Disclaimer: Everything brlongs to J.K.R.
Their plane was scheduled to depart from Heathrow in the afternoon, so they took it slow the next morning.
When they came down for a late breakfast, the Sunday Prophet had already been delivered, and Kreacher had put the copy beside Harry's plate. Harry picked up the paper and leafed through it until he came to the section with the engagement and wedding announcements. They had kept it simple and very formal. Thankfully, at Daphne's request, Isabella Greengrass had agreed to send the announcement to the newspaper, since the Greengrasses were also hosting the ball in honour of the newlyweds.
Mr and Mrs Cyrus Greengrass are pleased to announce the marriage of their daughter
Daphne Isabella Greengrass
Mr Harry James Potter,
Son of late Mr and Mrs James Potter, on the 27th of June in a private ceremony. A celebratory reception is planned for the 1st of August at Lovelace House, Kent.
Daphne leaned against him, reading over his shoulder. She sighed. 'So, the cat is out of the bag now. Let the shit-storm happen!'
He reached up and patted her hand she had put on his shoulder. 'Don't worry. You're not alone in this. Partners, remember?'
She gave him a brief hug and then sat down beside him. 'You are one to talk! You are the Boy-Who-Lived and The-Saviour-of-the-Light, so you're used to see your name in the newspapers. But I'm new to this stuff, and it doesn't help that every witch in Britain will hate me because I snatched away the Most Eligible Bachelor of 1998!'
He snorted. 'You forgot to mention that you fed me Love Potions to get your wicked way with me, kitty.' He had begun calling her that, because Daphne's unconscious habit to drift to the warmest spot in the bed had inevitably led to them waking up snuggled up against each other every morning since their wedding. Not that he complained about that. Though there had not (yet) been a repetition of their wedding night, the early mornings had led to one or two pleasant snogs.
Daphne hated her new nickname, and promptly elbowed him in the side. Of course, that was reason enough for him to call her by her new name at every possible opportunity.
He put an arm around her shoulder and hugged her briefly. 'That I'm used to see my name in the newspaper doesn't mean that it will be easy for me. But I also know that the storm will eventually die down.'
She seemed to be comforted, and they turned to their breakfast. After breakfast they said good bye to Kreacher and then took a cab to the airport.
Thankfully, the plane departed on time. Knowing they had about ten hours ahead for the first leg of their trip, they had agreed to splurge on tickets for business class. Harry had never before in his life been on a plane, but when he caught a glimpse of the economy class when they boarded the plane, he was thankful for the upgrade and the room it afforded for his long legs. He made himself comfortable in his seat, and then at Daphne's request cast a silent Anti-Listening-Charm, so that they could talk openly without the Muggles listening in.
In contrary to him, Daphne had travelled by plane frequently with the Davises. 'Mrs Davis had a brother who lived in the USA. They used to spend at least two weeks with him and his family, and always took me with them, and of course we'd always travel by plane, since Tracey's parents were Muggles,' she explained when they settled down in their seats.
'You miss them terribly, don't you?' Harry asked quietly.
Daphne surreptitiously wiped away a tear. 'Yes, I do. I always said they were my real family.'
He grasped her hand and squeezed it. He knew exactly what she meant. He had also felt more at home with the Weasleys than he ever did with his own family. Oddly enough, they had also both lost their surrogate families.
In silent thanks for the comfort he provided, Daphne interlaced her fingers with his. They were still holding hands when the plane took off and steadily gathered height. Harry marvelled how far they had come in getting comfortable with each other after only one week into their unintentional marriage. Of course, it had helped that they had spent most of the time in close proximity. Both of them had been considerate of their respective feelings, and whenever there had been an awkward moment, one of them -usually Daphne – had made a drastic remark that allowed them to laugh the awkwardness away.
The plane finally reached travelling height. Daphne gently pulled away her hand and took a book out of her backpack. She held it out to Harry. 'Do you like to read a bit?'
He looked at her with surprise, but took the book out of her hands. 'Thanks! I think I never read a book for pleasure in my whole life, except Qudditch through the Ages.'
'You didn't?' she asked while she pulled a book for herself out of the backpack. 'You don't know what you've missed, Harry. Tracey introduced me to Muggle literature. I love mysteries, though not the hard ones, and historical novels. I thought Granger would have done the same to you and Weasley, considering she was hardly seen without a book under her nose at school.'
Harry turned the mystery novel she had given him in his hands. 'I think I've never seen Hermione reading a novel,' he replied. 'She always read textbooks, and expected that Ron and I'd follow her example. Unfortunately, I never found them appealing. My relatives didn't read at all. I doubt they had a single book at their house, except for my and Dudley's school books. And I've never seen any novels when I shopped in Diagon Alley.'
'That's because there aren't any,' Daphne replied. She snuggled up against him and opened her book.
He raised his eyebrows. 'I hope you're comfortable, my dear,' he mock-drawled.
She looked up to him and gave him an impish smile. 'Very!'
He shook his head at her antics and also opened his book. Soon he was lost in the Mysterious Affair at Styles and didn't put the book down before the stewardess served them dinner.
'Did you enjoy your book?' Daphne asked while she cut her meat.
'Yes, thank you for recommending it! I'd never have thought that reading can be so much fun,' he replied.
'What's so funny about that?' he asked and took a sip of his drink.
'I just wondered if it was wise to give you a book about a supposed murder of a spouse,' she grinned, and Harry almost choked at his drink.
'You are impossible!' he laughed. 'Keep it up and it will be your body that's hidden in the tropical forest!'
'That's what I'm afraid of,' she deadpanned and took another bite.
They had to transfer to another plane in Abu Dhabi in the middle of the night. At least their business class tickets enabled them to use the comfortable lounge of the airline. Harry sat down in the corner of a sofa, and Daphne snuggled up to him, her head on his shoulder. She was asleep the next minute. Harry however stayed wide awake. His year on the run still was too fresh on his mind. It was impossible for him to get a wink of sleep here. He felt too vulnerable out in the open and didn't dare to cast the Protection Charms they had used on the run in a high technology Muggle area. 'Merlin only knew what these complex charms will do to the numerous computer systems at the airport,' he thought with a wry grin.
Finally, their next flight was announced. He gently shook Daphne by the shoulder. 'Wake up, kitty!'
'What?' she mumbled sleepily, but got up from the sofa and gathered her backpack. Yawning, she trudged beside him until they reached their seats on the plane. She slumped down in her seat, and Harry stowed their backpacks away and then helped Daphne, who was half-asleep, fasten her seat belt. The moment he sat down beside her, her head dropped on his shoulder and she was fast asleep again.
She stayed asleep during the whole flight and only started to stir when the captain announced their impending arrival at Seychelles International Airport. 'Did I miss something?' she asked.
'Only the most amazing sunrise over the ocean' Harry laughed. 'I've never seen someone sleeping as soundly as you do, not even Ron!'
She flipped her hair over her shoulder and gave him a haughty stare, though the corners of her mouth turned slightly upwards. 'I just need my beauty sleep!' she defended herself.
Thirty minutes later, their plane had landed and they had passed customs. A staff member of the vacation resort was already waiting for them. He drove them from the airport to a private marina where he ushered them on a motor boat for the last leg of their trip.
Harry and Daphne sat down in the stern of the boat. Daphne immediately snuggled up to him and draped his arm around her shoulders. He looked at her with a raised eyebrow.
'Newlyweds,' she reminded him under the cover of the noise of the boat. 'You're supposed to do that.'
'Hmm, I remember you only mentioned hand kisses and pecks on the cheek in my job description as your happy husband,' he whispered in her ear. 'But I'll keep this in mind. Phew, and here I thought you were making a move on me.'
'Oh – that too!' she replied coolly, her grin almost splitting her face into halves when Harry got a coughing fit.
It was already mid-morning when they reached their destination. They had been served a delicious breakfast on the boat, but by then Harry had been awake for more than twenty-four hours and was too tired to appreciate it.
The villa they had rented was on a small headland, not more than a rock that jutted out into the ocean. An electric golf cart brought them from the small island marina to the hidden entrance of the villa that could be reached through a broad strip of tropical forest. From the outside, the villa didn't look like much. On the inside, however, it turned out to be one of a kind.
The house opened up to the ocean, letting in the warm breeze. Built on several levels, the living quarters seamlessly blended into huge wooden decks that were invitingly furnished with chairs, cushions and sofas. The decks eventually led down to a small, private beach that was enclosed by rocks at both sides of the house. A private pool wrapped around one side of the house, perched on a rock above the ocean and offering stunning views.
Harry, however, had no energy left to appreciate the beauty of the place. While Daphne talked to the staff member who brought their luggage, he walked out onto the upmost deck. It was pleasantly airy there. A couple of trees and an awning provided shade. He slumped down onto an inviting looking sofa with many cushions and leaned back. The breeze caressed his cheeks, and he closed his eyes. The next second he was sound asleep.
He woke up with a start and looked around. He had no idea how long he had been asleep. Judging by the position of the sun, it couldn't have been that long. He stood up and stretched. Daphne was nowhere to be seen, but he heard the soft splashing of water from inside the house, so he ambled back into the house.
Inside, the rooms also seamlessly blended into one another. Harry found himself in what he supposed was the living room. A huge lounge sofa and a couple of low chairs and tables furnished the spacious room. Ahead of him, on another level, was a kitchen and dining area. To his left, the living room blended into a bedroom with a king-sized four poster bed. Beyond that, the bedroom seamlessly blended into a bathroom. Harry could see part of a huge bathtub and a massage bed.
While he still marvelled at the luxury of the place, the sound of splashing water stopped. The next second Daphne turned around a corner, grabbing for a towel from the shelf that partly hid the shower.
Turning a violent shade of red, Harry made a hasty retreat onto the deck. Daphne's laughter followed him.
A few minutes later she came out onto the deck, now dressed in a thin bathrobe and a towel wrapped around her head. Harry didn't dare look at her, and Daphne chuckled.
'No need to be embarrassed, Harry. To get over that is exactly the point of this honeymoon. Apart from that, you've seen it all before!'
He rubbed his neck. It felt sweaty and itchy. 'Yeah, I know. Nevertheless I still need some time to get used to it, I suppose.'
Daphne leaned forward and kissed him on the cheek. 'Go, take a shower, Harry. You'll feel better after that.' Reading the suspicious look he gave her, she laughed. 'I promise not to peek and to respect your virtue – or whatever is left of that,' she added with a wink.
He grabbed one of the cushions and threw it at her. 'Minx!' he smiled, but got up and went into the house.
'Daphne was right,' he thought when he returned to the deck half an hour later. He felt refreshed and awake after the shower. He had also exchanged his customary jeans for some light linen slacks and shirt Daphne had insisted to buy. Considering the high humidity on the island, he now understood why.
Daphne waited for him under the awning. She had dressed into a loose aqua-coloured tunic and pulled her hair back into a low pony tail.
'I've ordered us some lunch,' she said, indicating with her hand to a spread of cold meats, bread, fruits and cheese on the table in front of her. There were also pitchers with water and juice.
A grumble from Harry's stomach reminded him that he had hardly eaten anything for breakfast. He sat down beside her and pulled her towards him with his arm. 'Thank you, Daphne, you're a life saver!' he said and gave her a peck on the lips.
While they had lunch, they decided to take it easy for the rest of the day and get used to the climate.
After lunch and when a staff member had cleared the table, Daphne settled down with a book in a corner of the comfortable sofa. Harry, however, went down to the beach and had a look around. The open layout of the house troubled him, he admitted to himself. The staff had assured them that there was no need to close the shutters at night, because the private beach could only be reached from sea and it didn't get considerably colder at night. Though that sounded compelling, the thought to be that vulnerable and in the open while he slept made Harry break out in cold sweat.
The staff had been right, he determined, walking out on the small strip of pristine white sand. The layout of the place promised absolute privacy. With a satisfied smile he wandlessly cast the Protection Charms that had guaranteed his safety during his time on the run on the small beach. Relieved that no danger could harm them from that side, he returned to the house and put a couple of Alarm Spells on the back side of the house. Protecting it the same way as the beach would be of no use, he'd remembered in the last minute, because the staff still needed to find them.
Daphne looked up from her book when he returned to her. 'What have you been up to?' she asked. Her face got troubled when he explained. 'Sorry, Harry, I had no idea you'd feel this way about this place, or I'd never have suggested it! You should have warned me!'
He took her hand and pressed it lightly. 'It's all right, Daphne. Until today I had no idea I'd react like that. I thought I'd left all bad memories about the time on the run behind me. Obviously, I was wrong. I feel much safer now, after I've cast the Protection Charms.'
She gave him a thoughtful look. 'Do you think it will always be like that with you? That you'll feel vulnerable in the open?'
