Catherine hated it when she had dreams like this. She saw herself, walking alone. The street was wet and rather poorly lit, and she was walking quickly as if she was avoiding someone. ‘But was it really her?’ she tried to get closer to the woman walking. She had a large bag slung over her shoulder, her bushy light brown hair was tied back in a messy ponytail, and she looked pale and tired.
“Why am I seeing this, that’s not me, is it?” the woman looked remarkably like her except for the hair and skin tone. She shifted her arm back and Catherine saw some writing stitched onto her white coat. ‘Dr. Granger.’ Catherine read silently. The woman halted, and stood still. A tall figure in a dark cloak with a hood was striding towards her. Catherine saw her hand go in her pocket and grip a long slim object- her wand.
“Granger…” The figure hissed. Hermione froze in fear.
“Go away.” She tried to say without her voice shaking. “You’re finished, my husband took away all that you were. You can’t do anything to me.” She pulled her wand fully out of her pocket, aware that they were standing on a Muggle street, but the need to protect herself was greater.
The figure in the cloak snarled again and leapt at Hermione. She screamed and the person pressed their hand over her mouth. She bit it and he pulled back and slapped her.
“Bitch!” it spat. It yanked her wand out of her hand and threw it across the street. “You’ll pay for that!” It pulled out it’s own wand and pointed it at Hermione, who was still laying on her back on the sidewalk.
“Alieno cunctus!” A beam of red light shot into Hermione’s body and jolted her violently. She went limp onto the sidewalk; the figure grabbed her body like it was a sack and tossed her over it’s shoulder, then disappeared into the night.
Catherine sat up with a gasp, her forehead was covered in sweat and her heart was pounding madly. ‘What the hell was that?’ she thought. A stream of sunlight came full force through her window and shone in her eyes, making her head pound. Groaning, she threw back her coverlet and pulled on a robe over her pajamas.
Walking into the kitchen, she saw Grace huddled over at the table. “Morning.”
Grace’s head snapped back. “You scared me!” she said.
“Sorry.” Catherine said. “So what happened to you last night?” she asked, getting a cup down from the cabinet and putting the kettle on for some tea.
“Last night? Oh right, the club…” Grace was obviously hung over, Catherine realized, a little amused. “Who was that guy you were with?”
Grace smiled. “His name is Justin Finch Fletchley, he’s 32, and gorgeous.”
“Justin Finch Fletchley…” Catherine said, biting her lower lip. “Misuse of Muggle Artifacts at the Ministry of Magic right?” she said.
Grace stared at her strangely. “How did you know that?” Catherine looked perplexed.
“I have no idea…” she said, pouring the hot water over the tea bag in her cup. She brought it over to the table and sat down, Grace still staring at her.
“What?” Catherine asked. “I swear, that just popped into my head.” Grace leaned back in her chair.
“I’m sorry about the Floo Powder thing…when we left I couldn’t find you anywhere and I assumed you had some with you.”
“It’s all right. I was a bit miffed at you at first but I got a ride with someone.”
“Who?” Grace was interested.
Catherine looked at her and a grin broke out on her face. “You’ll never believe me if I tell you.”
“Oh come on!” Grace wheedled. “I told you who I was with.”
Catherine took a sip of tea and sat back. “Harry Potter.” Grace’s mouth fell open.
“You’re serious.” Catherine nodded.
“How can you be so calm, you got a ride home with Harry Potter!” Grace almost shouted. “You sat in the same car as him?”
“We also knocked heads a few times.” Catherine said matter of factly, and her face turned red when she thought of the scene that had taken place right on her doorstep.
“You’re blushing.” Grace said immediately. “What else did you two do?”
“Nothing!” Catherine protested, but she felt the heat in her cheeks rise.
“Liar.” Grace said. “You were snogging with him!” her eyes grew bright with excitement.
“I was not!” Catherine said, a little too quickly.
“Right.” Grace leaned back and smirked.
Catherine rolled her eyes. “Fine.” She said. “We ALMOST did.”
“Really.” Grace said. “Do tell me more.”
Catherine wrapped her hands around the mug. “Well, after we knocked heads out there on the porch, I got a little dizzy and fell forward, he caught me and we were just, really close, and then I don’t know, we almost kissed but he pulled back at the last second.”
“Would you have kissed him?” Grace asked.
Catherine thought for a moment, and then a slight smile crossed her face. “Yes, I think I probably would have…”
Grace smiled at her for a moment, and then a shadow overtook her face.
“By the way…” she said. “Your favorite person stopped by here this morning. Bugger woke me up too.”
