A/N Thanks for all the love on the story so far. I will try and update weekly, so bear with me.
Let me just reiterate, this will be a Harry/Daphne story. That is all.
24th May, 1998
It was the Sunday after his discussion with Daphne, and Harry was actually excited for once. Hermione and Ron had returned to Britain the night before, though it had been quite late by the time they'd come back. Hermione had still sought to send him a quick message, inviting him to the Burrow for Sunday lunch. Apparently, everyone else was coming too, and it would really be the first time since the funerals that Harry would be seeing most of them.
After Fred's funeral, Arthur, Molly, Charlie, Ron and Ginny had continued to live at the Burrow. Bill and Fleur had returned to Shell Cottage, Percy to his flat in London though he was apparently visiting frequently. George, to everyone's surprise, had returned to work almost immediately after the funeral. Having been so busy with his own life, Harry had no idea how he was really doing and was looking forward to seeing him, albeit a little nervously. Hermione had been at the Burrow as well, though Harry wondered what she would be doing until September when she would go to Hogwarts.
Ginny was the only person he saw somewhat frequently, considering they were dating. They had reconciled not long after the Battle of Hogwarts, though they hardly had any time to date with the funerals, cleanup and their own brand of grief. She occasionally made a floo call to Grimmauld Place, but he was looking forward to seeing her in person.
He saw Teddy and Andromeda almost every day, visiting them at Andromeda's house any time he had a spare moment. He had repeatedly tried convincing them to move into Grimmauld Place with him, but Andromeda had been steadfast that she didn't want to cramp Harry's life. Even then she was coming to the Burrow as well, so Harry was happy he would be seeing them.
There was a fair amount of apprehension and guilt mixed in, but these were people he considered the closest thing he had to a family, and he wanted them to be a part of his life. He woke early on Sunday, ate a delicious breakfast made by Kreacher, and then got him to give him a haircut and shave.
His unruly hair was cut short in the back and sides, leaving the messy part on top looking actually stylish rather than untidy. Harry was so astonished it was his hair that was doing it, that he couldn't stop staring when Kreacher held up a mirror. His old glasses had broken in an Auror raid last week, so he had bought these new ones that were rimless, square frames that somehow made him look older and dignified instantly. With his face clean shaven, the new glasses and styled hair, he actually looked decent.
He had also grown a little taller, and with the past year's skirmishes, despite frequent starvation, he now stood at just under six feet. He was still quite lean but his arms, torso and legs were muscled with years of fighting and Quidditch. With the new robes that Kreacher had made for him, Harry Potter looked like a proper wizard his age for the first time in his life.
He disapparated for the Burrow around eleven in the morning, and was greeted by a tackling hug from Hermione as soon as he arrived. He hugged her back, laughing as he did.
"I think you might have missed me a little," he said, as she broke the hug and grinned at him.
"Maybe a little," she said, and then looked at him closely. "You look like you're eating well. That's good."
He wished he could say the same of her, but he thought Hermione looked rather miserable. She was still pale despite having been in Australia for a week, and her smile wasn't quite reaching her eyes. There were bags under her eyes too, and Harry wondered what had happened. Before he could ask, Ron entered the living room and smiled at him.
Unlike Hermione, Ron looked perfectly at ease. He held out his hand to Harry with a shout, and pumped it eagerly when Harry took it. "How have you been, mate?" asked Ron.
"Not bad," grinned Harry. "You two?"
"Really good," said Ron, putting an arm around Hermione's shoulders. "Did she tell you? We found Dan and Emma. They're not coming back just yet, but that just means we get to visit them in Australia again, yeah?" He directed that question at Hermione, who nodded with a smile, but it fell off when Ron glanced away.
Harry raised an eyebrow but he was then tackled by a zooming red ball of energy and barely had time to catch Ginny in his arms. He managed to steady them both and immediately felt her kiss him. An involuntary smile burst onto his face as he kissed her back, despite hearing Hermione giggling and Ron groaning that he now needed to go gouge his eyes out.
"Hi," said Ginny breathlessly, finally pulling away.
"Hi," said Harry, noting that she looked more or less fine. She had lost a little weight but considering everything, she looked as beautiful as ever.
"Come on, mum and dad are waiting," she said, linking her arm with his and leading him to the kitchen.
"How are they?" he asked, in a low voice.
"Mum still cries at the drop of a hat, so don't take it personally," she said, with a small smile. "Having you here is bound to put her in a better mood, though."
Sure enough, Molly burst into tears as soon as she saw him and then hugged him until he couldn't breathe. Arthur shook his hand vigorously, and Harry began to feel at ease.
"Look who I brought!"
Harry turned around when he saw a cheery Charlie Weasley pulling along George, who looked like he'd just rolled out of bed.
"You could have let me brush my teeth," complained George, as Charlie finally relinquished his hold on him.
"You're a wizard, use a teeth cleaning charm," said Charlie, undeterred.
George looked awful. His hair had grown greasy and unkempt, his eyes were sunken and the red beard on his face was patchy and scraggly. He was wearing shabby pyjamas that were torn in places and stunk of sweat and stale coffee. Molly burst into tears when she saw him, and Arthur immediately began to calm her.
"Charlie's been staying with George since the funeral," Ginny whispered to Harry. "He actually looks better than he did last week."
Harry felt all his good mood sap out of him. George looked at him with bloodshot eyes and then, to his surprise, approached him slowly.
"Harry," he said, his voice quiet and serious in a way that just didn't suit him. "There's something you must know."
"What?" asked Harry, as everyone went silent around them.
George gave him a grave look. "I think Gilderoy Lockhart wants his hair product back."
It took a split second, but Harry snorted, as did Charlie, and slowly, they were all laughing. The joke wasn't particularly funny, but when Bill and Fleur came to the kitchen, they found them all laughing with tears in their eyes.
Molly returned to lunch preparations with both Fleur and Ginny assisting, so Charlie took George upstairs to tidy him up. Percy arrived and after shaking Harry's hand, he accosted his father as they began talking about work.
Leaving them to it, Harry sat in the corner of the living room with Ron and Hermione, and listened to Ron fill him in about the Australia trip. Apparently, Hermione's parents hadn't been too hard to find, but once the memory spells were reversed, it had taken some time for them to accept what Hermione had done. Things had been settled, but they hadn't felt like returning to Britain just yet, though Hermione was glad they were agreeing to stay in touch at all.
