31 December 1996 Wednesday
The Ministry New Year's Eve Ball was actually quite fun. They'd arrived in the Atrium of the Ministry to find it overgrown with guests dressed in the best clothes, Aurors in their dress robes, medals clinking against their chests and a whole host of functionaries assisting the highest of Wizarding society to the party.
Daphne took Harry's proffered arm and nodded her greeting to Kingsley Shacklebolt, the on duty Auror at the coat check station. Moving through the atrium to the grand hall took the four friends over a half hour as they were stopped by persons they did and did not know.
"My Lady," greeted an older, heavyset man. The man looked pointedly to Neville, with whom he'd been talking to moments before.
"Oh, right. Lady Potter this is Sir Robert Mathison. His family and ours have had common interests for generations." Neville's introduction was a bit hasty as Susan was whispering something in his ear that caused him slowly to turn beet red.
Turning to Sir Robert, Daphne left her two friends to their public/private flirtations. "My Lady," began Sir Robert, "I've wanted to meet you and your husband since your most creditable action in Diagon Alley. It's good to see the youth of our country stepping forward in difficult times. Far too often, the community relies on a hero or heroine to save the day. Usually, all that's needed is good, decent people who are willing to work a bit." With a pleasant expression, Daphne waited for the baronet to get to his point.
Sir Robert cleared his throat and continued, "Yes, well. I am the chairman of Mother Wilma's Magical Orphanage in southern Wales."
Daphne's eyes lit up. Now she knew what Sir Robert wanted and she was not averse to discussing funding for this effort. He outlined their current status, both child-wise and financially. Daphne listened with real interest, to both understand and assess the status of Mother Wilma's but also to learn a bit from this obviously experienced man.
"So, to finish my Lady, I'd like to solicit an appointment with you in your status as the head of BP Charities. I feel that, together, we can help our greater British magical community."
Daphne gave the older man an approving sort of smile and extended her hand. "Sir Robert, I believe that we can meet to discuss the betterment of our community and Mother Wilma's. Please owl me tomorrow and I shall respond immediately with an available time." The baronet smiled broadly, bowed over Daphne's gloved hand and wished her good evening.
Turning, she saw Harry surrounded by reporters asking all sorts of questions ranging from Voldemort ("You really should ask the Minister or Director Hammer about all that,") charity work ("You really should ask Lady Potter about that, she runs BP Charity Group,") and politics (the only topic he'd directly answer – sort of).
He caught her eye and gave her a little smile while nodding toward the grand hall. Nodding her understanding, Daphne hooked on to Neville and asked, "My Lord Longbottom, my husband has abandoned me for the Fourth Estate. Would you and Lady Bones agree to escort poor old me to the party?"
Neville and Susan both laughed. The three of them darted away as the reporters noticed them and began to descend on them like locusts. Neville threw back his shoulders in a preening pose. In a snobby, Malfoy-like drawl he pronounced, "I'm the biggest man here. I have the two most beautiful witches in Britain on my arms. All bow down and worship me."
Both Susan and Daphne groaned. Susan poked her boyfriend in the ribs causing him to yelp and twist away from her seeking finger. "Yeah, let's see you now 'Mr. Biggest-Man-Here'."
They chuckled and headed for one of the bars. They four friends had discussed Susan's dire prediction and decided to stay away from alcohol this evening. Fruit juice mixers provided thirst quenching and the obligatory glass in hand the function required.
Daphne was drinking from her cranberry drink when she saw Harry winding his way through the crowd. He was definitely exasperated. Daphne gave him a sad sort of smile and handed him an orange juice on ice.
He took a deep draught and muttered, "Needs something a bit stronger after that interrogation." She laughed at her husband and the four friends began to chat with Connie Hammer who'd just passed by.
A hour and a half later, Daphne felt like she'd talked more during the evening than she'd ever talked during her entire life. The gossip columnist for Witch Weekly cornered her and Susan for an even thirty minutes and quizzed them on various topics. When the annoying woman finally went her way, Daphne turned to Susan and asked, "Is it just me or do you want a double shot of Firewhiskey as well?"
Susan growled, sipped her juice and answered, "It's not just you, trust me."
