Chapter 33 – When a Man Loves aWoman
. . .
"This is nice," Daphne murmured with a contented sigh.
Harry smiled in agreement as the nude witch snuggled further into his side under the covers. It had been arather busy day, to say the least. First, there had been the matter of going to Gringotts and passing on a name to Draco. Setting up a vault and placing some gold in it for the soon to be wed wizard just seemed like the right thing to do to Harry.
They next had stopped by the offices of Wilburn, Wright, and Pinkerton to make sure all the legal documents were signed and filed correctly. While there Harry had also spoken with Daniel Wright and passed along the information that they believe Gerald Greengrass would make his move at Monday's session of the Wizengamot. The fact that the solicitor hadn't as yet discovered a way out of the marriage mess hadn't raised Harry's hopes for a favorable outcome to Monday's meeting.
One good thing that had come from their visit to Harry's solicitor was that Daniel Wright had provided them with the name of a Binder for the wedding ceremony. Astoria had been rather adamite about using a Binder rather than a simple legal service or even a marriage contract. A Binder, through the use of specific spells, actually joined the magic of the couple together, hence the name.
The downside to such a marriage was that neither would ever be able to walk away from the union. Once joined by aBinder, there was no way to unbind the couple. Even in death if one of them should pass away, the survivor would still be bound to the other and would, therefore, be unable to take someone else as a spouse at a later date. Using aBinder had fallen out of favor due to this, but there were still a few who performed the rather ancient ceremony.
"I can certainly get used to this," Harry replied with a small appreciative smile.
Daphne didn't even try to stop the grin that she felt spreading across her face. "Me too," she agreed."Thank you, Harry."
"For what? the wizard asked.
"For everything. For this," Daphne said, shifting against Harry's side and squeezing him tightly to her. "For what you did for Tori and Draco. Even though I know you and he was at odds your entire time at Hogwarts. It is one of the many qualities I love about you. Your willingness to help others in their times of need."
"I didn't do it for Draco," Harry told her. "I did it for Astoria. As her Head of House, it was my responsibility to see that she is happy. Draco just happened to benefit from it as well I guess."
"So, you gave Draco a family name for Astoria's sake?" Daphne inquired, not buying it.
"Of course," Harry assured her. "Their fates are joined now. What affects one of them affects them both," Harry explained. "I can't very well have your sister being called '/Missus Noname'/now can I?"
"I suppose not," Daphne reluctantly conceded. "Why did you pick that family name though?"
"I don't know," Harry offered. Daphne waited, having learned that sometimes you had to allow the wizard to gather his thoughts before Harry would tell you the rest. "I guess I felt sorry for him. I know what it feels like to not have a family. I can only imagine what it must have been like to have his taken from him. At least I was young enough that I don't remember what happened," Harry lied.
"Draco has always been a Pure-blood. It's all he's known his entire life," Harry continued. "I could have been petty and not helped him or given him a different name I guess. I wanted to be the better man. Take the high road and all that."
"You are the better man," Daphne assured him before she turned her head and kissed his bare chest."So, you gave him a Pure-blood name to replace the one he lost?"
"It was either that one or Fleamont," Harry replied.
"Fleamont?" Daphne asked, lifting herself up onto an elbow and turning to look at Harry.
"It was my great-great-grandmother's maiden name. As she was the last of her family the name was absorbed into the Potter family when she passed away," Harry explained.
"So why not use it?" the curious witch asked.
"Fleamont Potter was my grandfather. His father, Henry Potter, for who I am named after I think, named his son Fleamont at his mother's request to keep her family name alive. I think using that name would have put Draco closer to the Potter name than either of us would like," Harry answered as he shifted, rolling Daphne onto her back and placing himself on top of her. It was only a moment before his lips found their way to the soft, warm skin on the side of the witch's neck.
"I wonder what they're doing right now?" Daphne voiced, thinking about her sister and her new brother-in-law.
"Way to ruin the moment, Daph," Harry snorted, lifting his head and regarding his wife. "I would imagine pretty much the same thing we had been doing given the requirements of the bonding ritual."
"Hush you," Daphne admonished him as she pulled his head back to towards her neck. "You were perfectly fine with what you were doing. Then you had to go and ruin it by speaking," she teased. "It was a rhetorical question anyway. What I meant was how are they doing. I hope they will be alright and get on as we do."
Harry paused in peppering Daphne's neck with small wet kisses. "I'm trying to get on here, but someone wants to have a chin wag apparently."
"You can't do both at the same time?" Daphne inquired playfully.
"Not if you want my full attention to ensure I do it properly," Harry told her before capturing Daphne's earlobe in his lips and flicking it with a warm tongue.
