A/N: We are skipping ahead in time to a few months after graduation.
Monday, October 31,1998: 2:00 p.m.
As Daphne exited the library she was met with the familiar chill of October in London. She smiled to herself at the comfort and warmth the charmed jumper she was wearing provided. There were many aspects of attending a muggle university she enjoyed and the option to wear such comfortable clothing every day was high on the list.
As much as she enjoyed her seven years at Hogwarts it was, at its heart, a very isolating and somewhat stifling experience. Getting to spread her wings and experience life a bit more after graduation had been invigorating...and muggle London had been her salvation. Since she had become involved with Harry she greatly preferred the intimate times they were able to spend away from the Potter spotlight. And now that her role in vanquishing Voldemort was known by the public it was a necessity.
Away from the wizarding world the expectations that came with being a Greengrass, the significant other of Harry Potter, and (now) a co-vanquisher of Voldemort faded away. At City University she was simply Daphne...the slightly guarded student studying business with decent taste in music but absolutely no clue about television shows and movies. She and Harry were working on that together but they both had a long way to go.
Instead of her normal apparition home she decided to make the twenty minute walk and tube ride from campus back to Grimmauld Place. It would provide her one more chance to finalize her thoughts before confronting Harry about his recent behavior. She thought they had weathered his transition from student to Quidditch professional but his recent inexplicable absences and strange behavior had her concerned.
After spending almost two years in his orbit Daphne thought she had Harry completely and totally figured out. The last two weeks though? It had been new and different. Daphne did not like or want new and different as far as Harry was concerned.
She initially chalked it up to the combination of the upcoming anniversary of his parents' death and his impending first start for the Chudley Cannons. It turns out one of the benefits of signing with such a dreadful team was being elevated to a starting position was much easier. The fact that Chudley's ticket sales had doubled after his signing only made the promotion even more certain.
But now she felt it was something else...something more. He was hiding something...and whatever it was he was nervous about it.
As she approached the house she realized the extra minutes of thought her commute provided were unnecessary. When it came to Harry she was impatient and it was time to bring this new and different development out into the open. She resolved to talk with him as soon as she arrived home and help him through whatever it was. The promotional interviews he had scheduled for that morning were bound to have put him in a salty mood but there was nothing for it. She wanted her Harry back and she wanted him back as soon as possible.
"Harry?" she called haltingly as she entered the house.
She was quickly greeted by Kreacher. "Master Potter is in the sitting room with the muggleborn," he stated pleasantly as he grabbed her school bag. "They have been waiting for you," he continued as he scuttled up the steps to put her bag away.
"Any idea what it's about?" she asked.
Kreacher stopped and bowed his head in shame, not turning back to look at her. "Kreacher does not know. Kreacher tried but they were speaking very quietly. My apologies, mistress."
"It's fine, Kreacher," she stated as seriously as possible. She had quickly learned that Kreacher was annoyed with any outright forgiveness of his self perceived failures. Slight disappointment tinged with just a bit of anger was the best option and always seemed to soothe the aged elf's soul. It took Harry a few months but he had finally gotten the hang of it which improved their relationship immensely. Hermione had never mastered it and Daphne suspected she never would. Daphne was fully convinced in ten years Kreacher would still be referring to her as "the muggleborn."
"Could you bring us some tea?" she asked as she began walking toward the sitting room.
"Winky has already served tea," Kreacher muttered in disgust as he continued his trek up the stairs. The ongoing rivalry between the Potter house elves (friendly between Winky and Dobby, borderline hostile between Kreacher and the other two) was a constant source of amusement.
As she entered the room she was completely taken aback by how nervous Hermione looked. She seemed to be a tightly wound coil ready to spring at any moment. Daphne got the distinct impression that her arrival was that moment.
"How was your day?" Harry asked with forced calmness. As much as he had learned from her over the last year and a half Daphne could tell he was equally as nervous as Hermione...at this point he was much better at hiding it. But she knew.
"My day was fine," Daphne replied as she took a seat and casually poured herself some tea. "Are you going to tell me what is going on before Hermione spontaneously combusts?"
Harry laughed while Hermione seemed to become even more nervous. Harry reached for her free hand on the table and spoke.
