Harry tries to rescue Daphne in front of the Wizengamot
Harry Potter and the Marriage Contracts.
Chapter Twelve – Some More Retribution
January 6, 1998
Ministry Of Magic
Chambers of the Wizengamot:
Daphne wrote: YES YES YES
Thank you. Now, this one is important and will decide what I do next. Please, don’t think about it, just answer.
2. Daphne, will you marry me?
The question stunned the Slytherin. She wrote: Harry, Dumbledore’s about to read the banns… I’m to marry…
Tic Tic Tic Daphne. I don’t need a lesson on current events, I need your answer. Will. You. Marry. Me? The new text shimmered into existence on the page beneath her words.
Daphne wrote: YES
Up on the dais Dumbledore gaveled the room into silence once more. “The Reading of The Banns:” The ancient Wizard announced theatrically.
"I publish the banns of marriage between Daphne Ophelia Greengrass of the Noble House of Greengrass and Count Benedikte Stefan Florinel Georghiu Neacsu, the Head of the Romanian Imperial House of Neacsu. If any of you know any cause or just impediment why these two houses should not be joined together in magic, in tradition and in blood, ye are to declare it now. This is the first and only time of asking.” Dumbledore paused dramatically to allow the customary time for the protest. The question was a bit of political theater that amused him to no end, as no Reading of the Banns had been objected to before the Wizengamot in more than five hundred years.
“I object.” A single voice sounded in the abject silence of the chamber.
Every head in the chamber rotated to face Harry Potter.
“What is this Greengrass?” The Romanian nobleman thundered from his seat in the gallery. “Is some trick to increase Bride-Price? Who is this boy?” Now every eye was on the Count as he turned to Daphne. “This is boy you spread legs for?” the old man raised his hand as if to strike the girl, only to suddenly grasp his right arm and scream.
“Striking a woman is the surest sign of a barbarian old man.” Potter said from his place across the gallery as he lowered his wand. “I would stop you from hitting any woman. Attempt to hit that woman again and I will kill you. If I find out you’ve struck her in the past, I’ll still kill you.”
“Greengrass! Who is this boy?”
From the dais, a startled Dumbledore attempted to reassert control of the chamber sputtering. “Mr. Potter, what are you doing here?”
“In this setting Chief Warlock, you should be calling me Lord Potter-Black, should you not?”
An expression of anger flickered across Dumbledore’s face. “Very well then, Lord Potter-Black, what are you doing here?”
“I believe that should be obvious, Chief Warlock.” Harry said, as if explaining himself to a particularly slow child. “I am protesting this proposed marriage.”
“On what grounds are you protesting Lord Potter-Black?”
“Line-Theft and Fraud.”
Dumbledore’s eyebrows threatened to climb above his hairline. “Those are serious charges, Lord Potter Black. Approach. Cyrus Greengrass, Count Neacsu, you both approach as well.”
Harry made his way to the open section of the chamber before the assembled Wizengamot and stood tall, looking every inch the Man-Who-Conquered. Cyrus Greengrass and his proposed son in law stomped their way to stand beside Harry.
“I don’t know what you’re trying to pull Potter.”
Harry put the tip of his wand under the elder Greengrass’s chin. “Never piss off a Potter old man. No one takes from me what is mine. I followed your fucked up rules, I did what I was supposed to do, and you expect me to put up with this? I don’t take kindly to being defrauded. When I’m done with you Greengrass, you won’t have a pot to piss in.”
“SILENCE!” Dumbledore’s magically amplified voice boomed out, quelling all discussion and conversation in the cavernous room. The ancient Wizard looked about to satisfy himself that the chamber would remain quiet. “Now then Lord Potter-Black, what is the basis of your objection to this marriage between Miss Greengrass and Count Neacsu.”
Harry stepped away from the elder Greengrass, lowering his wand. “Unless Daphne has a sister she hasn’t told me about there is no ‘Miss Greengrass’. Her name is Daphne Potter. We married on November 15th of last year. I signed his insulting contract, and his Bride-Price was paid the previous day.” From his robes Harry produced several rolls of parchment. “Here are copies of all the appropriate documentation from Gringotts detailing the transfer of the Bride-Price to the Greengrass vault, as well as my signed and sealed copy of the Marriage Contract binding the Noble House of Greengrass to the Ancient and Noble Houses of Potter and Black.”
