"Lady Rose Prince," Alfred declared, after knocking on the door to Prince and Prince Consort's private quarters. Once he saw that Harry was up to receiving visitors, he opened the door fully. "Refreshments will be up momentarily, My Lord." Being proper due to Lady Rose Princes presence. They were all for doing things proper after all.
"Thank you for coming to visit," Harry said, standing up, "Please, join me."
Rose' eyes twinkled, not even bothering to acknowledge Alfred after he had let her pass, Harry held her sole focus.
"Thank you, Alfred," Harry added, before the vampire could close the door, politeness cost nothing, even if you felt you were above their station. Although, he was a bit of a hypocrite considering how he was being with all the Elders despite only one or two really being the ones he was angry with.
"Would you look at you," Rose said, embracing Harry and kissing his cheeks before sitting down, "You look far more comfortable in your own skin now." Observing Harry and how comfortable he appeared in his own domain.
"I am," Harry agreed giving her his most diplomatic smile, he didn't know her well enough – or at all really – to bring out his true self so to speak. It was true, he was beginning to feel very comfortable here, and more outspoken like he'd finally found his niche. Although, he was rather hoping she wouldn't be here too long, he didn't want to miss Remus who had come to visit. "So…how can I help you today?" when she didn't speak.
The pop of the platters appearing were ignored by the Prince Consorts past and present.
"I wish to off you and Severus my heartfelt congratulations," Rose said, offering up a card and a wrapped gift clearly for a child.
"Thank you," Harry said, besotted, "But you seem confused…" trailing off curiously, setting it aside for later so he and Severus could open it together.
"Well, forgive my forwardness but Severus has barely even begun his reign," Rose confessed, so utterly baffled, "It's normal to wait a few decades before having a child. It means in seventeen short years he's going to step down." it was such an infinitesimal amount of time he was hardly going to be remembered at all. Her husband had reigned for several decades before attempting to have a child, and the wait for one was far longer than either anticipated.
"Seventeen short years?" Harry said wryly, "I've barely been alive that long, and I can tell you, they weren't short." And it wasn't because of the abuse he'd suffered at the Dursleys, how could someone think seventeen years was short? Then again, he easily recalled the time etched into the plaques at the bottom of the portraits, long, long reigns.
"Believe me in a few years a decade will seem barely any time at all." Rose said, waving her hand as if waving the matter away entirely. "He'll end up the shortest to reign out of all the Prince's before him by far especially if you're lucky to have the right gender."
Harry hummed, "If it's a boy you mean?" Harry said dryly.
"Naturally," Rose agreed.
"No, not naturally, there's nothing natural about it." Harry disagreed, keeping himself in check, "We're way passed the point where men lead and women and consorts sit and look pretty." It was beyond time they caught up with the time, it all just infuriated him sometimes so it did.
Rose stared at Harry as if she couldn't understand the words that had come out of his mouth.
"It's time you joined us in the twenty-first century." Harry added, not understanding why she hadn't fought for her daughter, for herself.
"Some traditions aren't mean to be broken," Rose chided softly, "Plus, why bother changing something instead of enjoying life? Shopping trips were always the highlights of my day. The French quarter was just, oh, unescapably beautiful, you should travel when you have the security of guards to keep you safe from any and all harm." Her fingers brushing against the sapphire and diamond necklace she wore, "This was one of the first pieces of jewellery I bought. I didn't particularly like it all that much, I just wanted to see if I could get a rise out of Glenn. Soon, however, it became my favourite piece. I could spend as much as I wanted, and nobody cared."
Harry frowned, befuddled by her statement before his eyes widened, "Oh, bloody hell, they actually went complaining to you, didn't they? The Elders?" gaping unattractively in stunned disbelief. He had left the room graciously after his statement to the Elder council, it was true, he was someone's mate, someone's son, brother and leader. He was not going to be a good little consort and bear the heir and fade into the background.
Standing up, glancing at the gift he stepped away from the woman, "And the whole thing about having a child too soon? What is this an attempt to get me to abort my child?"
"What? NO!" Rose declared vehemently and loudly, shaking her head as if she was trying to dislodge something between her ears. "Please, I promise, I did not mean that, even if the baby is a girl." Hands held out in front of her in a placating manner, pleading with him to believe her. "I…I missed out on so much, of my daughter's life, of my grandsons…I don't want to be a stranger to my great-grand child too." She pleaded.
