of humor, Hermione thought, still a bit in shock that the usually stern woman had cracked a joke. None the less she did as asked and moved into the castle. I'd tell Ron and Harry about McGonagall pulling my leg, but I don't think they'd believe me. I'm not sure I believe it!
"As much as I am pleased to see you, I can't help but wonder what has brought you here," McGonagall stated. "I was a bit surprised when the wards notified me that I had a visitor and just who it was."
"I am sorry for the late call," Hermione said as they walked down the hall. "I'm researching something for Harry, and I was hoping I could have access to the library, Headmistress."
"Of course," Minerva quickly replied. "If there is anything Hogwarts can do to help we are happy to do so. We owe that man a great debt." It didn't take a Ravenclaw to figure out that if Hermione Granger were asking to use the library to research something for Harry Potter, then it would have to do with the wizard's current marital problems. "Have you found something?"
"I believe so," Hermione answered slowly. "I still have a few facts to verify which is why I need access to the library."
Minerva looked sideways, taking a good look at the young witch beside her. She looks about done in, she surmised. There were dark circles around Hermione's eyes, and her hair was rather flat and a bit unkept. She's driving herself too hard, Minerva tsked silently to herself. "It is nearly curfew time. Wouldn't it be better if you came back in the morning? A good night's sleep might do you good."
Hermione smiled slightly. "I doubt I will be able to sleep till I have this sorted, Headmistress. I'm so close that I can't give up now," the younger witch replied. "Harry needs me, and I can't let him down. I feel we're quickly running out of time. Time is something that never seems to be on Harry's side."
"Perhaps I should assist you?" Minerva offered.
The offer of her mentor to assist her, Hermione Granger, was very tempting. There had been plenty of times where Hermione had dreamed of helping the older witch. Never once had she dared to dream than Minerva McGonagall would offer to help her though. "There's no need for the both of us to go without sleep tonight, Headmistress. You have a school to run, and I have a best friend to save," Hermione finally replied.
Just a best friend, huh? Minerva mused to herself."As you wish then. Should you grow tired one of the elves can show you to guest quarters where you may rest," the Headmistress informed Hermione."I'll check on you in the morning." After being thanked profusely, the Headmistress watched the young witch hasten away in the direction of the Grande Stairway and the library. "Hopefully it will all work out," she said before turning to make her way to her waiting bed.
The hour was late, with the evening meal having concluded some time ago. Harry sat within the library, a book open in his lap as he sipped a snifter of firewhiskey. The evening had been rather interesting, to say the least. The young wizard couldn't help but smile as he recalled how Tracey had called Draco a daft git. Informing her former housemate that of course they already knew that the elder Greengrass was after Harry when the Malfoy heir pointed that fact out to them rather vocally.
I don't know which was funnier, Tracey calling him out or watching Draco look between Astoria and Tracey, trying to decide just how to reply to the verbal abuse. Draco didn't want to appear disrespectful in front of the woman he loved and yet he was not used to having to hold his tongue either. Having been on the receiving end of Davies's sharp words before I almost felt sorry for him. In the end, Astoria had come to Draco's rescue. The wizard's musings were interrupted by the library door opening and Daphne slipping in.
"I thought I might find you here," Daphne said with a warm smile. "Can't sleep?" she asked as she closed the door behind her and made her way over toward Harry.
"No more than usual," Harry replied evasively, setting the book aside as he wasn't having much luck reading it anyways. "How about you?" he asked as he stood and gave the witch an affectionate hug.
"No," Daphne admitted honestly. "Draco's news has me worried," she clarified. "I keep imagining the worst and feel as if it will actually be much more terrible than that."
"Want to talk about it?" Harry offered, moving the book from the couch to the end table next to it and setting the snifter of whiskey beside it. Harry had once made the mistake of placing a glass on top of a book. The subsequent tongue-lashing he'd received from Hermione was not of the snogging kind. Needless to say, he never made that mistake again.
