HK09 of 25 files

Part the Ninth—
Most men admire virtue who follow not her lore.
—Milton, Paradise Regained, Book I

The sun was barely shining behind gray clouds when Harry entered the Muggle coffee shop on the second day of September.  He’d left a note for Lucrece on the kitchen table in case she should find it, telling her he’d be out and would be coming back with some friends, if she even bothered to read it.  He really hoped that he wouldn’t have an argument with her about permanent houseguests or Justin clearly being a Muggle-born.  His surname just wasn’t even remotely magical.

He’d informed Winky a few days ago about the houseguests and she had happily gone off to make up rooms for them, muttering about linen and color schemes, bringing a smile to Harry’s face.  “One is Daphne Greengrass,” he added, and her large tennis ball eyes had lit up before she started squeaking happily about a Miss Astoria and a marriage into the extended Black household. 

The coffee shop was rather full for this time in the morning, and Harry had difficulty finding an empty table and then had to tell two people that they couldn’t take the spare chairs as he was meeting friends.  The waitress had looked him over with a practiced eye, smiling at him and leaning forward to expose her décolletage, but Harry mostly ignored her, ordering his tea and a scone, uncertain how long he would be waiting.

At half past ten, the door opened with the chiming of a small bell and Daphne gracefully walked into the shop with Viktor Krum behind her, her strawberry blonde hair swept up in some sort of twist.  He was surprised to see her in a pair of Muggle jeans and crisp shirt.  He had never seen her dressed so casually.

“Harry,” she greeted neatly as she sat across from him.  She lifted her head to the side, her exquisite jeweled earrings catching the light, and signaled the waitress over.  “How is your dear husband?”

Krum silently sat down in the remaining chair and Harry looked at him for several long moments, wondering exactly why Daphne had let him come and exactly who she was planning on dating—Flint obviously thought she was going to marry him and, if the way Krum looked at Daphne was any kind of sign, he obviously thought that Daphne was his girlfriend.

“In France,” Harry calmly responded after several long moments, his hand unconsciously going to a folded piece of paper in his pocket to assure himself it was there.  “I got a letter from Narcissa saying that he had arrived safely.”

She nodded once and glanced over at the waitress who was looking unhappily between Harry and Daphne, clearly thinking they were a couple.  The waitress seemed to have forgotten all about Krum.  Daphne cleared her throat and looked pointedly at her.  “It’s disrespectful to look at a married man in such a way,” she chided before ordering. 

The waitress quickly hurried away, not looking back at them.

“You are far too handsome for your own good,” Daphne mused with a half-smile, Krum frowning slightly at that.  “We’ll have to blame Octavian for his good influence.”

“Lord Prince has informed me it is the Prince way,” Harry confided with a half-hearted laugh.  “Princes make others bend to their wishes and have them wrapped around their royal fingers.”

“Hmm,” she responded and then turned to Krum.  “Viktor, you can see I am safe.”

Krum looked at her and then once again at Harry and got to his feet, his shoulders rounded and hunched slightly.  “I go to Bulgaria soon.”

“Yes, I know,” Daphne responded, a slight frown on her lips.  “Have a safe journey.”

He looked taken aback as if he had expected her to say something else, and then grasped her hand lying in the table and bowed over it.  “I vill write you, Daphne.”

“I look forward to it.”

Krum held her gaze for several long moments and then, with a nod to Harry, left the shop, his gait uneven and awkward and his eyes scowling.

Daphne didn’t look after him and instead shook her head.  “The Princes are famous,” she agreed, turning back to the previous conversation and catching Harry momentarily off guard.  “That’s what made the scandal so delicious when we were children,” she murmured, looking up hesitantly at Harry before accepting the tea from the waitress.  “La Princesse is said to have been a true Prince—and the Malfoys are known for never giving into anyone.”

“Poor Lucius,” Harry observed, his eyes flicking toward the coffee shop window and where Krum had disappeared.  When he turned back, he saw Daphne looking at him expectantly.

“Poor Lucius,” Daphne agreed.  She crossed her legs, her shining black boots catching the light and reflecting it elsewhere. 

