Metamorphose Chapter 53
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, nor do I make any profits from posting this fanfiction.
Summary: Non-Epilogue compliant. After the war groups of disgruntled Wizards and Witches terrorise England's magical nation, sending them to the brink of civil war and a war against the Creatures. Harry is in Gringotts when one terrorist faction attacks causing Harry and other survivors to go into hiding. There is an interested repercussion of the potion they use to hide themselves and now Harry finds himself stuck in a foreign country, with people he doesn't know and living in a style he has never even dreamed to imagine.
Warnings: Gender change. Fem!Harry…after a potions accident. Name changes for characters. Hurricane Sandy (use of artistic licence over the damage it wrought)
Pairings: LM/HP. DM/AG. RW/HG.
Author's Note: This is the last chapter and it's more like a series of sneaky peeps into the rest of Lucas and Henri's lives. It is very long...over 56 pages long! But it is the end...and the end had to be big didn't it?!
Clubmoss: It is a type of plant. Lycopodium clavatum (wolf's-foot clubmoss, stag's-horn clubmoss or groundpine. I found it while looking up where Rowling found the name Hogwarts and looking for a name I could use that was along the same vein for another wizarding school. I thought having a school named somewhat after the 3 loved marauders was important and very typical of Harry/Henri.
5 years later…February 3rd.
Henri laughed but hid it behind her hand lest her husband and her daughters noticed her laughing at them. Lucas had been attempting to try and teach his daughters the correct table manners for ages. HE had succeeded when they were three to get them to hold and use a knife and fork reasonably well. Now he was attempting to show them how to use the back of the fork to balance things on before moving the fork to their mouths. Athena had caught on pretty well and was the most successful at it. She revelled in the praise Lucas gave her and tried harder because of it.
Artemis on the other hand only tried it when Lucas was looking, when he turned his head she stabbed her food and shovelled it in her mouth as quickly as she could. As sneaky as she was she hadn't been quite as successful because Lucas kept catching her. The humorous exasperation on his face was always something to watch.
"Try again Artemis, hold the fork up the other way…no like this!" Lucas rolled his eyes as Artemis turned her fork over so the prongs stuck up in the air and the butt of the fork pointed down to her plate of morning pancakes.
"Daddy, I don't want to hold the fork like that." Artemis said but Lucas insisted. Henri couldn't stop the roar of laughter when Artemis decided enough was enough and used her fingers to grab the rest of the pancake and shove it in her mouth.
"Artemis! That is not ladylike behaviour!"
"I was hungry! Mummy tell him I was hungry!" The five year old whined. Henri quickly recovered her composure and shook her head at her cheeky daughter.
"Your father is trying to teach you something important Artemis, try to listen and do as he says please?" Henri said and the little girl pouted. Henri chuckled and looked at Lucas who rolled his eyes with exasperation. "How about a compromise Lucas?"
"And what do you propose, my love?"
"How about your lessons only last for ten minutes at the beginning of their meal? That way they will get a reasonable amount of time to concentrate hard on the subject then the rest of the time to enjoy their food while it is still warm."
"Henrietta they should learn the correct table manners early otherwise the etiquette will not be embedded enough to last for the rest of their lives."
Henri shook her head. "Then you have ten minutes at the beginning of every meal to embed the subject and the rest of the meal to see how much they maintained from the lesson without the pressure to do it correctly all the way through dinner. They might come to hate their food and we can't have that, can we?"
Lucas sighed but gave in with a nod.
"Yay! You've got to shake on it daddy! It's a deal! You've got to shake hands. Here! I'll show you how!" Artemis stretched out her hand to Lucas. Henri bit her lip to stop herself from smiling at the disgruntled look on Lucas' face as he eyed the hand which still had residue of the chocolate syrup on them from where Artemis had picked up her pancake.
"Generally, Artemis my dear, when you shake hands with someone you use your other hand." Lucas said and held his hand out to the little girl. With a shrug she held out her other hand which, visibly relieved, Lucas shook.
"Now Athena! You've got to shake hands with Athena too!"
Lucas sighed but held his hand out to Athena. She grinned and grabbed his hand shaking it fiercely up and down before releasing it.
"Now mummy!" Artemis demanded and Henri smirked at Lucas who sighed but dutifully rose and walked around the table to her. She held out her hand to him and he got a glint in his eye.
Swooping down he put his finger under her chin and lifted her face up for a kiss.
"Daddy!" Artemis scolded with a scornfully put out tone of voice. "You're supposed to shake her hands! You made a deal! You've got to shake on it!"
"My dearest, your mother and I seal our deals with a kiss. Don't we, my love?" Lucas said and raised his eyebrow at her. Henri felt a flush blossom in her cheeks as she remembered the deal they had made only last night regarding having more children.
"Ahem…yes we do." They had sealed that deal with considerably more than a kiss…or tried to seal the deal with more than a kiss, she didn't know if they were successful yet.
"Indeed, therefore I consider this deal agreed." Lucas said and walked back around the table to his chair. He sat down and proceeded to eat his own breakfast using very proper cutlery techniques.
Breakfast was over a few minutes later and the girls were dismissed to play. Artemis was then called back and Lucas spelled her hair clean from where she had somehow managed to get pancake crumbs in the long blonde tendrils of hair.
Both girls were blonde, which was odd Henri thought since they started off with black hair as babies. They both seemed to develop a facial structure they had obviously inherited from the Malfoy side of things, the high defined cheekbones. They did, in fact, look like feminine versions of Scorpius who had grown up to look like an almost exact replica of Dante when he had looked like Draco. Henri had been worried that her girls wouldn't take after her at all but thankfully, while Athena maintained the bright blue eyes of her father, Artemis' eyes changed to bright emerald green. The girls were also reasonably short for their age which made them more likely to take after Henri in that.
Then there were the personalities. The twins got on like a house on fire but they had incredibly different personalities. Athena took after her father; she was serious, proper when she decided to be, intelligent and demanded attention just by looking at people. Artemis, on the other hand, was very outgoing. She was into everything, didn't leave a single thing untouched anywhere she went. She was very physical especially with her learning whereas Athena took delight in learning from books. Artemis didn't care about reading very much. She could read a little and she looked at the pictures but she was too busy to sit still for long, unlike Athena. Perhaps they were aptly named after all.
"Mistress! There's being a letter for you!" Hoppy said and handed over the letter to Henri. She put down her cutlery and took the letter from the elf who disappeared immediately, before Henri could thank her.
The letter had the seal of Clubmoss Prep School. Henri sighed and began opening the letter. She really hoped it wasn't a request for her to go into the school; it was a Saturday after all!
Clubmoss was the school they created for all the magical children around the country to attend and get an education in a safe place where, if they exhibited accidental magic it wouldn't make them feel like an outcast. Clubmoss was still young, only three years old, but already they had a good number of children attending and they had a magical quill that wrote down the name of any child who exhibited magic. Once another person was known somebody from the school would go and invite the parents to send their child to their school. Sometimes, though rarely, it meant the child was taken away from their muggleborn parents who either hated them for the magic they had or because they couldn't cope with the magic. In those cases there were a lot more procedures to bring into place.
As Headmistress of the school Henri had to often be on hand to help out and collect children from their homes, introducing the parents to the world of magic.
Henri opened the letter and immediately sighed when she read that another child had been found with magical abilities in Essex. She read down the note and saw that already her deputy had contacted other people who would be willing to inform Freya Rose Dursley's parents of her heritage and…
"Oh my god! Lucas!" Henri called and read through the letter again. Dursley! Really? As in Vernon and Petunia Dursley? Surely not!
"Yes my dear? What does your letter say?"
"Another child has been found with magic."
"Yes, and? What has you looking so shocked?"
"I think…" Henri grabbed quick mouthful of her drink to dampen her mouth. "I think it might be my cousin's child."
"You have a cousin? How is it, my dearest, that I do not know of this cousin of yours after six years of marriage?"
"Oh don't be silly, of course you know about him! I told you, I used to live with them before moving to Hogwarts. I used to live in Surrey with him, my aunt and uncle."
"I see." Lucas took the letter from her and scanned its content. "However, this child lives in Essex, and you were raised in Surry. I hardly think that this is a member of your family when they live in two different places."
"People move house Lucas. And…and right before Ron, Hermione and I left on a hunt for the…you-know-whats…my relatives were taken to another location to hide. Perhaps they were taken to Essex."
They talked a little longer then Henri made up her mind to go and see Dursley herself however, just in case, she contacted Ron to attend with her as an Auror, Percy to go along as a legal advisor and Mia Weasley to go with her as another teacher at the school.
Henri had a tremendous sense of Deja Vous when she arrived in front of a little cul-de-sac, with all identical houses in it. All the gardens were well taken care of, all the cars were washed, everything was immaculate and everything was normal. Aunty Petunia and Uncle Vernon type of normal. Henri shuddered.
"Right, well according to this, it is that house there, number six."
"Oh good, right in the middle." Henri muttered and they walked straight down the middle of the cul-de-sac. She could see people looking out of their windows at them, the net curtains twitching and faces appearing. Henri supposed they must look very interesting. She was wearing a designer suit, all designed by Bibi of course. She had long smart black trousers hanging over her heeled shoes. She wore a straight cut white cotton long sleeved shirt with black lace applique down the front of it. Over that she had a knee length thick winter coat but it was hanging open because, despite being February, it wasn't that cold.
Percy was dressed in a plain black suit with a robe over the top which looked more like a coat to be honest, however since it came from Bibi's clothing collection it made no wonder. Bibi had been on a huge clothing kick the last few years creating more muggle friendly wizarding robes so wizards and witches didn't have to compile a muggle and a magical wardrobe to be seen in public.
Ron was wearing his normal auror clothes complete with brown leather trench coat and a bright blue scarf because despite the temperature he was cold.
Mia was wearing the only real splash of colour. Beneath her rather plain red coat she wore a grey polo neck and a floral print pink, blue, green, white, red and grey skirt. It was a very pretty skirt, Henri had to agree, and it made no wonder Mia wore it. Even with the slight baby bump the woman was now sporting the skirt and polo neck only accentuated the fact that she was a very good looking, fun-loving woman.
They rang the doorbell to the house and waited a few moments. Then a huge shadow fell across the small window and the door was yanked abruptly open. There in the doorway was a larger, taller, more grown up version of Dudley Dursley.
"Yeah? What?" He said gruffly.
"Ah hello Mister Dursley, we are here to talk to you about your daughter, Freya."
