Novocaine

Chapter 7

Chapter 7

8th June, 1998

Rosette Frost checked her reflection nervously and patted her strawberry blonde hair into the neat coiff that she'd carefully put up. She had washed and ironed out her best dark purple robes, and though they were just a touch too loose to be really stylish, it wasn't like she could afford to splurge on clothes these days.

She glanced at the letter she had received a couple days ago and took a deep breath. Ms. Fleur Weasley, the beautiful French witch who said she was a financier working with an investor interested in Rosette's business, had invited her to a meeting. Well, at first, it had seemed a little too good to be true and it still did to an extent.

Madam Primpernelle had sold Rosette the business after the elderly witch was looking to retire. Rosette had just graduated Hogwarts and though she was an excellent potioneer, Professor Snape's rule of no students without an 'Outstanding' in his NEWT class had meant she hadn't been able to take the subject for NEWTs. No NEWT meant no applying for an apprenticeship to do a mastery. It wasn't like her interests were truly academical to start with, so she wasn't too disappointed about it. Her parents had passed away around that time and with the money they had left her, she bought the business, knowing she was very good at brewing beauty potions.

The first two years hadn't been too bad, really. The products weren't the best on the market, but there had been many loyal customers, mostly middle aged witches, who came in regularly. Rosette brewed what was needed and watched the shop, making enough profit so she wasn't going hungry or living on the streets. In the free time she had between customers, Rosette started experimenting with improving the potions. It was fiddly work, but she was determined to have better products so she could start bringing in more business. She succeeded in having a good consistency to her potions, and a year later, she managed to infuse them with a proper scent as well.

Rosette thought that was when things would turn around, but then news broke of You-Know-Who's return. There had been murmurs and rumours, though Rosette had never really believed it until she saw the shops in the Alley closing down one by one and illegal stalls opening up everywhere. Even her own customers came in less and less and then not at all. She managed to stay afloat a little by speaking to the Weasley brothers and allowing them to display her potions in the witch's section of their shop. They took a small cut of the profits, but at least her products were selling. For a time, even that was enough to get by.

Then came the order. Muggleborn registration. Rosette was a half-blood but her father had been a Muggle and her mother a muggleborn. In the eyes of the Ministry, she didn't count as a half-blood. Thankfully, she'd had the foresight to abandon shop and go into hiding. She went to the Muggle world, living with her half-deaf old aunt. It was safe, but very boring when it came down to it. The only good thing was that it gave her even more time to perfect her potions, and she developed three more scents.

When news of Harry Potter saving them all came, Rosette breathed a sigh of relief. She returned to the shop only a week later and immediately reopened with the three new scents and the one from before, determined to make a fresh start.

Only to find that there were hardly any people around, even though the war was over. Places like the Leaky had opened, but nobody was coming to get beauty potions. Having used a lot of her funds on supplies, Rosette was running out of money and hope, until Fleur Weasley's visit. At first, she was afraid she was looking to buy her out, but then she'd sent a letter saying an investor was interested. She did wonder if Fleur was related to the Weasley brothers somehow, but hadn't been brave enough to ask. Rosette would be the first to admit she was a good brewer but had no head for business, so she really had no idea what to expect for the meeting.

She wore her best robes, did her hair and makeup properly and then made her way to the address written on the letter. They GSC Consultants office came into view as she made it past Gringotts, and she paused, admiring the sharp, clean decor of the offices. Apparently, the shop had only just popped up, so it could be a scam for all she knew, but she was desperate enough at this point not to question it.

Taking a deep breath, Rosette approached the double doors and opened it. There was a cosy waiting room and reception area in the sunny lobby, the air smelling of fresh paint and new furniture.

"Welcome," said the older woman sitting at the reception desk. "Are you Ms. Frost, perhaps?"

"I am," said Rosette, walking inside cautiously.

The witch stood up with a small smile. "Hello, Ms. Frost," she said. "This way, please." She turned and walked down the hallway, and Rosette followed after her a little apprehensively. The older witch knocked on one of the doors in the hallway and opened it a little. "Ms. Frost is here."

"Send her in, please," she heard from inside the room and recognised Fleur Weasley's voice.

The woman held the door open for her, and Rosette gave a nervous smile and nodded as she walked into the room. It was a small, but well-decorated meeting room with two leather sofas and a coffee table in the middle. Fleur Weasley was sitting on one of the sofas, and next to her was a pale, blond young man, whom Rosette recognised. She stopped dead in her tracks, her eyes going wide with fright.

"Ms. Frost?" asked Fleur, standing up. "You don't have to be afraid of Mr. Malfoy."

Rosette found that to be of little comfort. The Malfoys disliked people like her, that much was well-known.

"Ms. Frost," said Malfoy. "I understand your apprehension, but I assure you, I am an employee here and my only purpose is to put forth our client's proposal to you. If you are uncomfortable with me being here, I can just sit and observe while you deal entirely with Ms. Weasley. Is that acceptable?"

Rosette blinked, and then slowly nodded. "T-that's fine," she said, walking into the room and taking a seat on the other sofa, directly across from Fleur which put her in the furthest spot from Malfoy.

Fleur cleared her throat and sat back down. "We're just waiting for a colleague of ours - oh, here she is," she said, and Rosette glanced up when she saw a young woman dressed quite stylishly enter the room. "Ms. Frost, this is Ms. Tracey Davis."

"Hi," said Tracey, with a friendly smile. "Oh, I remember you. You were in Hufflepuff, weren't you? You graduated what? Five years ago?"

"Yes, around that time," nodded Rosette, her apprehension easing slightly.

"I knew it," grinned Tracey, sitting down easily between Fleur and Malfoy. "Sorry about being late, but I think I broke my alarm clock."

"Not the time," said Fleur, but Tracey grinned at Rosette, who smiled back and started to relax a little.

The door opened and the older witch entered with a tray of tea. She poured the first cup and handed it to Rosette, who took it with a shaky nod. After everyone else had their cups too, the older witch left the meeting room, as Tracey called out a 'Thank you, Maribeth!'

"Ms. Frost, shall we get started?" asked Fleur.