"I don't want to bother you," Daphne replied, her expression saying exactly the opposite of her words. The young woman found the uncertainty of the future to be more than a bit unsettling. She had tried to tell herself that it would all work out. Harry had unbelievable luck getting himself out of tight spots in the past after all. Still, the young woman's uncertainties were getting the better of her which led to her searching out the man before her.
It was apparent to the young wizard that Daphne was upset. Harry gestured toward the couch and waited till they were both seated before taking her hand in his. "What has you worried?"
"Everything!" Daphne replied, a bit of emotion entering her voice. "I'm scared of what father will do. I can't go back to him. There is no telling what he will do or whom he will marry me off too. Perhaps more frightening is the fact that I could actually lose you, Harry," the distraught witch stated. "I only just found you! That's not even taking into consideration the fact that I must give birth to an heir within one year or lose my magic, either!"
"Yes, well," Harry stammered, his cheeking reddening a bit at Daphne's last words. "If it comes to it we can take care of that…issue. Not that I want to, mind you, but better that than you losing your magic," Harry said only to see the witch's look darken upon hearing his words. "Not that I don't want to," Harry hastily backpedaled. "I just would rather we take our time and do…that…when we're both ready for it."
Seeing Daphne's expression soften, the Harry breathed a silent sigh of relief. "Other than that, nothing else has really changed, Daphne," Harry tried to reassure her. "We figured your father would try something eventually. This is just a bit earlier than we expected."
"A bit earlier?" Daphne parroted back in disbelief."The Wizengamot meets on Monday. You can bet that my father will be there to put forth whatever plan he has. Malfoy will be there to ensure that he has the votes too!"
"Wow, Monday huh?" Harry asked, having had no clue when the Wizengamot met. "That still gives us a little over a day to figure out what to do," he pointed out. I had less than that when I defeated Riddle, and that turned out alright. Sort of, Harry added after thinking about it for a moment. Maybe not so alright, he finally admitted to himself, thinking of all those lost.
"A day? A day to discover a solution to what we haven't been able to figure out for weeks, Harry!" Daphne pointed out. "If the brightest witch of our age and the rest of us haven't figured it out by now I seriously doubt we will within the next day! Do you think we can just waltz into the Wizengamot and wing it? We need to have a plan, Harry!"
Harry sighed, giving her hand in his a reassuring squeeze."One thing fighting Voldemort showed me was that plans tend to fall apart and all you can do when that happens is improvise. It's worked pretty well for me so far," he felt compelled to point out, feeling that the fact he had survived was a point in his favor. Even with Hermione's help, there hadn't been lots of planning involved in Riddle's defeat. When you come right down to it the entire final battle had been winging it, he recalled.
"This isn't some deranged lunatic who is hell-bent on killing you, Harry" Daphne fired back only to see the wizard arch a questioning brow. "Okay, maybe it is," she conceded reluctantly. "What Imean is that father is the epitome of what it means to be a Slytherin. He'll have plans within plans within plans. Unlike Voldemort, you can't just kill him and be done with it."
Harry decided not to argue that point, fairly confident that he could if he had to. "Daphne, I know just how serious this is. I'm the one facing Azkaban after all. If I were to never see another Dementor again, it would be too soon," he offered with a small, lopsided grin. "Look, the last thing I want is to make you or the others worry but what choice do we have?" Harry asked. "If the smartest group of witches I know can't come up with a solution then marching into the Wizengamot and flying by the seat of my pants is the only option I have."
"I just found you as well, and I do not want to lose you, or Luna or Anna or any of the others for that matter," Harry continued with, trying once again to reassure the witch before him. "You've all come to mean so much to me. The thought of not having you in my life is painful, Daphne," Harry said, causing the color to rise in Daphne's cheeks."You are all family, which is something I have always longed for and have had very little of. I certainly don't want to lose it."
"This is all my fault!" snapped the witch, pulling her hand from his and rising only to begin pacing back and forth. "If I hadn't placed myself there that day, none of this would have happened! I should have just accepted my fate and gone along with the marriage that father had arranged. At least that way you wouldn't have become involved and possibly facing Azkaban."
