Disclaimer: The Harry Potter universe belongs to the proverbial Duchess of Magic, JK Rowling, Scholastic, Bloomsbury, Warner Bros and some other high falutin' companies. No matter how much I whine about not owning anything related to the HP universe, other than a few fanfic plots, I do not profess to own - and would never dream of making any money off - JKR's wonderful world... Damn it!
A/N: Made some grammatical corrections to previous chapters. (Thank you Alix33 and a couple others.) Now we see how much of a manipulator Monica can be. On that, while Harry hates it when people manipulate him, we also get more of a taste of how much he can be considered a hypocrite here on for a little while.
A/N2: 'Missus Landringham' is a gift for Alix33. She'll know why. *grin*
Chapter Eighteen - Betrothal Discussions
Back at the Granger house, with the two teens out of the way, Wendell hunted down Monica. She was going around the house with a small watering can and checking to see which plants needed watering, only to find they'd all been done.
With a sigh she thought, 'Dobby.'
"Hi love," he said.
"Dobby's watered and trimmed all the indoor plants," she half-heartedly complained.
"House elves are apparently quite handy," he smiled.
"And annoying when you're looking for something to do," she smiled back.
"How'd your talk with Hermione go, yesterday and this morning?" he asked.
"She's clueless," she sighed. "It's clear she loves him. But, she seems to think it's the sort of love one has for a little brother. I think she's wrong and she's lying to herself so she doesn't get hurt."
"And he thinks he sees her as a big sister," he added. "I even had to talk to him about considering his feelings for her so he can get over the problem of not recognising love those Dursley people beat into him."
"They're both clueless," she grumbled.
"Here I was, thinking I'd have to keep an eye on the pair of them just so they wouldn't go running off to find somewhere behind a closed door, and neither thinks like that," he said. "On one hand, I'm relieved. But, on the other, it's disappointing."
"She's fifteen, 'Dell," she frowned. "And he's fourteen. They should both be wanting to hump away at each other like rabbits!"
He blanched and said, "That's one image I really didn't want passing through my mind."
"I didn't say they should be doing it," she smiled. "I said they should be wanting to do it."
"Errph!" he shuddered.
She laughed a similar tinkling laugh to Hermione.
"You know how the wizarding world is about a century behind ours, right?" she asked.
"Sometimes it looks even further than that," he returned. "However, I understand what you're getting at."
"Well, during my talk with Hermione I found out that Harry's parents married right out of school. That means they were eighteen," she explained. "So did that Ronald boy's parents, so do a lot of magicals.
"For many in the magical world Hogwarts is a place parents can send their children so they can interact with other children and find their future spouses. She even told me there are some children that are betrothed in marriage contracts, similar to our nobility, before they even arrive at the school."
"That sounds..." he tried.
"Like about one to two centuries out of date; at least, socially?" she finished. "Yeah, it does. But, what did we just determine?"
"That they're one to two centuries behind our world," he nodded, seeing what his wife was getting at.
"Now, think of this," she continued. "If wizarding adults tend to marry soon after they finish school, and that age puts them at or about seventeen to eighteen years of age, how old did you say Hermione was again?"
With a start he breathed, "Bloody Hell!"
"Next issue," she said, moving on while her husband was trying to get his head around the idea his little princess could easily make him a grandfather within five years. "She told me their school doctor... medi-witch... was under some form of loyalty potions and compulsion charms.
"When I pushed her on those she told me about more. Love potions are a fact of life for witches and wizards. Soon after she got to the school back in 1991, the medi-witch warned all the girls about them and how to spot signs of it in themselves and those they were friends with. And, if they thought themselves or their friends were under one, to immediately bring it to her attention. And yet, she was discovered to have been under a similar one; and no one noticed a thing. We also now know Hermione was under a mild one back in 1991/92. That has me worried."
Wendell was deep in thought.
"Moving on," she said. "We both also know the wizarding world has two hierarchies. There is one based on blood status and one based on House status.
"The one based on blood status, starting at the top, goes pureblood, halfblood, muggleborn, squib and muggle. The one on House status goes Noble and Most Ancient, Noble and Ancient, Ancient, Elder, Minor, Magical, Unhoused and Disowned.
"There's a third but it's not as important compared to the first two. It goes Lord, Lady, Heir Apparent, Heir Presumptive, other Heir, Member and those who don't fit in any of those categories.
"As a muggleborn and Unhoused, Hermione sits right down the totem pole on both the first two; while Harry, as Lord of a Noble and Most Ancient House, even though he's also a halfblood, sits about as close to the top as it gets. There's only six people in their society that could be higher and they're all pureblood Lords. Sirius is one of those. And Hermione tells me another is currently a permanent resident in their hospital and is highly unlikely to ever recover. His son is a good friend of them both and is due to the inherit the title when he turns seventeen in a little under three years. That leaves four."
"So, what are you looking to achieve if you're telling me all this?" he asked.
"Don't bite my head off for the idea," she carefully replied. "But, I want to know how you feel about the idea of Hermione being better protected?"