"There's no-one by that name lives here." Dudley said and made to close the door. Henri felt the deja vous increase and quickly shoved her foot in the way of the door.
"Now, now, Mister Dursley. I'd hate to have to draw my wand." She threatened and immediately the colour drained completely out of Dudley's face.
"You lot! Freaks! How dare you come to my house and…!"
"Mister Dursley, we are here to talk to you about Freya. Not discuss what makes a person a freak. Now, will you oblige us and let us in or shall we continue to have this conversation where the whole world can see us?" Ron said and Dudley paled further at the sight of him.
"You! I know you! You're…"
"Ronald Wealsey, Wizarding Police. Yes, I have had the misfortune to see you before Dursley."
"C-c-come in!" Dudley said and opened the door for them. "But you mind and keep those freaky sticks of yours put away!"
Henri and the others walked in and found themselves steered to the lounge. It was quite a nice lounge area actually but what detracted from it were pictures of Petunia and Vernon on the walls. There were pictures of Dudley on his wedding day, walking along with a beaming smile with a reasonably pretty light brown haired lady with a bob hair style. Disappointingly the woman looked rather ordinary…plain…normal. Since Petunia and Vernon looked so happy with her Henri supposed the woman fell into their 'normal' category.
"Dudley? Who was that at the door?"
"Visitors Suzie." Dudley said. The sound of feet coming down the stairs followed and that woman, still with a bob although it was down to her shoulders now as opposed to just under her chin, walked into the room.
"Hello, can we help you?"
"They are here about…about Freya." Dudley said nervously and Henri watched as the woman's face transformed into an expression that resembled a person who'd just smelt something foul.
"Oh. What about her?"
"I don't know if you are aware of the Wizarding world or not Mrs Dursley but…" Percy began.
"Ah yes, my Dudley told me. A world full of freaks, ungodly men and devil worshipers. What about it?"
"No, not freaks, Mrs Dursley. People. People with a gift. A gift much like your daughter has."
"That girl is an unholy freak of nature." Suzie Dursley began and Henri sighed angrily.
"I see you managed to find yourself a woman who was exactly like your mother Dudley. Well except for the religion part. Aunt Petunia never was one to attend church was she?" Henri said, glaring at Dudley who stammered and went even more pale than before.
"You heard me!" She said and stood up. She paced around the back of the sofa and rested her hands on it, next to her Ron stood up a little straighter.
"But you…you aren't Harry. Harry was a boy."
"Yes Harry was a boy and I am, as you can see, a woman." Henri said with glee. "But the Wizarding world is full of the most wondrous magic, potions and lotions to do all sorts of things. Sometimes the magic goes wrong and we are left to deal with the consequences, which I think I have done rather well don't you think Ron?"
"Yes Harry." Ron said with glee and Dudley fell back into the chair behind him.
"Y-y-you are Harry?"
"Yes I am. Or I was."
"Yes, the same cousin who used to be called a Freak by you and your parents. The same Harry who used to put up with you and your conniving little friend's bullying. The same Harry who got locked in his room ever summer and was forbidden to even mutter the word 'magic'. The same Harry who saved your life using the very thing you despised."
"Dudley, what is he talking about? This is your cousin?"
"I'll explain it all later Suzie." Dudley said and leaned forwards in his chair cradling his head in his hands. Henri didn't feel sorry for him, she couldn't bring herself to.
"No Dudley, tell me now."
"No Suzie!" He yelled back and Suzie crossed her arms over her chest glaring at him.
"Mrs Dursley…" Percy began.
"Oh no, don't talk to me you freaks!" Suzie spat.
"Silence your tongue before I do it for you." Surprisingly it was Ron who said that. He earned himself a glare from Percy and shrugged at his brother. "What? It says in the guidebook that when dealing with unreasonable civilians to get your point across you are at liberty to use non-injury inducing spells and charms, however you are allowed to make use of silencing charms, body binds and stunning spells."
"I bet you are glad you read that manual now huh?" Mia teased and Ron chuckled.
"What do you want?" Dudley eventually asked and lifted his head from his hands to look at Henri.
"We want to talk to you about your daughter. We came to offer her a place at our school…"
"Hogwarts." Dudley grunted.
"No actually. We have a school set up which takes children from the age of five up to eleven when they go into Hogwarts. We also have a nursery for the under-fives so that muggle and magical parents can send their children to be looked after in a place where accidental magic doesn't make them abnormal. We came to extend the offer to your daughter."
"And she wouldn't live with us anymore? We can get rid of the little freak? Or is it like a 'normal' nursery and we can only send her in for the day times." Suzie leapt on the idea immediately and Henri saw something glitter in Dudley's eyes. She frowned. She wasn't sure what to think of Dudley.
"No Mrs Dursley, the school and nursery are only open from eight o'clock until six o'clock." Mia mentioned and pulled a leaflet from her pocket, she held it out but Suzie sneered at her. Dudley, surprisingly, reached out to take the leaflet.
"Where is it?" He asked, flipping through the leaflet.
"It is in Wiltshire. However transportation via portkey or bus is available so parents do not have to deliver their children to us if they are unable to." Mia explained then went on to talk about the school day; the learn through play curriculum they had for the children up to age six, the slightly more focused learning they had from then on. Lessons in writing were given through various topics, the latest being science. Lessons dedicated to number work were also given before lunch time. Many craft opportunities were given in the later part of the morning which mixed reading with calculations and use of number; they did cooking and sewing and sculpting and art. The afternoons were dedicated to more craft work to hone in motor skills and sharpen interests. It was also dedicated to sport and social skills. Henri and the others, when creating the school, had visited private schools, local authority schools, Steiner schools, Montessori schools, Reggio Emilio schools, forest schools…they pieced together a curriculum suitable for young wizards a witches.
Mia explained about the four houses the children were put into. While they didn't mean anything during class, good behaviour was rewarded with house points and undesirable behaviour resulted in the deduction of house points. Then there were competitions between school houses, and a Co-Operation Cup which required the people from different school houses to for a team and take part in competitions.
By the end of the explanation though Suzie's answer remained the same. She wanted Freya to be gone.
"…don't we Dudley? We don't know what to do with the little freak."
"Suzie I…" Dudley started to say.
"Mummy?" Came a timid voice at the door. Silence fell over the room as everybody turned to look at the little girl standing in the doorway. She had blonde hair in fizzy curls around her face, some was sticking out in random directions in very tight fizzy spirals. She had blue eyes that were swimming with tears and clutched a rather dirty blanket to her chin. The little girl wore clothes that were a little too small for her as they showed off her ankles and the top revealed the skin of her belly. Her shoulders were hunched forwards, curling her body in on itself even as she stood in the doorway and looked into the room.
"Freya! Get back up those stairs right now!" Suzie yelled. Freya flinched and went to pull back.
"Munry…." The girl muttered into her blanket, looking up at her mother with pleading eyes.
"What?!" Suzie spat with narrowed eyes. "Don't mumble!" The little girl reluctantly drew the blanket down so she could speak easier.
"I hungry mummy."
"And? Get up to your room I said!"
"Suzie, calm down…" Dudley said placatingly as the girl turned to run away.
"Freya?" Henri said. The little girl paused and looked over her shoulder with fear in her eyes. Henri stepped forwards towards the door then knelt down. "Freya? Is that your name?"
"Mm." The girl nodded and cuddled her blanket.
Henri nodded encouragingly. Then she pulled her wand. "I can get you some food it you like. Would you like an apple maybe?"
Freya hesitantly stepped forward. Her blue eyes flicked to something over Henri's shoulder and Henri turned to see Suzie glaring at her. Dudley, on the other hand, seemed to be looking at his daughter and nodded his head. Henri turned back to Freya.
"Would you like an apple?"
"Yes." Freya whispered then withdrew into herself again. Henri smiled and held u her wand.
Just as commanded the spell summoned an apple from the kitchen right to Henri. She plucked it out of the air then pointed her wand at it. A spell later had the apple cut into pieces and Henri held it out to the little girl.
"Wow!" Freya muttered and shuffled forwards.
"Yes wow. Here's your apple. Would you like a bowl to eat them from?" Henri asked and little Freya nodded again. Henri glanced back at Mia who was far better at Transfiguration than she was. "Mia, do you mind?"
"Not at all." Mia transfigured a coaster from the Dursley's table into a little bowl and floated it over to Henri. Henri placed the apple inside the bowl and held it out to the little girl. Freya came close enough to take the bowl then retreated into the hallway again, staying where she could see and hear into the room but still remaining out of it.
Henri stood up, spelled her hand clean, and walked back to her original position. Suzie had a pinched look on her face, Dudley looked resigned, angry and something else.
"How dare you do that freakish stuff in our house?!" Suzie whispered fiercely, her eyes ablaze.
"We dare because we, unlike you, are powerful." Percy said then reached into the little bag he brought with him and pulled out several pieces of paper. "Down to business."
"What business? We want nothing to do with you and your kind." Percy shot Suzie a hard stare, Henri was delighted to see. He had obviously learned that from Dante or Lucas…one of the other…or both.
"The business of what is going to happen with your child. Now. Here are the forms you are required to fill out for her school record. Since she has to attend a school when she becomes of age it only makes sense for her to attend our school where she will be welcomed. Now, these forms are similar but they are for the nursery should you chose to send her there. This is the form which, when you sign it, will bind you in silence never to mention us, our world or your daughter's gift to anyone not approved of by us. The final form is…it is a form that, should you sign it, will relinquish your guardianship of your daughter into the Ministry of Magic's care."
"Relinquish…" Dudley breathed, wide eyed and looking vaguely sweaty.
"Excellent. Hand me that last form, I'll sign it right here!" Suzie said without hesitation and snatched the form from Percy. Ron and Mia were scowling at the woman. Henri glared too, disbelieving of the callousness the woman displayed. "Here Dudley."
"I…" Dudley started to say. He took the form from his wife but held it away from him. Henri blinked. Dudley met Henri's eyes then glanced down at the form again. "I want to think about it."
"Think about what?!" Suzie screamed then started ranting.
Henri shared a glance with Ron, Percy and Mia. They had all been in this situation before but normally, on the odd occasion where the muggleborn families chose to give up their child, it was the mother who didn't want to and the father who did. They knew what to do though in that situation and Mia stood up, pulling a card from her coat pocket.
"This is the number for you to call when you have made up your mind. In the meantime we do require you to sign one more form to say we visited, we explained your options and that you will keep to the vow of secrecy about our world."