Catherine looked at Grace. “Ugh, please don’t tell me…”
“Yup. Duncan.” Grace made a horrible face. “The cheating bastard himself.”
“What did he want?”
Grace smirked. “He asked where you were and I told him you still weren’t back from being out last night.”
“Oh God.” Catherine moaned. “Now next time he sees me he’ll bug me about that. Honestly, you’d think I was the one who cheated and then broke things off!”
“You seem upset about it.” Grace commented.
“Well, I guess you could say I’m more upset that I wasted two years with that git and then he went and cheated on me…” Catherine said. “I can honestly say I don’t want anything to do with him at all anymore.”
Grace patted her hand. “Good. ” she gave Catherine a sly wink. “Besides, I daresay you’ve got one Harry Potter within your grasp now huh.”
“Shut up would you?” Catherine laughed. “So tell me, how did Justin get home this morning?”
Grace’s mouth snapped shut. “What are you talking about?” she asked, her face was now the one growing red.
“Come on, I know what goes on in your dates.” Catherine said. “What time did he leave?”
“About an hour ago.” Grace replied. “He had his own Floo Powder.” She gave Catherine a quirky smile and went to put her own mug in the sink.
Catherine stared into her cup pensively. “I had such a strange dream last night.”
“What about?” Grace asked, returning to the table.
Catherine pursed her lips. “Well, there was this woman, I thought she was me, but she had light brown hair and lighter skin….” She went on to describe the dream in as much detail as she could remember. Grace, for some reason, looked quite pale when Catherine finished.
“Wha… what do you think it all means?” Grace asked, looking at her intensely.
Catherine shrugged, not noticing the stare she was getting from Grace. “I have no idea. There was a name stitched on the coat…” Catherine tried in vain to remember what it said, but it had already slipped from her mind. “Damn.” She said regretfully. “I’ve already forgotten the name!” she sighed. “And I was going to do some research on it today.”
Grace leaned back in relief; her secret was safe for the time being. “What are you doing today?” she asked, trying to change the subject.
Catherine shrugged. “I don’t know. I don’t have to work, so I figured I’d just sit around and read today.”
“Why don’t you meet me for lunch over by the hospital?” Grace urged. “It’s boring just sitting around here all day.”
Catherine nodded thoughtfully. “I think I will. What time?”
“Say around one.” Grace looked at her watch. “I’ve gotta go!” with that she apparated out.
Catherine drank the rest of her tea and put her empty up in the sink. She stretched her arms over her head and then headed towards the den, where she had left her book. Spying it on the end table, she picked it up and took it into the living room.
“Study of Advanced Transfiguration and Animagi.” She read the cover to herself and smiled. Grace endlessly teased her on her choice of reading materials, but Catherine loved to learn, and she could never find enough to read and study about. She curled up in her chair and settled back for a few hours of reading.
Harry groaned and rolled over on the bed in Ron and Lavender’s guest room. He fumbled his hand towards the nightstand and managed to locate his glasses, which he slipped on and blinked to adjust his focus.
“Ughremplsh” he muttered. A girlish giggle brought him from his sleepy haze. He sat back up and watched as a tangle of brown hair attached to a body propelled their self onto his bed and giggled again.
“Caty Cat!” he exclaimed, and he pulled her onto his lap and began tickling her.
“Dad!!” she shrieked. “Stop! I give!” she was laughing hysterically. He stopped tickling her and she pulled away and sat at the foot of the bed.
“You sleep well last night love?” Harry asked her.
“Yeah pretty well. ” she made a face. “But Blue snores!”
Harry laughed out loud. “His dad used to snore too. Some nights in the dormitory he’d keep us up cause he sounded like a roaring lion.”
“Oh, so funny Harry.” Ron quipped, poking his head in the open door. “For your information, you weren’t the quietest of sleepers either.”
“Well we don’t need to go there do we?” Harry joked. He looked at his daughter again. “What’s up?”
She bit her lip, looking a bit subdued. She held out a picture, which Harry instantly recognized as one of his and Hermione’s wedding portraits.
“Where did you get that?” Harry asked, taking it from her and gazing on it. The Harry in the photo had his arms around the photo Hermione’s waist, and was trying to nuzzle her on the neck, while she grinned for the camera.
“Uncle Ron gave it to me.” Caitlyn replied. Harry gazed at the picture again, and when he looked back up, she was staring at him with the strangest expression on her face.
“What’s wrong?” Harry asked, concerned.
Caitlyn bit her lip again and took a deep breath. “That lady in the bookstore, even though she has dark hair and she’s tanned, looks a lot like Mum.”
