A/N: So this is sort of a Marriage Law fic. Kind of. A bit. It is also Adrian Pucey/Hermione Granger/Marcus Flint. If you think you might like this triad in a sort of Marriage Law fic, please continue. If you are violently opposed to Marriage Law stories, triads, Slytherins, Marcus, Hermione, or Adrian-may I direct you to the other eleventy billion HP stories on this site? Perhaps one of them might be more to your liking. There is a clever little button with an arrow pointing to the left that will let you leave this page.
If you know me already: Hello, my darlings. I've missed you, too. This last year was a genuine struggle for me as an author. I'm trying, I really am. I think I'm finally back in an okay place. I have plans for Arx. No promises, but plans. Please be the wonderful, amazing people I know you to be. Sometimes, working on something else helps me work on the thing I'm stuck on.
Private Wizarding Clubs like Serpens Lacum had been around for centuries. Stately buildings that lacked any sign or other designation that stood on discreet side streets of Diagon Alley. After the war, they had become a refuge of a sort for quite a few young wizards, causing their numbers to swell in an unprecedented fashion.
"We have a problem," Blaise announced grimly.
The other wizards seated at the table, former Housemates all, exchanged uneasy glances.
"What do you mean?" Draco asked in a quiet voice that didn't carry past their table.
Blaise snorted and rolled his eyes. "Well, not you, but the rest of us, anyway."
"What are you talking about?" Theo asked with a pinched expression.
Worry drifted over the table's occupants and all of them unconsciously leaned in.
"The Ministry is going to pass a new piece of legislation," Blaise explained. He grimaced and shook his head. "They've shoved it in with a load of war reparations."
"What is it now," Greg asked with a frown. "More fines?"
"No," Theo replied looking from Blaise to Draco with a small frown. "If it were fines, that would affect Draco just as it would the rest of us."
Blaise gave Theo a tight smile. "Such a clever lad."
"What is it?" Theo demanded.
"Apparently the fines weren't enough. The Ministry is haemorrhaging galleons trying to repair the damage done to Diagon Alley and paying reparations to Muggleborns wrongfully imprisoned in Azkaban," Blaise explained. He swallowed and rubbed a hand over his face. "They're talking about seizing defunct families' estates and Gringott's accounts."
"I had heard about that," Draco offered from his seat. He rubbed a hand over his chin. "But if they want the Lestranges' bank account, what does that have to do with us?"
"There's more," Theo guessed.
"Apparently someone in the Ministry is greedy," Blaise muttered. He sighed and shook his head. "They've added a few lines. Since Death Eaters can't be trusted, any unmarried Death Eater—regardless of age—will be listed as a ward of the Ministry and will have his or her estate managed by the Ministry. They will, of course, subtract a fee for this service."
"Of course," echoed bitterly around the table in a small chorus.
"That's why Draco is exempt?" Greg asked curiously. "Because he married Astoria as soon as she graduated?"
"That and because she's not Marked. The spouse can manage the estate if he or she can prove that they are not a Death Eater," Blaise added.
"Fuck me," Theo muttered. He glowered at the table for a moment and then he looked up at the rest of them. "We have to tell the others."
Being an early riser had always stood Hermione in good stead. She usually woke up at 5:30 am whether she wanted to or not. She would rise, shower, dress and have a cup of tea whilst looking over her schedule for the day. It had worked well at Hogwarts and continued to do so now that she was an adult with a job and responsibilities.
The pounding on Hermione's front door was not part of her normal morning routine. She paused, cup of tea halfway to her mouth, and reached out grasping her wand tightly in her fingers. She put down her tea, wincing at the dull chink of cup against saucer, and pushed away from the table. Silently, she crept toward the door.
The pounding stopped and sounds of a muffled argument drifted through the door. Hermione frowned at her door. Who could be here this early? Harry or any of the Weasleys would have just come through the Floo. Hermione shifted nervously from foot to foot and the pounding started again.
"Okay, relax," she muttered under her breath.
It wasn't as thought Death Eaters were lurking outside her door, lying in wait for her or something. Crookshanks had probably annoyed Mr. Trimble again and he wanted to complain about it. Again. Hermione gripped the doorknob and turned it, pulling it open.
Standing in her doorway was Marcus Flint with one large fist raised, Adrian Pucey hovering just behind him. Hermione stared at them for a moment.
