Chapter 35 - Familia Primum
. . .
Lucius Malfoy knew that he was a dead man. The blood drained from his face making him even paler than he already was as his eyes stared at the figure that had entered the courtroom. High aristocratic cheekbones, bark hooded eyes with long lashes, a thin nose which was slightly pointed. All of which was framed by long shiny black hair with an abundance of curls. The person's bearing could be described as nothing less than regal. "Bellatrix," Lucius uttered in a tone that was almost a plea not to let it be so.
Beside Malfoy senior, Gerald Greengrass blanched at the name having believed, as everyone else had, that the Lestrange woman had died at the Battle of Hogwarts. "Surely it cannot be," he stated. None the less the woman standing there dressed to the hilt in black robes of the most exquisite quality did indeed look like Bellatrix.
"Aurors! Seize that woman!" Amos Diggory commanded in a loud tone as he pointed toward the witch standing in the doorway! The two Aurors near Harry quickly moved to do as told only to be halted in their tracks by a cold glare from the witch in question. For this was no ordinary witch. This was the pure-blood daughter of the Black family who had not only bucked tradition but had stood up to her entire family and married a first generation wizard. If her psychopathic sister couldn't scare her into doing what their mother wanted what chance did a mere Chief Warlock and a few Aurors stand?
"Is there no end to your stupidity, Sir," the woman questioned in a tone filled with disdain as she turned her eyes back toward the Chief Warlock once she was certain the Aurors would not interfere. "They shall do no such thing for I am not my sister, Bellatrix!"
"Then who are you to burst in here uninvited?" Amos demanded.
"I am Andromeda Black, daughter of Cygnus and Druella Black," Andi declared in a disdainful tone believing that it should have been abundantly clear already. "You have in your possession something which rightfully belongs to me," the pure-blood witch stated as she made her way to the main floor of the courtroom, unmindful of the fact that every eye in the room was on her.
"You are no Black," Gerald called out. "You were cast out of the Black family when you married that Tonks fellow."
"I see you are still woefully behind on facts, Gerald," Andi replied in a deceptively casual tone as she made her way to where Harry stood waiting to be arrested. "You never could keep up in school either as I recall," the witch added, causing the head of the Greengrass family to scowl at the slighting. "Are you alright?" Andi asked Harry once she reached his side.
"Other than going to Azkaban, smashingly," Harry answered, a small, lopsided smile gracing his features."Your hair," Harry voiced, his eyes running over Andi's restored long dark tresses.
"You don't like it?" Andi asked, one hand self-consciously rising to brush her curls slightly.
"You're beautiful regardless of how your hair is," Harry assured the witch before him. "What are you doing here though?"
"Yes, that is a splendid question indeed," Amos voiced as he brought the gavel in his hand down sharply in an attempt to regain control of the proceedings.
"Keeping a promise," Andi replied to Harry, reaching out and cupping his cheek affectionately with one hand. "We're family, and I will never abandon you as my family did with me, Harry. I did promise that I would always be there for you."
Harry leaned into Andi's touch for a long moment before turning to regard Gerald. "Just so we are all clear, Andromeda was brought back into the Black family several months back. It was the proper action to take as the Head of House Black for it was a grave injustice that I could not abide any further. Unlike her parents, my family means everything to me."
"As touching as that sentiment is Lord Potter it has no bearing on this matter," Amos pointed out in an attempt to get back to where they were before the interruption the appearance of the witch had caused.
"On the contrary, Chief Warlock," Andi turned to address the wizard directly, "it has great bearing."
"I fail to see how" Amos stated in an irritated tone.
"Fear not Sir for we shall endeavor to correct your ignorance then," replied Andi, every bit the pure-blood princess that she had been raised to be.
"Now see here! You cannot simply just barge in here and do whatever it is you are doing," Gerald exclaimed in an angry tone. The wizard didn't have a clue as to what was about to happen, but his gut was telling him it would not be for his benefit.
"Mister Greengrass is correct," Amos added. "Lord Potter has already admitted to being married more than once, and hence he will be sentenced. We will not pander to the famous as they are not above the law!"
Andi merely arched a brow at the wizard and asked, "You will sentence the man without knowing all the facts and details? I thought that flavor of justice had gone the way of the witch-hunts."
