Summary: 'Don't think of it as a marriage contract, I don't! It makes it easier- think of it as ... an amalgamation agreement. Makes it sound less complicated.' Harry/Daphne. EWE.
Disclaimer: J.K. Rowling owns everything.
The Amalgamation Agreement
TheUnrealInsomniac and Eltanin Rose
a·mal·ga·ma·tion: the action, process, or result of combining or uniting.
synonyms - union, blend, combine.
a·gree·ment: a negotiated and typically legally binding arrangement between parties as to a course of action.
synonyms - contract, treaty, pact.
The Marriage Contract
The sun was just starting to go down as Harry opened his fifth beer.
''Onestly Loona,' Fleur said. 'I do not mind ze questions but you asked me all zis last time I woz pregnant.'
The blonde opposite her shrugged and smiled serenely. 'I just thought it might be different. Have you felt the baby kick yet?'
The French witch shook her head. 'Zey have not kicked yet. It is still early non?' She pecked her youngest daughter on the forehead. 'Dominique did not start moving for months and months.'
No sooner had she finished speaking when the other end of the table burst into laughter and the toddler started to wriggle in Fleur's lap.
'I zink I shall go put ze baby down for ze night Bill,' Fleur said as she stood. 'She will be cranky tomorrow ozzerwise.'
'Okay love,' Bill said with a content smile. 'Are you coming back down after?'
The tall blonde nodded. 'Oui, I am not tired yet.'
Harry's eyes moved to Fleur's belly as she left the table.
'Hey Bill,' Ginny said, from across the table. 'Are you and Fleur going to stay at Shell Cottage with a third baby on the way?'
Bill shook his head. 'No, we were okay while it was just us and the girls, but with another one on the way ... it just makes sense to move somewhere bigger. Especially with Vicky being nearly six, she'll want her own room soon. We're actually looking at a place near here. Far enough away that we're not living in Mum and Dad's back pocket though.'
'Well that'll make Mum happy,' Ginny said with a smile.
Bill just shrugged. 'Yeah, it'll be nice to have the help too.'
A loud squawk silenced the table as all eyes searched the darkened sky.
'Is anyone expecting an owl?' Percy asked as he pointed at the descending bird.
'Dunno, could be Charlie?'George offered as the bird lowered some more. 'He's out in China ... could be a time difference thing?'
The owl landed on the long wooden table directly in front of Harry and his eyebrows shot upwards.
'Or it could be for you mate.' George said, taking a swig from his drink.
The bird stared imperiously at him until he detached the rather bulky envelope on its leg.
'Harry Potter, Left to the middle seat of the Table, Back Garden, The Burrow,' Ginny read from over his shoulder. 'Weird. Could it be from work? Wouldn't they just Floo you or leave it on your desk?'
'Not if it's an emergency.' Harry answered slowly. 'There's no pouch … must be a privately owned owl.'
'Another admirer got through your wards Harry?' Ginny asked. Her eyes darting between him and the owl with more than a little suspicion.
He bloody hoped not, the office said they'd fixed them.
Clearly not going by the mysterious owl staring him down.
Nothing for it he supposed. Tearing open the envelope Harry fished out a folded piece of parchment with elegant writing eagerly spreading across the page.
For all it's eagerness though, the letter was brief and left him with more questions than answers.
I hope my letter finds you well and doesn't interrupt anything drastically important. You are of course a very busy man but I felt that given recent events, it would be wise if we spoke face to face regarding your and my family's future as soon as possible. Therefore, I would like to formally invite you to dinner at Greengrass Manor tomorrow night at six so we can discuss this matter further and try to iron out some of the finer details as well as answer any questions you may have to the best of our ability. Please send your reply via owl. Should tomorrow prove inconvenient I will of course, rearrange for a time which would be more advantageous to you. We look forward to meeting you.
Lord Tobias Greengrass
'What the hell?' he muttered under his breath.
Frowning, he waved the letter at his friends, just in time for Ron and Hermione to come out and join them. Hermione smiling and looking a little red.
'Who's Tobias Greengrass?' Harry asked no one in particular.
'Who?' Hermione frowned uncertainly, brown eyes moving between him and the letter in his hand.
'Tobias Greengrass?' he repeated, reading the letter again.
'Lord Greengrass?' Percy asked as Harry nodded. 'He's on the Wizenmagot I'm pretty sure.'
'Wasn't there a girl in our year called Greengrass?' She asked, looking at him and then Ron. 'Slytherin? Blonde. Kept to herself, hardly talked, very pretty?'
He and Ron shook their heads. The only blond Slytherin Harry remembered was Malfoy.
'I know a Daphne Greengrass,' Luna chipped in helpfully. 'She's nice. Has a little sister called Astoria who was in the year below us.' Luna pointed at herself and Ginny.
'So you were friends?' Hermione asked.
'Oh no, you four and Neville were my only friends. I just know them.' Luna smiled serenely. 'They really were quite nice though, it's a shame we weren't friends.'
Harry frowned and tried to picture Daphne but failed.
'So what?' Harry asked trying to organise his head. 'Are they related?'
The lithe blonde shrugged, her focus no longer on him but on a gnome munching on a flower. He turned to Hermione, unable to fight the habit, who let out an exasperated sigh.
'Why are you asking me- the Muggleborn - about pure-bloods?' she gestured to the table at large with raised eyebrows.
Ron's sarcasm was finally rubbing off on her.
'Ask them for God's sake.'
Percy frowned as he turned to Bill. 'If I remember correctly, Lord Greengrass did have daughters, we had to check during the war. Yes, I'm certain he had a daughter called Daphne, I had to read the family information myself.'
'So safe bet it's him?' Harry asked as he swallowed down more of his beer. 'I mean, there's no other Greengrasses?'
Percy shook his head.
'Okay that didn't really solve anything,' Harry groused. It still didn't explain why a rich pure-blood was sending him notes. Summoning him even.
Harry glared down at the letter.
It was bloody vague and he wasn't sure if there was an implied threat in there, or he was just being paranoid.
'Why would a lord be writing to you this late?' Ginny piped up as she came to look over his shoulder.
Harry shook his head in confusion as he rummaged into the envelope, pulling out a stack of parchment.
