Chapter 1 – Transitions
Harry was slightly nervous. He had just kissed Ginny and Hermione goodbye at Kings Cross; they were each going to spend three or four days with their parents. The recent kidnapping of Molly, Dee and Gracie at the hands of Lucius Malfoy, Bellatrix and a number of other Death Eaters had led to some difficult decisions and problems. There were discussions and recoveries that had to happen within the Weasley, Black and Granger families and Harry agreed with his wives that maybe it would make things a little simpler for all if his ideas or presence weren't included initially.
That left Harry in slightly unknown ground as he was going to be the guest of Daphne Greengrass and her sister Astoria for at least the first week of their summer holidays. It was an opportunity to get to know the surviving Greengrasses a lot better and to establish some guidelines and boundaries between Harry and the young woman that was in a slightly ambiguous marriage contract with him. Harry was still trying to wrap his head around the fact that both Ginny and Hermione had no problem with the Slytherin beauty eventually becoming an intimate part of their unique relationship.
The portkey that transported Harry, Daphne and Astoria from the shadow of King's Cross train station deposited the trio before the front steps of Greengrass Manor. The two girls kept a firm grip on Harry's hands to keep him from doing what he always did while traveling magically – ending up on either his face or his bum. Harry had barely got his feet on the ground and his balance when Astoria squealed in glee and hurried up the stairs to embrace the older house elf that was standing there. Daphne was two steps behind her and Harry smiled as he saw the three sharing a hug halfway up the stairs.
Daphne turned smiling when she turned to see Harry a few steps below the little group. "Harry, this is Keffie. She's been Tori and my personal house elf for as long as we can remember. Keffie this is Harry Potter; he's…"
Keffie separated herself from Astoria and made a formal bow to the guest. "Lord Potter, it is an honor to meet you. Everybody knows your legend and skill as a wizard. Are you a guest of Lady Daphne?"
Harry immediately liked the older house elf. He could tell that the two girls and Keffie were close to each other. Harry walked up the few remaining steps and held out his hand to shake hands with a surprised house elf. "It's nice to meet you Keffie but please just call me Harry. And as for being a guest for Lady Daphne, I think she has a complicated story to tell you about my status."
Keffie looked to her mistress for some guidance and Daphne told her that Harry didn't like his formal titles very much. "Keffie, I'm really glad to see you but I had understood from Dumbledore that all the house elves here had been killed by the Death Eaters when they had invaded the house."
Keffie immediately looked very sad and hung her head. "Keffie was doing a number of errands for both Lord and Lady Greengrass that day they and the other house elves here were …. attacked. I came back too late to help anyone and was too ashamed of my failure to let you know that I survived. I have been busy working since that awful day to maintain the manor and the grounds."
Harry frowned at this last bit of news. "Keffie, I sent a few house elves over from Potter Manor to clean up and maintain the Greengrass estate. Did they not arrive?"
"Yes, they did Lord Pot… Harry sir but Greengrass Manor is the rightful place for the Greengrass elves and I was the only one left to work. I sent your house elves back when they showed up."
Harry looked to Daphne for some clue about what to do or say next. The house elf had certainly a fervent desire to keep up her duties but to have maintained the grounds and the mansion for some months alone must have been taxing even for a well 'experienced' house elf like Keffie.
Daphne frowned a little when she heard that Harry's assistance had been turned away but she still smiled at her. "It's okay for now, Keffie. Would you please make us all some tea and biscuits and join us on the side porch. Astoria and I would like to talk to you some more."
"Yes Miss Daphne. I will be there in a few minutes."
Keffie popped away and Harry followed Astoria and Daphne through the front door. From first glance it appeared that the Greengrass home was laid out a lot like Potter mansion; the public and working rooms were laid out downstairs while the private bedrooms were upstairs. It wasn't quite as showy or expansive as Potter Manor was but it had its own quiet dignity and appearance of comfort and wealth. Harry reached into his pocket and expanded his trunk and left it next to where Daphne and Astoria had placed their Hogwarts trunks in the front hall. A quick trip through the formal dining room and what Astoria referred to jokingly as the 'unwelcome guest' sitting room led the three to a small hallway that led into the kitchens and out to a side portico. The porch was only about 20 feet long but only a dozen feet wide. "This is great spot for watching the wildlife in the evenings Harry."
