A/N – I don't own Harry Potter. If you look for Aragon on a map, you will need the magical one, available at Flourish and Blotts for 10 sickles and 3 knuts.
Catherine Rose Grace Huntington Selwyn wasn't your normal pureblood princess by any means. First off, her death-eater father had repented of being a follower of the dark lord BEFORE that entity's disappearance from the wizarding world. She therefore was raised on the run from persecution from his former friends, not that he had had an active part in the dark one's downfall.
Her parents knew he was coming back, and they knew why and how. Not that they had said much to anyone. But Catherine being the future Ravenclaw that she was didn't miss much.
Her parents tried not to live in fear, but when her father's dark mark suddenly became active (it had been growing darker and darker for some time), her father knew he was back. Afraid that his death was near, he made Catherine promise that she would flee to the protection of the headmaster of Hogwarts if he and/or her mother were killed and continue her education there. He gave her a pouch that she was to give to Harry Potter if and when they ever met. They were about the same age after all.
She didn't want to go to school there, rich and famous wizards or no. It had a terrible reputation in terms of its academic standing, and its potion professor was supposed to be horrible. Since her father was an herbologist and her mother a potions mistress of the highest caliber (even Catherine had to admit that), she had grown up brewing potions, gathering ingredients of every kind, and knew she would not be happy being taught by someone less than professional.
Not that her mother was exactly professional in her demeanor, just her craft.
On the other hand, getting away from her parents and having a bit of normal might be nice.
Every European summer since she was three, she would spend a few weeks with her maternal grandmother. Escaping the cold and snow which the best magical tents never did seem to keep completely out, she would revel in not just warmth, but luxury. Her grandmother served in some palace in one of the tiny independent magical countries that had popped up over the years. Someone sometime in the past was upset with the monarchy, and being royal themselves, broke away and started their own place. Hidden from most of the world, it hosted quidditch, made chocolates, and did an amazing muggle trade as a Victorian getaway. Most of the people who lived there still wore clothes from that time and were happy with it. The country had amazing wards that kept death-eaters out, so her father could never visit there.
But those wards were a result of some royal princess being captured and killed by death eaters in the first war, so they were an understandable addition.
She went to visit her grandmother, afraid for her parents. She almost didn't go, but the weather had been particularly bad, and she really looked forward to the sun, and swimming and horseback riding she would do with her mother's mother.
Besides, she got to dress up in the Victorian clothes and ride side-saddle and be all very lady-like for a few weeks. So different than the constant moving of tents to the newest jungle spot or wilderness area to find some rare animal or plant. She got to sleep in the same place, the same safe comfy bed for weeks. It was bliss!
She never saw a lot of her grandmother's co-workers when she was there. She knew that the lady was always busy though, and seemed to be involved in politics and planning events. She was treated the palace servants kindly though.
The house-elves were very nice to her, and always called her something she didn't understand. But they were nice, so she didn't really worry about it.
And when her grandmother was busy, she got to brew in the potions lab that was set up in one wing. Catherine really wanted to be a healer when she was older, but needed to be seventeen to get an apprenticeship. She would be sixteen in November, but it seemed like a long way to go.
Her grandmother always encouraged her to study history and politics as well. She didn't seem to like Catherine's goals. But she kept quiet about it, and murmured that she at least would be safe as a healer.
Even the dark one at his height of wickedness seemed to honor the healers. They treated everyone after all, mark or no, so he had every good reason to protect those that swore never to harm others.
Her parents sent her early to her grandmother this year, not long after the dark mark appeared. She kept busy riding and strolling through the gardens the first few days there. She loved being outdoors in such nice weather.
It was on one of these strolls that she heard sounds of grunting, and ringing metal on metal. Curious, she continued past a copse of trees and there discovered that the royal guard was not just ceremonial. They were practicing sword and shield work.
And one blonde young man was looking in very good form. Very nice indeed.
She wasn't the only admirer on hand for the display. Many of the muggles from the palace tour had side-tracked here, and were taking their funny pictures that didn't move. She was tempted to go get her camera herself, then remembered the elf-maid assigned to her. Moving out of sight of the non-magicals, she quickly had the device. She captured a few moves that she would like to have as posters if she could.
Her mother would normally be the one to admire someone so openly. Not her. But something about him, his magic pulled her like a moth to the flame.
Her presence had been noted however, and the men teased the photogenic warrior in quiet tones so the ladies would not be offended.
"So, Sir Ian, it appears that muggles and magical maids alike flock to you. Perhaps you will go hunting later on."
"It's Squire Ian, if you please my good man. My knight hears you calling me that and who's going to get extra laps and extra time on the range? Why yours truly! So please, no calling me sir before the knighting ceremonies. Thank you." The men laughed and went back to work. After the muggles cleared the area, they went through the back arbor and the wards that protected the range. Magical onlookers followed on. This is where they practiced the real fighting – with wands, staves and hard work. Knight-mages from the palace took turns training the troops and the powerful wards around the area kept out the muggle tourists and protected the magical admirers
Ian smiled. A powerful mage himself, he couldn't help but notice the witch watching him. Blonder hair than himself with sparkling blue eyes, the girl was more than adorable. She was beautiful. The Victoria gown she wore showed that she was nicely curved, not pencil thin. She had a kind look about her along with the power. He hoped that she would stay for the entire practice, but had left before they were done. He hoped that she came back to the palace grounds again. He would most definitely like to hunt her down, at least to ask her out on a date.
The man smiled, stopped quickly for a drink of water and went back to work. One did not become proficient with battle-staff by standing around and looking good in uniform. Anyone could do that.
The next day and the next, Catherine was drawn to fight practice. She herself was terrible at defense. Well, she could cast a shield that would stop anything short of a killing curse, and her constant outdoorsy life gave her great dodging skills, not that she needed them here. But she couldn't help but admire the strength, skill and breadth of knowledge that the men shown. They were truly magnificent. Especially Sir Ian. Well, technically Squire Ian, but she couldn't imagine why the Queen of Aragon, whoever she was wouldn't want this man in her court.