'I hope not,' Harry sighed and rubbed his face with the palms of his hand. 'That will be pretty embarrassing when I'm at Auror School' He kept his hands on his face.
He heard the rustle of her dress beside him, and then he felt how her arms wrapped around him and held him close. He leaned into her embrace, letting the comfort she gave him wash over him.
They spent the afternoon reading and talking - and in Harry's case napping - in the shade of the trees that surrounded the decks. Used to the long summer days in the northern hemisphere, they were caught by surprise by the early sunset. Thus they sat down for the dinner they had ordered to their villa by candlelight.
They exchanged a look over the table.
'I'm missing the little cupids throwing confetti in my hair and on my plate,' Harry deadpanned.
'Oh, so you'll be taking me for tea to Madam Puddifoot's for our first Valentine's Day?' Daphne asked in the same manner.
'If that's your heart's desire, my dear, I will.'
Their eyes met and they burst out laughing.
While they had their dinner, they made plans for the next day. Even though the resort was very secluded, there still was a lot to do, and they decided to try out most of the offered activities.
After diner, they took a walk on their private beach. The staff had lit a campfire between a couple of rocks on the beach when darkness fell, and they sat down on the cushions that were scattered around the fireplace. Daphne leaned her back against Harry's chest, and he wrapped his arms around her, marvelling how natural it felt to hold her like this.
She looked up to him, smiling invitingly, and he bent down until their lips met.
They had kissed before during the days that followed their hasty marriage, but they still had felt so awkward around one another that they both had been wary not to be taken away. This kiss, however, soon turned into something passionate that left them both breathless when they finally broke apart.
Daphne got up to her feet and held her hand out to him. Hand in hand, they walked back to the house.
The next morning found Harry sitting on the upmost deck, sipping a mug of tea, when two arms slid around his necks from behind and soft lips pressed against his cheek.
'I missed you!' Daphne murmured. 'I've got used to cuddle with you in the morning.'
Harry turned his head and kissed her softly on the lips. 'Good morning, kitty!'
Daphne gave him a playful slap on the shoulder, but walked around his chair and sat down in his lap. She wore a short kimono-style dressing gown of powder-blue satin, trimmed with lace.
Harry slid his arms around her slim waist. 'Nice,' he said, looking at her appreciatively. 'Blue suits you.'
'Thank you,' Daphne replied. 'There's also a matching nightgown I planned to wear last night, but somehow it never came to that.'
Their foreheads touched and they both chuckled quietly.
'What a pity,' Harry finally said. 'Maybe you can show it to me another day?' He wriggled his eyebrows suggestively.
'Maybe,' Daphne smiled. She slid one arm around his neck and with her other hand she took his mug and took a sip.
'I can get you another mug of tea, you know.'
'I know, but it's much nicer this way,' she replied and kissed him.
Harry returned her kiss that soon became heated. When they finally broke off the kiss, they both panted.
Daphne leaned her forehead against his. Blue eyes smiled into green. 'You're addictive, Mr Potter!'
Harry tightened his embrace. 'And so are you, Mrs Potter.'
'Not that I am complaining,' Daphne added and gave him another kiss.
'Neither am I,' Harry replied when they came up for air.
They smiled, both amazed at the attraction they felt for each other.
'Though there was a strong physical attraction right from the beginning,' Harry mused to himself. 'Otherwise we'd not have ended up in my bed the night we talked with each other for the first time in seven years.' Well, this sure would make it easier to pull off the illusion of the happy newlyweds.
After breakfast they discovered the bicycles that came with the house.
'Cool!' Harry exclaimed. 'I always wanted to ride a bike!'
'But didn't you learn how to ride a bike when you were a kid? I thought most Muggles do,' Daphne asked. 'I learned how to ride a bike at Tracey's home.'
Harry slid his hand over the saddle of the bike. 'Unfortunately, I didn't have an upbringing like most Muggle kids. My cousin had a top-of-the-range racing bike which he hardly ever rode because he was so fat. But heaven forbid that I ever tried to touch that bike!'
Daphne's eyes got dark, and she slid her arms around Harry's waist. 'Well, it's never too late to learn a new skill. Come on, I'll show you!'
Within the next hour Daphne showed Harry how to ride a bike. He found out that his excellent sense of balance, honed during many hours of Quidditch, helped immensely, though it was a bit tricky to steer and pedal simultaneously.
Their first trip lead them on a well maintained path around the small island. It was a pleasant ride in the shade of the tropical trees. However, when Harry got off the bike, Daphne laughed out loud.
'You walk like a cowboy after a day in the saddle! Have you never heard of Cushioning Charms, Harry?'
He mock-glared at her over his shoulder.
Still laughing, she caught up with him, pinched his buttock and then spurted towards the house, Harry hot on her heels.
He finally caught her in the living room. All his plans for retaliation were forgotten, however, when she flung her arms around his neck and kissed him until he got weak in the knees and they collapsed onto the sofa.
Their pleasant occupation was interrupted by a strange buzzing sound.
'That's the Banishing Box,' Harry sighed as he pulled away from Daphne. 'Do I really want to know what's in it?'
'No,' Daphne replied. 'But it's of no use to put off the inevitable. We didn't think to check our mail the last two days, so it's high time we do it now.'
'You know, kitty, there is something of a slave master about you,' Harry mused when he got up to get the box.
Daphne threw a cushion after him and he laughed.
He returned with a stack of letters and papers. On top of it were two notes from the Goblins, one for Harry and one for Daphne.
Harry looked at his note. It was a list of Howlers, and it was rather long. One glance on the list told him that he knew not one single name on it. He looked over to Daphne. 'I've got a pretty impressing list of people who sent Howlers to me. You, too?'
She looked up from the sheet of parchment she held in her hand. Her eyes were troubled. 'I'd never have thought there are people like this out there. I mean ... all these Howlers, that's so much hate. What are they thinking?'
Harry ran a hand through his hair. 'I doubt they're thinking at all. Sorry, kitty, that comes from being married to me. These people have preconceived notions about how I'm supposed to be and with whom I'm supposed to be. You don't fit in their view, so they lash out at you. I'm sorry you have to go through this because of me.'
'Stop it at once, Harry!' she snapped.
He looked up from the stack of letters he was just perusing, right into her glaring eyes. 'Uh – Daphne?' He had no idea why she was suddenly angry at him.
She jumped up from the sofa. 'Nothing of this is your fault, Harry. You didn't ask these idiots to send the Howlers. It's also not your fault that they live in a dream world and think of you as the Larger-Than-Live-Knight-in-Shining-Armour-Fucking-Boy-Who-Lived-and-Chosen-One-Who-Finished-off-Voldemort. It's also not your fault that they've the gall to think they can tell you how to live your life and think they can be as rude about that as they like!' Her breasts heaved. She had put her hands on her hips and her eyes were glaring blue daggers at him.
Harry gaped at her, then he broke out in bewildered laughter. 'I think you just broke the record in giving me the name with the most number of hyphens, Daphne.'
She hissed. 'This is not a laughing matter, Harry!'
He shrugged. 'I've learned to think about it that way. There's no use to let them get at you, you know. It'll only make you miserable. I've learned that lesson during the Triwizard Tournament and during fifth year. You can't do anything against them so you'd better ignore them.'
Her anger vanished as quickly as it had come. The list fell out of her hands, and she ran toward him and flung her arms around him. In spite of her slender form she was amazingly strong. She pulled away slightly and looked up to him. 'That's where you're wrong, Harry. There's a reason why the Goblins made a list of the names of those who sent you a Howler. A Howler, while tolerated when it comes from parents to their misbehaving children, is in any other case considered a violation of your personal honour. The Auror Office doesn't deal with them because they cause no physical harm. You've got to deal with them yourself, Harry, and there are several ways to do so.'
He looked down at her with a puzzled frown. 'Huh? I had no idea!'
She smiled at him, though her smile was sad. 'I know, Harry. I could see during this last week how little you know about our world. Did nobody ever teach you?'
'My parents died when I was too young to remember them. My godfather spent the next twelve years in Azkaban, and then two years on the run or in hiding until he was killed. Remus – well, he always kept his distance.'
'But what about Professor Dumbledore? He was appointed your guardian after the death of your parents. I remember my mother telling me that there was a heated debate on the Wizengamot the day after your parents died. There were many families that wanted to take you in, most prominent the Malfoys.'
'Ewww!' Harry made a face. 'Just imagine they'd have got me! I'd have probably appeared on the Hogwarts Express with gelled hair like Malfoy!'
She giggled about that, but soon turned sober. 'If you'd lived that long under the care of the Malfoys, Harry!'
'Well, there's that,' he admitted. 'Instead I was given in Dumbledore's care, who gave me to my aunt and then forgot about me.' His voice sounded bitter.
'That sounds as if you have reservations against Professor Dumbledore, Harry. I always thought you were his man through and through.' She searched his face with her eyes.
Harry looked down on her, not sure if he trusted her enough to tell her about his time at the Dursleys and his conflicted feelings about Dumbledore, or if he was even ready to talk about it. Heck, he himself even didn't understand his feelings. He had always adored Dumbledore and thought he could do no wrong. That's what Hagrid had told him, and the Weasleys. Even Hermione thought he always knew best. His view on Dumbledore as the unblemished leader of the light first got scratches when he had found out about his connections to Grindlewald and the plans they had made for the Greater Good. But it had been after the war, when things quietened down after the many funerals, when he started to think about his years under Dumbledore's tutelage and began to question Dumbledore's actions in regard to him. That was also the moment things between Ginny and him began to get pear-shaped...
He was pulled out of his musings by Daphne. She hugged him lightly to herself and said, 'It's all right if you don't want to talk about it, Harry. After all, even though we are married, you don't know me that well yet. I understand that I've to earn your trust, and I also understand that there are things in your past you'll probably never want to talk about.'
Harry returned her hug, thankful for the space she gave him. This was new to him. Hermione usually pestered him to no end that he should talk, and Ginny used to become angry at him when he clammed up. Only Ron was willing to accept when he wouldn't talk, but that was probably mostly because he didn't want to deal with Harry's complicated emotions. He had not the impression that Daphne was unwilling to deal with them, though.
Again, he was pulled out of his musings. Daphne bent down to the floor and picked up the list from the Goblins from where it had fallen to when she rushed towards him and hugged him. 'Back to our present problem,' she announced. 'I don't think you ought to condone these violations, Harry. As I told you, there are several ways to deal with them. You can hire a lawyer and demand an apology. You can sue them for compensation for personal suffering or you can challenge them to a duel of honour.'
She put a finger on her lips and thought for a moment. 'I think it's best to demand an apology, but imply that you'd choose one of the other two options in case that apology isn't given within a certain time frame. I imagine most of these idiots will think twice than to risk a duel with the Vanquisher of Voldemort. You can still sue those who are too dumb or too stubborn to give an apology.'
He thought about her suggestion. 'That sounds like a good idea,' he finally admitted. 'I'm certainly sick of that dragon dung and I don't want to put up with that abuse anymore. Do you want to take the same route?'
'With your permission, my husband,' she replied formally.
'Harry, do I have to remind you that I gave up all my rights to you when we made our vows? I can't do anything about this without your consent. Actually, it would be most unusual if I did so. Any violation of my honour is also considered to be a violation of your honour, and you're expected to stand up for me.' Her face had become a stony mask.
Harry groaned. 'Oh, come on, Daphne. Do you really think me that overbearing? I'd never think of telling you what you should do or not. And what's that nonsense about me standing up for you? Not that I'd mind that, but I think you're perfectly capable of your own to kick the arses of these idiots. Or at least you will be as soon as I've evaluated your skills and worked with you.'
Her face grew soft. 'Thank you, Harry, for letting me make my own choices. I'd like to handle these idiots myself. I can't wait to show them what an angry witch can do.' There was a feral gleam in her eyes, and Harry took a step back.
'Whoa, I've created a monster!'
They looked at each other and burst out laughing.
Harry put an arm around her shoulder and dragged her with him. 'Come on, kitty, I'd like to see what you're capable of. The shield and wards I put on the beach should prevent the Muggles from seeing us use magic.'
'Don't. Call. Me. Kitty!' Daphne hissed and emphasised each word with a pinch in his buttock.
'Ouch!' Harry complained. 'Woman, you know you have an abusive streak, don't you?'
Laughing, they ran down to the beach, where Harry tested her skills as he had done with the members of the DA during their first meeting, back in fifth year. She was good, he had to admit. Her repertoire of spells almost matched Hermione's, but unlike Hermione she was agile and also could think on her feet in situations where Hermione tended to panic and freeze. The latter he found out to his disadvantage that day.
