DISCLAIMER: All things Harry Potter belong J K Rowling... basically, if you recognise it, it isn’t mine... I’m just here for the fun.
An: While away working I don’t have much time to devote to my main “Spellbound” fic, so this is just a little fic I’ll be writing from time to time to get my creative side out when I can’t work on Spellbound… won’t be as long or serious as Spellbound, but hopefully people enjoy the more relaxed pace of it
Honley, West Yorkshire
December 14, 1994
The past week had been rather stressful for Mugwump Aurora Greengrass, and for once it hadn't been her duties on the International Confederation that had been causing her restless nights, or the light duties that were enforced on her as an honorary Minister as a member of the ICW, but rather the thought of her eldest daughter's upcoming birthday and what it meant for her, and for the family.
Not that she'd ever admit it, at least not in public, but she was afraid. For herself and her daughters. She wasn't an idiot, she remembered the last war, though she'd been only four years out of Hogwarts at the time. She remembered how it started, how it felt. How the back handed deals and favours in The Ministry started things before anyone actually spoke of how dark things were getting. She'd noticed the same pattern occurring again lately. Darker families banding together, collecting favours and influence, putting family members in strategic positions in The Ministry where they'd shown no interest in those positions before. It was obvious to anyone with their eyes open that darker times were coming for them all.
Daphne would be fifteen in just over six months, and already contracts asking for her signature on a betrothal contract, though that was a polite term for what they actually were, demands were more like it. They'd been coming through with the owls every morning. Contracts at first from Nott, Goyle, even Malfoy, then others. All had been tossed into the fire, giving her the small pleasure of watching the offending 'offers' burn to a crisp.
It was an emotional response, one strictly she shouldn't have indulged. She should have kept the contracts and used them as leverage, she knew at least some of the offers were so offensive to an old and noble house like hers, that leaking them to The Prophet or even letting the rumour of them get out, would cause the family involved untold embarrassment. Though that would have meant having the contracts in the house even longer, where perhaps Daphne, or Morgana forbid, even Astoria could have seen them, and worst still offending the House in question and making their next 'offer' even worst by comparison in response.
The idea that young Astoria could have known about the disgusting offers in the contracts made her shudder as she looked at the pile of parchment on her desk. She needed to get this sorted, and a suitable suitor found for Daphne. One from an equally old house, with the money and reputation to protect her, but also one that wouldn't treat her daughter like property or abuse her like she knew Daphne was afraid the older darker families would.
Sadly, that was turning into more than a little problem as she looked through the various names she'd managed to cobble together. The entire Sacred Twenty-Eight had been pretty much crossed off her list altogether. They either had no male heirs in Daphne's age range that were suitable, didn't have the name or money needed to protect Daphne, or were of the 'darker' persuasion of houses, and would likely demand things from Daphne, or in the contract, that neither her eldest daughter, nor her, would be comfortable doing or paying.
That left very slim pickings sadly, which was the current cause of her problems.
Her quill rested on the shortlist of names she had scrawled out so far, the name at the bottom could work, the Longbottom's were an ancient and noble house, though their money and influence had wained in the last decade with the suffering Alice and Frank were going through after the last wizarding war. They might be suitable, and would likely be amenable to a contract that would protect Daphne from abuse and give her the freedom she deserved, but it was very unlikely the Longbottom house would be able to provide protection and safe harbour for Daphne, and Astoria if need be. She drew her quill through the 'Longbottom' name, scratching it from her list.
Weasley was another name she tapped her quill by, thinking idly about the idea before drawing a line through it and tapping the nib against the parchment in frustration. The Weasley's had neither the prestige, money, land or reputation to offer Daphne protection and a good life. They were good people, she knew as much from her dealings with Arthur at The Ministry, but while they were an old house, they Weasley family weren't considered noble or respected as such.
No, A House from The Sacred Twenty-Eight certainly wasn't possible, she was sure of it now. Most of the Sacred Twenty-Eight were blood purists and tended towards the darker arts, the ones that didn't had had their families and influence systematically attacked over the years by the darker families, leaving them in no position to financially commit themselves to protecting another house. Which meant looking either for a new house, though that would leave Daphne open to political threats and influence, or an existing House with no obligations or ties to the darker families.
Ideally, for Daphne's sake, she would like to keep the family pure. A Muggle family, while removing Daphne from the magical world for a few months per year, would offer no protection at all during her remaining Hogwarts years and beyond, and would likely result in Daphne having even more problems at Hogwarts, problems that would grow when families realised Daphne, Astoria and herself had no political protection around themselves, and they would end up protecting her intended family rather receiving the protection they so desperately needed.
