The Love of a Good Woman
Disclaimer: I may be insane, but my beta definitely is.
Thanks: To Sir Chris for all his wonderful Beta work even if it leaves me with a few new grey hairs each time. I wouldn't have been able to do it without you. Thank you again for the great Chapter titles.
A/N: How time flies! I realize it has been a while, but here we have the largest chapter yet complete with 100% more Daphne. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed writing.
Chapter 3: A Merciful Man No More
"Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light." Albus Dumbledore (POA Movie)
Harry watched the blood ooze out of Alecto Carrow's nose, ears, and mouth with a dispassionate look in his eyes. She had ultimately deserved her fate, but Harry had not intended to do this. The Cruciatus Curse was meant to torture, not kill. Albus Dumbledore always did tell him that love was his greatest strength, and if the mangled corpse of Alecto Carrow gave any indication that still held true. After taking a moment to compose himself Harry flicked his wand towards Alecto's brother.
Amycus' head snapped to the right, even with the ground, so that he could see the only person he ever loved die before him. The man stared blankly in ahead before weakly attempting to turn away.
"I don't think so! Legilimens," Harry spat angrily. He ravaged the man's mind and tore free every memory he could find relating to Alecto, and brought them to the forefront of Amycus' consciousness. "Do you remember, now, Carrow? Do you remember now!"
"Alecto..." Amycus wheezed, before he cracked a red smile which caused a trickle of blood to roll down his cheek. He was clearly remembering happier times.
"Finite," Harry stated needlessly while studying Amycus' reaction closely. "She's dead," Harry reminded Carrow. "How does it feel to lose the woman you loved?" Harry recoiled the moment he recognized the look of complete despair on Amycus' face as one he had seen in the mirror after Luna's death. Harry had to take a deep breath to remember who had come to this battle with the Death Eater mask on and who hadn't.
Still, there were questions to be answered.
Harry took a step forward and delivered a kick straight to the Death Eater's ribs. The Death Eater groaned and curled up into the fetal position. There was something Harry needed to know. He used his foot to reposition Carrow onto his back. "How did you know where to find us that night?"
The man gave no reply and looked back defiantly.
Harry applied some pressure onto Carrow's broken ribs with his foot. "Now is not the time to believe yourself to be a hero, Carrow."
As far as Amycus was concerned the mudblood that murdered his sister didn't deserve whatever it was he wanted, although he was unsure how much longer he could withstand the pain. As Potter had said, he knew he was no hero. "I don't know what you're fucking talking about, Potter. Are you talking about the time that I fucked your crazy bi-"
Harry's response was a kick that knocked several teeth from Amycus' jaw. "I don't know what it is about that supposed blood purity of yours that makes you so bloody fucking stupid!" Harry ran a hand through his hair and looked down at Amycus only to realize he was now talking to himself.
"Ennervate," Harry said.
Amycus' eyes snapped open and he immediately half-choked-half-spit up a mouthful of blood and broken teeth. He groaned as he tentatively touched his swollen face with his good arm.
The pathetic state of Harry's company didn't stop him from pacing in front of the man. "I'm sorry, Carrow. I shouldn't let my emotions get the better of me," he said honestly. "I know that makes me lose the position of control and all, but frankly I'm new to this whole extracting information situation." He shrugged flippantly. "At least from this side of it." He received a sneer from the battered and bruised man on the ground, or at least as much of a sneer as Amycus could manage given he no longer had teeth. Harry took that as a sign to continue. "As I was asking nicely: How did you know where Luna and I would be that night?"
"Go ta hell," Carrow slurred defiantly.
"Oh. I've been there Carrow. I've been there for over two years now," Harry paused in his speech for a moment to consolidate his power.
Carrow shuddered at the sheer force behind Harry's presence.
Harry grinned at Carrow. "I suppose I have to be the welcoming committee. Welcome to hell, Amycus Carrow."
And then Carrow screamed.
Harry faced the tombstone of his parents with a sad smile on his face. "The murderers of your daughter are dead now," Harry said simply. He did not know how long he stood there, time didn't much matter to him at that point. Finally, a noise from behind brought him out of his reverie. He turned to face the person who had been spying on him.