"Your daughter couldn't stand being here, you made her feel worthless! Like she didn't matter! Only fit for marrying someone who you all thought was fit to be king!" Harry snapped out, seething in fury about her sheer audacity to come to his rooms after asking to see him and reprimand him for having the guts to do something she didn't. Suggesting he be lazy, spend the Prince money like it was going out of fashion. "She ran terrified when she didn't gain her vampire inheritance into the hands of a Muggle who proceeded to beat her and she thought it was all she deserved!" defending Eileen to the depth of his core, so sure he was right.
Perhaps he was, nobody would ever know, for Eileen had died taking her secrets and thoughts with her.
Rose swallowed thickly, hurt thick and cloying at the back of her throat.
"I don't want you near my child, you can't help yourself, you're a woman and you said 'even if she's a girl' as if she was somehow inferior to a boy." Harry said bitterly, disgust crawling up his throat as he stared at her. "Has everyone around you convinced you you're nothing but a failure? A commodity? Someone, no, something not even worth an opinion of their own?" it broke his heart just thinking of what it was like for Eileen growing up here.
"How can I even begin to convince the Elders when you yourself believe you're not worthy?" Harry uttered aghast. Mind reeling, for the first time realizing the enormity of the task set before him. It wasn't just going to be an arduous task, no, it may well just be completely impossible. "How could your mate let you believe that?" Severus always laid his insecurities to rest, defending him against everything and everyone.
He never doubted his worth or Severus' love.
Could Rose say the same?
The door opened with a bang, causing both of them to jump, too immersed in their thoughts to pay attention to anything outside of the room. Not that they would have heard anything anyway, since these rooms were silenced. It was the one place they could rest without hearing everything and everyone. A lot of the others had the same wards on their own rooms too. It was a sanctuary of sorts from the constant buzzing of noises…not to mention voices.
"What is going on here?" came Severus' voice, it was filled with a thinly veiled threat, that was entirely focused on Rose. He could sense his mates burgeoning distress, anger and rage as if it were his own. "Harry?"
"Whether this child is a boy or a girl, they'll rule if they want to, nobody is going to force them to do anything." Harry stated proudly, "And if I have to drag every single one of those Elders kicking and screaming into the twenty-first century, you bet your life I'll do it."
Severus narrowed his gaze when he heard and understood what his mate was implying.
"Pictures is the closest you'll ever get to any child I have," Harry continued as Severus approached him, ready to comfort him if need be. "I will never let anyone near them to convince them they're nothing!"
Rose opened her mouth, but nothing, not even a rasp came out as she stared stunned. She hadn't expected the conversation to go this way at all.
"I think it's time you left." Severus told her, his tone neither welcoming or condemning. He didn't know what had happened but he knew his mate was upset. Best to ask her to leave for the moment until he got the entire picture from Harry. Although, judging by Harry's words, he had a funny feeling he wouldn't like what he'd hear. "Alfred?" he called out.
"My Lord?" Alfred queried, as always immediately coming to their aid when requested or needed.
"Escort Rose to the edge of the wards," Severus stated, he had never called them by their relation, only names. He hadn't had a grandmother or grandfather growing up. While it wasn't their fault for that, since they'd been barred until he gained his belated inheritance once the Dark Lord died. He, however, was already fully grown and in no need for help or long-lost families.
"My Lord," Alfred inclined his head, and immediately gestured silently for Rose to come with him. When she made no move to make her way out of the property, he added, "Please follow me," a threat lingering in that usually peaceful voice of Alfred's. He wouldn't hesitate to do as he had been ordered. Even against Lady Prince (former consort) although he hoped sincerely, he didn't need to.
"I'll go," Rose backed down, and immediately left the room hastily, using her vampire speed, Alfred followed using his own vampirism.
"What on earth happened?" Severus asked, "Are you alright?" hand rubbing up and down Harry's side and stomach.
"I'll be fine," Harry said, sighing softly, "These people haven't half done a number on her." She honestly believed it; how long had she been forced to hear that shit?
"Meaning?" Severus questioned.
"Have you ever seen Rose without Glenn?" Harry asked, evading the question for now.
"No, except for today," Severus admitted, "Now do you care to tell me what just happened?" easing Harry into sitting onto the end of the bed, before he sat too.
