AN: This chapter was getting very long, so in an effort to 1) get something posted before I go on vacation (again) and 2) keep it from getting over 15 to 20,000 words before it was done and 3) prevent it from taking for ever to finally get an update and 4) allow this scene to get into the detail that it seemed to want to go into...I decided to make it one long scene...
Harry was shocked by the response he received from Susan and Daphne. The two women seemed to expect that he was going to need two wives.
Daphne recognised the stunned response that Harry had to the nonplussed reaction of the two women in front of him. "Harry, we know you grew up with muggles, but I am from an old pureblood family. And while Susan may be considered a half-blood just because her mother was a muggleborn, she comes from another old pureblood family and she also knows the ways of the pureblood society. The Potters and the Blacks are definitely older than the Greengrass family and probably older than the Bones. I expected that you might have some family issues to deal with even before I knew you had the Black family title."
Susan chimed in with her own reassurances, "And Daphne did approach me earlier because we have our own family concerns. As the last of my family, I am worried that the Bones name could end with me, and Daphne is worried that the Greengrass family could end with her and her sister."
Harry nodded in understanding, "My solicitor was explaining some of those rules to me, and I wondered how they would come into play."
Daphne smiled gently at Harry, "Most wizards wouldn't even consider letting our family names continue. It would never even be discussed."
Harry shook his head in amazement. "The magical world seems so medieval."
Susan nodded in agreement, "It hasn't wanted to keep up with the changes in the muggle world, choosing to ignore the modernisation of their life."
Harry readily agreed with Susan. Then he looked at the two women, "So, it seems you two are already okay with what I had to tell you."
Susan and Daphne both smiled, but Daphne spoke up first. "To be honest, it's not my ideal, but I don't want to speak for Susan. I'm not really sure what I think about sharing, but I do know that I like the idea of being with you. However, if being with you means sharing you, but that also means I might also be able to keep my family name going, I'm okay with that. Considering what my options would have been otherwise."
Harry looked at Daphne, "What do you mean by that, what were your options?"
Daphne looked away from Harry. "My father had been working on a marriage contract with a business contact from Eastern Europe."
She continued to hide her face from Harry and Susan for a minute, eventually she wiped some tears from her eyes and composed herself before she turned back to face Harry.
Susan looked at Daphne before turning back to Harry. "You don't understand our society that much do you? What Daphne's talking about, that marriage contract, is not that uncommon in pureblood families. What future she has with you, is so much more than what she can imagine she would have otherwise. I can see that."
"Is that why you're okay with this idea of sharing?" Harry asked Susan.
"That's part of it," she said shyly. "Also, such an arrangement helps me. Yes, I come from a pureblood family, but due to my personally being a half-blood, there are those who try to take advantage of my position. In fact, I recently became aware of someone trying to activate an old contract that would force me to marry someone against my will."
Harry was stunned by this revelation and Daphne gasped. Daphne spoke up first, "Which family would do this to you? Who would try and activate this without your consent?"
Susan smiled thinly, "I was contacted by an Andromeda Tonks. She said she had been investigating a number of unusual occurrences. Apparently there was an old agreement between my great grandfather and the Nott family. However, she was able to determine that Theodore knew nothing of this agreement being activated, or the attempt at it being activated."
Daphne was clearly starting to get angry and Harry was simply confused. "Did Andy, I mean Andromeda tell you what to do about the contract?"
Susan smiled back at Harry, "Well, it can most easily be dealt with if a family with higher standing is willing to sign a contract immediately."
Harry became concerned, "What families would be considered of higher standing than the Nott's?"
Susan shrugged her shoulders and turned to Daphne, "Do you want to list the families for him?"
Daphne smiled, "Well, the Potters are not on the sacred list of 28, but they are considered an older family than the Notts, and the Blacks are definitely older than the Notts. If you add to that Harry's fame for having defeated the Dark Lord, Theodore would have to stake quite the claim to try and enact a marriage contract over one written by the Lord Potter-Black."
Harry shook his head in confusion. "Wait, so now I have to marry Susan so that she doesn't have to marry Theodore Nott?"
