Disclaimer: Every character and scene appearing in this story is mine, for I am JKR. Ah, JKR with dark hair. And an Adam's Apple. And a five-o'clock shadow that won't go away no matter how closely I shave. But I've got good legs and I'm sure I'd look marvelous in a skirt.
This sprang from a thread on the Caer Azkaban Yahoo group. See message 227146 and the thread around it. The story is marked as Humor because that's the closest of the choices, but much of it is a rather grim humor. If you're looking for something light and amusing, this ain't it.
In 1590, during the final battle of the dwarf wars (which later generations of Hogwarts students would never learn about because they did not involve a goblin uprising), Pederasticus Parkinson saved the life of Lloyd Potter. He was about to claim some reward from the magically powerful family when Potter saved his life in turn. There was only one thing to do.
"When you have a daughter – no, wait. Considering your predilections, you'll never have a daughter. Let's say, when a daughter of the Parkinson family and one of the Potter boys are of age and unmarried at the same time and, say, within five years of each other, they shall wed and join our families in recognition of our mutual obligation." At the time, "of age" meant past puberty and physically ready to create children.
Parkinson agreed and after the battle they turned the agreement over to a clerk to write up and formalize. When it came time to sign, they were both half-drunk at the victory celebration and interested only in getting wholly drunk and not at all interested in reading the terms of the contract. Potter, in particular, would have been distressed to learn of a clause which went into all Parkinson contracts. Too bad. He signed it without reading, a mistake under the best of circumstances.
Poppy Pomfrey filled out the form for all of the health checkups for all of the Hogwarts students. It was a part of her job she really resented. Unlike the ministry drones who had no job other than to shuffle pages back and forth, she had a real job, watching after hundreds of accident-prone students in a poorly supervised school. She didn't even know if anyone read these forms or did anything with them, but she had to fill them out anyway. She had been fined 100 galleons a few years ago simply for sending the forms in a few days after the June 30 deadline.
Some of the questions were ridiculously intrusive, none of anybody's business, and probably pointless. Still, she had to be careful in checking the correct boxes for those students who had, for instance, gone through puberty in the past year.
Lucius Malfoy was incensed. His son – his alleged son, the persistent failure whom his wife insisted was his – had failed to pick up the basics of what happened between men and women, let alone between men and more interesting beings. Now Lucius had had to take his idiot son – alleged son – to a discrete healer for a cure to a problem of a most personal nature. That wasn't bad enough, oh, no. Lucius had been forced to sit through the lecture because the idiot boy had managed to become infected with a wasting disease which was spread only by intimate contact. And to learn that the intimate contact had been with the girl he'd been contracted to marry since infancy. And to face the head of the Parkinson family and break the engagement because of the girl's obvious infidelity. And then to learn that Draco had not even had intimate contact with the girl but had only engaged in deep kissing, which led to the inescapable conclusion that Draco had gone through a proxy to have intimate contact with another wizard. But even the knowledge that Draco had wasted his time going through a proxy was not what had Lucius incensed.
Lucius Malfoy was incensed because he would have to give his son – his alleged son – The Talk, and that simply wasn't done. Proper British pure bloods simply did not talk about such things.
Lucius would have been horrified to learn that this was yet another similarity between proper, upper-crust British wizards and proper, upper-crust British mundanes.
Fergus Ferguson, of the Ministry for Magic's Contracts Notification and Registration Office, stared in annoyance at an envelope. The charms had let him know that another old contract had been activated. Perfectly routine. He sent the notification to one of the parties, a Mr Parkinson. Perfectly routine. He'd sent the notification to the other party, Mr Potter. Perfectly routine.
Mr Potter's letter had been returned as undeliverable. That was not routine but it was not uncommon. Fergus could even see that it would be expected with somebody as famous as Mr Potter, although he would have thought that correspondence from the ministry, which was by definition very important, would have gotten through his owl wards.
Fergus wrapped the letter in another envelope and addressed it to Harry Potter's Guardian. The delivery owl wouldn't even accept the letter. That was annoying, but again, not unheard of. Probably the owl wasn't smart enough or its charms weren't strong enough to figure out who the guardian was. Fergus spent an unprofitable hour attempting to find out the information so that he could address the letter more precisely. He was unable to find a name to go with the position.