Shortly afterwards Henri stood on the street with her friends and family again. Dudley had adamantly refused to make up his mind about Freya's future there and then, which Henri actually admired him for. She was certain, after she saw him, that he would hand the child over immediately. Perhaps he had changed for the better after all. Suzie wasn't very nice though, but Henri supposed she fit in well with Vernon and Petunia.
"I could go a lifetime without meeting that woman again and still never recover from her." Mia muttered and ran her hands down her arms as if to wipe of grime.
"Do you suppose the girl will be safe with them?" Percy asked and looked to Ron who gazed speculatively at the house.
"I could get the boss to give one the trainees some stake out experience by watching the place if you like?" Ron offered and Percy nodded.
"Do so, consider it an order from the Minister's office if you like."
"Will do." Ron clamped Henri on the shoulder. "Eh Mate, I bet you thought you'd never see the likes of Dursley again huh?"
"No…I never even thought about them."
"Well, I hope they make up their mind soon so we can start making sure the girl is okay. Whether they decide to hand her over or if we just see her during the day at nursery it would take a huge weight off my mind." Mia muttered and began walking down the street. Ron and Percy walked after them but Henri paused for a moment more. She looked back at the house behind her. There in the window she could see Dudley watching her. In an upstairs window was a little girl peeping out. She waved at Henri and Henri gave a big wave back. She looked back at Dudley and waved to him.
He waved back.
A week later…February the 10th.
"Are you sure this is what you wish to do Mister Dursley."
They were back with Dudley, Suzie and Freya. This time Petunia and Vernon were there too. Henri gazed at her cousin, he was looking down at the floor, staring at it hard. He was sat in his chair, elbows on his open knees and hands hanging down between them. He was leaning forwards but had Petunia and Vernon's hands on his shoulders. Petunia was perched on the arm of the chair next to him while Vernon was stood behind him. Suzie was sat in the chair next to him with her arms crossed glowering.
When Dudley had phoned the number Mia had given him it had been Wednesday and he refused to speak to anybody else but Henri. The conversation they had was strange. Dudley was quiet and kept asking her lots of questions about her life, about whether she had a family, about her husband and her children when she revealed their existence. He asked about the man who killed her parents. He asked whether the wizarding world was safe. He didn't mention anything about making up his mind as far as Freya was concerned.
Then he phoned again on Friday and told Henri they had made a decision. They arranged the meeting for Saturday and, as per Dudley's request, Lucas attended as well.
"I'm sure. We will both be giving up our guardianship of Freya." Dudley said with a nod, still looking at the floor.
"Alright then, you will need to both sign this form." Percy said pulling the form from his bag. It was the guardianship form he had given them a week before but since only Suzie had signed the previous one they both needed to sign a new one together so it said the same date in the signature box.
"Your daughter will be well looked after in the orphanage…" Mia started to explain.
Dudley took the form then placed it down on the table.
"No!" He said. Henri frowned and looked around at her companions.
"No? Mister Dursley?" Percy questioned. Dudley shook his head still looking at the floor.
"No. I don't want her to go to an orphanage. If I agree to this I want to know she will be taken care of, loved and part of a family. I may not like her because she's got some freaky mumbo jumbo magic but…but I'm not a monster. I want her to have a family."
Dudley raised his head sharply and stared at Henri who startled a little in her seat.
"I'm not a monster." He repeated looking at her. "I know I always hated you when we were little but I grew up and I am not a monster."
"I…I didn't say you were Dudley." Henri said, confused at his suddenly intense words and stare. Dudley clenched his teeth, his mouth turning down at the edges. His eyes glittered with his seriousness as he stared hard at Henri.
"Well I'm not. I may not like my daughter but I do want what's best for her. I can't give her that. I don't like magic, I never have and I never will but I want what's best for her. And best for her is handing her over to you. But I don't want her to go into an orphanage."
"Okay, then what is it you want us to do for her?" That voice was Percy's but Henri felt Lucas twitch at her side and a large hand came down on top of her knee, squeezing gently. Henri wanted to look at him, her heart was racing and her thoughts were a blur but she couldn't break from her cousin's eye contact.
"I want you to take her in." Dudley said, staring at her with the single-mindedness of a bull ready for the charge. "You are my cousin. I don't know how you came to look like you do now and I don't care. I don't know if you have changed or not but…but you were always a good person. You saved my life even though I made your life hell. You made sure me, mum and dad were safe from that madman even though you didn't have to because we were never kind to you. You protected us. You are the only person I will trust with my daughter's care in your world, I know you will keep her safe and I know that you will care for her as part of your family. So that is what I'm asking for. I want you to take her in Harry, I want you to be her family. Otherwise I won't hand her over to you, not at all."
"You are aware, Mister Dursley, that we have witnessed enough of Freya's care here to have her taken from you by force." Percy explained but Dudley seemed to ignore him, focusing only on Henri.
The hand on her leg squeezed a little. Henri reluctantly broke the gaze to look up at Lucas. His bright blue eyes were intense as well and he raised his eyebrow at her. Henri didn't know what he was asking her…not really…well, yes she did but she didn't know how to answer him. She looked away.
"Mister Dursley if you would excuse my wife and I. We would like to discuss your offer and also meet your daughter."
"O-of course." Dudley nodded and stood up when Lucas did. Lucas held his hand out to Henri and pulled her up to her feet. Dudley pointed out into the hall. "Freya's room is the first on the left at the top of the stairs."
"Excellent. We shall return shortly."
Their discussion seemed to take ages and most of it was a blur to Henri afterwards. They discussed taking Freya in, they discussed not doing so. They discussed Henri's childhood at Dudley and the Dursley's hands. They discussed whether the little girl would fit in with their family. They discussed whether Athena and Artemis would accept her. They discussed whether Freya would accept them. They discussed whether Lucas could accept adopting and caring for a child that wasn't his.
Then they went to see Freya. The little girl was having a nap on the floor in her room. She was huddled beneath her blanket next to a few cuddly toys. Her hair was incredibly messy around her face; those inexplicably tight curls making her hair defy gravity. She looked very small and very childlike…and so very alone. Athena and Artemis had never looked like that, not even once in their childhood. They had always had each other and Lulu and Scorpius and the orphans down the hall. They had never sought solitude and certainly never had an air of loneliness around them. Henri blinked back tears remembering her childhood and how she had always felt alone. Up on the walls there were a few pictures of Freya as a baby, one or two pictures of Freya with her mum and dad but there was nothing after the time she was a two years old and nowhere in the house had Henri seen any photos of the girl.
Back downstairs they took their seats again, the silence almost deafening in the room. Dudley was staring hopefully and with dread etched into his face.
"You understand that should you hand over guardianship for us you will lose all rights to your child and your daughter will take our surname." Lucas pointed out. "She would be raised by us in our home, under our name and to our standards. If we raise her we will be honest with her about how she came to live with us and she may even chose to never, ever seek you out. She may even choose to go down the root of blood adoption in which case all biological links back to you will be severed as well and replaced with ours."
"I don't care about any of that!" Dudley said and waved his hand. "I couldn't care less if she searched me out or not or whether she keeps our surname! I don't care! I just want to know if you would care for her! And not like my parents cared for Harry…I want her to be a part of a family! Nothing else matters. Will you Harry? Will you take her?"
Henri looked to Lucas. They had talked about this, they had agreed it but she wanted him to have one more chance to back down.
"We will take her in."
"Will she be a part of your family? Like a real family, not like you were?"
Henri met her cousin's gaze.
"I will love Freya as if she was my own. We both will."
Henri watched as her three daughters ran around the gardens in nothing but their swim wear. Scorpius ran after then with the hose pipe trying to spray them. Bibi was sat sunbathing next to Lulu who had declared, at the age of thirteen, that she was way too old to play childish games. Dante was sitting on the chair next to Bibi, watching his new wife almost obsessively. Henri supposed it was because Bibi was pregnant with his child, their first child after getting married two years ago. It had been a surprise to everyone when Bibi and Dante had started dating. The ancestral portraits hadn't been happy with it at all but since Dante already had a Malfoy heir and Bibi would be his second wife they eventually agreed that her Veela blood wouldn't matter.
When Bibi had discovered she was pregnant Dante immediately stepped down as minister, handing the position over to Percy Weasley who was voted into power with 83% of the votes. OPercy had insisted that should Dante ever want to go back to being Minister Percy would, of course, step down but as far as Henri knew Dante was perfectly happy to be a father and attend Wizengamot meetings as and when they were called. Dante had said is resignation from office was so that he could take care of Bibi and Henri knew it was mostly because he was so fearful of pregnancy and losing his second wife to child-birth much like he lost his first. He was being over protective but, where Henri would have rebelled against it; Bibi embraced it and revelled in the extra attention.
Henri laughed as Scorpius yelled out in victory as he finally got Athena and Artemis soaking wet. Freya laughed at them only to get drenched a second later. The little girl began to cry. Henri sighed with a laugh and made to go and comfort the little girl.
"No, stay there my love. I shall go." Lucas laid a staying hand on Henri's leg and got up himself. Henri shrugged and let him.
He approached the children who had gathered around their youngest family member trying to comfort her as she cried. The little girl had settled in very well with their family, taking an immense shine to Athena and Artemis. More often than not Freya could be found with one of the twins and if not with them then she was being looked after by Louis Weasley, Bill and Fleur's youngest child who was the same age as Freya. The only problem with Freya was that she was very emotional, which Henri supposed came hand in hand with knowing her parents didn't want her.
"Why the tears my dear little goddess?" Lucas asked as he approached and Henri smiled again. Freya fit in well with her name too. Freya Rose Malfoy…the name of a goddess followed by a flower name. Artemis Hazel, Athena Lily and Freya Rose. Three little goddesses for Lucas who had now started immersing himself in Norse Mythology.
Henri hoped their next child wasn't a girl. She didn't like any of the other goddess names she had learned.
Thirteen Years Later – September 2nd.
Henri watched with bated breath as the owl came closer and closer and closer towards her. She flung the window open wide and quickly summoned the owl treats from the other room. She heard a chuckle behind her and childishly chose to ignore Lucas who was sat reading his book and sipping wine.
Finally, after what seemed like an age, the owl landed on the windowsill and relinquished the letter it was carrying to Henri in favour of a treat. Then it flew away, its snowy white feathers glowing in the faint light.