"Hermione and I would like to talk to you about an idea she has. I need you to stay calm and hear her out."
"Why wouldn't I be calm?" she replied indignantly. "You are starting to worry me now."
"Promise me, Daphne," Harry replied seriously. "Promise me you will do your best to stay calm and listen to what she has to say."
She looked into his eyes and immediately relaxed. She slowly nodded and waited for them to continue.
"It's about Astoria...her condition," Hermione began tentatively. "I've been talking to Harry and I've done some research. I'd like to try and help. I think that we can help."
Daphne's eyes snapped toward Harry. "That wasn't your secret to tell," she admonished him.
"He didn't!" Hermione replied quickly. "Not right away…"
"Astoria gave me permission to tell her," Harry interjected. "You know how Hermione is….she figured out something was going on with Astoria over the winter holiday last year and kept badgering me about what was going on."
Daphne closed her eyes and took a breath. As much as she wanted to lecture Hermione on all the experts they had consulted...all the galleons they had wasted...all the failures that had sucked the hope out of Astoria and her family over the years...she willed herself to hear her out and stay calm. She promised Harry she would stay calm.
"You've been working on this since last year?" she asked. Daphne could not imagine a scenario where Hermione and Harry could have kept such a secret from her for that long.
"No. Last year was spent on my apparition project and N.E.W.T.'s," Hermione replied.
Despite herself Daphne's defensiveness regarding Astoria rose once again. "So now that those are over you are moving onto the next experiment? My sister isn't some project you can choose to work on until you get bored and move to something else you find more interesting."
"Daphne-" Harry began before being interrupted by Hermione.
"No, Harry...it's fair," Hermione continued, much calmer than before. She took a drink of tea and gathered herself. "You asked the same questions. Daphne deserves to get the same answers as well."
"When I started at Hogwarts...when I learned about magic...I read anything and everything I could. I remembered reading in Hogwarts: A History that it was impossible to apparate in or out of Hogwarts and immediately resolved to do it. I promised myself by the time I left school I would figure it out."
Daphne's frustration grew as she just wanted Hermione to get to the point. "I'm not sure what this has to do with-"
Harry pulled his chair closer and wrapped an arm around her, pulling her to his side. "Just give her a chance, Daph."
She leaned in and and instantly relaxed. She trusted Harry and she trusted Hermione. She nodded for Hermione to continue.
"I actually started learning about apparition straight-away at the start of term. I'd frightened away everyone else so I had plenty of free time on my own. Then I became friends with Harry and Ron and I didn't give my project another thought for years. There were too many practical things I needed to study and learn about to help Harry."
She stopped looking at her tea and met Daphne's eyes. "But then you two saved us all and I was so relieved! I thought I had done my part in bringing you two together and was so happy to just enjoy my seventh year and go back to studying and my old project."
"Then on my birthday when you told me that Harry had a plan all along and had purposely set me up to learn about you-"
"I didn't tell you that to make you feel foolish, Hermione...I just thought it was funny," Daphne interjected.
"It's got nothing to do with being mad at Harry for tricking me, Daphne," Hermione continued. "I realized a few days later that he should have never had to do that...that I should have been the one to help him."
"So...you're jealous of me?" Daphne asked in confusion. It didn't jibe with how Hermione had treated her over the last year...at all.
"Hermione thinks it's her fault that I-" Harry interrupted before Hermione raised her hands to stop him.
"We talked about this, Harry...it's okay. You explained your reasons and you were right. I probably would have done exactly what you predicted," Hermione said in resignation. She turned her eyes back to Daphne.
"It wasn't jealousy, Daphne. It was disappointment...disappointment with myself...that I had led Harry to the point where he didn't think I trusted or believed in him any more." She looked so ashamed.
"After I realized all that I didn't know what to do with myself. So I did what I always do when I'm unmoored...I threw myself into my studies and became obsessed with my apparition project. I thought that it would make me feel...I don't know...like I'd accomplished something important."
"And then I did it…and gave my presentation...and was published in an academic journal...and I felt...nothing. Nothing like what it felt like when I helped Harry. I had wasted a year on something that meant nothing. If anything I had exposed security weaknesses of the castle. And I realized I didn't want to do that any more...to waste my time on things that didn't matter."