Daphne smiled at him, "See, your saving people thing shines through again."
"But…" Began Harry, only to be cut off by Susan.
"Are you saying you don't want to marry me?" she asked.
"No, it's not that," he stammered, "I just wanted to at least make sure it was okay with the two of you that I was dating you both at the same time and not have you want to hex my private bits off. I figured we ought to start there first!"
Daphne turned to Susan, "See, I told you he's so noble."
Susan replied, "I've always known that he was, that's why I've had my eyes on him since we were second years."
Daphne, "You do have a point there. And, apparently he is trainable."
"Trainable is good," agreed Susan.
"And he is athletic," added Daphne.
"Well, all those years of Quidditch, not too mention all of his adventures," continued Susan.
"And having to fight the war, almost single handedly," added Daphne, "and surviving the Tri-Wizard Tournament…all of that certainly has gotten him into good shape."
Susan looked at Harry and then back at Daphne, "You are right about that. And he does care about his friends."
Daphne nodded in agreement, "Yes, he could have been in Hufflepuff, no offence Susan."
"None taken, Daphne," replied Susan.
Harry's eyes were jumping back and forth between the two girls, following the conversation as they were taking about him almost as though he wasn't even there.
"Excuse me," he said, interrupting their banter, "I am still here, you don't need to keep going on and on about me as though I wasn't even around."
The two women stopped talking and looked at Harry and there was silence at the table for a minute. Then suddenly they both started to laugh. Susan then spoke up first. "We're sorry Harry, but this whole thing is going to take some getting used to, for all of us."
Daphne smiled at him and reached a hand out to him, which he carefully took with his, "I'm sure that this isn't easy on you, and we really don't mean to tease you at all."
Harry rolled his eyes, and then he sat up straighter and cleared his throat as the waitress came by.
"Are you three planning on ordering anything?" she asked.
Harry looked at the girls, and they looked back at him. "How about a glass of white wine for all of us," he suggested.
The waitress looked at him and waited for further direction. Harry turned to the two young women with him, and Daphne spoke up first, "I think a Riesling would be best." The waitress simply nodded and went back towards the bar.
The girls eyed him silently for a moment and the waitress returned quite quickly with the glasses of wine. Once Harry picked up his glass he looked at the two girls and he simply asked, "Would you Susan, and would you Daphne, do me the honour of becoming my girlfriends, understanding that this may entail both danger and adventure and quite possibly lead to much more in our futures together?"
Susan lifted her glass and smiled and looked to Daphne who did the same. Then they both turned to face Harry and they clinked their glasses. Susan answered first, "I've been waiting all summer for you to ask Harry, of course my answer is yes."
Daphne closed her eyes for a moment, and then she smiled broadly, "Of course my answer is yes, and honestly, I never would have imagined this day."
Susan turned and scoffed at Daphne, "You know that is so not true! I know you've been keeping your eye on Harry since at least third year!"
Daphne glared back at Susan, "That was not for Harry to know, and a Slytherin never dreams of dating a Gryffindor, even if it was Harry Potter."
Harry couldn't help but smile at the two women. He even started to laugh until the two women turned and glared at him. Harry gulped and then spoke up, "Am I not allowed to enjoy this banter?"
Daphne answered first, "Not at all mister. It's going to be difficult enough for us to learn how to share a boyfriend, we don't need you making it any more difficult for us."
Susan nodded in agreement. "However, we do understand it can't be easy on you either."
Harry spoke up in defence of himself, "It's not like I've had the most experience in dating, so this is all new to me, even if it was just one of you."
Susan laughed, "You were doing pretty good with taking me around London all summer, and that was just as friends, now hopefully we can make things more interesting."
Daphne agreed, "Going dancing was fun, and I'd like to do more of it, as long as we avoid that one particular club. And I know that I only need one dance partner." She looked over at Susan, "And yes, I will share. And as Susan said, I look forward to having more fun, and the stories I've heard from Sue about the things you did with her, I think I'd like to do that with you, going to some of those places, and maybe even join you and Susan. I think the three of us could do some dates together. Some things might not be too awkward with the three of us."
