Disclaimer: The Harry Potter universe belongs to the proverbial Duchess of Magic, JK Rowling, Scholastic, Bloomsbury, Warner Bros and some other high falutin' companies. No matter how much I whine about not owning anything related to the HP universe, other than a few fanfic plots, I do not profess to own - and would never dream of making any money off - JKR's wonderful world... Damn it!
Chapter Eighty Three - Two Handfastings and Trouble Arises
By the time OWLs arrived on Monday, the first Monday of June, the Heirs were ready.
Hermione had reduced her hours of evening study right down to under the three hours Harry had threatened to cut her down to. And it was all because of Fleur handing her the book on study tactics and hints they used in Beauxbatons.
Of course, she then demanded Harry track down English versions, enough for the entire group, which Harry was happy to send Dobby off to do. He purchased an even dozen of them. Later, they were distributed among the Heirs, even MacMillan got one. Then she set-to with a plan to properly schedule everything, coming up with said schedule in less than three days.
However, at times the schedule didn't turn out to be much of a schedule due to constant alterations that needed to be made to it. Some, for example, were Harry's need to add in Patronus charm classes, his forgetting about and then having to change things to add in Muggle Studies and all of them forgetting about History of Magic. Of course, once they all checked, they realised none of them were planning on taking that subject through to NEWTs, even if the subject had gotten a lot better with the arrival of Professor Goodstone at the beginning of the previous calendar year. That meant the amount of time spent studying that subject was reduced compared against a subject they knew they wanted to take into NEWTs.
Harry was okay with all of that, as he actually liked those sort of schedules. And Hermione's, as far as he was concerned, was close to brilliant; even with having to constantly make alterations.
However, the first day of two weeks of exams were finally upon them and they were ready to go.
Finally received was the invitation from Lord Clearwater of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Clearwater regarding the handfasting of his granddaughter, Penelope, to Percy Clearwater née Weasley. The handfasting would be held the weekend following the handfasting of Sirius and Jace; on Harry's birthday, of all times.
He'd even received a short note from Lord Clearwater asking if it was alright to hold it on that day, as the man did not wish to offend. Harry was quick to dash off a letter back stating he felt honoured the man had chosen his birthday for his Heir Secondary to marry.
When he was going to ask the twins about it, Hermione suggested he invite them up to the apartment so they could all hear about it.
The twins were quick to accept and, the following weekend when they visited, they regaled the Heirs with everything they knew about what was going on with it.
According to them, their mother tried to demand the handfasting occur at the Burrow; something Lord Clearwater immediately shot down. They did not know what his letter to their father - not their mother - said, but their father had apparently immediately gone to visit Lord Clearwater with his 'cap in hand' to grovel in apology for whatever Molly's words were.
When he'd returned home he'd summoned Bill, as Heir Apparent to the Elder Houses of Weasley and Prewitt, to a formal meeting between them two, Molly and Percy. They'd heard from Bill that their Dad had 'laid down the law' to their mother - something they'd never remembered him doing before. Their mother was firmly told she could undertake the formal role of 'Mother of the Groom', and only the 'Mother of the Groom', or would have no role in the handfasting at all. And that Percy had even gone so far as to tell his mother that if she tried to interfere any further in their nuptials he'd cut off all communication with her until after the honeymoon at the earliest; and he'd also ask Lord Clearwater to do the same from the Clearwaters.
It was clear to them it was something their mother did not want to hear, but their brother stuck to his wand grip and wouldn't budge one jot; not even when his mother turned on the waterworks and tried to guilt trip him, let alone his father and his eldest brother, into complying. He again had their respect for that.
"That must have come as a shock to her," said Hermione.
Both twins grinned back and said, "Honestly, it shocked us, too.
"We had no idea Percy had the gumption to force Mum to back down."
So, the handfasting would occur on the grounds of Clearwater Grove, the Clearwater estate in southern England, as per Clearwater family tradition; and Molly Weasley could comply with it - and work with Lady Clearwater - or stay the hell out of it.
Apparently she wasn't willing to do that after the first meeting between her and Lady Clearwater, when she'd then tried to put her foot down and once again take over, so Lady Clearwater tossed her from the estate with the firm command she'd be told what was going on and what her role would be.
The whole thing generally amused the male Heirs, with the female Heirs somewhat mortified or just plain angry Molly had tried such a nonsense.
They all had received their schedules for the timings of the OWL exams the Monday a week previous. That gave them a whole week to sort out their last-minute cramming schedule and what to 'last-minute' study on the night before exams the next day.
Thankfully, the scheduling was not too onerous. For the first week they had the written component of the subject in the morning and the practical component for that subject in the afternoon. Monday, charms; Tuesday, Transfiguration; Wednesday, Herbology; Thursday DADA; and Friday, Ancient Runes.
The second week was a bit muddied up. Monday was Potions, written in the morning and practical in the afternoon. Tuesday had CoMC, both written and practical, in the morning; and Muggle Studies, both written and practical, in the afternoon. Wednesday had the Arithmancy written exam in the morning, with no separate practical component; the written component of Astronomy in the afternoon; and the practical of the Astronomy exam in the early evening. Thursday had History with no practical exam in the morning; while the afternoon was set aside for those taking exams where the examinee was ill for the original time of the exam. The Friday was also set aside for that. Thankfully, none of the Heirs fell into that category.
