Chapter 6: The Unseen Vial
White. Everything was white. Harry blinked a few times and tried to sit up but his right arm wouldn't respond. He laid there for a few moments, trying to remember what happened and, more importantly, where he was. With his left hand he felt around and realized he was in a bed. Not his bed, but a bed. He didn't have his glasses on so everything was blurry and indistinct. After a few tries he finally found his voice.
"He's awake!" A female voice came from his left and a dark blur moved quickly into his vision. "Mr. Potter, you're at St. Mungo's. I'm Healer Gordon. How do you feel?"
"Oh yes, your glasses, just a moment."
Harry felt his glasses eased on to his head gently, at first a bit off-center but finally they came to their regular place. He looked over and saw an elderly Healer in St. Mungo's robes with her wand out and a clipboard hovering above his bed, a quill scratching on it intermittently. Eventually he turned to the Healer. "Can't...feel...arm."
"Oh yes, your arm. That's to be expected, we're regrowing bones and knitting your nervous system back together but on the positive side your skin is as good as new. If your house elf hadn't brought you when he did there was a possibility you would have lost your arm. You should be good as new in a day or two, so be a dear and just relax and let me cast some diagnostic spells."
Harry laid his head back on the pillow and watched as several spells covered his body, mostly his right arm, in various colors. Eventually Healer Gordon leaned over and smiled at him.
"You're doing quite well, better than expected after coming in contact with such a Dark Object. Usually we just see these types of injuries with Curse Breakers and Aurors. It's a wonder they live as long as they do, but that's just the opinion of an old Healer. I'll let your friends know you're awake. Are you up to seeing them?"
"Several people, including Mrs. Molly Weasley. She was listed on your Emergency Contact list from your Quidditch papers at Hogwarts, the ones Madame Hooch has all players fill out before...but you know all about that. They were the last thing we had on file for you."
Harry chuckled. "Her...first. Mental."
"Yes, dear." Healer Gordon shook her head. "You're right, she is almost going mental out there. I'll let her in first, but only for a short time. You need to rest and heal, let the potions do their work."
In the hereafter James and Lily looked down at Harry's room at St. Mungo's. James shook his head. "She's a little barmy but she treats him like one of her own."
"Yes, she does. I don't always agree with her, but she does love him like a son."
"She's been a good almost-mum, hasn't she?" James put his arm around his wife. "So what do you think happens next? Sirius thinks a cute Healer will take care of him and it'll be love at first sight."
"That's because Sirius is an idiot." Lily rolled her eyes. "That's like one of those horrible Muggle romance novels my mum used to read."
"They weren't all bad." James smirked at her. "And you did a horrible job hiding them at the house. In the linen cupboard? You thought I wouldn't find those?"
Harry sat out at the Burrow as the sun began to set, sweaty from the usual Sunday dinner Quidditch match. It had been a heated game as Charlie was over from Romania. He and Ron sat out by the improvised hoops, drinking butterbeer.
"I think you'll make a great Auror, Ron."
"Yeah." Ron rubbed his knee where Ginny had nailed him with a Bludger. "Just wish you were going in with me. We'd make a hell of a team. We always do." He was silent for a while and then it just came rushing out. "You can't just work at the shop, Harry! I mean, there's tons of stuff you could do, especially now...shit. Sorry."
Harry rubbed his right arm absentmindedly. It was back to normal, as if nothing ever had happened, but it was a habit that had stuck from his time in St. Mungo's. "It's all right, Ron. I know what you mean. And I really thought about the Aurors until I was in hospital. Stuff like that happens all the time. Happens to Curse Breakers, too. That's what the Healer said."
"Bill's fine, he's in the bank now." Ron kicked a stone away. "But I know he said that he and Fleur talked about it. He said Curse Breaking is great and all but now he's got her and...just seems kinda dumb, giving it up for her."
"I don't think he gave it up for her, more like because of her. Besides, what's Hermione say about you being an Auror?"
Ron shrugged. "She's good with it. I think she knows they'll probably never put me out on the really dangerous stuff, mostly the easy stuff and crap with the papers and all."
Harry smiled, as Ron, his friend who was always jealous of his fame, was finally going to get his share. "Well you deserve it, mate. I've done my time as poster boy, your turn now. Send me an autographed picture sometime, will ya?"
"Oh shove it up your arse." Ron pushed Harry, almost making him drop his butterbeer. After a long bit of silence he turned to Harry. "Charlie said you could probably go professional, you know. He had the scouts on him, so I think he knows what he's talking about. Maybe you could play for the Cannons? Merlin knows they can use the help."