“These Documents appear to be in order Mr. Greengrass.” Dumbledore intoned from his dais.
Cyrus Greengrass paled. “You and Daphne are married?”
“There was however, no reading of the Banns for a marriage between yourself and the House of Greengrass Lord Potter-Black” Dumbledore noted.
“Neither Daphne nor I needed or wanted a dog and pony show to announce our relationship to the world. Everyone in this chamber is aware that this ceremony has no legal standing. It exists as a tradition simply to promote the political standing of minor houses looking to advance.”
“Chief Warlock?” The Clerk of the Wizengamot spoke up hesitantly. “The Book of Records indeed shows the marriage between Harry James Potter and Daphne Ophelia Greengrass at 3:38 pm on the 15th of November last year.”
“What is this? What trickery is this? Who are you boy?”
Harry turned his attention from Dumbledore to the blustering nobleman. “You would be well advised to shut the hell up old man. If you had actually struck my wife you would be dead now. The ease with which you made the gesture of hitting her suggests to me that you may have already done so, if she tells me you have, you die today.” Harry stepped back from the man, his expression clouded. He glanced over at Daphne sitting in the gallery. She wouldn’t meet his eyes. A sudden look of realization crossed Harry’s face.
Harry took hold of the front of Cyrus Greengrass’s robes and pushed him against the dais. “Did you give this man access to Daphne in his contract? Did you offer him Clause Nine? Did you allow him to put his hands on my wife?” Harry’s magic flared into a visible aura, the granite floor beneath his feet indented.
“Mr. Potter!” Dumbledore said from his dais.
Cyrus Greengrass sputtered, “She never told me…”
“Didn’t you wonder why your vault suddenly had an extra sixteen thousand Galleons on November 14th? I was not obligated to tell you that I had accepted your contract. Did you give her a chance to tell you before you gave her to that man? I’m going to destroy you Greengrass, anything you love I’m going to take away from you.”
“Calm yourself boy.” The Romanian rumbled from behind Harry. “All this fuss over girl? Lays like dead fish anyway.”
Harry released the elder Greengrass. “Get your wand old man.” He turned to face the Romanian. “I’ve already killed a couple dozen dark bastards; another one won’t make any difference.”
“You dare challenge me boy?”
“Daphne!” Tracey hissed in her friend’s ear.
“Tracey? What are you doing here?” Daphne glanced out into the chamber where Harry was still threatening the Romanian, then toward the Count’s Valet. “I don’t understand what’s going on. What is Harry doing?”
“Getting you out of this.”
“YOU!” the heavily accented voice of Neacsu’s Valet diverted the attention of the chamber from the entertainment before the Wizengamot to a smaller drama in the gallery. “Stand away from Count Neacsu’s woman before…”
The man stiffened in his seat. The only voluntary muscles that still obeyed his mind were those that controlled his eyes.
“Now, there’s no reason to be so rude.” Neville Longbottom said in a conversational voice from behind the petrified man’s left ear. “Imagine how embarrassing it would be back home if you had to tell everyone that you missed seeing Lord Potter-Black, the slayer of Voldemort, the Man-Who-Conquered, kill your Count because you were too busy trying to stop a couple of young women from whispering?”
Hearing Neville’s casual statement, the Romanian Count’s eyes went wide. “You are Man-Who-Conquered? You kill Dark Lord?”
“He certainly is.” Neville said, still in his conversational tone of voice, crystal clear in the silence of the chamber. “And I’m Neville Longbottom, the Man-Who-Held-Harry’s-Cloak-While-He-Killed-the-Dark-Lord.” The head of House Longbottom smiled widely. “Do you have a hyphenated name Count?”
“Enough of this!” Dumbledore bellowed from his dais. “There will be no dueling in the chambers of the Wizengamot!”
“My apologies Chief Warlock.” Harry said, turning to face Dumbledore. “I was simply defending my line, in the traditions of pureblood culture.”