There was a small creek meandering through the clearing next to the house and Harry saw a number of ducks were swimming and feeding in one of the wider spots in the stream. Harry didn't have to work hard to imagine deer and other animals emerging from some of the trees to come down to drink.
There was a cluster of five chairs around a low table and Daphne looked fondly at the pair that was sitting side by side. She settled into one of the other ones and Harry took the next seat. Astoria gave a hopeful look to her sister and then squeezed herself into the chair with Harry.
"Astoria, you could ask."
"I know but I hoped Harry wouldn't mind at least for a couple of minutes. You did want Keffie to sit and talk with us right?"
Whatever Daphne might have said was going to remain a mystery as Keffie suddenly appeared with a tray holding a tea service and a plate of biscuits. Daphne passed the plate of biscuits to Astoria and Harry while Keffie poured out three cups of tea for the three people. She was going to leave once she had done her duty but Daphne asked her to stay and have a cup of tea with them. Keffie looked a little anxious as she made a small cup appear and poured herself a cup of tea. She set it down on the table however and waited for either Daphne or Astoria to address her.
Daphne blew on her cup for a couple of seconds and took a cautious sip. "You remembered my favorite flavor; thank you Keffie."
"You're welcome Lady Daphne."
"Keffie, have you sorted out the master bedroom yet?"
"No, Lady Greengrass, I just couldn't without instructions from you on what to do with your parents things."
"Are you thinking about moving into the main bedroom sis?"
"Not today, I think you and I will have to go through everything there first. Maybe they'll be things from Daddy that Harry or Robb might be able to wear."
"Daphne, I appreciate the thought but I couldn't just take your father's things."
"In light of what's going on, I wouldn't mind at all Harry. If you might find a thing or two that might remind us both of my father, I would like you to keep something in memory of what he has done for us."
"Okay but would it be okay with you if we passed a few things along to Mr. Weasley or Professor Lupin? Neither one has the most complete wardrobe despite my prodding."
"We'll take a look. I think some things will be put in storage maybe for the next Lord or Lady Greengrass. A type of legacy from his or her grandparents."
"The next Lord Greengrass?" Keffie asked with a start. "Please tell me you haven't…. you aren't …Mistress?"
Daphne blushed and Harry put a hand over Astoria's mouth to stop her laughing. "No, Keffie, I am not pregnant. Nor engaged. Yet."
"Yet? Are there plans being made or is somebody forcing you into a relationship against your wishes?"
Daphne bit her lip as she struggled to find the right words to tell her overprotective house elf what her parents had set up their wills. She finally shook her head. "Tori, could you show Harry around? He'll be staying in the red and green room upstairs."
"That room has a connecting door to Daphne's room." Astoria waggled her eyebrows at Harry like he had done to her so many times back at school. She was rewarded by a sudden blush to Harry's cheeks and a similar response from her sister. There was another type of response from Keffie though. "That would not be proper Lady Daphne. What would your parents think of an arrangement like that? A boy having access to your sleeping chambers? That must not be allowed!"
Daphne closed her eyes briefly and then looked at Harry and Astoria. "This may take some time to properly explain to her. You two go on and I'll catch up as soon as I can."
"Are you sure I can't stay and help Daph?"
"No, Harry but thank you for offering. I am in charge of this household now and Keffie needs to be made aware of the changes that may and will happen."
Harry closed his mental contact down with Daphne and allowed Astoria to lead him off the porch and into a tour of the first floor of the Manor. It differed a little bit from Potter manor as the owlery was attached to the main house rather than in a separate building. The ballroom seemed constructed for smaller, more intimate parties and Harry wondered if it was used primarily for family gatherings or for political schmoozing. Harry poked around in the cupboards, pantry and cold box in the kitchen and thought that the provisions would only last a few days for the three of them. Harry wondered if the elf had only planned on the two girls returning or if she had been too busy maintaining everyting to do any proper shopping. Harry was still going to offer the services of at least two more house elves but would let Daphne make the decision about asking or telling Keffie to cooperate with them.