"Your sister isn't a project to me, Daphne," she continued, determination now clear in her voice. "She's someone that I think I can help...that we can help."
Daphne felt long dormant emotions surging but quickly squashed them down. Having to watch her sister go through the cycle of false hope once again...she didn't think she could bear it.
"My family has been trying to cure this condition for hundreds of years...spent countless hours and galleons on research and donations to charity to make amends," she said, the skepticism clear in her voice.
"She understands all that Daph," Harry interjected. "Your parents explained-"
"You've spoken to my parents about this?" she asked abruptly. "When?"
"Harry didn't want to involve you or Astoria unless we thought there was a real possibility of success. So we started talking with them two weeks ago. After talking to them and diving into their research I'm even more convinced we have a shot...and Harry is too."
As much as she wanted to be angry that they'd gone behind her back the logic was sound. And it was heartwarming to know that Harry was trying to save her and Astoria further unnecessary grief if the idea didn't pan out.
"You've said 'we' several times now. Who is 'we'? You and Harry?"
Hermione smiled..clearly relieved that they had made it this far. "Me, Harry, and you hopefully...but it's more than that."
Hermione speaking in vague riddles reminded her of Dumbledore at his most frustrating. No more beating around the bush.
"Convince me," she commanded.
A warm smile broke out on Harry's face and as much as she wanted to be annoyed it had the opposite affect...annoying her in an entirely different way. He took over the conversation.
"You said that generations of your family have spent loads of time and money looking for a cure and donating to charities to make amends, right?" At her nod he continued.
"Do you remember how I explained the security Dumbledore used on the Mirror of Erised to protect the stone?" he asked.
"The only way you could get the stone would be if you didn't want to use it," she answered, not quite sure where this was going.
"Why did the people your family worked with try to help?" he continued.
"Because they were the experts in their field and we paid them accordingly," she answered, now starting to become annoyed with Harry's obtuseness.
"And why has your family donated so much to charity over the years?" he plowed on.
"Because it was the right thing to do to make amends," she answered, instantly causing Harry's eyebrows to rise. She reluctantly gave the real answer.
"Because we were advised by the experts that it could possibly help offset the atrocities that caused the curse."
Hermione resumed the questioning...now in a much gentler tone. "When you agreed to help Harry were you doing it to make amends for the curse?"
"Of course not," she exclaimed.
"Come on," Harry coaxed. "You're telling me there wasn't a little thought in the back of your mind that helping me might help cure your sister?"
"No!" she nearly shouted. "If I had been thinking about that my spell never would have worked."
She gasped in realization.
"Exactly!" Hermione exclaimed. "You and Harry did this amazing thing for all of us simply because it was the right thing to do. Whatever your ancestors did to allow for such a curse it would have to have be horrific and unjustifiable. I think the only way your family could make amends is to help others honestly with no expectations. In helping Harry and all of us I think you and your parents have done that. But that's just a part of it. Other people have to recognize it as well."
"Other people?" she asked dumbly.
"I'm not doing this to be paid...I'm not doing it for recognition...I'm not doing it because I find it interesting. Well I do find it interesting but that's beside the point. I'm doing it for you and your family. And I'm not the only one."
A million thoughts were swirling in Daphne's mind as the hope she had held at bay had pushed its way to the forefront after many years. "What do you mean you're not the only one?" she asked.
"Ron's brother is a curse breaker for Gringotts. Your parents gave us permission to speak to him about your sister's condition and he immediately offered to help in any way he could...weekends...late nights after work...free of charge. He spoke to some of his colleagues about Astoria's condition and they want to help as well," Hermione explained.
"Why? I don't understand," Daphne asked. It was becoming too much.
"You saved them, Daphne," Hermione stated simply. "You and Harry saved all of us. I've spoken with the Hogwarts staff and they've promised to give me all the time I need if I have questions I think they could help with. They have many connections with other schools and said they could reach out to any specific experts we thought could help...that they would call in every favor they had to make it happen."
Everything they were saying reminded her about the random leaps of logic and theoretical assumptions that had invigorated her when creating Harry's spell and she desperately wanted to believe them. She suddenly realized that she had embedded herself into Harry's side.