Harry breathed a sigh of relief. The three of them continued to talk about things, the summer, possible ideas for future dates. As they were finishing their wine, Harry looked at his watch and announced that he needed to head back to Gringotts and then he realised that he needed to explain why he was heading there.
"Draco and I have been discussing that we need to move. My apartment isn't really that safe anymore," stated Harry. "I think I may need to explain some things to you."
Susan and Daphne looked at each other and then back at Harry. "You already told us about the attack on George Weasley's place," stated Daphne.
Harry nodded, and he was clearly very uncomfortable. "Well, as bad as that was, I think this might be considered a little worse. At least as far as what might have happened."
Susan now was getting visibly upset. "What are you not telling us Harry?"
Daphne was leaning forward and Harry could almost feel her emotions starting to rise. "Tell us exactly what happened."
"Well, nothing really happened," he stated, "I managed to take care of everything."
Daphne sighed heavily. "Don't ever lie to me, or to us. And don't make light of things. Ever. We already know what kinds of things happen around you. How could it be any worse than Crabbe trying to take you and Draco out in the alley outside of the bar you work at? Unless of course someone found out where you live."
Harry didn't respond at first.
Susan gasped, "Merlin, no, what happened."
Harry took a deep breath, "Promise to stay calm, and remember, I dealt with everything. We're all fine."
"Who is 'we' Harry?" asked Daphne.
Harry shook his head slightly, "Why don't I start with a few days ago. You two should remember it well, you know, when Daphne woke up at my apartment. As it turns out, when I went off to speak with you, Sue, my good friend, Hermione showed up to visit. It so happens that she and Draco got into a bit of a row."
Daphne shook her head, "That probably didn't end well."
Harry smirked, "No, not at all. It seemed to end with Hermione slapping him, and then Draco grabbing her and snogging her."
Susan and Daphne both were shocked and simultaneously said, "What!?"
Harry smiled, "I do believe that you heard me correctly. Yes, the blonde ferret of a roommate of mine has apparently hooked up with my best friend. And in case either one of you has any concerns, Hermione is like a sister to me."
Daphne shook her head, "Yes, I get that, I figured that out by sixth year when you hadn't started dating her by then. But Draco dating her, I'm still having a hard time getting my mind around that."
Susan continued to shake her head, "I still can't picture it in my mind. With all of the abuse he gave her back in school…"
"It's not my place to say," commented Harry, "but he is trying to prove that he is a changed man towards her. But then the next day I met with my solicitor and I found out that I needed two wives, one for House Potter and one for House Black. I had no idea how this would go over with either one of you, honestly, and I had no idea what to make of that news. I went home to my flat and I left a note telling Draco that I needed to go clear my head. So I went to Godric's Hollow."
"That's where You-Know-Who attacked you and your parents," commented Susan.
"I told you, his name was Tom Riddle," stated Harry, "please, don't ever be afraid to use his real name. And yes, that is where my parent's died. I went to their graves and I spent some time there, speaking with them, well, not literally. While I was out, Draco and Hermione stopped by the flat, and found the note I had left. Hermione was worried about me and she figured out where I probably was. However, by that time I had gone back to meet with my attorney."
Daphne interjected, "So what did Hermione do when she couldn't find you?"
"I'll get to that in a minute," replied Harry. "Eventually I went back to my flat, and Draco finally told me about his new relationship with Hermione. I had a hard time believing him at first, too, and then I proceeded to threaten him like any good brother would if he somehow did anything to hurt Hermione. Well, last night, Hermione arrived at our flat, and we hadn't seen her since the day before, and that's when we figured out what happened. The Shadow Lord must have had her followed to Godric's Hollow, and had her placed under the Imperius Curse."
Susan gasped and covered her mouth with her hand. Daphne closed her eyes tight for a brief moment and then commented, "You are here and you did say that you dealt with everything."
"Yes, I did," agreed Harry. "I helped her throw off the curse. She had been given instructions to attack Draco and me…"
"In other words," corrected Daphne, "she meant to kill you both."
"That's not what he said," corrected Susan.
