Harry Potter and the Tides of the Moon
Disclaimer: All JKR's, not mine.
Summary: AU After OOTP- After Harry is thrust back in time, he has to contend with surviving the rest of his years in Hogwarts and living his new life around people that he knows will one day become Death Eaters. Can he find the balance between giving people a chance and doing what he knows is right or will he crumble under the pressure that comes with knowing the future?
A/N: Thanks for the reviews everybody. Oh, and review again!
S/N: I knew that I would not be able to write a pure Christmas chapter this year for Christmas like I usually do, so instead, I set it up so that this chapter is a direct sequel to chapter 28 "I'll Have a Black Christmas Without You." As such, you may want to go back and read that chapter before reading this one.
S/N 2: I'm so glad I was able to incorporate a Christmas song as the title of this chapter, as I have done for all of the chapters updated on Christmas while writing this story. The first was "Happy X-Mas (War is Over)", the second was "Blue Christmas", and this one is "Please Come Home for Christmas". I can't believe I've been writing this story for three years…
Chapter 33: Bells Will Be Ringing (The Glad, Glad News)
At five o'clock the first day of his Easter holiday, Harry walked out of the bathroom in his room wearing a nice pair of slacks and a blue sweater. He gave himself one last look in the mirror before flicking his eyes over to the witch that sat on the edge of his bed, who was distractedly staring down at the floor, seemingly worried about something. Harry knew that she was nervous about what they would be doing for the rest of the night, but he also knew that it was necessary and that, in the end, she'd be all the better for doing it. "You can do this, I'm going to be there with you," Harry whispered as he sat down next to her, wrapping his arm around her shoulder.
"I know," Bellatrix replied in a quiet voice, though she did not meet his gaze. It wasn't that she was nervous, but rather she was wary, not really knowing what to expect or how she would react to what she was going to be doing for the next few hours.
Harry reached down and put on his shoes, pulling the laces tight to his feet and tying them up. "Are you ready?" He asked Bellatrix once he was finished, who silently nodded and reached out for his hand. Intertwining his fingers with her own, she disapparated them out of the Leaky Cauldron and to the house that Andromeda and Ted Tonks called home.
Appearing in an alley at the end of the street, they walked a hundred or so yards before stopping in front of a small white house. Harry scanned the property with a happy smile, unsurprised by what he saw, having expected something similar when he imagined it the previous night. The house that met his gaze was by no means a mansion. It wasn't decked out in extravagant décor or expensive furnishings; there was no rolling estate or secluded pond. It was a simple house; a quaint home that was perfectly situated in a muggle community. Whether it was the feel of magic around it, or the potential of the people inside, but Harry immediately had a feeling of being at home, a reaction that surprised him quite a lot.
Walking up the blue door that had the number 35 on it, Bellatrix pressed the bell and took a step back next to Harry, both waiting to be let inside with a nervous energy around them. A few moments later, the door sprang open, revealing a woman that looked nearly identically to Bellatrix, except with light brown hair and softer, kinder and wider eyes. Next to her stood a man who was of medium height, with brown eyes, fair hair and a small belly. Harry met their gaze and smiled at them, knowing that Bellatrix needed him to be happy for the both of them as she struggled with her feelings.
"Welcome, welcome," Ted said in a pleasant voice, opening the door wide and moving off to the side, allowing Harry and Bellatrix into the house.
"You must be Mr. Tonks," Harry grinned as he entered the home, putting out his hand for Ted to shake. His eyes then flicked over to Andromeda, who gave him a small smile in return. "Mrs. Tonks, I presume. I am Harry, Harry Dumbledore."
"It's a pleasure to meet you," Andromeda said in a polite tone, before turning her attention to Bellatrix, who had stayed quiet up until this point. "Hello, sister."
"'Dromeda," Bellatrix returned evenly with a nod of her head, meeting Andromeda's gaze with her own violet one. She kept a neutral expression on her face, and Harry could tell that she was guarded, as if making an effort to keep her emotions in check.
"Please, call me Ted, Harry, I dislike the name Mr. Tonks," Ted replied happily, not wanting Harry to be burdened by such niceties. "I think it stems from the fact that my father's name is Thomas and worked as a train engineer, so you can imagine the jokes I can make with Thomas, the Tonks."
Harry grinned at that, finding the irony of Tonks not liking her first name and preferring Tonks, while her own father disliked their last name and preferred his first. "That's a really funny joke if you know it's a muggle book," Harry said, gesturing to Bellatrix, who had a confused look on her face.
"Either way, it's good to see you again, Bellatrix," Ted said, closing the door behind them and welcoming them further into his home. "I haven't seen you since you first entered Hogwarts. You've grown up so much. You've really grown into a beautiful woman."
"Thanks," Bellatrix said evenly once more, her gaze moving over to the older wizard. He looked about the same as she remembered him, albeit older and a little fatter, but with the same jolly look on his face that he had as a teenager. "It has been a while."
"At least we caught up eventually," Ted laughed, as he gestured for them to follow him into the kitchen, where dinner was still being prepared. "Do you want something to drink, Harry?" Ted questioned, looking over to the young wizard with a curious expression on his face.
"What do you have?" Harry asked, watching as Ted crossed to the other side of the kitchen and went over to the refrigerator. Harry immediately noticed that it was a refrigerator that ran on electricity, rather by magic like what many magical people used.
"Anything you could want," Ted smiled, pausing a few feet before the refrigerator. "My muggle family loves wizard drinks like butterbeer and my wizard friends love muggle drinks like cream soda so I keep a stocked bar pretty much all of the time."
"I'll have a butterbeer," Harry replied, not really in the mood for anything else.
"What about you, Bellatrix, what will you be having?" Ted questioned happily, hoping that Bellatrix would eventually feel more comfortable with him. He could tell by the way Harry was acting that the pressure needed to be kept off of her, which was something he was more than happy to help out with.
"I'll have the same, please," Bellatrix answered, before looking around the kitchen, realizing that someone was missing. Though she had never met her niece, she knew that Andromeda and Ted had a daughter named Nymphadora that was three years old, soon to be four, though she was nowhere to be seen. "Where is Nymphadora?"
"She's spending the day with my muggle family," Ted replied as he opened the refrigerator and retrieved three bottles of butterbeer, grabbing himself one as well. He closed the refrigerator door with his hip, and walked back over to the counter that Harry and Bellatrix were.
"That's a shame, I was excited to meet her," Harry said disappointedly, truly having been excited to see Tonks for the first time since his traveling to the past. His last memories of Tonks had been her death, which was an unfortunate tragedy he wished to forget about by making new memories with the younger Tonks.
"Maybe next time," Andromeda returned, not knowing whether there would be a next time or not as it all depended on how the rest of the night turned out. While she had hopes that it would go well, she knew that she and Bellatrix had never really gotten along in the past and she doubted very much time apart from one another would heal that rift.
"Of course," Harry nodded in understanding, recognizing that there was a chance of an argument, something that they wouldn't want Nymphadora to witness. "So Ted, you mentioned your muggle family, how did they take the news when you first learned about the wizarding world?"
"Disbelievingly," Ted laughed as he passed Bellatrix and Harry their butterbeers, keeping his own next to him as Andromeda poured herself a glass of red wine. "After all, finding out about a world hidden from their eyes? Kind of hard to believe from a muggle perspective, you know."
"I know," Harry nodded, recalling how he had taken the news when he first learned about the wizarding world. It was something that he didn't quite believe automatically, but wanted to believe in it since it would allow him to escape his miserable home life with his aunt and uncle.
Ted looked over to Harry, raising a questioning eyebrow. "To be raised around Albus Dumbledore, the greatest wizard in the world must have been something," He said conversationally, wanting to see how it was like to be around Albus Dumbledore whilst young.
"Er," Harry muttered, shaking his head in the negative as he popped the cap off of his butterbeer bottle. "Unfortunately, I wasn't raised around him. In fact, other than once when I was a baby, I didn't see him up close or speak with him until the end of my first year at Hogwarts."
"His first year of his old school, he means," Bellatrix corrected him quickly, not wanting Ted or Andromeda to see the incongruities of his story and question it. "Since you know that he transferred into Hogwarts just last year."
Ted nodded, presuming that Albus and Harry simply weren't as close to one another as some families are. "Where did you go before Hogwarts?" He asked interestedly, having only known about the three that competed in the Tri-Wizard Cup.
"A small school in Europe," Harry said, continuing on with his lie that he created when first arriving back in the past.
"You two met in Hogwarts then?" Andromeda questioned as she took a sip of her red wine. She had yet to really form an opinion on Harry, not knowing whether he was as nice as he seemed, but from first impressions, she was very impressed with him: he was nice, kind, handsome, and she imagined a good wizard.
"Just about," Harry nodded in the affirmative as an involuntary smile took shape on his face, pleasant memories of his time with Bellatrix running through his mind. "We had Defense Against the Dark Arts together, and we met in the first class session."
"And you're not a pureblood?" Andromeda questioned, flicking her gaze over to Bellatrix, wanting to see her reaction to the question.
"Oh, not at all," Harry shook his head in the negative, being proud of his heritage. "I have a muggleborn mother."
"Surprising," Andromeda whispered, taking another sip of her wine. She placed her glass down onto the counter and poured herself another glass, before taking another sip.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Bellatrix snapped, reading into what her sister had said. "Didn't think I'd give him the time of day because he wasn't a pureblood?"
"Not really, no," Andromeda replied, staring straight at her sister, clearly unimpressed with Bellatrix's seeming accomplishment.
"Well, you're wrong," Bellatrix mocked, meeting Andromeda's gaze. She was not afraid of speaking her mind to her sister, even if it came off as insulting or disingenuous.
"That's nothing new," Andromeda scowled, putting her glass down on the counter and turning to face Bellatrix. "After all, aren't I always wrong in your opinion?" She questioned rhetorically, recalling the many times growing up that Bellatrix called her out on her flaws or imperfections.
"Maybe, maybe not, but you're wrong about this," Bellatrix growled, anger quickly rising in her stomach. They had rarely gotten along, even as kids, having complete different characteristics and beliefs, but because of their similar temperaments, it often came to a head through various arguments that was filled with cutting remarks.
"So does that mean you respect Ted, now?" Andromeda inquired, knowing what Bellatrix and the rest of the family had said about Ted when she had announced their engagement years prior—everyone thought of him as scum, nothing better than mud on the bottom of a boot.
"Andromeda," Ted warned, not wanting to start anything. He had hoped that Andromeda's simmering resentment over her family's beliefs wouldn't bubble over into the dinner and create an awkward night, but apparently that was not to be as Andromeda seemingly needed to get her anger off of her chest.
"You're such a tosser, Andromeda," Bellatrix sneered, her eyes wide in fury, angered at her sister's attitude.
"I'd much rather be a tosser than a bloody-minded, manky dodger that grew up like Sally no-mates because she refused to speak with anyone not pureblooded." Andromeda shrieked in a thick accent, making Harry cringe a bit, seeing the similarly vicious attitudes that the women each had, a trait that they had clearly received from their Black heritage if their paternal aunt served as an example.
