Harry arrived at the Potter Manor with Daphne and Hermione in tow. Once they had arrived in London via international floo Harry used a port key to bring them all to his home. Hermione was amazed when she saw his home. She had no idea that Harry's family had such a magnificent place.
Daphne scoffed at her wonder, "The Potters are an Ancient and Most Noble House, of course they would have a glorious home." Hermione rolled her eyes at Daphne.
Harry shook his head in frustration, "You two better behave, I really don't want to hear you going at each other."
Daphne made a sad eye expression as a means of apology to her boyfriend. Suddenly there were several pops as Harry's house elves arrived to great them outside of the main entrance.
"Welcome back, Master Harry," said Mal with a deep bow. "We do hope that your travels have been safe and rewarding."
Daphne bent over and gave the elf a slight hug and spoke softly into his ear, "Master Harry will not admit it, but his travels were not as safe as they should have been, but they were quite rewarding."
Hermione's jaw dropped at the sight of the four house elves who had arrived. She glared at Harry, "You're not treating them as slaves, are you?" she snapped.
Before Harry could respond, Daphne had stood up and looked as if she was about to slap her. "Don't tell Harry how to take care of his home, and no, he does not treat them like slaves."
Hermione gaped at the tone which Daphne had used towards her. Harry then stepped in between the two of them and he tried to ease the tension. "I know how you feel about the treatment of house elves, Hermione. These elves have been working for the Potter family for many years, they are treated well and they are paid fairly. But you need to understand how house elves magic works. They are linked to their masters. Their very existence depends on being bonded with a witch or wizard and that bond sustains them. The more they do for individual or the family that they are bonded to, the healthier they are."
Hermione frowned, "Very well, I'll try to be more understanding," she said finding the situation distasteful nonetheless.
Harry turned to Mal and the other elves. "Could you prepare a room for Hermione and for Daphne please?"
With a pop three of the elves disappeared, and Mal turned to the witches. "I will bring your things into the manor, and then we will set you up in your rooms." He turned to Daphne, "Your room is already for you, Miss Daphne, it is good to see you again. And we all thank you for bringing back Master Harry safely."
Daphne smiled sweetly at the odd little creature who was being so formal. "Thank you, Mal," she said, and then she turned to Harry. "I really ought to let my parents know that I am back in England. And I am sure that Astoria and Draco would like to know we are back as well."
The trio entered the manor and Hermione was stunned by the size and beauty of the home. Trying to her best friend, she asked, "Is this where your father grew up? I thought he grew up in Godric's Hollow."
Harry looked around his home, glad to be back and then he turned to answer Hermione. "From what I have learned he grew up here, the cottage in Godric's Hollow was a family home that my mum and dad chose to live in when I was born."
Daphne noted that Harry seamed to slip into a bit of melancholy at this and quickly she stood by him and gave him a slight hug. She then turned to Hermione, "How about a tour," she suggested. She turned to Harry, "I've missed this place too."
Harry gave his girlfriend a quick kiss and then he looked at the two women who were waiting on him to begin the tour. "Why don't we take a few minutes to get settled, Mal can show Hermione to her room, and Daphne can either floo call or send an owl to her parents? I'll arrange for some refreshments for us and then we can have the grand tour."
An hour later they were all back in the sitting room after they had completed the tour. Daphne's parents had invited them all over for dinner, and they were looking forward to a relaxing evening. Daphne was anxious about the thought of going over to see her parents as she was sure they would all be grilled about the adventures they had in Australia and in the states. Especially as Daphne and Hermione had made the quick appearance the previous month when Harry was hurt and they needed to fetch Draco and the wand.
Soon they were all seated around the Greengrass' dining table, and enjoying a lively conversation. Isabella Greengrass was shocked to hear of the danger they had put themselves in with the griffon and then with the thunderbird. Harry tried to calm her down by explaining that the cloak made from the griffon hide was great protection, and that Daphne and Hermione were never in any real danger.
"You end up in a coma, and these young ladies have to come all the way back to England to fetch Draco and some mysterious wand just so you could be healed, and you think I am overreacting to this story," said Mrs. Greengrass, obviously irritated with the young wizard sitting next to her eldest daughter. "And then after they left, all of the uproar over the incident in Hogsmeade, and the threats made against Draco, these adventures really have to stop."
