Conspiracy by Maethoriel Raina
Disclaimer:All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended. This disclaimer is for all following chapters.
Summary:After Voldemort's defeat, and in order to keep control of Harry Dumbledore enacts a marriage contract between Harry and Ginny. Bound by Pureblood Traditions, Harry can only use that to his advantage. Not a Harry/Ginny fic. Pre Slash.
A.N.:This is the first part to a story I dreamt and it wouldn't leave my head. I wrote it down in order to get my head cleared so I could focus on Consequences. So, this is not a Harry/Ginny fic, Harry is gay, though there are only brief mentions of slash. This story would probably be considered pre slash. Small warnings for language, and possibly subject matter. MPreg is possible in this world but will not occur to major characters in this fic. Ginny and other Weasleys are not good guys, neither is Dumbledore, but I try not bash them around too much as I'm trying to be realistic. Please do not read if any of this may offend you. Reviews are always welcome, though constructive criticism only please. I hope you enjoy.
It wasn't meant to be like this. Harry had fought the good fight and killed the bad guy. He felt he had earned the right to then live his life how he wanted to.
True the final battle at Hogwarts had been anything but easy, and some people he knew rather well had not made it. It was however finished a few weeks before the exam season began. Just enough time for the cleanup before revision cramming sessions, much to Ron's disgust. Voldemort disintegrated when exposed to Harry's raw magic, the Death Eaters fell in the backlash. The unhurt Aurors ready to round them up for trial. And trials there were.
Harry had learned his lesson from his godfather, that now there was no more danger, most people just wanted things to go away. For it to be quickly wrapped up and ended, with no thought to the consequences. Dumbledore had made sure that his spy was saved, but only after Harry had accosted the Aurors trying to arrest Snape. An emotionally wretched hearing had cleared the man of any crimes committed while a Death Eater, and Severus Snape was now considered a hero second only to The Boy Who Conquered. Not that the adulation had changed Snape, in fact, he was even more snarky than before.
It was the Malfoy's that were the sticking point. In a way they had been as influential to Harry's experience in the Wizarding World as the Weasleys. Harry had rather expected Dumbledore to help the family that had been threatened with torture and death. His continual ramblings about redemption and second chances were oddly absent once the war was won. In fact, Harry had the sinking feeling that his mentor only said those things as an excuse to keep his spy close and somewhat unfettered.
The press articles showed the way things were going. No second chances. No chance of redemption. No extenuating circumstances were to be accepted. It was even talked of locking up the entire families of the Death Eaters, children included, to ensure that this could not happen again. Fudge had seen the way the public were leaning and in an effort to distance himself from many of his financial supporters, was echoing the non tolerance doctrine being whispered in his ear. Almost without opposition.
And this is where Harry had to change things. His saving people thing had kicked in, and after intense discussions with Hermione who had trolled the law books in an expectation of his need, they had come to a startling discovery. Being a Death Eater wasn't illegal. Actions they had taken were, but having the mark was not. A curious loophole, that Harry helped exploit. Tired of his name selling newspapers, Harry had launched an offensive. It had worked so well against Voldemort, it would work with the public.
And it was the public that Harry went after. Interviews with Skeeter and speeches broadcast on the Wizarding Wireless News. Harry talked, and the people listened to their Saviour. He was finally able to use some of the cunning the Hat had seen in him. Instead of outright decrying the Minister's policy, as all that would get him was a repeat of fifth year, Harry was subtle.
When asked about the proposal that all marked Death Eaters be throw in Azkaban sans trial, Harry agreed with the fear that Minister Fudge was responding to, but then waxed lyrical about his Godfather and how such attitudes had left him absent from his home world for a decade, and even though his Godfather was innocent he was left to be brought up in ignorance, by hateful muggles. The appearance of Wormtail at the final battle had quickly had the Ministry covering their collective arse. Especially when Harry made it known privately that he would be very unhappy if it was not dealt with properly this time.
When it was announced that some trials were to be made private, Harry responded that he wasn't sure that was in the best interests of anyone. The Ministry would be seen to cover things up, which wouldn't restore the publics faith in their battered image. The public would not get closure, always wondering what had actually happened, and how close they had all come to losing. The accused no chance to defend themselves, especially if the Ministry was not held accountable.
Harry was careful to support the Ministry for the most part, but always allowed a hint of unease to slip through. That Minister Fudge sent Hagrid to Azkaban 'just to be seen to be doing something', sent Dementors to Hogwarts where on multiple occasions Harry had nearly been killed, and that he had then sent Umbridge to Hogwarts in an effort to further discredit both Harry and Dumbledore. Little mentions here and there had coloured his support with a touch of scepticism. It took a while but slowly things were brought around.
During this time, Dumbledore had tried to counsel Harry about his words, trying to make him more conservative if not completely stop all together. But there was little he could do with regards to Harry's public appearances. For six years Harry had been closeted behind Hogwarts walls, and now the masses were delighted that they had access to their saviour. It may have taken a calming draught or two, but Harry persevered. Every time he went to Hogsmeade or Diagon Alley he was smiling and polite. Shaking the hands of people who came up to him. Mostly they were small children, who seemed oblivious to the aura of power that Harry now radiated, their parents choosing deferential nods instead.
After the final battle Harry had worked with Snape to control his aura, and could make it barely noticeable when he needed to. However taking a clue from Dumbledore, he regulated his aura to strong but comforting, benevolent but with a taste of steel while in public. He was their warrior and they respected him for it. That it meant a respectful distance rather than claustrophobic crowds was an added bonus.
Harry attended all of the trials. Dumbledore's insistence that is was not safe was disregarded. Harry had Tonks and Shacklebolt escorting him everywhere. Sometimes in the shadows and sometimes painfully obvious, they were there to protect him from anyone thinking of revenge and those who had more amorous intentions.
A complete wardrobe change, magical contacts and a new hair gel had made all the difference to his appearance. Now, he looked the part of their Saviour and many were overcome with the hope that he would chose them. Harry really wanted to tell them that they were out of luck, his heart already belonged to another, but Harry had to play the part of benevolentSaviour. And hexing everyone who tried to cop a feel would not be helpful.
Harry needed to attend the trials for many reasons. To make sure it was done right this time, to make sure that the sentences were appropriate and neither too lenient, nor too harsh. In some cases, such as the Lestranges', Harry testified to ensure they paid the ultimate price. In others like the Malfoy's, he gave an impassioned defence, asking the court to think of what they wouldn't do if their own families were threatened in such a manner.
His weeks of practise had paid off. Though the Malfoy's had harboured Voldemort and the escaped Death Eaters, the court took into account the untenable situation the family had been in. Their cooperation with the authorities had also been noted. Harry was successful, and though Lord Malfoy was suggested to help finance the repairs to Hogwarts, all three of the Malfoy's were given suspended sentences and monitored parole. Harry had ensured that the titles and positions Lord Malfoy held were kept, in order to contribute to the healing of the Wizarding world.
Everything was going great. Then he had been summoned to the Headmasters office.
It wasn't meant to be like this.
It was two days since the last trial had ended. When he had entered the office, he was greeted by a strange sight. Ginny was sitting to one side of the Headmasters desk. Flanked by her parents. Both Mrs Weasley and Ginny seemed almost vibrating in excitement. Mr Weasley however, seemed to be more circumspect. On the opposite side of the office, radiating her disapproval was Professor McGonagall.
Harry took the seat in the between his Professor and fellow Gryffindor. Dumbledore was at this point refreshing the tea that had already been served, the twinkle back in his eye. After a few general enquiries about his health and well being, Harry began to feel nervous. Professor McGonagall was sitting stiffly, face forward, the cup of tea held in her lap untouched. Ginny to his other side was listening raptly to Dumbledore when she wasn't staring at him. And it was this staring, that disturbed him the most.
Ginny had been the most forward of the Hogwarts girls when it came to flirting and innuendo. Most of them were mild and light, but his relationship with Ginny had gone from an easy friendship to one of strained politeness. At least on his side.
After trying to induce him into 'some fun in the broom closet' she had taken to refreshing his drink at the social gatherings prevalent after the final battle. He couldn't help but notice that they were always rather heavy on alcohol, much more so than he preferred. It had seemed obvious to him that she was trying to engage him in a relationship. Eventually, after a rather lewd comment he had taken her aside and firmly told her that he had no interest in her aside from friendship. Ginny had taken it rather well he thought, but when he wasn't looking he caught a glimpse of a smug smile playing on her face.
Finally after about ten minutes of small talk Professor McGonagall finally snapped.
"Oh, just get on with it Albus. I don't know why you are procrastinating so."
"Yes, well." Dumbledore resettled himself into his seat trying to portray his customary grandfather pose.
"Well my boy, now you have fulfilled your destiny it is time to look to the future."
Okay, not much surprise there. Harry had had a few thoughts of his own about his future, though he would listen to any suggestions.
"As the only surviving heir to the Potter family, and the fact that you have inherited the Black family as well, it is time to think about making sure you secure your future. To that end I have drawn up a contract between you and Ms Weasley here. I am sure you will be very happy together. Now, I thought that…"
"What contract? How will it 'secure my future'?"
"Ah, yes, a betrothal contract." At Harry's blank look Ginny decided to interrupt.
"Marriage, Harry. What else? It'll be wonderful."
"But I don't want to marry Ginny. No. I'm saying no."
"You have no choice." Ginny had blurted that out before Dumbledore could stop her. A stern glance from the Headmaster kept her from saying more and Harry turned his incredulous gaze to the man in question.
"As your Wizarding guardian it is my duty to care for your needs. As you are not yet seventeen, I have decided that it is in your best interests to marry Ms Weasley. Now…"
"But I said no. Surely once I'm seventeen I can just, dissolve the contract or something."
Before Dumbledore could make things worse McGonagall stepped in, mainly due to the increasing pressure Harry's aura was emitting.
"The Headmaster has seen fit to enact the contract before your seventeenth birthday. As such you cannot say no. It is not common practise nowadays," this was said with a stoic look at Dumbledore, "however, it is legal. And no Potter, you cannot say no. Whether you want to or not, you will be married to Ms Weasley. Even if you did not attend, the marriage would take place in your absence. I am sorry." The last was softly spoken with more emotion in her eyes than he had ever seen before.
There was a long pause where Harry looked imploringly at his head of house. Why was this happening, when his life was turning out so well. Couldn't she do anything? McGonagall reached out and grasped his hand. Pulling a rolled up piece of parchment from the desk in front of her, she offered it to Harry, but seeing the tears about to fall she offered him a graceful way out instead.
"Now that Mr Potter has been informed, I don't see that there is anything else to cover. Come Mr Potter."
With that she stood, and still holding his hand drew him out of the office. While descending the stairs, his mind was turbulent and chaotic. It was however clear enough, to hear Ginny's voice floating downwards to their ears. From the sound of it, she wasn't exactly unhappy about the situation.
A while later Harry found himself becoming aware in his head of house's office. Sitting next to him on an enlarged lounge chair, was Hermione, who must have come in when he was out of it. Seeing her reading the scroll brought an ember of hope alive. If anyone could help him she could.
"Oh Harry!" Seeing her best friend attentive once more she softly drew him into a hug.
They were doing it again. Using him to play out a script that only they knew. Theybeing Dumbledore and the adults that were meant to help him.
"Help me, please?"
"Harry, of course. I'll do everything I can. We'll find someway out of this. It's barbaric. Absolutely incomprehensible."
"I'm sorry to say, there is no way out of it. The betrothal contract is 'airtight'. Is that the expression? There are many kinds, though normally they are used nowadays to formalise an engagement. However the form used for this betrothal was designed centuries ago, to make sure betrothals between unwilling participants were unavoidable."
"But why? Why me? Why now?"
"I believe Dumbledore wishes to regain some control of your actions. And as to why now, there needs to be at least a month between the betrothal contract being signed, and the marriage contract being enacted."
The Professor's lack of title when referring to the Headmaster was as telling as the fact she was almost hissing the words.
"This is to allow the signatories time to announce the betrothal and prepare the festivities."
"Oh God. He's already told everyone hasn't he?"
"Yes." Her tone was clipped and unemotional, though if you knew her well, you could see the anger hiding beneath the surface.
"The contract was signed this morning, and the letters to the Ministry and the press were sent off before he asked you to join us. I was only made aware this morning, Mr Potter. I tried to make them change their minds, but to no avail. I was mearly there as witness, as I am both yours and Ms Weasleys head of house."
Harry nodded glumly. It was perfectly arranged. There was no way out of it. If the press knew, there would be no way of stopping the news spreading like wildfire across the whole Wizarding World. The previous couple of weeks had shown him that.
"So that's it? I'm stuck? Stuck in a forced and loveless marriage with a woman. A woman who I rather find hard to be friendly to lately?"
"To be blunt, yes."
Harry closed his eyes and buried his head in his best friend's neck. The comforting scent of vanilla wafted through him, and he breathed deep hoping it's soothing scent would help calm him. Unfortunately it wasn't as comforting as it had been previously.
All of his plans.
The places he wanted to go, the things he wanted to do. The person he wanted to love.
An image floated before his minds eye. Harry quickly pushed it back down into his subconscious. For the past couple of years he had suppressed his burgeoning feelings, knowing that with Voldemort out there and Harry still being in school made his dreams just fanciful wishes. Then Voldemort was destroyed and he had but a year to wait. It seemed as if, all of a sudden, his dreams started to show some chance of becoming reality. Harry even believed he had detected a reciprocal interest.
And now he was stuck.
"I'm gay!" Harry almost shouted, though it was muffled by his friends bushy hair.
"Unfortunately that is not considered important. Though normally, understanding guardians do try and accommodate their charges preference, to at least give some chance of a productive marriage."
"You have to have an heir. That's the stated reason. And I suppose Dumbledore choose someone who could not be contested. A Weasley, known to be light sided, pure-blooded and very fertile."
Hermione was only trying to make him feel better, he knew that. But at the word fertile Harry let out another groan and buried his head further into Hermione's shoulder. She had been the first he had told, about his preferences, and his crush. Though surprised, she had been completely supportive. She had talked to him, allowing him to express his hopes and dreams. Then she did what she did best, she went to the library and researched.
Though Hogwarts did not offer Sex Ed classes, there was a whole section on sexual issues in the Wizarding World. That Harry could both love a man and have their biological children, with the aid of a potion, was the best piece of news he had heard since he found out he was a wizard. That being gay, or bisexual, was completely accepted, made him love the Wizarding World even more. Here was a world where he wouldn't be different, a freak, an outcast. And now this world, where he had hoped to find acceptance, was the world that was trapping him in a life of misery.
"I would say try and fight it, but though you have the public support… well the news that you are to be married…"
Hermione didn't have to finish. He had used the press to his advantage the past couple of weeks, and he was well aware how quickly they could turn against him. News of The Boy Who Conquered getting married and having children would have the public partying even before the actual ceremony. And if he tried to get out of it, well Ginny would be portrayed as the jilted sweetheart of an unfeeling, perhaps even faithless Harry.
"What does the contract say?" If he was going to be forced into the situation, he was damn well going to know everything. Hermione picked up the contract and summarised.
"Aside from the legal jargon, it just confirms that on the first of July, you and Ginevra Molly Weasley, will be wed by traditional contract."
His questioning look at Hermione was returned with a shrug and then a look to their head of house. Mildly amused at Hermione not knowing something, he also turned his attention to their Professor to see a calculating look on her face.
"It is obvious that I do not approve of this." McGonagall started.
She seemed to be hesitating over her words.
"However, a traditional contract is a magically binding contract that sets down the conditions upon which the marriage would be based upon. Shared domicile for example, or the number of heirs that must be produced." Their Professor had answered their question, but there was still more to come.
"Now I am not an expert on these matters, but such contracts are usually formed by the prospective Husband's head of house, and drawn from the family traditions and expectations. Some families prefer only one heir to make sure the family assets are kept within the family. Some prefer more than one child to marry them off and form alliances." Hermione's growl was mirrored in the pinched expression Professor's face.
"In most circumstances, the contract favours the Husband. The Wizarding World is still based on a patriarchal structure." Hermione was nodding now, her eyes focused in the half distance. Knowing not to disturb her Harry focused on the woman in front of him.
"So how does that help me?"
"Don't you see Harry?" Harry mearly shock his head. All he realised was that he would be stuck, living with a contract for the rest of his life. And he thought the TriWizard contract was bad.
"You are the Husband." At Harry's bland look, Hermione gave him a soft smile and continued, glancing at McGonagall every now and then for confirmation.
"Youwrite the marriage contract."
"The head of house, so Dumbledore…" The implications set in. The look of horror on Harry's face meant that Hermione was quick to assure him.
"Dumbledore is your guardian. Not the Head of your House. Technically until you turn seventeen there is no Head of House for the Potter's or the Black's. So you have the right to put in anything you want in the contract."
"Within reason, of course." McGonagall interjected. "Nothing that would cause the marriage to be void, and nothing that has not already been shown as accepted practise in your families' history. Though knowing the Black's that doesn't mean much." That comment actually produced a smile.
"So I write the contract? It's that simple."
"I doubt the Headmaster would have told you it was an option." Hermione sarcastic streak was showing.
"Indeed. If I know Albus, and I do, he will probably give you a contract and insinuate that you have no option. However if you were to takethat contract and alter it, well there is no rule that say's you have to show the Bride's family. Only if they ask, and if they leave everything to Dumbledore to arrange…"
"So I just have to make sure that the altered contract is the one used at the ceremony."
"And you need Ginny to sign it before reading it fully," Hermione interjected, "as I doubt she would agree otherwise."
It wasn't voiced, but the involvement of the youngest Weasley was obviously not being forced. Her behaviour of late looked much more sinister now Harry could think back on it. Was that the early plan? To seduce him and then entrap him into marriage?
Harry shock his head. Thoughts of Ginny led to thoughts of her brother, his other best friend. How would Ron take the news? A chilling thought entered his head. Ever since their forth year Harry had been slightly wary of his other friend. Their friendship was rather miraculous considering Harry's personality when he first entered Hogwarts. Scared and distrustful, and yet he became best friends with the first year mate he meets? True, since then they had been through a lot, but Harry had come to accept that the majority of the situations they had found themselves in were contrivances of Dumbledore, who at least ignored brewing situations, if not outright contrived them.
Did Ron know? Had he sat across from Harry at breakfast knowing what awaited him? He wanted to trust his friend, he really did. But the thought wouldn't leave his head.
"So what now?" He felt like he had said that many times in the last hour or so.
"Now I suggest you contact someone who knows the Pureblood Traditions inside out. I do believe Lord Malfoy might be available to assist you." Harry was shocked at the suggestion. He knew that the Professor didn't like the Malfoy's.
"You did testify in their defence, and they do hate the Weasleys."
Well, if Hermione thought it a good idea.
After their discussion in her office, Professor McGonagall had ordered them lunch from the house elves while she went and updated Professor Snape. After lunch both Harry and Hermione had found themselves sipping tea with unexpected company of Professor Snape and Lord Malfoy.
Things quickly escalated from there.
The days following had tested Harry's patience to the limit. Thankfully knowing there was a plan helped him focus. The congratulations of his peers grated and the look of superiority on Ginny's face was sickening. With Hermione by his side, Harry focused on his studying. Even the remotest chance that he could be held back a year, and he would put nothing past Dumbledore now, meant that he focused all his energy on his studies to the point that Hermione had to remind him to rest. Joined by supportive friends such as Neville, there were times when he could almost ignore what was happening.
However the respites were few and far between. Ignoring Ginny when he could, he was unfailing polite when he could not. He had taken to using her full first name as a verbal distancing tool. His body posture was also reserved and he made a point to spend no social time with her. His popularity alone meant that she was slowly being left out of house life. Though many stayed friends with her in the belief that Harry was keeping his distance because he wanted their wedding night to be their first time together. Three guesses as to who started that rumour. Harry just found it amusing, and looked forward to their wedding night for another reason entirely.
Harry had spent many an evening brainstorming with Hermione, Professor Snape and Lord Malfoy. Lucius, he reminded himself. With Voldemort dead, the connection between them had also disappeared, so while Snape helped him form shields, this time successfully, Hermione planned with Lucius.
Lord Malfoy was having a wonderful day. Eager to assist The Boy Who Conquered for alliance reasons, he was also happy to help repay Harry for all he had done. That it would be thumbing his nose at the Weasleys? Well that would just make it all the more enjoyable.
After listening to the background, the little of it there was, and studying the betrothal contract Lucius Malfoy was almost bouncing in his seat, impatient as he was to get started. It was fortunate for everyone that Malfoy's don't bounce. He would never regain his dignity, and it didn't look as if the Gryffindor's could take another shock. Though looking closely, neither could his best friend.
"I will of course, review the Black family records to ensure that you have a contract you will approve of. Is there anything you wish for in particular?"
Harry just looked at the man. Though he had helped him, and they had called a personal truce, it seemed almost like fate was giving him a break. Hopefully it wouldn't be too bad after all.
"Money. I'd like full control of my money and estate. Including full control of my movement and other decisions."
Lucius nodded. It wasn't a well kept secret that Dumbledore had kept the Saviour on a short leash. Now that some of his biggest supporters were seeing Dumbledore for the type of man he truly was, Lucius hoped he could move forward with some of his own plans. But first things first.
"You will have to give your wife," he paused when Harry winced at the title, "an allowance of some sort. Usually the greater the allowance, the more prestigious the marriage. It shows your wealth and ability to provide." Ignoring the raised eyebrows of the women in the room he focused on the groom.
"I don't care about that. Small, not enough to be comfortable. If I provide food and pay for household expenses, even things like school supplies, I don't want her to be able to spend my money as she wants. It's probably why she's so keen."
He knew his last statement was puerile, though completely correct. However he also knew that he needed to improve his attitude, otherwise it would be something else they could use against him. Sitting up straight he thought about it for a moment.