"I for one would like to hear what Miss Black has to say," Kingsley spoke up. Though he was the Minister for Magic and must be seen as following the law, he was not keen on sentencing the Wizarding World's hero to a decade in the hellhole known as Azkaban. The Minister's words were greeted with nods and words of approval from many others in the room as well.
"Very well," Amos finally said, clearly not pleased with this turn of events, but who was he to say no to the Minister for Magic. The very man who gave him his position in the first place. "You may proceed but see that you do not waste our time," Amos warned.
"I believe the floor is yours," Andi said, turning to look at Hermione, causing the young witch's eyes to widen in surprise. "It is your plan after all," Andi added as she stepped past the surprised witch and took a seat next to the others.
Hermione quickly gathered her thoughts and stepped to the front of the room before turning to address those assembled. "I fear that though you have had a bit of a history lesson from Mister Wright I must ask for your indulgence as I present you with a bit more," she opened with as she drew forth a book from her small purse and set it on the table.
"In the year 1707, Ulick Gamp became the very first Minster for Magic. This was when the Ministry as we know first came into being. Many believed that once the International Statue of Secrecy was signed in 1692, the existing governing body, at least here in Britain, needed to be reformed," Hermione stated as she dropped into what Harry knew to be her lecture mode. "Minister Gamp was, before his appointment as Minster, the Chief Warlock of the old governing group known as the Wizards' Council."
"As Mister Wright informed you, the very law by which Mister Greengrass instigated the marriage of Lord Potter and Lady Black, was created in the time of the Wizards' Council. It would have been ratified by the Wizengamot which existed even in that time. But what was the Wizards' Council?" Hermione asked, walking back and forth across the front of the room as she warmed to her subject.
"I fail to see how any of this has any relevance to the current situation," Gerald cut in with. "The law is very clear in regards to what Potter has done and the penalty for doing so. Unless you plan on having the law changed I don't see what you're trying to do as anything more than stalling and a waste of our time."
"I feel I must agree with Mister Greengrass," Amos Diggory spoke up. "I fail to see what all this has to do with the current case. The Wizengamot is not in the habit of changing laws to suit those who have a bit of fame," he added with a pointed look toward Harry. "Do get on with whatever your point is Miss Granger as I'm certain we all have places we'd rather be."
Hermione refrained from pointing out that if they hadn't interrupted her, she would have been 'getting on' with her point."No, we do not need any laws changed, Chief Warlock," Hermione assured Amos. "In fact, the laws are perfectly fine as they are for the time being. I know a great many here are concerned with where our world is heading now that the war is over. You're fearful of generations of traditions being thrown to the side and forgotten," Hermione said to the assembly, many heads nodding in agreement to her words.
"There is nothing inherently wrong with traditions," Hermione continued with. "It is those traditions that hurt others or belittle them while putting the few unjustly ahead of the many that need to be looked at and perhaps replaced. Every tradition you hold dear now was at some time a new idea that was started by someone. What is to keep us from starting our own new traditions?"
Kingsley had to smile, agreeing with the impassioned witch's words. The Minister for Magic couldn't help but wonder if he was looking at his replacement in the future and made a mental note to recruit the witch if at all possible for he saw in her a much brighter future for their society. "Miss Granger, perhaps that is a topic for another time," the Minster cut in with before Amos or Gerald could say anything in protest."I believe you were telling us about the Wizards' Council?"
Realizing that she had gotten a bit off topic, Hermione gave a small smile and a nod towards Kingsley before continuing. "To understand the Wizards' Council and the Wizengamot itself, we must go further back in history. In the late fifth century, the Anglo-Saxon King of Kent brought together all the most important noblemen in England, both ecclesiastic and secular as well as the court wizards and Sages of his realm. This group of individuals was called the Witenagemot. Which translates to 'The Wise Men.'"
"The purpose of the Witenagemot was to advise the King on the realm, its subjects, and foreign policies. They were also sometimes called 'the King's Council' due to this," Hermione explained. "Up till this time, there really was no magical community to speak of. Magic was limited to families and was passed down from one generation to the next. A witch or wizard, born to non-magical parents was fortunate if they found someone willing to teach them. It is believed that many tried to suppress their abilities only to lose control and eventually perish from what we now call an Obscurus as their magic went out of control."