So, for the Heirs, they were complete on the Thursday at lunch of the second week and were able to relax. The exams had, of course, been quite stressful.
As planned and for the first week, for Charms and DADA the Heirs all went for the bonus points in the practical by casting their Patronuses; to the amazement of the examiners. For Transfiguration Harry transfigured his mouse into an eggcup, the required practical component, and then animated it into performing a tap dance for the bonus. For the Herbology practical bonus he had Dobby bring him an example of the same poly-pipe reticulation system he'd bought Neville over a year and half ago and explained how, with runic magic, it could be automated. He left the Herbologists excitedly chatting with one another as he left, each of them with voicing they thought the idea brilliant. He didn't go for the bonus in Ancient Runes on the Friday as they didn't allow it.
For the second week, for Potions he brought a microscope with him and explained how not all contaminants were either visible or macrobiotic; instead, some could be microbiotic. And explained his idea of how to reduce that form of contamination. For CoMC he not only successfully approached a hippogriph, he rode it for a short flight. For Muggle Studies, where he felt the written exam was beyond easy, he brought out and demonstrated, without turning it on, a mobile phone; then explained how it was relatively new technology that would lead to the great majority of muggles owning one by the turn of the century. The Arithmancy exam he also thought was beyond easy, simply because it was straight forward mathematics. Astronomy was just an exercise in memory retention. As was History on the morning of the last day, Thursday.
As the History exam wasn't that long, just tiring, the Heirs all trooped up to the Lords' Quarters and almost immediately trooped into the Potter Apartment.
Harry collapsed onto one of the long couches and immediately had Daphne and Hermione snuggle in on each side.
"That... was exhausting," he sighed.
With his own sigh, Neville said, "At least we have a decent sized summer vacation to look forward to now."
"When do we receive our marks?" asked Hermione. "I hope we get them early. We have to choose our courses for next year."
Daphne gave a quiet snort and said, "Accept that you received Outstandings in all your subjects, Hermione. And pick what you want to study from there."
"No more than eight," Harry firmly stated. "I will not have you exhausting yourself so badly you end up doing nothing but attend classes, do assignments and sleep."
"I know," she sighed. "I'm... just having difficulty accepting that at the moment. I still don't know what I really want to do for a career."
"Yes, you do," said Daphne, straightening up to look around Harry. "You want to go into Law. You want to push forward changes to legislation to improve the lives of magical creatures, muggleborns and halfbloods. We all already know that.
"So, you need to choose subjects that will help you in that field. History, the Politics elective, the Law elective and Advanced Muggle Studies should be your first four. I'd then add Ancient Runes and Arithmancy as two of the other four. You just need to think about what the other two will be. Probably Charms and Transfiguration, or Charms and DADA would be my choices."
What about you, Daphne?" asked Harry. "Finally hit on your final choice, yet?"
She gave a nod and said, "I'm thinking of combining my final two choices. I want to go into Healing, with a focus on spell development in the Healing field."
"Nice," said Neville.
That then opened the discussion up to what everyone else was narrowing down to their final choices of career. Neville, of course, was going to be a Herbologist before finally taking over from Pomona Sprout as the Professor of Herbology at Hogwarts. He'd already discussed it with her and she was supportive.
Hannah was looking towards shopkeeping. Of all things, she wanted to run a pub. Susan was looking to a career at the Ministry in the DMLE, with a goal towards becoming Minister one day. Tracey was looking towards a career in Potions; as, once Snape was replaced, she'd shown a remarkable talent in the field. Ernie was still not sure, but was thinking of starting up a muggleborn relationship consultancy that would work with Harry's Statute that now made it law for new young muggleborns and their families to be aware of the magical community after the first outward sign of accidental magic. He'd explained about 'outsourcing' to the others and, apparently, CeeCee had told him that's what they had in Australia.
As for Harry, he was going to be focused on pushing the Potter legislative agenda, and... secretly... approaching the Department of Mysteries about working there. If the Unspeakables turned him down, he'd look towards spell development, like Daphne; or look towards anything else that took his fancy. If nothing else, he'd be quite happy to be a stay-at-home father when that time came. As he'd explained to his ladies, there really was no need for any of them to tie themselves to careers.
Once their informal meeting wrapped up as lunch was quickly approaching, Harry suggested they all change out of school uniforms and into 'civvies'.
"We're done," he reminded them. "Therefore, there is no requirement for any of us to wear school uniform again."
That had them all happy and, returning to their apartments for those who weren't Potters, changing.
Before heading down to lunch, Harry dashed off a quick note to Fleur to let her know they were now done with their OWLs. He knew she'd appreciate it; just as they appreciated learning from her when she completed her NEWTs.
Because OWL exams, together with NEWT exams, covered the last two weeks of the school year, there were no final weeks where the professors loaded them down with summer homework. For the seventh years it was because their schooling was over. For the fifth years it was because no one truthfully had any idea what classes they'd be allowed, or were eligible, to attend for their NEWTs.
When Hermione found out about that a few weeks earlier, she went around to each of her Professors and asked for 'homework' they could recommend she do as preparation for her sixth year. None of them provided her any as, apparently, it was school policy not to.
As Professor Babbling told her, "You need the entirety of your summer break to allow yourself to de-stress from your OWL exams. Study if you wish; we cannot stop you. However, none will be assigned to you, even by request or informally."