They both stared at each other with deathly gazes before, without a word, they turned around and walked out of the room in the opposite way of one another—Bellatrix into the dinning room and Andromeda into the living room. "Well, that worked well," Harry sighed, looking over to Ted and seeing that he had a similar expression on his face.
"Perhaps we expected too much of them and from them," Ted reasoned disappointedly, having not expected the night to take a turn so quickly. He figured they would have at least had gotten through the early introductions, if not most of the meal. "Their dislike of one another runs deeper than I thought it did."
"I guess," Harry agreed with a nod, not really knowing what to say. While he had no false hopes of the night as he knew that it would be tough and it would be a process, he did not expect them to be at each other's throats so quickly.
"At least we get a long. Cheers," Ted grinned, tapping his butterbeer bottle against Harry's. They both took a sip of their respective drinks, each having enjoyed the other's company so far. "Are you going to go and talk to her?"
"Did you see her?" Harry shivered, knowing how dangerous Bellatrix was when angry. "I'm not going in there and I wouldn't suggest anyone do so. I'm afraid of her myself," He smiled, earning a laugh from Ted, who silently agreed that the Black women were quite scary when they wanted to be.
"Unfortunately, as a husband, I think I have to go talk to my wife," Ted sighed, looking towards the door that Andromeda had walked through. "Go and get her to the table, and I'll do the same for Andromeda."
"Okay, I will," Harry said happily, being more than willing to do whatever it took to get Bellatrix to the dinner table.
"I'll be back," Ted said, walking through the door just as Harry went into the hallway opposite. "Andromeda?" Ted said, seeing that she was standing by the window, staring out into the yard.
"She infuriates me," Andromeda growled as she turned around to face her husband. While his presence calmed her down slightly, she was still annoyed at Bellatrix a great deal.
"Can we please just eat? This will take time, it's not going to happen over night," Ted whispered, not wanting his wife to give up so quickly. His wife had very little family in her life, only Alphard and sometimes Sirius, so he knew how precious the opportunity was to have Bellatrix become a member of their family. "I don't care if she respects me right now, it'll come. Don't force it upon her. If I'm not worried about, neither should you be."
"But I do care! To have you disrespected in your own house is intolerable for me," Andromeda replied, not willing to allow Ted to be disrespected, regardless of who it was. He was her husband, someone that she had promised her devotion and loyalty and love to, not someone that she would allow to be trampled due to her inaction—she would fight for him, no matter the cause.
"You're a Black, I get it, no matter how you feel on blood supremacy, you do have an ego," Ted shook his head, trying to understand how to get through to Andromeda. "But I don't care if I get disrespected. Shrug it off, it's okay. Plus," He added, looking back at the door, where Harry and Bellatrix were, hopefully waiting for them at the table. "She hasn't disrespected me. Not today, at least. Now can we go please?" He questioned, holding out his hand to her.
"But…" Andromeda said slowly, trying to form an argument against what Ted had said.
"No buts," Ted ordered, not allowing Andromeda another word on the matter. "Give it time. Make the effort. Trust me; she's putting herself out there way more than you're giving her credit for, dear. Her presence here is basically her admission that she was wrong, give her respect for that. Please?" He said, knowing that it was true and that Bellatrix needed to be given time to really change. "Now let's go eat."
With a nod, she took his hand and was lead into the dining room, where she saw both Harry and Bellatrix sitting on one side of the table, whispering quietly amongst themselves. "I'm sorry to keep you waiting, Harry, just needed to do something." Andromeda said politely, truly not wanting to have ruined Harry's night.
"It's no problem," Harry smiled, gripping Bellatrix's hand underneath the table. He gave her a nod, hoping to give her the confidence to do what they discussed.
"I'm sorry, Andromeda," Bellatrix whispered, though it was heard by all. She met her sister's gaze, her violet eyes pouring into her sister's, before flicking them down to the table.
Andromeda looked over to her sister, and briefly wondered whether it was an apology for what she had done in the past or what she had said in the kitchen. By the look on Bellatrix's face, Andromeda believed it to be the former, which made her realize that Ted might have been correct in what he had said. "Let's just eat, okay?" Andromeda replied with a small smile, trying to release the pent up resentment that she held in her heart. "I hope you both like duck." She said as she grabbed her wand and gave it a slight twitch, making various plates and bowl levitate from the kitchen and into the dining room as a result.
They all went silent as they passed around the food, piling on their portions onto the plates in front of them. "So what are your plans after Hogwarts, Harry?" Ted questioned as he cut up his duck into smaller pieces, attempting to break the awkwardness that was mounting and the steer the conversation into a pleasant direction.
"I don't really know to be honest," Harry answered, taking the spoon and scooping a pile of mashed potatoes onto his plate. "I'm probably not going to be doing anything until the Dark Lord is beaten if I'm being frank."
"Well, don't be Frank, be Harry," Ted said in a serious tone, earning a grunt of laughter from Harry.
"With a name like you have, I wouldn't expect anything else," Andromeda replied, ignoring Ted's joke and focusing on Harry instead.
"I once wanted to be an Auror or a Hit Wizard, but lately, I've been questioning that decision. I don't want to fight for the rest of my life." Harry informed them, giving them a detailed explanation of his career choices. "I don't know, something will turn up if I'm patient."
"I know a few Aurors, they seem happy, but some of them would agree with you, especially in a time like this." Ted replied, recalling his friends in the Department of Law Enforcement who voiced their concerns about using the Unforgiveables against another human in order to beat the Death Eaters.
"What do you do, Ted?" Harry asked curiously, having never learned from Tonks what her parents did for a living, if anything at all.
"I work at the Ministry," Ted answered with a shrug, not all too proud of his career. While he was successful in that he made a nice living, his career lacked adventure and ambition, making him somewhat average in result. "Not too exciting, but I have fun."
"He works in the Department of International Magical Cooperation," Andromeda informed Harry, expounding on Ted's answer. "He's a translator; he's very good with languages."
"Interesting," Harry replied politely, giving a small smile. He recalled how Percy was working in the Department back in his own time, but he doubted that Ted was as serious about his job as Percy seemed to be. "How many languages do you speak?"
"Just a few muggle ones," Ted replied, waving Harry's impressions off—he didn't know that many languages. "I haven't been able to master gobbledygook." He joked with a laugh, referencing the goblin language that only a few humans in the country were able to speak.
"I would imagine that it's tough to learn," Harry grinned, having not understood a single word of it when hearing the language numerous times while in Gringotts.
Ted flicked his eyes over to Bellatrix, and watched as she played with her food, clearly on the outskirts of the conversation. "What about you, what do you plan on doing, Bellatrix?" Ted asked, having never really spoken to the girl before outside of simple pleasantries.
"I don't know," mumbled Bellatrix, as she truly had no idea on what her career would be after she left Hogwarts. She had yet to give it much thought, but she knew that she would eventually, especially now that she had chosen to pursue Harry.
"What are you interested in?" Ted continued in an effort to include her, not knowing what she was good at or even what she liked to do.
"Charms," Bellatrix replied with a shrug, that being the first thing that came to her mind. "Maybe I'll do something with that."
"Like write articles? Or even a book?" Harry prodded, realizing that they had never spoken to each other about their future employment. It had never come up in conversation, and with Harry so concerned about her not being a Death Eater, he never focused on finding on what she would do instead. "I'd read them."
"I would too," Andromeda whispered, as she pushed her food around on the plate with her fork, similarly to Bellatrix.
"...you would?" Bellatrix looked up at Andromeda, surprised by that revelation. With all the disagreements that they had, it was quite shocking to Bellatrix that Andromeda would still be willing to read her work should she produce something on the subject.
"Of course," Andromeda nodded, as Ted rubbed her back, knowing that she had to do or say something to ease the awkwardness between the sisters and this was her way of doing just that. "You and I may not get along, but you're a better witch than I will ever be, that I'll willingly admit."
"Thank you," Bellatrix smiled, appreciating the compliment, knowing that it probably was not easy for Andromeda to say.
Andromeda smiled back, and Harry and Ted immediately felt their icy relationship thaw a little, which in light of their history, was enough to consider the night a success. "So have you seen our sister lately?"
"At Christmas," Bellatrix answered with a nod, referencing the time where she had to cancel on Harry on Christmas Eve in order to see her sister so the witch wouldn't get suspicious. "I'm seeing her tomorrow too."
"Did you go to their wedding?" Andromeda questioned, presuming that Bellatrix had indeed gone to the wedding, unlike her, who had not even been invited. "I bet mother was thrilled with her choice in a man. I mean a rich, pureblooded wizard such as Malfoy? It would be like heaven for them."
"Yes, I did," Bellatrix nodded, images of Narcissa's summer wedding springing to her mind. It was one of elegance, of grandeur, a wedding that many people would not forget. There had been nearly two hundred guests in attendance, a who's who of the wizarding world, from the coach of the national quidditch team to the Minister of Magic himself. "You know her, they spared no expense."
"With a gold amount like the Malfoys have, would you spare anything either?" Andromeda questioned back with a raise eyebrow, already knowing the answer. While their purity beliefs were greatly different, Andromeda knew that she was very similar to her sisters in many other ways, her desire for the finer things not being an exception.
"Probably not," Bellatrix shrugged with a smirk, not denying that she would go all out as well if she had the resources of the Malfoy family. "Did you know him when you went to school?"
"He started Hogwarts a few years after we did, I recall, but no, I never talked to him," Andromeda said, a pensive expression on her face. She had started Hogwarts in 1963, three years before Lucius, which meant that she was in her fourth year when the wizard first started. "At that point, I rarely spent anytime near the Slytherins or in the Slytherin common room, so I wasn't in a position where I had to speak with him. But I'm unsurprised that they ended up married."
"Speaking of marriage," Ted prodded with a smile, wondering where the younger couple fell on the issue. He and Andromeda had talked about marriage in their final months at Hogwarts, but they had not gotten married until a year or two out of school, when they had settled down and found careers for themselves.
Harry shifted in his seat, glaring playfully at Ted as the man continued to smile his way. "Don't waste your time because we haven't discussed it," Harry replied, then pausing, he added, "But I will say that us even being here is a good sign."
"A good sign for what?" Bellatrix raised an amused eyebrow, not really wanting to think about marriage herself, but finding Harry's discomfort at the subject highly entertaining.
"This is really good ham, Andromeda," Harry grinned at the older witch, trying to change the topic of conversation. He took his fork and shuffled some food into his mouth in an effort to prevent the need to respond to Bellatrix's question.
"It's duck, and I'm not saving you from this one," Andromeda said with a smile, pouring some iced tea into her glass, having had her fill of wine for the night.
Harry's gaze moved over to Ted, as Bellatrix continued to stare at him from her seat. "Don't look at me, kid." Ted laughed in amusement, not daring to get Harry off of the hook.
"You were saying?" Bellatrix said as she saw that Harry had no one else to help him.