Slipping another tome from her purse, Hermione set it on the table. "It was Finnington the Farsighted who used the formation of the Witenagemot to try and bring together the many magical families. Until this time coven homesteads were reclusive and generally stayed to themselves due to a high degree of distrust of outsiders. Many spells, potions and charms are referred to as family magic for they were not shared with anyone outside the coven."
"These families were presided over by what we refer to today as the Head of House, however at the time they were often referred to as the coven Warlock and their wife was called the Matron Mother of the coven," Hermione continued to explain. "In the coven homesteads the Warlock's word was law, and many were not willing to give up that power so quickly when Finnington came calling. The families did eventually band together, each sending a representative to the Witenagemot, if for no other reason than to ensure that their autonomy was assured. A leader was elected and granted the title of Chief Warlock who's job it was to present their issues directly to the Crown. Each coven homestead answered to the Crown and then themselves and none other and they did not wish for that to change."
"It wasn't till the Witenagemot fell out of use in the 11th century that the magicals of that time took the name Wizengamot for themselves," Hermione informed those assembled who were hanging on her every word at this point. For most of those present, this was all history that had never been taught in Professor Binns class but probably should have been. "It was also at this time that the term Warlock was changed to Wizard, with the exception of the position of Chief Warlock of course."
"Those coven homesteads later came to be known as Houses as the term coven fell out use in the 1600's due to the witch-hunts. Still, it was long before then that the magical world began to distance themselves from the non-magical. It is widely believed that it was the Church and its distrust of magicals which led to the disbanding of the Witenagemot. As the Church gained power across the land, the king had little choice but to add its leaders to the Witenagemot."
"The magical and religious leaders were at odds rather quickly. The Church, feeling that the masses did not have the ability to govern themselves, pushed for more and more of that responsibility to be given to the Clergy. Fearful of losing their right to govern their own families the magicals resisted the Church. For the magicals, there was nothing more important to them than their families and their heads of house to rule over them," Hermione stated. "For their efforts, the magicals were branded as pagans and heretics and were systematically hunted down during the witch-hunts in the 1600's which led to them being forced into hiding."
Andi stood and walked to Hermione."Thank you, Miss Granger," she said with a grateful smile. "I'll take it from here.' Hermione gave a small nod before taking Andi's vacant seat next to Harry. The wizard reached out and grasped Hermione's hand, giving it a small squeeze to indicate she had done well.
"This august body was established by the many magical families of this land in a time that predates even the Founders of Hogwarts," Andi proclaimed as she addressed the Wizengamot. "Family traditions are far too important to be cast aside. Familia Primum, Family First," Andi translated the Latin words. "For family is everything," she said looking directly at Harry and earning herself an agreeing smile from the man.
Harry gave a small appreciative smile, rolling the words over in his head. Familia Primum. I may have just found a new Black Family motto, he thought to himself.
Walking to the Chief Warlock, Andi slipped a rolled parchment from her sleeve and handed it to Amos Diggory."With this, I declare the formation of the Black Coven and that Harry Potter will be the coven's Warlock."
Amos took the briefest of glances at the document before tossing it aside in dismissal. "This is preposterous!You can't simply walk in here and declare that you are going to start a coven!"
"I most certainly can," Andi corrected the man.
"Is it even legal to form a coven?" Amos asked, believing that it wasn't. It had been hundreds of years since the last coven had disbanded.
"I assure you that it is," was Andi's reply.
"Even if it is, there must be guidelines which have to be followed," Amos sputtered. All eyes in the room turned toward Hermione and her beaded purse expectantly.
"Fine!" Hermione declared in an exasperated huff after a few seconds. Reaching into her handbag, she pulled forth a rather older book and set it on the table before her. The bright witch flipped through the book to the correct part and read aloud to the assembly. "The formation of a coven must be made of a body of thirteen and no less. Needs be one witch of noble birth, appointed to lead them. Three must hold to be of purest blood. Five witches with ties to the Patriarch, through blood or marriage. A Writ of Declaration must be presented to the Wizengamot within one synodic cycle of the coven's formation."
"Noble birth?" Gerald scoffed. "Not a chance in hell one of the Royals would sign on for this!"
"Mister Greengrass has a valid point," Amos said, turning to address Andi.
"As usual, you are wrong Gerald," Andi stated. "You have apparently forgotten that I am Andromeda Black, daughter of the Most Noble and Ancient House of Black and hence of noble birth. The requirements placed on forming a coven were not enacted till the 1800's," Andi told the assembly. "Before that time, it took no more than a written declaration to establish a coven. The Wizengamot tried at the time to abolish covens completely however that was not possible."