When she returned to the apartment in a bit of a huff Harry silently took her by the hand and dragged her into his bedroom.
She wasn't in a huff when they both exited over an hour later. Harry was sporting a smug grin and Hermione almost bonelessly dropped onto one of the couches and 'dreamily' sighed.
Daphne hid her smirk behind her Occlumency. It was she who suggested Harry just drag her off to his room and 'de-stress' her. He wouldn't have done it unless she'd both suggested it and told him outright Hermione wouldn't be against it. It was his trust in all three of them that had him not doubting her.
With the Alliance meeting on the Saturday, yet again the day before the Hogwarts Express ran back to Kings Cross, all the Heirs yet again had permission to skip the train trip.
This time the meeting was at Bones Manor with Amelia Bones, of course, chairing the meeting.
One of the items of business was Lady Marchbanks informing the Alliance she was stepping down as Headmistress of Hogwarts as of the Leaving Feast that night. The Heirs all knew it was coming.
The new Headmaster would be Ebenezer Goodstone, as expected. The new Deputy would be Septima Vector, who would also be handing in the Head of Slytherin post to take on the role. They had no idea who the new Head of Slytherin would be, as no one knew who of the staff was actually a Slytherin alumnus other than Vector.
With permission to skip the Feast, instead of all floo'ing back to the school the Heirs went elsewhere. Harry, Hermione, Daphne and Fleur floo'ed to the Doghouse with the intent to spend the first week at the Granger Residence. Justin had Raggy pop him home, after first ensuring there was somewhere at Bedford Castle he could be safely popped into where those not in the know wouldn't see him. Surprisingly to the others, Tracey went with him. CeeCee floo'ed to The Kennel with Sirius and Narcissa; she'd be staying there for a few days before internationally portkeying back to Perth. Sirius and Narcissa would be going with her, this time, but staying at Harry's new place in Lesmurdie. Jace had gone back to MaCUSA to visit. And Neville and Hannah would be staying a few days with Susan at Bones Manor, so didn't floo anywhere.
After changing into muggle 'civvies', almost the first thing Harry did was 'read the riot act' to Dobby and Betsy about how he would be doing a lot of the cooking while he was there; much to the chagrin of both elves. Then happily set-to with making dinner that night.
The summer break, this year, was approximately ten and a half weeks long. Quite some time ago Harry had looked at it and wondered how to break the time into fair allotments and thought he'd come up with a workable plan. Of course, that then would need to be altered based on when others were able to take breaks from employment commitments and the like to spend time with them. Of course, it had a lot to do with how much time Fleur could get off work for a holiday, plus needed to tie in with her need to be with Harry. That made the time they were going to stay in France, together with how long, as the first required choice.
However, his ladies shot down his original plan with Daphne almost snarkily asking, "Harry, do you know what a floo is?"
Then moderated her snark by explaining, "Except for France we can go from place to place by simply stepping in one fireplace and out another. We don't have to spend three plus weeks in one place, then the same in the next, then the next. We can even cut it down to hour by hour if we want to be completely mobile."
Eventually and because the Granger parents had jobs to worry about, they all decided they'd stay at the Granger Residence for a couple days covering the weekend just to unwind and get away from the magical world for a little while, leaving on the Monday morning. Then through to Friday evening at Pottermore for 'alone time', then back to the Granger Residence for the weekend, and so on.
Their time in France was for two weeks and one day from the First of July, as that was all the time Fleur could get off from Gringotts and they needed to be back in Britain on the Saturday afternoon for the meeting of the Alliance. Then they had a week back at Green Fields, followed by the Delacours joining them for a week at Pottermore. That way, the Delacours would be in magical Britain two days before the hand-fasting of Sirius and Jace, as they were also invited, before then again spending time with the Four.
However, most of the rest of time was pretty fluid, allowing the 'Potter Four' to not have to stick to a strict schedule. For instance, they'd made no plans whatsoever for the last four and a half weeks of the summer break between when the Delacours depart to go back to France and taking the train back to Hogwarts on the First of September.
For now they were at the Granger Residence with Harry happily working in the kitchen. His ladies, though, were in Hermione's 'office' off her bedroom with Monica.
Almost as soon as she entered, Monica asked, "How are the three of you doing?"
"We're fine, Mum," replied Hermione.
Then Monica was utterly surprised when Daphne replied, "We're all alright, Mum Monica." And Fleur added, "We are well, Mum Monica."
Monica didn't know whether to laugh with the joy of that, or cry. "Mum Monica?" she quietly asked.
Hermione replied, "It's something we picked up from CeeCee. She now calls Narcissa, Mum Narcissa, to differentiate her from her adoptive mother, Dorothy. We thought it was a good idea.
"For example, I'll now call Daphne's mother 'Mum Adeline' and Fleur's mother 'Mum Pol'; Fleur's mum prefers to be addressed by the diminutive."
Monica sat there for a few moment with a wide grin on her face. "That sounds... nice."
While thinking about it, she saw the three younger women, for women is what they were, all give subtle shifts in their posture of relief.
She grinned and said, "Don't worry about it, ladies. Given the... uniqueness of your situation, I happen to think it's a very clever idea."
All three grinned back.
She gave that a moment before she asked, "Now; tell me about your research into Harry's... mental issues."
