The Courting of Lady Isadore Vaisey

Title: The Courting of Lady Isadore Vaisey
Author: ExcentrykeMuse
Pairing(s): Harry/OFC
Summary: Harry fell in love with her photograph, even though she had died during the war. Frankly, he wasn’t going to let a little thing like the time space continuum keep them apart.

Note: Isadore Vaisey is the creation of ElleRoche and used with her permission!

Warnings: time travel

There was only one picture on the mantle in Grimmauld Place.  Harry had seen it the summer before his fifth year and thought it was odd.  He’d expected to see members of the Black family, pictures of Sirius with the other Maurauders, maybe pictures of his mum and dad.  However, this picture was different.  It showed a young Sirius, about twenty years old, in dress robes, standing next to a witch about his age.  She was wearing ice blue robes that matched her eyes.  She was slender, with hair so blonde it could be white, and a soft, sad smile.

Sirius caught him holding it one day when he was all alone in the room.

“Ah, I see you’ve found Isadore,” he remarked softly.  “If there’s anyone I could have saved in that blasted war, it would have been her.”

“Not my parents?”

“No,” Sirius answered sincerely.  “I—Isadore was my godsister.  That’s a powerful relationship in the wizarding world.  Even when I broke from my parents, I still went and saw her.”  He laughed.  “We’d dine at The White Witch, the most pureblood establishment as you can imagine, all because it would make her happy.  It stood for everything I was against, but I didn’t care.  Isadore so rarely smiled.”

“What happened to her?”

“She fell in love with the wrong wizard, and he chose someone else over her.”

“How horrible,” Harry replied sympathetically.  “What happened next?”

“The usual.  She was married off politically—to Evan Rosier, I’m sure you’ve heard of him.  She was killed personally by the Dark Lord just before the War ended.  I never knew why.”  He sighed.

“And this wrong wizard?”

“She loved him with her entire being.  I’ve never seen a witch love so fiercely, but he was too blind to see it.  I did everything in my power, believe me I did, but all your father could see was Lily, and she never loved him half as dearly.  If you ever find a witch who loves you more than her very breath, Harry, snatch it before you lose it.  You will live to regret it otherwise.  I probably shouldn’t say this, but I know your father did.”

Harry looked down at the picture again and stared at the beautiful face of Isadore.  After Sirius had died, he took the picture and kept it with him on his search for the horcruxes and once that was over, he became obsessed with the very idea of her.

Ginny Weasley loved him only because he was her knight in shining armor.  Everyone else loved him because he was the Chosen One.  It was disgusting.

If he could find Isadore though, if he could somehow get back to her, then perhaps he could be loved for who he was.  He just had to steal her away from his dad and get there before she was married off to Evan Rosier.

He had Potter Abbey opened up because he couldn’t bear to go back to Grimmauld Place.  He searched through the family annals and found that his grandfather had been married before, to Aloysia Fawley, and they had had a son, Horatio, who had died.  He would have been four years older than James.  If he posed as that son, that gave him about three years to find the answer.

And he did.

Now he stood waiting in The Golden Lion for his first marriage date.  No one had taken to him in the Potter household except for Charlus, who thought he was his long lost son Horatio, and Sirius Black.  It took Harry an entire week to wheedle Dorea into setting up this marriage date.  Fortunately, Sirius helped him.  It took so long because, after all, if he didn’t have heirs then her son could one day be Lord Potter, even if he was chasing after a Muggleborn.

The doors opened and the beautiful witch from the photograph appeared.

Harry bowed and she curtsied to him.  He could feel her eyes roving over him, taking in his different features from James.  Harry was more lithe, his hair naturally messier.  His eyes, of course, were green.

“Lady Isadore,” Harry greeted.  “Please, sit.”

She looked at him with her big doe eyes and then carefully kneeled on the cushion.  They were not in a private tea room but in one of the public ones.  Harry had wanted to show Isadore off.  Harry took his seat.

An assortment of tea bags were lain on the table.

“D-do you h-have any pref-ference, Heir Horatio?” she asked quietly, not meeting his gaze.