“Lucrece,” Harry began hesitantly, “is staying with me at the moment.  Here in England.”

Daphne looked up, her eyebrow arching prettily.  “Indeed?”

“That won’t be a problem, will it?”  He looked at her with steel in his eyes, showing her that he would not be moved on the matter.  Lucrece’s position in his household was indisputable, whatever his personal misgivings about her were. 

She hesitated momentarily and then inclined her head.  “Of course not,” she agreed.  “I was merely stunned.  She is close to Octavian, is she not?”

“Octavian is close to her,” Harry corrected, and she nodded in understanding.

“It must have been difficult for a woman of her social standing,” she mused aloud, her eyes catching Harry’s.  “Must still be hard.  To go from having everything to nothing, and a child to blame.”

“Octavian wasn’t—“

“Of course not,” she agreed.  “But if there hadn’t been a child, she could have hid it.  Lord Malfoy would have kept his silence, no one would have known and only her future husband could have suspected.  When a witch gives birth, however—“  She paused, her delicate fingers resting on the handle of her teacup as she looked into their cloudy depths.  “Our magic changes,” she confided.  “Not for Muggle-borns, of course.  Their magic is more recessive than ours.  No one is certain where they got it from, but it seems to be a recessive gene—gene, is it?”

Harry nodded dumbly, surprised to hear a term from Muggle science spoken by her.

“In Muggle-borns, it is recessive.  In purebloods it is dominant.”

“And half-bloods?” Harry inquired, finishing off his scone and carefully licking his thumb.

Her eyes narrowed at the breach of table manners, but she didn’t say anything.  “A mixture.  For someone such as yourself, it would most likely be dominant.  In your children with Octavian it will be dominant.  If your mother had been a Muggle, it would have been dominant as you would have inherited magic only from your father.”  She waved her hand dismissively.  “The point is that a pureblood’s magic changes when she gives birth.  It is subtle but apparent—detectable.  Her magic feeds her child, and part of it leaves her to enter her child’s body.  She doesn’t lose any of her magic,” she corrected, perhaps guessing Harry’s unspoken question.  “It grows and changes.  She could never have gone through a rite before marriage that is often used in pureblood marriages.  It would have been detected.”

“How—curious,” Harry finally said after several long moments.  “I suppose she could never marry, even if she wanted to.”

“No,” Daphne agreed quietly.  “Not a pureblood, and someone like La Princesse would never marry anything less.”  She paused, glancing out the window.  “She could marry Lord Malfoy, though.  If he were a widower.”

Harry’s eyes widened, and he looked down at his coffee.  “She would never do that.”

“No, I didn’t think she would,” Daphne conceded.

Several minutes passed slowly and Harry glanced at his watch, hoping nothing had happened to Justin.  “I saw Flint the other week,” he told her.  “He sends his regards.”

Daphne looked at him and then, after a moment, smiled.  “How wonderful.  I’d ask you to send them back, but I rather suspect I’ll be seeing Marcus soon.  He knows I’m not in France—I accidentally ran into him when he came to see Astoria so he could tell me how she was—and insists that he take me out to dinner or lunch regularly, somewhere where I won’t be noticed.  It seems that Astoria was right.  He does want to marry me.”  She sighed, setting her chin in her hand and looking out the window, as if she expected the world to give her the answers she was looking for.

Harry nodded at that.  “Krum—he doesn’t think—“

“He knows I’m flattered by his attentions,” Daphne corrected, “and that I won’t let him do more than simply touch my hand.  He makes Marcus jealous and, well, the possibility of someone like Marcus makes him jealous.  I never thought I’d be courted by two wizards before I’ve graduated.  It’s rather enjoyable.”

“That can happen?” Harry asked, tentatively.

“Oh, yes,” Daphne agreed.  “I have no idea how serious Viktor is, or whether I’d be happy with either of them.  At least Astoria doesn’t have that problem.”  A smile touched her lips again.

“And how is Astoria?” Harry asked quietly, and Daphne turned back to him with a full smile on her face.

“Well,” she responded.  “I couldn’t see her off on the train because I’m supposed to be in France, but Draco came by and escorted her.”  A smile touched her lips.  “I think he’s planning to propose over Christmas—she’ll be sixteen by then.”  A wistful look passed across her face, but before Harry could respond, the door had opened again and a huffing Justin had entered the shop.

