Part Three: Chapter Five
-△⃒⃘- The Greengrass Contract -△⃒⃘-by ncronan
A/N (this will be long, but please read through it): This is it. Finally. Thank god. I am done with this pile of inadequate writing. I realize that I haven't properly thanked you for sticking with me through all of this confusion. I must say that your feedback has made my post-surgery days a lot brighter. Thank you. As most of you, I am only 14. As I always say, do not think that I am using that fact as an excuse, but please be considerate of that when you 'flame' me. There will be another author's note at the end for you to read, and that will be slightly longer. But enjoy this final chapter; I know it's short, but that's how this thing ends.
Disclaimer: I don't own any significant portion of the Harry Potter franchise. Unfortunately.
Part IIIChapter Five: The Decision
When Harry returned to the Great Hall the next morning with the remaining champions, they were not met with applause or cheering of any kind. As they entered, every head turned in their direction. When Harry looked down the Gryffindor table, he could see many of the girls there crying. He promptly sat down with Fleur and Viktor, not engaging in idle banter as Hermione took the seat next to Viktor. What was curious was that there was no food on the tables.
Dumbledore stood and walked out in front of the head table. He stopped behind his famous owl podium and finally spoke.
"Dear students, a terrible tragedy occurred during yesterday's Third Task. Last night as the other champions recovered, I merely told you half the truth. This is where I tell all of it.
"Our Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher was not Alastor Moody. He was a death-eater, under poly-juice potion. At the urging of Lord Voldemort, he impersonated him and has been pretending to be him for this entire year. He bewitched the Goblet prior to the Third Task, creating a portkey for the intended victim, Harry Potter, whose name he entered at the beginning of the year.
"Angelina Johnson and Harry Potter, upon touching the Goblet, were transported to a cemetery near the family home of Lord Voldemort's muggle father. Once there, a death-eater named Peter Pettigrew slew Ms. Johnson and inflicted the Cruciatus curse on Mr. Potter for five minutes before he was able to retaliate, killing the death-eater and bringing Ms. Johnson's body back to us.
"The reason Pettigrew was there was because Voldemort did not die on that night in 1981. Instead, he was reduced to a weakened form, and was able to possess Professor Quirrel in 1991 and awaken a basilisk in 1992. Even in his state, he is still highly dangerous and should be feared.
"In the graveyard last night, Pettigrew was attempting to cast an ancient and highly dark spell to bring Voldemort back to life. Fortunately, Mr. Potter was able to stop the ritual, but Voldemort's weakened form was able to escape.
"All of this has been officially verified as fact by the Ministry of Magic, and the death-eater who impersonated Alastor will serve a life-sentence in Azkaban.
"Last night, we lost a hard-working student, a talented Quidditch player and a wonderful young woman in Angelina Johnson last night. She will be dearly missed by family, friends, and professors alike.
"Concerning the Tri-Wizard Cup: Mr. Potter appealed to me this morning that in light of the death of his friend and the trickery in the Third Task, the winnings should be distributed among the champions and Ms. Johnson's family."
With that, glasses of pumpkin juice appeared in front of everyone, including one in Dumbledore's hand. He raised it. "I declare a toast to the short life Angelina Johnson and the memory she left behind."
Everyone raised their glasses and drank, all of them in deep, sorrowful thoughts. To Harry's embarrassment and surprise, Viktor stood and raised his glass once again.
"And to Harry Potter." He said deeply and loudly. "For doing all he could to save Angelina and weakening Lord Voldemort once again."
Once again, everyone raised their glass and drank, and when they were done, Viktor formed a fist with his hand and began to hit the table in a rhythmic beat. After a moment, his peers from Durmstrang followed suit, and although the rest of the students did not know what it meant, they joined in as well; until the only thing that could be heard was the thunderous sound of the tables being hit. It gradually stopped, and Dumbledore clapped his hands, food appearing on the tables.
Viktor sat back down and Harry asked what he'd instigated. The Bulgarian responded, "It is a sort of ritual at Durmstrang to pound the tables out of respect of someone or in the aftermath of a tragedy."