Daphne rolled her eyes at the former Hufflepuff. "Susan, I almost want to hug right now for still being so innocent after everything we've all been through, especially you." Daphne turned back to Harry, "Please, be a little more blunt with her."
Harry nodded as he stared at the interaction between the two young women. "Hermione's instructions were in fact to kill us both." Susan's face paled at the thought. "It's okay Sue, and Hermione is fine today. We also removed the tracking charm from off of her. And now I need to find a new and safer place to live."
Susan and Daphne both nodded in agreement with what Harry had to say. "So you're really not heading back to that apartment," commented Susan.
Harry shrugged slightly and then continued, "We were thinking of moving closer to Oxford, as Hermione will be attending University there soon."
Susan responded by biting her lip, Daphne seemed to be deep in thought in response to what Harry had just said to them.
"But what does that mean for us?" asked Susan. "If you're going to be moving away just as we're starting to date, how will that work exactly?"
Harry took a deep breath and then he tried to explain a little further. "Well, I'm about to go meet with my account manager at Gringotts, and he's been looking into some properties near Oxford, specifically some estates. I think I'll have room for everyone. That is if you want to move there with me. I know that this is all kind of sudden and all, but I think we can all have our own rooms if the estate is big enough."
Harry looked down towards his feet, afraid to look at the women to see their reactions to what he had just said.
Susan and Daphne looked at each other and then back at Harry. Daphne spoke up first, "Did you just ask us to move in with you, Harry?"
Harry looked up and noticed that Susan was blushing and that Daphne's jaw was open in surprise.
"I guess I did," he answered, "I know it is rather sudden, but then again, considering that things are starting to get dangerous around me again, I'm also worried that things might get dangerous for you both once anyone finds out we're all together. So, yeah, I guess so, it is kind of fast to go from being friends who hang out to dating with the knowledge we may need to get married to living together, or at least living in the same house."
Daphne's expression changed to a frown for a moment. "I suppose I can easily commute magically there from London, if I'm going to keep working at all that is," she added. She then turned to look at Susan, "What about you Susan?"
Susan just shook her head for a moment, "I never expected things to move this fast, I guess." She looked at Harry and then back to Daphne. "I don't want to feel pressured to be doing anything, from either of you. And if things start getting more physical in your relationship together before it does between Harry and I, I'm not sure how I'd feel about that, and I guess that if we all move in together right away I'd just be worried we'd be rushing things that way too."
She looked over at Harry and she was trying to hold back tears. "I want this, really I do, but I want it to be right, not pressured, not rushed."
Daphne reached out a hand and grasped Susan's hand closest to hers. "It's okay, Susan, I understand exactly what you mean, and honestly, I feel the same way, just don't tell anyone else."
Susan looked up at Daphne and smiled. Daphne looked back at the strawberry blonde girl in front of her, "If we're both going to be with Harry, we need to do this together, there's no point in making this a competition from the start. We were friends at Hogwarts, even if we didn't know each other well. It may take work, but we better stay friends now, or we'll both be miserable which will only make our Harry miserable."
Susan smiled at Daphne as she softly replied, "Thanks."
Harry smiled at the two witches, "So, anyone interested in going to the Gringotts and seeing what options they have for estates near Oxford? Since it looks like you two will be moving there as well, I guess you might have some vested interest in this now."
Several minutes later Harry and the two women had arrived at Gringotts Bank. As they walked down Diagon Alley several people commented about Harry Potter being accompanied by two beautiful witches. Harry initially was worried about the news spreading that they were with him, but Daphne was the first one to mention that they couldn't hide their relationships with him forever, even if there was some dark wizard after him. Susan agreed with Daphne, stating that they had learned from Harry during the last war when they were students not to hide from those who tried to intimidate the wizarding public, so why should they start giving into their fears now? Harry realised that he couldn't argue with their logic, particularly since they learned it from him during the fight against Voldemort and the Death Eaters.
Once they were in the lobby, one of the tellers quickly recognised Harry, and waved Harry over, "Your room is waiting for you Lord Potter-Black."
Harry bowed his head slightly, and thanked the goblin who then lead the way to the conference room as Harry and his two girlfriends followed. Once they arrived at the massive stone door, the goblin showed them in, and as he was about to leave, he stated that the director would be with them shortly.
