A/N: I do not own Harry Potter. But you knew that.
A/N2: There have been many requests for longer chapters. I have also been asked to can the reviews of the previous chapter, so from now on, at least twice as long as my previous chapters with no reviews of the previous chapters. Hey when one of the Gods of the Epic Fan Fic like Bobmin356 tells you your chapter length is 'pitiful' you have to do something (or blame it on 'shrinkage.') Evidently size does matter... Consequently, there will be a longer period between updates...
Harry Potter and The Acts of Betrayal
Chapter Seven - The Father of the Bride
Harry was still going over the records that he got from Gringotts. Anne had shown him how to balance the statement, and he was working through 16 years worth of statements.
He was three pages into the Black accounts when he found something... different. Rather than financial statements he found several pages of obligations and life debts TO Lord Black. Since Sirius left the title to him, to him. The list went on and on. He recognized so many of the names. An idea formed. He reached for Hermione's dictionary. He needed to know precisely what a couple of these terms meant.
He took a piece of parchment and wrote a carefully worded note. He would be requesting a meeting with one of his account managers tomorrow. He also needed to find information on pureblood obligations and traditions.
Hermione had also made a discovery. She needed to confirm a few things, if her time in the wizarding world had taught her anything it was to never accept what a single book said as gospel. Finding at least three confirming references would make her feel better. Luna's book on British Pureblood marriage and traditions was interesting, but it was from Luna. Fortunately, there were some excellent book stores here in Salem. Hopefully they would have ready access to books on the subject. She was not sure she would have time to order. If Luna's book was accurate, they were going to have to return to England a week earlier than they had been planning. Her father was not going to like this. She suspected Harry would not either. As for herself, she was not sure how she felt about her idea. It was her idea after all...
Still it was going to take some research, the whole 'pureblood' thing never took much hold in North America, which wasn't to say that everything was joyful and happiness here, they fought, it had been explained to her, about other things.
They had a grading system of one to ten for magical potential. Not for power level, but for the potential levels of Magic a person might have. Those scoring in the lower levels were looked down upon. Level one was the theoretical levels of Muggles (or Mundanes as they were called here) Squibs tended to score in the twos and threes. The ability to use magic appeared at level 4. The system in place here was odd really. Muggles (Mundanes)were held in a high esteem (like a backward people heroically struggling against their disadvantages), while squibs and low potential magic users were considered to be beneath notice UNLESS they had abandoned the magical world and lived as a Mundane, then they were heroes leading their oppressed relatives from the darkness. North America was very different when compared to Britain. As much as she disliked the system in place back home, there was something... off about the culture here. She knew that this place did have one saving grace at least as far as Harry was concerned, almost no one knew who he was, and the few who did, didn't really give a damn about his being a 'chosen one', the majority of those few being more interested in the possibility of his having a professional Quidditch career.
At Hermione's insistence she and Harry had gone to the Salem Academy just to check things out. They received a somewhat cool reception from the Headmistress, who assigned one of the teachers to show them around. As part of the tour, they were shown the testing apparatus used to determine one's magical potential. Upon their arrival at the testing room the Headmistress appeared and offered to have them tested. "To see what Hogwarts produces"Following her scan, the Headmistress suddenly became very interested in providing a place for them at Salem. Then they scanned Harry. And they scanned him again. Then a third time. No one wanted to tell Harry his score and he was getting angry. While he was distracting them, she snuck a look at his read out. No numbers like hers when she got a score of 8.7. His simply said 'Merlin Class' with a flashing notation saying BLOCKED. The Headmistress changed the subject of their discussion, offering a full scholarship and guaranteed acceptance to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Magic. This sudden offer set off Harry's new found manipulation detector, they excused themselves and left the grounds of the school.
Harry and Hermione met up with Anne at the entrance to the Wizarding shopping district. Andrew had discovered a local golf course he liked quite a bit, and was out playing. Harry had asked Anne to come with him to the local Gringotts branch. He needed to speak with the goblins and Anne spoke their language, money.
Hermione on the other hand wanted to visit some bookstores. Anne and Harry both pretended to be shocked that Hermione might want to visit a bookstore. Hermione just huffed at the pair of them over lunch, and then agreeing to meet in two hours, she left to do her shopping.
"Could I help you miss?"
The store manager had spotted another lover of books.
"I'm looking for information about British Pureblood Marriage traditions."