Daphne saw her husband and Neville discussing something with Sir Edward Grey when Susan took her hand. Turning to her redheaded friend, Daphne saw Susan's face was strangely earnest.
"This may sound very odd, but I'm eternally grateful that Oak Park Hall was burnt down."
It did sound strange, but Daphne held her tongue. Susan obviously had something of import to say.
"We didn't know each other at all at school. But, because they burnt down my home, I've got to know you." Susan gave Daphne's hand a squeeze and said, "You're my best friend, you know that?"
Daphne smiled widely and gave her friend a big hug. "You're my best friend as well." She stepped back and gave Susan an impish smile, "Well, best friend that I don't have sex with."
Susan rolled her eyes and blew a raspberry at the brunette. They both laughed but when they calmed, Daphne reassured her friend. "Joking aside, you are as close to me as anyone outside Harry ever has or ever will. You and Astoria are my sisters, Neville my brother and I see us being like this the rest of our lives."
This pronouncement caused another hug, which was broken up by the bandleader announcing the first song. The band played a 'big band' style of music from the 1940's. Horns, drums and even a guitar blared out catchy tunes.
Daphne was listening to a song, watching the dancers and tapping her foot to the beat when a pair of arms encircled her from behind. She smiled and said, "You'd best shove off. My husband will be here momentarily and he's quite jealous." The man kissed her exposed neck causing Daphne to add in an undertone, "And an unparalleled lover."
Harry chuckled, "Dance, love?"
"I'd hoped you'd ask."
Harry led her out on to the dance floor and began to lead her in a very intricate dance step. Once she got over her surprise, she commented, "You've been holding out on me, Potter."
He gave her his lopsided smile that melted her insides and answered, "Susan's been teaching me."
"I'll have to thank her."
They danced the night away. Not only was it incredibly fun, but it also kept the leeches and vultures away. They switched partners with Neville and Susan, Remus and Tonks, as well as, Bill and Hermione.
About eleven thirty, the friends were taking a breather in a corner of the room. Daphne was leaning back into Harry's embrace while she, Susan and Hermione discussed their current topic in Runes. Harry, Tonks and Neville were debating Puddlemere's chances against Ballycastle in the Quidditch match the next day while Bill and Remus chatted about various topics, getting to know each other better.
Simultaneously, they all turned to the sound of the voice and saw Albus Dumbledore, resplendent in navy blue robes with comets dashing across his chest and arms.
Great. This is just what we need.
"My Lords, my Ladies. Everyone."
Mumbled greetings from the friends met the old man's words. His blue eyed gaze held Remus for a long moment before offering, "I won't keep you. I just wanted to wish you all a happy New Year. I trust your Christmas was happy?"
He smiled pleasantly when all present nodded. "Well, then, I'm off. Good evening."
Daphne watched the old man wander off through the crowds. Turning to ask Remus what the long look was about, she was preempted by Remus' low laughter as he watched the old man move away.
"Alright, I give. What was that all about and why are you laughing Moony?" Harry asked in a genial tone.
Daphne frowned. She wasn't feeling very charitable. Anyone who was on good terms with Dumbledore was, at least, suspect in her eyes.
Remus sighed. "He and I had a very pointed discussion soon after I began teaching you at Rowan Hill."
Daphne's eyebrows crooked, as did Susan's when she looked at her friend.
"It was as you foresaw, Harry. He asked me to spy on you and try and persuade you of a few things that I could not stomach."
"Like getting me to the place where you and Tonks live."
Daphne's voice was hard enough to cut, "And dissolve our marriage."
Remus met her gaze, unafraid. "That as well, yes."
"I assume you told him no," Daphne stated.
"We almost dueled, I was so enraged."
That surprised Daphne. Remus was such a mild and agreeable man that for him to reach the end of his tether like that, well, Dumbledore must have pushed very hard indeed.
"Thanks, Remus." Harry offered.
After a short bow from the neck, Remus answered, "I could do nothing less for you, Harry." Looking Daphne in the eye, he added, "and you, too, Daphne."
Daphne didn't have any uncles, but at that moment, Remus took on that role for her until the day he died. She gave him the broad smile that she reserved for those she loved and nodded in return.
The band had stopped playing and the band leader took the microphone, "All right everyone! Thirty seconds to midnight!"