He frowned at the first words on the top page. Marriage contract ... he dropped the parchment onto the table as if had bitten him. 'Crap!'
'Harry?' Hermione asked, a concerned look on her face. 'What is it?'
Harry stared down at the document and then the owl. 'It's a marriage contract.'
A sudden silence fell on the table before Bill snapped out his wand and levitated the contract towards him. 'Nobody touch it!'
With another wave of his wand, the parchment flashed blue and Bill frowned. He cast another spell and it flashed blue again. With a suspicious look he performed one more spell and yet again the contract flashed blue.
Bill's frown deepened. 'It seems okay, but ...' He levitated the parchment over to Percy, who already had his wand out. 'Give it another quick check Perce?'
The third eldest Weasley son nodded and waved his wand over the parchment, muttering until it flashed yellow. 'Hmm, interesting.' Percy's eyes narrowed as he levitated the parchment closer. 'Very interesting.'
Harry and Ron shared a look, just like the ones they used to give each other when Hermione didn't explain herself in school.
'What is?' Hermione asked.
'It's real. There is even the legal seal of the Ministry in the corner.'
'Bullshit,' Ron said.
'No it is,' Percy said, frowning. His eyes running down the parchment. 'It's not for Harry though.'
Harry was getting more and more confused with each new thing Percy was saying. 'Who's it for then?'
'Regulus Black and a ... Violette Montrousse.'
'So why's Greengrass bothering Harry?' Ginny asked. 'It's got nothing to do with either of them.'
Percy just shook his head and kept on reading.
This had to be some kind of joke. His eyes darted to George. Yeah, it wouldn't be the first time he'd been pranked with a legal looking document by the man.
George looked far too grim for this to be a prank though.
The three eldest Weasleys at the table gathered around the parchment, muttering to each other as Ron, Hermione, Ginny and Luna turned to him. His own confusion mirrored in their faces.
Why was a marriage contract between Regulus and some random woman sent to him and why did Tobias Greengrass think it effected them both?
He wasn't a Black. If anything this should be Andromeda's problem ... she was the closest thing to family Sirius had still living.
Harry pulled the contract out from under Percy's nose, scanning it more thoroughly.
'Lord Black' and 'The Black heir' were dotted throughout the document.
Yeah, this shouldn't be sent to him. 'Okay, this is for Lord Black. It's got nothing to do with me.'
'Harry,' Percy said slowly. 'Sirius made you his heir. I remember because in the last few days of his administration, Fudge was obsessed with condemning you and Sirius to try and save face. I had to read through lines of succession for House Black. In Sirius' will, he'd made you his heir. Didn't anyone explain that to you?'
Harry shook his head, his skin feeling hot.
'You need to get a lawyer,' Percy said.
Harry grunted and glowered down at the parchment again.
'Bet they want money,' Ron said. 'It's normally all their sort care about. It's got to be some kind of default thing? Greengrass must want some 'shut up and piss off' money.'
'Ron's probably right,' Bill said frowning. 'We'll need Mum and Dad for this.'
'Right,' Ron said. 'Dad! Mum!'
Mr and Mrs Weasley came rushing out looking concerned followed by an annoyed looking Fleur.
'What's all this racket about?' Mrs Weasley demanded as she looked from each face. 'I know we don't have any neighbours for miles but a little decency isn't out of the question Ron!'
'Harry's been sent a marriage contract.' Ron pointed at Harry. 'Came by owl. Do you know a Violette Montrousse?'
'He's been sent a what?!' Mrs Weasley shouted. Wide eyes drifted to him. 'Harry?'
'It's not for me, it's for Sirius' brother.'
Bill reached for the contract, lighting his wand to better read it. 'Fleur, do you know the Montrousse family?'
The blonde woman nodded slowly with a slight frown. 'Ze familee Montrousse woz powerful and strong once but it is now, ah? ... éteint? Deed?'
'Oui.' Fleur nodded at Hermione. 'Zey were one of ze oldest familees from France, zey were dying out and in ze end zere woz only a daughter left. She married an Eenglish lord I zink.'
'Wait ... so this is because Regulus was supposed to marry Greengrass' wife?' Harry asked, annoyed. 'They must've been married for years! Why's this coming up now?!'
This was just mad. Not even his life was this bizarre.
'Non,' Fleur said as she took a seat next to Bill, scanning the documents herself. 'I do not know exactly 'ow it works, we 'andle ze money not ze papers. But I suspect zat anzers will not only come from zis.' She lifted the contract. 'You will 'ave to meet wiz Monsieur Greengrass I zink.'
'Fleur's right,' Percy said. 'Tobias Greengrass and his wife are probably the only ones still around who can explain this to you.'
'Bugger that! Harry's not going!' Ron said as he came round to Harry's side, gesturing at the contract. 'It's a trap. Has to be!'
The Weasleys broke off into chatter at that, each voicing their doubt or support of Ron's assumption. Harry wasn't listening. Too caught up by his own doubt, he sat back down in front of the bird who'd brought this clusterfuck of a problem into his life.
This was insane. A decades old marriage contract and a pure-blood lord asking to meet him for dinner. The madness in his life was never ending.
He took several deep breaths and closed his eyes, trying to organise his thoughts as much as possible.
When he opened them again Ginny was sat next to him, a hand on his shoulder with Hermione on the other side.
'Quiet! Shouting and getting angry isn't going to fix this.' Harry stood swiftly and grabbed the contract from Bill and George, placing it on the table. 'I'm going to the DMLE and researching everything I can about this family. Percy, can you make me three copies?' The older wizard did so at once and Harry nodded his thanks, handing him a copy. 'Look it over, help decipher the legalese?'
'I'll do what I can,' Percy said before taking his leave with murmured words of unbelievable and library following in his wake.
'Harry?' Ginny interrupted with anxious eyes, 'If this gets out...'
'We'll counter it,' he said, turning to Luna. 'The Quibbler can sow some doubt.'
Luna nodded and played with her turnip earrings. 'Daddy will be pleased to have another exclusive.'
Green eyes moved to Hermione, who arched an eyebrow. 'I'll tighten the lead on the bug.'