Daphne gave a low moan of pleasure."Less talking, more of that," she demanded. It was sometime later when the spent lovers collapsed next to each other tired but content.
"Oh goodie, you're done," Luna said from Harry's side of the bed.
"Luna!" Daphne gasped in surprise as she hastily pulled the covers up to hide her nakedness. "How did you get in here?" Daphne couldn't help but wonder just how long the younger witch had been standing there watching them. Given that the room was pretty dark, the fire having burned down to embers long ago, it could have been for some time she realized.
"Through the door silly," Luna answered as she started to pull her nightgown off.
"Luna, what are you doing?" Harry asked even though it was somewhat evident that the petite blonde had every intention of joining them in Harry's bed.
"You had last night and tonight to make certain Daphne's magic is safe," Lune replied as she shed her nightgown and dropped it to the floor. It became apparent rather quickly that it was rather cool in the room. "You're my husband as well, and I want to sleep with you too."
"Wait!" Daphne said,"I'm not…I mean I don't even know if…," her words trailed off as she wasn't sure how to say what she wanted to. While she had been with Tracey before Daphne wasn't really sure if she flew on that side of the broom or if it was just with Tracey. Catching herself eyeing the other witch's body and thinking it was rather fit, Daphne felt her cheeks heat into a blush. Apparently, I don't just fly on one side of the broom, she found herself thinking, given what she and Harry had just done for the third time that night.
"I know I'm not Tracey," Luna said, and she climbed into the bed from Harry's side and slid over to be next to the wizard she loved, "but I really do just want to sleep. I find I sleep much better when I am with Harry," she told Daphne.
"But I don't have any clothes on," Daphne pointed out feebly.
"None of us do," Luna pointed out. "So that makes us all equal. Besides, I don't sleep with anything on anyways," she added as she pulled the covers around her shoulders and molded herself to Harry's side."
"You're not going to say anything?" Daphne asked looking at the wizard next to her.
Harry looked thoughtful for a long moment before he replied, "I'm not really fond of staying at St. Mongo's. I have two lovely and very naked witches in bed with me. I would have to be rather mental to want to be anyplace other than here," he added with a grin.
"Bloody hell," Daphne mumbled before scooting over and claiming Harry's other side for herself. The wizard slipped an arm around her and pulled her in close. Daphne had just closed her eyes and decided to at least try and get some sleep when she heard the former Ravenclaw speak.
"You know you swore like that while Harry was making love to you too. I was rather surprised actually," Luna said in a sleepy voice. "I'm sure Tracey would be quite proud of you."
Harry stepped from the lavish bathroom, dressed and ready to go even though it was still the middle of the night. Having dozed for a scant hour or so before awakening, the young wizard had slipped from the bed being careful not to disturb the two girls. Stepping to the foot of the enormous bed Harry gazed upon the two sleeping figures, a soft tender smile gracing his features.
In his absence the two girls had each moved closer towards the center of the bed, perhaps seeking his absent warmth. The end result was that Daphne now cradled Luna's head to her bosom. Luna, in turn, was snuggled into the soft swell of Daphne's breasts with her legs entwined with the older girl's, one arm slung over Daphne's side. All in all, Harry found the image incredibly endearing as well as a little arousing, seeing as both girls were without clothing.
Pushing aside the suggestions his hormones were providing him, Harry slipped from the bedroom and made his way from his suite of rooms. His wandering feet lead him to the library of Westfield Manor as they had done any number of other nights. The young man was somewhat surprised to find upon opening the door that he was not the only one who couldn't sleep. The lone witch seated at the table looked up upon hearing the library door open and gave him a small smile.
"Couldn't sleep?" Hermione inquired, watching Harry cross the room toward her.
"I slept," Harry replied with a small shrug. "A little," he added upon seeing the skeptical expression that appeared on her face upon hearing his words. "What about you?" Harry asked, shifting the conversation away from himself. There was no need for Hermione, or any of the others for that matter, to know just how much, or how little, he slept these days. "Shouldn't you be a bed as well?It must be after midnight already."
"Closer to two in the morning, actually," Hermione admitted, looking down sheepishly. The studious woman was worried about what would happen on Monday and had little luck sleeping that evening when she had tried. As slumber eluded her, Hermione had sought comfort in her oldest friends, books.
"What's that?" Harry asked, jutting his chin out a bit to point to the rather large and old looking tome which rested on the table before the witch. "Found something that will save me?" he asked half in jest and half in hope as a grin spread across his features.
"Actually," Hermione began only to trail off as Harry hitched a hip and sat on the table next to her. One leg resting on the floor and the other dangling freely. Seeing the shocked look on his face at her partial admission, Hermione continued. "Maybe. Possibly. I'm just not sure," she finally said, uncertainty clearly in her tone.