Daphne wrapped her arms around Harry's neck and began to kiss him like there was no tomorrow. She felt every part of him as she pressed herself against him. His arms cradled her as he kissed her with an equal passion.
"Five…four…three…two…one…HAPPY NEW YEAR!"
The band kicked off a raucous rendition of "Auld Lang Syne" while the crowd cheered. The Potters broke their kiss, and embraced briefly. "Love you," Daphne whispered.
"Love you too," he answered.
Turning to their friends, they gave chaste hugs and kisses, wishing each other a happy new year. As Daphne embraced Tonks, she stiffened. Tonks froze as well and when Daphne asked, "Are those screams?" the Auror only nodded.
The friends turned as one toward the entry that led to the atrium. Spellfire and screams sounded.
Daphne stood next to Harry, surveying the scene of chaos in the Ministry Atrium. There were over three hundred people running around screaming. Sporadically, spellfire would cut down one or two of the screaming crowd, spraying blood and gore, inciting the panicked crowd further.
"Why don't they get out?" Daphne asked.
"Wide area Confundus," replied Remus, scanning the crowd.
All around them, Aurors plowed into the crowd, looking for Death Eaters. She saw Karen Averis, an older Auror, scowling as she drew her wand and scanned the crowd. All the Aurors were looking for the distinctive black robes and mask of the Death Eaters. As Daphne watched, Karen was cut in half by a Slashing curse. Just beyond her, another Auror that Daphne recognized was felled by a Reductor curse to the head.
Aurors were dropping like flies as the noise of the crowd swelled. "They're using the crowd as cover," scowled Susan.
"MOVE!" shouted someone from behind.
Despite the difficulty of moving agilely in an evening dress, Daphne and the others scuttled to the right as four Aurors ran to the edge of the crowd. Each had the Bubble Head charm activated and began tossing potion vials into the crowd.
As the vials shattered, they released a gas that caused those nearby to drop to the floor, unconscious.
Daphne felt a wand tap on top of her head and her eyesight was obscured for a moment. Realizing that someone had cast the Bubble Head charm on her, she murmured, "Thanks," as she kept scanning for targets.
A magical wind began whipping through the Atrium, dispersing the Sleeping gas. All told, maybe ten or fifteen people had been incapacitated.
In a moment of realization Daphne announced, "The Death Eaters aren't wearing their robes and they're wearing glamours, aren't they?"
Harry didn't respond, only nodded grimly.
It was tortuous. They were standing on the sidelines watching Aurors and guests be killed. Harry's primary job was to kill Voldemort. The seven friends had to protect Harry. This being the case, they couldn't wade into the mass of humanity in front of them, it was the Aurors job to get the situation under control. It was maddening to watch people die while feeling helpless to prevent it.
From the south entrance to the Atrium, by the lifts, came a series of barked orders. From her vantage point, Daphne could just see a line of Aurors Stunning everyone in front of them. Friend and foe alike was stunned and tied in magical ropes.
"Well done," commented Neville. "Sort out the sheep from the goats later."
"THERE! THERE HE IS! KILL HIM AND HIS WHORE!"
Daphne recognized the high pitched screaming voice. Finally, the bastard Voldemort had come out. As more people fell, some to Auror Stunning spells, other to Death Eater curses, Daphne wondered why she had been so eager for Voldemort and his bound slaves to come out.
Years later, Daphne and the other survivors of The Battle for the Ministry compared notes of their experiences from that horrible evening. In the moment, all agreed that they were only capable to act/react/move. There was little time to think about 'the big picture' as they were fighting for their lives. Late at night, with a snifter of brandy and a low fire, it was easier to stitch together the complete story.
Standing on the edge of the whirling mass of people, the Potters and their friends didn't know it, but Voldemort had managed to scrape up thirty Death Eaters. Of the thirty, seventeen were still school age. One didn't need to be a prodigy of the magical arts to cast the Reductor curse, though.
As Daphne had surmised, the Death Eaters were not wearing their usual garb. All were under glamour spells so as not to be recognized.
Lord Voldemort's plan had been simple, yet extraordinarily effective. Let the evening progress. The security teams would become more relaxed the longer the event progressed. Slowly they infiltrated the Atrium with their people but made no attempt to pass through the security screening blocking the grand to the grand hall.