"Why is that?" Augusta Longbottom enquired, having followed the proceedings rather closely. The venerable witch knew that the Longbottoms had once started as a coven as well and it had flourished into the family they were today from that beginning.
"One of the first tasks Finnington the Farsighted was given by the King of Kent was to unite the magical families," Hermione rose and stated in answer. "The king wanted everyone working together it is believed. To this end, Finnington created The Charter of Congress of 589 which, simply put, guaranteed that families and coven homesteads would retain their autonomy and the right to govern their family as they saw fit so long as it did not go against the Crown,/in perpetuum/. Each magical person joining the Witenagemot had to agree to these terms."
"When the Wizards' Council withdrew from the Witenagemot and changed their name to the Wizengamot, they kept the Charter of Congress as part of their bylaws. Later when they helped found the ICW and worked on the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy, they managed to include several bylaws that allowed them to retain their own laws and such to preserve their traditions. Due to this, the right to form a coven cannot be revoked or removed," Hermione explained in brief.
"Marriages to multiple witches was able to be outlawed because there was nothing specifically in the Charter that stated it was allowed," Andi said as she once more stepped to the front of the room. "The ability for Heads of House to sign their children into marriage contracts actually comes more from the Charter of Congress and the autonomy rights it grants them as Head of House than to the fact that the children are underage."
"Assuming all this is even true," Gerald began.
"Read it for yourself," Andi said with a gesture toward the book Hermione had been reading from.
Gerald negligently waved her offer away with one hand. "Even if all that is true, you still do not meet the requirements. Were those requirements even met, forming a coven now would hardly free Potter from his transgressions of a month ago."
Andi summoned the book before Hermione with a bit of impressive wandless magic. "Let's see just how close we are. Noble birth. We've already established that I fill that requirement. Three of purest blood," Andi read in a distasteful tone at the implications of that phrase. "Daphne, Luna and I are Pure-blood witches, and hence we fulfill that requirement. Five related by blood or marriage," Andi pondered aloud.
"I claim right of marriage!" exclaimed a female voice rather loudly into the mostly quiet room. All eyes turned toward Tracey Davis who had risen out of her seat to make her declaration. "I claim right of marriage in payment of debt owed," Tracey said in a softer voice, shrinking slightly under the attention of the entire room. "If you'll have me," she added hesitantly as she looked towards Harry.
"Young lady I've had enough of these shenanigans!" Amos Diggory exclaimed as the room burst into murmurings and loud whispers at this sudden turn of events. The wizard felt that things were rapidly spiraling out of his control and it wasn't something he appreciated. "I'll not sit here and allow you to make a mockery of this judicial body. Mister Potter is already on trial for having married more than once. I'm uncertain what story you will have concocted to justify your actions however they shall not be believed! One more outburst such as that one and I shall have the Aurors escort you from the room!"
"Chief Warlock, if I may," Harry said as he stood and addressed Amos.
The Wizengamot quickly quieted to hear what the man had to say. A fact Amos noted and disliked as it appeared they would listen to the young wizard rather than their own Chief Warlock. It didn't take a Ravenclaw for Amos to realize he was quickly losing any control of the situation he might have had. Still, faced with the expectant looks from everyone in the room there was really very little he could do other than give Harry a nod to proceed.
"It is not widely known yet, but just prior to Christmas I was made the Head of the Davis family and purchased Devine Dresses by Davis from the family. I gifted the Davises daughter Tracey here with the business, and we have an agreement for her to repay me over time," Harry explained before he turned towards the waiting Tracey. "You don't have to do this Tracey," he said as he stepped to the witch and took her hands in his.
"I know, Harry," Tracey assured him, a small smile making its way to her face. "I love you, which is certainly something I never thought would happen after…well," her words trailed off as she didn't wish to mention what had happened in school, especially given just how many people were watching at the moment. "This is what I want," she added with a pout. "Or don't you want me?"
Harry, faced with Tracey's pleading puppy dog eyes and protruding bottom lip, could feel his resolve failing. Harry no more wanted to trap Tracey into a marriage than he wanted to go to Azkaban for a decade. It was not uncommon several centuries ago for families to marry off a daughter to settle a family debt. The Davises had tried to do the same thing pretty much, Harry knew. The difference was that this was Tracey's choice and not something she was being forced into.
