Disclaimer: Everything belongs to J.K.R.
Author's Notes: This story was inspired by the Bruno Mars song "Marry You". While I know this song has been used for proposals, I always thought it was an excellent advertisement jingle for any lawyer dealing in family law. Well, Muggles have the easy way out, they get divorced. But I didn't want to give Harry and Daphne the easy option. So, how do you cope when you have the choice between two evils: murder your spouse or live with him/her?
It was a rather cold summer night at the end of June and the pubs just began to fill. A young man with raven coloured hair walked down Leicester Square, looking for a place to eat.
He stopped at a pub with the cryptic name "The Needy Kumquat" and hesitated for a moment. As a wave of laughter spilled out from the pub onto the street, he made up his mind, opened the door and stepped inside.
As soon as he had crossed the threshold, he stopped dead in his tracks. Matching the name of the pub, the interior was decorated in different shades of orange. The young man closed his eyes.
'That looks like the headquarters of the Chudley Cannons' he thought to himself. He was just about to turn around and leave the pub, when a delicious smell wafting from the kitchen reached his nose and made him reconsider. He went to the bar and ordered a pint of bitter. With the glass in his hand he looked around. It was still early in the evening, and the pub was not yet crowded. He carried his glass to an empty table in a corner and sat down.
Sipping his bitter, he had a look at the other patrons. Only half of the tables were occupied. The most noise and rambunctious laughter came from a large group of young adults in their mid-twenties that had put several tables together. The other tables were mostly taken by couples, who seemed to enjoy themselves.
The young man sighed inwardly. Not so long ago he had been part of such a happy couple. But that was water under the bridge. Ginny had made perfectly clear that she wasn't interested in spending her time in reclusiveness, like he would have preferred, given his prominent status in their world. She wanted to go out and party and forget all about the war they had fought and the losses they had suffered. She called it returning back to life, he called her attitude callous. One word lead to another, and in the end they had broken up. That had been this morning.
Angry words at the table next to him startled him out of his morose thoughts.
'Get your hands off of me, you moron. You're drunk!' a female voice hissed.
'Oh, come on, honey, don't be so prude! You know that you want it!' her companion slurred.
The young man turned around on his chair. At the table next to him a large man had put his hairy arm around the shoulder of a blonde young woman and was just trying to nibble her ear. The woman shuddered. By her stiff posture the young man could tell it wasn't out of pleasure, though the monkey who pulled her even closer to him apparently thought so. The young woman tried to get away from him, but the man held her tight with his ape-like arms.
The young man decided he had seen and heard enough. His friend Hermione would probably say it was because of his saving-people-thing again and be very displeased with him, but for him it was simply a matter of the right thing to do. 'Confundus!' he thought.
The monkey let go off of the young woman. He rose from his chair and stumbled out of the pub, a confused expression on his face.
The young woman watched him leaving with a puzzled frown.
There was something oddly familiar about her, the young man thought. Then it hit him. 'Greengrass!' he exclaimed.
The head of the young woman whipped around. Her eyes grew wide as she recognised him. 'Potter? What are you doing here?' she asked.
Harry gave her a lopsided grin. 'I could ask you the same. This is not exactly the place where I imagined to hit upon Slytherin's Pureblood princess and reigning Ice Queen Daphne Greengrass.'
She looked around. 'Mind your words, Potter! This pub is full of Muggles!' she hissed.
'Don't worry, I've set up Privacy Wards and Anti-Listening-Wards,' he grinned.
By the look in her eyes he could tell that she didn't believe him. 'Wordlessly?' she asked. Her voice sounded sceptical.
'And wandlessly,' he supplied.
She still looked sceptical. 'You never were that good while we were at school.'
He laughed at that. 'Greengrass, we didn't run in the same circles at school, so you won't know what I can or can't do. Also, I used to hold back. But most important, being on the run for your life for a year and finishing off a megalomaniac monster does help a lot to hone your skills, I can tell you.'
She picked up the glass of wine in front of her, rose from her table and sat down opposite of him. 'All right, Potter, don't you think this impromptu school reunion is the perfect opportunity to catch up between old school mates?'
He had picked up his glass again and now snorted into his bitter. 'Greengrass, we never were that chummy at school that I'd tell you what's going on in my life. Next I'll know is that you'd have run off with that information to Skeeter and I'll find another article full of lies about me printed in the Prophet. Or, even worse, you'd tell your little Wannabe-Death Eater chums. I bet they'll be happy about any information they can get to get back at me. I've been told they are still vexed with me because I finished off their bigwig.'
He took a gulp and put down his glass, giving her a long, hard stare with his emerald green eyes. 'Aren't you betrothed to Nott? He's one of the worst and I bet he'd be delighted if his sweetheart tells him some news about me.'
Her face had gone very red at his words, and she reciprocated his stare with an equally hard one from her almost violet blue eyes. 'For your information, Potter, I was betrothed to Nott's older brother. He was a Death Eater and an arsehole and thankfully was killed during the Battle of Hogwarts. After the battle, Nott, now head of his house, approached my father to set up a similar betrothal contract between him and me. Since I am of age, my father couldn't do that without my consent. But apparently the Notts had dirt on my father, and they pressured him. In return, my family pressured me to sign the contract. I finally had enough and ran away four weeks ago.' Her voice sounded bitter.
Harry searched her face for any sign of duplicity, but couldn't find it, neither in her expression nor in her posture. His gut told him she had been honest. 'I'm sorry, Greengrass. I didn't know that.'
'It's all right, Potter. Like you said, we weren't that chummy at school, so you wouldn't know.' She drained her glass in one gulp and put it back on the table.
Harry stood up and went to the bar. A few minutes later he returned, carrying a glass of wine and another pint of bitter. He put the wine down in front of her.
'Thanks,' Greengrass said.
'You're welcome,' he replied automatically and sat down. 'So, you've practically been hiding among Muggles for the last month? You're doing a pretty good job, I'd say. I'm impressed; I'd never have thought a Pureblood is able to fit in that seamlessly.' He gestured at her outfit with his hand.
She was dressed for dancing on a Saturday night. She wore a tight black and white patterned dress that left her shoulders bare, and matching black high heels. The very short skirt of the dress and the high heels made her legs look endlessly, Harry noticed with a dry gulp. Her thick mane of honey-coloured blonde hair streamed down her back in slight curls until it almost reached her hips, seemingly untamed. She was a beauty; that was evident. He'd always known her as one of the prettiest girls at school. However, he had had no idea of the perfectly sculptured body that had been hidden under the thick school robes.
She gave him a wry grin over the rim of her glass. 'That's not as difficult as it may seem to most Purebloods,' she replied. She took a sip and put the glass down. 'Very few people know that my best friend Tracey Davis was a Muggleborn.'
'Was?' he interrupted her.
Her face turned into a stony mask and her eyes became very dark.
Harry had seen something like that happening over and over again when he visited the families of the fallen after the Battle of Hogwarts, so her next words were no surprise to him.
'Tracey and her family were killed by Death Eaters during the Easter Holidays this year.'
'I'm sorry. I had no idea she was Muggleborn.'
'It was a close kept secret between Tracey and me. We met on the Hogwarts Express before our first year, and instantly became friends. She told me that she was Muggleborn, and I warned her of the repercussions because of that from a certain house. During the train ride we made up a background story for Tracey being from a Squib line, and it worked. At least, until our last year.' She wiped away a tear from the corner of her eye.
'Tracey's parents always invited me to their home during the summer holidays. My father never cared what I was doing, since I was only a girl and not the heir he'd wished for. My mother was busy socialising and also left me to my own devices. They both never found out that Tracey was a Muggleborn. They just assumed she came from a magical family, because that's what I'd told them and they'd never have imagined that I'll be friends with a Muggleborn.' She grinned at her last words, though there was no humour in that grin.
'During the summers spent at Tracey's home I learned a lot about Muggle culture, especially how to dress like a Muggle. Of course, it helped a lot that Tracey and I both were interested in fashion. But I also learned how to blend in. So, when I ran away from home I had no problems to rent a room in a small flat and find work.'
Her companion raised his eyebrows. 'I'm impressed, Greengrass. What are you doing, if I may ask?'
She smiled. 'You may. I work as a sales assistant on King's Road during the day. I plan on attending evening school to obtain my GCSE in coming September. I want to study fashion design one day.'
His eyebrows went even higher. 'Now I'm really impressed. It can't be easy, given your background.'
'I am a fast learner. However, even though I learned a lot about Muggle culture from the Davis', I lack knowledge and experience in many areas. I was able to blame that on a strict and secluded upbringing by parents who are members of an obscure sect.'
He laughed at that. 'Good move, Greengrass! I'd never have thought you are that ambitious.'
'I'm a Slytherin. I come from the house of the ambitious and cunning,' she reminded him over the rim of her glass and took another sip.
'True,' he admitted. 'Though, most of your housemates were anything but that!'
She made a face. 'To be honest, I always thought they gave Slytherin a bad name. We're supposed to be the house of the cunning, but they followed a megalomaniac madman like any good, little Hufflepuff!'
Harry choked at his bitter. 'Well, I'd never thought of that!' he exclaimed. 'I always thought they are perfect examples of Slytherins, given their love of power.'
'Love of power is only one facet of being a Slytherin,' she contradicted him and took another sip of her wine. 'Also, there are many other forms of power besides raw force that true Slytherins like to obtain. There's the power of knowledge, or the power of money, or even the power of love.' She let her last words trail off.
'The latter is what finished him off in the end,' Harry said quietly.
She started. 'That's what you said to him during your final confrontation in the Great Hall. Something about the love of your mother protecting you and the love Professor Snape had all lifelong for your mother driving him on to fight the monster.'
'You were there?' Harry thought he couldn't believe his ears.
Greengrass lowered her eyes onto the table and fidgeted with the glass in her hands, obviously feeling uncomfortable at the disbelief in his voice. 'Yes, I was. When you and your friends turned up in the Great Hall and Professor McGonagall evacuated the castle, I made sure my younger sister left with her year and then ducked away from my class and joined the defenders of Hogwarts.'
He still stared at her. 'Now, that's surprising. I'd never have expected that! What made you do it?'
She shifted in her seat. 'I was feeling miserable after Tracey's death. Numb and angry at the same time, if that's possible. When you turned up at Hogwarts that night, I suddenly knew that I had to make a decision. The time to stick my head in the sand like an ostrich had come to an end. I couldn't sit back in the side-lines like a good Slytherin anymore and wait for the outcome. I wanted to revenge Tracey, and I wanted to get rid of that monster, so I had to pick a side.' Again, she drained her glass in one gulp.
'I'd never have thought you had it in you,' Harry remarked and also drained his glass.
She gave a harsh laugh. 'I didn't know I had it in me until I found myself with my wand in my hand, fighting for my life.'
He didn't reply, but stood up, gathered their glasses and went to the bar to get the next round. His head spun. Greengrass just effectively turned all his believes of Slytherins upside down.
She took her glass from him with a smile of thanks when he returned to the table. 'Aren't you still seventeen, Potter? How did you manage to persuade the barkeeper to let you buy alcohol?'
'Silent and wandless Confundus Charm,' Harry replied with a lopsided grin. 'Made him forget to ask me for my ID.'
'How Slytherin of you,' she remarked and raised her glass in a silent toast. 'But then, with the way you always tended to melt into the background I've often thought you behaved more like a Slytherin than like a brassy Gryffindor.'
He had returned her toast, but now put down his glass. 'Funny you'd say that. The Sorting Hat wanted to put me into Slytherin.'
'No way!' Greengrass gaped.
'Yep!' he confirmed, grinning at her amazement.
The silence between them stretched until Greengrass shook her head. 'Who'd have thought that! But maybe I shouldn't be that surprised. You're a Parselmouth, after all.'
'Was,' he corrected her calmly. 'I lost that ability when I overcame Riddle.'
She looked as if she wanted to investigate that bit of information deeper, but then thought the better of it. Instead, she changed the topic.
'Now that I've told you the boring details of my average life since the battle, care to tell me what you've done during the last two months, Potter?'
'Oh, I'd never call you average, Greengrass,' he winked before he took another sip of bitter. 'It's certainly not the norm for a Pureblood to run away from her family and try to make her way in the Muggle world.'
He put his empty glass on the table. 'The last two months have thankfully been calm. Of course, there first were the many funerals. It seemed as if they would never end.' The last sentence he spoke to himself, his head hung low.
She waited patiently until he was ready to continue, and finally was rewarded when he raised his head and gave her another lopsided smile.
'Besides that, I haven't done much more than sleeping, eating and occasionally snogging my girlfriend when her brothers weren't around pestering us. But that's over now. I ended it today. Unfortunately, I lived at her house since the battle, so I had to leave there and take up residence in my own place. It's a house my godfather left me, full of dark magic and a veritable dung heap after years of neglect. That's why I came here tonight. I wanted to grab some pub grub and a couple of pints and probably get pissed while doing so.'
Greengrass snorted at that. 'Mind if I join you? My arsehole of a date left me. He was my first try at dating like a Muggle, and my bad luck would have it that I picked a real looser. Right now I feel like having a pity party. It's more fun to get drunk if you have someone to commiserate.'
