AN: This is much shorter than usual, but hopefully sets up the next steps as well as it can. I've taken a bit of a break from writing in general, life has been pretty unrelenting of late, but I wanted to share this before getting back into gear. For anyone who also reads 'If Not For Umbridge' a small update on that, too. It will be on hold for the foreseeable and undergoing fairly extensive work, changes and so on. Daphne will be quite different, as will the entire story. But, where this and that story are in very similar stages of the HP timeline, I wanted to focus on one over the other. So, this will be getting the majority of my focus while I work on INfU in the background. Then, when we hit the end of the canon timeline here, I'll go back to that and add a variety of epilogue-style short stories. I hope to take this basically through to Harry and Daphne's early thirties, ish, but will see how it goes. This story is perhaps my most ambitious and thank you for reading this far. Are there things I'd like to change? Sure. But here we are and I want to see this through! So, in short, expect more frequent updates from now on and so much more from Daphne.
For anyone who also reads 'If Not For Umbridge' a small update on that, too. It will be on hold for the foreseeable and undergoing fairly extensive work, changes and so on. Daphne will be quite different, as will the entire story. But, where this and that story are in very similar stages of the HP timeline, I wanted to focus on one over the other.
So, this will be getting the majority of my focus while I work on INfU in the background. Then, when we hit the end of the canon timeline here, I'll go back to that and add a variety of epilogue-style short stories. I hope to take this basically through to Harry and Daphne's early thirties, ish, but will see how it goes. This story is perhaps my most ambitious and thank you for reading this far. Are there things I'd like to change? Sure. But here we are and I want to see this through!
So, in short, expect more frequent updates from now on and so much more from Daphne.
Chapter Two: Saying Goodbye
Matthias Greengrass liked a lot of things. Quidditch. Gardening. Coming home to a quiet house, talking to his lovely wife and generally relaxing after a day of Ministry work, board meetings and the occasional trip to Diagon Alley to buy various exotic plants. That was how his days went, or at least, that was how they had always gone.
Instead of the usual humdrum of life, he found himself in a house full of strangers. To make it worse most of them were children. Some of their parents were able to join them, others hadn't been so fortunate. Those who had been targeted by You-Know-Who as purebloods who could be turned had, on the whole, managed to escape. People like Pansy Parkinson, who came from the most Death Eater of Death Eaters, didn't have the same luck.
Astoria was thriving, because of course she was. She was the bright one, the talkative and chatty one, the one that smiled and took people whatever they needed and generally tried to find light wherever she could. And then, there was the matter of his other daughter.
"You know we have chairs inside?" Matthias asked. The night was warm and not unpleasant. The sun was barely even threatening to set, despite the lateness of the hour, and the assorted plants, fungi, ferns, trees and the occasional man-eating bush, all swayed gently in the breeze. "They're comfy, expensive too. I paid a lot of money for those chairs, yet, here you are, my daughter, relaxing on a paving slab."
"You're always filthy."
"And you've always hated Herbology." It was the biggest failure of his life, and that included the time he accidentally spent a thousand galleons on a signed pair of Tommy Kallahan's gloves, his favourite 'keeper of all time, which just so happened to be counterfeit. "Am I to believe you're finally turning over a new leaf?"
She didn't so much as smile. That wasn't good. Daphne always smiled at his jokes, even the not funny ones. "That was bad even for you."
"I'm not on my a-game," Matthias confessed.
"Join the club," Daphne sighed, her blue eyes scanning the shrubbery. Unable to think of what else to do, Matthias hunkered down and joined his daughter on the cool hard slabs. She wasn't wrong, they were fine for sitting on.
"What's wrong, sweetheart?"
"You mean apart from the fact my boyfriend is being targeted by a homicidal maniac, our house is full of people he's either tried to kill or tortured and that he's still out there? Oh, nothing."
"When you put it like that, it is pretty disheartening."
"Just a bit. And I'm trying dad. Really. I am. I wish I could be like Tori and slap a smile on my face and pretend everything's amazing. But it's not. And I get it, that's what she needs, and that's fine."
Daphne scowled. "No, it's annoying, but I'm trying to be nice."
Matthias pulled his daughter into a one-armed hug, hoping that the small solitary gap of silence would give him something insightful and wise to say, perhaps even funny. Nothing sprang to his mind. The world was pretty damn bleak. The world was toppling and at the centre of it all stood a boy he rather liked and his daughter.
"I don't know what to do, dad."
"Sometimes, there's nothing you can do." It wasn't an easy thing to admit, but someone had to say it. "Sometimes everything is awful and you just have to keep going, even when all you want to do is curl up in a ball and cry and hope it all goes away."
"Does that work?"
"The keeping going?"
"No, the curling up in a ball," Daphne answered sarcastically.
"I did learn from the best."
"You mean your mother, don't you?" Daphne smirked. He wanted to keep that ghost of happiness on her face for as long as he could, but he knew there was no point even trying. "Yes, sweetheart, it does. Eventually."
"I hate eventually."
"Because of it being so far away?"
"That'll do it," Daphne said sourly. "I just… I just want this to be over, you know? But he's still out there. Sure, Snape gave them a raid. Yeah, they're taking it seriously and they're protecting that lot." She jerked a thumb at the house. "So what? He's still alive, and as long as he's alive —" She faltered.
"Harry." He didn't need to say anything else. Neither can live while the other survives. That's what they knew. That's what they all knew. It was going to come down to that one way or anything. Whatever anyone said, whatever the Ministry did, however many Death Eaters they captured, it would, one day, come down to that. Harry Potter versus Lord Voldemort for the fate of the Wizarding Britain and probably the rest of the Muggle World.
"At least Amelia's taking it seriously," he said, with as much confidence as he could manage. "Better than Fudge."
"I'd be better than Fudge," Daphne said sourly. "I just don't know how we carry on like everything's normal. I don't get how we're supposed to just exist while that maniac is out there killing people. How're we meant to go back to Hogwarts? How're we supposed to just learn about Charms and Potions and all that nonsense."
"Because you're —"
"Too young? Dad, Harry's parents died when they were barely even adults. They're, what? Four, five years older than me? I'm seventeen in a few weeks. Weeks!" The curse of a September birth, sixth year and already an adult. Merlin's beard, where did the years go? "I want to help. I want to. I have to. If Harry's… I can't just sit here or at school or anywhere knowing he might die."
"Cause he's going to go out there, Dad. I know he is. It might not be today, it might not be tomorrow. He hasn't said it, but he's spending more and more time with Sirius and he's going to run off hunting for those stupid bloody Horcruxes. Or worse, he doesn't. He sits at school and tries to forget about it and Voldemort comes to find him anyway."
"You really love him that much?"
She turned away from him then, her ice-blue eyes scanning the horizon of the garden he'd curated for them. He knew one day they'd have to leave, one day he would be banging about this old house with his children out there somewhere, living their lives. He just hadn't realised it would be so soon, or so dangerous.
"More than anything."
Matthias nodded, the jovial face he so normally wore slipping away as though it were being washed from his head by the rain.
"Then make your old man proud and make sure Harry kills the bastard."