All of his 'devoted followers' would be in the Atrium no later than 1130 PM. Each had a task to carry out as their cover. Some were to act as building service repairmen; a few were to be vagrants that always seemed to make their way to the Atrium at night.
Voldemort figured that the security would lapse at midnight. A few congratulatory handshakes and the like would distract the Aurors for a few minutes that he needed.
A wide area Confundus charm that would befuddle and incite over three hundred persons was not cast in a moment. On top of the Confundus charm, Voldemort was counting on the guest imbibing enough alcohol to increase significantly the effects of the curse. The Dark Lord used the distraction of midnight to begin his incantation. Standing amidst the press of people that had boiled out of the grand hall, he raised his wand and chanted.
Sixty seconds later, the crowd was stampeding like thirsty cattle.
He had instructed his people to kill random bystanders in order to pull the Aurors into the press of humanity. Using the bystanders to form a maze or warren of a type was Voldemort's idea, and a good one it was. Not many can enter a snake's nest chasing after the reptile and emerge unscathed. Not many Aurors survived the experience that New Year's eve.
The Aurors might have been in a better situation, but Rufus Scrimgeour had been poisoned ten minutes before midnight. No one noticed the rat scurrying in the shadows of the grand hall doorway around eleven forty. It was too bad; much loss of life would have been prevented otherwise. Scrimgeour survived the evening, but the red robed law enforcement officers needed him that night. He retired two short years later, the unwarranted guilt too much for him to bear.
Voldemort had hoped that he could use Potter's foolish nobility to lure him into the press of humanity in the Atrium. He had given up hope of that when he spotted his prey lurking on the edge of battle like a coward.
His overall goal had been to lure Potter into the melee to kill him before retreating. Over time he could rebuild his strength, but Potter needed to be dealt with immediately. Unfortunately for Tom Marvolo Riddle, the sight of Harry, with Daphne at his side, incensed the Dark Lord beyond reason. In his fury, he called out direction to his followers.
"THERE! THERE HE IS! KILL HIM AND HIS WHORE!"
At this point, Daphne's memories became hazy. The scenes she remembered were in vivid detail. Harry drawing his sword from under his robes. Tonks shrieking while she cursed an opponent. Remus reaching in his pocket to withdraw his own shrunken sword. Neville transformed into the Bear and mauling an opponent. Susan casting the first curse that immolated a charging opponent. Hermione and Bill fighting back to back.
Harry had urged the team away from the crowd of people, hoping to force the Death Eaters to break cover. It worked.
Bursting out of the herd of humanity, ten people led the charge at Harry and Daphne. Susan's high powered Blasting curse disintegrated the lead Death Eater leaving behind only a slick, bloody spot on the marble floor. Susan's casting urged the rest of the friends to cast as well. Of the seven spells fired, five found their targets, dropping them quickly.
Then it came to grappling range. The Death Eaters moved into the mix of the friends casting Unforgivables and the darkest spells imaginable. Shields and conjured barriers snapped into place.
Daphne growled with frustration. Her opponent was a tall, reedy man that she didn't recognize. He had her on the defensive, dodging and shielding. Screaming her rage, she lashed out with two Bone Breaking hexes that impacted the man's knees.
As he crumpled to the ground, Daphne turned to see a Killing curse coming at her face.
Before she could even think, all the hours spent dodging hexes in the Room of Pain paid off. Rolling and diving to her right, the curse roared over her head.
Jumping back to her feet, she didn't even notice that her dress had ripped the seam due to her exertions. The caster of the Killing curse was leveling his wand at her to follow up. Daphne snap cast the Piercing curse, drilling a hole in the man's shoulder. He screamed and lashed out with his right foot. Daphne crumpled as the man's foot hit her knee which had been destroyed at Malfoy Manor.
From the ground, Daphne cast a quick vertical spread of Reductor curses. Her opponent shielded, but was rocked back on his heels.
Panting hard, she aimed her wand at the man's face, but at the last moment pointed down and cast the Cutting curse.
She had been hoping to hit his knees, intending to give the expression 'taking him out at the knees' a whole new meaning. Instead, she overshot the mark and amputated the man's left foot just as his Bludgeoning hex impacted her chest.