"Truly?" Harry exclaimed in disbelief. Harry doubted that he would be alive at all if it weren't for the witch seated before him. She always figures out some way to save my arse regardless of the trouble I always seem to manage to get myself into, he thought to himself. I would truly be lost without her beside me. "What did you find?" Harry pressed eagerly.
Hermione hesitated to respond. The meeting that she had with the others earlier hadn't gone nearly as well as she hoped it would. Andi had been rather adamant that there had to be some other way to save Harry. When Hermione had snapped and said she was open to any other suggestions the older witch had stood and stormed from the room. Seeing that Harry was waiting for an answer Hermione looked up at him, "Do you trust me?" she asked, resting one hand on his thigh.
"With my life," Harry replied without a moment's hesitation. "You've been with me through everything, Hermione. You never doubted me, never abandoned me. Even when you believed me wrong, such as in our fifth year, you still came with me to the Ministry. How could I not trust you?" Harry asked as he reached out, covering her hand with his own where it rested upon his leg.
"Then you need to trust me on this, Harry," Hermione replied, trying to ignore the warmth that surged within her chest as his words. "There are still a few things I need to work out for this to work," the young witch continued with. "Even then I'm not certain it will," she confessed, her eyes dropping as she suddenly felt like she was letting Harry down in some way.
"Hermione Granger," Harry said with a smirk. "In all the time that I've known you, I have never once seen you doubt yourself like this," he teased.
"This is too important to get wrong," Hermione was quick to point out.
"Oh, and Voldemort trying to kill me wasn't?" Harry asked with a small chuckle of disbelief.
"That was different!" Hermione exclaimed, her head snapping up so she could look at him.
"You are correct of course. Then again, you're always correct," Harry teased his friend, receiving a playful slapping of his leg for his efforts. "That was life and death, where this is not," Harry continued with after a slight pause.
"I'm not always correct," Hermione protested.
"You are when it matters, Hermione," Harry corrected her. "Worst case is I spend ten years in Azkaban. No one will die on my account this time. That fact alone already makes this better than Tom and that blasted war."
"Harry, none of those deaths were your fault," Hermione said, reaching out and capturing his hand in hers. "You could no more control what that fiend did than I could!"
Harry just smiled indulgently having learned that it was better not to argue with Hermione when she believed herself correct. "Of course, I'm certain it's as you say," he replied with a small smile that didn't reach his eyes. "I just wish…," Harry started to say, his words trailing off.
"I know," Hermione said in a reassuring tone. "Me too," she added, giving his hand in her's a small squeeze.
The two remained silent for several long moments as each thought of things they wish they could change. Harry gave a small sigh. "How did my life get so messed up again," he asked rhetorically. "I thought once we had dealt with Tom I could have a normal life."
"When has your life ever been normal, Harry?" Hermione asked with a humorless snort.
"Too true. Too true," Harry agreed. "All I've ever wanted was to have a normal life. Go to school. Make friends. Find a nice girl to fall in love with and raise a family," he said, taking her hand in his once again and giving it a gentle squeeze.
"Well, you certainly have that last part covered," Hermione quipped in a quivering tone, making to pull her hand from his.
"Not the right girl though," Harry said, refusing to release Hermione's hand. "If I had a choice in the matter I would that it were you I was wed to you know," he stated softly.
Hermione gave a nervous chuckle as her heart beat erratically in her chest at his words. "You don't have to say that, Harry," she replied dismissively.
"It's true, you know," said Harry. "You've been with me through everything, Hermione. No matter how crazy my life has gotten, there was one thing I could always count on, you. When the war was going on, there was a time when I felt as though I couldn't continue. I was depressed and ready to just give up, but then you would be there beside me, and I somehow found the strength and courage to carry on. You've always been the one constant thing in my life, and I would be a great fool indeed not to want to keep in my life forever."
Hermione dropped her head, hiding her face from Harry. His words warmed her inside as only he could do. The young woman's heart both raced as well as ached, wishing she was the one married to Harry. "What, so I could keep saving your arse?" she asked in an attempt at humor which felt flat.
Harry reached out and slipping a finger beneath Hermione's chin, lifted her head till she was looking directly at him. "No, because I love you and perhaps more importantly because I am in love with you, Hermione. I think I have been for some time I just didn't realize it. We started out as friends, and it has grown from there over the years. I just wasn't aware how much it had grown till all this mess happened."
"Why are you telling me this now, Harry?" Hermione asked.
Harry gave a sad little-crooked smile. "Because I want you to know how I truly feel about you. There is no telling what will happen come Monday and I felt…well I just felt you should know," he finished with. Harry left unvoiced the thought that after Monday he might not have a chance to tell her how he felt for another decade at best.