"I'm all for it, of course," he replied. "Why?"
Taking a deep breath she screwed up her courage and explained, "I want to talk to Sirius about floating the idea of Harry and Hermione becoming betrothed to one another."
"What?!" he loudly exclaimed. "Y-you want to give our daughter―"
"No!" she firmly and immediately cut in. "A Betrothal Agreement, from what I can gather, is a promise statement. However, it can also be written with escape clauses. That's the first important part.
"The next is, when a witch or wizard is in a Betrothal Agreement, both are protected under the auspices of the senior House. In this case, that would be Harry's; the Noble and Most Ancient House of Potter. To interfere in a Betrothal Agreement, including dosing one or the other or both with mind altering potions or charms, is considered interfering in the private practices of a House or Houses. At the level of Harry's House, that could see you executed; so, people are going to very wary of trying such a thing. It would protect them both!"
"I don't believe this!" he declared.
The voice of the current senior auror on their 'detail', Senior Auror Horatio Cummerbatch, was suddenly heard to say, "Believe it, Doctor Granger." He was quite firm.
Spinning to the door leading to the kitchen, Wendell looked at him in shock. "Horatio? You mean, she's right?"
"Yes, Sir," replied Cummerbatch. "It's actually quite a clever idea, too."
"But, what if Harry..." began Wendell before he stuttered to a stop unable to find the right words.
"A formal Betrothal Agreement is not a licence to have sex, Sir," replied the auror, walking more fully into the room. "A Betrothal Agreement is a statement to the other Houses, plus individual witches and wizards, that these two... in this case, Lord Potter and your daughter... are, not just off limits to any form of courting, but most especially what your wife was describing.
"As your wife said, they can include clauses that allow the Agreement to be dissolved. It can be as simple as either party saying, 'I hereby dissolve our Betrothal Agreement' for it to be ended. For your own piece of mind you can also include a clause that states you can say, 'I hereby dissolve the Betrothal Agreement between Hermione and Harry' for it be ended."
"That's all?" asked Wendell, still doubtful.
"Yes," nodded Cummerbatch. "But, a Betrothal Agreement must include stipulations, just as any contract does in the muggle world. Normally, they would includes things like, 'The bride must produce at least one male heir within thirty-six months of the date of the union and another heir, whether male or female, within seventy two months'; or 'On the bonding of the marriage the House of Potter agrees to pay bride price of ten thousand galleons to the Head of the family of the bride and fifty thousand galleons on the birth of the first heir of the House of Potter resulting from the union'.
"It can also include business arrangements, as these usually do. 'As of the date of the union the House of Potter agrees to loan House Granger, at the interest rate of zero point one percent calculated yearly, the sum of two hundred and fifty thousand galleons. Such loan to be repaid in full, together with the interest, within five years to the day'. That sort of thing."
Narrowing his eyes in suspicion at the auror, Wendell said, "It sounds like you have experience with these."
Cummerbatch smiled and replied, "They're quite common in our world, Sir. They're practically mandatory at Lord Potter's level."
"His... parents?" asked Wendell.
"It is not known for sure by the wizarding world at-large," shrugged the auror. "But, it is believed so, yes. However, it is also believed that they didn't enter a Betrothal Agreement until after Lord James Potter proposed, if they did. And that was also after both reached of-age.
"Like your daughter, Lady Lily Potter was a muggleborn. The trial showed that her parents passed soon after she graduated from Hogwarts. However, as she was 'Unhoused' she did not need her parent's permission once she was of-age, anyway. And, by then, Lord James was also both of-age and rightful Lord of the House of Potter. So, he could sign such an Agreement off his own authority, too.
"If there is anyone who could truthfully tell you whether they entered such an agreement or not, it would be Lord Black. Before being Lord Potter's godfather, he was Lord James Potter's supposed best friend. They attended Hogwarts together in the same year. So, too, did Lady Lily Potter née Evans."
The auror stood there for a moment before he said, "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have intruded on your conversation. We're taught not to do that and I'd be hexed into next week if The Boss ever found out. I'll leave you to it." And, with that, spun around and strode out the door.
Wendell stood thinking about what he'd been told for a long, long moment before he looked at his wife and asked, "Could it be that simple?"
"What I was going to suggest was, we speak with Sirius... Lord Black... when he next drops by," she replied with a smile. "The only thing I ask is that we discuss it... as adults."
He gave a firm nod and replied, "We'll do that. But, we'll do it away from the kids, first."
"Good," she said. "I don't want to discuss it in front of them yet, either."
After being shown Hermione's old primary school through the security fence - especially the library, of course - the two headed for the local small shopping district.
Harry used the opportunity to 'pick up some things' from the supermarket for the pantry, fridge and freezer at the Grangers that were either lacking or he felt he needed to contribute to. In Hermione's mind, though, Harry had basically bought a week's worth of grocery shopping.
Once out of the shops, Harry led Hermione into the back lane-way behind the supermarket and, checking by looking about first, called Dobby.
