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The Cursed Laurel

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The most noble and ancient house of Greengrass was among the highest renowned wizarding pedigree in the world, a marriage of generational wealth and political excellence in one finely polished package. The family’s manor house had been built in Ottery St Catchpole during the 17th century, in an attempt to isolate themselves from lowly muggles. The huge gothic stone structure shrouded in ivy and intricate carving details, was buried within an expanse of garden and dwarfed the neighbouring Burrow. Regarded as the grandest estate and family for miles, its current tenants took great pride in reflecting its grandeur in all that they did.

Patriarch, George Greengrass was round bellied and high browed. A pureblood supremacist from birth, cunning political thinker and prolific socialiser of the likewise rich and powerful. He taught his children to excel in all things they touched, to impress or at least fool others into thinking you were impressive. To be nice but powerful people, to look for advances and connections. His wife, Aquila taught her daughters to be demur ladylike beacons of class. To appear kind and approachable but always have the families agenda on their mind. She had them walk around the ballroom with books on their heads instead of their hands and took them through the garden showing them how to curate bouquets whilst fitted out in bespoke robes. She was short and thin, with dark hair and brilliant blue eyes that would read them romance novels before bed. For their eldest child; Daphne, her childhood was everything she supposed it ought to be, if not too overly traditional. But that was the way of ancient pureblood royalty - traditional to a tee.

Daphne slid down the grand staircase railing, her dress picking up behind her.

“Come on Astoriaaaaaa. Last lessons.” She grinned, walking through the French salon doors.

Inside the parlour, Daphne’s mother sat drinking lavender and beetle leaf tea. Her needlework was stitching itself close by and fell back into its basket when she turned to greet her children,

“Oh hello pumpkin.” She startled, looking over at a clock on the mantlepiece, “You’re never on time.”

“Last one before I’m at Hogwarts, a real school.” Daphne took her seat on the opposite lounge, looking around she tried to assess what todays lessons in being a lady would entail. “Sometimes it’s like we’re living in 1891 not 1991.”

“We’re going to walk up the hill today for some watercolours.” Her mother grinned, seeing this as a real treat.

“But I’m hopeless at art.” Daphne sighed, “I better get my boots...”

“Are we going out?!” Astoria hurried around the corner holding a pumpkin pasty that one of their house-elves’ Queenie had made.

“We’re going to practice our painting up on Stoatshead Hill.”

“Oh ill have Nei Nei make some sandwiches.”

“No I’ve already got Queenie making some Astoria, go and get your paints and boots. And hurry honey, we want optimal light.”

Soon they were off down the garden path towards the back of the estate. They passed a fountain carved to depict one of their ancestors and her mother’s poisonous garden before they were out from the hedged walls and into an open hilly expanse of green. Daphne watched as her mother carried paints, and levitated a chair. Queenie and Sidd (their two house elves) were hurriedly trotting along behind holding easels, folding chairs and a picnic basket of fine china for their afternoon tea. Daphne wondered if they would be offended if she just carried the box of sandwiches herself, she didn’t want them to fall and go hungry. Astoria was charging up the tiny country path, claiming she was on the lookout for gnomes but no doubt secretly searching for fairies. They were up at the top of the hill within the hour, Daphne puffed as she paused to take in the view. Her eyes darted immediately to the home of her best friend; Ron Weasley. The patchwork of brick, chimney and thatched roof sat on a lean that distanced itself further than what was a fifteen minute walk from the Greengrass’s front gates. From the top of the hill Ottery St Catchpole was cast in a midday glow; over in the far distance was the Lovegood house, home of the mentally unstable and freightingly senile Editor of The Quibbler. The Fawcetts in their tiny cottage sat due east.

Daphne’s mother was using her magic to paint and admire the view, as she studied each line of the horizon her brush would commit it to canvas. Astoria was sketching first, building up the forest through which they had to come. Daphne hoped that she could bide her time and read a book behind her mother’s back, but as she rummaged through the baskets she realised she never handed one for Sidd to pack. The house-elf sensed her disappointment and offered to go back to the house, but it would’ve been too obvious and so Daphne declined and picked up her pencil.

After sketching and re-sketching the outline of the horizon Daphne felt her resolve fading. The truth was that she was in no way artistically gifted like her mother or Astoria. Her trees looked like squiggles and she had all her proportions wrong. When she was not naturally good at something, Daphne tended to give up fairly quickly. Perhaps it was a side affect of having gotten almost everything she ever wanted up until now. She set down her sketch pad and rolled up her sleeve, rubbing the small blue marble which she had weaved into a bracelet. It glowed slightly. Now all she had to do was wait.

