“So do you think it’s because they came to the same conclusion I did?” I ask a little offhandedly. Hermione gives me a sharp look, but Ron’s snort is the answer I was looking for.
“Why would they come to that conclusion? They are adults, with a lot more knowledge at their disposal than what we have.”
“I dunno, they don’t have their very own Hermione.” I tease her. She grins at me even as her face blushes.
We’d been called up to the headmaster's office after dinner. We had had the same memo two weeks ago when Dumbledore had been in a slight panic, but the meeting between the four of us had been brief. After fifth year, he never did anything without telling me, or occasionally even asking my permission if it was something to do with myself. So it wasn’t a surprise when I left the office with my head spinning about attempted line contracts and trying to avoid them.
Apparently, when the dark lord died last year, a lot of people weren’t happy. And not just death eaters either. Some people wanted a war so that they could profit from it. One of those people being ex-minister fudge. He had arranged a contract without my permission or anyone's knowledge between me and himself, citing an act of orphaned ‘war children’ and their houses. It essentially made him my lord and master until I was 21. I wasn’t happy when I heard it, just like I wasn’t happy when I realized that for once, it wasn’t something I could get out of, unless I married, or entered a similar contract with someone else.
But there was such a large amount of rules, that it would honestly be easier to just marry then try and find someone to fit all the criteria. I’m fairly sure that Fudge himself didn’t fit, but he was the minister at that time and had signed off on it himself. The only problem I saw that being, is that marriage in the wizarding world was permanent. No going back. I couldn’t decide in five years that I didn’t like them anymore and that I wanted a divorce because they were against the law. At least in a contract like this one, it was only until I was 21, but until then I was going to be subjected to who knows what and made to run in whatever side of the new war he was trying to stir up that he wanted me in.
The proverbial clock had been hanging over me the last two weeks, and now I had nearly just that amount of time before the year and a half to the day portion of the death of Voldemort was met. Meaning I had 16 days to decide what I wanted to do.
I had jokingly said I should just put myself in a coma until I turned 21 by flying off the astronomy tower, and I had been beaten black and blue with the book Hermione had been reading.
Apparently, it wasn’t funny to joke about things like that.
I knock once before entering the headmaster's office, a habit that I have developed over the years. I glance around in surprise. Molly, Arthur, Bill, Charlie, Kingsley, Tonks, Remus, Sirius, even snape was sulking in the corner.
“Didn’t we leave before you?” I ask Albus, amused. His eyes twinkle at me as he chuckles, motioning to the two seats open across from him. When no one makes a move to make it three I perch myself on Hermione’s lap with an oomf from her and a roll of his eyes from her boyfriend as he takes the open seat.
“People keep telling me I need to be worried about you two,” he grumbles.
“Really? I heard the same thing about you two.” Hermione quips back.
“And that one is more probable.” I chime in, making them both snort.
Dumbledores soft laugh has us turning back to him. His smile has brightened considerably, which is what the aim had been- to lighten the mood.
“So, have you had time to think over the conversation we had two weeks ago?” he starts off. Sirius sits up straighter. Apparently he didn’t know that dumbledore had already talked to me about what was going on.
“Yes, we have. We came to some conclusions on our own-”
“He means that he came to conclusions on his own, which I really don’t think are the only options. What did you find out?” Hermione asks around me. We shift a little until I’m reclining on the arm and her left arm his hooked around my waist so she can lean around me and see everyone.
“I’d like to hear what you came up with first,” Albus deflects.
“Headmaster, one of Harry’s options was flinging himself into a coma via the astronomy tower until he turns 21. I really don’t think his ideas should count at this point.”
“It was a joke!”
“A tasteless one!” she exclaims, even though I could hear the grin she was trying to hide in her voice. I glare back playfully at her and the mature woman that she is, she sticks her tongue out at me.
“Well. Uhm. We have all been looking at what you could possibly do to avoid the minister's manipulations. After about a week's worth of searching for alternatives, we spent the next week ironing out the two plans that we had.” Sirius says as he sits up straighter.
“Finding another who would take the same contract, or getting married.” I point out calmly. At their startled looks I snort.