Both Daphne and Fleur immediately deferred to Hermione by simply looking to her.
Recognising that's what they were doing, Hermione gave a little throat clear and said, "It's confirmed. Harry has a touch of autism."
"I know," she replied. "I was just down in the kitchen and watching him prepare dinner for us all. Because I was looking for the signs for myself, I could see it there. Have you not noticed he sorts out the ingredients into some sort of order before he begins? I had, at first, mistaken it for 'mise en place' purposes. They're all sorted chronologically."
"Chronologically?" asked Hermione.
"He sorts things out by when he needs to deal with them, in order of dealing with them," she explained.
That had the other three all look back in surprise.
"I'd... not noticed that," muttered Daphne. "But, yes; I can see, now, he does that."
The other two nodded.
On the Monday morning and after an early breakfast with the Grangers, the Four floo'ed across to Pottermore.
Almost as soon as they stepped through, with Harry going first, Fleur almost jumped him and whispered in his ear, "Mind taking me to the master bedroom? I believe I'm the only one who you 'aven't ravished in that bed yet."
Surprised, Harry turned to look at the other two, who just smirked back.
Thinking for a moment, he said, "How about we sort out sleeping arrangements, unpack, check over the property and then you and I go check out the master bed?"
She almost growled before she said, "Then let us 'urry, mon cher."
Less than an hour later, after doing all that, Fleur grabbed him by his off hand and dragged him off to his bedroom. When they reached the suite, she almost ripped clothing off in the hurry of getting undressed.
An hour later he lay next to his Veela concubine and asked, "You behaved as if you were in pain and the life debt was driving you. Was that the case?"
With a sigh, she replied, "A little... yes."
"Then you need to approach me earlier, Fleur," he firmly stated. "I do not like the idea of you being in pain because you do not feel it is your place to say something. That worries me."
It took a long moment, but she finally replied, "Oui. I shall... endeavour to be more... forthcoming in future, yes?"
"Please," he nodded. "This is about your health, Love. What if there had been something suddenly crop up that took me away from you for a few days? You'd have been in all sorts of trouble, then."
She nodded back.
A moment later she suddenly threw her leg over Harry's hips and slipped herself atop him. As she then sat up on his hips, she smiled and asked, "Then, how about you make sure it will be a long while before I need you again, oui?"
He smiled back and, while reaching up to fondle her breasts, replied, "Oui."
They finally left the suite about forty minutes later.
When they did leave the suite after a shower each, they redressed and headed downstairs. Both were surprised to find the manor quiet.
Frowning in a little confusion, Harry called Jeeves.
When the elf popped in he asked, "Where are my other two ladies?"
"They be naked in the pool," the elf grumbled, clearly somewhat annoyed before he popped away again.
As Harry stood there, staring in surprise at where Jeeves had stood, Fleur was snickering.
Finally, she began heading for the back of the manor while disrobing again.
"Fleur?" he asked.
Turning back as she allowed her blouse to drop from her fingers, she said, "It seems we had no need to redress after all; no?"
Then she turned back and, while reaching behind her back for her bra catch, kept walking towards the back yard.
Harry gave a slight snort of amusement while pulling his freshly-donned polo shirt off over his head and followed her.
After a last look out the floor to ceiling back windows of the solarium and onto the wide back patio with its in-ground pool, Fleur dropped her knickers and walked out. Harry was only a few seconds behind her.
After an hour in the pool or relaxing on sun lounges by its edge, all the while naked with all three, Harry got dressed and re-entered the manor. As soon as he was inside he went to the welcoming hall and called Jeeves.
When the elf popped in, he said, "Ah, Willy. Is it possible to ward this room off from the rest of the manor?"
"Yes, Master Harry," the elf immediately replied. "Willy has already dones that. Willy did not want sudden visitors coming through the floo and walking out to see his master and mistresses undressed."
A little relieved, Harry said, "Thank you. If you hadn't already done it, I would have asked you to do so. I don't think any of us had thought until I did a few minutes ago that sort of thing could happen."
Willy gave a little bow and said, "Jeeves understands. Master James and Mistress Lily did that once, too. And the ward was always up because of the war.
"Visitors can now only enter the floo room and cannot see further into the manor unless Master or Mistresses comes and collects them."
With a grin, Harry said, "That's great, Willy. I am relieved to hear that."
When Harry returned back outside, he told his ladies what he'd learned from Jeeves. While Hermione was a little concerned her father might turn up and see them, the one shocked the greatest was Daphne. She was still getting used to being naked outside, as this was her first time; so she nearly shot off her sun lounger to run inside and get dressed. She'd only disrobed, this time, because Hermione had encouraged her to do so. Even then, she wore a wrap until she was ready to jump into the pool.
It was only Harry explaining how that wasn't necessary - and why - before she calmed again. Fleur wasn't even slightly bothered and, apparently, wouldn't have been bothered if even a horde of their friends and family had turned up. Such was the nature of her being a Veela.
It was right in the middle of their time in France at Delacour Manoir when their OWL results arrived on the Saturday morning. They were carried by three clearly bone-weary owls that were going to need to rest for at least a full day before being allowed to leave.
"Oh, my God!" exclaimed Hermione, when she realised what the owls had been carrying. "I don't believe I forgot!"
