Disclaimer – J.K. Rowling owns Harry Potter.
A/N – My second entry for 31 October Days Community on LiveJournal. Thanks to my beta, Thoth and Jagged Epiphany for their help.
A/N 2 – I've been debating for a few months now on how to post To Choose, a follow up to Conspiracy. Because there is no Harry/Daphne section and a few readers have this under story alerts, I've decided to just post them together under the name of Chnoubis Vignettes. This will be a series of Harry/Daphne one-shots that I write from time to time that exist in the same universe. Also, by making them vignettes, I can jump back and forth in the timeline. According to About(dot)com, "Chnoubis is an egyptian Gnostic solar icon, found most often on gnostic gems, and amulets for protection against poison and disease. It is a composite figure with the head of a lion and the body of a serpent, usually with seven rays emanating from the head, sometimes, with the twelve zodiacal signs." I kind of that something made up of a lion and serpent was a fitting title for these Vignettes.
Story 1 - Conspiracy
As the sun was setting outside, Daphne Greengrass stood in front of a full-length mirror, checking over her appearance one last time. "How do Muggles stand these things," she thought, while shifting her hips in a tight pair of what her mother had said were called jeans. A small smirk crossed her lips as she continued checking her appearance, "But they do make me look cute."
Finally satisfied with her appearance, she walked over to her desk. Lying on the desk was her wand and a Wizard pocket watch. She concealed her wand in a special holder attached to the small of her back and, after checking the watch to see it worked properly, slid it into one of her front pockets.
Turning her right wrist, she absent mindedly inspected a charm bracelet that doubled as an emergency Portkey. Her father was taking a huge gamble, one that the entire family felt needed to be taken.
While not all of the traditional Slytherin families had become Death Eaters, many like the Greengrasses had been pressured to finance and support Voldemort's cause whether they wanted to or not. It was suggested that it was in their best interest to do so, but Mr. Greengrass saw it as what it was; blackmail. Unfortunately, seeing no other way, he paid.
Since Lord Voldemort's rebirth, Mr. Greengrass had been growing uneasy. Not just because he was forced to pay again, or that the payments were higher, but rather at Lord Voldemort's erratic behavior. Especially following the failure at the Ministry. Her father had said that he was becoming more of a madman than a misguided idealist with his sole focus turning to killing the Boy Who Lived, than his agenda of fixing the world.
Mr. Greengrass knew that the time was coming where he couldn't simply pay to stay quietly on the sidelines, and that his family was in danger. Conspiring with a small number of moderate old blood families, such as the Zabinis, they quickly came to an agreement that Voldemort needed to be dealt with. The problem was how. Dumbledore was dead and no one knew where exactly Harry Potter was during the summer.
With time of the essence, the Conspirators carefully followed the cookie trail to roughly where the boy was. That very morning, Mr. Greengrass, on behalf of his group, sent a mail owl to find Harry and deliver a message, a request to meet their envoy.
That envoy was determined to be Daphne. It was felt that as an attractive girl, close in age to Harry, less suspicious, and almost no history between the two, Daphne had the best chance at getting Harry to at least listen for a few minutes.
Daphne looked up from her wrist at the knock on her door. "Father."
"Daphne," he said as he walked towards her. Standing in front of her, "Be careful. If there's any sign of trouble, get out."
Sticking her chin up at him defiantly, "I'm not going to fail."
Mr. Greengrass grinned at his daughter and handed her what looked like a small, smooth pebble. "One way Portkey. Use the bracelet to return." Nodding in understanding, Mr. Greengrass pulled out his own Wizard pocket watch and watched as the second hand completed its revolution and at the same time, with no noise, Daphne disappeared.
Seconds later, Daphne reappeared in a small cropping of trees in a neighborhood playground. Since it was almost dark, the playground was deserted. Pulling the watch from her pocket, she checked the time. "Ten minutes."
Hiding in the shadows, Daphne began trying to anticipate Harry's reactions. She knew he was going to doubt the sincerity of it simply because she was Slytherin. Turning the tables, she would do the same simply because he was a Gryffindor.
Beyond that, it was also because she was from and represented some of the old blood families. First thing she needed to do was make him understand that while the hands of traditional families may be dirty, they weren't all his enemy.
That was going to be difficult. From what she had learned and already knew, Harry and the old guard didn't mix well. It was a problem she would have to overcome, and quickly. Daphne couldn't afford to lose much time.
As she stepped back farther into the shadows as a group of teenagers were passing, Daphne went over her plan in her head. She was going to have to be straight forward and lay most of her cards on the table. Since Harry hadn't grown up in the Wizarding World, he hadn't learned that most things were done by manipulation. If one was manipulating you, it was expected of you to try and maneuver things to benefit you. But if Harry felt that way, all bets would be off. One had to look no further then his clashes with the Ministry.