“I’m not stupid, no matter what front I put on for the public eye before. I knew when you told me those would likely be my only options. We spent the first week looking, but when we couldn’t find anything else I started looking into what the requirements for the contract would be. They’re extensive and I know that Fudge doesn’t meet them, but he signed it as minister so that no one could dispute it. I couldn’t think of anyone off the top of my head that would fit the criteria, which really only leaves one option.”
“Wait, you aren’t seriously saying Harry is right? He’s going to have to get married to avoid this… this blatant attempt at starting another war?” Hermione says a little loudly.
“Hey, go yell in his ear, not mine,” I grumble, covering the offended appendage. She swats at me again and I roll my eyes at her but stay seated.
“Unfortunately, that’s the same conclusion that we came to as well. It’s why so many of us are gathered here today. Bill and Charlie were going to be my first options, of course, but they recently revealed-”
“Bill is very much straight and in love and Charlie is Asexual, to the point he’s almost repulsed by the thought of sex. Tonks, as lovely as she is, is like a sister to me and I prefer men anyway. That and she has eyes for Remus. Sirius is a father figure to me, as is Remus, and Snape, no matter how much we get along now, is a professor and a git when we are in public. No one would believe it. Which leaves Kings.” I rattle off. There’s a stunned little silence before Sirius huffs.
“It took us three hours to get that all hashed out, and another two trying to fret over how to tell you, and you already figured it out,” he complains.
“Well, as I said, when it became obvious what my choices were I started looking around. The only other real option I thought of was Dean Thomas or Seamus Finnigan since neither are straight, but one is dating Justin and the other has some fling they are thinking of proposing to when they are done with school back home.” I admit. Hermione’s arm tightens around me. I knew it was going to take a second to kick for her, and that she would react like this when she realized that not only was I right, I had even reached the same conclusion that they had.
“You’re really good at this strategy thing, you know that?” She murmurs, low enough only I can hear. I shrug just slightly and she sighs.
“So you have 16 days to sign and-”
“Not so fast. Harry hasn’t said he was okay with it yet.” Kingsley cuts in. I give him a startled look only to realize he was already focused on me.
“You haven’t said if you are okay with the marriage contract idea yet.”
“I don’t have much of a choice.”
“I don’t know, the astronomy tower option is an alternative we hadn’t considered,” Sirius says, a weary grin on his face.
“Don’t encourage his destructive behavior.” Hermione huffs.
“Jokes aside. We can try and put you under fidelus, we can try and get you in another country. We can hide you. This isn’t your only option.” Remus says gently.
“It’s the only one that’s guaranteed,” I argue back.
“Did you agree to this? It hardly seems fair to force you to marry some kid.” I add when the room is still silent. A slow smirk spreads on Kingsley’s face.
“I did. It would be no hardship of mine to be married to you.” he agrees. Hermione’s little squeak of ‘oh’ behind me has Ron guffawing. I set my jaw, looking around at everyone in the room. They all looked uncomfortable, and most of them look resigned like I’ve already said yes or no, whichever they wasn’t wanting. Finally, I settle back on Kingsley, who was waiting patiently, face blank again.
“If, IF, this happens, what marriage contract would be used?” I ask. Dumbledore grabs my attention as he begins sifting through paperwork on his desk. He finds what he was looking for and I’m handed a sleeve of paper that I uncurl. Ron’s chair is loudly scooted closer so that we could all read through it. I read it once, and then again, as Hermione had taught us.
“We felt that the fidelity clause was needed, in case someone pointed out it was lacking from the contract and therefore it wasn’t a true marriage. Where you will be living is left open to you two, of course, though I would suggest it be put under Fidelus for the time being. You’re allowed to have your career, though trying to work anywhere where you would be put under Kingsley is frowned upon, not that I see you taking a ministry job. At witenagemot meetings, Kingsley would vote for you until you turn 20, which is when you can join by law. After that, you would have all your seats back. You have control of your properties, your funds, your investments. You, er…” dumbledore goes red as he’s reading down this checklist he’s made of the finer points of the contract. I had forgotten, Kingsley had been officially voted as the minister two months ago. I focus on the conversation again.
“I get to choose any school the children we may or may not have go to?” I ask in curiosity, spotting what had made him come to a stutter stop.
