Invisible String

Title: Invisible String
Author: ExcentrykeMuse
Pairing(s): Harry Potter/Eloise Bridgerton, Daphne/Duke of Hastings, Ron/Hermione
Fandom(s): Harry Potter Series/Bridgerton

Written: 3 April 2023
Wordcount: 1.6k
Rating: PG

Prompt: For Sara who wanted Harry Potter/Eloise Bridgerton.  Sorry I almost lost this prompt!  It’s a pinch hit but last is not least!

Invisible String

Harry disliked balls.  He only ever came because Hermione liked to dance, and she and Ron were having another one of their “tiffs.”  It was inevitable that although Ron was from the titleless though ancient Weasley family, he would eventually realize that Miss Hermione Granger was indeed the woman for him even though no one had heard of the Grangers before this season (as Lady Whistledown had been sure to tell them when Miss Hermione first appeared at Lady Danbury’s annual ball).

The three of them made an odd assortment of friends.  His mother, Lady Potter, was always telling him that if he always associated with Ron and Hermione, he would never find a match himself.

And Lady Potter desperately wanted Harry to find a match.

Honestly, he didn’t want to find a match—until he saw her across the ballroom and felt a tug as if by some invisible string and knew he must follow that tug toward her.

“Hermione,” he asked his friend, “you don’t want to dance, do you?”

“Actually—” she began, but he wasn’t listening.

“Thanks awfully,” he told her, patting her hand before going to the refreshment table and grabbing two lemonades.

The beauty was slouched rather inelegantly against a window, a fan falling from her fingertips as she watched something through the curtains.

“Lemonade?” he asked hopefully when he had approached her, the tug satisfied when he was finally by her side.

When she didn’t respond, he coughed—then he cleared his throat—and when that didn’t work, he just shoved her lemonade directly under her nose.

“Oh,” she murmured as she took it as she turned toward him.  “Am I that pathetic looking?” she asked, smile falling from her face.  Clearly she had been expecting someone else.  Hopefully a brother and not another potential suitor.

“Not pathetic in the least, madam,” he assured her.

The lady stared at him with large blue eyes and for a moment he felt uncomfortable enough to fiddle with his glasses.  He swallowed once and realized she was still staring at him, mouth slightly agape.

“Harrigan Potter,” he introduced.

“Beg your pardon?” she murmured, letting her gaze fall for a moment to his nose before it flashed up to the scar on his forehead.

“My name,” he told her.  “I believe it is customary for introductions to be undertaken by a third party—”

“Fiddlesticks,” she told him, waving him off.  “What do we need a third party for?”  She took a sip of her lemonade distractedly. 

Harry watched her swallow; she was clearly thinking to herself.  Then,

“Bridgerton.”  She sighed.  “That is, my name is Bridgerton.  Eloise.  I’m the fifth of the Bridgerton brood.  No doubt, sir, you have read about us in the illustrious pages of Lady Whistledown.”

He leaned forward and admitted, “I’m afraid we’ve all read about each other.”

“Yes,” she agreed, clearly peeved.  “Lady Whistledown thinks you’re in love with the eldest Miss Granger.”  Eloise took a small sip of her lemonade.  “Are you?”

Yes, Harry had read that particular rumor.  Ron had been up in arms about it for a fortnight, and Mr. Stephen Granger (Hermione’s father) had demanded his intentions.  It had been all rather horrible.  James Potter, that is, Harry’s father, the Earl Potter, thought it had all been one great prank, but it had made Harry extremely uncomfortable in society for several long weeks.  The speculation had only begun to die down with this latest lover’s spat between Hermione and Ron, which had been unfortunately public.

“I’m afraid Lady Whistledown’s power of observation are not always reliable,” he told Eloise quite seriously.  “I am just a somewhat willing dance partner for Miss Granger.”

Eloise did not look entirely satisfied, but she nodded.  “I’m afraid if you’re in search of a dance partner, my dance card is quite full.  I believe the Duke of Wellington has the next quadrille, although he is fearfully absent this evening.”  There was a flash of mischief in her eyes that Harry immediately recognized from years living with his father, and he couldn’t help but smile with her.

“It is a shame that his grace will neglect you,” he told her.  “What, though, is so interesting out of doors?”