Harry nodded amidst the looks of confusion. He gave her a second copy.
He gave the third to Bill and Fleur. 'I'll need one of you to come with me tomorrow while the other asks around Gringotts.'
The married couple shared a look and then Fleur nodded as Bill turned to him. Before his older brother could reply, Ron cut him off.
'Are you sure about this Harry?' Ron asked with a concerned frown. 'You know what surprises can be found in old manor houses.'
'Ron, the Greengrasses weren't Death Eaters and you know Kingsley made us check every pure-blood. Twice. That means these ones ran away rather than take a side. It's not like your parents who had to leave. This bastard was a Slytherin and a coward. I'd bring his house down before he'd get the first spell near me.'
Ron frowned deeper and crossed his arms. 'Fine, but we're coming with you.'
Harry smiled and then turned to the eldest son and his wife. 'So Bill, Fleur?'
'It should probably be Bill,' Fleur said smartly. "E's Eenglish iz better. We would spend 'alf ze time translating for me.'
Bill nodded and squeezed Fleur's hand. 'Yeah, I'm not in work tomorrow, I'll be there. But wouldn't Percy have been a better choice? He's the Ministry bloke.'
'I'd rather keep this as informal as possible. An official representative of the Ministry comes along it starts ... complicating things.'
Harry smiled at the older wizard and felt the strain on his temples lessen as his plan started to take form.
'Thank you,' he said picking up the original contract. 'Right. This is gonna be bloody tricky. It won't go as smoothly as any of us would like, so get some sleep and be at mine for breakfast tomorrow, I want to be as armed as possible before dinner. Nine at the latest alright?'
Taking each other's' hand, Ron and Hermione waved to Harry. 'We'll see you in the morning Harry, try and get some sleep tonight please?'
'I'll try.' Harry gave Hermione a half smile.
Satisfied, Hermione and Ron Apparated away with two audible cracks.
The second they were gone Harry conjured a quill and parchment and in his neatest handwriting he scratched out a note to Tobias Greengrass that he would be at his manor house for dinner tomorrow.
With a stroke of the owl's brown feathers he hooked the letter onto its leg and the bird was off without another sound. That was it. He was meeting Tobias Greengrass before this time tomorrow. All he could do now was prepare.
'Harry dear,' Mrs Weasley said as she approached him.
'I'm sorry Mrs Weasley but I really need to go. Thank you for the lovely evening, I'm sorry for the way it ended. I'll let you know how it goes.'
'It's no trouble dear,' Mrs Weasley said as she hugged him tightly. 'I just hope you get this fixed. I wish I could help.'
Harry smiled. 'I'll sort it out.'
Scooping up the letter and contract from the table Harry gave his friends a mini salute, trying not to laugh as Luna used a chewed chicken leg to salute back, before he span and Apparated to the Auror's Office.
He had a lot of research to do.
Harry was already marching up the stone path of Greengrass manor before Ron, Hermione and Bill Apparated in.
The large oak doors swung open with a swipe of Harry's hand and scampering house-elves ran around frantically.
A shaking house-elf who only came up to Hermione's waist approached. 'Sirs a-a-and madam? Are – yous expect-ted?'
'Yes.' Harry's magic crackled from his fingers, itching for his wand but after a deep breath he squashed the desire to burn the luxurious marble staircase in front of him to the ground.
Hermione crouched down to the elf's level and smiled. 'Hello. Could you please tell Mr and Mrs Greengrass that Harry Potter is here?'
The elf nodded and with one last frightened glance at Harry darted around the foot of the stairs and down a long corridor, portraits hanging from the walls as far as the eye could see.
'You need to calm down Harry,' Bill quietly said. 'It's bad enough you came in your Auror robes, are you trying to scare them?'
Harry grimaced but didn't say anything as he tried to reel in his temper. He was trying to scare them. They wanted something from him, the quicker they realised they weren't getting shit the better. Fear was surprisingly good at quickening that realisation for even the thickest criminals.
'It's nice this place,' Ron said conversationally, his eyes kept darting back to Harry though. 'Less 'look at me!' than most rich people's houses. Remember when we had to kick in the Parkinsons' doors? I'd lost count of all the mini fountains. Rich people.'
Ron said the last with a shake of his head and Harry had to swallow a smile.
'Yeah, I've gotta say, I'll always prefer home but this is pretty swish,' Bill said as he pointed at the landing that gave a view down to the entrance hall. Again in white marble. 'Gotta give the Greengrasses marks for taste.'
'It's too vast for me, I like cosy better,' Hermione interjected as she walked over to examine a vase.
'I quite agree Miss Granger,' a warm voice said by the stairs. 'But my grandfather had a vain streak I'm afraid.'
A stocky man in his mid-fifties, Tobias Greengrass had a chiselled face, good looking in the way all romance novels wanted their men, short, styled blond hair was going silver at his temples and hairline. He smiled widely and there were clear laugh lines around his eyes.
'Mr Greengrass,' Hermione said evenly. Her eyes scanning him as quick as any Auror.
Greengrass approached her with his hand outstretched. 'Please feel free to call me Tobias. Miss Granger? Hermione?'
He shook her hand as Hermione stared at him weirdly. 'I'd prefer Miss Granger, Mr Greengrass.'
'If you insist,' Greengrass said. 'Please call me Tobias though, you'll make me feel old otherwise. Now, you of course must be Weasleys.' Greengrass smiled as he stepped forward to shake each man's hand. 'I hope your parents are well?'
'You know our parents?' Ron said with a raised eyebrow to Bill.
'Mostly Arthur, he's answered quite a few questions for me over the years, good man. I was so sorry to hear about your brother. So sorry.' The cheerful man's demeanour, which seemed to be unable to be supressed, turned sorrowful as he took each Weasley by the hand. 'Please pass on my condolences.'
The Weasley men nodded sadly at the mention of Fred. It only refuelled Harry's temper. How dare this coward mention Fred?
'Not sorry enough to stick around and fight when we could have needed you though.' Harry crossed his arms over his chest and fixed the slightly shorter man with a glare. 'Now tell me why the hell I'm here Greengrass.'
Hermione and Ron gave him a steadying look, they were angry too but he was letting his temper snap.