“I will, of course, heavily suggest Hogwarts. But considering you would be the one carrying the children, I thought you would like the final say,” he says, for the first time sounding hesitant. It was also the first time someone had addressed the obvious- the fact that he was nearly 6’5 and I barely touched 5’2, there wasn’t much of a question who was going to be doing what in the bedroom.
And that’s something else I was going to have to get okay with very, very quickly, as there was only a week after a marriage contract was signed to ‘make it official’ before magic attacked us both. I had only slept with one other person, Oliver wood, and despite him being slightly taller than I was he had been very eager if mouthy, bottom. I knew that I would like bottoming, of course, otherwise, this wouldn’t even be a thought to entertain. I’m pretty sure standing facing each other I would be staring somewhere near his sternum, which would make any rows we had particularly entertaining, at least to him.
“Fair,” I murmur into the strained silence, going to the contract again.
“You’re not allowed to stay over at other peoples houses?” Ron asks in surprise after his second pass through.
“That’s more for media. I doubt if stayed somewhere together it would be a problem but could imagine what would be said if I stayed over at yours with four available mid to late teenagers? Especially by the prophet.” I muse before anyone can cut in.
“Or what could be done to my job if I stay at Tonks’ house after a few too many drinks after work.” Kingsley chimes in.
“At least Tonks could make herself look like me.” I tease her. She huffs at me, purposefully making her hair match mine.
“I can’t pull that devil may care attitude off.”
“Sure you can. You just have to remember that 90 percent of the time the only thought going through my mind before I do something stupid is ‘if this doesn’t kill me, ‘mione will,’”.
I get another smack for that one.
“You’ve already signed it,” I say in slight surprise as I realize that really, all I needed to do was sign the bottom and I would be married to the man.
“I have. I figured if you agreed after you signed we would go to Gringotts, then to a country of our choosing away from here. We would pick out rings, of course, at some point, but we would be gone a week to get used to this. After that, you’d return to school for the remaining month and a half, and then once you seat your NEWTS you would be moving in.”
“Counteroffer,” I say as I sit up straight, moving to find a flat surface to lay the paper on.
“I sign this, we go to Gringotts, we go to this lovely shop in Russia called Letztes Spiel . It’s where I got Hermione her birthday gift and they have plenty of beautiful rings. After that, we can decide where we’re staying and focus on staying there for a week and getting it sorted, and then once I’m out of school we can go someplace.” I dictate as I sign my name. I wasn’t expecting the heavy tug below my navel and at my chest at the same time, and from the grunt that Kingsley suddenly gave he had felt it too.
“Well, at least I know where to go if I ever make her angry now,” Ron mutters behind me, making me laugh. I had bought her a full set of Saphire jewelry for her birthday. She rarely took the ring off, and more often then not she had the necklace or bracelet on too. I had yet to see her wear the earings but they were the bigger pieces of the set, the others just set into yellow gold and smaller. The necklace usually hung under her uniform and the bracelet barely peeked out from her sleeve most times.
“Are you sure that’s what you want?” Kingsley asks as the adults in the room begin to stand. Some of them looked angry, but I wasn’t worried about it. I did what I had to do, for the greater good.
“It’s the most efficient.” I agree as Dumbledore, Remus, and Molly sign the document as witnesses and an official. Strong fingers wrap around my shoulder and turn me so that I’m looking up at Kingsley.
At my new husband.
“That’s not what I asked. Is that what you want .”
“I mean, yeah,” I say after a little more hesitation. He nods once and looks at Dumbledore, his hand still not leaving my shoulder.
“How are you going to explain away Harry suddenly deciding to get married in the middle of the school year?”
“He could tell everyone it was planned all along that way.”
“No one would believe that he would have told them beforehand.” Ron cuts in.
“True. But everyone thinks I’m having some scandalous affair right now anyway thanks to Seamus, so would it be hard to sell that we decided on a whim to get married?” Bill chokes beside his mother and I smirk before my attention is caught.
“Whoa wait, a scandalous affair?” Sirius calls from across the room.
“With who?” Dumbledore asks in amusement. I roll my eyes.
“Anyone they can think of!”
“Okay, and what are you really doing to get these rumors started?” Remus asks curiously.
“I’m sneaking out of Hogwarts.”
“You can’t just announce that in the headmaster's office!” my friends’ shouts has me laughing.