"You're sure?" he asked once only to see the woman nod that she was. "I don't know the right words, but I accept," Harry said. The wizard's magic though knew what his intent was and the Davis Head of House ring moved to his left hand. At the same time a ring, bearing the Davis family crest, appeared on the ring finger of Tracey's left hand.
With a near ear-piercing squeal of happiness, Tracey threw herself into the wizard's arm and proceeded to kiss him rather soundly right there in front of the Chief Warlock, Minister for Magic and the entire Wizengamot. There was a smattering of applause and even a wolf whistle or two at the spectacle. "Sorry," Tracey stammered as she jumped back, her cheeks rapidly heating into a blush once she realized what she had done.
"Not complaining," Harry managed to get out as his brain rebooted. "If you'll recall, I did say you were an excellent kisser," he said, causing the witch to blush even more before dropping her head to hide her face.
Daphne, smiling through her tears walked over and saved Tracey, pulling her into a hug. Tracey quickly buried her face in Daphne's chest in an attempt to hide from her embarrassment."Welcome to the family," Daphne whispered in Tracey's ear causing Tracey's eyes to spring a leak as well.
Harry raised a hand and summoned the roll of parchment that was for the coven. A quick glance showed that Andi, as well as both the Patil women, had signed it. Passing the parchment to Tracey once the witch had control of herself again. Tracey conjured a quill, quickly signing the document before handing it off to Daphne and Luna to sign.
While Harry and Tracey were getting married Andi stepped over to stand beside Hermione. "You know, that could be you as well," the older witch said softly. "It's not too late, Hermione."
"No," Hermione stammered, her eyes regarding the happy new couple with such longing. "I already said why I can't do that. My parents wouldn't understand as it would go against everything they have ever believed."
"Take some advice from someone who is actually a parent," Andi replied. "What any loving parent wants more than anything is for their child to be happy in life. We work our entire lives trying to make certain they have everything they want or will ever need. Nothing makes us happier than seeing their own happiness."
Hermione turned to regard Andi with large watery eyes, clearly wanting one thing but fearful of the consequences should she do what her heart was telling her to do. "I…I don't know," the young witch stammered before turning back as Harry summoned the scroll to him. "I…I can't," she said in the barest of whispers.
Andi turned to the distraught witch and gently laid one hand on Hermione's shoulder before asking, "Do you really feel that there is anyone better at looking after Harry than you are?"
No, was the immediate answer inside Hermione's head. She had been looking after the wizard since their first year at Hogwarts. Some could even say since she first fixed his glasses on the Hogwarts Express. In her heart, she knew that there was no one who knew Harry as well as she did, not even Harry himself.
Hermione looked over at Harry, and their eyes met. Apparently, there must have been something that shown on her face indicating the struggle that was raging inside her. The wizard gave her a small, lopsided smile and gently shook his head side to side, indicating that she didn't have to do it. That she shouldn't do it. His smile also told her that he knew she would regardless.
"I claim right of marriage by life debt!" Hermione exclaimed. Half the room gasped in utter surprise, the other half being far past the point where anything that happened there that day would surprise them anymore. Hermione knew it was a gamble. They had saved each other's lives countless times, and it was truly hard to say just who owed who when the life debts were tallied up. She saw the wizard's shoulders drop in defeat upon hearing her words.
For Harry, the rest of the room seemed to fade away, and all he could see was Hermione. The one person who had never seen him as The-Boy-Who-Lived or even as a wizard but simply as her friend, Harry. The person who had always been there for him and who had never doubted him. She was his rock in a world filled with craziness that always seemed to find him regardless of where he was. Staring into those brown eyes that he loved so very much, Harry did the only thing he could. "I refuse," he stated in a clear voice, so there was no mistaking his words.
It was apparent from the confused expression on Hermione's face that she much have thought she had misheard him. Harry crossed the short distance between them and took her hand in his before looking once more into her eyes. "I refuse," he reiterated gently."I'll not have this decided by something as trivial as a life debt."
Amos Diggory decided he'd had enough and raised his gavel to restore order or by Dumbledore, there would be witches and wizards spending the night in a holding cell. At least that was his intention before the piece of wood was yanked from his grasp by the Minister for Magic. "One thing I have learned when dealing with Lord Potter, it is oftentimes best to allow things to play out as they will," Kingsley told Amos before turning back to watch the scene unfold.