Sturgis Podmore stood, shakily, a good twenty yards away. He was leaning on another headstone for support while he took a swig from his flask.
"Do you want something, Podmore?" Harry demanded. "I thought I told you all to leave me alone."
"Jus' wanted to see for myself, is all..." Podmore replied before taking a second gulp from the flask. It was obvious the man was drunk.
"See what, exactly?" Harry said while his eyes narrowed. Feeling defensive, he added: "They deserved what happened to them tonight."
"That may well 'ave been true," Podmore conceded while he shuffled closer. He nearly tripped over his own feet. The older man took his cap off and held it over his heart while he examined the graves of James and Lily Potter. "Ey, lad. I knew 'ur parents... great witch and wizard, but they would never 'ave condoned what you did."
Harry opened and closed his mouth several times as he struggled to find a retort that would suffice for the man's subtle betrayal. "You don't know that," he said icily while giving Sturgis a withering glare. He then softened ever so slightly after seeing the man recoil. "Different times, I suppose."
Podmore held up his hands defensively after he replaced his hat on his head. "I wasn't sayin' what ya did was wrong, Potter. The ruddy bas'ards got what they had comin' ta them. I was jus' sayin' that ya shouldn't speak to ta dead with blood all over your hands."
The man did have a point, Harry supposed. Although there was not any actual blood on his hands he wiped them off symbolically on his robes nonetheless.
Harry entered the ruins of Gryffindor Tower in the middle of the night, but more people than he would have figured were up and about celebrating their victory. Several Death Eaters had been captured or killed, and their intended targets were evacuated to safely. Additionally, despite the fact that no one other than perhaps Sturgis had witnessed Harry's treatment of the Carrows, everyone knew. He got several pats on the back, in which Harry was not entirely sure he was deserving of. Still, he reminded himself, he had successfully brought down more than a dozen Death Eaters and robbed Voldemort of two of his more sadistic lieutenants.
"Atta boy, Potter!"
"Showed 'em whats what, mate. Bloody brilliant!"
"You know where to find me tonight, Harry..."
The last one, from a witch that was old enough to be Harry's mother, made him roll his eyes.
Harry found his way through thickets of his celebrating followers, who each in turn stopped him to congratulate him once again on his stunning victory, to his room. When he arrived he instantly knew that something was amiss. The door was slightly cracked open. Harry never left his room anything less than secure, and that meant complete with more than a few security charms and curses. He flicked his wrist and, from his dragon-scale holster, his wand appeared in his hand. A kick sent the heavy wooden door flying open. He advanced two steps into the room before his eyes narrowed at the sight that greeted him. His wand arm lowered.
"Why hello, Potter. Some good stuff you got-" Lisa Turpin began before a hiccup, that shot a few flames from her throat, interrupted her. "-here. Why aren't you sharing?" she asked giving him puppy dog eyes as she held up her glass of Firewhiskey so Harry could see and gave it a swirl.
"You just thought you'd help yourself to my liquor cabinet, did you?" Harry rhetorically asked as he closed the door behind him. He kept his wand in his hand, though, as he'd learned long ago to never be caught flat footed. He didn't think Lisa would be any problem, though, because of two reasons. The first was that she was clearly, and utterly, smashed. The second was that she had clearly been crying prior to his entry. Her eyes were puffy and her cheeks were stained. "And just how, pray tell, did you get in here?"
Lisa giggled and took another swig from her glass before getting, slowly and with much wobbling, to her feet. "I'm a spy, remember? You trained me on half of this stuff... it was nothing harder than what would be on the door to a Lord's study."
"I see," Harry replied as he tossed his cloak onto a simple wooden chair that served, more or less, as a place for all his discarded clothing. He went and poured himself a drink of his own while he mentally berated himself. His defenses needed to be stronger if a distraught, or drunk, witch could simply break in to his quarters without difficulty. Lisa didn't appear to be suffering from any of the symptoms he'd expect if she hadn't undone the security outright. "So, why are you drinking all the wonderfully aged Firewhiskey I liberated from the Lestrange's?"