'You're welcome,' he chuckled and raised his glass to her. 'Here's to a successful night of getting pissed together!'
Harry woke up with a groan. His head pounded as if a Hippogriff had danced on it, and his stomach felt like if it was on fire. One of the four bitters and many shots he had had last night must have been off. Laying on his side with closed eyes, he tried to get his bearings. Judging by the noises he heard from outside and the brightness behind his eyelids, it was already in the middle of the morning. The faint mouldy smell that filled his nostrils and almost made him gag told him that he was in Sirius' old room at Grimmauld Place. Merlin, how he hated that place! But he had nowhere else to go, so he had better make the best of it.
What puzzled him was the warm, soft mass that clung onto him. His hand cupped something soft and round that felt simply divine. Something silky tickled his nose, and he barely kept from sneezing, knowing that his pounding head would take badly to that. But that silky substance smelled heavenly of citrus and lavender, efficiently overlapping the smell of mould that permeated Grimmauld Place, and he buried his nose in it, revelling the pleasant smell that reminded him of sunshine and laughter.
However, his bladder told him that it was time to get up. He opened his eyes for a slit, painfully aware of the sunshine that even the decades-old grime on the windows couldn't prevent from pouring into the room. His eyes fell on a honey-blonde head, buried in his chest. Lowering his gaze deeper, he noticed that his left hand cupped a perfectly shaped rosy breast. Nice, he thought in his sleepy state. Then it hit him that he was as naked as the girl beside him.
He let out a shriek and shot bolt upright.
The girl beside him started and let out a groan. 'Not so loud!' she moaned, while she took her head in both of her hands.
Kreacher Apparated into the bedroom, and the girl beside him let out another pitiful moan.
'Master and mistress need to take this,' he said, much louder and more cheerful than Harry liked, and held out two potion phials to him.
Harry accepted the phials with a nod of thanks, which set the hammers in his head off to work again, and then turned to the girl by his side. Now he recognised her.
'Greengrass? What are you doing in my bed?' he asked.
'I'm dying,' Greengrass moaned, still clinging her hands to her head.
'Not in my bed, Greengrass,' Harry said firmly. 'You'd better take this!' He held the potion phial out to her.
Greengrass opened her eyes for a slit. Then her eyes got wide. 'Potter?' she gasped and sat up, which elicited another groan of pain.
He shoved the phial into her hands. 'Bottoms up!' he said and emptied his phial.
Greengrass followed suit.
The relief was instant, and Harry was able to get out of bed and take care of his most pressing needs.
He was thankful to find Sirius' old bathrobe in the bathroom, and though it smelled as mouldy as the rest of the house, he pulled it over his thin frame when he returned into the bedroom.
Greengrass was lying on her back, her eyes closed.
'Still not feeling better?' Harry asked.
'I'm trying to remember how I got here,' she replied.
Harry started. She had raised a valid point. He also had no idea how she got there. He sat down on the edge of his bed. 'Last thing I remember is going out to grab something to eat. Kreacher and I had worked hard all day long to get the kitchen and this bedroom into order, and I didn't want him to have to cook for me.'
'I think I had a date last night. Some guy named Don, at least I think so. He was drunk, and I told him to leave me alone.' She opened her eyes and sat up. 'You made him go away!' she gasped.
'Did I?' Harry asked, carefully avoiding to look at her bare chest. Then his memory came back. 'You came over to my table after that and we talked.'
'Yes, and we had dinner together and a couple of shots after that,' Greengrass supplied.
'A few more than a couple,' Harry remembered. 'We were both plastered when we left that pub. But I still can't remember how we ended here.' He blanched. 'I hope I wasn't as reckless as to Apparate us here, given the state I was in.'
'No, no, now I remember. You called your house elf!' Greengrass exclaimed.
Harry let out a sigh of relief. 'Did I? Well, at least he'll be able to tell us what happened after that.'
'That should be pretty obvious, given how we woke up together,' Greengrass said and blushed.
Harry also blushed. 'Yeah, probably. But I'd like to be certain. Kreacher!'
The ancient house elf popped into the room with another CRACK that made the two young adults wince, in spite of the Hangover Potion they had had.
'What can Kreacher do for master and mistress?'
'Kreacher, what happened after I called you to the pub last night?' Harry asked.
'Master asked Kreacher to Side-Along-Apparate him and mistress to Gretna Green.'
'What by Merlin's beard did we want to do in Gretna Green?' Harry asked, but Greengrass blanched at the house elf's words.
'Oh no, don't tell me that we were that stupid!' she exclaimed.
Kreacher turned around to her. 'Master and mistress wanted to shag, but mistress kept saying that she didn't want to shag without being married first. So master went down on his knees and proposed. Mistress accepted and then told master to tell Kreacher to take both of them to Gretna Green so that they could get married immediately, because mistress said she wants to shag master until he was cross-eyed. Kreacher is a good house elf and did what his master told him. Master and mistress were married over the anvil of the blacksmith, with the blacksmith and his wife as witnesses. Kreacher has never seen such a bright aura as in the moment master and mistress exchanged their vows.'
Greengrass face went even paler. 'And what happened then?'
'Master conjured rings for master and mistress.' He pointed at their hands.
The young couple looked down at their fingers. Indeed, a shiny golden ring adorned the ring finger of each of their left hands. They exchanged a look of horror.
'And next?' Greengrass asked. Her voice sounded strained.
'Then master told Kreacher to Side-Along-Apparate master and mistress into Master Sirius old bedroom, where master and mistress started making little wizards!' Kreacher beamed at them.
Harry was far from sharing the enthusiasm of his house elf. 'How do you know that?' he asked, dreading the answer.
'Master and mistress forgot the Silencing Charms,' the ancient house elf replied, while his face turned pink.
'Oh!' Harry replied and felt how his face turned a violent shade of red. 'Thank you, Kreacher, that's all. You may go.'
Kreacher bowed deeply and then Apparated away with a resounding CRACK.
The two young people looked at each other, not knowing what to say.
'So, is it true? Are we really married?' Harry finally broke the silence that had become uncomfortable.
Greengrass let out a deep sigh. 'I'm afraid so. The blacksmith of Gretna Green is traditionally a wizard and authorised to perform magical marriages. Any marriage vow taken in front of him and another witness is as binding as a marriage bonding ceremony performed by a Ministry official.'
'But surely there is a way out. Muggle marriages can be divorced,' Harry said hopefully, but his hopes were crushed when Greengrass shook her head.
'There is nothing like divorce in the Wizarding world, Potter. Taking the marriage vow means you're bound for life. Magical marriages can only be annulled, but that option is out of question for us since we've consummated the marriage, as any Healer is able to reveal with a simple spell.'
'We've shagged, Potter. Sorry I used too many complicated words!' Greengrass fumed.
'Oh!' Harry felt as if a giant's fist had hit him in the stomach. He was married to Greengrass and there was no way out! Why by Merlin's unmentionables had all the bad things always to happen to him? He felt very sorry for himself, but there was also that pesky voice in the back of his head that told him that it was his own fault for getting that plastered that he lost his common sense. 'Oh, shut up!' he groaned to himself.
'What did you say, Potter?'
He blushed, 'Sorry, Greengrass. I was talking to myself. Bad habit.'
Silence reigned again. Greengrass sat in his bed, her face buried in the palms of her hands. He had no idea whether she was crying. If she was, he couldn't blame her. He felt like crying himself.
Finally, Harry gathered all of his Gryffindor courage. 'Look, Greengrass, I'm sorry. I should have taken no for an answer when you said you didn't want to shag without being married. Instead, I was so dumb to propose and drag you into this mess. I didn't want to ruin your life.'
Greengrass head snapped upwards and she stared at him as if he had grown another head. 'You're taking the mickey, aren't you?' she asked. Her eyes grew wide when Harry shook his head.
He ran a nervous hand through his hair. 'Look, Greengrass,' he began, but she interrupted him.
'No, you listen, Potter. You're not the one to blame. You heard what your house elf said. I was the one who wanted to shag you, but insisted on getting married first. I was also the one who told you that we had to go to Gretna Green. If anyone has to be sorry, it is I. And I truly am. After all you've been through, you didn't deserve your life being ruined by being shackled to me against your will.'
In spite of his confusion, Harry had to grin. 'What Kreacher told us didn't sound as if you had to drag me there.'
The ghost of a smile flickered across Greengrass lips. 'Neither had you to drag me.'
Harry barked a short laugh. 'Yeah, it takes two to tango.'
'That it does,' Greengrass agreed with a sigh. 'Let's just agree that we both screwed up royally.'
'Yeah, you can say that again,' Harry sighed. 'The big question is, what are we doing now?'
Greengrass took a deep breath. 'Unfortunately, we don't have many options. We got married under Scottish magical marriage law, which is the strictest marriage law in the world. Any infringement of the law will have serious consequences to our magic. For example, living apart will weaken our magic considerably, and an extramarital affair will lead to an immediate loss of your magic.'
Greengrass rolled her eyes. 'You can't cheat on me without instantly becoming a Squib, so you'll better keep your flies shut, Potter!'
'I got what you meant!' he defended himself. 'It's only – it's pretty harsh, isn't it?'
'Oh yes. But believe me, Potter, you got the better deal.' Her voice sounded bitter.
'What does that mean? Why did I get the better deal?'
A small tear trickled down her cheek. 'The Scottish marriage law hasn't been changed since the medieval. Taking the vows with you over the anvil of the blacksmith means I've virtually become your property. Everything I own is now yours. You have the right to decide where I live, with whom I can associate, if I'm allowed to work or to have money of my own. The English law isn't much better in that regard. That's why we have betrothal contracts, or prenuptial agreements, as the Muggles call them. They secure the rights of the bride.'
A quiver went through her body and she buried her head in the duvet. 'I ran away from home because the betrothal contract Nott proposed didn't allow me to work or even study on my own as soon as we were married. And now I was so dumb to enter into a marriage that doesn't leave me any rights!' she wailed.
Harry didn't know what to say or what to do. He stared at her back in horror. Certainly she didn't think that he would behave like a kind of slave master, did she? But her quivering back told him that she apparently did. He had to do something to reassure her, and be quick about it. Finally, he went over to her side of the bed and put a hand on her bare shoulder. She stiffened under his touch, but Harry was not deterred that easily.
'Look, Greengrass, I don't need your money, since I have enough of my own. And I definitely don't want to keep you from anything you want to do. If you want to work or to study, that's all right with me. Also, I won't interfere with the friends you like to have. That is, as long as they aren't Death Eaters who want to use you to get at me.'
She turned around and showed him her blotchy face. 'Really?' Her voice sounded disbelieving.
'I'll take a magical oath upon that. Or, even better, let us sign a contract that states what each of us is allowed to do,' he suggested.
A real smile spread across her face. 'Thank you, Potter. I appreciate that.'
He returned her smile. 'Good! So we are agreed on that. What about asking Kreacher to fix us some breakfast? It seems we have a lot to talk about and I don't want to face that on an empty stomach.'
'That sounds good to me!' Greengrass smiled. She bent toward him and kissed his cheek. 'Thanks, Potter!'
They took turns in the shower and then settled down in the kitchen for breakfast.
Greengrass looked around appreciatively in the spotlessly clean room. 'This room looks much better than anything else I've seen of this house so far,' she remarked while she spread jam on a piece of toast.
'Yeah, Kreacher worked wonders with this room,' Harry agreed. 'However, as I told you yesterday, the rest of the house is a dung heap. Dangerous, too. My godfather came from a very dark family, and they've collected all kinds of dark magical artefacts. It's so bad that I'm considering bringing a team of curse breakers in.'
'That'll cost a pretty penny,' Greengrass warned. 'Coming from a semi-dark family, I know quite a lot about dark artefacts. If you don't mind, I'll have a look before you squander your money on the Goblins.'
'Uh – why would you care how I spend my money, Greengrass?'
She sighed and waved her left hand in front of him, showing off her ring. 'We're married, Potter, or did you already forget? As your wife, I'd say I have an interest in how you spend your money. I don't know how much you're worth, but I can tell you there isn't much left of my Hogwarts trust, and with the way we got married I wouldn't count on my father giving us the customary dowry. We both haven't finished our educations yet, so it's possible that money will be pretty tight for us until then!'
'Oh!' He considered her words and then also sighed. 'Sorry, Greengrass, I've never cared much about money. But I guess you're right. You seem to know much more about these things than I do.' He took a bite of bacon, chewed and then said, 'Have a look at the artefacts, if you like. After what you told me, I guess you'll be living here, too. So it's only fair that you should have your say in the renovating and redecorating of the house.'
She smiled. 'Thank you. That is very considerate of you, Potter.'
When she smiled, two dimples appeared in her cheeks, Harry discovered. Also, the colour of her eyes seemed to become brighter. He called himself to order. There were bigger problems on his hand than the colour of Greengrass' eyes, however intriguing they were. 'So, where will we be going from here?' he asked.
Greengrass put her slice of toast back on her plate and let out a deep breath. 'As I see it, we have two options, Potter. The first one is that we both can't cope with this marriage and are forever at each other's throats until one of us is ready to kill the other. Which will be a bad thing, because magical marriage vows are designed to prevent that outcome. If one of us tried to kill the other, he'd also die.'