Harry nodded in understanding and went about eating his breakfast until Dumbledore made one last announcement. "Because the Durmstrang and Beauxbatons are leaving tonight, please feel free to use this as a free day. Spend time with your friends. I would think it a crime to make you work on such a day." He said grandly before sitting again. The announcement was so well received just after distressing news that Harry was surprised no one began pounding the tables once more.
When Viktor announced that he was going to hold a friendly scrimmage and every Quidditch player flocked to him, Harry excused himself to go to the bathroom, but Fleur knew better. As Harry left the Great Hall, Fleur followed him stealthily. Unbeknownst to her, a certain Slytherin girl followed the both of them, trusting Harry but at the same time being suspicious of Fleur.
Harry, instead of heading to the restroom, went out on the grounds and promptly sat at the gnarled old tree in front of the lake that all students were familiar of. He simply drew his knees up to his chest and hugged them to himself, leaning back against the wood.
Fleur approached him cautiously and Daphne watched from a distance, but just close enough that she could hear their conversation.
"Are you okay, Harry?" Fleur asked. Harry looked up and nodded, a bit too quickly.
"Yeah, yeah." He said. "I'm fine."
Fleur rolled her eyes and sat against the bark next to him casually. "Don't try and fool me. Just because you have vanquished the Dark Lord once again doesn't mean you can try and slip by me."
Harry desperately wanted to laugh, but his heart was in his throat and instead he sighed. After a moment of silence, he spoke. "I'm sorry. I guess I'm not fine."
Fleur smiled softly at him and put an arm around her friend. Daphne considered rushing in there and breaking up what looked like shady activity, but instead let them take a little time. She wanted to see how much she could trust Harry in the presence of the Veela.
"Tell me what is wrong, Harry." Fleur said soothingly, rubbing his shoulder. Harry shrugged.
"The usual things, you know. Voldemort and another person dying because of my inadequate ability." He said quietly.
Fleur promptly stood and crossed her arms, glaring angrily down at her friend. "Stop doing that, Harry."
Harry looked up helplessly and Fleur could practically feel the sadness he felt. "Doing what, Fleur?"
"Self-pity. It's unbecoming of you." She accused. If Riddle's horcrux had still been active within him, he would have jumped at the opportunity to pick a fight. Instead, he shrugged.
"It's not self-pity," Harry said, "it's the truth. I don't mean to make it sound like this is all about me. This is about the people who interact with and how they end up dead. I feel that it's rather selfish to keep people close to me if their life will end because of it."
Fleur was horrified by how tonelessly and practically said it. The way he presented the idea made it sound as though he were reciting it out of a textbook; it seemed believable. But Fleur instead glared at him harder.
"You and I both know it's not your fault, Harry." Fleur said. "You just need something to blame, and the easiest thing for someone stupidly righteous like you to blame is yourself."
"It's only practical." Harry insisted. "I should just stop letting people get close to me. It would save them."
"No, it wouldn't." Fleur said. "And is that anyway to live?"
"I'd live in any fashion if it meant the ones I love don't die." Harry retorted.
"What about Daphne, Harry?" Fleur asked suddenly.
"What about her?" Harry asked tiredly.
"I heard her last night. She loves you."
There was a pause. Daphne was very curious about this part and slightly worried. "I know."
"Do you love her back?"
It took a long time for Harry to respond, and in that time Daphne's heart rate grew steadily in embarrassment. Finally, Harry answered, "I think there's something broken in me, Fleur. I didn't want to at first, but for the past few months I've really been trying to fall in love with her and it's – it's not working."
Daphne's breath hitched, and she grew angry when Fleur returned to her seated position by Harry. Was the Veela going to make a move now that Harry had confessed his feelings?
Fleur simply touched him on the shoulder gently. "Harry. Nothing's wrong with you. Love takes time."
"It didn't for Daphne." Harry pointed out. He shifted uncomfortable at Fleur's friendly touch. "Can you explain that?"
"For some, they have been looking for love for a long time." Fleur said quietly. "For some, it takes only months to fall in love."
"And Daphne's one of those people?"
"Yes. And I know several others." Fleur looked into Harry's eyes.
Unexpectedly, they began to fill with tears, and soon Harry was silently sobbing once again. Fleur wrapped an arm around him.
"I'm so sorry Fleur." Harry said. "I feel like I led you on. I'm sorry."