"Oh, Harry," Lisa cooed while batting her eyelashes at him. "I'm just trying to forget all the blood that's on my hands. That's all."
"Excuse me?" Harry growled as he straightened up to his full height. "Blood on your hands? I didn't see you out there finger painting with the Carrow's blood." He bristled at the insinuation. After all he had done, and those he had lost on the battlefield, how dare she be the one to complain.
Lisa rewarded him with a cold and condescending laugh. "That's what you think, Potter? You think its easy being your little double agent? When I give you information you run off and slaughter them. I'm the reason they're dead pure and simple." She sauntered forward as seductively as she could while stumbling and fighting to keep her balance. Her expression softened as she closed the distance. She tripped, perhaps intentionally, and wrapped her arms around Harry's neck to prevent herself from ending up on the floor. Some of the Firewhiskey sloshed over the edge of the glass and soaked in to the back of Harry's shirt. "But itsssss okay," she slurred huskily into Harry's ear. "I forgive you."
Harry snorted in amusement. As much as he wanted to refute what Lisa had said, he had to admit she did have a point, at least from her perspective. "I'll take it, I suppose," he replied before sucking in his breath when the woman nibbled on his ear lobe. The intimate action pushed any annoyance he held in his mind aside.
"Hem hem." The female voice came from behind Harry in a passable imitation of Delores Umbridge. He quickly spun around, Lisa still clutched firmly against him, and found Susan standing in the doorway.
"You little trollop," Susan commented cheerfully as she walked into the room before shutting the door and locking it with a flick of her wand. Although her tone was playful Harry couldn't help but notice a hint of jealousy in her expression. "I didn't let you in here to seduce Harry. Alone, anyway."
Much to Harry's disappointment, Lisa extracted herself from Harry and faced Susan before defiantly sticking out her tongue. "You're just mad you got called away by Finnegan."
Susan didn't waste any time as she aggressively strode right up to Harry, grabbed him by the collar, and pulled him towards the bed. "I've waited long enough for this, Potter," she growled as she straddled him across the hips. "What are you waiting for, Turpin?"
There were several nights that Harry Potter had difficulty sleeping. This had all the makings of one of the more enjoyable occasions.
30th November, 2001
"Everyone's ready and waiting for your signal," Seamus informed Harry curtly. Seamus had been short with him every since the man had walked in on him in bed with both Susan Bones and Lisa Turpin on the morning after the Godric's Hollow raid. Seamus felt he had some sort of claim on the latter witch.
Harry was pleased that Lisa seemed to corner of Harry's mouth twitched as he fought off a smile at the memory of that evening. "Good," Harry replied without taking his eyes off the abandoned ruins of Hogwarts castle.
The strike team was an assembly of some of the best fighters Harry had under his command. Harry was leading one squad, and Susan had command of the other. The formidable witch had proven to be an effective leader having earned the respect of everyone around her, including Harry.
There had been reconnaissance done by Harry's friends for over a week on the Death Eater activities within the former school. They learned that Lucius Malfoy a small force of Death Eaters. Often on guard duty on the exterior of the castle were some younger recruits Harry was largely unfamiliar with. Harry only recognized one, Marcus Flint, but the others were about similar age. All of that being said, Harry was taking no chances. Flint and his cronies might not win in a fair fight, but Harry knew that life was seldom fair. He had long ago tired of burying his friends.
The mission was simple. Neutralize the Death Eaters as quickly and as silently as possible and destroy the Horcrux before anyone, save for the dead, knew that they were there. If Malfoy or the others raised the alarm, Voldemort himself would arrive, and Harry didn't want to have that particular confrontation yet.
Harry slipped his invisibility cloak over himself and watched Flint light a cigarette. The calmness in the Death Eater's actions suggested he was unaware of Harry's presence.
Lucius Malfoy, Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot and Patriarch of the Malfoy family, watched the scene before him with anticipation. Mulciber and Selwynn had begun to remove the final ward protecting his master's Horcrux. It was apparent that his knowledge of his Lord's Horcruxes was a benefit and not a liability since he alone had been tasked with its removal from Hogwarts. Even the lesser Death Eaters and Ministry workers realized that when the Chief Warlock was sent away for two weeks at the Dark Lord's personal command it was for something extremely important.
