AN: Getting closer to the end. Surprised by the general lack of reviews over the last several chapters compared to the beginning of the story, but then again, one can never predict that sort of thing. Probably one final chapter to go after this one.
Harry stared in disbelief at Daphne, who appeared to be perfectly healthy standing there in the kitchen of his estate.
"Oh my God, Daphne, it's really you!" he exclaimed.
Daphne smiled at him. "A bit surprised, I supposed," she said softly, standing by the counter, waiting to see what further reaction he would have.
After staring at her for a minute with his mouth agape he shook his head and then rushed across the room and reached out to her. Tentatively touching her with his fingers.
"I am real, and I don't bite, Harry," she said calmly. "We were married before the attack happened, or don't you remember that?"
Harry smiled bashfully, "Of course I remember that," he added and then he grabbed her and pulled her into a tight hug.
After a minute she squeaked out, "Can't breathe, Harry."
Harry let her go slightly, easing up on his grip but not releasing her completely. "But I saw you collapse from that curse. You were dead. Your father took your body away to be buried."
Daphne looked intently into his emerald eyes. "Now, now, love, you should know better than to trust in such simple observation." She kissed him on his lips briefly before she continued. "Yes, I am real, and no this isn't dark magic."
"Then what happened? How did this happen? You're here, you're alive, and I need to understand," he said all at once.
Daphne removed his hands from around her and led him into the lounge. "We'll get to that," she said. After they sat down together on the sofa she tucked her feet up underneath her and leaned against Harry. "You still smell the same, although I think I can smell salt water on you, have you been to the sea?"
"We've been staying at a place I now have down in the Caribbean," Harry explained, "but before I get into that, you must tell me more about what happened to you."
Daphne waved her hand around the house and then pointed upstairs to where the library was installed. "You did, or your family, or more accurately, our family happened. I started to study the Black Family magic once I had been accepted as Lady Black. There were some very dark spells in there, but also some very old spells, some that weren't dark, but may have been looked that way by others, such as Dumbledore or even Hermione. One such spell I used was for protection. It was a shield spell just in case something happened such as the attack that happened that day. It caused a temporary stasis to come over me. It appeared to others as though I had died. Apparently it even took some of your magic, though our connection through our rings to help heal me. The spell takes a while to complete, though, as it absorbs ambient magic to heal the body and dissipate the damage from what was shielded unless there is someone who knows how to speed up the process. Once my father took my body and placed it in the mausoleum at the Greengrass Estate, everyone thought I had died. The spell leached magic off of the Estate there and apparently even from some of the house elves. It took many weeks before I was recovered enough to be able to wake up, and then I had to have a house elf transport me back here."
Harry was amazed to here her explanation. "I suppose it pays to study the family magics then," he summarised.
"Yes, it does," added Daphne, "but no one ever taught you the importance of such things yet."
Harry frowned at that statement, "No, no one ever really explained much about family magics to me."
There was an awkward silence between the two of them that culminated in Daphne giving Harry another big hug. "Thank you for coming back, Harry. But then, you haven't yet told me why you showed up here, alone."
"About that," began Harry, "I only came back briefly to ask a very important favour. So much has been going on since we defeated Yaxley when he attacked us here those months ago. Draco and I both had to testify in front of the DMLE about events from the end of the war right up until the battle here at the estate. They even essentially put Draco on trial for his activities while he was at school. Once that was all said and done, we left. We took a cruise to the Caribbean and then Susan and I bought a place on one of the islands. We have been staying there ever since."
"That sounds like what you have been talking about doing," commented Daphne, smiling at Harry. "Has it been what you expected it to be?"
"The only thing that has been a problem is that I have been missing my Lady Black," replied Harry.
"You're too sweet," smiled Daphne. "But back to why you came back here. What brought you back to England, and where is Sue?"
"There is important legislation at the Wizengamot coming up," explained Harry, "requiring all members to be present to vote, or to have their proxies present to vote in their stead. I needed to make sure that I had a proxy in place for both House Potter and House Black. So I just concluded negotiations for those arrangements earlier, and then I wanted to look into things about your will."
Daphne shook here head, "And then you find out there was no activated will. And I suppose my father never questioned that."
Harry shrugged his shoulders, "He figured you left everything to me, so he wasn't notified of anything. So, in looking into your will, or rather lack thereof, I also learned that your private vault was still active, and then I decided to come here."
Daphne stared at him for a moment. "Hold on there a moment, I think I might have misunderstood something you just said."
Harry considered his words for a moment and gave her a puzzled look. "What did I say wrong?"