Very annoyed, because it was nearing the end of his work day and he was damned if he was going to work one minute more than they were paying for, Fergus scrawled "To Whoever Thinks He's In Charge Of Harry Potter" on the envelope and thrust it toward the owl. To his surprise, the owl accepted the letter and flew off.
Alas, the owl made its way to Albus Dumbledore's overflowing inbox. The letter was never seen by human eyes again. Not that it would have mattered if Dumbledore had eventually found it. The contract had a one-week no-questions-asked cancellation clause which could be activated by either party. Albus Dumbledore was in Europe that week, attending to ICW business, and did not return until after the cancellation period had lapsed.
The recipient of the other owl, Panderus Parkinson, read the contract notification with some surprise. He had had no idea that such a thing was lurking any ministry filing cabinet. However, being an ambitious and crafty sort, he immediately saw how he could turn this to his own benefit. And to the detriment of the Malfoy family, which at the moment was the same thing.
Panderus, and Pansy, had been devastated when Lucius Malfoy had canceled her betrothal to Draco on the grounds that she was impure. What an outrage! Pansy's mother had verified her purity herself (to the girl's mortification) while Panderus plotted the family's revenge.
This would do it. Draco Malfoy and Harry Potter had equally good claims to the Black Family fortune. With a bit of behind-the-scenes politicking, Potter would inherit, and his wife would be his beneficiary, which meant that Panderus was only a bit of politicking, a marriage, and an untimely death from getting his hands on the Black fortune.
He called the elf to prepare his most impressive robes. He had ears to bend and arms to twist.
Lucius Malfoy took in the gossip from the multitude of flunkies and hangers-on who flocked around him. Most of it was drivel – honestly, he had to get himself a better class of flunky – but one bit caught his ear. A marriage contract between that Parkinson slut and Harry Potter? It was not only the most amusing thing he had heard all day, it was potentially the most profitable. Draco assured him that Potter was nearly a squib. It wouldn't take much of the magic-eating venereal disease to make him a true squib, thereby making him ineligible to inherit in the Black family, thereby clearing the way for Draco to inherit it all. Lucius made his way to bend the ears of a few friendly department heads and to twist the arms of a few others. Nothing would interfere with this contract's enforcement.
The September First train ride from London to Scotland was very long, as always. This year, without the excitement of finally going to Hogwarts, the creative solution of borrowing his father's flying car and making their own way up, or the threat of the dementors, it seemed even longer. There was only so much exploding snap you could play, and Ron was looking forward to something to break up the monotony.
Be careful what you wish for. The door slid open and there was Malfoy's narrow, ratlike face, spoiling Ron's appetite. That was a crime against humanity! Or at least a crime against growing boys.
"Just what I expected, a traitor, a mudblood, and a scarhead, all stinking up the compartment. It's just the same as always. But just you wait, Potter. Something different is happening this year and then we'll see which of us is the winner."
Ron wanted to come back with a snappy retort but nothing was coming to mind. He could never think fast enough for that. He'd have to think of some ahead of time so he would be able to tell Malfoy what he thought of him. Luckily, Harry wasn't so slow.
"You're already the winner, Malfoy. Your mother was hot-hot-hot at the Quidditch World Cup. You already got to see her with her top off when you were a baby. Oh! Is that a sore point? Were you nursed by a house elf and that's why your ears are so big?"
Malfoy was so angry he couldn't do anything but squeak out "my father". Harry laughed as he shoved the blond out the door. "Not your father, yo mama."
"Harry, you're a disgusting, sexist pig. I don't know why I put up with you."
"Don't give me that. I'll bet you wet yourself trying not to laugh, didn't you?"
"I won't dignify that with an answer. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to step out for a moment."
Ron met Harry's eyes and they both started laughing as soon as the door shut behind Hermione. They had sobered up by the time she returned.
The door slid open again minutes later. "There you are," Pansy Parkinson said in her usual, unpleasant, fingernails-on-chalkboard voice. "Why didn't you come and find me? Why did I have to search all up and down this train, looking for you? Now come on. We have to make plans. I'll be wearing white, of course."
