Chapter One: Obligations
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter.
Author's Note: This piece was done for the Favourite Character Pairing Challenge on HPFC.
The Coffee Stop was a little hole-in-the-wall place not far from Stonewall High and getting a summer job there had been the best idea he'd had in a very long while, Harry acknowledged as he snapped a plastic lid on top of a virulently pink smoothie and handed it over to Tonks.
Today the metamorphamagus was posing as a teenager with long blonde hair and a dark tan and was on her third fruity treat, coming up to the counter to chat with him when there were no other customers in the store.
Outing Tonks, who was meant to be keeping an eye on him without his knowledge, probably qualified as the second best idea as it gave him someone to talk to about the goings on in the Wizarding World. Between keeping busy working long hours in the café and getting accurate information out of Tonks he'd been able to push back the paranoid snippiness that had afflicted him at the start of the summer holidays and function like a normal human being.
His third best idea had actually not been his idea at all but Tonks'. Midway through June the Prophet had started printing increasingly slanderous articles about his character and mental state and after the third time Harry had accidentally set the paper on fire with accidental magic she suggested he try contacting a solicitor and seeing what was to be done about the whole thing. As it turned out the Potters already had a family solicitor, a woman called Terry Foxglove whose father had been partners with his grandfather, Charlus Potter, and as it turned out she was very happy to finally be acknowledged and allowed to take charge of his legal affairs.
She'd harried the papers into a full retreat in short order and though nothing complimentary was being written about him neither was anything negative, which was how Harry preferred it. He'd even given her the go-ahead to put a magical copyright on the use of his name in order to, hopefully, keep the press under control the next time he did something they found noteworthy.
"Earth to Harry," sing-songed Tonks, sipping at her smoothie.
"Sorry, what?" asked Harry jolted out of her thoughts.
"I said, when is Foxglove getting here?"
Harry checked his wrist reflexively, frowned when he remembered he hadn't had a working watch since the Second Task, and glanced over at the digital display on the register.
"She should be here any minute, my shift technically ended a half-hour ago," said Harry with a shrug.
"That Bonnie chit is late again," said Tonks incredulously.
Harry snorted, "When that girl comes in on time I'll waltz right up to You-Know-Who and demand he include me in his circles of fun."
As if on cue Bonnie sauntered through the front door. Bonnie was the type of girl who captured male attention wherever she went, petite and with a porn star's measurements that were accentuated today by a tank top that was a vibrant red and at least two sizes too small.
"Sorry I'm late Har," she said with a charming smile, "Thanks for covering, you're a doll."
"Anytime Bon," Harry said wryly allowing her to pull him down and smooch his cheek, enjoying the view down her top while he had the opportunity, and shaking his head as she sauntered into the back room to turn on the charm for the boss.
Tonks was giving him a look.
"What? You can't expect me not to look when they're right there!"
She rolled her eyes and muttered something that sounded suspiciously like 'men' but let it go without the lecture on female body image and the evils of objectification that Hermione would have saddled him with.
"Potter! Get off my floor before I'm forced to pay you overtime!" called the boss, Gary, from the back room.
"You got it Boss," said Harry, cheerfully wadding up his apron and tossing it in the hamper, snagging a bottle of water from the fridge and settling down at the table Tonks had claimed as her own.
"You still coming with me to pick up my new glasses?" Harry asked, taking a swig.
"Of course," said Tonks sharply, "And I won't be pleased if you go alone again, we're supposed to be keeping an eye on you."
"I can't go alone anyway, there's apparently an element of fashion involved in picking out frames and I need all the help I can get."
Tonks hummed her agreement around her straw and took a noisy slurp. Bonnie emerged from the back room to lounge against the counter and play with her phone paying no attention to the café which was just as well because at that moment Terry Foxglove swept through the door.
If there was a woman who looked the part of a cut-throat solicitor more than Foxglove Harry couldn't imagine her. She was tall, even without the peep-toe heels, quite pretty, and dressed in a suit of light grey linen in deference to the early August heat. Her dark hair was pulled up into one of those elaborate twists that only women and sailors could manage and she was carrying a smart black leather briefcase.
"Miss. Foxglove," Harry greeted, getting up to shake her hand.
Her grip was brisk and firm and she sat without waiting to be asked, flicking her wand around and setting privacy charms.
"Wotcher Fox," greeted Tonks, with a grin before checking her over for signs that she wasn't herself.
Foxglove acknowledged the greeting with a perfunctory nod and pulled a large sheaf of parchment from her briefcase.
"Let's skip the pleasantries if you don't mind, I have a court appearance to make later this evening."
"By all means," agreed Harry, accepting the documents he was handed and trying to make sense of the legalese and elaborate calligraphy they were penned in, "You said you found a contract?"
"More accurate to say that after last week's amendments to the 1887 Terms and Clauses Act one of the older contracts was brought to my attention by my secretary. The amendments make the contract viable and I was contacted by the Nott family's representation the other day in order to set up a meeting."
"What exactly is in the contract?" asked Harry.
Foxglove tapped the heading of the document with one perfectly manicured nail, "It's a betrothal agreement that hasn't been viable since it was penned in 1854."
"Betrothal," said Harry, coughing a bit as he choked on nothing, "You mean like marriage?"
"Don't be obtuse, of course I mean marriage."
"Marriage to a Nott," protested Tonks, "Elias Nott is a bloody Death Eater!"
"Regardless of his sympathies in the current non-conflict the contract is legal and binding, and also, to be perfectly honest, ironclad. Mr. Potter will need to be married to Theodore Nott within the next two years or their magic will be forfeit. I've marked the relevant passages if you'd like to examine the wording yourself."
Harry didn't know what to think or how to react and allowed Tonks to snatch the papers from his suddenly nerveless fingers without a fuss.