Daphne narrowed her gaze at him, "Why were you speaking to my father? You just stated that you spoke to my father about my will. I do recall quite vividly that the two of you got along about as well as Weasley and the ferret did back in the day, so what ever caused you to end up speaking to my father?"
Harry blushed sightly, "I figured that I had no real reason to keep him hating me. I know he felt that it was dangerous for you to be near me, and that the events that occurred with the attack by Yaxley and his men only proved him right, that I needed to make amends of sorts."
Daphne's jaw dropped, "Don't tell me, you didn't ask him, did you?"
Harry just stared at Daphne, surprised at her powers of deduction.
"You actually went and spoke to my father about being your proxy at the Wizengamot?" Daphne shook her head in disbelief. "You're a braver man than I ever gave you credit. Tell me, what happened. How many times did he threaten you? What did he ask for in return?"
"He demanded nothing in return," answered Harry.
Daphne stared at Harry for a moment in silence. "Okay, something isn't adding up here, Potter. You must not have told me everything. You came back from the Caribbean to ask my father to be your proxy and he simply said yes. What have you left out?"
Harry shifted a little underneath her on the sofa as she was leaning on him heavily. "When I showed up at his office, unannounced mind you, he did make me wait for a while before he even agreed to meet with me."
She prodded him to continue, "And then?"
"I explained to him that I needed someone to be the proxy for the House of Potter and the House of Black," continued Harry. "I also added that with the upcoming votes I wasn't going to tell him how he should vote. Have you been paying attention to the current news and politics?"
"What? Do you mean Granger's rise to power within the ministry and her position of proposing all of this legislation? What do you think I've been doing here, wasting away? Yes, Harry, I am well aware of the happenings in the magical world, at least here in Britain," she said. "It is you who have, how do the muggles say it, fallen off the radar."
Harry gave her a lopsided smile in response to her comment, "Fair enough, but it seems your father supports many of the things that Hermione has been speaking out about, so he readily agreed."
Daphne narrowed her eyes again, "I said tell me the whole story."
Harry rolled his eyes in response. "How do you do that? Fine. Before I left I then asked him if he would also be the Malfoy proxy. And he eventually agreed."
Daphne raised an eyebrow, "Eventually? What do you mean eventually? That comment clearly needs more explanation."
"Your father asked pointed questions about your sister, Astoria," began Harry. "He asked about where she was, and who she was with."
Daphne's eyes glared at Harry. "She left school? Why haven't I heard anything about this?"
"It wasn't in the papers, because when she left school is wasn't discovered until after her seventeenth birthday," said Harry with a sigh. "She heard about our trip and insisted on joining us. She has been with Draco. He initially was trying to push her away, but she has been, let us say, quite persistent."
Daphne wasn't sure if she should be happy or angry. She gave Harry a questioning look.
Harry turned his head from side to side. "I think she has been good for him. Draco was very hurt when Hermione left him. I found her just before we had the inquiry, after the attack at the estate. I offered for her to join us, to come back. She clearly made her choice. She has known how to get in touch with me ever since. I haven't heard anything since that day I spoke with her. If she wanted to reconcile with Draco, she could have by now. And then…"
His voice trailed off and Daphne picked up his train of thought.
"And then she goes and hires his mother as her publicist," she continued, "the very person she blamed for splitting up her relationship with Draco. I bet that must have hit him hard."
Harry simply nodded in reply.
After a moment of silent staring into each others eyes, Harry finally spoke up again. "So, now I've found you again, you can come back with me to the new place in the Caribbean, leave this estate behind." His voice was full of hope and excitement.
Daphne frowned, "No, Harry, I can't do that."
Harry tried to pull away from her, which was difficult as she was leaning on top of him still. "But why not? You two seemed to be getting along fine, you and Sue. I thought we could all make things work."
Daphne stiffened slightly at his remark. "You're not listening, Harry. I said I can't, not that I won't. It has to do with the magic. I said before that I never really wanted to leave Britain, but the magic used to bring me back has anchored me here. I literally can't leave. And honestly, I like the idea of people not knowing that I survived, as everyone seems to believe I died that day."
Harry tilted his head a little as he considered her words, "Well, the Aurors did see your father carry your lifeless body away after the battle was over. That kind of clued a lot of people into the fact that were most likely dead. And there was all of the publicity about the defeat of the Shadow Lord after that and the fact that one of my betrothed had died in the battle, as I had not revealed to anyone that we were already married."
Daphne kissed him on the cheek, "Aren't you sweet, keeping our private lives private, even when you thought I had died."