"She was being about as subtle as a brick through a window," Harry said dryly, "She was telling me I should be enjoying myself, shopping and buying whatever I'd like. After insisting that some 'traditions' shouldn't be broken, she even said 'I didn't mean that even if it's a girl' like…like…like if I have a daughter, she wouldn't mean anything!" his voice raising at the last part, seething in fury.
"I see," Severus murmured, never doubting Harry's words, as he went through each of his interactions with Rose, she seemed desperate for connection, for family, but truth was, she didn't know how to reach out. She didn't know how to be a family anymore than he did.
"If I didn't know any better, I would say the Elders went complaining to her!" Harry said sharply, "Her or Glenn either one!" it wasn't a coincidence that she had come here going on about traditions and children and trying to get him to be less interested in the castle and the politics rather go shopping.
"Who wrote out yesterday evening?" Severus commanded of Alfred, who knew everything that went on in the castle.
Alfred paused for a barest of a second before confessing, "Elder Gideon, My Lord," he revealed.
"Was Gideon their advisor?" Harry asked, the 'their' being Glenn and Rose when they were in the height of their power.
"He was," Alfred answered.
"I really can't believe it, he despises women, doesn't think of them as worthy of anything yet he went crying to one when things didn't go his way?" Harry cried out in disbelief, shaking his head. Bloody hell, it was just so stupid, he could barely believe it.
"My Lord I am afraid Nicolas is here for the meeting," Alfred declared, just before the wards emitted him, he did have a portkey that was created by Severus himself.
Severus cursed, turning to Harry, "Will you be alright?" he did need to take that meeting.
"I'm fine, I'm just going to sit with Remus and interview the women who signed up for possible Eldership." Harry said, waving it off, he wouldn't let Rose or Gideon ruin his day.
Alfred laughed quietly, honestly; he came up with some amusing words.
"And they did sign up?" Severus asked in gentle surprise.
"Oh, yes, not as many as I'd have liked but yes," Harry said smugly. "I'm guessing that's what really got Gideon's back up?" scoffing derisively, honestly, the Elder was pathetic.
"Then I'll leave you to it," Severus said, kissing the top of his head, hand on Harry's stomach.
"I don't suppose I can strip Gideon of his rank? Please? Please? Please?" Harry said.
Severus chuckled, "Very well, you may, but I really do have to go." Whispering an apology, he left their rooms without any further lingering.
"Yes!" Harry said grinning viciously.
Alfred just gently shook his head, thoroughly amused. "I do have to ask, if you'd be so willing, why exactly did you leave after that speech?" there was a reason for it, there had to be. Harry was vastly intelligent and unlike the other Consorts he wanted to change the way things were done. "I must say it would have been the perfect place to continue on with another speech."
Harry frowned, "It would have been, but it would have also accomplished nothing."
Alfred rose an eyebrow, "What makes you think that?" pondering on Harry's defeat in curiosity.
"I have a disconcerting feeling I'm not being taken seriously, but rather I'd be being indulged." Harry said bitterly. Which just pissed him off really, "If they'd done that it really would have made me rather recklessly hurt them." And he wasn't in particular a violent person.
Alfred sighed, "Yes, perhaps they would have," agreeing with Harry there, "They are not used to change and cannot conceive anything changing in that regard. Humans get used to not changing who they are, but we have far longer to become unaccustomed to change."
Harry's forehead wrinkled as he frowned, "I guess," not really understanding it fully, he hadn't lived as long as Alfred had and the others. He did try to understand if for only to try and get what the Elders were all about. If he understood them, maybe he could bring them round to another way of thinking.
"It's no excuse, I know, but it's the truth," Alfred commented.
"Were you like that?" Harry asked curiously, as he stood.
"My sister, my little sister was exceptionally powerful, by the time she was fourteen she could lay me and our parents flat on our backs." Alfred confessed, a bittersweet tone to his voice. "Those of us who had family they can remember, a sibling, a lover…aren't quite as keen to write witches off, don't write them all off, believe me, there are those who agree but don't wish to rock the boat."
"Except the boat is going to be rocked," Harry pointed out.
"Yes, but they don't believe as such." Alfred replied, "They're used to Gideon and the others being correct."
"Judgement made in error." Harry murmured.
"The more you press, the more you'll see there are others on your side," Alfred said, squeezing Harry's shoulder. "Now shall I collect Remus for you and bring him here?"
