Dear Wizarding Britain
Disclaimer: I own nothing. If I did, I probably wouldn't be playing around on fanfiction.
Results of the poll: What should Astoria choose to do with her pregnancy? (Note: If my math isn't wrong, she's around 4-5 months along at this point in the story.)
There were 24 unique voters and the results are as follows:
16 (66%) voted for Astoria to keep the baby to raise herself.
6 (25%) voted for Astoria to carry the baby to term and ask Harry and Daphne to adopt.
2 (8%) voted for Termination.
Carry-over notes from prior chapter to keep me in the right timeline:
I did awful with the timeline for this story so far. I'm estimating that by the time Astoria was rescued in June, she was about eight weeks along, so if she carries the baby to term, she should be due around February of the following year, which for simplicity's sake should be 1999, if I haven't screwed up the timeline again. I've written this note, before I've started this chapter, just to help myself remember a bit better for when I do start it.
A/N: This chapter takes place during the last week of October 1998 (Sunday the 25th-Saturday the 31st), then a time skip to about mid-November at the end of the chapter.
Harry, Daphne, and James were spending time together at the lagoon, splashing in the shallows and just generally enjoying the peace and tranquility. James was especially excited to get to play somewhere new, he had splashed and squealed and giggled so much that Harry and Daphne could not stop smiling at his eagerness.
"We should have brought him out here sooner," Daphne stated fondly.
Harry nodded in agreement and said, "True. I just wasn't ready to share our little escape yet," before leaning over and giving Daphne a soft kiss, which she returned with a small smile.
Caressing Daphne's small baby bump, Harry asked, "Are you sure there's not a magical way that we can be magically married without having to stand in front of some form of minister?"
Daphne sighed, "There is not one that I'm aware of, even handfasting requires an officiant if we want it to be viewed as more than a betrothal."
"But does the officiant have to be someone that works at one of the ministries, or can the job of the officiant be done by one of our friends and it still be recognized as an official marriage?" Harry wondered aloud.
Daphne sat up straight at that suggestion and replied excitedly, "You know, now that you mention it, the only requirement is that the officiant be magical, not that they have to be employed by a ministry. So long as they know and understand their role, then anyone magical could be the officiant."
"So then, all we need to do is work on our vows and decide who to ask to officiate?" Harry clarified with a joyful smile.
Smiling back in response, Daphne gave Harry another kiss before whispering back huskily, "I do believe we have the beginnings of a plan, Mr. Potter."
Still mindful of James splashing in the shallows next to them, Harry kept his responding passion in check and responded to the kiss only briefly, before whispering back, "I can't hardly wait to make you Mrs. Potter."
"Then we should head back to the house so we can see how quickly we can get anything together so that I can become Mrs. Potter this week," Daphne replied with a wink.
"Halloween," Harry replied seriously.
Slightly taken aback at that specific date, Daphne questioned, "Why then?"
"I'm tired of something in my life always going bad on that day," Harry replied passionately. "Ever since returning to the wizarding world and finding out what really happened to my parents, finding out the date they were killed - after having been in exile amongst the muggles the first 11 years of my life - that day has been one disaster after another; trolls in dungeons, Chamber of Secrets opened, my name coming out of the Goblet of Fire - on top of the constant reminder that my parents were murdered that day."
Harry cupped Daphne's cheek in his hand as he looked into her eyes and said, "I want to turn that holiday into a happy memory, rather than having it as a constant reminder of what I've lost and the pain I've endured," Harry explained.
Daphne gave him an understanding smile and covered his hand with her own. "Then let's plan our handfasting for Halloween," she whispered, before leaning up to give him another peck on the lips.
"Stori," Daphne called out, as she walked into her sister's room without knocking, "I need help with - what are you doing?"
Astoria glanced up at Daphne and then back down at the pile of clothes surrounding her on the bed, sewing needle and thread hovering at Astoria's eye level. "Of course, come right on in without knocking. I'm not in the middle of anything," Astoria replied in sarcasm.
"Sarcasm doesn't suit you at all, Stori," Daphne replied with an eye roll.