Harry was shocked at her words. Daphne was starting to blush. He looked at his girlfriend as he asked her, "Did you leave something out when you told me about what happened when you went to the get the Elder Wand?"
Hermione sheepishly spoke up, "That was my fault, Harry, I am the one who suggested we leave out the altercation with Ron."
Harry shook his head and then he turned to look at Draco. "Tell me about these threats. Were they from Ron?"
Draco was actually turning red as he was about to answer. "The Weasel was a bunch of hot air. It was nothing, really," he said dismissively.
Astoria quickly added, "The Aurors just took Weasley away after that. He was a stupid fool to attack the four of us all by himself."
Harry turned to Daphne, "And can you explain why you thought I didn't need to know about this?"
Hermione cut in, "I told her not to tell anyone about what happened. Don't get mad at Daphne."
Turning to Hermione, he asked slowly, "Does Ron know you took the wand?"
"He might have been figuring it out just before he really let go and started attacking," answered Hermione quietly.
Harry rolled his eyes.
Draco spoke up, "And this is a problem why?"
Harry sighed. "Maybe it will all amount to nothing. But I really think the wand should be put back."
Now Daphne stared at Harry. "Like that would be a good idea," she stated, the sarcasm obvious to everyone. "If anyone listened to Weasley spouting off at us or if he is railing against us or even you about the wand, everyone will know about it. Or at least it will start rumours."
"I don't envy you if word gets out about the Elder Wand," said Draco quietly.
"Well, I guess we'll have to keep it quiet, and hide it somewhere else," said Harry as he ruminated about all of the implications of people learning about the Elder Wand.
Hermione started muttering quietly as she was staring at her plate.
Daphne kicked her gently under the table. "Spill it Granger," she said, "what has your mind racing over there?"
"I'm just thinking through possibilities," Hermione commented thoughtfully. "First, Harry needs to decide whether he will keep the wand with him or put it somewhere safe, such as a vault in Gringotts. Or just snap the wand." There was a group groan at the idea of destroying such an incredible magical artefact. "Either way, someone might come after Harry if they think he actually has the wand or not."
"So how do we deal with that?" asked a worried Daphne.
"Spread more misinformation," said a slyly smiling Hermione. "Harry might just give an interview with someone like Rita Skeeter."
Isabella Greengrass couldn't stay quiet at that comment. "No, not that dreadful woman. Hasn't she done enough attacking of Harry over the years?"
"She always tries, but she was helpful in getting information out during our fifth year," added Hermione.
Jonathan interjected, "Those articles in the Quibbler that she wrote, detailing Harry's story about the return of the Dark Lord. I remember those well. She did take a different approach than she did the previous year."
"But why would she write an article about Harry now?" asked Astoria.
"Confirmation of the rumours that the Boy-Who-Lived is no longer on the eligible young wizard list," suggested Hermione.
Daphne shook her head as she blushed, "No, not that, I don't need that."
Astoria laughed at her sister, "Oh come on, it would be fun!"
"Not for me it won't," protested Daphne.
"I wasn't talking about you," laughed her sister.
The conversation drifted away from the Elder Wand and how to deal with it as everyone enjoyed the remainder of the meal together. Jonathan mentioned that Greengrass Imports was continuing to flourish with the help that Harry and his companies had given to him. He also bemoaned the loss of Daphne as a helper for the family business.
Picking up on her husband's frustration over the absence of their oldest daughter from helping with the family business, Isabella turned to Daphne. "So, now that you've had your adventures, are you going to be settling down for a little while?"
Daphne looked to Harry and avoided her mother's gaze. As she reached under the table she gently squeezed Harry's hand. Harry took the hint and turned to Lady Greengrass and answered for Daphne. "We will be preparing for another couple of journeys," he said simply. "But I think we need to prepare for the next couple of trips."
"Prepare?" asked Jonathan. "What do you mean by that? Plan out your travel destinations?" He clearly was not happy with the thought of his daughter continuing to traipse around the world with a young man like she had been doing.
"My responsibilities which I need to deal with are not yet complete, Lord Greengrass," Harry commented with a very formal tone. "As there are tasks which I still need to complete, I will need to have some more journeys. But before I embark on these journeys I will be preparing with additional study with the help of Hermione." Harry smiled at his best friend and noted the slight scowl that Daphne was giving him and then he quickly added, "And Daphne will be helping me as well."