Daphne raised an eyebrow, "You never mentioned that your account manager was the bank director!"
Harry seemed a little embarrassed. "Well, after the war ended, I had to come and deal with the fall out of some of my actions. It seems they weren't too happy with some of the things I had to do to be able to kill Riddle once and for all."
Susan was puzzled by this, "You were gone for almost the entire school year, and no one really knew what you and Ron and Hermione were up to."
Harry scratched the back of his head and he decided he could tell these two women the truth. "Riddle had done some very evil things, he had made soul anchors in order to try and make himself immortal. He had hidden these items in various places."
Daphne nodded in understanding, "So the three of you were spending your time on a giant scavenger hunt, I get it. So what did this have to do with Gringotts, unless one was hidden here."
Susan considered what Daphne said and then turned back to Harry, "But no one can break into Gringotts!"
Harry chuckled slightly, "Well, I'm not exactly no one. And the goblins were not very pleased with me. And then there was the matter of our escape. They were a bit upset about the damage. And the loss of the dragon."
Susan gasped, and Daphne rolled her eyes. Daphne shook her head as she spoke, "Is this what we have to look forward to, you continuing to put yourself into such dangerous situations?"
Ragnok had entered the room without their hearing him during their conversation. "We here at Gringotts hope that one of our most valued clients would not continue with such foolish behaviour. However, rest assured young ladies, that the man you are with has fully paid his debts and reparations to Gringotts and is once again a customer in good standing with this bank. But then again, that much should be obvious or I wouldn't be meeting with you today, now would I."
Harry laughed at the comments from Ragnok whose mere presence had startled the two women. "So, my friend, do you have some information for me?"
The goblin smiled. "Our agents have found a few properties, several estates in the vicinity of Oxford that may be acceptable to your Lordship. I see that you may have solved part of your dilemma already, and these two women seem to be so far accepting of your circumstances."
Harry smiled as he introduced the Lady Susan Bones and the Lady Daphne Greengrass to Lord Ragnok.
Ragnok smiled, "Now that the formalities are out of the way. There are three estates which you may wish to look at. The more expensive one has six main bedrooms, 3 guest rooms, a full kitchen, over 100 acres. There is a six car garage, and a climate controlled wine cellar among its features. It has some classic architecture styling and it is a gorgeous property. It can be purchased and warded within one week if you choose to pursue this property. The second property is a little smaller, although it has a separate guest house with 2 bedrooms. It has an indoor swimming pool, and less than 50 acres of land. The third property has only 5 bedrooms, but it boasts a 4 car garage, over 70 acres of land, and has some magnificent views."
Harry considered the options he had presented before him. Ragnok then placed several folders in front of him. "These are photos of the various properties. They are labelled in the order that I presented them to you. There is a description of each property and the asking price for each one as well is on the pages describing them."
Harry and the women started to go through the folders. After twenty minutes they really didn't have much of a decision to make. Harry quickly told Ragnok that he felt the first one, the largest estate seemed most ideal. Susan than spoke up, "But it is the most expensive one as Ragnok pointed out, is that going to be a problem?"
Ragnok simply laughed a deep guttural laugh, but coming from a goblin it was a more than a bit disconcerting. "This is the Lord Potter-Black you are talking about. I don't think he'll notice it affect his interest payments that much next quarter." He then turned to Harry, "We'll send one of our top negotiators, try and get the price down significantly, especially since you will be paying cash for the property. Oh, it will also not be done under your name openly, so that it cannot be easily searched for so that you can maintain your privacy. Once you own the property, we will send in the ward teams. We will let you know when we can have you move in and allow your house elves to arrange things as you want."
"Thank you Ragnok," said Harry.
Before the director left, he asked Harry if he needed anything else.
"There is one more thing," he said, "it seems that my apartment's location may have become compromised, so I may need a new flat, so I have a secure place to stay, or a secure place for Susan or Daphne to stay when any of us venture into the city."
Ragnok nodded, "We will work on that for you immediately. And we can set up something special at the current apartment if necessary." With that he turned and left the conference room.
