Disclaimer: I do not own anything related to Harry Potter. If I did I would be a far richer man. And I'd be a woman.
AN: Again, thanks to my beta, Grey Raven 09. And so, we come to the close. I'm posting Chapter 16 and the Epilogue together as a single chapter because let's face it, Chapter 16 is short. I hope everyone has enjoyed this story and the journey that I've taken Harry and his sister on. I'm extremely happy that I've been able to get a twin fic finished! This has been a fun experience for me and I'm going to miss these characters a great deal.
Please enjoy and let me know what you think in a review if you feel like it!
Chapter 16: The State of Things
The past few months had been like a living nightmare for Cornelius Fudge. First his prize Undersecretary had vanished, kidnapped right from her office. Then pieces of her had been found, if 'found' could even be said to be the right word. More like 'sent' or 'gifted', as if her killer had been bragging about the deed. Then the Daily Prophet stopped printing their general inflammatory articles that he so enjoyed reading as Rita Skeeter disappeared into parts unknown and nasty rumors sprung up about her pissing in the face of the wrong party. No one else was willing to start taking the same risks, for if someone had made a person as high profile as Skeeter disappear, imagine what they would do to a nobody! And then to top off the bad month of bad months, he received four hits in a row to his entire administration personally!
He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named was not only alive, but returned and stronger than ever.
He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named had attacked Azkaban and thanks to the drastically reduced security measures – the budget cuts had seemed like such a smart idea at the time – neatly waltzed right through, taking his primary supporters back with no fuss, and roping the Dementors into his ranks as well. The meager resistance that the Aurors were able to mount on short notice took heavy casualties.
He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named killed Cedric Diggory during the Triwizard Tournament championship finals.
And most damning of all: Harry Potter abandoned them and released a statement blaming Cornelius Fudge personally!
Fudge looked around his office one last time with his lime green bowler hat clutched in his hands and struggled not to cry. He blinked away tears and vehemently shook his head, shoving the hat onto his skull. The reporters would not see him weak. He was a politician and while he would never again be able to hold this office, he would bounce back and he would still be able to pull his career out of the ashes. He could hold a new office one day. Not one as high, true, but still one that would let him line his vault and get his friends their deserved jobs. He would preserve. It wasn't his fault that the Dark Lord chose this year of all years to stage a comeback. Nor was it his fault that the Potter twins decided to throw a tantrum at Britain. No. He could still spin this as long as he looked strong on the way out.
So, with his head held high and a thin smile on his face, Fudge walked out of the Minister for Magic's office two days after the reveal of Voldemort and before the Wizengamot could call for their vote of No Confidence. He walked through the sharks in the Atrium, avoiding answering questions with his years of experience at side-stepping responses. He smiled and nodded and responded and assured. He Flooed home. And finally, finally, he let out the breath of relief at the charade being over and he collapsed into his chair and hung his head and let his frustration out…and he cried.
"Aww, look at that, we don't even have to do anything and we already broke him. You were right, Harry! Too bad we can't drag this out. You should have bargained for more time."
Fudge's head whipped up as his eyes snapped from side to side, searching for the source of the mocking female voice invading his home.
A snort sounded from his left and he cracked his neck from whiplash as he tried to catch sight of the person who made it. "Nah, I was lucky to get what I did instead of him demanding we leave immediately."
"True, true." This time the voice was from his right. Fudge's neck ached with pain as he twisted back around again and he let out a whimper. He pawed for his wand on the table to his side, the blood draining from his face as he found it gone.
"Rose, 'arry, my loves, I think we should drop ze Disillusionment before 'e breaks his neck trying to find us." A third voice joined the other two, this one directly in front of his chair. Fudge cringed back trying to make himself as small as possible – it wasn't very successful thanks to his fairly considerable splurging while in office.
"Aww, you're no fun."
Fudge's horror melted from panic to shock to outrage as the forms of Rose and Harry Potter shimmered into view on either side of his easy chair with the tall blonde French tart they had been seen with all year in front of him. Scowling, Fudge shifted in his seat and sat up straight as he glared at the stupid teenagers. "What prank are you fools playing at? Give me back my wand and get out of my home! Maybe then I won't have the Aurors arrest you for this break-in!"
"Wow, that's a lot of bluster for someone facing three wands and Veela fire," Harry replied calmly tapping his own wand against the palm of his hand and nodding to the French girl in the middle of the group. "Or did you forget that Gabrielle can roast you before you could get your fat arse out of that chair hmm?"
Fudge felt a bead of sweat break out along his forehead though he attempted to ignore it and scowled. "Oh please, none of you are even 15 yet. You may talk big, and you may have sent an amusing letter with big words to the Daily Prophet blaming me for all of your troubles, but you don't have the bollocks to do anything about it. We both know you're going to walk out of my door and I'm going to call the Aurors and you're going to pay a hefty fine and that's going to be the end of things. Now get out!"
"Huh," Rose said blinked and cocking her head. "You know I think losing your job actually did you some good. If you had a modicum of this sort of sense originally, we might have actually been able to walk away from this thing without being shattered originally. Unfortunately, you didn't and we were. So now it's time to reap the consequences of your actions; well you haven't done them yet, actually, but it's really all the same to us at this point."
