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You can never go back, but sometimes it's so hard to go forward.
Sunday, July 22nd - Late Afternoon

Since she and Harry had come home from the events of Friday night, Daphne had refused to leave Glen Hollow. For the most part she remained in bed, curled up on her side of the mattress, buried beneath the covers and clutching a pillow.

Guilt, sadness and fear ate at her. How had she missed the signs? How could she have let Rose down so badly? And the others? How many had been hurt because of her, because of something she should have noticed?

For awhile she had been numb, and it had been easier to sleep. But now the numbness had worn off, and Daphne could only dwell on what had happened.

Then there were the nightmares. Visions of Rose turning, of Harry being ripped apart before her very eyes, of Roman winning. She woke up screaming from those.

How much longer can I go on like this? This isn't healthy, Daph. She felt another twinge in her belly and rolled to her back, gasping as it happened again.

It's the baby. He's telling you it's time to get up, Daph. Rose is gone, but you aren't. You've got a family to care for, and friends who are still here who need you. It's time to start moving on.
Harry did what he could to comfort Daphne. When she woke from nightmares, it was easier than when she turned away and held a pillow instead of him. Whispering words of reassurance the vampire was really destroyed this time, he didn't know if it was enough and was doubly glad she hadn't been there to see him struggling under the monstrosity while waiting - hoping the others would take the opportunity to act. The wounds he'd suffered during the struggle hadn't been hidden and he cursed himself for not taking the time to clean up a little before seeing her - but he'd needed to see and touch her.

He couldn't figure out why he felt guilty until he realized it was because he hadn't told her all that had happened. The fact he'd goaded the vampire into attacking him had been held back.

She's probably going to be really, really ticked off at me - which wouldn't be good for the baby, right? Harry tried to tell himself in an effort to keep his mouth shut. He sighed and sat the sander down while running a hand over the wood. The first coat of varnish on the cradle was as smooth as he could make it.

I could apply the second coat now, Harry reasoned as he eyed the small wall clock.

"Fuck," slipped out softly when he knew it had to come from him. There had been witnesses. Witnesses who kept their mouths shut when it counted, but Daphne wasn't a Ministry official who needed to be kept in the dark. One of them - sometime - somewhere might mention something that would set her wondering.

And asking me questions I'd rather not answer.

How to tell her, when she was ready of course, was the next obstacle to overcome. Harry grinned at nothing when he remembered a comment she'd made once.

"I can see it now," he mumbled to himself while one hand rose to rub his chin. "Hey, Daph? Remember when you told me 'You go get yourself killed and I will find a way to have you brought back so I can smack you upside the head.' Well, you almost got the chance to make good on that threat."

Wrinkling his nose and shaking his head, Harry wisely decided that probably wasn't the best way to introduce the subject into a conversation. Dusting off his clothes and hair, he started toward the house, confident Daphne was probably still in bed and not up to hearing any more details of their - interlude - with the vampire anyway.

I'll take her some tea, biscuits and...

Harry's thoughts trailed off as he opened the door and saw her in the kitchen.

"Good morning - afternoon," he said with a grin while walking over and taking Daphne's face in his hands before kissing her. He was encouraged by the fact she was out of bed, but it also brought the question of when to tell her a little closer.

A little flattery - reassurance never hurts.

"How's my beautiful bride today?"
"Well, she took a shower, so she's smelling better at least," Daphne replied with just a hint of her usual smile. "Lucky for you, she even remembered to brush her teeth."

She gestured toward the small pile of ingredients haphazardly stacked on the island. "Thought I might make something for dinner, give Dobby a rest for the night. How are you?" She reached up to almost touch one of the healing marks left from the fight.

It was her first tentative inquiry into his injuries since she'd tearfully reassured herself that he would be alright and wasn't going to die. Like the others.
Now was definitely not the time to lay it all out. She'd made progress and Harry was determined not to set her back.

"Who me?" he questioned after taking that hand and placing a kiss in the palm. "I'm fine. Never better," he remarked truthfully as his other hand stroked the side of her neck and face. "I have a beautiful, intelligent wife and a son or daughter on the way that I'm sure will be both gorgeous and brilliant."

He eyed the items on the island and while he loved eating Daphne's cooking, it might be better to get her out of the house for a while.

"I have an idea. Why don't we go out for dinner? Give both you and Dobby a break and celebrate a little."

Tilting his head while trying to think of somewhere other than Hogsmeade to take her, he nodded once and then sent Daphne a smile.

"Could I tempt you with our favorite chinese restaurant?"
On the one hand, cooking usually made her feel better. On the other, being pampered was always nice. And on the third, the very thought of leaving the house terrified her.

Which was more than enough reason to go. Daphne knew that if she gave in to her fear today, it would be even easier to do it the next time, and the next, and the next, until she became crazy Mrs Potter who was talked about but never seen. Next thing you know, I'll start collecting cats.

"How did you know I was craving chinese?"
It had been a stab in the dark and Harry laughed before admitting it.

"I didn't, but it does sound good doesn't it?"

Glancing down at his slightly-less than clean shirt and jeans, Harry brushed at a spot before conceding defeat.

"Let me take a quick shower and change."