Rocked back on her heels, she gasped for breath. Her opponent was down, but hardly out. Without thought, she leveled her wand and cast the Reductor curse at the man's head.
If her dress hadn't been ruined before, it certainly was now.
From behind her, she heard a gurgling cry. She turned to see Remus dispatching her opponent from before – the one with the broken knees. Apparently, the man was attempting to curse her from behind. A sword in the throat put paid to that idea.
Looking around, she didn't see any more opponents. Except one.
Harry and Voldemort were a blur of motion; casting, punching, lashing out with weapons, screaming.
Harry was wounded in at least a dozen places. Blood poured down his face and his left arm was limp. Voldemort was missing his left arm at the shoulder, and was dragging his right leg. When Daphne looked closely, she could see bone sticking out of a tear in the twisted man's trousers. Apparently, the man had black blood now, as it was coating his exposed right forearm.
Daphne stood, gasping still – she had four broken ribs – and attempted to assist her husband. Stumbling forward, she hit an invisible wall that she was unable to pass. Turning to her right, she asked Neville, "Can you get by?"
Neville, he face cut and swollen, merely shook his head in negation. It seemed that Fate herself was forcing the conclusion of the long enmity between Harry and Riddle.
In the background, Daphne heard, but didn't register, Dumbledore's successful efforts to calm the incited crowd. His wide area sleeping charm finally took affect after ten minutes, causing the stampede to fall to the ground, dead asleep.
Running feet came up from behind and Daphne saw Amelia, Connie and many others join her in mute helplessness as Harry and the Dark Lord did everything in their power to destroy each other.
Seconds ticked by. Harry dodged several Killing curses, returning them with Bone Crushing hexes. Daphne groaned in fear as Voldemort shielded faster than any person she'd ever seen.
Harry's expression never changed. His wand became a blur as he ripped a spread of Reductor curses in a vertical spread. Having the offensive advantage, he wasn't going to let up. He had given Voldemort a chance to regroup and attack during their encounter in Diagon Alley. There was one thing that Roland had successfully taught him: Never fight fair.
Increasing his advantage, Harry spot apparated to Voldemort's right side and kicked the Dark Lord in his injured right leg. Riddle screamed in pain, giving Harry the opening to finish him once and for all.
The Stunning spell is derided amongst most professional warriors. It is far too easily reversed and therefore doesn't really allow one to permanently defeat an opponent.
Yet, that's exactly what Harry used to immobilize Tom Riddle. Moving faster than the eye could track, Harry cast his spell.
After the bright red flash dropped the man, silence reigned for long minute. All the Death Eaters had been killed – no Imperius curse claims this time.
Harry glanced at Daphne and gave her a little smile. He wavered and then flicked his wand at Voldemort's fallen body. As the Dark Lord floated to waist height in front of Harry, Daphne's fear ratcheted up to terror.
She had known that Harry could defeat Voldemort in a fight. Oh, nothing was truly sure in life, especially in magical combat. Nevertheless, Harry was plenty good enough to take the man down. This ritual her husband was about to perform, however, had far too many variables for her liking.
Using his right hand to place his injured left hand on Voldemort's head, Harry then placed his right hand on Voldemort's breast. It was a quiet second when Harry gave a great heaving sigh, then began to chant.
Daphne knew the words for she had helped Harry memorize the incredibly long exorcism and banishing ritual. She couldn't help but murmur them along with her husband. Ten seconds into his recital, Harry began to tremble.
"Oh, no," Daphne groaned. He was in the first stanza of the incantation, calling for judgment upon the transgressor.
Based on Remus' research, they knew the spell would be painful for Harry. Given Harry's extraordinary high tolerance for pain, the fact that it was visibly affecting him so soon in the ritual did not bode well.
Neville wrapped his arm around Daphne's shoulders, while Hermione moved to her side. Her friends were supporting her, but who was supporting Harry?
Remembering when she'd unintentionally helped her husband through Voldemort's mental attacks, Daphne tried to project all the love, affection, caring she felt for Harry. Focusing on his face, she dredged up every positive memory she felt for him. She immersed herself in the emotion they evoked, reveling in the memories. With a grunting effort, she tried to will the collection across the ten feet that separated her from her husband.