She bit her lip, looking at him, and then pulled the curtain aside and gestured him forward.  He peeked through and saw that there was a young lady in pale blue standing under a tree with a gentleman in a red coat speaking with her quietly.

“The lady,” Eloise told him, “is my sister Daphne.  The gentleman is the Duke of Hastings.  Mama had thought that we should wait another year for me to come out when Daphne did not make a match last season, but in the end we are now both in society.  The Duke has just returned from travels abroad.  There is much discussion in the household but I do not know what to think.”  She sighed slightly and then released the curtain so that her sister and her beau were once again obstructed from view.  “I was wondering if he was proposing to Daphne.  I should not like to be alone in society.”

Harry looked down at Eloise and yearned to touch his fingers to her cheek.  The insivisble string tugged from within his right rib cage.  He understood her loneliness.  He felt it every time he contemplated Ron finally proposing to Hermione.  But looking down at Eloise, with her mischievous blue eyes and dark hair, Harry felt a sense of hope he hadn’t felt in months. 

When her eyes flitted up to his, he smiled down at her.

The music swelled up and the couples on the floor paused to clap, and Harry politely turned to the orchestra in appreciation.  From the corner of his eyes, he saw a dark red coat and a second later the Duke of Hastings and Miss Daphne Bridgerton had joined the dancers on the floor, clearly holding hands.

“Don’t look now,” Harry murmured, leaning down toward Eloise so she could hear him. 

A waiter came by and he plucked the empty lemonade cup from Eloise’s fingers, and he deposited both cups on the tray.

Eloise bit her lip as the music started up and Daphne and the Duke were clearly wrapped up in one another.  “Do you think it’s only a matter of time?” she asked him, her voice nervous.

Harry turned from her back toward the dancers, and he studied Daphne and the Duke of Hastings for several phrases of music before he returned his attention back to Eloise.  “Their attention seems very much focused on one another.  I daresay, if I were taken to fancy, I would proclaim them in love.”

Her beautiful blue eyes blinked up at him.  “I suppose that’s what sisters do.  They go away.”

“But they come back,” he assured her.  When she looked up at him in question, he gestured toward the dancing couple, “for the season.”

She laughed a little.  “You are not a woman, Mr. Potter,” Eloise argued.  “You will inherit your father’s home.  One day you might bring a wife home, even if it is not Miss Granger.  You will come and go as you wish.  You will never leave your home to make another house where you lay your head.”

He mulled over her words for a long moment, looking at the top of her dark head of hair as she watched her sister dance.  “They say love is worth it.  Lady Whistledown might say dynasty is worth it.”

Harry could sense Eloise’s grimace.  “And what of your dynasty, Mr. Potter?”

“The Earldom has always been secondary to happiness,” he told her conversationally.  “My father married a woman with no money and no title.”  Harry thought of his mother, of her beautiful auburn hair and bright green eyes, and her unswerving mission for Harry to find a bride worthy of himself—though he was never quite sure what that meant.  His eyes scanned the ballroom and he saw Lady Potter, resplendent in dark purples and bows, speaking with Lady Danbury.  She was watching him and Eloise quite closely.  “She’s here tonight,” he added.

“Is she?” Eloise asked, glancing up at him.  “Where?”

“Do you see Lady Danbury?” he asked.  “She’s the woman in purple with the multitude of bows.”

He could tell when Eloise found her because she laughed slightly.  Lily Potter really was wearing a multitude of bows. 

“She will be disappointed if you don’t dance,” Eloise correctly guessed, “with someone other than Miss Granger.”  She brought her gloved fingers to her lips and tapped her mouth for a long moment.  “Lord Byron is absent tonight.”

Harry looked at her in astonishment.  “Am I suitable replacement for Lord Byron?”

“Suitable, no,” she told him, his heart sinking, “but adequate.  Do you mind if I step on your toes?—that is, if you should ask me.”  She turned her pretty blue eyes to him.  “You feel it, don’t you?”

His eyes widened behind his glasses and he almost gasped.  “You can feel it?”

“A tug,” she agreed, “somewhere lodged beneath my left breast as if I were tied to you and you to me.”

“An invisible string,” he agreed, as the orchestra flared to a conclusion, and he offered her his hand. 

“It’s what brought you to me,” she agreed, her blue eyes flitting to him as she took his hand and let him lead her to the dancefloor.

The End

Published by excentrykemuse

Fanfiction artist and self critic.

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