"Have you so little faith in my ability to save your bum?" Hermione asked, a small smile gracing her features. Inside the young witch's emotions were in turmoil. A part of her was thrilled beyond belief that Harry had actually told her that he loved her. Had it happened under any other circumstances Hermione had little doubt that she would have been walking on cloud nine as Luna had stated. Now, however, it sounded more as if Harry was saying goodbye to her.
There was another part of Hermione that now wished she hadn't spoken to Ginny about marrying Harry. While there was still the issue of her parents and their faith, in the face of Harry's confession of his love for her, she felt that perhaps, in time, her parents would understand. /Or not/, she couldn't help but add silently to herself. Trying to choose between parents she had just had returned to her, and the man she loved was an exercise in futility she had found.
"No. Never," Harry was quick to reply. "However, this is the Wizengamot, and they must follow the laws. Greengrass will certainly be well prepared, and he does have a bit more experience at this than we do."
"But you're the Hero of the Wizarding World, Harry," Hermione felt obligated to point out.
"For all the good it will do me," snorted Harry. "I am not above the law, Hermione and in this case, I broke it."
"It's not your fault!" Hermione exclaimed, shooting to her feet in his defense.
"No, it's not," Harry agreed, reaching out and pulling Hermione into his embrace in an effort to calm the irate witch. After a moment he felt Hermione relax against him and felt her arms encircle him. "There are still many on the Wizengamot who are stuck in their ways," he said softly. "They will see what Greengrass did as something to be commended rather than punished, I'm sure."
"It's not fair. Why does it always have to be you, Harry?" Hermione asked with a sad little sniffle. The young woman's emotions seemed to be all over the place at the moment.
Harry gave a small shrug. "Who knows? I've given up trying to figure that one out," he said, leaning back so he could look at her face once more. Hermione's watery brown eyes nearly broke his heart. She always gets upset on my behalf, Harry realized. "The truth of the matter is that when I asked Luna to marry me, I broke the law. It's plain and simple."
"Nothing is ever plain or simple when it comes to you, Harry," Hermione teased, the barest hint of a smile touching her features.
"And yet you love me anyway," quipped Harry, playfully.
Hermine's face became serious once more as she replied, "And yet I do. I truly do love you, Harry. I'm not sure when exactly I fell in love with you. It might have been as far back as the troll incident. No one had ever done something like that for me before," she hastily explained.
"I should hope not!" Harry exclaimed with a grin. "I should think that one troll in a lifetime would be more than enough for any witch or wizard!" The wizard's words brought a grin to Hermione's face and earned him a slap on the shoulder for his efforts.
"I'm being serious here, Harry!" Hermione chastised him, the smile on her face taking any real heat from her words. "I truly am hopelessly in love with you Harry Potter. Had things turned out differently…," Hermione started to say, only for her words to trail off as her heart hurt just at thinking what might have been.
"Had things been different," Harry agreed softly, knowing full well what Hermione was unable to say. They had long been able to understand one another without the need for words. A look, a touch, was often all it took to convey meaning between the two and now was no different. It was something special they shared that either was uncertain just when it had started, but it was part of what made them so close.
It would be hard-pressed for anyone watching to determine just who moved first. Perhaps they moved, as had happened so many time throughout their long friendship, in unison. Lips met in a soft tender kiss that spoke of the possibilities that the future could have held for the two. Arms held onto one another, fearful that should they let go, they may never once again be allowed to hold the person that meant the most to them.
How long the kiss lasted, neither knew or cared. Eventually, they parted only to stand staring into each other's eyes, a wealth of emotions being shared silently. "Come with me," Harry finally said, slipping from his seat upon the table and taking Hermione's hand in his. At that moment Harry could have asked for anything and Hermione would have willingly given it. So it was that in short order Hermione found herself cuddled into Harry's chest with a warm cloak wrapped around the two of them as she sat sidesaddle on Harry's broom.
The hour was very late, or early, depending on how you wanted to look at it. The moon, bright and full had nearly completed its journey across the night sky. A fresh blanket of pristine snow covered the ground below them as they glided through the air. A canopy of stars twinkled high above them for there were no city lights to obscure their view of the amazing display.
"It's beautiful," Hermione had to admit, looking up at the heavens above them. The young witch felt Harry's arm tighten around her, pulling her closer to him.
"Yes, it is," Harry agreed, looking at Hermione's upturned face lovingly.
Hermione snuggled in, hiding her blush for she had seen where Harry had been looking when he had replied."I think I could get used to riding a broom like this," she said softly. "It's not nearly as frightening." Harry, in the way of answer, dropped a soft kiss on the crown of her head before turning and resting his cheek there as the two shared a romantic broom ride in the moonlight.