"As a new bride, she will probably need some new things. An account with a starting balance of one hundred galleons to be supplemented by monthly transfers of ten galleons, increased to twenty per month once she has graduated."
Lucius nodded and started taking notes. That was perfectly respectable, though not traditional. As the Husband and owner of all property he had the right to do anything he wished. And it would definitely send a message to the right people, subtly of course. It was crass to talk about amounts.
"Make sure that she can't cheat on me. You said I wouldn't need to consummate the marriage?"
This was said with his eyes boring into his tea cup. He knew it was silly, but they were talking about sex and he'd only kissed a girl. Once. Considering the audience it was a wonder he had any blood left, as most of it seemed to rush to his face. Amazingly, it was Snape who came to his rescue.
"Like the potion that allows two men to conceive and carry a child, there are potions that allow for the conception of a child where one partner is unable or unwilling to participate."
The man's calm and concise manner actually helped. Though the situation couldn't be any worse.
"If you present the potion to your bride on the wedding night the contract will be fulfilled on the issue of providing an heir. I'll make sure that the contract allows for the use of a potion."
The sound of Lucius' quill scratching the parchment was all that broke the silence. Harry kept his gaze on the tea in font of him, not making eye contact with anyone, until Hermione made her presence known. She had, until now, kept herself busy looking over the previous Black marriage contracts. The only sound was the rustling of papers and occasional grunt of distaste.
"Over a century ago, there was a betrothal contract between a Black heir and a woman from a minor, but rich, family. Before the marriage there seemed to be a revelation of some sort, it doesn't specify, but it made the woman 'unfit to be Lady Black'. Because of the contract, the marriage had to take place, but she was then known as 'Mrs' not 'Lady'." Hermione offered the contract and other documents over to Lucius to look over. While he was reading Hermione turned to Harry.
"Since you become Lord Potter on your seventeenth birthday, you will be married as Mr and Mrs Potter. I think we both know how much Ginny would love the title."
Harry nodded and turned to Lucius. Hermione's vindictive streak was slightly less known than her sarcastic streak, but the example of Marietta had given Harry a healthy respect for the temper of his friend. And she was right. Ginny was probably practising signing her name Lady Potter already. In fact, he though snidely, she had probably practised before she had even met him.
When he made eye contact with the blonde he nodded his approval. It was funny to see the anticipation in the man's eyes. Ever since then he had been unfailingly polite to Hermione. Not that he had been rude before, but apparently showing Slytherin traits made up for her heritage.
"About the issue of an heir…"
It was decided that Harry would continue his compliant, but distant, behaviour until the wedding was completed. It wouldn't do for anyone to become suspicious too soon. It was on that pretext, that Harry had once again been summoned by the Headmaster. Accompanied by his head of house he entered the office with a plan in mind. He was the one in charge of his life now. And after the wedding Dumbledore would find out just how much.
The headmaster had conversed at length talking to himself, smiling and twinkling away, while gently being disappointed by Harry's attitude.
"Have I behaved improperly headmaster?"
"Well my boy, for a young man, it is expected for you to spend some quality time with your fiancé."
The implications were clear. Ginevra had complained that he was being distant, and the Headmaster suggested that sex was the answer. Instead of rising to the bait Harry mearly kept himself calm, bar a raised eyebrow.
"We have little in common and I am concentrating on my studies. Since we do not need a closer relationship, as we will be married either way, I do not see any reason to change my habits. As for spending quality time, I do not see that as important at present. Now if that is all, could I please have a copy of the marriage contract so that I may read it before the ceremony? I've had enough experience of being at the mercy of a contract I haven't read, if this is to be for life, then I should be prepared. "
His about turn had obviously come as a surprise to the older wizard, but in a moment the smile and twinkles were back as he handed over the parchment.
The evening before the wedding Harry checked through his personal belongings once more. They would be spending the night at Hogwarts in the guest quarters, allowing for a late breakfast, the wedding occurring during noon and the Wedding feast held mid afternoon. Harry had limited the number of guests as much as he was able, but it was the event of the year. The final battle had been forgotten and anybody who was anybody wanted an invite. As Molly Weasley was in charge, there were many guests Harry had never heard of, and would bet on the fact that Ginevra didn't know them either.
He had insisted on inviting Remus, Hermione the Malfoy's and Tonks'. They would represent his family, and though there were a few tantrums from both mother and daughter at the inclusion of the Malfoy's it had been Harry's right. Aside from making sure that his other friends were all invited, such as Neville and Oliver Wood, Harry had let the guest list be decided without his input.
Mrs Weasley had tried to force him into living at the Burrow on the pretext that he was needed to discuss wedding details. His response of 'Andromeda and Narcissa are handling that' rather stopped her in her tracks. No way was he spending over a month in the company of the Weasleys. Ron in particular had spent the remaining days at school exclaiming how wonderful it was that Harry would be his brother. Harry's protests didn't seem to matter and Harry had rather given up when he heard Ron exclaiming how now he was sure to get a position as the Cannons Keeper, with Harry as a brother-in-law.
Narcissa had assured him that she was finalising all the details and he would not be embarrassed on the day. Most of the changes, Narcissa had confided were done without the Weasley Matriarch's knowledge. Harry couldn't help but like her for that. Nymphodora Tonks had come to live with Harry until the wedding. Partly as a chaperone and partly as a bodyguard. It seemed silly, but he was still underage and so not allowed to do magic. With an Auror in the house, no notice was taken of the address, and Harry had set about renovating the house, doing the heavy lifting while Andromeda and Narcissa became reacquainted over wallpaper and furnishings. The Order's wards were dismantled and the old wards refreshed and added to. Harry being in complete control of access permission for the Floo and the Apparition wards.
Another addition to the household had been the employment of Dobby and Winky, which certainly made the refurbishment go quicker. Dobby had been uneasy at first, being around the Malfoy's, so Harry had assigned him to be his personal elf, helping Winky with the household chores when needed. He made sure that they had orders to obey only him. He was becoming paranoid, but Ginny would have no way to undermine his control of his own house. In order to ensure that, his private quarters were warded against anyone, bar Dobby and Winky. Though to be honest, he didn't know if he could ward against them.
Ginevra's rooms were on the floor below, a spacious bedroom with a desk and other furnishings. An en suite bathroom tastefully decorated. There was no overt show of disfavour, but the rooms definitely were not those typical of the wife of a lord. They were however much better than he was tempted to give her. Narcissa had stepped in and made most of the arrangements, which included the removal of certain portraits to one of the cellar rooms and the transfer of Kreacher to the Malfoy's service.
Those few touches had made the house much more liveable, but if he was to live in this house for the foreseeable future, he was going to make it as comfortable possible for him. He had instructed Andromeda to 'restore the house to be deserving of the name Black Manor', and she had taken up the mantle of restoring her family's ancestral home with as much vigour as Lucius had to restoring his family name.
Harry woke to Dobby placing the tea service next to his bed. The house elf had been completely silent, but the small of coffee was too tempting. And really, the inducement to hide under the duvet and wait out the day was rather alluring. The marriage would go ahead anyway, but he knew that for their plan to work he needed to put up with it for one more day. Better a day spent pretending, than his whole life.
The Wedding breakfast was stilted and quiet. Harry read the morning newspaper and then discussed the prospects of the new Muggleborn Integration bill with Hermione. When Ginevra tried to join in at the prodding of both her mother and Dumbledore, Harry merely listened and then corrected her false assumptions regarding the law. He then returned to talking with Hermione.
His manner had been completely polite, but now it had reached the point where she was nothing more than a stranger to him. That that was what she was, just helped him. The girl he had thought of as his friend would have been rebelling the injustice of it all and helping him find a way out of it. That her true colours had come to light now just made it easier for him to accept their future life together. If he had any warm feelings towards her, it would have made life unhappy as he wouldn't have been able to make her happy.
It seemed as if her brothers were also of the same mind. Well Percy seemed indifferent and Ron oblivious, but the twins were shooting him worried looks which he tried to reassure them by smiling back, and the older brothers had each pulled him aside to express their disapproval of what was occurring.
As the clock struck nine Ginevra was bustled out of the Great Hall by her mother and the others left to get ready themselves. Narcissa and Lucius had arrived early and would be assisting with the organisation. As he left the Great Hall, he saw Narcissa eying the overdone gold and red streamers, the overabundance of flowers and gaudy balloons. Seeing her pull out her wand while directing her husband to do the same, Harry left to contemplate his last few hours as a single man, secure in the knowledge that others were handling it.
Remus had arrived at eleven already dressed and helped Harry with the finishing touches to his Wedding attire. A new set of robes had been ordered in his name by Mrs Weasley, but Madame Malkin wise to people using his name without his approval had fire called to check with him. After discussions with Narcissa, Harry had changed the order to suit his taste.
Instead of traditional robes in Gryffindor red, weighed down by copious gold stitching he had gone for a more modern style. A Slytherin green tunic and black trousers, over which an open robe of sumptuous grey wool was worn. Throughout the outfit was corresponding silver stitching that caught the light and both the Potter and Black emblems on his left breast. Only if you looked very carefully could you see small snakes weaving themselves throughout the fabric. It was a subtle homage. The public meaning was to embrace both his Black and Potter family lineage, the more private joke was the acknowledgement that he was a snake in lions clothing. And the third was of special meaning to himself, though Hermione had probably already guessed. He was honouring the man he loved by so publically wearing Slytherin colours.
At half past eleven Remus guided him into the Great Hall via the teachers' entrance. The Hall had been transformed in the few hours he had been absent. The balloons were all gone, the streamers and banners had been tamed into obedience with a more selective flower arrangement framing the end of the aisle.
When he entered the hall the noise level dipped before rising again. There were shouts and flashes of cameras. Focusing on the ceremony, he sat down with his best man on one side and his best friend on the other. In the row behind him he knew the Malfoy's were silently supporting him. The absence of a certain someone was painful, but not unexpected.
The Ministry's Warlock had signalled the arrival of the bride. Unfamiliar music had started up, and Harry rose and took his place facing the man who would marry him. Dumbledore had tried to preside over the ceremony, but aside from ruining their plans Harry wanted as quick a ceremony as possible. Dumbledore couldn't be concise if his beard was on fire. McGonagall had been the one to veto the idea. As Dumbledore was a named person in the contracts he could not officiate without seeming to be partial. Not wanting anything derail his plans, Dumbledore agreed reluctantly.
When Harry sensed a presence beside him he focused his attention forward. He would not give her the satisfaction.
"We are gathered here today to witness the marriage of Mr. Harrison James Potter to Ms. Ginevra Molly Weasley. To be wed in the presence of their witnesses, and all those in attendance, I ask any who knows an impediment to their marriage speak now of forever hold your peace."
The silence normally filled with amusement was filled with a strained absence of noise. Harry could almost believe that people had stopped breathing.
"Very well. Mr. Potter and Ms Weasley are to be married by Traditional Contract. At this time the contract is to be signed by the couple before we can proceed."
Harry felt Ginevra shifting beside him. The ceremony followed a strict program; however there were variations that could be made. Harry had asked for all flowery words and superfluous phrases to be cut. They were there to get married and that was it.
Taking a step forward he slowly read each word of the contract. He could almost fell the unease radiating off of his soon to be wife. However, though unusual, he had every right to check the contract. And he did, every loophole and clause that Lucius had worked out was before him, but he slowly checked everything anyway. He was being forced into this; he at least owed it to himself to double check what he was signing.
The murmurs were now barely concealed whispers. The rumours about the wedding had been floating around the social circles for the past few months. Helped along the way by certain individuals. They had never been credited much, as this was their Saviour; however some were now beginning to reconsider. In fact, the audience had become so impatient in waiting that they didn't notice at first when Harry had stepped back, having already signed, and offered the quill to Ginevra, looking at her for the first time since breakfast.
The numerous eyes she could feel focused on her right then were unsettling. That quite a few were unfriendly added to her unease. All eyes should be on her, it was herday. But Harry's behaviour had unsettled her more than she liked to admit. She thought it would be so easy, but she hadn't been able to get him to relent. In fact he seemed even more distant. Dumbledore had assured her that Harry was just sulking and would come around before the wedding. She had even tried to seduce him with her feminine wiles in an attempt to get closer to him all to no avail. When Harry had taken his time reading the contract she had been frightened for a moment. Dumbledore and her mother had both assured her that the contract was unbreakable, but for a minute or two she had been worried. Why was he taking so long?
That Harry had barely acknowledged her presence at the altar had made her feel awkward and embarrassed. Her mother had assured her that the tight fitting bodice with such a low neckline was sure to get his attention at the altar. But she still had their wedding night to look forward to, she reminded herself. Her practise amongst the boys in Harry's year had left her confident that she could hold his attention. And once she had the attention of his more base urges, she would be able to manipulate more from her husband.
He was a man after all.
The lace of her bodice was itching, and the corset was pulled tight enough to make breathing difficult. Worth it for the effect, but standing for long periods became uncomfortable. When he finally gave in and signed she couldn't be happier. Taking the quill from him and adding her name quickly, much less neatly than she had imagined the flowing calligraphy she had practised. In such a rush, she signed without thinking about it, she knew what the contract said. Dumbledore had told her exactly what she would now be entitled to. The thought left her so giddy that she didn't recognise that Harry had looked her in the eye for the first time since he had been presented with the betrothal contract.
Quickly scribbling her name for the last time, Ginny Weasley sealed her fate.
The Warlock had retrieved the parchment and after adding his signature tapped it with his wand. The parchment rolled up and sealed itself. The flash assured that a copy had been filed with the Ministry he handed over the original to Harry who quickly passed it on to Hermione. The Warlock cleared his throat to get everyone's attention.
"As witnessed by those closest to you and by magic herself I pronounce you married." He amplified his voice to cover the increase in noise. "Please stand and welcome Mr. And Mrs Potter."
Sometimes, when you anticipate an event so much, it fails to meet your expectations.
This however was not one of those occasions.
Ginny had frozen, her face still in her triumphant smile, and it seemed that only Harry offering his arm as tradition dictated shocked her into moving. The commotion from her mother however was much more expressive. Luckily the cheering congratulations of the crowd covered her exclamations until her husband could quiet her down.
Harry led his wife down the aisle between the seating. They would have a few minutes to refresh themselves, before the meal was served. Harry guided her through the double doors, nodding politely to those who offered their congratulations. Smiling with more than just politeness at those faces he recognised. Ginny had obviously trained herself well. Though the smile was fixed and the nods wooden most wouldn't pick up on her distress.
Finding themselves alone he dropped her arm and found a seat in one of the chairs by the fire. The entrance of the Weasleys was an explosion of noise. Luckily Harry was too focused on the flames to be bothered about the questions hurled at him. He remained that way until Hermione offered him the signed scroll. Taking it, he passed it to Narcissa with the request that she file it in the Black document vault at Gringotts. The appearance of Dumbledore quieted the rabble that was Molly Weasley, but before he could offer meaningless platitudes a house elf had popped in and announced that the Hall was now ready. Standing and accepting a hug from Hermione and a pat on the shoulder from Remus, Harry walked towards the door, pausing only to take up his wife's hand and lead her from the room. That he managed to do so without any interaction with her made it look like he had thrown a coat over his arm before stepping outdoors.
Waiting a few seconds to allow the others to filter through, Harry then proceeded towards the closed doors that swung open at his presence. The Great Hall had been transformed again. Gone were the streamers and flowered archway. Now gold and silver balloons floated serenely. Each enchanted with a small light to provide a soft illumination. Not really needed right then, but Harry thought they would look great when night fell. The flowers had been rearranged to decorate the small circular tables, reminiscent of the Yule Ball, his fifth year.
Pausing to allow their presence to be noticed and for the guests to rise to their feet he halted Ginevra from entering until all the guests had thrown a handful of seeds into the air. An old tradition to symbolise the start of a life together, they were meant to cultivate their marriage like a plant in order for it to grow successfully. When the seeds had all fallen he moved, tugging slightly impatiently at Ginevra's arm to get her moving. Being careful about walking over the seeds, falling would not be a good omen, he acknowledged the nods he received and made his way to the top table, seating first his wife and then himself.
He took the menu from in front of his plate and quickly scanned the options out of habit. He knew what was written there and he knew what he was to order. Putting his menu down he took a sip of the water provided. He was avoiding all alcohol, no matter what tradition stated. Dobby had assured him that his glass would be filled with sprite instead of champagne for the toasts. After a while, he glanced to his left. Ginevra was talking to her mother who was on her other side. They were conversing in hushed whispers, but Harry could guess the topic of conversation. Clearing his throat quietly, though loud enough that the others at the closest table could hear him, he addressed his first words to his wife.
"Ginevra." Not too sharp, but enough to be clear. "Perhaps you should order before continuing your conversation? It would not do to keep our guests waiting."
The flush of confusion added back colour to the pale visage she had presented ever since they were married.
"Um yes, uh okay." Harry watched with cool detachment as she fumbled with the menu. "Um. Chicken." At least she had remembered how to order.
Nodding in acknowledgement he ordered the beef, which allowed their guests to finally choose their meal. There were quite a few whisperings among the more elite members of society. And Ginevra responded by quickly downing her glass of champagne. Much to the amusement of Harry the action generated a further rush of whispers. Nearly completely red now Ginevra turned her face back to her mother and started enquiring about the meaning of the flowers on the table. Harry almost couldn't contain his smile. She was doing all the work for him. At this rate he would hardly have to do a thing!
Their first dance together was unmemorable. Harry made sure to keep his gaze firmly over her shoulder and led with confidence. It seemed that her dress was somewhat restrictive as she was less than graceful though he adapted as much as he was able. Practising with Tonks had given him a lot of practise in that regard.
Afterwards there had been his dances with Hermione, Tonks, Andromeda and Narcissa. Not to mention Angelina, Katie, Alicia and Luna. That he kept missing out on his dance with the mother of the bride was a brilliant piece of manoeuvring by his friends. He must remember to thank them later. His only other experience of dancing being the Yule Ball, Harry actually enjoyed himself. Now that he knew what he was doing, he felt confident in himself. The hype surrounding him was rather ridiculous, but he was a powerful wizard. He defeated Voldemort and had youth, vigour and a future entirely in his own hands.
For the first time in a long while, he was content.
They left the Wedding celebrations as soon as possible. Though Ginny seemed to be enjoying flittering from one group of people to another, soaking up the attention, Harry had reached his limit of patience. That it was expected of him to want to start his wedding night early just allowed him the excuse. He had led Ginevra by the arm once more to the Entrance Hall and threw a handful of Floo powder into the fireplace. Dumbledore had it connected for ease of access, since neither of them could Apparate yet.
Shouting the destination of 'Black Manor' he ignored Ginevra's startled look and drew them both into the fireplace. It was lucky that both fireplaces were large enough for two people to Floo comfortably. That he had practised with Hermione over and over again, between Black Manor and Malfoy Manor helped him stay on his feet. Though it would never be his favourite way to travel, he could at least be somewhat graceful when exiting now, rather than fall flat on his face as he had done in the past. Dropping his wife's arm he stepped forward, it would be best if she knew about the changes.
"I have had the house redecorated as a Wedding present."
He was proud of himself. There was hardly a sneer in his words.
"This is now the Transport room. The only room which people can Floo and Apparate in to. Even so, individuals have to be added otherwise they will find themselves either forcibly pushed back to the starting fireplace or dumped in the garden across the road. The wards have been altered and strengthened but the Fidelius has been broken. The rooms have been changed around some," seeing as Ginevra was just standing there, he thought a prompt would be appropriate.
"If you will follow me…"
Talking to himself would be pointless, and she really did need to know the layout of the rooms for receiving guests.
"On the ground floor there is the formal sitting room which is opposite this room for convenience sake. The dining room is towards the back of the house and I have opened up the Ballroom which will be suitable for entertaining large amounts of guests. The Library has been modified. It now spreads across three floors, and has an internal staircase for ease of access, though the Library Grimore should assist with finding any book you wish. The books are organised into their respective categories, all the Dark books are warded on the second floor."
The reallyDark books were in a warded basement level that only Harry had access to. A Parseltounge password and obscure Parsel spells meant that even the Ministry's curse breakers would be hard pressed to find it.
They had barely looked inside the room before she turned away, but she wouldneed access for school work. Luckily she didn't seem as interested as Hermione, who had practically swooned when she saw the collection. It was one of the reasons why he had the Transport room set up first thing. When she wasn't at home, she could be found curled up in a corner devouring a new book, or plotting with Lucius.
"Where's the kitchen?"
It was a good question. The basement used to be home to the kitchen, and was one of the more familiar rooms in the house. Having spent the majority of her time in the house there, she would undoubtedly notice it's absence.
"Hidden. Along with the elf quarters. Meals are served in the dining room at seven, one and six. If you require something else call for Winky. Now, those are the public areas of the house, though the gardens can be accessed via the dining room. Your bedroom is on the second floor."
As he led the way up the stairs he wondered how long it would take before she noticed that there was no mention of their rooms. As they ascended, Ginevra slowly, as her robes weren't designed for much movement, Harry updated her on the changed layout.
"The second floor has your rooms at one end and then guest rooms for any other female guests. Hermione and Tonks have chosen theirs already. The first floor has guest rooms for couples and any single male guests. Remus has also chosen his already and he'll be staying here permanently."
They had made it to the second floor and he opened the door to her rooms, stepping aside and allowing her to enter first. He stayed in the doorway, not crossing the threshold.
The rooms were tastefully done he had to admit, though they were devoid of much personality. There was a mixture of cream and browns. There was no hint of any Hogwarts affiliation at all, which was just how he wanted it. Hogwarts was a big part of any Wizard's life, but this house was for after Hogwarts and he had made a conscious decision to reflect that in his decoration choices throughout the house. Well, mostly anyways.
The room had a double bed, chest of drawers and wardrobe all made from a rich dark wood, delicately engraved. The furnishings were a soft cream carpet with matching drapes and bed linen in varying degrees of brown. A door led off to the en suite bathroom which consisted of the expected facilities.
