Disclaimer: Everything belongs to J.K.R.
Author's notes: at the bottom
Chapter 59 to 61, 06/09/18
On Sunday morning, they were still at The Rectory. They'd taken the guest suite that they habitually used whenever they didn't want to Apparate back to Grimmauld Place after a late night with their family.
Daphne picked up her last mug of tea from the breakfast table and walked into the family room, where she plopped down on to the huge lounge sofa. She put both hands around the mug and looked around in the familiar room. Everything was as it had always been: shelves with the favourite books and board games of the family, a stack of popular magazines on the low coffee table, and everywhere magical and Muggle pictures of members of the family over the last seven decades.
It was easy to pretend nothing had happened; it was as if Tori was up in her room, working on her embroidery, while Father had already left for work, and Mother was busy somewhere in the house.
However, she'd never been one for make believe, and she wouldn't start now, either.
Her heart was heavy in her chest. She'd lost her family, was she also going to lose Harry? Father's death before Harry turned thirty had mixed the cards a new; technically, the executorship of his grandfather's will had passed to her as the next head of House Greengrass. And what would Father's death mean for their marriage? Harry had never wanted to marry her, he had been blackmailed into that by Father. With Father out of the picture, there was no reason for him to stay with her, especially not in the light of her inability to conceive. Sure, he cared for her, but was that enough? He owed it to his house to find a woman who could give him children -.
Harry's silhouette darkened the door between the breakfast room and the family room, and interrupted her morose thoughts. He carried his own mug of tea in his hand and came over to sit beside her. He put the mug on the coffee table in front of him, turned towards her, cupped her cheek in his hand and wiped away a tear with the pad of his thumb.
Damned, she hadn't realised she was crying - again. She had to get a grip on herself, they had to make a couple of important decisions.
Harry's next words confirmed her thoughts. 'We need to talk; we have to come to a decision about the future leadership of the company. You and I hold all the shares jointly, so it's up to us to make that decision.'
She reached up and took his hand in hers. 'There isn't much to talk, Harry. Father always made it clear he wanted you to be his successor, so you're going to be the next C.E.O. of Crystal Fairy.'
A deep sigh escaped Harry's mouth. He pulled away his hand, propped his elbows on his knees, and rubbed his face with the palms of his hands. 'I know, but am I the right man for the job?' he asked, his face still covered with his hands.
Dull ache spread through Daphne's chest. There he was again, little Harry from the cupboard who was conditioned by his horrible relatives to think he'd never amount to much. He'd learned to overcome his insecurities in the last years, however, the loss of their family had shaken him badly, it was not surprising all of his insecurities would surface again right now.
She sat upright, put her mug on the coffee table, and turned towards him. She reached up, pulled his hands away from his face, and gave him a long, hard stare. 'Listen to me, Harry Potter, and listen good: Father groomed you for this position ever since we married. He was an expert in knowing people, and he was convinced you're the best choice to take up the reigns after him. Remember what he told us the last time we saw him? You are much better suited for this position than you give yourself credit for. Stop doubting yourself; I know you won't disappoint neither Father's memory nor me.'
Had she got through to him? She bit her lips, her eyes searching his, and waited for his reaction with bated breath.
His eyes had never left hers while she spoke. When she finished her heartfelt speech, silence reigned for several seconds, but slowly a hesitant smile appeared on his lips and turned into that adorable lopsided grin of his. He linked his fingers with hers. 'Thank you for your vote of confidence, darling. However, I have one condition.'
'And that is?' As if she wouldn't do anything he asked of her.
'I will agree to being the C.E.O. of Crystal Fairy, if you are willing to be my second in command. We're going to lead the company together, Daphne, I can't do it without you.'
'Of course you can count on me, Harry.' She squeezed his hands, then let go and shifted her position on the sofa, so there was now a gap between them.
'There's more we have to talk about.'
His eyebrows rose up a notch.
'We have to talk about us, Harry.'
He creased his eyebrows. 'Us? What's there to talk about?'
She didn't respond at once. Her hand fidgeted with the hem of her sweat shirt, and she avoided looking into his eyes. How was she supposed to begin an awkward conversation she'd rather not have?