Harry sat there and this time, instead of dismissing it out of hand, he thought about it. He was happiest when he was on his broom, playing Quidditch. It'd always been that way. "You know what, Ron? Maybe I will try out. Just to see."
"Brilliant!" Ron clinked his butterbeer against Harry's and took a drink. After wiping his mouth with the back of his hand he stared intently at his best friend. "And I'm not joking about Chudley."
Sirius sat at a table with two men who looked ancient, a witch from the Founders' Era of Hogwarts and Death, currently in the form of an Edwardian dandy. Sirius looked over his hand, almost discarded a card but put it back in his hand. Finally he took out two cards and put them down. Death gave him two more. He had almost decided what his bet would be when James came bounding over.
"Sirius! He did it, he bloody well did it!"
"Playing cards, mate." Sirius sat for a moment and then realized what James was on about. He threw his cards on the table and stood up to meet James. "Details, I need details, and I swear if it's Chudley I'm going to haunt their pitch for years."
"Oh no, The Pride, mate. Pride of Portree! My son's a professional Quidditch player!" James looked over at Death, who simply smiled, waved at the two happy men and returned to the card game. "I can't believe it, I knew that toy broom would pay off!"
"Does Lily know?" Sirius grew concerned. "You know she doesn't have the best opinion of Quidditch players, what'd she always call them? Overprivileged ponces?"
"Yeah, but that's before her son was one. Come on, let's go tell her. Sirius, this is brilliant!"
Harry looked down at the Hogwarts Quidditch pitch, amazed at how slow the school-grade Snitch moved. He was used to the professional ones in the British and Irish Quidditch League now, and it seemed as if the Hogwarts one was moving through thick mud it was moving so slowly, not to mention that it didn't dart and twist away like the one he'd caught against Chudley last week. Ron was happy for him, but he still wouldn't give up that ratty old Chudley scarf; he'd even worn it in the picture of him and Harry that made the front of Quidditch Weekly.
It was while floating up there, watching the Snitch laze around the pitch that Harry heard Oliver Wood's voice, but just a second too late. The Bludger hit him on the right arm, just above the elbow, and hard enough that for a few moments he lost control of the broom. By the time he made his way back down to the ground everyone was huddled around, waiting for him to land.
"It's not bad, really." He stepped off the broom and shook his head. "I've had loads worse."
"Potter, it's a Bludger, they still hurt." Oliver Wood looked at his Pride of Portree teammate and leaned forward, his voice only for Harry. "And this may just be a little PR thing and a treat for the wee ones but you know Hooch won't let you shrug that off. Bad example."
"Right." Harry nodded. "And here she comes."
As expected Madame Hooch wouldn't let Harry ignore the injury; just like old times she sent him to the Hospital Wing. Along the way Harry assured the fourth year Hufflepuff girl that it was quite all right, it was only part of Quidditch, and she was not in trouble. She followed him the entire way up to the Hospital Wing, apologizing, and he felt so bad that he pulled off his Pride jersey and handed it to the girl. It took longer than he expected since, Wood be damned, his arm was hurting a lot more than he initially thought it would.
As soon as he entered the ward Madame Pomfrey looked up from her parchment and sighed. "Some things never change. What is it this time, Mr. Potter?"
"Bludger in the arm, above the elbow. Nothing's broken, but Wood said it'd be a bad example in front of the kids if I didn't come up."
"Too right, too right. All right, on the bed, let me take a look at you." After Harry eased himself up on the bed, making sure to hoist himself up with his left arm, Madame Pomfrey took out her wand. She sighed after waving her wand over him with the standard diagnostic spells. "You didn't break anything but you'll have a nasty bruise. We'll need to take off your shirt to apply some balm. Why are you wearing long sleeves? It isn't that cold out, is it?"
"You don't play a lot of Quidditch, do you?"
"I should say not, at my age."
"Well, even with some slight warming charms it gets a bit brisk up there, especially at speed. Plus, it's kinda what I always wear. Old habits."
Poppy rolled her eyes as she had examined enough superstitious Quidditch players to know all about stinky, lucky socks, not to mention other horrible things. "Well, that may be, but I still have too much parchment to go through. I'll let the new Healer take care of you."
"New Healer?" Harry got a bit nervous. "Madame Pomfrey, you can't retire! You know..."
"It is time, I've had my share of treating students who ignore my advice; besides, I'll be here for two more years before giving up the post officially. On the job training for my replacement. And yes, Potter, I know I've probably seen you more times than I can count, but you're not technically a student anymore. Famous Quidditch player or not you do as I say in here, do you understand, young man?"
Harry fought back a smirk. "Yes, ma'am."
