Disclaimer: Everythingbelongs to J.K.R.
Author's notes: Today at the bottom.
London, June 2009
Daphne left St Mungo's through the revolving doors that led to Muggle London and lifted her face up towards the warm summer sun. She briefly wondered if it was as sunny in Germany where the Greco's were now, on their second Potter paid vacation. Which reminded her that they really ought to stop talking about visiting Andy and Teddy in New Zealand and actually book their own holiday before they ran out of time again.
Her health exam had taken much longer than scheduled, due to some rather unexpected developments, and Harry would probably be walking a hole into their office carpet by now. She smiled, he was so overprotective when it came to her and their daughter, but she loved him even more for that.
A free black cab approached the building. All of a sudden not in the mood for a ride on the tube, she raised her arm to signal the driver.
The car pulled to the curb, she opened the door, climbed inside, and told the driver the address of the headquarters of Crystal Fairy in Langbourn.
If he wondered what brought a smartly dressed business woman into that somewhat shabby part of London near King's Cross, he didn't let on, just nodded gave a 'Right you are, love,' and pulled the car back onto the street. Thankfully he wasn't one for talking, either, just giving her an occasional glance in the revision mirror.
With a silent thanks for his silence Daphne closed her eyes, leaned her head against the headrest, and took the unexpected break in her busy life to count her blessings.
She had many of them.
Who would have thought eleven years ago that she and Harry would be blissfully happy and madly in love? Her mouth curved into a soft smile. They'd had such an unhappy beginning, and yet they'd made the most of it.
The happiest day in her life, however, had been the fifteenth of January this year, the day when their daughter was born. They had waited so long for that day, they'd given up all hope of having a family of more than just the two of them. When Healer Payne had told them of her pregnancy, right after her arrest for her alleged murder of Ginny, it had been like a miracle, a golden ray of sunshine in a desperate time.
She sobered. Ginny had been dead for more than a year now, and Molly still wasn't completely her old self, there was a brittleness to her that Harry said reminded him of right after the war when Fred Weasley had died. She'd not known the Weasley matriarch well enough back then to notice, but she trusted her husband's judgement on this.
Neither was their relationship back to what it had been before the trial, no matter how hard they'd all tried. At least things had taken a huge turn for the better ever since little Callie's birth, Arthur and Molly had become her surrogate grandparents, just as they had hoped, and loved her as if she was their own granddaughter.
Only two weeks after Callista's birth Hermione had given birth to her second child, Hugo. Daphne liked to tease Ron that Hugo was a month early and that she was elated her acquittal was the cause of so much celebration in their house, even if Hermione vehemently denied this being the case, she was totally adamant that she'd been pregnant before Daphne's trial and that they hadn't had celebratory sex because Ron was working for most of the night, thanks to the incident at Da Cosimo's. When Lisa followed one month later with her third one, this time a little girl, she couldn't help but laugh and give them both a knowing look every time the subject came up.
Two months after the trial had been completed, they got an owl from Anthony and then read the next day in the Sunday Prophet about his surprise engagement. By Wednesday they had an invite to attend the wedding not three weeks later.
She'd had to hastily arrange a suitable dress as her baby bump was just making its first appearance and Harry had been his overly protective self ensuring that no-one accidently bumped into her tummy.
She'd heard of the classic wandpoint wedding, and although Anthony seemed to be on the receiving end of some very dark glares from the father of his long-time girlfriend, Lexie Brocklehurst, Daphne was positive that neither Anthony nor his beautiful bride noticed once Lexie started walking down the aisle, as they only had eyes for each other.
Lexie, who was the younger sister of their classmate Mandy, and also a former Ravenclaw, had been one of Astoria's best friends when they attended Hogwarts. After they had reconnected Lexi and Daphne had spent several afternoons together reduced to what they both called a sea of hormonal tears of sadness and joy as they remembered Tori.
Eventually Lexie had become a permanent fixture in her life and started joining her with the other girls in their frequent get Goldstein's little boy, Paul, had been born one day after Lisa's daughter, so maybe the Weasleys and Finch-Fletchleys weren't the only ones who had been in jubilant mood and celebrated her acquittal horizontally.