George came back downstairs looking fairly decent, and though his eyes were still sunken and bloodshot, his beard was shaved, hair washed, and he was wearing fresh, clean robes. Percy immediately went up to him and started fussing like a mother hen, which was surprising yet heartwarming to watch. Bill poured Charlie a drink and the two oldest brothers sat in a corner, talking quietly. Seeing them occupied, George beckoned Ron with a glance to be spared from Percy's fussing.
When Ron left, Harry glanced at Hermione and lowered his voice. "Are you alright?" he asked.
"Yeah, of course," she said, and then laughed. "That sounded like a lie, even to me."
"What's wrong?" asked Harry.
She shook her head. "Not here," she said. "Can I come by Grimmauld Place later?"
"Sure," said Harry. "I have loads to tell you as well."
"Alright," said Hermione. "Speaking of which, where's Andromeda?"
"She should be here around noon," said Harry. "That's usually when Teddy wakes from his morning nap."
As if on cue, Andromeda came through the floo with an infant Teddy Lupin swaddled in her arms. He immediately burst into tears, and Harry stood up to get him.
"Careful with his head," said Andromeda, as she handed him over. "He still hates the floo, it seems."
Harry rocked Teddy as she had taught him and smiled when Teddy began to calm down. "There now," he said. "Hello, Andromeda."
Andromeda looked almost as tired as George, but she smiled at him and went on to see Molly in the kitchen.
"He's gotten so big," said Hermione, as she stood up and looked at him.
Teddy stopped crying finally, and when he saw Harry holding him, he immediately changed his hair to black.
"That's kind of amazing," said Ron, glancing over to them.
"Right?" asked Harry, with a proud grin. "He changes eye colours too when he's in a good mood. Give him some time and he'll get there."
The rest of the Weasley brothers gathered around him, and Teddy slowly began changing his hair to red.
"Lunch is ready!" called Molly.
Lunch was as boisterous as Harry remembered from nearly every summer holiday since starting Hogwarts. The tables were set out in the garden, groaning from the weight of delicious food that Molly had prepared. Teddy was held by either Harry or Fleur, who was sitting near him. Conversation flowed loudly and continuously, and it seemed Teddy was enjoying it too.
It took two hours, but every plate was empty by the time lunch was over. Arthur waved his wand to clear up as everyone retired to the living room, too full to even make conversation. Teddy finally fell asleep and Andromeda conjured a crib for him to sleep in. Sitting on the living room squashed between Ron and Charlie, Harry cleared his throat.
"I actually have something to talk about, if that's okay," he said.
"Go ahead, Harry," said Arthur.
In quiet words so as to not wake Teddy, Harry explained his meeting at Gringotts. He didn't go into the full details, but mentioned that he had decisions to make about some of the Wizengamot seats he had inherited.
"Weasleys haven't sat on the Wizengamot since my parents got married," said Arthur, his eyes faraway. "I had two older brothers, but neither of them lived past the first five years of their lives due to illness, and the traditionalists at the time claimed it was due to the unholy union of my parents."
"Shows what they know," said Ron, irritated. "Bloody idiots."
"You said you can acknowledge my mother's status?" asked Arthur, looking at Harry.
"Yes," said Harry. "She was Black, and as head of the family such as it is, I can make it legal. It will return the Weasley seat back to you."
"Thank you, Harry," said Arthur, gratefully.
"That's not all, really," he said, and explained about the Crouch and Prewett seats too.
"Three seats?" asked Percy, stunned. "Three?"
Arthur glanced at Bill, who nodded back. "I think I'll hold the Weasley seat, which will pass on to Bill as the oldest," said Arthur. "If you make that nomination and if it passes…"
"It will pass," said Harry, firmly.
Arthur looked surprised, but smiled. "Well, Bill should have the Weasley seat, right?"
Molly nodded at once, as did the others.
"What about the other two?" asked Harry.
"No question, Charlie and Percy should get them," said George, interested despite himself.
"You're staying in Britain?" Harry asked Charlie in surprise.
"Yeah," he said. "Well, I was thinking about it." He paused and seemed to consider something as he looked around at everyone. "Yeah, I think I'll stay."
Molly looked happy as she smothered him in a hug and burst into tears.
"The Prewett seat can go to Charlie then, and Percy gets the Crouch one," said Arthur.
"I think that should go well," nodded Harry, as Percy looked wide-eyed. "I'll make the nominations, and that should settle it."
Molly, who had finally finished hugging Charlie, and came to hug Harry. "Have you decided whether to go to Hogwarts or stay with the Aurors?" asked Molly, as she sat back down and wiped her tears.
"Actually, the Wizengamot and things are going to keep me busy," said Harry. "I am doing my NEWTs at the Ministry next month, and resigning from the Auror Department."
"You're resigning?" asked Ron, shocked. "But-"
"I think it's a good idea," said Hermione, nodding firmly. "I would rather you come to Hogwarts, but as long as you are getting your NEWTs, it's fine. And you don't have to be an Auror."
"But it's what he's wanted," protested Ron.
"True," nodded Harry. "But it's what I wanted while Voldemort was still around. I figured it would take the rest of my life to take him down, and being an Auror just made sense."
"I think it's a good decision," said Bill, as Charlie nodded along.
"You could always join the Ministry in some other capacity," said Percy.
"Yeah, of course," said Harry, mostly to appease them than anything. He couldn't actually tell them about Borogoves without sounding like he was losing his mind, so keeping it vague would have to do for now. "Uh, so what about everyone else?"
"I went back to Gringotts," said Bill. "Fleur is still taking some time off."
"I'm not sure if Gringotts is right for me anymore," she said, shaking her head.
"You'll find something," said Hermione, and Fleur smiled at her gratefully.
"As for me, I'm still babysitting," said Charlie, poking George's shoulder who glared at him but without any heat in it. "I'm sure I can find something at the Ministry."
"Of course," said Percy. "There has been so much work to do. Father and I have been at work almost until eight every day."
"I am reopening the shop," said George, his voice quiet but determined.