“Are you a fan of Lady Grey?  I’ve been wanting to try that, but haven’t gotten the chance.”

Her eyes flitted up.  “I w-would b-be amenable.”

Sirius had never mentioned her stutter, but it showed how shy and sweet she was.  It was utterly adorable on her.  Harry couldn’t imagine changing it, unless she herself became more comfortable in his presence and the stutter disappeared on its own.

Harry touched his wand to the tea bag and it glowed.  He knew, from what Sirius had told him, that a teapot would be brought over to them in a few minutes.

He handed her the courting gift.  The box was long and a little wide and wrapped in lilac paper.  “Sirius told me you appreciated wizard glass,” he murmured.  “I hope you find this acceptable.”

Watching her unwrap the gift, he held his breath as she opened the box to reveal a mirror made completely of wizard glass.  It was simple, with only her initials on it and ivy sketched on the rim, but it was perfect and showed her reflection.  Isadore picked it up and looked at herself and smiled.  “Heir H-horatio, th-this is wondrous.”  She set it back down carefully.  “I will t-treasure it.”

“Thank you,” he responded kindly.

The tea arrived and Isadore served, showing off her perfect wrists that the drape of her robes betrayed, and Harry breathed in the scent of the tea.

“Sugar?  Milk?” Harry asked.

Isadore shook her head.  

They drank their tea in silence for a few minutes as it was clear that Isadore was trying to gain her courage to say something.

“Why,” she finally asked, “w-was I chosen?  I h-hear that y-you are at l-least twenty?  I a-am sixteen.  Surely I-I am a l-little juvenile t-to you.”

“Hardly,” was his immediate response.  “I’m sure you know, but Heir Sirius Black is living with the Potters at the moment.  He spoke so warmly of you that I knew I had to meet you—that I wanted—“ He blushed.

“S-sirius is v-very kind,” she whispered.  “I c-could not wish f-for a better g-godbrother.”

“I’m not certain if I have any godsiblings,” Harry answered truthfully.  “I wouldn’t know what to say to them.  I don’t know what to say to you.  I grew up with Muggles and taught myself magic out of textbooks”—that was his official story—“I know little of wizarding culture and nothing of Hogwarts.”

A small hand fell over his.  He looked up to see Isadore smiling at him.  “What’s important is th-that you c-came home to us, Heir Horatio.”  The hand was drawn away.  “N-now, what w-would you like to know about H-hogwarts?”

Harry smiled deviously.  He would get all her secrets out of her in no time.

“She’s wonderful!” Harry declared when he arrived back at Potter Abbey three hours later.  “Sirius, I pity you for having a godsibling bond, because now you can’t sweep her up for yourself!”  Sirius smiled wolfishly at him.

“Went well, eh?  I have breakfast with her tomorrow at The White Witch.  I’ll see what she thinks.”

“I’ll lay a galleon on it that she finds me charming,” Harry dared, not glancing over at James.  He was the competition after all and Harry, no matter what Snape said, was nothing like James Potter.

“Are you sure it’s not the Potter Heirship they’re not after?” James questioned a little cruelly.  “They’ve been after us for a year for a marriage date—and then you, an unknown, suddenly gain the title and they accept you with open arms.”

“I don’t think,” Harry punctuated, “that Lady Isadore is one for titles.  I had her talking about the secret escapades of Ravenclaw Tower.”  Apparently, the prefects would call the house elves and give the first years hot cocoa the night before every Potions class.  “And, yes, there are escapades.”

“She’s never told me that!” Sirius whimpered.  “And I’m the king of pranks!  How’d you get her to do it?”

“I said I’d never been to Hogwarts before and wanted to know as much as possible.”

“You dog!” Sirius proclaimed.  “That’s an angle none of us can pull, can we, Jamesie?”

James looked at him balefully.  “I have a letter to Evans to write.”  He stalked off.

Sirius watched him go, but Harry brought him back to the conversation.  “Pearls.  Black.  Hairpiece.  Yes?”  Sirius could only nod.

Charlus was a bit sterner when he looked at the bill for the mirror.  “You have the Heirship, son, you don’t have to be quite so extravagant!”  He looked over his glasses.  “I know you want to make a good impression, but are you sure she’s worth it, this Vaisey girl?”