"You're sorry for making me fall in love with you?" Fleur asked incredulously. She laughed, but her sadness was evident. "It's not your fault, Harry. It is my own. And it is not your fault that you and Daphne are betrothed."
Harry went quiet and Fleur picked up on his silence. "Harry?"
After a moment, he said, "Fleur, I think you were asleep when Dumbledore talked to me before Daphne came and said she loved me. He found a loophole. Tonight, I decide if I stay in the contract or terminate it."
Daphne's breath stopped in her throat. The world seemed to close in around her as she processed the information. She loved Harry, whether she liked it or not. And yet he could terminate it if he felt like it. Tonight.
Fleur also seemed to process this information, and there was an incredibly hopeful look on her face that made Daphne feel more sick. If the Veela manipulated Harry in any way, Daphne would enter the scene.
"Fleur, what do I do?" Harry asked helplessly. For a scary moment, Fleur hesitated as she thought what to say. Then she suddenly stood again.
"Don't ask me that, Harry." She gasped, wiping tears from her eyes. "Please don't ask me that."
Harry stood as well, confused at he tears. "What? Why not? I trust you. You're one of my best friends."
Fleur shook her head fiercely. "You can't trust me now. Although my heart wants me to tell you the opposite, you should talk to Daphne about it."
When Harry hesitated, Fleur shook her head again and hugged him. "I'm sorry, Harry. But I'm going. If you ask me again, I won't control myself and I'll tell you to terminate the contract and come to me."
Harry hugged her back and when they pulled apart, he hesitated again. "But – what if I want to leave the contract and come to you?"
Daphne's heart stopped as Fleur froze. And then, to her happy surprise, Fleur slapped him across the face. Harry didn't even flinch, but now the French witch sniffed and wiped her tears again.
"Please, Harry. I want you to talk to Daphne before you decide anything." Fleur said tearfully. "Please."
Harry rubbed his cheek and nodded, and Fleur left without another word, not trusting herself to have as much self-control. Daphne felt a rush of fondness towards the Veela, and once she'd passed her and Harry had closed his eyes again, Daphne strode out confidently and stood in front of Harry with her arms crossed. He looked up and when he noticed it was her, he flinched.
"Daphne! How – how much of that did you hear?" Harry asked nervously. Daphne sighed and dropped on her bum to sit in front of him. She picked at some grass.
"All of it." She said honestly.
Harry buried his head in his hands and said nothing for a long while. Finally, he spoke. "What do you want me to do? I'm letting you chose."
Daphne blinked. She was shocked that Harry was leaving the responsibility to her. But she knew that wasn't how this would work. "Harry, you know what I want. You know that I've fallen for you. But I want you to be happy, too. And I know my dad wants you to pick the termination. But -" she cut off what Harry was beginning to say, "-I refuse to make that decision for you."
Harry was more surprised than Daphne had been when she once again gave him the freedom of choice. "Why?"
Daphne sighed again and picked some more grass. "This decision will affect you, me, and Fleur. I think that you have good enough judgement to pick what will be the right choice."
Harry's shoulders felt unbearably heavy as the responsibility shifted once more to his shoulders. He hesitated. "What if I pick the wrong one?"
Daphne said nothing but crawled forward to kiss Harry on the lips. This time, Harry had no guilt or other things on his mind. He leaned into the kiss, and this time his whole body was exploding in a million different sensations at once. When they broke apart, Harry felt like he was going through withdrawal.
She smiled sadly. "Please just make the choice you think is right. We will live with consequences, but one thing will never change.
"I will always love you."
"Harry, you are a good person. I believe that you will pick the right choice." Viktor said firmly at his side. Harry did not reply, because his nerves were throwing more of a fit than they had before any of the tasks. Fleur flanked his other side.
"Harry." The Veela said. This time, Harry turned his head and listened as they rounded the corner to Dumbledore's office. She continued, "Daphne gave you the right to choose. Pick what will make you happiest."
Harry sighed and said the password. "I don't know what's going to make me happy. I know I could just terminate the contract and date and marry Daphne on my own terms, but I know it would never be the same between us again."