She sighed. She had never been interested in a boy before, and now she knew that she was developing a huge crush on one, and not just anyone, a potential knight! Why, why did she keep coming back? They had no future. She was the daughter of a death-eater, plain and simple. No one here in peaceful Aragon would accept her background. It was hopeless.
No, her best hope of finding happiness would be to go to school and find a nice muggle-born boy. Someone poor would be best. Then, her wealth could help him get started in whatever field he wanted and he wouldn't care about her past. She hoped.
Would anyone ever want her?
Her father tried to bring up marriage contracts once and couldn't walk right for a week. Her mother's curse had hit him in a somewhat sensitive area. Of course, from what she understood, her parents got together after her mother ran from an unwanted marriage contract, but didn't know that her boyfriend was a death-eater.
Catherine never asked much about the past. She knew all about her paternal line, and could name several generations back. She couldn't remember her paternal grandparents though, and they were no longer living. She knew that her mother's mother lived, obviously, because she was allowed to visit. She really knew nothing more about her maternal line.
She knew of Selwyn's in Britain, but since her mother was pregnant before their wedding, she hadn't been invited to parties or much of anything. Of course, living in the jungle and staying away from faithful followers of the dark one had been the top priority in her father's life, never mind the fact that it had been fourteen years without anyone seeing any sign of him.
Being afraid that your family was going to kill you wasn't easy.
The only thing that kept him from diligent assassins was the fact that Bertrand Selwyn had left without naming names, or even being caught. He hadn't bribed his way to freedom.
And he shared some of his considerable wealth with the family as unexpected gifts now and then that the Ministry couldn't track or even better, tax.
He didn't think it would spare his life, necessarily, but it would make them slow to try to find him until the dark one came back. And now he was back. Which is why Catherine was there, and Catherine's mother was looking for ways to hide her husband.
Urrgg! One had to make choices every day to do good or ill. Now, most of the bad choices made by her parents had been done when they were quite young. And there had been problems growing with the muggles, and she could see the allure even if she did not agree with why this dark one was so popular.
But none of this helped her pedigree. Oh, if only. She sighed. She would love to 'walk out' with the admirable squire, but she had decided that if he ever asked, she would be honest and see what he said.
Better to have a bit of heart-ache up front that find out that he liked her as well only to reject her later. That would be much worse.
The approach came on a Thursday, her least favorite day of the week, as it had always been unlucky for her. She was under an umbrella, the day had been experiencing showers now and then. She sat on a conjured bench near enough to watch without being in the way. She had picked up a stick to imitate some of the movements.
"It works better with a wand, you know." The tall blonde man opined from behind her.
She turned and blushed. "I'm quite sure that it does. However for practice when one doesn't want actual magic to be running about, it seemed a good substitute. Catherine Selwyn, my good squire." She offered her hand for shaking.
"Ian McIntyre, and a true pleasure to make your acquaintance, my lady." He kissed her hand.
"Oh no, my mother lives, I'm not a lady yet." She bit her lip. His surprised look said that he hadn't thought her titled before.
"I see. Well, I was wondering, if you had time, I would love to show you the Rose Hall. It is exquisite, and only available to magical guests since it has many rare artifacts that just can't be disguised."
"I would like to, very much. But will you sit with me for a time?"
She moved off to be somewhere different, somewhere she would not have to see again and again if he were about to reject her out of hand. She gave a short resume of her father and mother, and how the Selwyn's though purebloods weren't always the nicest people.
"And your grandmother works here?" Ian asked confused.
"Oh, yes. I'm not sure what her job title is, but the family has been in politics forever here."
"What is her name?"
Catherine blinked. She chewed her lip. Surely one of her friends had said her name in her presence.
"I'm embarrassed. I know that her family calls her Rose, but I think that is a middle name. I'll have to ask." She blushed prettily.
Ian thought about his father, killed in auror duty when he was six, and his widowed mother. With two siblings to care for, she had worked and he had helped. He never did have a formal education, not that they didn't have books. He was well-read.
"My mother would want to know if you were a good person, and what you wanted with your life."
Her relief evident, she began to babble, just a bit. "Oh, I want to be a healer, mostly for children, but adults would be fine too. I just seem to have a kind of affinity for animals and babies and such. Oh, Ian!"
She looked so happy. He took her hands in his, and squeezed them, the equivalent of a hug in Aragon.
"I look forward to tomorrow then. The Rose Hall. Shall we meet at the gift shop at 10?
"That sounds perfect." She said.
And thus started her first foray into courtship, Aragon style.
Harry Potter was not enjoying the sunshine. He was not riding every day, nor enjoying the lovely gardens of a palace. He had woken up from a nightmare, his scar hurting dreadfully. He snuck downstairs to get a drink of water.
Apparently with Sirius Black on the loose they were willing to be a bit nicer to him in terms of not locking him in his room and allowing him more food than normal. Well, normal for the Dursley's.
It was bad enough that he saw Cedric's death over and over. To be so close to living with someone who loved him, cared about him, and he couldn't was just too much to bear. His relatives hatred was beating on him worse than the summer sun and almost as bad as Uncle Vernon's belt.
He laid down on Dudley's old sunken mattress, and tried to get back to sleep, focusing on the hope that one day, one day he would get out of there.
He wanted to be with his godfather.
After breakfast he was given his list of chores. It was two weeks into vacation, and Hedwig had not returned with any notes yet. He knew that Hermione's parents always took her someplace exotic, someplace nice every summer. She never bragged about her adventures though, downplayed them really, making the historical aspect of the libraries, museums, and ancient churches sound dry as academic dust.
To most of the Gryffindors in their group, it worked.
To him, it sounded wonderful.
The telephone rang, and he put down the scrub brush.
"Dursley Residence." Harry had to act the butler or get less food. He liked eating.
"Oh, hi Harry. Um, I hope you don't mind me calling, but you haven't responded to my letters, and I was getting worried."
Harry could almost see her twisting her hair in anxiety.
"Hermione, I've written you three times, and so far all Hedwig has brought back are two mice and a mole. She looked seriously peeved at me that I wasn't eating them too. I'm sorry. I hope Dobby isn't stealing them again."