“Is that the Weasley boys?” Daphne’s mother focused in on the tree line where three bright orange haired figures whizzed around the canopy. As she focused her gaze, her brush added them to her landscape. “Oh shoot.” She looked back down and grabbed for a cloth to dab the paint away.

“Do you think they’ve come for sandwiches?” Astoria stood up to watch them emerge from the forest and race towards them.

“They’re a lewd bunch, I told Molly that if she was not careful their reputations would slide into the mud their house seems to be built upon. If they were not pureblood’s, and your father had not once worked with Arthur I would have disinvited them from all our galas a long time ago.” Daphne’s mother successfully dabbed the three red heads from her painting.

“DAPH!” Ron’s voice squeaked as he and his brothers started to try and slow their ratty broomsticks.

“Master they might be’s crashing into us!” Sidd began to panic and guard the easels.

“Slow down!” Daphne jumped from her chair and waved her hands to signal them,

“Ron you bloody idiot, slow down.” Fred called out as he jumped from his broom further down the hill.

Ron collided with a mound of dirt on the edge of the hill, spilling over the top of his broom and onto the grass. He rolled over and rubbed his head. Daphne laughed as she ran towards him, Astoria close behind.

“You’re such an idiot.” She watched him shake the dirt from his hair,

“Language” Daphne’s mother sung out. “Pureblood ladies do not swear like common folk”

“Sorry for the interruption Mrs Greengrass.” George sheepishly carried his broom up the rest of the hill beside his twin brother.

“Would you like a sandwich Fred, or, George, or well would any of you like a sandwich?” Daphne’s mother offered from a tray which Queenie carried.

“Oh.” Fred and George stopped in their tracks “Nah.” They agreed in unison.

“I’ll have one, if they’re going…” Ron sprung to his feet and hurried over to the tray. Queenie diligently ran towards him. He took a large bite from an egg and mayo, towering over the tiny house elf despite only being eleven. “Fanks.” He mumbled through bites.

“Thanks for coming.” Daphne looked back at her families elaborate picnic set up, “Sick of painting.”

“Come on Lady Daphne, let’s see your work.” Fred walked up to her easel and flicked open the book,

“No give it back” Daphne hurried over and snatched it back,

“Proportions were all off, no way our house is that tall.” George referred to her recent landscape,

“She’s really bad at drawing, look at mine!” Astoria held up her work for the twins to see.

“I reckon we could draw something cooler than that.” Fred challenged.

“Um hey mum, Ron says that he needs me to um…” Daphne tried to think of a lie, looking back towards Ron for support.

“My trunks, I haven’t packed yet!” Ron jumped in,

“Yeah and he needs my help, packing his trunks.”

“Ronald, you leave tomorrow for Hogwarts. Has your mother not prepared you adequately?” Aquila Greengrass lifted a carefully manicured dark brown brow,

“Lots of us Weasleys Mrs Greengrass, and I um was busy.”

“Busy losing a Quidditch match.” Fred quipped.

“Which you interrupted.” George looked down at Daphne’s marble bracelet. A similar one was on Ron’s wrist.

“Yes so can I go, if I’m back for dinner?” Daphne clasped her hands together to beg,

“Fine. But you’re to be home before the dinner bell.” Her mother smiled warmly at the boys “say hello to your mother from me.”

“Well mum and I will eat all the jam tarts alone then.” Astoria stuck her nose up and sulked back to her chair.

“Can Astoria come then?” Daphne asked on her behalf,

“No no its ok, I want to finish my painting before sunset when all the shadows change. Right mum?” She sat down triumphantly, her mother clearly very proud of her dedication as she looked over with adoration.

“Alright goody goody.” Daphne threw her sketchbook back into the basket and turned to get on George’s broom,

“hey don’t you trust me?” Ron picked up his broom from the ground and grabbed another sandwich from Queenie.

“No.” Daphne mounted the broom and George pushed off from the ground,

“Smart choice.” Fred laughed at his brother as he mounted his broom as well.

The four of them took off down towards the Burrow. Daphne looked back at her sister and mother who happily chatted, no doubt passing judgement on the three poorly dressed ginger boys who ducked and weaved through the trees. Her family only liked associating with the best, if the Weasley's were not pure bloods or even neighbours her friendship with them would have never been allowed. In all eleven years of her life she couldn't think of a time where she had not been told how uncivilised the Weasley’s were for abandoning their Pureblood ideals in the war. Pureblood magic was better than any other and surely that would only be exemplified as they studied at Hogwarts, perhaps Ron would finally learn to embrace his natural gifts and her parents would accept him as her friend. Daphne pitted the muggle borns that would be getting on the Hogwarts Express tomorrow, how would they be able to compete with all the powerful purebloods like her? People who had grown up surrounded by magic their entire lives.