Prelude To A Meeting
Author's Note: Sorry for the delay. This story isn't abandoned or anything.
In the previous chapter, I changed "Heiress Apparent" to "Heiress Presumptive" when discussing Tracey Black. She is only Heiress until Sirius has a son to be the future Lord Black.
Monday, December 28th, 1994
Early Monday morning, Harry was sitting at the dining room table in the House Potter Tent with his mother and Remus. Rose was still asleep, and Sirius was at Bones Manor with Amelia. He was reading a few articles in the Daily Prophet, while his mother and Remus were sorting through mail.
The top of the front page focused on the candidates for the British Minister of Magic. The article had the names of the candidates, and a few facts as well. On the second and third pages of the newspaper, there were more on the candidates, but they were mostly opinion pieces, and the Daily Prophet's view of each candidate. Harry was quite surprised that he could find absolutely no bias toward one candidate more than another. Each opinion piece had both good and bad things to say about each.
The bottom of the front page focused solely on the so-called 'Teen Pregnancy Law'. Harry skimmed through that article, but it said nothing that his mother and Sirius hadn't told him the day before when they had returned from the Wizengamot Council meeting.
The final line of the article informed Betrothed teens and their parents that pamphlets about the 'Teen Pregnancy Law' would be delivered to them in the post by day's end. Harry was just wondering whether or not he would be sent one of those pamphlets, when two owls flew into the tent. The owls dropped off their mail in the box near the door where all mail went for precautionary purposes. As the owls flew back out of the tent, Remus stood up from the table and walked over to the box. He picked up the newly delivered mail, and brought them over to the table. He held two thick envelopes, and a scroll.
"These are addressed to the both of you, respectively, and appear to be from the Ministry of Magic," Remus said, indicating the thick envelopes; then he looked at the scroll, "And this... appears to be from Albus Dumbledore, addressed to Harry."
As Remus cast his wand over the mail, using detection charms for hexes and such, Lily narrowed her eyes at the scroll.
"If Albus wanted to discuss a meeting between us and him," she said, "he would have written to me and not to Harry."
"True," Remus said, "Perhaps it is far more innocent than that. No dangerous hexes or anything on any of them."
Lily snorted. "The words 'innocent' and 'Albus Dumbledore' should never be placed in the same sentence."
Remus smiled in amusement, as he set one of the thick envelopes, and the scroll in front of Harry, and the other envelope in front of Lily. Lily opened the envelope and pulled out what appeared to be a thick pamphlet.
"It is the pamphlet regarding the 'Teen Pregnancy Law'," Lily said.
Harry opened his own envelope and pulled out the pamphlet. The front cover was quite simplistic, and showed absolutely no artistic design to it. In glaring bold words, the title of the pamphlet read:
The Prominent Pureblood Preservation Law
A Sub-Law of the Pureblood Heritage Act
"But," Harry said, as he eyed the pamphlet, "Even if the law would affect me, I'm not going to be sixteen for another year and a half."
"I imagine these pamphlets are going out to all the Betrothed teens, Harry," Remus said, "And not just to those who are sixteen or older."
Harry nodded and frowned at the wording of the act. "Prominent Pureblood Preservation Law? What kind of name is that? They would have been better off going with the 'Teen Pregnancy Law' nickname and be done with it."
"Can't you see what the Ministry is doing here?" Remus asked. "They're trying to change the minds of the naysayers of this law. Prominent is a big word. They're basically trying to reward those who abide by the law, calling them prominent, raising them high above others. How many teenage Pureblood wizards and witches of Great Britain are, or will, actually be affected by this law? Half... maybe. The Pureblood Heritage Act Committee might very well be trying to raise those numbers up. The term 'Prominent Pureblood' could be something we see in the future. It is basically saying that if you're not Betrothed, you're not prominent amongst the purebloods. After all, if you're not Betrothed, you're not affected by this law."
"The Committee is trying to influence more Betrothal Contracts," Harry said.
"Yes," Remus said, "What better way to preserve the future of purebloods in Great Britain than making sure that most pureblood teens will be forced to follow this law?"
"All they're doing is trying to give the law a better name than the 'Teen Pregnancy Law'," Lily said, "Make it sound more respectable in casual conversation. Open Dumbledore's scroll, Harry. What does he want?"
Harry did as was asked, and unrolled the scroll. He read through it and frowned.
"I have been invited, with my Betrothed, Daphne," he said, "to a meeting in the Great Hall this afternoon regarding the Prominent Pureblood Preservation Law. All Betrothed students thirteen years old and older are invited to attend."
"It would appear that Albus has gotten word of your Betrothal Contract to Daphne," Remus said.