Dobby popped in, saw the bags Harry and Hermione were carrying and popped away with them.
"That's so useful," said Hermione. "I first thought we'd have to carry them all back ourselves and was dreading what my arms and hands were going to feel like well before we got back."
Once back out on the street the two slowly made their way back to the Granger house.
And Harry finally screwed up his courage enough to ask what he desperately needed to, but still feared to, ask.
"Hermione," he began. "How do you know if you've fallen in love with someone?"
That stopped the girl in her tracks. And her stopping caused him to stop a step later and turn back to look at her.
She gawped back at him. "W-what?"
"How do you know if you've fallen in love?" he simply asked.
"I... what? I... don't know," she replied.
With a sigh he muttered, "Pity."
"W-why do you ask?" she asked a little fearfully.
Looking away and blushing a little he quietly replied, "Your dad said he believes I've fallen in love with... someone; but, because I never experienced love as a child growing up, I don't know what to look for to determine if I've fallen in love or not."
"He said that?" she squeaked. 'Oh, no!' she thought.
"Yeah," he almost morosely replied. "I spent a long time thinking about it, analysing it, and I can see his point."
"And... as a result, you think you're in love with someone?" she carefully asked.
'I've lost him!' she thought. 'Oh, Merlin! I'm in love with him!... Where did that come from?'
"Yeah," he sighed. With a gesture he got them both moving again as they continued to walk up the path of the street that would take them back to her place.
"Can I ask who?" she asked. "If you want to tell me, that is."
Inside she was thinking, 'Whoever it is, I'll help him any way I can. But, I'm going to hate it.'
"It's the one person I know who cares for me, not who I am to them, not who I could be for them, not who they think I am," he replied. "Oh. And they're also female; just in case you thought I might've batted for the other team."
'Cho?... Possibly,' she thought. 'Katie?... Maybe... Ginny?... Merlin, no!―'
Screwing up her courage to hear her doom, she said, "It'll help if you stop beating about the bush and tell me who we're talking about, Harry."
"At risk of our friendship being irreparably harmed," he said. "And please believe me when I say I really, really, really hope that this doesn't hurt our friendship―."
"Harry―" she almost growled.
"You!" he suddenly blurted. Then cringed away, expecting 'Mount Hermione' to erupt.
That brought the girl to another sudden halt.
Again taking an extra step when she suddenly stopped again, but also stepping away in case she was going to hit him. He stood looking at her, blushing and expecting her to hit him.
She was again gawking at him.
"H-Hermione?" he tentatively asked. "Y-you're not going to hit me, a-are you?"
Suddenly, her jaw snapped shut and she dived at him. That drove them both to the ground.
"Oof!" he exclaimed, hitting the ground. He felt lucky his head hit the little grass strip between the path and the curb of the road.
"Oh, Harry! Oh, Harry! Oh, Harry!" she was babbling.
The female auror following them, Auror Second Class Weston, wanted to check the time right then but couldn't. She'd just have to try and figure out how long it was between now and when they got back to the house. There was a betting pool someone in the 'bullpen' was going to win.
Harry, though, was confused. Hermione was apparently trying to crush him to death with one of her hugs, while also trying to wrestle with him on the ground, all the while crying into his pullover 'hoodie'.
"Ummm... Hermione?" he asked.
Suddenly, everything stopped for a few moments. Hermione had stopped her babbling, wrestling and sobbing.
Again suddenly, she sat up on his upper thighs with what he quickly realised were her bits and had both her hands pressed flat on either side of his upper chest.
With a serious expression on her face she firmly asked, "Do you know how badly you scared me? I was going through my mind wondering who it was! Cho, Katie, Ginny, even Lavender!"
"Sorry," he quietly said. "I was trying to build up the courage to let you know it was you. You're not really angry with me, are you?"
She stared at him for a long moment before she said, "No. I can never stay mad with you."
Harry relaxed in relief.
"However," she said. And he tensed up again. "Don't you have a question you should be asking me?"
Confused, he lay there thinking about it, not wanting to ask the wrong question.
"Ummm... y-you're... okay with that?" he carefully asked.
"No, you git!" she snapped back and then actually did hit him lightly on the chest.
Harry felt devastated. She didn't like him loving her. She didn't love him.
"That's the wrong question!" she snapped again. "You're supposed to ask me if I would be your girlfriend!"
"Oh," he said, confused, before he understood what she meant. From the sudden swooping drop into the depths of despair his heart soared in joy. "Oohh!"
"Well?" she asked.
Neither teen had moved to stand up from the ground. Harry was still laying on his back on the footpath with Hermione sitting on his thighs with her hands on his chest.
"Hermione Granger," he more formally said. "Will you consent to be my girlfriend?"
"Yes!" she immediately and gaily cried, before diving forward and mashing her lips to his.
They were like that for a few long seconds, with Hermione crushing his lips with her own, before both teens heard a loud and pointed throat clear, "Huh-hmm!"