“Actually, I gave him permission to at the beginning of sixth year,” Dumbledore says when people quiet down.
“He’s getting his Mastery in Warding.” Bill chimes in helpfully, a little red in the face at having so many eyes on him.
“Really? But you haven't taken arthimancy or Runes.” Sirius asks, jumping up and down in excitement.
“Well no, but I do have a particular skill set that no one else in the world has.” I disagree. At their blank looks, I roll my eyes.
“Parsletongue. I’m the only one on earth who can speak or read it. Which means that anything that nagi, or shapeshifter reptiles, or Slytherin himself made, only I can break.”
There’s a stunned silence as they all realize exactly how rich I was going to be in a few years.
“And I know when I get tired of warding, I can always retire early and begin translating Slytherins library and selling those. And then there's always any nagi families who want me to translate family heirlooms. And lost cities I’m sure are behind the found wards will need translating.”
“So you… you have your whole career laid out for you on a silver platter because you’re the only alive who can speak to snakes.” Ron sputters a little and I laugh at him.
“I’m going to make millions because I can read squiggly lines.” I agree, making bill grin. We joked that I was going to be more famous than him in the warding world just because of a couple of curly lines that said ‘fuck off’.
“Well, that aside, you best be off. You two have several decisions to make today.” Dumbledore says gently, sobering the mood again. I nod at him, and Kingsley’s hand finally slides off my shoulder as I move to the fireplace. I floo to Gringotts with him right behind me and we both look at each other for a long moment.
“Don’t you dare,” he says mildly when I go to open my mouth. I pout at that and he steers me to a teller with his hand on my back.
“I’d like to withdraw…. 40,000 galleons from my family vaults, and then I would like to speak with Blackgem and the goblin in charge of the potter estates,” Kingsley says smoothly. Before I can protest we’re being ushered down a hallway and I pout again.
“Don’t do that. There’s plenty of other things you should be spending your money on.” he murmurs. I ignore that statement as we enter an office and are seated before the goblin leaves. An almost uncomfortable silence falls and I struggle for something to say.
“When is your birthday?” I ask.
“June 12th. I’m 37,” he says dutifully, if not amused.
“I’ve married a cradle robber,” I say dramatically, and that gets a laugh.
“Harry, I-” before he can say whatever had put such a serious look on his face, three goblins are rushing in. one drops a sack of gold on the arm of Kingsley’s chair before he’s gone, the other two settle on the other side of the desk.
“How can we help you, gentlemen? Congratulations are in order I think,” one begins. Kingsley opens his mouth but I cut in smoothly, no longer feeling wrong-footed now that I had made him laugh and calm down from the tight posture he had held before.
“I’m Harry, er, Shakbolt nee Potter. Thank you for the congratulations. We were hoping to speak to you all about any properties in our names that we could potentially move into later today.” I explain politely.
“Of course, I am Blackgem, Lord Shaklebolts account manager. This is-”
“Griphook, we’ve met, how are you?”
“I’m well, thank you. Especially since my promotion earlier last year,” he says with a beaming grin. It was the pride of the bank that the customers remember their names. The fact that Harry had remembered him from a mere cart runner had been talked about for ages.
“You deserved it. And your intended?”
“We had our ceremony two full moons ago. She’s expecting our first child.”
“Oh, congratulations!” I grin happily with him before Blackgem makes a discreet, slightly confused, sound.
“Sorry, sorry. Off-topic. Properties?” I focus again.
“Right. Yes. the Shaklebolt name has several, but as you are- was- the only one, only the ancestral home is being used.”
I glance at him curiously and he shrugs.
“It’s where I grew up as a child, and when my parents passed away quite suddenly I stayed. It’s huge though, and I’m okay with moving out if we find something else we both like,” he assures me. I nod eagerly at this.I hate big, open, airy, empty homes. Even Hogwarts made me feel this way.
“One floor,” I say immediately. He gives me a puzzled look but doesn’t disagree.
“A large kitchen. I love to cook.” I add on when he gives me a very confused look.
“How many bedrooms?” he asks, and I feel myself blushing so hard my head spins. I didn’t have my safety blankets here, Hermione and Ron couldn’t help me shield myself from these hard questions with jokes and banter.