Henri read over the address and recognised Freya's handwriting…she was so impatient to read it now. She tore open the envelope and hastily pulled the letter out form inside it. She unfolded it and quickly scanned the first few lines.
Dear Mum and Dad.
We all got here safely and it's so nice to see my friends again. Hadrian has joined Leo in Gryffindor and…
"Yes!" Henri cried and held the letter up. "I told you he'd go into Gryffindor! Pay up Lucas, I won!"
She gloated and her husband sighed and shifted so he could reach into his pocket. He pulled out a handful of Galleons and tossed them onto the coffee table.
"Your spoils my dear."
"Thank you." Henri chirruped and scooped the coins up from the table. She took them straight over to the cabinet she had placed her money into earlier and placed the coins in her money bag. "I'll buy Hadrian a few chocolate frogs with that."
"You indulge them." Lucas accused and Henri rounded on him with a smirk.
"I buy them chocolate frogs and I indulge them? Yet when Athena and Freya got into Slytherin I seem to remember they received an eagle feather quill and brand new very high quality stationary."
"My gifts were practical." Lucas sniffed and Henri scoffed at him. She went straight over and took a seat next to him.
"Yes and yet they already had all their stationary for school."
"One can never have too many quills and parchment."
Henri laughed but let the matter lie. She held up the letter again and scanned through the rest of what Freya had to say for herself. The girl talked about lots of her friends being shocked at her new appearance and how she had gotten plenty of stares from the others at her table because she looked pretty now. Henri had always thought the girl quite pretty before but for years apparently Freya had felt like the ugly duckling of the family. The girl had insisted over the summer that she go through with the blood adoption, becoming Henri and Lucas' daughter by blood and not just the daughter of their hearts as Henri had told the girl many times over. Now Freya didn't just look pretty she looked stunning. Her blonde hair was even more golden blonde and she kept the same bright blue eyes she had before only they were brighter now and so much more like Lucas'. The girl had adopted Henri's facial structure after the adoption and her rather petite build which had come as a shock to the girl because Freya had developed Dudley's height and girth.
Freya went on to talk about how the boy she liked couldn't take his eyes off her. She wrote and explained that she hoped that year would be the best year ever and that she hoped Andrew Vaisey finally asked her out. Henri frowned…it seemed that Freya would not follow in her elder sister's paths with regards to dating. Freya had been boy obsessed for many years but now it sounded like she was even more so.
Athena was very picky and had very quickly come to the conclusion that all the boys in her years and the years around her in school were far too immature for her to pay any attention to and had therefore not dated at all throughout her time at Hogwarts.
Artemis had turned into 'one of the boys' and hadn't been interested in dating at all. She always said she would much rather knock a boy off his broom with a well-placed hit to a bludger than date one. There had even been an incident where a boy had tried to kiss her only to get punched in the face instead. Henri and Lucas had rather differing views on what her punishment should be…and neither was really much of a punishment. Lucas had wanted to buy Artemis tickets to watch her favourite Quidditch team and Henri had wanted to make her attend a fighting class so she could get rid of unwanted attentions without breaking the person's nose. They settled on giving her a talk about injuring another student and took her duelling instead so she could practise non-injury inducing offensive spells to take down anybody giving her unwanted attention without doing them harm. Artemis had excelled at that and subsequently passed Defence Against the Dark Arts with an 'Outstanding' on her NEWTs.
Freya though…Freya seemed like she was going to be another problem altogether.
"Freya is going on about some boy again." Henri said to Lucas who hummed his acknowledgement of her words. She leaned forward to put the letter on the coffee table then sank back into the chair again. She twisted so she could rest her head on Lucas' shoulder. "I think we may have problems with her."
"Hm, you do not think she will abstain from dating?"
"I'm worried she won't abstain at all." Henri said and Lucas put down his book.
"She had the same talk as Artemis and Athena received, you do not think she took it to heart?"
"I don't know but the letters about boys and fancying a boy have started already and she has only been back at Hogwarts half a day."
"Let us hope that her cousins help keep her in line then."
"We can hope I suppose." Henri sighed and they fell into silence for a while.
The clock on the mantelpiece ticked over to eleven o'clock and Henri stood with a yawn. She ran a hand through her hair and turned back to her husband.
"I'm going to bed, are you coming?"
"Ah, is that the time. I shall be in shortly my love. I will just read to the end of the chapter."
"Alright then. Goodnight Lucas." Henri leaned down and gave him a quick kiss before walking off to their bedroom.
"Good night my love."
One Year Later - August 2nd.
"SCORPIUS!" Henri winced as Dante shouted for the umpteenth time up the stairs. "Honestly, that boy is going to drive me insane!"
"Oh do calm down Dante." Lucas said from his place by Henri's side. He adjusted his bowtie once again and Henri slapped his hand out of the way doing it herself.
"Leave it alone." Henri said and Lucas smirked at her. As she adjusted his tie she felt his hands come to rest on her hips and rolled her eyes.
"No, not when it means you have to adjust it for me." He said smartly and when she had finished adjusting the bowtie he leaned down and kissed her cheek.
"Where is he? We're going to be late! SCORPIUS!" Dante yelled again.
"He's in the garages." Henri looked up at the top of the main staircase where Leo was now walking down the stairs. Her Leo was, of course, followed immediately by his younger brother Hadrian.
"Ah Helios, where is Scorpius?" Dante asked Leo, using his formal name. Henri didn't know what she was thinking agreeing to allow Lucas to call her first son Helios. She at least managed to get away with the nickname Leo and she gave him the middle name James. Leo James, certainly sounded a lot better than Helios James but since Lucas had also allowed her to give Helios the surname Potter to continue on the family line she supposed she could put up with the atrocious first name.
"In the garage, I just told you. He's tinkering again and Orion went to help him."
"Damn it. Why did it have to be my sons who took a liking to cars?!" Dante muttered and waved off Bibi's hands as he stormed off to the front door. "Being mechanics is not a worthy occupation in this household!"
"Oh dear." Bibi muttered then shrugged and looked at her Henri with a shrug of nonchalance.
"Aunt Bibi, can you find a way to make ties more comfortable?" Hadrian asked fiddling with his tie as he jumped the last few steps. Henri clicked her tongue and reached out to adjust her son's tie.
"What is it with Malfoy men and fiddling with their ties?" Henri scolded and her son smirked at her and waited patiently for her to sort it out for him.
"Meh. I just hate sorting them out." Hadrian shrugged but not before smirking again. Henri sighed and stepped back.
"It's you that chose to wear the tie. And you Lucas, you never used to play with your tie!"
"What can I say, my love? It is a habit I learned from my sons." Lucas smirked and slid an arm around her back. She frowned at him over her shoulder, what on earth?
"Oh yeah? How?"
"When they were little and they insisted on wearing ties to copy me did you, or did you not, help them put their ties on and then gift them with a kiss afterwards?"
"And therein lay my frustration. They got your attention when they needed to sort their ties out and therefore it seemed only fair that I cached in on the scheme. And I must say, my love, it works every time." Henri chose to ignore the self-satisfied smirk Lucas wore and instead looked over at Bibi who shrugged helplessly again.
"Hey, don't look at me! I have my own husband's schemes to deal with."
"Ah fine." Henri sighed and looked back to her sons. "Are you both ready to go?"
"Yes." The boys chorused, Leo with a roll of his eyes that came from all the attitude of a prepubescent boy.
"Helios, mind yourself!" Lucas barked quickly jumping in on the attitude. Leo pulled a face but nodded his head. Lucas was very much the disciplinarian in their household. While Leo rebelled he had been old enough to witness Scorpius' teenage attitude in all its glory. Since Dante and Bibi had continued to live on the Malfoy estates with Henri and Lucas, Scorpius had frequently been subjected to discipline from his grandfather. Scorpius very quickly learned, as did Henri's own children, that Lucas did not stand for any of their nonsense, righteous or otherwise, if it wasn't handled in an appropriate manner. It didn't stop the attitude completely but it made it more manageable.
"Right well, shall we go on Bibi or do you want us to wait for you, Dante, Scorpius and Orion?"
"Oh you go on ahead."
Henri and her family walked to the fireplaces in the main atrium. A few minutes later they made their way through the streets of Hogsmeade to the building that used to be known as the Shrieking Shack.
The once dilapidated building had been bought and remodelled by Teddy Lupin with help from his friends and family. It was a building that held a lot of his father and Teddy had gripped tightly onto it, refusing to abandon the building that looked after his Father during his saddest and happiest times.
It was also the place where Teddy was going to get married. Henri looked over all the decorations put out around the place; the lights on the trees, the colourful ribbons streaming through the air.
Henri and her family were suddenly enveloped by all the other guests who had arrived ready for the wedding. Hermione, Ron and their children Hugo and Rose were there. George and Mia were there with their children Fred and Roxanne. Percy was there with his wide Audrey and their children Molly and Lucy. Ginny, Crispin were there with their children Fabian, Tristan and Clementine, otherwise known as Clemmie. Well, Henri said children but all of them were above the age of ten now. The youngest was little Molly and she had turned ten a few weeks ago.
Arthur and Molly were there along with Cecil and Silke. Cecil went off with somebody behind Henri, who turned out to be Scorpius who had just arrived. Silke was still involved in her conversation with her boyfriend.
Henri mingled and chatted with all her family and friends until they were asked to take their seats ready for the wedding ceremony. Henri found her seat next to Lucas, Hadrian and Leo reluctantly leaving their cousins and friends to sit with them.
"Mum, how long will the wedding take?"
"As long as it needs to." She replied and Hadrian groaned. "About forty five minutes sitting here then we get to mingle again. Be patient please, its Teddy's wedding."
"I know but I hate weddings."
"You had better get used to them. There will be plenty more in the coming years." Lucas offered and smirked as his son groaned again. "Now sit properly, we are in public and you are a young gentleman."
Hadrian groaned again but sat up straight doing as he was told. Henri gave her husband an exasperated look to which she received his usual mockingly raised eyebrow. Lucas had insisted that whatever their children's opinions and thoughts on manners, they had to exhibit good manners and obedience in public. That meant if they didn't like something when in public they had to wait until they were at home to show their displeasure. Naturally when they were age two they didn't understand that and had their tantrums there and then. They learned quickly but it was a hard lesson to remember.
"We are amongst family." She pointed out. "There's no need to be so formal."
Hadrian looked over, as did Leo. Henri ignored them in favour of looking at Lucas.
