Witches of Westfield

A Witch In Need

Looking in the mirror once again, the Head Girl of Hogwarts adjusted the gold and burgundy badge on the front of her robes once more. Brown worried eyes gave her a critical once over to make certain everything was in place. I'm the Head Girl and have to set the example, Hermione reminded herself. In the little over two weeks since the school year had started she had lost count of the number of students and professors that had approached her. She was the only member of the Golden Trio who had returned to Hogwarts for their seventh year and nearly everyone wanted to speak with her it seemed.

I can see why Harry hates his fame so much, she mused as she turned away from the mirror and gathered her books for the morning's classes. The young woman was constantly set upon by other students. Some just wanted to talk while others didn't hesitate to ask what it had been like fighting next the Harry Potter. There was little regard for her own personal time to do her homework or anything else. The younger year witches stared at her when she walked past. Their innocent eyes opened wide with the hero worship they had for her. She soon discovered that the only way to get any work down was to hide in the Head Girl's dorm behind a password protected door.

"Who knew that without Harry here I'd be the center of attention," Hermione groused irritably as she placed the final book in her bag and closed it up. Hefting the full bag she slung it over her shoulder, glad once again for the feather-light charm that had been cast on the bulging book bag. The Head Girl made her way down to the great hall for breakfast and managed to only be stopped three times along the way. Taking a seat at the end of the Gryffindor table Hermione filled her plate before slipping out her Ancient Runes textbook and opening it to that morning's lesson. At least they'll let me eat in peace.

Hermione sat and read while working on her toast and jam, a large mug of tea close at hand to help drive the last of the sleepy cobwebs from her head. About her the great hall began to fill with the students of all four houses, the normal buzz of conversations rising as more and more voices were added to the ever present din. Through the chaos which was the morning meal at Hogwarts, the mail owls suddenly flew in, delivering copies of the Daily Prophet, letters and parcels from home and loved ones.

A flutter of wings drew her attention from the book before her. A large black regal owl alighted upon the table next to her tea and held out its leg rather impatiently. Looking down at the proffered member she saw that there was a small parcel and a letter attached to it. Deftly untying both from the bird's leg Hermione looked at the letter and instantly recognized Harry's handwriting. The young witch smiled brightly before she hastily tore open the envelope and slipped out its contents.

Dear Hermione,

It's only been a few weeks but it already seems like a lifetime since I last saw you. It is more than a little peculiar not having you here. How are classes? Head Girl keeping you busy? Lots of little first years to chase after? I imagine it's a lot like herding cats. I know you'll set them straight and see they understand the proper way to revise. Repeatedly, as in over, and over and over again.

The young witch found her eyes watering up as she missed her best friend as well. Hermione could hear the teasing tone of Harry's voice when she read about revising. She had hounded Harry and Ron first year about their studies. Well actually every year, she admitted with a small grin before continuing to read her letter.

Before you think I forgot, Happy Birthday, 'Mione! I may not be able to be there with you, but that doesn't mean you aren't always here with me. Now I know that you have your hands full with the new students and cleaning up after them so I got you a present that will help you straighten things out in a tic. You won't even have to get your hands dirty!

Hermione glanced down at the small item wrapped in plain brown paper lying on the table. She could tell from the shape of it that it was a book. How very Harry, she drawled to herself while being none the less touched that he had actually remembered her birthday. Harry always got her a book, usually one she had mentioned in passing that she wanted. It had become almost something of a game between them. So far he is the only one who has remembered my birthday, she realized before reading more, trying not to dwell on that fact that Ron as well as her own parents had apparently forgotten.

I am sorry it has taken so long for me to write but I have been rather busy with two different projects. I think you'll like them once you see what they are. No, I'm not going to tell you so you can just forget about asking me. I want to surprise you with them when you come visit for hols. A part of one of them was done with you in mind after all. Don't drive yourself barmy trying to figure it out. Even that beautiful brain of yours will never guess it!

A scowl appeared on Hermione's face as she read his words. It wasn't long before her expression turned thoughtful as she tried to determine just what Harry's surprises were. Her mind raced off in several different directions as the possibilities were vast, especially where Harry was concerned. "I bet that's exactly what he intended, the prat! He wants me to try and figure it out," she told herself with a small smirk at her friend's apparent duplicity. Knowing this however didn't keep her mind from still attempting to determine just what her best friend was up to.