"If you must know, I'm trying to teach myself a few sewing charms, so I can update my wardrobe. I'm not getting any thinner here and will only blow up bigger," Astoria replied.
"Oh, so you've decided to keep my niece or nephew then?" Daphne asked in an even tone, attempting to avoid bringing attention to her change of attitude regarding her sister's pregnancy. Now that she was no longer in danger of dying because of the pregnancy, Daphne was no longer trying to convince her sister to get rid of the baby.
Astoria placed a hand on her growing belly, giving it a loving caress, "Even if I truly wanted to terminate this pregnancy, I am beyond the point where I could have terminated without a guilty conscience. As it is, regardless of the monster that caused this, I've become quite emotionally attached to this child, and I'm finding myself quite looking forward to becoming a mother."
Daphne smiled and said softly, "Then I'm quite glad that our children will be able to grow up together, away from the influence of pureblood versus half-blood versus muggleborn and who's better than who."
Astoria directed a soft smile towards Daphne in response before asking, "So what is it that has caused you to forget any manners in which you were raised with and had you barge in here without knocking?"
Daphne rolled her eyes. "Well, I wanted your help to help me plan the handfasting that Harry and I decided on, and we only have until Halloween to do it."
"That's less than a week away," Astoria replied sharply.
"Well, yes, but we'd only just decided on it yesterday," Daphne replied defensively.
Astoria sighed, and canceled the charm on the sewing needle and thread, before using her wand to charm the surrounding clothes to put themselves away. After that was done, she struggled for a few seconds to climb off the bed, shooting Daphne a dirty look when she began to giggle. "Laugh it up, but you're not that far behind me," Astoria grumbled.
"Yes, well," Daphne said with laughter in her voice, "it's a funny sight for anyone to see, though you're right, I doubt I'll find it very funny when I get there."
"If I wasn't so fond of Harry for not only rescuing me out of Hogwarts and away from Nott, but for also being able to cure me of that dreadful blood curse, I would quite happily choke you right now," Astoria replied snidely.
"Oh, don't be like that, Stori," Daphne implored in amusement.
Rolling her eyes, Astoria ran her hands down her robe in order to smooth out the wrinkles, then she started walking towards her bedroom door. "Well, come on," she said sharply, "we obviously don't have all day."
Kingsley Shacklebolt sat quietly during a debriefing with about 20 of the very few muggleborns and handful of squibs that he had been able to track down that had escaped to the muggle world and were experienced in either law enforcement or the military. It wasn't quite the task force that he was hoping to find, but it was better than nothing.
"There's been numerous disappearances and whole families murdered with one, sometimes two children found to be missing," informed Mark, who was a squib detective with the muggle police force. "Obviously, I can't share my suspicions with the muggles I work with, but I suspect those missing children were magical. The question is, were they kidnapped and taken to be integrated into the magical world and adopted, or is it more nefarious than that?"
"I'd say it's nefarious either way, but what exactly are you thinking?" Shacklebolt asked in concern.
Mark took a sip of water before explaining, "I'm hoping that I'm wrong in my thinking, part of me wants to hope that the Death Eaters haven't become so depraved that they're kidnapping children for reasons I'm thinking, then again, they think nothing or raping and murder, so it's not that much of a stretch to suspect human trafficking. It's a lucrative business in many parts of the muggle world. There are muggles in this world that like them young and are willing to pay thousands of pounds, it's not much of a stretch for me to believe that there are magicals that have the same taste."
"So you believe it's possible that they're being abducted to be sold as, what, sex slaves?" Shacklebolt asked in horror.
Mark nodded grimly and said, "Like I said, I hope I'm wrong."
Shacklebolt sighed as he rubbed his head to try to help stave off the migraine he felt starting to build, "What a Merlin-damned mess our world has become."
"If it weren't for the innocents that are getting caught up in the crossfire, I'd say we let the purebloods breed each other out," Reginald, mid-ranking muggleborn in the military grumbled.
"And you're sure this Potter fellow that everyone insists is the savior will refuse to help?" asked Darius, a squib that also worked with the muggle police.