"Let's not start to play the blame game as I'm fairly sure my, 'I asked Luna to marry me' trumps your 'I was stalking Harry Potter' card," the young wizard offered with a small grin as he intercepted the pacing witch and drew her into his arms. "Besides, I'm rather glad that we fell in love."
"I wasn't stalking you," Daphne replied defensively, offering a playful slap to the wizard's arm as it slipped around her. Truth be told she loved the feel of Harry's arms around her. She never felt as safe as when he held her close. Daphne was also pleased that they had fallen in love. I doubt I would have found anyone else who would love me and would be willing to allow me to be with Tracey. I really am a lucky witch, she reminded herself. Of course, that also drove home the point that she could possibly be losing the man holding her as well.
"Oh?" Harry asked with feigned surprise. "I can't see how else you would have known to be right there at that exact time, Missus Black."
"Fate, Mister Black," Daphne replied with a smile as she slipped her arms around his neck. "Maybe we were meant to be together," she teased.
"Well, who am I to argue with Fate," Harry replied playing along. "Remind me to thank her when next I see her," he stated. "Does this Fate have a name?"
"Actually, I had a house elf follow you," she confessed, pushing herself up against the wizard to get as close as she could to him."So certain this is a good thing are we, Harry?" Daphne enquired playfully, the heat of Harry's body seeping into her and do strange but wonderful things to her insides.
"There haven't been many good things in my life, Daphne," Harry replied, an edge of seriousness entering his tone, "but marrying you is certainly one of them. No matter how unexpectedly it was."
"And Luna?" Daphne asked with a skeptical arch of a brow.
"Definitely," Harry replied without a hint of hesitation. "As strange as it sounds, it would be a bit difficult trying to imagine my life without all of you in it. I know you and Tracey have only been here a few months, but I already consider you both family," Harry stated, causing the witch to smile happily. "Should the worst happen, I hope that you all will be here waiting for me in ten years."
"Stop talking like that," Daphne admonished Harry, the smile dropping from her features upon hearing his words. "I'll have none of that talk from my husband! We're going to beat this, Harry. I'm confident that we'll come up with a solution. I'm honestly surprised that Granger hasn't already."
Harry hid his smile, though just barely. Mission accomplished, he thought, if she is trying to now convince me that we'll get through this my work here is done. One of the things he liked about Daphne was that though she could spin herself up, it usually only took some words of encouragement from Tracey or himself to calm her down. Now if we could just get her to freak out a bit less often. All good things in time Iguess.
"Me too," Harry admitted with the thoughtful frown. I haven't been able to spend any time with Hermione since she moved in, Harry realized, feeling terrible about that fact. Everything has just been so incredibly hectic that I haven't even been able to really check on her either. "Perhaps I've come to rely on her too much? Merlin knows that she saved my arse more time than I can count," Harry admitted.
"Probably," Daphne said. "Where is she anyway?"
Harry gave a small shrug. "I don't know. She left word that she wouldn't be home tonight. I'm sure she'll be alright. Hermione can take care of herself. I honestly pity anyone who tries to mess with her. She knows far more spells than anyone ought to."
"Just as well," Daphne stated only to see a questioning look from Harry. "Can't have you thinking about some other witch while you have me in your arms," Daphne clarified as she leaned in.
"Heaven forbid," Harry replied as he leaned in, meeting her halfway, and captured Daphne's lips in a soft kiss.
"As nice as this is, Harry," Daphne said after a few minutes in which her toes curled more than once, "we really need to talk about Monday."
"I have my beautiful wife in my arms, and you want to to have a chin wag?" Harry asked with a small disbelieving chuckle. "And here I was quite happy with what we were doing."
"Yes, well," Daphne stammered, a bit flustered, having rather enjoyed what they had been up to as well. "If you want to be able to continue what we were doing for years to come then we need to figure out what we're going to do on Monday, Harry."
"Fine," Harry replied after a moment. "What do you think your father and Malfoy have cooked up?" the young wizard asked as he escorted Daphne back to the couch and sat with her.
Daphne sat, making certain to be as close to Harry as possible, drawing comfort from his presence beside her. "Father would, of course, want to be Head of the Greengrass house again," Daphne opened with, figuring it was the most logical place to begin.