"Uh, yes," said Rosette, taking a small sip of the delicious tea and shaking her head to focus. "Your letter said your client was looking to invest in my business."

"Yes, that is correct," said Fleur, with a small smile. "When I came in to your shop, Ms. Frost, I was very impressed with the products you had. Could you tell us a little about them?"

"S-sure," said Rosette. "I have five different products I am selling right now. There's a hair conditioning potion, a hair styling potion, a wrinkle reduction potion, a skin smoothness potion, and a foot cleansing potion."

"Foot cleansing?" asked Tracey, looking interested.

Rosette nodded. "You put a couple drops in warm water and soak your feet in for about thirty seconds," she said. "Then you cast a quick Scourgify and all the dead skin on your feet is cleaned off, leaving it all soft." She trailed off, going pink when she realised she was giving the sales pitch.

"That is incredible," said Fleur, as Tracey nodded and even Malfoy sat up in slight interest. "Did you come up with it?"

Rosette blushed at their praise and nodded. "Yes. All my potions are application based, and they work fast," she said.

"And they come in different scents as well?" asked Malfoy, before quickly realising he had promised not to speak up.

Rosette had jumped a little, but knew he had been genuine when asking, so she nodded at him. "Yes, they come in four scents. British Rose, lavender, ginger and jasmine," she said.

He looked surprised, but pleased that she had answered, and he made a note on the parchment in front of him.

"Those are very exceptional products, Ms. Frost," said Fleur, as Tracey nodded eagerly. "And the potions aren't compromised in anyway?"

"No," said Rosette. "I-" She stopped herself, before speaking.

"Yes?" prompted Fleur.

"I have ideas for more products too," she said.

"Like what?" asked Tracey, her eyes wide with fascination.

"Bath oils and massage oils," said Rosette. "Muggles have them, of course, but these will have wizarding properties too."

"Have you been able to develop them successfully?" asked Fleur.

"Yes, but," Rosette shrugged in embarrassment. "I don't have enough to start selling it."

"I see," nodded Fleur, making a note. "Any other plans for expansion?"

"I have a couple more ideas for scents, depending on what kind of ingredients I can get," said Rosette, finally beginning to relax when she saw they were really paying attention to her.

"Is that an issue? Finding supplies for the potions?" asked Malfoy.

"A little," answered Rosette. "They're a bit expensive, and I run out quickly when I am developing, since there really is no reusing. It's a lot of trial and error."

"Do you have a supplier?" asked Malfoy.

"Yes, the Apothecary on the north side of the Alley," she said.

"You buy retail?" asked Fleur, surprised.

"No, the owner gives me a discount, but it's not too far off the retail price," she said, sheepishly. "It's the best deal I could get."

"I see," said Fleur. "Ms. Frost, can I just ask, do you know what kind of money you would need to get started on these expansion ideas?"

Rosette flushed in embarrassment. "I-I don't really have a head for these things," she admitted. "But," she added, in a slightly determined voice. "I know I want to keep this business and I want to make it work."

"That's good to hear," grinned Tracey.

Rosette smiled back at her. "I know the shop needs some repair, and I suppose having a cheaper supplier would be better," she said, thoughtfully. "Maybe even an employee who can run the shop, so I can focus on developing the products."

"Now, you are thinking," nodded Tracey. "But don't be afraid to think big. The thing is, I have been buying beauty potions forever and I had no idea we had a place in Diagon Alley with the quality of products that you are selling. So, I think what your business needs first is an image overhaul. They need to be yours, not the old Madam Primpernelle stuff, as good as it had been back in the day."

Rosette stared at her in astonishment. "B-but that would…" she shook her head, unable to imagine the cost of all of that, which probably included advertising and all sorts of things she couldn't afford.

"Ms. Frost," said Fleur, calmly. "We believe, and I'm sure once we put the idea to our client they will too, that you have the potential to have a very, very successful business. We would very much like to invest in it, and that would mean helping you set up what you need to get started. It would include shop repairs, image overhaul, even advertising. We can even help find an employee, if you want." She paused and gave Rosette a reassuring look. "We want you to succeed, Ms. Frost."

"Why?" she asked, finally asking the question that had been nagging at her. "Why would you help me out so much?"

"Isn't it obvious?" asked Fleur. "Our client is interested in investing in good businesses destined for success. And you, Ms. Frost, certainly fit that category."

"Oh," said Rosette, going pink. "Really?"

"Absolutely," nodded Tracey, as even Malfoy gave her a small smile.

Fleur beamed at her. "We will obviously have to speak to our client to get the go-ahead, and you should take some time to think about it as well," she said. "We can book you in for an appointment tomorrow afternoon, and if you are interested in proceeding, we can have an investment proposal ready for you then. We can discuss how we want to take things from there. Is that acceptable?"

"Alright," nodded Rosette. "I mean, yes, that seems acceptable." She grinned at Fleur, unable to contain her excitement.

"Wonderful," smiled Fleur, and held out her hand. "We look forward to seeing you soon, Ms. Frost."

"Please call me Rosette," she said, shaking her hand.

"Of course, Rosette," nodded Fleur.

Rosette shook hands with both Tracey and Malfoy, and then all three of them saw her out of the meeting room. The witch from before, the one Tracey had called Maribeth, led her out, and with an excited skip in her step, Rosette waved goodbye and headed back to her shop.

Things were finally turning around for her.

"I wonder how things will go," muttered Harry.

"I'm sure they have it handled," said Daphne, as they entered St. Mungo's. They walked right past the rude Welcome Witch, towards the elevator. They both got in, managing to avoid gawking from people since they were all squished in rather uncomfortably. The elevator was almost empty by the time they got to the fifth floor. "11 am," murmured Daphne, checking her watch. "We're right on time."

They exited the elevator onto the fifth floor, making their way towards the tearoom. It was thankfully not that crowded in there, so a few people gawked at Harry as he walked past. They finally spotted the person they were looking for sitting with another Healer at a nearby table, and she stood up when she saw them.

"Good morning, Harry, Daphne," she greeted in her soft voice. "I'm glad you could make it."

"Not at all, Zinnia," smiled Daphne. "Thank you for taking the time for us."