“Absolutely, sir,” Harry answered.  “She’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before.  She’s shy and speaks with her whole heart.  She’s not one for political marriages, if she has her way.  She’s one for a love match, and I know you and Mother had a love match.”

“Yes, but you hadn’t met her yet!”

“Perhaps not,” Harry agreed.  “But I had favorable reports from Heir Sirius Black that led me to similar conclusions.  I grew up with Muggles, Father.  I don’t want to have to face something so strange as the wizarding world without someone I love beside me.”

“And you think you can find this love with Isadore Vaisey?”

“Yes,” he answered resolutely.

Charlus sighed.  “Very well.  At least you’re not running about like a fool after a Muggleborn like your brother.  If you can cure him of this habit, please do.—When’s your next marriage date?”

“Whenever Stepmother sets it up.”

“I’ll talk to her.  I know she’s been a bit resistant to the idea of you, but I’m working on it.”

It was a beautiful spring day and they were eating outside a bistro in Diagon Alley.  Harry had brought the marriage date gift and, on impulse, he told Isadore to close her eyes.  He carefully opened the box holding the headpiece, a large headband with strands of wire coming across the main body which held the pearls, and he placed it carefully on her head.  “There,” he murmured, and she looked up at him bewildered.

“D-does it suit?” she asked quietly.

“I’m not one for fashion,” he admitted, “but I think it looks beautiful.  The black pears offset your blonde hair nicely.”

She blushed.  “You’re t-too kind.”

“Nonsense,” Harry argued.  “Now, tell me why you’re sweet on my brother.”  He knew it was a bold move to play, but the Sirius of this time confessed it to him when he admitted his desire to have a marriage date with his godsister.

Isadore blushed again.  “H-Heir Horatio, I d-don’t know wh-what Sirius has t-told you—“

“He merely gave me a warning.  Now, we both know that James’s gone completely mad over someone named Evans, who I’m determined to meet so I can threaten her for playing with my little brother’s heart.  However, I know you’ve been on the sidelines.  I know the House of Vaisey has been seeking marriage dates with the Potters for the past year.  Talk to me, Lady Isadore.  Should I just give up now or is there actual hope for me?”

Looking like a deer in headlights, Isadore stared at him before looking down at her hands.  “I d-do care for L-Lord James,” she admitted after a pregnant pause.  “He’s s-so full of l-life.  I’m t-too scared to d-do anything.  I merely st-stay in my corner of R-Ravenclaw T-tower and get t-top marks.  I d-don’t even raise my hand i-in class.”

“I’m afraid I would never have been the one for having the answers,” Harry admitted, remembering his own time at Hogwarts.  “I’ve never found any joy in learning, though I do enjoy Defense and dueling.  I have rather a knack for it, actually.”

“I-is that wh-why you’re signed up for th-this year’s nationwide d-dueling competition?”  She looked at him earnestly.

“Yes,” he admitted.  “They’re next month.  Perhaps, if things go well, you’ll allow me to wear your colors?”  He looked at her hopefully.

“N-next month I’m at H-Hogwarts,” she observed. 

“Prefect?” he asked.

“Y-yes, but I’m a-afraid of taking points.”  She blushed.

“Well, I’m sure you give them a good scare just by being there,” Harry observed.  “Prefects have that tendency.”  He remembered his own time at Hogwarts.  He was scared to death of Percy Weasley, although he never would have told anyone that.  “But, Lady Isadore, do I have any hope?”

This time she didn’t look down at her hands and assessed him.  “You l-look so much l-like Lord J-James,” she admitted.  “It’s st-strange.”

“We are brothers,” Harry laughed.

“T-true, Heir Horatio.  Th-there is s-something different a-about you, s-something you’re n-not t-telling me.  I w-want to know wh-what it is,” she replied honestly.

“So, I’m a test for your Ravenclaw mind, then?”

“You intrigue m-me.  N-no other wizard h-has b-been able t-to do that.  Do n-not waste it.”

He smiled at her.