I'm off to Gringotts to see about some matters involving the Black and Potter vaults now that I'm of age. Sirius left me well enough off with the Black family inheritance so I don't really need more galleons. Mum and Dad apparently sold off everything they had but the house in Godric's Hollow. I'm meeting with the Potter account manager to see just what that all is. I heard a certain witch's voice, who happens to be my best friend, in my head telling me I was being stupid for not checking to see what was there. You've been a bad influence on me, 'Mione. I almost feel respectable and adult like! It's all your fault!

The Head Girl chuckled as she could just imagine the look on Harry's face when he said those words. The two had been friends for so long that there wasn't any mannerism that Harry had that she hadn't seen enough times to memorize and call to mind as needed. Serves him right, she thought with a satisfied grin. It is about time he grew up. Now if I could just get Ron to do that!

Is it wrong to wish that the hols were here already? I good and truly do miss you! I must sound like a foolish boy, unable to go a few months without my best friend. Sorry about that. I know you're doing what is important to you and I support your decision completely. You wouldn't be the Hermione I know and love if you didn't want to go to school! Do take care of yourself and make certain you take breaks from revising to eat properly. Don't make me tell Madam Pomfrey on you! Write back when time allows and I promise to do the same.

With Love Always,
Harry

Hermione's breath hitched in her chest and her pulse raced as she read the last part over again 'the Hermione I know and love'. The young woman read it over again and then one more time to make certain she wasn't seeing things. Just what does he mean by that? she pondered silently. I mean I know he loves me…like a sister though. Right? "Oh I'm just being silly," she declared aloud as she closed her book with a snap. Standing she put her book away and made to fold Harry's letter when she saw there was something else.

P.S. – Careful the owl bites!

"Ouch!" Hermione squeaked as she yanked her hand away from the bird that had just bit her finger. "Ruddy bird," she whispered under her breath. "Go on," she said in a louder tone towards the owl while she made a shooing gesture. "I'll use a school owl when I write back to Harry." The black owl gave her a rather indignant glare before launching itself into the air and flying away.

Seeing Harry's gift lying on the table she picked it up and unwrapped it. The book, once free of the paper, grew in size till it resembled a proper size publication. Hermione looked down at the title and couldn't believe her eyes. '101 Household Cleaning Charms Every Good Witch Should Know' it read. "The little prat!" she stated once again as she opened the front cover of the book to have a look. I mean it is a book after all and there just might be something in here I can learn. There, nestled between the hard cover and the first page lay the Marauder's Map.

"Oh, Harry," fell from her lips as she gently rested a hand on the treasured map that had belonged to James Potter and the rest of the Marauders. Hermione knew how much it must have cost Harry to give her the map. It was one of the few connections Harry had to not only his father but also his godfather as well as Remus Lupin. It was one of the few items, other than the invisibility cloak, that could be considered a family heirloom. "This will certainly make my job easier," she stated as she pockteed the map and added the book to her backpack for later reading.

-oOo-

Harry apparated into Grimmauld Place and then used the floo from there to travel to the Ministry of Magic. No sooner had he stepped from the green flames than he could hear the whispers as everyone recognized who he was. Offering small smiles and nods to those near him Harry hastened towards the security desk. The Ministry official at the desk just waved him through. "Aren't you going to check my wand?" Harry asked, holding out the well-used bit of holly to the man.

"N…no, that's quite alright, Mr. Potter," the man stammered as he tried to direct Harry past the station. "I think we all know who you are, Sir," he added hastily.

"But what if I'm not me?" Harry asked.

"Are you…well, you?" the man asked, leaning in and giving Harry a superficial once over.

"Of course I'm me," Harry replied.

"Right, then go ahead, Mr. Potter," the man said waving him past, still without checking his wand.