"We don't have much on Pureblood traditions, you'd have to look pretty hard to find one around here, but we do have a fair sized community of Brit ex pats, so let me see what I can find." He busied himself in his card catalog. "So how are you finding us here? It's always interesting to hear opinions from the mother country."
It is lovely here, the people are friendly, and you have the most wonderful shops. You could teach the shopkeepers something back home. I don't think I've ever had so much help in shops."
"I heard that before. I'm not sure how you could stay in business without making your customers happy, but then again, over there you've got businesses that have been in the same building with the same family running it for centuries. I suppose that would keep too many new ideas from creeping in." He pulled a card from his index and referencing it pulled a book from one of the huge shelves filling the shop.
"Here we go. I do not normally stock anything on this topic, but one of your young noblemen ordered this while on holiday' over here, hiding from your Voldemort fellow. The little twit was attempting to show a few of our local young ladies why they should swoon at his feet. After he laid hands on one of the girls and she beat the crap out of him, followed by her boyfriend and her father. Last I heard he moved on to safer locales and never picked up his special order. Since I'll likely never sell the silly thing, I can let you have it at my cost." Which was bookseller language for 'this is my insanely high inflated price that I charge tourists and other fools, what is your insultingly low counter offer?'
After a most enjoyable bartering session for her new book, Hermione had ensconced herself at the restaurant where she was to meet Harry and her mother, ordering coffee and a muffin. When her order arrived, she began to read. This book agreed with the one Luna gave Harry. This was their solution. Now she could ensure that they would both be as safe as possible from Dumbledore and his potions.
Her mother sat at the table across from her.
"He got some disturbing news when going over his obligations and debts as head of the Black family."
"What is it Mum?"
"There is an outstanding Marriage Contract. I'm amazed that such a thing is even legal, but the Goblin person says it is. Hermione, I'm serious, it's like the entire magical world is stuck in the 19thcentury."
"A Marriage contract? With whom?"
"The Greengrass Family. Specifically a class mate of yours, Daphne."
"I've had a few classes with Daphne. She's nice." Hermione said in a small voice. "A pureblood marriage is more of a business unit than a love match." She explained, operating on autopilot while she figured out how she felt about this news. "Business alliances, producing a... heir." Suddenly she knew how she felt about it.
"That's what the Goblin said. He also said that Harry's position entitled him to a second wife. One would continue the Potter line, the other, the Black line."
Hermione looked a bit ill.
"Hermione, he's not happy about this in the slightest. He looked like someone had hit him, hard."
"Where did he go?"
"Home I think."
"I think we should go."
"Feeling sorry for your self?"
Harry looked up from where he was sitting under a tree in the back yard of the rented house. "Hey Hermione. Sorry about running out on you. Yeah, I'm pretty much feeling sorry for myself."
"Why? Daphne is beautiful."
"She isn't you."
"Isn't me?" Her eyes narrowed. "Have you been drinking?"
"A bit." He admitted. "Found a bottle in the house. It's ain't Ogdens, but it ain't bad." His face clouded. "I don't know Daphne. I think I've said maybe 20 words to her in 6 years, now I'm legally required to ruin her life like I've ruined yours. I know she's not a nibbler. She's never supported Malfoy or any of the nibblers. She's always been civil to me. Why would her father want to inflict me on his own daughter?"
"I saw the contract. Mum brought a copy home. I have no idea what Sirius' grandfather did for the Greengrass family, but that contract is a work of pure evil. There is a prearranged bride price of 5 Galleons. You have the right to demand any dowry you want. If you really wanted out of it, all you would have to do is demand a billion or so."
"I need to talk to Daphne and her parents."
"I've sent a message through Gringotts. They'll be here tomorrow."
Harry sighed. "You always take care of me Hermione."
The meeting was at the Salem Gringotts branch. Hermione had rented the conference room, and paid for the unregistered international portkey. Spot on 5p.m. Daphne and her parents appeared in the conference room.
"Harry, it is good to see you." Daphne took his hand and led him to her parents. "This is my father Michael Greengrass, and my mother Eve."
"Mr. Greengrass, Mrs. Greengrass, it is a pleasure to meet you. This is Hermione Granger, my friend and adviser."
"Miss Granger, it is good to meet you." Eve Greengrass said"Perhaps we should let the men discuss business." The two Greengrass women led the protesting witch from the room.
"I want to stay with Harry."
"Of course you do Hermione, which is why you're out her with us. This is where the real agreements will be made."