He had used nothing more damaging than Stinging Hexes on her, all cast in quick succession and with a deadly accuracy that made it almost impossible for her to retaliate with a hex of her own. Instead, he slowly but surely wore her out because she was forced to dodge and shield against his onslaught. Eventually, he manoeuvred her toward the waterline and forced her to retreat back into the water until the water went up to her knees. That bereft her of her biggest advantage, her agility. Grinning, Harry cast a string of Tripping Hexes, anticipating her next moves.
Daphne stumbled, and fell backwards into the water, while his Disarming Charm brought her wand sailing to him. She sat up, coughing and spluttering, and the glare she gave him didn't bode well for him.
Harry walked up to her, supressing the laughter that welled up in him, and held out his hand to help her up. Next thing he knew was something hitting his ankles and sending him flying headlong into the water. The next moment she swooped down on him and wrestled the two wands out of his hand.
'Muggle self-defence technics,' she grinned, straddling him. 'Tracey's mother made us learn about them when we were in our third year.'
He blinked at her, water dripping in his eyes from his hair. 'Wow, you're good!' he praised her.
Daphne got off of him, an uneasy look on her face. 'You're not mad at me that I beat you?'
'Why should I?' he asked while he scrambled to his feet and wiped the water from his eyes. 'I'm glad you can fend for yourself. Even though we live under the protection of a Fidelius Charm, you'll have to go out frequently and I can't always be with you. There's always the chance that someone will try to hurt you to get back at me.' He held out his hand to help her to her feet. 'Also, I'm relieved I won't have to do all these duels in your honour. You'd better do them yourself, kitty!'
She smiled and handed him his wand. 'I'm relieved to hear that. Most Pureblood husbands wouldn't be that lenient, Harry.'
'I hope I'm not like most Pureblood husbands,' he grumbled, pocketing his wand.
'You aren't,' she assured him.
Hand in hand, they walked back to the house.
After lunch, they settled down on one of the shady decks and read their way through the remaining letters in the box. Most of them were letters of congratulations, but there was also a letter from Daphne's sister Astoria, which had Daphne scream with joy, and a letter from her mother.
'Mother wants a list of your relatives and friends, so that she can send them invitations to the ball,' she told Harry after she had read the letter from her mother.
Harry looked up from the letter he was reading. 'That'll be a rather short list. My only relatives are my Muggle aunt and uncle and my cousin Dudley. They are my only relatives from my mother's side. They're afraid of magic, so I doubt any of them would be willing to come.'
'Nevertheless mother ought to send them an invitation. It's the polite thing to do.' She got up and went into the house. Moments later she returned with a notebook and a biro in her hand and sat down again. 'Please, tell me their name and residence, Harry.'
Harry made a face, but relented. 'Petunia and Vernon Dursley, and their son Dudley. They used to live on Privet Drive number foru, Little Whinging, Surrey, but they've been relocated to a safe house when I turned seventeen, for their own security. I've no idea what became of them after that.'
Daphne wrote down the information, and then looked at Harry. 'You haven't talked to your relatives since the end of the war?'
He shrugged. 'There was never much love lost between the Dursleys and me.'
She looked as if she wanted to know more about it, but then changed her mind. 'What about your relatives from the Potter side of the family?' she asked.
'There aren't any,' Harry replied.
Daphne frowned and put down the biro. 'But that's not true, Harry. There should be at least a few distant cousins of yours still be alive. I wonder why you never heard from them.'
Harry had put down the letter he'd been reading and looked at her with wide eyes. 'How would you know that, Daphne?'
'As a Pureblood girl I was taught the family trees of all Pureblood families. Though the blood status of the Potters doesn't qualify them as members of the Sacred Twenty-Eight, they are considered an old Pureblood family by most wizards and witches. There's only little known of the Potters, because they always tended to keep in the background and mind their own business, but I remember that your grandfather, Fleamont Potter, had at least one brother. He married a Black and they had one son.'
'That must be Charlus and Dorea Potter, then,' Harry thought aloud. 'I saw their names on the tapestry of the Black Family Tree,' he added when he noticed Daphne's puzzled stare. 'They're both dead, though, so I never bothered to ask Sirius for their connection to my family. It only would've made me sad, I think.'
'S-sirius?' asked Daphne faintly. 'As in Sirius Black, the mass murderer?'
'Yeah, only that he didn't commit any of the crimes he was accused of. He was framed by Peter Pettigrew, who betrayed my parents to Voldemort, and put into Askaban without a trial.'
Daphne looked at him, her mouth hanging open. 'You'll have to tell me about that one of these days,' she said with a firm voice. 'But not now. Mother wants this list posthaste. I'll tell her to look into the Potter family tree and send invitations to all relatives that are still alive. It wouldn't do to snub them. Even though you don't know about them, you can bet they know about you.'
'Probably. And they never cared about me. So, why should your mother be obliged to invite them?' he asked hotly and jumped up. He walked to the edge of the deck and looked out on the ocean, his back turned to her.
An uncomfortable silence ensued, that was finally broken by Daphne. 'You know, Harry, maybe it wasn't their fault. Maybe they tried to get into contact with you, but they were rebuffed, like so many other wizards and witches who tried the same. Just remember what Director Ragnok told us.'
His stiff posture relaxed, and he turned around to face her. 'You've got a point there,' he conceded.
She smiled at him. 'Is it all right with you if I tell mother to invite them? You can have a look at them without any commitment and decide then if you want to keep in contact with them. Also, this has the added benefit that we observed the unwritten Pureblood rules of politeness and nobody can complain that we've snubbed them afterwards.'
He ran a nervous hand through his hair. 'Do as you see fit, Daphne. You and your mother know more about this stuff than I do.'
'All right.' She picked up the biro and wrote a short note into the notebook. 'What about your friends?'
Harry gave her a nervous side glance. 'Well, there's Hagrid. He was my first friend in the magical world and I'd hate to leave him out, though I think your mother won't like to have to invite a half-giant to her ball.'
Daphne let out a delighted chuckle. 'She won't at all, but she'll be obliged to invite him nonetheless. I can't wait to see her face when he turns up at the reception!'
Harry frowned at her. 'Hagrid's my friend, Daphne, and not a means for you to get back at your mother!' That came out more harshly than he intended, for she jumped.
She put a strand of her hair behind her ear with a finger and worried her lower lip between her teeth. 'I didn't mean to make fun of Professor Hagrid, Harry, and I don't want to use him. Even though most Slytherins thought him a laughing stock, I never agreed with them. He's a gentle soul, and his knowledge about magical creatures is impressive. But you can't deny that he'll be a trifle out of place in my mother's Blue Parlour.'
A sudden image of Hagrid, dressed his Sunday best in his hairy brown suit and trying to sit down in one of the dainty gilded chairs, while sophisticated Isabella Greengrass tried to make small talk, thrust itself on Harry's mind. He couldn't help himself, he had to laugh out loud. 'Oh Merlin, yes!' he managed to get out between fits of laughter.
Daphne watched his outburst with relief on her face. 'Who else?' she asked.
'Well, Ron and Hermione, obviously, and the rest of the Weasleys. Though I'm not looking forward to see Mrs Weasley and Ginny, after the Howlers they've sent me. I can't promise they won't make a scene. In fact, I think it's very likely they will. Same goes for Ron, I'm afraid. Though, he and Hermione won't be back until the middle of August and won't attend, anyway.'
'That doesn't matter. You can't snub your oldest friends and a family that has always been kind to you only because you're afraid of their reaction, Harry,' Daphne said firmly. 'It's unfortunate that we decided to elope on the same day when you broke up with Ginny. She probably thinks you're a two-timing bastard, or even worse, she didn't think you broke up with her for good. It's of no use to put up the inevitable. We'll have to face them one day, Harry.'
He made a face and said, 'I trust you'll protect me from them, kitty. Given how you trounced my arse today, that should be easy for you.'
'Coward!' Daphne laughed. 'Don't let anyone know that the great Harry Potter needs his wife to protect him from the wrath of his ex and her mother!'
'You forgot her surviving five brothers. They're very protective of her sister and will probably hex me into the next millennium,' he grimaced.
She chuckled lightly as she wrote the names of the Weasleys on her list. 'Yes, we managed to get ourselves in a pretty mess. But don't worry, I won't allow anyone to kill you. I happen to like having you around.' She sent him a seductive smile.
Harry gulped, and she grinned. 'Anyone else?'
'Neville and Luna, Andy and Teddy, and Kingsley. Oh, don't forget his lady friend, Hestia Jones,' Harry listed the names of his other friends.
Daphne wrote them down. 'Well, then there are at least a few friendly faces in our corner,' she remarked.
That surprised him. 'But what about your friends and relatives?' he asked and sat down beside her.
'I told you already, I didn't have any friends beside Tracey. I was friendly with Lisa Turpin from Ravenclaw, but I don't know if we qualify as friends. And my relatives – my uncle and aunt from my mother's side are all right. My father doesn't have any siblings, so there are only his cousins. Well, they are typical Purebloods. They will on the outside fawn on you because you vanquished Voldemort and they're afraid of you. Also, they'll try to get into my good graces because they think you'll be the rising power of the Wizarding world. But behind our backs they'll mock about us because you're a Halfblood and your mother was a Muggleborn.' Her voice sounded scornful and her eyes blazed. 'Even worse, we'll have to get along with that because they still have the money and the political clout to make our life miserable, Chosen One notwithstanding.'
Harry sighed. 'I hate this politicking!'
'I know,' Daphne replied quietly. She bit on her lower lip. 'Look, Harry, we'll have to talk about your place in our society one day, but our honeymoon is neither the place nor the time for that. Let's just send this list to mother and get over with that ball, all right?'
He looked at her, not sure what she was talking about, but decided to leave it at that. She was right, now was neither the time nor the place.
The rest of the afternoon was spent quietly in the seclusion of their villa. In the evening they decided to have a simple dinner of pizza at the bar on the western beach and watch the sunset.
They ambled back to their house in the almost complete darkness hand in hand. Even though, the tropical forest wasn't quiet. A choir of birdsong serenaded them on their way.
'Will you tell me about your godfather, Harry?' Daphne asked.
Harry sighed. It hurt to talk about Sirius. He still hadn't forgiven himself for the role he had played in the events that lead to Sirius death. But he didn't want her to think of the man who had been the closest thing to a father to him as a mass murderer.
Haltingly at first, but then with more confidence, he began to tell her about the Marauders and the events on Halloween 1981 and the aftermath of that horrible night.
She did not once interrupt him, but her eyes blazed when he told her how the traitor Pettigrew managed to escape and Sirius had been put into Azkaban by Minister Bagnold and Barty Crouch.
When they reached the house, they walked through the living room and out onto the deck. Like yesterday, the staff had lit a bonfire on the beach, and in silent agreement they went down to the beach and settled down on the cushions. Daphne pulled his head against her shoulder and gently stroked his head, while he went on with his story. She cried when he told her how Sirius was caught by Bellatrix Lestrange's Stunner and sent through the Veil, and the summer of self-loathing he had had after that. She put her arms around him and held him tight.
Harry returned her embrace. It had been cathartic to talk to her, as if a thin grey layer he didn't even knew that was there had been removed from his soul. She had listened to his story without interrupting him, giving him the space to tell the story on his own terms and to omit the parts he still felt uncomfortable to talk about. That was a new experience for him. Hermione would have interrupted him and have asked a plethora of questions. Ginny would have sensed at once when he tried to omit something and have tried to get it out of him, with the result that they would have been fighting within the next minute.
Daphne had done nothing like that. As a result, he had told her more than he'd intended to or thought he would ever be capable to tell anyone.
He tilted her head up with his fingers and kissed her gently. 'Thank you for listening to me, Daphne.'
She didn't reply, but still held him close. They stayed that way until the fire had burned down to glowing embers.
The next day brought the article in the "Daily Prophet" they had anticipated.
Surprise Marriage of the Chosen One
Forced or Faked?
the headline screamed at them as soon as Harry took the paper out of the Banishing Box.
'Skeeter!' Harry groaned. 'Why am I not surprised?'
Daphne patted with her hand on the seat beside her. 'Come on, Harry, let's read it and put it behind us!'
He sat down beside her and together they bent their heads over the paper.
Dear readers, to the surprise of almost anyone in the magical world and the dismay of the female population, renowned businessman Cyrus Greengrass and his wife Isabella, nee McDougal, announced the marriage of their eldest daughter Daphne to Harry Potter, also known as the Boy-Who-Lived, the Chosen One or Man-Who-Conquered-You-Know-Who in the Sunday Prophet. This was reason enough for this reporter to investigate the background of these nuptials.