The Malfoy family had been hit hard in the early days of Second Wizarding War. Unfortunately, Lucius himself had been caught up in the failed raid on the Department of Mysteries within the first year of his Lord's return. That had been an unmitigated disaster for the House of Malfoy. All of the influence Lucius and his father before him had gained in the ministry had vanished in the instant he was exposed as a Death Eater. Search warrants were obtained shortly after his arrest and his family's assets were seized mercilessly. In the Wizarding World if a House had no of age heir it was impossible to protect their interests. His son, Draco, was underage and Lucius had no brothers or surviving uncles. His two sisters did not warrant a session with the Wizengamot when it came to saving the Malfoy estate from goblin creditors or Aurors acting on behalf of the Ministry.
Draco had done well in repairing the family image within the Death Eater circles due to the death of Albus Dumbledore. It was a few years before the Ministry fell, as did the Order of the Phoenix, and the Dark Lord took command of what was rightfully his.
Despite Lucius' unfortunate presence near two mishaps, he was spared a quick death at the hand of the Killing Curse thanks in a large part of his son's success. He had rebuilt the Malfoy fortunes with his new found influence in the Ministry. He had fathered another son, Narcissus, in hopes to produce a large amount of male grandchildren and expand the family's already considerable influence with strategic marriages. The Malfoy family had existed centuries prior to the birth of Lord Voldemort and it would exist centuries after. If there was ever a situation in the future where Draco was unable to perform the duties required of a Head of House having another of age heir would keep the House from being attacked politically by rivals.
There was just one hitch in the plan: Harry Potter. The knave had proven to be an utter nuisance. It was Potter that had resulted in Lucius' capture during the spring of 1995. Lucius held Potter personally responsible for the eventual shame and hardship the Malfoy family had suffered. It was for this reason that Lucius longed to confront the boy. It was a driving force that kept Lucius going when times were toughest. He'd already taken revenge after his return to grace on some of those who had sided with Potter such as the Weasleys, the Lovegoods, and the MacMillans. Those families were in ruins and their Houses bankrupt or their interests purchased outright with his vast reclaimed fortune. The only task of importance was the capture of Potter. Capture, and not kill, because Lucius wasn't feeling adventurous enough to kill Potter when his Lord had expressly forbade it. That was the only reason.
"How much longer, Mulciber?" Lucius asked impatiently while he fiddled with his cane. After two bloody long weeks in the ruins of a castle he was ready to leave and spend a night or two at one of his favorite brothels. It was true that his wife was beautiful enough to make any wizard jealous, but there was just something about having his way with an unwilling witch that made him feel alive.
"About the same as last time ye asked, Malfoy," came the curt reply from a small and gaunt wizard who didn't bother to look up from the diagrams of runes spread out all over the floor. "We'll be out of here tonight if ye stop interrupting Sylvanus and I, here."
Malfoy let Mulciber's back-talk slide. Soon he would be out of this ruddy castle with the Dark Lord's Horcrux in hand. He would be rewarded handsomely, of course. He was the only one of the Dark Lord's servants still among the living that knew of the Horcrux since the unfortunate and untimely death of his sister-in-law, Bellatrix Lestrange. Thus he was the only one who could fulfill the mission without the Dark Lord having to reveal his secret to others. He let a smirk play across his face as he watched Mulciber and Selwynn bring down the final ward. Maybe the Dark Lord would even allow him and his sons the honor of killing Potter.
It took all of two seconds after that thought for Lucius' lofty dreams to come crashing down around him as the screams of his subordinates echoed throughout the hollow castle.
"What tha-" Selwynn shouted as he jumped up and looked at the door. He narrowly dodged a wayward bludgeoning curse that left a head-sized crater in the stone wall behind him.
"It's... Potter!" sputtered a dying Death Eater whose robes were in tatters and had multiple burn holes. He barely made it to Malfoy before dropping dead on the floor.