“Sorry,” he greeted.  “Snatchers were on my tail, so I had to take a long route.  Who ever heard of snatchers in London?”

Daphne sighed and took a long sip of her tea before calling the waitress over.  “Three fresh teas and scones,” she ordered succinctly.

“Snatchers?” Harry asked in confusion.

“New Ministry policy,” Daphne answered quietly.  “For all the Muggle-borns who haven’t properly registered.”

Harry’s eyes widened in alarm before he looked over at Justin.  “Well, you’ll be safe where we’re going, and I doubt anyone would touch you if you were with me.”

Justin snorted.  “I saw that picture in the Prophet with Malfoy.  Where did they come up with that?”

Harry shrugged.  “I didn’t even know they were there—and we’re brothers-in-law.  I think the only things we agree on are Octavian and Astoria.”

Justin looked at him in confusion.  “Who’s Astoria?”

Daphne looked at him balefully.

The waitress was not happy when she came over with their order, glaring at Daphne and then looking at Justin with curiosity.  Harry ignored her, but he was almost certain he heard her whisper “ménage a trois” under her breath, causing his lips to quirk.

After another half hour, the three had bundled into a cab, and Harry passed them a small piece of paper with the words ‘Harry Potter resides at 12 Grimmauld Place’ carefully written on it.

“Fidelius?” Justin asked, and Harry nodded in affirmation, paying the cabby when they got to the end of Grimmauld Place before leading Daphne and Justin to the old house.

“Can owls find us?” Daphne asked worriedly, worrying her bottom lip.

“Yes,” Harry answered as he opened the door.  It creaked open and he stepped inside, shutting it firmly behind Daphne and Justin.  “Tracking charms on owls, however, won’t be able to get through.”

“Two Hufflepuffs and a Slytherin,” Justin mused as Harry led them up the stairs to their rooms.  “Who would have thought?”

By later that afternoon, Daphne had ensconced herself in the library, pouring over old books that she had managed to pry off the shelves.  “Right,” she commented when she noticed Harry hovering in the doorway.  “We have one dark lord who needs to die and yet no one can seem to quite kill him.”

She took out several blank pieces of parchment and a quill. 

“Any ideas?” Harry asked, and she shook her head.

“I know I’m missing at least one vital piece of information.  No one can just survive the killing curse being rebounded.  You shouldn’t have lived at all, but the Dark Lord being able to come back …”

She shook her head, tendrils of hair falling into her eyes. 

“I’ll figure this out.  This library is amazing, Harry,” she commented.  “So dark.  How did you get your hands on it?”

Harry shrugged.  “I was actually surprised.  This used to be the Order’s Headquarters, and I thought they had gotten rid of everything dark.”

Daphne looked up, a gleam in her eyes.

“What’s the Order?” Justin asked from behind Harry, and they both moved into the room, Harry closing the door gently behind them.

“The Order of the Phoenix.  It was a secret organization Dumbledore founded during the first war—and then again just before our fifth year.”

“And they met here?” Daphne asked incredulously.

“It belonged to my godfather and he was a member,” Harry answered, his mind flitting to Sirius and his death briefly and then to Hermione’s.  He forced the thoughts away.

Daphne gritted her teeth.  “I suppose it was his house,” she began diplomatically, looking around.  “I’m still surprised about the books being left.”

“Yeah,” Harry agreed.  “Mrs. Weasley was very—adamant—that everything dark be purged, but some of these books …” His voice drifted off.

“Do they still have access?” Just asked suddenly, pulling Harry out of his thoughts.

“Hardly.  When I married Octavian I reclaimed the house as part of my inheritance and forced Dumbledore to recast the Fidelius Charm on me.”

Daphne grimaced, her eyes never really straying to Justin.  “That must have been an unpleasant conversation.”

“That’s one word for it,” Harry agreed casually, as he picked up one of the books.  He hesitated a moment, and then swallowed painfully.  “There’s a prophecy—about Voldemort.”