Ron, Harry, and Hermione all looked at one another in confusion before turning back to the girl still in the doorway. "What? What are you talking about, Parkinson?"
"Yah, what do you need Harry for? And I'm not letting him go anywhere with a snake." Ron was going to stick up for his friend. Neither of them would ever let the other down. Best mates through thick and thin, that was it.
"Has someone cast a hex on you, Parkinson?" Hermione asked. "You do realize you're talking to Harry Potter, not Draco Malfoy?"
"Shut up, you stupid mudblood and you blood traitor," Parkinson sneered. "I was speaking privately. Now come on, Potter. I don't have all day."
"Why would I go with you, Parkinson? I don't have anything to say to you. I don't want anything to do with you. I'll never want to have anything to do with you."
"Oh, that's the way it is, is it? You should have said so before … unless you wanted the penalty. That makes sense. Your pet mudblood is practically a boy already. Just wait until I tell my father what –"
Ron was pulling his wand – to do what, he wasn't sure; he'd been trained by his mother since childhood never to strike or attack a girl under any circumstances – when Harry's full-power banisher caught her right in the face.
"Harry! What did you just do? You can't attack a girl!" Hermione screeched at him.
"It wasn't a girl. It was Malfoy, couldn't you tell? I don't know why he polyjuiced himself as Porkinpug, but it was him. Came in to annoy us on the train, same lame insults, whining about his father. Who else could it have been?"
"I'll bet I know why he's disguised as a girl. It's because he liiiiikes you, Harry."
"Shut up, Ron!"
"He wants some kiiiiiiisses!"
"Ron, if you don't shut up, I'm going to throw your gangly butt out the window!"
The three friends all laughed and came up with reason after reason for why Draco Malfoy, ponce though he might be, would have disguised himself as Pansy Parkinson, each explanation more ridiculous than the last. The remainder of the trip passed quickly and with much hilarity.
As Albus Dumbledore presided over the opening feast of 1994, he pondered the news he had received shortly after the Hogwarts Express had arrived: Harry Potter had attacked Pansy Parkinson for no reason at all.
Dumbledore was no fool, and neither was he senile. His normal persona was nothing but an act intended to fool the gullible and the simple-minded. The act was more effective than he'd ever expected, taking in virtually every magic user in Britain. He didn't know whether this was because he was an amazingly convincing actor or because he was surrounded by simpletons, so he dealt with it by believing each explanation on alternating days. Today he believed he was surrounded by simpletons who had to be led by the hand, or by the short and curlies, wherever they needed to go. For their own good, of course.
Because he was surrounded by simpletons, Albus had to give very clear, very simple instructions. "Minerva, please escort Mr Potter to my office immediately after the feast. Severus, please escort Miss Parkinson to my office immediately after the feast. And, Severus, you are not to speak to Mr Potter until we all reach my office." Throw the mangy cur a bone. "You know that, as a child, he is unable to properly control his temper when provoked, and you must admit that you deliberately provoke the child. Let's hold off on that until we have heard his side of the confrontation."
Soon enough, the five were gathered in Albus's office. "Lemon sherbet?" he offered. No one took one. They never did. It made Albus sad that no one else could ever experience the tangy delight of his special blend. He'd discovered it quite by accident. He never would have thought to deliberately mix his own urine into a batch of candy, but the results spoke for themselves.
"Very well, then, down to business. Mr Potter, it was reported that you attacked Miss Parkinson for no reason when she went to talk to you on the train about a contract. What do you have to say for yourself?"
Harry's eyebrows went up. "Parkinson? I didn't see her since the platform in London. Malfoy came in and insulted us disguised as Parkinson, but that's it."
"Liar!" Of course Severus had to express his opinion, and of course he had to insult Harry. At times Albus despaired for the long-term success of his rehabilitation projects.
But of course, today was a "surrounded by simpletons" day, so he really shouldn't expect any better.
"Were you there, Snape? Because I don't remember seeing you. And if we're trying to learn the truth about what happened, why aren't Ron and Hermione here?"
"That's Professor Snape, Harry. You should realize that it is very difficult to treat you as anything but a child when you childishly refuse to treat those around you with the respect they have earned."