"Is Mr. Harry Potter sir calling for his Dobby?" The house elf appeared next to him, unfortunately with one foot in the mop bucket. He just stood there, one foot in soapy water, waiting patiently for Harry to finish talking to the strange device he held up. Perhaps Dobby should get one of those so that he could talk to the savior of the wizarding world. Dobby was always liking to be polite.
"I'm okay, missing Sirius of course." And feeling like he was responsible for Cedric's death. But he didn't want to talk about that.
"I know that I did a bad job trying to look up laws to defend Buckbeak, but I have had some ideas in regards to your godfather. I wanted to invite you over and talk about them, if you could. You know, get away. You could take the knight bus."
Now Dobby's hearing was excellent, and he heard an opportunity to serve his favorite person.
"Dobby is wanting to help his Harry Potter, sir. Please." His bouncing on his toes was causing waves in the mop bucket.
"OK Hermione. Let me get my chores done, and I'll be over in a little while. My uncle locked up my wand and trunk, but maybe Dobby can help me get out my assignments with no one the wiser."
"It's good to hear your voice, Harry. I'll see you soon then."
Harry turned to his first elf he ever met.
"Alright Dobby, want to talk to me or something while I do my chores? Then maybe we can get my trunk out and find my wand. Knowing that who-know-who is out there, I feel... well I would feel better having it with me. It is nice to see you, my friend."
Dobby, overcome with emotion, seemed to forget out his foot in the bucket, and rushed to Harry's side. Overturning the bucket, he slipped, but Harry reached out a hand to steady him quickly.
"You is strong wizard. What chores is youse being doing. Dobby helps great wizard who calls Dobby his friend."
"Alright, but I will pay you. I have a few galleons left from last year. You tell me a fair rate, I don't know what you get paid at Hogwarts." The lad pulled out a list of chores that would have made Cinderella weep, but Dobby just jumped up and down.
"You is lucky to be getting so much work in littlest house. Dobby be right back."
Harry hadn't noticed that Dobby had not only cleaned up the spill from the bucket, but that the entire floor was far cleaner than it normally would be. Harsh chemical use for years on the poor quality floor had stripped it so that nothing made the dull floor better. Dobby had turned it new - well, better than new really.
The house was soon sparkling, Harry soon had a muggle backpack stuffed with his assignments and the books he needed, but best yet, he had his wand back.
Dobby suggested going to Diagon Alley to get a few things, and since Dobby could help him disguise himself, he thought it was an excellent suggestion.
Dobby brought him to the bookstore. He pointed to several books, some beginning runes, some warding, and defense strategies written by people that Harry had never heard of before. The elf also had him buy his books for the school year, and a set for Hermione.
Dobby paid attention, and knew what Mr. Harry Potter sir really needed.
When they got to the counter, Harry was upset to find that he didn't have enough galleons to pay for everything. Dobby stepped up and said that they wanted to charge it to his vault, and laid the key down on the counter.
The clerk shrugged, tapped the key with her wand, and shrunk his books for him.
"Didn't you think that lady book witch pretty, Harry Potter, sir?"
"Dobby, I was reading this book. It's amazing. It explains so much about potions that I didn't know. I should have gotten one of these for Hermione." Harry missed Dobby's knowing looks.
"Dobby will being coming back and buy more books for you, and other things. For now, I think that you is ready."
Putting a red rose into Harry's hands, they popped away.
The gift shop that graced the side hall had been built to satisfy the demand of 'souvenirs' for the muggles. Miniature palaces, horses, even little guards were on sale.
Catherine got there early and had her secret purchase securely in her small bag. No need to advertise that she had a miniature guard that looked like Ian in there.
Ian showed up in a nice suit. It was a deep navy blue with pseudo-military piping that all of the guards seemed to adopt as their off-duty garb. They first followed the muggle part of the tour. Then, they were approached, and were split off.
Ian thought it was his lucky day. It was just him and Catherine. Rose Hall was stuffed full of art and antiquities of the ages. One wall had a display of previous heads of state, most of which were sleeping.
At the end of the hall, on a cordoned off dais was a throne. It was amazingly ornate, and was supposed to have all kinds of special enchantments and powers. Some of the list was fairly vague, but the ability to know whether or not someone was speaking the truth seemed very useful in this milieu.
There was a warning that only those of the royal family would be allowed to sit upon the throne. A usurper would not be happy, especially if he had killed to get to his position.
An unsavory thought came to Catherine's mind that it could also be used to test whether or not the person was truly of the blood. Many people born on the wrong side of the sheets weren't as related as they claimed. Now this was more a problem for muggles than magicals, but still. Magical artifacts were harder to confuse than a group of people, most of the time.
Catherine truly enjoyed viewing the art. The statue of the warrior-maid, her sword broken at her feet, her shield damaged beyond repair sobbing in despair touched her heart. She wanted to tell the girl that it was just the one battle, that she would win the day.
Ian saw her look, and tapped the arm that he held fast there.
Time for happier things.
As they were leaving the hall, she heard a voice saying that it was nice to see her again, and invited her to come back. She thought that a nice way of inviting people to to visit again, and thought nothing more of it.
Ian didn't mention it, so she said nothing more. She had no clue that he hadn't heard a thing.
They ended their first excursion with a carriage ride around the area. Ian thought of asking her to go sailing, but that was such a couple's thing, so romantic, that he decided to save it for a later outing.
They had talked, and enjoyed quiet without feeling a rush to need to fill the silence, and felt peace in each other's company. She promised that she would make a time that he could meet her grandmother soon, as he wanted her to meet his mother.
They both wanted family permission to court before taking things too far and getting hurt.
Oh, but she thought it was already too late, for at least her. She kept telling herself that it was because she hadn't grown up around a lot of boys her own age, and she was being silly, but honestly, none of the other boys around there appealed.
And there were definitely boys that were noticing her.
His next time off was going to be the following Saturday afternoon, so they made plans to go riding on the grounds. As part of his duties, he had a horse, and hers was stabled there as well.
She loved riding, and looked forward to going. Besides, the weather was supposed to be lovely. Maybe she could convince her elf-maid to help organize a picnic.