"He would have discovered it eventually," Lily said, "There's really no harm in him finding out."
"I wouldn't say that," Harry said, "I mean, he could believe that me being Betrothed to Daphne is a good reason for me to stay in Great Britain."
"He can believe it all he wants, Harry," Lily said. "Either way, it wouldn't be true."
Harry nodded as he stared at Dumbledore's letter for a few moments, deep in thought. He considered the invitation, and whether or not he should accept. Then he looked back at his mother and Remus.
"What do you think I should do?" he asked.
"I think," Lily said, "That you should speak to Daphne about this. I imagine she has also received an invitation from Dumbledore. Make a decision together."
Harry nodded and threw the letter onto the table, carelessly. "I'll go see if she's awake."
He stood and proceeded to leave the tent, without another word.
(A couple minutes earlier)
Hermione Granger was lounging in the rocking chair in her tent, reading her Animagus book that Harry had given her for Christmas in addition to her Promise Ring. Even though it wasn't in her near-future plans to learn how to become an Animagus, Harry and his mother and 'honorary uncles' had promised her they would help her if they had time in the future. Right now they were focused on several other things which was understandable. Harry's part in the Triwizard Tournament was merely one of the things they were quite busy with.
On the nearby sofa, Daphne and Tracey were cuddling together and reading the new edition of the Daily Prophet. Hermione had taken one look at it earlier, saw the Teen Pregnancy Law article and decided against reading it.
"You're missing out on reading this, Hermione," Tracey said, looking up from the newspaper, "Cuffe's article regarding the news about me, and also Sirius and Amelia's engagement and pregnancy is a pretty good read."
Hermione snorted. "Cut out the article if you want me to read it."
"This is about the article regarding the details in the law, isn't it?" Daphne asked. "It isn't too bad, and there isn't anything in here that Lily, Sirius and Amelia didn't tell us about yesterday."
After Sirius and Amelia had returned from their meetings with Narcissa Malfoy and Barnabus Cuffe, the two of them and Lily had sat down with Hermione, Harry, and Hermione's tent-mates and told them all about the final details regarding the Teen Pregnancy Law.
Hermione had mixed reactions. It was obvious the Committee was trying to do their best to make sure the teen parents-to-be would benefit from this, and remain healthy. But still, it was Betrothed teenagers – students – who would have to be pregnant! Hermione couldn't imagine having to face being pregnant or a mother while still finishing up her education. Plus her parents would be absolutely horrified if that happened to her!
Suddenly, two owls came into the room, and both headed in the direction of Daphne and Tracey. One owl dropped a large thick envelope, while the other dropped a simple envelope, both in front of Daphne.
"Hold up," Tonks said, from her chair near Daphne and Tracey, "Bodyguard duty. Have to check for hexes and such."
Tonks quickly used detection charms on the envelopes and passed them as okay.
She picked up large envelope.
"I am guessing this is from the Ministry – it is likely that pamphlet the article mentioned that gives more information about the Law," Tonks said, handing the larger envelope to Daphne; "And this one... er... is from the Headmaster."
"How did the Ministry know you're Betrothed, Daphne?" Hermione asked.
"Never heard of the Hall of Records?" Daphne replied.
Hermione nodded. "Ooh, right. Yes, I have. I guess when you and Harry signed the Betrothal, a record of it was placed in the Hall of Records?"
"Yep," Daphne said, "Betrothals, marriages, births, deaths, et cetera. It is how the Committee knows who to send these pamphlets to. They're sending it to me because I am a teen who is old enough to at least prepare to take part in the Law. They don't know that I have plans to be away from Britain at that point in time. Harry's likely also in the Records just because he's part of the Contract. Which means he likely got the pamphlet too."
She opened the envelope which was apparently from Dumbledore, and read through the letter.
"Well, it appears Dumbledore knows Harry and I are Betrothed," Daphne said. "He's invited us both to a meeting this afternoon in the Great Hall. All the Betrothed students of Hogwarts ages thirteen and older – those of whom are at Hogwarts currently – are invited."
"Why are students younger than sixteen invited?" Hermione asked. "Fifteen I can understand, because they'll be sixteen soon enough. But thirteen and fourteen year olds?"
"Preparing us early," Daphne said, with a snort.
"Are you going to go, Hermione?" Luna asked. "It doesn't appear you're invited, but... aren't you and Harry considering getting Betrothed?"
"There's a possibility yes," Hermione said, "But I'm hoping to be in America by the time this affects me, Luna." She bit her lip, and pondered, "However... it might be nice just to learn about it. Just in case..."
"I agree," Daphne said, "Who knows what could happen between now and the time we turn sixteen?"