Fudge blinked and tried to parse her words into something that made sense. "I have no idea what you are talking about."
Harry nodded. "Of course you don't. Let me rephrase for my sister: In the original timeline, Cedric was murdered, Voldemort stayed in the shadows, I was blamed for my classmate's death, and when I defended myself from Dementors sent by Umbridge to kill me, you used me as a political pawn to steal power from Dumbledore." Fudge felt his head spin as Harry Potter's words pounded like a sledgehammer into his skull. No one could travel through time longer than a few hours, that wasn't how Time Turners worked…but if someone could…if anyone could...of course it would be the Potters. "You and Umbridge both tore apart our family. You killed us as sure as putting the wands to our heads and firing a Killing Curse or tossing us through the Veil."
"But we found our way back…eventually," Rose continued. She stepped closer to the French girl and reached out to hold the tart's hand, squeezing briefly. "Thanks to some people who never gave up on us." The blonde smiled at Rose though the expression quickly dropped off as she focused back on him with beaded eyes. He shrank into the cushion, watching the outlines of feathers appearing on the girl's arms and flickers of orange flame seeming to dance between her fingers.
"Oh look, he believes us," Harry commented chuckling. Fudge couldn't look at the teenager(?), he couldn't tear his eyes away from the Veela in front of him as her features sharpened and the feathers grew more defined. "We had to actually show Umbitch the memories of the trial to get her to listen. Do think that makes this idiot smarter or just more open to stupid ideas?"
"Nah, he just realizes that if anyone can bend time over and make it our bitch, it would be us. Fudge is smart that way, aren't you buddy?" Rose said, laughing. Fudge just nodded dumbly as the flames on the Veela's fingers grew and the girl started to bounce a small ball of fire back and forth between her hands. He steadfastly chose to ignore the growing wet spot on his pants.
"You can't punish me for something I've never even done!" Fudge squeaked out, his voice high and barely recognizable even to his own ears.
"Zat is where you are wrong," the Veela responded. She coughed and frowned. "My apologies; my accent returns sometimes during heightened emotions and I want you to be able to understand me completely. You see, Cornelius, you are the last name on our list. While others have hurt us, you are the last of those who have personally sought to intentionally destroy our family. We have taken care of everyone else. We don't particularly care if you have done it yet or not in this altered timeline. We care that you already did it to us in our past. You have suffered, but you have not suffered enough."
"You were the ones who killed Dolores," he whispered.
"We did," Harry confirmed with a nod.
"She mindwiped my brother and worse, she sealed his magic. She claimed she killed him. For all intents and purposes, she did. We returned the favor."
"…You killed Rita Skeeter too didn't you?"
"She went after our family. We don't tolerate that," Rose replied. "The Prophet cooling down in general was nice, but unintentional."
"The other disappearances…Snape, Lucius's son…those were you as well, weren't they?" Fudge knew he was crying again and the wet spot on his trousers had spread. He wasn't getting out and there was no rescue that would come. He had tickled the sleeping dragon in their past and he was going to burn in its flaming wrath for that mistake now. The first rule of politics was to never set yourself against an opponent more powerful than you – unless you crushed them in a single blow. He had apparently done so, and yet, failed to fully follow through. That was going to be a fatal mistake.
"Well go figure," Harry snorted, "you do have some instincts after all! I guess you had to in order to become Minister in the first place. Shame you had to set yourself against us, huh? Alright, well, we have places to go, homes to buy, and friends to meet up with. Any last words Fudge?"
"Will – " his throat clenched up and he had to force himself to take several deep breaths before he could start over. Even when he did, he wasn't proud of the shrill aspect his voice took on. "Will it be quick?"
The Veela's grin split and the laughter that rang out sent such chills down his back that for a moment he worried a Dementor had entered the home. "Quick? Oh no, no. No! Cornelius Fudge, you my dear, dear Minister, get special treatment. You see, while Umbridge railroaded my Bonded and nearly drove my love insane, she was not the one who spearheaded the intent – merely the method. You were the one who chose to push forward with using 'arry as the pawn in your game. You told her to move forward with getting rid of my Mate. You get to experience one of my inventions first hand."
Rose smiled and pulled out a rune-studded stone as she stepped forward. "Gabrielle is a bit of a tinkerer. She and I never really finished school you see so we're mostly self-educated. She's a bit of a genius when it comes to runes, arithmancy, and charms though so she came up with a lot of new stuff. Not all of it was super successful and a lot of the earlier things ended up going in a very different direction than what we had intended."
"Spell invention is hard as it turns out. Who knew?" Harry said with a smirk and a shrug.
"This one in particular," Rose said hefting her stone and waving it towards Fudge who just cringing away deeper into his chair. "This one we call the Eternal Flame. We were trying for an interrogation tool when we were attempting to track down Harry's location from Umbridge's fixer squad."
The Veela picked up the explanation from there. It did not make things better. "I tried to mix my own nature into the magic of the rune. I thought that if I could keep it non-lethal while inducing feelings of burning for a short period the subject would be far more willing to cooperate and tell us what we needed to know. The issue is that Veela magic is far more potent than I had expected and it paired quite energetically with the stasis matrix. Final tests on the subjects we experimented with showed that the magic involved lasts for about a decade before finally fading away and letting the body die from exhaustion and stress. I'm fairly certain that the mind will have expired long before then to madness from the constant burning and flames."