Harry made a face. 'That's not an option for me. I've just escaped a maniac and would like to enjoy my life from now on.'
She actually chuckled at that appreciatively. 'The other option is that we somehow make this marriage work. We are not in love with each other, so it won't be easy. But maybe we can learn to become friends and to be at least content, if not happy.'
He weighed her words. 'You mean, accept the situation as it is and make the best of it?'
'Something like that,' she nodded.
'That's typical Slytherin, isn't it?'
'I suppose you're right,' she answered reluctantly. 'But it's also something every Pureblood is taught from early childhood on. We all grow up with the prospect of being entered into betrothal contracts by our parents. Love matches almost never happen. So, the best you can expect as a Pureblood girl is a husband who treats you decently and with whom you can become friends. From what I know of you, Potter, and how you behaved this morning, I know you'll treat me decently. I hope we can become friends one day. I'm willing to make the effort, but I don't know if you have it in you. I remember a time at Hogwarts when you used to be angry and sulk a lot because things weren't going well for you.' She took a deep breath. 'When I think of the alternative that made me run away from home, I count myself lucky that I ended with you, Potter.'
He turned red at her last words, but considered them with a thoughtful expression on his face, while he ran a hand through his hair. 'Look, Greengrass, two months ago I escaped death by a hair's breadth. That gives you a completely new perspective on life, I can tell you. I vowed to myself that I'd stop wasting my life by butting my head against walls I can't tear down, making myself miserable while doing so, and focus instead on the things I'm able to do. Seems I just hit upon another wall.'
He gave her a wry grin, and she chuckled quietly.
'What I' m trying to say is, if you want to try to make the best of our situation, I'll do the same.' As mischievous grin appeared on his face and he winked at her. 'From what I saw of you, it probably won't cost me a big effort.'
That made her snort.
'Mind you, you're not the woman of my dreams, but I'll do my best that we feel at least comfortably with each other,' he went on. 'Deal?'
'Deal!' Greengrass confirmed.
They both grinned at each other, feeling as if a weight had been lifted from their shoulders.
They still had a long way before them, Harry mused to himself, but the first important step was made. He cast a surreptitious glance at the young woman across the table. His memories of last night were hazy, at best, but scraps of a heated snog in the back yard of the pub popped up in his mind. She had pressed him flat against the wall of the house and rubbed herself against him until he thought he was going to explode into his pants. Later, in Sirius bedroom, they had practically ripped the clothes off each other, and then she had done things to him with her mouth and her tongue he hadn't thought of in his wildest dreams, until he couldn't restrain himself any longer and had flipped her on her back. The memory of her ecstatic cries when he had buried his length in her excitingly tight, hot folds made the blood rush in his cheeks, and he bowed his head deep over his plate to hide his embarrassment from her. He certainly wouldn't mind a repetition of that! By the way she had reacted to his ministrations, spurring him on and begging for more, she had enjoyed it as much as he did. They might not be in love with each other, but there was no denying of a strong sexual attraction between them. It was a weak and shaky foundation, but at least a common ground they could start from. Having made up his mind, he suddenly felt ravenous and dug into his breakfast.
'So, what's on the agenda today?' he asked when he finally pushed back his plate.
She ticked the topics off her fingers. 'Firstly, you'd need to key me into your wards. Then we need to go to my old place and get my things. I also need to terminate my rental contract. There's no use in squandering money we might need on an apartment I won't be able to use anymore due to our marriage.' Again, she blushed, but went on determinately. 'We also need to talk about money. Since I'm not allowed to keep my own vault any longer, we have to transfer my money into your vault. Then you have to tell the Goblins to give me access to your vault. Also, I need to know how much money I'm allowed to take for my personal expenses.'
He shrugged his shoulders at her last words. 'I don't know. As much as you need, I guess.'
She gaped at him. 'Come again?'
'How am I supposed to know how much money you need, Greengrass? I have no idea of the costs of girl things. Take as much as you need.'
She gave him a warm smile. 'Thank you, Potter. That's very generous of you. I'm honoured by your trust and I promise not to overstep the mark.'
'You're welcome,' Harry mumbled, and an uncomfortable silence ensued between the newlyweds, while Greengrass tried to regain her composure.
'We also need to determine the household expenses. You'd need to tell me how much money you make each year, and then I'll need to work out a budget plan.'
Again, Harry shrugged his shoulders. 'I have no idea about my yearly income, or if there even is one,' he admitted.
For the second time that morning Greengrass looked at him as if he had grown another head. 'But ... Don't you read your monthly vault statements, Potter?'
'My what?' Now it was his turn to look at her as if she had spoken Gobbledigok. 'Sorry, Greengrass, but I never got any vault statements.'
'That is highly unusual,' she mused, leaning back in her chair. 'So, I think it's safe to guess nobody ever taught you how to manage your holdings, Potter?'
'No, all I know is that it's bad to spend more money than I own,' he replied in an attempt of humour. 'Also, I knew the money my parents left me had to last until I was able to find work, so I spent as little as possible during my Hogwarts days. There still should be left plenty in my vault of which we can live until I've got my NEWTs and start Auror training.'
Greengrass made a face.
'Don't you like my career plans, Greengrass?' Harry asked, feeling slightly irritated.
'No, that's all right with me,' she assured him. 'Being an Auror is a very prestigious position in our society, and I'm sure you'll do admirably and will climb the ranks in record time. I won't have to worry if you'll be able to support me and our children.'
'Our what?!' he exclaimed, his voice cracking.
She gave him a strained smile. 'I hope for the sake of both of us that we'll get there one day,' she said quietly.
He considered that. 'Yeah, I suppose you're right.'
'However, I guess I have to get used to the thought that my husband is pursuing a rather dangerous job. My plans for life included nothing like that, and I will need some time to get used to that. Sorry, Potter.'
He let that pass with a nod. Their ill-advised marriage would need a lot of adjustment on both sides to make it work, he thought.
'Anything else we need to do?' he asked. His head was already spinning from what she had told him so far.
'Oh, about a billion of other things,' she replied with a false cheerfulness. 'We'll get there eventually. Are you finished with your breakfast? Then we should proceed with our agenda for today posthaste.'
He nodded to that.
Five minutes later, he had included her into the Fidelius Charm on his house. With the help of Professor Flitwick he had taken down the old Fidelius Charm that included the surviving members of the Order of the Phoenix as Secret Keepers, and cast a new Fidelius Charm with Harry as the sole Secret Keeper the day before. After his break-up with Ginny, he didn't want an enraged member of the Weasley family coming after him, or, even worse, a tear-streaked Ginny begging him to give their relationship another try.
It was funny, he mused. Yesterday he had been devastated over their break-up. He had thought that he loved Ginny, and the discovery that she was shallow and even callous at heart had hurt him deeply. But so much had happened since then that had turned his life upside down that he didn't have the energy to mourn about his failed relationship any longer. What was a little heartbreak compared to the mess he was in right now?
Another five minutes later Greengrass had Apparated him to the room she had rented in an apartment in a Muggle neighbourhood. He watched how she neatly packed her few belongings and then handed in the termination of her rent to her landlord.
They returned to Grimmauld Place, so that Greengrass, who still wore the short dress from the previous evening, could change into proper robes. Harry also pulled robes over his jeans and t-shirt. He then Side-Along-Apparated Greengrass to Diagon Alley.
They had both put on their wizard hats and pulled the brim deep into their faces lest to be recognised. Keeping their eyes lowered, they managed to reach Gringotts without anyone recognising Harry.
'Good afternoon. I am Harry Potter and I need to talk to the manager of my vault,' Harry told the Goblin at the counter as Greengrass had instructed him.
The Goblin snapped his fingers. 'Take a seat in the waiting room. Director Ragnok will be with you in a couple of minutes.' He pointed with his long index finger to a door that had materialised in the wall opposite of the counter.
Harry took Greengrass by the elbow and guided her into the waiting room.
Greengrass waited until the door had closed behind them. Then she turned to Harry. 'Tell me, Potter, how much money do you really own?'
He ran a hand through his already messy hair. 'I already told you, I have no idea. The last time I visited my vault was the summer before our third year. I remember that the pile of Galleons went up to my chest. I hardly made a dent into it with the Galleons I took. There were also piles of Sickles and Knuts, almost as high as the pile of Galleons. After that, it became increasingly dangerous for me to show up in Diagon Alley, so Mrs Weasley went to the bank for me and also made my purchases.'
She put a finger on her lips, obviously pondering his words. 'That sounds as if you own considerably more money than I, but not like that much that it would explain why the director of Gringotts is personally managing your vault. He's only available for the really rich families, such as the Ogdens and the Lestranges.'
Harry sat down on one of the uncomfortable chairs the room provided. 'Maybe it has to do with my break-in, though I thought Kingsley has settled that with the Goblins. At least that's what he told me the day after the battle.'
Greengrass' eyes went wide. 'B...break-in? K...Kingsley?' she stuttered. She sat down beside him. 'All right, Potter, I think you owe me some explanations.'
He stiffened. 'I don't want to talk about it!'
'I thought as much. But we are married, Potter. We're in this for the rest of our lives. If you've got problems with the Goblins because of your break-in, that's going to have a huge impact on our financial situation. As your wife who is supposed to keep your household, you ought to warn me about possible repercussions, so that I am prepared and can take the appropriate measures.'
The look she gave him made him think of the Hungarian Horntail he had to face during the Triwizard Tournament, and he reconsidered his decision. Besides that, he had to admit she was right. As his wife she had to know.
'While we were on the run, we found out we had to get a certain – item that was hidden at Gringotts. We managed to get into the vault where that item was hidden, but then we were discovered, and we had to flee from the bank on the back of a dragon. That caused a lot of damage to the bank. Also, we set the dragon free after it brought us up north.'
She gaped at him. 'I -I guess I can see why the Goblins might be a trifle vexed with you,' she deadpanned. 'But you mentioned that has been sorted?'
Harry nodded. 'Yeah, that's what Kingsley told me the day after the Battle of Hogwarts. He said he personally talked to the director of Gringotts and made amends in the name of the Wizarding nation. He was sure there would be no further repercussions for me because of the break-in.'
'Let's hope you're right,' she sighed. 'You mentioned the name Kingsley. Did you mean Minister Shacklebolt?'
'Yeah, he's an old friend.'
Her eyes got wide. 'Wow, Potter, I had no idea you are that well connected!'
Harry ran a nervous hand through his hair. 'He's an old acquaintance from the days when the Ministry still denied that Voldemort was back. Kingsley always had my back. He worked in the background so that I could ... well, so that I could do the things I had to do to bring Voldemort down. He never asked questions, but simply accepted there were things I couldn't tell. That kind of trust really meant a lot to me, and earned him my trust in return. After the Battle, Kingsley became my mentor. I've lost everyone who was close to me during the war – my parents, my godfather and the last living best friend of my parents. Though the Weasleys have been great to me, I never felt comfortable to seek advice from them, maybe because they already have so many children they have to care for that I didn't want to be an additional burden. Also, Mrs Weasley can be rather smothering. I don't have these qualms when I talk to Kingsley. He accepts me as his equal, I guess. He gives advice, but he doesn't coddle me.'
He snapped his mouth shut. He had no idea why he had told her that much. Merlin, he barely knew her, and already told her more about himself than he had ever told Ron and Hermione or even Ginny. He was interrupted in his musings by a young Goblin.
'Director Ragnok is ready to see you!'
They followed the young Goblin down a corridor. A thick carpet cushioned their feet, and the walls were adorned by masterfully crafted, yet rather graphic magical paintings of battles of the many wars between Goblins and wizards.
Harry felt how Greengrass, who walked beside him, shuddered and kept her eyes lowered to the ground, so she had not to look at the barbaric paintings. He touched her arm briefly in a gesture he hoped that was supporting, and was rewarded when she gave him a thankful smile.
The young Goblin ushered them into an office that was adorned with bookshelves and a huge, ornate desk made of highly polished mahogany. The Goblin behind the desk was dressed in the dark suit with vest and fob chain that seemed to be customary for the Goblins at Gringotts, though his suit apparently was made of a finer material than the suits of the Goblins behind the counters in the hall. Also, this Goblin appeared to be much older than any other Goblin Harry had seen. His head was bald, and his face was lined with thousands of wrinkles. His dark eyes, however, looked sharp and full of energy when he raised his gaze from the ledger in front of him as they entered the office.
'Ah, Mrs and Mr Potter. I've been expecting you today. Please, take a seat,' he greeted them, not raising from his chair.
Harry and Greengrass exchanged a look while they sat down.
'Our records are self-updating and inform us immediately of any change in the status of our clients,' Director Ragnok answered their unasked questions. 'Let me offer you my congratulations to your union. May it be fruitful and prosperously!'
Harry and Greengrass thanked him politely, though they did not dare look at each other.
'Fruitful and prosperously, my arse!' Harry thought. By her stiff posture he could tell that Greengrass shared his reservations.