Greengrass smiled at him though, if a little strained. 'Ah yes, the famous Harry Potter, or should that be Auror Potter? Though I suppose if you insist on formalities,' Greengrass started with another smile. 'It should be Lord Potter eh?'
Harry didn't say a word and just glared deeper into the man's skull.
The older man's façade faltered for a second and a growl of satisfaction rocked through his mind. Greengrass gestured back down the corridor the house-elf had run through earlier. 'Well, you'll have to forgive me, you are earlier than I was expecting, I did say six didn't I?'
'You said six.' Harry's tone was flat. 'Sorry if we inconvenienced you.'
'Ah Auror Potter,' Greengrass said as he gestured again down the corridor. 'I am beyond sure you're not at all sorry. Please follow me.'
Greengrass led them down the affluent corridor, portraits of long dead family members watching unabashedly, a couple waving at Bill and Ron with matching red hair.
'Ah here we are,' Greengrass said as he pushed open a wooden door. 'Violette, make yourself decent, company.'
'I'm always decent Toby,' a lyrical voice answered her husband. 'Now get them in, the tea's ready.'
If Tobias Greengrass was a good-looking man then he was punching far above his weight with the vision that was Violette Greengrass. Dark blonde hair flowed down over her shoulders, draping over light blue dress robes, her fringe swept to the side, framing her lovely features. She smiled as they entered and her face shone with the action.
'Hello,' she said kindly. She turned to her husband as he sat down next to her. 'I told you he'd bring help Toby, you shouldn't have been so vague in your letter. The poor man looks like he hasn't even slept!'
Harry grunted and took in the large sitting room, there were a set of identical white painted doors on the far end of the room where footsteps could be heard.
'Where are our manners?' Violette said. 'Please do sit down and help yourself to tea, there should be scones along any moment.'
Ron and Hermione took either side of Harry wordlessly as they all sat down.
'While we're waiting, I have to say it is a pleasure to meet all of you,' Mrs Greengrass beamed from around her cup. 'Two upstanding Aurors and you Miss Granger, from what our girls have told us you were just as much a little hellion as your two boys here.'
Ron laughed as Hermione blushed and muttered something about how they must be exaggerating. They quickly schooled their features back into neutrality.
'And I must apologise … William?' Violette asked just as Greengrass handed cups of tea to each of them. 'I'm not quite sure what you do but I'm sure you're splendid at it too.'
Bill chuckled deeply. 'Don't worry about it Mrs Greengrass, I thought I was the exciting one in the family then my little brother and sister start being Aurors and Quidditch players, I never stood a chance.'
'Ah yes,' Violette said calmly as she gave Harry a long look. Her eyes landing on his forehead for a half second too long. 'I can see how that might overshadow you a little, though I do believe you and your lovely wife are expecting? Congratulations.'
The eldest Weasley son nodded with a sigh. 'Thank you.'
'And here comes Twiggy with the scones.'
The tiny elf appeared carrying several plates. She floated the scones onto the table between them and stood to a vibrating attention, bulbous eyes darting in Harry's direction.
'Thank you Twiggy,' Mrs Greengrass said with a kind smile. 'I think we'll be fine on our own now if you'd like to return to your other duties?'
'Yes, thank you Mistress,' Twiggy said and with a final glance at Harry disappeared the way she came.
'Well please tuck in,' Mr Greengrass urged as everyone but Harry stared at the food. 'Twiggy's scones are glorious.'
Violette made a point of putting a scone in front of Harry, right next to his untouched cup of tea.
'These are delicious,' Bill said.
'Thank you William,' Mrs Greengrass said with another beautiful smile. 'Twiggy will be overjoyed when we tell her, she gets so self-conscious. Bless.'
'Do you remember when one of Daphne's friends made that charming thank you card for having her for dinner and Twiggy was smiling for weeks?' Greengrass said as he sipped his tea. 'Sarah I think her name was?'
'Annie dear,' Mrs Greengrass corrected and smiled when she met Harry's astounded look. 'I think we'd best get to business Toby, Auror Potter looks close to throwing a fit.'
Harry's jaw slammed shut. He hadn't meant to lose all his composure but he knew that name. Sally-Ann Perks, was a Muggle-born. The fuck was a Slytherin pure-blood heiress doing being friends with a Muggle-born?
'So Auror Potter,' Mrs Greengrass said as she leant forwards entwining her fingers together. 'Knowing what little we do of you, I'm guessing you've got a lot of questions regarding the contract that had me betrothed to Regulus Black. If you would allow me a little time I can explain how this contract came to be.'
When no one disagreed Mrs Greengrass started.
'My family was dying out and with no sons to carry on his name, my father felt the only way to keep me safe was to betroth me to a family he knew would outlast any war.'
'I had gone to school with Sirius and Regulus and I knew all the history of the Blacks,' Mrs Greengrass frowned. 'I wasn't ecstatic about it I can tell you that much. But I was the heiress to a dying line, I didn't have a choice and I'd just have to try and keep any children away from the madness of that family.'
At this Mr Greengrass put his arm around his wife and she leaned into the hug.
Harry grimaced, marrying into the Blacks? That'd be a nightmare for anyone.
'Wait …' Hermione said with a stern look he'd seen endless times before. 'You were going to have children with Regulus?'
Mrs Greengrass nodded sombrely. 'Yes, if we had been able to send you the full contract you'd have seen that there were certain … conditions that needed to be met. Children as soon as possible was one of those conditions. More than two was heavily hinted in the writing of it as well.'
Harry grit his teeth.
'So why couldn't you send me the full contract?' Harry bit out, taking no small pleasure in the slight start it caused.
'Well you see, we weren't sure the letter would go directly to you,' Greengrass said with a smirk. 'Some of our friends have told us you've never replied to contracts regarding their daughters and well … this is a particularly tricky contract and it needed to be discussed at length. We couldn't risk it being destroyed by your … security wards.'
Harry frowned deeply. 'I'm not in the interest of buying a wife Lord Greengrass. Explain what any of this has to do with me, I'm not on the contract and I would think this bollocks was done with. You've clearly found some way around it so far.'