"Mrs. Greengrass, I'm not prepared to negotiate behind Harry's back."
"Not behind his back Hermione." Said Daphne. "Any agreement will have to be made with Harry and Father, the secret is to present the frame work to them to sign off on." She smiled. "Harry isn't spectacularly happy with this situation is he?"
"That's an understatement."
"It's not surprising. You've only just gotten him free of being controlled by a potion, and along I come with a new involuntary commitment."
"Exactly, I mean... Wait, you knew about the potions?"
"It wasn't hard to figure out. You two were blissfully happy, then you throw him over for the youngest Weasley male." Her face showed her distasted for the idea of Ron Weasley. "Then less than a week later, Harry is joined at the lips to Ginny Weasley. I mean even if she was his type, which she is not, he isn't the kind of man to recover so quickly. It would take him at least a month or so to recover."
"Why didn't you do or say anything?"
"None of my business. I was unaware that Harry was the new Lord Black, and my betrothed. I didn't discover that until I reached my majority. Upon learning his importance to my future I immediately set out to free him. I was about 6 hours behind you."
"So if there is nothing in it for you?"
"Then it's none of my business. What if he liked the thrall? I mean he was getting frequent sex out of the deal. For a lot of boys that would be an excellent trade.'
"Again, I had no idea how you felt about it. There are quite a few people who purposely dose themselves with love potions, in order to feel more passion than they normally did. How was I to know what you were into?"
She had heard of such things as well. Hermione was flustered with that argument but couldn't think of a counter.
"All right. What did you want to discuss?"
"Harry and how we could go about sharing him."
"Oh come on Hermione. It's obvious that you two are a love match. Do you know how rare that is among wizards?"
"The majority of pureblood marriages are arranged" Eve interjected. "My husband and I were an arranged couple. Love came later. Your friends the Weasleys were a love match, the only one in my year at Hogwarts. Harry's parents were a love match, the only one in their year."
"If you know he loves someone else, why?"
"I'm not looking for love Hermione, that might well come later. I'm looking for children. Mixing the Potter line with the Greengrass line is my goal. Have you considered the danger pureblood culture is in?"
"I'm not sure I understand."
"I am an only child. Mother and Father tried for years, healers couldn't help. They finally had to go to Muggle healers. Draco Malfoy is an only child. The Patil twins are a pair, but only because they were born twins. Their mother had a single pregnancy. Pureblood families are not even replacing themselves. Multiple child families like the Weasleys are the exception. The vast majority of the pure blood families have a single heir, and that's all. The idiots are breeding for extinction at the same time they reject new blood like your own. I plan to have at least 4 children, all of whom will be purebloods, and teach them of their responsibility to our culture. One of my sons will be the next Lord Black, and from that influential position I can change our world. Open it to the first born witches and wizards."
"Sweet Merlin. How long have you had this planned out?"
"Two years. Harry was one of my candidates, but only third or fourth on the list. I was interested in half bloods with at least one first born parent. The healers I've spoken with suspect that the problem is partially a fertility problem with the pureblood males. Then I turn 17, and the Goblins tell me that I have a marriage contract with the current Lord Black. Have you seen the contract?"
"Yes. This is the first time there has been an unattached Lord Black and an unbound female Greengrass at the same time in 123 years."
"Exactly. I propose a partnership. You can be Lady Potter, I will be Lady Black. You will have access to the larger of the two fortunes. The money is nice, but not really my goal. Your son will be Lord Potter, mine Lord Black, bound together for ever by blood. The only possible problem would be if I have no sons. The Black line is patriarchal, only a son can inherit. Perhaps then Lord Black could pass to your son, and Lady Potter to my daughter. We can work that out at our leisure."
"I'm not sure Harry would be interested in me."
"Hermione, you aren't stupid, don't waste our time. The man would walk through hell for you. He's terrified that you are too hurt by that love potion to possibly love him. When he was told about the marriage contract, he tried to crawl into a bottle didn't he?"
"He had a couple of drinks."
"Then he only stopped because you spoke with him. My family can help with his problem with Tom Riddle. Father has been building a defense against Voldemort since his first rise to power."
"I need to speak with Harry.'
"Mr. Greengrass, we can't do this. Daphne associating herself with me will just paint a huge target on her back."
"Lord Black, my daughter has her heart set on this."
"Then it must be Lord Black she has her heart set on, because I don't think we've exchanged 2 dozen words since first year. I doubt she even knows my name."