Hermione sat up straight again and both teens turned to the sound. Harry noticed on the other side of the front fence of a property they were passing, a little old lady wearing a wide brimmed straw hat, threadbare dress, light unbuttoned cardigan, wearing gardening gloves and holding a pair of garden scissors in her right hand.
"Oh! Hello, Missus Landringham!" said Hermione to the woman.
Harry could see the woman had obviously been kneeling in the garden along her low brick front fence and both of them had missed her. He could also see she was trying to put on a stern expression while trying to hide the fact she was happy for them. Her eyes were twinkling.
"Miss Granger," said the woman. "A young lady does not sit on her young suitor - on the ground, mind - and then try to bruise his lips with her own! It is unbecoming!"
Hermione blushed and said, "Ummm... Sorry, Missus Landringham." Then she slowly climbed to her feet.
Before Harry could move, the old woman then cast her stern gaze on him and said, "As for you, young man; don't you think you should be escorting Miss Granger home so you can ask her father if you may court her, first?"
Harry blushed scarlet before he scrambled to his feet. "S-sorry, Ma'am!" he exclaimed.
Then he quickly grabbed Hermione by the hand and tried to run back to her house while dragging her behind.
"Harry!" screamed Hermione within the first half dozen steps, as she was dragged along. "We don't need to run! Slow down!"
That brought Harry to an almost stop before he squeaked, "Sorry!"
Out of earshot, the old woman's expression turned into a smile. "Tch! The children of today. No sense of the proper proprieties!" she wistfully said. Then she giggled, before she dropped back to her knees and returned to her trimming.
'Wait until the bridge club hear about this!' she thought, cutting away a particularly misbehaving branch. 'Right on the outside path in front of my roses!' Then she giggled again.
As soon as they got back into the house - Hermione almost dragging Harry inside, this time - she ran off looking for her mother.
"MUU-UUM!" she two-tone called up the stairs.
Then was startled when her mother's voice called from her left in the parlour. "Don't shout, Hermione!"
The girl first whirled on locating where the voice came from before she then whirled on Harry and demanded, "Go find Daddy!" Then dashed into the parlour.
Standing there, Harry blinked a moment before he decided talking to her father was not something he wanted to do, just yet. Instead, he headed for the kitchen.
'I'd best go make sure Dobby's put all the groceries away, first,' he thought. 'And, hopefully, he's not started preparing dinner yet.'
He also knew the chances of Dobby not putting the groceries away, or that the elf had actually started dinner already considering the time, had nothing to do with it. Was he avoiding talking to her father? Of course not!
Then used the time to consider what he would be cooking for dinner that evening. He was muttering various recipes as they passed through his head while he was head down and bum up in the ice chest.
Happy as a niffler in a Gringotts vault, Hermione found her mother reading through some documents on a lounge.
She practically leapt onto the armchair opposite and stared at her mother with a big grin on her face.
When Monica looked up in surprise, she saw her daughter sitting on the chair opposite, the biggest smile she'd ever seen on her face, her eyes figuratively, if not practically, sparkling and behaving as if she was a hyperactive six year old on a sugar high dosed up with cochineal red food dye colouring forced to sit still.
That was something Monica well-remembered from back in the girl's first week ever of school - muggle primary - when another child had shared a bag of 'Red Frogs' lollies with her.
It had taken hours for the girl to burn through the sugar and dye and, when she did at the dinner table, fell face-first into her mashed potatoes instantly asleep.
Wendell was chuckling so hard he was useless and it was left to Monica to wipe her daughter's face clean of her dinner with a face cloth before carrying her upstairs to her room, which was then the room Harry now had, and putting her to bed.
Setting aside the documents she was going over, Monica made sure her features were under control before turning to look once again upon her daughter. "Hermione dear, you look as if―"
"Harryaskedmetobehisgirlfriend!" the girl blurted before her mother even had a chance to reach anywhere near the end of her own sentence.
Mentally slowing down what her daughter actually said, Monica was a few moments before she calmly said, "I see. And what was your response?"
"Isaidyes,ofcourse!" The expression on Hermione's face implied a second sentence - 'Are you stupid?'
Forcefully smothering the snort of amusement that tried to escape and nodding, Monica packed away the documents into a neat pile on the coffee table between them. She was using the time to properly school her emotions and expression. She didn't want to let on she both expected it and very much wanted it. Finally, she said, "Let's go into the kitchen, make a cup of tea, take it out onto the back patio and talk about it."
Rising, while Hermione popped to her feet like a 'jack-in-the-box', Monica led the way. However, they were interrupted in their intent before even leaving the parlour when Dobby popped in and said, "The Great Master Harry Potter, Sir, be... 'cheffing'. Dobby be bringings you tea out to patio." Then popped away again.
"Uh-huh," muttered Monica. "Out to the patio, then," she said with a nod.
By then and in the kitchen, Harry was well on his way into preparing dinner.
He was well into it when Dobby popped in and began making up a service of tea.
"What're you up to, Dobs?" he asked.
"Missus and Miss Grangy be havings tea on the patio, Master Harry," replied the elf.
Harry gave a nod, left the elf to it and returned to what he was doing.