Then on Sunday she was to meet his family. She was nervous, but it was going to be alright.
The only hiccough was her grandmother. She didn't say that she disapproved of the squire, but seemed to think that she could do better, a lot better. Who did she want her to marry? Harry Potter?! No, Catherine would be lucky to find someone as kind as honorable as Ian seemed to be.
She wished that she could sit on that chair and ask him a few pointed questions. 'Do you like me? Do you really not care about who my father was? Do you feel as I do, thinking about you all the time when you aren't there?'
She knew that she came across as a love-sick girl but honestly, she felt that deep down, she had found the one.
She just hoped that his family wouldn't reject her outright.
Harry was nervous. He had seen the Grangers a few times, talked to them and all, but never for any length of time. And now that he had the thoughts of Hermione that he had running around his head, he wasn't sure it was a great idea to meet them.
His greatest fear is that they would reject him outright.
Hermione was thrilled with the gift of the books. She usually got her school things later, but realized that Harry was right. There might be a few last minute changes on which book, but unlike muggle classes, Hogwarts tended to use the same curriculum year after year.
Which was a different issue, but what could they do about that?
Emma Granger insisted on paying Harry back for the books. He took her aside, and asked if she would please give him muggle money so he could get a few clothes.
Now she and Dan were in no way fashion snobs, but they had not liked the way the boy looked. But he was Hermione's friend, and was therefore treated as royalty in their home. In her busy-ness, the dentists had never really looked at Harry before. Something in this boy's eyes reached out to the mother within her. She had enfolded him in her arms in a moment.
"These are the best you have right now, aren't they?" she asked.
He couldn't talk, her gentle tone had caught him unawares.
"You seem a little thin, Harry. Do you get much to eat?"
"Yes, ma'am. My relatives have been much better this summer. I've gotten a full meal at least once a day, sometimes more." He said, glad to find his tongue again.
She nodded. The little elf that had come with him had been zooming around the house and grounds, and was currently in the kitchen. Heavenly smells were issuing forth. Speaking of food.
"Why don't you help your friend set the table, and I will wash up. It smells like dinner is soon."
She pulled Dan aside and told him what Harry had told her. A quick phone call would be followed by a slow wait, but they had a professional obligation to fulfill. She just hoped that Harry would understand. She had plenty of time to explain it to him.
She went to the dining room and set out a vase for Hermione's flower that Harry had brought her. She saw the young people share a shy smile. Good. She had seen a lot of rotten people in fancy clothes in her day. Today though, she thought she had found a prince dressed as a pauper.
Halfway through dinner the bell rang, and Dobby disappeared from view. Dan went to the door, and was surprised to see uniformed police there already. Alarm bells were ringing in the back of his mind.
"We've received a call about Harry Potter, and were asked to come here to investigate. May we come in?"
"Sorry officer, may I see your badge, please?" Dan started to ask, but the man pulled a wand instead.
"Step back, muggle. You won't be harmed if you don't interfere."
The two children reacted immediately. They had just bought wrist holders for their wands and been practicing all afternoon with them. Their wands were pulled in a trice. Dobby was still absent, but Harry knew that the elf was cunning and brave.
"What do you want with me?" Harry asked. He had stepped in front of Emma, just as Hermione was trying to do with her father.
"Your relatives were so worried about you." The man said. His features were non-descript, obviously some kind of glamour or spell was on him to protect his identity.
"That's not correct. I got permission from my aunt to stay here a few days. I'm not due back yet at all."
That wasn't exactly a lie. He had asked to go to a friend's house, she said out, out and not to come back for the rest of summer. He had shrugged, gotten his trunk for appearances sake, and gotten out. Dobby did the rest. The woman was furious that he had gotten the kitchen floor that clean and shiny.
"Hermione, go call the aurors."
Now normally, one adult, two children, and it would not be considered a contest. But one of the children was Harry Potter. Hermione smiled. She wasn't on the floo, but this clown wouldn't know that.
"Yes, Harry. I'll be sure to point out that someone is here trying to kidnap you."
"Wait! I really am an auror, I just... Well we got a call that you were here Mr. Potter, and the headmaster said that you were to remain at your house." The glamour seemed to shimmer a bit as though it was melting in the summer sun.
Emma looked at the telephone in suspicion.
"Why does the headmaster of a school get to dictate where students live? Is he going to tell me that Hermione has to go stay at the Malfoy's next?"
"NO! I mean, that would not be a safe place at all for a muggle-born sir, not with you-know-who back."
"Wait, I thought that the ministry didn't believe Harry? They've been bad-mouthing him ever since the third task. Who are you? You work for him, the headmaster. Don't you. Show yourself. Finite incantatem!"
Hermione knew that three things should happen. One, her spell should trigger an alarm at the ministry. Two, that alarm should bring real aurors, and three, they should be able to see who had been holding a wand on them. It certainly wasn't who she was expecting.
"Professor Lupin? Why? I thought that you were my friend, friends with Sirius. Why would you do this?"
"I'm trying to keep you safe, son. Truly. I'm a member of the order and was at one time an auror. I really wish you hadn't done that Miss Granger. Come on Harry, let's get you back."
"Stop! Order - what order? You claim to care. Look at him, he is skin and bones. Look at his clothes."
The werewolf wasn't going to be making top ten best dressed in Witch Weekly in this decade, so he was rather nonplussed at the clothes comment. But being underfed was a condition that he could all-too-well consider. If it wasn't for his other best friend letting him sleep in his house, and share his food, his small wages wouldn't cover room much less board anywhere.
He remembered complaining to Dumbledore about Harry when he first started at Hogwarts. The headmaster had promised that he would have the healer look at him, that children matured at different rates, and James was a late bloomer, and so on.
He never did think to check up on that report. And he got busy with his classes. Was he so busy he couldn't take two minutes to check on the lad?
As casually as he could he asked. "So, Harry, on the second day of school, your third year, what did Poppy say about your health? I saw Dumbledore taking you to the infirmary."
"Oh, she didn't see me. He wanted to ask me a few questions, and needed to see her for something. He asked me to go with him so that he could save time."