Daphne was also going to have to take his friends into account. She didn't like them, and honestly felt they were holding Harry back, but they couldn't be cut out if they wanted to work with Harry. Harry relied heavily on his friends, and in her opinion, too much. "Especially the Kneazle," she thought a little jealously. She then sighed at catching herself calling Hermione that stupid nickname Pansy had come up with in third year. "Insulting his best friend isn't exactly the best way to get Harry to work with us."
Pacing a little, but making sure to remain in the shadows, she started role playing any scenario she could think of to how Harry could react to anything that happened tonight and how to best counteract it. It was unsettling, much less against her nature, for her to be so open about everything and there were things she just didn't know how to approach.
As she put the watch away with one hand, she ran a hand through her light brown hair with the other. Pushing the scenarios out of her mind, she started thinking about a more personal part of the plan. While the old blood families had decided to work together on this, having a common goal didn't mean the individual families gave up their own agendas. For the Greengrasses, it was how to improve their standing post-war. Like chess, you made your current move with your next two or three in mind.
After the war, even with them on the winning side, life would be difficult. Anyone with hints of dark ties, such as many of the old blood families, would be suspected at every turn. Mr. Greengrass saw an opportunity to, at the very least, improve his daughter's situation through a more permanent alliance with the Chosen One.
Even if he wasn't full blooded, Harry was still an ideal candidate for his Daphne. The remaining member of the Potter line, an impressive family line on its own, and the sole heir to one of the most powerful old blood families in the Blacks provided an impressive lineage. Not to mention with the combined wealth and investments of the Potter and Black families, the couple wouldn't have to worry about money. There were countless testaments to Harry being a powerful wizard, and he hadn't even reached adulthood. Combined with what the Greengrasses could bring to the table, the two could be a very powerful couple in the future.
Daphne herself was indifferent to the idea. While Harry wasn't physically one of her top choices, he was powerful, rich, and a decent man. She could do a lot worse, "Like Pansy and the Ferret". The concept of love wasn't anywhere near the thoughts of the Greengrasses. Many marriages in the Wizarding World weren't about love but rather about partnerships, especially in the high class and old blood families.
A married couple were expected to consummate the marriage, providing at least one heir and then, it was not uncommon, but not spoken of, if the two found pleasure outside of the marriage. "After we make a little Potter, he can go snog Little Weasley or Granger… even both if he wanted."
This explanation covered almost every couple Daphne had been ever exposed to, and it was what she expected in her own marriage. Even still, Daphne wondered if this was what she wanted. She would do as her father wished, get as close as possible to Harry. If she could make it happen, she would marry him, but could she learn to love him? It was an unsettling question that she tried not to spend too much time on.
Her musings were interrupted by a loud voice that she recognized as Ron Weasley. She could also hear another voice, a little softer, telling the other to quiet down.
"I don't like this," Daphne overheard Ron say. "It's a setup."
"We don't know that," Harry answered back, "Besides, I'm not rushing into anything anymore. Just calm down and keep your eyes open."
"How the hell did they sneak around Hogwarts when they make such a racket," Daphne thought to herself.
"So we're here," Ron said to Harry, his voice lowering. "Now what?"
"We wait I guess," Harry told him. "See anything?"
"Why can't they ever have these little meetings during the day?" Ron wondered out loud.
Not being able to resist the urge to answer, Daphne called out from the shadows, "It's harder to hide in."
She smirked as she watched Ron jump in surprise and draw his wand, waving it around as he tried to find her. Adding to her amusement, Harry drew his wand as well but was much closer to where she was standing than his friend.
"Show yourself," Harry commanded.
Drawing her own wand in to her hand, but keeping it pointed down, she emerged from the shadows. "Potter."
"Who-" Ron started to ask.
"Daphne Greengrass," Harry said evenly in greeting, and also to answer Ron's question.
"You said you weren't going to rush into anything," Daphne teased, "Yet, here you are, with only Weasley, and thrashing about." Trying to ignore the facts that Ron had trained his wand on her, and while Harry's wasn't pointed at her, it was ready to strike, she continued. "Now why don't you put your wands away?"
"You first," Ron snarled back.
But Daphne ignored him and was watching Harry, and grew slightly nervous when a grin slowly tugged at his lips. "Appearances can be deceiving."
"What?" she thought and then she realized what he meant when she felt something very familiar poke her in the back. "Ah…Granger."
"Anyone else around?" Harry seemed to ask to nothing.
Hearing a rustling behind her, Daphne glanced behind her to watched Hermione's head suddenly appear out of nowhere. "An invisibility cloak! Of course."
"She's the only one in the park," Hermione answered as she took Daphne's wand from her hand.
"He's smarter than I gave him credit for." Daphne let Hermione take her wand; while she could fight off Granger and probably Weasley, Harry easily out-classed her.
"Well," Daphne said looking directly at Harry, "Now that introductions are out of the way… Let's talk."