As the trio left Gringotts Bank, they decided to head to muggle London and find a restaurant for dinner. While they were eating both Susan and Daphne were dismayed to hear that Harry planned to return to his apartment that night.
Susan argued against his doing that first, "With everything that happened there yesterday, how could you possibly think of returning there tonight?"
Daphne agreed with her, "Whoever did that to Hermione surely knows where you live, and by now must have figured out that their plan was not successful. Clearly they won't be stopping with one failed attempt against you and Draco."
Harry put down his fork and stopped eating and shook his head slowly. "I wasn't a Ravenclaw, but already there is a pattern of sorts. That wasn't the first attack on us. Remember Crabbe's attack? These attacks are planned out, and they are not back to back."
Susan disagreed, "Hermione coming after you and the attack on George Weasley were back to back."
Harry had picked up his fork again and was now using it to emphasise his point. "Two different attacks, meant to confuse and demoralise people. The Shadow Lord is trying to appear to have a strength and a power that he really doesn't have. He may have only needed one or two people to place the bombs that were timed to go off at George's shop at a certain time. He only needed one person to curse Hermione, and that was done the day before she attacked us, which was the day before the attack at Diagon Alley."
Daphne looked at Harry, "So, you're saying he is trying to appear more powerful than he is by making bold statements."
Harry took a bite of food before replying, "Exactly, he is a simple terrorist, using some of Tom Riddle's methods, but on a smaller scale. More like precision attacks. He is not going for massive attacks against muggle borns or average people. This is someone who is making specific targeted attacks because he wants revenge, and for right now he is doing it with anonymity."
Daphne smirked at him, "Such big words from our little Gryffindor golden boy."
Susan still had a look of concern, "I still don't like the idea of your heading back to your apartment tonight."
Daphne turned to Susan, "Are you suggesting that he head home with you tonight?"
Susan blushed at the thought. "No, not that," she stammered, then she turned to Harry, "but don't you have anywhere else you could stay for the night?"
Harry considered her question for a moment. "Well, there is my other property, but it is kind of creepy. And I haven't really been there since last fall. Some of the Death Eaters know about it, but I do have a house elf there who may have been keeping it clean, but I'm not too sure about that."
Daphne looked at Harry suspiciously. "Why does this sound like an even worse idea than your going back to your apartment?"
Harry laughed slightly at Daphne's concern. "Actually, Daphne, if there is any chance of your becoming Lady Black, then you really should see this place. We could make an adventure out of it. We could let Draco and Hermione know where we've gone and then head over to the Black family home after we're done here."
Susan looked at Daphne with a little trepidation, "Is this really a good idea, I've heard stories of the Black family home."
Daphne and Susan looked to Harry for a response. Harry simply shrugged his shoulders and then he began to explain, "It was a lot worse when we were in school. There were plenty of creatures such as doxies and pixies we had to get rid of, and then there was the horrid picture of Sirius' mother who would scream at anyone, call them foul blood traitor filth and all that. I think the dark arts books that were cursed have already been removed from the library. Kreacher, my house elf, has been fairly good to me since I destroyed the cursed locket for him, so he has started keeping the place clean. So all in all it's not so bad anymore."
Daphne then asked, "So, how do we get there?"
Harry laughed sightly at that. "Right now, you can't. It's quite secure. I can go there and I would have to change the wards. I could have Kreacher bring you there once that is done. I could tell you where it is located, but that may not be a good idea just yet."
Susan's smile grew wide, "It's under a fidelius?"
Daphne grinned, "With you as the secret keeper?"
Harry nodded grimly. "However a Death Eater followed us there last fall, so we had to escape quickly. I have been hesitant to use it since."
Daphne was clearly thinking hard about what Harry had said and then she gave him some advice. "If any Death Eaters knew of the location of your home, then they would have tried to find you there and they would have told others about your location."
Harry nodded in agreement, "The person who followed us there knew the general location but not the actual address. We could see Death Eaters watching for any signs of us entering or leaving the building until we decided to make a run for it and left the house for good."