The werewolf growled low in his throat. He racked his brains for someone he could go to. Someone faithful to Sirius who would not talk out of turn. The answer was simple.
"Harry, I've failed you, and I'm sorry. Or should I say I've failed you again. Let's see if I can't help make things a bit better. Please stay here. I'll be back as soon as possible."
Harry nodded, uncertain as to the sudden change in this man. But, he was a friend of his parents, and his godfather, so for the sake of the closest thing he had to family, he would give him another chance.
Before he returned, a couple from welfare services showed up. Emma Granger recognized the woman, but couldn't place her name. Introductions were made, and they asked the boy several questions. Hermione had been asked to go upstairs, but at one point she came back down.
"Excuse me, please. But this is my friend. Harry, do you want me to hold your hand right now?"
Confused, embarrassed, and afraid, Harry looked up. Here was one person who had never betrayed him, never let him down. Even when things looked their worst those dark days of the basilisk attacks, she came through. He nodded, reaching his hand out to her. She sat on the couch as close to him as she could. She stroked his hair, as he closed his eyes, and described his first years.
By the time he was done, it wasn't just the ladies needing the tissues being passed around. Remus had actually returned part way through the interview, but he and the older woman he brought didn't interrupt. The werewolf was ready to rend Lily's sister limb from limb and do worse to the husband.
Why was he even there? He had other family to go to.
The man then escorted Harry into the bedroom with Dan to photograph the boy. When they had come out, Harry wouldn't meet anyone's eyes.
The officials then went into the kitchen with Dan and Emma. Paperwork was filled out, witnessed and signed.
"That's all there is for now. Please report to the clinic first thing in the morning. There will be a hearing at some point. While it may be beneficial to you to testify Harry, you won't have to if you don't want to." The woman reassured him.
"This wasn't your fault. I'll stop by with some books. In the meantime, Dan here has offered to teach you some karate. There's a nice club in town. Doing something like that where you can learn to defend yourself. It will help you to deal with some of helplessness that you might feel. Here's my card. You can call me, anytime, even if you just want to talk. I want you to."
The man had kind eyes, and Harry nodded. He liked the sound of karate. That could be good for him.
After they left, the parents went to the kitchen to talk to the adults that had arrived.
"Will you go with me, to karate?" Harry asked Hermione.
"Yeah, I'd like that."
"Any activity that builds your strength and endurance would be good for both of you." The blonde woman said. Harry thought she looked familiar, then remembered Draco's mother.
"Lady Malfoy?" He asked, pulling his wand into his hand behind his back. He really like the new wand holders that Dobby had suggested that they buy.
"No, I'm not Narcissa, but we were close once. Some thought us twins, though I am nearly two years older. My name is Andromeda Tonks, I was her sister."
"Was? Did she die?" Dan asked. "I'm sorry."
"No, no, not that. I was kicked out of the family. My father wanted me to marry one of the Lestrange brothers that Bella had her eyes on. First, getting in Bella's way would have been a death sentence. I knew that girl had serious mental issues from the time she was little, and I found her torturing her dolls. Second, I was already in love with a Ravenclaw a year my junior. Did they care that he was smart, or from an established noble family, had good prospects and that he cared for me? No, none of it. He was a muggle-born, just a step up from farm animals in their tiny minds. I expected to be killed in the first war. No doubt it was Narcissa who protected me. Bats, I mean Bella would have helped torture me if she had had the chance.
"Now that you've heard some of my painful history young man, I hope you consider us on better footing. I can't tell you what level of cousins we are. Your grandmother was my great-aunt. Blacks by blood, regardless of tapestries."
"Cousin? Real family?" He looked up at her in awe.
"Yes Harry, and I have no idea why you were ever placed in a muggle home. My husband is a solicitor, and a brilliant one if I do say so myself. I am sure that he can help us become your legal guardians if that is what you want. The Grangers have offered you a safe place to stay, but I would like to invite you to visit our home as well. Maybe come for dinner on Sundays or something to get to know us."
"Sirius never told me that we were related by blood. I thought he was just my godfather. I want him to get a trial. Do you think that your husband could help with that?"
"What? He never had a trial? But, the, wait. Oh no! He's been innocent all this time! If you know how to send him a note, I would love to be able to get Ted to meet with him. You know. But let me concentrate on you a moment."
She took a deep breath.
"The man took photographs of the injuries. I can't do anything tonight for you, I have to wait until they are done at the clinic. Then, I can heal everything, and get you some help with a counselor. You've been through so much recently. I'm so sorry. I loved James growing up. He was so much fun."
"You knew my dad? Did you know my mum too?"
"Yes, Harry. Not as well, but I admired her. Now, I'll be back tomorrow night with healing potions for you. In the meantime, I need to get going. I'll see you soon."
The woman left with the werewolf.
"Real family Hermione. I don't know how long it will take to feel like it, but I have real family."
Offering Hermione a hug, Harry went to thank the Granger parents for all that they had done and were doing for him.
He was feeling overwhelmed with it all. That night, he sat at the window, petting his familiar in the pale light of the quarter moon.
"You like it here, don't you girl? Plenty of food, a forest nearby for you to fly in and do your hunting. Life is so different now."
She barked her affirmation and did the gentle nibble of his ear that she liked to do. Rising on silent wings, he watched her fly into the night.
Catherine approached her grandmother with trepidation in her heart. She knew that the elderly woman was as prim and proper as her mother was not. They were opposite sides of the scale. And here Catherine wanted so badly to more imitate her more sedate matronly example than the other.
Wasn't she supposed to be the wild one? She shook her head in denial.
"Grandmother, I've been asked to step out with a fine young man. I have my father's permission for him to court me, but I want your blessing as well since I am living with you in a spare room here."
Actually, the apartments she had been assigned were fit for a queen. She and her grandmother shared a common area that looked over a private swimming pool. Both of them loved the water, and the glorious fern and plant covered retreat felt like a private rainforest. The enclosure was protected by the elements, but the far wall could be opened to the back gardens as well. Very private, it must have some sort of ward or screen that prevented others from peeking in.
