This is a story about Harry and his second chance to be happy and have a real family. Following the events of "Prisoner of Azkaban" Harry learns a secret about his father that could allow him to leave the Dursleys. Will he give it a try even with the new family belonging to the dark side? And how will his friends react?
In a way this will be about a marriage contract but not in the usual way. I intend to write about the events of year 4 and 5 (Tournament and OotP), with year 5 told in a sequel.
Pairings: Harry/Daphne and Hermione/Neville, a bit of Tracey/Blaise (no HP/HG/DG Triangle, but a very important Hermione as Harry's best friend). Warning: The pairings starts very slow, no wild snogging sessions starting from chapter 3.
Hint: I hope that I'll be able to avoid the trap of "Harry-Lord-Potter-Black, heir of Gryffindor, almighty politician and ruler-of-them-all" I've seen way too often in HP-DG-stories. The Harry in this story will evolve, grow in power and confidence, but even at the end he will not be infallible.
If you prefer a Harry who is able to solve every problem himself, is the perfect wizard, administrator and politician all in one, then this story won't be to your liking. He will have his own strengths and talents, but still need his friends and family. And the Daphne of this story will be a bit bitchy towards Harry in the beginning and will only change in the course of the story. She has her reasons to behave like that. So: No sweet harmony from the beginning, sorry.
Little Whinging – July 1994
On most days Harry's mood would have been far darker on his way from the Dursleys's house to the small and old shack inhabited by Arabella Figg, an old lady who shared her home with tons of cats of all shapes and sizes. The black-haired boy really disliked being there. The lady was more than a bit weird; she seemed to like her cats more than any human, and she was always surrounded by a cloud of smell, an unpleasant mix of mothballs and slightly rotten food. Add to this the permeating 'odor' of cat litter in every room, and you can imagine Harry's urge to stay away from her home.
But not today. The last weeks had been more than a bit unusual. He had met his godfather and, for an hour, he had hoped to get away from this horrible place and Aunt Petunia's horrific family. For an hour, Harry had dared to hope for a new life, a life with someone who liked him, who saw 'Harry' and not some freak, responsible for his mother's death.
His hope had died with Lupin changing into a werewolf, distracting them long enough to allow Peter Pettigrew to get away. How he would love to get his hands on that traitor and kill him slowly and most painfully. But the 'rat' vanished and nobody believed them, nobody believed that Peter was still alive and had been the traitor a decade ago rather than Sirius Black. And so Sirius had to go to hiding again, and Harry was back here in Little Whinging.
Two days ago he had gotten a letter from him. With wide eyes Harry had stared at the letter and ignored the hue and cry of Uncle Vernon about stupid owls. The content of the letter had been weird, but nonetheless it was the reason that Harry was on his way to Mrs. Figg now with butterflies the size of full-grown doves in his stomach.
I hope you are well. I am so sorry that I had to go away again, that I can't give you the home you deserve. I really wanted to be with you.
But I have news for you, and I hope they'll be good. I have spoken with someone and the person would like to see you. In two days at tea-time you are expected at the home of Mrs. Figg. Yes, I mean the cat-lady you already know. Someone will be there, waiting. Please be kind and give that person a chance.
And don't tell anybody about this in the meantime.
A broad smile appeared on Harry's face as he noticed his welcome party on the small stone-wall beside the garden gate. Sitting there, eyes half-closed and obviously enjoying the sunbeams sat a medium-sized tomcat with a black-white fur. Two years ago Harry had found the tomcat by the road, grievously injured by a car. Attending a very distraught Arabella Figg he had heard the veterinarian speaking about the foreseeable death of the small rascal and that they should spare him the pain.
But Mrs. Figg didn't want to hear anything about that and started to nurture him back with her own house-brewed medicine. The smell had been awful but Harry – who had helped her in that time – watched him leave the brink of death and a few weeks later he was as good as new. Since then Balou – as the tomcat had been called because of his very soft and thick fur, and his cuddly behavior – had been there waiting for him every time the Dursleys 'lent' him to Mrs. Figg to watch her cats.
"Hello, Balou," Harry fondled him behind the ears, smiling but still a bit troubled about the question of whom would be waiting for him in the house and why that person was waiting in Mrs. Figg's house of all things. "I'm sorry; I haven't got any sausage for you this time. Dudley …" Harry's smile broadened as Balou's showed a face as close to disgust as possible for a cat.
Without looking back – knowing that Balou would follow him inside – he went to the door, the wood of which had not been painted for more than a decade, and knocked hesitantly. As the door opened he saw a very unusual sight in the form of a Mrs. Figg with red and puffy eyes. Without a word the small lady threw him in her arms and hugged him heartily.
"I'm so sorry, Harry," she sobbed. "I … I didn't know."
Pushing him a bit away she started to wipe her eyes with an old, bleached out handkerchief and blew her nose heartily. Harry had no idea what she was speaking about. Sorry? Sorry about what?
Patting his arm one last time she waved him to go into her living room and – to his surprise – left the house, closing the door behind her. Harry stood there a few minutes, hesitating between going into the room or fleeing from the house. Only the sight of Balou patiently waiting beside the door convinced him to give this a try. It was really getting weirder and weirder by the minute.
As he slowly opened the door the tomcat rushed inside. He hopped onto a chair and then on the table, and graciously walked over towards the farther end, only to lie down on a heap of papers in front of a lady sitting there.
Lady – that was the only word coming up in his mind as he saw her: in her mid-thirties, with long black hair and intensive grey eyes, very beautiful with a long neck and delicate hands. She was sitting there very upright in a pale blue gown, sparse jewelry accentuating her beauty. Harry was sure he didn't know her but somehow she seemed familiar. His frown changed into a smile as he watched the lady look at Balou. With a soft and surprisingly warm voice she addressed the little rascal:
"You should know that I'm a dog person, little one. Do you think it is wise to crumple my papers in this way?"