Harry just sighed to himself as he realized that he was holding up the line. The fact that no one was complaining as they stood there and ogled their hero did nothing to make him feel better. Pocketing his wand again the young wizard made his way through the Atrium, glad to see that the "Statue of Might" that had been there at one time had since been removed. In the statue's place there was now a fountain that didn't exhibit any species but rather was charmed to play soft music meant to ease the worries of those listening to it.

Making his way to one of the lifts, Harry stepped in and turned about to make room for others only to see that those waiting weren't getting on the lift with him. Reaching up with a weary sigh the young man grabbed the strap and held on as the lift shot off. "Level Six. Department of Magical Transportation," a disembodied voice announced. The next hour was spent getting several floo addresses on the Floo Network from the Floo Network Authority office. The following two hours were spent at the Apparition Test Centre acquiring his Apparition license. Who knew there would be a written test as well as a practical one?

It was midafternoon when a very tired wizard made his way into the main lobby of Gringotts. It had taken far longer than it should have walking from the Leaky Cauldron to Gringotts due to people stopping him and wanting to shake his hand. At the Ministry people had just gawked and stared at him while here in Diagon Alley parents brought their children over to meet him, shake his hand and say hello. The Savior of the Wizarding world wasn't certain which he preferred less as he did not like being the center of attention, feeling rather undeserving of it.

Harry looked about for the first available teller and noted that none were free. Selecting the shortest line he stood there waiting his turn. "Yes, I would like to speak to the Potter Account Manager," Harry told the rather tall goblin behind the teller window when it was his turn. The teller took a look at him, his eyes growing slightly wider before he hurried down and ran over to another goblin. Harry watched as the two of them conversed in hushed whispers with the tall teller making several gestures in his direction.

The two goblins walked over towards Harry. Upon reaching the waiting wizard the teller resumed his place behind his window while the other one offered a toothy grin. "Mr. Potter, sorry to keep you waiting. I am Bogrod, the Floor Manager here at Gringotts. If you'll be so kind as to follow me I'll show you to the Potter Account Manager." After receiving a nod from Harry the rather short and round goblin led him from the lobby of the bank. "Is this your first time meeting…your account manager?"

"Yes," Harry replied, wondering if he had imagined the slight pause before Bogrod had said account manager. "I know my parents left me a substantial sum of galleons and I thought it best to see just how much and what has been done with them."

"Very well," Bogrod replied. "It is good to see a wizard so young taking such an interest in their finances," the goblin told Harry. The Floor Manager led the young wizard down a side hall before pausing before a door and knocking on it. After there was a sharp bark from behind the door Bogrod opened the door and stepped in. "Mr. Harry Potter is here to see about the Potter holdings." Bogrod stepped aside and gestured for Harry to enter. "I'll leave the two of you to it then," he commented before slipping from the room and closing the door behind him.

The goblin seated behind the only desk in the room, stood and walked around the desk. "It's a pleasure, Mr. Potter. I'm Bob, your account manager. Please have a seat," the goblin said, indicating the two chairs situated before the desk. The goblin silently groaned when the wizard looked at him as if he'd suddenly grown a second head. Here we go again, he groaned silently to himself while cursing his sister.

Harry walked over and took a seat as the Potter Account Manager returned to behind the desk and took his seat again. "Yes, so then…ummm…, Bob," Harry started with, his eyes looking anywhere but at Bob. Seriously? His name is Bob? He has to be having a go at me, Harry thought to himself as he tried to wrap his head around the name.

"It was a wager," Bob said upon seeing the distracted wizard seated before him. "A rather poor one at that. I lost the wager and per the agreement I had to change my name to Bob."

"It must have been one hell of a wager, Sir," Harry replied without thinking about it much. The wizard heard the goblin mutter something that sounded suspiciously like 'Tri-wizard Tournament'. It's really none of my business, Harry told himself. I probably shouldn't have said anything. "I guess it could have been worse," Harry finally offered.

Bob gave a toothy grin and nodded his head in agreement. "You are correct of course. My sister is none too pleased being called Burt."

Harry decided it was better not to ask and to just act like everything was as normal as could be. "So, about the Potter account?" he said to change the subject.