Catherine never went to the elder lady's bedroom, but would spend the morning and evenings with her in their living area. She would often brush the lady's hair, and talk about her dreams and hopes for the future. This time, she was looking at her eye to eye. She saw the wince. She knew it, she wasn't good enough for a future knight.
"Catherine. You know that I am not a blood-purist or any sort of bigot. But we have to face the reality that not all people will feel the same way." She did look sad.
"I understand. I just hoped, I mean, do you think that I will ever find someone that is at my own level?" Tears were threatening to fall. She tried to get them back. She was a Selwyn and would not show weakness in public, not that this was very public. Just the two of them.
"I know my child. It is difficult. Has your mother prepared you for your future duties as a lady of your standing, when the time comes?"
"Grandmere, my mother's idea of preparing me for marriage was to say don't. I won't use the words that she did to express herself, but she feels that experimentation is important to find the right man, and once you did, run away. No, I can say that my preparation for a family is to dream about what I would really like. A home in one place, a nice garden, working as a healer, hopefully having children one day."
The woman's lips pursed. Here was a girl that was clearly not the wild child that her mother was, the daughter that she had longed for when Betsy was small.
"Let me meet this young man of yours. Maybe something can be worked out." The woman had a thoughtful look on her face, and Catherine didn't think she saw the flowers she had been staring at.
"Thank you. I think that you will like him. I hope you will approve of him."
"If you like him, I'm sure that he will meet my approval my dear." This was said kindly. Her hand, just starting to get a few age freckles patted her knee. "I really should be going. I have a meeting in a few minutes. So sad to hear that you are not prepared better. I'm not sure what to say right now. I will think about this, and talk to you more tonight. If he is available, bring your friend to afternoon tea. I'll make an hour to meet him.
Knowing that he had time the girl readily agreed. Hope had ridden a wild broom all morning, up and down and spiraling around. Now, she was a bit in manic mode. She would wear her lilac dress for tea. It was perfect for her coloring. But she wouldn't change until after lunch. She was still working on manners, and so far had spilled food on her clothes more often than not.
Cursing her parents for her unusual upbringing in the jungle, she was determined to do better.
She summoned her elf-maid, and made a special tutoring request. The diminutive female was happy to oblige.
Her life was so different now.
"You want to what?"
"Drop Divination and take runes. I can't exactly talk to Professor McGonagall right now, but I really get these. I'm sorry Hermione for not listening to you earlier. Bill Weasley said that runes are used for all sorts of things in magical homes, and was disappointed that Ron hadn't taken interest."
"What about Ron?" Hermione asked. She was done with the boy. She wouldn't let him bully her anymore about anything. She would never consider him a friend again.
Harry investigated his new shoes. Interesting laces, a bright neon green that matched the swooshes on the side. Very classy. He made his decision.
"It's hard Hermione. On the one hand, he's the first person who was ever nice to me. But I don't like the way that he treats me sometimes, and I don't like the way that he treats you most of the time. And I have to get ready to face him again. I know that he hates me."
No need to identify the 'him' that Harry was referring to. Hermione knew all too well. The last few nights her family had been awakened by his screams. His nightmares were terrible. But her mother had had an idea, and was looking into something. Hermione didn't like being left out of the loop, but understood that the older of the two Granger ladies was trying to protect his feelings if whatever it was didn't work out.
"I think that is wonderful Harry. I'm sure that Professor Babbling would let you self-study until you are ready to join the class."
He showed her the first and second year rune course books, and the pile of assignments that he had already completed.
"Dobby made me copies of everything. He even took the professor a note asking if I could go into the fourth year class if I finish the third year work. She said that she wants me to try to do both years this summer. She said that since the class only met once a week that it wouldn't be hard for someone as smart as Lily's son is. She's the first teacher to tell me that I'm smart.
Hermione nodded. Most of the teachers seemed to be afraid to talk to Harry. He was always being gossiped about in one way or another. She leaned over and kissed his cheek.
"I know how smart you are and what a great wizard you are. I'm glad that you are here. And I'm glad that you're my friend."
Harry rubbed his cheek and gave her his brightest smile. Every day since coming here, he had received hugs, cheek kisses, and not once had anyone yelled at him.
The only raised voices were the first night and after that, Remus had said that he quit the order. Whatever the order was. He had been given a mirror to call Sirius, and they talked every day. Remus joined in sometimes, but Harry could see that he was still feeling guilty about something. Hopefully, he would apologize or do whatever he needed to do.
Harry liked the positive feelings that were flowing. He really did, and he wanted Remus to be happier too.
Andi had come back with all sorts of lotions, potions, and healing paraphernalia.
She was worse that Madame Pomfrey!
She came several times, bringing a strange man after finding something odd about Harry's head. He wanted to take Harry to the bowels of the ministry, but both Remus and Andi said no. Sirius would have if he was there.
What was it about people and his scar? It was the only one left after all of the healing that he had gone through. And she promised that the Dursley's wouldn't be adding to any more of any kind to him.
Soon it was official. Mr. and Mrs. Granger were his muggle guardians. Andi offered, but they didn't have the depth of background that the Grangers did, plus, they were already registered in the system. Ted was able to sneak into the ministry, and with a few carefully placed words and documents had him and Andi as Harry's magical guardians.
Harry did accept the invitations to dinner though, and was looking forward to forging new ties with this interesting woman. Andi was willing to teach both teenagers potions, runes, anything that they wanted to study. Ted offered Hermione books on magical history that she had never seen. Both of them were growing not just closer together, but growing magically, physically, and intellectually. They were constantly being challenged by highly talented people.
Before Harry's birthday, the results were hard to miss. He was physically taller, had gained strength and dexterity due to all of the karate and defense lessons. Sirius had banned the order from his home and put it under several different wards. Remus, with not only the permission of Andi and Ted, but them paying for the tutoring, was giving Harry and Hermione private defense lessons that would have made Rufus Scrimageour, head auror, jealous.
He was a better trainer than they had had in many years. Mad-eye was too over-the-top, Sissy-boy Dawlish was milquetoast, but Remus was just right. It was too bad that he couldn't work for them. Bitten by their own prejudicial laws.