She smiled at him but didn't say another word. After she left Harry sat there for a while, feeling like he was a firstie again, all alone and unsure of what would happen next. Then a set of footsteps caught his ear and he looked to see who the new Healer was, probably another old witch who had spent forever and a day in St. Mungo's or some big bloke with clammy hands who smelled like expired potions. He caught sight of her for a moment, from behind as she walked over to a supply cupboard, and had to admit he was pleasantly surprised. She was blonde, her hair pulled back into a tight bun, and the way she walked was rather nice to look at, if he was honest.
And then she turned to walk towards him and stopped dead after three steps. He felt his mouth open slightly, in shock. Before either acknowledged the little incident she put on her impassive Healer's face and walked over to him, a jar with something blue inside carried loosely in her hand.
"What are you doing in my ward?"
"I thought it was still Madame Pomfrey's ward? Do I call you Madame Greengrass?"
"Hardly. The students call me Miss Greengrass, but I think we can skip with the formalities."
Harry smiled. "Sure thing, Daphne."
"Hmmph." She gave him a pointed look. "Which arm, Potter?"
Daphne took a deep breath. "Madame Pomfrey instructed me to remove your shirt. Normally I would just vanish the sleeve but I have to follow orders. Can you lift your right arm?" Harry tried but could only get it level with his shoulder. "That's what I'm afraid of. Lift up your left arm, Potter, and I'll go from there."
Harry complied as Daphne removed his shirt. When she moved around in the front of him she gasped. "What happened to your chest?"
"My chest? I got hit in the arm. I'm starting to wonder about your abilities as a Healer, Greengrass."
"No, there, above your heart." She pointed to the scar. "What happened?"
"Oh, that's from a horcrux. Got it when Hermione and I escaped from Nagini, you remember, Voldemort's snake? It bit me too. I've got another scar from that one, over on my side. The other side."
Daphne moved her head and saw the puncture wound scars on his side, right above the hip. "It wasn't healed very well. What did you use, just Dittany?"
"It's all we had." Harry looked at her, expecting to see a Slytherin sneer, but instead he saw something else, something he was not expecting. His voice quavered slightly when she touched it. "Uh, I've got more scars than those. We're here about my arm, right?"
"Oh yes, right." She moved over and opened the jar. A thick, blue ill-smelling past lay inside. "I'll just put some...and what's this one? This is horrid." She pointed to a scar on his forearm, one that was jagged.
"Oh. Yeah. That's where...don't worry about it, long story. The Bludger hit above my elbow. Probably turning black as we speak."
"Right. Yes. This will sting for a moment and then it will feel rather cold, as if you've put your arm in ice." She cast a impervious charm on her hand, reached into the tub and slathered a thick layer of blue goo over the obvious Bludger impact spot. Daphne half-expected him to jump, and then complain, but he stayed perfectly still. After a few moments she put the lid on the jar, canceled the charm on her hand and stood in front of Harry. "You'll need to stay here for an hour, don't touch it, and then I'll do another treatment. After that you'll be free to go. Now if you'll excuse me I have to report to Madame Pomfrey."
Harry watched her walk away, slightly confused. Most Slytherins he knew, especially when he was in school, would have made fun of his scars, but she seemed genuinely concerned. Not knowing what else to do, and bored of sitting on the bed, Harry got up and walked around the room, staring out the window, trying to listen to the remains of the Quidditch event.
"Potter! Get back in bed this instant!" Madame Pomfrey walked over to him, shaking her head. "It won't set unless you sit still! Honestly, Potter, you've given me more grey hair than any student, perhaps all of them combined. I'm glad I'll be retired by the time your children get here, especially if they have your knack of injury."
He laughed and walked back over to the bed, sitting quickly. "Don't worry about my kids, no chance of that anytime soon."
Poppy looked at him and squinted. "I thought you were dating that girl from London?"
"The one from the papers? Hardly." Harry laughed. "That's just Nancy, she's Conrad's sister. You know who Conrad is, one of our Beaters? Had to go to a work thing and needed a date. It was just a fix-up, nothing there. I think she fancies Wood, believe it or not."
"Yes, well, we don't all live the glamorous lives of Quidditch players." She smirked at him for a moment. "And how was Daphne? Excuse me, how was Miss Greengrass? Are you satisfied with the care you received?"
"Uh, yeah. Sure. She was great." He watched as Madame Pomfrey nodded. "Uh, can I ask you a question?"
"You just did, Potter."
"Great, now you sound like McGonagall. First year, all over again. Uh, about Daphne..."
"Yes, what about her?" Poppy bit the inside of her cheek to keep from smiling.
"Has she never seen scars before? She was kind of, well, shouldn't a Healer be used to things like that?"