"I wouldn't be meeting your sister and her husband and hopefully your niece in time, I wouldn't have wanted to meet them, unless I intended to being part of this family one day." Harry muttered, not meeting her gaze. "Not necessarily soon, mind you, but one day, perhaps."
"How very definitive," Bellatrix rolled her eyes as a small smile played at her lips, inwardly surprised at the delight she felt at what Harry had said.
The rest of the dinner went well, the tone staying conversational between the two couples with everyone getting to know one another. While there was still a distance between the two sisters, both Ted and Harry knew that it would take time to erase nearly a decade of bad memories and resentment, but they also knew that it would heal in time. It would take a lot of work and it wouldn't be finished with just a few dinners, but it would happen eventually so long as each sister wanted it to happen. To that end, as the plates were empty, Harry and Ted both cleaned up the table and went into the kitchen to fetch dessert, leaving the two sisters alone for the first time.
"I get it now, Andromeda," Bellatrix whispered, as Ted and Harry were still in the kitchen, away from earshot. "I understand why you chose Ted over us."
"You do?" Andromeda replied, raising an eyebrow, wanting to hear what Bellatrix had to say on the matter.
"To meet someone that you want to be around, no matter the expense, yes," Bellatrix muttered with her voice quiet and her tone thoughtful. While she understood the reasons behind what Andromeda had done, she had hoped that she would be able to go about it a different way than what her sister did and be able to keep her family in her life. "I get that now."
"You must be going through the most awful cognitive dissonance in that brain of yours," Andromeda said, biting the bottom of her lip, feeling badly about what her sister was going through. No matter their differences, she still loved Bellatrix, and had always hoped she'd see the error of her ways and come around to the right side.
"What?" Bellatrix asked, looking up, wanting Andromeda to expound on what she had said.
"You're trying to jump through hoops to be with this wizard, this Harry Dumbledore, when we both know you're still pretty big into the blood purity thing." Andromeda answered, though her voice did not reveal any condescension on her part—she was stating a fact, not offering her opinion. "I'm proud of you. It's not everyday that a person can bite their tongue and actually take the initiative to change in order to get something that they want—but you're doing that. And I'm proud of you for it."
Bellatrix met her sister's gaze, but stayed silent for a few moments, biting her lip as she thought of what she wanted to say. "He makes me…he makes me not feel so angry, he makes me want to just be alone with him and have fun. He makes me smile," Bellatrix whispered, losing herself in the thought of her feelings for Harry, feelings that she had never admitted out loud. "When I'm with him, it's just us, nothing and no one else. He makes me…want to suppress all that I once held dear."
"That's love for you," Andromeda replied in a wistful tone, recalling those same feelings that she held for Ted. "Outside of storge, eros is the strongest kind of love. It makes you do things that you probably wouldn't do without it. It's without logic, without reason, it just is, kind of like magic."
"Storge?" Bellatrix asked inquisitively, not knowing what the word meant.
"The type of love that a mother feels for her child, the way I feel for Nymphadora," Andromeda replied casually, before taking on a serious look and turning her gaze to Bellatrix. "Listen, when that time comes, when you feel people bearing down on you to do something that they think you want to do, do what will make you happy. If that path includes Alphard, Ted, Nymphadora and I, maybe even Sirius, then great, I'll be here with open arms. It'll be tough at first, but we will form the bond that we should already have. Just do what will make you happy, don't worry about anyone else, not Narcissa, not mum and dad, allow no one else but you to make the decision." Then, remembering what Bellatrix had said, she added, "And I didn't pick Ted over you, I simply fell in love with him and you all didn't like that he was a muggleborn."
"I think I already have made that choice," Bellatrix replied, just as Harry and Ted walked back in with the desserts. Harry carried a tray of biscuits in one hand and a tea kettle in the other, while Ted held a pumpkin cake and a jug of milk in his hands.
"Harry tried talking me into letting the both of us just eat it all in the kitchen, but I felt it unfair to you two," Ted grinned over to Andromeda and Bellatrix as he placed the items in his hands down onto the table. "I said, 'no, they'll want to eat as well, Harry, how dare you suggest such a thing!'"
"That is so not true," Harry laughed, placing the tea kettle down onto the table and taking a seat next to Bellatrix. He held his hands up in defense of himself, knowing that it was actually the opposite of what Ted had said. "He was the one that wanted to do that, not me. I said that Bellatrix would kill me if she didn't get a piece of this cake."
"Still have that sweet tooth, do you?" Andromeda smiled, remembering how her sister could never turn down a sweet as a child.
"She has it worse than you can ever know," Harry muttered, earning a playful slap in the arm from Bellatrix. They all cut themselves a piece of dessert, eating it as they made polite conversation about the weather.
As they were finishing up their respective pieces of cake, Bellatrix excused herself to the bathroom, leaving Harry alone with Ted and Andromeda. "You two are going to see Narcissa tomorrow?" Andromeda asked as she put her tea cup down on the table.
"Yeah, we're having dinner with them," Harry nodded, a bit nervous at the next day's itinerary, knowing that he would not like either of the Malfoys. While he had agreed to do it and would not go back on that promise, he just hoped that he would be able to avoid any confrontation with Lucius. "It was part of the deal. If I wanted to meet you, I had to also be willing to meet Narcissa."
"You don't seem too excited," Ted noticed, seeing the expression that was on Harry's face as he discussed the prospect of dinner with the pair of Malfoys. It was an expression that one would have before going to the dentist, as if only doing it because you have to, rather than it being something that one wants to do.
"I don't want to say anything to offend Andromeda…" Harry whispered, looking down at his dessert plate, hoping not to give Andromeda any reason to speak bad about him.
"Say it, I don't care," Andromeda laughed, waving Harry's fears off, fully aware that her sister had married one of the worst wizards in the country. "If you think I haven't spoken to Bellatrix all too much over the years then you'd really think I haven't spoken to Narcissa even more since I haven't had any contact with her at all since Hogwarts, not even an owl."
"Their superiority beliefs in themselves disgust me, so yeah, I'm not too excited, but I'll do it just to make her happy," Harry answered, looking up at Andromeda, knowing that what he said would affect her more than Ted. "They're toxic, though, especially Lucius. I can't stand that guy."
Andromeda nodded her head as Harry spoke, agreeing with everything that he said, but inwardly wondering why Harry would force himself to be around the Malfoys if he hated everything about them. "Do you love her?" Andromeda questioned in a tone that Harry could only describe as sisterly. Harry knew that Andromeda was prodding him in an effort to make sure that Bellatrix wouldn't get hurt, which was something that Harry couldn't help but respect about Andromeda—the fact that she was still able to do that and still felt the sisterly bond to want to protect her little sister even after having been ignored for so long.
"Yes, and she knows it," Harry said wistfully, remembering that night outside of Alphard's on Christmas Day when he admitted to both Bellatrix and himself that he loved her with all of his heart. When he said it, he meant it: he loved her. "I gave her my heart last Christmas."
"Has she told you she loves you?" Andromeda inquired, wondering how open Bellatrix was about her feelings. The Bellatrix she knew would never admit such a thing as it wasn't in her character to do so, but she reasoned that there was a possibility that Harry had perhaps opened her up to the possibility of admitting it.
"No, but I don't need to hear it to know," Harry smiled as he shook his head, knowing that Bellatrix's willingness to dine with Andromeda, the sister she did not get along with even as children, was proof positive of her feelings for him.
Andromeda nodded at Harry's answer, impressed with the wisdom behind it—not everyone could admit their feelings easily. "I'm sorry that Nymphadora isn't here, it's just that, with it being the first time, I didn't know what would happen so I didn't want her around here for that," Andromeda apologized as she stirred sugar into her tea, truly starting to like Harry enough to introduce him to her daughter. "And I'm sorry for before, I really actually do like you, that had nothing to do with you. It was just the emotion that I was feeling."
"It's really okay, I understand. But I will say that Bellatrix wanted to see her, as well," Harry said as his eyes flicked over to the door, where Bellatrix was returning from the washroom. "What are your plans for Easter tomorrow, anything special?"
"Just a simple dinner with my parents," Ted shrugged, not really having any big plans for the day. "We're not doing anything too important or exciting."
"Will Alphard be there?" Harry asked, wondering what the older Black was up to since they last saw one another. While in the wizard's presence, Harry had sensed that Alphard was usually alone most of the time, a fact that saddened him as he knew the feeling of loneliness all too well due to his time with the Dursleys.
"Yes," Andromeda answered as she took a sip of her tea, its heat warming her up inside. "We always try to include him as much as we can. He's quite fond of you, by the way."
"That's nice," Harry returned, happy that Alphard was seen by them as a member of the family, rather than just a crazy uncle that they never saw. "And I'm excited to see him on Friday, as well."
From her spot next to Harry, Bellatrix furrowed her brow, trying to remember if she knew where Ted's parents lived. "I thought Ted parent's lived a way's away?" She questioned, wondering if the pair were going to apparate to Ted's parents or travel a different way.
"They do, but they're spending Easter with us," Andromeda replied, realizing where Bellatrix was going with the question. "So we're going to be having dinner here."
Before long, the night was coming to a close and Harry and Bellatrix were saying their goodbyes to the Tonks couple. Andromeda and Bellatrix each promised to see each other more, and Harry and Ted knew that they both meant it and intended on holding the other to those promises. They waved goodbye before disappearing with a crack, appearing in the Leaky Cauldron not a moment later. They walked outside of the pub and entered muggle London, Harry making the near mile walk to Bellatrix's house to make sure that she returned home safely. They walked the few blocks until they reached Dungient Street, where members of the Black family had lived for over a century. They eventually reached the home, and after a kiss goodnight, Bellatrix scurried up the stoop and entered the home. With a small smile on his face, Harry returned to the Leaky Cauldron, where he fell asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow, tired from the day's events.
He awoke a little before midday the next day. After eating a light brunch and reading the paper for the daily news, he took a shower and prepared himself for his dinner with the Malfoys. He was dreading the interaction with Lucius, knowing how foul the wizard was, but he hardened himself up for it, wanting to make sure that Bellatrix was happy and that he made due on his promise to her. Just as he was putting the finishing touches on his outfit, there was a knock on the door, and Harry bounded across the room and opened the door, revealing Bellatrix in elegant green robes. "Ready?" She questioned him, immediately noticing that their roles had been reversed from the day before, with Harry being the hesitant one this time.
"Yup," Harry nodded, taking a step out into the hallway and closing the door to his room as they began to walk down to the pub below.
"Okay," Bellatrix started, flicking her eyes over to Harry as they walked, planning on informing him of certain things that he should avoid speaking out about. "The Malfoys are related by blood to the Blacks, Rosiers, Bulstrodes, Crabbes, Flints and Maxes through my sister, and the Spungens, the Spinks, and the Smarts through Lucius. Do not insult any of those families and you should be okay."
"Oh, just those families, is that all?" Harry grinned, making her roll her eyes in amusement. "Don't worry," Harry waved her off, not wanting her to concern herself about it. "I only intend on making fun of you, not any of those families." He joked, earning a playful slap from Bellatrix.