Zinnia Yaxley smiled back. "It's my pleasure," she said. "May I introduce Healer Lim? He's the one in charge of the Orphan Wing."

Thierry Lim was a tall man of Asian descent with a friendly smile and he stood up and held out his hand. "Nice to meet you both," he said. "I'm Thierry Lim."

"Harry Potter," said Harry, shaking his hand. "This is Daphne Greengrass, my attorney."

"Ms. Greengrass," nodded Healer Lim, shaking her hand as well. "Shall we sit?" The four of them took a seat at the table, and Zinnia ordered tea for all of them. "I must say, I was rather surprised when Zin told me you wanted to speak to me."

"Why is that?" asked Harry.

Healer Lim smiled a little sadly. "The Orphan Wing doesn't really get much attention," he said. "It never really has."

"What about the fund organised by the Ministry?" asked Daphne.

"It covers our yearly expenses, barely," he said, with a grimace. "Well, I should say that it used to."

"You're over capacity?" asked Daphne.

"That is putting it mildly," he said.

"How bad?" asked Harry.

"The Orphan Wing can hold fifteen children all year 'round, and maybe five more during summer when Hogwarts lets out," he explained. "And right now, we have twenty five children, all under the age of ten, and about twenty who attend Hogwarts."

"So, you're more than twice over?" asked Harry, shocked.

"That's also not including special cases," he said.

"Special cases?" he asked, confused.

"Children with long-term illnesses, curse effects," explained Zinnia, and then frowned. "Werewolf bites and such too."

"We can't afford the Wolfsbane potion, so they are isolated during transformations," said Healer Lim, with a frown. "It's...not good."

Harry felt sickened, and he was unable to speak. "Surely, there are Healers at St. Mungo's capable of making it," said Daphne.

"The problem isn't potioneers, Daphne," said Zinnia, gently. "The ingredients themselves are quite expensive. There isn't enough money in the budget."

"We can pay for the ingredients but we'd have to cut down one meal from all the children for a week," said Healer Lim. "You understand what kind of situation this is, don't you?"

Daphne grimaced as well. Harry snapped back to attention. "So, what's the final number?" he asked.

"Fifty five," said Healer Lim. "Twenty five between the ages of three and ten, twenty Hogwarts students, and ten special cases. We don't take any children over the age of fifteen, so all things considered, the number is still manageable."

"Most Muggleborns managed to go on the run and many just stayed on the Muggle side in the past year," said Zinnia, softly. "The unfortunate ones caught by that horrid Commission or by Death Eaters…" She trailed off.

"They didn't survive," said Healer Lim, bluntly. "They were put in Azkaban, and if the poor hygiene and the constant Dementor presence didn't kill them, the Death Eaters surely did. Which is why most children we have here are half bloods, maybe a few purebloods but almost no Muggleborns."

Harry felt a white hot burning rage, and if Daphne hadn't stepped hard on his foot under the table, he would have blasted something with accidental magic. The sharp pain in his foot temporarily distracted him, and he saw Daphne shoot him a look to calm down.

"And the children you have here have no other family?" asked Daphne, turning back to Healer Lim.

He gave a nod. "If there is someone else who can take them in, even if it's a distant relative, we refuse them," he said. "The children we have are ones who have absolutely no one."

"Can you tell me a bit about the special cases? There are ten, you said, right? How old are they?" asked Daphne, taking notes.

"Two of them are fourteen, they both have mobility difficulties from prolonged Cruciatus," said Healer Lim, listing them off. "Three have an aggravated case of the childhood dragon pox, they're eight, ten and eleven, respectively. The other three have breathing difficulties that need frequent potions administered."

"How frequent and what potions?" asked Daphne, sharply.

"I can give you a list," nodded Healer Lim. "They need to be administered twice a day. Those three are nine, eleven and twelve. And then the last two are the ones with werewolf bites. They're twins, five years old."

Harry saw Daphne's note-taking falter before resuming and he didn't blame her. The idea of five year olds having to transform in isolation was horrific.

"There are some among the others who need frequent potions, but their conditions are much more manageable," said Healer Lim. "With respect, can I just ask? We are indeed in need of funding, so is that what you're offering, Mr. Potter?"

Harry had to admire his bluntness, and he got the distinct impression that Thierry Lim was not one to beat around the bush. "To start with, yes," he answered.

"And what does that mean?" asked Healer Lim, slightly suspiciously.

"It means, that funding is only a temporary solution to a much larger problem," said Daphne. "Even with money, you will be overcrowded, and I assume, understaffed."

"True," nodded Healer Lim. "So, what is it that you plan to do?"

Harry glanced at Daphne, who gave a slight nod. "I am planning to open an orphanage," he said.

Thierry Lim's eyebrows shot up. "Pardon?" he asked. "Mr. Potter, do you realise…?"

"I do," he said, firmly. "Take it from an orphan, Healer Lim, I really do."

To his credit, Healer Lim flushed. "I apologise…" he began.

"No, it is a valid question," said Harry. "And yes, I am not just doing this on a whim or out of some sense of a saviour complex. This is something that will be given proper thought and planning, and coming here and getting a scope of what we were working towards was just the first step." He paused once more and looked at Daphne, who nodded again. "We also have a few locations scouted out, so it isn't as if we are rushing in without thinking."

Healer Lim gaped at him in astonishment. "Zin?" he asked.

"I believe him," nodded Zinnia. "And Daphne, for that matter."

Healer Lim nodded slowly and took a deep breath. "If you are serious about this, and I think you are, it will be an enormous undertaking," he said.

"Yes," said Harry. "But I have a lot of people willing to help."

"That is good to hear," said Healer Lim. "For what it's worth, Mr. Potter, I hope you will succeed. The Orphan Wing was never meant to be a place for children to grow up. It was only ever temporary housing until an appropriate guardian could be found. Hopefully, if you do indeed make a place where orphans of our world could live and grow up, then the Wing could go back to being just a temporary home."

"I hope so as well," said Harry.

"Healer Lim," said Daphne. "I must ask, since this matter is still under works, would you sign an agreement for confidentiality? Until the project goes public, at least?"