“Mr. Potter, you cannot…”
“In this chamber I am Lord Potter-Black Chief Warlock.” Harry snapped. “Good men died so that I might hold those titles and uphold the pureblood traditions you all hold so dear.”
“Fine. Lord Potter-Black, you cannot simply attack someone in the chambers of the Wizengamot.”
“Son of a Bitch!” once again the attention of the chamber went to Neville Longbottom. “Lord Potter-Black. We have a problem.” The look on Neville’s face was one of fury. “Someone has placed a proscribed torture device on the Lady Potter.” Neville indicated a rune covered bracelet on Daphne’s left wrist.
“What is it?”
“It’s what’s called a Bridal Submission bracelet, Lord Potter-Black.” Kingsley Shacklebolt said stepping forward to examine the cursed jewelry. “We find them occasionally in caches of dark artifacts. It causes pain. If triggered it can incapacitate and even kill.”
“Can you remove it?” Harry asked.
“I think so. It would be easier all around for whoever placed it on her to remove it.” The tall Auror looked pointedly at the Romanian aristocrat.
“I will not remove my gift from the stricată until the bride price I pay is returned.” The old man sniffed.
“You aren’t going to live to spend that money old man.” Harry leveled his wand in front of the Aristocrat’s face. “Remove it. Now.”
“To hell with it Harry, I just need a bit of his blood. I’ll arrest him for use of a proscribed dark artifact and force the issue.” Shacklebolt took on an annoyed look as he stood up from Daphne and her pain.
“Blood?” Harry perked up. “Is that all you need?” He lowered his wand, and drove the heel of his left hand into the nose of the Romanian, smashing it to one side. Harry’s right hand took hold of the older man’s hair, pulling the man’s head forward so that blood from his broken nose pooled in the palm of Harry’s left hand.
Harry crossed the chamber to where Shacklebolt stood. “Is this enough? He’s got plenty.”
“Damn it Harry,” Shacklebolt said softly, “If you make me laugh I’ll likely lose my job.” With a wand gesture and murmured incantation the big Auror levitated the blood from Harry’s hand to the bracelet encircling Daphne’s wrist. The bracelet enlarged at the urging of Shacklebolt’s incantations and wand movements. The bracelet floated over Daphne’s hand when Harry felt rather than heard Neacsu cast a cutting curse.
Harry’s reflexes took over. Whirling he cast a Protego Praecise charm and watched as the shield blocking the Count's weak cutting curse propagated as a wave of force that smashed Neacsu's body into the wall of the Wizengamot's chamber. The man slid down the wall to the floor, trailing blood and other fluids.
“I said no dueling!”
Harry shook off the shock of what his shield had done. “All I did was cast a shield in response to his attack Chief Warlock. Evidently a shield needed to fight a dark lord is a bit too energetic to use on a normal Wizard.”
“That was a shield?” Madam Bones asked in a shocked voice from her seat.
The Clerk of the Wizengamot knelt next to the fallen Romanian. “The Count is dead.”
Silence ruled the chamber for a moment, and then Dumbledore spoke from his place on the dais. “Lord Potter-Black. Surrender your wand to Auror Shacklebolt.”
“Might I ask why?”
“So that we might confirm that you indeed only cast a shield charm.”
From his seat in the gallery Alastor Moody watched as Potter’s wand was tested, and the Praecise shield was confirmed. The old man shook his head. Back in his prime, when Moody was still whole he had found and worked for more than three years to be able to cast Praecise… Moody had never managed more than a pulse of energy.
After the confirmation was noted by the Amelia and Dumbledore, Potter had gathered Daphne and his friends and left the chambers, leaving a very subdued Wizengamot behind. Somehow Potter had lied and cheated his way to saving Daphne from that Romanian Bastard. Eunice had come to him this morning pleading that Moody somehow save Daphne from the hell that Cyrus had sold her into, so Moody was here. He had intended to approach the girl and portkey her away, then Potter appeared on the scene and Moody decided to sit back and see what the boy had planned.