"So now what do I do? I'm heading back to the island tomorrow," commented Harry.
Daphne smiled at Harry, "You spend the night with me, your wife. You return to the island tomorrow, to Susan, your other wife, Lady Potter. We'll keep my existence here a secret, just between us."
Harry rubbed his forehead as he considered Daphne's plan. "But why? Wouldn't that be like cheating on her? Like lying to her?"
Daphne sighed, "If we had all been together, would we not have had some secrets, some private things between us? Susan and you would have had some special things that you didn't share with me, and you and I would have had some special things that we didn't share with her, or so I would have presumed."
"I guess so," agreed Harry, trying to follow Daphne's explanation.
"The rest of the magical world thinks you closed down this estate," she continued. "The goblins added stronger wards. You know that I am here, you can come see me when you want to. Through our rings, I can let you know if I need you."
Harry raised an eyebrow, "We can do that?"
She shook her head, "Yes Harry, now quit interrupting, and obviously I'll need to teach you about your own family rings before you leave. You can spend your time with Susan, and you two will have all of the time you need and want together. And I'll have time to study magic like I always wanted to and not be bothered by others."
"But you'll be staying here," worried Harry, "locked into this estate."
"I do not have to stay on this estate," she said with a laugh, "I just can't leave the British Isles. I can disillusion myself and travel anywhere else. And if someone sees through any enchantment I have on, what would they see? A woman whom they were never expecting to see, someone they aren't even looking for so they still wouldn't recognise me."
Harry held her tight and then looked her straight in the eyes and asked, "This is really what you want?"
"Yes, Harry, this is what I want," she said softly. "As long as I know I will at least get an occasional visit from you. You could even arrange for an annual visit, such as the anniversary of the day I supposedly died, to come here by yourself, to mourn. No one would question your travelling here, not even Susan."
"You do have a point," agreed Harry.
Daphne stood up and pulled Harry off of the sofa with her. She took him by the hand and started leading him out of the room.
"Now where are we going?" he asked.
"Upstairs," shed said coyly. "Dinner can wait, but I haven't been my husband for way too long." She continued to lead him away by the hand.
— — — —
The next morning Harry finished a delightful breakfast. "I never knew you ere such a good cook, Daphne."
She laughed at him, "I don't always cook, I do have house elves around from time to time, but out of necessity I have had to learn."
He smiled at her as she walked back across the kitchen, wearing only one of his older shirts. "So, do you often raid my old wardrobe?"
She laughed again, "Hey, you left a lot of your clothes behind when you left here. I guess you didn't think you would need some of these when you headed to warmer climes."
He laughed back at her, "It does seem to look better on you, love."
"Flattery gets you everywhere with me, Harry," she replied with a wink.
The banter continued for a little longer as they finished breakfast. Daphne sat down next to Harry and leaned against his shoulder. "Now, you do remember what I said about using the house rings we have?"
"Yes, Daphne," he replied dutifully.
"I will miss you, love," she added. "And I do miss everyone else, but like I said, I want this to be our secret. Besides, people like Granger will accuse me of practicing dark magic. I don't need the hassle of the ministry looking into this."
Harry held her in a hug, "You know I'll miss you and I wish this never happened, that we could have all been together."
Daphne kissed him on the lips, "I know Harry, but we can't undo what has happened."
"We can all move back to England," he offered.
"You don't really want to do that," she said as she caressed his cheek. "You are happy where you are at right now. You don't need to uproot everyone on my account. When the time is right, you will come back, and you've already made a public declaration you won't return to live in this estate."
"You're right of course," he agreed with her.
"You best be going, you need to make your international portkey soon," she said.
Harry noted the tear in her eye. "Now my Ice Queen starts to get emotional on me."
"Tell anyone and I'll hex your bits off," she quipped.
Harry looked over towards the fire place, "Is the floo working at all?"
"Yes, it is just highly warded," she answered. "I think probably only you and I can get through at this time."
"Isn't that convenient," he mused.
They walked together over towards the fireplace and then he gave her one last searing kiss before he said goodbye. With one final embrace, Harry stepped through the floo to the international terminal for portkey travel.
Harry looked at her as he said, "So, what do I tell the others?"
"You don't need to tell them anything, as I said before, this can be our secret."
"What about your sister?"
Daphne smiled as she stated, "I already answered that, didn't I?"
Harry hesitated before leaving.
Daphne hugged him tight, then reiterated what she said. "Have a life with Susan, don't worry about me, I will be fine. Come and find me from time to time."