"He's not just saying that," said Charlie, when everyone looked at him in surprise. "He has been working hard to restock in time for September."
"Need any help with it?" asked Ron.
"I thought you were coming to the Aurors?" asked Harry, shocked.
"I was," said Ron. "I mean, I still want to. But there's no hurry, right? I can help out George for a while and do NEWTs in my own time."
"Ron, are you sure?" asked Hermione.
"Yeah," he said. "I'll take a year off to help out with the shop and then join Ministry at the same time you do," he added, with a smile at Hermione.
"A-alright," said Hermione, still looking uncertain.
"Well, I'm going back to Hogwarts," said Ginny. "This last year was horrible, but hopefully, I can get my NEWTs on time. I also need to focus on Quidditch if I want to play professionally, so I'm guessing we'll all be busy."
Conversation became much more casual after that, and around four, Harry decided to return to Grimmauld Place. To his surprise, Andromeda asked if she could visit. Surprised but curious, Harry took her and Teddy back with him. Hermione promised to stop by later in the evening.
"Sorry for the sudden visit," said Andromeda, as they sat in the parlour. An excited Kreacher immediately came to serve tea and freshly baked muffins when he saw Andromeda.
"Don't worry about it," said Harry. "Is everything alright?"
"Yeah," she said. "It's just...I refused every time you asked me and Teddy to come live here, didn't I?"
"Andromeda, I understand not wanting to…" he began, but she shook her head.
"It was because of the Auror thing," she said, and burst into tears.
"Andromeda," said Harry, wanting to comfort her but since he was holding Teddy he couldn't do it.
"No, I'm fine, really," she said, wiping her eyes. "Dora was an Auror, and Remus might as well have been. When I heard you were going to be one as well, I wasn't sure if having you around Teddy would be good." She shook her head again. "It sounds horrible, I know, but I didn't want him to get attached, if there was a high chance of you dying every day you step out of the house."
Harry was stunned, and he blinked as he tried to compose himself. Andromeda continued to weep, and he understood, he really did. He'd had a reckless godfather himself. Sirius had only been a part of his life for two years and most of it had been through letters. Losing him had been the worst pain of his life, and he couldn't imagine putting Teddy through the same thing.
"Andromeda," he said, finally. "I get it."
"Harry, no, it's…" she tried to protest, but he shook his head.
"I know I said I won't be an Auror, but it still doesn't change who I am," he said. "I will probably be a target for the rest of my life. While I won't go charging into danger at every chance I get, just me being Harry Potter is dangerous." He took a breath to steel himself to say the next words. "If you don't want me around, I will understand."
Andromeda looked shocked. "D-don't say that," she said, finally. "You love him like a son. I'm not going to tear you away from him."
Harry was confused. "But you said…"
"I know what I said, and it was horrible," said Andromeda. "What I'm saying is, if it's alright with you, Teddy and I want to move in here at Grimmauld Place."
"Yes," said Harry, immediately. "Please do." Relief seized his heart as he relaxed.
Andromeda smiled through her tears. "Thank you, Harry," she said. "Would you mind sending Kreacher over to help pack? I'd like to move in here by next week, if it's alright."
"Of course," said Harry. "Kreacher!" he called.
Kreacher was only too happy to accept, and soon Andromeda took her leave with Teddy, planning to move into Grimmauld Place in three days. Harry was happy it had worked out, and that Teddy would be close from here on out. He'd also wanted them to come to Grimmauld Place because it was much bigger and more secure than the Tonks residence.
Hopefully, he would keep his promise of being the best godfather to Teddy Lupin, after all.
Around seven in the evening, Hermione Granger arrived at Grimmauld Place and found Harry writing something as he sat in an armchair by the empty fireplace in the study. When Hermione entered, he smiled and offered her the other chair.
"Where's Kreacher?" asked Hermione.
"He's at Andromeda's," beamed Harry. "She and Teddy agreed to move here."
"That's great, Harry," smiled Hermione.
"So, tell me what's wrong," said Harry, bluntly.
Hermione glanced away and sighed. "I-I'm not sure," she said.
"Did something happen?" asked Harry. "With your parents, I mean."
"No," she said, and looked sincere as she said it. "I was prepared for a lot worse, trust me."
"Sorry," said Harry, knowing she had done it for his sake as well.
"Don't be," said Hermione. "I couldn't have walked into the war half-heartedly. Walking in half-heartedly it never works. You always end up leavi..." She stopped and closed her eyes.
"Is this about Ron?" asked Harry, realising what she was getting at.
"I thought I was alright with it, you know," she said, and there were tears in her eyes when she opened them. "But he abandoned us."
"He came back," said Harry, though her saying it plainly somehow dug it into his mind as well.
"I know that, which is why I thought I was alright with it," she said. "We were in the middle of a war, so it wasn't like there was time to hold a grudge or even process it. But now, the war's over. I didn't realise it until I was in Australia that I am not over it."
Harry sighed. "Did you talk to him about it?" he asked.
"He doesn't even seem to realise it," she said. "And I feel like a bitch if I even think about bringing up, especially since he's still grieving Fred."
Harry swallowed roughly. "Y-yeah, I know," he said. "I'm sorry, Hermione."
"It's not your fault," she said. "I thought once the war was over, that would be it, you know. Happily ever after and all that."
"Yeah," said Harry. "But we get Borogoves instead."
"Borogoves?" asked Hermione.
"Oh, right, they are…" Harry began
"I know what a Borogove is," said Hermione. "I'm more surprised you know it. You like Jabberwocky?"
"What's Jabberwocky?" asked Harry, confused.
Hermione shook her head with a smile. "You said we get Borogoves, eh?" She paused and considered that. "That's actually clever."
"I thought it was a word that meant nothing," said Harry.
"It does," said Hermione. "Jabberwocky was a poem by Lewis Carroll and it is full of made up words. But he later explained what those words were. Borogoves were these birds, said to be all cowardly and on edge. It is a good way to describe people in Britain these days. I didn't notice it until I was in Australia."
"Interesting," said Harry. "Someone pointed that out to me recently too."
"So, your turn then," said Hermione, with a small smile. "What have you been up to? No way you did all the work after the Gringotts thing on your own."
"True," he said. "Do you remember Daphne Greengrass?"