Charlus was not pleased.  Again.  “You went to Midas’s Staff and special ordered a hairband with black pearls.  What are you thinking, Horatio?  I’ve never thought of you as extravagant, but these gifts seem to prove otherwise.”

“If you could only meet her, Father,” it still felt so strange calling him that, “I’m sure you’d understand.”

“What I understand is that with inflation, I never spent more than three hundred galleons on your mother, who was the love of my life, for a marriage date gift.  I never spent half that on your stepmother, though don’t tell her I said so.  She’s gaining more of a complex than she already had about Aloysia.  I want you to try and be economical, son, and spend no more than five hundred this next time around.  Take James with you so he can pick something for that horrid Evans girl.  She’s thinking of letting him see her this summer—and he’s not going alone.  I don’t care if he brings Sirius along but you’re going with them.  I want an insider’s report on this girl.”

James was not overly thrilled to be spending time with his supposed older brother.  “What’s so special about this Vaisey girl?  Both you and Sirius won’t stop singing her praises.”

“She’s the perfect pureblood lady.  Modest, uncommonly shy, intelligent, well bred.  There’s nothing to criticize.”

“She’s a pureblood,” James stated.

“We’re purebloods,” Harry pointed out—at least, he was pretending to be as Heir Horatio Potter.  He fortunately had inherited James’s pureblood cheekbones.  He’d had to curse his eyes bright blue to look like Aloysia Potter.  “You should really allow Stepmother Dorea to set up one or two marriage dates for you—just so you know exactly what you want.  I’m sure purebloods have a skewed reputation at Hogwarts.”

“They’re all Slytherins.”

“I’m sure they’re in all households.  They might be a little more outspoken in Slytherin, that’s all.”

“You know there’s a war on that disenfranchises Muggles and Muggleborns?” James said nastily. 

They were in a rare bookstore and Harry was looking for something rather particular.  He didn’t know if Muggle fairytales ever made it into the wizarding world, but he thought Isadore would enjoy it.  If need be, he’d drag James into Bloomsbury.

“I realize that.  This does not necessarily mean that you should eschew your birth.  Look, I lived away from all of this and I can tell you just how precious our culture is.”

“What ever did happen to you?”

“As far as I can tell,” Harry said, stating the rehearsed story, “the midwife stole me and gave me to her Squib sister.  I was there until I was twelve.  I think she hid my Hogwarts letter.  She died and I went to an orphanage.  I knew something was different with me.  I had some of my original ‘mother’s’ belongings and found old spellbooks and a wand.  Don’t ask me where she got it, but I started using them in secret.  I found Diagon Alley and then Flourish and Blotts.”

“Do you still have the wand?”

“It’s what I use.”

James scoffed.  “No brother of mine is going to use a Squib’s wand.  We’re getting a new one as soon as we’re done here.”

Harry smiled slyly.  “I’ll make you a deal.  I’ll get a new wand, because I rather like my old one, if you agree to go on one marriage date.  I’ll make sure Stepmother Dorea doesn’t choose a Slytherin.”

James looked at him hard.  “We’ll still go and see Evans.”

“Definitely.  I’m dying to meet her.”

He stuck out his hand and James shook it.

Harry put his wand to rest, which had served him well since the war, and used the unicorn hair and holly wand that had chosen him.  It was supple and good at dueling, Ollivander said, which was just what he needed.

They ended up going into Bloomsbury, where Harry found a beautiful illuminated copy of Grimm’s Fairytales.  The originals were a little grim, no pun intended—the evil stepsisters cut off parts of their feet so they would fit into the glass slipper—but they still showed magic from a Muggle perspective.

It cost less than a hundred galleons.  Less than fifty, even.

Isadore opened the package with curiosity on her face and then wonder washed over her features.  “B-but th-these are M-Muggle.”

“I lived with Muggles for about eight years,” Harry answered.  “I loved fairytales, they were so full of magic, so I thought you might like to study them as you were a Ravenclaw.”

She was flipping through the pages, her eyes wide.

“That’s gold plate,” he informed her.  “It’s handwritten.  I hope you’ll be able to read it.”