"Potter. Harry..." Her voice was softer and she moved closer to him. "There are scars and then there are scars, my boy. She's seen her fair share, she has, but yours are no ordinary scars." She flipped open her clipboard. "Lightning bolt shaped scar on forehead, locket-shaped scar on chest, puncture wound scars on side above hip, scars on right hand from blood quill, scar on right forearm from..." She waved her wand at the clipboard and it disappeared. "And that's just from today's examination. Merlin knows what you'll get next. But Harry, you have to remember, some people still have a hard time believing what happened, and all that you went through. Don't discount Daphne, she's gone through a lot as well; not as much as you, obviously, but then you were always a special case."
She and Harry smiled at each other, and then Poppy Pomfrey did something that surprised her. Later on that night, over tea with Minerva McGonagall, she couldn't quite explain why she did it, but they both agreed it was for the best.
"Harry, do you know where Daphne was, during that horrible night? The night Voldemort..."
"No, I don't. She was probably with the other Slytherins, I guess."
Poppy shook her head. "No, Harry, she was here, with me. When the other Slytherins left she came back and came to me, offering to help in any way she could. She was the one who helped everyone, regardless of who they were or what house colors they wore. She was the one who held Nymphadora Tonks' hand as she passed. She knows that evil bastard was wrong, and that many in her house were wrong, but she did the right thing. She helped heal." She watched as Harry's emotions played over his face. "Seeing your scars made it real for her, Harry. I think she is beginning to realize what you went through."
Harry nodded and was silent for a moment, but then he turned his face to Madame Pomfrey with a smirk. "She said she didn't need to take off my shirt, but you said she had to. Any particular reason?"
Madame Pomfrey waved her hand at him. "Oh, silly me, I must have given her the wrong instructions. Oh well, too late now. She'll be back soon, so keep your shirt off." With a smile she walked out of the room, leaving a confused Harry Potter in her wake.
Tonks walked over to Remus with a sly smile on her face. He was reading, as usual, something esoteric and ancient from the biggest library in the universe, totally concentrating on the pages. She slipped behind him, put her hands over his eyes and giggled. "Oh Remus, pull your head out for a minute. You need to see this."
Remus pushed her hands away, sat the book down and turned in his chair to face her. "And what exactly will I see? Is it about Teddy?"
"Hmmm, yes and no. More like about Teddy's godfather."
"What's Harry doing? He didn't take him up on a broom, did he?"
"Nope, though he's been talking to little Ted about broom safety. He's just put our little man down for a nap and he's talking to Mum."
"Remus. Not even now."
"Fine." Remus blew out his cheeks. "So, Tonks, I fail to see why this is so important to view. Harry and Andromeda are talking, it's quite natural, to be expected, actually."
"Yes, but it's not about Teddy. Come on. I think you'll be surprised. OH! And don't say a thing to my cousin. Sirius will be insufferable about it if it really happens."
Harry sat on Andromeda's sofa while she busied herself in the kitchen with the tea things. He'd wanted to talk to her about it but didn't quite know how to approach her. Even after all these years Andromeda Tonks was still an imposing woman when she wanted to act the part; Harry knew her as Teddy's Gran, though, as he'd seen how tenderly she worked with the boy. Teddy had asked not too long ago why he only had a Gran and a Harry, and the conversation had been quite difficult for all parties, although for different reasons. Eventually, though, Andromeda entered with the tea service levitating still and level, without an inch of wobble, and motioned it down on the table.
She poured the tea and handed Harry a cup. "I take it something is on your mind."
"Uh, yeah. You can say that." Harry added two sugars and a large dollop of milk. "It's kind of hard."
"Most things are." Andromeda took her tea without the addition of any milk or sweeteners. After a sip she studied him. Harry Potter was many things to many people, but she knew how unsure of himself he could be at times. She also knew that he was quite comfortable speaking with her on many things that others would deem too private; their relationship as Teddy's caretakers had become one of a favorite aunt and nephew, so Harry's reticence in speaking about a topic that had obviously bothered him the entire visit meant, in Andromeda's mind, that is was something of import. She resisted the urge to prod further, knowing that Harry did not do well answering questions, but would speak of things when he felt the need.
"Like when you and Ted got together?"
Andromeda's eyes widened. The topic was one that she did not expect. "That, my dear boy, is quite the understatement."
Harry let out an embarrassed laugh. "Sorry, it's just...I think I've met someone."
"Either you've met them or you haven't." She took a sip of tea and inwardly smiled at his unease, as it was obvious that he had met a woman that had piqued his interest. What woman could have caught the eye of Harry Potter? After all, women sometimes shamelessly threw themselves at his feet. Not only was he Harry Potter, but he was a professional Quidditch player, so he did not trust easily. "So tell me about her."