'It's most unfortunate that you didn't take the time to make a proper betrothal contract before your union,' Director Ragnok continued. 'Due to the barbaric law you chose to marry under, your vault, Mrs Potter, has to be closed and its content added to the Potter fortune.'
Greengrass winced at that, but nodded in silent resignation.
Ignoring her reaction, Director Ragnok went on. 'However, you will be relieved to hear that the Potter House Charter prevents you from the worst repercussions of your rash union. We'll add your fortune to the vault of the Potter Wives Trust. In this vault, the Potters collected the dowries of their wives since the times Gringotts was founded. From the day of the marriage, every Potter wife has access to her share of the interest. Currently, you are the only female entitled to the interest of that vault. Eventually, you'll have to share it with the wife of your firstborn son. According to the Potter House Charter, you're allowed to take your yearly share of the interest and keep it in a vault in your own name. I daresay you'll be most satisfied with the current earnings. You'll be relieved to hear that the Potter House Charter prevents the reigning head of house from denying you access to the interest or taking away the key to your personal vault by the threat of losing his magic if he even attempts so.'
Harry felt how Greengrass visibly relaxed beside him, and he began to understand how much the prospect of being completely dependent on his goodwill had scared her. He reached out with his hand and gently pressed her arm. She turned her head and smiled briefly at him, but Director Ragnog demanded their attention with his next words.
'I took the freedom to close your trust vault, Mrs Potter. The key has already been magically returned to Gringotts. Also, I've opened a new vault in your name and transferred this year's interest to that vault. Here are the key and the opening vault statement.' He handed Greengrass a small, golden key and a sheet of parchment.
Greengrass took the items with a soft 'Thank you!' She looked briefly at the parchment in her hands. When her eyes fell at the number on the bottom of the parchment, she let out a loud gasp. 'No way! That's more than three times as much as the content of the trust vault my parents gave me!'
'You'll find out that the Potters are a very wealthy family, though that is not common knowledge in the magical world, Mrs Potter,' Director Ragnog said and turned to Harry.
'I'm very happy to tell you that your current change of status finally enables Gringotts to fulfil the stipulations of the will of your late grandfather Fleamont Potter, Mr Potter, since you becoming married before your eighteenth birthday is one of the conditions that enables you to get full access to your inheritance.'
'Huh?' Harry asked. He had no idea what Director Ragnok was talking about, and ignored the slight poke in the side Greengrass gave him.
'By the stipulations of the will of your grandfather you are his sole heir. From today on, you have access to all investments in the magical world as well as in the Muggle world. Of course, you'll have a board of managers to advise you, but the last decision is up to you. That brings me to an important matter we have to discuss with you.' He cleared his throat.
'Gringotts has noticed that our owls haven't been able to reach you since the death of your parents. It has also come to our attention that wizards and witches who wanted to thank you after the first downfall of the Dark Lord met the same problem.'
'That's true!' Greengrass interjected. 'My owl also couldn't reach him!'
When Harry and Director Ragnok stared at her, she covered her mouth with her hand and turned a violent shade of red.
Harry thought he couldn't believe his ears. 'You sent an owl to me?' Harry asked, just to make sure he heard her right.
'Yes, when I was six years old. I asked for your autograph,' Greengrass replied, still very red in the face.
Harry gave her an incredulous glance. 'So, you're not better than any fan girl at Hogwarts, Greengrass? Tell me, did you also belong to the Harry Potter Fan Club?'
'Certainly not!' Greengrass fumed, her embarrassment gone as quickly as it had come. 'Any silly notions I had about you were drowned out when I noticed what a pathetic little runt you were in our first year.'
He smirked. 'Ah, good! You almost had me there, Greengrass!'
Director Ragnok gave them a close-lipped smile. 'However interesting this little lover's banter might be, I'd like to go on with our meeting. Time is gold, after all.'
Harry and Greengrass both turned red at his words, and with an apologising gesture Harry motioned Director Ragnok to go on.
'We're afraid that a ban that prevents you from receiving owls except those from a very small circle of people has been put on your person, Mr Potter. At present, we don't have the time to investigate that further. But it's paramount that your managers can get into contact with you any time without the danger of your mail being intercepted, so we'd like you to set up a Banishing Box with Gringotts, so that you can receive our mail. Of course, Gringotts will provide the customary service that comes with the box, such as scanning your mail for curses, dark items and potions, and also filter any Howlers that might be sent to you.'
From the corner of his eye Harry saw that Greengrass seemed to be surprised at these words, and made a mental note to ask her later what this was about. But since her demeanour betrayed no objections to Director Ragnok's suggestion, he said, 'I agree with your suggestion, Director Ragnok. What will I have to do to obtain such a box?'
Director Ragnok gave him another close-lipped smile and replied, 'I took already the liberty to make the necessary arrangements. You'll just have to sign here, Mr Potter. The box will be delivered to you when you leave our house.' He pushed a sheet of parchment to Harry and indicated to the spot where Harry had to sign. Then he handed him an extraordinarily sharp pointed quill with a blood red feather.
Harry made a face when he recognised the blood quill, but took it and signed quickly, ignoring the sharp pain on the back of his hand. He waved his other hand over the cut and healed it with a silent spell, not noticing the impressed looks Director Ragnok and Greengrass gave him.
'You might want to include Mrs Potter into the service of the box,' Director Ragnok continued.
Harry exchanged a look with Greengrass.
'Actually, I think that's a good idea. As soon as the news of our marriage's out, I'm bound to receive a lot of Howlers,' Greengrass said.
'Especially when the circumstances of our marriage come out into the open,' Harry added mentally, and he could see that Greengrass' thoughts went into the same direction. He nodded at Director Ragnok. 'She's right. Please, add my wife, Director Ragnok.'
My wife! It felt strange to speak of Greengrass that way, Harry thought, but somehow he couldn't help himself but feel a slight tinge of pride.
Director Ragnok pushed the parchment to Greengrass and handed her the blood quill. She signed without any indication that she felt the sting of the quill. Before she could pull out her wand to heal the small cut, Harry cast a silent and wandless Healing Spell. Her eyes widened in surprise as she noticed her hand healing itself by magic, and she sent Harry a small, thankful smile.
'The content of the vault your parents left you has been added to the personal vault of the Potter Head of House. Beginning as of today, that vault will serve as your personal vault until the day you die. Then the vaults and its content will be transferred to your heir. You have received fifty percent of the interest of the Potter holdings from the day your father died, as it is written down in the Potter House Charter. The accumulated interest should be sufficient to enable any changes you and Mrs Potter will want to make at the Potter residences. Also, beginning as of today, you'll receive fifty percent of the yearly interest to support yourself and your family. The other half of the interest is transferred to the Potter Younger Children Trust, so that you don't have to make provisions for younger children who are not entitled to inherit, in case there are any. Any other items, as art, furniture and the jewellery, are stored in the Potter Family vault. You're entitled to use these items, but per the Potter Family Charter they can't be sold without the consent of your wife. Also, you may want to give your wife access to that vault so that she can take out jewellery and items she wants to use for your residences.'
Harry nodded mutely to that, and Director Ragnok made a note into the ledger in front of him.
He then pushed the ledger toward Harry and put a large, golden key on top of it. 'You'll find any information pertaining to the Potter holdings and your personal vault in this ledger. This is the key to your personal vault. Please excuse me now, I have other meetings to attend to.'
He snapped his fingers. The door to his office opened to let in the young Goblin that had guided Harry and Greengrass to Director Ragnok. They bade good bye to Director Ragnok and followed the young Goblin back to the hall. There, another Goblin waited for them and gave them an ornate, wooden box that thankfully could be shrunken to the size of a matchbox. He also handed Harry a bag full of Galleons, a wallet with Muggle pounds and a credit card. Then he turned to Greengrass and gave her also a bag of Galleons, Muggle money and a credit card.
Harry shrunk the Banishing Box as well as the ledger Director Ragnok had given him and put them into the Moke skin pouch that had been hanging around his neck ever since Hagrid had given it to him as a present for his seventeenth birthday. The key to his new personal vault followed suit.
Only few people knew that this pouch contained his prized possessions: the Invisibility Cloak he had inherited from his father, the Marauder's Map, his holly wand and his Gringotts key.
No one except Harry knew that the pouch also contained the Elder Wand. As far as the Wizarding world was concerned, he had put back that wand into Dumbledore's grave right after the battle, and the grave was surrounded by extra strong protection wards set up by Professor Flitwick and a team of Unspeakables and Curse Breakers from Gringotts to prevent another theft. Only Harry knew that the wand in the grave was a fake he had conjured with the Elder Wand the morning he was supposed to hide the powerful magical weapon for eternity.
Harry and Greengrass walked out of the bank and onto Diagon Alley. Harry started to speak, but Greengrass interrupted him.
'Not here!' she hissed. 'Let's find a quiet place, preferably in the Muggle world, and talk there!'
'You're right,' Harry nodded. 'Any suggestions?'
'I think I know exactly the place where to go.' Greengrass replied. She took him by the arm and guided him through the Leaky Cauldron onto Charing Cross Road. There she led him to a quiet side alley, where she transfigured their robes into smart casual Muggle attire. Back on Charing Cross Road, she flagged down a taxi that took them to Harrods.
'Where are we going?' Harry asked when they left the cab.
'To the Georgian Restaurant for tea,' Greengrass replied. 'I've been there often with Tracey and her parents. It's unlikely that anyone from the magical world will find us there. If you set up your ingenious silent and wandless Privacy Wards and Anti-Listening-Charms, we will be quite undisturbed, I imagine.'
She led him to the restaurant on the fourth floor. Harry had to agree, it was a nice place to sit and talk, and the tea was sumptuous. He cast the charms she had required after the waiter had served them and looked at her expectantly.
Greengrass took her time to pour the tea. Then she leaned back in her chair and regarded him with a stern look that reminded him of Professor McGonagall. 'You could have told me about the provisions made by your house charter for the women that marry into your family, Potter, instead of letting me stew for a couple of hours.' Her voice sounded miffed.
'I had no idea! In fact, until our meeting with Director Ragnok I didn't even knew that the Potters had a house charter, or that I am the heir of my grandfather!' he defended himself.
Greengrass looked at him incredulously. 'Do you really expect me to believe that rubbish, Potter? All Pureblood children are taught about their house rules. You might be a Halfblood, but your father is from an old Pureblood family, so you certainly got the same education as all of us.'
'And that's where you're wrong, Greengrass,' Harry interrupted her tirade. 'I might be from an old Pureblood family, but I was raised by Muggles. Muggles who hated anything magical, on top of that. I didn't know that I was a wizard before my eleventh birthday, and even then my relatives still tried to prevent me from entering the magical world.'
He interrupted himself and took a sip of tea. He felt uncomfortable that he had to give her that much personal information, but his gut feeling told him that as his wife she had the right to know. That and the fact she would probably hex him into next week if he didn't give her a good explanation why he didn't tell her anything about the Potter House Charter.
'When I was at Hogwarts, the adults in my life never told me anything about that. I have no idea if they didn't know or just didn't care. I can't ask them anymore; they are all gone. You might say I should have asked questions. But there was always so much going on in my life that that never occurred to me. Also, due to the wards Dumbledore had set up at my relative's house and Voldemort's return, I was virtually a prisoner when I was home for the holidays, so even if I had thought of going to Gringotts and ask them about my financial situation, it was impossible for me to do so.'
He took another sip of tea and watched with relief how the angry expression on her face dissipated.
For a few minutes they both indulged in their tea without speaking. Then Harry remembered that he had wanted to ask her something at Gringotts.
'Say, Greengrass, back at Gringotts you looked surprised when Director Ragnok suggested that I should obtain a Banishing Box. Why?'
Greengrass put down her cup of tea and daintily dabbed her mouth with her napkin. 'The Gringotts Banishing Box is only offered to their most important clients. Though my family is well off, we're not considered to be sufficiently important for that honour. Your family's wealth and standing must be even better than that of the Malfoys, because I know for certain they never had a Banishing Box, or all of Hogwarts would have known it.'
He considered her words for a moment. Then his mouth formed a silent 'Oh!'
Greengrass regarded him with a strange smile. 'I have to apologise to you, Potter. This morning I said you got the better deal out of our marriage. With everything I know now about your house charter, I'd say I was wrong. I know now that I made the better deal. I got an obviously rich husband, freedom in financial matters and high social standing out of it, while you are shackled to a witch with a mediocre dowry that comes from a family with a dubious reputation. That's not what anyone would have expected from the Saviour of the Light. I'd not be surprised if everybody will tell you I trapped you into marriage as soon as the circumstances of our marriage come out into the open.'
Harry put down his sandwich. 'I thought we'd already agreed that we are both to blame for the circumstances of our marriage, Greengrass, so there's no need to be sorry. Also, I see no reason why they should ever become public knowledge.'
'They will!' Greengrass contradicted. 'The blacksmith and his wife know. They will talk about it, that's in the human nature. You're the Chosen One, Potter, so this is too juicy a story not to come out.' Her voice sounded resigned.