"That would get him back all the businesses and their assets," Harry stated, agreeing with her.
"It would also see him responsible for me again," Daphne added with a thoughtful frown.
"Which would get him access to the Black wealth," Harry said, "which has been his goal all along."
"The question is what does Malfoy senior get out of this?" Daphne pondered aloud.
Harry thought for a long moment before replying. "If our marriage is dissolved then the next to inherit the Black family would be Draco."
"Really?" Daphne asked in a surprised tone.
"According to Sirius," Harry confirmed. "He told me that part of the reason for naming me his heir was so that the Malfoys couldn't get the Black wealth and use it to support Voldemort."
"Wait, that doesn't make any sense," Daphne said after a long moment. "If father pushed to dissolve our marriage then he would lose access to the Black gold through me. All he would actually be gaining is what I took away from him."
"And you," Harry pointed out, confused about the motives of the elder Greengrass as well. "That's worth more than everything else."
"That's sweet, Harry," Daphne said reaching out and grasping his hand with hers even as she felt her cheeks heat into a blush."There must be some deal between Malfoy and my father that gets him access to the Black gold."
"Unless…," Harry started to say only to trail off as a thought struck him.
Daphne waited for a few moments but upon realizing that the wizard wasn't going to continue, spoke up. "What? Unless what?" Daphne asked. "You're as bad as Tracey!"
Harry chuckled, "Sorry," he offered a bit sheepishly."So, let's walk through this logically."
"Yes, let's," said a voice above them. The two stood, looking up rather embarrassed and shocked only to see Luna looking down at them from the second floor of the library with a Cheshire grin spread across her face.
"H…how long have you been up there?" Daphne stammered.
"Since before Harry arrived," Luna replied as she made her way along the railing and started down the stairs. "He didn't look like he wished for any company, so I let him be then I got rather lost in a book till I heard voices down here," the petite blonde stated. "I must say it was rather /arousing/watching the two of you snog," Luna added with a rather dreamy smile as she joined them. "A bit naughty, but definitely exciting!"
"You should have told us you were there," Harry replied, his cheeks suddenly feeling as if he could cook an egg on them. Who knew Luna would be a bit of closet voyeur? The fact that he found that to be a little arousing himself only served to embarrass Harry further.
"I was going to, but then you both were rather busy, and it just didn't seem right to interrupt you. Especially with how much Daphne appeared to be relishing your lip tango," Luna said, rather enjoying the embarrassed looks on both their faces. "Perhaps you'll dance with me later too, Harry?" The young witch was fairly sure that Harry at least, judging by how he was avoiding looking at her, found the fact that she had been watching the two of them at least a little stimulating. There may be hope for him yet, Luna mused hopefully.
"Yes, well, as you were saying," Daphne cut in with a look toward Harry. The young woman wanted nothing more than to get the subject off of her and Harry snogging while Luna watched. Morgana, please don't let Tracey hear about this or I'll never live it down, Daphne thought only to realize that Tracey may very well want to invite the witch to join them.
"Yes. Right," Harry stammered before indicating that they should all be seated. He wasn't actually surprised when Daphne chose to sit further away from him than she had been previously. Nor was he surprised that Daphne's face was a bright red all over. Luna took a chair in front of them, curling her feet up under her in what could only be described as a very feline move. Apparently unbothered with seeing her husband kissing another witch.
"So, if we look at this in a logic sense," Harry began,"your father's first move has to be to tell the Wizengamot that I'm married to the both of you."
"That will get you tossed into Azkaban for ten years," Daphne said, her tone clearly indicating just what she thought of that outcome.
Harry gave a slow nod of agreement. "But what then?"
"Father becomes head of the Greengrass family once again and robs the Black vaults," Daphne answered.
"No," Luna cut in with a thoughtful expression."According to what Harry told me, your father abdicated his position which means it will not default back to him."
Daphne's eyes widened slightly, not having thought of that herself. "He'll need the Wizengamot to appoint him then," she offered.
"Which is where he will need Malfoy to swing the votes in his favor," Harry said. "Assuming that happens he'll be the head of the Greengrass family once again."