Healer Lim considered it. "Will you be assisting with the funding until it does?" he asked.

"Of course," said Harry.

"Then I will sign it," he nodded.

"Were you a Slytherin by any chance, Healer Lim?" asked Harry, a little amused despite the mood he was in.

"Slytherin?" he asked. "Not at all, Mr. Potter, I was a Hufflepuff."

After a very busy morning meeting and a quick lunch, Draco and Fleur went down to the meeting room before they were due to meet with Finnian Fortescue. After Rosette had left, they had drawn up the first drafts of her business and finance plan, ready to be presented to Harry and Daphne after they returned from St. Mungo's. Tracey had taken her leave right after lunch, promising to track down her contacts in Witch Weekly on Daphne's instructions, so for the meeting with Fortescue, it was just going to be Fleur and Draco.

"Will you be alright?" asked Fleur, looking at Draco.

"Worst case scenario, I will sit out," said Draco, though Fleur could tell it bothered him. To his credit, he didn't claim sympathy nor did he deny he didn't deserve the mistrust, so Fleur was actually finding herself on his side.

There was a knock and Maribeth opened the door. "Mr. Fortescue is here," she said.

Fleur and Draco both stood up as the stout man in his late thirties entered the room and gave a quick bow.

"Welcome, Mr. Fortescue, I'm Fleur Weasley, this is Draco Malfoy, and we are glad you accepted our invitation to this meeting," said Fleur, holding out her hand.

"Call me Finn," he said, with a polite smile and shook her hand. His smile became a little fixed when he looked at Draco, but he still shook his hand.

"Please sit," said Fleur, and he nodded as they all sat down. "As my letter stated, Finn, we heard you were looking to reopen your father's shop, so our client was interested in investing in it."

"Well, it is true that I wanted to open the shop, but there are a lot of different things," he said, reluctantly.

"Such as?" asked Fleur, curious.

"For one, I don't just want to start an ice cream parlour," he said. "Father had plans for expansion and I want to put those in place too. The current shop is too small, but the place two shops over is the perfect size."

"Have you been able to secure a lease?" asked Fleur.

Finn nodded. "It was abandoned and then Gringotts picked it up. It's reasonable and at market price, though it's one hell of a fixer upper," he said.

"Any estimations as to costs?" asked Draco.

"Yes," he said, but then paused. "Before I go into that, could I ask a question? Is your investor Lucius Malfoy?"

"No," said Fleur, firmly. "Rest assured, Finn, our investor is someone who holds your father in great regard, and is not and never has been, a Death Eater."

"That is reassuring," nodded Finn. "No offence."

"None taken," shrugged Draco. "I'm happy you are even willing to give me a chance, but I assure you, I'm just an employee here, like Fleur. I am also contracted, quite thoroughly by our client's lawyer, to provide the best advice. There are no independent parties here, Finn."

"Right," said Finn, looking a little more relaxed. "To answer your question, I have a plan drawn up already." He pulled out a roll of parchment from his robes and handed it over.

Fleur took it with a smile and unfurled it, holding it towards Draco as well so he could read it. The more they read, the more their eyebrows shot up.

"This is very well done, Finn," said Fleur. "Did you draw these up yourselves?"

"My wife did," he said. "She was my father's bookkeeper too, which is how we met. She has a bit of a knack for this."

"I'll say," nodded Draco, sounding impressed.

"The money needed to fix the shop isn't much, but the expansion is rather pricey, isn't it?" asked Fleur.

"Yes," he said. "We have all the equipment for making the ice cream, but we are planning to add pastries, tea, coffee, some cakes and milkshakes as well. There will also be a little seating area. Not much, mind you, just a few tables. The appliances will be built from scratch, and the materials are expensive," explained Finn.

"The equipment, is it Muggle?" asked Fleur.

Finn shook his head. "Muggle equipment is fine, but the ones we have are enchanted by a technomage," he said. "He takes the basic parts and then uses enchantments to make them work. It works better than using wandwork on the ingredients directly and we won't land in trouble with the Ministry for fiddling with Muggle things."

"A technomage? I didn't realise Britain had one," said Fleur, as even Draco looked surprised.

"We don't," frowned Finn. "The one I know is a British chap but he moved to Germany because they have better appreciation for technomages, he said. The Ministry's never been a fan of technomages to begin with, even though they're fine importing the things they make, the idiots. They haven't funded a proper program for technomages in decades."

"Interesting," said Fleur, and saw Draco make a note of it too. "Well, back to this equipment."

"Yes, as you can see, I pay for the materials and for the technomage's labour costs, and he sends me the completed products," said Finn. "The food comes out better than just using magic and won't leave our cooks fainting from magical exhaustion every day."

"I see," nodded Fleur. "Well, we do have someone who can do the renovations for you, so if you have specifications, we can go ahead and dispatch them anytime. If we take that cost out, it's just the money for your equipment, as well as a starting loan, is it?"

"Yes, for ingredients, shop furniture, and employees," said Finn.

"We can take care of the furniture with the renovations," said Fleur. "How many employees?"

"My wife and I, and a cousin," he said. "If it goes well, we might hire one more person to serve the food and drinks."

"Since we are cutting out the costs for renovations and furniture, we can add in an extra employee," said Draco. "It will definitely be successful."

"That's the other thing, I need approval from the Ministry," he said.

"Have you put in the application?" asked Fleur.

"I have," he nodded. "But it wasn't signed off by anyone on the Wizengamot, so it will go through the slow route."

"Can you withdraw it and reapply?" asked Fleur. "We have someone who is willing to sign it."

"Someone from the Wizengamot?" asked Finn, shocked.

"Yes," nodded Fleur.

"R-right away, then," he nodded. "Honestly, that was my biggest concern."

"Well, we already have some approval from our client, but we do need to update them about what you told us today," said Draco. "We will draw up a contract and have it sent to you, so you can have your lawyer look at it and let us know. It will outline what we will be investing, what we will be assisting with such as renovations, and it will have our offer for the share of the business too."

"It will be negotiable, of course," said Fleur. "It will be a tentative contract until we finalise."

"Of course," nodded Finn.