No, it had to be someone around the same age as Daphne obviously, magically powerful enough to protect her, but with enough integrity that Daphne would be safe with them and wouldn't be open to abuse. The Greengrass house was an old and noble house, though it wasn't one that had done as well as others. While politically Aurora Greengrass had brought the family name to new heights of power and influence, she, like her husband before he'd passed during The War, were honest to a fault, and like other light minded families, the family finances had suffered over the years in the world of the corrupt Ministry.
She knew the 'offers' for Daphne's hand were little more than thinly veiled threats, the corrupt houses wanted an 'in' with the Greengrass family, no doubt to use their political influence, either at The Ministry or further their goals in the International Confederation of Wizards. They all knew that she didn't have the money to protect her daughter from their attentions forever, and as it was with all the old houses, marriage contracts would keep being brought to her attention until she was forced into one. It was well known that Cryus had died without leaving a legitimate heir, and without an heir or a betrothal contract gracing Daphne with permission to keep the Greengrass name in marriage for her sons to inherit, the House would come to an end, leaving both her and her daughters without the protection an Ancient and Noble House afforded.
The worst thing was, Daphne knew all of this. She'd been a smart girl even when she was younger, and even before she'd started Hogwarts she'd known this day would come. She'd known what was coming, and how the sons of other families would try and get close to her, to use her or to try and trap her in a contract before she was ready. In the year before she was due to start Hogwarts, at the tender age of eleven, Daphne had already become colder, more distant, cutting herself off and slowly developing a cold 'Ice Queen' persona to protect herself.
Aurora had nearly cried when Daphne had come home from Hogwarts after her first year, it hadn't been her daughter that had returned to her, but the Ice Queen of Slytherin. It had been so long now since she'd heard her daughter laugh, or cry, or lose her temper, or show any emotion behind that fiercely controlled mask.
She knew why she'd done it, cutting her emotions off like that, refusing to let herself feel. She knew what was in her future, knew that one day she would be married off to someone, very likely someone she either didn't know, didn't care for, or outright despised, a future with little chance of love and no chance of happiness. With that sort of future in hand, she could understand why she felt it was easier to close herself off from the world.
"Oh Cyrus," Aurora whispered, looking up from her parchments to the portrait of her late husband hanging in the office, looking down sternly at the room with his cold blonde hair died back in the traditional manner of a House Lord. Daphne had taken after Cyrus' looks and was striking with her pale blue eyes and blonde hair, while Astoria had inherited his eyes but her auburn hair, and looked more like Aurora did than the pale and statuesque looks Daphne and Cyrus shared with their ancestors.
There were very few options left to her now, Betrothal Contracts were notoriously long negotiations between ancient families, especially pure blood ones, but she needed Daphne to be bound to one by her fifteenth birthday so the year of betrothal could be observed properly in accordance with the old traditions before the bonding of the houses could take place. She needed to have this sorted soon. While Daphne wouldn't be returning home for the traditional Yule holiday break, she could think of no better present she could get her daughter than finding a suitable suitor for her betrothal contract, one that hopefully Daphne could accept as one of the more pleasant options available, and possibly one she might even be able to feel happy with, if not fall in love with.
Sighing to herself at the futility of what she had to accomplish, she put her quill back in the ink pot for now and left it there, stretching as she stood up from her desk and moved around to try and get some feeling back in her legs after the long stretch of looking through the ancient houses registry.
There was little else to do sadly, the suitable names that could offer Daphne protection from the worst houses didn't have the history of an Ancient House that would protect her politically, and the ones that had the clout to protect Daphne and Astoria politically were either the worst of Wizarding society, or so feeble that they lacked the character or integrity to protect them magically.
Dropping her wand on the desk she started massaging her temples in agitation, it was imperative this was sorted out as soon as possible and to a degree where Daphne was given all the protection she could have. At fourteen now boys were already starting to take notice of her, even with her 'Ice Queen' persona intact, and she knew it wouldn't be long before that interest started moving to sexual interest, and the ramifications if Daphne was active, or Morgana forbid, one of the worst houses forced themselves on her and she fell pregnant, well, that would link their houses by blood no matter what else was brought before the Wizangamot.