Harry considered her words. He thought of the many times he had been exposed to public contempt and even ridicule because of the untruthful stories that circulated about him. By now he was used to the Wizarding world worshipping him in one week and condemning him in the next, and he knew that he could face another round of ridicule when the truth about his marriage came out. But was that also true for Greengrass? Somehow, Harry doubted that. She had belonged to the quiet Slytherins during their Hogwarts days, always keeping in the background and never openly voicing her support for one side or the other. He supposed that had been her way to survive the conflict that divided the school unscathed, but it also made it unlikely that she would be able to weather the upcoming shitstorm. He had the vague feeling that it was up to him as her husband to stand by her side and shield her from the fallout, but he had no idea how to do that.
He let out a deep sigh. 'So, let's suppose the truth will come out and hell breaks loose. I think I have a good idea what the Daily Prophet and Witch Weekly will write about you then. Any idea what we can do about that?'
She seemed to have an idea, but hesitated to speak.
'Out with it, Greengrass! I'm thankful for any suggestions!' He took another bite of his sandwich, giving her time to order her thoughts.
'Actually, there are two things you might consider doing,' she began haltingly. 'The interview you gave the Quibbler during our fifth year was a masterstroke and did a lot to correct the public opinion about you. You should do something like that again.'
'Not I, we, Greengrass!' Harry corrected her. 'We're in this mess together, so I'll be damned if I make a cat's-paw out of myself for your sake!'
She had to grin at that. 'I'm glad you see it this way, Potter. That makes my next suggestion easier. To prevent the gossip, we simply have to present a united front to the outside world.'
It took him a few moments to understand the meaning of her words. 'You mean, we'll have to play the happy newlyweds?' As much as he tried, he wasn't able to keep the horror out of his voice.
'Don't give me that deer-caught-in-the-wandlight look, Potter. From what Kreacher told us this morning, you didn't seem to find me repulsive last night,' she giggled.
He had the grace to blush at that. 'That might be true, but unfortunately I can't remember much of that!' he growled, but felt at the same time how the blush crept in his cheeks.
That made her laugh even harder. When he finally understood the absurdity of their situation, he had to join her laughter. Their laughter cleared the air.
'It's not that bad, Potter. Thankfully I come from a Pureblood family and Purebloods have the reputation to behave with the utmost restraint when they are in company when it comes to matters of the heart. Nobody will be surprised if you are considerate of my sensibilities. It will also help that I maintained the reputation of an Ice Queen during our time at Hogwarts. So all you'll have to do is kiss my hand frequently and peck me on the cheek in greeting and for good bye. And, of course, all our disagreements have to be kept under wraps until we are behind our own doors and strong Silencing Charms. Do you think you can do that?'
Harry made a face. 'I'm all right with the hand kissing and pecks on the cheek, though I'll probably feel like a ponce, but I'm not as confident when it comes to keeping my anger under wraps. I've always been told that I wear my heart on my sleeve and am too easy to goad.'
Greengrass bent her head to the side. 'Yes, I remember you were constantly exploding during our fifth year. Tracey and I used to call you Mount Etna because of that between ourselves.'
She giggled as he glared at her.
'However, you were different during our sixth year. I can't remember any spectacular outbursts from that year. Also, I've watched you today. You have to be under pressure because of our situation, but up till now I've felt no trace of anger coming from you.'
He gave her a wry smile. 'Believe me, Greengrass, I had my moments and I still have.'
'Then I should probably show you the meditation exercises I used during our time at Hogwarts to maintain my reputation as the residing Ice Queen,' she mused.
'I'd be grateful for that,' he replied, and he meant it.
Greengrass worried her lower lip between her teeth. 'I also should tell my parents. Even though I ran away from home, it feels wrong to me to have them read the news of our marriage in the newspapers, especially if the article is written by Skeeter. We ought to visit them as soon as possible.'
Harry winced at the prospect, but agreed. He had told her he was willing to make their marriage work, and that probably also included maintaining a certain relationship to her parents.
'You also ought to tell your friends,' Greengrass reminded him.
'Ron and Hermione are currently in Australia, searching for Hermione's parents. They are travelling as Muggles, so I can't send them an owl. I have no idea where they are right now, so Muggle mail is out of the question. And I'd rather face a Hungarian Horntail again than to return to the Burrow and tell Ginny and Mrs Weasley about our wedding. I'll write to Neville and Luna and tell them the news, though.'
'Coward!' Greengrass snorted. 'You can write to the Weasleys when you write to Longbottom and Lovegood.'
If Harry had thought they would return to Grimmauld Place after their tea at Harrods, he was mistaken. With the impending visit to her parents, Greengrass insisted on getting him measured for robes from Twillfitt and Tattings. It seemed to him like an eternity until she finally agreed with the tailor on the appropriate cut of the robes and picked out the right fabric from the dozens of rolls of fabric they were shown. To Harry, they looked all the same, but Greengrass assured him there were subtle differences that would indicate to his social standing and that her parents would very likely notice.
'You'd like to imply that you are above them, Potter, money-wise as well as in your social standing. Things like that are important to my parents, and if we want them to leave us alone, you'd have to make sure right from the beginning that you are moving in circles that are out of their reach,' Greengrass explained.
'I'll take you up on that,' Harry sighed and let her have her way.
But his troubles were not yet over when they returned to Grimmauld Place.
Greengrass insisted on giving Sirius old bedroom a complete makeover. 'It reeks of mould,' she complained.
Harry had to admit she had a point there.
'And I refuse to stay in a room that has distasteful pictures of half-naked sluts on motorbikes on the walls!' she announced.
'Eh – I thought you'd like to have your own room, Greengrass,' Harry interjected.
She gave him an annoyed side glance. 'That won't do, Potter. Living apart will weaken our magic. It doesn't matter if we live in separate houses or separate rooms. Whether you like it or not, we'll have to share a bedroom for the rest of our lives. And we'll eventually again have to practise how to make little wizards, though I suppose that won't mean too much of a sacrifice on your part.'
Harry turned beet red at the undeniable truth of her statement, but her blunt speech had efficiently silenced him. He raised no more objections against helping her redecorating the room.
With Kreacher's help they got rid of the offending posters.
'Do you want to keep them, Potter?' Greengrass asked sweetly.
Harry didn't deign her an answer. Instead he directed a silent and wandless 'Incendio!' at the posters, which made her shriek. He was dumb enough not to hide his amusement.
Greengrass narrowed her eyes, pulled out her wand and sent a silent Tickling Hex at him, that he could barely dodge.
He retaliated with another silent and wandless Tickling Hex squarely into her ribcage. Eventually, he lifted the hex, but not before she begged for it.
A rather dishevelled Greengrass got up from the floor of Sirius' old bedroom – no, their bedroom. Harry admitted to himself that she looked hot with her mussed up hair and pink cheeks, even though -or maybe just because – her beautiful eyes were glaring daggers at him.
'Truce?' Harry offered and gave her his best puppy-dog-eyes.
'Truce!' Greengrass huffed, though the corners of her mouth twitched.
They then went to the difficult task to pick out colours for their room.
'I like the red and gold,' Harry said.
Greengrass crossed her arms in front of her chest. 'I refuse to sleep in Gryffindor colours!'
'All right, but then silver and green is also out of the question,' Harry grinned.
'Agreed,' Greengrass replied.
Eventually, they agreed on a colour scheme of cream and muted gold, and called Kreacher to change the room to their liking. The queen-sized four-poster bed now had cream coloured curtains, and the bed linen was cream and muted gold. They kept the huge wardrobe, but the desk was transformed into a dresser for Greengrass, with a matching cream coloured chair. Greengrass then asked Kreacher to add a sitting area with a small sofa and a chair, all done in cream coloured satin, and decorated with cushions in cream and gold.
Happy with the result of their hard work, they went down to the kitchen to have a rather late dinner. After dinner, they stayed in the kitchen, because no other room of the house was yet ready for occupation, but it didn't take long until they both started yawning.
They shared an uneasy glance.
'I don't know about you, Potter,' Greengrass started before a huge yawn almost split her face into halves. She quickly put her hand in front of her mouth and then went on. 'I'm dead on my feet. There's no use in putting off the inevitable. Let's just be sensible about this and go to bed.'
Harry nodded. He couldn't help but admire her prosaic attitude to their ill-advised marriage, he thought while he followed her up to their room. During the day he had done his best to emulate her example. He didn't want to show any weakness in front of her. She was a Slytherin, after all, and he wouldn't put it past her to use his weak points against him, even though she had behaved decent so far.
Greengrass went to the bathroom to get ready, and he changed into his pyjama bottoms. When she returned, it was his turn in the bathroom.
She was already in bed when he came back, and he padded around the bed to his side and climbed in. 'Nox!' he thought and the lights in the bedroom went out.
They both lay on their sides, backs turned to each other, and waited in vain for sleep to claim them. Harry let the events of the day pass through his mind and sighed. Even though there was no doubt for him that he was through with Ginny, there was also no denying that he didn't love Greengrass and had made the biggest mistake of his life when he decided to marry her in an alcohol-induced hormone rush. He could only hope that they were able to make it work, and that he would not be ready to commit suicide because of his screwed up life sometime in the future.
He could feel Greengrass shift and sigh beside him, and he knew that in the darkness of the night her fears of the future were as bad as his.
He tried to imagine what his friends would say. He could probably call himself lucky if he got away with nothing more damaging than a Bat-Bogey-Hex from Ginny, he mused. Luna would tell him he had been infested by Wrackspurts or some other strange magical vermin only she ever had heard of. Neville would back him, however the outcome of his marriage was going to be. Hermione would deliver a lecture about the risks of getting drunk, tell him that he got what he deserved and then give him a book with advice about how to lead a happy marriage. And Ron – well, Ron would probably be the most difficult to deal with. He would take umbrage that Greengrass was a Slytherin, that was granted. He would probably never trust her, and that would put a strain on their friendship. But on the other hand Ron had belonged to those Gryffindor boys who had secretly lusted after Greengrass. There had been quite a lot of them in their house. Ron, Seamus and Dean in his year, the twins, and that oaf MacLaggen, to name only a few.
At the thought that he was condemned to share a bed with the girl who had been the wet dream of at least half of the male population of the Gryffindor dorms and somehow couldn't find it in himself to appreciate his luck, he had to chuckle.
'What's so funny, Potter?' Greengrass asked. She had rolled on her back and he heard her turn her head in his direction.
He also rolled on his back and turned his face to her. In the lamplight that fell through the slit in the curtains he could see the faint gleam of her eyes. 'I just thought that half of my dorm mates would give anything to be in my shoes right now, but that I'm somehow lacking their enthusiasm.'
She also snorted. 'Same here. About half of the female population of Slytherin wouldn't have minded to share some quality time in a broom closet with you, Potter, especially in our sixth year.'
'What?' he exclaimed.
'You didn't know?'
'I had no idea!' Another thought hit him. 'Who ...' he started, but then interrupted himself. 'Never mind. There are some things I probably don't want to know.'
She giggled at that. 'Oh, you want to know who was after you? Well, let me think for a moment. There was ...'
'No!' he shouted. 'Stop it, Greengrass, or I'll tell you who the blokes in my dorms were who probably thought of you when they wanked!'
'Eww, too much information, Potter!'
They both broke out into laughter.
She reached out with her hand and briefly touched his. 'Thanks, Potter. I needed a good laugh.'
'You're welcome. Good night, Greengrass!'
They both turned around and fell asleep quickly.
Much too soon for Harry's taste Kreacher woke them up the next morning.
Like the day before, the scent of citrus and lavender filled his nostrils. Harry smiled in his sleepy state and opened his eyes.
He lay on his side. A honey-blonde head was buried into his chest. Harry had a strange sense of deja-vue.
The moment he woke up, the girl by his side stirred. She opened her eyes. Realising where she had ended in her sleep, her cheeks turned pink, but she looked up at Harry and smiled. 'Thanks, Potter. You make a nice teddy bear!'
Harry snorted. 'You're welcome!'
Greengrass took her wand from the bedside table and cast 'Tempus!' When she noticed the time, she let out a shriek and jumped out of bed. 'I'll have to hurry or I'll be late for work!' She vanished into the bathroom.
Harry had nothing special planned for that day, so he dozed off again. However, he was woken when Greengrass entered the room again.
She wore a black sheath dress with long sleeves and matching high heels. Her hair was pulled together in an elegant knot at the back of her head, and she had applied only little make-up.
'Wow, you look stunning!' The compliment had escaped his lips before he even knew it. Harry turned beet red.
She smiled at him over her shoulder while she fiddled with her earring. 'Thanks, Potter. This is the way I'm supposed to dress at the boutique. Work clothes, so to speak.'
'Doesn't matter. They look good on you.'
She had finally put the stubborn earring in its place and now turned around to him. 'Do you want to join me for breakfast?'
He nodded and got out of bed. Slipping into Sirius' old bathrobe, he followed her down the stairs, and did his best not to stare at her swaying hips in the elegant dress.
Breakfast was a hurried affair, with Greengrass constantly looking at the stylish silver watch on her wrist. Finally she jumped up. 'I'll have to go or I'll be late. Bye, Potter. Bye, Kreacher!'
She whirled out of the kitchen. Seconds later Harry heard the front door shut behind her. He snorted when he looked at his house elf.