Moody had been amazed when the boy’s plan turned out to be little more than standing before the assembled Wizengamot and lie his ass off. The one thing that the old Auror couldn’t figure out was how the boy had managed to spoof the Book of Records. Still it was a bad plan. It shouldn’t have worked, but work it did. Killing the bastard that hurt Moody’s little Daphne was just icing on the cake. The boy certainly had a pair. Hopefully Daphne wouldn’t end up tearing them off.
Moody heaved himself up from the chair. It was time to tie off a few loose ends. Better do it before Daphne did. That girl took after him in so many ways, it warmed his old heart.
January 6, 1998
The quartet appeared in the foyer of Potter Manor with an echoing crack.
“Sweet Merlin’s Mother! We got away with it.” Neville said leaning against the wall. “I can’t believe we got away with it. Merlin Harry how did you manage to keep a straight face while you stood there in front of Dumbledore and everyone.”
“Calm down Neville, you’re babbling.” Daphne said softly.
There was a sudden pop and Dobby and Winky appeared in the foyer. Dobby stepped forward and bowed. “Mistress Potter, The Potter Elves welcome you home.”
Daphne’s breath caught in her throat. What ever Harry had done had the elves convinced that they really were married. “Thank you Dobby. Thank you Winky.” She thought about how her mother had treated new elves when the family acquired them. “We will meet soon to discuss the running of the house.”
“We is bonded Mistress?” Winky asked hopefully.
“What is one of the things we will discuss Winky. Could you prepare a light lunch for the four of us please? And get Mr. Longbottom something to drink please?”
Winky nodded. “Dobby Elf, go start lunch!” Dobby popped away, Winky looked to Neville. “Mr. Longbottom sir?”
Neville had yet to calm down. “Butterbeer please.”
Winky nodded and popped away.
“Why don’t you two go wait in the sitting room while Harry and I discuss a few things?”
“Just remember,” Tracey said smirking, “I made him come save you. He was going to sit in the Gryffy common room and cry.”
“Thank you Tracey. Go on.” She watched as Tracey entered the sitting room, then took Harry’s hand and led him up the stairs to his bedroom.
“So, we’re married? How did I miss that?”
Harry looked a bit embarrassed. “I sort of bribed the Goblins to backdate the marriage contract, and the payment your bride price.”
“They can do that? And how much did that cost?”
“Yeah, and not as much as you’d think. The Goblins really hate the Wizengamot.”
“How much? “ She asked again in a tone of voice that suggested that it would be in Harry’s best interest to answer.
“A half million.” Harry said.
“Galleons?” Daphne asked incredulously.
“And if I’d not said yes when you asked?”
“Well, plan ‘B’ was for Neville to slap a portkey to here on you, then we get out of the country as soon as we could. Activating the Portkey would tell the Goblins that the marriage was off and they would reverse whatever it was they did originally… for a small fee.” Harry took on a thoughtful look. “You know, it’s probably a good thing you said yes, that bracelet thing might have killed you if we portkeyed you would while it was still on you.”
“You spent half a million Galleons to save me?”
“I had it, so why not?”
He said it so casually. “So, I‘m your property now.”
Harry looked horrified. “No! You’re your own person. Daphne, I’m barely capable to looking after myself. This ‘marriage’ I’ve forced on you was the only way I could think of to get you out of having to marrying that old bastard and still remain in Britain. There may have been better ways, but this is all I could think of.”
Daphne drew him into a hug. “You saved me.” She whispered. “We’ll need to figure out what we’re going to do, but never doubt for a moment that you saved me.”
Winky called Neville and Tracey into the dining room for the lunch she and Dobby had prepared saying that ‘the Master and Mistress’ would join them shortly. Neville looked up from his soup bowl to catch the strawberry blond regarding him.
“Where do we go from here? I’m pretty sure that you can I can just return to school, take our detentions and meld back into the school. What about Daphne and Harry?” The Slytherin shook her head in a worried fashion.