Pol ended up having to release the owl carrying Hermione's results as the once bushy-haired girl was suddenly way too jittery to handle it, herself.
With it in her hand and as Hermione closed her eyes trying to centre herself before opening the envelope, Jean-Paul quietly called on a house elf to bring a couple of vials of calming potion, just in case.
Then she took a deep breath and opened hers, quickly unfolding the parchment within. A few seconds later her shoulders slumped a little in relief before her face slowly morphed into a wide and happy grin as she stared off into the distance.
Neither of the other two had opened theirs, as yet. Everyone had been watching Hermione.
When she suddenly snapped back to herself, Hermione blushed before she, babbling a little, asked the others to open theirs.
Harry gave a snort of amusement before he opened his own - and was quite surprised by what he discovered. With the exception of History he received straight 'O's; in History he scored an 'EE'. As for the Os, he scored 'O+'s in Ancient Runes, Charms, DADA, Potions, and Transfiguration; and ordinary 'O's in Astronomy, CoMC, Herbology and Muggle Studies. That gave him fifteen OWLs.
Daphne picked up fourteen OWLs with straight 'O's across the board.
Astronomy, Herbology, History and Transfiguration were standard 'O's; while Charms, DADA, Potions, Ancient Runes and Arithmancy were 'O+'s.
And Hermione was similar but with an extra class, like Harry. Unlike Harry, though, she picked up straight 'O's like Daphne.
Astronomy, Herbology, CoMC and Muggle Studies (like Harry, she sat the exam without attending the class) were standard 'O's; while Charms, DADA, History, Potions, Transfiguration, Ancient Runes and Arithmancy were 'O+'s. She scored eighteen OWLs plus 'Best in Year'.
The first to speak of those other than those three, Fleur exclaimed, "Wow!"
"That's... magnifique!" laughed a clearly happy Apolline.
A very relieved Hermione finally sighed and softly said, "I really had nothing to worry about, did I?"
Harry laughed at that, quickly followed by the others.
Over the rest of the week and taking their time, the three now NEWT students discussed among themselves their decisions for what classes they'd take for their final two years. Harry had to, yet again, assure one of his ladies that he would not stand in the way of them taking on a career post-Hogwarts; this time it was Daphne.
"You taking on a Healer apprenticeship, with spell crafting thrown in, sounds like a wonderful idea," said Harry, assuring her. "I'm just wondering how you'll accomplish it.
"Will you undertake the Healer apprenticeship first, then a Spell crafting apprenticeship; or vice versa? Or, can you do both at the same time?"
"I don't really know," she replied. "I think I'll take on the Healer apprenticeship first, get experience in the field, then take on the spell crafting apprenticeship in my spare time."
"It's up to you," he shrugged. "However, have you three given any thought to my idea of taking a 'gap' year first?"
It was left to Hermione to reply. "Yes. However, you do realise, don't you, that it means our having children is also put back a year?"
"If you want to," he replied. "However, I firmly believe a woman's body is her own. As such, I firmly believe it is up to the woman when she wants to bear children.
"Of course, I want children. But, I won't force you to have them. And I certainly won't force you to have them on my schedule."
That got him well snogged.
Once they got that out of their systems, Hermione said, "Of course we want children, Harry. We all do. But I think that decision will have to wait until the Masters of their fields we take our apprenticeships under are also okay with it."
"If they're not and the Masters or Mistresses of their fields are against it, then we'll simply find a Master or Mistress who will be okay with it," he stated. "If necessary, I'm quite willing to offer a financial incentive to whoever it is who take you on to allow you the time to have a child, if that's what you want."
He again got well snogged.
Just after they returned to magical Britain on Friday, the fifteenth of July, the three sent off their choices to the new Deputy Headmistress, Professor Septima Vector, the Arithmancy Professor.
Hermione would be taking: History, Charms, Transfiguration, Ancient Runes, Arithmancy, Advanced Muggle Studies, the Politics elective and the Law elective; making a course outlay of eight classes. If the workload became too much she promised she'd drop Advanced Muggle Studies. None of the others thought she'd have to keep that promise though.
Daphne would be taking: Herbology, Transfiguration, Charms, Potions, Arithmancy, the Healing elective and the Estate Management elective; a course outlay of seven classes. And Harry would be taking: Ancient Runes, Charms, DADA, Transfiguration, the Politics elective, the Law elective and the Estate Management elective; also seven classes.
Harry found out from Daphne later he was taking what was known as the "Lords' Seven", as what he had chosen was seen as what those who would be taking up Lordships or were otherwise wealthy were often choosing. He just gave a snort of amusement in return. Once he thought about it for a long moment he could see how it was quite obvious.
Harry had no intention of 'just' being a Lord, though. His intention was to support his three ladies in their chosen careers. He had no problem with taking a 'back seat' to them; and was even looking forward to it.
The day after they returned and the reason for them returning on the Friday was because the July meeting of the Alliance was on the Saturday; which, of course, meant the July meeting of the Wizengamot was four days later on the Tuesday.
There was little of import in the meeting. However, Harry was pleased to hear Professor Ebenezer Goodstone was already well into his role of taking on the Headmastership of the school and Marchbanks was quite happy to hand the reins over to him.
On one hand, he was sad to see her leave the post. He enjoyed talking and otherwise interacting with her. However, on the other hand, he was happy for her she was returning to take once more the post of the Head of the Ministry office, the Wizarding Examinations Authority. It was very clear she loved the work. After a short break she'd be again taking that role on as of Monday, the first of August.