Astoria had kept a running commentary about all the rooms they had went through but drew strangely quiet about one set of doors they passed. She stopped and leaned a little wearily on the closed door. "This is… was Daddy's study. He worked on his businesses in here most afternoons for two or three hours. This was the… last place Daph and I saw our parents that day we all went shopping. Dad was explaining some trading deadline to our Mom when we came and asked permission to go to Diagon Alley. He laughed and put his papers aside and told us not to spend every knut he had made that week. He.. he kissed Daph and me and… we never saw them again…"
Harry didn't even have to think about what he should do. He held out his arms and Astoria broke down crying into his chest. Harry hugged the girl for a long time and rubbed her back until she had cried herself out. She gently pushed Harry back and reached into her pocket for a handkerchief. She dried her eyes and then looked up into Harry's worried face. "You knew this would happen, didn't you? That's why you sort of talked Daphne into inviting you."
Harry smiled just a little bit. "Guilty as charged. I didn't think you or Daphne should be alone when you came back here for the first time. I hoped my being here might make it easier both of you. Don't tell your sister but I've grown quite fond of getting hugs from both of you."
"Darn you Harry. How am I ever going to find a proper boyfriend when you've set such a high standard?"
Harry grinned down at the girl he already considered a little sister. "It will happen sooner or later. There will suddenly be somebody special that will light up your face and make you feel like you are the only girl that that boy sees. Look at me; I was as shy as Neville. I was eleven years old before I was able to talk to a girl without my cousin Dudley trying to beat me up or tell the girl that I went to a school for Criminally Insane Boys."
"You're joshing me."
"No, it's the absolute truth Tori. Can I call you Tori or is that something reserved for Daphne? Anyway, that's another reason I hoped for a week or two to spend with Daphne and you. So we could get to know each other better."
"To snog my sister."
"Maybe, maybe not. I think Keffie wouldn't like that idea very much."
"I can keep Keffie busy Harry if you want."
Harry laughed. "Like I said before, that's totally up to your sister. She's got control of whatever we do or don't do."
"You might be surprised at what my sister wants Harry."
Ignoring that comment, Harry carried on. "Okay, so how about the rest of the tour then? I think your sister said I was going to bunk out in the red and green room?"
Finished with the ground floor, Harry and Astoria walked back up the entrance hall and looked at their trunks. Harry whistled a couple of notes and his trunk floated off the floor. Astoria frowned and began dragging her own trunk to the stairway. Harry watched her for a moment and then stopped the first year.
"You want to try something new and maybe something a little advanced Astoria?"
"This isn't anything like that trick Sirius tried making me believe I did in changing Gracie into a dog is it?"
"No, nothing like that. This could be really important. How were you at Charms this year?"
"Pretty good. Not the best in my class but maybe one of the top four."
"Good enough. Where's your wand?"
"Hmmm? I think I laid it down on the table out on the porch. I must have left it there."
Harry tsked, tsked at the girl. "Rule Number Zero, because it's more important than any Rule Number One – always, always have your wand where you can reach it. If you don't have a proper wand holder, we'll get you one sometime this summer. Here, take one of mine."
Harry held out his wand and Astoria's eyes went wide open as she carefully took it. "Will this work for me Harry?"
"I'm not sure. All wands respond differently to different wielders. It probably won't be the best match. You aren't using it to cast the spell anyway."
"Then what do I have it for?"
"I want you to show me the movement for the first spell Professor Flitwick taught you in his class. The levitating spell. You did master that right?"
Astoria nodded. "Yes I did. It goes like this." The blonde did the appropriate swish and flick and Harry nodded. She did it three times more before Harry proceeded with the next step. He adjusted her grip so that her index finger lay parallel to the wand. "Do the movement again Tori."
Astoria sort of saw the steps Harry was taking and concentrated on the different type of grip she now had on the wand. When she had practiced it enough that Harry was satisfied, he carefully took back his wand without disturbing the alignment of her fingers.
"Okay, so far so good. Now I want you to think about how it feels when you summon the magic to cast the spells you know. Got it? Now try to make it flow down your arm and through your fingers when you cast the spell. Just like you were holding a real wand. But this time focus it out your index finger as you say the spell. Anytime you're ready Astoria."