After assessing the room for a moment, it was obviously something of a surprise, Ginevra turned and with a smile that was meant to be alluring invited him in.
Hiding his smirk he declined.
"The potion is on your nightstand. Please let me know when it is successful and I will inform Professor McGonagall that you will not be attending next year."
Knowing he had blindsided her he continued. Though he would definitely have to relive her expressions via pensive at a later date. Though considering all those who helped him, he might have to wait his turn.
"This marriage is to produce an heir. As consummation is not a palatableoption for me, I procured a pregnancy potion which would fulfil my end of the contract. If you wish to return to Hogwarts next year you are fully entitled to wait, it is your decision after all, though the potion must be placed in a special vault at Gringots to preserve it until such time as you wish to conceive."
"But the contract said we had to have sex!"
Her age was showing. That was Harry's first thought.
Dressed from head to toe in gauzy white fabric, strapped into a corset to make a caricature of her figure, and a face painted in makeup, Harry saw Ginevra for the sheltered fifteen old she still was. Luckily for Harry it would take much more that a childish pout and stamping of feet to make him relent.
"The contract stated that consummation was required to fulfil the requirement of an heir. A potion is an alternate option to consummation and is a valid option where the contract is concerned. I will leave you to your rest. Please return the potion to me in the morning if you do not wish to become pregnant at this time."
Harry then gave her a half nod, half bow before closing the door behind him and making his way to his bedroom.
Suddenly he was exhausted.
The next morning, Harry was seated at the table in the dining room reading some correspondence from Gringots while lingering over his morning cup of coffee. Why Crouch would ever dream of freeing Winky he didn't know. Her coffee was divine. And even her cooking was better than his mother in law's.
The morning paper was placed to one side. A cursory glance had told him all he needed to know. He knew both Hermione and Lucius would look over it more carefully for any specifics that they should be aware of. He had also finished his muggle newspaper, though how Dobby managed to go buy one, he didn't know.
All he knew was that he had asked for the paper and letters to be waiting for him at breakfast and there they were. One day he had gone for a walk and brought a muggle newspaper just to have a look. The next day there was that morning's issue sitting under the Prophet. Dobby's only response was that a house elf should anticipate his Master's needs and wants and left Harry feeling warm inside. If there was nothing else, he knew Dobby and Winky would care for him.
Hearing the Grandfather clock chime eight, he stood and made his way to his office. It wasn't one of the rooms he had shown Ginevra the night before, the connecting rooms were also hidden until he needed them.
Though, apparently they would not be needed for a while.
Ginevra had finally made her appearance, and in her hand was the potion bottle, still filled and sealed. Harry took the proffered potion carefully and slipped it into his pocket. Ignoring the fact that it looked like she hadn't slept at all, he informed her he would be in his office if he was needed and then passed by her, leaving her to breakfast alone.
His office was the one room where neither Andromeda nor Narcissa had had any say. In fact, it had been Lucius who had advised Harry not only what he would need, but also what would be proper. Harry kept his ancestors journals and family history in this room, and they filled the bookcase behind his desk. Said desk was situated in the middle of the room, a large but surprisingly comfortable chair gave him a good view of the entire space. Two smaller chairs were positioned in front of the desk for visitors. A seating area around the fire offered a more relaxed reading area, and it was also positioned for easy access to the drinks cabinet.
Placing the potion carefully on the desk he threw a few charms at it to make sure it had not been tampered with, then called Dobby to take it to his account manager. Strikeaxe would know what to do with it. None of his mail was urgent, so he placed them in the In box to deal with later. Instead, he took his ancestors journal out and continued to read. His own was safely warded in one of the secret desk drawers. Augustus Potter, one of the earlier Potter lords, was about to propose a bill in the Wizengamot, though he faced strong opposition.
Winky was a good elf.
It was a hard thing to admit, after everything had happened, but she knew she had served Master Crouch as best as she was able. The memory of the fear she felt was still frightening. But then she had found Dobby, and they had found work at Hogwarts, and Dobby was a good and kind elf who always tried to make her feel better, and though grateful, Winky wanted a family.
Dobby had told her of the Great Harry Potter, and when the Great Harry Potter had called for Dobby to go work for him, Winky had been pleased for Dobby. Though the distance would be great, she knew it would make Dobby happy.
Dobby however had done the unthinkable and asked the Great Harry Potter to take both of them! Winky was sure the Great Harry Potter would refuse but he didn't and now, the Great Harry Potter was now Master.
Master had been forced to marry a Wheezy.
And Master was not happy about it.
And Dobby and Winky were not happy either.
The large house meant for lots of work, and Master was good enough not to try and clean up after himself. Wizards just didn't do it right. Though Master was happy to leave them to the running of the house, he did always remind them to rest.
She knew it was because Wizards need rest when they were in her position, but Winky was energised and happy to do work. She had feared Master would remove all of her work when he found out, but all he did was smile and ask her to take care of herself. Winky was sure Master had his priorities wrong, but it was Master's choice.
At that moment she was waiting for Ms Wheezy to finish.
Master had said that they worked for him, and though she was his wife, she was not Mistress. That they were to treat her properly, but no more than any other guest.
Like Ms Hermy.
That confused Winky cause Ms Hermy didn't like elves working for her, but some Wizard's were just odd that way. It just meant that Winky had to extra sneaky to make sure she wasn't noticed.
Ms Wheezy was late for breakfast, but Winky made sure the food was still hot. While Ms Wheezy was eating Winky had done her room. Now Winky was watching as Ms Wheezy was ignoring her breakfast and instead scribbling a letter. Finally finished, Ms Wheezy stood and made her way out of the room.
Winky made to clean up, but was drawn away by Ms Wheezy calling her name.
Ginny hadn't slept, she had hoped when she came downstairs this morning Harry would tell her it was all a joke, or at least beg her to take the potion. She knew how much he wanted a family of his own. Instead he had just taken the potion and walked away.
It wasn't meant to be this way!
She had scribbled a note to her mother informing her of what had happened and asked for her to come over and tell her how to make it all right. But now she was stuck. She didn't know where the owlery was. Or if there even was one. Deciding to call the elf Harry mentioned, she was still surprised at the pop of elf apparition.
"You called Winky?"
The elf looked much better than she had seen her last. An errant thought was what Hermione would say, but then Ginny scolded herself. This was her house and it was her decision to have elves.
"Is there an owlery?"
"No Ms Wheezy, but Winky can send the letter for you."
No owlery, but the elf wanted to send her letter. Ginny held tight to the parchment and instead asked to be taken to Harry. The elf nodded and proceeded down the corridor until she was in front of an ornate double door. Popping quietly away Ginny was left with entering the room alone. She didn't want to deal with Harry again before she had talked to her mother. However who knows what orders the elf had been given. Her private mail was for her mother's eyes only. If Harry saw the letter, it would just make things worse.
Ginny found herself staring at the wooden doors in front of her, eyes wandering over the intricate carvings. She shook herself. Why was she so hesitant? This was her husband. It wasn't like she had done anything wrong.
Harry had been surprised when Winky popped in next to his desk. She tended to keep to herself, and the wards hadn't informed him of any visitors.
"Ms Wheezy is being asked to see you. She be outside."
With that she dropped a small curtsy and popped back to finish tidying up breakfast.
Harry marked his place in the journal and wondered how long it would take for Ginevra to knock. It was a minute or so before he heard it. A small tap. Long enough of a wait that he had gone back to reading. Calling for her to enter, he glanced up at his wife, before placing the journal down.
"I need to send a letter."
Harry waited for additional information. When none was forthcoming he decided it was pointless being difficult.
"Hedwig is currently out. The elves handle all my other mail. Just give it to one of them and they'll handle it."
With that said he returned to his journal. Nobody would be able to call Augustus Potter a quitter.
Her statement almost startled him. He had thought she had left already.
"The elves won't read it. They take it to Gringots. The Goblins owl service is both fast and safe, any mail goes through them to be sure there is no hexes or other spells, and is picked up by Dobby. All owls are redirected. Well aside from Hedwig, but she is still on light duties."
That during the battle a Death Eater had decided to take a shot at her had been his last mistake. Harry ideally wondered if they had ever found his head. Shrugging it off as unimportant, Harry called Dobby.
"Please convey Ginevra's letter to the mail box. Thank you."
Dobby had snapped his fingers and disappeared with the letter, and Harry went back to the journal. Well he tried to.
"Is there something else?"
It was obvious that there were quite a few things she wanted to say. A Weasley's temper showed so easily on their faces. But she managed to shake her head and leave without another word.
The first day of being married was spent rather like the previous few weeks. Harry spent time in his library, ate lunch at his desk and then studied his school work in the afternoon. In fact the only difference was the absence of Hermione, Tonks and Remus as they had all decided that they would give the couple privacy for a week or so to settle in.
Remus normally kept to himself during the day, busy with his writing. After the final battle Harry had offered him a room, and the man had almost reasoned his way out of it. Harry however, used his secret weapon. He told the man that he neededhim. It was the truth, but Harry would normally be rather hesitant to say so.
After installing Remus in one of the larger rooms on the first floor, he had sent the man into the clutches of Narcissa and Andromeda.
Narcissa had redone his room to his liking making sure to add all the luxuries he had done so long without, while Andromeda had taken the man shopping for new things. That Tonks' wolf whistle when she next saw him stopped any refusals about accepting charity wasn't something Harry felt he could comment on. It was their business, and what happened, happened. Tonks had gone back to being a full time Auror for the most part, but was always a Floo call away. She spent her time going back and forth between her room at Black Manor and her own home.
Harry had also found a well warded cottage that Remus could use during the full moon. It was very basic, with only cold running water, but there was a roof, a fire place and space to run around in if that was what he wanted. Andromeda had even ventured there and furnished the floor with a soft rug and numerous bean bags. It was fun to see how much she mothered him, and with the Wolfsbane brewed by Snape, the difference could be seen.
Remus spent his days writing text books. As a teacher he was great, but his books were amazing. Harry just regretted he hadn't had access to the books during his years at Hogwarts. The Defence books were completed, and now Remus was working on Charms and Transfiguration. It was less about being really good at the subject, and more about conveying the material in a way young people could comprehend, though no one could call Remus stupid. Harry was sure that the books would sell well. Even with the public's distrust of Werewolves.
The second day of their marriage had not been as quiet. They had the pleasure of a rather jarring visit from Mrs Weasley.
Harry had guessed the letter Ginny was so eager to send off was to her mother. That the letter would cause Mrs Weasley to try and breach the wards was not a eventuality he had predicted. Shaking his head to get the ringing alarms out of his head he had called Dobby to fetch his wife so she could attend to her mother.
Harry however, remained in his office. He doubted Mrs Weasley was there to see him, and he didn't want to risk being berated for bouncing his mother in law forcibly off the wards and into the public gardens in the front of the house. Though he tried to concentrate on his book the strident tones of Mrs Weasley reached him even through the thick walls. Smirking at the fact that Ginevra had taken her mother to the formal sitting room, he cast an eavesdropping spell and bound it to a dictation quill. After that, he threw up a silencing ward and went back to memorising the five stages of obfuscation.
Once the quill had stopped moving later that day, and once he was sure that Mrs Weasley had left the house, he glanced over the parchment. He would look over it in more detail later, but he wanted a clue in case Ginevra tried something that night. There was all the obvious topics. Not being Lady Potter was one of the chief ones, only outdone by the discovery of a Gringots key on her bedside table. The potion was barely mentioned. Ginevra was sure that because he could not find relief elsewhere he would come to her eventually. Shivering at the thought he filed the parchment after marking it for Hermione's notice.
The rest of the summer progressed uneventfully. After Ginevra asked, her mother was placed on the access list for both Floo and Apparition. That she was limited from venturing to certain areas of the house was not discussed, though Harry was sure it would not take too long before she began snooping.
Well tried to anyway.
Meal times were silent, when she attended them. Normally Harry was finished and in his office before she made it downstairs. It made for a peaceful if slightly strained atmosphere. The return of Remus had livened things up a bit, and the weekly tea dates with Andromeda and Narcissa were nice. The pair seemed to be making up for lost time and he hardly saw one without the other. Hermione was also a frequent guest, though Harry thought that had more to do with the library than himself.
Another guest was Neville. Harry had had the elves clear the garden from years of neglect, but he needed help from his friend to finalise the plan. Neville came round two or three times a week when the weather was good. Mostly they worked in silence, though Neville was always conscientious about informing Harry why a certain plant need to be placed in a particular spot, or needed certain care regime. Winky joined them, and was quickly picking up what her duties would involve when Harry was away at Hogwarts. He knew Neville was surprised at his newfound interest in Herbology, but aside from a few calculating looks, he hadn't said anything.
Neville was a good friend that way.
When their Hogwarts letters had arrived, Harry was pleasantly surprised to find he had scored all Outstandings on his exams, even Potions. Ginevra's OWL results were quickly hid away, and Harry didn't ask. Planning on doing his school shopping that day and hope to avoid the crowds he took Ginevra's list as well. She had a lunch date at the Burrow. He would have to have Remus buy a nice bottle of Whiskey as a thanks for the brilliant timing.
Harry, accompanied by Tonks and Hermione, quickly went through the shops. It was much easier having everything sent by post. Not only did it mean they had less to carry but also the Goblins would make sure their parcels were spell free. Harry made sure that all of Ginevra's school supplies were covered. He didn't want to accidently give her reason to complain. Her birthday present had already caused him grief.
It was traditional for all Potter lords, to have a journal. Many of their wives had done the same. Tied to the family it was a way to secure the family history and educate the following generations. Luckily for him, otherwise he wouldn't know half of what he did regarding his history if it wasn't for the journals. Though not yet Lord Potter, Harry had documented his story so far. It was rather special. And who knew, one of his descendents might need to know about Acromantulas or Cerberus', Basilisks or Dementors.
He had specifically chosen a journal with a gold felt cover, as far away as the black leather volume that had belonged to T. M. Riddle as possible. Her reaction on seeing it was not what he expected. The celebration was held at the Burrow, and it was the first time since Harry had entered the dwelling since the summer before forth year. Ginny was itching to throw it, whether at his head or in the fire he couldn't decide. Her thanks was barely given before it was pushed to the side. For a gift with so much potential meaning it had seemed she had just taken offence. It didn't bother Harry, in fact it help his cause, but he did wonder what it was she didexpect.
The title of Lady Potter probably.
His birthday at the end of July had been a quiet affair. Even though it was his seventeenth he wanted something small. Remus had given him a watch that his father had worn on his wedding day. A traditional gift, even so it meant more to him than just the acceptance of being an adult.
Hermione had given him a voucher for a driving lesson, only to tell him she expected him to actually take the test and not just cast confundusevery time he committed a traffic violation. He promised, and was actually looking forward to learning how to drive. He had to give it to Hermione, she actually gave him a fun present, one that he would actually use, but also one that followed tradition and showed her acknowledgement of Harry becoming an adult.
The Tonks and Malfoy family had sent some lovely new robes, with a note that he would need them once he graduated. The good thing about marrying before he graduated? All the parties and such waited until after he finished his schooling.
And Ginny? What did his wife get him? An birthday card with a promise of 'later'.
Her present was her bedroom bedecked in candles and reeking of incense. Her statement 'you must be frustrated, how about I suck you off or something' clarified matters and the look she gave him had given him nightmares.
He of course declined, though he was amused as to the reason behind it all.
Ginevra had opened her school supplies with relish, though complained when she didn't have everything she needed. Certain 'essentials' were missing. Harry knew she had everything as he had double checked her list, and had even had Madame Malkin send new robes, just in case. He reminded her that her vault was to cover personal expenses. The mention of her vault had lit up her eyes in excitement, and the next thing he knew she was Flooing the Burrow for a shopping trip.
When she had come home, it was to the bustle of trying, and failing to carry an assortment of many different packages through the Floo. Annoyed at having his security precautions so violated, he called Dobby to take all of them up to her room. The elf was dedicated enough that he would find anything out of the ordinary.
Dobby quickly reported back, and Harry wasn't surprised to find there were several spying and tracking charms. After making sure Dobby had cleared them, Harry asked what the items were. He was curious as to what other purchases she needed to make.
For future reference of course.
It seemed that the 'essentials' that she had needed included a broomstick, jewellery and robes. The subscription to Teen Witch Weekly aside, Harry was sure that most of the things Ginevra bought was because she could. The cost of the broomstick alone would have wiped out the initial deposit.
It was no wonder why Harry was so intrigued as to what she had brought for his birthday. The intrigue stopped rather suddenly.
It was the smile he thought.
Maybe if he was liked females that way, the smile would be alluring, Harry however just thought she looked constipated.
It is tradition that all students take the Hogwarts express.
What isn't so well known that of age students can travel to the castle anyhow they want, at anytime they want, as long as they arrive in time for the feast. Hermione had to take the train, being the Head Girl and all, it was kind of necessary, Draco as a prefect however, hadn't been amused.
Ginevra had Flooed to a friend's house earlier in the day, and would make her way to the Express from there. The distance between the two was rather gigantic at the moment. Ginevra couldn't stop blushing when Harry was in the room, and Harry kept having badthoughts whenever he saw her. Bad thoughts, like a constipated smile provoking thoughts.
Harry however had arranged to meet Neville at ten outside the Hogwarts gates. As both had passed their Apparition tests in the summer they decided to make the most of the day. Neville wished to transplant a hybrid mandrake that he had cultivated himself into the school's greenhouses. Harry wanted to get settled in to his new quarters.
Remus, after everyone had left, had given him another birthday present. It was a slim volume with all the rules and regulations that could be exploited at Hogwarts. For example curfew didn't apply to over seventeen years old. They were adults and as such deemed old enough not to need a bedtime. The volume had been the pinnacle of seven years work by the Marauders, and only came in second in usefulness to the Map.
Remus had rewritten it in book form combining sources from their prank journal, scattered notes and what he could remember. It had been a lot of work, but it was now current and semi updating. The twins of course had been falling all over themselves at the sight of the book. Remus had soon been hustled into a consulting position at their shop. Harry thought it was nice to see the man smile so much.
The fact that they didn't have to travel on the express was one of those rules. That as a married man over the age of seventeen he was allowed his own room was another one. After finding out, Harry had written to McGonagall and had requested a separate room for himself, also informing her about his plans to miss the Express. In her reply McGonagall had threatened Remus with bodily harm if the book ever became public, and then acknowledged Harry's travel plans. There were a few questions about his new rooms, but a quick reply had seen to that.
Harry parted with Neville on the grounds. Seeing his friend head to the greenhouses Harry made his way to Gryffindor tower to settle in before having lunch with Professor McGonagall.
It was an odd fact, but prefects were a rather new tradition. The students before that were so few that they were expected to comport themselves as expected. As this was in the age of apprentices with a less structured magical education, it worked rather well.
This all changed with the advent of fertility potions that produced a magical child. As expected the population grew. As the first year intake became more numerous, and the Wizarding World became more structured, Hogwarts started to become rather unorganised in comparison. Eventually order was restored, by a muggleborn Deputy Head, though thatfact was rather buried in history.
The invention of prefects was even later in coming. To elevate one student over another was something of a revolutionary idea. That the elevated student could be of lesser status than their peers was something that the Pureblood Traditionalists fought against for generations.
It had amused Harry when Hermione first told him about the history of prefects last year. A century or two, and now the Pureblood students often fought each other for the chance. It was a said fact that the population was in decline. And the economy was not thriving. To be honest, WWW was rather the exception to the rule, and he wondered how long shops like Madame Malkin's would stay open, if there wasn't an expected influx of customers for school robes every year. So students, even those of pure blood tried their hardest to stand out.
It was really useless information except for the fact that the position of prefect used to guarantee a separate room. As the prefects positions were extended to both the fifth and sixth years, the houses housed in the towers didn't have enough rooms. The separate rooms were abolished and everyone remained in their year dorms, though there were rumours about the Slytherins. It did however mean that there were closed off rooms that could be used if needed.
And those were the rooms Harry had asked to be his.
Located slightly off of the boy's staircase, it was nevertheless, private. Harry had already sent Dobby ahead to check the rooms for any additionalspells, and to then ward it with his house elf magic. Harry was planning on adding his own wards, but after seeing Dobby throw Lucius head over heels his second year, he had had a great respect for the strength of Elvin magic. That and most Wizards considered such magic beneath their notice.
Harry wasn't taking any chances, he was again under Dumbledore's supervision, and he didn't trust the old wizard. He had to be on his guard at all times and Harry rather missed Black Manor at that moment.
Lunch was both enjoyable, and, not.
Hogwarts would always be his first home, though Black Manor was starting to grow on him. Seeing Professor McGonagall again and talking to Neville had been pleasant, but it was rather ruined by his remembrance of the last time he had been in the Great Hall. The other diners just made the memories all the more vivid.
Their arrival at the Great Hall for lunch startled many, but Professor McGonagall's greeting calmed a few jittery nerves. Harry liked that he saw his Professors acting normal for a change. That they were regular people was something he intellectually knew, but seeing it made him grasp the concept a little easier.
"Making exceptions for your Gryffindor's again?"
"No Professor Snape."
Harry ignored Neville's reaction to hearing thatvoice and turned to face his Potions Professor. He saw that the man had finally acquired a tan sometime over the summer.
"As I'm sure you know, now I'm seventeen it is not compulsory to travel on the Express."
And of course he couldn't help but butt in.
"I'm not a fan of certain traditions, Headmaster."
With that Harry turned back to his head of house and continued their conversation.
His seventh year couldn't go fast enough.
The influx of students entering the Hall was rather like a people explosion. Harry had seen some of the teachers fortifying themselves with alcoholic additives to their beverage of choice and Harry realised why.
During the summer, Hogwarts was a calm oasis of tranquillity. Even seeing the teachers on their last day of holiday, frenetically getting things ready had an odd charm about it. The influx of noisy adolescents, baying and shouting was a huge shock to the system.