Harry stepped forward and tapped Fudge's head, Fudge almost felt that the young man was a statue carved out of stone for as much emotion as he was showing right now. "Translation, Fudge: you're going to feel like you're burning alive for about how long you left the three of us in a living hell. So no, it's not going to be quick. It's going to be long, you're going to go mad, and only then, at the very end, will you finally die. You fucked with our family. You don't get to make that mistake again. Goodbye, Fudge."
He opened his mouth. Whether to beg for his life or to scream for help, even he didn't know. Either way, he didn't have the time to find out for in the space between seconds, Gabrielle Delacour took a step forward and shoved the stone against his chest, her manic grin spreading from ear to ear and the feathers on her arms coated every visible inch of skin.
Cornelius Fudge knew nothing but agony from that moment on, and, thanks to the stasis portion of the spellwork, he couldn't even scream his torment.
It had been nearly fifteen months since the Dark Lord returned. Fifteen months of civil war. Fifteen months of fear. Fifteen months of neighbors murdering neighbors. Fifteen months of attacks on Muggles or 'Blood Traitors'. Fifteen months of Aurors tightening their rules and restrictions in an effort to fight back. Fifteen months of Albus Dumbledore moving every mountain to try and convince the world that things were under control, but that, yes, they could use a bit of assistance, if possible. Fifteen months of Wizarding Britain realizing that maybe – just maybe – they had grown stagnant and complacent.
The first time Janet Sherwood took her children to Diagon Alley for Hogwarts supplies after He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named had returned, they had all been in denial. Everyone ran from shop to shop, terrified that a Death Eater would show up in the middle of the street and start killing them all. She had searched every corner for a threat without really believing that one could exist. She had heard about the random killings and the terror attacks that occurred whenever there seemed to be more students coming to get supplies for school. She had known in her head that such a thing happened; had even read about it occurring the week before, but it didn't mean it could happen to her children.
She'd lost Johnson in the massacre outside of Madame Malkin's Robes when she was getting him new dress robes for the Yule Ball during the holidays several months later.
She hadn't paid any attention to him talking about how he had said that many of his classmates hadn't come back to Hogwarts after classes started back up in September. How he'd heard rumors that several had left with the Potters. Or that several had been killed during raids on Diagon Alley during the summer. Or how others had been murdered in their homes by Death Eaters looking for 'Blood Traitors' or 'Mudbloods'. She hadn't paid attention. She should have.
She hadn't even finished processing her son's death when her friend, Melanie, died during the fight that broke out in Hogsmeade during a school trip a few weeks later.
That was when things started to sink in – for Janet at least. She started talking to her remaining friends. Some had snapped out of their daze earlier it seemed, while others were still trying to say that it would all blow over. That the Potters would come back and kill the evil creature inciting all of this madness. Some of the more delusional ones even seemed to think that they were immune to the violence. Why? Because they paid the Death Eaters off?
Melanie had paid the Death Eaters protection money too. It hadn't shielded her from the curses let loose that day. Her gold had lined those bastards' pockets and done nothing to save Melanie's life when it counted.
Janet supposed she couldn't really be too harsh though; after all, half of Hogsmeade was destroyed in that particular assault just because some recruit got it into his head that experimenting with Fiendfyre would be fun. Janet felt her cheeks grow wet as the memories of that particular scene surged to the front again and the smell that accompanied the area as she cradled her friend's body. At least Melanie had just died to a Killing Curse. She had gone easily and quickly.
No, no one was safe. No one was safe meaning that everyone was a target.
And if everyone was a target then everyone needed to start to fight back. They couldn't count on some teenagers that had abandoned them to fight back against the power-hungry sadists at their door. Janet closed her eyes as she clutched Johnson's photograph to her breast. How she wished she could blame the Potters for running away – and taking so many of the Neutrals with them.
Dumbledore's Phoenixes were ineffective at best, counterproductive at worst. Every so often they would capture a Death Eater, yet whenever said Death Eater was captured and turned over to the Aurors they wound up back on the streets or in their mansions again by the end of the day. 'Lack of evidence', 'vigilante justice', 'insufficient cause', etc. etc. it was never enough, there was always a loophole and Dumbledore was only now beginning to learn, yet he still wasn't willing to take the necessary steps, to use lethal force – as far as Janet could see from the reports.
The Aurors were no better. They couldn't cut corners to keep the bloody horrors in containment and they couldn't kill them unless in direct combat. Once they had them, they caved to the corrupt Wizengamot and had to let them all go, unless they were caught red-handed. And none of the smart Death Eaters were ever caught red-handed. Janet could count on one hand the number of Aurors worth their salt. It was almost like they were being hamstrung from within, despite Director Bone's continual purges of her department.
Oh, if only she could blame all of this on the Potters leaving things would be so much easier! She'd at least have someone to hate and someone to blame!
And yet…and yet they had seen the writing on the wall. They had been the smart ones. They had known long before Janet did what was going to happen. They had known and they hadn't had strong enough ties to stay. They had decided it wasn't worth it. Janet almost made that same choice, except the memories of Melanie and Johnson stayed her hand.