"You better be careful, Dumbledore, or you're going to get cursed," Bellatrix mocked with a smirk, narrowing her gaze at Harry.
"I'm not afraid of you, Black," Harry challenged, raising a daring eyebrow, tempting her to make her move.
"Well, then it's proven, you are a fool like I've always said," Bellatrix said, sticking her tongue out at Harry. "Additionally, just don't mention the Hitchens' or the Nigels, and we'll be fine."
"Who are they?" Harry asked, furrowing his brows, not recognizing those names. He could recognize the names of the other families that Bellatrix mentioned earlier, most of them at least, but he didn't think he had ever heard about either the Nigels or the Hitchens families.
"Hitchens' are a line of wizards that hail from a member of the Black family that was disowned for marrying a muggle named Bob Hitchens," Bellatrix answered quickly, as if retelling a planned script. "And the Nigels are a whole other family that have lineage with the Blacks when their patriarch was disowned for supporting muggle rights. This all happened years ago, like a century or more, before even our grandparents were born, so while it shouldn't come up in conversation, just make sure you don't bring it up."
"So many families I can't name," said Harry, shaking his head in amazement, confused as to why a family would try to hide their ancestry like the Blacks seemed to do.
"Well," Bellatrix started, trying to figure out how to best explain it to Harry, someone who was unaware of the politics of the pureblood families. "The Blacks really only respect around forty wizarding families, if I counted right, so it leaves families on the outskirts and they should therefore be avoided in the minds of the Blacks. They basically took the sacred twenty-eight names, added a few of their own respectable families like the Maxes and the Spungens, and got to the number forty."
Harry twisted his face into a look of confusion, perplexed by the arrogance as to declare twenty-eight families sacred. "Sacred twenty-eight?" He questioned as they reached the pub, though he already knew the answer: purebloods that thought of themselves as better than everyone else.
"This book that Cantankerous Nott wrote a half a century ago, listing twenty-eight pureblood families," Bellatrix informed him, before grabbing his arm and disapparating them away, arriving on the side of an empty muggle road a moment or two later. "He listed twenty-eight families that he thought were pure. The Potters weren't on that."
"Our loss then," Harry smirked, not really caring about his name and family not being on the list. To him, blood purity would be considered a little more than a joke if it wasn't for the dangerous nature of it—people actually died because of its dogma.
They walked down the long lane, before turning right into a wide driveway, arriving at the grand estate known as the Malfoy Manor. The manor was splendid, with large yew hedges and a black iron gate that barred their entrance. Beyond the gate, Harry could just see the sprawling lands that led to a three story manor house that had a dozen diamond-paned windows. In front of the house, there was a large fountain that was surrounded by elaborate gardens, housing a multitude of colorful flowers that Harry could not name. Overall, Harry noted, it was the complete opposite of the cozy home of the Tonks that he had seen the day before, and even more different than the Weasley's Burrow, which had to use magic just to stay upright.
As Bellatrix neared the gates, they contorted into a face and then popped open, apparently awaiting her arrival. Walking up the long, cobblestone pathway that led to the front door, Harry gazed around the surroundings, seeing the tall green trees and the rolling hills of grass that was quite beautiful and picturesque. To his left, Harry saw a couple of white peacocks, which made him roll his eyes at the pretentiousness of it all. He had no idea why one family needed to much, why they had to take more and more, which only enhanced his dislike of the family, perhaps unfairly.
Narcissa was already standing at the door, waiting for them as they walked up, a smile lacing her pointed face. "Bella!" She said happily, waving her sister forward excitedly.
"Cissy!" Bellatrix exclaimed with a large smile, happy to see her middle sister. She quickened her pace to a near jog and enveloped the blonde witch in a hug, making Harry cock an eyebrow at the adoration they each apparently had for one another.
They pulled back as Harry arrived at the door, making Narcissa look over at Harry, who stood a few feet away from her, trying to have a pleasant look on his face. "And you must be Harry?" Narcissa questioned as politely as she could, her eyes quickly giving him a once over.
"Yes, ma'am," Harry nodded, stepping forward to be closer to the witch. As they were only a few feet away from each other, Harry found that he was an inch or two taller than she was, a fact that surprised him a bit as he had remembered her to be a formidable woman in his own time. "It's nice to meet you."
"Charmed," Narcissa replied, lightly shaking Harry's hand. She was tall and slim with pale skin and silky blonde hair that cascaded over her shoulders. With heavy-lidded cold blue eyes, pointed features, and a perpetual expression on her face as if she was disgusted by everything around her, she looked very similar to and had a physical resemblance with Bellatrix, but whereas Bellatrix was dark, she was fair.
After the introduction, they walked into the house, Harry's eyes gazing over the portraits and artwork that adorned the walls. There was countless of Malfoys long since passed asleep in their portraits, with bronze busts stationed on podiums, and various expensive trinkets on the antique tables that were nestled against the wall. The artwork, it seemed, was very expensive and dated back to at least the fifteenth century from what Harry could tell. Some of the portraits' canvases were beginning to wear, making Harry wonder how far back the line stressed, having already found out weeks prior that the Malfoys existed from at least William the Conqueror on.
His vision moved over to the end of the hall, where he saw a small house elf appear and disappear, making him do a double take, wondering if he actually saw the elf or instead just saw what he wanted to see. The elf was young looking, and seemed to have had green tennis ball-like eyes and floppy ears, a familiar appearance to Harry's eyes. "Don't mind Dobby, sometimes he doesn't know his place," Narcissa said, coming up behind Harry along with Bellatrix, having seen Dobby as well.
"Dobby?" Harry whispered, a small smile, surprised that his elfish friend was working for the Malfoys already. He had expected Dobby to be a tad younger than that, but then again, Harry reasoned, Dobby had relayed to Harry how elves faired during Voldemort's first reign, so it did make sense that Dobby would be around.
"He was a wedding gift from Lucius' grandfather," Narcissa informed Harry, coming around to stand in front of the giant marble staircase that led up to the second floor.
"Gardnard Spungen," Bellatrix supplied, informing Harry on who her sister meant. "He was Lucius' maternal grandfather. He was a respected herbologist."
"Yes, quite famous," Narcissa agreed with Bellatrix's assessment. "He had a large orchard of elderberries, which Brutus used in his wines. That's actually how Brutus met his wife, my husband's mother. Anyway, he passed away just a few months ago, a few weeks after our wedding."
"The Malfoys are winemakers?" Harry questioned quietly to himself, surprised by that revelation, having always assumed that the Malfoys just lived off of their supply of gold that was in the depths of Gringotts.
"Mr. Dumbledore, I apologize for my lateness, I had some business to handle," Lucius said, gliding up behind the trio as Harry turned to face him. Unsurprisingly, he looked the same as he would in the future, with long platinum blond hair, gray eyes, and an arrogant look on his face that hid his inner darkness from the world. He shook Harry's hand, forcing Harry to try his best to prevent the snarl of disgust that he felt inside from showing. "It's good to see you, Bellatrix. It's been too long."
"You too," Bellatrix nodded politely, her face neutral at Lucius' presence, unlike the smile that she wore upon seeing her sister. "It has certainly been some time, that's for sure."
"Right," Lucius smiled, gesturing to the hallway off to the side of the staircase that would lead to the dinning room. "Shall we sit for dinner then?"
Following the Malfoys, Harry walked into a splendidly large dinning room, which held a long mahogany table that housed a fantastic looking set of plates made of silver and matching silverware that had the Malfoy coat of arms engraved upon them. They all sat, with Lucius taking his seat at the head of the table, Harry on his left, and Narcissa and Bellatrix across from Harry on Lucius' right. Almost immediately, food appeared on the plates in front of them and a bottle of red wine took shape in Lucius' hands. There was a deliciously glazed ham, with carrots and potatoes as sides, and a basket of dinner rolls baked to perfection.
Uncorking the bottle of wine, Lucius offered a glass to Harry, who in an effort to be polite, accepted. After pouring his guests a glass, he poured himself one as well, before leaning back in his chair as the table started to fill their plates, not all too hungry himself. "So I hear that you and our deal Bellatrix have gotten quite close recently, is that correct?"
"Fairly close, yeah," Harry agreed, cutting up his piece of ham before turning his attention to Lucius. "She's the person I'm closest with in this world and knows me better than just about anyone else."
"But you're not a Slytherin yourself?" Lucius weighed, wondering how such a connection could be reached when the two had different personalities according to the Sorting Hat.
"Nope, Ravenclaw," Harry answered, feeling a well of pride spring up inside of himself at the mention of his new house, which he had come to greatly admire over the past two years. "It was either that, or Gryffindor."
"Interesting," Lucius returned, keeping his gaze on Harry, as if weighing his appearance and everything that he knew about him so far. "I've heard it's quite difficult to foster relationships between people of different houses."
"Not at all," Harry replied, not really sure about what else to say. He could tell this was going down a path that he did not want it to go, but he also knew that he would not be able to steer the conversation away from it very easily. "You were in Slytherin?"
"Like my fathers were before me," Lucius stated, swirling his red wine in his glass. "I met my dear wife in the Slytherin common room the first night she arrived at Hogwarts."
"Love at first sight," Narcissa cooed from her spot opposite Harry. She had a look of adoration on her face as she looked over to her husband, who flicked his gaze over to her and gave her a small smile. "Even as an eleven year old, it was love at first sight."
"I'm fairly certain I disliked Harry immensely the first time I saw him," Bellatrix grinned at Harry, who gave an amused smile back at her, but stayed silent.
As if remembering Harry was there, Lucius looked away from his wife and back over at Harry, intent on learning more about him. "Dumbledore, that's a pureblood name, no?" He questioned, though it was more of a statement than anything else.
"I wouldn't know, I'm a halfblood," Harry answered firmly, fully aware of what his answer would bring. He was not going to lie to Lucius about his blood just to make this less awkward; it was not in his character to do that, to disrespect his parents as such and pretend that he was something that he wasn't.
"Is that right?" Lucius replied easily, his silky voice coming off as neutral, masking whatever disappointment he might have had at the answer.
"I'm proud of my heritage and my blood," Harry returned, staring straight at Lucius, who continued to swirl his drink around the bottom of his glass in response. Harry looked over to Bellatrix, who stared back at him, a look in her eyes that Harry recognized as sorrow. Harry immediately understood what it meant: she wasn't sorry for Lucius or her sister, she was instead sorrowful that it would never work with her and him as long as they were on opposite sides of the blood purity debate. Not wanting to lose her, Harry took a deep breath, and gave Lucius a smile that didn't show in his eyes. "After all, we can't all be a Malfoy now, can we?"
Lucius stayed silent momentarily, staring blankly back at Harry, before his face twisted into a smile—it was a gloating one, one that showed Lucius got enjoyment at being exalted. "No, I guess you can't," Lucius smirked, placing his glass back down onto the table. He grabbed his knife and fork and started to pile food onto his own plate, seemingly content in Harry's answer. "Please, don't let me keep you from eating, Mr. Dumbledore."