As anyone knows, the elusive Vanquisher of the Darkness disappeared from the surface of the magical world almost immediately after his conquest over the most powerful dark wizard that ever terrorised this country. Reportedly he was living at the home of Ministry employee Arthur Weasley and his wife Molly, nee Prewitt. Their youngest son Donald is a close friend of the Chosen One and accompanied him on his quest to save our world. So, you would think it not unusual that the young man who never knew the comfort of his own family recuperated from his ordeal at the home of a family who took him in as one of their own.
Only very few people, however, know that the youngest Weasley daughter, Virginia, has been the Chosen One's love interest during his sixth year at Hogwarts.
'He couldn't keep his hands off her. They were really disgusting!' this year's celebrated debutante Pansy Parkinson told this reporter. 'She claimed they had broken up when he didn't appear at Hogwarts for his seventh year, but of course we all knew they faked that. I'm sure they got together again as soon as the battle was over and expected to hear an announcement about their engagement any day.'
Mr Potter closest friends also appeared to be surprised about his sudden marriage to Miss Greengrass. 'I didn't even know he knew her,' Seamus Finnigan said. 'Harry always hated anything Slytherin. She's quite the looker! But I always thought he was with Ginny.'
What is the real reason behind this surprise marriage? Has Miss Greengrass ensnared our young hero, who already showed at the tender age of fourteen that he can be easily lured away from the right path by female beauty, with bedroom skills and destroyed his obviously serious relationship with Miss Weasley? Has she used Love Potions on him? Is another announcement following this surprise marriage soon? Only time will tell, dear readers.
This reporter feels with Miss Weasley, whose hopes for a happy future were destroyed by the reckless behaviour of the Chosen One and Miss Greengrass.
What is also troubling is the fact that this reporter didn't find any evidence of the alleged marriage that was claimed to have been contracted in a private ceremony, in the Ministry's Marriage Register. That leads to the interesting question if the claims of the Greengrass family about that marriage are true.
Though the Greengrass family stayed out of the conflict that divided our nation, there have always been rumours that Cyrus Greengrass secretly supported You-Know-Who. However, no charges were made against him after the end of the war. Was that due to the influence of the Chosen One? Did the Greengrass family give their eldest daughter as a token of thanks to our young hero, without the obligation to marry the unfortunate young woman?
Neither Miss Greengrass, nor the Chosen One were available for a comment. Cyrus Greengrass, asked about the whereabouts of his daughter and his alleged son-in-law only replied 'No comment!' His wife Isabella claimed that the young couple is spending a prolonged honeymoon on a tropical island.
We can only hope that the Chosen One will come out of his reclusiveness soon and make a statement.
For more information about the Chosen One and his list of conquests (Hermione Granger, Parvati Patil, Gabrielle Delacour, Fleur Delacour, Cho Chang, Luna Lovegood, Lavender Brown, Virginia Weasley) see pages 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 15, 16 and 17.
For more information about the Greengrass family and their connections to You-Know-Who see pages 3, 5 and 7.
Harry put down the paper. 'I know she couldn't resist to accuse you to have used Love Potions on me,' he grinned.
Daphne covered her face with her hands. 'Bedroom skills! I'm never going to live that one down!'
'Oh, I don't know, I happen to like your bedroom skills,' Harry grinned and kissed her on the cheek.
She slapped him on the shoulder in return. 'Prat!'
'Abusive woman!' he replied, rubbing his shoulder in an exaggerated way.
'Crybaby!' She picked up the paper and skimmed the article once again. 'Though, her claims are that contradictory that I doubt anyone will believe her. First she says I seduced you and used Love Potions on you. Then she hints that I'm already pregnant and were forced to marry because of that.'
'What?!' Harry exclaimed. 'I missed that one!' He blanched. 'You aren't, are you? Pregnant, I mean.'
Daphne giggled. 'Your face was just priceless, Harry! I wish I had a camera with me! No, I'm not. I'm on the Contraceptive Potion since I'm thirteen, and my current dose will last until Easter.'
'Phew!' He let out a breath, which had Daphne giggle again.
'Finally she insinuates that I was given to you against my will as your mistress as a payment because you kept my father out of jail. No one can be as dumb as to believe that rubbish.'
'I wouldn't count on that,' Harry said darkly.
His statement turned out to be accurate. Over the next couple of days they received long lists from the Goblins with the names of people who had sent Howlers to them.
'Our solicitor will have a field day!' Daphne remarked, scanning the latest list. 'Dealing with that will keep him occupied for the rest of the year. That reminds me, have you already asked Minister Shacklebolt to recommend a solicitor to you?'
They both hadn't felt comfortable to contact any of the lawyers Daphne knew, because they had connections to her father and Daphne didn't want her father to find out anything about her and Harry's affairs.
'I have, and I got Kingsley's answer today. Though I'm not sure if you like his suggestion,' Harry replied and took a sip of his drink. As always in the afternoon, they were lazing in the shade on one of the spacious decks that surrounded the villa.
Daphne raised an eyebrow. 'Try me!'
'Kingsley suggested Percy Weasley.'
'Oh!' Daphne was silent for a while, obviously considering Kingsley's suggestion. 'Well, I can see that you feel uncomfortable with that suggestion, given your current problems with his younger sister. On the other hand, if he agrees to be your lawyer and that becomes public knowledge, it'll do a lot to diffuse the rumours about our marriage.'
'That was exactly Kingsley's reasoning for his recommendation. Apparently, he already asked Percy if he'll be willing to do the job, and Percy agreed,' Harry explained.
Daphne gave him a shrewd side glance. 'And how do you feel about this suggestion?'
Harry sighed and ran a hand through his hair. 'I'm torn,' he admitted. 'Percy was always the Weasley brother I least of all got along with. He was a brownnoser during his time at the Ministry and even wrote Ron to distance himself from me, because he believed the rubbish the Fudge administration spread about me. He backed down, though, and apologised to me for his behaviour after the battle. He really changed a lot after the battle. I also know that he'll do an excellent job if he represents us. Percy is ambitious, he excels at everything he does.' He hesitated, then said, 'I guess I'll give it a try. I feel more comfortable with talking to Percy than talking to someone I don't know. During our school years and the times I spent at the Burrow Percy learned a lot about me, but to my knowledge he never betrayed anything of that to Fudge, Umbridge or Scrimgeour. That counts a lot in my book.'
Daphne smiled. 'All right, than that's settled. I'd suggest you write to Mr Weasley as soon as possible!'
'I will,' Harry promised. 'Slave driver!'
The days of their honeymoon babbled along like a brook in the sunshine. They explored the small island on bike and on foot, went out on snorkel expeditions, and ventured to the islands of Praslin and La Digue by the boat shuttle the resort provided.
Most of the time, however, was spent in the reclusiveness of the villa. After the first night of their honeymoon they had discovered they were both unable to keep their hands off each other, and they took every opportunity to explore that unexpected aspect of their relationship.
Though the passion they felt for each other was far from the butterflies Ginny had caused in his stomach, it helped a lot to make their marriage work, Harry admitted to himself one afternoon when he sat on the deck and enjoyed the view over the ocean.
The soft splashing of water broke him out of his thoughts. Daphne climbed out of the swimming pool. In the privacy of their villa she hadn't bothered with a swimsuit, and Harry admired his wife's perfectly modelled body when she walked up to him.
He sighed inwardly. Not only was her body perfect, she had also gone out of her way to become the perfect wife for him. His talk with Andromeda when he told her about his hasty marriage was on his mind constantly these days. Andromeda had told him that Daphne had been raised to marry a man her parents would choose for her, and that it had been ingrained to her to please her husband. His wife's behaviour towards him confirmed that.
She had soon realised his lack of knowledge of the magical world, especially the world of the Purebloods, and had taken on herself to tutor him in the many things he still had to learn. They spent hours each day talking about that, and she'd even gone so far to teach him how to dance. In return, he helped her to improve her duelling skills.
The evenings they spent on the beach, talking. Daphne told him how it had been to grow up in a Pureblood household with indifferent, even cold parents, who left the upbringing of their two daughters to the house elves and hired tutors. They had a lot in common, Harry mused, both coming from loveless childhoods and both being able to count the number of their friends on the fingers of one hand.
However, he couldn't bring himself to tell her about his childhood with the Dursleys. Somewhere deep inside of him was the fear she'd reject him, just like they had done, because he was still Harry, the freak.
They'd become friends, just as they'd hoped it would be.
On the outside, their life was perfect. They had enough money to live a life in luxury, and they enjoyed being with each other, inside and outside the bedroom. Everyone who met them saw only the well-off young couple that seemed to be devoted to each other. He had every reason to be happy with his life, Harry told himself sternly. Once again he vowed to himself to make their marriage as easy on Daphne as she made it easy on him.
'A Knut for your thoughts,' Daphne said and made herself comfortable in his lap. She put her arms around his neck and kissed him lightly.
He slid his arms around her waist, enjoying the feeling of her soft, damp skin under his hands, and returned her kiss. 'I was thinking about us. We've managed to get through this without any bumps so far, haven't we?'
'That's true, but we haven't been really put to the test during the last three weeks,' she replied and leaned her head against his shoulder. 'It's only been the two of us. The real challenge will come when we're back at home and have to deal with our friends and daily life. I suppose we'll be in for some rough times then.'
He pulled her closer towards him. 'Don't jinx it, kitty.'
The challenges of real life imposed themselves sooner upon them than they had thought. As always, it began with the annoying buzzing of the Banishing Box. They were just having breakfast. Daphne sat on Harry's lap and they fed each other with the delicious cut up tropical fruits that came along with every meal.
'Bugger!' Daphne groaned and let her head sink against his shoulder. 'I wish we'd have had sense enough to leave that damned shoebox at home. I swear, one of these days I'm going to dump it in the ocean!'
Harry laughed. 'Says she who always reminds me of my responsibilities and insists that I do them as soon as possible.'
'That I'm the more conscientious of the two of us doesn't mean that I have to like it when that damned thing interrupts quality time with my husband,' Daphne replied and slid from his lap. She walked to the offending box, tapped it with her wand and returned with a couple of letters in her hands. 'Here's the usual list of Howlers. Today I'm lucky, only you got one.' She settled back in his lap.
Harry took the sheet of parchment out of her hand and read it. 'Only one Howler today. From Ron,' he said quietly.
Daphne interrupted herself perusing the letters and kissed him on the cheek. 'I'm sorry, Harry.'
He gave her a strained smile. 'It's all right, kitty. I expected something like that to happen.'
She murmured something that sounded like "Griffindorks!" and returned to the letters in her hand, handing him three of them. 'We've got Hogwarts letters. And we both got a letter from Professor McGonagall. Oh, and you also have a letter from Granger,' she told him.
Harry took the letters with mixed feelings. He had no idea why he got a Hogwarts letter or why McGonagall wrote him, but he had a very good idea about the contents of Hermione's letter, and he didn't feel ready to face that. Postponing the inevitable, he opened the Hogwarts letter first.
In the light of the events at Hogwarts during the last school year and the abysmal standard of education, the Board of Governors, backed by the Ministry for Magic, decided that every student who attended Hogwarts last year or was kept from attendance by the war, has to repeat that year.
This decision concerns in particular the students who wished to obtain their OWLs or NEWTs last year, since due to the reappraisal of last year's events this year the Ministry for Magic is unable to offer the exams usually taken by home schooled students in December. Everyone who wishes to take these exams has to return to Hogwarts.
Please, bear in mind that even though the Ministry for Magic has lowered the entrance requirements for those NEWT students who wish to obtain employment with the Ministry for Magic considerably, the NEWT exam is still required. Contrary to the rumours that are circulating, participation in the Battle of Hogwarts will not suffice.
Harry looked up from his letter. Daphne had also just finished reading her letter, and their eyes met.
'That means you'll have to return to Hogwarts, doesn't it?' Daphne asked.
He nodded, still not able to grasp the implications that letter would have for his life. He would need the required NEWTs to get into Auror School, and there was no other way to obtain them than to return to Hogwarts. Part of him was excited to return to the place he considered home in the Wizarding world, and maybe have a quiet school year full of fun. Another part of him dreaded to have to return to the place of the Battle. Would he ever be able to walk into the Great Hall without seeing the still forms of Fred, Remus, Tonks and little Collin Creevey? And what would become of Daphne and him? He knew she didn't plan on obtaining her NEWTs anymore. She had set her heart on a Muggle education and planned to start Muggle school in September. There was no way he would be allowed to attend Hogwarts as a day student and to return to Grimmauld Place at night, he guessed. But the law forced them to live together, or their magic would suffer.
As always, she made it easy for him. 'I'll come with you,' she said. 'Though I was not planning on completing my NEWTs, my parents will be delighted to hear I changed my mind. Also, I'd love to have another year at school with Tori.'