She'd stay. She'd stay and she'd make them pay. She'd make them all pay. She'd gather her friends willing to take up wands, and together they would start to rally the rest of the community, then the countryside, then the country. If the Aurors and Dumbledore's Phoenixes weren't being effective, Janet would just have to make sure to gather everyone else in the whole bloody country!
The Death Eaters would pay for killing her family and friends.
Flora Carrow shut her eyes and ground her teeth, the closing door thankfully cutting out the screams of pain behind her. She let out a long breath and loosened her clenched hands before turning to her sister standing at the window of their room. "I can't keep doing this, Hestia. It's been over a year. Half our friends are dead, half our friends are murderers, half our friends are still convinced it's going to blow over."
"That's three halves. Did you fail maths sister?" Hestia asked without looking away from the view of the stars and the smoke from the burning village below their home.
"I don't care about maths! I care that if we stay here any longer, we're going to end up just as crazy as Aunt Alecto and Uncle Amycus! You asked me to stay and I tried, but I can't do it anymore it! I can't keep hearing those people in the dungeon, Tia," Flora's voice cracked on a sob. "I knew Martin. He was nice. What did he do wrong? Be born to the wrong person?"
"According to Aunt Alecto," Hestia murmured. She shook her head and trailed a hand down the side of the window frame. "If we leave they will hunt us. We're not like the other twins. We're Death Eater spawn."
"Rumor has it that the Potters made a deal before they left."
"…Flora, why do you think I asked you to stay?" Her sister finally turned to look at her. Flora nearly recoiled. It was the first good look she'd had at Hestia in months. Hestia had always been careful to stay in the shadows and to keep her cloak up. Flora hadn't even noticed until this moment, but now…now it was obvious why…Hestia had given up. The bags under her eyes, the sunken skin, the nearly death-like pallor to her complexion…
"Tia, what…what the bloody hell?" Flora whispered.
"I've been trying to find why they let Rose and Harry go without sending out hunting parties for them. I thought that if those two could get away, maybe we could too. The Weasleys are easy. Nobody cares about the jokesters. They're easy to dismiss as unimportant. The family may be 'Blood Traitors' but they're small fish, and when the whole country is fighting nobody cares about a family of redheads with no money. But the Potters have money, and status, and importance. And the Dark Lord himself let them walk away."
Flora swallowed a growing lump in her throat. Her sister wouldn't look like that if she had hope still. "You found the reason?"
"I finally got Lucius Malfoy talking earlier."
"Lucius? Tia, what did you do?" Hestia twisted back to the window and refused to meet Flora's gaze. Flora's stomach dropped out. "Tia, what did you do?"
"What I had to," she whispered in a voice so soft that it barely carried to Flora's ears. Flora choked back a sob. "It doesn't matter. Flora, Harry had some sort of anchor to the Dark Lord's life within him. We're never going to be able to get away because he bartered his safety by using that as a safeguard. The insane bastard is never going to hunt Harry, since if he does, he loses a guarantee that he stays alive through whatever the Aurors throw at him."
Flora's mind kicked into gear and her eyes narrowed. She peered at her sister's back though she didn't see it. A grin slowly spread across her face. "…Malfoy wasn't supposed to tell you that."
Hestia snorted. "Of course he wasn't! I was finally letting him fuck me, Flora, the bastard was going to tell me whatever the hell I wanted to know if he wanted into my robes!"
"So, we use that," Flora stated.
Hestia turned so fast that she nearly fell. "What?!"
"If we even hint to the Dark Lord at Lucius telling us something from when Rose and Harry got away…what's going on in that dungeon would seem like child's play compared to what would happens to Lucius."
Hestia slowly nodded, a grin starting to form on her own face as well. "And Lucius knows that too. So he'd be perfectly willing to fake our deaths and get us out of the country."
"I hear Rose and Harry are in Australia."
"And Fred and George were supposedly making their way over there too last they were seen…"
"Can we do this? Are we sure?"
"I can't stay here anymore, Flora. I'd rather die by your hand than become like Alecto. We do this or we die. It's that simple."
Flora nodded. "I agree. Though, sis, before we commit, you do know that there is supposedly a real resistance movement growing right? Not just the Auror pushback anymore, I mean a real resistance. I heard about it that last time I was in town."
Hestia grimaced. "Lucius talked about that too once he was done. The fighting is just going to get worse because of it. This war is only getting started, Flora. They push back, we push harder. We push harder, they fight dirtier. I looked up Muggle history a few weeks back. Remember the last French civil war? How so few of the pureblood families survived? And that was a muggle civil war, the magicals had nothing to do with that one! This is going to end up just like that. And since the Dark Lord apparently can't be permanently killed, I'd be surprised if there are any British magicals of note left once everything is said and done. We need to leave or we need to die while we still have our souls."
Flora took one more look at the curl of smoke rising into view through their window and blotting out the stars. She squared her shoulders and grabbed her wand. "Just tell me when we are going, sister."
"Girl are you ready yet? I thought that conference thingamajig started at 2?" Tracey's voice rang out through the small flat assaulting Hermione's ears. Wincing, she glanced at her watch and let out a short groan.
"Oh, for crying out loud, it shouldn't be this hard to decide which earrings to wear," she muttered to her reflection. "I could kill Lavender for talking about fashion so much."