"I was wrong," she said in surprise.
"I beg your pardon?" Pucey asked, peering at her over Flint's shoulder.
Both wizards took a step back when Hermione's wand came up and her eyes narrowed at them.
"What do you want?" She demanded.
"Oh, look, erm, we just want to talk," Pucey blurted out.
Flint frowned at that. "No we don't," he protested.
"Yes, Marcus, we do," Pucey hissed out of the side of his mouth. He turned back to Hermione and gave her a blindingly brilliant smile, turning the full force of his charm on her.
"But, you said that-," Flint tried to argue again.
"Shut up, Marcus," Pucey snapped; his charm slipping. He turned back to Hermione and sighed. "I don't suppose we could come in?"
"No." Hermione raised her wand slightly and watched the wary respect in Flint's and Pucey's eyes.
"Have you heard anything about the latest war reparations legislation?" Pucey asked her in a carefully neutral voice that made the hairs on the back of her neck stand up.
"I looked over a copy that Harry sent my way," she admitted.
Technically, there was no need for someone who worked in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures to nose around the DMLE, but Harry and Hermione were too paranoid to not pay attention to what the Ministry got up to anymore; even if Kingsley had done his best to clear out the corruption and cronyism from every department of the Ministry, they still worried.
"See anything interesting?" Pucey prompted her.
"Is this about the estate seizures?" Hermione asked with a frown. "It's only for defunct families. As far as I know, you could try and claim through a maternal line as long as you promise to produce an heir to the family."
Flint and Pucey exchanged a surprised glance at that.
"That's… good information to have," Pucey said after a moment. "No, I meant the sub-clause to that section."
"There was no sub-clause," Hermione argued, her frown deepening.
"There is now," Flint rumbled at her. "Show her, Ade."
A roll of parchment was summarily shoved in her face and Hermione automatically took it from them. She unrolled the parchment, scanning ahead to the section that Pucey had mentioned. There it was… a new sub-clause. Hermione's brow wrinkled and she re-read the sub-clause several times.
"This is…," Hermione looked up from the parchment to look at Flint and Pucey who were both watching her grimly.
"Now can we come in?" Flint asked.
"I think maybe you'd better," Hermione agreed. She moved back from the door to let them enter.
Both wizards wandered in to her flat, looking around with undisguised curiosity. Hermione led them into the kitchen and checked the kettle to see how hot the water was.
"We want you to marry us," Flint announced.
The kettle fell to the floor, and scalding water splashed Hermione's legs. She gasped, jumping back and Pucey had his wand out, casting healing charms on her.
"What happened to 'let's ease her into the idea,' Flint?" Pucey demanded.
"You showed her the law," Flint pointed out with a shrug.
"I beg your pardon?" Hermione said faintly.
"You're not a Death Eater," Flint said.
"Well spotted," Hermione retorted with a snort, trying to figure out where they were going with this.
"We need somebody that won't rob the family vaults," Pucey tried to explain. He ran a distracted hand through his hair.
"Somebody fair," Flint added.
"I understand that part," Hermione snapped. She waved a hand at the both of them. "But why are you here?"
"Look, Granger, everyone knows that you're a proper Gryffindor: brave and noble and all that rot. Just… pretend we're House Elves or something," Pucey told her. The muscle in his jaw jumped and he moved to stand next to Flint.
"I… what?" Hermione wondered if it were possible that she was hallucinating or dreaming. "Why not go find somebody in your set? Some pureblood witch."
"We don't want a pureblood witch," Flint rumbled at her with a scowl. "We need someone like you."
"What is that supposed to mean?" Hermione growled, gripping her wand again.
Pucey sighed and rubbed a hand over his face.
"What he's trying to say is that we need someone who will be honest and fair with our respective estates. Someone who will ask our input and take our advice about how we want them handled. Someone that will fight for us if the Ministry tries to interfere," Pucey explained.
"That's what I said," Flint muttered.
"I don't think that-," Hermione began only for Pucey to take a step toward her and reach out with one hand.
"Please, Granger," he said quietly.
"What do you want me to do?" Hermione asked. A dull throbbing had begun behind her left eye and she rubbed at her temple absently.
"Marry us," Flint repeated.
"What," Hermione scoffed aloud. "Just like that?"