Harry furrowed his brow, "You won't be bored, or lonely?"
Daphne laughed a little at his question. "Bored? I have the Black Family library to study. Hermione already is jealous, and perhaps angry with me for that. I'll spend the rest of my life studying magic, learning magic, exploring this family magic."
Harry looked a little worried, "Dark magic?"
Daphne leaned her head to one side, "No, it's your family, no our family magic. People assumed it was dark because of the reputation of the Black family. You are changing that reputation going forward. I've been fascinating with studying magic since I first started to learn runes and arithmancy. Now I can learn even more arcane and ancient magics. And not be interrupted. And not have Hermione telling me I shouldn't be doing this or that."
Harry was still worried about her. "But won't you be lonely here?"
Daphne shook her head, "No, not really. You'll be by occasionally, I'm sure of that. I know you well enough. And I already learned my lesson about venturing out into the muggle world. And don't worry about my looking for attention from any other wizard Harry, the Black Family magic wouldn't let me even if I wanted to, but I am content to only have you, as often as that will happen."
Harry shook his head, amazed at the woman who stood before him. "But I still don't know what to tell everyone."
"Tell them that your trip was a success," explained Daphne. "That you arranged for my father to be your proxy and for him to be Draco's proxy. That is why you came, and you said that he did agree."
Harry stammered in reply, "Well, yes, that is. But…"
Daphne smirked at him, "Scrying, Harry, I can keep an eye on you. Or would you rather I not?"
Harry was feeling a little uncomfortable.
Daphne sighed, "Fine, I promise not to look in when you and Susan are being intimate, is that fair enough?"
Harry felt a little relieved, "That's at least fair enough."
Daphne smiled him and gave him another hug. "In the long run, I think this will be for the best, having you only need to worry about Sue. It will be simpler and far less confusing."
Harry smiled at her as he said, "Have I told you how much I love you Daphne?"
She smiled back at him, "Yes, but you don't need to stop, Harry."
They embraced again, then she added, "You really need to get going, or some people may start to worry."
Back in the Caribbean - Harry lets Draco know that Lord Greengrass will be their proxy
Harry stepped through the floo into his mansion on the small Caribbean Island. He slid across the wood floor slightly as he tried to stop himself from falling on his face. While he managed to not land on his face he imagined that his actions of his flailing arms would have looked completely ridiculous to any observers. Once he stopped his motion he quickly realised that he, thankfully, did not have an audience for his less than grand entrance. After a short tour of the house he learned that he was the only one in the large building and that his wife and friends were down by the shore at the small cabana enjoying the lovely morning. Harry muttered about the hassles of gong through magical customs and how that delayed his travel, something which he thought was ridiculous within the magical world.
Harry then made his way to his bedroom and changed into more appropriate attire for joining his friends at the beach. He then made his way to the cabana. He cast a silencing charm on his feet so that they wouldn't hear him approaching. As he came up from behind Susan where she was relaxing on a lounge chair, he placed a gentle kiss on top of her head.
Susan pulled off her sunglasses as she smiled up at him, "I didn't hear you arrive."
"That was my plan, my love," he replied with a large smile.
"So how was your trip?" asked Ron.
"It went as well as could be expected," answered Harry.
Draco looked up from where he was sitting with Astoria, "So, old man Greengrass didn't try to hex you and force you into some indentured servitude when you asked him our favour?"
Harry hesitated before he replied to Draco's comments. "Lord Greengrass initially had no interest in meeting with me, that was clear. He eventually did hear me out and he did eventually agree to be the proxy for House Potter, House Black and even House Malfoy."
Draco nodded, "So, you managed to get him to agree with everything without him learning all of the details. That's a relief."
Harry wagged his eyebrows, "I never said that, Draco. He insisted that I answer certain questions before he agreed to anything. Some of those questions included if I knew of the whereabouts of his daughter Astoria."
Draco hid his face in his hands as he muttered, "I am so screwed, aren't I?"
Astoria put her arm around Draco's back and then looked up at Harry, hoping for more of an explanation.
Harry looked at Astoria as he further explained her father's comments, "I can tell you that he wasn't pleased with your disappearing act, but by the time he discovered that you were gone he knew there was nothing he could do about it legally. Also the letter explaining that you left on your own free will was an important touch by the way."
Draco looked up at Harry, "So, I'm not necessarily a dead man if and when I return to England?"
"No, I don't think so," smiled Harry. "I made it clear that we both requested Astoria not to join us but she came anyway." Harry then turned to Astoria, "Your father knows you quite well, I gather."