With longer legs and extensive knowledge of the shortcuts, Harry and Neville were the first to arrive in the common room after the feast. Knowing that Gryffindor tradition stated that they stay up all night they both headed to their rooms in order to miss out.
The feast had been uncomfortable. So many people staring at him and made him rather hex happy. Hermione's restraining arm stopped him from reactive casting when a first year dropped a platter. He hadn't realised it at the time, but he had rather secluded himself during the summer. His friends were always welcome but they had their own lives to lead, and Harry had found himself alone most of the time. The self sufficient lifestyle was one that he was used to at the Dursleys, and without their unreasonable demands he actually found himself being rather productive.
It didn't on the other hand help him when it came to large crowds of curious teenagers. All of whom believed that they had the right to his personal details and his person. More than one person had tried to shake his hand without his consent. The practise after the final battle was paying dividends, but he didn't have to like it. He rather thought that he would be spending the majority of his time in his room or the library, Ms Pince surely wouldn't allow any disruption in her domain.
Deciding to shower in the morning Harry set the wards on his door and got ready for bed. Opening the journal of Augustus' son, Harry read for a while until he became tired enough to sleep. Setting the alarm his last thought was that Dobby's silencing charms were brilliant; he couldn't hear the obligatory racket coming from the common room.
Showered and dressed by seven Harry found that his summer routine fit in nicely with Hogwarts life. Heading to the common room he found Hermione already nose deep in additional reading. Joining her they waited until Neville joined them a few minutes later before heading down. It was always a good idea to be early on the first day back. Not only to receive the term's schedule but to fortify themselves with a big breakfast.
Harry looked at his schedule.
It seemed that with the death of Voldemort, the DADA curse had been broken as Professor Snape was still teaching Defence. Rather liking it that way, he sipped at the coffee Dobby had materialised at his place setting and studied the piece of parchment. With fewer classes there were less frequent, but longer free periods. Hoping that they would be timed appropriately for completing assignments, he joined Hermione and Neville on their trek back to the Gryffindor dorms. Seven staircases later and Harry was reminded of another reason why it was a good idea to start early on the first day.
Quickly gathering their books, the three headed down to their first class of the day, delayed only by Neville making sure his roommates were actually getting up this time.
Sitting in the same classroom as last year was a novel experience. The classroom had undergone many incarnations as it reflected the personality of those who taught in it. Even so, Harry could detect some changes from the previous year. The decorations still showed the affect of some rather gruesome spells, but as all of them were covered in the NEWTs, it seemed as if they were there for educational purposes now, rather than just to terrify the students.
"It's not fair Headmaster. You promised."
"It's not the Headmaster's fault Ginny. It's obvious Harry had someone helping him."
They were in the Headmaster's office. It was the first day of term and Ginny had practically demanded entry. Dumbledore had Floo called Molly Weasley to act as a buffer.
"My dear girl, I promised that you would be married to Mr Potter, and that is the case. The marriage contract that you signed was wonderfully written."
"But can he do that. Just change the contract completely?"
"But he didn't. The contract I wrote was still a part of the contract you signed. It's just there were clauses added, that due to the nature of your situation made them invalid."
"I don't understand. How is that possible Dumbledore?"
Dumbledore sighed. He had a very good idea who had drafted the contract. The twisted clauses, sub clauses and exceptions meant that even he didn't fully understand what it said. Not that he would ever admit to that.
"Think of it like this. The original contract that I wrote, gave you full access to all Potter property, including money, while making sure that in the event of an infraction on the Husband's side, the Wife would be granted everything."
"And you would be the advisor, so he couldn't do anything silly like give it all away."
That was the part that hurt the most. He could have advanced his plans a great deal with all that money, the Wizarding World needed to change, and he knew he was the one to do it. Not that he had told the Weasleys that of course.
"However a clause was added, that basically said that those original parts would only be enacted if both partners were over the age of twenty one when the marriage contract was signed. Since the marriage went ahead, well, where the law is concerned, those parts of the contract basically don't exist anymore. He didn't omit the original contract, just wrote successive clauses that made it invalid. It is all perfectly legal."
"But we didn't agree to any changes! These extra clauses and what not!"
Molly Weasley was almost at Howler level right now. Though at least Ginny was married. They could work with that, it wasn't a total disaster. Ginny didn't need the title of 'Lady', and she could probably use it anyway, no one would notice she was sure.
"But you agreed to the original contract. Traditionally, changes may be made all the way up to the beginning of the ceremony. The participants have the right to read over the contract before the signing. I think we all remember that Mr Potter did just so during the ceremony."
They were all silent at that point, remembering.
It was some of the longest minutes they had individually experienced. Even Dumbledore was nervous at the time the boy had taken. He already knew what it said, for Merlin's sake. Now, Dumbledore realised that Harry did indeed know what the contract said; it was Dumbledore himself that was ignorant.
"So what werethe other changes?"
The two adults looked at the youngest person in the room.
"Well it's obvious that the original contract is invalid. What do the valid parts say?"
There was silence again. He didn't want to say it but neither of the women in front of him would accept some meaningless platitude.
"I'm afraid I haven't the foggiest."
"You mean I'm stuck, living with a contract and I don't even know what it says?"
Ginny was on her feet by this time. Hair flying and cheeks reddening, she rather looked like she might explode. The other two were wise enough not to comment on how hypocritical that statement might have sounded. Spinning on her heel she stormed to the door.
"Fix this!" She shouted as she stormed out of the room.
"Mr Potter, stay behind."
There wasn't even a sneer. It was all rather disconcerting. Harry waited as the last students left the classroom, Hermione however was hovering at the door, busy organising her bag. He had to love his best friend. Always looking out for him.
"You are continuing with NEWT potions."
There was something in the man's voice, but even Harry who had thought he knew every nuance, couldn't decipher this new tone. He settled for nodding.
"I believe these will be of use, though I will know if you plagiarise. That is all."
And with that, the Professor returned to his office in the same manner he had exited. Smooth stride and billowing robes.
Harry carefully placed the books into his book bag. He needed to look closer to be sure, but he was rather certain Snape had just given him his potions text book from seventh year. Hoping he was correct, the thought gave him a bounce in his step as he made his way to Charms, contemplating the joy he felt anticipating learning from the Half Blood Prince again.
"My friends keep asking why I don't have a separate room. Harry has one as he's married. So why can't I have one."
Dumbledore forced his smile to stay, though it became rather fixed. Honestly, the girl's whining was grating on his ears. He reconsidered inviting her mother to join them, but then he would have to listen to her as well, his ears had already taken a beating today.
"Lord Potter," Dumbledore shook his head, the title was meant to go to him, as steward of course, "is a married man and a Lord, he is entitled to a separate room by Hogwarts charter. As the marriage is not intimate, you have no reason to share the room. As for a room of your own, you are neither of age nor the head of a house."
"So next year then, when I've turned seventeen I can have my own room?"
It was obviously important to the girl, unfortunately he had managed to get a copy of the marriage contract from the Ministry archives. He almost winced at how many favours thathad cost him. Trying to direct he attention elsewhere, though he knew it wasn't feasible, not with Minerva with the bit between her teeth.
"We shall see. Now I was able to go through the contract that you signed and I'm happy to say that the terms are rather more agreeable than I thought they might be."
That had definitely got her attention.
"As we expected, Lord Potter retains all control over the family finances, properties and heirlooms. So no, unless he gifts it to you, you cannot wear the Potter rings."
That caused a noticeable slump in her posture.
"You do however have a Gringots vault in your name, and that is entirely your own. Even if the marriage is dissolved, you keep all the funds it has accumulated."
Yes that was definitely good news. Now for some more bad news.
"The requirement of an heir is still valid. You must produce one, if you have not by the time you turn twenty, the marriage will be dissolved. If you commit adultery before fulfilling the heir requirement, the marriage will be dissolved. If you commit a crime, the marriage will be dissolved."
Well there went love potions Ginny thought, or finding a lover on the side. At least until she popped out a sprog.
Dumbledore further explained how the magical nature of the contract would automatically dissolve the marriage if compulsion potions were used. Lucius Malfoy had been very thorough in weaving the contract.
In fact, in any other circumstances Dumbledore would admire it as an exquisite piece of Law, except in this case he was the one being blocked by any manoeuvring.
"What about him. The adultery thing. Can he go astray?"
"The adultery clauses are pertinent to both of you."
"Good. It'll probably take some time, as stubborn as he is, but he'll get drunk or frustrated at some point in the next two years."
Dumbledore pretended he didn't hear that. Minerva had conveyed the boy's preferences and he wasn't sure that getting drunk or frustrated would be enough. Unless she was hoping he would fall into bed with someone else, and cause the marriage to be dissolved. As the wronged party she probably would expect to receive the better settlement. Well they would come to that if and when it happened. No need to brutalise his ears anymore today.
It wasn't a total loss. Harry's popularity had risen with the marriage and Dumbledore's too by association. It would mean more time and persuasion in the Wizengamot, and he wouldn't get all the proposals through, but some of them would be successful.
This was a set back.
Christmas came and went.
NEWTs were aptly named and Harry was glad he had studied over the summer. Even Hermione was feeling the strain but that could be because she had taken so many classes. Harry was right about spending so much time in the library. Thankfully all of his year mates were in the same situation. Harry was hyper aware of the conversations about him this year. He didn't want to have to deal with the stares, and by being in the library nobody bothered him, or rather nobody wanted to risk bothering Hermione. Because he was still visible, it meant that no one could accuse him of hiding, and as such, none of the rumours about him were bad. Merely curious. Though most of his peers were too busy to spend much time focusing on him.
Well except Ron, who somehow thought he could get through his final year without entering the library at all. Hermione had glared and lectured, but finally gave up, when Harry pointed out how much time she was losing from her studying. That revelation had left her gapping for a moment before she quickly settled down. Nowadays, she reminded him of deadlines every now and then, but left him to it. Predictably there had been a drop in his grade average, but Ron didn't care. He had his eyes set on being the Cannon's new Keeper. Never mind they had that new American transfer, or that he was pretty good. For the first time since Ron had been a fan, the Cannons were doing great. Well, they weren't bottom anymore, and Ron was convinced he would get a starting spot.
The holidays were slightly awkward. The Malfoy's had invited Lord and Mrs Potter to stay with them for their Yule celebrations. Harry was pleased, especially when he heard that Remus had also been invited as Tonks' plus one. He accepted, but Ginevra had other ideas. She flatly refused to spend the holidays with the Malfoy's of all people. And if they weren't spending it at Grimmauld Place. Well, she was going to the Burrow and that was that.
Harry had mearly arched an eyebrow, he had been doing that a lot of late, he was actually getting good at it, and told her to send her excuses. That was one of the few instances of interaction between them. It was becoming quite clear to most people that the marriage between them wasn't what the papers had reported, or what Ginny had boasted of.
The Christmas party was rather nice. On Christmas day, there was only family, but the day after, Narcissa showed off her hostess skills to great success. Even Harry who didn't like these things was impressed, and the people invited were rather polite. Lucius' mention that they were the right sort, gave Harry flashback to his second meeting with Draco.
Whether right or wrong, the upper echelons of society did seem a lot less interested in him, or at least they were better at not showing it. He spent most of his time talking to Madam Marchbanks, and she had some delightful tales of what students did during their exams, normally due to stress. He particularly liked her because the stories were always light-hearted and never mentioned specific students by name. Harry could appreciate someone like that. At the end of the evening she had wished him well for his exams and told him the best thing to do is relax.
Easier said than done.
Though without Quidditch he was having an easier time of it. Ron had been rather irate when he discovered that Harry wasn't continuing on as Seeker, but he didn't really care that much anymore. His NEWTs were much more important, plus a little bird had told him that Madame Hooch was gushing about a muggleborn second year in Gryffindor. Second only in talent to Harry Potter at the same age. Harry had taken the student aside and offered some advice and one to one training before the tryouts.
As part of the rehabilitation of the Malfoy name, Lucius had donated new brooms for all the Hogwart's Quidditch teams. A Firebolt for the seekers, Cleansweep for keepers and Nimbus' for the chasers. Other Alumni had donated money so Madame Hooch was now in the unheard of position of being able to teach the introductory Flying classes on brand new learner brooms.
Knowing that Ginevra had brought a new Nimbus to ensure she was on the team, it was great timing by Lucius to negate that advantage. Harry had been sure to slip a mention or three in his letters to the man. That it was done in so Slytherin a way, a generous charitable donation that just so happened to boost his reputation while achieving others ends is what a Slytherin did best.
Lucius really was enjoying himself.
So Gryffindor had a new Seeker and Ginevra was left with a broom she had no need for and had spent the majority of her vault's contents on.
That was also one of the reasons for one of their infrequent interactions.
Ginevra had pulled him aside between classes and in a furiously hushed voice asked him why her vault hadn't been topped up.
"There's a Hogsmeade weekend and I need money!"
"You can't have spent it all already."
Harry, unlike Ginevra hadn't tried to whisper. His normal speaking voice was quiet enough for a conversation between spouses.
"I made sure there was a generous first deposit with monthly donations. What have you spent it all on?"
That by the end of the day, it was known that Ginevra had flown through her vault contents already and had been flinging Harry's money around like it was going out of fashion, well, it wasn't his fault. Truly, he hadn't said a thing. Though the intently listening students may have heard more than Ginevra would have liked.
He did however notice that some of the new friend's his wife had made were no longer on speaking terms with her. Rumour had it Ginevra had promised to take them all robe shopping. It was rather a stark reminder that if he hadn't had had help; his family fortune wouldn't have lasted very long.
Harry let out a sigh of relief and flopped back on his bed. He didn't want to see another exam again. Everything ached. His head, his hand and his eyes.
Now that they were finished, he had a few days to think about making plans for after the summer. He was sure he had another year before Ginevra took the potion, certain her stubborn nature wouldn't relent and he hadn't made things toobad for her at Hogwarts this year. Just embarrassment and being ostracized from certain people, though most of it wasn't actually orchestrated by him.
Well the Quidditch thing was, but since Gryffindor won the Quidditch cup he wasn't going to feel bad about it. Even his peers agreed. Clancy was one fine seeker.
And he knew she was looking forward to next year.
Harry found it rather sad when he found her boasting to some first years she had cornered. How she was going to be Head Girl, have her room, and finally be Lady Potter. Apparently she had decided that she just had to turn seventeen first. Well that was one birthday gift he was willing to give her, he already had ordered the monogrammed stationary. He was sure she would be surprised. Probably not pleasantly, but that was her problem.
It was a part of Pureblood Traditions to gift such stationary, and Harry wasn't going to be negligent in his duties.
Harry groaned when he reminded himself of duties. Narcissa had promised a full social diary for the summer. Luckily lessons in etiquette had been planned after a rather frantic Hermione told him she didn't know the five different types of curtsy. There were apparently some things even Hermione could not learn from a book. Harry who didn't even know that Witches curtsied had reluctantly put his name forward as well. The reply had come back rather amused. It was already thought of. The first week of the holidays was for families to spend time together after being separated. In that week Narcissa planned for a lifetimes worth of programming to be inputted into his brain.
Just the thought of more studying made his head throb.
His plans for after the summer made him smile. Harry was attending L'université de magie in the South of France, accompanied by Draco, Neville and Hermione. Neville and Draco had always been expected to go there by their families, and though unusual, Hermione's grades meant that no school would turn her down. After being rather confused for a while, as all three had confirmed apprenticeships, Draco had explained further.
"It's a tradition. To spend a year doing something else."
Neville expanded, "Most travel or go to a University for a year of introductory courses."
"To get away for a bit, be independent, go wild, and then return to being sensible and responsible. Apprenticeships, work, being a Lord of Leisure."
At that Hermione gave him a shoulder nudge. She had teased him of his future position, and it was true. He did have to manage family affairs, but that really only took up a few hours a week. His family wasn't large, the Goblins did a much better job with his money than he ever could, and he wasn't involved with the Wizengamot yet.
Though Lucius haddropped a few hints in his last few letters.
Groaning again, Harry got ready for bed. All that could wait until summer was actually there. It wasn't as if worrying about it would help any. The exhaustion from the exams did do one thing. Harry was asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow. Dobby didn't even have to try and be quiet as he tidied up.
Ginevra seemed rather miffed when she asked Harry to side Apparate her home. Probably wanted the distinction of being different and a reason to avoid being stuck in a compartment for several hours. His reply that he would Apparate her once they got to Kings Cross rather annoyed her. It was the last time however that he would get to ride the Express and he found it fitting in a way.
To end it as he had begun.
It wasn't completely the same however.
There was no Ron in the compartment for one thing, Harry thought he was too afraid to show his face. Rumour had it that he was so busy with the new Quidditch magazine that he finally got his hands on, after it had made the rounds of Gryffindor tower, he stayed awake all night to read it, and so when morning came he was sound asleep. His roommates tried to wake him, but he waved them off. As they had their own problems to worry about they left him to it. They didn't think he would actually sleepthrough the exam.
Suffice it to say McGonagall was not pleased, and Ron had been avoiding Hermione ever since.
Harry, Hermione and Neville had been joined by Luna, who for some reason completely ignored the notice me not charm Hermione had placed on the compartment. Luna's response of 'I didn't notice it' had Hermione puzzling out the different objections to that statement, before accepting that that was Luna and no sane person should be able to understand her.
The talk amongst them varied but focused on L'université de magie, and the courses they wanted to take. Luna was interested in the zoology course, however still had a year to consider it. Neville, Harry and Draco would all be taking the Politics course, whether they wanted to or not. Reluctantly Harry agreed with Hermione that taking an etiquette class with her would be a good idea. Hermione was focused on Healing, Draco on Potions, and Neville on Herbology.
Harry however had chosen a broader course. Aside from the Politics and Etiquette, his courses included a Defence class, as he knew he would like it, Estate Management, as he knew he would need it, and surprisingly History, as the syllabus had looked interesting.
Harry marvelled at the intricacies of etiquette
He really did.
Despite her heritage Hermione was showing her natural aptitude extended to manners. Out of the three of them, Tonks had been roped in by her mother on the excuse that if she was Harry's bodyguard she should know, Hermione was the one doing the best.
Tonks having grown up with stories, knew the theory at least. However the execution was a little to be desired. The house elves almost expected it now, but the first time she upset a tray or broke a cup, they were nearly in tears.
Harry however was very much an ideal gentleman, when he could remember what to do. Five different ways to curtsy? That was easy. There were bows, half bows, and bow nods. Each different bow was not only specific for the occasion, but also the person. And if there was more than one person you were greeting as a group?
Well, let's not go there.
Lucius assured him that a few years of practise and it would be as natural as flying, somehow Harry doubted that. But since he could now cause a blood feud worthy offence by bowing to one person with too much deference, and one too little, it seemed prudent. Unfortunately that also meant he had to know the person by name, so he knew which bow to use.
The standard basis of returning what they offered you, or more, didn't work for Harry. His Boy Who Conquered status messed up all of the convoluted rules Narcissa, and Lucius, were trying to teach him.
He did wonder how Ginevra would handle the social functions. When he told her she was welcome to join them, he rather thought she would jump at the chance to spend qualitytime together, it was something she tried to nag him about every week. The mention of the Malfoy's were enough to put her off.
Though she insisted, that as a pureblood, she didn't need instruction.
That may be, but he didn't think eating with your mouth closed, the limit of what Molly Weasley had instructed her children in, though failed with Ron, would be enough. Though, as she was the only girl, maybe she was brought up differently.
Ron had certainly complained so often enough.
Like he said, he marvelled at it.
That society could function with all the bowing and curtsying and the sending of subtle messages that probably only a few understood. But Harry now knew enough to get by, though knowing he would probably have to send any children to their aunt Narcissa.
When he told her that, she was for some reason, rather misty eyed.
He didn't know why.
It is tradition to celebrate the anniversary of a wedding. It is also tradition to celebrate the wedding itself with a large society party. As they didn't do so last year it was the most anticipated event of the social calendar, and as Harry hated the thought of celebrating alone with his wife, he had combined the two events.
It was announced and planned long before Ginevra had even thought about it. That a few days before the event she had broken the silence with 'we'll need to throw about a party' rather told Harry enough of what sort of gathering his wife had thought appropriate. A buffet with finger food wouldn't cut it and he told her so. Remus and Tonks, who had taken the other end of the table for privacy, quickly left and Harry didn't blame them, Ginevra's ranting rivalled her mother's Howlers.
"And you think you could do better?"
Harry rose. He wasn't hungry anymore.
"Which is why Lady Malfoy has been planning the entire thing for a month. Your robe fitting is two days before the event at eleven. They will come here. Now, if you'll excuse me."
Harry left the table and retreated to his office. His temper was uneven today and he didn't feel up to dealing with his wife.
The evening of the party came upon them rather suddenly.
Though he had reminded Ginevra again about the robe fitting, she had been absent. So it was left to Narcissa to pick out the design and colours. The fit Ginevra threw once she found out was the largest he had experienced yet. She was immediately on the Floo to change the order.
Madam Malkin was unavailable, but the assistant trying to placate the obviously irate Mrs Potter had offered to come through for a fitting the next morning, something which Ginevra scoffed at. Malkin's had her measurements on file, with that Ginevra had walked out of the Transport room without disconnecting the connection.
Harry had Flooed to the shop after Winky had told him what happened. He found an obviously upset assistant trying to compose herself while assisting a concerned Madame Longbottom.
Pushing his luck he asked to borrow the lady for a few minutes. Madame Longbottom showed her breeding by politely excusing herself for a moment while Harry drew the now shaking assistant to the side.
"I apologise for the behaviour of my wife Ms…?"
"Brown, my Lord."
Seeing the resemblance he inquired about a possible relationship with Lavender.
"I always liked Lavender. Ginevra was wrong to treat you so, and I will be having words with her. I will make sure Madame Malkin knows none of it was your fault."
"Thank you my Lord, this job…"
Lavender came from a family, that while not as poor as the Weasleys, were not rich. Respectable, but not considered pureblood. The loss of her job, from the displeasure of Mrs Potter no less, would have left the woman destitute.