"Uh...how'd you guess?" Harry quickly took a biscuit and crammed half of it in his mouth, partially to have something to do but also because the act of chewing would prevent him from talking for a bit.
"It's quite obvious. You've seem preoccupied the entire time when you and Teddy were not actively engaged in an activity." She shrugged. "Experience leads me to believe you have met a woman, but the fact that you have waited until now to broach the topic makes me think you're unsure for some reason. Is it because of Ginny Weasley? Do you still have feelings for her?"
Harry finished chewing rapidly after that question. "No, Ginny and I are just friends now. I'm glad we're that, to be honest. It's just...I met someone who I thought I knew and she's nothing like I thought she was. And, sorry, Andromeda, I know it shouldn't matter, uh, but I thought I could talk to you, because, well, you see..."
Andromeda rolled her eyes. "Merlin, Harry, spit it out. Stop, think what you want to say and then say it, don't meander about, think then speak."
After a deep breath Harry sat his tea cup on the table. "I met a woman who I didn't think of very well when we were at Hogwarts because she was in Slytherin. After what happened, though, I'm beginning to think there's more to her than what I thought."
"Ah, so the young lion is afraid to admit admiring a snake." She laughed, and the corners of her eyes crinkled slightly. "So you wish to ask me, as I should know, a Slytherin who married a Muggleborn Gryffindor, about the difficulties involved." She reached over and put her hand on his. "Harry, her parents and family could not possibly be worse than mine. So who is this young lady who has caught your eye?"
"Daphne Greengrass." Harry blurted it out as if he'd been holding it in all day, which in reality he had been; it'd been on the tip of his tongue several times to just say 'oh by the way I think I might ask Daphne Greengrass to come see the next Pride match.' "I met her at Hogwarts. She's a Healer."
"Greengrass, Greengrass...isn't her father the one who..."
"He deals Wizarding Antiques. Some high end stuff, I guess. That's what the shop looked like, anyway, from the street. I looked in the window the other day."
"Well, don't let that put you off. Why the sudden interest?"
"I got hurt at Hogwarts, it was nothing, no big deal, really, but she was in the Hospital Wing. She's Madame Pomfrey's apprentice. I guess she'll take over when Madame Pomfrey retires. She treated my arm and saw my scars, but there was more to it. I guess it's, I don't know...but she made me curious." He blushed slightly. "Plus she's pretty. Blonde."
"Nymphadora always said that blondes have more fun. I used to hate her hair that color. She did it on purpose. But it sounds like you've already made up your mind to at least ask her for a date, Harry. Why ask me about..."
"I didn't say I was asking her out yet." Harry looked at her, confused. "What do you mean?"
"Harry, it's all over your voice, the expression on your face when you speak of her. You are interested. Ask her on a date. Get to know her. You'll soon find out if the relationship is worth pursuing." She took a sip of tea. "You are a Gryffindor, Harry, as was Ted. Use that Gryffindor courage and ask her out. Is there an event upcoming in your schedule?"
"Uh, yeah, actually there is..." Harry smiled. "We're doing a big thing in Bulgaria, going up against Krum and their national team for a friendly. Big reception and ball before the match, international relations type thing. PR lot eats that stuff up. Lots of press."
"Hmmm...perhaps not the best venue for a first date. Ask her to dinner and possibly a Muggle movie. Ted and I loved those."
Harry sat there and thought about it. What would Hermione say? Hell, what would Ron say, him dating a Slytherin? Could be worse, it could be Parkinson. Ron would lose his wits if that happened. But then he looked over at Andromeda and thought if Ted Tonks, a Muggle, could ask out one of the Black sisters, he could do it. After all, didn't he make it through all the crap with Voldemort? "A movie sounds brilliant."
Sirius walked over to Lily and James, flashed three fingers and sat down next to them in an overstuffed chair. The motion did not go unnoticed, though, as Lily looked to her husband, then Sirius.
"What was all that about. Three?"
Sirius shrugged. "He was right. I said two, but James said three or more."
"Told you, Sirius." James laughed and then looked over at his wife. "It's not bad, Lily, I just said Harry would see the Greengrass girl at least three times this week."
"I'm still not sure about her." Lily closed her book and looked at the two men, both with identical smirks. "What?"
Sirius rolled his eyes. "They've been seeing each other off and on for almost a year now, you're still not sure? Even after he stayed at her place last night?"
James put his head in his hands. "Sirius, you idiot." He braced himself for a Lily tirade about them sleeping together, but it never came. "Lily?"
She glanced at them. "He's a grown man, not to mention a Quidditch player. I'm not surprised. I'm still not sure about them, though. It's not good of him to lead her on."
