LIZZIE'S FIRST YEAR
PG – English – Romance/Adventure
Disclaimer: The characters and their world are the property of J.K. Rowling, various publishers and Warner Bros. No money is being made and no copyright infringement is intended.
CHAPTER 10: HAPPILY EVER AFTER
Upon their return to school the four children were immediately taken to the Hospital Wing so Madam Pomfrey could check them out. Even the fact that Harry Potter was Headmaster of the school didn't prevent the formidable witch from ordering the concerned parents to leave; although she promised them an update as soon as her initial tests were complete.
The four students were in fact relieved when the nurse told them that they would be spending the night in the Hospital Wing. They all knew that they were in serious trouble, and they wanted to put off facing their parents for as long as possible. Even though it was barely dark, none of them made any argument when Madam Pomfrey instructed them to put on their pajamas and go to bed. In fact, after such an exhausting day they were more than ready for sleep.
Meanwhile their parents assembled in the Headmaster's office to decide how such a difficult situation should be handled. No one said a word when Remus and Tonks joined in, for they all knew that the two had special feelings for Grace Whitechapel.
"It's a flagrant violation of the rules for them to leave the school grounds without permission; they clearly put themselves and others at risk by their actions," Hermione declared with a note of regret in her voice. "As teachers we have a responsibility to see that the rules are equally enforced among all of the students."
"No one is suggesting that they be treated in a special way, Hermione," Cho said, a bit annoyed that anyone would suggest such a thing. "But before we make a decision on punishment we must understand why they did it."
"And their actions did lead to the discovery of Narcissa Malfoy and her coven. Had they not acted as they did she might have escaped to do even more harm," Tonks declared, trying to put the best face on events.
"That's not the point, Tonks," Hermione declared in frustration. "We establish these rules to protect the students and they need to be obeyed."
"I seem to remember three first year students who broke the rules rather frequently and actually seemed to make things better by their intervention," Harry said rather wistfully. "They are our children, and it's only natural that they should take after their parents."
Hermione's features softened as she remembered the days of which Harry spoke, and she smiled ever so slightly. "Yes, I guess it is," she said with a touch of nostalgia.
"I think we do owe them the right to be heard, and I'm not prepared to make any decision on this matter until they can talk to us. What about Narcissa, what is to become of her?" Harry asked, addressing the Ministry representative.
"We've already connected her to at least a dozen murders, both of muggles and magical folk. She seemed to take great pleasure in confessing to the murder of Professor Snape, who she referred to as a traitor. She will be given a fair trial, but given her record she is almost certain to face execution," Tonks replied grimly.
"Then our first concern needs to be Grace Whitechapel and how we can insulate her from this as much as possible. The fact that her Mother willingly used the child in such a way must have already caused the child terrible pain, and to be faced with her Mother's execution might cause irreparable damage." Luna declared.
"I'm afraid the story has already reached the press; the Daily Prophet is putting out a special edition with the headline: 'The Last Death Eater Captured.' We've managed to keep the children's involvement out of the story, and Graces' true identity will remain confidential, but I'm afraid that Narcissa Malfoy and her subsequent fate will be a matter of public record. I'm afraid she will be a major topic of discussion for some time." Harry said sadly.
"The children will be excused from classes tomorrow and given a chance to rest. As much as possible I want their involvement in these events kept quiet. I want Grace given time to come to terms with all that has happened," Harry said with a note of resignation.
"I think I can help with that Harry; would you mind if I spoke to her?" Tonks said solemnly.
Harry looked at his old friend for a few seconds before giving her a sad smile. "I think that might be a very good idea."
- o -
But later that night, sitting before the dying fire in his office, Harry was a good deal less certain of what to do. It was an impossible decision for any parent to face. He had no doubt that his daughter and her friends had not merely broken school rules, but had absolutely shattered them. But he was equally certain that without their actions Narcissa Malfoy would still be at large to carry on her reign of terror, and no one could guess how many more would die in the process.
Making matters worse, Harry could not forget his own school days, when he and his friends had blatantly broken the rules themselves. And yet now he was the Headmaster, and he could not show favoritism, and especially for his own child. Faced with this impossible decision he did the only thing he could do; he asked his best friend and the mother of their children. He had learned years before that Luna's unique wisdom was far superior to his own, and that she had a gift of providing just the right answers to the challenges that he faced.
As she sat beside him, holding his hand in silence, Harry knew that he needed her help once again. When he looked into her bright silver eyes he saw the love, loyalty and compassion that made him love her so much; as well as that glint of playfulness that would keep their marriage forever young.
"What would you do?" he asked, hoping to find a way out of his dilemma.
"I'm not the Headmaster…" she said calmly, giving his hand a gentle squeeze. "But if it were me I think I'd approach the problem one piece at a time. What would be your punishment for leaving school grounds without permission?"
"At least two weeks detention and points lost as well," Harry responded with grim resignation.
"How many points Harry?"
He thought for a moment and then responded, "I'd have to take fifty points from each of them; that would be two hundred points from Gryffindor."
"And now for helping to find the last Death Eater; what would be the reward for that?" She asked coyly.