'Very well,' Mrs Greengrass said as she took another sip of tea. 'Once the match was agreed between my father and Lord Black, Regulus and I were betrothed and the contract was signed. The only reason I am not Violette Black is because Regulus disappeared before we could marry.'
'Still waiting to hear what it's got to do with me.' Harry shifted in his seat, if they were after money he'd rather they just got to it. He didn't need the history lesson.
'Oh my, you are an impatient one.' Mrs Greengrass chuckled. She turned to Ron and Hermione. 'Has he always been like this?'
Hermione and Ron frowned at the woman and pointedly didn't answer her question.
'Enough!' He stabbed a finger at the Greengrasses and glared daggers into their eyes. 'Tell me what the fuck is going on or I am leaving. Are we clear?'
'Yes Auror Potter,' Mr Greengrass said with a sliver of anger in his voice. 'As of the late nineties, you have been the Black heir and as the contract was signed for the Black heir … it's now you who's betrothed to Violette according to this contract.'
No seriously, what?!
Mrs Greengrass couldn't be betrothed to him! She was already bloody married and he wasn't even a real Black! What the fuck was going on?
What was he supposed to do now? Cancel it as Lord? Could he do that while being the one on the contract?
'Wait,' Bill said, breaking Harry out of his spiralling confusion. A suspicious look that matched his two friends' expressions. 'How can Harry be betrothed to Mrs Greengrass? You shouldn't have been able to marry if that was true. How does that work out?
Pouring another cup of tea as her husband fished out their version of the contract, Mrs Greengrass dimpled. 'It's a little more complicated than that. I'm not betrothed to young Mr Potter here. I'm married and that nulls me out of the contract. It passes down to the next in my bloodline. And the reason it has fallen to Harry is because Sirius was disowned before I was betrothed to Regulus and with no Black heir stepping up to replace Regulus when he disappeared … I was essentially released from it.'
'Okay ...?' Harry said, finally gathering his thoughts enough to string sentences together. 'So- so because Sirius made me his heir … the contract doesn't care that I'm not a blood relative. As the titled heir it just ... latched onto me?'
'I'm sorry Auror Potter,' Mrs Greengrass said. 'It must be very confusing but it was explained to me that it works that way to keep family alliances intact in case certain circumstances arrived.'
'Like the deal was made in bad faith?' Ron asked.
'Yes, that was one of the ways to null the contract. Already being married was another. Bigamy in such a small population could have drastic consequences after all.' Mrs Greengrass slid the contract over to Harry. 'Look at the names at the bottom of the contract Mr Potter.'
Harry watched the two carefully. 'And there's nothing that can be done...?'
'I'm afraid not Mr Potter,' Mr Greengrass started. 'As the contract has been reactivated due to an heir appearing you are bound by the previous lord of your adopted line regarding this contract. The only way you could make it void is if you were already engaged to somebody else.'
'Bollocks.' Harry grimaced at the older man and exhaled deeply. He didn't miss the pleased glint in either of the Greengrass' eyes and it just made his temper spike harder. Were they pleased about this monumental fuck up?
'Read the bottom of the contract Mr Potter,' Mrs Greengrass urged again.
Harry glanced down and felt the bottom of his stomach fall out.
'Daphne Greengrass,' Harry murmured. There was a dull thud to his left and Harry groaned as Ron and Hermione gasped and swore respectively. Bill even went bloody hell. 'Me and your daughter.'
'Next in my bloodline.' Mrs Greengrass nodded, completely disregarding the hard glare she was receiving. 'Exactly Mr Potter, however before you get too upset we do have some good news for you.'
'Wait Violette,' Mr Greengrass said. 'I think we should bring Daphne in for this part. It concerns her too. Especially the new contract.'
New contract? There was more?
'You're right,' Mrs Greengrass said. 'Twiggy!'
There was loud crack and the small elf from earlier appeared in the room. 'Yes Mistress? What can Twiggy do for yous?'
'Could you please get Daphne for me?' Mrs Greengrass asked politely. 'Oh and some more scones would be lovely.'
'Of course Mistress.' Twiggy nodded and instead of Disapparating away the little elf trotted to the doors on the far end of the room.
When she reached the door the little elf pulled it open a crack and stuck her head out. 'Mistress Daphne, Mistress Violette and Master Tobias wish yous to join them in the little sitting rooms.'
Harry raised an eyebrow at the little elf. He massaged his forehead trying desperately to figure out the newest shitstorm fate had decided to put him through.
There was a hissing and whispers coming from the door before a blonde woman was literally kicked through in what must have been her finest dress robes. She stumbled forward awkwardly and came to a standstill.
Daphne Greengrass was almost a clone of her mother with the exception of her hair and skin being lighter. Dark, blue eyes sparkled behind black rimmed glasses. A dainty nose and plush lips. There was no denying that she was beautiful- a perfect image of a pure-blood heiress.
She raised a hesitant hand and gave the room an awkward wave. 'Hi?'
Ron snorted next to Harry and the blonde girl shot him a dirty look.
Daphne eyed each of them as she took the chair next to her mother, stumbling as she did.
'So … how much did you hear Daphne?' Mr Greengrass asked, trying to swallow his own smile as his wife stared down the younger woman. 'And should we thank Astoria for pushing you through?'
Daphne just shrugged and glared daggers at the door she'd just come from.
'Well,' Mr Greengrass said, after clearing his throat and casting a look at Harry. 'Introductions are in order. Daphne, may I introduce you to Miss Hermione Granger, Misters William and Ronald Weasley and ... Auror Harry Potter. My eldest daughter, Daphne Greengrass. Now we're all here maybe we should look at the new contract?'
'I'm not signing another damn contract Greengrass.' Harry scowled.
Daphne glared at him as the senior Greengrasses looked at him with a little more dread. He could handle that, if he got his way this'd be the last he saw of any of them outside of his official capacity.
'It's actually more of an amendment Mr Potter,' Mrs Greengrass said. She rested a hand on her husband's arm. 'We managed to add some more favourable conditions to your betrothal. The contract is still the already signed one.'
'What sort of amendments?' Ron asked carefully, his eyes meeting Harry's as Auror instincts kicked in. This was sounding fishier and fishier the more they spoke. 'Those can't be made without Harry's say so if it's a contract right?'