Andi rolled over in bed and decided that she'd had enough of trying to sleep. It was a battle she was clearly losing this night. Try as she might, the older witch found that she couldn't get her mind off of Harry. Ever since the meeting with Hermione, where the younger witch had laid out her plan for saving Harry, he seemed to be all Andi could think about.
"I'm assuming you found something?" Andi recalled asking, fairly certain it was what everyone had wondered when they were called to the library for the impromptu meeting.
"I believe so," Hermione replied to the older witch. "There are still a few things I am trying to work out, as well as some things you may not like."
"Like what?" Tracey was first to ask. The auburn-haired woman was fearful of what would happen both with Harry as well as with Daphne. Having fallen in love with Harry, she certainly did not want him carted off to Azkaban for the next decade.
"Well for one, you'd have to marry Harry," Hermione stated nervously, uncertain just how Tracey would take the news. It was obvious to anyone paying attention that the witch had feelings for Harry but with Daphne and Tracey's relationship, it was complicated with no telling how things would settle in the end.
"Just how would Harry marrying more witches help?" Daphne was quick to ask. "It's the fact that he's married to Luna and I that got him into this mess, to begin with. I would think breaking his marriage to either of us would be the best course of action."
"Normally you would be correct, but I think we all know that Harry is not about to break either marriage, regardless of what it could cost him," Hermione pointed out. "Harry would rather spend ten years in Azkaban than break either of your hearts," she added looking from Daphne to Luna.
"Yes, he is rather stubborn that way," Luna confirmed with a small dreamy smile.
"I still fail to see how me marrying Harry would help," Tracey stated. "Not that I have a problem with marrying him, mind you," she was quick to add. "I just don't understand your plan, Hermione. How can one more marriage make any difference?"
"Well, it wouldn't be just one," Hermione clarified. Her words bring looks of disbelief around the table. "There are two others that would have to be wed to Harry as well. Ginny Weasley would be one as she is already close with Harry. I've spoken with her, and she has agreed to do this for Harry." Hermione could tell that Daphne and Tracey were not thrilled with this news, though Luna appeared to be fine with it, judging by the smile on her face.
"You seem to have left yourself out of the list of those wedding Harry," Andi pointed out with an arched brow.
"Oh, no, I won't be wedding, Harry," Hermione quickly stated while trying to ignore the pain in her chest. After Harry's confession last night, it was very difficult to do so."For reasons of faith I could not do so," she tried to clarify."Multiple marriages within the Church of England is not permitted."
Andi wanted to ask the younger witch if she was honestly willing to give up on her happiness for religious reasons. If you can't be happy in life then what use is religion? She wondered silently to herself. Everything she had heard about Christianity indicated that God wanted his children to be happy. Hermione denying herself happiness seemed to go against that teaching.
"Perhaps it would be best then if you told us your entire plan rather than having us guess at it," Andi suggested. The Black daughter remembered her own wedding day and the happiness it had brought her. Perhaps that is why I can't understand why she would deny herself the same, she mused. The former Head Girl then informed the others what she had discovered and just how she thought that they could save Harry.
Daphne was the first to speak."We seem to be short several people then if your plan is to work," the blonde witch stated with a glance around the table they were all seated at.
"As I said, there are still a few aspects of it which I have as yet to work out," Hermione replied a bit defensively. "However, it is the only course of action I have found that has even a chance of saving Harry. I am certain when the time comes that others will step forward and fill the missing places."
"I don't know," said Daphne. "This is the Wizengamot we're talking about here. Most of the members are from old pure-blood families. Harry may have very well saved us from Voldemort, but that doesn't mean they are going to toss aside their beliefs and traditions overnight. I don't think it will work."
"They may be from old families, but even they have to obey the laws that they govern over," Hermione replied, her tone growing slightly heated. The young woman was fearful that her plan wouldn't work and that they would lose Harry for a decade. It was something that scared her to no end. "I am open to any other suggestions you might have!" Hermione snapped, her fear getting the better of her.
Daphne, perhaps realizing what Hermione was feeling, gave the witch a sympathetic look. "I didn't say I wasn't willing to give it a try, Hermione. While I'll admit that I am not pleased with Weasley having to marry Harry, there is little I wouldn't do or put up with to save Harry."
"Sorry," Hermione offered, her hackles coming down. "I'm just…," she started to say only for her words to trail off as she gave a small shrug of her shoulders.
"Scared," Luna provided for her friend. "We're all scared of what could happen on Monday. Not admitting it doesn't make it any less truthful."
"Terrified," quipped Tracey. "I can admit that. I just found Harry. A man I am in love with when I thought that would never be a possibility in my life. Now I may lose him for ten years to that hell-hole of a prison!"