As for Harry, he was getting ready for his first real birthday party. He was feeling these strange feelings of acceptance and love with both of his new families. Not that it had always been perfect. There had been friction, nightmares, days that were better than others.
But as he approached his fifteenth birthday, he felt hope. Hope.
Afternoon tea was a custom in many British protectorates. So how did this country who tended to have a bit more of a Scottish flavor than English develop this custom? Mystery.
Her grandmother sat in a comfortable chair stirring thick cream in pretty swirls into her dark tea. Her jet black mourning dress had only a bit of tartan sash at the shoulder to give it any color.
She eyed the young man who stirred his plain tea in nervousness. Catherine tried to relax, but her grandmother was wearing an odd glamour. She felt even more embarrassed than normal about her background. Ian looked at the girl, set down his cup, and stood.
"My lady. I know that you don't know me well. You probably think that I have no plans or prospects and that I am not nearly good enough for your granddaughter. Well, I'm not. No wizard alive is good enough for her, not the great Harry Potter himself even if all of his known exploits are real.
"But my lady, I do ask you to consider this. I have a chance here for a good position. It may not come with the highest wages, but it does come with a comfortable home and a salary that well-managed would provide an education for our children should my suit be accepted.
"My mother will not care a knut for Catherine's parentage." The lady stifled a small choke at this comment. "The only thing that matters are our choices. We both wish to serve the light, to do good. To be good."
He knelt on one knee before the woman. "Please do not deny me because you think us uneven, for I truly feel that I will never be her equal, though I would strive to be so every day of my life. My magic, nay my soul is drawn to this girl. Please give me your blessing to see if I can see if these feelings are now returned?"
The woman looked at him, her own tea ignored and cooling nearby. She took his right hand, and turned it over, looking at it.
"Alright, Ian MacIntyre. I see that you've inherited a bit of the poet in ye. But mind your manners here, or the ghost of Duncan Robert Stewart, the warrior king will surely hunt you down."
"Is he often seen in the palace, ma'am?" Catherine asked, eyes wide. The great king may have died fighting in the great war against Grindlewald, but he had stood with Dumbledore. He died the very day that dark lord was defeated.
"No, though I have seen him a time or two." The lady admitted.
"My lady, I know not how to address thee." Ian asked shyly.
"My name is Lady Rose to you, good Squire. Now, I am running late. Catherine is attending school at Hogwarts in the fall. When she returns, she will doubtless be continuing her studies here. Please feel free to write her and to visit her when she is home. I give you my blessing."
The lady stood, and Ian returned to his feet. Catherine stood gracefully for once. Her practice was paying dividends.
"You still have time for a nice ride. I will see you at dinner, Catherine. I expect you every week at this time until school begins, good squire. Good day."
The man bowed to the lady as she swept elegantly out of the room. He turned to the girl who beamed at him. With fingers that were trembling, Catherine pulled a bit of embroidered ribbon from her bag. She pinned it to his arm, the traditional place of such a gift.
"You do know that this means that I am now your champion." He informed her.
"Oh good. That means that you get to deal with all of the trolls we come across." She teased back.
Laughing, they left for the stable, her arm comfortably on his.
Catherine felt peace and hope. For the first time in her life she felt hope.
Harry's birthday party didn't go exactly as planned. First of all, Remus showed up with Sirius. This scared the teens until he produced a wonderful parchment declaring his innocence.
It was the best gift that Harry could have ever had.
As a result, Sirius offered to take Harry anywhere that he wanted to go. He turned to Hermione. She had always wanted to visit Egypt and see pyramids. That sounded like fun to the boy-who-lived, and soon everyone was in hastily transfigured desert gear and ready to grab the international port-key.
The Grangers had a wonderful trip into a truly magical land.
The ladies soon learned to wear shoulder length robes and wrap their hair. Harry had turned down an offer of five camels and three goats for Hermione. He thought the bruise would be gone by the time that they came back that he earned by saying that she was worth at least ten camels and a dozen goats. She may have also implied that goats were all he would be kissing any time soon, but Remus suggested saving those for the headmaster and gained him back a few girlfriend points.
Girls were hard to figure out.
Hermione loved the magical tents that they stayed in. She and Harry were even able to improve them, providing the runes for the tap and tub that not only created and banished water, but heated it as well. Though Harry needed some quick adjustments when something happened during Sirius' bath time. For some reason, completely unknown to anyone, especially godsons named Harry, the water went from pleasant warm to artic runoff in short order. The screams were loud and long. Harry brought out his book, and looked them over trying to find the issue. Seeing the new rune on the spigot outlet he let out a sigh. And pointed.
"Wait, but that rune is too neat and perfect…"Sirius started.
"No offense, pup, but yours still look like someone's whose had a bit too much firewhiskey…" Remus added.
"If I didn't, and you didn't, and Harry didn't…" Sirius looked around. There were only four magicals in the tent."
"Harry, it's not too late. And five camels. Just make the counter for five magical camels."
Dan and Emma were enjoying Hermione's pretend pout. His daughter had done a prank. The world must be coming to an end.
The couple looked in wonder and joy as the girl was chased out of the tent, three wands blasting cold water at her. But Harry couldn't let the odds stay uneven for long, and teamed up with her to take on the marauders. They were all soon soaked and laughing like hyenas.
The group were going to be joined by others later in the day, and Dan was just amazed at the changes in their lives since taking this boy in. They had learned so much, seen so much. To say that they were looking forward to the next part of their vacation was an understatement.
And enjoying it with family and friends was priceless.
To say that Catherine was nervous meeting her first parent was an understatement. She had baked shortbread and had it in a decorative tin from the gift shop that had not only a picture of the palace on it, but one with the guards out on display.
She thought that his mother might like that.
She debated buying gift for his younger siblings, but thought that might be too much for a first visit. She could resort to bribes, um, gifts later.
Their home was smaller on the outside than inside, typical for the auror housing of that area. The front garden was neat and had several nice rose bushes in various stages of bloom. The back had a little vegetable patch.
Inside was neat but not overly so. Curstaidh and Bridget were introduced, given a treat, and allowed to escape to play.