"Really? Then pray tell how exactly are we related to the Beaumonts? And the Monfort's? The Savreux and the Lavoisier's?" Lucas indicated to the French families who sat on the other side of the garden. They were there for Victoire, because she had attended Beauxbatons instead of Hogwarts and had made many friends there whom she had invited to her wedding.
Henri laughed. "Alright then Lucas, you win."
"I usually do."
"Um…no you don't dad. Mum normally wins." Hadrian helpfully pointed out and Henri smirked at Lucas. Lucas pursed his lips and looked away from his children.
"Your mother is an outrageous cheat." He said and the boys laughed.
"You said it's only cheating if you get caught."
"Indeed I did." Lucas admitted with a nod at Hadrian's words. Like any twelve year old Hadrian grabbed hold of the words and turned it back around.
"Well if you knew she was cheating how is it she still won?"
Henri laughed and waited patiently for Lucas' reply. The man looked skywards trying to find an answer. Henri knew how she won, and Lucas knew how she won, but how do you explain it to a twelve year old without actually betraying the truth.
"Your mother has a way of making my defeat seem more enjoyable than my victory. Now, no more questions. For now sit nicely and behave properly." Lucas said and the boy's attention turned away from their parents. Henri smirked at her husband who raised that mocking eyebrow again.
"I won fair and square I'll have you know."
"On the contrary my love, you cheated."
"All's fair in love and war Lucas."
"Yes and you have proved to be a master of both." He muttered and Henri couldn't resist. He was smirking and his eyes were twinkling. It was a happy day. Formalities and propriety be damned, she could care less if her picture showed up on the Daily Prophet tomorrow.
Henri put her hand on Lucas' cheek, turned his head towards her and leaned over to give him a kiss. His lips on hers still felt as wonderful as they had when they had first kissed all that long time ago. She shut her eyes savouring it and caressed his lips with hers, still keeping it brief but allowing her emotion to pour across.
When she pulled away she couldn't resist giving him another very quick kiss before putting a little more distance between them. Lucas smiled at her and took her hand in his, clasping them together. Henri saw her boys watching them and trying not to watch at the same time. Henri just smiled and squeezed Lucas' hand.
The groom took his place. Teddy stood tall and proud in the front of the alter and looked towards the back of the garden where Victoire would appear a few minutes later. Victoire, escorted by Bill, walked down the aisle in a very full, flowing white and gold dress. There was a number of blue ribbons decorating her veil, all with a gold trim to fit with the theme, and added to the blonde hair it was a beautiful sight. Bill handed his daughter's hand to her groom and stood back. Her bridesmaids trailed behind Victoire up to the alter then stood around her; first Lulu dressed in a beautiful gold colour walked in, then Dominique in dark blue and gold, then Athena in Beauxbatons blue, Artemis afterwards in a lighter shade of blue, finally Freya following in the lightest shade of blue possible. All four bridesmaids had long blonde hair and beautiful white and gold bouquets, all looked beautiful.
"Don't they all look amazing?!" Henri whispered to Lucas who made a gruff sound of acknowledgement but didn't agree. Henri gave him a quick look of exasperated disbelief then looked back to all the girls waiting at the front of the congregation. "Don't you think Victoire looks beautiful?"
"I can think of more beautiful brides."
Those words took the wind right out of her indignant sails and she looked at him with a smile. He raised her hand to his lips and pressed a kiss to her fingers.
6 months later.
"I don't like him!"
"Oh Lucas what does that matter? Athena likes him!" Henri countered and watched as Lucas paced up and down the widest part of their room.
"He has no manners, his etiquette is atrocious and his dreams and aspirations are deplorable."
"His manners were fine, he behaved fine and there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to be metal-charmer. There aren't many of them after all, it's a dying trade."
"Exactly! It's a trade!"
Henri sighed and pulled the hair band from her hair. She ran her fingers through the black strands and loosened the few knots that tangled around her fingers. She looked up at her husband who was still angrily pacing and shook her head.
"Lucas I don't understand why you have to find fault with him. We've known Fitzroy since he was a boy and you liked him perfectly well then. He might be an orphan but he was a pureblood, so you can't have any faults there. He is the last of his line so he inherited a fortune. He scored impressively well through his time at Hogwarts and is a very respected master of his craft. His skills are highly sought after and valued. What is it that you don't like about him?"
"He doesn't deserve her!" Lucas crowed and sat down on the bed angrily. "He doesn't deserve her. He isn't good enough for her and he should know that! She should know that."
"Lucas, of course he deserves her." Henri started to say but Lucas cut across her.
"Why they even started dating in the first place I don't know; he is ten years her senior, Athena always stated she despised a person who couldn't be patient and sit still. You saw him at dinner; he fidgeted around all over the place. He hardly stayed in one place for longer than a few minutes!"
"Oh give him a break! He was nervous! And he had every right to be since he probably suspected you would react as you did!" Lucas made to indignantly argue that point but Henri stood up and crossed to him. She held up her hand to silence him then crossed her arms over her chest. "Age difference doesn't matter at all. If it did we would never have gotten married. Athena was attracted to him because he is witty and intelligent and respected. Do you think she would ever consider dating somebody who wasn't any of those things? Come on, you know how high Athena's standards are! She isn't like Freya and we both know that Artemis would sooner bludgeon a man let alone date one. Athena is sensible and clever, and she chose Fitzroy because he is all those things too and he adores her. Couldn't you see the way he looked at her? He looked at her like she was his whole world!"
"Now, now, Henrietta, do not go imagining things that weren't there."
"They were there, you just didn't want to see them. Athena chose well and you know it, just like you know when Fitzroy comes to ask you if he can marry her you will accept it because deep down you know that Athena wouldn't chose anyone who wouldn't treat her properly. Just admit it, Lucas, you just don't want to part with your favourite daughter. You don't want to be the man second in her life."
"And what of you, my love? Does this not affect you too?" Lucas asked with sadness in his voice.
"Of course it affects me and I will have an easier time of it than you I am sure. I was always third in Athena's line of favourites. You and Artemis always came before me. Moving down into fourth place because of Fitzroy won't make any difference to me."
"He doesn't deserve her." Lucas went back to saying, getting rid of some of the sadness from his voice and replacing it with righteous anger. "He isn't anywhere near good enough to be taking her away from her family."
"Oh Lucas, don't be silly. He isn't taking her away from us. We aren't going to lose our daughter to him, if anything we will be gaining another son."
"I don't…I don't want…" Lucas started then looked away from her and pursed his lips with annoyance. Henri saw his eyes glistening though and knew for all the anger he was trying to portray he was mostly feeling fearful and sad. She slid onto the bed beside him and wrapped her arm around his waist, leaning her head into his shoulder.
"She had to grow up at some point."
"I know, my love. I just wish it didn't have to happen so soon. I still remember the day I held her for the first time…"
Three years Later – May 5th.
"Well done Athena. Well done." Lucas congratulated his very tired daughter where she lay in her bed. He looked down at the tiny baby cradled in his arms. Henri peered down at the tiny baby and carefully ran her finger over the tiny hand.
"We want to name him Lucian." Athena said with a hoarse voice. Henri glanced over to her and saw that she was clutching tightly onto Fitzroy's hand, her husband holding hers just as tightly looking proud but nervous. Henri looked back to her husband who didn't take his eyes off the little baby he was holding.
"Lucian Harry Urquhart." Fitzroy said.
"Ah…a very good name. He will do our family proud." Lucas whispered, his voice choked with emotion. Henri saw a tear discreetly fall from Lucas' eye before he blinked and handed the baby back over to its mother. Athena took her son with loving hands and cradled him close beaming at her father.
"Happy 70th Birthday Father." She said and Lucas laughed and stepped up to her, pressing a kiss to her forehead.
"Thank you my dear." He said then ran a gentle hand over little Lucian's head. "And Happy Birthday to you, Lucian."
Twenty Seven Years Later – Early July.
Henri wondered off away from her family and off around the grounds of Hogwarts. She wondered and wondered, her steps stumbling a little on the uneven ground. She was seventy-two and still as nimble as she used to be, or so she kept telling herself. She'd been having a problem with her balance ever since…ever since Lucas died.
Her eyes became blurred and the forest in front of her swam before her eyes. She pulled her handkerchief from her sleeve and wiped them.
He had been dead for two years and still the wound was fresh. Oh so very fresh. She could feel it through every muscle and every bone in her body.
Sometimes she hoped she would remember the pain of the cruciatus curse when she was dreaming…but even the memory of that agony didn't compare to the state she lived in now.
Henri walked and walked stopping eventually when she reached the edge of what was once the Forbidden Forest. Long ago had the forest ceased to be forbidden. The Centaurs had moved on, the acromantula had retreated further back and the other creatures that had made the forest their home had also left. Some of the forest was still inhabited, but most was not. Now Hogwarts wards extended into the forest and a fence was erected around the boarder to the area that was still unsafe.
Henri looked up at the big trees, the fluffy hedges and the wild flowers. It had been a long time since she had been in there…a very long time.
"Grandmama? Grandmama are you okay?"
Henri turned around at the young voice and saw her little granddaughter Lily. Lily Luna Malfoy, Hadrian's only daughter. Henri's favourite granddaughter.
"Yes dear. I was just walking."
"Did you want to go in there?" She asked and skipped the remaining steps between them. Little Lily was only seven, the youngest of three and she had ended up being something of an accidental birth. Hadrian and his wife Abigail had become parents again a whole ten years after having their last child and having decided not to have any more children. Lily was a shock to them but they had delighted in her. They had also been very busy with their careers so Lily spent a lot of time with Henri and Lucas growing up, more specifically spending a lot of time with Henri.
"Yes…yes I thought I might take a walk in there." Henri mused aloud and walked forwards traipsing well-trodden paths. "Did you get bored of watching your brothers graduating Hogwarts?"
"Yes." Lily answered succinctly. "They did great, blah blah blah, aren't they amazing, blah blah blah."
"Now Tiger Lily, that's not a nice thing to say. Kieran and Eric worked very hard…"
"I know! I know!" The girl whinged. "But I did too! I earned one hundred points for Stag House this year and we won the house cup but mum and dad didn't even care."
"Oh they cared sweetheart. They were very proud of you, I heard them boasting." Henri soothed the little girl. Stag house was one of the four houses at Clubmoss Prep School. There was the Stag house, Otter house, Dog house and Peacock house. The Stag, Otter and Dog came from Henri, Hermione and Ron's Patronus charms. The Peacock came from Dante's because they needed another house and it had to be a house with a bird as its emblem. Out of all their friends and family at the time Dante was the only one who had one that fit Hermione's criteria. Now, so many years later the houses were still there, as was the school, and the people behind the houses were as well known and honoured as the four founders of Hogwarts.