This meant Molly had her hands full of babies as they each took up her offers of babysitting, given that most of their parents still worked and they wanted their kids to know one another. It was a perfect solution that allowed them all to return to some sort of part time work at least. As soon as Molly had met Anthony and Lexie at one of their Shell Cottage gatherings, she'd had even less time to dwell on her loss, as she extended her babysitting offer to include them, hopefully all those babies would bring Molly some semblance of peace in time.
Alexander Carrington had also been dead for more than a year now. She shuddered, even one year later she didn't like to admit that she was related by blood to that monster. What he'd done to poor Morten Williams…
True to Carrington's bragging the Aurors had found the real Morten Williams in a secret compartment of the trunk Carrington kept as a bar in his study. Physically, he was alright, Carrington had seen to that by a copious use of Compulsion Charms, mind-altering potions, and the liberal application of the Imperius Curse, that all forced his victim to take care of himself. To reach his goals, he'd needed Williams to be in a top shape, so he'd installed an impressive array of exercise equipment in the trunk and made sure the man had maintained a healthy diet.
Mentally, however, the real Williams was an empty shell of a man. All those charms and potions and curses had destroyed his mind and his magic. Yet his parents had been overjoyed to see him again after the long years they'd thought he'd turned his back on them.
Williams now lived in a private special-care home, close to his parent's house, where he had a huge, sunlit room and all the exercise equipment he asked for. She'd made sure that the real Williams had everything he'd need for the rest of his life, and that his parents also were well taken care of.
As the last living member of the Greengrass family she had become Carrington's heir. What an irony, since he'd wanted to kill her to get at her and Harry's gold!
It wasn't until Daphne had called the former Carrington elf, Seedy, that they had discovered the depth of those plans and how he had found them at the restaurant that night. As Daphne was "family", Seedy knew where she was and had been forced to relay this information back to his Master. There were far more attempts on their lives than they had realised, but the last straw was the confirmation that Carrington hadn't been talking out his arse in the restaurant that night and had actually arranged the deaths of Daphne's mother, father and sister, as a magical DNA analysis of the manipulated Portkey confirmed: it had traces of Carrington's DNA, since the Polyjuice Potion altered the appearance, but not the DNA.
Once she knew that, she and Harry had set about trying to annihilate and obliterate the Carrington empire from the public's psyche. Nothing of that horrible name ought to remain.
Seedy had been healed as best they could, given the long delay in treatment, though he still only had about sixty percent movement in the shoulder that Carrington had damaged. He was now helping them destroy what his Master's and Mistresses had once built.
They still were in the process of selling the estate, and collecting the gold in a special trust vault. They'd probably need another year to wrap up the last of the businesses, and then they'd take the gold and put it into a huge charity to make up for the injustices of Pureblood Supremacism in Britain as well as in the USA. Hah, that should make all three Carringtons roll in their graves! Especially when they named it the Astoria Greengrass Trust, a daughter that the Carrington's would have likely thought should have been drowned at birth
The cab had reached her destination during her musings, Daphne absentmindedly paid the driver and climbed out of the car.
So much had changed in her life, yet the entrance hall of the headquarters of Crystal Fairy still was the same. She nodded a short hello to the receptionist and took the elevator to the topmost floor of offices, where the conference rooms and her and Harry's office were.
Fleur sat behind their assistant's desk, one ear on the telephone receiver, and scribbling down notes while she uhm-ed and ah-ed at what whoever was on the other end of the line said. She gave her a small wave with the biro in her hand and returned her attention back to the call.
Daphne opened the door to her and Harry's office. This also hadn't changed, they refused to have separate offices, even though she didn't work as much anymore as she'd done before her pregnancy.
Neither did Harry.
Little Callista took precedence in their lives, and still the company thrived. They'd delegated quite a lot of their daily duties to their directors and promoted some others including some friends into new positions. Harry had also finally convinced Anthony to join them on the board as general council, although Daphne had conducted a fair bit of behind the scenes lobbying of Lexie about this too, so all in all things were very good...