Something like sudden understanding washed over his features. His face paled; he swallowed hard and backed away from her. 'You want to leave me, don't you? After all, your father blackmailed you into this marriage. He isn't anymore, so there's now no more reason for you to stay with me and pretend you're happy with me.'
Her head jerked around to him at that, and she gaped at him. It took her some moments to find her voice again.
'What? No, that's not what I meant, Harry! It's just the other way round. You never wanted to marry me. Also … I know how much you long for children, but as things are I doubt you'll ever get them from me. I'm not holding you to this marriage if you want out of it.'
Now it was his turn to gape at her. Some colour returned into his cheeks. 'You know, I thought you were the smarter one of us,' he finally said.
Her heart skipped a beat. Was he implying - 'What do you mean, Harry?'
'I made my decision to stay with you seven years ago, when you first offered me divorce. It hasn't changed since then.'
Had she heard him right? Her heart jumped into her throat. 'You don't want to leave me?' The words came out as a croak.
Harry gave her his devastating smile. 'Not as long as you don't ask me to. Don't be daft, darling, why should I walk away from the best thing that ever happened to me?'
'But … what about children?'
'I don't care if we ever have children. And who says we won't? Just look at what happened to my grandparents: my father came along when they had given up all hope of children of their own.' He scooted closer and put his arm around her shoulder. 'Maybe we should look into a blood adoption if we've both turned thirty and still don't have children. I don't want to be too old to be a father; after everything I've heard about my grandparents and the way they raised my father he's been a spoilt little prince. I understand where they came from, but I don't want to do that to our child.'
She leaned her head against his shoulder. Her heart jumped a happy dance in her chest, and a broad smile slipped on her face. He didn't want to leave her!
Though, he still didn't say he loved her.
Was his decision a carefully calculated business decision, because they both owned the company, and more bad news about the owners would be disastrous such a short time after Father's death? Or was it owed to the fact the Weaselette wasn't available? The news of her fourth marriage had been all over the tabloid papers last autumn.
Harry was still seeing her whenever he was in New York; the bitch took a twisted delight out of sending her photos a couple of weeks after his visits - anonymously, of course. Nothing in that photos was anything incriminating; they'd all been taken in public places, quite a lot of them even at events Harry couldn't avoid to attend.
Well, she'd decided to trust Harry until he'd prove her wrong. Merlin knew what a manipulative bitch the Weaselette was: she had learned that special lesson years ago on that first Christmas in the kitchen of The Burrow.
She adjusted herself in Harry's arm. Warmth spread through her when he put his other arm around her, held her tight, and dropped a kiss into her hair, like he'd done so many times before.
No, as long as the bitch stayed on her side of the Atlantic, she wouldn't put too much stock in her little games.
She raised her head and looked at her husband. Harry leaned forward and closed the gap between them.
She enjoyed the familiar pressure of his lips on hers, and tangled her hand in his messy locks. However, a single small seed of doubt remained, buried deep in her soul.
End of Part Two
Author's notes: Phew, another part done! I'm sorry for the angst ride I put you through, but it couldn't be helped. This part was all about losses they had to suffer and how they dealt with it as a couple. After all, I hinted at the events in the prologue.
In Part Three I'll finally pick up with the timeline of the prologue, and you'll find out how Ginny's return to England will influence Harry and Daphne's relationship.
You all have no idea how much this story benefits from Shygui's editing, his keen eye for plotholes and the many insightful questions he asks about the plot and the development of the characters. So, please, a huge round of applause for Shygui. He deserves more than that for all the work he puts into my story.
Another big thank you to all the faithful readers who stuck with me during this angst ride with only minor complaints. I'll make it up to you in the end, I promise.
I'll start posting Part Three on November, 1st. Right now, five and a half chapters of that part are finished. I had planned on having written more chapters at this point, but real life came between me and my keyboard. I'll be travelling until September, 16th, and while I theoretically have time for writing, I'm too knackered each evening after one of our hiking tours to get done much. In October I'll be travelling a lot for my job, with little time left to write. But by November I should be back to the ten chapters written in advance I like to keep in the background.