He turned to Bill, whose own face was curled into a frown as she stared at the woman. 'Actually they can, as they were technically the wronged party.'
Violette nodded. 'Yes, while it is in no means Mr Potter's fault, we are at liberty to add some conditions and amendments to make the contract … easier for all involved. I promise it's not as bad as you think.'
Harry's stern gaze didn't let up as the woman fixed him with a look. She could beg with her eyes from now until the end of time and he'd still be pissed with her.
'So if I'm being signed away to Mr Potter,' Daphne spat at her parents. 'Do I get to read this damn amendment?'
Good, at least she was pissed off about this too.
Looking ashen, Mr Greengrass nodded fervently. 'Of course Daphne, let me just get the … oh Merlin, I think I left it in my office.'
Harry skewered the man with his best Auror stare. 'Sure you did. Better go get it then.'
'Well you were early Mr Potter,' Mr Greengrass pointed out as he stood. 'Violette come help me find it. It'll be quicker with the two of us.'
'Or send an elf?' Ron suggested with less scorn than Harry would have liked.
'No, no,' Tobias said as he stood, swiftly followed by his wife. 'The elves are making dinner, best not to interrupt. We'll be right back.'
Ron went to argue the point further until Harry lifted his hand slightly. 'Just make it quick.'
The ginger grumbled and backed down just in time for Lord and Lady Greengrass to disappear. Leaving them with just Daphne.
'So …' Daphne said, shifting in her seat as her eyes flickered from face to face, hardening slightly when they landed on Harry's. 'Nice to see you again, Weasley, Granger.'
'You too Greengrass,' Hermione said with a slight smile. 'How've you been?'
'Well,' Daphne said, fiddling with the sleeve of her robes. 'You? Are you two still together?'
Hermione's hand reached out to Ron's and the couple entwined fingers. 'Yup,' Ron said sharply. 'Five years now?'
'Nearly six,' Hermione nodded, smiling proudly.
The blonde shook her head, eyebrows shooting upwards in surprise. 'I'd given you a month. There was a betting pool and everything.'
'How about you Daphne? Seeing anyone?'
Daphne's blue eyes glanced at Harry again and he did his best not to set her on fire at the annoyance in her face. It wasn't his fault her parents brought this shit down on them.
'Well technically him, I suppose.' She shrugged and sighed. 'But no, I wasn't seeing anyone. You know … busy.'
'Oh?' Bill asked, much more politely than anyone else at the table. 'What do you do Miss Greengrass?'
Daphne looked at Bill slowly, her eyes catching the dragon tooth he still wore as an earring and the scars from years ago.
'This and that,' she replied with a slight shrug. 'I help my dad with company stuff sometimes.' She tilted her head at Bill. 'Are you the brother with the dragon fetish? Not fetish, I meant you like them. Well not like like them but you like them- not fancied them. You don't ride them in an inappropriate way is what I meant.'
They just stared at her as she rambled, a light blush creeping up her cheeks as she slapped a hand over her mouth and the familiar look of wishing to melt into the floor crossed her face.
'No, Charlie's the one with the dragon fetish,' Bill said, starting to smile uncontrollably. 'I'm the nutter who breaks into crypts.'
'Oh.' Daphne pulled at the neck of her dress robes. 'Glad we cleared that up. Wouldn't want to confuse one of you for another, especially you lot- there's so bloody many of you. Like rabbits. But ginger. Famous and powerful, ginger rabbits,' she finished with a nod.
Blue eyes grew wide, a mixture of horror and embarrassment battling for dominance as her blush deepened. Beside him, he could feel Ron shaking.
'So what do you three do?' she asked, her voice higher than normal as she looked at everything but them.
Bloody hell, this was painful. If he wasn't so bemused at her he might've actually felt sorry for her.
'Harry and me are Aurors,' Ron said mercifully, humour evident in his tone. 'Which you can probably tell by his robes.'
'Oh, yeah... there's a Ministry crest on it. I thought he'd just come in Gryffindor colours trying to prove a point or something,' Daphne said simply, no less awkward than before. 'How about you Granger … still working on freeing house-elves? You realise they're bound by magic so your work is basically pointless right?'
Hermione's face reddened as the familiar hardening of her shoulders warned him what was about to come.
'I beg your pardon?' Hermione asked with more edge to her voice than she'd had all day. 'What do you mea-'
'I mean not pointless just unnecessary cos you're essentially hurting them. In trying to free them you're basically saying 'hey! don't have masters and therefore no one to bind your magic to which will cause you to suffer and explode from so much power' which is ironic cos in trying to free them you'll kill them so really- as an advocate for House-elves you're the person you should be fighting against not that you'd fight yourself cos that's ... just ... stupid ...' Daphne interrupted as she looked helplessly from one baffled face to another.
'So how'd you like being a-an Auror?' she asked him, finally looking at him long enough.
'S'alright,' Harry said. 'Dangerous.'
'Would have thought you'd had enough danger …' Daphne said absently. Her gaze on the door her parents had left through. 'Just seems kinda … foolish of you … after all that ... stuff ... you went through … Personally, I'd have settled for the thrilling life of a Flobberworm rancher...'
Her eyes turned back to them and she faltered at their undivided attention. Blonde eyebrows shot upwards and her mouth shut with an audible snap.
He full on gaped at her. He couldn't help it.
She scratched at her wrists, where lace met skin and then under her breast but stopped at Ron's snort-turned-cough. Face red, she motioned to the scones which appeared before them. She reached for one herself after they refused and the second she took a hearty bite, jam and cream fell onto her dress. Without missing a beat, a dainty finger scooped the mess into her mouth.
Ron was breathing heavily next to him and Greengrass once again squirmed.
'So … yeah …' Daphne hemmed again, her blush ever present. 'Where are my parents?'
'Probably still looking for that damn contract,' he snapped, his anger once again spiking.
The blonde's eyes shot to him, glaring. 'Is your tone necessary?'
Harry returned her angry stare, not at all bothering to temper himself. 'Yes it fucking is.'
Daphne bristled. 'Don't make this more difficult than it already is.'
'They summoned me! If you don't like it you should've left it!'
