One Week Later
Posting a week early because both this and the previous chapter were so short.
Tracey Davis, hood up and face hidden, sat in the Three Broomsticks, finishing her dinner and listening to the townspeople as they discussed the news that had been all over the Prophet for the previous week.
". . . did the elf come into it, again?"
"It was a former Malfoy elf. Potter had the elf giving Riddle a Strengthening Potion."
"What? That sounds backwards."
"That's what I thought, too. Apparently the one they used was addictive. When Riddle and the Death Eaters moved to the Dolohov place, the elf stopped giving him the potion. So Riddle was not only out-numbered but also going through potion withdrawal."
"Ah, that makes more sense, not to mention why the fight was reportedly so short. The Malfoys didn't change their wards to keep the elf out after they lost it?"
"Not very bright of 'em."
Tracey smiled slightly as the pair at the next table laughed.
" . . . Snape?"
"He keeps claiming he helped Potter bring down You Know Who and deserves most of the credit. Potter denied it."
The other man gave a disgusted snort. "My nephew took classes from him. From what Alex said, I think I'll believe Potter."
"You and me both. I also heard that Snape's under investigation from the potions guild, the Hogwarts board, and the ministry."
An angry grunt. "Good.
"Hey, where's Potter?"
"Nobody knows. After one of his girls died and he lost that court case to the other, nobody's seen him."
"I'm surprised at that. He just saved us all, and she has some kinda lawsuit against him?"
"I dunno. Never did hear what it was about. Still, I've wanted to thank him. Every owl post I send to him returns without being opened, though."
Having heard all she wanted, Tracey laid a couple galleons on the table and left, walking down the street. At the Scrivenshaft's building, she moved to a hidden door and walked up the stairs. At the top, she simply knocked.
Seconds later, the door opened to reveal Dobby the house-elf. He took one look at her, frowned at the young woman, and moved to the side. "Master Harry sir, you have a guest," the elf called as he busied himself at the side of the room.
Tracey smirked at the elf's rude actions. She could not blame him.
Harry entered slowly, leaning on an ornate walking cane. "Miss Davis," he greeted her neutrally.
She pulled her hood down. "I'm sorry for what I had to do."
"I'm not angry with you," he calmly returned. "I understand why you did it."
She quietly continued, "I had to. To get my freedom, I had to follow through on the lawsuit."
He sighed. "Tracey, I said that I understand. You wanted to be free. I'd died, temporarily, so you used that to sue for your freedom. It makes perfect sense."
"I didn't want to have all of your will executed."
He shrugged. "It was an all or nothing thing from your point of view."
"Yous took all of Master Harry sir's money and properties," Dobby complained, glaring fiercely at the girl.
"Dobby," Harry gently chided the elf.
The elf scowled more deeply, but he subsided.
"What I do regret is that Daphne had to die," Harry said.
Tracey sighed. "Me, too." She shook her head at his guilty look. "Don't fret, Harry; she died defending you. That's what she wanted, remember?"
In an obvious ploy to distract him, she pulled an ornate key out of her pocket and presented it to him. "As we agreed."
Dobby's eyes widened at seeing the Potter Family vault key. "Yous . . ."
Harry took pity on his small friend's confusion. "We made a deal, Dobby. I didn't fight her getting her freedom, and she would give me back most of my estate."
"I even talked my parents into paying off the back taxes on Grimmauld Place."
Harry smiled as he took the key. "Thank you for that."
Dobby flushed a bright green. "Dobby is sorry, Miss Tracey, for thinking that Miss Tracey took Master Harry sir's money and properties."
She knelt down to look the elf in the eye. "I forgive you, Dobby. Nobody but us knew about it." She smiled as the loyal elf again flushed and dropped his head.
Standing, she turned back to Harry. "One last thing."
"Yes?" For the first time since she had known him, Harry Potter looked both happy and relaxed.
"I'm free," she stated.
He tilted his head in confusion. "Yes, we've established that. It's what you wanted, isn't it?"
"Originally," she agreed. "Now there is something else I want." She stepped forward, deliberately invading his personal space. Placing one hand on his chest, she kept her head down and quietly spoke, "When my family had sold me into slavery, you rescued me. When I was naked, shamed, and vulnerable, you treated me with dignity." Looking up at him, she concluded, "I think I've found someone worthy to call husband." She smiled impishly. "Oh, and I can say 'no' now, Harry." She leaned forward and gently kissed him.
After several long seconds, she released the kiss and looked into his eyes.
One hand came up to brush along her hair, and he smiled sadly. "I'm sorry, Tracey, but with all that we've been through since Christmas, it would just be too weird."
She released a sad little sigh and nodded. "Yeah." She stepped back and turned, flipping the hood of her cloak back up. Before she got to the door, she looked over her shoulder and grinned at him. "Maybe in a couple years, though?"
He laughed. "Goodbye, Tracey Davis."
"Goodbye, Harry Potter."