Astoria blushed a little, "Both of his daughters have been known to be quite headstrong."
Harry didn't say anything in response.
Astoria covered her mouth when she realised what she had said and then she apologised, "I'm sorry, Harry, I didn't mean to make you feel uncomfortable and bring up sad memories."
Susan reached out and took Harry's hand and squeezed it in an effort to comfort him. He let her do that as he spoke to Astoria, "No, it's quite all right, Astoria, I know you didn't mean anything by it and I do see those similarities between the two of you. And I'm okay with remembering Daphne fondly."
Catherine then spoke up in an effort to change the mood of the conversation, "Now that we're done discussing Harry's business trip, how about we talk about what else we want to do for fun? Like where else do people want to travel?"
Ron spoke up first, "I like going to the Magic Kingdom."
Catherine punched him in the arm, "We've been there enough for a while, Red, you can wait until they open up some new rides next year. See something new. You really need to expand your horizons, but that doesn't mean you're allowed to look at other witches."
Ron rubbed his shoulder where she had punched him. "Fine, I'll try to wait until next year," he pouted.
Susan spoke up next, "I was reading about taking a cruise to Alaska, but the best time to go is in June."
Astoria suggested travelling to South America, "I hear it's warmer this time of year."
Harry turned to Draco, "So, Malfoy, is there anything that you are interested in doing, or do you want the ladies to choose for us?"
Draco sat back in the chair he was sitting in and stared out over the sea, his eyes hidden fairly well by his dark sunglasses. He then turned back to Harry as he said, "Well, Potter, I've always had an interest in going on a safari to Africa. Don't tell any purebloods about this, though, because they would think it would be such a muggle thing to do."
The others all laughed at his comments.
Draco protested their laughing at him. "What? Going on safari doesn't sound exciting to any of you lot?"
"No, the idea of Draco Malfoy wanting to go on a muggle safari sounds hilarious to us," answered Astoria for all of them.
Draco just shook his head in disgust at their antics at his expense. "Prats," he muttered, "at least I'm not all crazy over the muggle amusement park like some people."
Astoria leaned over and gave him a kiss on his cheek. "Don't try and fool us, we know how much fun you had both on the Matterhorn and on the other rides!"
Susan chimed in, "And don't worry, we won't tell anyone!"
Draco huffed again and folded his arms across his chest as he blew his hair out if his face.
— — —
The next day a large owl arrived carrying a package. Harry opened it and announced to the others that it was paperwork from Lord Greengrass to finalise the proxies for House Potter, House Black and House Malfoy.
They decided to work on getting it signed right away and forward it on to Andromeda for her review to make sure everything was in place before the planned vote that was coming up in just a few weeks. The message from Lord Greengrass indicated that no formal announcement needed to be made ahead of time about the proxies as long as the proper documentation was in hand. He would be able to make a claim for the proxies at the Wizengamot meeting in time for the vote when the roll was called and he also indicated that this might be more in line with what both Harry and Draco would want as it would be appearing that they were abdicating their seats. Failure to show or have a designated proxy at a mandatory Wizengamot meeting could result in losing one's seat.
After reading Lord Greengrass' plan, Harry had to laugh out loud, "Was he part of the Marauders at school and we never knew it?"
Astoria raised an eyebrow, "You mean the famous pranksters from the seventies? I doubt it, but I heard stories about them. But my father, despite his sternness, is a true Slytherin in that he loves to be secretive and work behind the scenes. Just having the opportunity to surprise the rest of the Wizengamot like this is probably reason enough for him to have agreed to do this, even if he really dislikes you, Harry."
Harry turned and looked at Astoria. "So it wasn't just my good looks and my natural charm then that convinced him," he stated quite sarcastically.
"No," she smiled back, sensing Harry's underlying good natured feeling about this, "but whether he sees this as a prank or as just a way to pull off something that no one would ever expect, considering the very public and vocal antagonism you two had shared previously is enough to give him some sort of perverse pleasure in representing both of your houses and Draco's as well."
Ron had an uneasy look on his face, "But what if he votes against the way you would have voted?"
Harry shrugged his shoulders, "There isn't anything I can do about that if he does. First of all, I told him to vote how he feels he should, that I would place no restrictions on how he could cast those votes. That did make it easier for him to accept the positions. Second, when we discussed the actual legislation proposed by Hermione, he indicated that he actually supported it. Either he was lying to me to tell me what I wanted to hear, which would be highly unusual for him, considering our past relationship, or he actually means what he said."
"But he's a Slytherin," commented Ron.