"Yeah, of course," said Hermione. "I fought for the top spot in our year with her every year."
"Did you really?" asked Harry.
"Yes," nodded Hermione. "She was also one of those Slytherin girls that didn't just follow around Parkinson and her gang."
"Well, I hired her as my attorney," said Harry. "I kind of needed one after Gringotts dropped the bomb on me. She's the one who's done all the work, really."
He proceeded to explain the full scope of his discussions with Daphne, including the plan to turn Borogoves to humans. Hermione listened with rapt attention and was smiling broadly by the time he was done.
"Harry, that is a wonderful plan," said Hermione, and then shook her head. "My plans seem so much smaller in comparison."
"But we need someone in the Ministry too," said Harry.
"You want me as a spy?" asked Hermione.
"If you want to think like that, but I think of you as much more than that," said Harry, sincerely. "We have been through hell and back together for seven years now. I don't want the generation that comes after us to suffer like we did and I know you don't want that either. We were the ones who ended the war, so isn't it our responsibility to fix what is left behind too?"
Hermione beamed at him proudly. "You're right, Harry," she said. "You can count me in."
"Thank you, Hermione," said Harry.
"Can I just ask," said Hermione. "Why didn't you tell the Weasleys about this?"
"I don't want to bother them with this when they're still grieving," said Harry.
"Did you tell Ginny at least?" asked Hermione.
"No," said Harry. "Why?"
Hermione sighed patiently. "Harry, do you love Ginny?" she asked.
"Yeah, she's my girlfriend," he said.
"Okay, good, so part of being a boyfriend is communicating," said Hermione. "I know it sounds hypocritical coming from me of all people, but if you want a relationship that isn't just a physical thing, you have to talk too."
"Ginny and I talk," Harry protested.
"When exactly?" asked Hermione. "At Hogwarts, you were joined at the lips and only broke away to make fun of Ron occasionally. Harry, one of the reasons why I'm hesitating about confronting Ron is because I'm pretty sure we are going to break up when I do it."
Harry looked shocked, and Hermione smiled sardonically.
"Sounds terrible, doesn't it?" she asked. "But there really is no way around it. We were in the middle of a war that we weren't sure we would survive. Once it was over, I was so relieved that most of us had somehow made it that I gave up on looking at things too closely. Like I said, going to Australia pointed out what I had been consciously ignoring. I'm not saying you and Ginny are the same, but you need to be honest about your feelings, otherwise you'll end up hurting both you and her."
Harry considered her words carefully. "I do care about Ginny," he said, finally. "You're right, we don't really talk, and most of our relationship has been physical. I don't know if it's such a bad thing, though."
"It is, if you and Ginny aren't on the same page about it," said Hermione. "I know Ron and I aren't, which is why I know we are not going to work out. He wants to get married soon, even though we haven't been dating a month and have kissed five times total. Talk to Ginny, Harry, and do it soon."
"When Ginny and I got back together after the war," said Harry, thoughtfully. "I mostly just remember being glad that I was alive. I think we just really needed someone at the time, you know. I don't know, Hermione. What are you going to do?"
"Honestly, I expected him to join the Auror Department right away," said Hermione. "I'm hesitant about breaking up with him, but leading him on isn't right either."
"Is it just about him leaving us?" asked Harry.
"No, but that is a big part of it," said Hermione. "I have to have it out, otherwise I'll grow to resent him. And I feel like once I let go of it, Ron and I won't have much that would keep us together. Desperation and fear of a tomorrow that seemed unlikely to come was what brought and kept us together. It was wonderful, but it won't be enough if we are to survive on it for the rest of our lives."
"Even though you and Ron have always liked each other? Even at Hogwarts?" asked Harry.
"We were awkward teenagers with wild hormones," said Hermione. "The war aged us. And the older we get, the clearer we see things. I know Ron and I won't work out. And you have to figure out if you and Ginny will."
Harry paused, thinking about her words carefully. Hermione stood up and patted his shoulder.
"You don't have to understand it right away," she told him with a small smile.
"Are you going back to the Burrow?" he asked, looking up at her.
"Yeah, I kinda don't have anywhere else to go," she said, sheepishly.
"You can live here, if you want," offered Harry. "Andromeda and Teddy will be here too, and I'm sure the Weasleys would want some time as a family."
"Are you sure?" asked Hermione, looking relieved.
"Yeah, there's plenty of room," said Harry.
Hermione smiled gratefully. "I'll go pack and be back in a bit then," she said. "Thankfully, I don't have much stuff."
"Take your time, I won't be going to bed yet," said Harry.
"Thanks, Harry," grinned Hermione. "I mean it."
28th May, 1998
Dear Mr. Potter,
This is an official summons from the Minister of Magic for you to present yourself at the first session of Wizengamot following the end of the war.
Your presence on the morning of June 1st is required at 9 am sharp.
Minister of Magic
"Did you get one too?" Harry asked Daphne.
"I did," she answered. "Good thing we got things started quickly, right?"
"Yeah," he agreed. "So, who are we meeting today?"
"I thought we'd do the more difficult ones first," said Daphne. "I left Rolf Scamander and Zinnia Yaxley for tomorrow, but everyone else I called in today."
"Right, let's do this then," said Harry.
"Come along, this way," said Daphne as she stood up and walked out of her office.
Harry followed her to a room down the hall which was a sitting room of sorts with two leather sofas opposite one another and a small coffee table between them. The rest of the room was sparsely decorated, but all the furniture and carpet and lighting looked expensive and luxurious.
"Are you aware of how we are to proceed?" asked Daphne as she and Harry sat down next to each other on one of the sofas.
"Yeah," said Harry. "I mean, I guess."
Daphne smiled at reassuringly. "Don't worry, I will lead the meeting. You only need to step in if it feels like we aren't getting anywhere."
Harry agreed, and Daphne gave an approving nod. The door opened and Maribeth poked her head in. "We are all ready out here, Ms. Greengrass," she said. "The first family is here."
Daphne looked at Harry, who took a deep breath and nodded.
"Show them in please," she said.
Maribeth nodded and left. A minute later, the door opened and a stoic Marshall Avery entered the office. He was fifteen years old and accompanied by his mother, Bianca Avery. They were both defiant in their expressions and upon seeing Harry, their lips curled just a little though there was fear in their gaze.