"Excellent," smiled Fleur. "We will discuss this with our client and have a contract drafted for you. In the meantime, you could withdraw your application and have a new one ready to be signed off."

"Oh, and one more thing, what about the old shop?" asked Draco.

"It was on lease and I was going to apply to have it released," he said and then grimaced. "I wonder how much that's going to cost."

"I'm sure we can work something out," said Fleur, smiling mysteriously.

"Can I ask, are you willing to help other shopkeepers with their application? If it's a business that needs a licence but there are other shops of that kind around, I mean?" he asked.

"Yes, of course," said Fleur.

"Oh, alright, then," he said.

Fleur wanted to ask more, but held back, knowing he was likely waiting to see if things worked out with them before introducing them to more people. She hid her smile, knowing they had just found a great avenue for future clients.

"If that is all, Finn, then I think we can call it a day," said Draco.

"Certainly," he nodded, and held out his hand. "I will wait for your contract."

Fleur and Draco shook hands with him, and then Maribeth saw him off. "That went better than expected," said Fleur.

"Yeah," said Draco, checking the time. "3.15. Those two should be back soon, too. Should we get started on the draft?"

"Let's," nodded Fleur.

"He is different from what I expected," said Healer Lim.

Daphne smiled a little. "We were in the same year at Hogwarts for six years and I still think that everyday," she said.

Healer Lim smiled back and then sighed. "I really hope he will be able to do what he says for these children," he said. "I'm sure Zin will tell him as she's showing him around, but we really can't raise these children here. The Wing has a single common room, a tiny playroom, cramped dorms and not much else. We take them out once a day, but children need to play, they need to experience more than being locked in a ward."

"I'm sure Harry agrees," said Daphne, as she continued drafting the contract for Healer Lim to sign. Zinnia had taken Harry to show him around the Orphan Wing, so it was left to Daphne to draw up the contract and make the donation stipulations. Harry hadn't explicitly said so, but she knew he would want there to be money specifically set aside for the two children with lycanthropy to be given regular Wolfsbane among other things. "About what you said before," she began, remembering something from their conversation. "How many children have you had to turn away?"

"A fair number," grimaced Healer Lim. "Some relatives cannot or do not want to care for them, you see."

"Do you have any records about them?" asked Daphne.

"Yes, of course," nodded Healer Lim.

"Excellent," smiled Daphne, and finished writing up the contract. "We'll just wait for Harry to return so he can approve this before I give this to you."

"Right," said Healer Lim.

Harry and Zinnia returned only ten minutes later, and Harry had a stricken but determined look on his face.

"Well?" asked Daphne.

Harry looked at her and just held his hand out for the contract. Daphne handed it over wordlessly and he read through it quietly. When he saw the stipulations she had put in for children who needed special care to be given the potions needed, he nodded absently as if it had already been on his mind. He looked at the final amount that would be donated, and before he could interject, Daphne spoke up.

"It's a half-yearly fund," she said, sure that he was about to ask her to raise the amount. "Not a one-time payment. It will be donated every six months until they are moved to the orphanage."

"Alright," he agreed, and then passed the contract to Healer Lim, who looked curious.

Healer Lim read the contract and he let out a shocked exclamation when he saw the donation amount. "That's almost twice our yearly budget," he said, looking at Harry and Daphne as if they were playing a bad joke on him.

"It's not just to cover the regular expenses," said Daphne.

"With this we can make sure all the children have the proper potions that they need," said Healer Lim, still in shock. "And have more than a fair bit leftover."

"We don't know how long the project will take so I'm sure the Hogwarts children will have other expenses," said Daphne. "Many of them would have had their wands taken away, and those don't come cheap."

"And please buy them more clothes, if you can," said Harry. "New ones, preferably."

Healer Lim nodded, still in disbelief. "It says here the donation will go in after tomorrow," he said.

"Yes, we need some time to set up a few things," said Daphne. "And I'm sure a few reporters will want to speak to you once the news becomes public."

"The donation will be public?" asked Zinnia, surprised.

"It's on purpose," said Daphne. "We want to use this opportunity to draw more attention to the Orphan Wing."

"I'm fine with that," said Healer Lim, and held his hand out for a quill.

The contract was signed by both parties, and after making sure they had the copies as well, Harry and Daphne thanked a very grateful Thierry and Zinnia.

"If you need any assistance with the orphanage project, feel free to contact me," said Healer Lim.

"Thank you," nodded Harry, with a smile.

Zinnia came to see them off, and once they had left St. Mungo's, Harry and Daphne disapparated to Diagon Alley, arriving at the GSC HQ.

They found an extremely busy Fleur and Draco sitting with Tracey in the upstairs conference room. When Harry and Daphne arrived, they decided to bring everyone up to speed.

"You first then," said Daphne, nodding at Fleur and Draco. "How'd it go with Rosette Frost?"

"Very good," nodded Fleur. "We put together a draft proposal and she's coming in tomorrow afternoon to look it over."

"Basically, what we were thinking was we forgive her rent for six months, and dispatch a house elf to spruce up the shop," said Draco. "From what Fleur said, there don't need to be a lot of repairs to the shop."

"Our main focus is rebranding and relaunching, so a good decor and an attractive shop window will go a long way," agreed Tracey. "I spoke to my contact at Witch Weekly, and she's willing to do a feature and even run ads, depending on how the feature is received."

"Do we have any shares in Witch Weekly?" asked Harry.

"12%, last I checked," said Daphne.

"You're correct," nodded Fleur. "But I think one of the families under Harry has more." She checked through the files for a moment. "Found it. The Yaxley family has 39%."

"I'll write to Zinnia and ask if we can buy her out," said Daphne, making a note. "Good thinking, Harry, it will certainly help if we can have a bit more control over it."

"If we do get majority ownership, I can speak to the Chief Editor and expedite the process," said Tracey, with a grin.

"What else does Rosette Frost need?" asked Daphne.

"A cheaper supplier for ingredients and maybe an employee," said Fleur.

"What about Eustace Mansion?" asked Harry, looking at Daphne.

"That might work," nodded Daphne. "One of the residences has very well-maintained greenhouses. We can agree to provide the supplies as well," she explained to the others.