Harry was a little thick sometimes, but in the years that they had been married Luna's quick mind had begun to rub off on him, and he immediately saw where she was going. With a smirk on his face he immediately replied: "I would have to award each of them fifty points as well as giving each an award for special services to the school."
"Fine, then each of them should receive a two week detention, loose fifty points, gain fifty points and receive special awards for services to the school." Luna said with the dreamy smile that reminded him very much of the fourteen-year-old girl that he had fallen in love with so many years before.
Harry looked at Luna with something approaching awe; her wisdom never ceasing to amaze him. "You should be Headmaster," he said sincerely.
"I'm more than happy to do without the headaches, thank you very much," she said with a smirk. "But as to the detentions; may I suggest that they do them with Hagrid?"
"And why Hagrid?" Harry asked, his smile matching the one on Luna's face.
"The Unicorns will be having their young shortly, and as they are an endangered species Hagrid will need to make a count of the babies. I think the children will find it very educational to assist him," Luna said with a sly look.
"You should have been in Slytherin," Harry said in admiration. "Very well, two weeks with Hagrid counting baby Unicorn. That should be a severe lesson," he said sarcastically.
"Of course," Luna replied sincerely, a twinkle in her eyes.
Two days later two hundred rubies dropped out of the Gryffindor hourglass in the Great Hall. And before the students present could even gasp, two hundred rubies were added back in.
- o -
The four children were released from the Hospital Wing the next morning, but were careful to avoid contact with other students. They went to the kitchen to get a bite of breakfast, but not even Dobby could persuade them to eat much. All four were unusually quiet, for in the past two days they had seen things that were never intended for children's eyes. Of the four, Grace was by far the most despondent, and was close to tears all morning long. Sean did his best to console her, but there was little that he could say to make her feel better. The terrible truth about her Mother made her feel that she would never be happy again. At the first opportunity she slipped away from her friends and went to her secret place by the lake, where she could be alone.
Her friends tried without success to find her, and finally made the decision to bring their parents into the search. Grace meanwhile was sitting under a lonely tree by the Black Lake crying. She thought about how lucky her friends were to have parents who loved and cared for them, while her Mother turned out to be a monster. Grace had always been alone in her life, but at least she had been able to believe that she once had a kind and loving Mother; and now that belief was gone.
Suddenly she felt a gentle hand on her shoulder, and she looked up into the compassionate eyes of her friend Tonks. The older woman sat down next to the young girl, and holding Grace in her arms, allowed the child to cry. Tonks herself was crying as she realized the grief the child was suffering.
Finally cried out, Grace looked at Tonks with eyes red from crying. "How could my Mother be so cruel? How could she want me to be so cruel?" The girl asked, tears starting to run down her cheeks once again.
"I don't know Grace," Tonks replied sadly. "I've never known why our family could be the way they were."
"Our family?" Grace asked in surprise.
"Yes Grace, your Mother is my Aunt. Your Mother and mine were sisters, which makes us cousins. I've never understood why our family felt the need to turn to the dark side. I never did, and I know you never will. Perhaps together we can set our family back on the right course. We would very much like to have you come and live with us as our daughter. Do you think that you might like that?"
Grace looked at the older woman in shock. "You want me…as your daughter?" She said in a trembling voice.
"Of course we want you. I've wanted you from the moment I first met you, and so has Remus,"
Tonks said sincerely.
"Yes!" Grace exclaimed, and threw herself into her cousin's arms.
- o -
In the hours following the battle at the Shrieking Shack, Harry discussed the student's involvement with their parents and the teaching staff. It was essential that there was no appearance of preferential treatment in his handling of the matter; but at the same time he wanted to protect the children from the harsh glare of the media, which was certain to take an active interest in the case. He especially wanted to protect Grace Whitechapel, who would need both time and support in order to come to terms with the truth about her Mother.
But when the time finally came to meet with the children, Harry insisted that he would meet with them alone. He felt with fewer adults present the children would be more willing to open up and discuss the matter freely. So after a day of rest, Hermione escorted four very nervous students into the Headmaster's office. Hermione gave the children a small, supportive smile and then left the office.
As Harry motioned them to four comfortable chairs in front of his desk, he could see immediately that Grace Whitechapel was near the end of her tether, and he knew that he would have to be very delicate in his handling of the matter. He gave them what he hoped was a warm, reassuring smile, and then passed a jar of licorice wands across his desk to them. He had learned from Professor Dumbledore that such a simple gesture tended to put people at their ease, though he found that most of his students preferred licorice to lemon drops. Once they were all settled, and each child had taken a wand, Harry began to speak in a reassuring tone.
"Well, you've all had quite an adventure. It quite reminds me of my own school days," he said humorously. "Not many First- and Second-year students have seen what you have; how do you feel about it?"
Before anyone could say a word Grace blurted out a confession. "It was all my fault, Professor; they didn't want to go at all, I made them. I'm the only one that should be expelled."
Immediately the room erupted as the other children tried to take the responsibility onto their own shoulders. Harry also noticed that Grace was beginning to cry, and was encouraged as he saw Sean Finnegan reach over and take her hand.