That was all the convincing Malfoy needed. Images of Amycus Carrow's mutilated body jumped to the front of Lucius' mind. He did the only thing a cunning Slytherin would do in a situation such as this: he ran for his life. He pushed his way past Mulciber and snatched up the Horcrux, using a cloth of course as touching the thing would make what happened to Carrow look like the epitome of good health, and made a dash down the corridor away from the fighting. The Hogwarts anti-apparation ward was one of the few wards still in place and he couldn't simply apparate away.
A chilling scream signaled that Mulciber had been slain, and the pleas from Selwynn for mercy indicated to Malfoy that he was on his own. He chanced a glance back over his shoulder. There stood Harry Potter. He unsheathed his wand from its cane and let loose a flurry of dark hexes and curses in sheer panic.
Harry Potter was displeased. What should have been a simple, and quiet, mission had turned into an outright battle after one of his lesser skilled recruits accidentally let herself be seen by Flint. A brief battle had ensued resulting in the death of two of his group and the grievous wounding of Oliver Wood.
They had quickly dispatched the remaining Death Eaters due to their superior numbers and element of surprise, but Malfoy and the others inside had been warned. It hadn't been difficult to push through the meek resistance even in the narrow corridors of Hogwarts. Harry had made quick work of Mulciber, and caused Selwynn to surrender by merely walking into the room. The latter had reported amid pleas for his life that as soon as the fighting started Malfoy had taken something and ran for his life.
Harry had immediately run after Malfoy. He had no problem pursuing Malfoy throughout the castle, but he encountered a problem when his prey had decided to try and fight. Malfoy was not much of a duelist, but the erratic spellcasting from the frightened wizard had caused a corridor to cave in.
Hogwarts' magic was slowly ebbing away and was on its way to ruin like many other castles of its time. Walls that used to absorb magic now gave way to it. It had taken Harry a few precious moments to clear away the rubble.
When Harry had finally made his way out of the castle he found that Malfoy had disarmed the two wizards he'd left on guard, relieved one of them of his broom, and had sped off towards Hogsmeade. Malfoy would likely begin attempting to ditch the broom and hide in Hogsmeade before apparating who knew where. Since it was extremely difficult to apparate while moving Malfoy would be unable to do so even when he crossed the ward boundaries. Given that Harry was fast closing the gap with his superior Firebolt that he had been carrying shrunk in his robes, Malfoy would be lucky to have more than half a minute on the ground.
While flying Harry stuck his hand into his robes and pulled out a small, smooth, and innocent looking stone. With a tap of his wand the rock was bathed in a shimmering blue light invoking the latent charms cast upon it. He felt a familiar shudder as the portable anti-apparation wards sprang to life. Malfoy wouldn't be able to simply pop away as long as Harry kept the stone fairly close to the Death Eater.
Harry landed on the ground, shrunk his broom to fit in his pocket, and stalked after Malfoy who had disappeared down an alley.
Phineas Ashworth was a middle-aged wizard who had the unfortunate luck to have his hair thin prematurely and had formed a Firewhiskey gut prior to his fiftieth birthday. Phineas was also the proprietor of one of the most successful brothels in Wizarding Britain, Ashworth's Vexing Vixens. This evening Phineas was busy educating one of his more reluctant new employees on how things worked in the industry when there was a loud, almost frantic, banging on the front door.
The building itself was nothing special. It was purposely inconspicuous because it catered to the elite crowd of power purebloods. Because many of the patrons held prestigious positions in society the main door to the building was located in a darkened alley.
Phineas grumbled as he waddled towards the door, his belly jiggling as he walked, and hollered over his shoulder: "We're not done yet, Tracey, ya hear?" According to Phineas the problem with his new arrivals was a lack of respect. He and his establishment gave them food and shelter while only only asking for a few hours a night of their time. Despite this it always seemed as if he had a few girls that resisted and needed to be broken in more harshly than he would have liked. He was a caring man at heart.
Phineas reached the door and slid open a small window located at eye level. Immediately upon seeing who had been knocking he pulled open the door. "Oi if it isn't Lucius! Are ye lookin' to purchase another whore?" Lucius Malfoy, the Chief Warlock, was one of his most important patrons. Malfoy had frequented the brothel for years, recommended it to his colleagues, and even donated some girls every now and then for everyone to enjoy.