“Er, uh, a master and a guest? Or maybe two guests, in case Hermione and Ron and Tonks are over at the same time?” I suggest, blushing harder when my words come out stuttering.
“Three bedrooms, a large kitchen, two studies, and one floor.”
“You have three.” Griphook says promptly, followed seconds later by Blackgem saying “You have one.”
So four possibles. I reach over hesitantly and skim the details of the first one on top of Griphooks pile, disliking immediately that it was flat in muggle London. It’s slid out of my vision before I can even open my mouth and when I look up Kingsley is setting it aside.
“You don’t like it.”
“You didn’t even look at it!”
“But you don’t like it. And you’ll be spending a lot of time there,” he tells me evenly, leaning closer to look at the other two that Griphook had.
“This one is out in the country, but I’m not sure what you consider a large kitchen. Do you want a separate dining room?” he asks, motioning to the floor plan on the one he was looking at. I glance at it. Before I can give my opinion, I see the outline for the Shaklebolt home.
It looked like a large home, but it seemed cozy. There was a breakfast nook in the kitchen itself, which had two large islands, three ovens, a dishwasher, and a small table. There was a separate dining room. There was a living room with a fireplace that was large, and a parlor opposite the main hallway of it. Farther back in the house was four bedrooms, and three study sized rooms.
I took this all in in a blink before focusing on the one that Kingsley was asking about, but he was already shutting the folder.
“This one is a little bigger, so I didn’t think you would like it. It’s also in the country.it has a garden and is surrounded by woods. It’s somewhere in Germany, unplotted, which would help if we put it under fidelus.” he explains, tugging the Shaklebolt one between us.
“Don’t you want to-”
“So do you like this one? You said one floor so I thought you wouldn’t like a big house,” he says, cutting me off again. I give him an incredulous look and he smirks.
“You’re doing this on purpose!” I exclaim.
“Of course I am. We have a lot to do today, and if I didn’t want to stay there I wouldn’t be bringing it up. For example, I’m vetoing this one because it’s the middle of the posh side of Diagon.” he says, pushing the last potter folder aside with the first one. Despite my annoyance, I laugh a little at that.
“I prefer yours,” I admit after he gives me an expectant look.
“As do I. Blackgem, if I give you the keys to my current home will you have a team move any relevant furniture and my things into the house? And anything Harry would want?” he asks, giving me a curious look.
“Tell Ronald Weasley that you want my main possessions and he’ll have it ready for you in five minutes if he doesn’t already,” I tell Griphook. He nods, making a note as Kingsley's hands a key over.
“What time will the moving be ready?”
“It’s already one, so say five?” Blackgem answers immediately. Kingsley nods.
“We would like a portkey to a shop in Germany as well. If the house is already in Germany maybe we could just stay in the country. I will need the floo connected to my office, but otherwise, I’d like it unregistered for now."
“Yes, Minister Kingsley. It will be done before five. What store?”
“ Letztes Spiel.” I murmur at Blackgems gaze. He blinks in surprise.
“That is a…. Notorious store.”
“Alright Lord Potter, Give me a moment.” he leaves and I give Kingsley a confused look as Griphook shifts paper around on the desk.
“You’re still Lord of your house. In formal settings, you will be addressed as Lord Potter, Consort Shaklebolt. I’ll be announced as Minister or Lord Shaklebolt, Consort Potter.” he explains patiently.
“How are you settling as Minister? Are you going to be able to afford to take time away from your office?” I ask, realizing that I was probably ruining this mans life. To my surprise, he snorts.
“I’m ready to pull my hair out,” he says dryly, his fingers brushing his bald head.
“Really Though. I didn’t even run for the minister, I was just acting minister after Fudge’s disaster. People shouldn’t have been able to vote for me. I have about ten undersecretaries. I show for wizengamot meetings, of which DUmbledore and I set the dates, trials, of which I set the dates and occasional meetings. Which I also set the dates for. My undersecretaries sort everything for me so that I have most of those in a two-day setting, I have about a day of reading over things and signing documents, and the rest of the time I’m helping Amelia track wizards from the Auror conference room. It will be no hardship for me to spend the week with you.” he assures me. That reminds me of his comment earlier, and I feel myself blushing again. His eyebrow raises but before he can ask BlackGem is back.