"Or you could kill me, since I'm the one you keep getting all girlied up for," Tracey teased poking her head around the door. "Thingamajig?"
"Yes, it starts at 2 o'clock; we have five minutes, I only need about one to apparate us to my workroom around the corner and we can find seats from there. Blue or green?"
Hermione rolled her eyes though she set the blue earrings to the side and slipping on the other set. "You always say that. And stop calling it a thingamajig! It's a highly anticipated conference discussing the implications of Many-Worlds Theory and how String mechanics could affect Brane manipulations on such a system to enable a Closed Timelike Curve effect."
"Thingamajig," Tracey replied nodding sagely, her face betraying no hint of emotion whatsoever.
"Oh shush, you. I think there is practical applications. Especially after the latest notes and figures that Gabrielle and Rose sent our way. With a bit of work we might just be able to manipulate the science side of things and pull the magic aspect into play. We could be looking at – "
"Exactly how they got here and messed around with things to begin with," Tracey said sighing. She stepped fully into the room and hitched an arm around Hermione's elbow starting to drag her girlfriend towards the exit to their flat. "Look, sweetie, I may not be as bright as you, but I'm not stupid. Don't play around with this stuff. Please. Our lives aren't perfect, but they're plenty good enough for me. Everyone I care about is safe and relatively happy. Let things lie."
Hermione frowned, shaking her head. Tracey refused to meet her eyes even when she shifted her pocketbook around enough to grab the brunette's hand and squeeze hard enough to cut off circulation. "England is still burning. It's been years. There's talk of quarantining the entire island."
Tracey kept moving them both towards the front door. Her hand closed over the knob and she froze for a second staring at the wooden door before murmuring almost too softly to hear, "Good. They've waited too long to put that in place."
"You don't mean that!" Hermione slammed her hand against the door and held it closed.
"We're going to be late."
"Stop and bloody talk to me, dammit!"
Tracey didn't let go of the door handle though she did turn to meet Hermione's eyes. The bubbly persona she usually displayed to all and sundry had fled in the face of their chatter and Hermione was reminded firmly of just why Tracey had been sorted into the House of the cunning and ambitious. The look in Tracey's eyes sent shivers down Hermione's spine and, for once, she didn't enjoy the feeling. "Hermione, Voldemort is going to get tired of dealing with his civil war against Grey Lady Janet Something-or-other one day. He's going to take in enough people from other countries to crush everyone against him. Then he's going to get restless and move out. Eventually he's going to make a move for Harry and Rose. It's who he is, it's what he does.
"They got away from him and everyone knows it. He let people know he made them a deal. That was fine when it was a small war, when things were going to be over and done with quick, and nobody outside cared. But it's not small anymore, and now people look at their example and they want to know why he let the twins go. He's not going to like being questioned and, while he's saner than we ever expected, it's eventually not going to matter. He's going to have to go after them if only to keep hold of what he has."
"I don't see what that has to do with anything."
"You're smart, girl," Tracey sighed. "Use those brains of yours. We're going to a lecture that you want to use to figure out how to make time travel work long term, instead of just in the Time Turners. Rose and Gabrielle are already working on rebuilding whatever the hell they made to come back. I'm betting their original version was flawed, and dangerous as all hell, otherwise they wouldn't need to consult with you again now. Hell, they probably did consult with you and you told them off for exactly that reason. And they went ahead anyway because neither thinks right when Harry is in danger. If Voldemort comes after them, do you think they are going to wait long enough to gather the rest of us, or do you think they are going to circle the wagons with a faulty time leap machine and jump back to try again? What happens to us in that scenario?"
Hermione flashed through a dozen options in as many seconds each more horrifying than the last. She felt the blood drain from her face and she tried to swallow on a suddenly dry throat. "…Oh…"
"Yeah," Tracey chuckled mirthlessly. "So, let's hope that the idiots in the local governments finally pull their heads out of their arses and magically quarantine Britain before we have to move in next door to the Potters just to make sure we get a ticket on their emergency universe escape train."
"Perhaps, perhaps we should move anyway…Once I finish this course. Just in case. Being prepared never hurt anyone, right?"
Tracey laughed though the warmth had crept back into her tone. "We'll discuss it later. Right now, we have to get to your thingamajig. We're already going to be late!"
Hermione gulped and nodded. "Yes, and this lecture is suddenly even more important than I had thought. Come on then, let's go and try to figure out the mysteries of the universe. And save it from the wrath of paranoid Potters."
Daphne bit her tongue to keep the smirk she felt inside from showing on her features. This poor fool had no idea of the political coup he had just handed her. Full control of the exports of Antipodean Opaleyes, Pygmy Puffs, and Billywigs? The head of the taxation department alone was going to be calling for Martin Skorakoski's head in a few days! Granted he probably had no idea what a Pygmy Puff was considering that the Weasleys had only succeeded in breeding the creatures a few days ago, and she'd ensured that the man didn't have any younger children who would've been falling over themselves to get on the waiting list for one. Plus, Daphne had been rather successful with hiding the other two breeds in the minutia of her bill's riders. None of that changed the fact that she had gotten it signed into law.