Tori, or Astoria, was Daphne's younger sister, and Harry had soon learned that they were very close, though he still had to meet his sister-in-law.
'But didn't you want to attend evening school in September?' he protested. 'Coming with me to Hogwarts means you'll have to wait yet another year to pursue your dream.'
'Not necessarily, Harry,' she contradicted and pushed a strand of hair behind her ear. 'Look, when I made my plans, I thought I had to work for my living during daytime and only would've time to go to school at night. But somehow I managed to find myself a rich husband who likes to indulge me and doesn't mind that I want to study the Muggle way, so I don't have to work anymore.' She grinned at him and gave him a light peck on the lips. 'This means that I can find myself a tutor and get home schooled, so I'll probably be able to take the GCSE much sooner than I originally planned. So, going to Hogwarts with you isn't that much of a sacrifice.'
His eyes lit up at that. He pulled her towards him and kissed her deeply. 'Thank you, Daphne! You know that you're much too indulgent, don't you?'
She laughed at that and let her hand run through his hair. 'Harry, as I see it, you deserve to be spoilt a little.'
He kissed her again, thankful that they managed to get around that problem without a mayor disagreement.
Then they opened the letters they got from McGonagall.
Dear Mr Potter,
In the light of your achievements for the Wizarding world and Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft in particular, I would like to offer you the honour of becoming head boy this year. Please, send me an owl to let me know your decision and to make an appointment to talk about the duties of the office.
Harry looked up. His eyes met Daphne's. He held out his letter to her. 'McGonagall wants me to be head boy,' he exclaimed.
'Me, too,' Daphne replied. She looked as dumbfounded as he felt.
'I mean, she wants me to be head girl,' Daphne clarified, dazed.
Harry was taken aback. Sure, he was happy for her, but he had always thought the honour of becoming head girl in their seventh year belonged to Hermione. She had always been one of the top students in their year, if not the top student, and with her achievements in the fight against Voldemort he had thought she would be the only possible candidate for head girl.
His bewilderment must have shown on his face. Daphne worried her lower lip between her teeth and gave him an uneasy look. 'I know you probably think I stole that honour from Granger, Harry,' she started. 'That's only partially true. Actually, I beat Granger in our OWLs as well as in our end of year exams in sixth year by one point. But Professor McGonagall also wrote to me she made a political statement with selecting me as head girl. She's taken in account that we're married and wants to show the school that a Gryffindor and a Slytherin can make a good team, to quote her words. Also, she's afraid that after the events of the last year the younger Slytherins will be bullied by the rest of the school and wants someone in their corner. She knows that I always was an advocate for the younger students of my house, even though I never made it prefect.' She bit her lips again. Her face became a stony mask and she looked him straight in the eyes. 'Please, let me know your decision whether I'm allowed to become head girl, my husband,' she said formally.
'Oh, really, Daphne, do we have to go through this over and over again?' Harry protested. 'If you want to become head girl, do it, for Merlin's sake!'
'I don't want to come between you and Granger,' she admitted. 'She'll be furious, and has every right to be so. The honour should have gone to her.'
'It's not Hermione's place to question McGonagall's decision,' Harry contradicted and hugged Daphne to him. 'McGonagall's reasoning for making you head girl is sound. Even I have to admit that Hermione isn't that good with the younger students. She's a stickler for rules and she likes to preach. All younger students in our house are afraid of her.'
She still looked dubious.
'Do it, Daphne. Write to McGonagall and tell her you'll accept, or I'll do it for you in the old fashioned Pureblood way!' he threatened.
That made her laugh. 'Thank you, Harry. Though this will make things between you and your friends not easier.'
He shrugged his shoulders. 'It might not be easier, but it's the right thing to do.'
She slid from his lap. 'I'm going to write to Headmistress McGonagall,' she announced and disappeared into the house.
Harry watched her retreating back. He was glad she gave him the space to read Hermione's letter in privacy, but he wouldn't have expected anything else from her. He turned Hermione's letter in his hands and then opened it with a sigh.
I hope this letter finds you, though I have doubts about it.
Why by Morgana did you marry Daphne Greengrass? You were with Ginny!
Considering the faithfulness you showed towards Ginny during our time on the run – I saw you how you watched her dot on the Marauder's Map night for night! – I can't believe you cheated on her with Greengrass. I don't think you spoke more than half a dozen of words to her during our Hogwarts days.
The only explanation I have for your mysterious behaviour is that you were forced into this marriage, most likely by the threat of harm to one you love, probably Ginny. Don't worry, Harry, I already did some research about the possibilities to dissolve a magical marriage that has been contracted under a threat. I'm positive we'll get you out of this trap.
I am sure you live at Snuffle's old house, but neither Ron nor I can remember where that house is, so it is up to you to find a way to get into contact with us. I hope and pray that they don't keep you prisoner. Your mysterious disappearance bodes not well.
Please, send news about your whereabouts to Mr Weasley, who will keep us informed. We suppose that Mrs Weasley is too distraught about your behaviour that we dare to involve her. You know that Ron and I will move heaven and earth to get you out of that!
I know that Ron sent you a Howler, and I hope that you are not angry about that. You know how much Ron loves his little sister. Don't let that Greengrass bitch destroy your friendship!
Hope to hear from you soon.
He let out another sigh and rubbed the back of his neck. It would be hard to persuade Hermione that he entered into his marriage to Daphne voluntarily, and even harder to persuade her he had broken up with Ginny before that. When Ron and Hermione had left for Australia, he and Ginny still had been a happy couple – at least that was what he had thought back then. In hindsight, the first breaches in his relationship to Ginny had already been evident. It was not surprising that they thought he had been forced into his marriage with Daphne under a threat, and he was touched and amused that Hermione already looked into ways to dissolve this marriage. That was so like her. But calling Daphne a bitch was taking it too far, he thought. Also, he was annoyed at Ron that he sent him a Howler without even trying to talk to him before. By now, Ron should have grown out of that childish habit of acting on assumptions.
He folded Hermione's letter and put it in his back pocket. He would have to think about what to write her back. It wouldn't do to write the first response that had come to his mind – to stay out of his business. His eyes unfocussed, he stared out onto the ocean, his thoughts whirling.
Two slender arms wrapped around his neck from behind, startling him out of his thoughts.
'You've been staring out onto the water for over thirty minutes,' Daphne whispered into his ears. 'Was Granger's letter that bad?'
He pulled her gently by the arm and dragged her onto his lap. 'She called you a bitch,' he mumbled, his head buried against her shoulder.
She tilted up his chin with a finger. 'That's all?' she asked with a raised eyebrow. 'I've been called worse. You should've heard Parkinson! That girl swears like a sailor.'
In spite of his grim mood he had to smile at her attempt to cheer him up.
'I was thinking about what to write her back. She thinks you forced me into this marriage and is already looking for ways how to dissolve it,' he told her.
Daphne's smile turned strained at his words. 'Will you tell her to go on with that?'
Harry shook his head. 'No, I think we both agreed that neither of us was forced into this marriage.'
'Yes, that's as long as being megahorny doesn't fall under the definition of being forced,' Daphne agreed with an impish grin.
That had him laugh out loud. 'I can ask Hermione to try that angle, but I think she'll faint with shock. She sometimes does have a prudish streak.'
'Like all Gryffindors,' Daphne nodded.
'Hey, I resent that! I'm also a Gryffindor!' he pouted.
She seemed to disagree, but let his words pass. 'Why don't you write her to meet with you as soon as she returns from Australia and talk? That would be easier than to explain everything in a letter. Written words can be misinterpreted, you know.'
He hugged her to himself. 'That's an excellent suggestion. I'll do that.'
Eventually, their honeymoon came to an end. Daphne and Harry were both surprised how hard they found it to say good bye to their romantic retreat.
'Maybe we can come back one time,' Daphne said as the door closed behind them for the last time and they walked to the waiting golf cart.
Harry put an arm around her shoulders and kissed her on her temple. 'We can return for our silver wedding anniversary,' he quipped, and was promptly elbowed in the side by Daphne.
'Wrong answer, husband!' she mock-glared at him.
It was still dark when they left the island on the motor boat and headed for Mahé. Again, Daphne and Harry sat in the stern of the boat. This time, Daphne didn't have to remind him to put his arm around her shoulders.
They had grown together during these three weeks, Harry mused. Their relationship lacked the ups and downs that came with falling in love. They were still too mindful of each other's feelings to rub against each other like a couple falling in love would. But they were lovers in the physical sense and friends, and that was much more than they had dared to hope for when they discovered they were married. 'I have to be content with that,' he thought as he watched the sunrise.
They were back at Grimmauld Place at midnight. Kreacher was overjoyed to see them. He flung himself at Harry and then at Daphne and insisted that they had to take a snack he had prepared for them. Dead tired they finally collapsed into bed.
The next day they had their first appointment with Percy. He had rented a small office near Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes, and Harry and Daphne met him there in the late morning.
Harry looked around. The office was very much like Percy, neat and business-like. The predominant colours were black, white and grey, and charcoal drawings adorned the white walls. It could have been the office of a Muggle lawyer in any part of the world, and stood in stark contrast to the abundance of overwhelming colours down on Diagon Alley. Thanks to excellent Silencing Charms, the hustle and bustle of the alley couldn't even been heard up here.
Percy came out of his office after his receptionist had announced them. He wore crisp grey robes and greeted them with outstretched hands.
'Harry! Good to see you! I hear congratulations are in order. Will you introduce me to your wife?'
Slightly puzzled, Harry shook Percy's hand. He hadn't counted on that. In the light of his break-up with Ginny he had expected a rather cool welcome.
He turned to Daphne. 'Daphne, may I present an old friend and housemate from Gryffindor, Percy Weasley. Percy, this is my wife, Daphne Potter.'
Percy bowed over Daphne's hand and kissed her knuckles. 'I'm charmed to meet you, Mrs Potter.'
'Call me Daphne, please,' Daphne smiled. 'A friend of Harry is also a friend of mine.'
Percy ushered them into a conference room, and they sat down at a stylish glass table. He cleared his throat. 'Harry, before we get to the reason for this meeting, we need to clear the air, I think. While I was as surprised as anyone to hear of your marriage to Daphne, I don't believe for one second that you cheated on my sister or were forced into this marriage by the use of Love Potions or force. I've lived with you and Ginevra at the Burrow, and I could see that your relationship fell apart. I'm sorry to say that my sister made rather unreasonable demands on you, and I knew it was only a matter of time before you broke up with her. But you need to know that Ginevra told everyone in my family that you were on the brink of proposing to her the day you left the Burrow.'
Harry winced at that, though he was not surprised. Knowing Ginny and her obsession with the Boy-Who-Lived, he had expected something like that. He never ought to have started dating her, thus rekindling her obsession, he thought ruefully.
Daphne took his hand and squeezed it lightly. Harry gave her a small smile of thanks and then turned to Percy, who had watched the exchange between the Potters silently.
'Thanks for the warning, Percy,' he replied. 'I'm sorry to hear that. I always considered every member of the Weasley family as one of my friends, and I'm sad that break-up with Ginny will drive a wedge into the relationship between the Weasleys and I.'
'Speaking for myself, I'll not allow that, Harry. I've once made the mistake not to listen to you. I won't make it again. Ginevra's deluding herself at the moment, just like I did when I left the Burrow. That's a lesson she's to learn by herself, I'm afraid.' Percy sighed.
'And the rest of the family – well, I know that Bill and Fleur share my point of view and that Bill talked to Charlie about that before he went back to Romania. George's still not in the shape to care for anything.' His face grew taut at his last words. 'Father keeps neutral, as always. Mum and young Ronald, however...'
Harry interrupted him with a short bark of laughter. 'You don't have to tell me, Percy. I got howlers from both of them.'
Percy gave him a tense smile. 'Well, then you know already.' He cleared his throat and became the business-like solicitor. 'You wanted to talk to me about some letters you want to be sent?'
Harry took the cue and pulled out the lists he had got from the Goblins. 'Yeah. There are some people out there who think they can tell us how to live our life and aren't exactly subtle about that. Daphne and I both got numerous Howlers during our honeymoon. Here are the lists of names of people who sent Howlers to me. I'd like you to write to each person on the list and demand an apology within a timeframe of two weeks after receiving the letter. I also want you to imply that I reserve the right for myself to choose whether to sue them or to challenge them to a Wizarding duel. Of course, the conditions for such a duel will also be chosen by me, since I am the offended party.'
'Of course,' Percy grinned. 'Sly, Harry! Who'd be so dumb to risk a duel with the wizard who brought down V-Voldemort?'
'Exactly what we thought,' Harry grinned back. 'Though, the compliment for that plan is due to Daphne. She came up with it.'
'So, you're not only beautiful, but also smart. A deadly combination,' Percy said to Daphne.