"Harry?" Hermione stammered. "I don't understand," she said as her eyes searched his for some reason why he would reject her. Old insecurities tried to raise their ugly heads once again, but her mind also recalled Harry words to her the other night and how she should have been the one he had married. The fact that he had just rejected her offer only confused her all the more.
"Hermione," Harry started with, giving her hand in his a gentle squeeze. "You've been with me from the very start of it. You've always had my back and stuck with me through it all. You've kept me safe, kept me sane, and kept me breathing no matter how hard I tried to rush into things with little to no thought," he said, drawing a faint smile from the witch before him. "I never asked you to, but you always did it anyway."
Reaching out Harry took Hermione's other hand in his, holding them both between the two of them. "This is too important. You are too important, to have you decide this because you think you owe me something." Harry quickly licked his dry lips before grabbing his Gryffindor courage by both hands and charging ahead. "Hermione Jane Granger, for the reasons I have stated and so many others that are just impossible to put into words, would you do me the honor of remaining by my side for the rest of our lives as my wife?"
Hermione, too overcome with emotions, could do little more than give a nod that she would, not trusting her voice right at that moment. There was a flash of magic, and a wedding ring appeared upon the witch's finger, bearing the Potter family crest on it. In a repeat performance of Tracey, the crying witch threw herself into Harry's arms and kissed him with all the love she held in her heart, which was considerable at that moment. The couple was quickly joined by the rest of the Westfield group in one big hug.
"This is absurd!" Gerald Greengrass thundered loudly. "I demand that it be stopped this instant!"
"What exactly would you have stopped?" Kingsley enquired, clearly happy for Harry and those with him.
"He's making a mockery of these proceeding," Gerald exclaimed leveling an accusing finger at Harry where he stood with Hermione in one arm and Tracey now in the other.
"You were here when the laws concerning establishing a coven were discussed, were you not?" Kingsley asked, pausing till Greengrass finally gave a nod that he had been. "Then my hands are tied unless you want to try and overturn what is perhaps the longest-standing tradition within Magical Britain that is?"
"But it isn't a coven yet?" Gerald tried to point out.
"May I see the document?" Kingsley requested. Andi quickly retrieved it and brought it to the Minister. Shacklebolt accepted it with a warm smile and a word of thanks before reading it over. "According to this document, the first signature was on December 24th of last year. That would indicate that the coven was started then and that they have until the close of business today to submit it to the Ministry," Kingsley said, handing the parchment back to Andi.
"So that's it?" Gerald asked in disbelief. "He just gets off scot-free because he's Harry Potter?"
"Mister Greengrass," Kingsley replied, a harder edge entering his tone, "if you are implying that the Ministry is showing nepotism towards Lord Potter because he is the Wizarding World's hero you are sadly mistaken. Any further slanderous remarks of that nature may find you on the wrong side of the law and heavily fined. Something we are all aware of you can ill afford!"
With an angry growl as he bit back the words he would have loved to have replied with, Gerald Greengrass angrily stormed from the room but not before shooting Harry a look of pure hatred.
"Lord Potter, I couldn't help but notice you were a few signatures short," Kingsley offered helpfully."Do be sure to get those and then bring me the document."
Harry turned to look where Andi had taken the document just in time to see Astoria hand a quill to Draco who leaned down and signed his name. It was only then that Harry saw Neville waiting to sign his name. "Neville, you needn't do this you know. I'm certain we can find the needed people. Signing may very well see you have to forego your seat on the Wizengamot."
Neville Longbottom had sat through the entire proceedings and had been amazed and shocked right along with everyone else in the room as events had unfolded. One thing spending years in the Gryffindor tower with Harry had taught him was that life was never dull around Harry. "Harry, mate, my mum was your godmother according to my Gran. If things had turned out differently, we might have grown up as close as brothers."
"Things being what they are, my mum couldn't be there for you," Neville stated. "The way I see it, our mums' trusted each other enough to have wanted us to grow up together should anything happen to either of them. It might be a bit late for that, but I would like the chance to see our mums' wish come true as they intended. APotter and a Longbottom standing side by side."