Twenty seconds into the ritual, Harry began to shake. It was the second incantation. Harry was offering himself as a compensatory offering should the transgressor be found clear of want.
A few times, he stopped his incantation as he was panting in pain. Unbidden, tears began to run down Daphne's face. Her internal voice was screaming for him to hurry. Be done with this. She could barely bring herself to watch him suffer so. Closing his eyes, Harry forced himself to continue.
Thirty seconds into the ritual, Harry fell to the ground, moaning in pain. The judgment was occurring.
Frantic that Harry would be taken in lieu of Voldemort, Daphne tried to push past the invisible barrier, but it held. The silence in the atrium continued, as Harry forced himself to his feet, replaced his hands on the still floating form of Lord Voldemort and continued.
His face began to contort with the agony he felt. Twitches in his arms and legs betrayed the searing pain that was coursing up and down his limbs. Now, a small glowing light began to form between the two antagonists. The final phase, the call for penalty, had begun.
As if from far away, a rushing sound began. It reminded some of the bystanders of wind through the trees and others of water in a gorge. As the light between Harry and Voldemort intensified, the sound grew. Larger and louder the light and sound became until Harry Potter and Tom Riddle were completely obscured.
This effect had not been written of in the Black Family grimoire. Desperate, Daphne looked to the nearby Remus for an explanation. His face alit with fear; Moony of the Marauders merely answered her plea with, "I don't know."
A loud CRUMP sounded from the entwined combatants. Pure energy radiated out from them in a shock wave, knocking all the spectators to the ground. Daphne looked up, found her husband and began to smile through her tears.
Harry stood there, swaying on his feet. Riddle's body was a smoking, charred husk. He met her gaze, smiled and passed out.
Chapter the Last
30 June 2126 Monday
The old woman at the podium paused in her tale. She looked out over the massive crowd that had been sitting for the last three hours to listen to her tell of days long ago. The families around the two late middle aged men and one woman in the front row smiled up at her and she smiled back at them.
"Our lives were much simpler after Harry disposed of that vermin. We ended up having a spring wedding ceremony; it was quite anti-climactic. After all, we'd been married almost a year by that point."
Her bright blue eyes crinkled with her smile as she remembered, "Neville proposed to Susan after the reception. They had a lovely wedding and I'd never seen Lady Augusta so happy. They stood as godparents to our eldest, James Sirius and for our little girl, Elizabeth Jane. They were lovely people and I miss them both. Ten years ago they left us on the next great adventure."
After a long pause, the Dowager Lady Potter continued, "History books tell us that after Voldemort was vanquished, Albus Dumbledore was content to retire into obscurity. The truth is that after Voldemort was disposed of, Harry and I paid the man a visit. We very politely reminded him of all the wrongs he had visited upon Harry and entreated him to retire from all of his offices." She smiled wickedly and commented, "He seemed to be of our way of thinking. Filius was an excellent Headmaster.
"Harry was quite insistent that the Black and Potter families have their own heads. Each family was deserving of the attention of their Head he often said. Therefore, today our sons James and Neville come into their inheritance as the Earl of Potter and Viscount Black respectively. They will fill the shoes of their father most admirably."
She sighed and her eyes focused on far away times. "We lost Remus not forty years after Voldemort was exterminated. The lycanthropy caught up with him and wore him out. He was a truly gentle man, so at odds with his affliction. He died at home with his beloved Tonks, their two children and four grandchildren. Teddy and little Daphne kissed their father as he died in his wife's arms."
Shaking her head she went on, "Tonks became even more reckless after Remus passed on. She started to accompany the Aurors again and was killed during a raid not two years later. The Lupins are buried next to Harry's parents and Sirius' marker in the family plot at Rowan Hill. I visit them from time to time.
"Hermione and Bill went their separate ways as many a couple does. Happily for all of us they remained friends. Not long afterwards, Bill married Fleur Delacour and Hermione married Joseph Driscoll, an Irishman from Cork. Her twenty year career as the Minister for Magic of Great Britain is storied, I need not recount it here. Most also know that their daughter, Maire, married our son Neville. It has been a true joy having her as my daughter."