With a nod, Harry started to eat his food and went quiet after that, replying only when spoken to and only responding with the most barebones answers that he could—he was polite, but certainly not as open as he was the previous day. He ate in silence as he listened to Bellatrix and Narcissa chat, a visible sisterly bond shared amongst them, which surprised Harry a little as he did not expect it to be so pronounced. After all, the Narcissa Malfoy he knew in his own time was a cold woman, one that showed her disdain on her face, which made him believe that she was like that no matter the company she was in, with the exception being her own son. However, seeing her interact with Bellatrix showed that she did indeed have a heart and cared deeply for her sister, which changed his perspective of the middle Black sister a bit—not much, mind you, but a bit nonetheless.
Most of all, however, it also changed the way he looked at Bellatrix herself. Her interaction with Narcissa showed a tenderness he had not really seen before from her, not even when she was with him. While she did indeed drop her guard while around him, he was aware that it was not completely down and there were still lingering vestiges of her outward persona, but with Narcissa, he saw her at her most unguarded, a place where she felt free from prying eyes and able to act however she wanted. Though, that was not to say that many of Bellatrix's flaws were based around her guarding herself, but rather he knew it was a sign that she had a hidden layer underneath that probably existed in his own time as well.
A half an hour later found Narcissa pushing her empty plate away from her, her knife and fork lying on top of it. "I can't believe you're almost finished with Hogwarts," Narcissa sighed as she leaned back in her seat, her stomach full. She reached over to the bottle of wine and poured herself a glass, taking a few sips to wet her mouth. "I remember when you first entered, don't you, Lucius?"
"Oh yes, we were proud as you sat at the Slytherin table," Lucius recalled when Bellatrix had entered Hogwarts in his and Narcissa's fifth year at Hogwarts. Being the sister of Narcissa and a member of the Black family, she had immediately joined their group, having shown herself as a precocious witch far above her age.
"That was a while ago," Bellatrix said quietly, looking down at her plate, knowing that she had changed a lot since her early years. "I've grown up since then."
"You're still the same girl you were when I greeted you at the table," Narcissa smiled, though Bellatrix did not respond. "Shall we have some dessert?" She suggested happily, clapping her hands as the dishes cleared away, only for new dishes filled with cookies and pies and cakes to take form. "After all, I know you still love pumpkin cake just as you did as a child." She waved her wand, cut a piece of the cake that was in front of her, and sent it over to her sister, who, with a small grin, took her fork and dug in along with everyone else.
After dinner was completed, and the dessert was eaten, Harry and Bellatrix said their goodbyes and both disapparated from the Malfoy estate, Bellatrix promising to see Narcissa once school was finished in three months. Arriving on the far side of the Diagon Alley, they walked up the alley as they tried to enjoy the cool night air, heading in the direction of the Leaky Cauldron, and presumably Harry's room inside. They stayed quiet for most of the way, the alley being deserted except for a few brave patrons and the Aurors assigned to guard it, but just as they neared the entrance to the pub, Bellatrix flicked her gaze up to Harry, trying to see if she could read his expression. "So that was fun, wasn't it?" Bellatrix said, awkwardly, not really knowing how to broach the subject. "Right?"
"Of course," Harry said, giving her a smile that didn't quite reach his soul. "I just want you happy, that's all."
"You didn't like them, did you?" Bellatrix replied, downtrodden at that fact, wanting nothing more than to be able to incorporate Harry into her family life. However, she did not know if she would be able to do that fully if he could not get along with Lucius.
Harry looked over to Bellatrix, giving out a long sigh as his eyes flicked up to the sky, where the moon was showing through the clouds. "Lucius is vile, Bellatrix," Harry admonished, focusing on Lucius, rather than Narcissa as he had witnessed firsthand the bond the two sisters had, something he would never be able to sway and had no intention on trying because of it. "He thinks he's better than me? Why, because he thinks he has more money? Because he thinks his estate makes him a bigger man? Because he thinks he's a greater wizard than I am? His pride and joy is being a rich, powerful wizard, but I have news for him, Bellatrix—he's not even half the wizard I am."
"Harry…" Bellatrix started, before pausing when she saw that Harry wasn't finished.
"He shows the worst of humankind, apathy to suffering, cruelty to those around him, and arrogant misapplication of his fame, fortune, and magical talent," Harry continued his rant, losing himself in the disgust that he had kept inside of him all through the dinner. "And when you compare him to Ted from yesterday? It's not even close. Ted was warm and kind, and even if he didn't like me or you, you would never know it because he was too nice of a person to state any of our flaws or deficiencies. He tried to get to know me, to get to know us, and made pleasant conversation to make us feel comfortable. Meanwhile, one of the first things that Lucius said to me was to comment on my blood purity."
"I know," Bellatrix whispered, fully aware that Harry would never be able to be himself around Lucius. She saw how much he had to swallow just to get through one dinner, let alone a less relaxed event where Lucius would have felt more open to voice his opinions. "I love my sister, though, and I won't stop seeing her."
"I know that," Harry sighed once more, not wanting to come off as selfish and uncompromising. "I'm not asking you to do that, obviously, but I just had to go through the most awful, awkward dinner that I will ever have to go through in my life. And I would do it a thousand times over again if it meant being with you, which terrifies me because I know I'll never survive having to be around that guy—not now, not in the future, maybe not ever—but I would never survive without having you around."
Bellatrix gave a small smile at what Harry had said, her heart flittering in happiness for a few short moments. "We'll figure it out, I promise," Bellatrix suggested, taking his hand into her own and giving it a gentle squeeze.
Harry gave a smile, but then furrowed his brow in thought, thinking back to a conversation they had had months ago and pondering the information he had learned from Canute Kneen just a few days prior. "You remember at the beginning of the year when you mentioned the Malfoys and William the Conqueror?"
"Vaguely," Bellatrix nodded, thinking back and remembering the conversation.
"What did the Malfoys do for William the Conqueror specifically?" He questioned, wanting to know what else the Malfoys did for the man, other than what he had learned from Dumbledore and Kneen.
Bellatrix cocked an eyebrow at the question, not really understanding the relevance, but thought of the answer nonetheless. "Rumor has it that Armand Malfoy was the court mage, and in exchange for the estate we just left, he brewed potions, performed spells, and roused a wizard army for William during the invasion."
"Wouldn't that go against the Malfoy arrogance, though?" Harry questioned, curious as to how the Malfoys could hate muggles when they owed their extensive wealth to a muggle. "They hate muggles, while they helped and willingly worked for one."
"They play it off as that Armand was actually in control of William the entire time," Bellatrix shrugged, not all that concerned with the factuality of it. "As if the muggle only thought he was being helped, but in truth was actually being played by Armand."
"Right," Harry nodded, as they reached the pub. They entered through the door, before deciding to take a seat at one of the unoccupied tables for a drink. "And what about the Lestranges?" Harry questioned, also recalling Rasalgol Lestrange being on the list of names given to him by Canute Kneen.
"Same," Bellatrix replied disinterestedly. "And they got a humongous estate on the island of Jersey as a result of it. They're mostly French, so the British families don't really know about it."
"But you do?" Harry inquired with a smirk, wondering how she knew when not many other people did.
"Rodolphus likes to talk," Bellatrix said with a chuckle, knowing how loose Rodolphus' lips were when it came to gloating. "And I'm good at remembering things. Why are you so interested in any of this anyway?"
"Hey, if I'm going to have to be around some of these people, I want to know the dirt," Harry grinned, though he knew that it had more to do with his continuing fascination with the story surrounding Merlin and the Norman Conquest than any desire to acquire the less illuminated facts of the various pureblooded families' histories. "If they're French, why don't they go to Beauxbatons?"
"Hogwarts is a better school," Bellatrix muttered quickly, knowing that Hogwarts had much greater professors and a richer history than the French school. "And they have some property in Britain stemming from when their family came over again in the 1400s. And you know, if you think Lucius is terrible, just talk to Rodel Lestrange. He's the worst."
"Why?" Harry asked, disbelieving that there could be anyone, outside of Voldemort himself, worse than Malfoy. "I mean, outside of being a Death Eater, I mean—and one of the first ones at that."
"Rodel Orinn Lestrange has one of the largest egos I've ever seen," Bellatrix replied, letting Harry know about her personal opinion of the man that Harry knew to be her father in law in his future—a future Harry hoped would be avoided. "Beyond Lucius, he truly is an arrogant berk, with Rodolphus and Rabastan inheriting simply a morsel of his ego."
"Coming from you, that's surprising," Harry snorted, earning a stare from Bellatrix. "Okay, okay, what makes his ego so much larger than every other pureblooded supremacist I've ever met?"
"You know what Rodolphus' full name is?" She questioned, though she did not expect Harry to be able to answer. "Rodolphus Rodell Lestrange."
"So what?" Harry replied confusedly, perplexed on what was wrong with it. He knew many of people, both good and evil, who named their son or daughter after themselves or their partner—Voldemort himself having been one of children on the opposite end, having been named after his muggle father.
"You know what Rabastan's full name is?" She asked once more, this time questioning about the younger Lestrange brother. "Rabastan Orrin Lestrange."
Harry bit his lip, not really understanding what Bellatrix was trying to say. "So he named his children after himself?" He said, finding it rich that Bellatrix was seemingly affronted by that fact when she came from a family that had many people named after ancestors four or five deep.
"Yeah, but tweaked the name so that they aren't exactly the same," Bellatrix answered, getting to what she wanted to tell Harry all along. "Why did he tweak them? Because he didn't want his children to have his name in case they were disappointments."
Harry gave out a laugh at that pronouncement, seeing what Bellatrix meant. "Sounds like he loves his children," Harry said sarcastically, disgusted at the idea that a father would think of his sons as potential disappointments at the time of their birth. It was an absurd idea to him, even questioning whether a child would be a disappointment, let alone one that had yet to show his or her talents such as a baby who was just born. Shaking their heads, they went quiet after that as they each ordered a drink, enjoying their time together.
Eventually, Harry returned to his room and quickly fell asleep. In time, the Thursday before Edgar's wedding found Harry and Bellatrix buying new robes for the event. While Bellatrix had watched Harry being fitted for his new dress robes, Bellatrix had decided to hide her purchase from his eyes, preventing him from getting a peek at how she would appear at the wedding in an attempt to surprise him. Though he had tried to protest, he knew by the look on her face that it was an argument he would not win, so with that in mind, he stayed silent on the issue, inwardly anxious to see her in her robes.
As the day turned into night and their fittings were completed, they exited Gladrags, and headed towards the Leaky Cauldron, again walking through the deserted Diagon Alley. Unlike the bustling place that Harry knew it to be in the future, this version of the Alley was empty and depressing, the fear of Voldemort overcoming the people and scaring them from indulging in the many shops that the alley had to offer. "I'll see you tomorrow," Harry said, as he and Bellatrix slowly made their way down Diagon Alley and neared the Leaky Cauldron, both carrying bags in their hands from their robes shopping.