His comment earned him a slap to his face from Catherine. "I've warned you Red," she said with slight bitterness in her tone, "don't go there. You've been doing well for so long, you've learned to trust me, dare I even say love me. You've even learned to tolerate Malfoy here, and to an even greater extent cute little Astoria. Don't tell me I have to start training you all over again."
Ron blushed and looked down as he reached out and lightly grasped Catherine's hand. "Sorry, Cat, I guess old ideas are hard to get rid of."
She then turned and gave him a kiss on his cheek, "I know love," she added tenderly. "Now, Red, just don't let it happen again."
He looked up and smiled at her as she pulled him into a hug. The others just stared at the byplay in front of them, amazed at how she dealt with Ron.
"He's just a big softy," she purred as she ran a hand through his hair.
Astoria finally spoke up, "Perhaps, but I still don't get it, why you actually hooked up with him in the first place."
Ron stiffened at the remark and turned tentatively to face Catherine.
Catherine looked briefly at Ron and flashed him a smile then she turned back to the others. "Don't you guys know how smart and resourceful he is? He can be quite determined when he wants to be. He figured out who the Shadow Lord was before the rest of you did, then he tracked him to my family's old manor. He escaped from aurors who wanted to bring him in for questioning. All of this on his own, willing to hunt down a man who would probably have killed him in an instant."
Ron frowned again.
"Relax honey," she said with a smile as she patted him on the knee, "it's true, he may not have been as powerful magically as Harry, but he would have taken you out quickly. But that's not important, what IS important is that you weren't about to back down, Red. You went searching for him, against all odds, and you were smart enough to figure this all out on your own. And you stood up to me when I effectively challenged you. Besides, I thought you were cute. And more important, you had the balls to piss off and escape from those Aurors. That really got my attention," she added with a kiss to his cheek.
Ron smiled again at her.
Astoria cooed, "Oh, that's so romantic."
"That's twisted is what that is," added Draco.
Harry shook his head as he laughed slightly, "Well, they did help us find the Shadow Lord and Astoria." He turned and faced Draco, "And by now I would think you would be at least a little grateful for that fact."
Draco tried to hide his blush and grumbled, "Who would ever think that I would have something to be thankful to the Weasel for?"
Ron retorted quickly, "Who would think that I could have a civil relationship with the Ferret?"
"Enough with the skinny little mammalian predator names," snapped Catherine. "You do realise that weasels and ferrets are related animals, don't you?"
"What are you talking about?" asked both of them at the same.
"Animal classification," stated Catherine, "the muggle scientific zoologic way of categorising animals."
"And you know about this why?" demanded Draco.
"Some of us actually paid attention to the world around us as we were growing up, dearest Draco," snipped Catherine. "Learning about those who actually outnumber us more than 10,000 to 1 might be a good idea."
Ron gulped at that statement. He turned a little pale as he faced Catherine, "There are really that many more muggles than us?"
Catherine sighed a little as she turned to face her boyfriend, "Yes, Red, there really are. That is one of the reasons why this whole blood purity idea is stupid. Magic is SO rare we need to accept everyone with magic. They need to learn about our ways, our culture, not be treated as strangers to the point they want to leave."
Draco was simply shaking his head as he considered the enormity of the number and then he looked up at Catherine, "How can the number be that big?"
"It's quite simple," she stated calmly, "they have many towns and many cities that have no magical people at all. Towns and cities you and I and our friends have never been to. We have only a handful of villages with more than a few magicals living in them. After Hogsmeade and Goodrich Hollow, which itself isn't even all magical, there aren't many big concentrations of magical communities anywhere in Britain. We're all spread out. Considering that travel is easy for us, that's not a problem. But when you consider that people like Voldemort who actually planned to eventually attack the muggles, such a plan would ultimately fail, just to their sheer numbers."
Ron scoffed at that idea, "How could even thousands of muggles survive attacks from the Death Eaters using the killing curse and other such dangerous attacks?"
"Muggle weapons of war can cause incredible amounts of damage," commented Harry. "What they had at the end of World War II, when Grindelwald was working with Hitler, is nothing like what they have now. They could wipe out all wizards and witches if they knew about is before we knew it if given a chance and the motivation."
"That sounds like plenty of reason to support the Statutes of Secrecy," commented Catherine.
"Can we move on to cheerier subjects now," added Astoria, "this is starting to creep me out."
Susan smiled at her, "Sure, like where do we want to travel next? Australia or Africa?"
Ron shivered slightly, "I vote against Australia. I hear they have nasty spiders, poisonous snakes and other dangerous creatures."