“I-I’m sure I w-will, H-Heir Horatio.”  She smiled at him.  “It is t-truly th-thoughtful.  I a-also wish to th-thank you f-for the headband.  M-My mother c-commented on i-it when I g-got home and I t-took it off and l-looked at it.  You have ex-exquisite taste.”

“Do you have any siblings?  You’ve never said.”

“A b-brother.  Heir V-Valerius.”  She seemed to be struggling with her stutter and Harry put his hand on top of hers and she visibly calmed.  “H-he’s two.”

“That’s a large age gap,” Harry noted.  “Do you like having a baby in the house?  Or is it just annoying?”

“I l-love performing magic f-for him—c-curse this st-stutter!”  She looked like she was about to cry.

“Lady Isadore, it’s all right.  I find it rather charming.”

“It’s n-not charming.  It’s d-debilitating.  I-I wanted t-to g-give you a g-gift t-too this t-time.”  She tried to smile at him but it fell flat.  Her snow blonde hair was swept up in a strange bun, and she was wearing gold robes, which highlighted just how fair her complexion was.

“Then I am honored,” he whispered quietly.  He took his hand away.  “No sisters?”

She shook her head.  “And y-you?  What i-is it l-like being the pr-prodigal s-son?”  Isadore looked truly interested.

“I’m not accepted,” he answered.  “Father and Sirius have been welcoming, but Stepmother Dorea hates me and James just doesn’t like me.  He made me get a new wand though.”  He brandished it for her.  “I was using a Squib’s.”

“H-How t-terrible!”

“So I’ve been told,” he stated dryly.  “Still it served me well all these years.  I can’t complain.  I need to practice dueling with the new one.  See how it feels in my hands.”

“I-I remember when I g-got my w-wand,” she confided.  “I-It was s-such a wondrous d-day.  F-father let me go a-around O-Ollivander’s as h-he picked out wands.  I e-ended up with unicorn h-hair and v-vine.”

“Unicorn hair and holly,” he shared.  “I was using dragon string and hawthorn before.”

“How d-different,” she commented and she smiled at him shyly.

Fortunately, Harry was not called back into Charlus’s office.  Instead, Dorea wanted to speak to him.  “I believe I have you to thank for this marriage date,” she said airily.  “Now, we have three candidate.  Who do you think will best suit?”

“Well, she’s right out,” Harry stated, pointing to a sheet of parchment.  “She’s a Slytherin.”

“Of course, how silly of me.  I’m quite off my head.”  She set the parchment aside.  “Then there are these two.”

Harry took both of them and looked them over.  One was in Hufflepuff and the other in Gryffindor.  “Hufflepuff,” he finally decided.  “He won’t have met her before and she’s younger than he is.  She’s also not quite so—tall.”

“The other is shorter, though.”

“Yes, but barely.  Trust me, he’ll appreciate someone a few inches shorter than him.  Plus, the Gryffindor clearly hasn’t caught his eye before.  You’ll have better luck with this one.”

She took the parchment.  “Francesca Keene.  Her family is only six generations old, but that may appeal to him.”

Six generations sounded like an awful long time to Harry.

“When’s he meeting Evans?”

“August.  The date hasn’t been decided yet.”

She smiled at him.  “Perfect.  It’s mid July.  I’ll set it up for this week.—And thank you, Horatio, for getting him to agree to this.  I haven’t managed it for years and yet you’ve been here for a matter of weeks and get him to go on a marriage date!  How ever did you do it?”

“I pointed out that we’re purebloods, not everyone are Slytherins, and made a deal with him.”

“Yes, James is one for deals,” she murmured.  “He must have felt strongly about whatever you agreed to.  Nothing else would have changed his mind.”

Sirius and Harry were both in James’s room when he was changing for the date.  “Don’t wear red!” Harry called from his perch on the bed.  “You don’t want to shove House Pride in her face!  She’s a Hufflepuff!”

“That means no yellow either!” Sirius shouted.  “Go with those blue robes you wore to that horrible family dinner last year.”

“Are those appropriate?” Harry asked Sirius.  “We want him to put his best foot forward.”