Harry almost fell from his chair with surprise. Did Percy just flirt with his wife?
Daphne gave Percy a radiant smile. 'Thank you, Percy.' She pulled out her own lists. 'I'd like you to write letters similar to those you'll write for Harry to the people on these lists, only in the name of Daphne Potter. Though, you might imply that my husband reserves himself the right to stand up for me if I choose to challenge them to a duel.'
Percy laughed out loud at that.
Harry gave his wife a surprised glance while she handed the lists to Percy. 'I thought we agreed that you do the duelling part of your own?'
'We did,' she confirmed. 'But no one has ever heard my name and therefor they will not be impressed by the threat of a duel with me. But everyone knows you, Harry, and knows that as my husband you have the right to stand up for me, so they'll think twice about it. I don't want to have to fight more duels than absolutely necessary.'
'Sly snake,' Harry grinned at Daphne. 'Why do I get the feeling that you use these damned marriage laws to your advantage and put me forward whenever it suits you?'
'Because I do,' Daphne admitted and blushed. 'Sorry, Harry. If you insist we can keep that part out of the letters.'
'No, no, that's all right with me,' Harry assured her.
Percy had listened to their exchange silently. 'I'll get these letters on the way within this week,' he told them. 'I'd like to suggest we meet again in three weeks and talk about how to proceed in the cases of those who refused to apologise. Though I doubt there'll be many.' He rose from his chair to indicate the meeting was over.
Daphne and Harry followed suit.
While he ushered them out, Percy complimented them on their tan. 'I think I've never seen you looking that healthy, Harry! Married life obviously suits you. Where have you been for your honeymoon?'
Daphne told him, and if Percy felt any surprise about their choice of a Muggle resort, he didn't let it on. They bade their good byes and left the office.
'Now, that was surprising,' Harry said when they walked out onto the street.
Daphne put her hand in the crook of his arm. 'What do you mean, Harry?'
'Percy,' he elaborated while he walked her down the street to Twillfitt and Tattings. 'I never would've thought he'll take my side over Ginny.'
His wife gave him a shrewd side glance. 'I remember Percy from the time he was head boy in our third year. He always was ambitious. Now he's a young solicitor who needs to make a name for himself. Having the Chosen One as his client doesn't hurt, you know. Others will follow where you lead, Harry. At the moment, you're more important to him than his sister.'
Harry frowned. 'Does it always have to be about the advantages you get out of something with you Slytherins?'
Daphne blushed. 'Sorry, but that's the first thing that comes to mind. That's just the way my brain works. Assume the worst of everyone, and you'll never be disappointed. I didn't say it's his only motive or that he's aware of this motive. I could see that he's truly sorry for the way he treated you in the past and wants to make amends for that.'
He still frowned. 'Do you also think so about our relationship, Daphne? Do you think the worst of me so that you don't find yourself disappointed?' His voice sounded hurt.
She blushed even harder and bit her lower lip. 'In the beginning, it was like that. I thought you were like the other men I knew. But I soon found out how nice and considerate you are, Harry.'
He huffed at that.
Daphne got angry. 'Please, spare me that holier-than-thou attitude, Harry! You can't deny that you also had your preconceived notions about me, just because I'm a Slytherin, and needed some time to overcome them.'
He didn't answer. In an uncomfortable silence the young couple made their way to the tailor's shop to get measured for evening robes for their wedding ball. When they met again afterwards, they didn't dare look each other into the eyes.
Harry Side-Along-Apparated her back to Grimmauld Place, where Kreacher had already lunch prepared for them. The uncomfortable silence lasted throughout the meal.
Daphne pushed her plate away. 'We've got to talk, Harry.'
He glared at her.
'Don't give me that look, Harry! We knew right from the beginning that we come from very different backgrounds and that we might clash because of that. We agreed to work that out and talk if that happens, remember? Sulking and brooding, like you do right now, won't get us anywhere!'
He lowered his eyes. She was right, he had to admit. His sullen silence wouldn't help. But he also couldn't help that this behaviour was ingrained in him. His life with the Dursleys had never taught him how to have a constructive fight with a family member. He had been the weakest member of that family, the freak. Whenever he tried to stand up against them, he had been shown his place at the bottom of the pecking order, sometimes with harmful words, but often enough with physical abuse. He couldn't count the many hours he had spent in his cupboard afterwards, biting away the tears and brooding why life dealt him such a bad hand.
But he wasn't any longer with the Dursleys, he reminded himself. He was finally free. He and Daphne could set up their own rules for their life. It was about time to overcome old habits, he decided.
He looked at his wife. 'I'm sorry, Daphne. You're right, we need to talk. There's a lot I need to explain to you. But not here. Can we go up to our room?'
She nodded, puzzled about his reaction. He took her hand and le d her upstairs. In their room, they sat down on the sofa and faced each other.
Not knowing how to begin, Harry ran a hand through his hair. 'Look, Daphne, I told you I was raised by my Muggle Aunt and her family and that they didn't like magic.'
She nodded at that, but her eyes clearly betrayed she didn't know how that related to their fight.
'Well, that was only the tip of the iceberg. My aunt was jealous of my mother. She resented that my mother was able to perform magic, but she wasn't. She wrote Dumbledore and asked him to attend Hogwarts together with my mother, but when he declined, that rejection turned into hate against my mother and subsequently anything magical.'
He stood up and walked to the window, turning his back to her. He couldn't bear to see the disdain in her face when he told her his story.
'When I turned up at her doorstep, she let me pay for that. She doted on her son, but I was neglected. I hardly ever got enough to eat. I had to sleep in a cupboard under the stairs and to wear the oversized cast-offs of my whale of a cousin. Whenever I did accidental magic, I was punished. I was thrown in my cupboard and left in the dark for hours, sometimes for days. Always I was denied food when that happened. They also - they also denied me the right to use the bathroom.' His voice quivered.
'It didn't end there. Sometimes, they'd punish me physically. Uncle Vernon would put his hand around my throat and squeeze until I thought I was going to suffocate.' He could hear a small whimper coming from Daphne.
'Eventually, I'd become their scapegoat for everything that went wrong in their life.' He paused. Then he said softly, 'I tried to stand up to them. I'm a Gryffindor for some reason, Daphne. There's something in us that lets us fight no matter how bad the odds against us are. Of course, I had no chance against them. I'd always end in my cupboard, bruised and starved. Whenever something like that happened, I'd sit in my cupboard and ask myself why these things always happened to me. I wouldn't allow myself to cry, but I'd despair of the injustice of it all.'
He took a deep breath. 'In a way I'm still the small boy in the cupboard. Whenever I feel hurt or wronged, I'll retreat into myself. Without even realising it, I'll turn into the little boy who's angry at the injustice of his life.'
He heard her get up from the sofa and step behind him. The next moment he felt her arms around his waist and her soft body pressed against his back. 'So, that's why you clammed up?'
'Yeah. I was hurt that you thought me to be like the Pureblood men you know. I thought I'd shown you right from the start that I was different. Silly, really. You didn't know me any more than I knew you. When I'd issues to trust you, how could I expect unconditional trust from you? But I was the little boy back in the cupboard just like that.' He snapped with his fingers.
'I see, Harry,' she whispered and pressed a gentle kiss against his back. 'Please, look at me.'
He turned around in her arms and saw to his amazement that her face was wet with tears.
'Thank you for trusting me with that, Harry.' She leaned her head against his chest and hugged him tightly.
Harry felt as if another grey layer had been torn from his soul.
They spent the afternoon with Teddy and Andy.
'It's amazing how much he's grown within these few weeks,' Daphne said, kissing the small boy on his soft baby cheeks.
Teddy looked at her, gurgled, and then the tuft of hair on his head turned the exact shade of blonde as her hair.
'He's developing his Metamorphmagus abilities,' Andy explained. 'Since a couple of days he tries to look like everyone he sees. Dora was just like him this age.' She smiled wistfully.
'Can I hold him, just once, pretty please?' Harry asked his wife and gave her his best puppy-dog-eyes.
She laughed and handed the baby to Harry.
Harry settled the little boy in the crook of his left arm and tickled his belly with his right hand. 'Hey, you!' he smiled at his godson.
Still sporting a tuft of honey coloured hair, Teddy gave his godfather a look full of concentration. The colour of his eyes changed, until they matched exactly the colour of Harry's eyes.
Andy smiled. 'Take a good look if you want to know how your future children will look.'
Daphne and Harry looked at each other and smiled.
'Harry, did you already think about which parts of the house you want to renovate?' Daphne asked the next morning at breakfast while they lingered over a last cup of tea.
Harry put his cup back on the saucer and sighed. 'As far as I'm concerned, you might as well tear the whole damned place down, but that would break Kreacher's heart. Sirius has been forced to live like a prisoner in this house, and I hate it for that. Also...' His voice broke.
She put her hand on his. 'It reminds you of him, doesn't it?'
He nodded. 'Yeah. I only chose to live here because of the security it offers. It's unplottable and under a Fidelius Charm.'
Daphne gave him a thoughtful look. 'Harry, there's a list of real estate in the ledger Director Ragnok gave you. If you hate this house so much, we should look if there's a suitable house for us to live in among the Potter properties.'
'I've never thought of that. I'd love to get out of here. Then maybe Andy and Teddy could move into this house. Money's been tight for Andy since her husband was killed, and I know she's got problems to pay the rent for her place. But she refuses to let me help her. It'll be different if I offer her to live here. Andy's a Black by birth.' Harry's eyes lit up. 'You're a genius, Daphne!'
He pulled the ledger out of his Mokeskin pouch, and Daphne pushed the cups and plates away so he could put it on the table between them. The blonde and the raven head bent over the ledger.
The list of real estate was amazingly long. Harry counted twenty-three properties, but only fourteen of them were in Britain. His parent's cottage in Godric's Hollow was listed among these, with the description "destroyed". Of the remaining thirteen houses, three were in Muggle areas without any protection. Two other houses were listed as business premises in Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. There were two houses in Scotland and one house in Yorkshire, all of them under the Fidelius Charm.
'No way!' Daphne said. 'I've spent seven winters in Scotland, that's enough. I'm from Kent, so London's already way up north in my book!'
Harry laughed at that. 'So, the house on Anglesea's also out of the question?'
'Definitely!' Daphne shuddered. 'But what about these three? One in Devon, one in Cornwall and the last one even in London, all unplottable and under a Fidelius Charm.'
'The Weasleys live in Devon. I don't know if I want to have Mrs Weasley and Ginny that near to me right now,' Harry objected.
'Silly, they wouldn't be able to find you,' Daphne chuckled. 'All right, what do you think? Shall we have a look at the house in London first and then head to Cornwall?'
'That sounds good to me,' Harry nodded. 'Unfortunately, we don't know the Secret Keeper of the houses. We need to visit Gringotts and find out if they know them.'
Daphne perused the ledger. 'I don't think that'll be necessary,' she murmured. 'There's the name of an elf written beside the description of each house that's under the Fidelius Charm. I bet that elf is the Secret Keeper.'
'An elf?' Harry wondered.
'Why not?' his wife replied. 'Any living being with a soul can be made Secret Keeper. Actually, it's a brilliant idea to use a house elf. Their magic prevents them from betraying their master's secrets. Also, neither Voldemort nor one of his Death Eaters ever would've thought of using a house elf, so they never would've found out who the Secret Keeper was. I wonder why your parents didn't take that into account when they made Pettigrew their Secret Keeper.'
'We'll probably never know. All right, let's try this. Reggy!' he called.
A house elf Apparated into the kitchen of Grimmauld Place. He wore a pristine white tea towel toga, and the excitement in his tennis ball sized blue eyes was evident.
'Master Harry has finally called Reggy! Reggy is so happy!' the small creature cried and threw itself at Harry, hugging as much of him as it could gather in his arms.
By now used to the emotional creatures, Harry patted Reggy on the back. 'I'm also happy to see you, Reggy. Can you tell us where the Potter house in London is?'
Reggy pulled himself away from Harry. 'Reggy can do that. Master Fleamont and Mistress Euphy made Reggy Secret Keeper for their house in London.' He looked at Daphne and then threw a questioning glance at Harry.
'Oh, this is my wife Daphne,' Harry hurried to introduce her.
'Reggy has a mistress again!' the little elf gasped and then threw himself at Daphne. The young couple shared an amused smile behind his back. It took Reggy some time to calm down, but then he took them both by the hand and Apparated them away.
They found themselves in a thicket of bushes.
'This is the private Apparition point in Eaton Square Gardens,' Reggy explained. He pointed with his finger to a gate in the iron fence that enclosed the garden. 'That's the gate just opposite the house. Muggles can't see it. Fleamont House is on Eaton Square South number four b,' he told them and then Apparated away.