"If that's the case, we can increase our share of profits as well," said Draco, and Fleur nodded in agreement.

"As for the employee, see if she has anyone in mind first," said Tracey. "If not, we can always run an ad in the Prophet to find someone."

"So, is that it? Rebranding of the image, renovations to the shop, and cheaper supplies?" asked Daphne.

"And we're forgiving the rent for six months as well," pointed out Draco. "That about sums it up, yes. We will be asking for a share of her profits in return. Once the six month period passes, we will also be getting rent from the shop premises."

"I trust your judgement, Fleur, Draco," nodded Harry.

"Thank you, Harry," beamed Fleur, as Draco looked a little surprised but pleased. "We'll put the proposal to Rosette tomorrow and see how she feels."

"Was there anything else? Or should we move on to Fortescue?" asked Daphne.

Fleur briefly explained their meeting with Finnian Fortescue, and Daphne raised her eyebrows at a few points that had been raised.

"It seems he has it in order," said Harry.

"Exactly," said Draco. "We'll help cover his expenses for the launch. Our share will be much smaller in comparison, but I assume this one wasn't so much for the monetary return."

"Yeah," said Daphne. "This could be much more valuable in the long term."

"Fine by me," nodded Harry. "Make the contract and send it to Finn."

"Got it," nodded Fleur. "If we do this well, we will get more clients from him."

"Oh, speaking of which," said Tracey. "Remember the pasta we ate last week?"

"What about it?" asked Daphne.

"The couple who runs the shop are Muggleborns," said Tracey, with a shrewd smile. "I dug around and learned that they couldn't get a licence to open their shop in the Alley so they had to open it on the muggle side."

"That has potential," said Draco, interested. "It's worth talking to them."

"I agree," said Daphne, as Fleur nodded emphatically. "Especially since the old Fortescue shop will now be empty. It's a great location."

"I'll get in touch with them," said Fleur. "I think that's all from us. How did it go at St. Mungo's?"

Harry scowled but then sighed. "There's a lot to be done," he said. "For now, we are setting up a half-yearly donation fund to the Orphan Wing."

"I prepared the paperwork for the launch of the Potter Foundation," said Daphne. "I'll file it with the Ministry tomorrow and set up a trust with Gringotts. Tracey?"

"Of course," she nodded. "I'll make sure Ben is ready to cover it. We will make the foundation and the first donation public at the same time. How long will all the setup take?"

"Private charity foundations are a no-fuss matter," shrugged Daphne. "I'll file the documents in the morning and it should be approved and set up by afternoon, at the latest. The donation will likely go to St. Mungo's before the day is over."

"So we should aim for the Prophet the day after that," said Tracey, making a note. "Who's your contact at St. Mungo's?"

"Thierry Lim," said Daphne. "He's in charge of the Orphan Wing."

"Got it," nodded Tracey. "What's the donation amount?"

"5000 galleons," said Harry.

"For a half-yearly fund?" asked Draco, his eyes wide.

"They need it," said Harry, firmly.

Daphne saw Draco glance at her as if to confirm it, and she only gave a nod.

"Generous, but it's good," said Tracey, writing it down. "I'll make sure Ben gets a statement from you as well, so keep tomorrow free."

"We need proper premises when the Potter Foundation goes public," said Daphne. "I'm sure we can mention in the article that donations can be made to Gringotts directly but people might want to come and give their donations in person."

"What about the Verdant offices?" asked Draco. "It's semi-public knowledge that you're Potter's attorney, so it wouldn't be odd."

"True," said Daphne, and considered it. "What do you think?" she asked Harry.

"It's fine with me," he said. "But doesn't someone need to be there all the time?"

"Yes," said Daphne. "Donations that go through Gringotts are easy, but ones in person have to be dealt with properly. We need to issue a receipt of acceptance, and then the amount needs to be deposited at Gringotts at the end of each work day."

"So, we need to hire someone?" asked Fleur.

"I could ask Astoria, but it needs to be someone who is of age," frowned Daphne.

"I'll ask around," said Tracey. "Worst comes to worse, we could take turns handling it until we find someone trustworthy."

"Alright," agreed Daphne, as Harry nodded.

"The foundation and donation is only the beginning," said Harry, seriously. "We need to get started on the orphanage project."

"I know you mentioned it before, but I think there should be someone handling it full-time," said Draco. "Fleur and I can help, of course, but with a project this size, we will need someone with a lot more experience."

"Well, experience like that is hard to find," said Daphne. "The last wizarding orphanage existed more than seventy years ago and it went bankrupt within a year. This is a new venture, all on its own."

"I think you're looking at it wrong," said Tracey. "Think about someone who can handle a massive undertaking like that. It's not quite like a business, but more like handling a household, isn't it?"

"A very, very large household," said Fleur.

"Almost like an estate," said Draco, pointedly. Daphne furrowed her brows, and he rolled his eyes at her. "Think of a witch trained to be the lady of an estate."

"Yeah, I got that part," said Daphne. "Who did you have in mind?"

Draco looked at Harry. "You just nominated her," he said.

Daphne's eyes went wide at the same moment as Harry said, "Andromeda?"

"She'd be perfect," said Fleur, smiling in realisation. "If she wants to do it, of course."

"I'll ask," said Harry, wondering why it hadn't occurred to him.

"It could be great if she could take it over," admitted Daphne. "Fleur and Draco can assist with the finances and other matters, so long as Andromeda is willing to supervise and run the project."

"I'll talk to her," he said, and glanced at the time. "Should we call it a day?"

There were murmurs of agreement, and they all departed to their respective offices to finish off their last bit of work before ending a very busy day.

Harry watched Andromeda sip her tea thoughtfully and waited patiently. As soon as he'd left the HQ, he'd gone to Grimmauld Place and spoken to her. She had signed the confidentiality that Harry had gotten Daphne to draft without a single protest or question, and then listened to him without interrupting, as he'd described what he had seen in St. Mungo's. Her jaw had tightened imperceptibly as he'd mentioned the conditions the children were living in, and when he finally got to the donation and the orphanage project and what he was asking of her, she had only nodded and told him to give her a moment to think.

