Just outside of London in a typical suburban neighborhood, secrets are kept. The end of summer approached and the smell of the new fall was upon us. Down one of these narrow streets in said typical suburban area, sat a house, an estate rather. An estate that belonged to a long line of pureblood wizards and witches of the Black family. Having all the family members being long since diseased, except one, the house sat vacant and lifeless for ten years.
Sitting between number eleven and number thirteen, number twelve Grimmauld Place now served as a meeting place for a secret, underground society of the wizarding world.
The place appeared to be long deserted to anyone, if they could see it, but surely this was not the case. For the last three years, this house was used not only to hide Sirius Black at one time, but also to remain hidden and unplottable. A place that only the strongest of wizards met, several new young ones fresh from their graduation at Hogwarts, to divulge plans to overcome the Dark Lord Voldemort.
In the kitchen of number twelve Grimmauld Place, the usual crowd stood or sat around the wooden kitchen table. It doubled as an interactive map when the meetings were kept and easily cleared when dinner was about to be served. There was a heavy cauldron over the fire boiling vegetables, giving off a delicious smell. The cupboards were filled with aged plates and matching goblets sat high on display, proudly showing off the Black family crest (well the few that were left, that Mundungus hadn't stolen two years earlier). Where dark tapestries depicting serpents and snakes during Sirius Black's childhood once hung, phoenix crests with vibrant colored tapestries filled the once dark and dismal, dungeon-like kitchen. However, many times, Severus Snape criticized the new decorations, claiming that the previous look was much better. Sirius never listened to more than what Snape would say past "hello," knowing that nothing that left his mouth was ever really worth much to him to begin with.
Molly Weasley, who also sometimes doubled as the den mother at times, listened in while watching a stew stir itself over a stove. Kingsley Shaklebot stood against the door acting as a bodyguard. Snape sat on one side of the table, holding his breath as he watched Sirius leaning back, quite arrogantly, on two legs of his chair. Snape quietly conspired a way to kick the two remaininglegs out from under his pompous ass without anyone noticing. Regretably, the answer was not coming quick enough. Arthur Weasley sat at the table completely attentive as if his entire life was at stake. Harry Potter sat on the kitchen counter, listening, but watching Snape glare at his godfather, Sirius, and thinking it was rather funny. Ron Weasley sat at the table, rolling a pencil back and forth in front of him. Tonks stood at her boyfriend's side, smiling with pride, but wavering to a frown now and then as Remus Lupin read on next to her.
Remus read from a fresh copy of the Daily Prophet, the ink nearly still wet, loud and clear to fill the room, "The Ministry of Magic declares that this law must be followed through as of midnight September twenty-eighth-"
"That's two days from now!" Molly whispered, her voice heavy with concern.
"I know, Molly," he assured her. He took another breath before continuing on, eyes watching Severus and then back to his paper, "That any mudblood-"
"I can't believe they actually printed that word!" Molly interrupted again, looking positively distraught. On the verge of tears she quickly turned back to face the stove to find solace in her cooking.
Remus gave Molly a quick nod, acknowledging her concern and finished, "That any mudblood witch must marry a pureblood in order to re-populate the bloodline."
"Or what?" Harry asked, jumping down off the counter and taking a few steps closer to Remus as if he had all the answers.
"Or, she will be thrown in Azkaban for treason to the Ministry. I know Harry, it's not fair." Remus lifted a hand on his shoulder to calm him for the time being.
"Voldemort is behind this!" Harry piped up, his lower lip quivering.
Sirius chuckled from his two-legged chair and said, "My brilliant godson, he's behind everything! Come on, Harry, it doesn't even need to be said. Clearly, it's obvious that someone is in the ministry doing this that makes these laws to pass. We need to find out, Kingsley, Arthur, who that is. I mean, has it come to this, that they are so worried about purebloods that they're forcing witches to marry for the sole purpose of breeding? This, so far, has been the biggest bunch of bull shit they've done, yet."
"So, who in the order needs to be betrothed?" Snape sighed, as if this was the least of all the cares in his world.
"Well, there's…there's…Merlin's beard, we only have one half witch in the Order. Just one to protect." Arthur said, standing from his seat as the group thought it over during the few minutes of silence.
The silence was broken as weak Molly turned around practically in tears. As if one of her own was just sacrificed to death, she sobbed, "Hermione. Her parents are both muggles."
"Well, what could happen if she doesn't marry one of us?" Harry asked, begging for immediate answers quicker then they could be conjured up.
"Then, she could be married off to a Death Eater and who knows whom she'd get." Snape purred, quite taken with the idea of Hermione being sent off to the other side. At least when it came to being a spy, he wouldn't have to work alone. But, then his conscience stepped in and he remembered his feelings of Lily Evans (Potter).
"Probably Malfoy. He's the kind of git that would find it funny to own her, because that's all she'd be to him. Property." Ron grunted. He knew that she'd have to stay with someone in the Order, to keep her safe from harm's way.
"I'll marry her!" Harry shouted, eager to protect someone as close to him as she was. After all she'd done for him through the years, after all they'd been through, the least he could do was try his best to protect her. He'd rather die than give her to Malfoy or anyone else that was remotely associated to Voldemort.
"You can't Harry, you're not a pureblood." Remus was quick to add as Tonks held his hand for support, for she was not affected.
"Shaklebot's married," Arthur started down the line of Order members, "Fred and George are both engaged, Bill is married, Charlie is way over in Romania, Ron, well, I don't think Lavender would even let you look at Hermione now that you two are back together again. Severus?"
"He can't!" Harry started, receiving a sharp glare from his ex-professor, "He can't, because he's the half-blood prince." He waited until Snape gave him a rather arrogant nod, but it was the truth. "Lupin, you have to marry her!"
"I bet your pardon?" Tonks asked.
"It's all right, Harry I can't. I may be of pureblood, but I'm still a mixed breed. The blood in me is tainted, and-" Remus added, holding a tight hand on Tonks.
"It is NOT tainted!" she cried, defending all parts of him to the very end.
"It is, now Harry, I can't. That leaves…" Remus's eyes followed over the table, slowly passing over each and every Order member, before settling on the man leaning back on two legs. Sirius had been listening to the conversation, but not watching and had been completely oblivious to the entire meeting, now looking at him. "Sirius Black."
Just as Snape had hoped and with no assistance from the ex-potions master, Sirius fell backwards in his chair to a crashing blow. Looking quite pleased, Snape watched as a frantic Sirius, now with fragments of the chair scattered all around him, look up. A painful look of shock was aimed towards his best friend, as if he had just been told he'd been sacrificed to death – again.
The silence broke as a rushed Hermione Granger flew into the kitchen. Nearly knocking over Shaklebot, she quickly took a seat on the table after slamming her various books and papers down before her. Out of breath, a bit disheveled, and her hair coming loose from her braid, she shouted, "Okay, what have I missed?"