"Daphne has inherited her mother's bearing. Let me guess, you see her as a beautiful unobtainable unapproachable goddess?"
Harry smiled. "Close."
"I have heard about the adventures of Harry Potter since your first year. She knows your name Harry. She especially loves it when you humiliate some of the arrogant purists in her house."
"I'm not anti-Slytherin sir."
"Harry, I'm a Ravenclaw. My wife was the Slytherin. You don't have to apologize to me for taking those arrogant prats down a peg or three." He smiled at a private memory. "Daphne is fully aware of your situation and wants to be an assist to your mission. Our survival depends on your actions. Daphne doesn't want to replace Miss Granger, she wants to join the two of you. You've lost one of the legs of your trio, Daphne wants to become that third leg. She wants to be your second wife." He smiled again at the look on the boys face. He's faced Voldemort and he's frightened by the idea of two women? "She sees you has her path to saving the Wizarding culture. To save the culture, she is willing to risk the war."
Harry sighed. "When are we doing the wedding?"
"I was thinking after you take your seats on the Wizengamot. The last Monday in August? Call it 3 pm? What did you want for a dowry?"
"Mr. Greengrass, I have no idea. How about you give her what you want her to have?"
"I forget you are Muggle raised and don't really know our ways. The dowry signifies status. I'll make sure it is an appropriate amount."
Harry wouldn't meet Hermione's eye when they were walking home after the meeting.
"They insist on going through with it Hermione. I can't see anyway out of it without becoming the kind of arrogant ass I hate. I know she doesn't love me. I don't understand."
"She thinks you're fertile. She sees you as a path to power. She wants children and the ability to change the Wizarding society, she sees you as a partner who can help her with that. She wants to be your second wife."
"Second? Her father said the same thing."
"She intends to be Lady Black. She expects me to be Lady Potter."
Harry was stunned at that. "What do you expect?"
"The book Luna gave us spoke of the protections of marriage. If we were married, any one who attempted what Dumbledore did to us would be facing at very least life in Azkaban. Most are executed outright."
"So you think we should get married?"
"There's a type of trail marriage called Hand Fasting. It lasts a year and a day. At the end of that time, either party can just walk away." Tears were in her eyes. "That would give us the protections we're looking for Harry."
Harry nodded and thought for a moment.
"I need to think about this for a while Hermione. If you don't mind, I'm going to take a walk and think."
"I could come with you..."
"No, please. I need to do this alone." He kissed her lightly and walked away in the direction they had come from.
"I've bollixed everything up Mum."
"The Greengrasses are going ahead with the marriage contract. Daphne wants to use his position to further her plans for the Wizarding culture. It's a good plan, it might work. But she made it clear that she only planed to be the second wife, both she and her parents assumed that I would be the first. Harry asked what I thought about it, and I didn't answer him, instead I starting talking about that trial marriage I found in the book Luna gave him and how it would offer us protection under the Linage laws. Harry said he needed to go off and think. He kissed me and left."
"That doesn't mean he doesn't love you Hermione. He does love you, trust me on that. It means he's 17 and suddenly he has to think about marriage seriously"
"Harry. How are you this fine morning?"
"I didn't really sleep all that well. Going to play golf?"
"Yep. Want to come?"
"Yes please. I would. I'll probably be really horrible, will that distract you?"
"Someone I can beat? Not at all. Why don't we make it interesting, Say $10 per hole?"
"You hustled me."
"Mr. Granger I have never touched a golf club before today."
"You hustled me."
"Mr. Granger I didn't win every hole."
"You won 16 of 18 holes. You hustled me.
/Crap/. "Mr. Granger I would like to ask for your permission to ask Hermione to marry me."
"That's $140. But I'm going to stick you with the bar bill, so you're going to..." It sank in. "Marry Hermione?"
"No. Not today. Not tomorrow. Never." He got up and left the 19th hole.
Andrew Granger stormed into the house and straight into his bedroom, slamming the door behind him. Hermione and Anne watched as he went through the sitting room without a word.
"Didn't Harry go with him?"
"He's not in the car Mum."
Anne followed her husband into the bedroom. She found him in the shower. "Where's Harry?"
He ignored her. She flushed the toilet, the temperature in the shower immediately spiked to scalding. Andrew yelped and jumped out of the shower.
"What the bloody hell was that for?"
"I believe we discussed you ignoring me the first year we were married. Where is Harry?"