Daphne stood up as they entered. "Good morning, Mrs. Avery and young Mr. Avery," she said. "Please take a seat. I am Daphne Greengrass, Mr. Potter's attorney."
The two of them took a seat, regarding her with narrowed eyes. Harry had actually done some digging of his own on Daphne and learned a lot. While the Greengrass family was a Sacred Twenty Eight family too, the family was not as intermarried as other purebloods, because they often married foreign blood, which drew criticism within the Sacred Twenty Eight circle. While not all families intermarried and some like the Malfoys did have a lot more half bloods and Muggleborns in their line than they'd ever admit, the fact that the Greengrasses married foreigners did not do them favours in the eyes of the traditionalists.
Seeing the hostile gazes of the Averys, however, apparently had no effect on Daphne, and Harry was sufficiently impressed.
"You know Mr. Potter, of course," she said, without missing a beat. "Now, are you aware of why you are being summoned?" she asked, sitting back down.
"Why is he here?" asked Marshall. "We thought this was about our estate."
"Calm down, Mr. Avery," said Daphne, with a hint of steel in her tone. "I do not need to remind you what would happen if you were to overstep your bounds here. Your father signed away your loyalty, remember?"
"Have we been called here to relinquish our titles and wealth?" asked Bianca, speaking for the first time.
"Hardly," said Daphne. "Mr. Potter has no intention of taking anything away from you."
Both of them raised their eyebrows in suspicion. "He's just leaving us alone?" asked Bianca, disbelievingly.
"All Mr. Potter requires is your loyalty," said Daphne, handing them the contract.
She and Harry had worked on the contract for a few days, finally boiling the details down to the families swearing their loyalty to him, in terms of their Wizengamot votes. They would also swear not to plot against him or cause him harm. In exchange, Harry would not strip them of their title and wealth, and leave them alone. The contract had then been charmed to uphold what they had signed. Harry had mentioned something about using Hermione Granger's idea. An amused Daphne had shown him how goblins charmed their contracts. Suffice to say, he now knew that the effects of breaking the contract would be far more unpleasant than some embarrassing acne.
"We need time to consider it," said Bianca, after examining the contract.
"You misunderstand me, Mrs. Avery," said Daphne. "You either sign the contract or forfeit your right to your name and wealth. Mr. Potter is not a patient man. We require your answer at this very moment."
"That's not much of a choice," snarled Marshall.
"No, I don't suppose it is," said Daphne. "So, what will it be?"
"I'll sign," said Bianca.
"You both need to," said Daphne, passing a blood quill to them.
"Marshall is not of age," said Bianca.
"Yes, but he is the rightful head of the family," said Daphne. "You both sign."
Bianca sighed and took the blood quill. She signed her name on the contract, wincing as the quill drew her own blood to use as ink. She passed the quill to Marshall, who glared at Daphne and Harry but signed as well.
"Excellent," said Daphne, taking back the contract and quill. "Keep an eye out for letters bearing your new lord's seal. Wizengamot sessions will resume soon and you will be expected to do your part. Thank you for your cooperation. Good day."
Bianca stood up and placed a hand on her son's shoulder. "Yes," she said. "Good day."
With that, she led Marshall out with her. Once they had gone, Daphne sighed in relief and looked at Harry. "So?" she asked.
"That went well," said Harry, grinning at her. "Let's hope they are all this easy, shall we?"
"Not likely, but we can hope," said Daphne.
To their credit, the meetings with most families ended up going that way. Some like Millicent Bulstrode and the Carrow twins were all too happy to sign, while others like Pansy Parkinson and Theodore Nott glared throughout the entire process but did it. A few of the more stupid ones had tried to argue, and it had taken repeated threats for them to cooperate.
None had tried to draw a wand, of course, because no one was stupid enough to think they would be able to take on Harry in a duel. The fear of the way he'd defied death twice now was fresh in everyone's mind still, and Harry had to admire Daphne's initiative to do this quickly while they were still uncertain. Of course, once the contracts had been signed, they couldn't defy him, since it would bear painful consequences for them. Above all, they were well aware that their days at the top were over, not that many had ever been there to begin with, but now especially it was obvious that Harry Potter held all authority over them, and it would be best to accept it. Having lived under the thumb of the Dark Lord already, most of them still had hope that this alternative would be better.
The meeting with the Malfoy family was the most interesting one by far. Lucius Malfoy had not been thrown in Azkaban at Harry's behest, but it didn't mean he was willing to throw away his influence. Surprisingly, it had been Draco who had superseded his father's authority to agree to the contract. Lucius had even threatened to disown Draco, but Daphne had reminded him that if Draco signed the contract on behalf of the Malfoy name, Lucius could still be stripped of his position by Harry, and Draco would be named the head of the Malfoy family. A mutinous Lucius had finally signed.
All in all, they had all the acquired titles and estates renew their loyalty to him, and Harry was satisfied.
"So we only have Rolf Scamander and Zinnia Yaxley to deal with tomorrow, right?" he asked.
"Yeah," said Daphne, looking exhausted.
"You know I just thought of something," said Harry. "The Potter family isn't a Sacred Twenty Eight but I still have a seat."
"Yeah, apparently, Dumbledore held it in proxy for you," said Daphne. "Fudge tried to bring in a motion to strip you of it back in fifth year but the rest of the Wizengamot refused to take it away. Good for us too, otherwise it would have been one more thing on top of everything we'd have to deal with."
"Mm," agreed Harry, and glanced at the time which showed it was almost eight in the evening. He and Daphne had been in meetings from 9.30 in the morning, stopping only for half an hour around 1 for some lunch that Maribeth had brought for them. "You headed home?" he asked, looking at Daphne.
"No, I still have some work to do," she said. "I'm just going to ask Maribeth to get me some supper from the Leaky and keep working."
"Mind if I join you?" he asked.
Daphne looked a little amused. "You don't have to keep me company," she said. "I'll mostly be filing paperwork for your godson's trust and preparing letters for Gringotts to be sent off after the Wizengamot session."
"Usually I would be rushing to get home, but it's past Teddy's bedtime," said Harry. "I'll just end up doing nothing. Might as well be productive."
