This is a work of fiction, based on the book series by J.K. Rowling. Neither do I claim ownership nor do I intend to.
Chapter Eighty-Two - A New Day in Magical Britain
Daphne should have known she wouldn't get her quiet day off, but she was used to it by now. Ten years of marriage to Harry had taught her to not expect plans to work out for those near him.
She wrote a quick missive to her parents to let them know that everything was fine but that she wouldn't make it to lunch in time before changing into more appropriate robes for her visit to St. Mungo's, idly wondering what mess he'd gotten into this time.
Slipping out of a rather scandalous dress she had wanted to surprise Harry with on his return home she put on her Ministry robes. Most people didn't think too much about the archives deep in the bowels of the Ministry but Daphne liked her job. It was steady work and quiet most of the time.
When the news about Voldemort's fall had been broadcast Magical Britain had risen on open revolt. All across the nation people had picked up their wands, overwhelming any snatcher or ally of Voldemort's they could find. With the detachment of Ministry fighters sent to Diagon Alley suddenly tied up and fighting for their lives when shoppers and shopkeepers joined the fray, the Ministry had devolved into a fierce civil war with the loyal supporters of Voldemort and the remaining resistance within the Ministry about evenly matched. The staggering death toll and left many spots to fill in the aftermath of the war, and Daphne had been happy to help out. Of course she had also recognized the opportunity and risen through the ranks.
As she headed to the fireplace, she glanced at the pictures on the wall. She quite liked how the wedding photo had turned out. Well, their second wedding, she supposed. At first she hadn't understood why Harry had wanted a Muggle photo but had to concede that it did capture the moment of happiness quite well. 'True to their half-hearted joke years ago, they had had their quiet ceremony, burned their incense, and celebrated with their closest friends and family.
Daphne sighed, thinking about Astoria. She hadn't been invited of course, and would likely spend the rest of her life in the ward for the criminally insane. Not even Harry Potter, hero of Magical Britain, could change that. Well, Daphne amended, he probably could just wouldn't.
They had left a place for Tracey out of respect, and Daphne still felt the pain of losing her friend. All they had found of the brave Slytherin had been a bloodied wand but the Book of Names of Hogwarts had confirmed the death.
Daphne swallowed hard as she thought about Headmistress McGonagall's harrowing testimony. Using the Book of Names, Voldemort's forces had tracked down every Muggleborn who hadn't yet graduated Hogwarts and killed them and their families. Magical Britain had almost implemented death penalties, and it would still take years or maybe generations before British Muggleborn students were anything other than a rarity. It would forever remain a scar in the history books – the years of sorrow with no surviving Muggleborns.
It had been this war crime that had seen Draco Malfoy sent to the new and improved Azkaban for life. It hadn't taken long for Malfoy and others who had taken part in the raids to die in prison. With Lucius Malfoy killed during the battle of Hogwarts – Harry had fought hard to award the credit to two second-years posthumously in what Daphne suspected was revenge – all that was left of the once-proud Malfoy family was Narcissa who, from what Daphne had heard, had withdrawn from the world in self-loathing after witnessing McGonagall's testimony.
Squaring her shoulders, Daphne grabbed some Floo powder, announced her destination, and stepped into the fireplace.
St. Mungo's Floo room was a familiar sight for her by now, and the guard greeted her with a wry smile.
"Men, am I right?" the pretty witch checking Daphne's belongings chuckled.
Daphne just smiled back, used to the jokes at Harry's expense. She knew it had nothing to do with men and everything to do with Harry's unnatural gift of stumbling into the most outlandish of dangers. Only Harry could do paperwork for a presentation on the Auror department's work and end up a life-and-death battle against a chimera. Go to the grand opening of the new and improved Weasley's Wizard Wheezes, stay to foil an assassination attempt on the Minister. Go on holiday in Ireland, arrive just in time for a Merrow rebellion. Only Harry could turn the most mundane task into an epic adventure.
Even handing over a dark artefact to the Department of Mysteries had led to him causing something not even Daphne was allowed to know about, only that it took days to contain and months before Harry was allowed to visit Hermione at work again. His brainy friend claimed she'd never forgive him for the trouble he'd caused her and the other Unspeakables but Daphne knew better. Hermione had confided in her that whatever Harry had done had provided numerous breakthroughs.
After getting cleared, she stepped through the checkpoint and into the lobby.
As always, people were milling about. Some had grown additional features, others were missing some, yet others had novel arrangements of limbs or were wrong colours.