"But…we're both guys!" said Harry, latching on to the only excuse that came to mind.
Foxglove scowled at him as though she thought he was being purposefully stupid, but quickly smoothed the expression from her face.
"As I said, there was an amendment made to the Terms and Clauses Act, the Wizengamot finally granted that surrogacy, adoption, and magical pregnancy were considered acceptable methods of satisfying clauses that call for a 'child of the union' allowing for homosexual marriages to satisfy ancient contracts and bonding agreements between old, powerful or wealthy wizarding families," she explained in clipped tones.
"So not only do I have to marry Nott, but we need to have a kid," Harry said.
"That is correct."
"Lucky for you there's nothing in here that says you have to have it within a certain time frame," Tonks said darkly, still scanning over the parchment.
Harry ran a hand through his hair, and considered getting very, very angry about the unfairness of the entire situation. He would dearly, very dearly, love to rant and rave about the injustice of the world, and hadn't he been through enough? But he took a deep breath, and then another, and reminded himself that he'd decided when he met with Foxglove the first time that since he was Lord Potter now, a legacy he'd inherited from his father and grandfather and great-grandfather, he going to do the job correctly and take responsibility.
His breath was still a little shaky on the exhale and Harry was feeling decidedly trapped and more than a little grim but he had tamped down on the childish urge to whine. If he wanted to prove he was a responsible, mature, adult he needed to act like one.
"Alright," Harry said out loud, dropping his head into his hands and scrubbing at his face to wipe away the mutinous expression that had settled there, "What do we need to do?"
Foxglove nodded approvingly.
"I have taken the liberty of drawing up the standard prenuptial agreements and if Tonks is amenable I will use her input to add addendums related to the Nott familiy's…loyalties and political leanings, shall we say."
"You'll have to insist on a Clause of No Harm," Tonks growled, tossing the papers back onto the table disgustedly.
"I had assumed such and am already making the preparations for the argument that is likely to unfold between myself and Solicitor Flint," agreed Foxglove, rolling her shoulders a bit under her crisp blazer, a bloodthirsty smile touching the corner of her lips, "In the meantime I have arranged for the meeting to be held on August 12. I thought a lunch meeting might go over better than a formal sit down in my offices but I leave it to you to pick the venue."
She gave Harry one of her rare deferential nods and an even rarer expression of fleeting sympathy crossed her features before she was able to school them back into submission.
"It'll have to be nearby," Tonks interjected in a tone that brooked no argument, "I can swap shifts and be here for the meeting but I can't let you leave Little Whinging before I have permission."
"That's alright, we can meet here and have tea and cake instead of a full lunch, I'll probably have to work in the morning but the twelfth is what, a Tuesday? Bonnie has an early shift and if she sticks with her usual pattern of lateness I should get off just in time for a two o'clock meeting."
"The Nott family and Solicitor Flint in a muggle coffee shop," snorted Foxglove, "I admit I look forward to watching them thrown off balance."
"I don't like it," said Tonks, frowning, "If they don't agree to sign the prenuptial agreement that day Nott, that's Nott Sr., can report your location to You-Know-Who."
"We'd have the same problem any place in Little Whinging," Harry pointed out.
"I still don't like it."
"I will make absolutely sure that the contract is signed. In blood if I must," Foxglove assured her, "Lord Potter's safety is of paramount importance to me."
"How many times have I told you, you can just call me Harry when we're meeting informally like this," Harry sighed, not expecting Foxglove to acknowledge the request since she'd done such a good job of ignoring it so far.
"Of course, Lord Potter."
The answer was what Harry expected but he still rolled his eyes at the woman.
They spent a few more minutes hashing out the details of the betrothal contract—what Harry could expect, potential arguments that might crop up, sacrifices he might have to make to get the Nott's to agree to some of the security clauses Tonks insisted were absolutely necessary—and then moved on to the reports on the status of the Potter Estate.
Foxglove had managed to hire an account manager for him to liase with Gringotts about the state of his investments, the goblins weren't pleased about this interference after having free reign for so long, but then again they never seemed to be please so Harry wasn't terribly worried. The interest from the Potter Estate were going into rebuilding Lionsgate, the Potter ancestral seat.
Harry had learned that it, and the mixed town it had once protected, had been razed to the ground during Voldemort's first rise to power and that his grandparents and great-grandparents had been killed in what had ended up being a three-day assault.
He was planning on moving there next summer, after his sixteenth birthday, when his title as Lord Potter was official and he was emancipated by ancient right of Noble birth, but Tonks wasn't in the know about that plan.
Finally, after it had grown dark and Tonks had reluctantly left to go to work at her actual job and left Mundungus Fletcher the task of watching over him for the rest of the night, they'd waded through all the necessary paperwork and Foxglove gave him another deep nod of acknowledgement before apparating away under the cover of the privacy charms.
"You still here Har?" yawned Bonnie as he dragged himself up to the counter for a coffee.
"Yeah, had some summer homework to take care of, can I get an iced latte? Something sweet?"
"Sure thing, hun. I'll make you something special, on the house."
Harry watched Bonnie's fluid movements as she prepared his drink without really taking them in. His brain was still running in circles around his skull trying to sift through everything he'd been saddled with that day.
"Thanks Bon," he said, sipping greedily at the caffeinated confection that she slid across the hand-off counter for him.
"See you later, Har, try and get some sleep yeah? You look like someone ran you over. More than usual I mean."
Harry's lips twisted ruefully at that blow to his manly pride, but he waved a goodbye to Bonnie aware that she didn't mean anything by it, and he was half-way back to Privet Drive and a night of restless sleep when Murphy's Law kicked in and his day went from bad to worse in a split second.
AN: A bit of a cliffie to ramp up the excitement a tad! Let me know what you guys think!