"Sure, if you say so," she said.
They returned to Daphne's office, with Daphne telling Maribeth to get them supper on the way. Maribeth left and returned with a four-pack of Butterbeer and two batches of fish and chips wrapped in paper for them only ten minutes later.
"If it's alright, I will retire for the night," she said, placing the food and drinks on Daphne's desk.
"Yes, thank you, Maribeth," said Daphne, with a polite wave. "Good night."
"Good night," said Maribeth, and left.
Harry opened two bottles of butterbeer and handed one to Daphne and took the other for himself. "Can I ask," he said, taking a sip. "Are there any other pubs in Diagon Alley? Or restaurants for that matter? I don't remember seeing much besides the Leaky and Florean Fortescue's ice cream parlour."
"That is what they call monopoly in action, Harry," said Daphne, unpacking the fish and chips and laying it out on her desk for the two of them. "Florean Fortescue had to fight tooth and nail to get his shop open because only the Leaky was granted the food and liquor licence by the Ministry. He managed to get his ice cream parlour open because of a legal loophole."
"But why?" asked Harry. "Surely they'd want more business cropping up here, right?"
"The rule of thumb in these instances is typically one establishment of each kind in an area," said Daphne. "At least, that's what the Ministry abides by. The way to get around it is to show that you offer something that the other place doesn't offer. The Leaky offered beds, food and liquor, but ice cream was considered unique enough for Fortescue to open his shop. It's a dumb law, but an old one. Of course, in those days, the Alley was a much smaller place and they wanted to prevent oversaturation of the same kind of businesses in order to encourage expansion."
"Can we change it?" asked Harry, taking a bite of his fish.
"Yes," said Daphne. "We won't have to, though. The exception to the law is if the Ministry decides to grant a licence. Problem is, anyone who wants to open a business needs backing from someone on the Wizengamot to sign off on their application for licensing. As you can guess, not many people are eager to help out in those matters unless they have something to gain."
Harry ate his chips absently, mulling over what Daphne had told him. She let him think it through, and ate her own food.
"I think," he said, as they were halfway through their meal. "This might be able how we start."
"I'm listening," said Daphne, finishing her butterbeer and opening the second bottle.
"Both of us have the authority to sign off on the application for licensing, correct?" he asked.
"Yes," said Daphne.
"Well, what if we were to start a service where those wanting to apply could submit a business plan to us and we can help them get started," said Harry. "With money and the licensing stuff, too. If reviving Diagon Alley is a good place to start, then wouldn't this help?"
Daphne considered it. "Yeah, probably," she said. "But it's a little out of my expertise. Legal stuff I am fine with, but the financing and business venture aspect is beyond me."
"We can hire more people, though, can't we?" asked Harry.
"Of course," nodded Daphne. "It could be like a...Diagon Restoration Program, or something."
"I like the sound of that," said Harry.
Daphne smiled and then seemed to contemplate something. "I think it's best to have an umbrella organisation," she said, finally. When Harry looked confused, she chuckled. "Well, Diagon Alley is just one place, so I doubt we'd want to stop with just that. Plus, we could have a separate charity arm. We don't have to make the larger organisation public, but it's more for the benefit of making sure we keep everything connected and organised."
"How so?" asked Harry, interested.
She wiped her hands and mouth daintily with a paper napkin and fetched a blank piece of parchment. "The larger organisation can be a Collective. The Diagon Restoration which would fall under something like a Business Development division would be one arm, charity would be another," she said, drawing a diagram for reference. "A third could be all the logistical aspects of the Collective, you know, like the financing and investments, legal matters, public relations, human resources if we are going to hire more people, and so on and so forth."
"And when we have new ventures, they can become a new arm of the Collective," said Harry, starting to understand. "Brilliant!"
"I think so," beamed Daphne. "Oh, that reminds me, we should look at the press aspect quickly."
"Yeah, but why quickly?" he asked.
"Well, the reason why the Dark Lord was able to control the Prophet so thoroughly was because most of the families had shares in it and when they signed it away to him, he became the majority owner. He didn't even have to threaten the Chief Editor to use it as propaganda," said Daphne, standing up and rummaging through the filing cabinet.
"Does this make me the majority owner now?" asked Harry.
Daphne returned with a file that she opened and read through. Harry picked up the empty wrappers from their supper and began cleaning up. By the time he had cleared Daphne's desk, she had finished reading. "So, by my calculations, you own about 78%, mostly because of some old Potter and Black stocks in addition to the others," she said. "The Wizengamot session is going to cause a splash, so if we have the Prophet on our side, we can control how the news is delivered."
"Excellent," said Harry. "We should probably hire someone permanently to deal with the press, shouldn't we?"
"That's not a bad idea," said Daphne. "I actually have someone in mind, if that's alright."
"Who?" asked Harry.
"Tracey Davis," said Daphne. "She was in Slytherin with me. She is excellent at keeping her ear to the ground and has a knack for using information well. I can speak to her tomorrow, if you want."
"Sure," said Harry. "Today's Thursday, and the Wizengamot meets on Monday, so we should hurry."
"After I speak to Tracey tomorrow, we can go visit the Prophet's Chief Editor, even if we have to do it over the weekend," said Daphne. "Armed with your PR person and attorney, you will be unstoppable."
Harry couldn't help but laugh in agreement. Progress was still ways away, but they were moving forward for now.
29th May, 1998
Harry wasn't sure what he had expected Rolf Scamander to be like, but when he entered Daphne's office for the meeting, Harry was distinctly reminded of someone like Neville. Rolf was as tall as Harry and quite thin, but there was a shyness to him that reminded Harry of Neville distinctly. He was soft-spoken too, wore round glasses and robes meant for travelling. Curly brown hair, bright hazel eyes, and a surprising untidiness that spoke of an absent-minded person further reinforced that impression.
"Mr. Potter and Ms. Greengrass, I presume," he said, holding out his hand. "I'm Rolf Scamander."
Though he was older than them, his voice sounded a little younger and when he smiled, he looked even more boyish.
"Yes, thank you for coming, Mr. Scamander," said Daphne, shaking his hand with a polite smile.
"Nice to meet you," said Harry, shaking his hand and feeling himself like the man immediately. "Please sit."