"That makes no sense." Sirius swung his legs out and crossed them on the table. "You're not sure about her, but you don't want Harry to lead her on. What's the real problem, Lily? Is it because it's just like your Muggle romance novels, and I want it on the record that I called that, or is it because she was in Slytherin?"
"No, that's not it, it doesn't matter that she was in Slytherin." Lily shook her head. "If Ron Weasley, of all people, decides that she's good enough for Harry who am I to argue?"
James and Sirius looked at each other and answered in unison: "His mum!"
"Quiet, you two. And not another word about those Muggle romance novels." Lily looked up to see Fred Weasley walking their way, a stunned look on his face. After he sat down he didn't say a word until Lily cleared her throat. "Something we can do for you, Frederick?"
Fred blew out his cheeks and then ran both of his hands over his face. "I can't believe it. Did a quick check on Mum and Dad and they were planning Sunday dinner. They're making it a big one, because Harry's bringing Daphne over to meet them. Meet them all, and I mean everybody. Even Aunt Muriel, and Harry hates her. Don't argue, you know she's awful." That got a general consensus from all assembled. It was quiet for a while until Fred's voice broke the stillness. "I'm pretty sure that means he's gonna ask her to marry him. Harry Potter. Married to a Slytherin. Somewhere, somebody's gonna make a lot of Galleons on that bet."
Harry listened as the alarm went off, entirely too early for his tastes. It was one of his off-season days where nothing was planned; no personal appearances at schools, no training, no strategy sessions, not a bloody thing, but the alarm kept going on and on. Finally he reached over, across Daphne's side of the bed, and turned off the alarm. People thought it odd, the fact that the Potters lived in a large house in Muggle Inverness, but to Harry it worked out perfectly. He was somewhat close to the Pride of Portree stadium and training grounds while Daphne was fairly close to Hogwarts. Beside that, in Inverness he and Daphne were simply Harry and Daphne, not 'Harry and Can You Believe Potter Married Daphne Greengrass?'
He was awake now, and needed tea, so he looked for his slippers and dressing gown but they were nowhere to be found. He got up, looked in the usual spots, but couldn't find them. Finally Harry gave up. "Kreacher, can you come here please?"
Kreacher appeared with a pop. "What can Kreacher do for Master?"
"Sorry to wake you, but where's my dressing gown and my slippers? I could have sworn I left them right over there."
Kreacher nodded. "You did, Master, but Mistress Daphne is wearing them now, she is." He hesitated for a moment but a lopsided smile crept across his face. "Mistress Daphne is in the toilet, she is. Kreacher tied her hair back, he did. She has news, Kreacher knows."
"Wonderful. She can't be ill now, we have the publicity event in London tomorrow night. Never mind, I'll go check on her, thank you, Kreacher." Harry opened a dresser drawer, pulled out a t-shirt and hurriedly put it on while walking to the downstairs loo. By unspoken agreement both of them used that one when they were ill, to spare the other from hearing the retching in the bog attached to their bedroom. As he rounded the corner to check on his wife he heard noises in the kitchen, so instead he doubled back and headed there. She sat at the kitchen table, in his robe and slippers, sipping tea. Kreacher was right, she looked pale, as if she'd been vomiting recently.
"It's ok, Daph, don't worry. I'll tell the PR lot that you're ill and we won't go."
"No, you pillock, I'll be fine then. It's just morning sickness."
"Well if it's just in the morning, then, shouldn't be a problem. If you feel ok, that is. More tea?"
Daphne smiled at him. "Sure. Thanks."
Harry poured her more tea and made himself a cup. After sitting down he put the back of his hand on her forehead. "You feel clammy. Do you want me to Floo Poppy? You know she said we could any time, even though we've never bothered her."
"Go ahead." Daphne smiled weakly at him. "I'm sure she'll agree with my diagnosis."
"Healers." Harry shook his head and went to the fireplace. A few moments later Poppy Pomfrey appeared in their kitchen, wearing a rather garish yellow and red paisley dressing gown as well as some sort of hair bonnet thing on her head. "She's in here, Poppy. I told her she doesn't have to go to the thing but she won't listen, says she only feels ill in the morning."
Poppy and Daphne shared a look between them and Poppy nodded. "Hmmm, yes, interesting. Let me see." She took out her wand and waved it over Daphne. "Yes, well, it's very common. Long incubation, I'm afraid. You will be left with the results for a lifetime, though."
"A lifetime? Merlin!" Harry went over to Daphne. "We'll get the best Healers, I don't care what it costs, they'll know what to do."
Daphne gave him a look and moved her blonde hair over her shoulder. "Merlin, you're thick sometimes. Not quite as bad as...Harry, you complete and utter idiot, I'm pregnant. Morning sickness? Hello? Earth to Harry?"