Hermione nodded. "Even though I'm not invited, I suppose I'll go. I imagine there will be others going who aren't Betrothed, but could possibly be in the future."
"Are you going, Tracey?" Daphne asked.
"Nah," Tracey said, "If I go, it might send a wrong message."
"I'll stay with Tracey," Tonks said, "I'm sure you'll be quite safe with Harry and Hermione, Daphne. My bodyguard duties aren't needed with such a strong young man like Harry around."
"If Sirius is around I might hang around with him," Tracey said. "Don't you want to hang out with Sebastian, Tonks?"
Tonks blushed and shrugged. "I'll consider it. He is pretty handsome, isn't he?"
Hermione smiled. She knew Tonks had hit it off well with the American wizard during their date at the Yule Ball.
Ten minutes later, as Hermione and the other girls were discussing random topics, Harry's voice was heard outside the tent.
"Morning girls, may I come inside?" Harry said, from outside the door of the tent.
"Yes, you may," Hermione said, grinning as she hopped up from her chair.
She made her way over to the tent's entrance as Harry entered. He smiled at her as she wrapped her arms around him and they shared a sweet kiss. The other girls greeted Harry with "good morning's" as the couple separated. Hermione dragged Harry over to the chair she had been sitting in and pushed him down onto it, then sat down on his lap and made herself comfortable.
"Daphne, did you, by chance, receive a letter from a certain Headmaster of yours?" Harry asked.
"I did," Daphne said, "I am assuming you received one as well."
"Yes," Harry said, "Which is why I am here."
"You mean you're not hear to spend time with me?" Hermione asked, in a teasing, mock-offended voice.
"Of course I am," Harry said, kissing her on the cheek, "But this is also important. It appears that Dumbledore is holding a meeting in the Great Hall later and all the Betrothed students have been invited. Including you and I, Daphne."
"Mmhmm," Daphne said, nodding.
"You don't look surprised that Dumbledore knows we're Betrothed, Daphne," Harry said.
"I'm not, for a number of reasons, Harry," Daphne said, "The first is that Betrothal Contracts are recorded in the Hall of Records in the Ministry of Magic. Albus Dumbledore, as Chief Warlock, has permission to freely peruse the Hall of Records."
"So you believe he found out that way?" Harry asked.
"Maybe," Daphne said, "If he had, I am sure he had only gone there to confirm his suspicions. While we didn't inform him that we are Betrothed, you did inform him last month that you placed me under House Potter protection. If I was Dumbledore, I'd find it strange that you offered House Protection to someone you barely knew at the time."
"But your Houses are Allies!" Hermione argued. "And Dumbledore already knew Luna and I were under House Protection, so why would he find it strange that he offered it to you?"
"House Potter has many allies, Hermione," Daphne countered. "If Dumbledore had paid any attention to Harry, on the first night he was here, he would have known that you and Luna were the first two Hogwarts students Harry met. Then you became friends."
"As far as Dumbledore knew, you and I had no contact with each other," Harry said.
"Correct," Daphne said, "So why would I be important enough, aside from being a daughter of one of the House Potter allies, to suddenly be under House Potter protection? Maybe Dumbledore didn't suspect at the time that Harry and I are Betrothed, but since then?"
"The day of the Winter Solstice Session," Tracey said, "During that whole ordeal where I was doing my part to help Daddy get permission to do a Blood Adoption with me, certain... insinuations were made, remember? Lord Davis basically told everyone you two were Betrothed without actually saying it."
"Which Dumbledore probably noticed," Harry said, nodding. "Alright then. That explains how he knows."
"But it doesn't explain why he invited the pair of you to a meeting concerning the Teen Pregnancy Law," Hermione said, "It wouldn't affect you for a couple of years, and even if it did -"
"Even if it did, we have plans to be away from Britain when it happens," Daphne said, "But Dumbledore doesn't exactly know that, does he?"
"No," Harry said, "He believes that with this law, he has trapped me here in Great Britain, just as he hoped for. I'm sure he believes inviting us to this meeting will make us feel as if we're affected by it."
"Maybe," Tracey said, "Maybe not."
"What are you thinking, sweetheart?" Daphne asked.
"Dumbledore believes you have to defeat... V-Voldemort right?" Tracey asked, looking at Harry; Harry nodded. "So maybe the old man is afraid that you'll be headed back to America. He's hoping he can get you to see what would happen if you go back. We know why this law was brought up. Dumbledore knows V-Voldemort isn't dead, knows he'll come back sooner or later. This law was brought up to protect the Pureblood Houses from dying out.