The indignant wail of a very small child greeted her when she walked into the room.
'Uh oh, what's wrong, Grouchetta?' she asked the tiny bundle at her husband's shoulder, and bent down to give first her daughter, then her husband a kiss in greeting.
Harry shot her a reproachful look over their daughter's head. 'Do you have to ask? Her Ungraciousness is hungry, that's all. Like mother, like daughter, right, my little princess?'
Callista let out a sound that might be interpreted as consent, stuffed her little fist into her mouth and sucked at it, her forehead creased into deep frowns.
Harry dropped a kiss on his daughter's head and looked up. 'Be a dear and get her bottle, or she'll scream bloody murder in another minute.'
'Language, honey. She'll talk sooner than you know.' Daphne chuckled and walked into the adjoining room to get Callie's bottle. Neither she nor Harry had wanted to be separated from their little daughter for long work days, so they'd turned Cyrus former office next to theirs into a nursery, with an always open door joining both rooms. It was a common occurrence these days to find Harry or her with the baby at their shoulder while they answered phone calls or mail, or even received visitors.
What use was it to be your own boss if you couldn't adjust your workspace to meet the needs of your family? Maybe they needed to have a creche built for all the company babies? Well, that was something to ponder later.
Mipsy met her halfway into the sunlit nursery, Callie's bottle at the ready.
Daphne thanked the little elf, took the bottle, and returned to the office.
Harry had already settled down in the leather couch of the reception area, a meanwhile rather grumpy baby at his shoulder.
She handed him the bottle and sat down beside him. For long minutes they watched their feeding daughter in a contented silence.
'So how was your health exam? Is everything alright? Why did it take so long for you to get back?' Harry asked at length.
'It couldn't have gone better.' A soft smile played around her lips.
Harry's eyes narrowed. 'You're hiding something from me, darling. Out with it, what did the healer say?'
She bent towards him and kissed him. 'Stop worrying, honey, I'm perfectly fine.'
Her smile deepened. 'What do you think about enlarging the nursery, honey? According to Healer Payne we'll need two more cribs in January next year.'
'T… two what?'
His grip around the bottle slackened. The tit glided out of Callista's tiny mouth.
Daphne's laughter was drowned out by the irate wail of their daughter.
About two years ago I read about the Snowflake Method as a tool for easier plotting. Curious as I am, I had to give it a try, and about four weeks later I had a plan for a story and a list of 100+ scenes planned out.
Shygui and I had traded PMs for quite some time back then, and we got to talk about what I was writing on. Next thing, I invited him to my cloud to have a look at my list of scenes and the epilogue that was already written.
He started to add his thoughts and suggestions, and before I knew it we had the most amazing writing collaboration I've ever experienced. Well, you know the rest.
Today, almost two years and almost 350 k words later, we've finally finished MoC. To say that feels weird is an understatement.
I can't repeat enough how much this story owes to Shygui. He did much more than catching my spelling and grammar errors and translating my sometimes weird German-inspired dialogues into proper spoken English. He suggested the introduction of more characters and a couple of plot twists that added depth to the story. Also, all over the story there are many small additions from him, whenever he felt the readers might like some more information or would like a sneak peak into what a character thought. Thanks to him, the story became multi-dimensional.
So, please, give him s shout:
Thank you, Shygui!
You are the best!
Also, I'm absolutely humbled how many of you stuck with this story, waited patiently for each new chapter, and reviewed faithfully chapter for chapter. You kept me going, even though there have been times I wished I had never again to write one word of this story. I didn't want to disappoint you, so I pulled myself together and wrote the next chapter. So, another big
goes to you for your support.
For the next couple of months I'd like to concentrate on my unfinished stories. Right now I'm not in the mood to tackle a new big project, I'd rather muddle my way through the stories that await updates for far too long. But there are one or two plot bunnies sitting in my cloud that beg for more attention and look like they might like to develop into another monster story. So beware, you don't get rid of me yet. ;)