No, leaving Daphne unprotected simply wouldn't do. She, along with most everyone else, knew that her House didn't have the same 'threat' as others, not since Cyrus died. Aurora had to admit that it was somewhat her fault, with most of her time taken up by the International Confederation, she hadn't had the time or inclination to build a reputation in the Wizangamot to be feared. People knew and respected Cyrus' name, but she was an unknown, a witch who spent more time out of the country than in The Ministry halls, and now that lack of reputation was putting her daughters in danger.
Walking around her study she frowned to herself going back over the names in her mind, none of them really stood out as good arguments, magically powerful enough, or politically powerful enough to protect Daphne as she grew up in the world. The option left to her, if she couldn't find a prospective candidate for a betrothal contract, would be to remove Daphne and Astoria from the British Wizarding World altogether and move the family somewhere where the threats of the darker families would be negated. This was feasible, and she was sure Daphne would find peace in a school like Ilvermorny or Salem in America, perhaps even one of the smaller schools where nobody would look for her, though it would mean leaving her seat on the International Confederation due to the move, and leaving what little security, money and influence the family had left. Despite the threat, she knew her daughter well enough to know that her family history was more important to her than that, and it was why Daphne hadn't even voiced the idea, even knowing what would be in store for her future.
Leaning against her desk she snatched up the copy of the Daily Prophet that was folded neatly and tucked away in the corner of the desk, the House Elves had delivered it earlier in the week as always and while she normally tried to read and keep up with current events, this week had found herself focusing more on Daphne's predicament than bothering with the gossip and rumours that came with the Daily Prophet articles.
"Rita Skeeter Interviews Harry Potter!" She read off the headline aloud with a roll of her eyes, remembering the gossip monger who'd tried to integrate herself into the International Confederation of Wizards' Conference earlier in the year during the summer. Thankfully all the Mugwumps sitting had seen through her rather pathetic ploys, and while they hadn't been able to exclude her from joining The Conference and covering the event as a member of The Daily Prophet staff, they had all made it perfectly clear what they thought about her and her venomous articles.
"Potter..." She frowned to herself, folding the paper over and tapping the name thoughtfully, ignoring her thoughts about the Skeeter woman for the moment. She'd certainly heard of Harry Potter, she doubted there was a wizard or witch alive in Europe who didn't recognise the name, and she remembered the younger James Potter in school. He was obviously from a rich and influential Pure Blood family, that much was easy to notice with the friendship he'd struck up with the youngest Black heir, though she wasn't familiar enough with his family or history to know any more details than the rumours that had floated around. "Penn!" She ordered, moving back to her desk so she could think on this comfortably.
She looked up as her house elf faded into existence in the office, looking up at her desk eagerly as though the expected work was a gift he was happy to receive.
"Go to The Ministry Archives, I need everything they have on the Potter family." She ordered firmly.
"Yes Mistress!" The house elf nodded firmly with a wide smile before fading out of existence again with the sound of a bubble being burst.
While she may not visit The Ministry as much as other honorary Ministers, most everyone there knew her name and her house elf, and knew that if he was sent to retrieve information for her it would be for specific reasons and not just gathering information for political manoeuvring like others would try. She was thankful for her families honest reputation at times like this, which gave her a bit more leeway than most, but at the same time felt a bit guilty about using her reputation like this, guilt that was easily assuaged by the knowledge that she was doing this to keep her daughter safe.
Looking back to her parchments she double checked the lists she'd already compiled, Potter definitely wasn't a member of The Sacred Twenty-Eight. His name didn't appear there at all, which meant The House of Potter was either new and not established properly, in which case she could discard the thought altogether, or that it was a reasonably old House, but one that didn't care about blood purity, in which case it might be perfect, depending on the alliances and financial situation of The House.
She flicked her eyes down to read the article in the Daily Prophet while she waited for Penn to return with the parchments she'd requested, not really giving the article much credence as she knew all about Miss Skeeter's hatchet jobs, but hopefully there was enough truth buried between the lines that she would be able to gather a reasonable insight into Mr Potter's personality and see whether his family would actually be willing to deal with a betrothal contract.
"An ugly scar, souvenir of a tragic past, disfigures the otherwise charming face of Harry Potter, whose eyes..."
She trailed off, rolling her eyes as she recognised the style of a Quick-Quotes Quill, and wondered precisely what the 'ugly scar' in question was. She'd heard the rumours about Mr Potter's scar and the death of his family of course, but rumours and Miss Skeeter's article pretty much went hand in hand, and what described here as 'an ugly scar', could simply be something inconsequential to her and Daphne.