Astoria looked for any sign of mischief or doubt on Harry's face but saw nothing other than an expectation of her following his directions. Astoria took deep breath to help concentrate and turned and faced her trunk. She reached for her magic and tried concentrating really hard on the feeling she got every time she successfully cast spells. She made the correct movement with her hand and called out as she completed the movement. "Wingardium Leviosa!"
The truck didn't budge an inch and Astoria felt especially foolish but Harry didn't laugh at her. "Once more Tori. Focus on the intent and gathering your magic and channeling it. Try it again; I'm sure you can do this."
Feeling the encouragement from Harry, Astoria tried gathering up her magic for another try. This time when the spell was cast, Astoria's trunk rose about 2 inches off the floor. Her own disbelief and the sudden clapping from the nearby doorway distracted her and the trunk fell and clunked on the entranceway floor.
"I did it. I did it!" Astoria was jumping up and down but the clapping stopped and she was swept up in a big hug by her sister. Daphne was calling out her congratulations and then both girls turned to see that Harry was standing there with a big grin on his face. "Remind me when we start teaching that to the DA in the fall that we start with pillows. I should have warned you about the weight Astoria. My mistake."
Astoria rushed over and threw her arms around Harry's waist in a bold hug. "I never thought I would be able to do wandless magic. Thank you Harry."
"Yes, thank you Harry." Daphne came over and leaned in to kiss Harry on the cheek. There was a small grunt of disapproval from the nearby Keffie but Daphne ignored it. "I hope you're planning on doing more than just being an instructor for the time you're here Harry."
Mindful of the watching house elf, Harry restrained his smirking. "Yes but how about we sit down and discuss a schedule or lack of schedule after supper tonight? I know you both wanted extra time learning some more defensive spells but I'm not going to be a taskmaster about it."
"Do you want us to go running with you every morning Harry?" the younger girl asked.
"I'm not going to make you do anything you don't want to Astoria but it's important that you know that the better shape you are in physically the better endurance and power you will have magically."
"You can call me Tori, Harry I don't mind."
Daphne smiled. "You just got a big concession Harry. Astoria didn't even let Tracey call her Tori."
"Okay, so where's this room I'm going to be sleeping in?"
"I'll take care of your trunks Misses and Harry sir." Keffie stepped up next to the trunks and sort of shrugged her shoulders. The trunks vanished and Daphne nodded her approval.
"Thank you Keffie. How about we have supper about 6 in the breakfast room?"
Keffie nodded. "I'll get right on it Miss… Lady Daphne. I am glad you are both home and have brought such a powerful wizard to protect you." Keffie shrugged again and promptly popped away – probably to the kitchens.
Harry, Astoria and Daphne started walking up the stairs. Daphne started explaining the layout of the second floor. Harry stopped at one point and said he wouldn't go any farther unless they firmly established a system for avoiding catching each other in the loo. Astoria blushed and slapped Harry's arm before she ran ahead to her bedroom but Daphne slipped her arm around Harry's and told him it was something the two of them might have to coordinate. "Or not" Daphne said with a wink at her guest. Harry chuckled and followed his hostess the rest of the way upstairs.
'A lousy stinking floating barnyard' Bellatrix NoName thought. Both Bellatrix and Lucius had more than their usual sneers on their faces as they tried to find somewhere on the rusting deck where the smell of the sheep wasn't threatening to overpower them. There were other smells of course: the diesel oil, the rotting and neglected ropes that seemed to hand everywhere, even the rust that coated the deck, ladders and shoddily held together railings. But it was the shipment of livestock, primarily sheep but goats, pigs and a few horses that permeated the atmosphere of the ship and settled even into the food. No matter how badly the cook seasoned the provisions, it even tasted like that they were always eating that vile smell that issued from the open holds that made up most of the ship.
Bellatrix and Lucius had met up at a prearranged magical pub south of London a few days after the events at the Ministry of Magic and the Cavern of Doomed Souls. Neither had initially been very happy to see the other for a variety of reasons but they had acknowledged that sticking together was safer in terms of evading capture than going on alone. The two had made their way south and westward to Bournemouth. There they had invaded the Dockmaster's office and found the first non-passenger ship headed for Germany. Bellatrix asked why they weren't going to go to France as it was much closer but Lucius puzzlingly said that France wasn't a good place for them and he had a few more contacts in Germany to aid them out on the important mission they were on.
