Chapter Sixty-Nine: Harry Malfoy-Potter

Harry has dinner with the Malfoys and Claudia.

(i) The characters and world of Harry Potter are the property of J.K. Rowling. I make no money from this. I wish I did 😊

(ii) Thank you to all the fabulous readers who have stayed with me through the writing of this tale. You folk are the best muse a girl could ask for. So much love for staying with me for over a decade. You are all stars.

(iii) I hope you are staying safe wherever you are. Big, socially distanced hugs everyone as we get ready for the fourth wave. Don't let the bastards get you down.

Harry watched Ron and Percy apparate after the photo-shoot and turned to Claudia. She'd made herself scarce while the press had been about, but she had joined the family as soon as they'd left.

Now the couple smiled at each other and joined Cissy, Lucius and Draco, who were in the library with Hermione, Luna, Astoria and Severus. The headmaster had Flooed in at the end of lessons with his two seventh-year pupils for dinner.

Hermione smiled and patted the seat next to her as Harry and Claudia entered the library. Harry grinned at his sister and plopped down next to her, drawing Claudia into the seat beside him.

"What a palaver," said Hermione. She's never get used to how much faff Wizarding society seemed to include.

Harry nodded his head. But the words that came out of his mouth shocked even himself. "Had to be done." He couldn't understand how he'd changed so much. He's had such a hard time when Hermione blackmailed Rita into doing that piece for Luna's father. But he knew he had been a different person then. "What I can't believe is that Ron broke up with Lavender."

"I can," said Hermione, smiling mysteriously. "We knew they weren't exactly bringing out the best in each other." She looked at Harry searchingly, "You did know, right?"

Harry nodded.

Hermione patted his hand. Then she smiled again, "And a little bird tells me he'll soon be with someone else."

"Who?" asked Harry, surprised.

"I'm not sure, Harry, I just think I saw what I saw. I'll keep the name to myself until he does something. I don't want to jinx it."

Claudia smiled. "I think I know."

The two girls grinned at Harry's face. "Women's intuition, Harry," said Claudia demurely, even as her eyes danced in delight.

Severus joined them then, and Hermione's attention was taken up with smiling at the dark wizard who perched next to her on the arm of the sofa.

"Lucius is delighted with the publicity. The photos are going to be spectacular." Severus smirked. "I never thought I'd be so happy to not have our marriage officially known. Imagine me trying to pose the way you to all had to."

Harry scowled at the dark wizard, but Claudia's head was resting against his shoulder and he lost all interest in parrying with Severus. "Whatever, needs must."

"Indeed," said Severus. "And I'd have put up with much worse to avoid nonsense being bandied about in the populace."

Harry could only agree.

Ron hadn't been 'round to Shell Cottage in what felt like ages. He handed Fleur the yellow roses he'd bought with a flourish. "Thank you for the invitation," he said, kissing her on the cheek.

He couldn't help the cringing feeling he had when he remembered the way he's behaved around her at the Triwizard Tournament and later. But today he was able to look at her and feel nothing but warmth at the way she'd stood by Bill. He'd felt really comfortable at dinner at the Burrow last night as well. He wondered if it was the magic they'd done to break the curse on Hermione, or his own more assured feelings for Susan that was the cause, but whatever it was, he was glad he could look at his sister by marriage and feeling nothing but respect and affection for her.

"How iz everything, Ron?" Fleur asked, as she led him into their cosy sitting room.

Ron shrugged his shoulders. "Mum was pleased to see me. She sends her thanks for having Bill pass on the magazine copies to me. I took them 'round to her during my lunch-break, had lunch with Mum. She's lonely, I think. And rather disappointed with Charley for not being able to make it to the family meal."

Fleur nodded, as she slowly lowered herself into the only chair she felt she could easily get out of again. "Get yourself a drink, Ron."

Ron watched Fleur's ever-increasing slowness, and wondered why Bill was even still at work. "You shouldn't be alone. What if Bill's out and your waters' break?"

He felt embarrassed at even voicing such thoughts, but he suddenly felt responsible and worried. Things, even now, weren't settled. Ginny's behaviour had made that clear. And a witch's magic when she was about to give birth could be erratic to say the least.

Fleur's eyes widen in surprise. The mature and concerned tone of voice from her brother-in-law not what she expected. "Winky iz listening out for me," she said, smiling. "Madam Pomfrey is on call, and maman is going to come from Nott castle. Everything is arranged."

Ron blushed. "I didn't mean…" he began. But he could see that Fleur was not upset.

She continued to smile. "It iz okay, Ronald. This iz the first Weasley baby of our generation."

Ron grinned. "I'm going to be an uncle. That's so cool."

Dinner had ended, and Cissy had just turned the wireless on for the slow evening jazz, when Claudia decided she really should tell her new family what she's seen in the newspapers and magazines. As the voice on the wireless stopped speaking and a hazy tune filled the air, she squeezed Harry's hand and spoke to the room. "While you were all having the photos done, I asked Flitty to collect all of the newspapers and magazines that had been published since Valentine's Eve."

Everyone turned to look at Claudia,

"Whatever for?" asked Astoria.

"Just wanted to see what was being said," explained Claudia. "I've been in my own world, exploring the changes to my magic. I thought it would be good to know what I'd missed. Especially since Cissy's been so busy talking to the media."

Cissy smiled at Claudia. "What did you find out, my love? I know you wouldn't have brought this up unless you spotted something."

Claudia grimaced. Internally she marvelled how this witch already knew her so well. She wondered what would have happened if she'd said something like this within her own family. But even as she wondered, she knew. They'd have listened politely, and then Johanna would have said something witty and no one would have taken the time to ask what she's read or why she'd brought the topic up. Putting her unhelpful feelings aside, Claudia turned so she could look at Severus and Lucius. "My parents and sister were photographed at the French Ambassadorial Ball. I don't know if they've realised I'm here yet, but you might expect them to try making contact."

A/N: Love it or hate it, please let me know what you think.