"I left him at the golf course."
"He pissed me off."
"By doing what?"
"He... He. He asked me if he could ask Hermione to marry him."
"The Bastard." She maintained eye contact. "And you answered?"
"I said no."
"You did? Do you hate your daughter? Do you want her to leave us and not come back?"
"If you force her to choose between Harry and us, who do you suppose she will choose?" She shook her head. "Andy, he asked you for permission to ask her. Didn't that mean anything to you? Did you do that with my father? No you did not. They are both of age in the magical world, they don't need our permission, but he asked you anyway. For god's sake Andy, what are you thinking?"
"Don't tell me, tell Hermione. I'm going to see if I can find Harry."
Anne didn't find Harry, he was no where near the golf course, she drove about for an hour and never spotted him. She returned to find an angry Andy and a hysterical Hermione screaming at her father. She calmed Hermione as best she could.
Harry finally showed up at 11pm, entering quietly so as to not disturb those sleeping within. The door had hardly closed behind him when he was hit in the chest by a bushy haired missile.
She covered him with kisses and tears until she calmed down enough to yell at him for disappearing like that.
"Damn you Harry Potter. What did you think you were doing? Just because Daddy said that to you doesn't mean you go off on your own, you come her and talk to me." Tears falling. "Daddy doesn't get a vote. Mum gives you permission to ask. Ask me damn it."
"Hermione, will you marry me for a year and a day? I'd ask for forever but your dad will probably kill me." He smiled that crooked grin that took her breath away "A year and a day should give you enough time to wise up and leave."
"I'll marry you for a year and a day Harry Potter, and if you think on that 366th day you can walk away, you've got some more thinking to do."
The altar was decorated with an abundance of flowers. A pair of wrapped gifts lay at the base of the altar. Harry looked to Andrew, giving him a last chance to forbid this. Andrew reached over and squeezed Harry's shoulder.
"Go ahead Harry, you have our blessing."
Hermione lit the light white candle before her and looked expectantly to Harry. He smiled and lit his white candle. This was what Hermione wanted; he would do his best to make her happy.
Harry calmed himself and recited:
"May the place of this rite be consecrated by our magic. For we gather here in a ritual of love with we two who would be wed. For a year and one day, Hermione Jane and Harry James stand before the Eternal Forces of Life and of Nature. "
Hermione looked into his eyes and smiled:
"Be with us here, O beings of the Air and with your Clever Fingers tie closely the bonds between us two who would be bound. "
She lit a stick of jasmine incense.
Harry lit the red candle in front of him
"Be with us here, O beings of the Fire give our love and passion, your all consuming ardor "
Hermione raised a goblet of wine to Harry's lips, then drank from it herself
"Be with us here O beings of the Water give to us two who desire it the deepest of love and depth of body, soul and spirit "
Harry scattered a handful of salt around the alter
"Be with us here O beings of the Earth lend your strength and constancy to us for as long as we desire to be together "
Together they recited:
"Blessed Goddess and Laughing God we invoke Thee! Give to us Your Unconditional Love and Your Ever Vigilant Protection! "
Harry placed the two rings on his wand, holding it in his right hand over the rings, Hermione placed her left hand over his, and he recited:
"Above us the stars, below us the stones. As Time doth pass remember...
Like a star above should our love be constant, like a stone below should our love be strong Remember to weather the threatening storms they pass ever quickly and wash away wrong Make love ever often as we both so desire the world may grow cold but can freeze not our Fire Be us close although separate though ever together, each possessing the other thru Will not thru Law Strengthen each other the length of our union the God and the Goddess are with us Always. "
Hermione waited five heartbeats
"It is my wish to become one with Harry James Potter."
"It is my wish to become one with Hermione Jane Granger."
Together they said:
"By Our Magic and all those who witness this rite we are now proclaimed Husband and Wife! "
Harry lifted his gift to Hermione from the altar. "Hermione as long as I've known you, you've been my friend and guide. This will show what you have done for me."
Hermione handed the other package to Harry. "Harry the first time I met you I asked if you had seen a toad. I spent much of the next 5 years nagging you to do your homework, and still you stood by me. You have protected me, you have needed me and you have shown me a life I never would have had without you. I cannot thank you enough for the life I have now, warts and all." She smiled. "This is my offer of what you have never had."
A/N: My, that was soppy. I know I suck at romantic scenes, no need to tell me.
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