"Nice to hear you openly admit that you love him," Daphne said with a small grin. Tracey maturely stuck her tongue out at Daphne in the way of a reply.
"So, Tracey and Ginevra have to wed Harry," Andi stated in an effort to get the conversation back on track, even though she herself sported a smile due to the witches' playful exchange. "I am assuming that you and I can fill two of the missing places?" Andi inquired.
"I can't," Hermione corrected. "Once again our faith will not allow it. I love Harry dearly and were things different I would certainly marry him without a moment's hesitation. I just can't as they are now. Additionally, for this to stand any chance of working, you cannot either."
"Merlin's beard! Why not?" Andi exclaimed in surprise.
"You'll need to be wed to Harry as well," Hermione hesitantly replied.
Andi groaned recalling how she had excused herself from the library after that, but not before stating that she would not marry Harry. Rolling to the edge of the bed, Andi sat up and prepared to face the day now that any chance of sleep was good and gone. Out her window, the sky was just showing the faintest hints of a blush as dawn approached.
With a mechanical steadiness that spoke of years of following the same routine, Andi went through the task of showering and getting ready for the day. Once dressed and presentable she left her suite of rooms and decided to peek in on Teddy and Anna.
The children had been placed in the same room, the one next to Andi's. This allowed Anna to not have to sleep alone in a strange house till she became used to being there. It also gave Teddy easy access to who was fast becoming his favorite person after Harry. The two children had taken an instant liking to each other and were often found playing together. Anna appeared to enjoy being an older sister, having been the youngest before.
Andi eased the door open, not wishing to wake either child and started on spying Harry seated in a chair at the foot of Anna's bed. It appeared that the wizard had been merely sitting there watching over the two sleeping children. "Harry, what are you doing here?" Andi asked in a soft whisper, crossing the room from the door to stand behind the wizard so that she could see Anna and Teddy as well.
For a long moment, Harry hadn't answered, and Andi almost thought he might have been asleep. "She'll be a teenager in ten years," Harry finally said in a low whisper. "Teddy will be just shy of that. I will have missed so much."
Andi frowned, not liking his tone one bit. "What are you talking about, Harry? You'll be here to see them grow up and you'll miss nothing," she replied.
"Will I?" Harry asked, looking away from the slumbering children to look up and over his shoulder at Andi. "I think Daphne's father and Malfoy senior might disagree with you on that."
"Pay them no mind, Harry," Andi told him, reaching out and laying a hand on Harry's shoulder and giving it a reassuring squeeze. "You'll get through this, and a week from now we'll all be laughing at how worried we were about it," she added, trying to sound confident of her words.
"I hope so," Harry replied in a wistful tone, reaching up and laying his hand on hers affectionately."Should that not happen though you are welcome to remain here with Teddy for as long as you'd like. I have also set aside a stipend for Teddy's education as well as your living expenses till I return. Daniel Wright has all the required paperwork."
"Harry, you sound almost as though you do not expect to beat this," said Andi softly.
"Honestly, I don't know if I will," Harry conceded.
"Giving up before the fight is even joined?" Andi asked in disbelief.
"No. Just trying to be prepared," Harry told her. "Hermione says she has a plan, but on the off chance that doesn't work I need to make certain that all of you are taken care of. I know ten years is not all that long in a wizard's life, and Sirius survived for longer than that. However, he had his Animagus form to help him with that. Which I do not have. I also have a rather strong reaction to Dementors," Harry confessed thinking of his mother's last words and the flashes of green light he always saw when in their presence.
"What are you trying to say?" Andi asked, a cold fear entering her gut.
"If things go badly on Monday and I have to go to Azkaban it is highly likely that when I get out, I will not be much good for anything," Harry said softly. "Or to anyone. You'll take care of Teddy, will you not?"
"Don't be silly!" Andi admonished the seated wizard. "You'll be here to do so yourself."
Harry gave her an indulgent smile before turning back to regard the slumbering children once again. "I'm glad I got to meet you and Teddy," Harry finally said after a long silence had descended between them. "I can see why Sirius said you were his favorite cousin. Beautiful, charming, intelligent, funny. What's not to like?"
"Stop talking this nonsense, Harry," Andi demanded with a hiss only to fall silent as her voice had been louder than she had intended, causing Anna to shift in her sleep in response to the noise. The small child curled into the fetal position before settling once more. "I'll hear not another word of this rubbish of you not being here."
Harry gave a small chuckle, his thumb absently stroking the back of Andi's hand where he still held it on his shoulder. "Andi, it was only through whatever luck we Potters hold that I managed to survive the war and finally finish Riddle. I am fairly confident I used more than my allocated share of luck to complete that. I don't think I have enough left over to make it through this unscathed."