While eating out would be good for a couple of hours, Harry had another idea in store that might help Daphne begin to forget about the vampire and poor Rose.

She might even let me buy it.

"Maybe after we can take in a movie or do some shopping for the baby too if you're up to it."
A movie. Shopping?

Working herself up enough to agree to leave the house for food was one thing, but to sit in a dark room, surrounded by strangers? Or moving through a throng of loud people she didn't know?

She realized she'd been nibbling on her nails again, and quickly pulled her finger from her lips, looking at the ruined nail.

Get a grip, Daphne. Cat lady, remember?

"Maybe. We'll see how the Chinese goes." Daphne made an effort to sound like she was willing to consider it, and she was, she just didn't have that much enthusiasm for the idea at the moment. Just because it's good for me, doesn't mean I want to.

"Go shower, and I'll put this stuff away." For a moment, she was tempted to offer to join him in the shower on the off chance that might distract Harry from wanting to go out, but she knew that was a bad idea and refrained.
I'm pushing too fast, too hard, Harry decided while moving back towards his wife. He'd realized that quite quickly when the tell-tale nibbles on nails started up.

I never claimed to be a genius, but even I should know better.

Putting an arm around her waist, Harry tugged Daphne closer.

"You'd agree to do almost anything I suggested, wouldn't you?" he asked quietly while resting his chin gently on the crown of her hair.

His heart broke a little when he also realized how fragile she must still be feeling and he kissed the top of her head while his other arm slid around her shoulders.

What woman doesn't love to go shopping?

One that's been thoroughly traumatized and needs time to heal, Idiot.

His eyes narrowed a little in thought and a short time later a small uplift to the corner of his mouth appeared.

Maybe a good dose of anger toward her stupid spouse might help?

"Daph? Do you remember when you told me 'You go get yourself killed and I will find a way to have you brought back so I can smack you upside the head.'at all?"

Maybe I should take off the glasses first?

Daphne was pretty sure she wasn't going to like where this was going.

"Why?" The word was drawn out and more than a little hesitant, as if she really didn't want to hear the answer.

She turned her head to look up at him, lips set in a firm line, eyes narrowed. "Don't think I wouldn't. Because Mum knows people, who know people who know how to do that kind of thing."
Glasses off.

He couldn't help it. Harry kissed the tip of her nose and hoped he was doing the right thing by telling her this soon. His glasses slid off and the expression on his face was not hesitant as much as it was an appeal that she would at least hear him out before she killed him.

"I know she does, but - well... When we had the vampire sort of cornered... Last time he got away because we couldn't... It was so unpredictable. I mean he is - was so single minded and focused that I thought if he was concentrating on one person the others would - could and did take appropriate measures to - you know - take care of him?"

Harry's tone of voice ended in a question to Daphne, hoping that she understood what he was talking about, but then shaking his head in frustration at himself. Harry had never had to explain just exactly what the thought process was behind one of his typical Gryffindor moves. It was difficult to explain what made him take leaps from thought and inaction to action that sometimes placed himself in danger.

"I'm not explaining this very well am I?"
Uh oh. He's removing the glasses. That can't be good.

He kissed her nose and Daphne's lips automatically tilted upward just a bit in response.

That smile slowly faded as she listened to his words, her lower lip becoming trapped between her teeth as Daphne struggled not to blurt out that she didn't want to hear this, any of it. Not now. Maybe not ever.

Suspecting your husband had been in mortal danger and having him confirm it were two entirely separate things.

And you should really be getting used to it by now, Daphne.

It wasn't as if the precedent didn't already exist. Harry had never shirked from danger before, especially if there was someone he cared about involved.

Daphne didn't know what she would have done if the vampire had escaped once more. How many months - years - would they have lived in fear, waiting for it to return to try to stake his, its claim on her, Izabel and...

On the other hand, she had no idea what she would have done if something had happened to Harry. Curled up and died of a broken heart, most likely. Her hand drifted over her rounded belly and Daphne knew that as much as she would have liked to have given up if Harry had been killed, she would have eventually snapped out of it for the baby's sake. Harry's baby.

She sighed and leaned her cheek against his chest. "Well enough. I don't like it, and don't think I'm not upset at the very idea of it, but I think - I understand. Just - next time, how about letting someone else play the idiotic hero and you take a turn at being one of the reinforcements? I bet Malfoy would love seeing his name in the paper in a good light, for once."
Daphne had taken it better than he had initially thought she would and for that he was grateful. Details weren't important – except one.

A grin cracked Harry's face and he ducked his head slightly. If she wasn't going to get angry about it, maybe a little exasperation at having to "thank" Draco might finish the job of getting things back to normal.

"Uhm, Daph? Draco was the one who actually destroyed the bastard. I owe - we both owe him a lot," Harry admitted with more than a sheepish grin.
The thought of owing Malfoy anything other than a swift kick to the arse was annoying, but Daphne could concede that if what Harry said was true - and she had no reason to doubt him - then she owed Malfoy.

She owed him huge.


She brightened, her smile growing at the thought that surely Malfoy would do something so horrid that she could safely go back to hating him again soon enough.

And then the world will be that much closer to normal, once more.

"We should invite him over for dinner some night. Perhaps tomorrow?"