"At which point he can call a grievance and demand restitution," Daphne provided. "That will end our marriage as well as get him the Black gold." The thought of their marriage being dissolved was nearly enough to cause the young witch to breakdown on the spot. Daphne looked up and gave Harry a grateful smile as she felt him take her hand in his.
"But why would he?" Luna asked, apparently confused by Daphne's words. "I mean he will get some gold that way for certain. I just can't believe he would be able to claim the entire Black wealth as his restitution for besmirching the Greengrass name. If that were the case, then there would be nothing to stop others from claiming the same and going after the wealthiest of families. So why would he?"
"Exactly!" Harry exclaimed. Damn smart witches are sexy, he thought as he shot an appreciative smile towards Luna, causing the young girl's cheeks to blush slightly. "Why would he do that?" Harry asked, turning to regard Daphne who hadn't caught on just yet.
"So that Draco can become the head of the Black family," Daphne replied, trying to figure out what she was missing. "I'm sure father has an agreement to that effect."
"So?" Harry asked.
"So, he…," Daphne started only for her words to trail off as she finally cottoned on to what they were talking about. "Why would my father give up the Black family at all?"
"He would have the Greengrass family and the Black family wealth through you," Harry confirmed. "I can't see him giving any of that up at all if he is the man you've told me he is, Daphne."
"He'd essentially have everything," Luna injected."With the votes already cast he'd have no need for Draco's father."
"It certainly would be like my father to double-cross Malfoy like that. Particularly since there is little Malfoy could do about it without ratting out himself for fixing the vote in father's favor. That alone could see him in Azkaban, heavily fined or both," Daphne offered.
"Father is just using Malfoy to get what he wants," Daphne continued, fitting all the pieces of the puzzle together. "Once he has the Greengrass wealth back and then adds the Black gold to it he will be both wealthy and powerful enough that he won't have to worry about Malfoy senior trying anything. Of course, it doesn't hurt that the Malfoy name isn't what it used to be due to their backing of Voldemort during the war."
"So, what do we do?" Luna inquired. "Tell Draco's father?"
"Given our history, I seriously doubt he'd believe us," Harry replied with a knowing smirk. "He'd just think we were trying to throw a spanner in their plans. No," Harry stated in a thoughtful tone,"We have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. When I go to Azkaban, I have to make certain all of you are taken care of."
"No!" Luna and Daphne both exclaimed at the same time. Neither witch was ready to even consider that outcome. Though they hadn't much success to date, they both held out hope that there would be some way they could spare Harry that fate. Even Daphne, who not all that long ago felt it was hopeless, once again had faith that it would all work out in the end…somehow.
"Look, I don't like it any more than either of you do," Harry replied, "but we need to be ready for the worst. That means me in Azkaban for ten years and all of you out here. Sirius managed for ten years," Harry offered in the hopes of reassuring them. "If he can do it I'm sure I can. He didn't have two beautiful wives waiting on him either."
Both witches nodded slightly, neither wanting to even think about Harry being in that hell hole for ten years but realizing that he was right and they had to plan for the worst possible case and just hope it never happened."So, how do we neutralize your father?" Harry asked once he was certain they both understood.
"Well," Daphne started with hesitantly after several long moments of silence. "There is something you can do," she offered. The young woman looked at Harry with a pensive expression. "Harry, you need to disown me."
Draco, after a rather long and delightful kiss goodbye from Astoria, apparated to Malfoy manner. Rather than returning to his room at the brothel, Harry had offered to let him spend the night at Westfield, only after extracting an oath that he would behave himself under Harry's roof. Astoria was still underage after all. Breakfast with the woman he loved was a wonderful way to start the day he decided, and it put an extra bounce in the young wizard's step as he entered his home.
"Good morning mother," Draco exclaimed with a wide grin as he approached his parents who were seated at the dining room table enjoying a late breakfast. Leaning down Draco gave his mother a kiss on the cheek."You look as beautiful as ever!"
"You're in an exceedingly good mood," Narcissa stated with a humorous smile, glad to see her only child in such high spirits. She had been rather concerned with how Draco would handle the engagement being canceled, but it now seemed that her concerns had been for naught.