"Just tell him to come, he can get here himself," Harry replied, Remus was trusted completely, he didn't need escorted. "Although, you can escort Mary McDonaldson for me, and you can stay, please." He couldn't say he was familiar with her, but it couldn't be blamed there were so many people in the Prince Clan or flying under the Prince Clan.
Remus was there within fifteen minutes, and the hug he gave his son lasted far longer. "There's a lot of tension going around, is everything alright?" worried not only about Harry but the clan who had taken him in – as grudging as it had been – and he cared about a great deal of them.
Harry lit the fireplace, and replaced the guard, explaining what had been going on. "…I probably didn't do myself any favours stalking out after my remarks, I know. I was just so furious with them. What do you think? Am I being too forward in assuming they should change?"
Remus inhaled sharply, "Listen to me, Harry, you can uphold the tradition and change it as is needed." He told him, "Son, the entire world has changed since traditions begun. Changing a name, a gender here and there, doesn't take away from the traditions it enhances them."
Harry practically slumped forward relieved that he wasn't being childish or overbearing. "You really think so?"
"I do," Remus agreed fully. Tradition dictated he was nothing but a monster, a beast that should be killed after all.
"I've got interviews set up for Female Elders, would you like to stay with me? Maybe ask a few questions yourself?" Harry asked, hating that their free time was being interrupted. He had so much he wanted to ask him, and he bet there was a lot his dad wanted to ask him too. Maybe between interviews that would do it, there was only four people, but that was enough for him.
"Sounds good, when's the first one?" standing together they moved over to the sitting area, where Remus assumed – correctly at that – the interviews would take place.
"Now." Harry said as a knock on the door was heard, the magic in this keeping the room secure and silent without making it all noises was mesmerising.
"That isn't giving us long to prepare, I assume you've got a list of questions?" Remus asked, sounding excited at the prospect of this new venture.
Harry laughed, "The folder," he knowing his dad well enough. "I got Blaise and Theo's input." The beauty of being able to Floo call Hogwarts, it surely isn't all that comfortable but doable.
Remus made a soft understanding sound, as he began to read the questions that were evenly spaced out, professional and very well thought out he realized. However, he thought of a few, and neatly wrote out his three additional questions. No doubt they'd go off script, it was only natural, although they'd get around to answering all the questions, he was sure.
Harry opened the door to find a middle-aged grey haired, witch who was extremely tall with eastern European features. Not what he was expecting, but there were families who came over and stayed around. "Mary McDonaldson?" he questioned.
"That's me," she said, a Scottish brogue still evident. "And I can see you're curious, my mother was Bulgarian, she was a Quidditch player, my father was Scottish and they met and fell in love." Her eastern European features were obvious and talked about often, so she was in no way surprised to see the Lord Consort was curious too.
"A female quidditch player back in the day?" Harry delighted in this information, it surely meant she wouldn't let the wizard Elders get the better of her.
"Oh, yes, her career has yet to be surpassed, fifty-five years of being a professional Quidditch player, also her score remains undefeated too." Mary delighted in regaling him about her family history, she didn't get to do it often enough. Wizards were usually the breadwinners, but the truth was, they'd both worked, the back rooms in their father's shop had been turned into play areas for her and her siblings. A House-elf helped out occasionally if the shop was busy.
"This is my father, Remus Lupin, please take a seat!" Harry said, feeling good about this, he'd replace Gideon and the other Elders who thought they were irreplaceable.
"Nice to meet you," Remus said politely, smiling at the witch turned vampire. Wondering if she'd had children before the change and what had come of them. He didn't dare ask, for she was old enough to have raised them…lost them. Whether to old age or an accident after being turned. It wouldn't be the first time a new-born had attacked their familiar unaware of what they were after all.
"It's nice to meet you too," Mary said, shaking his hand, not lacking in confidence at all.
A/N – there we go another chapter 😉 I'll add a new chapter of this to the schedule since there aren't any more 😉 I think and this isn't as long as I'd like but I'm getting my Flu and Covid booster tomorrow and that's definitely not going to be fun. I'm lucky with Flu jabs I never feel a thing but I've been unlucky so far with all three Covid jabs but better safe than sorry 😊 but I'd rather get this posted just to be on the safe side! Anyway enjoy the chapter and as always thank you so much for reading R&R
Is Rose just a victim of her time? Is there a chance she can learn she's more than just a mate and bearer while watching Harry with his brood? Or will he stick to his statement and never let them near for fear of having his children think they aren't worthy?