No one would hire her.
"I know. Will there be any problems with the new order?"
"No Lord Potter. They will easily be delivered in two days time."
"Thank you for your assistance Ms Brown."
Knowing that they had gathered a crowd, he made sure to make his bow deferential enough to show how pleased he was. As Madame Malkin came over to escort him to the Floo he made sure to loudly comment to how agreeable the assistance he had received was. The tittering behind him, and the lovely blush on Ms Brown's face was worth the effort.
Now he had to have a talk with his wife.
Needless to say he firmly made his point to his wife. She was not to treat anyonethat way again. No matter what, she was a representative of the Potter family and they would not be seen to be offensive or proud.
Ginevra was most repentant trying in turns to excuse her behaviour and apologise. He idly wondered whether it was because she had displeased him, or more likely, that she had embarrassed herself.
Harry was waiting in the Transport room. He was rather tempted to go on ahead, but whenever he thought about it Hermione had given him that 'look' she had patented over the past seven years.
Hermione was resplendent in her white robes. Trimmed with lace, and with her hair falling in ringlets she looked every inch the pureblood. Tonks' had gone with ivory trimmed with grey. Harry noticed that it matched the shade of Remus's grey robes and hid his surprise. He was probably going to get a visit sooner than he thought.
Ginny finally arrived, just as he was about to order Winky to forcibly pop her downstairs.
Harry couldn't help but stare. Ginevra obviously took that as approval, smiled and quickly barged past him to Floo first. Holding in the burst of laughter he held his hand up to make the others pause mid turn.
"Wait for it… wait for it."
Hermione smothered an unladylike snort and Tonks had to re tame her hair which had spontaneously turned Weasley orange, Remus, poor man was rather confused. Tonks patted his arm and with a promise of enlightenment they had Apparated out. Harry offered his arm to Hermione who with a 'Oh Harry' and a small smile had taken it.
Making sure he had a charming smile on his face he Apparated them to the Malfoy Manor's entrance hall.
It was humiliating!
Coming through the Floo covered in soot, and waiting for the arrival of her party to clean her off she was bewildered with the idle thought that even though she was married she had to wait for her birthday before she could use magic. It was preposterous!
And where werethey?
Ginny straightened up as she saw eyes were on her and the whispers had started. Well it was her party after all, of course they were talking about her.
She was the guest of honour.
Narcissa Black Malfoy had to draw on all her training, as a Slytherin and a woman of society to hold back her laughter. Gesturing to her husband, who was in the same state, to draw the newly arrived guests away, she approached the latest arrival.
Narcissa offered a small curtsy to the newest member of society, and struggled to remain pleasant when she received only a small haughty nod in return. Arranging her blood red robes around her in irritation she decided she would have to start the conversation.
"I see you chose to wear a different dress for this evening."
It was only them talking quietly, but she could feel the eavesdropping charms literally buzzing past her. She knew from experience the guests would be talking in groups and lookingoblivious to the conversation.
"Please allow me."
It wouldn't do much, but removing the soot from the white silk would be something, Narcissa waved her wand and the dress was newly fresh and pressed, the long red hair smoothed down.
The light sound of popping announced the rest of the party. Her niece and Mr Lupin were first, but correctly took a step back once they had orientated themselves. Lord Potter arrived a moment later, escorting Ms Granger. Handing his friend off to Remus, Harry took a few steps forward, the other three following behind him.
"Ginevra! There you are!"
He took hold of her elbow and drew her back a step or two.
"Lady Malfoy, you do us great honour."
He followed up the traditional statement with a slow and deep bow, pulling Ginevra into a awkward curtsy. Behind them the other three did the same, somewhat uncomfortably on Remus' part, but correctly nevertheless.
Even though he technically outranked her husband, Lord Potter had offered her the deference her position as Lady of the Manor entitled her to. The great friendship she knew was developing between her husband and the man in front of her made her return the acknowledgment with one of her own before quickly walking forward and giving him her hand.
"Lord Potter it is our pleasure to have you and your guests here tonight."
She should have greeted the bride separately, but since she had already done so it was not technically necessary. She gave another small bob curtsy to welcome the rest of the party, turning when she saw a flash of red hidden by black approaching, she formally introduced her husband, who was followed by some of the other guests who had also moved forward.
Besides Narcissa thought, everything she had just done and said had sent the correct message.
The dress had been enough, but the snub had been icing on the cake.
The first part of the evening was taken up by formal introductions and small five minute conversations before moving on. Luckily the guests had helpfully grouped themselves and spaced out in the ballroom. Harry had the hosts delicately manoeuvring them from one group to another, and when he wasn't sure of himself he had Lucius to take his measure from. The blond Lord had subtle tells, well they were subtle to Harry, to everyone else probably a flashing neon sign, but they did telegraph the different ranks and positions, as well as the favour they individually held with the host.
Ginevra's performance was getting better, she had finally drawn on her heritage to give a tolerable show, though he saw how she curtsied more deeply to those she liked. The mere bobs she offered to some known to have had Death Eaters as family members was rather scandalous, and Harry could see the group of Matriarchs sitting of to one side, mentally ticking off boxes.
Narcissa had introduced them as individuals. But unlike the happenstance nature of the other groups, this group was well known to him. They were made up of some of the most powerful women in the Wizarding World. Men may have the corner on politics and business, but these women held the power of society. And since most of politics and business was based on society these women as a group could make or break and individual, even a family.
Harry understood that hispart of the plan had been successful but it would take the good humour of these women to allow it to go any further. Even Narcissa could do so much.
"Mesdames, it is an honour."
Harry offered a deep bow, allowing his eyes to drop to the floor. Remus, following his lead had also bowed low.
Hermione and Tonks however had been briefed well by Narcissa. Their curtseys were deep and respectful but they kept their heads up and maintained eye contact.
Ginny however did not. As she did not know their importance, she was impatient to be introduced to the Minister. A quick bob with her eyes off to the next group, sealed her fate as much as signing the contract had.
"Perhaps the young ladies' would like to sit for a while. I'm sure there are many people who still need to be introduced to Lord and Mrs Potter."
Madame Longbottom was looking at Harry as she said this, though she was addressing Narcissa.
Offering her own nod of acknowledgement Lady Malfoy drew the couple away, all the while trying to ignore the look of anger Ginevra had shot at the Longbottom matriarch at the mention of her non title.
Harry was almost bubbling inside when they were introduced to the Minister. Not because of the man. Fudge was barely hanging on to his position and his behaviour was a mixture of sycophantic pandering and over confidence. It was Ginevra's behaviour, almost gushing over the man, revealing a stark contrast to her previous behaviour, that made him so happy.
And he could have sworn Madame Longbottom had given him a sympathetic look of understanding. He was sure she knew exactly what he was doing, and why. She wasn't stupid, and neither was her Grandson he reminded himself.
The rest of the night had gone well. Hermione had later informed him that the Matriarchs were interested in her plans to study Healing, asked probing questions as to Tonks' opinions of the Auror department and were even polite to Remus, commending his revival of the text books, even going so far to ask his approval for them to recommend it to their acquaintances.
Needless to say, Hermione had become a new star on the Debutant parade, Tonks her choice made, was approved of much less explicitly but no less enthusiastically. It was Remus however who had had the best outcome. He had now been accepted. Period. No doubt his books would be sold out by tomorrow.
Harry had also had a good night. According to the run down provided by both Narcissa and Lucius the next day, his behaviour had been impeccable and had scored many points with the more traditional members of society who were hesitant in the face of rumours that Harry had tried to get out of the betrothal contract.
Ginevra however, well, it might just take years for her to patch up the damage she had caused to her image. Inappropriate dress, behaviour and manners, true she was not yet seventeen but she was a pureblood. The half blood Tonks and muggleborn Hermione had been brilliant in contrast. Charming and correct, modest but confident, their heritage hardly mattered anymore.
Harry's eighteenth had involved a quiet family dinner and another attempt by his wife to entice him to the marital bed. Ginevra's seventeenth however, was apparently to eclipse all other seventeenth's.
Ginevra was looking forward to her birthday. It was rather obvious, with her dropping hints enough to sink the Titanic. The birthday celebration would be held at Black Manor this year. It was her right to use the home to entertain her guests, and Harry had no objections. Though it would only be a small family party.
Ginevra was not yet ready to venture out into society again, and definitely not willing to let them into her home.
Even Harry, who was rather more obtuse than most when it came to the society pages, had picked up on some of the allusions being made. And Ginevra, much more aware about such things, knew she had done something wrong, but was sure it was just some misunderstanding.
Harry was rather surprised that Skeeter hadn't made an appearance yet. In fact that was a thought… though he would have to run it by Lucius first.
His gift for his wife on her coming of age was a traditional stationary set. Expensively treated paper, but not dripping in gold like the one's he had seen Ginevra gazing at in the brochure. That it had her name monogrammed in the paper was a nice, and again traditional, touch.
Mrs Ginevra Molly Weasley Potter.
He was sure her expression was not to be missed. He would soon have a shelf full of pensive memories to entertain him.
Another pensive memory moment was the arrival of the school owls.
Ginevra's reaction was studied nonchalance, Harry's was indifference.
As long as he graduated, he was fine with whatever grades he got. Hermione may need the grades to get into university, but Harry's name alone granted him entry. His money would have been enough as well. That he hadn't got a visit from the Headmaster or Professor McGonagall rather told him all he needed to know. Though the straight outstandings wouldplease Hermione.
Finishing his breakfast he reached out to take Ginevra's school list. He was still obligated to pay for her things. Her hiding of both the list and letter was entertaining.
"I'm going in to Diagon Alley today. I need your list."
"I want to do my own shopping."
Petulant, but with a hint of something else.
"Fine, get receipts and I'll reimburse your account."
With that Harry decided his wife limit had reached critical mass for that day. As he left the room he had one last thing to say.
"School supplies only."
He tried to be a bigger person, he really did, but the look of disappointment she tried to hide was too much. Did she really think he was that easy to swindle? She would have to try much harder than that.
Harry left for France on the thirty first of July with little fanfare. As adults they had no need for a traditionalmethod of transport. Harry just Apparated to the reception area of the University. Well, he was showing off by doing it in one trip, but only he knew that. He took pleasure in exercising his magic on occasion.
Hedwig wouldn't make the trip with him. In fact she would be staying in England for the time being, Winky was sure to take good care of her. He didn't needher as such, Dobby handled most of his mail and Harry had been worried that she would be upset once she had healed enough to fly long journeys again.
But it seemed as if during her recovery, she had met a very nice male owl and decided it was high time to settle down. Harry had designed the attic as a place for her to rest with large windows to fly in and out of easily, perches and nest boxes galore. One day, Dobby told him that another owl had moved in and Harry had quickly checked to make sure Hedwig was okay. She didn't like sharing with other owls at the best of times, but with her being injured… well, he worried about her.
He needn't have, of course.
He should have known that inured or not, Hedwig could take care of herself. And it seemed as if she had found a good life mate. The number of animal bones showed that the male owl (he didn't have a name yet) was taking good care of his girl. The clutch of eggs she was guarding showed Harry how content she was.
And Hedwig wasn't the only one.
A few months before the end of term Dobby had popped in during the night with less than his usual grace, mumbling and incoherent, almost bouncing off the walls with tension. Harry had ordered him to take him back to Grimmauld Place, sure something was the matter.
Dobby was now a father.
New mother Winky had gently scolded the hyper elf. There had been no need to fetch Master, she was fine, little Mira was fine.
Dobby, on the other hand, looked like he could use a shot of something strong.
It seemed as if life went on, no matter what. And now getting ready for bed, the first night of his magical gap year, Harry wondered.
What if there was no contract?
What if he hadn't of pushed so hard for the trials?
What if he hadn't tried to be so independent so soon?
Looking out the open window he took in the new scenery. The light was beginning to fade, but Harry could still see the bustling town below. One thing for sure.
France was not England.
It wasn't the country, not really. It was the knowledge that He wasn't there. The sights and sounds so different and new were all the same to him.
He'd kept himself going for the past year, all stubbornness and bravery. And it had been hard. But He was there. Not near, but around. They could never be close, never alone. And knowing it was important they hardly ever wrote.
And if they did it was business. And only business.
He did however, take much too much pleasure in luxuriating in the sight of his written word. The silky ink flowing across the page, the words echoing around his head, the whisper of a scent.
The contact they had was limited at best, and yet Harry had taken comfort in knowing he was close.
Now they were in two separate countries, and yet the distance between them was even greater.
Mrs Ginevra Molly Potter nee Weasley.
He really had tried not to hate her. Hate took so much energy. He strove for indifference. Mild contempt. And yet at times like these he hated her with every fibre of his being. It wasn't allher fault, but she was the symbol.
Harry lay on his new bed, in his new room, in his new school. The tears dripped continuously down from his eyes.
If only he knew when it would end. Ifit ever would. He was eighteen and felt eighty. Life shouldn't be this hard. His friends were worried he could tell, but Harry knew the only one who could make it better was Him.
It's meant to be the most magical number. As the seventh child Ginny Weasley was special. In a World where three children were surprising, seven was thought impossible. In any other family it would have been seen as a bounty. As it was the Weasley's, well she had heard the mutterings.
Why didn't they stop at three? If they could hardly pay for those children, why have more?
Her mother always said she was lucky number seven. Lucky because she was a girl, because the production of a pureblood female who might share her mother's fertile gifts was a prize. One that many Pureblood families would pay to get their hands on. But Ginny didn't just want money. Though of course it was a must. As the little girl in the family she was rather used to being doted upon, and she didn't want to change that by being married to a man who would at best ignore her.
No. Ginny Weasley knew what she wanted. And that was Harry Potter. A half blood sure, but one from a long line of Purebloods, and not too closely related to be commented upon.
He was rich, powerful and famous. Rather a brilliant combination she thought. And as she grew up she realised that with his shy nature he needed someone to take charge.
She imagined herself throwing lavish parties, encouraging him in his political aspirations, making lots of Very Important Friends, and snubbing all those who had ever been mean to her. The Malfoy's would be no match to the Potter's, she would make sure of that.
Harry had defeated Voldemort, just as she had planned, but then he had changed. Not in a way most people noticed, but then not many people had years of experience watching Harry Potter. They all watched him, even Malfoy, but they didn't really see. In fact Ginny thought she probably knew Harry better than anyone. Except Hermione. And that was what hurt. A Muggleborn. Now, Ginny had no problems with Muggleborns, she was a Weasley after all, but it seemed that things would be a lot different if Hermione was out of the way. No matter what Dumbledore said, Harry wouldn't have thought to ask for help if she wasn't around. She was the one he always went to for answers.
If Hermione wasn't there, maybe Harry would have come to her instead. She would have acted understanding about his reluctance to marry so young. Happy, but considerate. She of course had been brought up to expect such things. Perhaps they would take it slow, or as in her favourite fantasy, he would seek solace in her arms, starting a whirl wind romance where he fell deeply in love with her, granting her her every desire. And of course she would educate him in the ways a proper Lord would behave. The clothes would have to be the first to go, the glasses a close second. Her man would have to look the part.
They would wait to have children of course. Ginny would be busy on a fast track Quidditch career. The Holyhead Harpies were her first choice, for her first couple of years, before graduating to the National team. After that she would gracefully retire to have a child or two. Though two was her maximum. An heir and a spare. Anymore than that would not be worth the damage to her figure.
Ginny amused herself with the snapshots she could see gracing the Daily Prophet's front page. Ginny next to the League trophy with a proud Harry congratulating her, comments on how she was a much better seeker than he ever was. Their first born child, Ginny aglow with maternal satisfaction, and slim figure, Harry gazing between his son and her adoringly. The bump of the train jolted her out of her musings.
The seventh child was starting her seventh year.
Ginny looked around at the empty compartment. No one, not even Luna had come to say hello. The summer's success was measured in how often she didn'tget mentioned in the society pages, referenced on the WWN or suffered the criticising looks from the old matriarchs'. For her clothes, her manners, her decision to wait for a child.
In all honesty she could have probably danced the tango naked on the dinning table at Malfoy Manor and nobody would have said anything if she was pregnant at the time. It was the child thing she was sure. Those old Dowagers, they never had a life to themselves and were jealous that Ginny had the strength to stand up for herself, that was all.
The niggling thought that she was more alone than ever, and that the tango was a couple's dance was pushed away. Along with the fact that her robes didn't fit and she couldn't afford to buy new ones, her hair and skin was a mess and washing more frequently just made it worse, and her mother was mad at her for behaving so uncouth during the summer. It wasn't her behaviourthat had her mother mad, it was the fact that Ginny still hadn't bedded her husband, or even made inroads in that department.
Ginny allowed the comforting rocking of the train to lull her back into her favourite fantasy.
Winky was a bad elf.
Well. Winky was a good elf, dedicated to her Master. A Master who always made sure Winky had time with Mira. He even read to her little girl at bedtime. Mira was becoming rather insistent that she see her Master everyday.
And Winky loved her Master. He was patient and kind and didn't even scold when Mira had turned his whole office into fuzzy purple stuff. In fact he had smiled and laughed and told Winky to leave it. He wanted to show the Wheezy twins first, and Mr Remus had smiled, and Ms Nymmie had changed her hair to match.
Winky loved her Master and his family.
Winky did not like Ms Wheezy.
Ms Wheezy made life bad for everyone. Made messes to keep Winky busy because she could, came down late to meals to try and make everyone wait, made Master unhappy out of spite.
And so Winky was a good elf who did bad things. She added an extra helping of butter to the cakes Ms Wheezy liked, and extra oil to Ms Wheezy's bath products, she was slow to pass on mail and other messages, and she expanded Ms Wheezy robes to hide the weight she was gaining. And this morning she added a Elvin glamour to the compartment of the train.
She tried to do what she could to make Ms Wheezy pay for making Master sad.
Winky was a bad elf, but Winky was okay with that.
It was good to be a Malfoy.
The fact that he had nearly died, that his family had been enslaved to a mad man, ending in the very real chance of all of them being sentenced to Azkaban was just a bigger contrast as to what his life was now. His wife was now back socialising with society, and his son had graduated well and earned a Potions Apprenticeship (that it was under his Godfather fooled no one, Draco had earned his place, Severus was the last person to convey favour when it came to potions).
And Lucius Malfoy himself was in the position he had always dreamed of.
When the Dark Lord rose the first time he had been burning to change the world, but his youth and name worked against him. Voldemort sensed that Lucius Malfoy was frustrated and offered him a way to make those changes, for the good of the Wizarding World. Lucius Malfoy, even then, wasn't naive but the chance to actually make changes was too potent a lure. And he had changed things, most of the new proposals had to be changed slightly to further his Lord's plan but change was happening.
The Wizarding World, for sometime had grown stagnant. Resting on their own past accomplishments, they had in different ways endangered their society. Bringing Muggleborns into the magical world was necessary, they needed to be trained and they were needed for fresh blood, even Lucius could admit to that. He just subscribed to the notion that if a muggleborn married a muggleborn they would have a child that could sire a first generation pureblood. Truth be told, if a Muggleborn was raised in the Wizarding World, and could pass for a pureblood Lucius didn't care all that much.
It grated on Lucius how the Weasleys whom he hated, actually demonstrated what he wanted the rest of their world to emulate. Seven children, all of whom were above normal in power levels, and whose eldest had already made names for themselves. A curse breaker, dragon tamer and ministry official. All of those were skilled jobs that required numerous talents of both magic and mind.
The twins, a blessing not often seen, were business men and with a small start up capitol had in a couple of years overtaken Zonko's as the leading joke provider. That they also produced other products, such as the hex resistant clothing that the Ministry were salivating over and were now branching out onto other areas meant a big shake up in the economy. Just one shop had revitalised Diagon Alley.
It used to be a shop was established and if somewhat successful stayed there. This meant that they tended to have a monopoly on the market and so they could charge whatever they wanted. Competition had shocked those companies and Lucius himself had invested in the Goblins start-up fund, which offered small business loans for a percentage of the shares.
But it wasn't enough.
Dumbledore had had his grubby mitts all over the legislation bodies for too long. And had done a marvellous job of restricting old practises and changing their world to more accommodate the Muggleborns. That anyone who voted against it was ladled the same as a Death Eater had ensured his success. The excessive restriction on magical creatures, spell crafters and potion masters had made it almost impossible for them to work.
Severus always grouched that the Wolfsbane would have had a public improvement by now if he didn't have to jump through so many hoops. It almost made it impossible to provide the new Wolfsbane to the wider public. At the moment only Lupin was receiving it, as Severus brewed it especially for him. Every year Lucius offered his friend an interest free loan to start up his own business, and every year he was turned down. Dumbledore was keeping him at Hogwarts, even now Severus couldn't leave, and that was one of the motivations behind his year long plan.
Percy Weasley was a great administrator, as such he had been put in charge of a number of different functions. One of these was a court clerk. The court clerk in fact, who arranged Wizengamot meetings and proposals. Lucius had to hate the Weasleys in general, but he couldn't help like the young man. A brief mention of Harry Potter and Percy was all too happy to accommodate Lucius' suggestions.
Percy wasn't doing anything wrong and he could do something to hurt the man who had involved his family in scandal. He knew that sooner or later Ginny would do something stupid and selfish, she always had got her own way before, and it would drag their family name down with her. Dumbledore was the one who started it, and so Dumbledore was the one who would pay.
With a little help, Lucius had arranged for the schedule to inconvenience Dumbledore the most. It was because of his school responsibilities that the sessions now occurred on weekends, and if they ran over, well they would have to wait until the next weekend. More than a few people on the Wizengamot were displeased with this. It took forever to get anything done.
The first of September 1998 was a Tuesday. On Wednesday, the first Wizengamot session started at nine in the morning until four in the afternoon, with a one hour break for lunch. This would continue for the rest of the week, and the week following that. Dumbledore as the Chief Warlock conducted the sessions, but he had to obey the law and traditions just like everyone else. That Lucius had just returned the schedule to the way it was before Dumbledore messed it up was just another bonus.