"It was an exceptional night," Draco answered as he filched a piece of bacon from his mother's plate and quickly popped it into his mouth. Spending the evening talking with Astoria and being able to take her for a walk through the garden had been far more than he had expected of the evening.
"I take it that you enjoyed yourself then," Lucius asked before taking a sip of tea. Upon seeing his son nod, he smiled slightly."Which establishment will I be expecting a massive bill from then?" Though he wouldn't admit it where Narcissa could hear, the elder Malfoy had been known to frequent such establishments every now and then.
"The Reclining Wench," Draco answered even as he reached for another piece of bacon, only to have his hand playfully slapped away by his mother. Draco offered his mother a sad puppy dog look and was rewarded with another piece of bacon for his efforts.
"Get your own plate and serve yourself if you are hungry," Narcissa advised with a warm smile towards Draco. "It is bad manners to pick food off another's plate like some muggle. I'll have no further talk of such establishments at my breakfast table," she added with a pointed look towards her husband. "We are Malfoys and will show a little decorum as such."
"Yes, Mother," Draco was quick to answer.
"Is that the only place you went?" Lucius inquired, ignoring Narcissa's request.
"Yes, Father," Draco answered as he made his way to the sideboard and served himself some eggs and bacon before returning to the table and taking a seat across from Narcissa.
Lucius wiped his mouth with the linen before tossing it upon his plate, which promptly vanished. "I had high hopes for you, Draco," the head of the Malfoy family said with a heavy sigh of disappointment."All through school I tried to counsel you to do your best and be better than those around you. Instead, you were petty and childish at best. Where a true Slytherin would have made his enemies his friends, you ridiculed them and treated them like little more than the mud upon your shoe."
"Lucius," Narcissa tried to cut in only to be cut across herself as if unheard.
"You alienated yourself from the other houses instead of cultivating alliance within them. Sure, they are beneath you, but that doesn't mean you can't use them to your own ends. It is always more beneficial to have people like you than despise you, regardless of what you may think of them. The very values that are Slytherin are what it is to be a Malfoy. Apparently, you possess none of these!"
"Lucius," Narcissa tried once again only to be overridden once more.
"No! I am tired of you trying to protect the boy," Lucius snapped at the witch beside him. "He's been nothing but a disappointment to me his entire life. Our Master honored him with the task of removing Dumbledor, and he couldn't even do that correctly! I guess I shouldn't have been surprised as he couldn't even beat a half-blood and his mudblood witch," Lucius sneered.
"Father," a very confused Draco started with, "I'm not sure what this is all about, but there must be some mistake. I have always tried to follow your advice." The wizard was more than a little confused as to what exactly had his father so angry.
Lucius looked at Draco with disdain. "Mistake? Yes, there was certainly a mistake made, though it was mine to think that you could ever live up to the name of Malfoy. You've been nothing but one major disappointment after another."
"I don't understand," Draco managed to get out, his confusion clearly etched on his face.
"No, you don't and you never will Draco!" Lucius snapped angrily. "I explicitly forbade you from having anything to do with Potter or that Greengrass girl, did I not? Yet the first chance you get your off to have dinner with the both of them!"
"Father, I ne-" Draco started to say.
"Don't deny it!" Lucius thundered as his fist slammed upon the table top causing cutlery to jump and jingle about. "For once in your sad, miserable life be a man and take responsibility for your actions!"
"Fine!," Draco snapped back, stung far further by his father's words than he would like to admit. "Yes, I went to Potter's place. I wanted to see Astoria because I love her!" Draco confessed heatedly.
"I don't give a rat's ass what you want to do or what slag you want to shag! When I give you an order, I expect you to follow it without question!" Lucius shouted back. "That's what it means to be a part of this family. You don't get a say in what you do or what you wish till I'm dead and gone and the house is yours. The Malfoys are where they are because of my hard work, and I will not sit by and watch some byblow of mine ruin all that I have worked so hard for."