"Thank you," said Rolf, sitting down on the chair that Harry offered him. "I was very surprised to get your letter, even more so when you said I had the claim to the Lestrange seat. I spoke to my grandfather, though, and he managed to clarify it a little."
"Yes, we realise it isn't a straightforward connection," said Daphne.
"My grandfather and Leta Lestrange were at Hogwarts together," said Rolf. "From what I could tell, they were rather close until she got engaged to my great uncle Theseus."
"You were the closest living relative we could find to the Lestrange family, Mr. Scamander," said Harry.
"Oh, please call me, Rolf," he said, pleasantly. He frowned a little as he considered Harry's words. "I can't pretend to be thrilled about that, to be honest. The Lestrange family isn't something you would feel happy about associated with."
"I understand the feeling, but the Lestrange family, rather the branch with Rodolphus, signed away their fealty to Voldemort and since defeating him, it falls to me to deal with it," said Harry.
Rolf nodded. "I can appreciate that, but I don't know what you want me to do," he said. "I can sign it away if that's what you want. I have no interest in keeping it."
"It's not as simple," said Daphne. "Someone needs to sit on the Lestrange seat and we would rather it be you."
"But I'm not much of a politician," protested Rolf.
"Then consider doing it until you have an heir capable of inheriting it," said Harry.
Rolf sighed and paused for a bit. "May I be blunt with you, Mr. Potter?" he finally asked.
"Sure, but call me Harry," said Harry.
"Harry," said Rolf, seriously. "I may not be much of a politician but I know that signing away their fealty like they did to You-Know-Who means you are now their new lord. Do you want me in the seat, because you will be able to control my votes that way?"
"Honestly?" asked Harry. "We made two different contracts for you and had planned on giving you a choice on which one you wanted to sign. You can sign a full fealty contract like we made the others sign, which gives me control of their votes. Just their votes, mind you," he added. "The other contract stipulates that as long as you or your heirs sit on the Lestrange seat, you are entitled to the Lestrange estate and I will release you from the compulsory fealty."
"You would release me?" asked Rolf, surprised. "Why?"
"You have nothing to do with the Death Eaters," said Harry. "But your family is still an important part of the wizarding world and having you on the Wizengamot would only be a good thing."
"Even if it may mean I could vote against you?" asked Rolf.
"I'm not Voldemort," said Harry, plainly. "I don't want blind followers, Rolf. I want to rebuild this world, not destroy it like he did."
Rolf nodded slowly. "Like I said, I am not much of a politician," he said. "But I will accept your nomination. I won't swear you full fealty, but considering our conversation so far, I think we might not hold too different views."
"I'm glad to hear that," said Harry, as Daphne handed him the second contract.
Rolf accepted it and began reading through it carefully. Harry and Daphne waited patiently as he did, and when he was done, Daphne gave him a blood quill and Rolf signed it.
"Thank you so much, Rolf," said Harry, as Rolf handed the signed contract back to Daphne. "The Wizengamot will meet on Monday morning."
"I will be there," said Rolf, as he stood up and held his hand to Harry.
Harry shook his hand with a smile. "Have a good day," he said.
"You too," said Rolf. "Ms. Greengrass."
Daphne shook his hand as well, and with a bow to them, Rolf Scamander made his exit. "That was very well handled, Harry," said Daphne, sounding impressed.
"I learned it from you, I think," he grinned.
She went a little pink but rolled her eyes. "Don't relax just yet," she said. "Zinnia Yaxley will be here within the hour, and then Tracey is coming by after lunch. There is still a lot to do."
The meeting with Zinnia Yaxley was somehow even more straightforward. She was not surprised that she had inherited the seat, but instead of asking to be released, she was willing to sign a full fealty to Harry. When asked why, her reason was surprisingly similar to Millicent the day before.
"You will use it well, Mr. Potter."
"It's a weird kind of pressure, isn't it?" said Harry, as he and Daphne ate lunch together after Zinnia had left.
"I suppose," said Daphne. "People have a lot of faith in you. Or maybe everyone just needs someone else to bear the responsibility of making the tough decisions. Not everyone wants to be a leader. Most are just content to follow."
Harry sighed. "Don't I know it."
After lunch, Tracey Davis came in for her meeting with them. Harry remembered the grey-eyed, petite brunette vaguely, but she and Daphne were close it seemed, since he saw Daphne smile widely as she greeted her.
"So, what's this about suddenly?" asked Tracey, once introductions and pleasantries were out of the way. "Is Potter your client?"
"Yes," said Daphne. "We have a job that could use your skills, so I want to know if you're interested."
"What's the job?" asked Tracey.
"It's to handle press," said Daphne.
"Ah, got it," said Tracey. "Yeah, it's a good call, especially now that you're the Saviour and all," she added, looking at Harry.
"That's one aspect of it, but there's more to it," said Daphne. "If you're willing to sign a confidentiality agreement, I can read you in properly. If you decide not to take the job, the confidentiality will remain in place, of course, but there won't be any hard feelings."
Tracey chuckled. "Sure, why not?"
Daphne handed her the agreement, that she read and signed. Once Daphne had the document back, she slowly explained Harry's new position as well as their plans. Tracey listened carefully, and by the time Daphne was done, she looked excited.
"I take it you want the job," said Daphne, slightly amused.
"Hell yeah," she said, at once. "This sounds amazing."
Daphne laughed and looked at Harry, who nodded with a smile. She pulled out an employment contract and gave it to Tracey.
"To think I was only aiming for a measly reporter's job at the Prophet," said Tracey as she read through the contract. She paused when she got to the salary. "Is this correct?"
"It's higher than the standard rate, I know," said Daphne. "But you will be the only PR person, so it's a lot of work too."
"For this kind of pay, I will work 24 hours," said Tracey. She finished reading it and signed the contract.
Daphne took it back and examined it properly. "Thank you, and welcome on board," she said.
"Do you have a name yet?" asked Tracey.
"No," said Harry.
"Well, that's always a good thing to have," said Tracey. "Something to call the wider organisation. We don't have to necessarily make it public, either."
"How about the Golden Snitch Collective," said Harry. "GSC, for short."
"Sounds good to me," said Daphne, as Tracey nodded approvingly.