Jonathan's jaw was stern as he thought about this statement, but he chose to remain quiet even though he was not happy to hear this news.
Isabella looked back and forth between her daughter and her boyfriend. She considered what she knew about this young man, how he had defeated the Dark Lord, how he has survived countless adventures, most recently including run-ins with a thunderbird and a griffon. She wasn't sure she really wanted to know anything more about his adventures, but she couldn't bear the thought of her daughter joining him on these dangerous excursions. She opened her mouth as she was about to say something, and then she decided not to, and just looked down and hid her face from her daughter, then she quickly used her napkin to wipe a stray tear from her cheek as she silently worried about what kind of trouble the young couple would be getting into next.
It was an early July evening as the five friends were relaxing in the sitting room at Potter Manor. Draco was sitting next to Astoria as Hermione was discussing with everyone about the current plans she had drawn up for the next stage.
"Right, we know that we all will be able to go search for the chimera together, as Draco is currently on break from the Auror training program. We still have to gather some supplies, and then we can head to Hogwarts tomorrow to talk to Hagrid and see if he could offer some help." She turned to Harry, "Are you sure that Merlin's writings don't have any more information on chimeras than your brief notes? We really could use some more to go on."
Harry shook his head, "Look, I searched for months, and I had to have the professors helping me translate the writings from Old English, and it didn't help that his hand writing made that of a muggle physician look like great penmanship."
"So, then what do you propose?" asked Hermione.
"We go to Hogwarts, and see what we can learn from Hagrid," he said simply. "Maybe he knows about chimeras."
"He probably thinks there as gentle as lambs, friendly as a puppy, and easily house broken," snorted Draco.
Astoria giggled at his comments, but Hermione cast Draco a nasty glare. Daphne did not miss the look and chided the other witch. "Relax, Hermione, he's just having fun."
Hermione spun on her seat to face Daphne, "It's not funny," she protested. "You should have seen the awful way he treated Hagrid during Care of Magical Creatures."
Daphne shook her head slightly. "I was in Slytherin, remember! I was there! Really Hermione, you're supposed to be the bright one."
"Granger," said Draco calmly, "you really need to relax a little, don't take everything so seriously."
Harry joined in the teasing, "Now, my godfather, he was the one to be taken seriously."
Hermione rolled her eyes and tossed a cushion at him, "Not funny Harry."
Early the next morning the two wizards and three witches apparated to Hogsmeade on their way to Hogwarts. Harry suggested that they take the back alleys through the village on their way to the Hogwarts gate so as to avoid going anywhere near the Weasleys' joke shop, just in case Ron was around. Entering the grounds of Hogwarts, they headed towards Hagrid's hut, avoiding going near Dumbledore's tomb along the way. Harry noted as they were approaching that there was no smoke coming from the chimney and as they got closer there was no barking of Fang to announce their arrival. Reluctantly, he went up to the door and knocked, and he was not surprised to receive no answer. As he turned towards the group who had accompanied him he quickly noted a look of relief on the face of Draco but a look of sadness on Hermione.
"Right, well, anyone have any more brilliant ideas," Harry said as a statement more than a question. He was obviously frustrated.
Hermione bit her lip as she thought about their options and then she offered, "Well, we could check with the headmistress. Professor McGonagall should know where he is, she might be able to find him for us."
Harry shook his head, "He's not here, there's no fire and Fang is gone." Then he added, "But I suppose you're right, McGonagall might know where we could find him."
Daphne frowned at the idea of seeing the headmistress. "No offence, you two, but even if she knows where Hagrid is, it's not going to help. He is clearly not here. We need to get more information about the chimera. I am not sure that Professor McGonagall would have that information."
"Maybe she would let us use the Hogwarts' library," suggested Hermione with a sudden gleam in her eye.
Astoria rolled her eyes and Draco audibly groaned at the bright young witch's excitement.
"It would be quite unlikely that the library here would have much useful information, Granger," chided Daphne, trying to convey her message a little more softly than it sounded. "While the references in the library here on magic, charms, and history may be quite extensive, the resources they have in regard to such creatures are sorely lacking. Particularly considering the decided slant towards Anglo-Saxon history of magic. Greek history is definitely lacking despite the numerous reference volumes that are found in the library here at Hogwarts."