Thirty minutes later he called Dobby and explained what he was doing and why.
"If I miss anything before something else has come up, would you mind taking care of it for me, Dobby?" he asked.
"Of course, Master Harry," replied the elf.
"Thank you," he sighed. "Now, where would I find Wendell?"
"Mister Grangy be in his office, Master Harry," replied Dobby.
"Thank you," said Harry, standing up straight as Dobby popped away again.
Bracing himself for the... confrontation... Harry headed to the office.
Finding Wendell in his office as he knew he would be - Dobby knew where everyone he considered part of his household to be at any given time - he knocked on the door before entering. The door was open.
Wendell took all of about two seconds to realise something was deeply worrying the boy.
Gesturing to the seat opposite his desk, he said, "Come in and take a load off, Harry."
Watching the boy as he seemed to move cautiously forward before sitting, Wendell realised the boy was apparently somewhat afraid of him.
"What's the problem?" he asked.
"Errr... there's no problem!" the boy was quick to reply. "That is... I don't think it's a problem... I think it's wonderful!... But... Ummm... You..." Then he sighed.
Wendell wasn't going to push the boy to hurry up because he knew, from experience, that more often than not it actually slowed things down. So he just waited for the boy to get to what he needed to say.
"I thought a lot about what you said... you know, when you said I needed to analyse my feelings."
Wendell nodded, starting to get an inkling as to what the boy was on about. If he was right...
"And I reached a rather surprising... and I mean that in a good way," the boy was quick to say. "I mean... I figured out that... ummm... that... I'm-in-love-with-your-daughter." Then winced.
Clearly, Harry expected to be yelled at, but Wendell wasn't going to do that. Instead, he calmly said, "It's about time you figured that out."
Giving a start of shock and gaping back like a stunned mullet at the older man, Harry ineloquently returned, "Hunh?"
The expression of shocked confusion on the face of the young man, who often appeared wise beyond his years, amused Wendell enough it had him smiling, almost grinning, back. "Harry, I think you and Hermione were the only two people in this house who did not know that before dinner the first night you were here was concluded. And, yes, I'm including the aurors who've come and gone in that."
"You... knew?" asked Harry.
"Yes," Wendell immediately and simply stated back.
"Is that what..." Harry stated but stopped, unsure what to ask.
"Is that what that discussion I had with you out on the patio was all about?" asked Wendell. Then, not waiting for Harry to respond, replied, "Yes."
With Harry still confused, having no idea this was how this conversation would go and having no idea where to go from here, Wendell gave him a moment to think about it before he said, "I take it you've come in here to ask if you can date my daughter?"
When Harry again gaped back in shock at how well Wendell had sussed out what he'd come in for, Wendell chuckled and said, "My answer is yes."
Then, when Harry immediately appeared relieved, Wendell asked, "Have you asked her, yet?"
"Errr... yes," Harry softly replied. "When we were out for our walk."
When Wendell nodded, Harry continued, "There was this little old lady out working in her garden, I think she was trimming her roses next to the front fence... I never noticed her and I don't think Hermione did either, at the time, because she must've been kneeling... but, when I asked Hermione and she said yes... Oh, she said yes, by the way..." he said, glancing up for the moment. "Well, she... the little old lady, that is... I think her name was Missus Landringham?..."
Wendell immediately pictured the woman and remembered her as someone who had once brought his daughter home when she was a little girl and some bullies had picked on her on her way home from primary.
"Well," continued Harry, rambling. "She said something about how Hermione had tackled me to the ground and how it was improper for Hermione... that's when she said yes, by the way... how it was improper for Hermione to behave that way. Then she looked at me and told me... well, reminded me, really... that I had to come and ask you if I could court your daughter... and, well―"
"And here you are," nodded Wendell.
"Errr... yes," replied Harry.
"Well," said Wendell, "I've already said yes, so that's out of the way."
Harry nodded back.
"But, there are rules."
Harry braced himself up, took on a serious expression and nodded once back.
'There's that young man, wise beyond his years, again,' thought Wendell. "Rule One: I know the two of you are likely to argue to the point tears are going to flow, at some times; but, if you ever hurt my daughter to the point she feels she has no choice but to run home to her Mum and Daddy, I will hunt you down and they'll never find your body."
Harry looked horrified. "I-I'd never―" he spluttered.
Wendell immediately raised his hand in a stop gesture, which immediately shut Harry up again.
"I never said you would, Harry," explained Wendell. "These are rules I'm laying down so that you know them and I know you know them."
When Harry calmed back down and nodded a few moments later, Wendell continued. "Two: While in this house you will never be alone in a room with my daughter with the door closed. Actually, you can expand that to be, while boyfriend and girlfriend you will never be alone in any room with my daughter with the door closed.
"Three: Between the hours of 10.00pm and 7.00am, each of your rooms are off limits to the other.
"Four: At all other times you will never enter the room of the other without being specifically invited. And, again, the door is to remain wide open. Don't forget to knock first if the door is closed.
"Five: Hands will never wander to inappropriate areas on the other.