Harry and Daphne shared a look. When they walked through the gate, right in front of them the houses number three and number four seemed to jump to the side, and another house materialised between them.
'Magic never ceases to amaze me,' Harry said. He took Daphne's hand and led her over the street. When they approached the door, it was opened by a beaming Reggy. Beside him stood an obviously female house elf, also wrapped into a pristine white tea towel.
'Welcome to Fleamont House!' Reggy shouted, bouncing in excitement. 'This is Abby. She cooks and cares for mistress,' he introduced the female elf beside him.
Abby dropped a small curtsy. Though she seemed to be as excited as Reggy to finally meet her master and mistress, her demeanour was much calmer.
Harry and Daphne walked into the house. They found themselves in a long, bright hallway. Reggy gave them the tour of the house. He opened a door to the right, and ushered them in what seemed to be the library. This one, however, was much different from the library at Grimauld Place. It was a bright, long room. Two windows that faced the square let in the sunshine of the summer day. White bookshelves lined the walls. They were filled with an assortment of magical books as well as Muggle books. A huge sofa opposite of a fireplace was flanked by comfortable looking upholstered chairs.
'Oh, that's the perfect room for me!' Daphne exclaimed.
Harry chuckled. He had already found out that his new wife loved books as much as Hermione did, but wasn't by far as obsessed about them.
Tall double doors led from the library into a dining room that also boasted a fireplace, but had no window. The long, polished table could easily seat twelve.
A set of paned double doors led from the dining room into a breakfast area. It had floor to ceiling windows and a glassed ceiling, and blended seamlessly into the kitchen.
'Look, Harry, there's also a small back garden,' Daphne observed. She took him by the arm and pulled him gently to the window. A small patio, just big enough for a table and a couple of chairs, was surrounded by dense bushes and trees, thus offering absolute privacy.
Reggy then took them up to the first floor. There was a small study for Harry, and two large reception rooms. Each room was fully furnished and decorated in bright, tasteful colours. However, nothing seemed stiff or stilted, Harry noted. It was a house for a family to live in.
On the second floor they finally found the master suite, complete with a huge bathroom and walk-in closet. The bedroom had two tall windows that faced the square, and also boasted a fireplace. Daphne squealed with delight.
There was another smaller bedroom on this floor, but also with an ensuite bathroom.
The third floor had two additional bedrooms that had to share a bathroom, but also boasted a roof deck with a fantastic view over the square.
Harry and Daphne shared a look. 'It's fantastic, isn't it?' he asked.
'Absolutely!' she enthused. 'I'd love to live here. What about you?'
'Definitely,' he nodded. 'But let's also have a look at the house in Cornwall. While we were on the run, we stayed with Bill and Fleur Weasley for a couple of weeks. They live in Cornwall, in a cottage on a cliff that overlooks the sea. The place's fantastic. If the house in Cornwall's anything like that, I'd love to live there.'
Daphne nodded her agreement, and Harry called the house elf who was the Secret Keeper for the house in Cornwall. 'Sunny!'
Another elf Apparated into the room. He wore a tartan tea towel in black and gold with slim red and blue stripes.
Reggy's ears drooped when the other elf Apparated into the room. Daphne bent down until she was on eye level with him. 'Don't be sad, Reggy. The decision isn't made yet. I can also imagine that we might want to use both houses, one in summer and one in winter.' The elf brightened considerably at that.
Sunny was as excited to meet his master and mistress as Reggy had been. He wasted no time, took them by the hands and Apparated them away.
They appeared on a crescent beach that was framed by tall cliffs on both sides. In front of them a low wall divided the beach from what seemed to be an extensive lawn. Behind them, the sea shimmered in almost unreal shades of green and turquoise.
'The Hideaway is at Long Cove, Cornwall,' Sunny told them, and in front of them a two-storey-house shimmered into view. Sunny walked ahead to the porch on the other side of the house.
The front door was opened by a female elf who was dressed in a tartan cloth like Sunny's. 'Is be Breezy,' she introduced herself and dropped a curtsy.
After they had greeted Breezy, Harry and Daphne got a tour of the house. The ground floor had a huge living room with a low, beamed ceiling and an ornate fireplace. There was a study for Harry, and a spacious dining room that also had a fireplace and boasted a floor to ceiling window that opened to the beach. An additional bay window offered a fantastic view on the cliffs. The kitchen was spacious and cosy. The long, white-scrubbed table and the wood stove reminded Harry of the Burrow. Off the kitchen was a small sun room that faced south.
The master bedroom was on the first floor, directly above the dining room.
'Whoa!' Harry exclaimed as he walked into the room. It was dominated by an ornately carved four poster bed. From the bed, you had a wonderful view on the beach through a tall window. A bay window, just like in the dining room, offered a view over the cliffs.
Harry and Daphne shared a look. 'The view reminds me of the house on the Seychelles,' he remarked.
'Yes, it does,' Daphne agreed and stepped beside him. 'I think we just found our new home, Harry. At least for the summer,' she amended. 'I imagine it can be pretty rough here during the autumn and winter storms.'
He put an arm around her shoulder and kissed her on the temple. 'I think you're right, kitty. So, it's Cornwall in the summer and London during winter?'
'Yes!' Daphne exclaimed and threw her arms around her husband. He bent down and captured her lips with his. When they finally came up for air, they both had a goofy grin on their face.
It was harder than Harry had thought to tell Kreacher they would move out of Grimmauld Place. At first, the ancient elf had been inconsolable, and Harry crouched down on the kitchen floor and gathered the weeping Kreacher in his arms. But when he told him that he planned on giving the house to Andy and Teddy, Kreacher had perked up.
'Miss Andy bes always nice to Kreacher. Kreacher will take good care of Miss Andy and Master Harry's godson!'
However, Harry rendered the ancient elf speechless when he told him that he was to live in Master Regulus old room from now on and could take any Black family memorabilia to that room Andy didn't want to keep.
When Harry and Daphne finally left Grimmauld Place to move to The Hideaway for the rest of the summer, Kreacher was already happily vanishing the furniture and Hippogriff manure in the old master bedroom to get it ready for Miss Andy.
Hand in hand, Harry and Daphne Apparated on the beach in front of The Hideaway. They walked up to the house. While Daphne organised their clothes in the huge wardrobe in their bedroom, Harry put the Banishing Box and the ledger on the desk in his study. He would have to work hard for the rest of the summer to learn more about the management of his family holdings, he mused. Still lost in his thoughts, he stepped in front of the window and admired the view on the beach.
That was where Daphne found him when she finally came downstairs. 'Harry,' she began as she stepped into the room, but was interrupted by the buzzing of the Banishing Box on Harry's desk. 'Damned shoebox!' she muttered, and went to get the mail, while Harry chuckled quietly.
She stepped to him, a letter in her hand. 'It's from mother,' she grimaced.
He watched her as she opened the letter, read it quickly and then frowned. 'Bad news?' he asked.
'That depends,' she answered. 'Mother invited us for dinner tonight. It's only the family. Tori returned home and mother wants to talk about the ball with us.'
Harry made a face. He didn't like the prospect of having dinner with his in-laws, and by the look on Daphne's face he knew she shared his sentiment. 'Let me guess,' he said. 'You don't want to talk to your parents, but you can't wait to see your sister again.'
Daphne nodded. 'That, and of course we owe it to mother because she hosts the ball for us.'
He grimaced again and ran a hand through his hair. 'All right. Write her that we accept. I guess I can live through one dinner with your father.'
'Thank you, Harry,' Daphne smiled and pecked him on the cheek. She then went to the desk to answer her mother's letter.
They spent the afternoon lazing, reading and talking on a blanket on the beach until it was time to get ready for the dinner at Lovelace House.
'You look gorgeous,' Harry complimented his wife when they walked out of the house to the Apparition point. She had donned conservatively cut lavender coloured robes and put her hair in a bun on the nape of her neck again. Soft ringlets framed the sides of her face, and she had completed the look with a pearl necklace and matching earrings from the Potter Family Vault.
'Thank you, you also clean up nicely,' she returned his compliment. He wore the same robes as on the day they had told her parents of their marriage, but Daphne had Transfigured the dark blue of the outer robes to a deep burgundy red.
They were let into the house by Tapsy, who ushered them to the Yellow Parlour. That was the place where the family met before dinner when they didn't entertain guests, Daphne had told him.
Isabella and Cyrus Greengrass were already in the room, together with a young girl who looked like a carbon copy of Daphne. Cyrus Greengrass stood near the fireplace, a glass in his hand, while the two women sat on the sofa, side by side.
Isabella got up when the young couple entered the room and walked to them with outstretched arms. 'Daphne, Harry, how lovely you could make it!'
She exchanged a hug with her oldest daughter. Again, Harry noticed how forced the two women looked.
Daphne's mother then held out her hand to her son-in-law. By now, Harry knew what was expected of him without Daphne needing to coach him. He caught Isabella's hand in his and kissed her knuckles. 'Isabella! As beautiful as always, I see.'
'Charmer,' she replied, obviously flattered. She beckoned to her younger daughter. 'Harry, may I introduce my younger daughter Astoria to you? Astoria, this is your brother-in-law, Harry Potter.'
The young girl also held her hand out to him. Her violet blue eyes examined him critically. 'How do you do, Mr Potter.'
'Harry,' he corrected and kissed her knuckles. 'And may I call you Tori? Daphne told me so much about you, it feels weird to call you Astoria.'
Her critical gaze got a bit softer. 'You may,' she conceded. She then turned to her older sister and hugged her, while Harry walked to the fireplace to exchange a handshake with Cyrus Greengrass.
'Potter!' the older man acknowledged while he shook Harry's hand.
He and his father-in-law would probably never be able to do more than barely tolerate each other's presence in one room, Harry mused as he took the glass of sherry Tapsy offered him. That was all right with him. He still resented the older man the way he had treated Daphne, so that she had to run away lest not to become the object of a despicable bargain. His and Daphne's marriage might not be a match made in heaven, but at least he treated his wife much better than her own father ever did.
He was pulled out of his thoughts by Tapsy, who announced that dinner was ready. Cyrus and Isabella led the way to the dining room, while Harry followed, with Daphne and Tori each on one of his arms.
Dinner dragged on in an almost unbearable manner. Isabella dominated the conversation, telling Daphne everything about the preparations for the ball, while Cyrus Greengrass ate in silence, ignoring everyone.
'Since you've already taken your vows, it won't be a typical wedding reception, but rather a normal ball given in your honour,' Isabella explained to her oldest daughter while she spooned her soup. 'We'll have dinner with the closest family and friends of bride and groom before. Is that all right with you, daughter?'
A mischievous gleam appeared in Daphne's eyes. She turned to Harry, who had listened to the conversation between mother and daughter with only half an ear, and put her hand on his arm. 'Do you agree with mother's suggestions, my husband?' she asked formally.
One look in her eyes told Harry that she was taking the mickey. However, one month into his marriage he already had learned the diplomatic answer all husbands all over the world had down pat. 'I'm happy with everything you decide, my dear!' he deadpanned.
Beside him, Tori almost choked at her wine. 'Good move!' she told him from the corner of her mouth.
Harry gave her a lopsided grin, and she chuckled quietly.
Isabella then moved on to the guest list for the proposed dinner. 'It's most unfortunate that your parents are dead, Harry,' she told her son-in-law, oblivious to the irritated gasp that escaped her daughter's lips at her insensitive words. 'However, I found a first cousin of your father's, Alex Potter, and his wife Susanne. They live in Switzerland since more than twenty years. Your aunt and uncle declined my invitation, but your cousin will be attending our ball.' She paused to dab her mouth with her napkin.
Harry wasn't able to reply. His mind reeled. So, Daphne had been right. He still had living relatives from his father's side. They lived outside of England. Was that the explanation why they never came looking for him? Also, he was not sure how he felt of Dudley attending a ball in a Wizarding home. He hadn't assumed for one second that his uncle and aunt would accept Isabella's invitation, and thought that would prevent Dudley also from coming.
A small hand stole into his and slender fingers interlaced with his longer ones. He looked up from the tablecloth on which he had been staring for the last seconds, directly into Daphne's beautiful deep blue eyes. They were full of compassion and support, and a feeling of comfort washed over him. He returned the gentle pressure of her hand, and smiled his thanks at her.
With a relieved breath, Daphne pulled her hand away.
Oblivious to Harry's discomfort and the silent exchange between the newlyweds, Isabella went on. 'Molly and Arthur Weasley also had to decline my invitation. They're in Romania, together with one of their sons and their daughter. They'll send their oldest son William and his wife in their stead.'
She paused, took a sip of wine and then went on, 'However, I'm not disappointed that your friend Hagrid declined my invitation, Harry. He's also travelling. I must say, you have some strange friends!'