The Gryffindor shrugged. “If they want to return to Hogwarts to finish, I’m pretty sure that they can. Dumbledore wants to know just how Voldemort was defeated far too badly to send Harry away. If they don’t want to, then it wouldn’t take either of them much effort to prep for their N.E.W.T.s on their own or with tutors. In reality it doesn’t matter. Neither of them will ever need their N.E.W.T.s, even with the deals Harry made today only put a minor dent in his fortune. He and Daphne can do whatever they want with their lives.”
“I’m glad we didn’t just grab her, but I wish we hadn’t used the contract.”
“Maybe it’s just as well… Something seems to be keeping them from their lunches.” Neville waggled his eyebrows at the girl.
“Oh please you pervert. They’re just talking. Daphne’s been through a lot in the last two weeks. They both need to decide how they’re going to deal with the situation they’ve found themselves in.”
“Have you ever wondered?” Neville said changing the subject. “Wondered what it might have been like if Hogwarts was set up differently? I mean what if we weren’t divided into meaningless teams by an ancient hat deciding who your friends should be based on cultural mores a thousand years old? What if, instead of separating us, all forty of us had been grouped together in a single cohort able to easily make friends with anyone else in the class?”
“I’ve never been a fan of ‘what if’s Longbottom.” Tracey shook her head. “You might as well ask ‘what if Draco and Pansy’s parents were decent human beings’ or ‘what if Goyle and Crabbe were intellectual leaders instead of moronic followers’ or ‘What if Harry Potter joined the Dark Lord’. None of those things happened. Wondering about them is a waste of time.”
“Don’t you have any dreams Davis?”
“Of course I’ve got dreams Longbottom. It’s just that I recognize that they are dreams and I’m not surprised when they don’t come true.”
January 6, 1998
Cyrus Greengrass had returned to his home to find his wife was missing. Not only was Eunice gone, but so were all seven of the Greengrass elves, and even the furnishings of his manor. It was the cap stone of a very bad day.
Immediately following the debacle at the Wizengamot, he had gone to Gringotts to investigate Potter’s claim of having deposited Daphne’s bride price, he discovered that the deposit had indeed been made. However his vaults were empty. He was informed by a smirking Goblin that Lord Potter-Black had purchased every outstanding debt that the House of Greengrass owed, and had called them all due.
So much for thinking that the Potter boy had been making empty threats before the Wizengamot.
He had been told that he was being allowed to return to his former home to collect his personal effects, and that anything left in the house at close of business that day would be destroyed. Cyrus found his personal papers and collections of photographs neatly boxed and waiting for him.
It had taken the head of the Greengrass family almost an hour to confirm the old Wizarding homily of ‘A man in need has no friends’. Once news of his financial situation had spread, none of his long time friends and acquaintances had time for him. Left with only the clothing on his back and the coins in his pouch, Cyrus quietly rented a cheap room in a small inn off Knockturn Alley.
Sleep came slowly alone in an unfamiliar bed. Waking suddenly when the rooms sole candle was lit was jolting. Though not as much as the slow realization that Alastor Moody was sitting in the chair at the foot of be bed, staring at him with both his natural and magical eyes.
“Alastor? What is it?”
“I just thought you should know Cyrus, the boy was lying.”
“What? What boy? Lying about what?” Cyrus had never been one to wake up gracefully, today was no exception.
“Potter of course. What other boy has fleeced you recently?” The gruff retired Auror grumbled. “He lied. He falsified the date on that marriage contract. He spoofed the Book of Records. The Goblins like him, they helped… for their usual fees. The things he did today that were real were love your daughter enough to risk it all for her, and his magic. His Magic… Now THAT was sure as hell real.”
“He was lying? Then I can recover from this. Together Alastor, we can do to him what he tried to do to me. We can ruin him.”
“That might work. But why would I want to? The Boy could put me in the ground without serious effort on his part. As far as you go, well as I see it, you deserve everything He’s done.”
“Over the years I’ve seen how you treated my little girl, how you broke her spirit. But I told myself I raised Eunice to take care of herself, she chose you and she chose to stay with you despite how you treated her. Then you tried to do the same to Daphne. You sold my grand-daughter to that fat bastard to use and torture. For that alone I was going to kill you. You running to this shit-hole just made it easier.”