"Six: 'No' means 'Hell, no! Not going to happen!' And you'll never push it.
"Seven: You'll never use any form of potion or other magic on my daughter unless it is to protect her from harm. And, even then, it will be with her freely given prior consent. That's something the two of you will need to discuss in advance.
"Eight: If you believe she is under such a potion or charm or whatever from someone else, you will immediately take her to get medical attention. Once you've done that, you will then use your authority as a Lord in your world to see that the person or persons who did it to her are justly punished.
"Nine: My daughter is our greatest precious gift to Monica and I. You will pro-actively, actively and reactively do everything in your power, and beyond if necessary, to protect her from harm.
"Ten: If you discover that there's a problem and you don't know how to deal with it, come and see me, Monica or... if you prefer... contact your godfather to talk it over. While you are wise beyond your years and have been declared an adult, you are still a fourteen year boy.
"Got all that?"
Harry was thinking hard and eventually replied, "I'm probably going to have to review this memory in my pensieve; but, I think, for now, I've got it."
Wendell smiled back, picked up a sheet of A4 paper off the desk blotter in front of him and handed it over.
Harry accepted it, flipped it right way round and saw that it was the same ten rules in printed form. It was headed with the title, 'The Ten Rules for Dating My Daughter'.
Looking back in shock, he squeaked, "You knew?"
"I told you, Harry," replied Wendell, "Everyone in this house, bar you and my daughter, knew you loved each other. I'll also add your godfather and the Tonkses to that list. It was only a matter of time before you two figured it out. I also already guessed it would happen within a day or two after that talk we had; and you asked her to be your girlfriend."
"So, you prepared for it," said a surprised Harry.
"Working on writing down that," said Wendell, indicating the paper now in Harry's hand, "Is what's occupied me for the past couple of days."
"Now," he said. "I believe your godfather and I need to talk. Monica was informing me of something in your world that has to do with what happens when two young people form a relationship.
"A Betrothal Agreement?" Harry exclaimed, once again shocked out of his mind.
"Very good, Harry," smiled Wendell. "I'm led to believe one is important, as it will protect both you and Hermione from... interference in your relationship.
"Don't worry. As you're now an adult in your world and as you're also the Head of your House, I'm assured no one but you can enter you into such an Agreement," he said. "I just want to talk to your godfather about it as I intend to wrack his brains about how one is laid out. I have a daughter to think about - a muggleborn, Unhoused daughter."
"Ah!" said Harry, again calming down. "I didn't think of that. I'll contact him by mirror in a little while and ask him to stop by tomorrow. I'm sure Cousin Andromeda will let him out of her sight for a little while for this."
"Thank you, Harry," nodded the father of his now girlfriend, before the man seemed to want to return to whatever else he was doing in the office before he'd turned up.
"Thank you, Wendell," he replied, standing and making his way out. He was holding the sheet of paper in his off-hand as he left.
Meanwhile, Monica and Hermione were talking out on the patio. At first, Hermione was talking a mile a minute and Monica was just listening and trying to make sense of it all.
Finally, the girl calmed down enough Monica was able to ask her daughter the how, the what and the when.
She then got the story from her daughter what Harry told Wendell, but from Hermione's perspective.
"I was sooo worried," Hermione said. "It wasn't until he said he thought he might be in love with someone and wanted to ask me something that I realised I loved him!
"I thought he was going to ask me for help in asking another girl - I would have, of course - I'm his friend and that's what friends do for each other. But, I felt like he might as well have kicked me in the guts for how bad it made me feel."
"Buuuut―" urged Monica.
"But, he was trying to screw up his courage to ask me if I would be his girlfriend. It made me just so happy! I felt like I was going to float up into the air and away, right there! That's when I knew I had to say 'yes'."
Then she sighed while staring off into nothingness.
'She's smitten,'' thought Monica. 'No doubt about it. It's about time and this will make things easier.
'Wendell will be talking with Harry about calling his godfather to come visit. No need to worry Hermione about it. We'll let her know when it's practically a done deal.'
Looking to her daughter she firmly said, "Now that you two have finally recognised your feelings for one another, there are rules you're going to need to follow."
Hermione instantly blushed and looked away. "Mu-uum!" she whined.
"No. Listen!" her mother pressed. "Your father will be giving Harry a similar set of rules―"
Hermione immediately looked horrified. "B-but that could scare him! He's... his relatives―"
"Hermione. Stop!" her mother firmly interrupted. When the girl did she continued, "You know very well your father and I are trained in how to handle children, even one's as mature as Harry, who were the victims of child abuse. Your father is not going to do or say anything that is going to send Harry running for the hills; and you know it.
"As I told you, you and Harry seemed to be the only two people who have passed in and out of this house over the past few days who didn't know you two loved each other. It was only a matter of time before you two figured it out."
"Harry told me Daddy told him he needed to analyse his feelings," explained Hermione. "I thought it was for another girl."