Hermione became defensive as she took the comments as an attack on her school and her knowledge. Noting the building anger in Hermione's eyes, Daphne cut her off before she could say anything. "There were others besides the Ravenclaw students who actually spent more time in that library than you did. Some of us were not joining Harry on all of his crazy and reckless adventures every year." She paused and turned to face her boyfriend and gave him a smile to reassure him, then she turned back to Hermione. "I suppose that you did not really find much information about the three headed dog you encountered during your first year within those hallowed halls."
Hermione bit her lip as she thought about what the blonde witch was telling her. "Well, then just where do you think we can get this information?" snapped Hermione as she let her frustration out on Daphne.
"I thought you were the intelligent one here," stated Daphne with a little sarcasm dripping off her words. "Where would you look for information about such a creature?"
Hermione wasn't sure if the question was meant to be rhetorical or not. "Well, the Greeks are known for many ancient writings, for their philosophers and their plays and their mythology," she said as she thought this through aloud.
Astoria couldn't resist adding, "I don't think the writings of Plato or the Greek tragedies will help you out here." She laughed slightly at the idea of Hermione trying to research this problem in such writings.
Hermione tried to ignore the comments from the younger Greengrass. "It's not like there is any famous Greek library where I could find any of those documents anyway," she added defending herself.
Daphne laughed derisively. "I thought you had a better education as a muggle before coming to Hogwarts. Where did you learn your history? The Greeks controlled the Mediterranean before the rise of the Roman Empire. There was plenty of their culture preserved and they had some famous libraries as well."
Hermione rolled her eyes. "I know my history. The famous library of Alexandria, the most famous library in the world, which some say was founded by Aristotle or his students was destroyed by Julius Caesar."
Daphne snorted at her comment. "That's what muggle history has taught you? Didn't muggle history also teach that there is no such thing as magic or dragons or witches and wizards?"
There was an awkward silence as Hermione tried to form words and sentences but nothing came out of her mouth.
Draco sneered, "The brightest witch of our age, silenced at last, and by a Slytherin, no less."
There was a sudden uncomfortable silence among the group as four sets of eyes glared at Draco. He noted the intensity of the looks he was receiving, and it actually made him recoil slightly. As a slight blush came across his face, he muttered a quiet apology of sorts, "Sorry, Granger"
Hermione turned from glaring at Draco and was about to ask Daphne a question about the Library of Alexandria, when they heard some shouting coming towards them. The group looked and saw a tall thin man walking across the fields towards them and he did not seem pleased to see a group gathering by Hagrid's hut.
"Who do you think you are? What are you doing here anyway?" came the voices cries drifting across the space in between them.
Harry turned to Hermione who looked back at him. They simultaneously mouthed "Neville?"
Harry turned back to face the person who was quickly approaching with long strides. Behind him, Harry heard Draco say under his breath, "Is that Longbottom?" Harry chose to ignore Draco and he then waved his hand towards his friend and classmate. "Hey Nev!" he shouted back.
Neville Longbottom had changed from a brisk walk to a run when he thought he recognised a couple of the people in the group. He could scarcely believe that he was seeing Harry Potter of all people here at Hogwarts, but as he approached the gathering he thought to himself, who else would be trying to visit Hagrid during the summer.
Harry stepped forward to greet Neville with a handshake that quickly changed into a hug between the two former classmates. They patted each other on the back and Neville turned and looked at the bright young witch with not so bushy hair. "Hermione!" he exclaimed. "You've come back from Australia!"
Hermione smiled and gave him a big hug. "That I did," she said brightly.
Neville looked around at the group that was with his two good friends. "Daphne," he said with a nod to the blonde woman, "Astoria" he added with a nod to the younger Greengrass. He turned and looked at the young Malfoy. He had last encountered the former Slytherin at his own New Year's Eve party, and Draco had been pleasant, despite the rudeness of Ron Weasley who managed to show up and make an arse of himself. "It is good to see you, Draco."
Draco shook the offered hand and acknowledged the greeting with a quiet "And you too, Longbottom."
Harry was glad that Neville did not harbor any misgivings towards Draco in regard to the incident at his party involving Ron. Harry was about to say something, but before he could, Neville stepped back and put his hands gently on his hips. "So, you and Hermione are back," he said stating the obvious. "And now you're both associating yourselves with former Slytherins." Neville noted Hermione's raised eyebrow at his comment, then he quickly added, "It's all fine Hermione, I'm just teasing them. They all joined me for a party at New Years."