Now she – acting as the official Representative of House Potter of course – had sole say in the pricing, taxation, exemption, distribution, etc. of three of the five major sources of intercontinental creature trade routes leaving Australia! How long the situation would last would be interesting. She gave it two, maybe three months before someone caught on and she doubted she had enough support to keep such a large monopoly. Even with the Pygmy Puff tax exemption going into the right hands, it wouldn't be enough. There simply were too few well-placed politicians in this court with appropriately aged children. Ah well, she'd enjoy it while it lasted and line the vaults of both herself and her patrons.
As she stepped out of the room and gathered her hair into a ponytail, Daphne slipped a gold band onto her ring finger in preparation for her next meeting. A quick spell had her clothes slightly frumpled and her hair mussed just enough to give the impression that she had just left the house in a hurry. "The things I do for you people," she murmured to herself, though her grin betrayed her true feelings.
This 'meeting' wasn't anything difficult or something that stretched her morals at all. She wasn't a stranger to trading sex for votes; having to pretend to cheat on a nonexistent husband to get a rise out of her mark was a new one for her however. It did spice things up and the thrill of the chase before finally finding what had set him raring to go had done more for her than her last three conquests combined.
Daphne paused to consider that train of thought and her smile dimmed for a brief moment. "Hmm, perhaps I should schedule some time with the family's therapist too…No. That's for people who want to change. I like who I am." Nodding to herself, Daphne spun in place and Apparated to cement her next alliance.
It didn't last long unfortunately; he'd been late for a meeting of his own so hadn't had time to play. Still, she had secured his cooperation for the coming legislation on centaur suffrage so the morning goal was accomplished even if she wasn't fully satisfied. She'd finish herself off shortly.
First, she needed to check in.
As she Flooed back into her home she dropped her bags and reached over to call her patrons. Harry answered on the second ring. "You are now the proud controllers of the largest portion of magical creature import/export rules in the country. Congratulations!"
"…Hello to you too, Daphne." Came Harry's amused replied through the phone's speaker. "And thank you I assume? I honestly have no idea what that means. Should I? Did we discuss this already?"
"Fred and George Weasley said they had bred the Pygmy Puffs in their last letter, remember? I thought we should get ahead of the demand and get in on the ground floor," she explained waving a hand in the air despite him not being able to see it.
Harry chuckled. "So instead of becoming a silent partner in their business, you decided it would be easier to regulate the trade of half the country to cut better deals for us and our political allies?"
"To be fair, I did make you a silent partner in their business as well. You, specifically, have a 17 percent stake. So do Rose and Gabrielle."
"51 percent total huh?" Harry whistled. "And they were okay with this?"
Daphne smiled thinking back to the night with the twins. That had been a new experience for her indeed. One that was going to be repeated shortly. They'd had stipulations for agreeing to her partnership. She'd not objected at all. "You have your ways, I have mine."
"…Should I ask if their girlfriends cared?"
"I don't know if they have ones currently. I didn't ask and they didn't volunteer that information. Do you want me to ask the next time?"
She could hear his shudder over the phone which should have been impossible. "Please don't. Or if you do don't tell me. One set of twins' sex lives is enough. Well, two I guess, since the Carrow twins showed up last night. They've apparently had quite the adventure getting here. When you have a moment, we need to talk about getting them new names and papers. They've requested help and we've tentatively granted it. I don't remember much about them, but they seemed nice, Rose said they tried to watch out for her the first time around, and they've had it pretty bad recently from what I've seen."
Daphne frowned. She had no issues helping Flora and Hestia, but she really did want to finish what Frank had started. "Is it something that needs to be done immediately or can I wait an hour or two?"
"The Carrows are staying with us for now. We have enough spare rooms that they're good to go. If you can get it done by the end of the week so they can leave the manor it would be greatly appreciated though."
"Understood," Daphne said almost sighing in relief. "Do let me know if anyone wants anything else specific. Otherwise I'll be over with the papers in a day. Maybe three depending on how long it takes to find my contact."
"Gotcha. Talk to you later, Daph."
The click as her patron hung up was swiftly followed by Daphne setting her phone onto the side table and shucking the remainder of her clothes. She smiled as she shut the door to her room, her mind starting to wander to all of the deals she'd have to cut and favors she'd have to cash in and exchange in order to procure papers for the Carrows. "You keep me so busy, Harry. So many politicians to play with, so many people to deceive, so much wonderful intrigue, all the games to keep in the air. Best decision I've ever made!" she gasped. Daphne closed her eyes and kept her mind focused forward, her breathing hitching and little mewls escaping as her fingers worked.
Yes, choosing to work for the Potters was truly letting her have her cake and eat it too. All of the political fun, none of the family problems that came with the Greengrass name. And she even got to explore parts of herself she'd written off as useless. Yes, all was definitely, definitely, as it was supposed to be for Daphne Greengrass.
Harry hung up the phone rolling his eyes and dropped into his couch. Dora raised her eyebrows from her position draped over the armchair nearby. "Something funny there, Harry? Didn't quite catch enough of that conversation to follow along. Clue a girl in?"
"Daphne apparently worked her magic and made herself into a single point of contact for how intercountry creature transport laws and taxes are changed. I think. She wasn't really forthcoming and you know that's not my area. Hell, this is what we pay her for anyway, so I don't have to know what I'm talking about."
Dora snorted and picked up her copy of the Quibbler again. "Yeah, I give it a month before somebody realizes how badly they screwed the pooch on that one and changes the laws back."