Harry knew his daughter was smart; he figured he shouldn’t be surprised that she had figured out that much on her own, there was too much of Hermione in her he realized again.
“Well…” Harry trailed off, looking for the right words. “I don’t know how to really explain this to you…”
“Just tell me Dad.” Caitlyn said, “I’m not a baby.”
Harry gave her a half smile, “No, you certainly aren’t.” He patted the empty bed next to him and she scampered up next to him. “I think…I just think, I don’t know, that Catherine, could be your mum.” He watched as Caitlyn absorbed this info, and being the type of child she was, did not get over excited.
“Look, love, this is still a surprise for me too…” Harry reassured her. “And I promise, we won’t rush into anything.” He was relieved to see a small smile break out onto her face. “I have another surprise for you.” He said.
“What?” Caitlyn asked.
“Well…I was thinking, since all this is going on, and since you’ll be at Hogwarts soon, that we’d move? Somewhere here, or in Diagon Alley?” Harry looked at his daughter hesitantly. If she wanted to stay where they were, he would, no questions asked.
“Move here? Where I can do magic all the time?” she asked, a gleam coming into her eye.
“Well actually, Caty Cat, you can’t do magic away from Hogwarts until you graduate. But here, you’ll be closer to most of the friends you make there.” Harry replied. ‘And I’ll have a better chance of finding your mum.’ He thought silently.
Caitlyn mulled the idea over in her head. A lot of information was crossing through her little head, a bit overwhelming, but not overpowering. She realized she’d be closer to Blue and the people she had met last night at the club, and Caitlyn was hoping also that they’d get to see Oliver Wood again.
“Okay.” She said. “I think moving around here would be fun.” She gave her father a kiss on the cheek and scampered out of the room, presumably to play with Blue.
Harry sat back and stared at the doorway. He could understand Caitlyn’s hesitation to accept the news that her mother in fact might be alive, and the fact also remained that they did not know why she was now living a different life, or how she came to be in this life. But he was happy she was willing to take part in his decisions, Harry would never do anything to intentionally make his daughter unhappy.
Harry threw back the covers and took a quick shower, then pulled on some jeans and a long sleeved dark blue t-shirt. He went down the hall into the kitchen, where Blue and Caitlyn were having breakfast, and Ron and Lavender were standing by the sink talking quietly. Harry chucked Caitlyn on the chin lightly as he walked by, and joined the adults by the counter.
“Morning.” He said to them. Lavender beamed back at him.
“Good morning!” she said. “Coffee?”
“Oh that’d be great.” Harry replied. “Ron, do you get the Daily Prophet?”
“Sure.” Ron said, retrieving it from the table. “What do you need that for?”
“I need to look for a flat.” Harry replied. “I thought I’d take Caty with me, since it’ll be her place too.”
“What?” Caitlyn piped up from the table. “I heard my name.”
“We’re going to go look for a flat together.” Harry told her. “Once you’re done with breakfast.”
“Okay!!” she gobbled up the rest of her cereal and hopped out of the room to finish getting dressed.
Ron turned to Harry. “I hope it’s okay that I gave her that picture of you and Hermione.”
“It’s fine, Ron.” Harry replied. “She recognized Catherine as Hermione though, and I had to tell her about the whole situation.”
Lavender’s eyes widened and Ron looked shocked. “Wow she certainly got that quick thinking that Herm was so famous for huh.”
Harry smirked. “She sure did. But it’s okay, she’s a smart kid, and she’s accepted it pretty well. She’s more excited about moving here than anything.”
“Where are you going to look for a flat?” Lavender asked.
“Probably down in Diagon Alley.” Harry replied. “I know you guys said it’s over populated now but I don’t mind too much, and Caty loves being in the center of things, even if she’s a little shy.” He and Ron laughed and Caitlyn reappeared, announcing she was ready. With thanks to Ron, Lavender, and Blue with plans to meet up for dinner that evening, Harry and Caitlyn took Floo Powder back to the Leaky Cauldron and walked through the entrance back to Diagon Alley.
“Let’s see, there’s a flat over there, not too bad, rental, well that’s okay…” Harry muttered to himself. The two of them spent most of that morning picking over most of the flats that were listed in the Daily Prophet. By one, Caitlyn’s feet were starting to drag, and Harry had to admit he was getting rather hungry.
“One more Caty Cat, and we’ll have lunch ok?” Harry promised as they stopped in front of a building that looked vaguely familiar to him. He was pushing open the door when a person came walking out from the other side and directly into him.
“Ow!” Harry said, stumbling into the iron railing. He looked up and was extremely amused, to say the least, to find Catherine staring at him in embarrassment.