"Surprisingly I'm alright with that," Harry confided. "No one has to die this time for me, and I got to meet and fall in love with some very wonderful witches. Yourself included," Harry said, pulling her hand forward till he could turn his head and place a kiss upon it. "A wizard could do far worse."
Andi blushed upon hearing Harry's words and feeling his lips upon her flesh. Instead of removing her hand from his, Andi slipped her free arm around Harry's shoulders from behind and hugged the wizard to her. Inside the older witch's emotions and thoughts were in turmoil for she had the means by which she could possibly save Harry, yet to do so, she would have to marry someone other than her Ted.
Tracey Davis looked up, startled at the unexpected voice. "Harry? What are you doing here?"
"When I couldn't find you at home I asked Daphne where you were," Harry said, mounting the rest of the steps and entering the loft above Divine Dresses by Davis. "I knocked and called out when I entered but received no answer," Harry explained.
"Sorry," Tracey apologized. "I was lost in thought about different designs and what to offer as a spring line," the witch explained.
"You couldn't do this at home?" Harry asked, more curious than anything else.
"I was starting to go a little mental, sitting around waiting for tomorrow to get here," Tracey confided."Just between us, I think Daphne was about ready to toss me out of her room as my pacing was starting to wear on her nerves." This brought a chuckle from Harry as he could just picture that happening. "This," Tracey started with, gesturing toward all the patterns and cloth swatches arrayed before her on a large table, "at least allows me to get my mind off of what could happen tomorrow."
After moving a few things out of the way, Harry hitched up one leg a bit and took a seat on the edge of the table beside the witch. "Speaking of that, I've made arrangements with my account manager and had a vault established at Gringotts for the store. You have full access to it of course. I placed a small number of galleons in there which will hopefully help you get things going."
"I received a letter from Gringotts this morning with the vault details," Tracey replied. Harry's idea of 'a small amount'was amusing Tracey thought. "It's enough to buy a small country," she murmured under her breath to herself. "I think it more than enough to have us up and running, Harry. Thank you for that," she said, leaning over and giving him a small peck on the cheek.
"It's the least I could do," Harry replied dismissively, a bit embarrassed. "Should things not go in my favor tomorrow, Daphne will need you more than ever I think," Harry stated in a serious tone, broaching the topic which had brought him in search of the witch beside him in the first place. "I know you'll do all you can for her."
"You sound as if you don't expect to be there, Harry," Tracey scoffed in false bravado, absently moving pieces of cloth about more to keep her hands busy and to prevent the need to look at Harry. Her actions only served to mess up the contents of the table further than they already were. "You'd better not let Daphne hear you talking like that," she cautioned with a forced chuckle.
"It is a distinct possibility," Harry told her, reaching out and capturing Tracey's nervous hands with his own, forcing her to look at him directly. "I'm just trying to make certain that you and everyone else is properly taken care of, Tracey."
"If you want us properly taken care of, Harry," Tracey said, stepping to the wizard and bringing their joined hands to her chest, "then you had best be there to take care of us yourself."
"Believe me, there is no other place I would rather be," Harry told her, slipping one hand free to reach up and cup her cheek tenderly. "If the choice were mine I would spend the rest of my life taking care of you or at least for as long as you could put up with me," he said with a grin.
Tracey wasn't sure if his 'you' meant just her or all of them, but in truth, it didn't really matter as either way she was included. It was something that she had convinced herself she would never have, a man who loved and cared for her. "Harry," Tracey said hesitantly as she gazed into his emerald orbs, "can you close your eyes for me, please?" Seeing the man arch a brow in question she added, "Do you trust me?" In answer to her question, Harry closed his eyes. Quickly, before her courage fled, the witch leaned in and captured the wizard's lips in a tender kiss.
Eventually, their kiss ended, and Harry once again opened his eyes to regard the beautiful woman before him."What was that for?" he asked softly.
Tracey chewed her bottom lips for a long moment before she answered. "I've wanted to do that since third-year," Tracey confessed. Though she could feel her cheeks heating into a blush, the young woman was determined not to look away. I love him, she reasoned, and shouldn't be embarrassed to show him how I feel. "I…I love you, Harry Potter. If things go pear-shaped tomorrow, I want you to know that I will be waiting for you at home when you are released. Daphne and I both will be."
Harry paused, searching Tracey's face for a long moment before he replied, "I care for you greatly, Tracey. I can't say yet if it is love or not but I believe that if it were given time, it would perhaps grow to be that. I know that probably isn't what you want to hear," Harry began only to be cut off.
"No," Tracey told him with a shake of her head. "It is precisely what I wanted to hear. I'd rather you tell me the truth of it than lie to me and try to say what you think I want to hear. For now, I am content with the possibility that it can grow into something more than it is currently, Harry."