"Is my cousin coming or is it just you and Aubrey?" Bellatrix inquired, wondering if Sirius had been invited as Harry said he was planning on doing.
"Don't know, I guess I'll find out," Harry grinned, watching as she winked at him and disapparated with a small pop, leaving him to his night with his friends.
With his bags still in hand, Harry walked into the Leaky Cauldron and went up to his room, placing the bags down onto the floor next to his bed and walking back out. He headed down into the pub and joined the table that housed Bertram and Xenophilius, happy that his friends had made it safely, knowing that it was a risk just to leave the house due to Voldemort and his Death Eaters. Unfortunately, Sirius never did arrive, which disappointed Harry a bit, but he understood in the end. After a pleasant dinner, he went back to his room and fell asleep while doing an assignment for Defense Against the Dark Arts.
At six o'clock the next day, Harry arrived in the alley to the side of Alphard Black's house with a quiet pop. Walking down the street and up to the door, he gave it a few swift knocks and waited for it to be opened, hearing footsteps on the other side. Within moments, the door was pulled open to reveal a man that appeared to be in his early-50s, with a tiny stomach and graying hair. "Alphard, it's nice to see you," Harry smiled, shaking the hand of the older wizard that had appeared at the door.
"Harry! Welcome, welcome," Alphard said, taking a step to the side and allowing Harry entrance into his home. "I'm so glad you could make it."
Harry entered, and noticed that it was just as he remembered, having spent Christmas day there just a few months prior. As he was scanning the home, Bellatrix came walking down the hallway and gave him a smile as she walked up and hugged him, greeting him affectionately. "Hi," She whispered as she pulled away from their embrace, happy to see him.
"Shall we?" Alphard suggested as he gestured to the dining room, where dinner was already prepared, waiting for them to enjoy.
"How have you been, sir?" Harry asked as they made the short walk over to the table, with Harry taking the seat to the left of Alphard, while Bellatrix sat on his right.
"I've been great, I've gotten to see a lot of my grand-niece, which always manages to bring a smile to my face," replied Alphard, referencing the young Nymphadora, whom he adored considerably.
"I didn't get a chance to see her when we had dinner with them the other night," Harry replied in a disappointed tone, having wanted to see Nymphadora when he had met Ted and Andromeda. It was something that he had been looking forward to for quite a while, the opportunity to see Nymphadora alive and well since his last memories of her in his own time were of her death.
Alphard stayed silent for a moment, using the time to plate his food. "How did that go?" Alphard finally questioned interestedly, wanting to hear the couple's perspective on the night.
"Surprisingly well," Harry smiled, looking over to Bellatrix, who looked at him with a neutral expression on her face, allowing him to judge how the night had went.
"No arguments then?" Alphard said, raising an eyebrow, having been told what had happened by Ted and Andromeda. He knew that there had been a small tiff between the witches early on in the night, but according to what he had learned from the Tonks couple, the night ended with promise.
"Oh, no, there was, a big one at that, too," Bellatrix replied, shaking her head as she took a bite out of her chicken leg. "And I expect there to be more, but…"
"But?" Alphard prodded, pushing for Bellatrix to go on, hoping that Bellatrix was willing to work on her relationship.
"Those will stop eventually," Bellatrix said quietly, earning a smile from both Harry and Alphard.
From his spot at the head of the table, Alphard silently agreed with that assessment, having spoken to Andromeda herself about the ordeal. Like Bellatrix, Andromeda also felt that the arguments would eventually cease with time, however she also knew that there would be some pushing and pulling both ways for the time being and that it would be a rocky relationship until it settled, but it would settle eventually. Additionally, unbeknownst to Bellatrix, Andromeda had relayed to Alphard how excited she was to finally reconnect with her youngest sister, whom she had always hoped would find her way in life and not become similar to the other Blacks that held onto their blood purity ideals more tightly than they did the bonds between family members. Shaking those thoughts away, Alphard dug into the dinner that he had made, happy to finally have Harry and Bellatrix visiting him again.
After dinner, Harry, Alphard, and Bellatrix made their way to the back porch to enjoy the night air, looking out at the garden and the trees as birds chirped above them. "This is warm, isn't it?" Alphard said, noticing that the lemonade was not as cold as it should have been. Alphard watched as Harry tapped his wand on the top of the bottle, cooling the butterbeer off. "Is yours warm?"
"A bit, yeah," Harry nodded, having not wanted Alphard to concern himself with it. A warm butterbeer was just as delicious as a cool one, but he just preferred to enjoy it cold since the weather was starting to warm up itself. "No big deal, though."
"No, the cooling charm on my icebox is faulty, I need to get it fixed," Alphard said, knowing that he would have to call a charms repairman sooner or later in order to get the ice box repaired.
"I can take a look at it for you," Bellatrix said, getting to her feet, wanting the practice. She knew that, if she were to make a living, it would be through charms, so she wanted to be able to perform whatever charm work that may come up in everyday life. "Cooling charms are easy."
"Thank you, my dear," Alphard smiled at his niece as she walked back into the house, leaving Harry and Alphard on the patio.
Harry watched as Bellatrix entered the house, before turning his attention back to the yard. There was a small garden pond in the corner of the yard, opposite from the large wooden shed in the back of the property, filled with fish that turned different colors, seemingly either red, yellow, or blue, except much more vibrant than any colored fish Harry had ever seen before. In body, they looked very similar to discus fish with a small hint of surgeonfish, but a tad larger, seemingly about a foot to a foot and a half in length. They were quite stunning in Harry's opinion, making the pond pop with color that meshed well with the colors of the garden surrounding it.
Alphard traced Harry's gaze, and saw that he was looking at the fish. "Those are coloredfish," He said, educating Harry on the type of fish that were in the pond, presuming Harry was curious about them. "They change colors depending on the temperature of the water—in warmer water, they're red; in temperate water, they're yellow; in cold water, they're blue. You take them out of the water, even for just a moment, they'll turn white."
"I've never heard of them," Harry said, craning his neck to get a better view of the fish inside their pond. "They remind me of Dr. Seuss."
"They were bred after the ban on experimental breeding, that's why you've probably never heard of them," Alphard replied in an amused tone, referencing the fact that the fish were illegal for the most part. "They call them the metamorphs of the water; they are some of the most powerfully magical fish in the world."
"Did you do the breeding?" Harry inquired, curious as to if Alphard had a talent with animals.
"Oh, no," Alphard shook his head in the negative, finding the idea quite amusing. "I was on holiday one time a few years ago, nearly a decade or so, and I mentioned them to Andromeda afterwards, and when she and Ted went on their honeymoon, they picked me up a small school of them and smuggled them into the country."
"That was, ah, nice of them?" Harry laughed, not really knowing how to respond to Alphard's proclamation.
"What's the point of living if you don't break the rules from time to time?" Alphard inquired with a raised eyebrow as he took a sip of his lemonade.
"Touché," grinned Harry, appreciating the idea behind what the wizard had said. "I've been known to do that; some say a bit too much."
"They were originally known as Red-Blue-Yellow fish, but they didn't want anyone to think they were connected to Red-Blue-Yellow fever, which would obviously make them less profitable." Alphard informed him, returning to the fish, recalling that the Red-Blue-Yellow fever had caused a great panic decades prior in the late 1910s, years before even he was born.
"Red-Blue-Yellow fever?" Harry questioned, not recognizing the term. He had heard about the muggle sicknesses that sounded similar to it, like yellow fever or scarlet fever, but never Red-Blue-Yellow fever. "What's that?"
"It's a magical sickness," Alphard replied, flicking his gaze over to Harry as he explained to the younger wizard what the sickness was exactly. "Muggles are immune to it. If you have it, you're stricken with a fever that turns your skin red, then it makes your body temperature drop to deathly levels that turn you blue, and then it turns you yellow, which signifies your imminent death."
Harry turned his head from the fish to Alphard, a strange look in his eyes. "How do you catch it?"
"By going to the tropics or by catching it from someone who has it," Alphard smiled, amused by Harry's seeming fear. "It only affects children and old people, never someone as lively as yourself."
"Is there a cure?" Harry asked, earning a shrug from Alphard. "That sounds awful."
Both went silent after that, each enjoying the cool spring air and the quietness of the night. "You were raised in a muggle household growing up, weren't you?" Alphard questioned, keeping his gaze on the bristling trees that circled his yard. "Not that it matters, of course, I'm just asking."
"You don't have to keep defending yourself, Alphard, I know you don't hate muggles and don't believe in blood superiority," Harry replied softly, not wanting the man to feel as if he had to justify everything that he said. He knew that Alphard was not a blood purist, even if he did not enter the muggle world all too often. "But yes, yes I was, how did you know?"
"Your ancillary knowledge of the magical world is quite poor," Alphard answered with an understanding smile, knowing that it was one of the negatives of being a muggleborn—you entered the magical world with a deficient knowledge of the magic within it. "You probably know more magic than I could ever know, most likely could perform spells I've never even heard about, but the little things about the world and wizardkind? You're lacking in comparison to someone like me. And, while not always the case, it is usually a symptom of a muggle upbringing, where you are told stories about Cinderella and Snow White, rather than Babbity Rabbity, the Warlock with a Hairy Heart or another wizarding tale."
Harry looked over to Alphard with a raised eyebrow, wondering how the older wizard had figured it out. After all, it was a quite perceptive understanding of Harry's situation. "How did you realize that?"
"Your Dr. Seuss comment," Alphard answered simply, having put it all together once he had heard Harry make that reference. While he knew that Harry was a half-blood, he knew that wasn't the entire story in regards to Harry's early life because of some things that the boy had said over the course of their time together. "I've never met a wizard that actually knew who that was that wasn't from a muggle upbringing or spent years living in the muggle world to better understand them."
"And you know who Dr. Seuss is?" Harry questioned, surprised that a pureblooded wizard such as Alphard would take the time to read a muggle author.
"I need something to occupy my time, don't I?" Alphard expressed with a laugh, making light of his lonely existence. "I'm quite fond of reading, whether it's muggle or wizarding," Alphard paused and took a sip of his drink, smacking his lips as he placed his glass back down onto the porch table next to him. "I've since evolved from my days of reading Beedle the Bard."
"Evolved to what, like Beatrix Bloxam books?" Harry joked, fully aware that many in the wizarding world found Beatrix Bloxam's stories vomit inducing at worst and nauseating at best.
"Ugh, as if," Alphard sighed, disgusted by the name, having known quite a few people in his life that had upchucked due to the witch's writings. "More like Charles Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol' or Eccentrissa Frizzle's romps around the world, but funny thing about Beedle the Bard…" He started, before being interrupted by the door opening and Bellatrix coming out onto the porch again.
"Harry, do you see what time it is?" Bellatrix said as she retook her seat next to Alphard, having been successful in her attempt to fix the cooling charm on the ice box.
"Yeah, I should get going," Harry said after realizing the time as he rose to his feet, preparing himself to leave. He placed his bottle back down on the table next to his chair, not really knowing what to do with it.
"Where are you going?" Alphard questioned from his seat, looking up at the younger wizard.