"There's more," he said warmly, giving her shoulder a squeeze.
Of course there was. Harry Potter was involved and whenever Harry was involved there was always more. Always.
"Hermione thinks the biggest remaining roadblock will be learning what specifically your ancestor had done to warrant such a curse," Harry continued. "We happen to have something that will allow us to go straight to the source."
"The Resurrection Stone," she blurted as another piece of the puzzle snapped into place.
"Your parents said that the specific person responsible and what they had done was lost over time. I've begun doing some research on your lineage and Madam Pince has been really helpful in reaching out for some older texts. Ilvermorny has a few promising things they will be sending for us to borrow next week and-"
"You're starting to ramble, Hermione," Harry interrupted calmly, "keep going."
"Right...sorry...we can get into the details later," Hermione corrected before moving on to the next point. She took a deep breath before continuing.
"So once we finish the research, use the stone, and come up with the countercurse, we then have maybe the most powerful wizard alive...the owner of the most powerful wand ever created...whose life you've positively impacted more than anyone else...who can cast the spell."
"So that means you can't dump me," Harry said softly into her ear as she continued to process all she had learned over the last thirty minutes.
She laughed at the absurdity of it all. "You are such an idiot," she muttered as she stood and quickly made her way to Hermione, pulling her into a fierce hug.
"Thank you," Daphne whispered as she felt Harry begin rubbing her back and tears started to fall. "Let's do it."
October 31,1998: 7:00 p.m
They had spent four hours discussing next steps and how Daphne could start helping Hermione with her research. She and Harry were now ensconced in their booth at that their pub.
"What are you thinking about?" Harry asked.
"Everything," she said with a laugh. "I mean...I'd given up, Harry. Astoria asked us to give up and stop trying so she could live her life. And now I'm sitting here thinking about dropping out of University so I can work on this!"
"Astoria would be furious if you did that," Harry pointed out correctly.
"All the more reason to do it," she replied, causing Harry to laugh before becoming more serious.
"How do you think she will take it?" he continued.
"Before Neville she would have probably been like you...she would tell everyone that they didn't need to go through the trouble and then she would brood."
"I do not brood...anymore," Harry brooded.
"You're right. Now you would still think you weren't worth the trouble but you would smile and say 'okay'. For me."
"That's fair," he said with a laugh before becoming more serious.
"There is something else I need to ask you," he said nervously.
"Okay," she replied tentatively, thrown off by his sudden change in tone. He quickly reached across the table and grabbed her hand.
"I know we agreed to wait until you were done with University to talk about this...and I understood and agreed with all of your points...but you mean everything to me...and today seems like the perfect time to ask..."
All other sound faded away as Daphne realized what was happening. Her logical side had insisted that they should wait for this...that they were happy and there was plenty of time. Her logical side was currently being drowned out by every other voice in her head screaming 'Yes!'. She realized Harry was still talking.
"And it may even help with the spell...not that I'm asking for that reason...I mean I would ask for that reason if it would help in any way but that's not the reason I'm- oh god I am really mucking this up," he said in frustration as he quickly reached into his pocket and moved to kneel in front of her.
"Yes!" she replied before the question had been asked.
Saturday, November 7, 1998
As she sat waiting for her sister to arrive Daphne thought back to the last time she was in this room at The Three Broomsticks...how far they had come since she nervously waited for her parents approval in helping Harry. It seemed oddly appropriate.
"They should be here by now, don't you think?" Hermione asked nervously as she paced the floor.
"Hermione, sit down," Harry commanded. "You're making me nervous."
As if on cue Astoria and Neville arrived. Her eyes lit up when she spotted Daphne.
"No-one told me the 'Girl Who Loved' was going to be here!" she commented excitedly.
Normally Daphne would have been supremely annoyed at Astoria mentioning her Chocolate Frog Card description. Today though, she was too excited to be annoyed.
"Why is Daphne smiling at that joke? And why is Hermione here?" Astoria asked, suspicion clear in her voice.
"It's good to see you Tori," Daphne answered as she hugged her in greeting. "We have a lot to talk about."
A/N: And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.