Kreacher stood in the middle of the room and stared at the door through which Greengrass had just disappeared, a look of adoration on his ugly face.
'Kreacher!' He had to address his house elf once more until he woke up from his daze.
'Master!' he gasped. 'Kreacher is a bad elf for not immediately answering to master. Kreacher has to ...'
'It's all right, Kreacher. I don't blame you. I guess it's as hard for you to get used to a new mistress as it is for me to get used to a wife,' he added quietly to himself.
He showered and dressed, and then called out to Kreacher. 'Kreacher, I'm going out!'
He Apparated from the doorsteps, and seconds later he found himself in the backyard of the Tonk's home.
Andy's eyes lit up as she opened the door. 'Harry! What a surprise! I didn't expect you before Wednesday. Teddy will be delighted to see you.'
She let him into the house, and Harry followed her into the living room. A broad smile appeared on his face when he saw the pram with his godson. At the age of almost twelve weeks Teddy beamed happily at everyone who peeked into his pram. Today was no exception. The infant gave Harry a broad, toothless smile and gurgled, while his tuft of silky baby hair underwent a rapid change of colours. That was a sign of utmost contentment, Harry had learned.
'Hey, little guy!' he smiled at his godson when he picked him up. Teddy snuggled against his chest, and Harry inhaled deeply the unique baby smell of powder and sour milk.
Andromeda watched them from the door. 'You're good with him, Harry, and he loves it when you are here. But what brings you here today?'
Harry let out a deep sigh while he followed her into the kitchen, his godson on his arm. 'I need to talk to you, Andy. I've screwed up royally and I need your advice.'
Andromeda turned away from the stove, the tea-kettle in her hands. 'Don't you tell me you got the Weasley girl pregnant!' she exclaimed, a look of horror on her face.
'No, it's nothing like that,' he assured her, while his heart plummeted into his stomach. Had he and Greengrass ever thought of contraceptives on their wedding night? 'In fact, I broke up with her two days ago.'
Andromeda breathed out audibly. 'I'm relieved to hear that,' she remarked and put the kettle on the stove. She lit the stove with a flick of her wand and then turned back to Harry. 'I'm sorry to tell you, Harry, but I always had the impression she was nothing more than a fan girl who liked to bask in your glory.'
'You weren't that far off the mark,' Harry replied and shifted Teddy from one arm to the other as he sat down at the table. 'It took me some time to realise she only used me, but when I did, I broke up with her immediately.'
'I guess that makes things with the Weasleys awkward. You are still staying with them, don't you? If you need another place to bunk in, you're welcomed to my guest room, Harry.' She pulled out a chair from the table and sat down opposite of him.
'Thanks, Andy, that's very nice of you. But I'm staying at Grimmauld Place. Kreacher has returned from Hogwarts and we're trying to get the house back into shape,' Harry smiled.
She returned his smile. 'Now, that's good to hear. Even though I was disinherited by my family, I hated to see my ancestral home going to ruin. I'm sure you'll return the house to its old glory. It was a rather pleasant home in the days of my grandparents, but then came Aunt Walburga. Her taste of interior decoration left a lot to be desired!'
They both laughed at that.
The kettle whistled, and Andromeda got up to prepare the tea. While she took the china out of the cupboard, she asked, 'You wanted to talk with me about something, Harry?'
Harry ran a nervous hand through his hair. 'I got married two days ago.'
The cup Andy held in her hand fell to the ground and shattered into little shards. Harry automatically held out his hand to cast a silent and wandless 'Reparo!' and then Summoned the cup to the table.
'Thank you,' Andy said reflexively. She took her time to put another cup for herself, sugar, biscuits and the teapot onto the table, and then sat down. While she poured the tea, she said, 'You'd better tell me everything from the beginning. Since you told me you broke up with Ginny, I guess you married someone else. That is very surprising. I didn't know you were seeing other girls while you were together with Ginny.'
'I wasn't,' Harry replied. He took a sip of tea to fortify himself and then told her the story how he met Greengrass and ended up married with her. He also told her about their agreement to make their marriage work and the measures they planned to prevent ugly stories being spread about them.
Andy listened to his story without interrupting him once. 'Oh dear, you never do anything half-ways, do you, Harry?' she sighed when he had finished his story. She reached with her hand over the table and grasped his. 'Yes, you've messed up, but I'm relieved to see that you and your wife already discovered that it is up to you if you'll be utterly miserable because of that for the rest of your life.' She squeezed his hand gently and then let it go. 'So, Cyrus Greengrass' daughter? You could have done worse. She's from good stock. Her family never was in the Pureblood Supremacy movement. They always were more interested in their business and kept good connections with both sides.'
She leaned back in her seat and gave Harry a thoughtful look. 'Listen, Harry, you said you are amazed how calmly your wife deals with the situation. Well, it's what she's been raised for. She grew up with the expectation that someday she'd have to marry a man her parents chose for her. There was no guarantee she knew that man before or might not find him repulsive. It's been ingrained into her that it's most important to please her husband, so she'll make it easy for you. All I ask of you is that you'll be as thoughtful. After all, there must have been an attraction between the two of you, or you wouldn't have run off like that. So, I'm not asking you to do something impossible.'
Harry blushed while he ran a hand through his already messy hair once again. Andromeda was right, he felt attracted to Greengrass, and he was sure that attraction was mutual. 'Yeah, I guess it's only fair that I also try. What worries me most at the moment is what will happen when our story comes out in the open. Greengrass thinks it's only a matter of time. I'm not sure if the measures we agreed on will help to prevent the gossip.'
'Not completely, but it'll take the sting out of it. But, Harry, please stop calling your wife Greengrass. Call her Daphne, or "dear" or maybe even "love", if you can, or everybody will know that you're faking your relationship.'
Harry grimaced, but nodded his agreement. He had to admit that Andy's advice was sound, though he couldn't imagine that he would ever call Gr... - Daphne "love".
Andy took another sip of tea and put her cup back onto the saucer. 'Also, you might look in your family vault for engagement rings given to the women of your family. Nothing will announce your commitment to your wife more clearly to the Wizarding world than giving her a family heirloom. Also, you might consider to take your wife on a honeymoon, as it is custom. It will help both of you to get to know each other, and following conventions will also indicate that there's nothing unusual about your marriage.'
'That's a good idea!' Harry's face brightened. 'I'll do that immediately.'
He emptied his cup and stood up.
Andy followed him out of the kitchen and watched how he put Teddy back in his pram. 'Will you come Saturday for your usual time with Teddy?'
'Yes, definitely,' he nodded while he covered the little boy with a soft blanket.
'Bring Daphne along,' Andy suggested.
Harry smiled. 'I'd love to. Thanks, Andy!'
He gave his godson a kiss on his soft cheek, hugged Andy and soon was on his way back to Grimmauld Place.
He sat down at the kitchen table and pulled the ledger Director Ragnok had given him out of his Moke skin pouch. He leafed through the ledger. It seemed to be self-updating and was subdivided into different categories. "Real Estate", he read, "Shares" was another one, but there was also a "List of House Elves" and finally the one he was looking for – "Potter Family Vault – Table of Contents". This one also was subdivided into categories. "Family Papers and Grimoires" – Harry made a mental note to have a look at these as soon as possible – "Furniture", "Art and Paintings", and finally, "Jewellery".
He read the descriptions of the jewels held in his Family vault. Most of it came with short references to the Potters it had been given to or who had worn it as an heirloom. He looked for the engagement ring of his mother, but came up empty. Maybe it had been buried with her, he mused. But he found the engagement ring of his grandmother Euphemia.
He closed the ledger and soon was on his way to Gringotts. His little errand didn't take much time, and with the ring safely pocketed in his Moke skin pouch, he returned to Grimmauld Place to lunch with Kreacher.
After lunch, it occurred to him to have a look into their Banishing Box if there already was an answer to the letters he had written the previous evening. He opened the box with a tap of his wand and was surprised to find a stack of letters in it. On top of the letters was a note from the Goblins. He picked it up.
List of Howlers:
Well, that wasn't surprising. After the short message he wrote to the Weasleys, announcing his marriage to Daphne, he had expected something like that.
But there were also short letters from Luna and Neville. Reading them, Harry had to laugh. His friend's reactions were exactly as he'd foreseen the night before.
Luna expressed her satisfaction that he had finally got rid of his infestation with Wrackspurts, but warned him while it had obviously done him good to listen to the song of the Blibbering Humdinger for the first time in his life, not to let it become the rule. She was willing to interview them for the Quibbler, but that had to be postponed, since she and her father were going to Scandinavia to search for the Crumple-horned Snorkack. 'I remember your bride from school,' she wrote. 'She always helped me to find my things again when the Nargels took them away.' Harry smiled. The way she behaved towards Luna told him that his wife had a kind heart.
As he had thought the other night, Neville congratulated him on his marriage. Though he voiced his surprise, he was supportive. 'Daphne is one of my many cousins. We often met on family reunions when we were children. I remember her as one of the quiet ones who was always willing to play with clumsy me. Give her my love, please. I'm sure both of you will be very happy together, your whirlwind romance notwithstanding.'
A warm feeling spread in Harry's chest. At least two of his friend were supporting him. He could only hope that Ron and Hermione were as understanding. They had always been the first to criticise him, especially Hermione. While that was a good thing and kept him grounded, it was rather unfortunate in times like this when he needed unconditional support. Oh well, he would cross that bridge when he came to it, Harry thought and folded Neville's letter.
He shifted through the other letters in the box. They were apparently business letters addressed to him. He opened the latter and soon found himself immersed in a world that was definitely above him. The letters were from managers who looked after the multiple Potter holdings, Goblins as well as Muggles. The news of his nuptials had made the round among them, because they all congratulated him and expressed their delight that he had finally come into his heritage and would take up the reins.
Harry felt panic overcome him. He'd had no idea that the Potter holdings were that vast. He had not been prepared for that; how was he supposed to manage the family holdings without any knowledge of economics? He would d be lucky if he didn't bring his house to ruin within a couple of years, he thought with a hammering heart. Looking at the letters, he concluded he would have to make appointments with each of the managers, owe up to his ignorance and ask them to teach him what he should have learned from the cradle.
Maybe he should talk to Hermione when she returned. She was good at things like this. But Hermione wouldn't be back before the middle of August, he remembered. That was probably too late. Also, that pesky voice in the back of his head told him that he couldn't run with his problems any longer to Hermione, now that he was married and she was with Ron. He supposed Daphne would be angry if he didn't ask her for her opinion on anything pertaining to their future family. Silently he admitted to himself that she would have every right to be angry at him if he continued to run to Hermione with his problems. It wasn't exactly cheating on her, but very close to it.
He sighed and got up to get ink and parchment and then sat down to write letters to his managers, asking for an appointment.
He was still occupied with that task when Daphne returned from work.
'Hello,' she smiled and sat down on the bench beside him, kicking off her shoes and massaging her feet.
He looked up. 'Oh, hello. I didn't hear you coming into the room,' he smiled back and put down the quill. 'How was your day?'
'Exhausting,' she grimaced. 'These rich Muggle women are a pain in the behind. And my feet are killing me. How was your day?'
'Busy,' Harry told her while he got up to prepare some tea for them. 'I went to talk to Andy this morning ...'
'Andromeda Tonks, the grandmother of my godson Teddy Lupin. She's become kind of a surrogate favourite aunt to me since the Battle. I wanted to tell her about our marriage in person and also ask her for advice,' he explained.
'Ah, I see. Was she very angry with you?' Daphne asked.
Harry carried two mugs of tea to the table and sat down again. Daphne's eyes went wide as he pushed one mug in front of her.
'Surprisingly not,' he replied. 'She told me to be considerate of you because you'd do everything to make it easy for me.'
'I already like her,' Daphne smiled and took a sip of tea.
'You'll probably like her even more when you hear her other suggestions,' Harry said, suddenly nervous. He pulled the small jewellery box out of his Moke skin pouch and held it out to her. 'She told me to give you this, Daphne.'
Her eyes grew wide as she looked first at the box in his hands and then at him. 'You're giving me one of the Potter family heirlooms?'
'Since you're now a Potter and the only family I have, I thought it fitting,' he replied, while he felt his cheeks grow uncomfortably hot.
She leaned forward and kissed him on the cheek. 'Thank you, Harry. This means a lot to me.' She then took the box out of his hand and opened it. 'Wow!' she breathed.
On a bed of dark velvet was an oval cut sapphire on top of a white gold band and surrounded by diamonds.
'It was my grandmother's,' Harry said softly. 'I wanted to give you my mother's engagement ring, but it's not in the vault.' He picked up the ring and put it on Daphne's slender finger. It fit perfectly.
Their eyes met. As if drawn by an invisible force, Harry leaned forward until his lips touched hers. It was only a brief kiss, not much more than a peck, but it left both of them with pink cheeks and a tingling sensation on their lips. Harry wouldn't have minded a repetition, and maybe some more, but reminded him that there was more he had to tell her.
'Andy also suggested we'd go on a honeymoon, since it is custom and will therefor help silence the gossip mongers. She also thinks it'll help us to get to know each other.'