"Astoria is not a slag!" Draco growled, rising to his feet, his own anger flaring to match his father's. "She is kind and caring and everything you're not! As for beating a half-blood, I may not have bested Potter, but at least I wasn't licking his boots!"
"How dare you!" Lucius yelled, launching himself to his feet. "You know nothing of what you speak!"
"I know Voldemort was a half-blood and yet you called him Master and knelt before him!" Draco fired back with a contemptuous sneer of his own.
"He may have been less than a pure-blood, but he was a powerful wizard that even Dumbledore couldn't defeat on his own," Lucius spat back. "A man like that with that much ability you either serve or you fight and to fight him was to surely die! I did what I had to do to make certain we survived and that you had a life!"
"You can tell yourself whatever it is you want that helps you sleep at night father, but we both know you merely didn't have the backbone to stand up to him. That half-blood you claim I couldn't best, stood up to your master and beat him too! It was far easier to just go along with the pure-blood dogma than think for yourself, wasn't it, father?" Draco asked, spitting out the name as if it left a foul taste in his mouth. "Was any of it true? Do you still believe that rubbish?" Draco asked only to see the answer in his father's eyes.
"To think that I bought into it as well," Draco drawled."You were willing to have me follow in your footsteps. I'm glad it's over. I'm glad Potter won and killed that psychopath!" Draco declared in a heated voice. "The war showed me one thing when we're cut, we all bleed the same color blood. When we kill each other, it doesn't matter in the end because we're all the same, dead! When it came right down to it, your master didn't care who he killed! Just as many pure-bloods died in his bid for dominance."
"That's all it was, a madman's quest to make himself seem superior to others through the use of fear. If they won't follow you, kill them. If they're pure-blood name them blood traitors and then kill them. Inslave the masses, terrorize the innocent and weak. Bloody hell I can't believe I bought into it. I see now that fear was the only thing Voldemort really had going for him."
"That fear is precisely what allowed the Malfoys to become what they are today," Lucius pointed out, forcing his temper back under control.
"Growing up I was always so confident that I was better than others. I was so very proud to be a Malfoy and see others bend to what I wanted," Draco stated, his body relaxing as a small smile graced his features as he recalled those days. "I was a Malfoy, and there was nothing better in the world to be. Anything and everything was mine for the taking."
Draco paused to yank up his sleeve to reveal Voldemort's mark on his forearm and thrust it out towards his father who actually flinched away from it a bit. "I was so proud when I took the Mark, father. I was going to be just like you was my thought at the time. Now, I want to be nothing like you," Draco stated as he pulled down his sleeve. "You sold the Malfoy name and nearly all of us for the pipedream of a madman. I never thought the day would come when I would be ashamed to be a Malfoy, but I am."
"That name is what has given you everything, including the very clothes on your back," Lucius pointed out.
"I would rather it had gotten me nothing then. Better that than to be known as a Death Eater for the rest of my life," Draco replied.
"Fine. Then so be it," Lucius said, his temper flaring once more as he slipped his wand free of his pocket. "I Lucius Malfoy, Head of the Malfoy family do cast out Draco Malfoy, declaring him and all who descend from him banished forthwith from the family. Let his name be removed from all references, so it is as if he never existed. So let it be said, so let it be done!"
"What have you done?" Narcissa exclaimed in disbelief as she stared at her husband in horror.
"That which should have been done a long time ago," Lucius replied. Slipping a small bag from his pocket the head fo the Malfoy family tossed it onto the table before the stunned wizard who used to be his son. From the clanking noise, the pouch made upon landing it was apparent that it contained coins. "Let it not be said that I'm not a generous man. You have one hour to be off these premises. You may take whatever personal effects you wish to." Without further words, Lucius strode toward the door.
"You'll never beat him," Draco called to his father's back, causing the head of the Malfoy family to pause without turning about."Voldemort couldn't defeat him, what makes you think that whatever you and Greengrass have cooked up will work?" Draco asked with a sneer that saw him channeling his inner Snape. "Potter knows, and you can bet he'll thwart the both of you! I just hope that I'll be there when he does so I can see the look on your face!" Draco watched his father leave the room without a word of reply.
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