Mrs. MacIntyre was finishing dinner, and Catherine offered her help by setting the table. The women chatted, and soon the last of her nerves were gone as she worked with the friendly widow. Seonaid had been so worried that Ian would fall for a visitor, or worse, a muggle visitor. She was over the moon that he had brought home a girl with ties to Aragon. And better yet, she was a witch herself!
That meant that their children would have more potential for magic. That was the extent of the family's bigotry, not that she would have grumbled if he had brought home a local muggle. At least, not much.
Catherine was pleased to see that the country took care of its aurors. She didn't want to ask about Ian's father. She was shown a picture of him in uniform. It was at some awards ceremony, and the picture ended with hugs to a pregnant wife, a little girl and a slightly older boy joining in.
By the end of the evening, Catherine had told them the somewhat embarrassing story of finding a nest of unique birds that dive bombed intruders to leave droppings on them that stank badly. And how her mother insisted on collecting said offerings before allowing her to bathe.
Ian shared memories of growing up in the small country, occasionally going sailing with his family, and having almost been caught out by muggles when they forgot to start the illusion for the wires.
In all, Catherine thought it was a great first visit. She left with a flower from Bridget, and a promise that she would love to come back for Sunday dinner again.
Ian escorted her back, choosing to walk the half mile rather than apparate. They talked only of little things, but when they were back at the palace, he kissed her hand.
"Will I see you tomorrow at practice?" He asked.
"I will be there. I might have my school books with me, so don't be too offended if I do a bit of reading."
"I'll join you afterwards, and quiz you on all your new found knowledge." He offered. He had short breaks throughout the day, and he was finding that more and more of that time was spent with this girl.
"I'll bring lunch then. I won't have you starving just to make sure that I am top student of the year."
They both laughed at that. Bowing and kissing her hand again, she went inside.
A part of Ian truly wished that his family had the coin to pay for him to go to school. He truly wanted to be with her, and wasn't looking forward to her leaving. Walking outside the wards, he apparated home.
His mother asked him questions about whether or not he wanted to talk contract and if so, would he like her to contact Catherine's father. He smiled.
His mother approved of his girl. All was right in the world.
The Grangers hadn't made their normal vacation arrangements with all of the events that happened in early summer. Other than arranging for their office to be closed for the last part of July and three weeks into August that is. So they were more than happy to go along for the adventure that Sirius arranged, and had a marvelous time for most of it.
They could have done without the magical scorpions in their bed. The constructs looked real, and the first sting had them thinking that they needed medical attention, but the pain faded quickly. Nothing too bad.
Dan the Dentist stalked up to the wizard and started to tell him about all of the tools of torture that he had available and what kind of damage that they could do. And while Sirius was indeed a wizard, there was muggle technology that could render him awake but unable to move.
He said all of it with a completely straight face.
After a quick change of undergarments, Sirius came out apologizing to both adult Grangers and promised to be on his best behavior. And he was too, for almost a week.
Remus told Dan that he was very impressed.
Bill Weasley had dropped by for a time to invite them to a dig. He was going to be headed back to Britain soon. The bank wanted a few more wizards at hand with all of the nonsense happening on the isle. Harry could tell that he wasn't as sad about it as he was trying to appear. Hermione twigged to it too.
"I thought that the French champion had been hired at Gringott's. She's supposed to be starting after her holiday with her family." The girl watched for his reaction intently.
"Oh? That's nice. She's very smart. Great with runes and puzzles. She will be a great asset for the goblins." He said with a little smile at the end.
The teens looked at each other and burst out laughing. They hugged, and Harry kissed Hermione's cheek. Well, that's what he had planned, but she had turned, and half the kiss landed on her lips.
Grabbing onto his Gryffindor courage with both hands, he backed up, then leaned slowly in. She turned her head to avoid clashing noses, and they shared a brief and sweet first kiss.
It was bliss.
Before they got a chance for more though, three manly coughs reminded them that they weren't alone. The blush they shared was redder than Bill's hair. The couple just lifted their chins.
They were definitely ready for more of that, but some better time. Later that day, as the sun headed for the horizon, the couple shared a journey on a magical camel with the group. They got to share a few more kisses this time with the grownups well behind them, the Sphinx and a glowing future in front of them.
"I'm going to miss you, Squire Ian. But I will be home for Christmas. I'm sure that my grandmother insist I stay for OWL's but really, I'm sure that I am safer here than Hogwarts. My father can't object if I get an apprenticeship here. I will apply just as soon as I…"
A man's calloused finger touched her rose lips, interrupting the verbal rushing river.
"I am your champion, you are my lady. Is that going to change?" He asked bending down and looking at her at an angle.
"No." She hung her head in shame. It was late. They had ridden together that afternoon, and the setting sun was an all too visible reminder that their time together was short.
"I will miss you my lady." He held her hand, bringing to his lips when he suddenly changed. Moving forward quickly he took the blonde girl into this strong arms. Giving her plenty of time to object or turn away, he tasted her sweet lips.
Their first kiss was bliss. The second even sweeter. The third had them both gasping for breath, which in her current dress was a marvelous display of silk and lace and should be claimed as a national treasure. But only for him to view. Ever.
She pushed away just lightly, but it was enough. They both realized their public embrace, and stopped, blushing.
"I'll see you to the train tomorrow, if you wish." He offered.
She debated that. He'd have to go in his uniform. All of the students would see. Yes, it would cut down on problems, wouldn't it?
"Yes, please. But only if I get another few kisses tomorrow."
"We really shouldn't kiss until we are betrothed." Ian remarked blandly.
"Oh, is that the way that people do that here? I didn't know. Well how to you propose, rather plan, to solve this problem?"
That girl was too clever by half.
"Give me until Christmas, my lady. I might have a solution to propose. I have a plan."
His blue eyes reminded her of the sea. Calling her elf, and getting one last picture of them together with the sunset behind them, she turned to go in.
Neither saw curtains quickly closed or noticed that they had been watched.
Catherine went to bed dreaming of sweet kisses, while Ian went to bed with the memory of what it felt like to hold his lady.
A/N – Thanks for reading.