"Not now Phineas, you simpleton! Get out of my way!" Malfoy shouted hurriedly while he pushed his way into the building, but not before sparing another glance out into the alley in trepidation.
Phineas grunted in annoyance and watched Malfoy head for the stairs. "Ack! Ya give a man a few too many trollops and he gonna go an' think he runnin' the place..." he grumbled and made ready to close the door. He'd never seen Malfoy this eager for company before, but given the man's importance to his operation he'd take a bit of rudeness every now and then. "Arrgh!" he cried out in pain and surprise. Just as he was closing the door it had been violently flung back open. The door had caught Phineas in the chest, sending him staggering back a few steps, and knocked the wind clean out of him. He glared at the raven-haired man as he wiped the water from his eyes and tried not to break into tears in front of Tracey, a girl he'd been trying for a month to break in, but it really hurt!
"Bloody lunatics..." Phineas muttered to himself as the pain slowly ebbed away. He slammed the door shut in anger. The younger man had already scampered up the stairs that Malfoy had ascended moments earlier. "Maybe wantin' one of them new girls before the regulars break 'em in..." he shrugged. He didn't care how excited his clients got, and was willing to forgive transgression such as the one that had just happened, as long as they kept his pockets lined with galleons. He was a caring man like that.
Daphne Greengrass paced around the small, simple room anxiously. It was one of the many similar bedrooms of the brothel she had been assigned to after her master had decided once and for all he was done putting up with her. She knew that shortly she would have to make due with yet another customer; most likely a greasy, dirty man twice her age. The man would be looking for company, and she would smile and give it to him, because he would not appreciate it if she didn't wear a smile. To stop herself from pacing she took a seat in an armchair near the fireplace. The room was rather drafty despite the full set of robes she was wearing. That was because underneath she was clad in only a lacy bra and some small, tight knickers. Most clients didn't want to be bothered removing excess clothing. She folded her arms firmly and laid her hands in her lap while she tried forget where she was just for a moment. Try as she might, she was unable to find a suitable happy memory to take her mind away from what was about to happen tonight, and again tomorrow evening, and every evening for as long as it took for the customers to tire of her and have the owner of the brothel, a man known to her only as Phineas, cast her out to become a lowly street whore. She snorted defiantly. Clearly being a whore in a brothel was so much better.
Daphne rose to her feet again discontent with sitting around in the chair while the few precious moments alone ticked away. When she had first arrived at the brothel courtesy of the Malfoy family she had been unyielding albeit scared. Not frightened for herself, but for her sister whom she would no longer be able to watch over and protect. 'Although I did a very poor job...' She turned to the mirror located on the mantle over the fireplace to make sure that the water accumulating in the corners of her eyes would not disrupt the thick layers of eyeshadow she was forced to wear. If it was not perfect there was a chance a client might complain and she'd find herself without food, or without sleep, or perhaps triple the chores for several days. The visage of the girl looking back at her gave her pause. Her dark hair, although clean, looked frayed at the tips from neglect. It had once been glossy and maintained, but now was dryer and stringy. The cool blue eyes that formerly shone with keen intelligence and harbored a challenging gaze now appeared glassy and frequently unfocused. Her face was gaunt, with crow's feet forming in the corner's of her eyes, from having little to eat and weeks of continual stress.
Although she had been through the process for over a month her nerves had never quite settled. 'And why should my nerves settle? I need to leave... I need to save myself,' she thought, for once acknowledging her own plight rather than focusing on her sister. She scowled at herself in the mirror, although she pretended that it was only her appearance that she was displeased with at the moment before she turned and stalked towards the dresser on the opposite side of the room. Daphne knew that if she did not help herself first there would be no chance of saving Astoria.
Daphne pulled open the top drawer and dug beneath the few personal belongings she was allowed before finding what she was looking for: a photograph of herself in her seventh year at Hogwarts with her younger sister, who was in her fifth. In the photo both girls were waving to the photographer and looked content, offering thin smiles, which was what passed for happy in Slytherin. It was taken before her parents had informed her that she was to be pledged to Draco Malfoy, her adamant refusal, and the subsequent issues that had arose.