"Nope," said Monica. "Therefore, we've had a couple of days of discussing it and working out how we were going to handle it. And remind me to send a thank you gift to Missus Landringham for sending Harry to your father as soon as he got back."
Hermione just looked worried.
"He'll be fine," said her mother. "Now. Back to the subject of rules―"
"Mu-uuum; I know the rules," she said.
"And I'm going to go over them and sharpen them up a little," her mother firmly stated. "You and I have already discussed how you're on birth control potions and why. And, as I said at the time, I can see the wisdom of that. However, just because you're on birth control, does not give you licence to have sex."
Hermione blushed again and muttered, "I'm not ready, anyway."
"Maybe not," said Monica. "But, your body is. And you know there are certain chemical reactions that will drive you to want to - 'Nature's imperative'. It will be up to the both of you to ensure you retain enough power of will to overcome it. And your knowledge of you being on birth control may warp your thoughts into thinking there'd be no consequences.
"Your father and I... mainly me, I guess... have worked hard to instil in you the responsibility and courage to stop before things get... out-of-hand."
"I don't know if Harry―" tried Hermione.
"That is not our, or your, responsibility," said Monica. "That is the responsibility of his godfather. And Wendell will be telling Harry to invite him over so they can talk."
Shocked, Hermione squeaked, "Daddy and Harry are going to talk about―"
"No. Your father is telling Harry to invite Sirius over so Sirius can talk to Harry about that," her mother corrected. "Your father and Sirius need to talk about something else. It's a business issue."
"About what?" she asked.
"A business issue, Hermione," Monica firmly stated. "You know better than to ask questions like that. If Sirius thinks you should know, he'll tell you."
Hermione blushed at the rebuke, this time; rather than in mortification. The nature of her father being a JP and her mother being a CD meant there were both business and law issues she was not allowed to be privy to - and she'd forgotten that.
"Sorry," she muttered. "I've been away for so long, so often..."
Monica nodded and said, "You're forgiven. The reminder was more than enough."
Of course, Monica also felt a little bad about it because she was using the nature of their 'after hours' jobs to keep something from her daughter. That was not a little dishonest of her.
"Next," she said. "Your father raised a little girl to almost twelve, when she suddenly disappeared into a different world. After that, he saw her for two months during the middle of the year, if that; then two weeks over Christmas; and two weeks over around Easter. Because of that, he hasn't had much of a chance to... internalise... that the eleven year old little girl he helped raise is now a fifteen year old young woman, wise beyond her years. That's why he slips up every now and then and calls you, 'Princess'.
"So, the idea of you kissing... and being kissed back... by a fourteen year old boy he also knows is recognised as an adult, is rich and famous and is politically powerful might be a bit much for him to see, for now."
"I've only kissed him like that once," she blushed. "That was when he asked me to be his girlfriend and, even then, Missus Landringham interrupted us."
Monica laughed. "So you told me," she grinned. "But, I told you that so you can... save your father the dyspepsia... of seeing his little princess effectively snogging with her boyfriend."
Hermione grinned back and said, "I can see that... yeah. Alright, I'll make sure we don't do something that upsets Daddy's senses."
"Thank you," her mother said. "Next..."
Harry had gone back to his room and pulled out his mirror. He sat there looking down at it for a moment as he thought about what he wanted and needed to say to the man.
With his mind still a little fuzzy from his asking Hermione to be his girlfriend and then talking to her father - who then up and surprised him, too - had him hesitating.
'Right,' he thought. 'Another list, first.'
Setting the mirror aside he pulled parchment and quill before himself and uncapped his ink bottle.
When he finished the short list of subjects, thought about if he needed to talk about more than that and not thinking of anything relevant for the time, he picked up the mirror again.
"Padfoot", he called.
A few moments later Sirius appeared. "Prongslet!"
Sirius took a long look at Harry's face, and asked, "Aaaaaallll-right! What's going on?"
"I'm going to tell you some big news, then I'm going to tell you some surprising news, and then I'm going to ask you to do some research for me," he replied. "After that, I need you to come visit with us tomorrow."
Sirius gave him a long look as a smirk suddenly appeared on his face. "Finally asked her, did you?"
"Yes," he replied, before he realised. "Wait. What? You knew? Damn! Wendell said you did, but I don't think I believed it."
Sirius laughed and said, "Settle down, Pup. You asked her. What did she say?"
"I was surprised," he replied. "She said, 'Yes'. Then she tackled me to the ground and kissed me so hard I think she bruised my lips."
Sirius laughed and then asked, "I take it that was the big news?"
"Yeah, but it doesn't sound so big for you," said a slightly dejected godson.
"It's still big news, Pup," replied Sirius. "What's the... surprising news?"
"He knows about the wizarding world's Betrothal Agreements, Sirius," he quietly replied. "He wants to discuss the subject with you."
"He does?" asked a shocked godfather. "Then... wow! That is surprising news. How'd he find out?"
"No idea, if you didn't tell him," he replied. "If it wasn't you, then it must have been Hermione. And, if it was Hermione, I'm wondering...
"Oh!" he suddenly exclaimed. "Of course! Malfoy and Parkinson."