“I’m wearing black!” James shouted back.

“Well, it will match his hair,” Harry murmured.  “Perhaps we should get his mother up here?”

“She picked out the gift, we don’t need her picking out the robes.  Have you seen it?”

“The Forget-Me-Not comb?  It’s stunning.  She’s bound to get a lecture, though, from Father about the expense of it.  He won’t stop giving me a hard time about my gifts to Lady Isadore.”

“Now is this girl Lady Francesca or Miss Francesca?” Sirius asked in curiosity.

Miss Francesca.  Her family doesn’t have a Lordship.  Her mother was Lady Claire, though.”

“Don’t you think he could have aimed higher?” Sirius asked.

“Look, he doesn’t like pureblood culture.  This is as far away from it as we’re going to get.  She’s a year younger, so he can feel more mature, she’s in a different House and not a Slytherin, so she’s new and fresh, and she’s three inches shorter than he is so he can feel manly.  What more do you want?”

Sirius looked at Harry.  “Have you told Isadore?”

“No,” he admitted.  “I didn’t know what to say.  At that point it was all hypothetical, anyway.  Let’s see how this goes and then I’ll practice on you.”

Laughing, Sirius agreed.

James came out, dressed in formal black robes edged in white.  They had a cape to them, which was rather dashing.  “I think she’ll like it,” Sirius decided.

“Definitely,” Harry agreed.  “Now, remember, it’s Miss Francesca Keene.”

“Thanks for not making her a lady,” James breathed, taking his gift off of his dresser.  “I don’t think I would have been able to stand it.”  With one last look at the two of them, he left the room.

He arrived back at the Abbey two hours later.  His face was blank and he wouldn’t say a word to anyone.

“James, dear?” Dorea asked.  “How did it go?”

He just brushed past her and ran to his room.  Harry was so worried that he postponed his date with Isadore, saying some family business had come up, and he waited in the family library until, finally, a little house elf came and summoned him.

James was sitting in his pajamas in his desk chair, several pieces of parchment crumpled around his feet.  “Horatio,” he pleaded.  “You’re my brother.  Tell me what to do.”

“I’ll help in any way I can,” he promised.  He knew, even if James didn’t marry Lily and have him, that he would still exist in this time.  A paradox had been created and he would live out his days in the past even if he was never born in the future.  “What is it?”

“It—It wasn’t horrible.”

“All right.  That’s good, isn’t it?”

“No, it’s horrible!  She’s a brunette, dammit, with brown eyes and curling hair, you could tell even though it was up, and she had a round face and full laughter and she had curves in all the right places…”

“So, she was attractive,” Harry surmised.

“Yes, Horatio, she was attractive!”

“More attractive than Evans?”

Now James fell silent.  Harry decided to try another tactic.

“What did you talk about?  Was it interesting?”

“She didn’t call me a toe-rag,” he said sullenly.  “That’s the nicest thing Evans has ever said to me.”

“I see.”  Harry did remember that from the memory he had seen of his parents.  “I suppose she called you ‘Lord James’?”

“She asked to dispense with titles and just called me ‘James.’  It was rather nice.”  He was looking at his hands now.

“That’s good then,” Harry encouraged.

“We talked of Muggle literature.  She rather likes this guy called Tolstoy.  He’s Russian.  I have to read a book called Anna something.”

Anna Karenina.  You know that it was a tragic ending.”

“She did warn me.  She said she liked those.  There’s one that’s British called Tess something.”

Tess of the D’Urbervilles.  We can go into Muggle London tomorrow and pick these up for you.”

“Do you think?” he asked hopefully.

“Yes.  I can suggest a few more titles so you’ll have something to talk about.  Do you want to see her again?”

He nodded.

“Then I’ll tell Dorea to set up another date,” Harry told him.  “Are you worried about Evans?” he asked perceptively.

“I’ve been trying to write to her.”

“Why don’t you wait until you’ve had another date or two?  Give yourself a chance, James.  And this meeting with Evans—it’s not a date, is it?  It’s just a meet up.”

“You’re right,” he said glumly.  “She won’t even give me the time of day.”