Bob gave a short nod before reaching into the desk drawer and pulling out a folder, glad to be past the subject of his humiliating name. The goblin opened the thick folder after setting it on the desk top, quickly reading over the first page with a glance. "Here you will find a summation of the Potter holdings," he said as he passed a piece of parchment over to Harry. "As you can see they have done rather well considering we did not receive further instructions on what to do with the funds."

Harry accepted the parchment and looked over the numbers on it. Other than the fact that the number were considerably larger than he thought they would be it was rather gibberish to him. "Sir, I'm not exactly certain what I am looking at here. Please assume I know nothing of these matters, which isn't far from the truth, and explain this to me," Harry requested.

Bob leaned across the desk and began to point at items on the parchment. "This is a listing of investments your parents placed a portion of their funds in, Mr. Potter. While they did liquidate all their properties and material possessions, they didn't allow their gold to just sit there. On the contrary, they invested it into the muggle world as there is very little opportunity to do that in our world. Wizards have never really grasped the concept of 'Return on Investment' for some reason. Your late mother was not such a case."

"My mum was muggle-born," Harry offered as he looked over the figures once again. Mum must have been a financial genius.

"Then that would explain it," Bob replied. "She would have made a splendid goblin."

"So…," Harry started, digesting that last comment concerning his mother, believing it to be a compliment of sorts. "What does it all mean?" he enquired with a gesture towards the sheet before him.

"The short of it is that you and your descendants won't have to worry about your finances overly much. Granted, flippant spending could eat away all that has accumulated over the last two decades," Bob informed him. "The Potter business investments are handled through Lloyds of London and are currently valued at this amount," the Account Manager said pointing at a figure on the parchment. The finger traveled down to another large number, "This is the Potter personal account handled by The Royal Bank of Scotland. Then there is the contents of the Potter vault here at Gringotts," Bob stated as he pointed out another figure on the parchment."

"Wow!" Harry exclaimed, sitting back in his seat for a moment. Seeing Bob look at him curiously, Harry explained, "I didn't expect it to be so much. After what I received from the Black family inheritance I thought this would be rather small in comparison." For a boy who had grown up with very little to suddenly find out he was rather wealthy, it was a little overwhelming to say the least.

"The Black family, well certainly an old and wealthy family, were not inclined to invest their galleons," Bob explained. "Their only income is from tithings they receive from those renting land from them or from such families which are beholden to them. Had your mother had access to their galleons I can only imagine what their fortune would look like today."

Harry looked thoughtful for a long moment before he spoke. "You've been managing my family's account since my mum and dad set it up?"

"The account has always been there, Mr. Potter," Bob corrected him as the Potter account was an older one within the bank. "Your mother simply changed how the galleons in it were used is all. She wasn't content to see them sitting and collecting dust. To answer your first question though, yes, I have overseen the account since before you were born."

"Would it be possible for you to also handle the Black account? I mean in the same manner you're currently managing the Potter account?" Harry asked.

"If that is your wish, Mr. Potter," Bob replied evenly with a predatory gleam in his eyes.

"What would it require from me for you to do so?" Harry enquired. "Do you get paid for your labor? Will this be adding too much additional work for you, Sir?"

Bob reached into the desk drawer once again and extracted a piece of parchment. "It would just require your signature here to transfer management of the Black family wealth to me," he answered, sliding the parchment over to Harry and then passing over a quill. "The pay is not important," the goblin added dismissively, not wishing to divulge that as the account manager he would get a percentage of any profits the investments garnished.

"But I would hate to cause you additional work," Harry replied, pausing with the quill poised over the parchment, ready to sign. He couldn't fail to notice how the goblin's eyes never left the quill tip where it hovered just short of where his signature was required. "Surely you must get something from this to so willingly accept the additional labor I'm certain this will cause?"

"Well," Bob started to reply only to pause and lick his lips a bit nervously, realizing he was good and caught. "There is the matter of prestige. The ranking of one's clan within our kind is determined by the amount of assets we manage. My clan, and there by myself, would benefit in standing by assuming responsibility for the Black family wealth," he admitted. "If it were to grow as the Potter account has we could rise fairly high."