Harry and Daphne exchanged another look, this time hardly suppressing the mirth that welled up in them.
'I'm most pleased that Minister Shacklebolt and his fiancé accepted my invitation, though. I had no idea you were that well connected, Harry.' The satisfaction in Isabella's voice was evident.
Harry chuckled inwardly, thinking of how Daphne had described her mother as a social snob.
'I didn't know you were friends with Neville Longbottom, Harry. Did Daphne tell you that he's related to her by the Greengrass side? He's always been kind of the laughing stock of the family. I haven't seen him for ages.'
He put down his fork and knife and gave his mother in law a polite smile, though he seethed inside. 'Yes, she told me. Neville and I were roommates at Gryffindor. He's one of my oldest friends and by far the most reliable of them. I daresay you're in for a surprise when you'll see him at the ball, Isabella. There's nothing left of the shy, chubby child you remember.'
Isabella shrugged at that. 'He was always such an awkward child.' She motioned at Tapsy to remove the plates and serve the second course.
'I'm also not impressed that you're friends with Luna Lovegood, Harry,' she told her son-in-law. 'The Lovegoods are an old family, of course, though they don't belong to the Sacred Twenty-Eight, but so eccentric! And don't get me started on that rag of a newspaper Xenophilius publishes!'
'Nevertheless, it was that rag of a newspaper, as you call it, Isabella, that dared to print the truth about Voldemort during the war when everyone else had their head in their arse,' Harry replied. His green eyes had become hard and glared at her.
Isabella let out an exaggerated shriek when he mentioned Voldemort's name. Her cutlery clattered on her plate.
Beside her, Daphne cut her meat without showing any emotion at the mentioning of Voldemort's name. His wife had never shown the irrational fear of the name that most Purebloods had, Harry remembered with pride. To their credit, neither Astoria nor Cyrus Greengrass had even flinched, too.
Isabella faltered under his stare, though she went not so far as to apologise. Ignoring Harry, she addressed her oldest daughter again. 'Of course, I had to invite my brother and his wife. Shockingly boring people, unfortunately.'
Daphne's face brightened at her words. 'I haven't seen Uncle Gordon and Aunt Mary for ages!'
His wife's reaction told Harry that her uncle and aunt were very different from his in-laws, and he found himself looking forward to making their acquaintance.
'Your cousin Morag will be with them. Such a plain girl, though she managed to contract herself into an acceptable betrothal,' Isabella continued, and took another sip of wine. She was already on her third glass, Harry noticed, and so was her husband, while the young people had not even emptied their first glass.
'Oh, that's wonderful news,' Daphne exclaimed. 'Who will she be marrying?'
'The Macmillan heir. His fortune is acceptable, I've been told, but he's not much to look at,' Isabella stated.
'Morag and Ernie have been dating for over a year,' Daphne smiled. 'I bet she's over the moon!' Her mother huffed at that, but Daphne ignored her and turned to Harry. 'I believe, you're friendly with Ernie Macmillan, Harry?'
Harry put down his cutlery and dabbed his mouth. 'Yes, I am. Ernie's a good man, very loyal as all Hufflepuffs. I don't know his bride, though.'
'You'll like Morag,' Daphne assured him. 'She's a sweet girl, though a little on the quiet side.'
'Sounds like the perfect match for Ernie,' Harry laughed. 'He tends to be a little pompous.'
Daphne joined his laughter. Isabella's next words, however, wiped the laughter off her face.
'Of course, I also invited your only remaining roommate from Slytherin to dinner, Daphne. Alas, the Bullstrodes fled to the continent when You-Know-Who was defeated.'
'Pansy? Why in the world did you invite her, mother? You know we can't stand each other!' Daphne looked at her mother as if she had lost her mind.
Ignoring her daughter's discomfort, Isabella took her glass and sipped. She gave Daphne a malicious glance over the rim of the glass and said, 'You'll be happy to hear that Pansy also is betrothed. To Theodore Nott, can you imagine? Of course, he'll be her date on our ball.'
Harry felt a wave of hot ire welling up in his stomach. How did Isabella dare to invite the man who had tried to blackmail Daphne into an unwanted marriage to him to the ball held in honour of their wedding? He took Daphne's hand and interlaced his fingers with hers, feeling her tension. Aloud he said, 'I'm sure they're a very well matched couple!'
That had Daphne snort, and Harry felt how her fingers relaxed in his.
Beside him, Tori chuckled. 'That was brilliant, Harry!' she whispered.
Daphne had recovered from her shock. 'Are there any other unpleasant surprises on the dinner guest list, mother?' she asked coolly.
'Unpleasant surprises! Really, Daphne, you're exaggerating! After all, they were your house mates for seven years!' Isabela chastised her. Again, she sipped from her glass. 'I've invited Lisa Turpin. You were friendly with her, weren't you? She's coming with her fiancé, Terry Boot.'
Daphne and Harry brightened at that.
'Oh, I'd love to see Lisa again!' Daphne exclaimed, while Harry said, 'It'll be great to talk to Terry. I saw him briefly after the battle, but we didn't have time to catch up.'
Meanwhile, they had come to dessert. Cyrus Greengrass, however, excused himself with an appointment with an important business partner at his club before the last curse was served. The strained atmosphere lightened considerably as soon as he left the room.
'Is he still having an affair with Verity Flint?' Daphne asked and dabbed her mouth with her napkin.
'Daphne!' Isabella gasped.
'Oh, come on, mother! Harry's family now. He'll find out soon enough about our dirty little secrets,' Daphne replied coolly.
Harry took another sip of wine, wisely deciding to stay out of this.
'That came to an end shortly after you ran away, Daffy,' Tori interjected. 'I believe, he's now after Patricia Parkinson.'
'As always, his taste leaves a lot to be desired,' Daphne observed and motioned to Tapsy to take her plate away.
Scarlet spots had appeared on Isabella's cheekbones. 'Just you wait, daughter, that young husband of yours is also going to cheat on you as soon as you are with child!'
Daphne gave Harry a soft smile. 'I don't think so, mother,' she replied.
'You mean our vows see to it that I never will, so that I won't lose my magic,' Harry told her under his breath, though he had to grin.
Daphne put her hand on his hand. 'No, Harry. I meant you're not a cheating bastard,' she said clearly.
Isabella threw her napkin on her plate and rushed out of the room in a huff.
Daphne and Tori exchanged a look and then shrugged their shoulders.
'Welcome to the family, Harry,' Tori finally grinned at him. 'Now you've seen the sophisticated Greengrass family at their worst!' She turned to her sister. 'Merlin, you don't know how much I've missed you, Daffy! It's dead boring here without you!'
Daphne's eyes grew soft. 'I've also missed you, Tori.'
Harry looked from his wife to his sister-in-law. 'Why don't you ask your sister to stay with us for the rest of the holidays, kitty?'
Daphne's eyes brightened. She threw her arms around him and kissed him soundly on the lips. 'You're the best, Harry!' she squealed.
Tori regarded her sister's open display of affection with wide eyes, while Daphne called for Tapsy and asked him to pack Tori's things for a prolonged stay with the Potters and send them at The Hideaway.
'Don't you have to tell your mother you're coming with us, Tori?' Harry asked when he led both young women outside of the wards to Side-Along-Apparate them to The Hideaway.
'Tapsy will tell her tomorrow,' Tori replied. 'Tonight, mother is indisposed.' She made a telltale gesture with her hand, as if knocking back a drink.
'Oh!' Harry mouthed.
'She wouldn't care, anyway,' Daphne added. 'The less she sees of Tori and I, the happier she is.'
Tori nodded to that.
When they arrived at The Hideaway and Sammy had given the secret to Tori as Harry had asked him, Daphne showed her sister to one of the spare bedrooms.
Harry went to their bedroom, glad that he could finally get out of the stiff dress robes. He changed into his pyjamas and laid down, his arms folded behind his head, and thinking of the dynamics of the Greengrass family. The thought that parents could be completely indifferent to their own children chilled him to the bone. He recalled how Daphne had been with Teddy. How could someone who grew up in such an icy surrounding as the Greengrass household become such a warm and caring person?
He must have dozed off, because he started when Daphne came into the room. She had changed her formal robes for a very short nightgown of powder-blue satin that was held up by the thinnest spaghetti straps possible, and she had let her hair down.
Harry looked at her appreciatively. 'Is this the nightgown you never came around showing me during our honeymoon?'
'Yes,' she confirmed and climbed into the bed beside him. 'Do you like it?'
'Lovely,' he replied, while he turned around and took her in his arms. He nuzzled her neck and felt how she shivered with delight under his ministrations. 'Though I doubt it will stay on you much longer,' he grinned.
'I'd be disappointed if that were the case, Harry,' she purred and kissed him deeply.
The next morning, they walked down to the kitchen hand in hand.
Tori already sat at the table. She smiled as they walked into the room. 'You look sickeningly sweet together.'
'Thank you, sis,' Daphne replied and sat down beside Harry.
Tori propped up her elbows on the table. She looked from Daphne to Harry and back. 'I still don't get it how you ended up married. I didn't even know you knew each other! One day mother tells me that you've run away, Daffy, and father and Nott yell at each other behind the doors of father's study ...'
'Father was always lousy at silencing spells,' Daphne remarked and spread jam on her toast.
'... and four weeks later I get a letter from mother, telling me you presented Harry as your husband to our parents,' Tori continued, ignoring her sister. She grinned at Harry. 'Mother wrote me how you trounced father's arse. I wish I could have seen that!' She turned back to her older sister. 'Out with it, Daffy! How did you get married to Harry Potter? Or aren't you married at all, as the "Daily Prophet" implies?'
Daphne and Harry looked at each other and laughed. 'Oh, we are married, there's no doubt about that,' Daphne said. 'But it was also rather surprising for us, wasn't it, Harry?' She looked at her husband for support.
'No kidding,' he affirmed. 'Don't give me that look, kitty. It's enough that I have to tell my friends; you can tell your sister.'
She mock-glared at him, but then turned to her sister. 'Well, it all began when I agreed to go out on a date with that bloke ...'
Tori hung at her lips while Daphne told the story how she and Harry had met in that pub, got drunk together and discovered the next morning that they had managed to enter into the strictest magical marriage bond possible.
'But you could have annulled the marriage,' Tori exclaimed when she ended her story.
Daphne and Harry looked at each other and again dissolved into laughter. 'It was already too late for that when we discovered we were married,' Daphne got out between fits of laughter.
'What do you mean, too late?' Tori asked. Then it dawned on her. 'Oh.' Her face pinked.
That set the young couple off again.
'Well, at least you seem to be really happy about your marriage,' Tori said.
The mirth vanished from their faces. Daphne pushed a strand of hair behind her ear. 'It wasn't like that right from the beginning,' she told her sister softly. 'We had to work hard on our relationship to get where we are now.' She looked at Harry for support.
'When I discovered I was married to your sister, my first reaction was to blame each and everyone, and especially Daphne, for the fact that I'd managed to screw up my life,' Harry began.
Daphne laughed quietly. 'Yeah, I had a similar reaction.'
He gave her a lopsided grin. 'However, in all fairness I had to acknowledge that I was just as responsible for our situation as she was.' He took her hand and gave her a quick kiss on the knuckles.
Daphne picked up from there. 'As soon as we acknowledged we both were to blame, we decided to find a way to get through this without that we'd lose our sanity and our magic. We made the deliberate decision to live together as a couple, with everything that entails.' She smiled at Harry. 'It was surprisingly easy. I think there was a strong attraction between us right from the beginning and the alcohol we consumed that night made us let down our guards and act upon that.'
Harry nodded to that.
'I can't speak for Harry, but so far I've only benefitted from our marriage. Being married to Harry is so much better than being married to Nott!'
'Thank you, dear. I think,' Harry deadpanned, and the three young people broke out into laughter.
He noticed the expectant look Tori gave him and sighed. Of course she wanted to know how dedicated he was to her sister. It was plain to see that the two sisters cared deeply for each other and that Tori wanted to be sure that Daphne would be happy. But he couldn't give her that promise. He had no idea how to love somebody. He had thought he had come close to that with Ginny, but their relationship had crumbled as soon as it was put to the first test. He didn't expect anything more from his relationship to Daphne than friendship and contentment.
'We get along amazingly well,' he told Tori and ran a nervous hand through his hair. 'We've become friends. That's a common ground we can start from.'
Tori didn't answer to that immediately. Then she smiled. 'That's all right, Harry. But don't you think you can fool me for one second.'
Harry had no idea what that cryptic remark meant and turned to his breakfast.
Unnoticed by him, Tori gave a knowing smile to her sister that got even brighter when Daphne glared in response.