“But Francesca will and you like Francesca.”

He nodded.  “Then it’s settled then.  I’m sure your mother will expect you at dinner.”  He gave him a warning glance.  “And tomorrow we’re off to London.  I need to get Isadore something extra-special for canceling our marriage date tomorrow.”

“You simply must go.  Have Mother write the Vaiseys and insist and apologize for the lack of gift.  Say your brother was having a mental breakdown.”

“You sure?”

“Positive.”

“We’ll go afterward then,” Harry decided.

“Thank you, Horatio.  I needed a brother.  Sirius is—well—he’s like a brother, but I suppose it isn’t quite the same, is it?”

Harry honestly had no idea.  He was talking to his father, pretending to be his half-brother, and in the process of splitting his own parents up!  “That’s what I’m here for.”  Harry tried to keep the sadness out of his voice.

He found Dorea immediately and told her what had happened.  “Oh, thank the old gods!  I was so worried that we had chosen wrong!—and of course you should go with Lady Isadore tomorrow.  I have a spare courting gift.  I got two in case James didn’t like one.”  She bustled off and returned five minutes later.

“What is it?” Harry asked as he unwrapped it.

“It’s a map of all the magical enclaves in the world.”  She pointed to England.  “See, you can see the populations in Scotland, Cornwall, and London.  She’s a Ravenclaw; I know she’ll love it.”  Then Harry did something he hadn’t expected.  He hugged his grandmother, who thought he was her interloping stepson. 

“Thank you, Stepmother Dorea.”

“Think nothing of it,” she whispered tearfully.  “You’re a young man of this house now, and so you’re my responsibility.—Now, let me go off and write that letter.”

Isadore was heavenly in scarlet and white, her robes accenting the flush in her cheeks.  She raised her hand to him and Harry instantly took it, raising it to just beneath his lips before releasing it.  “Lady Isadore.”

“You h-have something t-to tell me,” she said perceptively as they took their seats in the main tea room. 

“First, this,” Harry slid over the map, which was made on fine vellum and wrapped with a bow.  “I’ll admit Stepmother Dorea picked it out as I didn’t have time.”

“Yes, you c-canceled and then r-rescheduled.  V-very odd.”  She opened up the map and gasped.  “H-Heir Horatio, th-this is m-marvelous.”

“I’m glad you approve,” he said, smiling.  “Hopefully, it will soften the blow.”  He then told her about James, about the bargain, about the marriage date, how it seemed to go well.  He held her hand, willing her to understand, and she staid cold and quiet throughout the entire proceeding.

M-Miss?”

“He’s not a fan of pureblood culture, so I helped choose someone from an untitled family.”

She nodded.  “O-Of course.  C-congratulations, Heir H-Horatio.  You d-did the impossible.”

“Don’t look at me like that,” Harry begged.  “I’ve only ever wanted to make you happy.  You have to know this.  Haven’t I proved myself to you?  I would never willingly harm you.”

“No, I don’t believe you would.”  Her stutter was gone, but Harry hardly noticed.

“I just wanted to get him away from that Evans girl.  She sounds horrible.  Did you know she called him a toe-rag?  It’s disgraceful.  He was Heir James at the time and her social superior!  I just did what I had to do—and I couldn’t give you up, and you know I couldn’t have.  You couldn’t have started going on marriage dates with my brother unless I either married someone else or died.”

She set her hand on his.  He hadn’t realized that he’d been looking down at their joint hands before now.

“Lady Isadore?”

“This is when you ask me to marry you.”

“I don’t have a ring.”

“Then come to tea tomorrow.”

“Do you even love me?”  He looked at her, hard.

“I wouldn’t have told you to ask for my hand in marriage if I didn’t,” she responded.  “I stopped stuttering.  Haven’t you noticed?”

“You stopped—Lady Isadore!”  He clasped her hand tighter.  “Marry me,” he breathed.  “If you can bear a husband who’s spent so much time outside of the wizarding world, then be mine.  We’ll be married the day after you graduate from Hogwarts.”

“If you want,” she promised, and she leaned forward, and kissed him softly.

The End.

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