Both discovered during an overnight stay in an abandoned barn that they had both encouraged (tortured) Peter Pettigrew into revealing where their long lost Master might be found if he ever had the unfortunate occurrence of disappearing. It was somewhere in the high mountains of Romania in a little village near Sibiu. Unfortunately the exact location was not known to Wormtail but he had been confident that the Dark Mark he had on his left arm would be the means that their Lord would contact him with. It was the best idea each of the surviving Death Eaters had for their situation. Fleeing the country where they were still wanted and returning the Dark Lord, in whatever form he might be in, to his rightful place of leading his forces to take over magical England.
They were two days into their four day trip between Bournemouth and Bremerton. The ship, as much as it could be laughingly called that, was not sleek, fast, or comfortable. They had Imperiused the crew to provide them the best of the meager accommodations and to never say or speak of their extra passengers if they were ever inspected or boarded at either port.
Bellatrix and Lucius were far apart on the ship as it was a mutual desire. Neither trusted the other very much and there was plenty of blame to be handed out for the ruination of the carefully contrived plans. Bellatrix was leaning carefully against the bow rail where a slight headwind had given her a moments respite from the ever present olfactory reminder of the live cargo below decks. It was a good thing that Voldemort had trained his most trusted lieutenants in the mental arts because Bella's thoughts were certainly not the most constructive to their very important mission to find their Master.
'Lucius frigging Malfoy. He will rue the day he came up with that hare-brained scheme to get revenge and try to control the Ministry. He had Potter- he had Potter! And what happened? Dolohov gone, Rodolphus and Rabastan either killed or kissed. Pettigrew comes up missing or worse. Malfoy will pay for his incompetence and his lies. Sandstorms – in the middle of that swamp? I think not. And griffins? That was impossible. He was bested by that half-blood boy! He lies; he always lies. I will tell our Master the truth of how Malfoy ruined his chance at revenge and got our compatriots killed. He will properly punish the fool on the spot. I will relish watching that.'
At the other end of the boat the object of Bellatrix's mental scorn was putting something up his nose. Lucius thought that snuff-dipping was an old-fashioned and vile habit but he had found that putting some of the aromatics into his nostrils deadened the omnipresent 'perfume' of their inconspicuous transport. His thoughts were likewise directed at his troublesome companion and her own failures. 'Bellatrix had the Ministry and that fool Fudge right where we wanted them. All she had to do was direct them a little longer and kill the Aurors that were searching for her. She turned tail and ran; abandoning everything. It is solely her fault we don't have our pardons and a pile of galleons to live like we are supposed to. Our Lord and Master will learn of her cowardice and betrayal as soon as I can tell him. She will not survive very long after we find travel to Romania."
'The first thing I am going to do when we reach port is buy a proper hotel room and take about seven long baths. Ever my hair must reek of those stinking beasts. I may kill that muggle cook if he offers us mutton for supper again!'
The two Death Eaters didn't realize that they were starting to unconsciously mirror each other's actions as they headed back to the cabin that was the former residence of the ship's captain. It was the only one of the few 'civilized' rooms on the ship that had enough space to conjure up a second bed. Bellatrix and Lucius had been taking turns sleeping on the Captain's bunk but neither would swear that it was any more comfortable than the one that had been magically created.
Both the wizard and the witch cast scourgifying and air freshening charms to the room and the beds when they entered. It never occurred to either of them that they were bringing some of the stink outside of the room on their clothes they were wearing (and their skin) and thereby making useless the spells they had just cast. Both wanted badly to hex the other but realized that a duel might end up with nobody solving the mystery of the Dark Lord's disappearance and returning him to power and brilliance.
They had both just gotten comfortable on their mattresses when the dinner bell rang through the ship's somewhat unreliable intercom. Both groaned as they were reluctant to open the door and walk out into the stench of 250 sheep again. However both were hungry and needed to eat some of the disgustingly common muggle food. Lucius didn't bother offering to hold the door open for Bellatrix and she, in turn, didn't blast the back of his head open as he proceeded down the hallway toward the excuse of what they called a galley.