The receptionist glanced up as Daphne approached. Once she was inside the privacy wards around the desk, the receptionist said, "Harry Potter, room 331."
Daphne gave the man a quick nod, happy to leave the lobby as soon as possible. Part of being married to Harry Potter were the stares of people wherever you went. It didn't help that Daphne had a reputation of her own. It was widely known that she had taken part in the Battle of Hogwarts. It was common knowledge that she had taken down Death Eaters with awe-inspiring skill, and it irked Daphne that people counted her among the Heroes of Hogwarts and not Tracey or Millicent. It wasn't fair that she was singled out, and it was off-putting to be the only Slytherin students to be included.
As she was heading to the stairs, Daphne glanced at the memorial on the wall. The names of many of the victims of the war had been put there, including the long-term patients that had been killed under Voldemort's leadership. Yet another legacy of the fallen Dark Lord, and it had been quite controversial to memorize his deeds in this way. In the end, Augusta Longbottom had persevered. Frank and Alice's names were easy enough to find on the list.
Daphne bit back a smile she knew would be misinterpreted at Harry and Ronald's indignation when they had found out that the Longbottoms' names were next to, of all people, Gilderoy Lockhart's. Daphne thought it was quite fitting that the famed author and charlatan Lockhart had died trying to be the hero for once.
After a calculated show of respect to the memorial, Daphne left the lobby.
She preferred St. Mungo's memorial to Hogwarts, if only because there were fewer familiar names on it. Almost half of her year mates had died, and the year of 1993 had been hit even harder. Add in the hundreds of children who had never gotten the chance to visit the school and it made a grim, daily reminder to anyone walking the halls for many generations to come.
One name had stuck out to Daphne and kept her wondering for many nights – Pansy Parkinson. What had been her last moments? Why had she betrayed Voldemort's forces? As much as Daphne had investigated she had never found the missing piece and was left with the sobering conclusion that her friend's story would never be revealed.
Tracey's was on the Hogwarts memorial of course. Plenty of students had come forward and told about her bravery but it didn't lessen the pain over losing a close friend like that. Others were in a similar situation – Parvati Patil had lost her twin sister, Zabini's mother had had to bury her son and Augusta Longbottom her grandson.
In a strange, almost poetic twist of fate Neville had come to blows with Bellatrix Lestrange during the final battle at Hogwarts. No witnesses had come forward but their last battlefield, a corridor on the second floor, had been one of the most damaged parts of the castle. Neville had been found with a grim smile, the body of Lestrange at his feet. With his dying breath he had gotten revenge for his parents. It was only a small consolation that the Longbottom line wouldn't end with him.
While she may have lost a grandson, Augusta Longbottom had gained a granddaughter-in-law as well. In spite of doubts and detractors, Ginny Weasley had come forward claiming to have wed Neville Longbottom in February. The ageing Madam Longbottom had supported the story but Daphne doubted it. There were other ways for Ginny to give birth to a Longbottom heiress seven months after the battle.
Absent from memorials was Severus Snape. Witnesses had seen him storming through the corridors of Hogwarts cursing Death Eaters he had come across like a man on a mission. Some claimed it had been Professor Snape who had killed Peter Pettigrew. Some believed Professor Snape had been killed in battle but Daphne knew better. Months after the battle, Harry had told her he hoped Professor Snape would find some peace of mind. Daphne chose to believe her old teacher might be somewhere nice and sunny, maybe tanning on the beach or working as a researcher where no one knew him.
When she could no longer avoid thinking about Harry's latest folly, she took a deep breath and mentally prepared for whatever was to come.
Room 331 wasn't anything special, and she was relieved to notice no hustle and bustle around the bed typical of serious injuries . Harry had only recently begun avoiding life-threatening wounds, and she thought it was high time he had. There weren't many places left on his body that were unmarked; she'd know best, intimately familiar with all of him by now.
The bed was also empty, and Daphne sighed. Of course he'd be up and about.
A knock on the door behind her got her attention. "You didn't have to come," Harry said with a wry smile. "I told them not to bother you. I'm fine."
Daphne chuckled. "You make it sound as if I had a choice. If I don't come and fetch you you'd probably get tangled up in some international conspiracy or get side-tracked into some – " She glanced around for inspiration, "I don't know, undercover mission that'll have you battling time-travelling dragon riders or something equally ridiculous. And," she added, "coming to see you is no bother."