Catherine pulled him into a hug, "That's okay, Red, I'll keep you safe wherever we go."
Draco looked at Harry and quietly stated, "Whipped."
— — —
Several days later Harry received a letter from Andromeda Tonks. She had reviewed all of the documentation from Harry and from Draco. She didn't find anything wrong with their plans for their proxies and she had forwarded the approved documents on to Lord Greengrass so he would have the proper attestations for the Wizengamot hearing.
Several weeks later — at the Wizengamot
Amos Diggory stood up at the front of the chambers and banged his gavel four times to draw attention to himself and signify the beginning of the session. "As you all know, this is an important session which we are about to begin and we have made it clear that all members are required to be present or have a proxy present in their stead. Any member who is either not here or who failed to make such preparations will find their seat on the Wizengamot forfeit."
As he said this, several members of the august body looked around greedily, hoping to take over certain seats that clearly remained vacant. Whispers began to be heard throughout the chamber.
The Chief Warlock once again banged his gavel four times to get everyone to settle down. "Now, as we have not heard of any motions for proxies from several houses," he began, only to be interrupted by Lord Greengrass.
Cyrus Greengrass was a large man and just by standing up he drew attention to himself. "Excuse me, Chief Warlock," he stated loudly and clearly, but I have with me the documentation to claim the proxy votes for several houses."
There was now grumbling from several members from around the chamber. Amos Diggory was clearly irritated to have been interrupted. "Which houses do you claim proxy for, Lord Greengrass?"
Lord Greengrass cleared his throat and walked forward and handed the aide a series of folders. Then he stated loud and clear, "I claim proxy for House Potter, House Black and House Malfoy!"
His announcement brought forth loud gasps and even some protests from various wizards around the room. Various cries of 'unfair', 'I protest' and even 'outrageous' could be heard above the clamouring.
Diggory grasped the folders and quickly perused the documents inside. After a few moments he banged his gavel four more times to try and call everyone to order once again. "It seems that everything here is quite in order, Lord Greengrass. The Wizengamot will recognise Lord Greengrass as the proxy for all votes for House Potter, House Black, and House Malfoy. All other previously established proxies are currently recognised. Are there any houses that are not present that have a seat and do not have a proxy listed?"
A voice from the back spoke up and stated, "House Yaxley is not in attendance, and there is no proxy, sir."
"Are their any claims for the seat?" questioned the Chief Warlock.
The chamber was silent for a moment, until Lord Parkinson stood up. "I seek to claim the seat."
There was an eerie silence in the chamber for a moment as almost everyone knew that the tow had connections through their work as Death Eaters, even if it wasn't spoken about publicly.
The Chief Warlock then asked, "And what is the basis of your claiming the seat?"
Parkinson stood as tall as he could, despite his portly frame, "I base it on my many years of friendship and business association with the late Lord Yaxley." He tried to sound proud of his relationship with the man who everyone knew had been sent to Azkaban for his role as the Shadow Lord and as a Death Eater and his many crimes during the recent war.
"You speak boldly for one who has only been recently released from Azkaban," spoke Lord Greengrass as he stood up. He then turned and faced Amos Diggory. "Chief Warlock, I challenge that claim, and on behalf of Lord Potter, whose proxy I hold, I stake a greater claim, that of one by conquest. Yaxley was proven to be terrorising our people under the pseudonym of The Shadow Lord. He was convicted and sent to Azkaban. One of the most heinous of his crimes was an all out attack on Lord Potter-Black's estate, which resulted in the deaths of many of his followers as well as my daughter, the Lady Black. It was the Lord Potter-Black himself who defeated Yaxley in conquest. It is by this justification that he should claim this seat."
The entire Wizengamot fell silent upon hearing Lord Greengrass' words. Everyone had previously known of his outspoken dislike for Harry Potter, but now he was speaking as though he fully supported him. Many were confused, but only a few had any understanding of the real reasons why he was taking this stance and making this very public points.
After a few moments of silent contemplation and then another minute of conferring with an advisor, Amos Diggory stood up and announced, "The claim of the seats by conquest has the greater merit. The seats are granted to Lord Potter-Black and his proxy to hold for now or to be dispersed as he sees fit."
There was again much murmuring among the wizards which caused Diggory to bang his gavel repeatedly. "Now that we are done with the introductory business, I call this meeting to order. The first item of business is the bills before us, which will be presented by the Mister for Magic, Kingsley Shacklebolt and his aide, Miss Hermione Granger.