That had been about fifteen minutes ago, and she was yet to respond. Another ten minutes passed before she cleared her throat.

"I'll do it," she said, and then smiled. "Well, I knew that twenty five minutes ago, but I am certain now. I do have questions, though."

"Sure, ask away," grinned Harry, happy that she was accepting.

"Will you be funding all of it yourself?" she asked.

"Yes, although Daphne says the events should double as fundraisers," he said. "And the Potter Foundation will be taking donations as well."

Andromeda nodded. "Do you have any idea what kind of staff you want?" she asked.

"No," he said, honestly. "But I know I want the children to be well-cared for." He paused. "One of the things I missed the most about not having a family was not having someone to write to, and someone who would write to me." He met Andromeda's gaze squarely. "I want to give these children the chance to have a family. I know I can never be their actual family, but I want the orphanage and the people in it to become a proper part of their lives, beyond just caring for their basic needs."

"Well," sighed Andromeda, though she looked proud. "That is very ambitious of you, Harry."

"I'm fine with that," he said, firmly.

Andromeda chuckled. "I hope so," she said. "Very well, when do you want me to start?"

"The Foundation will go public on Wednesday," he said. "Maybe then?"

"Sure," nodded Andromeda. "Wednesday, it is."

Returning to Potter Hall after speaking with Andromeda, Harry had a delicious dinner of Greek roast lamb. It felt a little lonely to eat a meal by himself in the massive house, so once he was done eating, he went over to the fireplace and dropped some floo powder into it.

"The Burrow!" he said clearly, and stuck his head in the fireplace.

The brief whirling sensation passed, and he found himself looking at the nearly empty kitchen of the Burrow. Before he could call out, he realised that there was someone at the table already.

"Hello?" he said, and the man looked up. It was Charlie Weasley, and unless Harry was mistaken, it looked very much like he'd been crying.

"Oh, hiya, Harry," he said, plastering on a smile that looked a little too happy to be real. "How are you?"

"Not bad," said Harry, feeling slightly awkward for interrupting what was possibly a private moment of mourning. "Er, you?"

Charlie chuckled, as his manic smile dimmed. "Been better," he said, and then shrugged. "Mum had a bit of a...well, Dad took her upstairs and gave her a calming draught. Do you want me to get Ron?"

Harry just nodded awkwardly, wondering what he was supposed to say. He was never good at comforting people, least of all someone like Charlie who always seemed so easy-going and cheerful. Charlie left with a quick nod, and Harry waited patiently as Ron came in, but without Charlie.

"Hey, Harry," grinned Ron, looking like he hadn't slept in a day.

"Bad time?" asked Harry.

"Nah, this is par for the course," he said, sitting down in front of the fireplace. "Charlie and Ginny were talking about Quidditch and F-Fred's name came up...so it just sort of…" he trailed off.

"Sorry," said Harry, looking away. "Er, I'll just go…"

"No, wait," said Ron. "It's alright. What brings you here anyway?"

"I was just going to chat with Ginny for a while," admitted Harry.

"Yeah, she's gone flying to clear her head," shrugged Ron. "She'll be back soon though."

"Are you alright?" blurted out Harry, and then cleared his throat. "I mean, how are you?"

Ron looked surprised and then chuckled. "Could be worse, but I'm moving in with Charlie and George above the shop soon," he said. "It'll be a bit cramped, but the shop's books are a mess and I need to get started on that. George is busy developing the products and Charlie is running between babysitting George and his job at the Ministry, so it's not like he can do it." He shook his head slightly. "Enough about that. What have you been up to? Still dealing with the Wizengamot mess?"

"Yeah, and NEWTs too," he said.

"Don't envy you that," said Ron. "Hermione must be…" he paused and cleared his throat. "Well, good luck with that."

"Just give her some time," said Harry. "We've been through a lot, and we all have a lot on our minds."

"Did she say anything to you?" asked Ron, at once. "Because all I've been getting is she needs space to figure things out. After everything, I thought…"

"Like I said, just give her what she needs," said Harry.

Ron nodded a bit reluctantly, and they both jumped when they heard a door slam.

"I'm back!" they heard Ginny call.

"Your boyfriend's here," said Ron, and they heard footsteps coming towards them as Ginny ran into the kitchen.

"Hey," she greeted Harry. "Clear off," she told Ron.

"Charming," said Ron, rolling his eyes at her. "I'll see you later, mate."

"Yeah, see you," grinned Harry, as Ron left.

"Come on through," said Ginny.

"No, this is fine," he said.

"Are you at Grimmauld Place?" she asked curiously, sitting down in front of the fireplace.

"No, I...er, I moved out," he said.

"Moved out where?" asked Ginny, confused.

"To the Potter family home," he said. "Not the one in Godric's Hollow that was destroyed. This is the ancestral home."

"Oh," said Ginny, and then opened her mouth and closed it as if thinking better of whatever she was about to say or ask. Instead, she grinned widely at him. "So, Charlie said the Ministry is reinstating the Quidditch League."

"Good," said Harry, already thinking of letting Daphne know.

"I know, right?" beamed Ginny. "They might even be ready for the start of the Quidditch season in October. I can't wait for the Harpies to start playing again."

"Yeah," said Harry, amused at her enthusiasm.

"Puddlemere had been doing so well, and if they get their team back, it won't be easy for the Harpies," continued Ginny. "Not to mention, the Magpies…"

Harry found his attention drifting as he listened to her ramble on about Quidditch. He thought of the faded Puddlemere flag he'd seen in the playroom at the Orphan Wing earlier in the day, and whatever amusement he'd felt vanished. The children weren't living in squalor, in fact, they were quite well-cared for. But they were still children living in the wing of a hospital instead of a proper home. They still had to wear threadbare hand-me-downs and many of them had complications from several health conditions. They played with each other, but they were all so quiet and subdued that Harry couldn't imagine the horrors they'd witnessed to sap all enthusiasm out of them like that.

"...and the Cannons are the worst, but no surprise there…" Ginny was still saying.

"I have to go," said Harry, suddenly.