Everyone smiled as Neville's comments made them all feel more at ease. Looking at everyone in the group again, Neville began to smile even more broadly, "So, did you all just go over to Australia and hunt her down to drag her back here to England?"
"No, Daphne and I had an errand of sorts to take care of down under, and we just happened to run into the Australian Minister for the Department of Magical Creatures."
Neville looked puzzled. "But what does that have to do with Hermione?"
Draco hid his face in his hand so as not to laugh out loud.
Hermione blushed bright red as Daphne stepped up next to Harry, "Neville, that was Hermione's job in Australia."
Now Neville was redder than a Weasley after being pranked. Neville then felt a little awkward as he looked between the two women standing on either side of Harry.
"What is it Neville?" asked Hermione.
"It's just that I kind of thought that you and Harry would end up together, after everything you guys went through together in school and all, and then he ends up with Daphne, and then the two of them bring you back to England. This all seems so confusing." Neville shook his head and hoped that he hadn't offended anyone.
The group of friends started to laugh. Then Neville interrupted their mirth as he asked, "But really, what does bring you all to Hogwarts? What brings you all together? No offence to any of you, but Harry and Hermione hanging out with you three, that is definitely unexpected."
"We're working together on a project," said Hermione simply.
Neville raised an eyebrow at her comments.
"Right, and I'm the emperor of China," he said with a straight face. "You're all done with school, what kind of project would you be working on?"
"They're helping me with some chores I need to finish," said Harry.
Neville eyed his good friend. "Chores? Projects?" Neville shook his head. "I know you too well, don't make up any more wild excuses. I'm not still some scared young boy you put into a body bind curse when you went to stop Quirrel."
Draco gave them all a puzzled look, but Harry smiled genuinely at his friend. "Perhaps a better explanation is that I have a few outstanding projects I need to complete," said Harry.
"What, is Miss Greengrass here going to put you in detention or something?" Neville asked with a grin. Then his face became more serious, "Really, Harry, I'd like to know what's going on. You show up here with some new friends and the last time I heard Hermione's name around here it had something to do with hexing Ron and then her running off with Daphne and Draco and her sister. Don't leave me in the dark when there is a good story to be heard." He gave his friend a pointed look and it was clear he intended to get the explanation he wanted.
Harry resigned himself to telling his story to his mate. "Let's talk over lunch, and perhaps we can have a little chat with the headmistress, unless of course you know where Hagrid is and how I could get in touch with him."
Neville glanced over at the empty hut. "Hagrid has been gone all summer. Off on some trip with Olympe, they were going to go exploring in the Himalayas or some other place. Not sure why, I never understood why he was heading there. He's supposed to be back before the next term starts."
Harry looked at Daphne at this news and the two shared a frustrated smile. Shortly after this they were all seated down for lunch in the Great Hall with Minerva McGonagall. Professor Flitwick joined the group of young friends. They all enjoyed catching up on what everyone had been up to. The headmistress was relieved to hear and see that Harry had come through fine after the ordeal with the thunderbird. Neville just shook his head in disbelief as he heard the details of one more Harry Potter adventure. The Hogwarts teachers, including Neville, were all interested in hearing why Harry needed to speak with Hagrid. Harry also made it clear that they still had more work to do to complete his 'project.'
"Why must you always be looking to get into mischief, Mr. Potter? For the life of me, I do not understand why you can't just settle down and do things the easy way." The headmistress turned to Daphne, "Miss Greengrass, you were always so level headed in school, I would hope that you would be the one that could finally talk some sense into this young man. I gave up hope on Miss Granger being able to do that years ago. My heavens, I thought you had more than enough adventures already Mr. Potter." She let out a sigh as she looked at one of her favourite students and she was sure that her concerns would go unheeded.
Harry smiled back at his former head of house, "I usually didn't go looking for trouble back when I was a student."
Draco interrupted with a not too quiet, "Yeah, right, Potter, tell us all another one."
Astoria and Daphne both shot glares at Draco for his comment, and Hermione was about to speak up to defend Harry, but she was cut off by McGonagall, "Now , I will not tolerate any such insolence on your part whatsoever."