Neville glance towards his grandmother only to see a proud smile on her face, and he knew then that he had made the right choice. "Gran, I think you'll need to stay in that seat awhile longer. Least till my son is old enough to take it," he stated. Beside him, Hanna's face turned a lovely shade of red at the prospect of a son being so casually tossed out there to Neville's Gran. The fact that it was also before the entire Wizengamot didn't even cross the young witch's mind.
"I would be honored, Neville and count myself the better man for your presence beside me," Harry replied, shaking the man's hand while clasping him on the shoulder. "Hard to say no to the Hero of the battle of Hogwarts after all," Harry added with a grin as he saw Neville's cheeks suddenly matching Hanna's in their redness. Once Neville and Hanna had signed the parchment, Harry accepted it from Andi and took it to the Minister. "Here you are, Sir. Thirteen signatures as required."
"The land that is currently owned by Lord Potter, where his home, Westfield Manor sits, shall become our coven homestead," Andi voiced as she came to stand with Harry. That would include the land where the Lupin Home was and would prevent any Ministry interference in the future she thought.
"And you will be the Matron Mother of the Black Coven?" Kingsley asked, more a formality than anything.
"Yes," Andi replied."I am related to Lord Potter through my great-aunt, Dorea Potter who is the aunt of my mother, Druella Black. Auntie Dorea married Charles Potter," she went on to explain.
"Decided you didn't want to be married to Lord Potter as well?" Shacklbot teased with a grin.
"I haven't been asked," Andi replied evenly, forcibly keeping herself from looking towards the wizard beside her to see what his reaction would be.
Harry gave a choking sound upon hearing Andi's reply. Marrying Andi hadn't really crossed his mind as he was reasonably sure that she wouldn't have any of it. Over the time they had lived together, Andi had grown from a relative Harry thought of as a close aunt into something more. She was intelligent, mature, pretty as well as fun to be with. He would have to have flown on the other side of the broomstick not to be attracted to her.
"I…I didn't think you'd want to," Harry said once he was able to get his voice working once again. While he understood the difference in their ages, he was also bright enough to know that in another ten years or so the age difference would hardly even be noticed.
"Lord Potter, a few words of advice," Andi replied in an even tone. "If you ever want to know what a woman is thinking, you would do well to simply ask her directly rather than guessing and possibly not only making a fool of yourself but also hurting her feelings."
Andi had spent the last two days searching her own feelings concerning the man beside her. She couldn't deny that she found Harry attractive and not just in the physical way. He was kind and caring, often going out of his way to see that she has everything she needed. His letters to the school and internship had allowed her to pursue her healing training once more. And it wasn't just to her that Harry was so kind, but rather to all those within his care. When he looked at her, Andi felt like a schoolgirl once again as he truly saw her and not her family, her blood status or what she could do for him.
"Andi," Harry questioned, turning to look at the woman beside him. "What do you want?" Harry might not be a Ravenclaw, but even he knew a hint when he heard one.
"Technically, as Coven Warlock and Matron Mother of the Black Coven, we are already married in the eyes of the Wizengamot, or will be as soon as the form is accepted," Andi said, her eyes darting to the side to steal a quick look at Harry before returning front. The look on the wizard's face had been unreadable and as the moments passed with nothing being said Andi became worried that perhaps she should have told him sooner. The witch was startled from her thoughts as she felt her hand taken.
"Thank you, Andi," Harry finally managed to get out as he took her hand in his an entwined their fingers. "I'll try to be worthy, though you may have to help me with that."
Kingsley, only half listening, had unrolled the parchment and was looking at the signatures. Andromeda Black, Daphne Black, Luna Lovegood, Tracey Davis, Hermione Potter, there are the five related by blood or marriage, he mused silently as he mentally checked off the requirements to form a coven. Susan Bones, Padma Patil, Parvati Patil, Neville Longbottom, Hanna Abbot, Astoria and Draco Peverell and Harry Potter make thirteen. "Well, everything seems to be in order. I think we'll call it a day," Kingsley stated with a warm smile.
"One moment, Minister," Hermione spoke up, stepping forward to stand on Harry's other side.
"What may I do for you, Missus Potter?" Shacklebolt asked, causing the newly married witch to give him a dazzling smile for addressing her as such. "Let me be the first to formally congratulate you on your nuptials. Hopefully, you can keep your husband out of any further altercations for a while."