"In keeping with your image, it would be better to make the charity arm public," said Tracey, thoughtfully. "Harry Potter, the philanthropist, is a better image and it goes with the whole Saviour thing. It would put a better spin on things and detract from how you're probably the most powerful lord in Britain right now. You should name the charity arm something personal."
Harry was sufficiently impressed at her quick work. "Maybe...the Potter Foundation?" he asked.
"That could work," said Tracey. "As for the Chief Editor of the Daily Prophet, it's still that pushover Barnabas Cuffe," she added, rolling her eyes.
"His office is not far from here," said Daphne.
"I think it would be best if only Daphne and I went," said Tracey. "I have met Cuffe before at one of Slughorn's parties and he responds to power above anything."
"Wouldn't it be better for me to come too, if that's the case?" asked Harry.
"No, a better show of power would be if you sent your employees to do the job that is clearly beneath you," said Tracey, grinning wickedly.
Harry could see what Daphne had meant when she'd said Tracey had a knack for these things. She clearly saw things differently than anyone he knew, and a fresh perspective was always welcomed.
"There's still time left today," said Daphne, looking at the clock. "It's only 3. We can still meet with him if we hurry."
"Before we go, can you draft a contract?" asked Tracey. "As the majority owner, Potter has the right to approve and disapprove any and everything that gets printed in the Prophet. The quickest way to do it is to have one of the reporters who will become my go-to person in such matters."
"Do you know someone?" asked Harry.
Tracey nodded. "He's an older Ravenclaw alumni named Benedict Almeidus," she said. "I know for a fact that he's one of the last honest reporters left in that sham paper. If we sign a contract, I can coordinate with him to ensure that all the press regarding Potter and the GSC is controlled properly by us."
"Do it," said Harry.
"Give me some time to draft the contract," said Daphne. "I already made one for Cuffe, so he can actually start cleaning house as well. The problem is people like Skeeter, who will always have an audience, even if we have her removed from the Prophet."
"Skeeter's an illegal animagus," said Harry.
Tracey grinned. "I know," she said. "We can always use that if it comes down to it. Hopefully, she understands which side her bread is buttered and doesn't try to go after a prey bigger than herself."
Around four-thirty, Harry headed back to Grimmauld Place while Daphne and Tracey went to the Daily Prophet's main office. The place was bustling as they worked on the Evening edition of the Prophet, but surprisingly, when Tracey told the receptionist they were there to see Cuffe, they were shown to his office, even though they hadn't made an appointment.
"This is surprising," whispered Daphne.
"Not really," said Tracey, as Cuffe walked in with a nervous smile on his face. "I think he might have expected something like this."
"Ms. Davis, it is a pleasure to see you again," said Cuffe.
"Yes, good day, Mr. Cuffe," said Tracey, with a polite smile. "This is Daphne Greengrass, and we are here on behalf of the new majority owner of the Daily Prophet."
Cuffe began sweating bullets but he tried to keep smiling. "Of course, of course," he said. "The g-goblins said that the new owner had been informed."
"I'm sure you have some idea of who the new owner is," said Tracey, her grin like a shark's. "Truth be told, you had quite a time slandering him all these years, huh?"
Cuffe laughed nervously. "I-it was, you know…"
"Oh, well," said Tracey, with a bright grin. "The past is the past, isn't it?"
He jumped on the chance. "Yes, of course, of course," he said. "The future is what matters."
"I am glad you understand," said Tracey. "Now, here's the new contract, and we would like a word with Mr. Benedict Almeidus."
"Ben?" asked Cuffe, surprised. "Why him? He's one of our newer reporters, not even been here three years."
At Tracey's raised eyebrow, he hastened to obey and went to go get Benedict Almeidus. When they returned, Daphne handed a contract to Cuffe, who immediately began reading through it. Benedict, on the other hand, looked at them suspiciously.
"Mr. Almeidus, my name is Tracey Davis and this is Daphne Greengrass," said Tracey, holding out her hand.
Benedict shook hands with both of them. "Are you here on behalf of the new owner?" he asked, shrewdly.
"We are," said Tracey.
"Does this one also want us to write what he says?" asked Benedict, bluntly.
Cuffe squeaked in fear, but Tracey smiled warmly at Benedict. "No," she said. "We picked you because you were one of the most objective reporters on staff. Even in the past year when there was nothing but propaganda, you somehow managed to print the least biased stuff. No doubt the Chief Editor bent to the whims of the previous owner, but your work was noticed."
"Oh," said Benedict, slightly taken aback at the praise. "Thank you, Ms. Davis."
"The new owner recognises your efforts and wants to grant you more access," said Tracey, nodding at Daphne to give him the other contract.
Benedict took the contract and examined it. "Hang on, it's Harry P-" he stopped and cleared his throat. "Right, I see."
"As the contract states, you will have access to me as Mr. Potter's press representative," said Tracey. "Things will be changing politically and socially soon, and Mr. Potter is understandably wary of the Prophet considering all he has suffered because of it. You understand, don't you?"
"I do," said Benedict. "This says you will grant me access to Wizengamot transcripts as well."
"Yes, no better way than to see unbiased reporting than hearing it from the horse's mouth, right?" asked Tracey. "Just bear in mind, if the Prophet chooses to start twisting the truth again, Mr. Potter won't hesitate to pull the leash." She looked at Cuffe as she said that part.
He nodded quickly and signed the contract. Tracey looked back at Benedict. "Well, Mr. Almeidus?" she asked.
"I'll sign," he said, and accepted the blood quill from Daphne. "Is there a chance to have an interview with him? Many are curious about his plans for the future, not to mention a proper explanation of the end of the war."
"I will put it to him to see if he's willing to do it," said Daphne. "However, about the future thing, there will be news regarding it soon, so we will be in touch with you then. In the meantime, please focus your attention on the Wizengamot."
"Of course," said Benedict, pleased.
Daphne took the signed contracts back from him and Cuffe and checked them before nodding at Tracey in confirmation.
"Clean house, Mr. Cuffe," said Tracey, with a smile. "Have a good day."
Cuffe stood quickly and bowed. "Yes, of course," he said.
Tracey nodded at Benedict, who inclined his head in a short bow, and the two women left the Daily Prophet's office together.