"He was 16 years old when he left our world and essentially washed his hands of us," Shacklebolt replied. "I doubt he realized at the time what his leaving would mean for the new muggleborns."
"Blimey, I didn't realize he was so young," Darius mumbled. "What the fuck is wrong with the damned magicals that they put all their expectations to defeat a dark lord on a child's shoulders?"
"Apparently, there was a prophecy," Shacklebolt sighed.
"Oh, let me guess, you-know-who can't be killed unless it's done by that Potter kid?" Darius clarified.
"More or less," Shacklebolt shrugged. "Damn prophecy was destroyed back in '95 or '96 without anyone hearing it, so it's mostly guesswork now."
Darius snorted, "Damn magicals put too much stock in seers and prophecy. Now, I'm not saying that they don't exist, but most of that shite ends up being self-fullfilling. There are people in the muggle world that say there is power in the tongue."
"What do you mean?" Shacklebolt asked curiously.
"Basically, that the words you speak hold power. There are some believers in a muggle religion called Christianity that believe you can have what you say. If you speak it, it brings it into existence. If you say you can do something, you can do it; if you say you can't, then you'll never believe that you can," Doris, another muggleborn piped in.
Darius nodded at that assessment, "But not every follower of Christianity believes that way. And not only is there more than one branch of religion that falls under the umbrella of Christianity, but they have hundreds of other religions with hundreds of different gods. It can be quite daunting to try to sift through all of them, but there seems to be a fair few that have similar beliefs about the power of the tongue idea."
"Well, that's quite an interesting thing to think about," Shacklebolt murmured in response.
"Do you suppose there are very many witches and wizards that still subscribe to anything other than The Daily Prophet?" Paul, another muggleborn asked, in an attempt to change the subject some, prophecies and religion never did sit well with him.
Shacklebolt shrugged, "Most of my contact with inside Wizarding Britain has been cut off. I have met with Mad-Eye on occasion, but he's so paranoid that it's more trouble than it's worth sometimes just to get an update on what's happening on the inside. And the majority of the people I tried to contact that were members of Dumbledore's Order of the Phoenix have either gone missing, or have decided it best to just fall in line with the status quo.
"The last I heard, The Wizarding World News was still in print, but the Ministry was "highly recommending" that all upstanding purebloods of Wizarding Britain cancel their subscriptions to such a rag."
"Well, that means that there's probably at least a fair few of half bloods and not quite upstanding purebloods that still subscribe to it then," Paul said shrewdly. No doubt, the hat would have placed him in Slytherin, if he hadn't been what that house would have considered a mudblood.
"What are you thinking, Paul?" Mark asked curiously.
"I'm thinking I need to get in contact with an old friend, see about getting something printed in The Wizarding World News, so it can't be suppressed by the current regime.
"Are you ready for your stag night, Harrikins?" George teased, as he reached out to mess up Harry's already messy hair.
Artfully dodging George's hand, Harry retorted back, "I'm ready, mate, but you all had better not have planned something that's going to put me in trouble with my lady."
"As if we would do that to you, mate," Fred exclaimed, holding his hand to his chest in a faux show of innocence.
"I haven't known you quite as long as Harry has, but I'd say that you two are definitely planning to stir up some trouble, and I'm completely here for it," Blaise announced.
"Not if you want to sleep in my bed again, Blaise Zabini!" Hermione called out from the next room.
"Heh. That doesn't exclude her sleeping in my bed," Blaise mumbled with a shrug.
"I heard that!" Hermione called out, as she came in from the next room. "You just keep in mind what's good for the goose is good for the gander, Mister. Daphne is also going out for her hen party, which includes all of us witches."
"It's not like Daphne and Astoria are going to be able to go too crazy in their conditions," Blaise pointed out.
Hermione narrowed her eyes and said, "No, but their pregnancies do not preclude them from going to a strip club and having lap dances, nor does it preclude the rest of us witches."
"Just so we're clear, if I'm fine with you watching strippers and getting lap dances, then you're fine with me doing so as well?" Blaise wondered, not paying attention to Harry and the rest of the guys behind him with their eyes bugged out and shaking their heads back and forth in the universal 'no', while a couple of them were gesturing with their hands under their neck in a 'stop talking' gesture.