"Thank you, Minister Shacklebolt," Hermione replied. "There is one other matter I feel we should address though." Seeing the minister's questioning look, the young witch continued. It was a testament to just how strange the day had been that not a single member of the Wizengamot had left when the Minster had said they should call it a day. Many were hoping that the show wasn't over just yet and they weren't disappointed.
"There is another aspect of the Charter of Congress which we haven't spoken of, but I can't help feel needs to be discussed," Hermione, shooting Harry a nervous, apologetic look before continuing. "The original members of the Witenagemot were all Warlocks as they were the heads of their own covens. It is written into the charter that only one of their own can lead them and represent them. Once covens fell out of favor, the position of Chief Warlock became an honorary one," Hermione explained.
"No! No, no, no," Harry suddenly exclaimed as he shook his head from side to side. Again, he may not be a Ravenclaw, but he could clearly see what Hermione was getting at with her train of thought. "Don't do this to me, Hermione," Harry pleaded, but it was too late. Too late by far.
"Harry is a Warlock though," Kingsley suddenly stated, the fact having just dawned on him.
"Shack, you can't be serious?" Harry whined, not liking the look in the Minister's eyes."I couldn't possibly."
"I'm sorry, but I don't think you have a choice in the matter, Lord Potter," Kingsley stated, the wide grin on his face clearly indicating that he wasn't sorry in slightest.
"I can't believe you did this to me, Mione," Harry whined to the witch beside him. Once again Harry was left to wonder just how his life had gotten so complicated.
"You'll do fine, Harry," Hermione was quick to reassure the pouting wizard. "Think of all the good you can do," she pointed out.
Amos Diggory's head bounced back and forth like a spectator watching a Wimbledon match. "Can someone explain to me just what is meant by this?" he finally asked.
"Amos, I believe you are out of a job," Kingsley replied. "Lord Potter, by the fact of being the only true Warlock in Britain, is by default the Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot. We'll have to take a look at the Charter of Congress of course but providing Missus Potter's facts are accurate we are bound by law."
"Rubbish!" Amos declared, though his tone didn't sound nearly as certain. "You can't dismiss me out of hand just because of what some young witch says is the law!"
"I did say that we would research it," Kingsley pointed out. "Till we can get to the bottom of this, consider yourself on an extended leave of absence, Mister Diggory. Now, unless there are any other items we must deal with," he asked, his eyes falling on Hermione, "then I call this session to a close," he said, banging the gavel he had liberated from Amos.
Many members of the Wizengamot came down to congratulate the new married couples and Harry on his new, if reluctant, position. For Harry's part, he hadn't shaken so many hands or heard so many names he wasn't going to remember since the war had ended. Seeing someone he had yet to speak to, Harry excused himself from the latest wizard who just had to have a moment of his time and made his way over. "Going to take me on yourself next time, Malfoy?" Harry asked the Head of the Malfoy family.
Lucius Malfoy briefly glanced at Harry before looking away once again. "How very arrogant of you to assume any of this had anything to do with you, Potter…or Greengrass for that matter."
Harry turned to see what Lucius was staring at so intently only to discover that it was Draco in the distance standing and talking with Astoria. The fact that the two were off to one side with no one else around them left little doubt where Lucius was looking."Draco?" Harry questioned in disbelief. "But you tossed him out with hardly a knut to his name?" Harry objected, turning back to stare at Lucius in disbelief.
"Yes," drawled Lucius, locking eyes with Harry. "Then it is a good thing that Harry Potter will always be there to save the day," he stated, before tendering a curt nod and excusing himself. The wizard walked out of the room never once glancing in Draco's direction again.
Harry stared after the man for a long moment before the pieces slowly began to fall into place for him. "He played us all," Harry reasoned. With the Malfoy name being close to dirt, it was clear to Harry that Lucius must not have wanted that for his son. Greengrass had been nothing more than a means to an end that the former Slytherin had taken and used to accomplish his goals.
Removing Draco from the Malfoy family opened the way for Harry to take him in. Being associated with Harry Potter would undoubtedly allow for Draco to have a better life than if he had stayed a Malfoy. "Well I'll be damned," Harry mumbled to himself at the realization of just what Lucius Malfoy had done and what the Death Eater had given up to accomplish it. As much as he hated to admit it, Harry had to respect the man, at least as a father, to go to such lengths for his only son.
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