Ginny stopped talking and stared at him. "Is everything alright?" she asked. "You said we should talk…"

"Not now," he said.

"But," she tried to protest.

"Not now," he repeated, and was surprised at the snappish quality of his tone. He took a deep breath and softened his voice. "Sorry, I can't do this right now."

"Harry…" began Ginny, shocked, but he pulled his head out of the fireplace.

As if moving on autopilot, he stood and picked up more floo powder that he dropped into the fireplace. Before he even thought about what he was doing, he knelt in front of the fire and said, "Greengrass Manor!"

Daphne was walking out of the kitchen when she heard the living room fireplace flare. She almost dropped the cup of tea she was carrying in her haste to pull out her wand, but she recognised Harry's voice.

"What happened?" she asked, jogging out to the living room. She waved her wand so that the sconces in the living room lit back up after being dimmed to nothing for the night.

"Er, hello," said Harry, glancing away awkwardly. "I, er…"

Daphne raised an eyebrow. "Come on through, I'll make more tea," she said, her words plain like an order rather than a request.

He hesitated, but then nodded, vanishing briefly before the fire flared up once more and he walked out through it into her living room. He was still dressed in his day clothes unlike Daphne who was wearing her dressing gown over her night dress. Harry noticed it too, and blushed in embarrassment.

"Sorry about this," he said, avoiding her gaze.

"Did you speak to Andromeda?" she asked.

He clearly hadn't expected that, but Daphne figured if he couldn't outright say whatever had brought him there so late, she would just have to dig it out of him. Tactfully, that is.

"Er, yes," he said, sitting down on the sofa that Daphne indicated with a wave. "She agreed."

"That's good," said Daphne, sitting down on the same sofa with some distance between them. She set her cooling cup of tea down on the coffee table, and turned towards Harry slightly. "When is she coming in?"

"Wednesday," he said.

"Wednesday will work out well," she nodded, summoning a small tin and a teacup. She set it down on the coffee table, and vanished the cool tea out of her own cup. Opening the tin, she carefully dropped a pinch of the blend into each of the cups and cast an Aguamenti charm to fill both cups with water. A quick heating charm had the water warming, as the aroma of the tea filled the room. "It will give us time to get her acquainted with everyone and the work since you, Draco and I will all be out for three days next week doing our NEWTs at the Ministry." She picked up one of the cups and handed it to Harry, and took the other one for herself.

"Er, what kind of tea is this?" asked Harry, no doubt confused at the pale green colour of the beverage.

"It's a special blend, Greengrass family recipe," said Daphne, taking a sip. "Try it."

He obeyed, and Daphne almost smiled as his eyes went wide. "It's delicious," he said.

"I know," she said. "A cup before bed works wonders."

"Thanks," said Harry, and Daphne didn't push as they drank their tea in silence. By the time he was halfway done, Harry sighed. "Sorry about barging in. I'm just...a little frustrated."

"What happened?" Daphne asked again.

He shrugged his shoulders. "I don't know how Ginny and I are supposed to…" he began, and sighed. "It's fun talking Quidditch, but…"

"Finish your sentences, for Merlin's sake," said Daphne, rolling her eyes. "Let me see if I've got this. You and Weasley are having relationship troubles?"

"Yes. No. Well, maybe," he said.

"Those are all three answers, yes," she said automatically, before sighing patiently. "No offence, but don't you have bigger concerns right now?"

"That's exactly it!" he said. "Ginny and I agreed we'd try and make things work, but I am so distracted by everything else going on that I can't even focus throughout a single conversation."

"Yes, I can see how that would be frustrating," said Daphne, taking a hearty sip of her tea. "There is an easy solution to this, you know."

"What?" he asked, at once.

"How much have you told her about what you've been up to?" she asked.

"Just that I've been dealing with some Wizengamot stuff," he said.

Daphne raised her eyebrows. "So, virtually nothing then," she said.

"Yeah," he admitted. "Well, I don't want to go blurting out stuff."

"And you don't want to make your girlfriend sign a contract either," nodded Daphne.

"Right," he said.

"You know, it's kind of unfair of you to not tell her anything and then get upset because she doesn't know what you are dealing with," said Daphne, delicately.

He blinked owlishly, as if it hadn't occurred to him. "Oh," he said. "Now that you say it, it's a bit obvious, isn't it?"

Daphne managed not to roll her eyes but it was close. "Not that I'm not fond of pointing out the obvious to you," she said. "But my point is, something has to give. You either make her sign a contract and tell her. Or…"

"Or what?" he asked. "I break up with her?"

Daphne wondered how this had become a part of her job. Astoria's warning about keeping things professional rang in her ears, but she sighed and forged on. "A relationship built on keeping secrets is no relationship at all," she said, bluntly. "Although I'd prefer you didn't, you could always just tell her without involving a contract."

"No," he said. "You're right, I will only tell her if there's a contract involved first. It's not that I don't trust her, but if things don't work out…"

"It will be a loose end, yes," agreed Daphne. "I don't envy your position."

He snorted. "Thanks," he said.

Daphne thought about it briefly, before sitting up quickly. "Oh," she said. "The Foundation will go public by Wednesday," she said.

"Yeah, I know," he said.

"I was already planning on talking to you about this," said Daphne, smiling a little. "But we should hold the first event at Halloween."

"O-okay," said Harry, clearly not getting it.

"You want to clue her in without giving up all your secrets, right?" asked Daphne. "Then ask her to plan this event. I'll help, of course, but you can tell her about the Foundation and ask her to be involved in the planning for the event at Halloween."

"I don't know if she would want to do that," he said.

Daphne gave him a severe look. "Then let me be very, very blunt with you, Harry," she said, seriously. "Planning events will be the job of the future Lady Potter. These events will be a crucial part of your role in the wizarding society." She took a deep breath. "This may be none of my business, but if you are in a relationship where you cannot envision being partners in the future or even hold a simple conversation in the present, then you really must question if the relationship is worth pursuing."

Harry exhaled heavily but nodded. "Alright," he agreed. "I'll ask her."

"Good," said Daphne. "Another cup?"

Harry smiled at her tiredly. "Yes, please."