Chapter 16

On Friday December sixth Harry sat in the Great Hall eating his dinner and wondering how exactly to announce the identity of the father of his daughter. He'd summarily chosen this date back in October, partially because he'd wanted it done before Christmas and partially because it was the day after his three month – or really his sixth month – check up. But how exactly did one announce something like this?

Glancing up from his stew he caught William's gaze and gave a small, sickly smile; William just quirked that scarred eyebrow at him. The vampire wasn't pressuring him, he'd even offered to tell everyone himself so Harry wouldn't fret about it but, being a Gryffindor, the brunette had decided that it was his responsibility – now he just wished he'd let William do it.

Suddenly the doors to the Great Hall were flung open. Dumbledore stood, frowning angrily and Harry's forehead met the palm of his own hand with a smack followed by a groan as Fudge sauntered into the Hall followed by Percy Weasley and six Wizards Harry assumed were Aurors.

"Minister Fudge," Dumbledore greeted flatly. "How nice of you to stop by," his tone and expression told everyone just how untrue that statement was.

"I'm sorry to say Albus that this is not a social call," Fudge said loudly, glancing around to make sure he had everyone's attention. "I've come to collect Mister Potter."

Gasps filled the Hall and Harry shot to his feet – as best he could with his bulk and constant lethargy.

"What for," the brunette called.

Fudge turned to face the enraged Gryffindor, eyes wide in feigned surprise. "Why to protect you Mister Potter," he said as if speaking to a dim-witted five year old.

"From what, exactly?"

"Why, from yourself and all those who would wish to take advantage of your position."

Harry snorted. If that was the case, who was going to protect him from Fudge?

"You are a minor, Mister Potter-,"

Harry cut in, "Being a Bearer emancipates me."

"Under normal circumstances, yes. Once a Bearer becomes pregnant they legally become an adult, but it has become apparent to me by your inability to name the father of your child that you have either been abandoned by this scoundrel or were impregnated against your will. Either way, without a partner you are vulnerable and it is my duty as a self respecting Wizard to see to your wellbeing. Obviously the staff of this institution has forgotten their responsibilities."

Harry gaped at the man, his mouth opening and closing like a fish. Across the hall he saw Draco stand and head quickly for the Gryffindor table. Shifting his head slightly he saw that William was also standing although he had not yet left the dais where the teachers' table sat. The vampire's eyes had gone golden.

Draco had just reached his side when Harry pulled himself back together, "I think there has been a misunderstanding here, Minister Fudge. I was neither raped nor abandoned and the father of my daughter has been by my side since day one."

Harry was rather proud of his matter of fact tone.

"Really Mister Potter? Somehow I doubt that."

Shocked exclamations filled the hall – the Minister of Magic had just called a Bearer a liar! It was the equivalent to calling the Muggle Queen of England a bint!

"My name is Potter-Malfoy, Minister."

Harry thought it was a wonder that the student population didn't all hyperventilate from all their gasping and after a moment several did pass out.

Fudge got a triumphant smirk on his face, "In that case I apologize for doubting your word but as Narcissa Malfoy is dead and Lucius Malfoy is a fugitive from justice I am still taking you and young Draco into custody."

Harry narrowed his eyes at the man's patronizing tone, "I think you are assuming Minister, a bad habit that lots of people seem to be making lately. Draco Malfoy is not my Mate."

Now it was Fudge's turn to gape like a fish, "Then who? Surely not Lucius?"

Harry's face screwed up at the thought, "Not quite."

Fudge was slowly turning bright red, "Blast it boy, stop playing games! Who is it?"

"Me," William called, stepping off the dais.

Every head in the Hall turned to the blonde who nonchalantly crossed the room to stand behind Harry and wrapped his arms around the boy, their height difference allowing him to rest his chin on the brunette's head.

"And just who in Hades are you," the Minister spluttered.

It was Harry that answered, "William Malfoy, also known as Spike or William the Bloody, Master Vampire and head of the Order of Aurelias."

Harry felt his Mate's face ridges appear and had to stop himself from laughing at the shrieks that filled the Hall after that little revelation. Out of the corner of his eyes he could see the Sunnydale crew at a table just below the teachers'. Buffy looked to be choking on something with an unsurprised Angel patting her back. Oz and Illyria seemed amused and impassive, respectively, while the rest were mirroring Harry's schoolmates with their fish impressions.