"Why tell me now?" Harry inquired.
"Several reasons actually," Tracey replied. "It could be some time before I would have the chance to tell you should things not go in our favor tomorrow. Also, I am tired of hiding how I feel. Not just from you and the others but from myself as well. Lastly, if you lose tomorrow, I thought that perhaps if you knew you had someone waiting at home for you, it might make it just a bit easier to get through the time."
Harry leaned forward and gave Tracey a soft, gentle kiss which lingered for several long moments. "Thank you for being honest with me, Tracey and for thinking about me. Knowing you are waiting at home will certainly help make the time pass quicker," he assured her. "Knowing now how well you kiss it will also give me something enjoyable to look forward to as well," he added, bringing a smile to Tracey's face.
"Prat," Tracey exclaim, playfully swatting Harry on the arm. Feeling Harry about to remove his arms from around her, Tracey quickly hugged Harry. "Can we just stay like this for a while longer?" she asked softly into his shoulder.
"For as long as you need," Harry replied, holding the witch against his chest.
It was late afternoon when Harry returned to Westfield Manor. He had taken Tracey out for a nice lunch, and they had discussed her plans for Devine Dresses by Davis. Harry informed her that he had spoken to Bob about getting some muggle undergarments for the store. They had shared a few laughs when Harry told Tracey about when he had asked Bob about getting into women's undergarments. Afterwards, he had dropped the witch off at the shop and used the floo to return home.
"Finished making the rounds?" Luna asked as Harry stepped from the floo and removed the ashes from his clothes with a wave of his hand and a bit of wandless magic. The former Ravenclaw was well aware that Harry had been taking the time to say goodbye to everyone. She was also fairly sure that each encounter had been different and personalize for the witch involved.
"All except for you and the kids," Harry replied, seeing no reason not to be honest with Luna. She always seems to know regardless, he thought to himself, not for the first time wondering if the petite witch was a seer as well as a witch.
Luna held a hand out to Harry."Come on then, we can accomplish that all at once," she said. Once Harry had taken her offered hand Luna led him to where Anna and Teddy were playing. The four of them spent the remaining time before the evening meal together playing and enjoying each others company.
When it came time to eat, as one might expect, the meal was a somewhat somber one. Andi, though having returned from work earlier, was not at the table. At first, the others tried to carry on regular conversations, but soon everyone sat silent, pushing their food about on their plates. Given that Astoria and Draco were off on the Black island so they could celebrate their wedding, there really wasn't anyone who felt like being overly cheerful.
Once the meal was finished, almost as if it was some unspoken agreement between everyone, they retired for the evening. Harry had spent some more time with Teddy and Anna, tucking them in and reading them several stories till they had finally fallen asleep. Feeling somewhat drained himself, Harry made his way to his rooms only to find someone waiting for him.
"Luna?" Harry asked with an arched brow, not having expected the witch to be there. "What are you doing here?"
"I'm your wife, am I not?" Luna said with a small smile. "I've come to sleep with my husband."
"Oh, good. I see our husband is finally here," Daphne said, stepping into the room from Harry's bedroom."I thought we might have to go retrieve you," she added with a playful smile.
"Yes, well, it took several stories for them to fall asleep," Harry stated in his own defense.
"Which is what we thought," Luna said, walking over and taking one of Harry's hands in hers.
"I'm actually surprised you were able to get Anna to sleep so quickly," Daphne added, approaching and taking Harry's other hand in hers.
"Okay, what is going on?" Harry asked, looking back and forth between the two women who started to lead him to the bedroom.
"We talked," Daphne started with.
"and decided that we wanted to sleep with our husband tonight," Luna finished.
"All night," Daphne added, making it clear that they expected him to remain with them till morning.
Once they were in the room, Luna handed Harry a potion. "A dreamless slumber potion," she explained."You will need to be well rested for tomorrow."
"I can sleep without this," Harry protested, looking at the potion in his hand.
"I told you he would say that," Daphne said with a smirk. "Harry, be a dear and drink it for us," she persisted.
Realizing they weren't going to take no for an answer, Harry downed the potion in a single gulp. The two women then proceeded to disrobe the wizard before tucking him into bed. Afterwards, both witches undressed as well, being certain to take their time, much to Harry's enjoyment. Once all three were under the covers, Harry doused the lights.
"You know, I love you both," Harry told them as he pulled them both in closer to him.
"I know," both witches said in unison before they each leaned in and kissed Harry goodnight.
"Tomorrow will hold whatever it will hold," Harry said softly, feeling his eyelids start to droop as the potion began to work. "Right now though life is pretty good," he said as the two women snuggled in, one on each side. With a smile still on his face, Harry drifted off to sleep.
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