Justin, who had been shuffling between the shelves, quickly reappeared, a curious look on his face.  “An actual prophecy?”

“Yes,” Harry said quietly.  “I haven’t told Octavian—I didn’t want him to worry.”  He looked at them both meaningfully, and Daphne covered his hand with her own.

Justin nodded solemnly.  “Of course,” he murmured.  “What—what is it?”

The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches—born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies—and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not—and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other one survives—the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies.”  He paused.  “Voldemort knows the first part.”

Justin closed his eyes painfully, and then opened them cautiously and looked at Harry thoughtfully, before laughing.

“Dumbledore thought that was active?”

“Er-yes.  Why?”

“It’s already been fulfilled,” Justin said, turning back to the shelves.  “It’s absolutely useless in the struggle.”

Harry looked at Justin in confusion, and then turned back to Daphne, looking for some illumination.

“I know nothing of divination,” she admitted.  “At least we now know where the ‘Chosen One’ rumor came from.”

Harry sighed and flopped into a comfortable armchair.  It hadn’t been in the library when Sirius was alive so he could only suppose that Winky had somehow acquired it.

“Harry was chosen,” Justin agreed, coming back into sight with a thick book in his hands.  “Now, Trelawney is a complete fake, I admit—“

“It was her prophecy,” he added.  “She made a second one, actually, that came true at the end of our third year.”  He shivered at the memory.

Justin looked at him skeptically and then nodded, as if accepting it as a viable possibility.  “I always assumed there was a reason why she was hired,” he agreed absently, before opening the book and scanning the contents.  “To my knowledge I’ve never made a prophecy, but I’m only seventeen,” he continued, “and I got full marks on my O.W.L. Knowing things runs in the families, even among the Muggles.  Grandmother knew about my Hogwarts letter before she even knew what Hogwarts was,” he elaborated.

Daphne looked at him, shocked.

“There are psychics in the Muggle world,” Justin answered her unasked question.  “We don’t talk about it, but it’s always been considered one of my family’s eccentricities—and as we’re titled …”

“Everyone just thinks it’s one of those things,” Harry finished for him, and Justin’s face broke into a wide grin, his brown eyes twinkling.

Daphne looked a little impressed despite herself.

“So—the prophecy.”

“Has been fulfilled,” Justin finished.  “Wording is always very unspecific with prophecies as there are so many variables, but if you are the boy in the prophecy—“

“—which he probably is,” Daphne cut in.

“Which he probably is,” Justin agreed, pushing his curly fringe out of his eyes.  “You’ve been marked as his equal, you’ve vanquished him as a toddler with powers the Dark Lord knows not, and since his body was destroyed—his body was destroyed, right?”  He looked at Harry hopefully.

“Yes,” Harry agreed.  “There was a ritual for a new one.”

Daphne’s eyebrows furrowed and she quickly wrote something down.  “I need to know everything about that ritual later,” she said.  “It might be important.”

Harry nodded.

“When the body dies, a person is dead.  The soul always survives although it’s unusual for it to somehow survive on our plane of existence without being a ghost and unheard of for it to somehow reside in another body.  Now, the line about neither living while the other survives is equally vague, but just means that you’re always going to be at odds with each other.  He died at your hand, he just didn’t remain dead.”

“Sometimes I truly dislike magic,” Daphne muttered to herself, causing Justin’s lips to twitch up into a half-smile.

“That’s good then,” Harry finally said.  “I refuse to die, and if Dumbledore was wrong about that…”

“And that’s a pretty basic aspect of this entire problem,” Daphne put in helpfully.

“Then he was bound to be wrong about almost everything else, then,” Harry concluded.

“Why do it then?” Justin asked, his voice all seriousness.  “It doesn’t have to be you who destroys him.  You’re relatively protected because of Octavian.”

A small smile lit up Harry’s face.  “For our little girl,” he answered.  “I won’t have her born into the world as it is now.”

About teatime, all three were roused from their perusal of the darker books in the Black library when there was a knock on the door.  Harry glanced up, his eyes furrowed, before he called out for whomever it was to come in.  He didn’t think Winky would knock on the door if she happened to pop back to England for whatever reason, but he doubted that Lucrece would disturb him as she had never done so before and instead would gravitate to a room that had an open door, often the drawing room.