"A v-v-vampire," Fudge screeched.

"The Call was sent," said Harry, using the formal name for the pheromones he'd released the first week of school, "and William Malfoy answered, as is proper. He has claimed me to his Heart, his Blood, his Demon, and his Order as is also proper," he continued exposing the marks on his neck and wrist and narrowing his eyes once again at the Minister. "Do you wish to take issue with this Bonding?"

The Gryffindor had done his homework on this one and the formal words served a purpose; they would act as a spell of sorts, an additional magical seal on their bonding. Once the Minister acknowledged their union it would be legal in Wizarding eyes as well as Demonic. Most Wizards didn't know of the rite, but the Vampires did; it was what kept the Ministry from accusing the Vampire in a Vampire-Wizard union of rape and coercion. Not that Vampires really cared what the Ministry of Magic thought but it was handy.

The ritual wasn't strictly necessary – the only way to separate them would be to kill William and their vampiric bond would most likely kill Harry too – but it would get the Ministry off their back and legitimize their 'marriage'.

Lucius' voice rang out across the Hall, "I, as the eldest mortal of the Malfoy family acknowledge this Bond as proper."

Harry turned his head to see the man standing in the doorway dressed in hospital pajamas and leaning heavily on his walking stick with a flustered Pomphrey standing behind him.

Angel stood, "I, as the Grandsire of William the Bloody of the Order of Aurelias and former head of that Order do acknowledge this Bond as proper."

William then held up a rolled parchment, "This is a statement from Petunia Dursley, sister to Lilly Evans-Potter and Harry Potter's legal Muggle guardian acknowledging this Bond as proper."

A pale Minister of Magic took the scroll and merely glanced at it. The blood thumbprint from his Aunt was all the proof required on such a statement. William had snuck out one night not long after their bonding and convinced his Aunt to do the right thing by her nephew for once in her life.

In a defeated tone of voice Fudge concluded the ritual, "I, Cornelius Fudge, Minister of Magic do acknowledge this Bond as proper in my eyes and in those of the Wizarding People."

A collective sigh echoed through the hall from the student body and some of the braver girls even cooed a little at the couple. Buffy had recovered from her near asphyxiation but had joined her friends in their shocked silence.

Harry noticed all of this but didn't really care, the last minor bump in the road had been taken care of and once he had taken care of Voldemort things would be perfect.

Spinning in his Mate's arms Harry kissed the blonde out in the open for the very first time. They were so going to shag like bunnies tonight!

It was the shouting that finally dragged the brunette away from the kiss. Turning his head but not releasing his lover he found the Aurors that Fudge had brought surrounding Lucius and brandishing their wands while Madam Pomphrey berated them for their stupidity.

"Lucius Malfoy, you are under arrest for crimes against the people," Fudge called, one again puffed up with his own importance.

Harry rolled his eyes and at William's silent request, he released the Vampire.

"Excuse me Minister," William's voice rang out, cutting through the confused chatter of the students, the staff's protests and the Aurors' insults, "just what is it that you think you are doing?" He again quirked that eyebrow.

Harry found that eyebrow incredibly erotic.

"I-I'm arresting a fugitive," the Minister stuttered.

"I think not. Lucius Malfoy, as the eldest living member of the Malfoy family owes me a Blood Debt, which I am now calling in."

Shocked exclamation again filled the hall and beside him Draco went white. Harry put his arm around his friend's shoulders and watched.

Unlike a Life Debt which is incurred when one Wizard saves another from death, a Blood Debt is incurred when one Wizard is killed by another. Blood Debts were one of the reasons Death Eaters wore masks and why Voldemort preferred to kill whole families – the Debt could only be called by an immediate family member and the identity of the person who did the killing must be known.

"Blood Debt? Explain!"

Harry grinned. It was funny how much the Master Vampire's presence was affecting the Minister of Magic; he'd never seen the man so un-composed. Fudge's quick changes between fear, embarrassment and anger were going to give the man a stroke.

"My father, Hephaestian Malfoy, was killed accidentally in 1860 on the order of one Gideon Malfoy which left my mother and I to fend for ourselves. My mother subsequently contracted a Muggle disease called Tuberculosis which slowly and quite painfully destroys the lungs. She could not seek treatment for the illness for fear of Gideon locating us. I was denied a proper Magical education for the same fear and in 1880 I became a Vampire."

