Chapter 1 : Sunday Morning
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Harry looked up from the book he as reading. Ginny was sitting at the other end of the couch reading the Sunday Prophet. Actually, she’d stop reading, swung her legs out of his lap and was staring at the page as if it had just burst into flames or something. “Gin? What has the Prophet done that warrants a reference to those most august kegs?” Smiling, he watched Gin stare, disbelievingly at the paper.
“Harry, you’re never going to believe this.” Frowning, Ginny passed the paper to him. “Page 27, top left. He must have imperiused her, that’s the only thing I can fathom.” Shaking her head slowly, Ginny watched Harry pick up the paper and his eyes widen.
“Draco’s engaged?” Harry tried not to look too shocked, he and Ginny had decided that Draco’s and his mother’s help at Malfoy manner and in the forest helped to ease over parts of the Malfoy legacy. Draco marrying, and it not being Ms ‘Let’s turn Harry over to the Dark Lord’ Parkinson was strange enough. “Didn’t you know this Asteria?”
“A year behind me in Ravenclaw, by the Grey Lady’s ghost.” Smiling, she thought back to her days during second year with Luna. “Her sister was in your year, one of those Slytherin harpies from your potions class. Daphne had quite the thing for Blaise as I recall.” As his darling wife smiled wickedly, he suspected that there was much more to that story than he knew, and that he was extremely better off not asking so he could keep some of his illusions about his wife intact.
Shaking his head at the gleam in Gin’s eyes, he watched in amazement at the woman he married. After 6 years on the Holyhead Harpies, three of them as Ginny Potter instead of Ginny Weasley, Harry was still amazed at how little she had changed in spite of all that had happened. “Think Ron and Hermione have seen the paper yet?” Harry asked innocently, knowing Gin wanted nothing more than to discuss this with Hermione. Lifting his wand from its perch on the back of the divan, he lazily pointed it towards the kitchen. “I’ll do the breakfast dishes and you check and see if they’re wanting a visit.” Smiling wickedly, he remembered Ginny blushing for a week after the one time they’d dropped in on her brother and Hermione unannounced.
Blushing, Ginny started to reach for her wand when a silver streak poured through their open window and a silvery otter landed gracefully on their couch. Hermione’s voice, choked with laughter rang out “Oh. My. Stars. Get decent, Ron and I will be there in 10 minutes.”
As the otter did a playful backflip and faded from sight, Harry chuckled. “I’ll take it that they’ve seen the paper.” Standing up and kissing his wife tenderly, “You ‘get decent’ while I go see if I can coax Kreacher into whipping up lunch. Today’s his day off, but if I didn’t tell him ‘Miss Hermione’ was coming for lunch, I don’t think he’d ever forgive me.”
“Decent?” Ginny sputtered and fumed. “I’m dressed, and I’ll thank Hermione to remember that I don’t own a French Maid’s outfit like someone I could mention. Merlin’s kilt.”
An hour later, both couples were still discussing the news.
“I always thought she was a very sweet girl, unlike that sister of hers,” Hermione mused. “I wasn’t around Ravenclaw all that much, but I can’t imagine that she and Draco saw much of each other at school. Wasn’t she one of the ones that snuck back through the tunnel with Neville’s grandmother for the battle?”
“You might be right. Of course that viperous sister of hers was heading out right on the heels of that cow Parkinson, so whoever was watching the door might have gotten confused” Ginny said, thinking aloud.
“That’s my sister,” Ron said with a lopsided grin. “Pansy only mentioned turning Harry over to Voldemort one time, and Ginny’s never going to let it go.” Grinning, Ron watched his sister sputter and look at him as if he’d just sprouted a Dark Mark.
“Ronald Bilius Weasley,” Hermione said warningly, “there are plenty of reasons for any self respecting witch to loathe and despise Pansy besides the fact she wanted to offer your best friend up to Voldemort like a Boxing Day present.” Watching Harry and Ron grin at each other, Hermione knew that they had stopped worrying about the “little evils” from the old days as they tracked down the downright nasty Death Eaters and associates who were still running loose.
“Even though he was ‘reformed’, I imagine it’s just as well Lucius passed away last spring. Draco marrying someone not from Slytherin would probably have sent him over the edge.” Harry mused darkly, thinking about Draco’s Death Eater father.
“Still haven’t forgiven him for slipping me that diary, eh Potter?” Ginny asked, worried that old memories would test her husband’s hard won peace of mind. “Remember, without Lucius Malfoy, my knight in shining armour would never have stormed the Chamber of Secrets to rescue his princess.” Leaning over, she kissed Harry deeply.