Moody waved his wand lazily and Greengrass felt his body stiffen. “You know it’s amazing what you can buy for a few sickles… This wee lass for example.” The old man levitated a spider the size of a dinner plate from his satchel to hover over the paralyzed man. “Horribly poisonous, the only reason the Ministry allows their importation is that their fresh venom is so very useful in so many potions. If I were to guess, I believe that when the Aurors find you, they’ll believe that either the little lady here escaped from a previous tenet of this room, or climbed in the open window from the apothecary down stairs.”
Moody lowered the spider carefully onto his son-in-law’s chest, and then canceled the paralysis. Wide eyed with terror, Greengrass immediately flinched. The spider, startled by the sudden movement, sunk it’s fangs into the man’s chest.
Moody waited until his son-in-law’s struggles stopped, then quietly left the room, taking with him all evidence that he had ever been there.
A/N: A few thoughts:
Chapter Eleven made a lot of people quite angry, this one might as well.
- Ok, let me explain what I'm trying to do with this story. Prior to starting it I read a lot of other people's contract stories. In most of them the theme boiled down to either "Isn't it terrible that the Ministry would treat people this way, poor Hermione stuck with some bastard Pure Blood when she loves Harry/Ron" or "Gee isn't this a cool way of forcing Harry, who has demonstrated no homosexual desires in canon into a relationship with Snape/Draco/Lucius". This isn’t to say that there aren’t several good stories in this vein out on the Net, because there are. I just wanted to write something different.
- What I wanted to look at was the society that allowed involuntary contract marriages. I did quite a bit of research on British marriage contracts of the 18th and 19th century, and quite the eye opener it was, it was from this that I found what I chose to call 'Clause 9', a not uncommon clause in the contracts from that era that had the woman having to conceive prior to the marriage (to prove she wasn't barren). Those contracts were more than a little disturbing.
- As I originally outlined the fic, I was going to have Harry associate with several of the girls in his class offered to him, date a bit then move on, the story continuing to follow each girl. The story was intended to be light and fluffy until the horrors of the society showed themselves, blindsiding Harry and some (though not all) of the girls. Then Daphne became an engaging character that I couldn't really move away from. Daphne was going to 'get' her Count from the beginning, and so sadly were Susan and Pansy (to other 'older' members of European Magical Aristocracy) though only Daphne was to be pregnant before the marriage.
- I replotted, dumping all the other girls other than short cameos, but kept the horror (sans Daphne getting pregnant) I don’t think that's a spoiler, she specifically commented via thought of recognizing the taste of the contraceptive potion. Now Harry is in the process of ‘saving’ Daphne. His methods are criminal but nowhere near the level of the society he is working against.
- Should Harry be smarter in the story? I don't think so. Given how he was raised, with his general worthlessness explained to him in graphic detail by his loving relatives, with NO friends until he was 11 years old, some part of him, no matter how confident he pretends to be, is constantly expecting what ever girl he was with to 'wise up' and head for the hills. Hell, I still feel that way, and I've been married for almost 30 years.
- Should Daphne have expected her father to behave as he did? I don't believe so. She was well on the way to possibly giving him what he supposedly wanted, and lets face it, given the man's supposed motivation 'to promote his house to his advantage' betrothing Daphne (who has no siblings, at least in this story…) to a Romanian effectively renders the House of Greengrass extinct. Even if the contract outlined that the second male offspring would assume the title of the head of the House of Greengrass, RL British aristocracy learned to their detriment that a ‘lord’ raised outside of Brit culture never really joined it, unless he/she was royalty, and even then only barely. Obviously there was more going on with him.
- Many reviewers felt that I blindsided them with Daphne’s situation. I thought that my heavy handed foreshadowing had everyone expecting what I was doing (hell, over on the Caer Azkaban Yahoo group, Canoncansodoff practically posted my outline, including my ‘surprise’ ending), evidently not, and I apologize to anyone I offended. I also apologize for forgetting to place a warning on Chapter 11 originally. As soon as I realized I hadn’t I updated one there, but by then the damage was done.
A/N2: Many thanks to Fenriswolf001 for his suggestions that vastly improved the fight scene in the Chambers of the Wizengamot.