The door opened gently, revealing Lucrece wearing a simple house-robe of elegant crimson brocade.  “Forgive me, Harry,” she greeted, taking in Daphne who was sitting primly in her chair like a proper pureblood lady and Justin sprawled out on the floor.  “An owl came half an hour ago for a Daphne Greengrass.”  Her eyes flicked back to Daphne, who quickly looked up with a smile on her face.

Setting down her book quickly, she hurried over in uncharacteristic excitement.  “Thank you, Madame Prince,” she said formally as she accepted the letter and turned it over, taking in the seal.   Her smile, if possible, became even wider.

“I know that smile,” Lucrece remarked to herself, before quietly leaving the trio to their work.

“What smile?” Justin asked in confusion, causing Daphne to blush.

Harry didn’t answer and managed to sneak a glance at the letter later, and was almost certain it was from Flint.  Still, it was a toss up between Flint and Krum given he hadn’t seen a signature, but as Krum had only left that day—well, he could be that keen, Harry supposed.

Harry soon realized that Lucrece was all politeness to their guests, even going so far as to inquire after Daphne’s mother whom she had once known, and asking Justin if he was certain his family was safe since he was now in hiding from the Muggle-born laws.

Apart from meal times, they only saw her when Daphne got a mysterious letter that was always on the same heavy parchment and used the same elaborate seal in dark blue wax.  He was almost certain that the first letter had been on slightly thinner paper with a silver seal, making him realize that, unless some of the letters were from her parents, Astoria, or Draco, both Flint and Krum were sending her letters.

When he asked Lucrece quietly about them, she had only smiled secretly to herself, and said that he wouldn’t understand as he wasn’t a woman, which just confused him more as he was almost certain about what was going on. 

Within the first week, Justin had begun looking wistful at the constant barrage of owls at Grimmauld Place, and Harry asked him why he didn’t send a letter to his family.  “You can use Hedwig,” he offered, but Justin just shook his head.

“I don’t want anyone looking for me.  I won’t use anything magical around them while it’s not safe.”

Harry nodded his head in acknowledgement, and then asked if they had a telephone.  With a quiet word to Dobby, who he’d hired away from Hogwarts for a few months after he realized he was the only one in the house who could really cook, he had ordered one and Dobby had it installed, registered with a number and working on magic instead of wires.  It was an older model from the 1920s, set into the wall of a small parlor that was never used but which Octavian had set up comfortably with blues and greens, and which Harry thought would give Justin some privacy.

At night Harry would collect all of his letters from Octavian and carefully reread them, thinking of his husband and their unborn child, and would fall asleep with tears in his eyes, clutching a pillow to him to ease the ache in his heart at the thought that his husband wasn’t lying in his arms.

After a fortnight, Harry had assumed that the four of them had settled into a comfortable pattern, until Daphne breathed out one small word as she read a flimsy pamphlet that she had come across in the library—“Horcrux.”

Justin looked up in confusion, his usually happy face lined in thought, and Harry’s breath hitched.

“No,” Harry whispered dangerously.  “Don’t even go down that line of thought.”

Daphne looked up at him questioningly, her lips thinning out into a grimace.  “You know what they are.”  Understanding flashed through her eyes.  “You knew he had them.”

Harry looked away again, back to the book on rebirthing rituals he was trying to get through in order to identify what exactly Wormtail had done to bring back Voldemort.

“You knew!” she said angrily.  “We’ve been wasting two weeks on research and you knew.”

He clenched his jaw.

“Er-what’s a horcrux?” Justin asked tentatively, but Daphne glared angrily at him, making him return to his own book on fulfilled prophecies.

“Did you want us to waste our precious time?” Daphne asked coldly, her poise returning as she sat regally and forbiddingly in her chair.  “Did you want to send us on a wild goose chase just because you’re missing your husband?”

“Don’t bring him into this,” Harry warned, his eyes snapping up to Daphne.  “I’ve done everything I can to protect him.”

“—except tell us the one way we can defeat him when you knew.”  She paused, breathing in deeply through her nose.  “People are dying outside this house.”