"Oh." Harry sat down at the table. "Well, yeah, I'm an idiot." He reached over and kissed her excitedly on the cheek. "We're gonna have a baby!"
Daphne rolled her eyes. "It's a good thing you're sweet and cute. Tea, Poppy?"
Molly Weasley sat with her son as Arthur Weasley and James Potter sat in two rather large leather chairs. Both men looked very contented. Finally Arthur looked over to James. "I'm very proud of my children, James, and I hope you know I consider Harry a son. I hope you and Lily don't mind."
"Mind? Arthur, I couldn't be happier." James took a deep breath. "I can't bear to think what would have happened if he and Ron hadn't met each other on the train. Or if he and that Malfoy brat became friends. Still, it's worked out in the end, hasn't it?"
"Yes, it has." Arthur looked over to make sure that Molly was busy with Fred and then leaned over to James. "I do believe Molly hoped that your Harry and our Ginny would be together. I think it's worked out splendidly as it is, though, but let's not mention the other bit, shall we?"
James patted Arthur on the shoulder. "Wouldn't dream of it."
"Perfect." Arthur leaned back into his chair. "You know, all those years ago I would have never imagined Harry with Daphne Greengrass, of all people, but she's a good one, James. That first time he brought her to the Burrow was quite tense initially, everyone walking on eggshells. I think it was when she helped Andromeda with Teddy that things changed." Arthur laughed. "The boy ate too many biscuits and Daphne helped settle his stomach. Brewed up the potion right there on the spot! She delivered almost all of my grandchilden, you know. Hermione insisted on a home delivery, of course, but hat lasted until the first real contraction and Ron had her at St. Mungo's in a flash." He laughed and then looked over to James, a much more sad look on his face. "And she was with me as well as Molly at the end. Very comforting. If we have more people sorted into Slytherin like her then Hogwarts will be a better place."
"It already is, Arthur." James nodded. "Still can't believe he did that after retiring, but after what happened when Umbridge was there I'm not surprised. Then again, I guess you can't play Quidditch forever."
"He was rather good, wasn't he?" Arthur smiled. "Molly stopped everything when he and Ginny played each other, that was for certain; Holyhead versus Pride of Portree was quite the occasion. I'm glad they stayed friends. Would've been hard on Molly."
James winked at Arthur. "Not to mention you. You got lucky in that department as well, her marrying Neville Longbottom. They're around here somewhere, you know, Alice and Frank. See them from time to time. I'll have to tell them you're here now."
"Tell who what?" Molly sat down next to Arthur and took his hand. "What's going on, dear?"
"We're just doing what we always do, Mollywobbles, talking about the children." Arthur patted the top of her hand. "Specifically Ginny and Harry."
"I'm so proud of him, James. Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor, it was perfect. Especially with Daphne and the children right there. The children were so lucky, both their parents at Hogwarts. Minerva said she spoiled the children horribly, if you can believe that. Her right as a Headmistress."
Arthur shook his head. "I still can't believe he named the boy after me."
"Hey, I'm in there, too." James pointed a finger at Arthur. "It's Arthur JAMES Potter, remember."
"I'm just glad he didn't name the girls after you." Molly chuckled. "Poor little Arthur, two older sisters and a younger sister. I'm just glad Ron and Hermione's boys have helped him along, teach him the boy things."
"Not to mention Teddy. It was a shame there was such the age difference, though. He was at out of Hogwarts when little Arthur came along. They grow up so quickly." Arthur looked over to Fred, who lazed in a hammock. "They grow up so quickly."
Harry opened his eyes but all he could see was white. Daphne had told him that his sight was going, but he thought the new glasses were supposed to help, not make him blind. He cursed slightly and started to get out of bed and it was at that exact moment he realized he wasn't actually in bed. Instead he simply floated in a field of white. It reminded him of something, something he couldn't quite put his finger on...and then it hit him. He knew exactly where he was, but this time it wasn't King's Cross Station.
"Hello there, I'm dead, aren't I?"
"Yes, you are!" the voice rang back.
"Sirius." Harry muttered and took a deep breath. He imagined his comfortable old dressing gown, the one with the lions and the snakes that his grandchildren gave him ages ago, and it appeared on his shoulders. He stood up slowly, making sure to use his left arm to push off of the surface, as Daphne had been on him for years about that right arm. He'd somehow managed to injure it several times while playing Quidditch and she assured him that it was structurally weaker than the left. But just to test it, he switched and pushed off with his right arm.
Nothing. Not a twinge.
"Ah, there you are, Harry." Sirius walked over through the mist, still looking as young as ever. "Took your time, didn't you?"