His friends didn't have an answer to that one, and they ascended the stairs to Dumbledore's office and pushed open the doors. Inside the main chamber, Dumbledore sat behind his desk, and Daphne's parents sat to his right. Daphne was quietly conversing with her mother when they walked in. Glancing around, Harry noticed Remus in the corner and approached him.
"Remus, I'm sorry for the things I said before. They were out of line. I understand the pressures of being a werewolf and know what it's like to mourn someone you cared about." Harry said, extending his hand. Instead, the bedraggled-looking man ignored his hand and embraced him.
"Th – thank you Harry." Remus whispered. "I promise I will be good to you from now on."
"I trust you to do so." Harry said back, and when they separated, they clasped arms. With that out of the way, Harry approached the desk, which was set up with a single paper in the center with a quill in a bottle of ink next to it. He sat in front of it and breathed deeply.
"I hope you have given this a lot of thought." Dumbledore said gravely, but kindly. Harry looked at Daphne's family, minus Astoria. The two women sported somewhat worried looks on their faces, while the father sat there with as tony expression. Harry knew that the man was in as much of a dilemma as him. On one hand, he wanted his daughter to choose who she would marry, but also knew that if she could choose, she'd chose the boy sitting in front of them.
"I have, sir." Harry said quietly. Dumbledore nodded.
"It's quite simple. At the bottom of this form, you must simply write, "'I, Harry Potter, head of House Potter and House Black, do hereby declare this contract active.' If you choose otherwise, you must write, "'I, Harry Potter, head of House Potter and House Black, do hereby declare this contract terminated.'"
Harry looked at his friends, who nodded encouragingly at him. But the look in Fleur's eyes betrayed her true intentions; she told him to choose freely, but he knew she wanted him to terminate the contract and go to her.
Then he looked at the family, who had the same expressions on their face. Damien said quietly, "Harry, if I know anything about you, it's that you're a respectable young man on his way to success. We, in turn, will respect any decision you make."
Then Harry locked eyes with Daphne. The girl was rather stony-faced, but just like Fleur, her eyes dictated what she really thought. "I love you, Harry," they said, "please don't hurt me."
Harry looked down at the paper and began to write. When he finally approached 'declare this contract', he hesitated, and looked up at Dumbledore. The old man did not smile. Instead, he simply dipped his head.
Harry took a deep breath and finally wrote the last word quickly. His fingers seemed to go numb along with the rest of his body, and he returned the quill to its ink and pushed the contract roughly towards his headmaster. His old grey eyebrows rose up into his hairline, and he moved the parchment so that the Greengrass's could see it.
Harry could not consider at the moment if his decision was the right one. His mind was seized with complete terror, and he could only watch in helplessness as Daphne read the last line.
She looked up at Harry and for a moment did not react. Then, her eyes began to quickly well up with tears.
Harry thought back to his answer and his own eyes welled up slightly as Daphne's tears began to collect.
Whether Daphne's tears were from happiness or sadness, Harry could not tell.
Indeed, they had always looked the same to him.
A/N (please read all of it): I enjoy writing cliffhangers. The funny thing about this one is that I will not be answering it anytime soon. Whether or not you ever get to see Harry's answer depends on the poll result on my profile page. Go check it out!
Now, more things. The next story I will be working on is called Privilege. Here is the summary:
Blaise Zabini is thrown into a world of depression and insomnia when his mother is killed in his third year. When the gap in his life is begging to be filled, he turns to drugs. When his friends find out, they try to help him only to be shot down. He must endure his life at Hogwarts go on under the influence of vice, and his friends will do anything they can to help him.
If you remotely enjoyed my writing in any way (which would be a shock to me, really), please go look at it. That will be finished before I accomplish either of the things on the poll.
Again, I thank you for sticking with me despite the unfortunately bad quality of this story. Like I said, I am 14 and am looking to be the best write that I can be. Please give me something I can use, if you get my meaning.
Lastly, I must applaud you. Towards the end of this story (and I mean the very end, the last few chapters), I actually began to enjoy writing this pile of garbage. This is due to a) listening to the HP soundtrack over and over again while I wrote and b) YOU. You forced me through this. You forced me to finish my first story ever. THANK YOU.
Now, I shall waste no more of your time. Again, thank you for sticking by me and enjoy your reading. :)