“You think I don’t know that?” Harry questioned coldly.  “I’ve watched them die—Cedric,” (Justin flinched at the name, but Harry continued,) “my own godfather, Dumbledore, Hermione, Ginny—“

“Don’t bring up that blood traitor,” Daphne said dismissively.

“Whatever her faults and her crimes, she didn’t deserve to die butchered,” Harry retorted.

Daphne glanced away, brushing her hair behind her ear absently before gazing at him coolly with her dark blue eyes.  “Who else knows?  Who, Harry?”

“Dumbledore,” he answered calmly.  “I don’t know for how long.—Sometime after second year, I suppose.”

Justin swallowed, probably at the memory of being petrified.

“And what did he do about it?” Daphne questioned, and Harry looked at her.

“He was going to offer me up as a sacrifice—I’m the seventh horcrux, Daphne.”

She froze, a look of horror passing across her features.  “Seven,” she breathed out.  “There must be nothing left of him.”

“Except for hatred and rage,” Harry agreed.

Silence fell over the room and Daphne looked away, breathing slowly and audibly.  “All right,” she finally murmured.  “You’re certain you’re the seventh?”

“Nearly.  I don’t know much about them—as soon as I found out—“

Daphne nodded.  “Of course,” she agreed quietly.  “That bastard!  He was breeding you for slaughter, wasn’t he?  And all for a defunct prophecy that meant nothing.”

Justin shifted from his position on the floor.  “What’s a horcrux?” he murmured, and Daphne finally handed him the pamphlet. 

She stared into Harry’s eyes calmly.

“A Catch-22, isn’t it?” Harry asked quietly in the tense atmosphere.

“Catch-22?” Daphne asked in confusion.

“A Muggle phrase,” Harry elaborated.  “A no-win situation.”

“Muggles,” Daphne breathed out and then got up, pacing the room restlessly.  “So he has horcruxes—and we can’t destroy them because he has at least one living one if not more.”

“More?” Justin questioned, looking up with horror in his eyes from the pamphlet.  “This is sick, you know that, right?”

“Very sick,” Harry agreed. 

“He has seven according to Harry.  It’s blasphemous to make even one, and he’s stripped himself down so he’s become nothing more than an obsessed, hatred-filled parody of himself.  After splitting his soul twice, he’d probably think anything was a good idea—even using an innocent child as a horcrux.  He’d do anything for power, for more immortality, and if he made seven he was clearly obsessed.  A child would be perfect, blasphemous, yes, but he’d still remember that most people would have difficulty killing a child to kill him, ensuring his horcrux’s safety.  Well, except Dumbledore.  He seemed up to the challenge.

“What other way is there if he’s—done this?” Justin asked with horror in his voice.

Daphne shook her head.  “I don’t know.  But ending one life to stop that monster does not justify it.”

Justin laughed hollowly.  “I read that book you know.  Skeeter’s.  The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore.  Do you know what his catch phrase was, his justification?”

He looked at Harry who stared back blankly.

“For the greater good.”

“And that man,” Daphne seethed, “was permitted to teach children.  No wonder he let all matter of harms come into Hogwarts.  That monster second year.”

“Basilisk,” Harry supplied. 

“Did they ever catch who was responsible?” Justin asked, his voice trembling slightly.

Harry hesitated.  “It was a horcrux, a diary that was controlling someone.”

“I hope they were expelled,” Daphne murmured, her forehead lined in thought.  “I don’t remember anyone being expelled, though.”

“She wasn’t,” Harry responded. 

Both Daphne and Justin looked at him in question.

“Ginny.  It was Ginny Weasley.”

Justin swore angrily under his breath.

“And then there were the dementors and Sirius Black,” Daphne continued, “and that bloody tournament with no safeguards—Diggory died because of Dumbledore’s stupidity—and one of our professors was not who he was supposed to be, and then Umbridge…”  She paced rapidly, her voice becoming less regulated and stressed.  “And then Death Eaters were at Hogwarts.  What was he playing at?”

“My death,” Harry responded quietly.  “It was all to get me ready to die—but I’d rather suffer a thousand torments than leave my husband or child.”

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