Another gain was Madame Longbottom's approval. He knew Harry and her grandson were close, but didn't realise that it would have thatbig an influence. Harry Potter's name could be used with great effect on some people. Augusta Longbottom was not one of those people. He had to wonder why she was going out of her way to support him. Because her support generally meant that she brought along her faction, and with that, Dumbledore had to scrape up those who were on the fringes of each group to build a counter group.
In the past, Lucius had been portrayed as Voldemort's right hand man, and in a way it was true. Unfortunately that association had meant that if he backed a proposal, no matter how Muggleborn friendly, it inevitably was stopped by Dumbledore's faction. That Madame Longbottom used to follow Dumbledore's lead meant that Lucius had trouble getting anything accepted. True he could make it difficult for others, but he wasn't truly able to change anything.
Now Dumbledore's support had waned Lucius was ready to strike. The first objective was actually a reduction in the restrictions placed on Werewolves. He was planning to highlight the fact that attacks had risen since the newest proposals had been put in place down the member's throats. It was rather simple. If Werewolves couldn't work, they didn't have income, which meant they couldn't buy the potion or keep a secure place to transform. It was rather simple and Lucius was sure any lingering supporters of Dumbledore's Order would also vote for it. Lupin was a big name amongst those people, and with his books becoming such a success, even more people had been exposed to a placid, intelligent man who happened to also be a Werewolf. That Lupin was also a friend of Harry Potter, well, let's just say he didn't expect much opposition.
A week into her last, first term at Hogwarts and Ginny Potter was pondering on the relative merits of writing to Harry and begging him to let her take the potion, or to remain at school and continue to endure. Her seventh year was meant to be the best year of all. She was to be seeker, Head Girl and a married woman with her own room.
None of that had happened.
Even being married didn't elevate her popularity. Before the wedding, people were literality falling over themselves with congratulations, and Ginny was sure she would be the most popular girl in school. For the first time, shewould be the trend setter, what she said followed by the masses, every girl jealous of her looks, figure and status.
None of that had happened.
She was hardly noticed, with Harry gone, the fact that she was his wife seemed to be forgotten. Yes her surname was now Potter but Professor McGonagall had started addressing her as Ms Potter and the other teachers picked up on it. Snape was particularly sarcastic when he addressed her, but he hated Harry, and probably did it in an effort to hurt Harry through her, but the others all followed the Deputy Head's lead. They were polite but distant.
And Professor McGonagall was now Deputy only in name, Ginny had seen the Headmaster only once this year, and that was at the Welcoming feast. He was apparently too busy fending off Lucius Malfoy in the Wizengamot to spend much time on his Headmaster duties, and people were taking bets on how soon McGonagall would be named Headmistress. Ginny only hoped that it would be after graduation. McGonagall's displeasure at the forced betrothal contract wasn't exactly hidden, and it seemed to have spread to the other professors. None of them were anything but professional, but the students soon picked up on it. Ginny was persona non grata at Hogwarts now, thus her debating on the merits of using the potion.
She didn't have to mention the potion, she could just say she was unaware she was pregnant at the start of the year. The prospect of a baby, an heir to the Potter family, and the distinction of being a mother would easily make up for whatever malicious rumours were being spread about her not knowing how to conduct herself over the summer. Pregnancy would also be an excuse for her expanding waist line, and the state of her skin and hair. Having to shower twice a day just to avoid looking like the greasy bat had not endeared her to her roommates, and neither did it help much anyway.
It was just the thought of begging.
She didn't see Harry accepting that she had changed her mind just like that, and she didn't want to have to admit she was so unhappy at Hogwarts that she would give in, and Ginny was now at the stage where she was ready to give in. She had held out hope, but after over a year being married she could accept that Harry would never be attracted to her. She had tried everything. Subtle hints, plying him with alcohol, she had even ordering a mixture of aphrodisiacs for dinner one night. It didn't seem to have any effect on Harry, though the sudden silencing charms springing up around the first floor meant that at least someone would benefit.
In fact one of her fantasies was now Harry found in bed with another man. The gap year was a known time for young wizards, and witches, to let lose and be free. She rather hoped Harry would give in to his base urges and bed someone. Harry was far to well known for it to be kept secret and the marriage would be dissolved, with Ginny getting a nice settlement so that she could live the rest of her life in luxury. Unless of course she found a man who actually likedwomen. But Ginny had had enough of being married for now.
And it wasn't that big of a leap, the rumours of Harry loving someone were cute. From what Ron had told her, though he didn't know much, Harry had a crush on a Slytherin, and there was no 'relationship' to speak of. No silly crush lasts a year, and Harry was sure to slip soon.
And even if he didn't, there was still the potion.
Mrs Weasley was bustling around her kitchen doing busy work. The house was as clean as she could make it and all the chores were done. It would have been an empty house aside from Ronald. She knew he wasn't as bright as her oldest three, or as gifted in magic as the twins but she did expect more from him than Acceptables in DADA and Charms.
Knowing from Percy that it was a guaranteed A at NEWTs if you could cast the patronus rather made his Defence score a little less gratifying. She knew for a fact that Harry had taught all of his friends that spell in their fifth year. Her son blamed it on Hermione not speaking to him. That Hermione had spent the past six years helping Ron to pass his classes, to then just abandon him during their NEWT year was very irresponsible of her. Molly had planned to tell her so, but she hadn't seen the girl since the wedding. She did find it excessive that both Harry and Hermione had stopped speaking to her youngest son, though it was rather expected, she knew they both were good at holding a grudge. What she hadn't expected was that Ron's year mates also didn't speak to him much.
No matter how hard she tried to tell people otherwise it had still become apparent that Harry was compelled into the marriage. Now Molly Weasley knew that if it had been theirdaughter that had won The Boy Who Conquered, they would have nothing bad to say. She was sure it was just jealousy. No matter what the current rumours were now circulating she was sure that they would all change their collective tune when Ginny stated having babies. Everyone loved children and as a Weasley, Ginny was sure to have a son or two, perhaps even a daughter once she had successfully birthed an heir. If there was one thing Weasleys were known for it was their fertility. Her daughter would have no trouble, and Harry no matter his present attitude, was sure to change his behaviour when he became a father.
It was nearing the end of the year and Harry was both dreading and anticipating returning to England. He had been back for the holidays, and for a couple of appearances in the Wizengamot, but now he was going back to the rest of his life. This year had been an escape of sorts, a reprieve from the life he had to endure.
He had learned a lot about himself in this year. With no meddling Headmasters or insane plots, he had actually found joy in his studies much to the delight of Hermione. Though unlike the last year, where he had focused on his studies to the exclusion of everything else, Harry had been drawn into socialising. The reporters were few and far between, and really only appeared during the big social occasions.
In different ways, the fighting had been tough on all of them, and the socialising helped. Now they were away from Hogwarts and it's divisive house system he had even become friends with Draco. Though Harry had been friends with his parents the previous year his relationship with Draco had been stilted and remote. A few social gatherings where both they and Neville were being fawned over by gold diggers had brought them together. Hermione had even struck up a good relationship with the blonde debating the merits of potions versus spells in healing. In fact, they quite often spent their time together. All four of them had their specialities and Defence, Healing, Potions, and Herbology all overlapped at some point so they quite often helped each other.
Harry had found a new interest in History. Now he wasn't subjected to Binns tedious droning on about Goblin Wars he found it an interesting subject. Politics and Etiquette were not his favourite, but the knowledge that he would need them meant he applied himself diligently. Defence was a good way to let off steam and he was glad to see he still had a knack for the subject. He also discovered it was a lot more enjoyable now he knew he didn't have a dark lord trying to kill him.
Once a week Harry had written to his wife. He updated her on his studies and his comings and goings, his thoughts on the new Muggleborn bill or the proposals about the restrictions on Werewolves being changed. Inquired into her life at school, how she was doing. That the language was stiff and distant was something he had made sure came across. He wouldn't go months without contacting his wife, but neither did he want to give her the wrong impression. The letters were a duty to common expectations rather than any wish to actually get closer to her. Perhaps that was why Ginevra rarely answered.
For the first time in his life, Harry felt the joy of returning home. The quarters at university were palatial compared with those at Hogwarts, they were nothing though, to the comfort of being home. He had returned a few days before the Hogwarts graduation ceremony. It was a duty for him to attend, and he would, but he wanted to settle in first. He had gained high grades in all of his subjects and had even decided to take a correspondence course in History. He would have to study further if he wanted a Masters, but for now he was content to just enjoy studying for the sake of learning rather than passing exams.
Hermione had received all Outstandings of course. Even though St Mungos would have taken her on her NEWTs alone she was still nervous until she had received final confirmation of her genius. Draco and Neville had both done well and were intending to start their apprenticeships sometime after the summer.
Harry however, knew the summer wouldn't be a time of rest. Ginevra would now be at home full time, as would he. He had offered, in one of his letters to send her to L'université de magie as her education was so important to her. He had received a rather indignant negative response, and so was determined that he would spend as little time as possible with nothing to do. One of the reasons for the correspondence course was to occupy his free time. Between social engagements and his studies, he was sure that he would manage.
He was also heavily involved with the Wizengamot. Though he couldn't take his seat until he turned twenty one he still had a vote. Three actually. One for Potter, one for Black, and one that came with the award the Order of Merlin, first class. At the moment Lucius Malfoy held proxy over his votes. Ever since the marriage had been official, Harry wanted Dumbledore as far away from his family business as possible. Now he was of age, the proxy just meant that Lucius voted in Harry's absence. Unlike Dumbledore, who had used Harry's votes without his knowledge to pass many proposals, some of which Harry disagreed with, Lucius hadto vote how Harry instructed. It was convenient that they both were of the same mind on many topics.
Though Harry couldn't be in the Wizengamot, he still had an unofficial voice, which is where society came in. He knew there would be even more engagements this summer as Ginevra was now out of school. The eminent conception of a child would also spring them back to the front page of the Prophet, as he knew Ginevra wouldn't be subtle about the topic. Harry had arranged with Lucius as to how best utilise this upswing in focus by the public. As they were working towards a common goal they wanted to make sure Harry's words were both well timed and well received.
Dumbledore maybe on his way out, but both of them knew he wasn't going without a fight.
For many Witches and Wizards this day was the public acknowledgement that they were now adults. Being seventeen meant that they were legally of age, but it wasn't until they graduated that they were actually treated appropriately. Teachers could still give seventh years detentions and homework, but after graduation they would be free from all that. Free to live in the real world.
Mrs Ginny Potter was rather glad that Graduation was finally here. She was pleased in that Dumbledore had survived as Headmaster until she could leave the school. While it was true she had hardly seen him, at least McGonagall couldn't be too horrible. The exams had passed in a blur. It wasn't that she wanted to do badly, she had heard more than enough from her mother on that score, but she knew it didn't matter one way or the other.
If she was to be in any way successful she had to produce an heir, and quickly, before her reputation was forever ruined. She had once been known as one of the prettiest girls in the school. However being married didn't suit her. Her hair was unmanageable and her skin was the worst it had ever been. Even the potions from the infirmary didn't seem to help. She was just glad that her body was concealed by the unflattering school robes. Once she got home, she would take the potion first chance she got, then she would only have to hide for a month or so. Any dreams of being a professional Quidditch star were long gone. None of the scouts had even contacted her.
Aside from the usual rumours, now there was even talk that her family had been that desperate for money her looks had been hidden under a family glamour, so as to trap a rich husband. She wanted to scream at them that it wasn't true, and even if it were, she didn't get anything like the money she should. She was the wife of a Lord. Surely she should get money for robes and jewels and other essentials. Ten galleons a month barely covered all the beauty products she had to buy to look somewhat presentable.
Making sure she was the last one in the shower was a last ditch effort to extend the time she would look presentable. Her husband would be there along with her family. Knowing that wherever Harry went, the press followed, she hoped that they at least used a good photo this time. Some of the shots of her at Hogsmeade were ghastly.
Using a spell to tighten the corset she had worn on her wedding day, she squeezed into her robes. The corset wasn't to entice her husband, it was to make sure she would fit into her robes. The robes weren't new as traditional, she had purchased them over the summer, but they hadn't been worn that often and she had double checked all the photos that had appeared over the last year. These were the only robes that hadn't been seen before. She was somewhat jealous seeing her roommates gossiping and laughing over their new robes, but she couldn't afford any. Well, not a set that was expensive enough to be worn by Lord Potter's wife.
Checking her reflection and dismissing her urge to use a glamour she hurried down to the Great Hall.
Ginevra had Apparated herself from the Hogwarts gates, disdaining the ride back in the Express. She had tried to make a big deal about it, but Harry hadn't cared one way or the other. She had barely orientated herself after landing in the Transport room before she'd asked for the potion.
Harry's response was to mearly arch an eyebrow. It was becoming his signature look these days. But really, Ginevra hadn't even freshened up, and she rather looked like she needed it. He wondered at her rush, but decided there really was no reason to wait. He informed her he would have it delivered by breakfast tomorrow.
And now here he was, staring at a potions vial.
The potion was gold with green specks, sealed in a clear crystal vial that stood on its point without additional aid. Harry spent a long time watching the green sparkles swirl through the golden liquid. Dobby had retrieved it from Strikeaxe last night, but Harry had wanted the night to get used to the idea. He knew it intellectually, but realised that the contents of this small vial would create an heir.
But not only an heir, but a child.
He was going along with the Pureblood Traditions as it was the only way to keep control of his own life. However he knew that his child would be his heir, not the other way around. Lucius, no matter his public face, loved Draco very much; he just didn't show it that often. Harry didn't want that. He never wanted his children to wonder if their father was proud of them. He wanted them to be able to come to him after a nightmare, when they skinned their knee, when they wanted a cuddle. Everything he didn't have when he was growing up.
He remembered seeing the clear liquid simmering in a cauldron, turning colour once he had finished his… addition. But that brought up memories he shouldn't think of, it just made it harder.
Harry made his way to the dining room. Knowing Winky, breakfast would still be ready at this early hour no matter that she had to supervise Mira. Elf children matured fast, all the more to help their masters Harry supposed. Mira had just turned one and was already helping her mother with her work. Harry had assured them it wasn't needed, but it was apparently the way they learnt how to use their magic. Knowing that, even with fetching the mail and other duties, both Dobby and Winky had spare time on their hands, which meant they were anxious about where Mira would work. There just wasn't enough work in the house for three grown elves but luckily Harry had a plan.
He had just started on breakfast, his eyes being drawn away from his morning paper by the sight of the potion, when Ginevra came down. Freshly showered, her hair still wet, she practically sauntered into the room.
Early for breakfast, for the first time since they'd married, she practically leaned over him to grab the potion before straightening up and downing the liquid in one go, then she smugly sat down and started pilling bacon on to her plate. Rather disgusted by her indecorous behaviour, not to mention arrogance, Harry returned to his paper. She hadn't asked him questions, so he had to assume she knew what would happen. Because, with the rapidity she swallowed the potion, it could have been poison for all she knew.
Tempting, but unfortunately notan option.
Five minutes later Harry had the satisfaction of seeing Ginevra almost bent double whilst sitting up. Sighing when he saw questions, and accusations, in her pain filled gaze, Harry called for both Dobby and Winky. He instructed Winky to take Ginevra to her bathroom, and sent Dobby with a pre written note to Mrs Weasley. He may not like his wife, but she wasill and he wasn't completely unfeeling. Winky knew how to care for Ginevra, but Ginevra's behaviour had showed she didn't particularly like the elf.
It was less than five minutes later when Harry was informed by the wards the Floo had activated. Taking a deep breath he went to meet his mother in law.
"Harry, where is she? What's wrong with my baby?"
Mrs Weasley tried to grab at his shoulders but he was able to circumvent her grasping hands.
"Mrs Weasley, Ginevra is merely indisposed. She took the potion this morning and it is working its way through her system. I simply thought she would like the company of her mother."
"Oh, well yes."
This disclosure had settled the woman some, but he could see her ignorance of the process in her eyes, just like her daughter. Sending the woman upstairs he sent Dobby to deliver a book with the potions effects to the two women. Harry couldn't believe that Ginevra took the potion without even knowing what would happen. It was beyond his understanding. Did she just think that she swallowed the potion and nine months later a baby appeared?
Shaking his head at such absurdity, he went back to his paper absent-mindedly noting the date. Fifteenth of June, a day to note in his journal as the conception of his first child.
He wondered if Ginevra had even glanced at the front page. Obviously not, as his eardrums were still intact. The Prophet had started including colour photos this past year. A newly invented potion meant that colour photos could be used in newspaper printing for the first time. That it was part of the initiative Lucius had started just made it even better. The increase in sales had also made them both rather a lot of money.
He didn't remember her looking thisbad though. The main photo was of them both after the ceremony, shot in a way to make it look like they were standing close to each other. Harry looked at himself and noted he looked as expected, so it obviously wasn't an effect of the new potion. Ginevra looked about ready to explode. Her hair was greasy at the roots and almost static at the ends, her skin wasn't great he knew, but it really couldn't be seen due to the all over redness and sheen of sweat, and her robes bulged in certain, unflattering, places.
He noted that no mention of Ginevra's appearance actually appeared in into the article, which for Rita was rather unexpected. But truth be known, she didn't have to sayanything.
It wasn't meant to be like this.
Harry was to marry Ginny and they would all live happily ever after. Ron knew his friend preferred boys but Ginny was skinny enough and Harry would make do. With Harry as his brother in law the Weasley name would mean something once more. With Harry as his brother in law, and not just his best friend, Ron was sure to get a starting position as the Cannons keeper.
And yet… he didn't.
He graduated Hogwarts and then nothing. The Cannons weren't even scouting, for the first time in years they decided to keep the old line up. Ron had followed the constant changing of the players ever since a young boy and was sure he would get a shot. Instead he found himself stuck at home. Now it normally wouldn't be so bad, he had a room to himself and all the food he could eat, but the incessant lecturing by his mother made the situation less than ideal.
He had lost track of the number of times he had been compared to his oldest brothers, and even Ginny. That he had actually graduated, unlike the twins was ignored. That Ginny married Harry because Dumbledoremade it happen was forgotten. Ron spent a lot of time thinking back to first year. The Mirror of Erised had shown him the future he wanted, and it was so far away from his current life to be laughable.
After a moping around the house for most of the summer his mother had finally badgered the twins into giving him a job. At first he thought it would be great. Thinking up ideas to make into new products and pranking the customers sounded a great way to spend the time. That he would also be rich like his brothers made it all the more appealing.
But on his first day of work he arrived by Floo at ten to the scowling face of Fred. After being lectured on the importance of punctuality he had been set to work restocking the shelves. The boring nature of the job made his mind wander, so for a bit of fun he opened a box of indoor fireworks and set them off right above a group of kids he knew to be in Slytherin.
They had jumped so high!
But then George had grabbed him by the ear and pulled him into the back room. A 'pertrificus totalis' later and Ron spent the rest of his day stiff and unable to move.
He didn't understand what the big deal was, they were Slytherins, the twins used to prank them all the time.
Thankfully, the twins decided that telling their mother would be a bad idea, so they had set him to work tidying the shop after they had closed. After sweeping up the mess of a busy day, Ron then had to finish stocking the shelves. After plenty of rest breaks he had finally made his way home at three in the morning. Starved, he was disappointed that his mother still wasn't up, he could do with something to eat, but she was spending all her time with Ginny lately. Knowing he could eat later on, Ron had stumbled up to his bedroom, fantasizing on the way about all the things he could buy with the money had made today.
She was only two weeks pregnant; but Harry was rather surprised at the changes in his wife. Gone were the tight fitting robes. Ginevra had apparently used the increase in income her graduation had afforded her, in Madame Malkin's. Knowing he wasn't an expert on female dress, he was still surprised that Ginevra had started wearing maternity style robes already. He knew her tastes focused on the more trendy cuts, and had heard her complain in the past that the high cut of the waist did nothing for her figure.
He supposed that she was enjoying her new role, and wanted to make a statement to everyone that she was pregnant. Her scathing looks at Harry the day after she had taken the potion meant that it had worked as expected. Her first check up at St Mungos was in a few days.
Their wedding anniversary was today, and Harry had gifted his wife with a set on Maternity potions. Rather expensive, most women went without as they weren't necessary, but Harry wanted to reduce the stress on Ginevra's body as much as possible. He wanted his child to be healthy. Ginevra had merely sniffed at the potions and sent Winky upstairs with the refilling vials.
The absence of a return gift didn't surprise him. Lately, Ginevra seemed to be ignoring their marriage as much as Harry wanted to, but only when it suited her of course. The big dinner she had planned tonight was not one of them.
The entirety of the Weasley clan was coming, many with a plus one. The Malfoys had also been invited, along with Remus, Hermione and the Tonks. Harry had rather insisted that if she were to have her family, so would he. The inclusion of the Malfoy's had Ginevra also inviting Madame Longbottom and Neville. It was almost as if she didn't trust Narcissa and Lucius to give a good account of her soirée, and wanted Augusta Longbottom there to keep them in check. He would have told her that the opposite was probably true, but whenever he ventured an opinion he was quickly shushed.
As a man, she had told him, he knew nothing of society.
And maybe that was true, but he was rather confused as to the preparations he could see her organising. He knew that a family dinner involving the Weasley's would always mean lots of guests, but even with the addition of the others, the dining room could still hold them all comfortably.
Instead, Ginevra had had the elves set up in the ballroom. The dining table had been moved to one end near the fireplace, with decorative screens blocking the view, at the other end she had set up a small orchestra for instrumental accompaniment. That the food was being prepared by outside caterers had almost sent the elves into mutiny.
Harry had calmed them by giving them jobs to do.