With a gentle smile to her, he quietly said, "I'm going to miss seeing you in that office behind its gargoyle."
She smiled back and said, "That's sweet. Thank you, Lord Potter. However, I assure you, Professor Goodstone is up to the task in my stead."
He wrinkled his nose in distaste and said, "The man is a fan of Quidditch."
She just softly cackled back before she returned, "And may Merlin let that be his only... sin."
Sirius and Jace's handfasting, the Black-Sykes handfasting, was the next week. However, instead of a druidic handfasting as Harry had expected, it was some form of hybrid handfasting/wedding of the type they now used in MaCUSA. Never having seen a handfasting before and only knowing a little about weddings, Harry had no idea until after the ceremony when Daphne explained it to both him and Hermione.
That had Hermione determined she wanted her 'handfasting' to Harry to be of the same style.
"It's like a blend of a muggle wedding and a wizarding handfasting," she explained. "It covers both aspects of my life, when you think of it; muggle and magical."
"Then such a hybrid ceremony you shall have," Harry was quick to say.
Of interest before the ceremony, though, was when Sirius got so nervous he almost 'did the bolt'. He'd already started heading for the door to run off when Remus calmly stunned him, dosed him with a ready-at-hand calming potion and enervated him again.
"Better?" he asked.
After the nose-wrinkling Harry knew all too well, plus a glare at his best friend, Sirius finally nodded and said, "Much better, thank you."
After that, the ceremony went off quite well, even with a great many people attending. As a handfasting of One of the Seven the number of attendees was, of course, significant. It was one of those 'everyone who was an anyone' sort of events you had to attend if you were someone of note.
Harry spent a lot of his time speaking with a few folks from America, who were either friends of Jace's, friends of her family or were actual family; except for one, whom he could barely get anywhere near. That person was of course Jocunda Sykes, Jace's grandmother, she who rode an Oakshaft broom across the Atlantic and, on arriving in MaCUSA, set up a new broom company there; Starsweeper.
He chose to spend a lot of his time talking to 'the Yanks' so he could spend less time speaking with 'colleagues' off the Wizengamot. And, of course, almost everyone off the 'Mot, plus their other halves, attended.
Apparently, the Members off the Wizengamot thought a handfasting ceremony was a brilliant excuse to mingle with fellow Members, network and try to make deals. Harry was of a different opinion, hence why he spent as much of his time as he could away from them. His own opinion was, unless the social event was specifically related to the 'Mot, then it was not an event for which the Members should 'proselytise'. He also used the excuse he was Sirius's godson to spend more time with Jace's family.
The Potters got out of there not that much longer after Sirius and the now Lady Jacinta Sykes-Black took off on their honeymoon. They'd be off for the week, and back for the Weasley-Clearwater handfasting the next weekend and back to their honeymoon for the next week; this time, in MaCUSA seeing the sites there. The Delacours, however, sent Gabrielle back to Pottermore with the Potters, but remained to network.
Later, Daphne had a quiet word with him - that is, told him off - about how important to the Potter family networking these sort of functions actually was. He had to promise he'd try better at the Weasley-Clearwater handfasting the next weekend.
He pouted back and said, "It's also my birthday. Aren't I allowed, as birthday boy, to ignore everyone I want to?"
"No," she simply and firmly replied.
The Delacours left the next day to return to France and the Potters stayed at Pottermore for the week. The Delacours would not be attending the second handfasting.
As for the final days lead up to Percy's and Penny's handfasting, Harry and Hermione had been receiving invite after invite from Molly to come stay at the Burrow as Molly wanted 'her entire family' to spend the last few days with her.
Harry had to finally send a letter to Arthur via HEED, to make sure Molly didn't intercept it, asking the man to stop his wife 'barraging' them with letters of demand to stay at the Burrow. He didn't write it, as he couldn't bring himself to. However, Hermione and Daphne were more than willing to write the letter on his behalf. He just signed it.
The important part of the body had:
~ # ~
As well as now being seen by us as nagging-via-post Molly continues, even today, to utterly ignore that I have two concubines in Daphne and Fleur. Even more she must know I and Fleur, due to her Veela life debt to me, cannot be separated from me for any length of time. Even a short period of a few days can cause her distress; longer can cause her harm. And yet, from her letters, Molly continues to ignore her existence; let alone Daphne's.
I know she does not mean for her letters to be so, but they are insulting in her refusal to acknowledge Daphne's and Fleur's part in my and Hermione's life. Where Hermione and I go, Daphne and Fleur go. If neither Daphne or Fleur are welcome, I see it as I and Hermione are likewise unwelcome.
However, that is only one issue. The next is how, as One of the Seven, Head of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Potter, Heir Tertiary of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black, a Member of the Wizengamot and a founding member of the Grand Alliance I have a great deal of responsibilities. Responsibilities, I must often schedule a great deal of time in advance and simply cannot either reschedule, beg off or otherwise ignore. To do so could cause great or grave insult to others.
Due to schooling and Fleur's contract with Gringotts and the needs of our greater families, our summers and other breaks are now carefully scheduled. For instance, even though we received our official invitation to attend Percy's and Penny's handfasting a couple months ago, we still had to rearrange quite a bit of our summer scheduling to fit it into our calendar. I very much doubt we were the only 'important persons' to have done so. Even now we have in place scheduling for next summer's break.