"Of course, Blaise," Hermione replied back in a surgery sweet tone. "If you're fine with it, I'm fine with it."
"And if I'm not fine with it?" Blaise asked tentatively.
"Then you'd better keep the twins in check instead of encouraging them to lead my Harry astray then, shouldn't you?" Daphne piped in.
After several hangover cures were passed around the next morning, it was decided that it was best for everyone all around to not even mention what they did for either stag or hen party, as neither the witches nor the wizards wanted to get in a fight over anything that may or may not have happened.
Harry and Daphne were kept apart from each other, while everyone else took turns taking care of James.
Finally, it was time for the handfasting and everyone gathered together to witness the event.
Neville was chosen to act at the officiant and he cleared his throat to start the proceedings, "Ladies and gentlemen, esteemed wizards and witches, we gather here today on this enchanting island to witness a sacred and magical union—a handfasting ceremony uniting two souls in love. Today, we celebrate the joining of two extraordinary individuals who have found solace and companionship within each other, and their commitment to walk the winding paths of life together.
"In this enchanted clearing, surrounded by the whispering trees and bathed in the warm glow of the moonlight, we invoke the ancient traditions that have bound couples for centuries. The elements themselves bear witness to the profound magic of love, and we shall honor them accordingly.
"To represent the element of Earth, symbolizing stability and foundation, we place before us a circle of enchanted stones. They represent the unyielding strength that shall support this union and protect it from adversity.
"May the element of Air bless this gathering with its gentle breeze, whispering words of wisdom and clarity into our ears. Let us breathe in the tranquility it offers, reminding us to always communicate with kindness and understanding.
"The element of Fire, burning bright and fierce, symbolizes passion and transformation. As we kindle this flame within the central cauldron, let it ignite the love between these two souls, fuelling their spirits with a shared ardor that will burn eternally.
"And finally, we invoke the element of Water, flowing gracefully in the enchanted basin. It represents the emotions that ebb and flow within us, reminding us to embrace both joy and sorrow as they are integral to the tapestry of life.
"Now, let us turn our attention to the couple who stands before us, ready to bind their lives together. Harry Potter and Daphne Greengrass, take each other's hands and face each other, gazing into each other's eyes."
Neville paused his speech for a moment to allow Harry and Daphne to comply.
"From the ancient times, a Handfasting cord has been used to symbolize the eternal bond between two souls. With the power vested in me as a witness to this extraordinary love, I shall bind your hands together, signifying your commitment to each other.
"As I wrap this cord around your hands, I remind you that love is a journey filled with triumphs and challenges. It is a path you shall tread side by side, supporting and uplifting each other with unwavering loyalty and devotion. In moments of doubt or uncertainty, may the bond of this cord serve as a reminder of the strength that lies within your union.
"Harry Potter and Daphne Greengrass, do you solemnly promise to honor and cherish one another, to support and encourage each other's dreams, and to stand together in the face of life's trials and tribulations? Do you vow to share in the joys and sorrows, and to always strive to be the best versions of yourselves, for the betterment of your relationship and the world around you?"
The couple: "We do."
"Then, by the power bestowed upon me as your friend and by Lady Magic, I now pronounce you partners, bound together by the magic of love, in this world and beyond.
"May your love be everlasting, your adventures be enchanting, and your hearts forever intertwined. May Lady Magic guide and protect you throughout your journey, and may your love shine as a beacon of hope and joy, inspiring all those who cross your path.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Mr. and Mrs. Harry Potter, partners in life and love. You may seal your vows with a kiss."
Cheers rang out as the couple kissed. James, in response to the excitement surrounding him, squealed in happiness and made grabby hands towards his daddy and mummy. He didn't understand why everyone was so excited, but it must have been something good for everyone to be happy and smiling.
About two weeks later:
"Well, damn," Harry said, as he put the paper down that Dobby had delivered at breakfast. "Why didn't I know about this paper before? I, certainly, would have preferred to subscribe to this over the rag that we call The Daily Prophet."