A very well cooked steak and kidney pie served as supper for Harry, Daphne and Astoria. Even more impressive and tasty was the strawberry compote that the three had for dessert. It turned out to be one of Astoria's favorite treats and Harry was impressed that Keffie had found such tasty fruit before their proper season.
The three were complimenting Keffie on the wonderful meal when Daphne asked Keffie to stop her clearing off the table for a moment. Keffie turned a little apprehensively to listen to her Lady. "Keffie, you've done a wonderful job of maintaining the house and the grounds and keeping everything running. But you are just one house elf and I don't want you to die prematurely from magical exhaustion. So here is what is going to happen; Harry has offered to provide some other house elves to help you out. If Harry can spare four other elves they will resume the work that the other Greengrass elves did here. You will be in charge of them so that makes you head elf or whatever title you wish to give yourself."
"But doesn't Harry sir need those elves to work Potter house and help him at Hogwarts? I would not like to be the cause of other of my kind having to work harder to make up for absences there."
Harry smiled at the cautious and proud elf. "I have plenty of house elves that serve the Potter family but you wouldn't be really shorting us. I have given one of my friends, Dobby, a very important task for me. He has been searching here and there for house elves that have lost their families or been left homeless for whatever reason. So far he has found about a dozen, some from homes of deceased Death Eaters. They have been brought to Potter Manor and fed and have been taken care of. Most are looking for another family to work for and bond with. So bringing some of them here would be an important thing for them. Lady Daphne could and would bind them to House Greengrass if they voluntarily wanted that. Would that be more acceptable an idea Keffie?"
Keffie nodded but turned back to address her mistress. "Lord Potter is a very wise and compassionate wizard. Lady Daphne, I see now why you are so interested in the marriage contract."
Astoria giggled but Harry stood up to call out for his major domo. "Knop, could you come here please?"
There was a quick pop of an appearance by Knop. He bowed to Harry and then turned to look at the other people in the room. Harry saw Knop gasp and a great smile came to his face.
The two elves rushed to each other but didn't hug as Harry expected. They stopped arm lengths away from each other and held up their hands with their fingers splayed wide. Knop and Keffie linked fingers and then leaned forward to place their foreheads together gently. Harry, Daphne, and Astoria saw that they said some things to each other in a low voice. Harry didn't think it was in English. Keffie suddenly remembered where they were and turned to address the Lady of the house. "Lady Daphne, my apologies. This is Knop – he is my sclargerom. This is like great godson in your language. I have not seen him in many, many years."
Harry silently whistled. He'd just heard a new term he had never heard of before and had a striking thought. "Hermione, have you come across any books in Hogwarts or Rowena's library about House Elf language or culture?"
"No, Harry why? Is it important?"
"I'm not sure. I'll explain later. Sorry for interrupting whatever you were doing."
"It's never unimportant talking to you."
"Thanks Love. Daphne and I will talk to you later."
Daphne had a curious look on her face as she turned to Harry but he reassured her that nothing was wrong. "Keffie, it is a good thing you have met each other again. Maybe with Lady Daphne's permission, you can go back to Potter with Knop and keep visiting. Maybe the two of you can select the house elves together that might want to come here and work."
Keffie smiled and then turned a hopeful eye to Daphne. "Go ahead Keffie; I can see how happy you are to see your …sclargerom. Just be back for breakfast in the morning. We can finish the clearing up here."
"Definitely not Lady Daphne." The two elves looked at each other for a second and then the table, silverware, and remains of the dessert were gone. Even the glass Astoria was drinking from – much to her surprise. The three hadn't really gotten over the surprise when Knop and Keffie reappeared.
"The cleanup is complete Lady Daphne. If you have no other need for me for an hour of two I will accept Harry sirs gracious invitation and go talk to the homeless elves at Potter Manor. I will be more than happy to introduce the new staff to you and Lady Astoria at breakfast in the morning."
"Very well Keffie. I believe we can get along by ourselves for a while. You may go."
"Keffie" Astoria said. "You don't have to hurry and rush back. You've been alone here too long and I think that maybe this won't be a one-time visit."