"Who's screwing me!?" a disembodied voice yelped from somewhere down the hall. Harry and Dora both ignored it.
"Just imagine how much money and groundwork she's going to have laid before they oust her though. That girl is scary when she sets her mind to something," Harry said.
Dora shrugged not looking up from her magazine. "Good thing she's on our side then eh?"
"Too true. Too true."
"Seriously, who's screwing me and why didn't someone tell me?" Sirius whined running into the room panting and doubling over with his hands on his knees. "Do you know how hard it's been to get a date here? All these Aussie women think I sound amazing, but once I say I'm from Britain all they want to do is talk about some 007 bloke! And the men keep glaring at me because the women won't leave me alone and yet I can't seal the deal with any of them because I have no idea how to respond when they ask me say 'Bond'! I'll take getting metaphorically screwed at this point because that, at least, is something!"
Dora slowly laid her magazine onto her lap and turned to face Harry, her hair settling into a firm orange. "Do you want to tell him or should I?"
Harry smirked fighting to hold back his laughter. "Honestly I've been waiting for him to ask. Rose and I have been taking bets on how long before he cracks. I think this counts as my win. We'll sit him down with Gabrielle tonight. She still needs to see the Sean Connery ones."
"Those are the best ones!"
"No argument here."
"What are you two talking about!?" Sirius exclaimed throwing his hands up to the heavens.
"Your film education, Mr. Bond. And you're seriously having this many problems getting a date?" Dora asked laughing.
Sirius grimaced and kicked the carpet without meeting her eyes. "Well I could probably just sleep with someone, but that would get old fast. Everyone else in this house has a real significant other. I figure it's probably time for me to get a partner too."
"Cousin, my boyfriend has been around for two months. I'm keeping him because he's hilarious and he has a strange love of creatures that want to kill him – which is like half of this insane country so I guess that's not saying much for anyone who lives here," Dora replied deadpan.
"Hey, don't insult Steve, he seems nice!" Harry interjected throwing a pillow at Dora.
Dora caught the pillow and turned her wide-eyed gaze on Harry. "He wants to make a television show about crocodiles."
"He's our brand of crazy!"
"…I need to find you a new therapist," Dora groaned shaking her head and grabbing for the Quibbler again.
Gabrielle walked into the room just as Sirius' laughter at their friend's comment started up. The Veela glanced up from her notes, shrugged and sat beside Harry using his lap as a footrest. "Anyone I need to burn, entrance, or experiment on 'arry?"
"Nope, we were just discussing why Dora's boyfriend is actually pretty cool."
"Oh Steve? He's a keeper. Weird, but very nice. I like his views on animals too, I think even Rose likes him. Shame that his ex walked out after seeing that dragon, could handle crocodiles but not a small dragon..." Gabrielle sighed setting one of her pages to the side and pulling a pencil out from her ear to mark up the next one in line.
Harry nodded and wrapped an arm around her, pulling her close. "Rose really does like him by the way; mentioned it at dinner the other night. You were visiting Fleur." Gabrielle made an agreeable noise though didn't look up. "What are you working on, Ella?"
"Hermione sent us her reply with corrections to my initial design for the runes for the Time Leap Circle. I don't know if I like how this coincides with the math though. I'll have to have Rose look over these later on. She was always better with Runes then I was." Gabrielle shook her head and put the paper on the table. Shifting her legs off of Harry she instead snuggled up into his side and wrapped herself around him fitting against him like she had been molded to his exact measurements, sighing deeply. "Ah, so warm."
"Says the girl who can create fire with a snap of her fingers," an amused snort commented from the entrance to the room. Gabrielle twisted just enough to stick her tongue out at Rose before burrowing back into Harry's side. "I heard my name, did Daph get back to us on the plan for the Pygmy Puffs? Those things are adorable; they're going to be huge; they were last time I think." She shuffled to the couch and settled into Harry's other side playing with the bottom of his shirt with one hand and curling Gabrielle's hair around her fingers with her other one.
"Apparently you guys are silent partners in the Weasleys' shop now. And our household controls the creature trade of Australia," Dora commented from behind her magazine. Sirius and Rose both stopped their current amusements and turned to stare at her then Harry.
"What?" two voices asked completely deadpan.
"Don't look at me! I just told her to get with Fred and George and iron out an agreement for something regarding the cute little critters. She took that and ran with it!"
Sirius groaned and banged his head against the wall of the room. "Can someone please convince that Davis girl to move here? Daphne was never this manic about things before Davis left the country!"
"I told you she fit right into our brand of crazy," Rose muttered. "In other news, everybody knows not to run around the house naked right? Flora and Hestia are – oh hi guys! As I was saying, Flora and Hestia are here."
The Carrow twins were clustered together near the doorway, hand in hand staring wide-eyed at the lounging household in front of them. Harry lifted his hand from around Gabrielle's back and waved. "Don't look so scared, girls. We don't bite. Not unless you want one of us to…"
"You said we could stay for a few days…" Hestia murmured. "It was late though so…I wasn't sure if…"
"Stay as long as you want. You never had anything to do with mocking us or hurting us. You're not on our shit list so you can stay and be comfortable. If that changes, you get one warning and will be politely asked to leave. If you ignore said warning, you're probably going to wish you had stayed in Britain. Those are the only conditions," Harry said nodding to one of the empty chairs nearby.