Harry didn't mind having guests in his home, but the thought of all those strangers had him pulling some strings with Shacklebolt to vet all the employees, something which Ginevra had dismissed as unimportant. It seemed as if she thought even a Death Eater would be honoured to serve the Potter's, and would never think to try anything. Dobby was to watch the musicians like a hawk, while monitoring the comings and goings of the caterers. Winky was to keep an eye on the food being prepared and to check everything before it was sent up, while Mira was to escort the guests during the evening.
Harry wondered at the arrangements his wife had insisted upon. They were in the formal sitting room and Madame Longbottom was conversing intently with Lord and Lady Malfoy. Draco, Hermione and Neville, accompanied by Luna, were seated in one corner catching up and Harry was speaking with Remus and Tonks.
It was a formality, but since he had spotted the ring gracing her left ring finger he had decided it was as good a time as any.
Remus was rather embarrassed, and Tonks a touch defensive, when he had broached the topic. His inquiry as to whether they would prefer a honeymoon in the Caribbean or Mediterranean rather calmed them both. Remus had even managed the formal words, to which Harry had replied just as formally, before happily embracing the couple. He was pleased to see two people he cared so much about, so happy.
Ginevra was currently absent, waiting in the Transport Room to welcome her family and their guests as they arrived. The Weasley's were late, as usual, and though Harry had informed his wife that Mira would be able to handle welcoming the guests she had just scoffed at the idea. Apparently as Lady of the Manor she had to welcome the guests as they arrived. It wouldn't be proper otherwise.
After studying etiquette at University he knew she was mistaken, but since she was adamant on recreating what she had seen at Malfoy Manor he retreated to the sitting room to welcome their guests properly. With refreshments, introductions and the chance of a seat.
The arrival of the Weasley's was as loud as expected, and momentarily halted conversation in the room. Harry could almost see battle lines being drawn, with the Weasley sons, bar Ron, eager to join the other side. Harry moved forward to great his guests properly. After a rather formal introduction to Mr and Mrs Weasley where they bowed and curtsied, Harry quickly moved on the eldest son.
William Weasley, and his fiancé Fleur, were dressed much more appropriately than he expected after seeing the robes both Ginevra and her parents were wearing. After exchanging handshakes and a few words he moved on to Charlie, and to his happy surprise, Charlie's date Oliver Wood.
The twins he greeted simultaneously, he had enough trouble working out which twin was which on a good day, trying to remember which was oldest was an exercise in futility. Their dates were Angelina and Alicia, though he was rather unsure as to who was with who.
Harry had steeled himself to be polite to the youngest son, so was rather glad to see Ron had already moved to the far side of the room to begin demolishing the appetisers.
After a few minutes of strained mingling Ginevra had given up and directed everyone to the ballroom.
Harry was impressed in spite of himself. The decorations were tasteful and the musicians and human servers a nice touch. It would have been brilliant, if it were a public ball. Behind him, Harry could hear Narcissa quickly but quietly reassuring the Longbottom Matriarch that she hadn't misunderstood the invitation. It wasa family dinner, but as a new wife Ginevra must want to demonstrate her hosting capabilities.
That they had been married two years was not mentioned, but neither of the women were blind, he had seen them appraising his wife's attire. Her robes were deep red with gold stripes, sporting a tight high waist to show off the bulge of her stomach. Ginevra had spent hours curling and pinning her hair in an elaborate up do that would rival the most intricate seen at the Malfoy's party.
His wife was determined to impress, and the more she tried, the less she was successful.
"Honoured Witches and Wizards, it is time for my closing arguments before calling a vote on the Muggleborn Integration Act."
He must remember to thank Hermione Granger, Lucius thought. Aside from volunteering to speak about her experiences, a generous offer as most Muggleborns weren't exactly forthcoming with their heritage, she had proposed the whole tone of the campaign. And it had proceeded much more smoothly than he could have expected.
"There has been much said about tradition and free will when it comes to this proposal. But what this piece of law would boil down to is the assurance that the magical children born into non magical families are welcome and supported by their rightful world. Safe, in the knowledge that if something happens there is help available. And just think for a moment, on the changes it would foster. With the knowledge of magic earlier, Muggle parents will be able to deal with accidental magic that much easier, and have access to help if needed. The children would be much more comfortable in the magical world and so their first year at Hogwarts wouldn't be such a culture shock."
Instead of trying to ram it through with talk of tradition and how Muggleborns were corrupting the Magical World, focus on integrating them sooner to make growing up and integration at Hogwarts that much easier. As an alternative to highlighting the security threat that Muggles knowing of their world was, expound on the security the geas would give everyone, allowing help to be offered if needed.
Dumbledore and his, few, supporters had tried to twist his words as much as they could. Complaining that it was an imposition to Free Speech and persecution of Muggleborns actually helped Lucius. He merely asked if they were content with the fact that their world could be under threat if a muggle sibling got jealous and talked. It was startling to see the reaction, apparently many in the Wizengamot had not considered that an option.
And as to persecution of Muggleborns, he was of course actually trying to reducetension in their world. Many of the problems in relations came from a lack of understanding between the muggle and magical worlds. Betrothal contracts were seen as archaic and patriarchal in the muggle world, he instructed, where as they all knew that in the magical world they offered security and protection.
Dumbledore couldn't touch that if he wanted to. Not unless he wanted a full investigation into his dealings with Lord Potter.
Lucius knew he already had the votes. Madame Longbottom was supporting him, as was Lord Potter. That he had worked tirelessly over the past year to remove harmful restrictions put in place by the previous administration, which included increasing funding to the Auror Corps and St Mungos, he had gained the respect and standing amongst his peers he had dreamed of. That many now would actually listen to what he had to say, before making up their minds, was a vast improvement.
Aside from causing Dumbledore to resign from Hogwarts in order to shore up support, his work over the last few months had the added bonus of removing Fudge, the incompetence was rather a hindrance, and Minister Bones was even a supporter.
Ron was not pleased. After working for two straight weeks he had made barely enough to pay for the new dress robes his mother had insisted he buy. He probably shouldn't have used a deluxe set of fireworks to prank the Slytherins, the normal set was much less expensive, but he couldn't see why the twins had to deduct the cost from his wages.
His old robes still fit him, well, he was sure his mother could have made them fit. It wasn't as if the dinner Ginny decided to have was that great either. I mean, who cared what the Malfoy's thought?
He had been looking forward to chatting with Harry again; he hadn't spoken to him in ages and was rather surprised how lonely he was. But Harry barely said two words to him, neither did Hermione or Neville. It wasn't his fault Dumbledore had decided that Harry should marry Ginny, and he didn't understand why they were blaming him.
Working nights meant he didn't have to deal with the customers, and since the twins had other things to do, he could work as slow as he liked. It was just that most days he woke up in time for dinner, went to work sleepy from eating such a large meal, and then came home sometime in the early hours. He hadto eat lots at dinner because he normally slept through breakfast. His mother did make some snacks for him to eat while working, but he was a growing boy and needed more than that.
Luckily the Leaky Cauldron served food at any time of the day. Ron quite often took his breaks having a drink and dinner there. It was expensive, but he had to eat!
Ginevra had decided that though she was married, and pregnant, Saturday was still hernight, and spent it with friends, or lately, at the Burrow. It was a welcome reprieve and Harry had taken to inviting Neville and Draco around for lunch, a boy's get together. They spent their afternoons catching up, usually having drinks in Harry's now completed garden. Hermione had taken to stopping by once she finished her shift at St Mungos, and they all ate dinner, normally a takeaway, much to the bemusement of Winky.
The garden, was a thing of beauty, at least in Harry's eyes. After a lot of work the garden was still aesthetically pleasing though all the plants were useful in some way; he even had a small herb patch that Mira had taken to tending. It had taken until now to get it fully functional, but Harry was now the proud owner of one of the most comprehensive potion gardens a novice could have. With Neville's help, he now had enough knowledge and skill to keep it going, though Draco had stepped in a few times. Apparently what is best for a Herbologist was not the same for a Potions Master, and both Neville and Draco had taken to collecting samples for the Apprenticeship research.
For some women, pregnancy is the embodiment of being female. They glow with maternal satisfaction, of fulfilling nature's intended role, they flourish.
The same could not be said for Ginevra Potter.
The fullness of face had washed away the definition of cheekbones and the weight she had gained reminded Harry of the time he inflated Marge Dursley. Her skin had cleared up, but her hair was still unmanageable. The short bob she now sported, while apparently the latest fashion did nothing to help.
He however, was more interested in the child she carried.
All indicators showed that it was healthy and growing fine, but Harry was still anxious. He knew that even after the baby was born, he might feel that way, but at the moment the baby was in Ginevra's sole care and that thought didn't infuse him with confidence.
He knew that no matter what, she wouldn't harmthe child. He just didn't put it past her to do something stupid, like take a headache potion without checking the ingredients first. Magical pregnancies were both very robust and fragile at the same time. Physical harm, from a fall for example, rarely hurt a baby. Magical interference however, such as certain spells or select potion ingredients, was known to cause damage.
Ginevra had insisted on a home birth just like her mother. That Mrs Weasley had given birth at home was more a consequence of not having the money to cover the hospital bills, and not maternal confidence, was something Ginevra dismissed. She was a Weasley, giving birth would be natural to her, and she wanted to birth the heirat home.
After some digging, Harry had found that even the Weasley parents weren't that money conscious as Molly's mother, present at all seven births, had obstetrics training. So Harry had Hermione, currently doing her apprenticeship in the Maternity ward, find the most well respected Healer when it came to pregnancy and babies. Harry had employed Healer Green to conduct the whole circus, from prenatal scans and potions, to the birth and post natal care.
Ginevra had been livid, but Harry wouldn't budge. He didn't care how much an innate Weasley gene would ensure an easy birth, it was his child too, and he was going to do everything within his power to make sure both mother and child had a successful delivery.
His insistence had paid off, and even Ginevra had stopped complaining after the first day of labour.
Two and a half days later, the entire household was ready to drop dead from exhaustion. Hermione, who had been brought in to assist, had yet to sleep, Healer Green much more used to the process was probably the most well rested. Winky and Mira had been tasked to assist, and by changing sheets and fetching meals made the lives of the women that much easier.
The Weasleys had arrived en mass and were currently staying in the guest rooms to be closer to Ginevra. Mrs Weasley had yet to make an appearance downstairs, spending all her time with her daughter, but Arthur Weasley, his sons and their significant others had been making use of Harry's hospitality. During the day, the house was relatively empty, but come dinner time everyone made an appearance in the dining room eager for food and news. Dobby was working his socks off to make sure everyone was as well fed as they could be.
Harry had even had a few quiet evenings in his study sipping brandy with Arthur Weasley. The man never came out and said it, but Harry could see how much the man wanted to apologise for his part in the betrothal business. Forgiveness was still long in coming, but Harry could find acceptance in the man's company. Albus Dumbledore had a lot to answer for.
After three days it was over.
On Wednesday the first of March, at one minute past midnight, Elizabeth Adhara Potter was born.
Both mother and child were perfectly healthy, though Ginevra would be exhausted for a couple of weeks.
As much as the Weasleys were Purebloods, and spouted tradition when it suited them, the raising of his wife and her brothers had been very different from the way in which most Purebloods were raised. For a well off family it was customary to hire a nanny to take care of the child.
Harry had opened up the nursery and connected rooms that were next to his office, and hired Lavender Brown to be Eliza's nanny. Something which he was sure to get an earful about when Ginevra could stay awake for more than a few minutes at a time. It was however tradition, and for all her faults as a teenager, Lavender had grown into someone he trusted. He remembered the ferocity with which she fought during the final battle and could see the dedication in her eyes. Eliza would be perfectly safe with her.
Lavender had been brought up around children and even taken a short course at St Mungos to become qualified in childcare. To be the nanny was a prestigious position that many would kill for. The money aside, the connections it brought raised the profile of the nanny's family. Lavender had even confided in him that her aunt had been given a full time position at Madame Malkin's as a result of his intervention last year, the news that her niece was the nanny to the Potter Heir had increased customer numbers twofold.
And though she was a girl, Harry had made sure she wouldbe recognised as the Potter heir. The Potter family inheritance rules were much more flexible than the Black's. Hopefully, the next child would be a boy and he could inherit the Black family title. A second son however would complicate matters, and would mean that the eldest would inherit the Potter title and the second son the Black title. Lucius had made it as clear as possible in the contract but even Harry had found it hard to follow the simplified version.
Knowing that Ginevra would need at least a year to recover, he made a note in his diary to commission a second potion nearer the time, ifshe would wait that long. The revelation that she had not birthed a son had taken a while to set in, but it seemed she had taken it as something of an insult. Of course she had blamed Harry. Everyone knows Weasleys had sons.
He wondered if it was a side effect of the potion, but Harry couldn't bring himself to care. He looked down at the small bundle in his arms and had to suppress his tears at the sight.
She was beautiful.
She had a full head of silky black hair, though Harry hoped that the hint of curls meant she wouldn't have to suffer his bird nest mop. Her eyes were still too dark, even at a week old, to be completely sure, but he had a hunch she had inherited his mothers eyes. In fact, only the pale skin showed the influence of her mother's genes, and truth be told, looking at his daughter her skin reminded him of someone completely different.
Seeing that Eliza had fallen asleep, he rose from his chair in front of the fire and made his way through the connecting door, into the nursery. The location of the nursery had been a function of practicality. There was room, and he thought it best not to involve stairs when it came to small children. He did however, enjoy the benefits of being close to his daughter all day. There was nothing he liked better than taking a break from paperwork to give her a bottle or her night time bath.
After a week they had settled into a routine, and Eliza had only become fussy the one time he missed bedtime. He had arrived at ten in the evening to find an exhausted Lavender soothing Eliza in the rocking chair and Mira frantically sending objects flying in an attempt to amuse her. Taking his baby girl into his arms quickly quieted her grumbling cries, and she had fallen asleep to the sound of his voice.
Lavender had taken it upon herself to formulate a bond between mother and baby, but Ginevra was cold at best. No matter what Lavender tried, Ginevra didn't seem to care and eventually she had given up. She reasoned Ginevra would come around eventually, and it was best not to expose Eliza unnecessarily.
Harry wasn't so sure.
Winky was troubled.
Ms Lizzy was now two months old and Ms Wheezy didn't seem to care.
In fact Ms Wheezy spent all her time in her room even though Ms Lizzy was downstairs.
Winky couldn't imagine being away from Mira that long. Even though Mira had been given work helping Ms Flower, they still saw each other every day.
And it wasn't as if Ms Wheezy was still tired. Ms Wheezy had been fine for weeks now, but still stayed in her room. She didn't do much, just listened to the radio, read lots of papers and wrote lots of letters. Ms Wheezy also kept writing in her book. The Book was something Winky was not allowed to touch, move or even look at.
Winky couldn't read the letters, but she did tell Master when Ms Wheezy started sending Winky with letters addressed to an MC. Winky didn't know much about letter writing but she had seen the letters Master sent and there was always a long name and not just letters.
Master had thanked Winky and asked both her and Dobby to make sure all letters went through the Goblins.
Winky didn't know what was going on but Winky was sure it wasn't good.
Quietly closing the door to the nursery behind them, Harry invited the twins to sit by the fire while he poured them drinks. Eliza had been settled and the evening had been somewhat enjoyable, he had to admit. Angelina and Alicia had kept Ginevra sufficiently occupied during dinner that Harry could focus on the twins. Her behaviour had now become outright suspicious, and it was making life rather uncomfortable. Harry almost wished that she had gone back to the distant house guest she had been before Eliza was born.
"Harry, mate. We have a message..."
"...from our father..."
"...well, more like a warning really."
That's what he loved about the twins, even now, as old as they were they still used twin speak. Especially when they were nervous.
He handed them their drinks and sat down, giving them time to find the words.
"He said to be careful..."
"...he's overheard things, from mum..."
"...and Ginny herself..."
Harry put his hand up to stop the next slew of back and forth. He could see they were worried. Whether because they weren't sure they would be believed, or maybe afraid of Harry's anger once he knew.
"Suffice it to say, Ginevra is monitoring me for signs of an affair. In the event I try and get rid of her, she wants some insurance, well, blackmail. Even perhaps going so far as to keep a written record?"
"Did I know?"
Harry sipped from his glass. The brandy really was good, he realised the twins must be upset as they hadn't even touched theirs.
"Let's just say that Ginevra would never have been sorted into Slytherin. And I have house elves on my side, don't forget."
He smiled and mentally sent thanks to Lucius once again. He had warned him of this eventuality, and Harry had followed his advice and put precautions in place before the marriage ceremony.
"Thank you, and convey my thanks to your father as well. But I'm safe from even the implicationthat I have been having an affair."
It was a relaxed evening after that. Angelina and Alicia had evidently had enough of Ginevra soon after, and had come to join the men in his study. Ginevra had complained of fatigue and retired early and they had spent a lovely hour reminiscing on the past and their days on the Gryffindor Quidditch team.
Both Angelina and Alicia had worked in the twins shop after they graduated in order to save money to pay for an intensive Quidditch workshop. Once there, they had both been scouted, as reserve players first, by professional teams. They had both just been signed by the Holyhead Harpies for next season, though had forgottento mention that fact around Ginevra.
In an almost fluke of fate, Oliver Wood was the new junior coach, his playing days over after the announcing the imminent arrival of a new Weasley grandchild.
After they had left, Harry had relocated to the Dungeons.
Next to the room containing the darkDark books, there was another hidden room. This room looked comfortable enough, but was no less dangerous if discovered. Harry sat in the comfortable leather chair, warmed by the fire that had sprung to life as he had entered, and gazed at the vials in front of him.
They weren't labelled, but Harry knew each one intimately. Needing to remember the pale skin once more he picked up the last vial and emptied it into the rune covered basin.
He couldn't do this often, like the Mirror of Erised, it was addictive.
But tonight he just needed to remember...
He wondered for a moment if Ginevra knew what she was doing. He had even consulted her before inviting the reporters over, making sure she was free, even to the point of reminding her that very morning. She hadlooked tired, and the reporters would wait a day or so. Harry almost snorted. For this interview they would happily wait months.
Harry looked at the four guests currently inhabiting his study. Lavender was keeping a close eye over the three reporters. Skeeter representing the Prophet was the only one he actually knew. Madame Halle from Witch Weekly was at least a familiar name, but Mr Tradou was completely unknown. His publication, the Book of Names was familiar as Harry had to study it in Etiquette class. Even so, the only reason he was currently within a mile of his daughter was that Lucius had vouched for him. The two women were cooing over Eliza, and Harry was rather amused to note that Mr Tradou was not far from it. It seemed his daughter was already something of a master when it came to manipulating people.
He could admit it. He washer most devout follower.
The only other person in the room was Colin Creevy. Harry had rather insisted on the man to be the one to take the photos. Too many strangers and Harry was sure he would be too nervous to actually talk. They had already done the interview part of the visit and were now waiting for a few minutes in case Ginevra actually turned up. Harry had made a small excuse about fatigue, and the reporters were gracious enough to leave it at that. Skeeter however, did send him a thoughtful look.
They had become friends, sort of, in the intervening years. They often exchanged banter, and he knew Skeeter was still a journalist first, but there was something about the woman that had changed. He supposed he would find out sooner or later.
The photos were quickly done, Eliza unlike most small children, was perfectly fine with the loud bang of the camera. As long as her father was near, she would put up with a surprising amount of fussing. Each of the reporters asked for, and received permission, to have a photo taken with the baby. Something which he was sure would raise their profile with their readers and peers. Colin had even promised him some professional shots of the father and daughter together for Harry's desk.
It almost went off without a hitch.
But obviously with the waiting and photos they had stayed too long, because as he was seeing his guests out in the Transport room, in Flooed Ginevra with shopping bags hanging off her arms. Holding in his sigh of exasperation, Harry called Dobby, who without additional instructions knew to perform the now regular task of popping the bags upstairs and checking the purchases for additional spells.
Smiling at the reporters he wished them goodbye, wondering the twist they would put on this happy accident.
It wasn't meant to be like this.
Her fantasies of gracing the front page to be looked at in awe were now long gone. That she was on the front page, of any paper, was now a cause for misery rather than the elation she should have felt. In fact she had tried to avoid the intimate press conference Harry had organised in the hope everyone would think Harry was purposefully excluding her from her daughter's life.
Because that was what he was doing.
Oh, he talked of Pureblood Traditions This and Pureblood Traditions That, but she was smart enough to know that he was only using it to get back at her for being roped into this marriage. It wasn't her fault, it wasn't like she was happy in this marriage either.
And she saw the letters, always hid under the paper when she came into breakfast, she wasn't stupid. Now he had an heir Harry was footloose and fancy free. He was probably out buggering some snake when he said he was late because of 'business'.
Well, it was fine with her. If he could have an affair so could she, it was just nerves that was all. No man would want to be her lover when Harry could vaporise them with a thought. She would just have to make sure that they knew Harry was fine with it. Maybe she would start with someone familiar. Dean perhaps, or maybe Michael.
It had been the work of two decades, but now it was finally here.
After relinquishing control of Hogwarts to focus his time on the Wizengamot, Dumbledore had tried to shore up his crumbling support base. The new Muggleborn legislation had been in effect barely three months and there had already been three cases of medical intervention, one of abuse and another of extreme magical outbursts.
The medical interventions had been for serious injuries, injuries that would have had lifelong consequences if not treated speedily. The abuse was quickly taken care of, the muggle police informed and the child relocated to foster parents, one of whom was a Muggleborn to ease the transition. The extreme magical outbursts came from a child abused at their school, their magic reacting in defence. The child was returned to her parents who had been informed, the case also handed over to the muggle police.
There had of course, been the usual accidental magic, but those who had been informed of the existence of magic actually had a reduction in their repeat rate compared to previous years. Nearly three months in and it was such a success, that even those who had voted against the proposal had come around.
And that is where Dumbledore had lost the rest of his supporters. He just wouldn't admit he had been wrong. So sure of himself he tried to manipulate the facts when talking to the press, but with the Ministry being much more transparent in an effort to regain the public's trust, he didn't get far.