A subdued Draco bowed his head slightly as he muttered, "Understood professor."
Both Flitwick and McGonagall raised eyebrows at the response which was not at all expected based on his behaviour when he was a student. Astoria noted the looks and then tried to explain, "He really is working on being on is best behaviour, at least when he is around me." She gave her betrothed a slight wink which softened his mood slightly.
A brief shiver ran through the headmistress as she imagined the possibility of Mr. Potter and Mr. Malfoy marrying into the same family. Considering the outright antagonism they both showed for each other over their school years, this civility with which they were treating each other was beyond understanding. "Young people these days," she thought to herself. "Hopefully my friends and I were not really so fickle about friends as this when we were younger."
The headmistress spoke up again, "Now, our new assistant herbology professor, Mr. Longbottom, tells me that you have been inquiring about Hagrid."
Harry nodded in response, "I was actually hoping that he might be able to help us with my next project as it were."
"And it has nothing whatsoever to do with those damnable blast ended skrewts," added Daphne quietly. Her former classmates laughed at her comment.
McGonagall raised an eyebrow at Harry's comment, "What sort of help?"
Harry avoided her stern gaze as he answered softly, "With finding and catching a chimera."
The diminutive charms professor choked on a sip of water. "Excuse me, Mr. Potter, but I didn't hear you correctly. For a moment there I thought you said you needed help with finding a chimera. What did you actually say?"
The five guests at the Hogwarts lunch table were silent. Neville's eyes grew big. "No, you wouldn't be doing something like that. Not another one of your adventures! By Merlin's beard Harry, that is just crazy."
The professors were nearly glaring at Harry in anticipation for his response to Neville's outburst.
Looking directly at Professor Flitwick, Harry said, "I did say chimera." He waited for his words to sink in again. "I need to get some chimera venom," he said simply as he turned to face his friend Neville, "and now that you mention it, it is by Merlin's recommendation that I need to do this."
McGonagall dropped her fork. The clatter caused all eyes at the table to focus on her. "What do you mean by that? By Merlin's recommendation…you can't possibly have been talking to Merlin."
His four friends stared at Harry, surprised that he had made a comment referring to the library where he had been reading Merlin's writings. Harry noted that everyone was waiting on his answer, so he began to explain. "No, of course I haven't been speaking to Merlin, that would be just silly to claim such a thing." He paused briefly and then he continued, "I've just been reading some of his writings."
There was a crash as Flitwick fell off of his chair. Everyone's attention turned to the half goblin professor as he climbed back up to the table. "I'm fine, I'm fine," he said as he refused any help in the matter.
McGonagall gave Harry a look that made it clear he was expected to elaborate further on this matter. "It turns out that most of Merlin's writings are preserved in a secret location within a muggle university," Harry said by way of answering the headmistress' silent request. "And no, there is no way that those works can be removed from where they are and the professors who know about them will not let just anyone in to the hidden library." He noted that he had everyone's rapt attention and he anticipated a few questions, so he continued with his explanation. "The only ones who have been into this secret room are two professors and myself, and I do not think that it would be advisable to have anyone else heading over there to just have a look." Harry noted Hermione's frown. "I already explained that there is nothing further about chimera's in his writings."
"But we do need to learn more about them before you go traipsing off who knows where to find one," she complained.
"Well, you could always try the Library of Alexandria for more information," added Professor McGonagall, "if that is what you need."
Daphne smirked as she looked at Hermione, "See, I told you."
Hermione gave the blonde a slight smile and then turned back to the headmistress, "But how could I get there? How do I get in?"
The Scottish woman was surprised by Hermione's questions. "Why, I am sure that Madame Pince would be delighted to make a referral for you to gain admission."
Hermione's eyes sparkled with excitement at hearing that.
Neville spoke to Harry, "So, I guess you'll be off to Greece to find this chimera then. Do you have a place to stay?"
Harry smiled as he had not shared this with his traveling companions yet. "Well, we do have a place for a base of operations, as it were. The Potter family has a villa on a small Greek island. I think we can travel there, start our search for a chimera. Maybe we can do that while Hermione is researching more information about the creature over in Alexandria." Harry was pleased with the excited look in his friends' eyes, but internally he regretted that they would not have Hagrid along to help with actually subduing the beast.