Fudge was looking smug once again, "You cannot call a Blood Debt for an accidental death."

"I can because Gideon was trying to kill my mother, Ann Weasley. My father was killed instead and the attempt on Ann's life is why the Weasleys and the Malfoys still feud -though they've forgotten it."

"He is correct, Dear Minister," Dumbledore confirmed, looking pale and sickly. "In such a case a Blood Debt is valid."

"I also acknowledge the validity of the debt," Lucius added. "It is recorded in the family histories that Gideon Malfoy disapproved of his younger brother's union with the Weasleys. He planned to kill Ann and her son so he could marry Hephaestian off to an affluent French family. Hephaestian, however, died defending his family and Ann hid herself and their son away from Gideon's treachery."

The Hall was dead silent after Lucius' declaration; they were stunned that the senior Malfoy was willing to take the blame for something a long dead relative had done. Harry knew that William could rightfully demand Lucius' death; from the death grip Draco had on his hand and from the expressions on everyone else's faces they all expected that to be the outcome.

They all obviously underestimated William's love of family.

"What would you have of me William Malfoy to satisfy the Blood Debt between us," Lucius asked formally.

"I, William Hephaestian Malfoy, do demand of you Lucius Aloysius Malfoy you loyalty and servitude to the Malfoy family. You will spend your life ensuring the safety, prosperity, and overall well being of everyone bearing the Malfoy name. You will not be able to harm any member of the family unless it is in defense of another. That is the penance you will serve until your Final Death."

Now it was Draco's turn to do a fish impression and Harry grinned. William had just ensured that Lucius could never be sent to Azkaban Prison because doing so would interfere with the fulfillment of the Debt and no one was quite that stupid; thwarting such magic was not a healthy occupation.

William had also ensured that Lucius was being punished for his work in the Dark Lord's army in a way that even the fickle Wizarding public could not argue with; soul or no soul, servitude to a Master Vampire would be looked upon as worse than the prison term Lucius had escaped.

Draco sagged against him after a moment, the realization that his father was, for all intents and purposes, a free man finally, fully sinking in. Harry just chuckled and pushed the blonde down into a seat at the Gryffindor table – after all they were in-laws now.

Finally Dumbledore broke the silence, "Why Harry? Why would you keep something like this from us?"

Harry rolled his eyes, "You are a broken record old man, I swear!" The other students looked shocked at his daring, "I have said it again and again and you still refuse to listen. You people do not have a right to know every little thing about my life – you're certainly not interested in the truth anyway, only the little tidbits that you deem scandalous or useful to you." It was nice to see several of the students nodding their heads in agreement with him.

Fudge broke in, "But the public has the right to know certain things about a Bearer and the identity of his partner is one of them! You don't see Muggle royalty hiding their relationships away do you?"

"Well they generally have Press Secretaries and such, don't they? They have people to handle what information goes to the public and how it's presented. I've never had that option and the Wizarding Press has been having a field day with my name since I was born. Not to mention that it's fairly obvious that you people have never heard the words 'slander' and 'libel' so excuse me if I choose to keep my secrets just that – secret," Harry said glowering at both the Minister and the Headmaster. More and more of the students seemed to be realizing the truth of his statements and many of them were shouting their approval for all to hear.

"But a Bearer - ," Dumbledore started to explain and Harry rolled his eyes again.

"I read the book, Sir. I know the rights and responsibilities of a Bearer." He turned to Fudge, "Since I doubt you're going to send out Criers on horseback to spread the news I assume you want to have a press conference."

"Y-yes."

"When and where?"

"H-how about next Saturday," Fudge stuttered before straightening his back. It looked like the Minister was trying to regain some control of this situation. "I'm afraid I must insist on the place being the Ministry so that members of the public may attend."

Harry considered it and then nodded reluctantly. He could tell William was unhappy with the venue but tradition dictated that the 'Peers of the Realm' be given the opportunity to attend any announcement dealing with a Bearer. Besides it was the Ministry of Magic and in broad daylight. Surely Voldemort wouldn't be stupid enough to make a play for him there… Right?