"I see," Harry said, having suspected something of the sort just from the goblin's behavior. "Bob, I've had a life time of people trying to manipulate me for their own reasons. Frankly I'm more than a little fed up with it. If you'll be upfront with me then I will do the same with you, Sir. Do we have an agreement?" Harry asked as he stared at the goblin across the desk from him.

"Very well, Mr. Potter," Bob replied. "Then, in that spirit, I will tell you that as your Account Manager I get thee percent of all profits. Two of that goes to my clan though."

"So if I make a profit you make a profit. Seems fair enough," Harry admitted as he signed his name to the parchment granting Bob control of the Black family wealth. "I don't have an issue with others getting ahead, I just don't like it when they try and hide it from me."

Bob accepted the signed parchment back and set it aside before reaching into the desk drawer and pulling out another folder. Setting the folder on the desktop atop the Potter one the goblin opened it and looked it over the Black account. Harry couldn't help but wonder if all the Goblin desk drawers were the same, recalling how Ragnok had managed to pull out the required documents at a moment's notice as well. "I see here that you've had a manor house renovated and that you intend to use the Black family manor for…," Bob looked up at Harry. "Well that is a bit of a surprise."

Harry shrugged lopsidedly. "It seemed like the right thing to do. Someone has to look after them."

"Very well," Bob answered, not about to question the wizard that had just boosted his clan's status. "These are for the ward updates to the residence as well as your own," the goblin stated as he withdrew several forms from the ever bountiful desk drawer. "That one is to register your business with the proper departments at the Ministry. You're entitled to monthly compensation from the Ministry for the…um…service you're providing."

"I'm really not overly concerned about that," Harry started to say only to see the disapproving look upon Bob's face. "But why turn away good gold I guess," he hastily added as he signed the form where instructed.

Bob reached into the drawer once again and removed a small envelope. "Here is your necessary identification and bank cards for the Potter account at the Royal Bank of Scotland. There is also cards for Lloyds of London, though those are strictly for business use."

"Would it be possible to obtain an additional key to the Potter vault?" Harry asked as he had a thought, realizing that he knew of someone with no financial means at the moment.

"Yes, if that is your wish, Mr. Potter," Bob answered. "If you'll be so kind as to give me you current key?" The goblin accepted the key when Harry offered it and watched as a portion of the key seemed to split off. When it was done Bob held the original key as well as a smaller one.

"Do you have a bit of blank parchment and a quill I can use?" Upon receiving the items Harry jotted down a quick message before folding it and handing it to Bob. "Can you see that this, as well as the vault key, is delivered to Hermione Granger who is currently attending Hogwarts for her seventh year?"

"Most certainly," Bob assured Harry. "Is there anything else Gringotts can do for you today, Mr. Potter?"

"No, I believe we've covered what I meant to do today," Harry answered as he got to his feet. "Please keep me advised as to what you plan to do with the Black wealth as I am counting on a part of that for the project I'm working on." Bob assured him that he would before escorting Harry back to the bank lobby and parting ways with the wealthy wizard.

-oOo-

Harry stepped off the train and made his way towards the stairs like everyone else was doing. One thing he hadn't counted on was that his new home was far enough from London to be a bit of a pain to reach. He had used the floo to get to Grimmauld Place but even that was only located in a suburb of the great city. Traveling on the tube was fun for him, though not as fast as apparition would have been he admitted. As he reached the top of the stares he stopped and stared, others shooting him a glare for blocking the way as they stepped around him.

What is she doing here? he asked himself. There she was, sitting upon a trunk near the curb, watching cars and lorries drive past. The woman's robes would have fitted in perfectly if it was still the late 1800's. Passersby were shooting the out of place witch curious glances which she seemed to be oblivious to. It was hard not to recognize her after spending nearly six years with her at Hogwarts.

It's not my concern, he told himself turning away and walking off down the pavement a bit. But what if she is in trouble? Why else would she be sitting in the middle of muggle London? Harry paused as he fought with himself over what to do. On the one hand I could just leave her there. I mean she is a witch after all. It is not like she can't fend for herself if it comes to it. The young man's noble side would have none of it. Harry turned about and shrieked, "Greengrass!" at the witch that was standing directly behind him, far too close for his liking.