The two then presented four separate bills regarding muggleborn rights, magical creature rights, magical education, and ministry hiring policies. The bills were then debated and discussed. The debates were heated. The arguments were loud and emotional at times. Finally, by the end of the day, votes were called on the four separate bills.
In the end, two of the bills passed, but two of them were defeated. The proposed new laws for magical creatures and for ministry hiring policies were defeated, whereas new protections for muggleborns and new policies for balancing magical education for muggleborn and multigenerational magic users.
Later that evening
Hermione was sitting at a pub, drinking a beer, and commiserating with Neville. "I don't know what more I could have done to get those other bills passed."
Neville was trying to console her, "Now, Hermione, you did wonderful out there. People in the Wizengamot were listening to you today. You're making progress. They didn't dismiss you on the basis of your being a muggleborn. Even as recently as ten years ago there is no way you would have even been able to speak in front of the Wizengamot or even get those bills to be heard."
Hermione moaned into her mug, "But why do I still feel like a failure?"
Narcissa slid into the booth where they were sitting, join gin them without an invitation. Neville narrowed his eyes at her, but she was smiling broadly.
Hermione frowned both at Narcissa's intrusion and at her smile. "How can you be pleased?"
Narcissa was beaming with excitement as she replied, "The revolution has begun, that's how!"
Hermione shook her head, feeling confused, "But two of the bills failed."
Narcissa gently put a hand on Hermione's arm, "Of course they did, honey."
Hermione felt even more confused. "What do you mean, of course they did?"
Narcissa sighed at her protege's response. "You are trying to change the course of an ocean liner that hasn't had anyone steer it in nearly a millennia. And you are but one witch. I actually fully expected your first attempt at any legislation to completely fail. The fact that two of the four bills passed puts us way ahead of schedule. The ten year plan to have you elected Minister for Magic can now officially be accelerated. It could happen with in 5 years easily now. If there happens to be another uprising, and you help defeat it, and who knows what could happen then."
"You're really serious about this," commented Neville
"Of course I am, Longbottom," stated Narcissa. "This young lady has nothing but upward potential at this point."
Neville frowned at the response
Narcissa crossed her arms and sized up Neville. "I get it, you don't trust me, probably because you hate my sister. Let me remind you that I am not my sister, young Lord. I never supported anything that crazy woman did. I also didn't support my husband, but I was forced into a marriage contract. But I am still a Black and I have my own ambitions. And the best way to achieve those are through this woman, so yes, I am taking advantage of Miss Granger. But ask her yourself, has she compromised on any of her own beliefs so far?"
Hermione silently shook her head no when Neville looked at her and raised an eyebrow.
"I didn't think so," commented Narcissa. " So then, what issue do you have with me? Or are we back to the dinner at the Potter Estate this past fall?"
Hermione's response was on her face, clearly uncomfortable at the mention of that fateful night that led to her running out on Draco the next day. Neville finally spoke up, "I wasn't there, as you well know, but from what I have heard, your treatment of Hermione that night was deplorable."
Narcissa waved off his comments. "It accomplished what was necessary. Draco and Hermione really weren't good for each other. Hermione is better without him holding her back. Draco needs to find his own way, and who knows, maybe now he will. Maybe he can finally become the man he needs to be. He is a Black, and no, he will never be the Lord of that house, but maybe he will learn something good from Lord Potter-Black after all, as he does have some potential. And no offence Hermione, darling, but Draco needs a pureblood wife. He doesn't have the strength of character to pull off restoring the house of Malfoy without one. Oh, Harry Potter could do it, Potters have never had a problem with muggleborn women, and I'm sure young Lord Longbottom could do it too. Neville, here, showed what he was made of last year by defying the Carrows. But sadly, I know my son too well."
Hermione and Neville were gobsmacked by her comments.
Narcissa noted their reactions to her diatribe and then she continued. "If I am going to advise you I need to be honest. You and Draco would never have lasted. But you and Longbottom, you're a power couple. At least I think thats the term the muggles would use. But I digress. Hermione, you've made a good start. Your proposal for recognising other magical creatures was soundly defeated. The proposal for changing hiring policies at the ministry, that one came closer to passing than I ever imagined it could have, and it might stand a chance during the next session. We just need to be careful. Be gracious in the defeat of the bills that lost, and be thankful and appreciative of the bills that passed. Make sure that you thank EVERYONE for their support, even if they didn't support you."
"I'm not sure that I'm cut out to be a politician," commented Hermione, feeling even more tired after listening to Narcissa.
"Don't you worry your pretty little head about that, darling," commented Narcissa. "We'll make sure things move smoothly for you."