Harry chuckled. "Yes, yes I did. Do you blame me?"
"Not at all, Harry. Not at all. Knew it would be a Healer. Besides, four kids, nicely done!"
"Yeah, and three wedding dresses."
"Oh quit whingeing." Sirius put his arm around him. "Now let's go see your parents again. They've been dying to see you. Get it?" When Harry didn't respond Sirius looked at him oddly. "It wasn't that bad."
Harry shook his head. "No, it wasn't, but that's not it. I think I'll wait for her."
Sirius raised an eyebrow. "Are you sure? Could be a while."
"Yeah, I'm sure." Harry closed his eyes and smiled. Shortly thereafter a little bedroom popped into existence. He heard Sirius ask him a question, but he didn't quite hear it, as he was focused on what stood before him. "What was that?"
"This place." Sirius pointed to the little room. "I don't recognize this."
"I'm glad you don't." Harry rubbed a hand over his right arm. "This was my first place in Scotland, the first place that was just mine. I rented it when I signed with Portree. It was the first place that...well, I'm sure you can guess."
"That I can, that I can. Tell you what, why don't you just have a kip and I'm sure she'll wake you when she gets in. Ok?"
Harry nodded. "Can you tell everyone? I hope they'll understand."
"Sure thing, Harry. Sure thing."
Harry closed his eyes and almost immediately sleep came over him. Initially he had hoped it was a dreamless sleep until Daphne arrived, but instead he relived all of the good parts of his life. Hagrid telling him he was a wizard on his eleventh birthday, a random afternoon with Ron and Hermione at Hogwarts, catching the Snitch the first time, and then it became a blur. Events began to whir through his mind; the first, awkward date with Daphne, meeting her parents, watching her sister Astoria dump Malfoy, laughing at the first double date with Astoria and Oliver Wood, the first time Pride of Portree won the league, being tapped for England and then later, the next cup being tapped for Scotland, dancing with Daphne, the first time he brought her to the Burrow, introducing her to Teddy, the birth of their oldest daughter Elizabeth then the births of Katherine, Arthur and little Lily, his retirement from Portree and days spent walking the grounds of Hogwarts with his wife. Standing up with Ted at his wedding to Victoire. Watching how Slytherin began to change, how the ancient feud with Gryffindor faded into the background, the day that Minerva McGonagall changed his life yet again when he moved from Defense Against the Dark Arts to Headmaster. Finally those last days, his children and grandchildren around him, as Daphne and Hermione told him it was ok to go, that it was time. Falling asleep holding Daphne's hand.
Time. Time was no longer a resource, no long water running through his hands, time was no longer an issue. He had time. Plenty of time. All the time in the universe.
"Harry? Harry, love, wake up."
He opened his eyes and there she was, young again, as young as she was that first time he really saw her for who she really is, not who he thought she was. He reached up and touched her hair. "Daphne. I hope I didn't make you wait too long."
She sat down on the bed, moved the covers aside and slid in next to him. "No, it wasn't too long." She snuggled in close to him. "Your first little flat. I'm not surprised. I loved it, too. So cozy. Remember how we'd just stay in bed? For warmth, mostly."
Harry laughed. "The heat was miserable."
"No, there wasn't any heat. If there was heat it would have been miserable." She chuckled and sighed. "I could stay like this forever."
"We have forever, Daph, but there's some people I want to see. Some people I want you to meet."
"Oh my Merlin!" Daphne slid out of bed quickly and looked around. "I need a...oh. That's handy." She picked at the silk kimono. "The one you brought me back from that international match in Japan. I thought the dog ate that one."
"It did. Then it was sick all over the sofa." Harry slid out of bed and smiled at her. "But I've been here before, remember, I know how this works. Sort of." He held out his arm to her, kissed her softly, and then began to walk. It was only a short distance before they came upon a wonderfully set tearoom with two occupants. One of the occupants had vibrant, long red hair while the other had messy black hair. Harry stopped in front of them. "Mum, Dad, I'd like you to meet the love of my life. Daphne, this is..."
"Lily and James, I've wanted to meet you for so long." Daphne went towards Lily who held out her hands. As the two women embraced James hugged his son tightly.
"Dad?" Harry pulled away slightly. "I've been wondering something."
"Yes?" James looked over at the women, who were busy talking. "I think I know what's on your mind, but go ahead."
"I had choices, didn't I? It wasn't just a dream when I was in a Dark Object coma, was it?"
"No, it wasn't." James glanced over at Daphne and Lily. "Do you remember what they were? We don't. We remember we helped you with choices, but that's it."
"Same for me." He looked over to Daphne, who smiled at him. "But I think I made the right one. No, that's not right. I know I made the right one."