Harry raised his hands in a pacifying manner. "Now no one is going to be expelled, and I know that no one would have to drag Lizzie and Ronnie into such an adventure; they were probably leading the way," he said, smirking at his daughter.
Lizzie chose that moment to speak up. "We wanted to go with Grace; she's our friend and we weren't going to let her go alone."
"And I'm glad that you didn't. But you do admit that you left school grounds without permission?" Harry asked.
"Yes Sir," they all responded solemnly.
"Very well, then this is my judgment. You all violated school rules when you left school grounds without permission. You put your own lives and the lives of others in danger by doing so. At the same time, your actions helped to ensure the capture of several very dangerous individuals. You will each serve detention after class every day for the next two weeks and you will each loose fifty house points."
The faces on all four children dropped as they realized that Gryffindor had just lost any chance to win the House Cup, and that it was all their fault.
"However, along with the punishment you are each entitled to a reward for your help; as well as for the courage and loyalty that you've shown. You will each receive fifty house points as well as special awards for services to the school….Oh, and by the way, by special request your detentions will be served with Hagrid." With wide grins on their faces the four students were then dismissed.
In the days that followed the other students tried to discover what had happened with Grace and her friends, but their questions went unanswered; the four simply refused to discuss it. Still, there were confused clues for those who took notice. A new award had appeared in the Trophy Case announcing that the four young children had won an award for special services to the school. There was also the fact that all four students were serving detention after class each day. A two week detention indicated a major infraction of the rules. And then some students had noticed that almost all of the rubies had dropped out of the Gryffindor hourglass one morning, and then were immediately restored. No one could really figure out what was going on; and yet as the four students walked down the hall together, older students had the feeling that they were watching something rather special.
- o -
Two weeks later Harry, Luna and Hermione sat in the Headmaster's Office waiting the arrival of Tonks and Remus Lupin, and their newly adopted daughter Grace. Remus had spoken to Harry the previous night to arrange a meeting to discuss their "daughter's future education." Both Harry and Hermione wondered about his choice of words, but they would find out soon enough.
As the family entered his office, Harry could see that Tonks and Remus were beaming with pride, and sensed that the meeting would be in no way negative. Grace took the chair between her new parents, and seemed to be unusually happy.
"Tonks and I have made the decision that we would like to remove Grace from her classes for the rest of the term and take her home with us. We need some time alone to come to terms with all that has happened and see if we can become a family." Remus said, taking his daughter's hand.
"I'm afraid that should Grace leave the school at this time she would find it nearly impossible to complete the necessary course work in order to advance to third year classes," Harry said, pretending that he didn't know exactly what was on the minds of his friends.
"Professor Potter, I really don't feel that I've learned the material this year to advance to third-year classes, and I would like to repeat my second year to make sure I've learned what I need to know." Grace said in a carefully rehearsed statement, trying to look serious but still betraying a slight smile.
"But Grace, your grades are just fine; in fact better than the majority of students," Hermione said in shocked disbelief.
Harry looked over at his old friend in amazement; and she had always declared that men were so thick. He would have to explain it to her later.
"No, I just don't think that I am ready for third-year classes," Grace said firmly.
"And do you support your daughter's request to repeat her second-year?" Harry asked with a tiny smile of his own.
"Yes we do," Tonks and Remus answered together. "We think that it's for the best," Remus added.
"The Board of Governors does require that two professors agree that a child should repeat a year," Harry said, glancing at his wife.
Never one to miss her cue, Luna took that moment to speak up. "Yes, I would be the second; I'm afraid that Grace is still a bit deficient in Ancient Runes."
"Oh yes, I'm sure that with our daughter and Ronnie Weasley to help her she would be deficient in that subject….I never realized that you had so much Slytherin in you, Dearest."
Luna looked shocked for just a moment and then smiled wickedly. "How do you think I got you?" She asked coyly.
Now it was Harry's turn to look shocked. "Very well, young lady, you can restart your second year classes in September."
After the parents and child had left, Hermione looked at Harry in shock. "What just happened here? You know that there is nothing wrong with that child's grades."
"Of course not," Harry said shaking his head. "And to think you always called me and Ron thick. Grace just wants to go through school in the same class as her friends.
Hermione immediately had a hundred objections, but when confronted with the wide grins on the faces of her friends she just held her tongue.
- o -
Defying conventional wisdom, Gryffindor won both the House Cup and the Quidditch Cup that year. Truly the fortunes of Gryffindor House had changed, and with the core of their victorious Quidditch team only finishing their first year, House members anticipated many more victories in the future.
Lizzie and her friends didn't give that much thought, as their thoughts were centered upon the upcoming summer holidays and the fun that they were going to have. Sean Finnegan announced that him parents were planning to move to Ottery St. Catchpole as soon as term ended; and Grace had already settled in with the Lupins. It promised to be a fun and exciting summer, with more adventures awaiting them on their return to school in the fall. After all, the children of Harry Potter and his friends were most certainly destined for exciting lives, and they could hardly wait.