Harry gave him such a dumbfounded look that it must be an act. But, "surrounded by simpletons" day. Albus sighed inwardly and prepared to explain it in terms even a simpleton could understand.
Harry didn't give him a chance. "If you want me to treat Snape with the respect he has earned, I'll start insulting him and his parents in front of the whole school. And I'll start destroying things that matter to him. That's a nice potions storeroom you've got there, Snape. Be a shame if anything happened to it."
Parkinson's shrill voice cut over Snape's and McGonagall's haranguing of the poor, misguided boy. "Forget all that! I don't care about Snape! I don't even care that stupid Potter attacked me. I can pay him back later. What are we going to do about the contract? I'm not going to suffer just because stupid Potter wasn't man enough to fulfill his duties."
Even Dumbledore couldn't make any sense of that. It was one of the hazards of being surrounded by simpletons, that it was contagious.
However, after several tries Dumbledore finally got from Miss Parkinson that a marriage contract between herself and Harry had been activated and accepted.
"That's simply impossible. I have been acting as Harry's guardian and any such contract would have to go through me. I certainly have not seen anything of the sort."
"You're my guardian? You're the one who's supposed to have been keeping me healthy and safe and happy?" Harry nodded slowly a few times. "I think I feel a bout of teenage rebelliousness coming on."
"Shut up, stupid Potter. Nobody cares about that. Headmaster – that is, Mr Dumbledore, Harry Potter's guardian – my father gave me a receipt from the ministry's contracts office saying that they delivered your copy of the contract and also that you didn't decline it. My father told me that you made no attempt to contact him regarding the contract. That means that I have to marry stupid Potter or suffer the penalties."
The dates on the paperwork from the ministry suggested that the contract had been delivered – supposedly had been delivered – while Albus was away, attending to one of his many other responsibilities. It was possible that it had been lost when he told his elf to dispose of his overflowing inbox on his return. Not that he was going to admit that out loud. It was one of the traits of simpletons that they latched onto the first explanation that presented itself to them – the first convenient explanation which absolved them of any responsibility – and did not make the effort to look further into a matter. If the simpletons around him heard even a suggestion that Albus was to blame, they wouldn't consider the perfectly plausible explanation that the clerk in the ministry's contracts notifications office had sloughed off on his duties and then fraudulently filled in the paperwork afterward to cover his lapse.
It was already a late night and it would be much later before Albus calmed everyone down and everything was settled. It was too late to bring in one of the ministry's contracts staffers but Albus called in Miss Parkinson's father, who confirmed her tale. Eventually Albus got everyone out of his office.
Harry stayed behind for one last word.
"You did this to me, Dumbledore. You stuck your nose in again and you dropped the ball. Again. I'm going to look into the penalties for breaking the contract. They can't be as bad as marrying Parkinson."
"If you have your eye on one of the other young witches in the castle, you may be able to come to some arrangement to take her as your mistress. So long as you do your duty by your wife –"
"No! I don't want Pansy at all! I don't want any of these girls."
Albus nodded in sympathetic understanding. "Ah. I quite understand. It was the same for me in my youth. Like you, I was required to marry, for the continuation of my family in my case. My brother was unsuitable, of course. I at least was able to function with human women, but he… Well, that's his preference and his own affair. In any event, you can marry Miss Parkinson and force yourself to do your husbandly duty, and then follow the tradition in these cases by spending most of your time with your friends. Your male friends. Your strapping, male friends, with firm, young… Ahem. And later, when you are more mature and fully respectable and your wife has provided you with an heir, you may find a likely lad or two to foster. You need only look to tradition, Harry, and you'll find guidance for most of life's problems."
Harry then left his office, shaking his head and obviously not accepting the pearls of wisdom cast at his feet. Albus was glad this day was finally over. He had had enough of being surrounded by simpletons.
Pansy joined stupid Potter and his stupid friends in the library after classes two days later, researching marriages and contracts and marriage contracts and ways to break the unbreakable. She and stupid Potter had spent the previous evening talking and finding out if they could ignore three years of house rivalry and get along. She wasn't totally opposed to this marriage, though the idea of him putting his filthy, halfblood hands on her nauseated her. Her father had told her the reasons he was in favor of this union. They were good reasons, and she saw the benefit for herself as well as her family, and it wasn't like she was looking at a lifetime with the bastard, and the benefits would pay for any number of house elves to help wash away the taint.