She flicked her eyes down to the picture that accompanied the article, eyeing the way the photo of Mr Potter fidgeted nervously as he looked out from the paper as if he didn't want to be there at all. She couldn't see any scars that were visible anyway, none that were disfiguring or unsightly anyway, while Mr Potter did have rather messy and unruly hair, something not uncommon for boys of his age, he wasn't particularly unattractive in any way. A bit skinny for his age, his robes seem to hang off of him a bit unflatteringly as if they were a size or two too big, or bought with room for him to grow into them over the year.
Folding the paper back she moved to ignore the photo for the moment and concentrated on reading the article itself, hoping to gleam some sort of truth about the boy from there. "Tears fill those startlingly green eyes as our conversation turns to the parents he can barely remember..."
Rolling her eyes again she let out a huff of annoyance. "Morgana help me," She muttered to herself, it was plain and obvious that there was very little truth in the article at all, it was padded with irrelevance and poetic prose to cover up the very obvious fact that the interview came across as awkward and badgering. The actual quotes from Mr Potter were few and far between, with Miss Skeeter's prose and opinions filling more of the page than actual information did.
She was about to look back to it, if for nothing else than a distraction for now, before a sparkle caught the corner of her eye and she looked up to see several scrolls of parchment glittering into view, obviously the ones she'd requested Penn retrieve from The Ministry.
"Thank Morgana," She muttered as she tossed the Daily Prophet aside, happy to have something actually relevant to read and research now instead of reading the pathetic prose of that venomous gossip monger. Reaching over she respectfully picked the first parchment scroll up, eyeing the seal that bound it together before pressing her own International Confederation ring to it. It was curious that it had been bound this way, she'd expected a Ministry bind on the documents to prevent them from falling out of The Ministry's hands and into more unscrupulous hands, but an International Confederation seal meant someone further up the chain had sealed these documents away for one reason or another.
She couldn't imagine Mugwump Fawley having sealed the documents, he'd always been more interested in getting his name put on the international task force in the mountains of Tibet, he'd never shown an interest in paperwork or Ministerial work before, and couldn't imagine anyone putting enough pressure on the man for him to do it now.
Which if not Fawley, of the two Mugwums from Wizarding Britain left either her, and she knew she hadn't sealed the documents, or the Supreme Mugwump, which would be a break of decorum. While not illegal in any sense, it was very rare for the Supreme Mugwump to involve himself like this, as his seat was at the head of the International Confederation of Wizards, so to keep himself impartial and beyond reproach it would have fallen to him to nominate either Mugwump Fawley or herself to deal with the documents, rather than doing it himself.
She frowned in thought as the magic around the parchments glittered away, letting them unroll without bindings. Why would Supreme Mugwump Dumbledore have sealed these documents himself, it didn't make sense to her and she could see no reason why the Supreme Mugwump would interfere in what was obviously a Ministerial process.
"Potter," She nodded to herself as she followed the parchment lines that traced The House of Potter back through the ages. It was definitely an Ancient House, with a capital A, going back at least a thousand years, putting them nearly as old as The House of Malfoy or House of Black. Putting one page down she moved over to the next, and then another, then another until she found the origins of The House and the family founders in eleven oh nine. "Linfred of Stinchcombe beget Lord Hardwin the Potter..." Her eyebrows nearly reached her hair line as she read off the Patriarch of the House' name. "Who bonded with Lady Iolanthe Peverell... Daughter of Lord Ulric Peverell, granddaughter of Ignotus Peverell." She whispered as she read the ornate calligraphy on the parchment before whistling aloud at the blood pedigree of the family, ignoring how unseemly the act was.
A House that could be traced back to one of the three Peverell brothers themselves, and if she was reading the family tree correctly, which she was sure she was, left Mr Potter as not only a direct male descendant, but the only legitimate male heir currently alive of the entire family in the Potter line according to all the dates of death next to the family names. Putting the historical ramifications aside for now, as interesting as they were, she put the archived family history down and reached for another scroll, pressing her ring to it automatically as she picked it up ready to continue on with her research.
After nearly an hour of reading it was now clear to her why The House of Potter had been excluded from The Sacred Twenty-Eight, for generations now they were reputably known as Muggle friendly, and Harry Potter himself was half-blood, the first half-blood Potter if these documents were correct, coming from the bonding of James Potter and his muggle-born wife Lily Evans. That definitely put the House of Potter on the side she was looking for, and meant that Mr Potter himself was likely as open as his father was about blood purity, a concept that while seemly ignorant to her, she knew a lot of families stuck by, and with Mr Potter himself as a half-blood, a betrothal contract would be recognised and accepted by all, as she knew even the staunchest of Pure Blood Houses, like the Malfoy's, were not against marrying half-bloods, only muggle-born witches and wizards themselves.