“Oi, brother here.” Ron protested weakly, out of habit more than anything else.
“Oh hush Ron.” Hermione smiled at her husband. “When we get home, I’ll thank you for helping to rescue the other princess, the one who was petrified in the hospital wing.”
“Dessert is served.” Kreacher’s bullfrog voice preceding him from the kitchen as he entered with a serving platter covered in dishes. “Treacle tart for Master Harry. A banana split for Miss Ginny. A Manchester tart for Miss Hermione and a piece of chocolat gateau for Master Ron.” Presenting each of the four with their favorite dessert, the old house elf beamed and bowed.
“Thank you Kreacher.” Hermione laid her hand on the old house elf’s arm as she glared at Harry. “Sunday is his day off and he deserves it as much as you or I do.”
“Miss Hermione is mistaken,” Kreacher bowed over Hermione’s hand. “When Master Harry, Mistress Ginny and I discussed my coming here to watch over them, I made them both promise that they would tell me whenever you or Master Ron were coming to the house.” Hermione’s eyes began to mist. “You are the one who championed house elves when we didn’t know we needed a champion. Most of us still don’t, but every house elf in Britain knows the name of Hermione Weasley, nee Granger. Master Harry knows that there would have been no treacle tart for a very long time once Kreacher had found out that you had been here and I had not been allowed the pleasure of preparing you this humble meal.”
Gathering up the tray, the old house elf turned slowly and made his way to the kitchen with no less dignity and pride than a brigadier on a parade field.
“Blimey Hermione,” Ron said softly. “I’ve seen muggles with their Queen that weren’t as serious. Remind me not to give you a hard time while he’s in earshot.” Leaning over, he kissed his wife gently on the cheek while tears fell from her eyes.
“He asks about you all the time, Hermione.” Ginny added softly. “Actually, they all do. I was at Gwenog’s in Cardiff last week and Dai, the house elf that works for her, asked me about you.”
Startled, Hermione looked at the faces of her friends. “All I’ve done was try to do the right thing. Anyone else would have done the same.”
Shaking his head in amazement for the woman he had married, Ron smiled. “Hermione, you single handedly started a quiet revolution that is spreading around the wizarding world. Not a week goes by that someone doesn’t come to Shell Cottage asking if they can visit Dobby’s grave. Bill and Fleur have given up trying to count how many house elves have been freed in their garden. For the smartest witch I’ve ever met, you have no idea how special you really are.”
Watching her friend blush furiously as her brother continued to talk to her, Ginny wondered how the two of them had ever doubted they belonged together. Not wanting to break the mood until Hermione could pull herself together, she smiled at Harry and nodded at his plate. “I’m going to eat because mine will melt. You too, they’ll be fine.”
Later, as the sun streamed through the windows, the four were sitting around the fireplace, back to discussing today’s news about Draco. The Sunday Prophet lay open on the floor in front of them with Draco looking his usual withdrawn and haughty self, but Asteria was smiling and waving, looking radiantly happy.
“You think the git could have smiled for his own wedding announcement.” Ron observed, shaking his head in amazement. Hermione smiled at him.
“And this is from Mr. “can’t we just elope” Weasley who wanted to send his parents an owl to tell them we were married? Since when did you acquire such a highly developed sense of wedding etiquette?” Laughing, Hermione stretched over and laid her head in Ron’s lap. “I’m certain that Narcissa Malfoy is orchestrating this down to the last detail.”
“I still don’t remember this Greengrass girl from school. Her sister I remember, but Asteria, no.” Harry was staring at the young woman laughing and smiling in the paper, trying to match up this image with someone he remembered from school.”
“She’s pretty enough. Not as pretty as Hermione, but pretty enough that I suppose that’s what he sees in her.” Ron mused. Looking down at his wife and wrapping his arm around her as she smiled contentedly, enjoying the peaceful moment, Ron smiled. “Any bets on whether or not we’ll be getting invitations to Malfoy Manor for the ceremony?”
“No takers there mate.” Harry began when Ginny began laughing uncontrollably, rolling on the floor, her long red hair a cloud surrounding her like living fire.
“Gin, what’s so funny?” Hermione asked, sitting up from Ron’s lap, wondering what had set her friend off now.
“I. Can’t. Believe. It.” Ginny collapsed back into helpless giggles, holding her sides and looking at the trio with triumph in her eyes. “None of you remember her, do you? When she was a first year? The hair? The glasses?”
Leaning closer to the picture, Ron looked bewildered. “I know that I’m usually the last to get something, but she’s not wearing glasses Gin. Are you certain you’re not thinking of someone else?”