"Say you go to this meeting. You see all the Betrothed couples who are going to be affected by this insane law, who will be forced to become parents early. Maybe Dumbledore is trying to get you to see what will happen if you leave magical Great Britain to deal with V-Voldemort and the coming war, without its prophecized savior to defeat Voldemort and save us. This law is just the start – sixteen and seventeen year old witches and wizards being the first... victims."
"Blimey," Tonks muttered, "I don't know whether to call that theory insane, or to believe it."
Hermione frowned and looked at Harry, whose expression was almost unreadable. He seemed to be processing what Tracey had said. Then, unexpectedly, he snorted.
"I think you're giving Dumbledore a bit too much credit there, Trace," Harry said; before Tracey or the others could reply to that, he continued. "So, Daphne, are we going to this meeting or not?"
"I think we should," Daphne said, "Just to see what the old man has up his sleeves."
"I'm going with you," Hermione said.
"Really?" Harry asked.
"Yes," Hermione said, "Just in case, you know, this law affects me in the future too."
Harry kissed Hermione's cheek again. "It won't, but you're welcome to come along if you wish."
Hermione smiled. However, internally, she was a little upset that Harry had reacted to Tracey's theory so nonchalantly. In her opinion, she thought Tracey had made a pretty good point.
Little did Hermione know, her boyfriend had taken Tracey's theory more seriously than he had let her or the other girls believe. Harry just didn't want the girls to worry how concerned he was. After breakfast, which he had dined with Hermione and the other girls, he had returned to his tent, where he discussed Tracey's idea with his mother and Remus. Lily and Remus shared his concerns that Tracey's theory might have value, and they told him they'd put more thought into it. Harry took it as good news when neither had forbade him from accepting Dumbledore's invitation to attending the meeting.
The meeting would be taking place at two-o-clock in the afternoon, so at a quarter-till, he made his way to the castle with Daphne and Hermione. The trio were in the Entrance Hall of the castle, when Daphne noticed one of her friends and former house-mate standing outside the Great Hall.
"Blaise?" Daphne asked, separating away from Harry and Hermione, and walking over to the dark-skinned Italian teen. "What are you doing here? You're not in a Betrothal Contract, are you?"
Harry and Hermione remained in close proximity to Daphne and her friend, listening to the conversation.
"Not officially," Blaise said, "I received a letter from my mother today. She informed me that Lord Brocklehurst approached her to discuss a Contract between his daughter, Mandy, and myself. She informed me that she is taking it into consideration. Which basically means it is going to happen, but she is hoping she can persuade Lord Brocklehurst to lower the bride-price."
"Why is she agreeing to this?" Daphne asked, "Doesn't she know you'll eventually be affected by the Teen Pregnancy Law?"
"Of course she knows," Blaise said, with a frown, "Why do you think she's agreeing to the Contract? Before today, she's never had any inclination toward placing me in a Betrothal Contract."
Daphne's gasp was audible from where Harry stood. "You mean she's -"
"She's supporting the law, yes," Blaise said, "By agreeing to place me in a Betrothal Contract, she is showing her support. Excuse me, Daphne. I see my soon-to-be Betrothed. I will see you later."
Blaise moved away from Daphne, and walked over to a young witch Harry recognized as Mandy Brocklehurst, the same girl who had bullied Hermione for so long, and had only recently apologized for it. Meanwhile, Daphne had not moved from where she was standing. She was staring at Blaise, with misty eyes.
"Daphne?" Harry asked, as he slowly approached her.
Daphne sniffled briefly before clearing her throat. When she turned back to Harry, the mist in her eyes had vanished. Now she simply looked angry.
"Aside from Tracey, Blaise has been my only friend in Slytherin since I arrived here," she said, "He does not deserve to be victimized by this Merlin-be-damned law!"
Her voice was rather high, high enough that those gathered nearby had heard her, and some were staring. If Blaise or Brocklehurst had heard her, they made no indication of it.
"Nobody does, Daphne," Hermione said, "I'm sorry."
Daphne merely snorted in response.
"Are you changing your mind about attending the meeting?" Harry asked her.
"No," Daphne said, "I'm not missing this. Especially if an opportunity arises to voice my... displeasure."
She turned and headed through the open large oak doors and into the Great Hall. Harry and Hermione hurried after her.
My apologies for the long delay and a shorter than normal chapter. I had planned on putting the Betrothal meeting with Dumbledore in this chapter, but I am having trouble with it, and if I didn't stop here, this chapter likely would take much longer to come out.
I'm not sure when the next chapter will come but hopefully before the end of April. I'm not abandoning this story at all. The hiatus was due to RL issues (including but not limited to computer issues), and also a bit of writer's block.
Hope you enjoyed this chapter, even though it was short.