Those who had long held the opinion that Dumbledore could do no wrong had to admit that the man was getting old. He wasn't omniscient. And he didn't always know what was best for everyone else.
It wasn't however, a complete victory.
Lucius had to admit he would have rather completely obliterated the man, but perhaps this was for the best. Dumbledore had not been re-elected as Head of the ICW and after a few more defeats knew he wouldn't have the support to retain Chief Warlock. In an effort to foster support and perhaps retain some dignity, the man had announced his resignation at the end of the current month, probably hoping that faced with such a prospect the members would come begging him to stay.
Needless to say that didn't happen.
Dumbledore did still had a vote on the Wizengamot due to his Order of Merlin, but one vote wouldn't do much, and it kept him in a place where he was constantly reminded of what he once had.
If he were honest with himself, Lucius couldn't have manipulated a better outcome.
It was with that thought that he received a letter via Gringotts owl service. Recognising the handwriting he wondered if Harry had already heard the news.
Dear Lord Potter,
We are writing to inform you that as part of our routine inspections we have discovered a recorded breach in your Marriage contract. The details of the breach are not specified, though it is related to Mrs Potter and the infidelity clauses.
Please arrange a meeting to further discuss this matter.
May your gold flow,
It had taken a couple of readings to fully accept the contents of the letter. He knew Lucius had made the contract excessively complex in the hope something like this could occur, but Harry rather thought it was a long shot. It seemed that he owed the blond an apology.
Wondering exactly what she had done, he was almost tempted to ask his wife. Knowing that sating his curiosity wouldn't be helpful, Harry wrote several quick messages. One to Strikeaxe to arrange the meeting for first thing tomorrow, a second to Neville to beg off their weekly gardening date, and the third to Lucius, with a post script to his wife, informing them of the missive he had received and asking for their attendance.
"So what now?"
Harry looked from his account manager Strikeaxe, to Lucius and Narcissa. They had heard what Strikeaxe had to say, and though it wasn't much, Harry had to think this was the fourth best day of his life so far.
"There are a few options available to you. I suppose you do not wish to continue with the marriage."
The look he sent the man was rather sufficient, he didn't need words.
"I thought so. The quickest, and cleanest, option is to have Mrs Potter sign a waver accepting responsibility for the termination of the marriage. This is something of a contract in of itself and we can include what conditions you wish."
Seeing the questions he continued.
"Such as full custody of Elizabeth. Ceasing of all financial transactions. Perhaps a gag on speaking to the press?"
Wondering that Lucius had to ask, Harry instead focused on an important point.
"You'll write it?"
"I'd be delighted."
Knowing it might not be that easy he had to ask.
"And if she doesn't sign?"
"Then you can make her life difficult. The standard procedure would mean the matter is referred to the courts. As the injured party, Ginevra would at the least be ordered to repay any money you had spent on her. Presuming you have followed my directions…" he waited for the nod, "we can also use the press to our advantage. We can strategise later if necessary."
"Strikeaxe, can you arrange a meeting with my wife for tomorrow. And please halt this month's debit to her account."
"Already done. I'll send out the letter directly."
After checking that Lucius could formulate the contract that quickly, he asked for Narcissa's help in drafting a statement to the press. It would be a delicate piece of wrangling, but with her expert help, it might actually boost his standing with the public.
Knowing he still had to face his wife at dinner, he made sure certain thoughts remained in the back of his mind. Once the contract waver was signed, he promised himself. Then he could think and hope to his heart's content.
Dinner that night was a quiet affair. Aside from Ginevra receiving a Gringotts summons, nothing out of the ordinary happened.
Remus and Tonks were off on their Honeymoon. He had already sent them a letter telling them to ignore the Prophet's headlines until they got back. He didn't want them cutting their stay in Barbados short on his account.
Ginevra acted as normal. Well normal for her. She dismissed the letter as unimportant, and dropped more than a few hints about wanting to redecorate parts of the house, but she had been doing that for a while now.
Apparently the decorations weren't expensive enough for her taste, and she believed the current décor gave the impression he was too poor to afford better furnishings. The newer design of Malfoy Manor was a good example, though Ginevra was averse to come right out and say so. Though it may have helped him, the long running feud between the Weasley's and the Malfoy's was something he couldn't understand. It just hurt both families in the end.
That Ginevra, with all her pure blood, didn't seem to realise, was that Malfoy Manor was decorated in new styles because it was a relatively new house. True the family had been around for generations, but they hadn't come to the height of their power in Britain until about a century ago. The Black family was ancient by comparison, so was the Potter family, which was descended from some very prominent lines. He could just imagine the talkif he had gussied up the House.
It was amusing though, to see her disdaining some of the furniture as substandard, while he knew the actual value of the pieces. Most were true antiques. The old furniture had either been salvaged or scrapped, depending on its condition. The rest were drawn from storage in the Black and Potter Vaults.
The simple dining room table that Ginevra was so desperate to replace was actually irreplaceable. Made from an almost extinct magical wood known for its use in clarity potions, and carved by the descendants of Byzantine monks known for their healing, it held properties that would make most pay a King's ransom. It detected and neutralised most poisons, something which Snape had been most impatient to study.
Withdrawing his mind from those thought's he excused himself from the table and retreated to his office. He was too happy to stay in her presence any longer. The mere hope that this day, would one day occur, was what had kept him going the past few years and it was the reason he obeyed the rather restrictive conditions Lucius had implemented on his daily life.
He knew it was for the best. But no physical contact was hard enough to stomach. That he couldn't be alone in the room with Him was difficult to ensure, but they both knew the repercussions, and Hermione had been a Godsend. All of his mail, received and sent, went via the Gringots mail service which ensured copies were documented and filed away. Harry's journal, while including his daily activities for the future generations, was also insurance against any smear campaign Ginevra might try against him.
It had been a long road but now he was hours away from being a free man.
"That doesn't make sense. The contract stated that there could be no other relationships until an heir was born. Well… an heir was born, so I don't see how you could claim I broke the contract."
"Mrs Potter. Your daughter is the present acknowledged heir for the House of Potter. As your husband is Lord of both House Potter and House Black there must be an heir for both houses."
"The contract didn't say that there had to be multiple children, just one."
"And if the child had been male, you would be correct. Your son would have been able to inherit both titles. As it is, House Black cannot be inherited by a female. As such, by knowingly conducting an affair before the heir condition was finalised you breached the terms of your marriage contract."
"This is stupid. Dumbledore never said anything about needing two kids, speak to him, he'll tell you."
"Madame, Mr Dumbledore has no business with these matters."
Ginny knew that even though Dumbledore was veryinvolved, his current lack of influence meant he wouldn't be able to help her. That was, if he would even try.
"So what do I get?"
"Yeah, the settlement. If I sign."
"Mrs Potter. Please, let me be absolutely clear. You do not getanything."
"Well then. I won't sign. Not until I have an agreement that means I get a rather large sum in compensation. Harry can't wait to find someone else, I'm sure he'll give me whatever I want."
"Madame. If you do not sign and admit your accountability, then the matter is referred to the courts."
"Well maybe I'll take my chances with them, they'll surely give me something."
"In such cases, where the dependant partner has erred, the traditional judgement is the repayment of all funds to the wronged party. As such you would need to reimburse your Gringotts account, with interest, all funds that had been transferred to you. This would also include the money spent on school and medical bills."
"But Dumbledore said…"
"…he said that was mine. No one could take it away."
"The vault is yours, but if the matter is taken to the courts they decide what judgements to hand out. In most cases the cheating spouse is the one penalised most harshly, especially if they are the dependant wife."
"But that's not fair. I'm Pureblood, surely…"
"Madame, blood would not be a factor. And even if it was, with the way things are going you would probably find your use of your heritage a disadvantage."
The law was a honourable profession. At least that was what her father had said. Penelope Clearwater had studied hard, even for a Ravenclaw, and become one of the youngest Law Witches presently accredited. Unfortunately, she had graduated Law Studies at the height of the war. Knowing the Ministry as it was then, Penelope had applied, and been accepted by Gringots.
It wasn't what she had had planned. She really wanted to do advocate work. Speak for those who didn't have representation, and in her own small way help make the Wizarding World a better place. She didn't get to do much in that department at Gringots, mostly it was advising the Bank's clients on law matters and giving independent advice. But it was a job, and she was saving up to get married. Percy was adamant that they be self sufficient, and she had agreed.
It was just unlucky that she had been the one on duty when Ginny came in.
Honestly, as a Muggleborn, the idea of betrothal contracts seemed rather archaic, but she could understand tradition. Percy rather liked the idea, and since the contracts could be a form of protection she had agreed, though only after he had assured her that she could write theirs. The idea though, that a guardian could forcea marriage was horrifying.
She knew Percy hated how Dumbledore had used the Weasley family to further his own prospects, even if he wasn't completely against the marriage itself. As it was Percy's little sister, she had tried to be nice, but she was finding very hard to remain professional.
Ginny Potter had signed the marriage contract and then had broken it. It was rather simple, and she was wondering how long it would take until that fact sunk in.
"So what can I do? What about an out of court settlement? See I've been watching Harry closely and I'm sure I could make life difficult for him, and if we get the press involved…"
"Mrs Potter! There is no 'we', and I'm afraid if you continue I would have to call in the Aurors. Blackmail is something they take very seriously. As do Gringots."
"What? No! I just meant that if I have evidence of an affair on his part then…"
Penelope impatiently cut her off.
"If your husband had been having an affair the contract would have registered it, the same way it registered your infidelity with Mr Corner."
"But he loves someone else, and I'm sure…"
"But he did not act upon it. And if you try and drag this out, the courts, let alone the public will not be kind to you."
She took a deep breath and tried to relax. Harry Potter had saved their world, and more personally had killed the monster that had petrified her. But she still had to do her job.
"You asked for legal counsel and I have advised you as to how matters are currently. In my opinion, the option that would guarantee you the best start in your new life would be to sign the agreement and then act as if the marriage never happened."
Ginny was torn, but it seemed as if Harry had won.
Hopefully in a month or so she could make an arrangement with Skeeter to sell her story. Or perhaps she should get her to write her autobiography. If Remus could do it, then so she could she, it couldn't be thathard.
Ginny reached over and signed her name. In all honestly she would enjoy not having to sign her name Mrs Potter anymore. Miss Weasley made her feel much less old.
"What about Elizabeth?"
Honestly, the chit waited until now to ask, aftershe had signed?
"Full custody is awarded to your ex-husband, as stated in the contract, if you will excuse me."
Penelope wanted out. Now.
It wasn't as if she cared, but she had thought maybe Harry would spring for living costs if Elizabeth stayed with her. It was for the best anyway. Babies were such hard work, and it would be hard to find another man if she had a child in tow.
Thinking that maybe Michael was up for another rendezvous, Ginny decided to check her bank balance. The monthly deposit should have gone in yesterday, and she was due some new robes.
Before she had made it to the door, she was interrupted from continuing that train of thought by a loud pop.
"Winky bes bringing Ms Wheezy's things."
And with another pop the elf had disappeared and Ginny was left wondering if her mother would mind converting her new sewing room back to Ginny's old room. Wishing she had learned the packing charm she started throwing things into her trunk. She could unpack properly when she got home. Of course the elf couldn't have done her job properly and actually packedGinny's things.
She knew there was a reason she never liked that elf.
DARK LORD DEAD
LONG LIVE THE BOY-WHO-CONQUERED
By Rita Skeeter
It was at Hogwarts yesterday, that our saviour Harry Potter defeated the Dark Lord, He Who Must Not Be Named.
The epic battle was fought on the castle's grounds. The Dark Lord and his followers pitted their magic against those of the assembled defenders made up of Aurors, Order of the Phoenix members and students who grouped together and valiantly fought against the Dark forces.
It was a battle to end the war, and end it did. Details are scarce but what is apparent, is that Voldemort himself entered the battle only after his combined forces were stopped by the castle's defenders. Wading through the battle, not even Albus Dumbledore able to stop him, the Dark Lord met his match in our saviour Harry James Potter.
It has been speculated that his survival at a young age was a fluke of magic, but others have continually stated that Mr Potter would be the Chosen One, prophesied to defeat the Dark Lord.
After deflecting a number of killing curses, aimed at both himself and others using an unknown shield, Mr Potter destroyed the Dark Lord in a surge of pure magic. The Unspeakables are currently investigating what is left of the Dark Lord to try and understand why he didn't die all those years ago. They have, however released a short statement 'that all tests show that the Dark Lord V******** is truly dead'.
After his fall, all Death Eaters were seen to collapse in a magical backlash believed to be tied to the Dark Mark. The extent of such a response, with reports of similar occurrences have been received from overseas, also leads to the conclusion he is gone for good. Aurors were quick to round up and arrest the surviving Death Eaters and are currently in custody awaiting trial.
Mr Potter is understandably taking time to recover from the battle. However it has been agreed he will speak to the press within a few days to give his firsthand account of the battle.
Until then my readers, I remain your intrepid reporter,
Life of Harry Potter, page 3
List of arrested Death Eaters, page 4
List of known dead, page 7
"Why is he doing this?"
His voice was reaching about a six on the whining scale. He just couldn't feel embarrassed about sounding like a child. Not even with the company he was in.
"Headmaster Dumbledore no doubt has his reasons."
Harry snorted. Childish, but at the moment he felt he rather deserved a tantrum or two. The alcohol had loosened him up at least. He wasn't even hyper aware that Severus was sitting across from him. Normally a mere hint of the man had him hard and horny. It was rather pathetic that some of his best orgasms had come from staring at the man's corrections on his essays.
And didn't thatthrow up a whole hoard of convoluted complications.
Professor Snape was his Potions Professor, and would continue to be his Professor next year. He was of the age of consent, not that it helped any.
And yet Harry was hopelessly in love with Severus.
True, it had started as a crush during his fifth year. The intimate nature of the Occlumency lessons had pervaded his thoughts, casting off the nature of their association as irrelevant, his mind had brought up other intimate things they could be doing. He rather thought it would improve the man's disposition. Who didn't mellow after an orgasm or three?
The part of his mind that still held some self preservation instinct had made him work extra hard on obscuring his thoughts, and he had thought he was successful. Even Severus agreed, but Voldemort was still able to get inside his head and trick him. The death of Sirius had motivated him even further.
During the last year they had worked together to improve his shields, and it was for this reason that Harry had stayed behind after Hermione and Mr Malfoy had left. They didn't do much training. The need had waned since Voldemort was now dead. Instead Severus had tested his mind and Harry had fought back half heartedly.
Seeing his heart wasn't in it Harry had been steered to his chair by the fire while Severus poured them drinks. And that was the point Harry's mind was caught on. If he was comfortable enough that he would give Harry alcohol, what was a little student/teacher relationship on the side?
Way to state the obvious. From the smirk Severus thought the same thing.
"I like you."
His mind rather short circuited at that. He hadn't just said that. Had he?
There was a stained pause and Harry didn't have the strength to look away from the man's intense gaze. He could almost swim in those black depths.
"You are not as loathsome as I once thought."
It broke the silence, but didn't help the tension any. For the past month or so, once the high of killing Voldemort had worn off Harry had thought he had seen certain 'looks'. These Looks, and even in his mind he capitalised them, were different from the scorn he was used to. They weren't even the grudging acceptance he had glimpsed as they trained. Instead they were something else.
And honestly what did he have to lose?
"No, I like you. More than I should." As if by starting he had breached a dam, he overrode Severus' words.
"I'm gay, and I like you, and I have for a long time. And now I have to get married, to a girlwhich is all kinds of icky, and I just want…"
Why is it blind courage only gets you so far?
"What? What is it you want Harry?"
Severus' voice was low and soft. He had never heard such wonderful words before. Looking at him, really looking at him Harry saw for the first time something other than the mask he had seen for the past seven years.
"You. I want you."
Pleading now, begging wasn't so bad.
"Doesn't stop me wanting you. I know, after the wedding we can't… but just tonight. Please?"
He didn't get an answer. Not a verbal one at least. Severus had drawn himself out of his seat to kneel at Harry's feet. Parting his knees Harry leaned forward and took the offered lips.
It was life and death and everything in between. Severus' soft lips made love to him in a way he didn't know could exist. When the man tried to pull away Harry wrapped his arms around the broad shoulders and pressed their chests together.
"No, too soon." He moaned. That brief taste was too little. He needed to fortify himself for years, perhaps even forever.
"Ssh. I'm too old to kneel on this stone floor for so long." Severus shifted slightly to look into his eyes. "I'm too old for you…"
Knowing how ridiculous that statement was, Harry dove back in, cutting his words off before they could be finished. Pushing the man backwards, Harry followed, never letting their lips part. He tried to keep his weight supported by bracing his elbows either side of Severus' head but he was soon pulled flush, torso to torso with the strong chest below him. Groaning at the feel of his body so close, Harry had the fleeting thought that it would feel even better without clothes getting in the way. Luckily before his magic acted without his permission, Harry found the strength to pull back.
With those words he could see into Severus' soul. He wasn't the only one who wanted this so badly, or that this was just a dream.
He wasn't the only one who was affected by the stupid contract.
"Nothing." Dipping his head down for another taste he restrained himself long enough to continue. "Nothing's wrong, but can we move this to a bed?"
"Yes. Merlin yes." Whether it was his suggestion, or the fact that he had latched onto a piece of soft skin behind the man's ear, well he decided he would just have to investigate further.
They somehow made it to the bedroom, clothes being abandoned in their wake. Both men had only one conscious thought.
To reach the bed before their knees gave out.
By Rita Skeeter
In the most anticipated event of the season, Harry James Potter, Boy-Who-Conquered, married Miss Ginevra Molly Weasley at Hogwarts yesterday.
In a short ceremony both were formally wed by Ministry Warlock Justinius Matlock. Framed by a traditional flower arbour the couple were resplendent in their finery.
Ginevra Weasley was attired in traditional white, though the design sparked some controversy. Mr Potter was surprisingly wearing a more modern outfit in deep emerald green with black and silver embellishments, created by Madame Malkin.
See page 7 for more information and photos.
The Wedding feast was followed by dancing and the couple left early to start their honeymoon, details of which are being kept secret for security reasons.
The party lasted long into the night and was mirrored across the country as Wizarding Britain celebrated the marriage of its Saviour.
The respective ages of the couple has renewed discussions about an age limit being imposed for marriage, an option heavily fought against by those who favour the traditionalist way of life. As one unnamed individual pointed out 'if it's good enough for Harry Potter then why change anything?'
Stay tuned for future updates on the golden couple, including any news on the pitter-pattering of tiny feet.
Summary of Harry Potter's life so far, page 2
Guest list, page 5
The inside scoop for the robes, food and ceremony, page 7
POTTER MARRIAGE ENDED
BOY-WHO-CONQUERED, BACHELOR ONCE MORE
By Rita Skeeter
It is with a sad heart I announce the ending of the marriage of Lord Harry James Potter and Mrs Ginevra Molly Potter, now known as Miss Weasley.
Their wedding, coming so soon after the defeat of the Dark Lord, was seen as the start of a new era in the Wizarding World. However, soon after rumours surfaced that it was not the love match it was made out to be.
The details are sketchy. But what is known, is that Miss Weasley broke an infidelity clause in their Marriage Contract. After being appraised of the situation Lord Potter generously allowed Miss Weasley to sign a waver to quickly end their Marriage Bond without further legal intervention.
In the intervening years since his marriage Lord Potter, out of common decency, has not spoken to the press about his personal situation. His interview with yours truly two weeks ago, was the first time he had spoken of his personal life. However others were not so reticent. Below are a few off the record statements from people who are close to the couple.
"He was in love with someone else, but Dumbledore didn't approve of the match so made Harry marry her."
"Harry tried to find a way out sure, but it was more a desperate attempt to find happiness rather than the disdain for tradition as some people were saying. Once he found out he was stuck he tried to bear with it as best he could. Ginny didn't make it easy for him."
"Harry understood that they barely knew each other and tried to breach the gap by offering her traditional courting gifts. A family journal, monogrammed stationary, introductions to his friends and family. He even went to the trouble to go out of his way and accommodate her wishes during the pregnancy. Nothing was ever good enough, Ginny just wanted more money."
"She doesn't even care about her daughter. Hardly sees her from one day to the next. Whereas Harry tries to hide it, but he is completely smitten with the Eliza. Even takes time to feed and bathe her. She won't go down until he reads her a bedtime story."
It is believed that full custody of Elizabeth Adhara Potter, three months old, remains at this time with her father.
The rapid end to an apparently troubled marriage is hopefully something of a blessing. Lord Potter is not yet available for comment, though he has written me a small note confirming the facts stated above and promised an interview soon.
"I just need time to sort some personal affairs first, I hope you understand. Though I never loved her, her betrayal has hurt me. I would like to give my thanks to those who have already sent their condolences."
What happens now is for Lord Potter to decide. Will he find love at last?
You will be the first to know my dear readers,
'Ginevra Weasley, gold digger or just too young?', page 2
Top Ten Most Eligible Bachelors, page 10
The article had been rather demure for Skeeter he thought. He wondered at some of the comments from 'people who knew them both'. No matter, it had left him in a good light and free to follow his heart.
The problem was, whether his heart had waited for him. It was just over three years since they had been together and Severus was quite the catch. Not typically handsome, but appealing in a dark mysterious way.
Steeling himself and crossing everything capable of being crossed, he knocked on the door in front of him.
Brilliant opening Harry, he chastised himself.
"Read the paper yet?"
"Rita is in fine form."
"Can I come in?"
"On one condition."
Harry waited with baited breath, not even relaxing when he saw the small smile Severus now sported.
Well that was easy.
A.N.: Thank you all for reading. I'll add another chapter to alert those who want to know about the sequel – if it ever appears. Oh, and I did all my fact checking on Harry Potter Wiki. This story was previously uploaded in chapter form to HPFandom. Thank you for reading.