On the other hand, that insulting halfblood seemed to think she – she! – wasn't good enough for him. She wouldn't weep a single tear if stupid Potter broke the contract without her having to defy her father or suffer any penalties.
It would have been nice if any of her friends had joined her here – the table was suffering from an overabundance of stupid Gryffindors – but the only bad thing about Slytherin House was that you usually had to stand alone as soon as anything went wrong. She wasn't happy about it, but she'd followed the informal house motto herself: everyone loves a winner, everyone leaves a loser.
"No, that's not what it means, you ignorant mudblood," Pansy corrected the thing with the freakish hair and the rodent teeth. "'Live together as man and wife' means just living together, in the same house. And not all the time, just most of the time. It has to be where they both call home. If you hadn't grown up like an animal, you know these things."
"Parkinson, I'm getting tired of your mouth. Watch it or go away or go drown yourself, I don't really care which."
Pansy wasn't worried about stupid Potter's bad temper. One of the terms of the contract, a standard term, was that neither of them could kill the other. Not directly, anyway. There were ways around the exact wording of the ban. Her ancestors had learned all the tricks.
The bad news was, the contract seemed to be truly unbreakable. The penalty clause was very nasty but Pansy had already known of it. It had been a Parkinson standard for centuries. Stupid Potter, though, had been very funny in the way he panicked. It had taken his pet mudblood half an hour to calm him down and get back to work. Really, being cursed to be attracted only to (and attractive only to) young boys wasn't the end of the world. Her brother had mistakenly tripped that clause in contract before having any children of his own, which left Pansy as the Parkinson heir, and that didn't bother Pansy at all. Maybe it was a boy thing.
The good news was, the contract could be fulfilled without her having to let stupid Potter actually touch her. It was the mudblood who had figured that out. That didn't change Pansy's opinion of her. She had never denied that mudbloods had their uses, it was just that they weren't as good as real people.
Still, stupid Potter seemed inappropriately grateful to the mudblood. He should be thrilled and honored for even the chance to be near a pureblood princess such as herself, and he should understand what she was going through, having to be near him.
But that wasn't what was happening. She looked on in disgust as stupid Potter hugged the mudblood after she'd outlined how he could go through with the marriage and not have to be friendly to Pansy and not be cursed. "Potter, if you ever want to dream of touching me, you won't sully your hands by touching that freak."
"I warned you." His face hard as a stone, Harry ignored her threats and imprecations as he dragged her to the second floor and into… A bathroom? After chasing out a poor girl who only wanted to do her business, Harry hissed at the wall and it opened large enough for them to enter.
"You can slide down there on your own or I can throw you down," he told her.
Pansy drew her wand as soon as he let go of her arm but he took it from her with insulting ease. Then he threw her into the hole.
The slide down was disgusting from the slime. The trip through a deep hallway at the bottom was disgusting from the small animal bones, though the gigantic snake skin was almost impressive enough to make up for it. But then stupid Potter opened the final set of doors by hissing again and revealed a gigantic chamber, one with puddles of stagnant water and moss growing everywhere and – great Caesar's ghost! What was that thing?
"The contract says we can't kill each other," Harry told her in a flinty voice even more frightening than the snake-hissing. "It doesn't say anything about not leaving you down here and bringing you food once a week. Leaving you in the dark and cold and wet. Do you think you'd last a month before you killed yourself or had an accident in the dark?" He aimed the light from his wand at the giant snake's remaining fang and a few other hazards.
Pansy could barely stammer out a few threats. "As soon as I get my wand back…"
"I killed this basilisk all by myself when I was twelve, not even a year and a half ago. Do you think you scare me? Do you think you can do anything for me but annoy me? I'm tired of you and I'm tired of your mouth and I'm tired of you insulting my friends. You're going to control yourself around me or you're going to regret it."
Pansy broke. She promised not to insult the mudblood or the traitor – Granger and Weasley – if he would bring her back up. She went back to the Slytherin dorms after Potter left her in the bathroom. Slytherins were known for their cunning, not their courage, and she had to cry this one off.