There were few times when Daphne Greengrass became overtly emotional, and even less when she broke down into tears. It had been years since she had allowed herself to cry. That was not to say that she didn't get emotional, but she had ways of keeping her emotions to herself. Her Head of House sometimes remarked that those who wore their heart on their sleeve were easily manipulated. Thus it was out of the ordinary for the Slytherin student to find herself in an abandoned classroom bawling.
Daphne was in classroom that hadn't been inhabited for some length of time and was seated on an old teacher's desk that had a thick layer of dust coating its surface. In her hands was a crumpled, tear-stained piece of parchment: a letter from her father that had been officially sealed with the Greengrass family crest imprinted in the wax. It was the third missive she'd received from the family Patriarch over the last few days. Each one had added to her distress until she had reached the breaking point.
Her father had arranged a marriage between herself and Draco Malfoy. To do this after the information was freely circulating that the scion of the Malfoy family had a major hand in the death of Albus Dumbledore was an open declaration of support for the Dark Lord. Not only that, but Daphne had absolutely no desire to marry the wretched murdering scum. Everything about the arrangement was wrong. She was headstrong, and family or not she wasn't about to be told what to do and that included being forced into situations that were outright despicable. She wasn't purposely being disobedient for the sake of doing so, but she held firm the belief that everyone's life was their own to live. In response to her father's statement Daphne had done the unthinkable for any daughter of a traditional pureblood family.
She wrote her father back and outright refused.
The second letter arrived. Her father was displeased with her attitude and had included some harsh threats. Daphne ignored it. The third arrived, and here Daphne found herself reading over the words time and time again willing them to be a mistake, or said in anger. While the tears streamed down her cheeks she balled the parchment and flung it away from her. "Incendio," she croaked, pointing her wand towards the tainted letter and watched in grim satisfaction as it was consumed hungrily by the conjured flames. It did little to calm herself down.
"Who's there?" a male voice rang out from the doorway and echoed around the empty classroom.
Daphne's breath hitched and she felt her heart leap in her chest. She didn't often get surprised, but she had been so focused on her troubles that she hadn't heard the wizard approaching. That didn't stop her wand arm from reflexively sweeping away from the burning parchment towards the intruder. Instead of answering, she fought to compose herself.
"Lumos," the wizard whispered, and a tip of his wand brightened enough to illuminate his face.
Harry Potter. The-Boy-Who-Lived. He was the last person Daphne needed to see while she was so vulnerable. Then again, she had to admit to herself that wasn't true. Malfoy or any of his lackeys would have been much worse to run in to.
"Greengrass?" Harry asked, surprise evident in his voice, after he had swept the tip of his wand in the direction of the professor's desk. "What are you doing in... um, in here?"
Daphne knew the pause in Potter's question had been because he had caught sight of her face. She'd been able to stop herself from crying, but there was no masking how distraught she knew she must have looked.
"Are you okay?" Potter asked, sounding genuinely concerned despite her lack of response. He moved a few paces towards her, but stopped several metres short and scuffed out the burning piece of parchment with the heel of his trainer.
Daphne let out a sigh and spoke in a defeated tone. "Do you really care, Potter?" She was taken aback, although did not let it show, that he looked almost hurt by her insinuation. He even lowered his eyes like a scolded child.
Potter scattered the ashes with his foot and looked up to face her. "Of course I do. It isn't like I enjoy seeing people cry, even Slytherins despite the rumours, you know." He furled his brow when Daphne gave him only a snort in reply. "Really, what's your problem, Greengrass? You look like your world has ended."
"Because it has!" Daphne retorted, surprising herself with her honesty. She eased off the edge of the desk and took control of the only situation she could at that moment. Looking Potter directly in the eyes, she folded her arms across her chest defiantly. She attempted to even out her tone realizing that her previous reply had sounded frantic. "It isn't any of your business, Potter."
"No, but I do know what it feels like to lose loved ones, or be slandered, or feel like your life is not your own," Potter replied flippantly with a small shrug of his shoulders.