Hermione and I are grateful Molly sees us as family. However, we actually are not. And we must place our actual families' needs or desires above those of others, such as the Weasleys. It would be wrong to do otherwise.
We have our own lives, Mister Weasley. Please speak with your wife and get her to understand that. If she refuses, then we ask that you forbid her to contact us.
Furthermore, with us four being guests of Lord and Lady Clearwater - me, in my role as Lord Potter; Hermione, as my betrothed; and Daphne and Fleur as my concubines - I have no choice but to ask you to ensure Molly does not create, or otherwise engineer, a scene at the handfasting of Lord Clearwater's Heir Secondary, Penelope, and your son, Percy. Lord Clearwater and I would each have no choice but to see it as such a slight on the honour of each of us in our formal roles as Two of the Seven. Plus, as I am also still recognised as Heir Tertiary of Black, Sirius would also have no choice but to step in. I am sure you have no doubt of what the result of such a confrontative act would be.
Please, please, make sure Molly understands that. We all know how she will act if she sees someone she considers one of her children behaving in a manner of which she does not approve, namely not obeying her every command. If she does act in such a manner, the consequences would be dire for you and yours. You know this.
~ # ~
Of course, the letter was painful for Harry to send. However, he really had no choice. Molly, through her own stubborness, left him with no choice.
Further, he also wrote a letter to Lord Basil Clearwater informing him of the general contents of the letter he sent Arthur. Hedwig was very happy to take it.
Lord Clearwater wrote a letter back the next day, delivered by his own Northern Hawk owl, acknowledging Harry's letter, stating his own hope Molly would not create a scene, informing him Molly would be 'closely monitored' to ensure that the first sign of her losing her temper and about to commit an action that would force the Seven to 'officially' react she would be dealt with and 'wondering' how it is Harry had tolerated her behaviour for so long.
Surprisingly, he also apologised for the 'only' three months forewarning of the date of the handfasting stating he had left it to the last minute in the hopes his granddaughter would 'wake up to herself' and decide Percy wasn't the one for her after all. He only allowed the betrothal in the first place in the hopes Penny just needed time to get over her 'crush' on the boy.
'However, it now appears she loves the 'over-officious idiot' even deeper than before.' And he was never one to deny his little princess something of which she truly had her heart set upon.
He also wrote he was gifting the happy couple a small and comfortable chalet, 'only six bedrooms, formal lounge, formal dining, solarium, etcetera' that had been a 'steal' he'd picked up from one of the auctions of the deceased death eater properties. It was in Blackpool on the south coast. 'This way, dear Penelope does not have to tolerate that shrew, Molly Weasley, if she does not desire to. She and Percival will have their own home, away from that woman.'
Harry did not think Basil would have a problem with him showing it to his ladies, so he did. All three were amused.
The letter back from Arthur stated he would have Bill basically sit on her if he had to, just to stop her from doing something stupid. Bill was under orders from his Head of House to even stun her if it was necessary.
The actual handfasting had them arrive at Clearwater Grove as one of the last guests, as was proper for Harry's station. They also arrived via portkey in the Manor's welcoming room, not out beyond the front door or via apparation as most of the guests were required to do to arrive. Only those who were lords and ladies of Noble and Ancient Houses were so accorded the welcoming room. Even the few so-called lords and ladies of Elder Houses had to arrive via portkey on the front patio beyond the front door. It was the same at the Black country property, where Sirius and Jace were wed.
With his three ladies and himself in formal attire, Harry was greeted by Lord Clearwater and his lady before his second son, Penny's uncle, escorted them through to a temporary gazebo in the back gardens. It was out there, being a traditional druidic handfasting, where the ceremony would take place. The reception would then be held in the massively expanded manor ballroom.
As they walked in to the huge gazebo, they were almost immediately spotted by Molly. When it looked from her expression like she was going to storm over to give them a serve, Bill, who was standing with her, quickly latched onto her arm and, under a silencing charm, firmly told her something that she clearly did not want to hear, but it at least stopped her from immediately heading over all the same.
Harry was satisfied with that. If she'd done otherwise it would have meant she'd be tossed from the handfasting before the handfasting even occurred, then go blame it on him.
However, he was determined to have the woman, with her husband, visit them at Pottermore; where he'd finally 'lay down the law' on her. He knew it was something that was a couple years in the making and only delayed because of Ron's behaviour and then subsequent death. Well, it had now been eight months since Weasley's death and he was no longer willing to allow his 'ex' faux-friend's passing hinder him in finally dealing with the issue of a demanding Molly Weasley.
As for the service, Harry found it quite interesting, especially the druid's words about how two lives had now become intertwined as if they were roots. Harry thought it was a pretty good analogy of what could come of a family tree from their joining.
After the service and as they were heading inside for the 'breakfast/reception' part of the celebrations, Molly once more tried to come over to speak with him. And, this time, Arthur had to take a firm hand on her arm to stop her. However, she shrugged off his hand and began to storm over... and was promptly intercepted by Bill. This time he surreptitiously had his wand out and was clearly threatening her.
As they were all seated, Harry and his ladies were seated off to one side, where the other lords and their ladies of the Seven were sat. And Harry found him and his seated almost opposite Sirius.