“We’ve really got to stop bumping into each other like that.” He said good-naturedly.
“I’m so sorry!” Catherine was mortified. He had to be thinking she was the biggest clod by now.
“It’s okay.” Harry assured her. “I’m not made of glass thank goodness.” He looked up at the apartment building again. “I thought this building looked familiar, I didn’t recognize it in the daylight.”
“What brings you by?” Catherine asked, regaining her composure.
“Oh, we’re looking for a flat, actually.” Harry said. “I’m moving back here, well, so I can be closer to friends, and Caty wants to live here while she goes to school so…”
Catherine smiled down at Caitlyn, who gave her a half smile in return and tugged on her father’s hand.
“Dad can we hurry up and look please? I’m really hungry.” She pouted.
“All right, all right.” Harry chuckled. He looked back up at Catherine. “Would you mind if I dropped by sometime? Are you going to be home this afternoon?”
She nodded slowly. “I should be.”
Harry smiled at her. “I’ll see you around five then okay?” His emerald eyes warmed as they looked at her.
“Sure.” She watched as they made their way into the building, Caitlyn pulling hard on her father’s hand.
“Dad I thought we were going back to see Blue later!” she said.
“We are Caty. You’ll get to see him plenty this year, don’t worry!” Harry said.
“But I want to hang out with him now!”
“Caitlyn what’s wrong?” Harry asked. He stopped in his tracks and kneeled down to face his daughter. He was surprised to find she had small tears in her eyes.
“Nothing!” she tried to jerk away from him but he held onto her arm.
“Caty Cat…” Harry said. “Tell me, what’s wrong?”
She stopped trying to squirm away from him. She bit her bottom lip hard so she wouldn’t cry, and took a deep breath.
“If that lady turns out to be Mum, will she come and live with us?”
Harry looked taken aback at her question. “Well, I should certainly think so, if she wants to that is.”
Caitlyn hesitated before asking her next question. “Will you still love me as much if that happens?” her tears spilled over onto her cheeks.
Harry gathered his daughter in his arms and hugged her tightly. “Caty Cat, nothing in this world could possibly make me love you any less.” He held her at arms length and looked at her. “And that’s a promise.”
She nodded and he hugged her again. “Now come on, let’s go look at that place and see if we like it, then you can pick out where we go for lunch!”
A smile finally crossed her face. “Okay!” she said, feeling a lot better.
* * *
“That place was so cool!” Caitlyn said as they left the flat.
“I agree.” Harry said. “Nice and roomy. I think it’d be perfect for us.”
“Definitely a keeper.” Caitlyn replied. “I like that room with the triangle windows.”
“Well that’s going to be MY room.” Harry teased.
“No way!” Caitlyn argued. “Mine!”
“Oh all right!” Harry heaved a mock long suffering sigh as his daughter jumped up and hugged him. “Ack! If I can’t breathe I can’t get this place!” Harry said as her arms tightened around him.
“When can we move in?” she asked.
“You’re eager aren’t you?” Harry asked fondly.
“I can’t wait to show Blue our new flat!” she said.
“Well, let’s go have lunch.” Harry said. “I didn’t get a chance to have breakfast this morning. Then I’ll drop you back off at Ron and Lavender’s if you like, and I can get everything signed and moved over.”
“Okay!” Caitlyn agreed. She picked out a restaurant that overlooked Diagon Alley from a small balcony on the second floor, and she and Harry had a very enjoyable lunch together. Around two, he took her back to Ron and Lavender’s place.
“Dad?” she said as he was about to apparate back out.
“Yes love?” he asked, looking down at her.
“I’m really sorry about earlier.” Caitlyn replied. “I know I was being a brat and I didn’t mean to.”
“Caty Cat, it’s okay…I understand.” Harry replied. She hugged him tightly and Blue hollered for her to come to his room, he wanted to show her how to play Exploding Snap.
“Go have fun.” Harry said, smiling after his daughter. Ron looked up at him from the doorway.
“What was that all about?” he asked.
Harry sighed. “She got a little freaked out when we ran into Catherine earlier, seemed to think if she is Hermione, that I won’t love her anymore.”
“Poor kid. Hope you set her straight.” Ron grinned.
Harry scoffed. “Of course I did you prat. I’ve got to go sign the papers for our flat, and then apparate back to our old one and get everything set to go. Shouldn’t take me too long, I’ll just use my wand.”
“Want me to go help out?” Ron asked. Harry looked at him in surprise.
“Sure.” He said. “That’d be great.” Ron shouted to Lavender where he was going and the two men apparated out.