The comment was obviously said offhandedly, but Daphne had seen enough of Harry Potter to realize he knew exactly how she was feeling right now. Oddly, instead of providing comfort, it bothered her. She was not used to being so vulnerable. She broke eye contact and glanced towards her avenue of escape. "If you say so." She began to walk towards the room's exit.
"I didn't mean to upset you, Greengrass," Potter replied sounding regretful. He even offered Daphne a sad smile. "Whatever it is maybe I can help-"
Potentially honest or not, that comment got under Daphne's skin. She turned her full attention back to the boy and stared him down with and angry expression on her face. "As if, Potter! Like you would bloody well help a Slytherin. Fuck off and stop sticking your head into things that aren't your business!" She knew in her heart that there is no way Potter would truthfully help someone from a family of Dark Lord supporters. Having passionately spoke her mind, Daphne brushed passed him on her way to the exit. She was startled when Potter's hand clutched her upper arm. Not forcefully or violently, but firm enough so that she couldn't easily break his grip. She turned to face him again, indignant. "Let me go," she hissed dangerously.
Daphne had expected Harry to look angry, but instead he looked hurt more than anything. Regardless, he still refused to release her arm.
"I'm serious, you know. Its obvious you don't believe me, but I really can help, whatever it is, I've probably been through it," Potter told her. His green eyes had a pleading look in them.
Daphne pulled her arm from his grasp. "Leave me alone, Potter. I don't need your help."
The door to her room slammed closed and brought Daphne's attention back to the present.
Lucius Malfoy was was standing just inside the doorway, looking more terrified than anyone Daphne had ever seen before. He was out of breath, had a long gash across his forehead, and was clutching his wand as if his life depended on it. Either he hadn't noticed her, or he didn't care to acknowledge her. She hoped it was the former, and that this wasn't some disgusting new roleplay the man had come up with. There were few clients that were worse than Lucius Malfoy.
Without sparing Daphne a glance Malfoy slinked off to the corner of the room like a wounded kneazle, although he kept a watchful eye on the door. "You, girl," Malfoy said addressing her for the first time since he'd entered the room without even looking over. It was always girl, wench or whore. One of the first things Daphne had learned in her new life was that she was not a person, but instead an object for other's enjoyment. A name was unnecessary. "Go fetch Ashworth and have him bring floo powder," Malfoy continued. Both of his hands were shaking.
It was then that the door burst open off of its hinges and before Daphne saw who had destroyed the door the air suddenly shifted. She had never felt anything like it before. The air seemed to get heavier around her and she found it harder to breathe. She felt terrified, yet oddly uplifted by the magic. Somehow, she knew that she wasn't in any danger from whatever was exuding the tremendous force.
Then into the room strode Harry Potter.
Potter was angrier than Daphne had ever seen him before. She could feel the raw ripples of magic pulsating from him. Harry's eyes swept over the room, but stopped abruptly when he spotted Daphne. The anger in his eyes was briefly replaced by confusion, and then finally a familiar look of understanding. "Greengrass..." he muttered.
In the split second when Potter was distracted, Malfoy made his move. A spell erupted from his wand with a flash of light green and streaked across the room.
Potter reacted faster than Daphne would have thought imaginable, and twisted himself out of the spell's way.
Or so Daphne initially thought.
The curse struck Potter in the shoulder rather than the chest, and he was blown backwards several feet where he then lay on the ground convulsing. It looked like he was dying.
Malfoy cautiously inched towards the body, a look of shock on his face. A small smile formed on his lips and he wiped the sweat off his brow with the sleeve of his robe.
The sight of Potter's wand lying on the ground mere inches from his twitching body gave Daphne the first opportunity she had in a while. Just as she was about to make a move for the wand, out of the corner of her eye she caught sight of Malfoy, who had finally noticed her presence. The wizard's wand was trained on her, but his smug look of confidence only served to make the impulse inside of her grow stronger. She returned the smug grin, feeling more alive than she had in some time, and reveled at the look of confusion, and then dawning recognition in Malfoy's eyes when he realized who she was. Seizing control of her life once more, she did the one thing that she thought she would never have to do in order to save her life.
Act like a Gryffindor.
Daphne made her move.