'Either that or we'll be ready to murder each other at the end of it and be done with this marriage,' Daphne deadpanned.
Harry was taken aback, but then he noticed the twitching corners of her mouth and burst out laughing. 'You've got a strange sense of humour,' he remarked.
'Slytherin style,' she nodded and took a sip of her tea. 'I learned to joke about everything, or I'd have gone round the bend in that house. But seriously, I think your honorary aunt had a good idea. Have you already decided where we will be going?'
'No, I thought we'd decide together.'
She grinned at him. 'Already heeding Andy's advice, aren't you?'
They were interrupted by Kreacher, who had Apparated into the kitchen to prepare dinner and was overjoyed to see his mistress.
'That elf is completely enamoured with you,' he quipped under his breath.
'Jealous, Harry?' Daphne deadpanned, and Harry almost choked at his tea. She winked at him, the corners of her mouth twitching, and he shook his head.
While Kreacher prepared their dinner, they talked about possible honeymoon destinations. It didn't take them long to agree on a honeymoon on the Seychelles. But when Harry mentioned to go to the Ministry the next morning and obtain an International Portkey, Daphne disagreed.
'I'd rather book with a Muggle travel agency, Harry. If you go to the Ministry and buy International Portkeys for two, that'll make the rounds in no time.'
'You've got a point there!' he conceded. 'So, is next Sunday all right with you? Tomorrow we'll have to see your parents and I promised Andy to bring you with me on Saturday to get to know her and Teddy. Also, I have a couple of appointments scheduled with my managers the next four days.'
That was news to her, and he explained her about the letters he got from his managers and the reservations he had about his abilities to manage the Potter holdings properly.
'I know a little about the management of family holdings,' Daphne offered hesitantly. 'Not much, since I was only a girl and not educated like a male heir would have been. But you can't grow up in a wealthy family without learning one thing or the other, you know.' She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear with her finger and blushed. 'What I mean to say, if you like I can go with you to these appointments. I've turned in my resignation today and don't have to go to work anymore. I have done lots of extra hours the previous week, so the boss said I can stay at home for the rest of the week.'
Harry's face lit up at that. He felt as if a weight had been taken from his shoulders. 'I'd really appreciate that, Daphne!' He pulled the ledger out of his Moke skin pouch and held it out to her. 'Also, I'd like you to have a look at this and explain it to me one of these days.'
She blushed as she took the ledger out of his hands. 'Thank you, Harry. It means a lot to me that you're willing to trust me with this.'
Not long after that, they decided to call it a day. Preparing to go to bed with Daphne didn't feel half as awkward as the previous day, Harry mused when he climbed into his bed. He was asleep before his head even hit the pillow.
The third day in a row Harry woke up with the smell of citrus and lavender in his nose.
'I could get used to this', he thought, snuggling closer to the warm body that was pressed against his. He opened his eyes and looked at his sleeping bride. A small smile played around her lips.
'I know that you're awake,' she murmured.
'Sorry, I didn't mean to wake you!' he said and tried to pull away from her, but she slung an arm around his waist and held him tight. 'Don't! This feels so nice,' she murmured sleepily.
Harry complied. She was right, snuggling up against each other felt nice, even though they were still almost complete strangers. But they were also bound together for the rest of their lives, he reminded himself. The sooner they could get over this awkward stage, the better for both of them.
He must have dozed off again, because the next time he woke up from Daphne pulling the duvet off of him.
'Get up, sleepyhead! We've got a lot to do today!'
He opened his eyes. She was already fully dressed in jeans and a simple white blouse. Her hair was pulled back in a ponytail, and she wore no make-up.
'Slave driver!' he mock-grumbled and made his way into the bathroom, followed by Daphne's laughter.
She was reading the "Daily Prophet" and sipping her tea when he came down into the kitchen.
He had no idea why he did it, but he stepped behind her and dropped a kiss on her head before he sat down on the bench beside her. 'Any news about us in the Profit yet?' he asked, deliberately mangling the name of the infamous Wizarding newspaper, while he poured himself a cup of tea.
'Thankfully not,' she replied. 'But that's only a matter of days, I guess.'
'I've been thinking,' he started, spooning some eggs on his plate.
'Be careful, thinking can be dangerous, Harry!' she quipped.
He narrowed her eyes at her, looking from the eggs on his plate to her face, and she laughed. She had a nice laugh, he decided. Soft and tinkling, like a brook gurgling over sun-kissed stones.
Reading his intentions, she giggled. 'All right, I'll keep my mouth shut! What have you on your mind, Harry?'
He gestured with his fork to the folded paper on the table. 'Maybe we can beat them to their bad press. We can put an announcement into the Sunday Prophet that we were married in a private ceremony and are now off to a prolonged honeymoon.'
She put her cup down. 'That's actually an excellent idea, Harry!'
He puffed his chest, and she laughed again. 'Finish your breakfast, Harry, we have a lot to do today!'
'And what?' he asked and took another bite of his scrambled eggs.
'We've got to go to Diagon Alley and get your robes. Then we'll have to head into Muggle London. I've been through your wardrobe while you were still asleep this morning, Harry. There's no way you can go on a honeymoon with those rags. So, we need to do some shopping today.' She interrupted herself when she noticed him looking at her.
'Don't give me that look, Harry! Making sure your wardrobe is in order is one of the many things a woman does for her husband!'
He shook his head. 'No, that's all right. It's only – nobody ever cared about the state of my clothes,' he blurted out.
She put her hand on his and squeezed it softly. 'Oh Harry!'
An awkward silence spread between them. Finally, Harry cleared his throat and asked, 'Anything else on the agenda for today?'
She blushed, but nodded. 'Yes, we'll have to make the arrangements for our honeymoon.'
He took a last spoonful of eggs, wiped his mouth and got up. 'All right, wife. What are you waiting for?'
She threw her napkin at him and he chuckled.
Thirty minutes later they had picked up his new robes and were now on their way to Muggle London. Daphne flagged down a taxi, and soon they were on Oxford Street, where Daphne guided him to one of the big department stores. Harry had heard about these stores; Uncle Vernon Aunt Petunia used to go there to buy special items for their little Duddikins, but he had never thought he would be shopping for designer clothes for himself there.
'Uh – Daphne, aren't these shops rather expensive?' he asked.
She looked at him. 'Harry, have you ever looked at the balance of your personal vault in the ledger Director Ragnok gave you?'
Harry blushed. 'I forgot about it. There was so much going on...'
'Well, I had a brief look while you were in the shower this morning. By the present number of Galleons in your private vault, I can tell you you'll hardly make a dent in it even if you buy three complete wardrobes!'
Relieved, he followed his wife into the first department store.
'You need everything, Harry!' Daphne announced, and so they hit the underwear department first, much to Harry's embarrassment.
'Don't you think it's a little late for that?' Daphne smiled into his red face, and he had to laugh.
'You're right,' he admitted, and joined her in a discussion about the merits of boxers over briefs.
Daphne also added pyjamas, a bathrobe and socks to his purchase, and then they moved up to the "serious stuff", as Daphne mockingly called it.
Three hours later, a completely exhausted Harry emerged from the department store, now owning more clothes than he had ever thought possible. Daphne, however, still seemed to be fresh and full of energy.
Harry shook his head. 'What is it about women and shopping?'
'That's because in the Stone Age men were hunters and women gatherers,' Daphne claimed. 'It takes more endurance to walk for miles each day and gather fruits and whatnot than to hunt down the occasional animal. At least that's what Tracey always said,' she added in a soft voice.
He glanced at her and saw that her face had become a stony mask of grief again, so he put an arm around her and hugged her lightly to himself.
She looked up at him and smiled. 'Thank you, Harry, I needed that.'
He saw no reason to pull away his arm from her shoulder, so he kept it where it was. She slipped her arm around his waist, and so they went looking for a travel agency.
Since Daphne had travelled with the Davises Muggle style before, Harry left it up to her to make the arrangements, and she booked a secluded beach bungalow on a private island.
Harry looked at her with a raised eyebrow when they left the agency. 'Isn't that a rather romantic spot?' he asked.
Laughing, Daphne linked arms with him. 'You said we need to get to know each other,' she reminded him. 'Can you think of a better place for that?'
'No, but I also can't think of a better place for you to get rid of my dead body,' he quipped. 'The tropic forest around the bungalow looks pretty dense, and I bet there are a few fish in the ocean below the terrace that won't deny a good snack offered to them.'
She grinned up at him. 'Then you'd better be very nice to me, Harry,' she purred, and he felt his face get hot.
Harry tugged irritably at the neckline of his robes of finest Acromantula silk. 'I feel like a ponce!' he complained.
Daphne sat at the dresser and gave the finishing touch to her make up. At his words, she turned around to him and eyed him critically. 'You look fine, Harry. Very handsome and noble and every inch the head of a wealthy house.'
'If you say so ...' he murmured. He still thought he looked like a ponce in dark blue robes with a silver-grey tunic beneath them. But Daphne had assured him that this was the latest fashion in Pureblood circles.
She stood up and stepped beside him. She had dressed to match him. Her robes were of a lighter shade of blue, but with trimmings in the same dark blue as his robes. Again, she wore her hair in an elegant bun at the back of her head.
'I like that look,' Harry remarked. 'You look very sophisticated!'
'Thank you, Harry!' she blushed.
She wore the ring he had given her the previous evening, and a pair of matching earrings Daphne had found in the inventory list as she read the ledger after they'd returned from their shopping trip, and she'd sent Kreacher to fetch them for her. Harry had to admit they looked fantastic on her.
They stepped out of the house and Apparated to the front gate of the Greengrass estate, since Harry was not keyed into the wards and Daphne was not sure if she would still be able to Apparate him in after she ran away from home.
A house elf opened the door. A broad grin spread over his wizened face when he recognised Daphne. 'Miss Daffy!' he gasped.
Daphne bent down and hugged the small creature. 'Tapsy! It's so good to see you again! Are you and Matty well?'
The elf wiped a tear from his face. 'Miss Daffy is too kind to require after a lowly house elf! Wes are both fine, Miss Daffy, thank you!' He let them into the house.
'Are my parents at home, Tapsy?' she asked while she led Harry down the hallway.
'Yes, Miss Daffy. Master is in his study and mistress is resting in her boudoir for tonight's party,' Tapsy replied.
'Please, ask my parents to meet me in the Blue Parlour,' Daphne ordered, and the small creature vanished with a CRACK. She opened a door to their right and led Harry into the room.
The tall French windows looked onto lush gardens. They were framed by blue satin curtains, a colour that was matched by the upholstery of the stiff looking gilded chairs in the room.
Daphne put her hand on Harry's arm and led him to the window, where she began to point out the layout of the gardens to him. They had rehearsed at Grimmauld Place how the meeting with her parents was probably going to be, and turned back to the rom, Daphne's hand still on Harry's arm, when the door opened.
Harry saw a middle aged couple standing opposite of them. The man was as tall as Harry, though he showed signs of a slight belly under his expensive robes, and his dark hair was greying at the temples. One look at his face told Harry from which parent Daphne had inherited her stunning eyes, although it was an unnerving experience to feel those eyes stare at him with cold indifference. The woman by his side came up till his ears. Looking at her, Harry could tell how Daphne would look in her late forties. Daphne was the spitting image of her mother, minus the eyes.
Daphne bowed her head. 'Good afternoon, father, mother. May I present my husband to you, Mr Harry James Potter.'
While Harry bowed slightly to her parents, as Daphne had instructed him, and greeted them politely, he had difficulties to keep the grin from his face. Both of Daphne's parents looked as if a troll had just clubbed them over the head. They looked at each other, obviously not knowing how they should deal with the situation.
Mrs Greengrass was the first to recover. She stepped to her daughter, a false smile plastered on her face. 'Now, that is quite the unexpected surprise. Let me offer you my heartfelt congratulations on your nuptials, my dear.' She hugged her daughter, but it looked stiff and cold.
She then turned to Harry and extended her Hand to him. 'Welcome to the family, Mr Potter!'
'Harry,' he corrected her and kissed the knuckles of her hand. Straightening, he said, 'I can see from which parent Daphne got her beauty, Mrs Greengrass!'
Mrs Greengrass looked flattered, as Daphne had foreseen. 'Oh, but you must call me Isabella!' she exclaimed. She put her hand on the arm of her husband. 'This is my husband Cyrus Greengrass, Harry.'
Mr Greengrass gave Harry a short nod. He didn't look as amiable as his wife. Just the contrary, the cold look he gave Harry would the latter probably have sent running for the hills, had Daphne not been with him and also warned him of the reaction of her father.
'May I ask when that happy event took place?' he asked his daughter. His demeanour betrayed that he was far from feeling any happiness about their union.
'Oh, last Saturday. Considering Harry's celebrity status, we didn't want to attract the press, so we decided to elope to Gretna Green,' Daphne smiled.
Mr Greengrass looked even angrier, if that was possible. 'That marriage has to be annulled, of course. You know that you are betrothed to Theodore Nott, Daphne!'