"Yeah well they never told me they were proud of me."
"Tiger Lily, sometimes people don't use the exact words to explain themselves. Sometimes they are better at showing it than at saying it. Your father always used to be like that, more of a doer than a speaker. Much like you." Henri said and the girl shrugged her shoulders and crouched down to touch a plant's leaves.
"It's always nice to hear it though isn't it?"
"Yes…yes it is." Henri said and fingered the rings hanging on a chain around her neck. Lucas' rings. Lucas' wedding band and Lucas' signet ring with the Malfoy crest on it. She shuddered and took her hand away as more tears welled up in her eyes. She wiped them away again. Two years and she was still mourning. Two years and she still wore black and ached with longing.
Henri wandered around a little more eventually coming to the clearing in which she had once stood and waited for her death at Voldemort's hand. She could see it clear as day when she closed her eyes. He stood there, held his wand out and she had closed her eyes and waited…
"Grandmama! Grandmama look what I found! Look!" Henri shook her head clearing the memory and resenting herself for wishing somebody would stand before her like Voldemort had and cast that spell.
"Yes Tiger Lily, what is it?"
Henri turned around and watched as the little girl came running towards her. She held something cupped in her hands staring at it as she ran to make sure she didn't drop it. Oh Henri hoped it wasn't another little creature Lily was holding. Last time Lily had found something it had turned out to be a pigmy puff baby and she'd taken it home and nursed it back to health…only it bred with another pigmy puff it met somewhere and suddenly there were pigmy puffs everywhere!
"Look Grandmama! It's a really pretty stone!" Lily said between pants and held out her hand for Henri to see.
There, sitting innocently in the little girl's palm was a shining square black rock with the symbol of the Deathly Hallows carved carefully into its surface. Henri stood completely still staring at it.
"Isn't it pretty Grandmama?"
"Yes Tiger Lily, it is very pretty." Henri reached out her hand and brushed her fingertips over the surface of the stone.
"I found it for you! Here, you can have it." Lily held it up a little higher to urge Henri to take it. Henri pulled her hand back and stared at her granddaughter in denial.
"No…no Tiger Lily, you found it so you should keep it."
"But I found it from you. Don't you want it?" Lily asked innocently cocking her head to the side and giving Henri a perplexed look with those beautiful emerald eyes she inherited from her father Hadrian, from Henri.
"I…" Henri couldn't think of what to say.
"Then you have it. I found it for you, it's a gift!" Lily chirped and held the stone out insistently.
"Well thank you Tiger Lily." Henri said slowly and carefully, hesitantly, she reached out and picked up the stone. Lily smiled at her happily. Henri swallowed and closed her fist around the stone. "I will take good care of it."
"Good because it's like treasure. And you've got to take care of treasure."
The girl skipped off and Henri took a few moments to get up the courage to look back down at the stone in her hand. Yes…yes it was the resurrection stone. One of the fabled Deathly Hallows.
Henri closed her fingers over the stone again her mind beginning to reach out to the stone to beg it to let her see Lucas again. She could picture him so clearly in her mind and…
Henri opened her hand again and looked down at the stone she held there. No, she wouldn't use the stone. She wouldn't. She missed Lucas, there was no doubt about that, but nothing could bring him back. She remembered the story of the Three Brothers, she remembered seeing her parents, Remus and Sirius before her but she couldn't touch them. It wasn't wise to use the stone, it wouldn't help her and it wasn't needed.
Henri sighed and shut her eyes with a murmur of despair. She couldn't use it. She shouldn't.
She slid it into her pocket. She would look after it. She would treasure it. She would hide it. She wouldn't use it.
Henri hugged herself and abruptly fell to her knees. She moaned out and hung her head in her hands. Oh but she could have seen him again…just one last time…just once more she could have seen Lucas again.
But it wouldn't have been real, it wouldn't have been right.
And she was Henri Malfoy, Harry Potter, she couldn't do something that wasn't right.
She wouldn't. Not even to stop the heart ache.
"Grandmama! GRANDMAMA!" Henri heart her Tiger Lily scream and she sobbed into her hands. Her Tiger Lily, the last little girl to live with her and Lucas even if it was just for a short time. The last little Granddaughter they had. The last descendant Lucas ever saw.
Small warm hands held her shoulders then arms wrapped around her.
"It's okay Grandmama. It's okay."
"I know my dearest girl, I know." Henri whispered. "I'll be okay. I only fell."
Lily helped her to stand up and Henri wobbled as she finally found her feet again. She took a fortifying breath and stood as straight as she could.
"Yes my dear, I'm okay."
"What made you so sad?"
"Oh nothing in particular…just memories." Henri said and held out her hand for Lily to take. They walked hand in hand back towards the entrance of the forest.
"Memories make you sad?"
"Yes, sometimes. But they make me happy too." Henri smiled weakly down at the little girl.
"Then only remember the happy ones."
Henri laughed at the innocent words and nodded. "Alright Tiger Lily, I will do my best to only remember the happy ones."
The stone weighed heavily in her pocket all the way back to the rest of the family. She felt it there as she stood there and watched all her family walk around the grounds.
Later when they went to a party where the whole family was gathered Henri stood very still and looked across at all the people around her. Her children, her grandchildren, her god children, her friends, her family, their children…she looked over at them all and remembered the people who were missing from the gathering. She remembered the people they had all lost, she remembered the people who had been taken from them. She remembered the dead. She remembered.
The ache in her heart lessened a little. The weight in her pocket became a bit lighter.
Henri smiled sadly and wiped another stray tear from her eye. She didn't need the stone, she didn't need it. She would remember. And that would be enough.
"Thank you for watching Aurora for me Aunty Henri." Lulu said carefully taking her granddaughter Aurora from Henri's arms. The little girl squirmed uncomfortably in her sleep then the toddler's eyes blearily opened, looked at Lulu and promptly closed again to go back to sleep. She turned to press her face against Lulu's collar and sniffled a little but fell asleep easily in a few seconds. Henri wished sleep came as easily to her.
"It was no problem, she was good as gold."
"Oh good. Warren and Sophia will be pleased." Sophia was Lulu's daughter, her only daughter and youngest child of four. Lulu's husband Jeremy Dean was a Canadian wizard who worked for the Quidditch World Cup Committee. The two had met during the England verses Russia match to which Jeremy was overseeing as part of his job in the committee. It took three years of dating before they got engaged. They had a two year engagement because Jeremy's commitments to the Committee took a lot of his time the year prior and subsequent to the World cup. Over the space of the next ten years they had four children; Everett, Royce, Blake and Sophia.
"How did it all go?" Henri had to look after Aurora so that Sophia and her husband Warren could go to a friend's wedding.
"From what Sophia told me it all went fine. The wedding was beautiful, as most are, and they were eager to come home. They are on a train now and Jeremy has gone to pick them up from the station and bring them back here for dinner. I'll take Aurora and put her to bed now. Will you join us all for dinner in the great dining room?"
"Is everybody dining together tonight?" Henri asked. Typically the Malfoy family all lived in different sections of the manor so they were still in the family home but not treading on toes. There were so many Malfoy's now that even though many of them did still live in the manor, many didn't and travelled to the manor for special occasions. Lulu's family, Orion's family, Freya's family and Artemis didn't live in the manor any more but Athena's family, Leo's family and Hadrian's family did, as did Dante and Scorpius.
"Yes, everybody as far as I'm aware. I certainly know Orion was planning on coming tonight, something about seeing Scorpius' new car."
"Of course." Henri could not stop the laughter and Lulu rolled her eyes in good humour. Dante's boys had always been fascinated by muggle cars. At least Dante didn't suffer any humiliation from it any longer. Scorpius had taken a job in wizarding transport, more specifically in creating the fastest brooms on the market and was very successful in his job. Orion had taken a job in the Ministry as an undersecretary which Dante was especially proud of. Still, boys and their toys, those two had never left their car hobby behind them.
"So, are you coming then? I hear it's some sort of Salmon dish tonight."
"Yes I'll be there. I assume it will be at the normal time?" Lulu nodded in answer. "Alright then, I'll just shower and change my clothes then I'll meet you all down there. Goodness knows I need some clean clothes. Even with all the spells I know I don't think even one can get dried play dough out of silk."
Henri finished showering and used spells to help herself finish drying off. She had her hair spelled dry and pulled back into a tight platt in a few short seconds then wandered into her wardrobe to get dressed. She pulled a black dress and robe from the hangers, pulled them on and wandered back into her bedroom. She sat down at her dressing table and put back on the chain with Lucas' rings on when she caught sight of something in the mirror.
Behind her, visible easily in the picture, was a photograph of her and Lucas walking hand in hand along the beach. He was smiling happily at her, his beautiful blonde hair more grey with age now than blonde. His skin was wrinkled but at ninety-odd years of age he was still a very handsome man. He held a cane in his other hand, a snake cane Henri had gifted him in jest one year when he complained of stiffness in one leg that made walking gradually more difficult. He had taken the cane with a laugh and used it until the end of his days. 2 years ago…2 years ago, two months before his Birthday Lucas had died in his sleep.
Henri turned on her chair and got up. She crossed the room to the picture and lifted it up. She looked closely at him. HE looked so happy. They had been so happy. She looked at herself. She was barefooted, carrying her shoes in her other hand. She was looking up at Lucas, smiling and obviously in the middle of saying something. She looked happy and bright and even with her black hair being streaked with bright white strands she somehow looked full of life. The dress she wore was white with ribbons of colour streaking across it in beautiful shades of red, yellow, gold and blue. She remembered that dress. She still had it…in storage probably with all the others.
Henri put down the photograph and looked around the room looking at all the other photographs she had there. There were some of just her, some of just Lucas, some of them both together, some of their family, some of just their children, some of them and their children…so many different photographs and in all of them she was smiling. She looked so happy, so happy with Lucas.
Then she saw herself in the mirror. A tired, unhappy looking woman. A woman dressed from head to foot in black. Her hair pulled back almost viciously, her clothes boring and straight and black. Her eyes flat emeralds instead of the ones shining ones.
It's because Lucas was gone.