“Oh, I’m very certain.” Smugness radiating from her like a glow, she smiled at her husband, savoring this moment when she had the three of them at a disadvantage. “Her sister was the odd rotten egg in the family, they’d been Ravenclaws for years. I can’t believe I never figured out who she was before.” Seeing no glimmers of understanding still, she began laughing anew.
“Ginny, please share with the rest of the class.” Hermione said sweetly, slipping into the voice she used for corralling wayward children at Weasley family gatherings. “We all admit that you’ve got us, so let us share the laugh. Who is Asteria that Draco’s marrying her is so funny?”
“It’s not who she is, it’s who she looked like, looks like.” Shaking her head, determined to savor the moment, she turned to Hermione. “That spell you created for Shaklebolt, the one they use to match up the people they find who’ve can’t remember their past to see if they are the missing kids from years ago?”
“Portrait Regression?” Still mystified, Hermione looked admiringly at Ron. “I just worked out the mechanics, it was Ron who had the key.” Smiling at Ron, he began to blush faintly. “He remembered something McGonagall said in Transfiguration that I missed. ‘The essence of the individual is a constant, which is why if you transform an animal into the form of a person, it’s not a person – just a shell, but if you transform a person into another shape, their personality remains’. Since wizarding photos and portraits copy the essence of the person at that moment, you can regress them back to what they looked like when they were younger. The ministry has been able to identify people that were missing kids who’s memories had been altered years ago and give their families a shot at getting them back. What’s that got to do with Draco and Asteria?”
“Take them back. Take them back to her first year at Hogwarts. You’ll see.” Ginny began giggling again. “And you, Mr. Harry James Potter, you know the answer even if you don’t remember. You told me that story about Malfoy during your sixth year together.”
“When I cursed him? “ Looking bewildered when Ginny just shook her head, Harry was trying to fathom what Ginny was getting at. “What has that got to do with her?”
“Just watch.” Smugly pointing towards Hermione, who had her wand out, she started laughing again.
“Icon reversus” Hermione intoned, moving her wand in a series of complex patterns over the photo in the paper.
The couple before them began to change. They grew shorter, became younger. Draco changed the least, but Asteria became an 11-year-old first year with dark hair, a bit chunky with baby fat and glasses, the spitting image of..
“Moaning Myrtle?” Harry stared unbelievingly at the photo of 3rd year Draco scowling evilly and a painfully shy 1st year Asteria peering through her glasses, shyly watching the older boy. “That’s what you meant Gin, I told you about Draco sneaking off to talk to Myrtle.”
Ron and Hermione were helplessly laughing on the floor, tears rolling down their eyes. Every time Hermione would almost get herself gathered together, Ron would exclaim “Stuck in a U bend!” and they would be off.
“You lot never paid much attention to her because of what was going on your 3rd year with worrying about Sirius and all.” Ginny explained. “I always thought she looked very familiar, but I never put two and two together until I just remembered Luna saying that Ravenclaw actually had two ghosts at the castle, both of them very sad women.” Smiling sadly looking at the two bewildered children in the photo, she shook her head gently. “I wonder how fond of Myrtle Draco really was?”
Far away, a solitary figure walks the halls of Hogwarts, once again. Slowly approaching a wooden door that leads to a girl’s lavatory, he stops outside the door, hesitant.
“Myrtle?” Draco Malfoy asks quietly, waiting as he has done so many times over the past 8 years. Slowly the ghost of a young girl with glasses floats through the door and smiles as she sees who is calling her.
“Draco! I’m so happy to see you. What did she say? Did my great niece say yes?” Bubbling with excitement she bobbed up and down in the hallway.
“Asteria consented to honor me and become my wife. Thank you, Myrtle.” Smiling he stepped toward her and let her put her ghostly arms around him, ignoring the cold chill for the warmth of her regard. “You’ve been my closest friend for a long time. Sometimes my only friend. I should have learned to listen to you about things before now.”
“You’re a fine boy Draco.” Myrtle bubbled as they strolled down the hallway towards the stairs. “Listen to Asteria and she’ll help make things clear. She had a crush on you when she was at school. We talked a great deal after things settled down here and she knows that you’re a fine boy. Not necessarily a good one, but she’ll fix that. Trust a Ravenclaw to figure things out.”
As the pair wandered down the stairs, two more unlikely friends were not to be found. Their voices rose in laughter and shared confidences as they discussed a wedding to come. Uncaring of the looks they drew, friendship and love made them oblivious to everything but a moment that belonged solely to them.