Daphne reached out and took Harry's hand again, "Someday I want to hear the whole story of what you did last year. It sounds horrible and brave and awful Gryffindorish, but not now. But back to the issue at hand, whomever cursed Hermione and placed the tracking charm on her is looking for you there, at your apartment. They won't be looking for you at your other home."
"Probably not," agreed Harry, "unless they know I know they're looking for me and they know about my other home and they decide to start looking for me there."
Susan shook her head, "That is starting to get confusing you two, but back to the Black family property. Isn't it well warded? I would expect that you would be quite safe there even if someone knew you were there."
Daphne added, "She does have a valid point."
Harry rubbed his chin, "I'm sure it has very good wards, considering that no one has been able to break in, and any who have tried have been dealt with quite severely. So, if you would like, we can go there tonight. If you want to stay the night, then perhaps Kreacher could help arrange that."
The girls looked at each other and quickly agreed that it sounded like it would be a wonderful new adventure. Harry shook his head in wonder. "The only problem is that we're currently in a muggle restaurant," he said as he tried to figure out how to best get them all to 12 Grimmauld Place. "I suppose we could go back to my flat and I could call Kreacher, my house elf."
"No good," said Daphne, "I still think your place is too dangerous."
"It's still well warded," protested Harry.
"No sense making anything easier by letting someone see you come and go," added Susan.
"Oh, all right," relented Harry.
"Spoken like a gentleman," said Daphne with a smile. "Is there a nearby apparition point that either one of you know about?"
Susan just rolled her eyes at Daphne, "We're just a few blocks from Diagon Alley, we can walk back there, and we can figure it out as we go along." She then turned to Harry, "Can you use the floo network to get into the house?"
"I can floo into it, but the wards won't let either one of you in," he stated. "But if we head back to the Leaky Cauldron, I can get it into the house, and then I can adjust the wards, and then have Kreacher fetch you one at a time. He can pop you back to your places, and then bring you straight on over to my house."
"That should work just fine," said Daphne.
Thirty minutes later Harry was giving the two women a tour of the renovated Black family homestead, which had been cleaned and repainted. It was no longer quite so dark and dreary. Kreacher had even removed the portrait of his former mistress from the wall as Harry had insisted that he take a full room for himself and he allowed him to keep some of his own treasures and trinkets in there, including the collection of former Black house elves that had been honoured so that Kreacher could make sure that they received the proper respect that they were due.
Once they had been throughout the home, Harry looked at the girls. "I suppose you may want to pick out a room. I was planning on using Sirius' old room."
Daphne looked up and down the hallway and then looked at Harry, "Which room did you use when you stayed here before? You did mention you were here in the past."
Harry pointed out which room he has stayed in during the summers and occasionally during some of the holidays during fifth year. Daphne smiled as she stated she wanted to pick that room. Susan then said she would be happy with any room in the house, and decided to take one next to Harry's room. The two women eyed each other carefully after they made their choices and Harry just shook his head as he calmly added, "This still isn't a competition, you know."
The two smiled thinly at him as they both tried to relax a little at his words. Susan then spoke up as she brought up the question of Draco and Hermione. "Do you know if they are back at the apartment or where they might be? Perhaps they should be here. We did talk about telling them to come over here to be safer."
Harry nodded and then he called Kreacher. "Could you go find my friend, Hermione. She is with my cousin, Draco, most likely, and he is related to the Blacks, his mother is Narcissa. Please let them know that they are welcome to come here tonight as it might be safer for them here than at the apartment where Draco and I have been staying."
Kreacher then bowed slightly, "Very well, Master Harry, I will try and find the muggle born and the fair skinned whelp."
Susan couldn't help but laugh as the elf disappeared with a pop. "Is he always so surly?" she asked.
Harry responded with a slight grimace, "This is Kreacher when he is being well behaved. He used to treat me with scorn. That was until I started my quest in earnest to defeat Riddle. Once I destroyed a certain item that was part of what I was doing last year in order to prepare for that final confrontation he became much more pleasant."
"You already told us about the locket that you destroyed," reminded Daphne.