"His best friend's bachelor party," Bellatrix answered dully, as if not finding that fact amusing. "What are you guys doing?"
"All I know is that I was told to meet at the Three Broomsticks at 8 o'clock," Harry shrugged, truly having no information beyond that. "Edgar's brother is the one handling it. I'm only attending."
"Edgar?" Alphard said questioningly, seemingly knowing exactly who Harry meant by that. "Edgar Bones is your best friend?" Alphard inquired, wondering if that was the Edgar that Harry was speaking about.
"Kind of, yeah," Harry nodded, though he knew that he and Edgar had been slowly growing apart simply due to Edgar not being in Hogwarts anymore and being busy with his Order of the Phoenix duties. He knew, however, that that would swiftly change in the coming months, when Harry was out of Hogwarts and a member of the Order of the Phoenix himself, where they would be working together closely to end Voldemort's reign of terror.
"Strong wizard Edgar is," Alphard replied, seemingly approving of Harry's friend selections. He knew that Edgar was the most prodigious member of the Bones family, who themselves were an ancient and honorable wizarding clan that dated back countless of centuries and lived by the many beliefs that Harry himself carried: that everyone was equal and that goodness was unconquerable. "He comes from a powerful family, too."
Harry bent down and gave Bellatrix a hug goodbye, who whispered something in his ear that made Harry shake his head in amusement as they pulled apart. "Hey, Alphard, there is a Hogsmeade weekend in two weeks from now, why don't you come? We'll meet up for a drink, perhaps get some lunch, it'll be fun." Harry asked, looking over to the older wizard in an effort to gauge his reaction.
"You want me to come?" Alphard said, raising an eyebrow, surprised that Harry would make an offer like that. He was touched that Harry would want him around him, something that not many people would take the opportunity to offer.
"Of course," Harry said in a chipper tone, happy to have Alphard join his friends and him in Hogsmeade. After all, if that wasn't the case, he would not have asked him and would not have made mention of it. "Maybe you'll even get a chance to meet some of my friends."
"Then I will be there," Alphard smiled, inwardly thrilled that Harry seemingly wanted him in his life. While he did have a few friends, he was a rather lonely soul, not out of any disinterest, but rather because of the lack of opportunities that were presented to him as his entire family had disowned him and made no efforts to communicate with him except for Andromeda, Sirius, and Bellatrix.
"I'm looking forward to it, bye!" Harry said, before walking into the house, intending on using the Floo to travel to the Three Broomsticks. After throwing the powder down at the flames and traveling to his destination, Harry stepped out of the fireplace in the Three Broomsticks and walked further into the pub, his gaze moving around the area, searching for Edgar or Xenophilius, having no idea who else would be there.
He saw the group in the corner, which included a few people Harry did not know, along with Xenophilius, Frank Longbottom, and of course, Edgar. He made his way over to them with a large smile on his face, excited for the night. Once the introductions were made, which allowed Harry to meet Edgar's older brother for the first time, they all ordered drinks that would start the night in full, allowing Edgar's brother to explain what the night would entail in celebration of Edgar's final night as a single man. Once he heard what was planned, Harry couldn't help but smile, knowing that it would be a night to remember.
A few hours later, Harry made his way up to his room in the Leaky Cauldron, filled with memories of the night's events. It was fun, and revealing, and he knew that Edgar would enjoy the memories that they had created for a long time after he was married. They had done a lot in only a couple hours, with everyone enjoying their time throughout the various activities. In fact, the night made him so tired that as soon as his head hit the pillow, he fell asleep, dreaming about what was to come the next day.
The next day did indeed find Harry waiting in his room for Bellatrix to arrive, where they would leave together to go to Edgar's wedding. He had awoken a little before noontime, ate a small breakfast, read the paper, and then entered in the bathroom to ready himself for the wedding. He took a shower and put on the robes that he and Bellatrix had purchased two days before, and then combed his hair, happy that Dumbledore had made his hair straighter than what it normally was, allowing him to control it somewhat. There was a knock on the door ten minutes before the wedding was to start as Harry was coming out of the bathroom.
Harry swiftly crossed the room and opened the door to reveal Bellatrix, who was looked a certain way that made Harry stare for a few moments. She was wearing tight fitting robes, which hugged her figure and accentuated her curves. The robes were of a purple color, which brought out the violet color of her eyes nicely. Her black hair had a few curly locks, which cascaded over her shoulders, and framed her pretty, pointed face. Overall, to the amusement of Bellatrix who looked on with delight, Harry was unable to move his eyes off of her for what seemed like an eternity, and if it wasn't for the fact that she was cognizant that they were running a little late, she would have allowed him to continue on with his staring.
"I take it I look nice," Bellatrix whispered, earning a dumb nod from Harry, who's mouth was too agape to give a verbal response. "I'm glad." She murmured and entering the room, taking Harry's reaction as a compliment.
"You do look great," Harry said with a smile as he closed the door behind her, before he grabbed the cream colored piece of paper that served as Edgar's wedding invitation off of the desk in the corner. With a large smile still on his face, Harry held out the invitation for her to touch, and upon her hand making contact with the invitation, Harry took his wand, pointed it down at the parchment and said, "Sprung." With a pull behind their navels, they were transported to the location of the wedding via portkey, arriving at what seemed to be an open meadow with a beautiful pond off to the side that had a small wooden walkway that overlooked it. To their right, there was a large white tent, where many were gathering to enter, all talking animatedly to one another, clearly excited for the coming event.
Walking towards the entrance, they headed into the tent, where they saw dozens of round tables with yellow linens and golden chairs scattered around. There was a purple carpet that went from the entrance of the tent to the head of it, where there was a wooden altar that overlooked the pond in the distance. "Put your invitation right in here," A pleasant voice said to Harry, earning his attention. The witch pointed down to a large jug that had two openings, one rectangular opening that was just large enough to fit the invitation and another circular opening on the side of it.
"Okay," Harry grinned, placing the invitation in the jug, not really knowing what to expect. As soon as the invitation entered it, a pink fairy flew out of the hole on the side, buzzing around Harry and Bellatrix's heads.
"It'll show you to your table," The witch smiled, gesturing for Harry and Bellatrix to start walking. Harry nodded his thanks, before taking a step forward onto the purple carpet, not really knowing what to expect.
Led by the fairy, Harry and Bellatrix maneuvered through the throng of people, searching for their table on the far side of the tent. As they neared a table in the right side in the middle of the tent, they saw a small group already seated at it, and Harry grinned when he noticed that it was his group of friends—at least those that had arrived already. "Hey guys," Harry said, as he and Bellatrix came up to the table, allowing the fairy to return to the tent entrance.
"Hey Harry," Greta chimed, getting to her feet and hugging him when he came over to greet her. She was wearing a pretty green robe, emerald of color, which hung loosely off of her figure. Her blonde hair was pulled back into an intricate bun, a rare style that Harry had never seen from her before. "Bellatrix, you look pretty."
"Thanks, you do too," Bellatrix politely replied, making Greta's smile grow wider, having never expected Bellatrix to return the compliment.
"Good to see you, Milton," Harry said to Greta's date, shaking the Hufflepuff's hand. He was wearing a set of robes that were brown in color and were not ones that Harry could describe as handsome, though Milton did not seem to notice or, more likely, care.
"Oh yeah, it's been such a long time, Harry," Milton grinned playfully, referencing the fact that the break between seeing one another had been relatively short. "Have you had a good break so far?"
"I'm surprised it's over so quickly," Harry muttered with a chuckle, disappointed that his last break had passed by as swiftly as it had. To him, it had felt more like a weekend, rather than a week long holiday. "Down the homestretch, hm?"
Milton silently nodded at that, inwardly dreading the thought of his N.E.W.T.s. "Hi Bellatrix," Milton said, turning his attention to the witch with a smile, hoping that she was beginning to warm to his presence.
"Hi," Bellatrix returned, coming over to the pair to stand next to Harry. With her heels, she was just a tad taller than Harry, though because that made her the tallest one at the table, he did not seem to mind.
"I'm glad to see you two actually out together in public for once," Milton said honestly, which made Bellatrix nod her head, though Harry didn't know whether she did it because she didn't have an answer or because she actually agreed with what he had said.
"Do you guys want to sit next to us?" Greta questioned, gesturing to the two seats at the table that were next to their own. "Xenophilius and his date should be getting here very soon, so if you guys want, you should probably grab the seats before they're gone."
"Sure," Harry agreed, taking Bellatrix's hand and leading her to the other side of the table, where Milton and Greta were sitting. They were in seats that were facing the wooden altar that stood at the front of the tent, opposite to the entrance, making it easy to watch the ceremony without having to turn around or uncomfortably twist their neck.
"Harry!" A male voice came from behind Harry, making the wizard turn to see who it was. Walking up towards the table was a tall wizard and a pretty witch, each wearing fancy robes accentuated with silver pins.
"Frank!" Harry called out in a happy voice as he got to his feet, shaking the wizard's outstretched hand as the memories of the night prior came flooding into his mind. "Hello, Alice, how are you?" He smiled at the witch next to Frank, giving her a polite nod of her head. Alice smiled back and gave a wave, before walking over to the table and placing her bag that she was carrying onto an empty chair.
"Bellatrix?" Frank raised an eyebrow, looking between Harry and Bellatrix, though he did not seem as surprised as he sounded. "It's good to see you outside of duty."
"Yes, we are together," Bellatrix said evenly, answering the question he was not going to ask.
"That's fun, I had no idea," Frank smiled, winking at Harry, earning a laugh from the other wizard. While Harry had never outright said that the two were together, Frank had discussed Bellatrix with Harry a few times while they were at the Three Broomsticks so he knew that the two were close and had an idea that they were indeed more than just friends.
Just then, there was a burst of light at the head of the tent, signaling the start of the ceremony. They all took their seats just as Xenophilius and his date arrived, and turned their attention to the entrance of the tent, where Edgar had appeared for the first time, wearing handsome black robes. Along with his brother and his father, Edgar made his way to the head of the tent that held the altar, smiling and waving to everyone as he walked, clearly happy at the day finally coming. His brother stood next to him on the altar, while his father took his seat at the family table that was ten feet in front and to the left of the altar. Harry followed the man with his gaze, noticing that he had sat between his wife and his daughter, Amelia, who looked just as powerful in this time as Harry remembered.
Suddenly, the band in the corner began playing soft music and Charlotte appeared at the back of the tent, wearing a beautiful and expensive set of white robes—or so Bellatrix opined. She was flanked by two women that were wearing red robes, but it was Charlotte that had everyone's attention, their eyes entirely on her, everyone wanting to see her every move. With her friends a few steps behind her, she walked down the aisle with a bouquet of purple roses in hand, two cherubs flew in front of her, dropping red and white rose petals onto the purple carpet, lining her footsteps with every step. Seeing the cherubs, Harry instinctively thought back to the cherubs in Madame Puddifoot's, and he briefly wondered whether they were live beings or they were some form of conjurations that he did not know.