Daphne's stare matched his. 'You seem to forget that I was betrothed to Nott's brother, father. That contract was thankfully terminated when he was killed in the Battle of Hogwarts, fighting for that abomination that was destroying our world. His death doesn't mean that I'm automatically betrothed to his younger brother. You'd need my consent for that, father, and I never gave it! Also, we made sue that an annulment is out of the question.'
'I gave Nott my word as your head of house that you'll sign the contract with him!' Cyrus Greengrass roared. 'You are a Greengrass, daughter, and you will obey your head of house or you'll regret it!' He stepped toward Daphne and raised his hand against her as if he was going to slap her.
Harry decided to step in. He sent a powerful silent and wandless Stinging Hex at Mr Greengrass arm that made the older man yelp and jump away from his daughter. 'You are wrong, sir,' he stated calmly, his eyes throwing green daggers. 'It seems to me your daughter is a Potter now and no longer under your jurisdiction. As Head of House Potter I take exception to any assault on a member of my family. Please, bear that in mind with your further dealings with my wife.'
'You insolent whelp!' Cyrus Greengrass fumed and drew his wand.
Harry had anticipated this move and was ready. His silent Stunner hit Daphne's father square in the chest.
The man fell like a tree under the axe. Mrs Greengrass let out a shriek, but Daphne, by now used to Harry's abilities, didn't bat an eyelid. A satisfied smile played around her lips.
Harry tied Greengrass in magical ropes, and then silently and wandlessly cast 'Enervate!'
Mr Greengrass looked around with wild eyes and tried to get rid of the ropes. 'Unbind me, boy!' he demanded.
Harry kept a wary distance from his kicking legs. 'I don't think so, sir,' he drawled. 'At least not until you give your magical binding oath that you'll leave the House of Potter and each of its members in peace. That pertains especially to my wife.'
Mr Greengrass kicked and fumed for a few minutes more. His daughter watched, unmoved, and his wife obviously didn't dare to interfere.
'My mother was home schooled,' Daphne later explained to him. 'She's lousy at any magic, except Make-Up-Charms.'
Finally, Mr Greengrass gave in. 'All right, I agree. I'll give you the vow you demanded, Mr. Potter.'
The ropes immediately fell off and vanished.
Mr Greengrass slowly got to his feet, giving Harry a wary, but also very respectful look. Then he raised his wand in the air. 'I, Cyrus Albion Greengrass, swear upon my magic that from now on I will not harm the House of Potter or any of its members. This I swear, so mote it be!' A silvery mist engulfed him.
'Will that suffice?' he asked when the mist settled down.
Harry nodded. 'It will, sir.' He extended his hand. 'I'm honoured to meet Daphne's father.'
'The pleasure is all mine, Mr Potter,' Cyrus Greengrass replied and shook Harry's hand. 'But even though you just handed my arse on a silver platter to me, I still have my reservations in regards to your marriage.' He turned to Daphne. 'What the hell possessed you to run off without signing a proper betrothal agreement, daughter?'
Isabella interfered. 'Why don't we all take a seat and talk about this in a civilised manner?' she asked and ushered them to the gilded chairs.
The chairs were as uncomfortable as they looked, Harry noted when he sat down beside Daphne.
'Your fears are unfounded, father,' Daphne said. 'The Potter Family Charter offers me more freedom than the despicable agreement you contracted with the Nott family when I was four and which the current Head of House Nott obviously blackmailed you to revive without my consent.'
'Besides that, I already offered Daphne to make an additional agreement if there's anything she wants and the Potter Family Charter doesn't cover,' Harry added.
Cyrus Greengrass looked from Daphne to Harry. 'Is that so?' he asked. 'Well, in that case I'll instruct our family lawyer and...'
'Thank you, sir, but that will not be necessary,' Harry interjected. 'Daphne will be aided by a lawyer of her own choice in any additional agreement she wants to make.'
That stole Cyrus Greengrass' thunder. 'I only have your best interest at heart, daughter,' he asserted.
Daphne snorted. 'You mean the best interest of your coffers, father,' she corrected him.
An uncomfortable silence ensued, that was broken by Isabella.
'Where will you live?' she asked.
Daphne smiled and took Harry's hand. 'Harry inherited his godfather's estate. Part of it was a house in London. It's in dire need of a thorough renovation, but I'm sure we can turn it into a very pleasant home.'
Isabella turned to Harry. 'How interesting! Where in London is your house, Harry?'
Harry gave her a polite smile. 'Sorry, but I won't tell you. Due to the continued threats of uncaptured Death Eaters I still live under a Fidelius Charm. I am my own Secret Keeper. Only very few people except Daphne and I know where we live, and those are people I have known for a long time and whom I trust implicitly.' His tone indicated that Daphne's parents didn't belong to that circle.
Isabella took the slight without batting an eyelid. She turned to Daphne. 'Will you allow me to host a ball to honour your nuptials, my dear?'
Daphne smiled demurely. 'Harry and I will be honoured, mother.'
Isabella clapped her hands. 'Then that's settled. Would the 25th of July suit you?'
Harry cleared his throat. 'I'm sorry, Isabella. Daphne and I will leave London for an extended honeymoon on Sunday and will not return before the 26th.'
'Oh, how lovely!' Isabella exclaimed. 'Where will you be going? Paris?'
'No, we rented a villa on a private island of the Seychelles,' Harry explained.
Daphne's parents looked perplexed. 'Seychelles? Where is that? I never heard of such a place,' Cyrus Greengrass exclaimed.
'The Seychelles are a chain of islands in the Indian Ocean, east of Africa,' Harry said, once again flabbergasted by the ignorance of most wizards and witches.
'You mean, near India? Why in the world will you want to go there? And how will you get there?' Isabella frowned.
Harry and Daphne exchanged a smile. 'It's supposed to be very romantic, mother. Not to mention sunny and warm. We'll be going there by plane.'
'A Muggle plane? How - unconventional!' Isabella said, exchanging a worried glance with her husband.
They made some more small talk and finally agreed on the first of August for the planned ball. Daphne asked about her younger sister Astoria and learned to her dismay that she was visiting with one of her friends from school.
Finally they could take their leave without seeming to be impolite, much to Harry's relieve. He let out a big sigh the moment they stepped out of the Greengrass' wards to Apparate back to Grimmauld Place.
They were barely outside of the wards when Daphne threw herself at Harry and almost squeezed the stuffing out of him. 'Thank you for standing up for me, Harry!' she exclaimed and kissed him full on the lips.
'Uh – you're welcome,' Harry replied, blushing. He took her arm and Apparated them back to Grimmauld Place. In silent agreement they both walked up to their room to get out of the stiff robes and change into something comfortable.
Harry took a jeans and a t-shirt out of Sirius' old wardrobe that now stored his and Daphne's clothes, noticing that it had become rather crammed after his shopping spree that morning. He took his clothes and went into the bathroom to change. When he returned to their room to put away his silk robes, he saw that Daphne huddled in a corner of the small sofa. He walked over and sat down beside her.
'I must apologise for my parents, Harry,' she said without looking up.
He shrugged. 'It's uncanny how well you predicted their reaction, Daphne.'
'My mother was always a social snob. I knew she'd come around as soon as she realised who I had married. However, I'm pleased that she offered host a ball in our honour. I wasn't sure she'd do it, considering that we eloped to Gretna Green. That ball will do a lot to diffuse the gossip.' She looked up and smiled briefly at Harry. Then her shoulders sagged.
'My father on the other hand ... I was always an article of merchandise for him. He's furious that I spoiled his bargain with the Notts. I don't want to know what he'd have done to me, had you not been there today. So, thanks again for standing up for me, Harry.'
'You are my wife. You can rightfully demand that I stand up for you,' he replied and pushed a strand of her hair that had fallen into her face behind her ear.
The next four days were busy for Harry and Daphne. Harry's meetings with his managers started, and as she had promised him, Daphne accompanied him. At the end of the meetings Harry's head spun, but he felt as if he had learned a lot about his family. However, the meetings had only confirmed his suspicion that he still had to learn a lot until he could be a responsible and successful head of house and manage his family's affaires.
Daphne had begged one morning off. When she returned for lunch, almost breaking down under the weight of the numerous shopping bags she carried, her cheeks were flushed and her eyes shone brightly. However, she refused to tell him what she had been shopping and chased him away with a well-placed mild Stinging Hex when he tried to peek into one of the bags.
'Ouch!' he moaned and rubbed his behind. 'I'd never have thought you belong to those wives who abuse their husbands!'
'Crybaby!' she mocked. 'By the way, that's not called abuse, but proper training of new husbands!'
He narrowed his eyes at her and made one step towards her.
Laughing, she gathered her bags and fled up to their room.
Saturday came sooner than they would have thought. In the morning, Daphne packed the suitcases for both of them. Harry made an attempt to help her, but she shooed him away when she discovered that he had put his shoes on top of the pile of freshly ironed shirts.
In the afternoon, they visited Andy and Teddy.
Harry could feel Daphne's nervousness when he Side-Along-Apparated her to Andy's backyard. He took her hand when they walked up to the door. 'Don't worry, Daphne. Andy's great. She knows everything about us and I'm sure she won't give you a hard time about it. And Teddy's just the sweetest baby you can imagine.'
He knocked on the door that was opened by Andy seconds later.
'Hello Harry!' She then turned to Daphne. 'And you must be Daphne! Nice to meet you. I guess we'll be going to see quite a lot of each other, so there's no need to be formal. Call me Andy, please!'
'Nice to meet you, too, Andy. Harry speaks very highly of you,' Daphne replied, blushing, and shook Andromeda's hand.
'Does he, indeed?' Andy asked and stepped aside to let them into the house. She led them to the living room, all the while exchanging pleasantries with Daphne.
Teddy lay in his pram, quietly playing with his fingers.
'Here's the most precious baby in the world. Let me introduce you to my grandson Edward Remus Lupin. But we call him Teddy.'
Daphne bent over the pram. At the sight of the unfamiliar face the infant frowned. For a second, it seemed as if Teddy was about to burst out into tears, but when Daphne tickled his tummy and said, 'Hello Teddy! It's great to finally meet you. Your godfather told me so much about you!' the little boy broke out into a delighted toothless giggle.
'You can take him out of the pram,' Andromeda encouraged her.
With a cautiousness that betrayed her inexperience in dealing with infants, Daphne gathered the little boy in her arms, instinctively supporting his little head with one hand, and hugged him to her chest. Teddy snuggled up to her, gurgling happily, and his tuft of hair changed colours in quick succession.
'Oh, he's a Metamorphmagus!' Daphne exclaimed. 'You are a very special boy,' she told the infant on her arm and dropped a kiss on his silky hair.
Harry and Andromeda shared a smile.
Daphne looked up. 'You said his last name is Lupin. Is he related to Professor Lupin?'
'He was his father,' Harry explained and stepped beside Daphne to tickle his godson's cheek. 'He was a close friend of my parents and married Andy's only daughter, who also was a friend of mine. Teddy's parents were both killed at the Battle of Hogwarts.'
'I'm sorry, Andy!' Daphne said softly.
Andy smiled at her, though she wiped a tear from her eye. 'I won't deny that it's hard to lose your only child. But I still have Teddy, and I got Harry out of it. He's been a great help, and Teddy adores him.'
Daphne looked up and smiled at her husband. 'That I can believe easily! Harry is nothing but considerate!'
Harry blushed at her praise. His blush became even harder when Andromeda said, 'That's right. You've found a good husband, Daphne;' and Daphne simply answered, 'I know.'
They followed Andy into the kitchen. It was time for Teddy's bottle, but when Harry tried to take his godson out of Daphne's arms to feed him, the baby put up a fuss.
'It seems I've just been replaced as Teddy's favourite person,' Harry laughed and handed his wife the bottle. 'Here, let me show you how to feed him.'
But there wasn't really much he had to teach her. Daphne seemed to be a natural with Teddy, and her initial cautiousness soon was replaced with quiet confidence. She gave Teddy his bottle, let him burp at her shoulder and didn't even flinch when Teddy spit some barely ingested milk on her dress. Under Andy's tutelage she changed his nappies and then put him back into his pram for his afternoon nap. 'Sleep well, angel,' she whispered and kissed him on the forehead.
Harry hadn't once the chance to hold his godson that afternoon, but he didn't mind. He watched in fascination how his wife cared for the little boy. She seemed to be completely enamoured with him, he thought and let out a sigh of relief. For some reason he never understood, Ginny hadn't liked to spend time with Teddy. She would have come along if he asked her, but she always took the earliest opportunity to leave and made him come with her. It was good to know that there wouldn't be any objections coming from Daphne against him spending time with his godson. Just the contrary, he thought with a chuckle, it seemed as if they would soon be fighting over Teddy's attention.
They had tea with Andromeda. 'How are your plans for the rest of the summer?' Andy asked, offering Daphne a plate with sandwiches.
Daphne blushed as she took one. 'We'll be leaving for our honeymoon tomorrow.'
'We followed your advice and decided we needed some time alone to get to know each other,' Harry added, and gave Daphne a brief smile.
'I'm happy about that,' Andromeda admitted and put the plate down on the table. 'Though, from what I saw of you this afternoon, I have no doubt that you'll manage to make your marriage work.'
Daphne and Harry exchanged a look and blushed.