"Pardon?" asked Sirius.
"Back in First Year, I remember Hermione asking, in general terms, why Parkinson - Pansy Parkinson, that is - was fawning all over Draco Malfoy," he explained. "Ron said something about 'They must be in a Betrothal Agreement, I guess.' And a few other not very flattering things, but that's beside the point. And, that got Hermione asking more about them.
"She then must have told her parents all about them in one of her letters home, or when she was home talking to them."
"Seems the likely scenario," nodded Sirius. "But, since he does, it's going to make things a great deal easier."
"Easier?" he warily asked.
"Easier," his godfather immediately and firmly replied. "Harry, you're a Lord of a Noble and Most Ancient House. As such, you really need one. Especially, since Hermione is a muggleborn."
"So, I take it my parents had one?" he asked. "That was going to be my next question, by the way."
"Yes," replied Sirius. "Your father had one drawn up, with your mother sitting by his side as he had it done, once they decided to make their engagement public.
"But, I want you to also remember that both of your parents were of-age when they did it. Because Hermione is not, it is up to her magical guardian to complete one in her stead."
"And, who'd be hers?" he asked. "I thought it'd be Dumbledore. But, as he's no longer headmaster―"
"As a muggleborn student attending Hogwarts, if she didn't already have one by default, it devolves to her Head of House," explained Sirius. "However, that was Minnie McGonagall; and she's now gone. I'd have to look it up, but it could still be her since her magical guardian could be identified by name, rather than title. If it's by title then, since there's currently no Head of House for Gryffindor, it would devolve to the Deputy Head. As there's no Deputy Head at the moment, it then devolves to the Head. That would mean her magical guardian would be Lady Griselda Marchbanks."
"That's―" he began.
"Hold your horses, Pup," his godfather interrupted. "Just a minute. There's something else you need to know."
When Harry nodded, he continued, "I've had Ted looking into what's needed to have magical guardianship transferred from one person to another without the current magical guardian having any say in the matter. And I had him doing it with Hermione... and this matter, truth be told... in mind.
"Your ructions across the hierarchy of Hogwarts have presented an opportunity. As Minerva McGonagall has now been found to be guilty of crimes against children, she is no longer eligible to hold a magical guardian position. So that covers the chance she was Hermione's.
"Secondly, if it was by title, then without a current Head of House for Gryffindor or Deputy Head in their stead it has likely devolved to Griselda. And Griselda would never refuse to allow a transfer of magical guardianship to another if she believed the muggleborn's parents wished it so of their own free will.
"Even if she does, it can be lawfully argued that Hermione's parents effectively signed over magical guardianship to Minerva McGonagall and no one else. Therefore, they would have the right to choose another if they so chose. And the current magical guardian would not even need to know until it was done."
"Well, I certainly hope you intend on discussing this with Hermione's parents, first," Harry huffed.
"Of course," said Sirius. "Talking to her father about Betrothal Agreements gives me the perfect opportunity to talk to him and Monica about her magical guardianship.
"Now, what's the... research you want me to do?"
Harry was a moment glancing at the written list before he looked back and said, "I'd like you to have a look at what hardcore Betrothal Agreements are in the Black records. Only those you can share, of course. I want Wendell and Monica both to have a full understanding of just how... vicious... some of them can be. Forewarned is forearmed."
Surprised, Sirius said, "I'll see what I can find. You might also want to write an authorisation for me to look into the betrothal records for the House of Potter, while I'm at it. Write it down and have Dobby deliver it. Then I'll head for Gringotts and go through the records of both Houses, there."
"Good idea!" he grinned. "And, since my parents are deceased, see if you can find that one, too. Since it's a modern one between a Lord and a muggleborn it will be a perfect example."
"You got it," nodded Sirius.
"You've got time, too," said Harry. "Tomorrow's a work day, Monday, so both Grangers are going to be at work until after 6.00pm."
"Only the one day, huh?" asked Sirius. "My! You must be eager!"
"Sorry," he blushed. "It's just... I don't know how long it's going to take you... And I just wanted to warn you that for the next five days they won't be home until after six. Plus, Wendell asked for it to be tomorrow."
"Home alone with the delectable Miss Hermione Granger," Sirius mock-sighed. "Can you two be trusted?"
"Alone?" he snorted, before wryly adding, "Hardly. Not with three aurors watching over us."
Sirius laughed. "I'll get it done."
"Thank you, Sirius," Harry said gratefully. "I really appreciate this."
"That's fine, Pup. That's what a godfather is for," smiled Sirius. "However, since Andi's going to go off at me about gallivanting all over the country again; when she finds out, I'm telling her you made me do it! Ha! Mirror off!"
As Sirius's image blurred away to be replaced by his own, it was a moment for Harry to realise just what his godfather had done.
'Bastard!' he thought in humour. And chuckled. 'Oh, well. All she can do is tell me off.'
Then he pulled a fresh sheet of parchment before himself so he could write Sirius his authorisation for access to the Potter family records at Gringotts.