She gave him a quick once-over. He looked fine, though his robes were singed and ripped.
"You did something stupid again, didn't you?" she asked, sighing.
"I did not," he protested, "I followed the guidelines and made sure I did everything according to the book."
"And it still ended up like this?" Daphne asked, pointing at his robes. "What did you do, fight a dragon? Oh Merlin, you didn't, did you? Ronald didn't talk you into something stupid again, did he?"
"There were no beasts this time," Harry replied, shaking his head. "Ron wasn't there, and he doesn't talk me into anything."
Daphne raised her eyebrow. "So punching the dragon was your idea then?"
Harry pursed his lips. "So first of all – "
"It was a juvenile, yes I know," Daphne interrupted. "We've been over this already. I don't care how he does his job, and it's hard to believe they haven't kicked him out already, but you already get into enough danger as it is without actively seeking out more."
"I wasn't seeking out danger," Harry said, leaning against the door frame. "We managed to resolve that situation without any more violence, didn't we?"
Daphne was tempted to continue the argument but decided against it. Out of all of his adventures over the years and especially since he'd joined the Ministry, going up against a scared and confused juvenile dragon was indeed among the least dangerous.
"I'm sorry about your lunch," Harry told her.
"Father and mother will understand," Daphne replied. "They know how it is." Changing the subject, she added, "What did the healers say?"
Harry smacked his tongue. "I'm cleared to leave. No permanent damage they could detect, just some easily healed scrapes. It really wasn't that spectacular –"
"You know that doesn't mean anything coming from you," Daphne reminded him.
"Millicent's doing fine," Harry continued. "She'll be back at her desk by tomorrow I figure."
Daphne breathed a sigh of relief. They both knew Millicent had only been allowed to become an Auror due to severe staff shortages and had managed to stay on because she was among the most determined in the department. Losing Tracey had changed Millicent's life goals, and Daphne was secretly afraid her friend might continue the fight until her dying breath.
"Collins might have to stay for a while," Harry admitted. "I've checked on him just now, and there's a chance he'll have to retire. Dreadful mishap, really. We'll have to see. I don't look forward to the debriefing though. That'll be a mess."
Seeing her questioning look, he added, "Catching smugglers. We don't know how exactly it happened but Collins got hit by a box full of dark artefacts and is in a bad shape. Literally, I mean, it's almost modern art. Oh, and Marcus got hit by some spell we don't know. He's doing relatively fine but until they've sorted out what each orifice is supposed to do – well, he'll have to stay for a bit as well I suppose."
Daphne resisted the urge to ask where Marcus was talking with now and focused on the important matters.
"It sounds like the debriefing will have to wait, no?" Daphne asked stepping closer to him.
"Probably, yes," Harry agreed. "I've already given a first report, and the rest will have to wait for a bit. Still, I should probably –"
"No," Daphne told him. "No, you won't hang around and keep an eye on the team. They're all adults, aren't they? They're in good hands, the healers know what they're doing. And it's not like you ordered them to do anything, did you? You didn't choose for them to come with you, they probably volunteered to go with you."
"They all do," Harry grunted.
"We always will," a new voice added. Millicent stepped into view. "We wouldn't want to miss all the fun now, you know?"
Daphne caught her friend's glance. They both knew the many volunteers had nothing to do with fun and all to do with respect. Working with Harry was hazardous, every mission was doomed, and Harry rumoured to be cursed with bad luck but it was an undeniable fact that Harry was always the first to brave any challenge, and never abandoned those under his care. For all the danger going into the field with him meant he had earned the respect of everyone he worked with. For all the danger fighting alongside him meant he had earned the reputation of anyone standing in his way. When Harry joined the fray, dark wizards surrendered or fled.
"Daphne's right," Millicent continued "Don't waste your time here. Marcus will be fine. Collins is alive, stable, and under constant surveillance. Last I checked, they managed to put his fingers and ears in separate bottles so it can't be too long before they'll return them to solid form. I'll stop by the Ministry later and start on the paperwork so why don't you – you know – enjoy the rest of the day?"
Daphne bit her lip. A day off for both of them sounded exactly what she wanted right now.
"Come on then," She told Harry. "Let's go home. I'm sure we'll find something to pass the time."
Before he could argue with her she linked her arm with his and led him away.
Ten years of marriage, and Daphne still marvelled at the strange path her life had taken. She'd won a life for herself, she'd found happiness, and she'd cherish both in honour of those they'd lost.