"Right," said Harry. "Before that, he only referred to me as the filthy half blood master or some such nonsense. He was even part of the conspiracy that set me up at the end of fifth year when I stupidly went running into a trap at the Ministry of Magic thinking I needed to save my godfather. All that did was end up getting Sirius killed for real, and Hermione and Ron hurt, and the rest of us humiliated."
"That's not the way I heard it," said Susan. "My aunt spoke highly of you and your friends. How the five of you held off a group of experienced and high ranking Death Eaters who were out to kill some of you even if they only wanted to capture you. How you were even subjected to the cruciatus curse from Riddle himself, and then you were possessed by him but forced him out. Plus, you proved to that idiot Fudge and the rest of the world that you were not lying, that Voldemort really was back. You proved you were brave, that you were powerful, and that you were honest and true. If you didn't notice, no one in Slytherin, or in any house for that matter, really wanted to mess with you ever again after that."
Daphne agreed with her, "She's right you know. We all were quite impressed, even if no one would dare admit it. I think everyone was too scared about The Dark Lord's return as well as the fact that you had actually faced him, again, and once again survived. Because it did prove your story from the end of fourth year. Adults, teachers, fully trained Aurors were scared to ever face him, but you kept doing it, year in and year out."
Just then there was the sound of a pop as Kreacher arrived. "The two extra guests will be ready to join you shortly. They said something about needing a few minutes to find a way to descend."
The three looked at each other and then at the house elf when suddenly Daphne laughed, "Maybe they said 'to get decent.' Who knew they would be so randy?"
The next morning the group woke up and gathered for breakfast that Kreacher happily prepared for everyone in the kitchen. Harry discovered that his elf had arranged for delivery of the Daily Prophet, and he opened up the paper and he saw the cover story was about the attack at Diagon Alley.
Weasley's Wizard Wheezes Attacked!
Terror once again strikes in Diagon Alley as an explosion destroyed the front of the infamous joke shop that has become a popular attraction to students and children in the middle of the shopping district. Reports from the DMLE indicate that after school had opened this year, the owner, George Weasley, had closed the store for restocking and researching new product. This may have saved numerous lives as the only people present at the time of the attack were the owner George Weasley and his wife, Angelina, and his assistant Lee Jordan. All three apparently survived the horrifying attack and are getting care at St. Mungo's. The latest report is that their conditions are serious but we have not been able to obtain any further details.
Several bystanders sustained minor injuries when the force of the explosion knocked them to the ground. Aurors quickly arrived on the scene and soon were helping with the injured and with the investigation into the incident. They bravely entered the damaged building to rescue the victims and helped with stabilising their injuries before they were taken to St. Mungo's for definitive treatment.
Auror Captain Bagley discovered a note that had been attached to the charred structure. This note apparently was magically sent by the mysterious Shadow Lord who claimed responsibility for the attack as vengeance against owners of the shop. The note stated that they had scarred Mr. Weasley just as Mr. Weasley had left a scar on them.
But the question still remains, who is this mysterious attacker, and why is he after George Weasley and his associates? Who else is he after and why does he claim that the ministry will be powerless to stop him? Do we have another Dark Lord on the rise so soon after Harry Potter defeated He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named?
With such attacks occurring in our world so soon after the end of the last great wizarding war, it makes us ask, where is our famous Boy-Who-Lived? Why has he decided to go into seclusion? Does he have something to hide or has he had enough of our society and felt betrayed by his friends too many times? Rumours abound that even he was attacked this summer in the middle of muggle London. However, he has been unable to be reached to confirm or deny the truth to this story. He was however seen at the Weasley's shop just before the mysterious note appeared taking the blame for the explosion. Could Mr. Potter be the elusive Shadow Lord? He does have a scar! But the note indicates that the Shadow Lord is out for revenge and the reaction of the Aurors indicate that the Shadow Lord is the one who was behind the attack against Mr. Potter and that he is probably a renegade Death Eater that somehow eluded capture at the end of the Battle of Hogwarts.
So our best educated guess would be that this individual has a vendetta against both Mr. Potter and Mr. Weasley, and possibly against others as well. So dear readers, we still need to all be careful, and we hope that the DMLE will do its job and bring this Shadow Lord to justice swiftly and surely!