"What is it, Harry?" Daphne asked, while she spread butter and jam on her toast.
Harry sighed, "Something I didn't consider before, because I was too angry at Wizarding Britain at the time." Then he handed the paper to Daphne and pushed back from the table to stand, "If you'll excuse me, I need to think about something for a bit."
As he walked away, Daphne glanced down at the paper to see what Harry was talking about.
THE WIZARDING WORLD NEWS
By: Simon Boyle
A PLEA FROM BRITAIN
Please note that I am writing this article under an assumed name, in an attempt to make it much more difficult to ascertain my true identity. Considering this is the only magical paper left in Britain that has never had a publicly known headquarters, we have been more free to print much less biased news; however, since The Daily Prophet has been the only news source which the Ministry actively recommends, we don't have nearly as many subscribers as they do.
The situation here in Wizarding Britain is rather dire. It has come to this paper's attention that not only are our adult muggleborns being rounded up like cattle and being shipped to Azkaban for "stealing magic from squibs," but they are also being snatched from their homes before they have reached Hogwarts age, with their families left behind and murdered. It has been speculated that these children are potentially being taken in order to be sold into human trafficking.
For those of you who are unaware, human trafficking is a term the muggles use when adults and children alike are lured away or taken from their homes and sold into modern-day slavery. Sometimes that slavery is nothing more than forcing them into a role similar to house elves, but in many cases, it's due to the depravity of humans who see these people as sexual objects; yes, even the children.
If that doesn't cause you to want to stand up against this treachery, then perhaps what one of our sources has discovered about what has been happening at Hogwarts will make you wake up. It has come to this reporter's attention that our daughters are not safe at Hogwarts. If they do not travel the halls in high numbers, it is viewed as an open invitation by the young wizards in the castle - and even the professors. At the risk of shocking your delicate sensibilities, I'll spell it out for you. Our daughters have been constant victims of sexual assault any time they travel the halls of Hogwarts alone and not in a group. It is seen as "asking for it."
Unless our daughters are betrothed to a "pureblood in good standing," then they are not safe to traverse the halls of what was once an institute of learning. I am appalled and disgusted.
Have we really sunk so low in our morality that we have become barbarians?
Fellow citizens of the British Magical World, I implore you to please stand up. Please do what you can to help prevent these heinous acts from happening. There is no hope of the Dark Lord and his Death Eaters killing us all, if we can all come together to stand up to them. There are more of us than there are of them. We must start to fight back!
In closing, this report would like to say to those surrounding our borders, but standing on the sidelines. Please help us! If no one is brave enough to step up and help us help ourselves, who's to say the Dark Lord currently in control of Britain won't choose to set his sights elsewhere? What if he starts coming after your country?
A/N-1: I'm not 100 percent satisfied with how I wrote this chapter, but I'm content with it enough to post it. Also, I took the lazy way out and used an AI program to write the handfasting scene and edited out a few things to make it fit into the story, so if anyone notices that it's not my usual writing, that would be the reason. I'd probably turn out quicker updates, if I could use the AI program to do my writing for me, but the few tests I've made with it don't seem to turn out the style of writing I'm typically going for. Maybe one day, I'll do a brand-new story written solely by the AI program to see if it's any good.
A/N-2: Side note, I noticed that one of the authors that I follow blocked me at some point. I'm tempted to post their username, but I'm not really that petty. I just want to point out that as a general rule, I don't leave flames in my reviews, but maybe if I post while I'm tired, it comes off as a flame, idk. I'd say about 85% of the time, when I leave a review, it's so that I'll know that I've already read the story and if I liked it enough for a reread, if I stumble upon the same story in my search in the future, I mean. I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't be following this author if I had not enjoyed their stories. I mean, it's not as if the fact that they blocked me has prevented me from viewing their profile and reading their stories, it just keeps me from leaving reviews. I'd be tempted to turn around and block them as well, just to keep from stumbling upon any more of their stories; however, I suspect that the block feature on this program doesn't keep their stories from showing up in my search filters.