"Just like that," Flint said. He frowned at her. "Did you want us to court you? Ade says that we don't have time to do that. He said that you're a Gryffindor and that-," Pucey's hand clapped over Flint's mouth abruptly cut off Flint's spate of words.
"We don't really have time for protracted courting," Pucey explained. He glared at Flint before removing his hand. "Granger, we need to get married as soon as we can. If we aren't married before this legislation goes into effect…"
"We're fucked," Flint muttered.
Pucey's shoulders slumped. "Marcus may be a bit blunt, but he's right. The Ministry would strip our vaults bare before we managed to snag another witch."
"How does that even work?" Hermione asked. She looked from Flint to Pucey and back to Flint. "You two don't even know me."
"You're Hermione Granger," Flint informed her with a confused expression. He turned to look at Pucey and they had a mostly silent exchange that involved eyebrows and a couple grunts, mostly on Flint's end.
"I don't mean that," Hermione told him with a sigh. She looked at both wizards and put her hands on her hips. "What I mean is that you don't know me. What is my favourite colour? How do I like my tea? You don't know me at all."
"We know enough," Flint retorted. He scowled at her and she fought the urge to take a step back from his menacing expression. "We know the important parts. All of your legislation in the DCRMC has been to protect groups that have been treated unfairly: House Elves, Centaurs, Werewolves."
"You are known for being unfailingly fair and just, Granger," Pucey added. He gave her a strained smile. "That's why Marcus and I picked you."
Of all the reasons that someone could have given for choosing her… Hermione never would have expected to hear that it was because she was fair. She had wondered if Pucey would try to tell her it was because she was stunningly beautiful. She knew she wasn't. Or if Marcus might tell her it was because she was part of the Golden Trio. Which, all right, she was.
It was just possible that either Hermione had lost what little grip on reality she retained, or she had somehow slipped into an alternate reality, because she honestly considered Pucey's and Flint's proposal. She had a sudden urge to snicker, but she managed to control herself.
A political marriage to two former Death Eaters to help shield them from the Ministry. Right. Just another Thursday then. The dull throbbing behind Hermione's eye grew stronger and she shook her head, trying to clear it.
"Wait," Pucey said urgently and there was a hint of desperation in his voice that made Hermione squirm with discomfort. He reached out to grab her hand and she automatically moved away from him. He let his hand fall and turned to look at Flint.
"According to the law, we can't conduct business," Flint rumbled at her. He waited for a minute and then scowled at her. "That means you would be sitting in the Wizengamot for the Houses of Flint and Pucey."
"As long as you protect our estates, you can support whatever crusade you want," Pucey added.
"A seat on the Wizengamot," Hermione whispered slowly as plans and strategies began to unfurl themselves in her mind's eye. Things she had wanted to do, but couldn't. Suddenly, the impossible seemed probable.
Perhaps marrying Marcus Flint and Adrian Pucey wasn't the most ludicrous idea ever. Still… Hermione couldn't help but wonder about, well, everything. She stood there in her kitchen for several minutes trying to wrap her brain around everything that was happening.
"What do you say, Granger?" Flint blurted out. When Pucey turned to glare at him, Flint turned red and shrugged helplessly.
"How would this work, exactly," Hermione asked at last. Her brow wrinkled and she looked from Pucey to Flint. "I mean, this is… you're asking me to… what are you asking me to do?
"We're not asking you to… Merlin, this is harder than I thought it would be," Pucey groaned. He set his jaw and glared at her. "We may be Death Eater bastards, but we can be gentlemen."
"Right," Hermione said slowly.
"It will have to look real to the Ministry, but it's not like they're going to make us shag in front of them," Flint grumbled with a hint of frustration.
The desperation of both wizards was unsettling. Hermione couldn't even imagine being in their position—being forced by the Ministry to marry or have their assets plundered. It was awful, really. So horribly unfair.
An easy smile stretched Pucey's rather full lips as he beamed at her. Suddenly, she was being pulled into Flint's giant, solid arms and being hugged tightly.
"Thank you." He rumbled at her.
Flint's chest vibrated against her cheek. Hermione pulled back and frowned up at him.
"What are you thanking me for?" She demanded.
"You've got your Gryffindor face on," Pucey told her with a smirk. He had the temerity to rub his hands together. "The Ministry will never know what hit it."