That statement resulted in a big smile from the older house elf and she linked up hands with Knop. The two bowed to Daphne, Astoria and Harry and suddenly popped away.
"That was different" Astoria said.
"I never knew that house elves had things like godsons to keep track of."
"I think there's a lot of things that nobody really knows about house elves Daphne. I just got a clue that they might have their own language. So maybe it's time to think about them more than just being servants and the lowest rung of the magical community."
"That will shake up more than a few prejudiced minds. Harry would you like to take a walk the grounds? They are not really as extensive as yours but we have some beautiful spots of our own."
"Sure let's go. Whoa, don't look so sad Tori. I don't think your sister was uninviting you."
"No definitely not. Whatever gave you that idea Tori?"
"I just thought you two would want to be alone."
Harry stood up and walked over behind Astoria's chair. "I was pretty sure the invitation to come here was from both Greengrass ladies? Was I wrong?"
"Then don't go jumping to the conclusion that I don't want to spend time with you as well. I 'm sure there's going to be private times for Daphne and me but I really intend there to be private times for just you and me."
Daphne smiled as her sister jumped up and gave Harry a quick hug and began tugging him toward the nearest exit. "Hey, wait up for me."
The three walked and talked around the Greengrass grounds for over an hour. There were plenty of discussions to go around. Astoria was gobsmacked when she found out that Dulari and Shadhan had bestowed a 'gift' to her sister that let her talk mentally to Harry, Ginny and Hermione. A muggle shopping trip with Harry's wives was set up for some time after the weekend and Harry told the two girls that Sirius had promised his family a proper holiday somewhere warm and sandy for a week later in the summer. Daphne looked sad for a second until her sister poked her and said her 'boyfriend' certainly wouldn't leave her (or maybe them?) behind. Both jumped up and down in excitement when Harry said the holiday would definitely include them. Harry unfortunately didn't know where they were going as Sirius preferred to spring the surprise on them when they got there.
Astoria pulled her sister around quickly. "You know this means we have to get new swimming suits. Do you suppose Lord Gryffindor could come and supervise us and help us choose?"
Daphne took off immediately after her running and laughing sister and was threatening to have Lord Potter punish her for such boldness. Astoria swung around running backwards at that point and stuck her tongue out at her sister. Daphne stopped and waited and waved. Astoria turned around just as she foundered into the creek that ran through the estate and became completely submerged. She came up dripping to see a pair of people standing on the bank laughing at her.
"Another rule you might consider Tori is to always know where you might be stepping."
Astoria splashed some water at the pair and came out threatening to hug the stuffing out of them. This time it was Harry and Daphne who retreated quickly. Harry finally cast a pair of drying charms on the girl and they walked back to the house. The exercise and fresh air had taken its toll on Astoria and she excused herself to go to her room and sleep. She kissed her sister goodnight and gave Harry a hug and thanked him again for coming to stay with them. Astoria waved goodnight and headed up the stairs.
Daphne held out her hand and Harry let her lead him to the comfortable family room for a while. The two sat together on one of the couches and began talking to each other as well as about Ginny and Hermione. The two each caught up and just chatted for a while until everyone had agreed it was a long day and they needed to turn in. Daphne gave Harry a shy, gentle kiss on the cheek at the head of the stairs and wished him a good night's sleep. Harry pulled Daphne into a hug and reciprocated with a long kiss to her forehead. Both parted and headed for their individual bedrooms. Harry cracked open the window a bit, stripped down to his boxers and hopped under the covers.
Fifteen minutes later, there was a loud click and Harry reached for his glasses. Daphne stood in the connecting doorway with a long grey dressing gown on and some blue slippers. She walked confidently to Harry's bedside. "I don't want anything to happen tonight Harry; we'll get around to 'that' discussion some other night. Would it be okay if I just came and snuggled up with you for a while?"
Harry nodded and Daphne kicked off her slippers and loosened the dressing gown. Underneath she was wearing a simple white shift that came down to her knees. She climbed up into bed and snuggled into Harry's side. Harry pulled her close, kissed the top of her head and pulled the covers over the two of them. They were both quickly and contentedly asleep.