As she continued through the parchments she was convinced that Mr Potter was looking more and more like the perfect candidate to protect Daphne now. His ancient House was certainly beyond reproach politically, any house that could be traced by to The Peverell brothers would have The Ministry's approval for a contract, regardless of the current name of The Houses on it. While Mr Potter himself had no direct political alignment currently, as there was no Lord of the House to take the Wizengamot House Seat, it was obvious from his blood line that he wouldn't be a member of the Blood Purity Traditionalists, and it would be unlikely he would be neutral in matters like these, which left him sitting clearly in the more liberal seats of the argument.
He had money, according to the documents, six vaults worth that were sealed until his seventeenth birthday, along with a single trust vault that was opened to him on his first birthday after the death of his parents, obviously to see him through Hogwarts and pay for anything he needed growing up. Six vaults, that put him in the 'disgustingly rich' categories of the Ancient Houses, possibly even richer than some of the Most Ancient Houses, though she knew from the family history that The House of Potter wasn't old enough to claim that title.
Putting the documents down she frowned to herself in thought. Potter was almost too good to be true. Politically perfect, rich enough to provide protection and livelihood for both Daphne and Astoria. Obviously magically powerful, the fact he was competing in the Tri-Wizard Tournament at the age of fourteen definitely put him in a category of his own there, and with absolutely no ties to the darker families that would seek to take advantage of the bonding for their own ends.
No, Potter wasn't almost too good to be true, he was perfect.
It was clear from the documents in front of her that no other family had approached Mr Potter for a betrothal yet, if they had it would have been recorded on the parchments in front of her, but now that she'd read them herself she couldn't imagine it would be long now. He would be turning fifteen a few months after Daphne, and she was sure that by then he would have received at least one, maybe more offers from old families seeking to integrate themselves into The House of Potter. Which meant she had to move fast to secure a safe betrothal for Daphne before anyone else got to him first.
Snatching up the last of the documents she ran her finger down it to find the address that marked his current guardians. This was something she had to handle today, if she could secure Daphne's betrothal to Mr Potter before Yule, an unlikely idea given how long she knew some old families had negotiated betrothal contracts for, then Daphne would be protected from the darker families and be beyond approach by the start of her fifth school year, an idea that almost made Aurora sigh with relief at the thought.
"Muggles?" Aurora raised an eyebrow as she found the guardians listed for Mr Potter. "Unusual," She muttered to herself. It certainly cemented the idea of Mr Potter being in the more liberal side of things, and perhaps explained why Supreme Mugwump Dumbledore had sealed these documents personally, there was no doubt in her mind that families in The Ministry would be falling over themselves to offer Mr Potter a place in their houses as he grew up if they knew he was housed with muggle relatives.
Blood relatives as well, which meant while they weren't magical, they could sign a betrothal contract as blood and legal guardians of Mr Potter until he came of age. She would have to find an existing betrothal contract in her own archives and modify it to fit, but she was pretty sure that she could have something that the Potter guardians would accept, possibly with a financial incentive as well, by the end of the day.
The idea was somewhat unseemly, she could imagine what people would say if they found out she was even thinking about buying the betrothal of Mr Potter to Daphne. Normally it would be the other way around, with the male's family sending the betrothal contract and payment to her, but with Mr Potter raised by muggles she doubted he would know of these traditions, or more likely he simply wouldn't care. Regardless which, the idea of offering money in exchange for his name was unseemly, but would almost guarantee that Daphne was protected, which was was this endeavour was all about.
"Penn," She ordered aloud as she stood up and started making her way out of her office and up to where her 'muggle closet' was to change into muggle accepted clothing.
She didn't even pause as the house elf faded into view alongside her as she walked, focusing on what she needed to do before anything else now. "Go to Gringotts, inform the teller to withdraw ten thousand galleons from the family faults, converted into muggle currency, and provide some way of carrying it, muggle acceptable of course."
"Yes Mistress." The house elf replied quickly before fading from view again as she reached the stairs leading up to the third floor of the house where her bedroom and vanity rooms were so that she could get ready for what was possibly her most important meeting of the year.