The blond woman in the front row beamed at her mother in law, tears on her face like the rest of the family.
To the bulk of the multitude gathered, the people Daphne was talking about were the stuff of legends.
Harry Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived and the Man-Who-Conquered.
Neville Longbottom, the right hand of Harry Potter.
Susan Bones, one of the most feared Warriors of the Light.
Remus Lupin, the Chimera Slayer.
Amelia Bones, the Minister for Magic who stood tall in the dark years.
Hermione Granger, the most famous Minister for Magic for five hundred years.
Nymphadora Tonks, Auror extraordinaire and Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement for over twenty years.
Daphne Potter, one of two people to wound the Dark Lord and wife of Harry Potter.
To Jimmy, Nev, and Lizzie Potter they were Dad, Uncle Nev and Auntie Sue. Great Auntie Ami. Uncle Moony and Auntie Tonks. Auntie Hermione. Mum. They were all family, nothing special.
In the end, all that was left of the greatest generation that stood against the tide of darkness was in front of them in a black dress, her white hair up in an elaborate braid.
"We bury my husband today. He was the best man I've ever known. The most loving, brave, caring, compassionate, bold, helpful, loyal, dedicated man I've ever known. I've loved him for the last one hundred and thirty years."
She looked at the coffin off to her left and a single tear tracked down her wrinkled cheek.
"I love you, Harry."
"I'll just sit by the window for a bit, Jimmy. It's been quite a long day. Don't worry about me, I may even nod off for a bit."
Daphne had an old quilt on her lap that Susan had given her many years ago. Looking out the window of the Sitting Room, she could see the path to the beach that she and Harry had trod so many times. Countless times. She sniffled a bit and blotted her eyes with her handkerchief.
"I'll just be in the study, Mum. If you need anything, send for Tobby, he'll come get me." Jimmy Potter was the spitting image of his father and grandfather before him. The speckling of grey in his hair belied his one hundred and fifteen years. Harry, himself, had died with more black in his hair than grey.
Daphne nodded and continued staring out the window, lost in her grief.
"I love you, mum."
Giving her eldest son a watery smile, she reached out and grasped his hand. Squeezing it, she responded, "I love you too, son. Your Emily has been a wonder. I love her and your boys too. Thank you."
A bit puzzled, Jimmy kissed his mother's wrinkled cheek and left the room.
Settling back into her chair, Daphne drifted.
Not long later, she heard a voice calling her. Opening her eyes, she saw her beloved standing in front of her. Not the old man whose wounds from so long ago finally took their toll. Instead, she saw the hale and hearty man he had been when Jimmy was born.
Extending his hand to her, he entreated, "Come, my love. It's time."
She took his hand, surprised to see her hand was young and supple, like his. Smiling, she rose and embraced him. After a long moment, they broke apart and he gave her a little kiss.
"Come on, everyone is waiting and I want you to meet my parents and Sirius."
1. I own nothing. Sob.
2. Recommendation for the chapter is Deluded Musings/clell's Harry Potter and the Marriage Contracts.
3. Wow. It's done and I'm completely amazed. Born from an idea that wouldn't leave me alone when I hit a tough spot in To Stand Against the Darkness, Partners is my first story finished. Clocking in at over 170,000 words and many hours on my laptop, it has been a joy (and sometimes a pain) to write about my version of the life and times of Harry and Daphne Potter, from Daphne's perspective. I'd always intended for the story to be a eulogy (see my nod to Jeconais at the end of Chapter 1), but instead of the faux eulogy of Perfect Situations, I thought I'd go for the real thing.
4. I'd like to point out the stories and their authors who have inspired me in writing Partners: Jeconais' Perfect Situations and Matroyshka Vignettes, kb0's The Grass is Always Greener, Deluded Musings/clell's Harry Potter and the Marriage Contracts.
5. Thank you so much to you readers who have kept coming back for the last nine months as this story has unfolded. The consistent reviewers (you know who you are) have really inspired and reassured this fledgling author. Thanks to all who have given constructive feedback.
6. Yes, Mother Wilma's is lifted from Sunset Over Britain/Sunrise Over Britain. It's a great ready-made charity. Consider it flattery, not theft.
7. Maire is pronounced Mary. I should know, it's what we named one of my daughters.