Henri sighed. She had gone from vibrant and loving life to sallow and empty. All because he was no longer with her. She shut her eyes as they burned. She felt water drip from her eye and fall down her cheek. She was so sad all the time. She was so lonely all the time. You would have thought, after all her childhood of being alone, she would be used to it. She should be. The only time she had ever seen her parents was in the Mirror of Erised, when her wand connected with Voldemort's and when she held the resurrection stone. She knew they were always with her but…
'We never left.'
Yes, that's what they had said. They had never left and when Henri marched towards her death they said they would stay and that Voldemort wouldn't be able to see them because…'we are here, you see'.
Henri opened her eyes. Watching the mirror Henri put her hand on her heart, touching the place Sirius had pointed to all those long, long years ago. The place her loved ones stayed while she marched to her death…the place they still were as she walked through life to her death. Henri felt another tear fall. She watched it make its way down her cheek in the mirror. It ran slowly over slightly wrinkled skin, wetting just the corner of her mouth before slowly, ever so slowly, sliding down her chin. It hung on the bottom of her chin then…after waiting what felt like an age, it dropped.
Henri stepped backwards and watched as the drop fell to the floor instead of onto her clothes. She looked down at the wet spot it left on the carpet. A round and slightly darker spot on the carpet. Henri stared at it. She rubbed her chest. As she watched the droplet the ache in her chest became deeper. Henri frowned.
Her heart hurt so much. A heart she had filled up with love, the love of a lifetime, the love to last a lifetime. She had filled her heart with so much love for her family, for Lucas, for her children, for her children's children, for her friends, for their children, for their children's children, for the orphans, for her students…Her heart was full up. It was so full up! It was so full up it was ready to burst! It was so full up with love that it was hurt because those she loved hadn't stayed with her…they had died.
She saw herself in the mirror again. For a person so full of love she looked so hollow. But she wasn't. She wasn't! Henri scowled at herself. How could she look so hollow when she loved so much?! How could she look so pitiful now?
She remembered the words Albus had once said to her. 'Do not pity the dead Harry, pity the living. And most of all, pity those who live without love.' Well she had love. She had lots of love. She loved her family and her friends! She loved those still alive and those dead. She lived and she loved and she still loved…but she didn't still live, did she?
She stood up straight and gazed at herself. No, she didn't still live. Oh she was alive but she wasn't living, she was drifting. She was something worse than a person who lived without love. She was a person who lived with love but ignored it. Lucas would have been dismayed! After he had learned to love so completely because of her. What was it he had said once? 'My love for you has grown and continues to grow. I am half fearful that it shall become so large I will be unable to contain it any longer, and I am half fearful that it shall cease.' He had never believed that love could encompass somebody so entirely but through loving Henri and living with Henri he had learned it…he had learned it and had never wanted to give it up.
And that was what she had done. She had focussed so much on the pain of her love leaving her that she had forgotten to love him properly now he was gone.
She looked at herself in the mirror. The wretched widow dressed in black for years so consumed by grief that she forgot the reason for it in the first place. Henri sneered at herself angrily. She looked nothing like the Henri Lucas had loved. He liked her in dresses sure but…but not dresses like that! He liked to caress her hands or her cheek or wrap his arm around her waist. He liked to run a hand through her hair. Henri ran a hand over her tight French-platt. You couldn't run your hands through that.
She pulled the hairband off the end and teased her hair loose. It took a while but eventually her hair flowed loosely around her, falling to the bottom of her ribcage. That was why she took to having it pulled back nowadays, because it was too long. But Lucas liked her hair long. He liked to run his fingers through it and hold it. Her children liked to play with it and twirl it in their fingers as they fell asleep against her. Lucas liked to stroke it and kiss the hair on her head when he couldn't kiss her properly because one of their children was in the way.
Henri threw the hairband away and squared her shoulders. She glared angrily down at the clothes she wore. Lucas would have hated that dress and the robe which was so stiff it wasn't comfortable or appealing. Why had she even bought it in the first place? Why had she bought any of the clothes she had been wearing?
Because they were black.
And black was the colour of mourning.
"No more." Henri growled and tore off her robe. She threw it to the floor and marched into her wardrobe again, her hair billowing around her as she stormed around. She grabbed the black clothes that took up the entire side of her wardrobe and tore them from their hangers. She threw them to the floor and kicked them out her way, grabbing another armful of black clothes. She threw them down and grabbed more. On and on she went till all the hangers were empty. Then she raided the shelves and the cupboards, throwing any and all black items onto the floor. Even black underwear and black socks went into the pile. It was all going. All of it!
Then she stripped off the black she was wearing and kicked it aside. She wasn't going to wear that for a second longer! She looked around the limited wardrobe she had left. There wasn't much to wear, most of it she had ordered be packed away when Lucas had died.
She'd have to buy more. Lots more. She'd buy a wardrobe of colour, bright beautiful colours. More specifically she'd buy reds and greens, Lucas loved her wearing those colours. She snatched a dark blue dress from the hanger, not knowing why she had chosen to keep that one and get rid of all the others. Probably because it was such a dark colour, and it was part of a suit. She pulled it on, grabbed some tights then changed her mind and grabbed stockings instead. She pulled on some shoes and grabbed a dark grey shawl. It wasn't black and she was limited for choice. It would do. She looked at herself in the mirror. It wasn't black but it would do and she could shop for more clothes…
No she couldn't. It was evening and all the shops in London would be shut now.
Angrily Henri walked back into her bedroom feeling more cross than ever. She then saw that picture of herself and Lucas on a beach…not just any beach…the beach in the Hamptons. New York.
New York shops would still be open.
"Clover!" Henri barked and immediately her house elf appeared.
"Get my American money please, all the credit and debit cards that I can still use in America."
"And get me my handbag with the undetectable extension charm on it."
Henri nodded and was about to dismiss the elf to collect those things when she saw the stiff, horrible black robe on the floor.
"Once you've done that, collect all my black clothes from everywhere and leave them in my wardrobe on the floor with the others."
Six hours later and thoroughly exhausted Henri asked her house elves to put away all the new clothes she had bought into her wardrobe. She watched them magically put the clothes away, the clothes floating from the hundred or so shopping bags and up onto hangers, or onto shelves or into drawers.
Once they were gone, eyeing the pile of black clothes that littered the floor with intense worry, Henri climbed over the clothes and pulled her new emerald green summer dress from the hanger. She changed into that and grabbed her new white and gold robe she had picked up in Salem. Sliding that on she found some white shoes and stepped back to look at herself in the mirror. The woman staring back at her resembled the Henri she used to be.
She nodded. She felt better. She rubbed the ache in her heart and smiled. It still hurt but not as badly. She was back to being her. She was back to living.
She slid her wand from its holster and summoned her handbag. She stuffed all the black clothes into it, very grateful for the extension charm, and once that was done she marched out of the master suit and through the manor.
The manor was silent. Silent and dark. Her steps sounded harsh on the floors, piercing through the peaceful stillness. She occasionally caught sight of herself in the mirrors as she passed, lights igniting then going out as she passed them, lighting her way but not staying on. She walked down the staircases and through the main hall. Out of the front door she marched across the gardens. It was the dead of night. It must have been early hours of the morning at least, Henri thought. There were no lights on in the manor, everything was pitch black.
Not for long.
Henri reached the middle of the lawn space she had intended on reaching. She could still see the house but it had to be at least a mile away by now. Henri threw down her bag. She pulled the black clothes out, it took her at least fifteen minutes to fully empty the bag of the clothes. She piled them all up on the lawn then picked up her bag and stepped back.
"I love you Lucas, I'll always love you and I will miss you until the day I die. But I refuse to be in mourning for you. You loved me too well and I adore you with all of my being so I won't dishonour that any longer." Henri levelled her wand at the pile of clothes. "Incendio."
Fire sprang up immediately. The bright oranges, reds, yellows and gold's light up the night. It crackled and popped as it ate through the clothes it was on. As it ate the fabrics Henri saw different colours flash up through the flames, the chemicals in the clothes making beautiful colours.
Some clothes, Henri saw, resisted the fire. The spells cast upon them stopping the fire from harming them. Henri willed those spells to stop, willed them to finish and with her wand pointed at them the spells had no choice but to obey.
The clothes burned and burned. Henri watched as the fire happily crackled and ate them. The more clothes that disappeared, the lighter Henri felt.
"Henri?!" Dante's voice. Henri twisted around to see him. Even as old as he was he slid off his broomstick gracefully. The light from the fire illuminated his face. He looked worried, anxious and something else. "What's going on? Henri, are you okay?"
"Yes I'm okay." She said and turned back to watch the fire. Dante came up to stand next to her, holding his broom in his hand.
"Is that? Are those…Are those your clothes?"
"Yes." Henri stated simply. She saw no reason to lie.
"Wh-why are you burning all your clothes?"
"I'm not." She said and it earned her a sceptical, disbelieving and confused look from Dante. She rolled her eyes and crossed her arms over her chest. "I'm only burning the black ones."
"The black ones? But…"
"But what?" She asked and glared at him. He gaped for a minute before relaxing his frown and letting his mouth close. He took a large breath then nodded and turned to watch the fire with her. They stayed silent until the fire completely fizzled away to nothing and even then they continued to stand there. They stood there until the fine, beautiful light of dawn began to creep up over the horizon and light the world and the sky up with a fantastic array of colours.
Henri smiled, watching the blacks fade into dark blues and dark reds, then the oranges, the yellows, the pinks and the light blues spread out. The sun seemed to burst with extra light and Henri grinned at it.
It was lighting up the world for her.
It was lighting up a new day in all of its glorious colour.
And as the sun rose higher Henri laughed tearfully as it banished the remainder of the black from her world.
An arm wrapped around her shoulders. She glanced over and saw Dante staring at her with kind concern but also a small smile. She wiped her eyes and leaned into him.
"Do you think he will mind?" She asked and gestured to the charred ground where only a few buttons and zips remained from all the clothes she had burned.
"What? That you ruined his lawn or that you did away with your black clothes?"
Henri laughed and shook her head, wiping her eyes as more tears fell. "Both? Either?"
"The clothes he'd be happy about burning. The lawn on the other hand…" Dante tailed off with a small chuckle. Henri laughed too and wiped the last of her tears away. She was sad and happy at the same time but those tears weren't bitter tears. They were cleansing…much like the fire had been...much like the sun was.
"Well then, I look forward to hearing him tell me off when I next see him many, many years from now." She said and gave Dante a smile. Dante grinned back at her.