The blonde witch squeaked in surprise, one hand darting towards her chest as if in an effort to keep her heart from leaping out of it. "Merlin's beard, Potter!" Daphne gasped in surprise. "Warn a girl before you do that to her! I liked to burst my corset from fright!"

"Sorry," Harry said a bit sheepishly as he took a small step back to put some space between the two of them. "I didn't expect you to be right there behind me."

"I thought I would save you the trip," Daphne replied, a smirk appearing upon her pretty face. "I knew you wouldn't just leave me sitting there," she confessed, "So I followed after you so you wouldn't have to come back and get me."

"I had a good mind to do just that," said Harry. "I still might."

Daphne rolled her eyes. "We both know that you're far to kind and noble to do something like that, Potter."

As much as Harry wanted to refute her opinion of him, he knew that it was the truth. "So why are you sitting on your trunk in the middle of muggle London?" Harry asked instead to change the subject. He watched as the witch looked away in a slight huff. "Fine, if you don't want to tell me. Have a good day, Greengrass," Harry said as he turned about and started walking away again.

"Potter," Daphne made to answer looking at the wizard's retreating back. "Potter!" she snapped when she saw that he wasn't stopping. Lifting the trunk she quickly gave pursuit of the Golden Boy. "Wait up," she whined, the heels of her shoes tapping a quick pace against the pavement beneath them as she hurried after the departing Golden Boy.

"Why? You have nothing to say to me from the looks of it," Harry said over his shoulder as he slowed his pace a bit so that the trailing witch could catch up. "What you do in London is your business after all. No concern of mine," in a light casual tone of voice.

"Fine!" Daphne snapped. "I ran away. Happy now?"

That caught Harry's attention and caused him to stop. The young wizard turned to regard the Slytherin Queen as she dropped her trunk next to her. "You what?"

"I ran away from home," Daphne reiterated in a huff as she crossed her arms over her chest and refusing to look directly at him.

Harry's brow creased in confusion. "Aren't you of maturity, Greengrass?" he finally asked, almost certain that she was. The Slytherin witch mumbled something he couldn't quite make out. "I'm sorry, I didn't get that."

Daphne sighed heavily. "I won't be of age till after the New Year," she finally divulged, a bit embarrassed to have to admit to the wizard that she was underage.

"But then how did you start at Hogwarts with our year. If you're that young then you should have started with the following year of students," Harry said, stating the obvious. It was common knowledge that a witch or wizard must be eleven years of age and possess a wand to attend Hogwarts their first year. For those whose birthday fell just after the September first deadline, such as Hermione, it meant waiting an additional year.

"My father received an exemption from Minister Fudge so that I could start sooner," Daphne told him. "It is not unusual for Pure-blood families to do so if they don't want to wait another year. Really it just means that my father was tired of having me underfoot and wanted me out of the way," she growled, not wishing to admit that the realization had hurt when she had realized it several years previously.

"I doubt that. He's your father after all," Harry objected, certain that all parents must love their children. Even my aunt and uncle loved Dudley and doted on him because he was their son. Harry had no doubt that had his own mum and dad lived they would have been kind and loving parents to him. That's what parents did after all.

"You don't know my father," Daphne corrected him. "Everything has a price to it and if your price tag is not sufficiently high enough then you are of no concern to him. My father is all about making money which is why the Greengrasses didn't choose a side in the war. It was far more profitable to remain neutral and help both sides," she told him in disgust.

There wasn't much Harry could say to that as he did in fact not know her father. There had been many families that had, for one reason or another, remained neutral during the war. Some were too frightened to declare of the Light, fearful of what Voldemort and his forces would do to them. Others were traditionally of the smaller Grey fraction, those who declared for neither the Light nor the Dark. "So you ran away to muggle London and hoped to do what?" Harry enquired with a slight grin.

"For right now I'll settle for a place to live and a bite to eat," Daphne replied earnestly, one hand coming to rest on her narrow waist. The young woman hadn't eaten a bite since that morning and even then it had only been a piece of toast as she had been far too nervous, knowing already that she was leaving home.

"I'm sure you can afford a bedsit or a flat. How much do you have?" Harry inquired absently. He had no clue just how wealthy the Greengrass family was but figured if what Daphne said about her father was true then they should be fairly well off. The young witch should have no trouble affording a place.