The witch opposite him slammed down her pastry, 'So that my - our - magic could get affected?'
'Oh piss off! It's not that serious!'
'You're a fucking idiot Potter!'
They all paused at the sound, confusion marring their faces as the trio and Bill looked at one another and then all around.
'What the fuck was that?'
Daphne' s blush deepened further. Her face completely red as his eyes zeroed in on her. Her mouth opened and closed.
'I-I didn't hear a thing.'
Hermione pulled her wand out, slowly standing, eyes trained on the pure-blood witch. From the corner of his eye he saw Ron and Bill do the same.
'You have one second Greengrass to tell me what that was,' Harry said as he stood.
Her eyes shot between him and his wand and then quickly moved from face to face and wand to wand. She paled.
'It's nothing,' she stammered, her voice quiet and small.
Hermione spoke. 'Harry, we need to leave.'
He nodded, green eyes still trained on the sitting witch. In his periphery Bill began to move. He took a step and the blonde muttered under her breath as she jumped up and another ding rang out.
'Shit! Bollocks! Cunt!'
Ding! Ding! Dong!
He paused mid-step, all wands trained on her. Just then the doors flew open.
'Daphne Yvonne Greengrass!' shouted Mrs. Greengrass as she barged into the room, faltering when she saw the wands aimed at her daughter.
'Let's all calm down,' said Mr. Greengrass carefully as he took measured steps into the grand room, a stack of papers held against his chest. 'Take a breath, lower your wands and let's talk like civil adults.'
Harry raised his wand a bit higher. 'What the fuck was that noise?' he growled.
The older wizard arched an eyebrow. 'You are in my house, stood on the ground that has belonged to my family for centuries. The wards will activate after your first spell. For your sakes, lower those wands.'
'I only need one Greengrass.'
Mr. Greengrass smiled humourlessly. 'You won't get that far.'
'Okay, seriously. What. The. Fuck?!'
Mrs. Greengrass' glare returned and moved to Ron. 'Language!'
The ginger gave the woman a hard look as embarrassment filled her features. She shrugged, 'Habit.' Before her glared returned, piercing her daughter.
Bill, coughed and stored away his wand. Something akin to amusement dancing in his eyes as they moved from mother to daughter to the walls and back to Daphne.
'Is that the Vulgarity Charm?' he asked, his lips twitching.
Ron lowered his wand next as he gaped at the blonde witch, chest heaving as he stared at the blushing woman. 'Really?'
Hermione shook her head, lowering her wand.
Beside him, his best mate pushed down on his arm, willing him to drop his guard.
'It's a swear counter,' explained Ron as his eyes watered, his voice breathy and strained with suppressed laughter. 'Every ding is a swear, there'll be a box somewhere that keeps count of it.'
Harry's mouth fell open, dark eyebrows shot into his fringe as he turned to the blonde witch searching for confirmation.
Daphne's face was completely red as she fiddled with her dress. 'Wanker.'
Ron lost it. Doubled over and laughed uncontrollably. Bill covered his mouth looking away as Hermione turned an embarrassed but sympathetic smile onto the blonde witch.
'A swear counter?' Harry asked from shock.
'Daphne,' said Mrs Greengrass crisply. 'Has a problem with self-control. We installed the charm to try and break the habit.' Then under her breath. 'Didn't think it'd be on so bloody long though.'
Ron snorted and Bill coughed.
Hermione gestured to the parchment Mr Greengrass held. 'Is that the contract?'
The elder wizard nodded, walking towards them as Daphne shot a grateful smile at Hermione.
Mr Greengrass handed the stack to Harry. He didn't look away as he handed the lot to Bill.
The witch moved to Bill and within seconds the pair's whispering broke the strained silence.
Still holding eye contact Mr Greengrass spoke. 'Do you trust so easily Mr Potter that you'd allow your friends to handle such affairs without you looking at them first?'
He felt Ron shift closer to him, a feat that the older wizard didn't miss. His smile grew and Harry glared.
'I trust the people who've fought beside me.'
The smile fell and he made to speak but Hermione beat him to it.
'What does it mean, magical consequences? The phrase gets repeated over and over again but gives no expressed details.'
Everyone turned to her as she looked from one Greengrass to another, a stack of sheets grasped firmly in hand. Beside her, Bill was reading over the parchment sat on his lap, individual pages on each hand.
Harry's eyes shot back to the wizard before him. To his surprise, the man looked worried before he schooled his features.
'We don't know,' said Mrs Greengrass quietly as she moved beside her daughter. 'The contract was written by the Black family and that bit was left purposely vague.'
Harry wasn't surprised. He caught the fleeting look of fear on Mr Greengrass' face. Not lying either then.
'My parents asked Orion Black to define the terms - repeatedly - but no answer ever came. "Do not fear Montrousse. Short of her willingly choosing to ignore or abide by the contract, no harm will come to her." That's what he always said- those exact same words every single time. Regulus disappeared soon after and so we never found out what those words meant.'
Bill looked up. 'How old are you Daphne?'
The blonde jumped at being addressed directly. 'Twenty-two. Almost twenty-three.'
The long haired ginger turned to Mr Greengrass. 'That'll be why you've got in touch now, right?'
A firm nod and Harry looked to the sitting pair.
'The contract states that courting must begin no later than her twenty third birthday.' Hermione frowned.
Bill nodded, still looking at the older wizard. 'You'd hoped to fix this before then?'
Another firm nod before Mrs Greengrass spoke.
'Nothing can be done,' she said with a tone of finality.
Her husband turned to her. 'We had to try.'
She shook her head, 'Tobias, I was there. I saw the spells and felt the binding. These were the Blacks, nothing short of death will break that contract.' Blue eyes sought Harry's. 'Forgive us Mr Potter but we really should have informed you of this the second we found out. Perhaps then, measures could've been taken.'
'No,' replied Mr Greengrass, 'We found the clause which helped us make amendments to it, changing the outcome. This was- is for the best.'
'To what end Tobias?'
'What indeed?' asked Hermione, eyes downcast as she studied the sheet before her, brows furrowed as she began to shake her head. 'Your amendments-'
'Cancel the majority of clauses imposed. Why?' asked Bill.