As soon as they sat, Sirius leaned across the table a little and, frowning in clear concern, asked, "What's going on with Molly Weasley?"
"She's upset with me because I sent a letter to Arthur telling him to stop her constant nagging of Hermione and me through owl mail to come and visit," replied Harry. "I, for one, have had a gutful of it."
"And I, for two," Hermione added. "We've not said anything until recently because of all the dramas going on about Ron. However, it's now been eight months since his death.
"Harry sent a letter to Mister Weasley telling him he had to get Missus Weasley under control, especially at this handfasting, or Harry would have to take official action as One of the Seven against him for failing to do so.
"Missus Weasley clearly didn't like discovering that. And it looks like she wanted to come over and give Harry a serve about it, which is something she has a tendency to do when someone she sees as one of her children doesn't do as they're told by her. Bill and Mister Weasley have, twice now here today, had to cut her off and, it's looked like, threaten her."
Daphne said, "If it wasn't for Harry being One of the Seven and it would be a direct insult to Clearwater if he did so, I'd recommend we four leave before there's a scene. But, Harry really can't."
"No, he can't," Sirius agreed. He then looked around and saw the 'Weasley' table on the opposite side of the ballroom from them, with Molly sitting facing the room and main table at an angle.
As a 'junior' member of One of the Seven Harry and his sat with their backs to the floor and head table, which also meant they had their backs to her. Sitting opposite, though, Sirius and Jace were facing that way. He spotted the Weasleys through the gap between Harry and Hermione.
"I'll keep an eye on her," said a firm Sirius. "If it looks like she's again intending on heading towards you and Arthur or Bill can't or won't cut her off, I will."
Thankfully, they made it through the feast and right through to the dancing without the woman coming over. However, as soon as Harry led Hermione onto the dance floor, he saw Molly grab Arthur and drag him onto the floor before she then force-took lead from him and steered them towards a confrontation.
Thankfully, Sirius had Jace on the floor and was able to impose himself and her between Harry and Hermione and Arthur and Molly. Then, as Harry led Hermione further away, he had stern words with the woman and her husband. Arthur then dragged Molly back off the floor.
Less than five minutes later, Arthur was dragging Molly from the room towards the welcoming room with its floo point. They weren't seen again, so Harry thought Arthur must have quietly taken her straight home.
After that Harry was finally able to relax and actually enjoy the event.
Until his ladies dragged him away, demanding to dance, he'd even let himself be corralled by a couple of the Lords who 'want to hear his views on such and such' or 'wondered if they could gain his support for this or that'. They were of grey Houses, so Harry was at least willing to hear them out.
That very evening and once they were back at Pottermore Harry received an owl-delivered letter, by Errol of all owls, from Arthur yet again apologising for Molly's behaviour. Then had the audacity to ask if 'you and Hermione' could visit the Burrow to talk.
Having already had enough - as if the invitation only for him and Hermione to visit, not Daphne or Fleur, wasn't further insult - Harry sent one back using Hedwig that firmly stated Arthur was to bring Molly and Bill to visit the next evening at 7.00pm sharp. It was short, abrupt and to the point. It was also addressed to 'Mister Arthur S Weasley, Head of the Elder Houses of Weasley and Prewitt' and signed 'Lord Harrison J Potter, Lord of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Potter' just to make it clear this wasn't anything but a formal letter and summons.
He'd even used a wax seal, imprinted with his family ring, to seal the letter.
The next evening was going to be one of the most difficult Harry had ever had to endure in his life. However, though he already knew it was going to be painful, he also knew it was necessary.
The next day and through the day, Daphne coached Harry on exactly how he needed to handle his meeting with the elder Weasleys that night. Fleur wanted to help, but due to her work commitments, let alone her working relationship with Bill, couldn't. She did, however, remind Daphne of a few key points she needed to coach Harry on before she left for work that morning.
Hermione wanted to help too, and did so by using the Potter library to look up key legal precedents and magical law when Daphne wanted Harry to see exactly what it was she was alluding to or simply straight out stating.
By the time dinner came around and Fleur had returned from work, Harry thought he was as prepared as he was going to be. And Fleur even covered a few extra points that related to matters surrounding the legal powers of One of the Seven.
"Bill tried to get me to relate to 'im what this meeting tonight was all about, 'Arry," she said, while they were sitting at the table and eating. "I 'ad to be firm and tell 'im the Veela Bond I 'ave with you specifically forbade me telling 'im anything that was considered a matter of the 'Ouse of Potter. 'E wasn't 'appy."
"I would have thought, as an employee of Gringotts himself," said Hermione, "He would understand there are some things that simply cannot be discussed."
"'E knows that," she replied. "'Owever, 'e was trying to get information relating to where I thought 'Arry's... mind was in this matter."
"In other words," said Harry, "He was trying to get you to talk to him about matters he knew the Veela Bond would have no issue with you sharing."
"Oui," she calmly replied. "'Owever, 'e left frustrated with me for not being willing to share anything with 'im."
Harry nodded and said, "I will have a word with him about that, tonight. He should know that what he tried was wrong."
"'E is trying to protect his mother," she explained. "At least, that is what 'e claimed when I lost my temper a little with 'im."
"Which tells us he understands his mother is in trouble with us," said Daphne.