"A couple of galleons. Is that enough?" Daphne asked hopefully, having no clue as to what things cost in the muggle world. Being from a wealthy family she'd never had to pay for anything herself.

Harry sighed heavily, "Not even," he told her. It never failed to amaze him just how little the Wizarding world knew or understood about the non-magical world. I wonder if they realize just how big the muggle world really is? Reaching down he took her trunk from her. "Let's get you something to eat first," he told the distraught witch. "Why don't we step over to the alley over there and shrink this," he told her indicating the trunk. "I'm surprised you didn't do it already."

Daphne looked a bit embarrassed at his words. "I wanted to but…well…I don't have my wand," she confessed. "Father took it from me."

"Why would he do that?" Harry asked as he led her over to the indicated alley and then shrunk her trunk when no muggles were watching.

"So I wouldn't run away," Daphne replied in a tone that indicated she thought the answer to be obvious.

"Guess you showed him, huh?" Harry quipped as he handed her the shrunken trunk.

"So, where are we off to, Potter?" Daphne enquired, choosing to ignore his last comment. The pretty blonde witch slipped her arm through his as they started walking once again. "You look rather different in muggle clothes," she added, giving him the once over.

"I tend to stand out a lot less than you do, Greengrass," Harry answered the witch. "If you plan on staying in muggle London you might want to think about updating your attire to match theirs. You may find you actually like their clothes better than what you're wearing now."

Waving a hand dismissively, Daphne replied, "I'll find someone from our world who will take me in. I'm certain Zabini will be more than glad to do so." The young witch tried to hide the shiver that ran down her body at the thought.

"That bad?" Harry enquired, noticing the witch's reaction to her own words. Harry hadn't had very much interaction with Blaise Zabini, or any of the Slytherins for that matter, when he was at Hogwarts. Draco Malfoy saw to it that the Golden Boy's attention was more often than not focused on him and his cronies. While Zabini was in Malfoy's presence from time to time Harry didn't think the dark skinned wizard was one of Malfoy's regular friends. If anything Zabini had struck him more as a loaner than a hanger-on.

Daphne looked thoughtful for a moment before she replied. "Zabini believes he is Merlin's gift to witches and that they all should just fall on their backs and part their legs for him. He's been trying for years to get me. He can become rather touchy-feely at times," she said, recalling with another shudder the last pawing she'd had to endure from the wizard.

Harry arched a brow. "Why in the world would you put up with such a thing?" Harry didn't doubt her words as they seemed genuine. She would know better than I would, he reasoned as Daphne had been a Slytherin after all and would have firsthand knowledge of the wizard they were discussing.

"Better than sleeping on the street," Daphne told him. "I just have to make certain to remember to place a strong locking charm on the door to keep Zabini from sneaking in at night." And hope that he isn't strong enough to undo it, she added silently.

The words just sort of slipped out before Harry could stop them. "You could come and stay with me." She's just a young witch alone on the street and doesn't even have her wand, he rationalized. How much trouble could it be? I'm sure Winky won't mind another mouth to feed till Daphne can find a place to live on her own.

Daphne's face lite up with a radiant smile. "Why thank you, Potter. I thought you'd never ask! Wait, you're not like Zabini are you?" she asked in a worried tone, giving him a shrewd look.

"What? No, of course not!" Harry declared defensively, aghast at the very thought of forcing himself on a witch against her will.

"No," the young witch said thoughtfully, "I don't suppose you would be. Granger has you trained well I'd imagine."

"Huh? Hermione? What does she have to do with this?" Harry asked, a bit more than confused by this point.

"Oh and clueless too. How cute!" Daphne answered with a grin, only confusing the wizard with her even more. "I believe you mentioned eating?" she reminded him with a disarming smile before he could ask further about his best friend.

"Yes, right," Harry stated, clearing his throat. "I was on my way to John Lewis over on Oxford Street to do a bit of furniture buying. I believe they have several fine restaurants to choose from which we can eat at."

Daphne's eyes got a little glossy upon hearing his words. "Shopping?" she asked in a dreamy tone.


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