They'd taken crap out?
Mr Greengrass' lip curled bitterly, 'Believe it or not, not everyone wants their daughter married off to Harry Potter. Not when the Dark Lord had been so invested in him. We discovered the contract on her seventeenth birthday, as we looked for a safeguard during the height of the war. However, three contracts with her name failed to bind, one after another. It wasn't until we went searching that we found this.' He gestured to the parchments. 'We were able to neutralise the less savoury aspects of the marriage contract. Out of ten clauses, only three stubbornly remain. The closer we got to her birthday the more obvious it became that nothing could be done and that this contract must be obeyed. As the wronged party, we were allowed amendments or to remove and change certain facets of the remaining clauses. Which we did. Rest assured Mr Potter,' said the older wizard. 'Nothing was done with ill intent. Not when our daughter are concerned.'
They settled into a strained silence, the only sounds in the room that of Bill and Hermione's muttering.
'We can't find anything dodgy,' Hermione said an hour later.
'It reads rock solid and fair mate,' echoed Bill.
The tension in his shoulders increased drastically. 'What does that mean?'
Hermione looked down, biting her lip as Bill stared him in the eye.
'It means you're fucked, but not as fucked as you would've been if they hadn't sorted it.'
He ran his hands up his face and through his hair before he remembered where he was.
'We need more time,' Ron said. 'We' d like to give the contract a more thorough read.'
Mr Greengrass nodded. 'I expected as much.'
'We'll return in a month after we've looked into everything.' Ron's face hardened. 'If we can't find anything ... we'll send word and ... go from there.'
The married couple shared a look. Daphne remained quiet in her chair.
'Sounds fair. A month then,' said Mrs Greengrass.
A flurry of movement later found his group facing the pure-bloods.
'Mr Greengrass,' said Bill, extending his hand, 'We'll speak again in a month.'
He reluctantly shook hands with the older wizard and put up with a parting hug from the older witch and was now staring at Daphne.
Daphne for her part was looking down at the floor as she bit her lip, her cheeks beginning to glow with a rosy hue.
'A private word between Harry and Daphne wouldn't hurt,' Hermione suggested.
Harry turned around so fast his neck actually hurt. He glared at Hermione who resolutely did not look at him. Then Bill opened his fucking mouth.
'That's actually a good idea.' The prick smiled at Harry.
Ron thumped him on the back. 'We'll wait for you outside mate.'
The room emptied until Harry was left with a reluctant Daphne, who'd had an iron grip on her mum's hand before the witch managed to pry herself free.
Now it was just the two of them. A coffee table the only thing between them. He cleared his throat and the witch jumped, muttering under her breath.
Harry shook his head and stomped down a nervous chuckle. Why was he nervous? It was just one bloody woman.
'Nice weather we're having,' she said.
He blinked as the sound of thunder rang out, making her jump.
Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding!
Harry huffed a laugh. The blonde looked up, glaring. Her cheeks bright red, a stark contrast to her pale face.
This was so fucked up. Well, if she wasn't going to start things rolling, he supposed he'd have to.
'In Auror training,' he began. 'When we're learning interrogation techniques, we're made to practice rapid fire questions with our partners ... would you like to try that?'
A look of interest met him along with a reluctant nod.
He cleared his throat. 'Alright, I'll start ... How do you feel about all this?'
Her voice was rough with disuse. 'Scared. Worried ... overwhelmed ... Y-you?'
She nodded, still not meeting his eyes. 'Do you really think your lot will find something?'
Harry shrugged, the tension in his gut coiling painfully at the thought of the alternative.
'We'll try,' he said, his mouth dry.
'If you can't, will I have to - to worry about you cursing me?'
His eyes shot back to hers. 'What?'
A single shrug of her shoulder and tilt of her head her only answer.
'Of course not! Why the hell would you think that?'
The blonde's blush grew as she looked at everything but him. 'B-because,' she stammered. 'You almost did.'
Ouch. She had a point there.
She finally met his eyes, her mouth opened slightly as she gaped at him. 'W-what?'
'I said, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have done that. It's not your fault this happened. We - I - shouldn't have taken it out on you.'
The blonde witch visibly relaxed. She shrugged again, a small smile pulling at her lips. 'No problem. It wasn't like I was going to shit-,' Ding! '-myself or anything.'
He breathed a laugh as her ever present blush flushed brighter.
'That won't happen again,' he promised and she smiled.
'Good. I mean, thanks. I'm not useless with a wand but I'm not great either and I imagine that you'll flatten my arse in a matter of seconds and I'd really rather that didn't happen. I don't know if you've caught on yet but I'm not exactly great with confrontations or discussions or overall socialising. I'm pretty damn sure I'd be no better in a duel as well. Especially one with The fucking Chosen One.'
Anxious eyes slammed shut. 'Sorry I don't mean anything by that - I just - I get nervous easily...'
Harry nodded before she opened her mouth. 'I gathered yeah.'
Guilt coursed through him then. Whatever Daphne Greengrass was she'd clearly never developed a backbone. And here he'd gone and focused all his anger at her. In uniform. Fuck.
'Right,' he nodded at the door. 'I'll be going then.'
'Bye,' she said with a tight smile and a small wave.
A parting nod and he left.
Ding! Ding! Ding!
He shook his head as he made his way towards the door and outside the gate to meet his waiting friends.
The second Ron spotted him, the taller bloke grabbed him by his robes and pulled at him until they were face to face.
'Marry her!' Ron demanded. 'I need her in my life!'
Bill laughed behind him as Hermione tittered somewhere behind the tall idiot. Harry pushed him off, glaring.
The fucking moron pointed at him. 'I've never asked you for a damn thing, this is the least you could do after all the shit we've been through!'
Harry flipped him off and Ron laughed, raising two fingers in reply. 'Worth a try.'
Hermione spoke from behind the taller wizard, 'Come on, let's go. We'll plan some more at The Burrow.'
Bill nodded before Disaparating on the spot.
Hermione pulled Ron into her side and with a sympathetic smile, turned on the spot.
He didn't turn around to confirm his suspicion, but he had the distinct impression that he was being watched. Scowling, Harry followed after his friends.