Flora blinked at the trio on the couch. "So the rumors were true them, you two were together."
"Yes. Again, if this is a problem, you can leave. If you want to stay long enough for new identities, we have Daphne Greengrass working on that for you now. It should only be a few days."
Flora and Hestia both looked to each other and frowned. After a few moments Hestia sighed and turned back to Harry. "Was it by choice or circumstance?"
"More circumstance and upbringing. We didn't really have any say in the matter. Rose was who I trusted to have my back and I was the only one there for Rose until well into our teens. Gabrielle entered the picture while I was – gone."
Flora nodded. "As long as you aren't evil, soul-stealing, torturing, assholes like our aunt and uncle we can deal with it."
Gabrielle shifted slightly and opened one eye to look towards the Carrows. "We torture people who wrong us. Our therapist is working with us on that. The last one we hurt was several years back. I zink it shows progress. He agrees. I do make an effort not to steal souls though and 'arry has assured me I am not evil."
"Don't listen to her, she's an Evil Mad Scientist," Sirius commented pointing his finger at Gabrielle and nodding quickly. "Her inventions will turn you to stone or have the carpet attack you!"
"We warned you not to use that spell on the carpet, puppy," Dora commented without looking up.
"I didn't know it was going to attack me!"
Flora chuckled softly and moved fully into the room, Hestia following behind her. They sat down near the seat that Harry had indicated and smiled at the trio as Dora and Sirius continued to bicker. "Is your home always this…lively?"
"Generally," Harry replied smiling warmly back at them as his eyes roved over the group of people. "It's taken us a long time to get here, but we're finally comfortable and everyone is leaving us alone except for those few whom we care about. This is our family, Flora. For the longest time it was just Rose and I. Now…now I have a whole lot more.
"And family is all that really matters."
Rose stretched like a cat as the sun hit her eyes pulled her from a deep, dreamless sleep to the land of the wakeful. Her one hand brushed through the silky hair of her Veela lover while her other hand was quickly halted in its stretch by the weight of her brother's neck resting on her upper arm. Gabrielle mewled in contentment at the touch while Harry snuggled closer and responded to her movement by reaching over with his own hand, gripping her breast. Rose's eyes fluttered open and she snorted in amusement as she looked down at him. "Really, Harry? You could at least pretend to be asleep."
"I could be sleep-molesting you," he murmured into her side. His breath tickled her armpit and Rose had to struggle not to respond to the shivers his breath sent running up and down her nerves. It wasn't intentional – and if it was, he certainly didn't get the credit for knowing he'd won ten seconds after she woke up.
"Non, you don't get to sleep-molest her. That is my job. Only I get to sleep molest you both. Our therapist says so," Gabrielle mumbled through the pillow her head was currently buried in.
"Our therapist is stupid," Harry replied sagely.
"Well, I think he's great," Rose said chuckling. She shifted her leg enough to rub between Harry's thighs. He grunted in appreciation as she felt him growing to attention. "How many outbursts have I had since we started talking to this one, hmm?"
"Point taken," Harry grunted. "No more talk of therapists. Ella, last chance to wake up and join in."
"I'm still exhausted from my project last night, 'arry, you two have fun. Wake me for breakfast."
Rose rolled over landing fully atop Harry. "More fun for me, in that case. Now, where were we?"
"Hmm, I believe I was about to remind you of why you love waking up beside me," Harry replied kissing from the nape of her neck to the corners of her mouth.
"Good answer," groaned Rose as she shifted backward, seating him inside her folds. She sealed his lips with her own and together as the sun warmed them, Harry and Rose, with Gabrielle splayed out beside them let their passion loose and forgot the world for another few hours.
The problems of Britain were a world away and that was exactly how they had always wanted it to be. All they had ever wanted was to be left alone, and finally, finally, they were getting their wish.
AN: In this world Steve Irwin didn't get married to Terri Raines. And he started his show a few years later than in our world. Whether he's a wizard or not in this story you can decide for yourselves.
Fanfic Rec: 'FILFY Teacher' by Vimesenthusiast. This is a crossover with Highschool DxD. The main pairing is Harry/Rias though it's slowly growing into a harem setting with Yasaka and Kalawarner at minimum. This is largely AU and set after the war, where Harry had a single daughter with Ginny, Lily, but things didn't work out so he moved to Japan. Harry is a werewolf as well thanks to Third Year and after the move he quickly gets involved with Rias and the other devils, beginning to greatly mess up canon events. As an interesting aside being the master of the Hallows turns into assuming the legacy of a dead god in this fic. If you enjoy DxD but wish it were a bit less perverted or enjoy HP but wish Harry was a bit smarter/mature/powerful, then this story is EXCELLENT. Plus Lily is ADORABLE and most of the characters from both verses are very in character. The story is in progress and fairly regularly updated.
Second rec: 'Parallels' by Miss Poki. This is another Harry/Twin!Sister fic. It's a short oneshot, it's rather fluffy, and it's about Harry and his sister set after/during their first time together with them deciding that while it's not quite right, it's right for them considering their past. A sweet fic and something rather appropriate to end my recommendations on considering this story's subject matter.