After a few moments, she arrived at the altar, and the cherubs flew off to the back of the tent, disappearing outside, their job seemingly finished. Edgar reached down and took her hands in his own, the couple facing each other with large smiles on their faces, seemingly consumed in each other's eyes. The two friends, meanwhile, took their place next to the altar, across from Edgar's brother. As the music died down, the wizard presiding over the ceremony stepped forward on the altar, standing a few feet in front of the couple with a large smile on his face and a scroll of parchment in his hands. He wore elegant white robes with gold trim and silver buttons, topped off with a white wizard hat that held a purple feather on it.
"We are gathered here today to celebrate the union of two beautiful souls," The wizard started, just as a woman at a table at the front of the tent began to sob quietly. The older man next to her reached over and wrapped his arm around her shoulders comfortingly as the official started to tell a parable. Harry imagined that the woman and the man were Charlotte's parents as the table they were at was opposite of Edgar's family table, where he supposed Charlotte's family would be sitting.
"Do you, Edgar Bones, take Charlotte to be your..." The official eventually went on, after he relayed a few parables and stories about love, dedication, and faithfulness. He then asked the same question to Charlotte, who agreed passionately. The couple then exchanged rings, as the official took out his wand for the first time. "Here before witnesses, Edgar and Charlotte have sworn their vows to each other. With this chord, I bind them to those vows." He said, as a rope jetted out of his wand and wrapped itself loosely around Edgar and Charlotte's entwined hands, linking them together forevermore. "Heart to thee, body to thee, always and forever, so let it be."
"Let it be!" The attendants erupted, standing up and starting to applaud the couple. Edgar and Charlotte embraced each other in a passionate kiss, only pulling away so they could start the celebration in full. Holding hands, they walked down the aisle as they were serenaded with cheers and congratulations, while the cherubs from before threw rice as they made their way to the tent's exit. They waved to the attendees before walking out of the tent, leaving the wedding for the time being, presumably to take pictures.
"Drinks will be going around in a few minutes, while dinner will be served soon, but until then, the dance floor is now open!" Edgar's brother said with a magically amplified voice, as the altar disappeared and in its place was a small table, with two gold plates and two sets of silver wear on it, apparently where Edgar and Charlotte would be having their dinner.
Hors d'oeuvres appeared on the golden plates in the center of the tables, making many of the guests sit back down in their seats to enjoy the food. Harry's table made light conversation, with Harry and Xenophilius discussing something, while Alice chatted with Greta and Milton. After a few minutes, Frank got up from his seat and grabbed a few drinks for the table, allowing Harry to gaze around the tent, looking at everything that he could see. There seemed to be about seventy or so people there, all dressed up in robes, not a single muggle outfit to be seen. Harry recognized some of them as members of the Order of the Phoenix, but for the most part, they were relatively unknown to him. All around the tent, bottles of champagne hovered in the air, as well as something called giggle water that Harry couldn't help but try. It tasted similarly to champagne, but made him smile and laugh with each sip.
As Harry had never been to a wedding before, he had no idea how long they usually lasted, nor any idea on whether Edgar's wedding was normal or not. Was every wedding like Edgar's, give or take some things? Or was this one above average in its elegance? Did people normally have their wedding under a tent? What about everyone being dressed in robes, was that usual? Those are things that made him realize that Alphard had been correct in his assessment of Harry's knowledge—it was limited to only things he could learn in a school book, rather than things that he had to learn through experience. Those things, the ones where he could only experience, were items that his knowledge on were grossly inadequate in comparison to his knowledge of magic, which was something he knew he would have to change in the near future.
A roar of the crowd behind him drew Harry's attention away from his thoughts, and he looked over to what had made them roar and saw that Charlotte and Edgar had reappeared. With a smile, Harry clapped his hands in congratulations, as Edgar and Charlotte greeted everyone with hand shakes and hugs as they weaved their way to their own table at the front of the tent. They stopped at every table in the mean time, saying hello and personally saying their thanks to all those that had attended. They each wore large smiles on their faces as they spoke to their guests, clearly happy to finally be married to the person they loved most in the world.
"Congratulations!" Harry said when the couple had eventually made it to their table. Harry hugged both Charlotte and Edgar, before taking a step back and allowing Greta and the rest to do the same. "You look beautiful," He commented to Charlotte, who grinned in appreciation, her throat already hoarse from all the talking.
"Thanks for coming, guys," Edgar smiled once he was finished greeting everyone, thrilled to have his friends there to celebrate his marriage. "I hope you all have a good time. I'll be back later to chat." He said, before heading over to the next table, leaving Harry and the rest for the time being.
Harry took his seat once more and grabbed a deviled egg off of the gold plate in the center of the table, taking a bite of it and enjoying the taste. "It's good to see you all," A female voice said, coming up to the table just as Harry finished swallowing.
Harry looked up and saw Professor Moonshine standing a few feet away, a happy smile on her pretty face. "Professor, fancy seeing you here," He said, rising to his feet to talk to her. She was wearing nicely tailored floral pattern robes, pink in color with red and white accents. Her hair was curled and cascaded over her shoulders, reaching to the center of her back. For the next ten minutes or so, Harry and Moonshine made idle conversation, Bellatrix coming to join in halfway through, before returning to their respective tables, wanting to enjoy the various foods that were being dished out.
"So…last night was fun, wasn't it?" Frank questioned Harry as he sat back down, giving the wizard a small, mysterious smile.
"Don't remind me," Harry laughed, unable to bring himself to talk about the previous night's events. To him, they were memories for those that had attended, not stories to tell, though even he had to admit to himself the likelihood that he would be telling them far in the future.
"You won't tell me, either?" Alice said exasperatedly, entering the conversation in the hopes that Harry would relay the story to her. "All day he's kept mum on what you all did, was it really that bad?"
"I doubt I'll be forgetting it anytime soon," Frank replied easily, earning another laugh from Harry. "Trust me, you don't want to know." He said, leaning over and giving Alice a kiss on the cheek, as Bellatrix raised a questioning eyebrow at Harry, who made a motion on his lips as if it was a zipper.
Eventually, the dinner was served. It was a simple quail dish, but it was delicious to Harry's palate nonetheless. They enjoyed the meal for newly a half an hour, and once the table was completed, Harry, Bellatrix, and the rest all exited the tent and walked down the grassy knoll outside of the tent in order to view the pond, eventually being joined by Alice and Frank, who had also left to enjoy the pond below the tent. Greta, Milton, and Xenophilius and his date were a few yards away, before they turned and walked back to the tent to grab a drink, leaving Harry and the rest.
"What are you guys talking about?" A voice came from behind them as Edgar walked up to join them in the conversation.
"The war," Harry shrugged, turning his attention to the wizard, inwardly wondering why he wasn't back in the tent with all of the other guests.
Edgar nodded in understanding as he took his place in between Harry and Alice as they all leaned over the rail that guarded against anyone falling into the lake. "I'm just happy that this went uninterrupted," He said, taking a sip of his drink as the five looked out across the lake.
"So you did fear that it would?" Frank questioned, having assumed that Edgar had prevented it in some way. He knew that the Death Eaters liked attacking places that were busy, mostly Diagon Alley and quidditch stadiums, so it was not a surprise to him to learn that Edgar was worried about such actions.
"It's the reason why we paid a bundle of galleons to have the invitations turned into portkeys, to make sure that the location stayed a secret," Edgar agreed, giving out a loud sigh, though Harry didn't know whether it was of relief or a sign of mounting tension. "The next few months can't come soon enough. Our side needs the caliber of wizards and witches that you four represent. You'll be a big boon."
"Soon enough," Harry said, knowing that it was almost time to take his spot in the war against Voldemort, something he probably should have done months prior but instead had stayed true to Dumbledore's wishes. He still wasn't completely sure why Dumbledore was hesitant to use him, to use the information that he had carried from the future, but he was willing to give the aged wizard the benefit of the doubt for the time being.
"Save for perhaps Dolohov, I'm not sure Voldemort has anybody in his service that could match you guys," said Edgar, unsurprised that no one in the group flinched at the mention of the name. "Some of the best duellists I've ever seen, each of you, and you all would have probably been the finalists in that duelling tournament last year if Alice had been in Hufflepuff. I still can't believe Otto Bagman was their representative."
"I don't get that, there are so many great witches and wizards on our side, yet the Death Eaters still stand," Alice replied, shaking her head in confusion, not understanding that notion. To her, the idea that a select few dark wizards could sow so much terror and discord was absurd since there were countless of wizards and witches that were better than the Death Eaters, each of whom were fighting against them with all of their abilities.
"Because Voldemort is nearly the best wizard in existence," Edgar answered, taking another sip of his champagne from the flute that he was holding in his hand. "There's a reason why Dumbledore has not captured Voldemort yet: because he can't. Or, if he could, he probably would have done it by now. And, honestly, people's skills at magic rot after they leave Hogwarts, become mediocre, which leaves them open for attack by the more battle hardened Death Eaters, making it tougher for our side."
"I just want to leave Hogwarts already so I can start protecting all of my friends, so I can make sure that everyone I care about back in that tent don't have to fight," Harry whispered, not necessarily agreeing with Edgar's assessment that Dumbledore couldn't capture Voldemort but he wasn't about to argue against it on Edgar's wedding day. "These next few months are going to be the slowest moving of them all."
"Edgar!" Charlotte's voice suddenly called out from the entrance to the tent, a little less than thirty yards away. She stood just a few steps away from the tent, looking down at the entire group, knowing that they would have to come back up in order to continue on with the wedding festivities. "They're bringing out the cake!"
"I guess it's time to return," Edgar murmured, turning around and starting the walk to the tent with a smile on his face. His concerns about the war retreated to the back of his mind at the sight of his new bride, as the happiness that the day brought to him welled up inside of his chest, making him forget about the world's troubles for the time being.
Alice, Frank, and Harry all turned to return to the tent as well, but Bellatrix was the last to react. "You coming?" Harry asked, tapping her on the arm in an effort to gain her attention. He noticed that she had a strange look on her face, a pensive expression, as if she was deep in thought, though Harry did not know what plagued her mind.
Bellatrix kept her gaze on the lake for a few more lingering seconds, before giving a nod and smiling at Harry. "Yeah," She said, holding her arm out for him to take. "Shall we?" She questioned, entwining her arm with his and leading him back to the tent.
After the cake was served and enjoyed by all, the rest of the night was spent dancing, laughing, and having a good time. Edgar and Charlotte had spent much of their time at Harry's table, apparently wanting to enjoy their time with Harry and the rest before they disappeared for the night, which they inevitably did about an hour before the wedding was scheduled to end. While Bellatrix was quiet at the table, apparently still uncomfortable with being around Harry's friends, she had done well in interacting with the people around her, clearly making the effort to follow through with her promise, which made Harry especially happy. Overall, as Harry looked back on the wedding a few days later while on the train ride back to Hogwarts, it was a great night, one that he would remember for a very long time.
A/N: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all the readers out there. I hope you have, or have had in the case of many, a wonderful holiday season, regardless of what you celebrate.