He took her back to the manor, the two of them walking and chatting amiably the whole way back. Dante had woken up randomly in the night, not really knowing why, but had seen he glow of the fire through his window and had gone out to investigate. He confessed he wasn't sure what woke him up but it was either something he was dreaming about but couldn't remember upon waking, or Bibi sleep talking. He didn't really care, he was just glad he'd woken up and seen Henri. Henri was glad of some company, especially since she was so weary walking all the way back to the house when she hadn't slept in twenty-four hours.
"After you, Henri." Dante held the front door open and allowed Henri to step in. He stepped inside immediately afterwards and handed his broomstick off to a house elf who appeared.
"Uncle Dante! Uncle Dante! Mother isn't…Mother!" Henri smiled up at Hadrian who had been rushing along the landing calling to Dante only to suddenly see Henri there. Hadrian stood stock still, frozen completely. Then he was jolted as somebody ran into him. Henri laughed as she saw Tiger Lily bump into her father then run around him and on down the stairs shrieking 'Grandmama'. Henri laughed and hugged the little girl tightly as Lily embraced her. She looked over at Dante who chuckled lightly then held his arm out for Henri to take to steady herself as she wobbled a little.
"Careful now Lily, your Grandmother is a very tired and we don't want her to fall over do we?" He asked and Lily let go immediately.
Hadrian descended the stairs silently and came to wait at the bottom of the stairs not too far from Henri, Dante and Lily. Henri raised an eyebrow at him waiting for him to say something but he never did. Eventually, just as she was about to give up and ask him herself, there was a thundering of feet on the landing above. Henri looked up and frowned. She looked quickly over to Dante who also frowned then she walked to the bottom of the stairs and looked up them at the various members of her family who were running along the landing and down the stairs.
"No running on the stairs! You've been told that a hundred times at least!" She called. "Don't make me curse the stairs!"
The various people cried out but they did slow down. Leo scowled but came down the stairs slower but still at a rushed pace.
"Mother! Where have you been?! We were worried sick! You didn't turn up for dinner last night after telling Lulu you would be there! THEN you weren't in your room either last night or this morning! Where have you been?! How could you not let us know you were safe and…"
"Leo, really, if you intend to get the answers to your questions then you have to pause and let me answer!" Henri scolded and her son, now a grown man of forty-two, with three children and one expected grandchild in the next six months, pursed his lips together, crossed his arms over his chest and glared petulantly at her. She grinned back. "And do lose the attitude."
"Yes, yes, you wanted to know where I was. Well, first I went to New York then I had a little bonfire for the rest of the night. I was perfectly safe; your uncle was with me and I'm a big girl, I can take care of myself."
"A bonfire? It's August? Why were you having a bonfire?" Leo questioned and Henri saw more of her family emerge on the landing and descend the stairs.
"Because I wanted to burn some things." Henri said simply and glanced up the stairs to Athena's family. Lucian's four year old son Felix grinned when he saw her and ran the last few stairs. Henri cast a quick spell to float him down so he didn't fall and embraced him in a hug. "Hello sweet heart. How are you this morning?"
"I'm hungry! Grandma said we'll be having pancakes if I'm really good! Can we? Can we have pancakes?"
"I don't see why not. Pancakes, coconut and chocolate sounds like a wonderful breakfast to me, what do you think Dante?"
Dante nodded with a smile.
"Mother…" Henri turned at Athena's voice. Her oldest child was staring at her with a frown above her beautiful blue eyes. Lucas' beautiful blue eyes. Athena drew level to her and stared down at the clothes Henri was wearing. "Mother you aren't wearing black anymore."
It was as if a switch had gone off then. Everybody around the hall suddenly made sounds of astonishment and questions. Henri looked down at herself and smiled. Somehow the colours she was wearing seemed more bright today than they had when she bought them.
"Yes well, a new day begins!" Henri laughed, looked down at little Felix and held out her hand to him.. "And pancakes are one of my favourite ways to start the day."
Felix took her hand eagerly and swung it in his grasp.
"Your great-Grandpa always used to order me pancakes for breakfast and he always made sure there was chocolate sauce." She muttered as she led her great-grandson by the hand towards the breakfast room. Lily, her wonderful Tiger Lily, took Henri's other hand and held it as they walked. When they got to the hall Dante held out Henri's chair for her hand helped her sit down.
"Make sure you have a rest after breakfast." He muttered then walked away leaving her to her conversation with the children.
"Mother?" Henri turned at the voice. It was the end of breakfast and she had zoned out a little the moment the children had all run off to go and play. She had evaded playing with them and they didn't push the issue, no doubt because Dante was sending them off. Henri looked to see Hadrian had slid into the chair next to her and held her hand in his. His bright green eyes were sparkling and he had a sort of gentle but careful smile on his face.
"Uh yes dear?" She asked and gripped his hand.
"You look…" Hadrian began then he shook his head. Henri smiled, her son wasn't much of a talker. He took after her. Hadrian smiled ruefully and leaned across the table to give her a kiss on the cheek. "Have a good day mum."
And with that word there Hadrian had said it all. Henri smiled. She was 'mum' again…not 'mother.
"Have a good day my dear."
Her dears. Her dearest ones. Her loved ones. Her beloved family. Her greatest loves. The loves of her life.
Forty-Six Years Later.
Henri clutched the little stone in her hand a little tighter as she watched the world get a little darker.
"It's okay…" Henri breathed. Her voice was weak and breathy. She sucked in, her next breath a little painful.
"Is great-great-granny dying?" A small voice asked and Henri closed her eyes and smiled ever so slightly. Her face stretching uncomfortably into the smile.
"Shh! Don't say things like that Jasper."
"No…no…he's right." Henri whispered and opened her eyes. Painfully and with great effort she turned her head to look at her family by her bedside. They had all gathered at her request. Everybody still living, everybody with a connection to her and her family. They had all gathered. Her children, her great grandchildren, her great-great-grandchildren. The children, grandchildren and great grandchildren of Dante, Bibi, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Crispin, George, Mia, Percy, Audrey, Bill, Fleur, Charlie, Cecil, Silke, Neville, Luna…they were all there. All of them. Altogether.
Only a few people were missing. All those who went onto their next great adventure before her. It still surprised her that she was the last to go…she never knew why until she sat there and listened to her grandson tell his son the story of Death and the Three Brothers. Then she knew.
Henri smiled at her family and scanned her eyes around for Lily Luna Malfoy, her favourite Granddaughter. Tiger Lily was all grown up now with children of her own. She had turned into a beautiful woman…absolutely beautiful and still so full of life and attitude and…and all the things Henri had been. That was why Henri knew, out of all her descendants, it was her Tiger Lily she had to hand the Cloak of Invisibility onto.
The very same day she handed the cloak over her decline to death started. Henri couldn't have been more relieved.
"I…I love you all." She whispered to her family and several of them started sobbing. "Thank you for being with me now."
There were more tears and murmurs from her family, statements of love and sadness.
Henri sighed and closed her eyes briefly.
"My Last Will and Testament is…"
"With your solicitor, we know Mother. Rest, please. Conserve your strength." Henri shook her head at Athena's words.
"I have…I have something that…" Henri whispered and her voice caught in her throat. She had to cough to clear it. Then she tried again. She looked at Tiger Lily, her Tiger Lily. "I have something of yours…you gave it to me…I want you to have it back…"
Henri opened her hand holding out the small black stone. Lily looked at it and shook her head in confusion, silent tears falling from her eyes. Her husband, a very good man by the name of Charles Warrington, put his hand on her shoulder and whispered some words of support in her ear.
"I don't understand…" Lily reached out to take the stone but Henri closed her hand around it once more.
"I'd like you to have it back…but…but just let me hold it until He comes for me."
"He who Grandmama?"
Henri didn't feel the need to answer. A soothing coldness passed over her body and she knew it was time.
"I love you." She whispered again and squeezed the stone in her hand as tightly as she could. Now…once again at the close in her life she called upon the stone's power.
Around her, stepping from shadows came Lucas. He stepped up to the bed and lay down beside her, his ghostly hand reaching out and touching hers. She smiled at him but felt something wet run down the side of her face.
"I missed you." She whispered to him.
"As I missed you, my love." He said then nodded to something on Henri's other side. Painfully, wearily, Henri turned her head and looked. There, on the other side of her bed was Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Dante…everybody who passed on before her. All of her friends who had passed on years ago, all of her family who departed the world before she had. Her parents were there, Sirius was there, Remus was there…Albus was there.
"I love you." Henri whispered to them and they all smiled back.
"You have been so brave sweetheart." Her mother said, echoing the words from so long ago.
Henri looked to Sirius and tried for another smile.
"Does it hurt?"
"Easier than falling asleep." He muttered, smiling.
Henri looked to her friends, her best friends throughout her life. Ron and Hermione held each other's hands and smiled.
"Will you stay with me?"
"Of course mate." Ron whispered.
"We will always stay with you." Hermione agreed.
Henri scanned her eyes over everybody else and they landed on Albus.
"Are you ready for the next great adventure Harry?"
"Yes. I'm ready." Henri breathed and Albus nodded with a smile and clasped his hands in front of him.
"Our family became so big didn't it my love?" The words were whispered in her ear and Henri barely summoned the energy to turn to look at Lucas again. He was smiling and his beautiful blue-blue eyes shone. Henri smiled at him then looked past him to her family. She met as many of their sad, tear-filled eyes as she could and smiled.
"I love you."
She closed her eyes.
Author's Note: I confess I have had a very hard time accepting this being the end of the story. This chapter was originally a lot shorter but I kept remembering things that needed adding over the last few days so I've been adding to it and adding to it and I think, finally, that it is ready. I have loved writing this story and I can't tell you how much I cried writing this chapter knowing I was writing the end of the story and knowing what I was about to write. At least I know that I got the emotion necessary into the story.
There will be no sequel; obviously, because Henri's life ended. All things must come to an end eventually and I needed this story to have a finite ending, one that couldn't be undone because otherwise I would write it forever. It's already 53 chapters long, it did not need to be more. And this last chapter is 56pages long…more than long enough.
I hope you have loved this story as much as I have. Thank you to everyone who has reviewed and made their comments to me about the story. I have really appreciated the feedback and knowing how much you have enjoyed the story. I hope you like the ending, or at least find it appropriate. It seemed only right for us to see Henri ready to pass on and it seemed even more fitting that, after beginning her life alone she ended it with a gigantic family around her.
Thank you again for following this story. I wish you all the very best!
Till Next Time.