The tomcat only glared at her curiously. With a sigh she started to fondle him with a bit of an insecure motion.
"His name is Balou," Harry's low voice broke the silence. She looked up and, after a moment, he added: "And I'm Harry Potter."
She held out her hand and as, he grasped it, – the skin being as cool and soft as expected but with a few unexpected calluses on the inside – she bowed her head slightly.
"I'm Roxanne Greengrass; it is a pleasure to finally meet you. I'm the mother of Astoria and Daphne Greengrass." Silently she stared at his eyes for a minute as if trying to see something special there. "And I'm your godmother."
His mind was in a haze as he reached the Dursleys home three hours later. Ignoring the questions of his Aunt and the nagging of his Uncle, he went to his room and closed the door behind him. Could this be real? The papers in his jacket's pocket seemed to prove it but he was still struggling to believe it.
Lady Greengrass seemed to be nice enough. But she was a pureblood witch from a very old family and a Slytherin to boot, as were her daughters and her husband. Could she be trusted? He never encountered a friendly or trustworthy or in any way positive Slytherin before. All his encounters with members of that house had been more or less unpleasant. But then there was this second letter of Sirius:
"… Trust her. She is a kind and honest one. Without her your father wouldn't have been able to marry your mother …"
She told him the same. "Had the history been a bit different, I could have been your mother now."
Apparently there had been a marriage contract between her parents and his grandparents, arranging a marriage between Roxanne Greengrass née Pinegrew and James Potter. Both teenagers had been only eleven when the arrangement had been made and they hardly knew each other. Their mothers had both been in Ravenclaw and very dear friends back then, and the contact hold firm until the wrongful death of Harry's grandparents thirteen years ago. Both families – the Potters and the Pinegrews – had been old and quite rich but without much political influence as both heads of the household had avoided the snares of political bickering and bribery. With the Potters always leaning to 'the light' there hadn't been very many promising matches for James Potter and the Pinegrews had always been at least neutral in the conflict despite the growing pressure around them.
But then, on a fateful day, James Potter met Lily Evans and within a few months it became clear – at least to him – that this would be the girl he wanted to marry. For more than six years she rejected him before she gave in to his constant wooing at last. With his parents unhappy about the development Roxanne, to James' relief, not only stepped back from the contract but actually helped him to convince his parents to allow a love marriage with a Muggleborn.
The arrangement had been dissolved and replaced by another one containing points about friendship and help between the houses, and most importantly stating that they would be godparents to each other's children. This way James Potter became godfather of Daphne Greengrass and Roxanne Greengrass godmother of Harry Potter. About her husband she didn't say much and Harry had the impression that there wasn't much love between the couple. And he had a hunch that there was more about those contracts than she had said today.
"In the beginning we often saw each other: James, Lily, you, me and Daphne. But the conflict increased and my parents feared for our lives. Your grandparents had been killed and my husband Cyrus … he has never been a Deatheater but he is an old friend of the Malfoys'. It simply was too dangerous for both families and so …"
For a moment she struggled, her eyes gleaming with tears. "When I heard about your parents' death and Sirius' betrayal … even Dumbledore seemed to believe that he had betrayed your father. Only a week ago did I hear the real story about Pettigrew. I never liked him, but the same time I never expected that."
"Why have you never tried to contact me before?" Harry asked, more curious than angry and still shocked by the news.
Roxanne sighed: "I wanted to accept you into my family, to bring you up as some kind of brother to Daphne – James and I had spoken about that in case of Sirius' unavailability. But Headmaster Dumbledore – he said that this would be too dangerous, partly because of my husband. He said that you would be secure with your Aunt, that you would have a loving home there." She flinched shortly as Harry grimaced. "I didn't know where you lived until you entered Hogwarts and then …"
She hesitated for a moment. "Daphne told me about you. That you'd been sorted into Gryffindor like your father, that you have found friends there and … that you've had some issues with Slytherins." Roxanne smiled weakly: "It seemed like you didn't need me and perhaps you wouldn't want to get to know me."
Harry sat silent in Mrs. Figg's living room, pondering about what Roxanne Greengrass had said. In a way she had been right. There wasn't much love between the houses of Gryffindor and Slytherin. Without the letters of Sirius it would be even more difficult to gain his trust. And it wasn't her fault that he tried to make a show of 'all-is-right-at-home' in Hogwarts. Even Hermione and Ron didn't know all what happened in the Dursley home. He had only told Sirius the whole ugly story in a moment of sappy farewell.
"Why did we meet here? And why now?"
Patiently she explained: "Mrs. Figg is a squib. Headmaster Dumbledore told Sirius about her and her mission to watch you. Obviously she failed to see what's happening in your Aunt's house. Sirius told me about you and the Dursleys. You're quite unhappy there, aren't you?"
Harry sat very still, only blinking, his mind racing. Dumbledore told her about a loving home? Mrs. Figg had the mission to watch him and didn't realize what happened? Her sorrow seemed to be real enough and he believed the old lady. But should he tell this Lady Greengrass – his godmother, he realized again with a confused mind – how life had been at the Dursleys? He hesitated, his fear to be pitied, to be seen as weak and tainted struggled with his hope that this … hope that this would be what? An escape?
"Harry?" Her eyes held not pity, no disgust, only friendliness and a hint of regret.
Fear tried to suppress any word but deep within he knew: Should he deny this opportunity, should he stay silent now, he would regret it forever. And so he told her …
The first chapters are a bit short (2k words). Starting with chapter 6 they'll get longer.