"I have to do what?!"Draco Malfoy, heir to the prestigious Malfoy family, cried out in shock. "You have got to be shitting me! How does something this vital get ignored for so long?"
Angrily, he slammed his fist down onto his mahogany desk, ignoring the dull ache in his hand in favor of the one going on between his temples. He raised an aristocratically shaped eyebrow at his cowering advisors, making them sweat underneath his gaze.
"S-sir, I assure you it was only brought to our attention recently; b-but surely you-you noticed your own father's example?" one of the braver few bit out. He fearfully looked to his fellow lackeys in hopes of assistances.
Draco continued to glare back at the milksop and waved his hand in frustration, "It was different for him. He was already involved with my mother. All they needed were a few legal matters tied up and everything was set! I have exactly six months. Six months! Even if I was bloody Casanova I couldn't accomplish this task!"
All three men huddled together, trying to avoid their employer's eye. They knew they had messed up as soon as they had received their missive. Each had meekly pulled their findings together and crept into the darkened Malfoy study, ready for the blonde's ire. Now the only thing they could do was to help fix the situation and hope to Merlin that Draco did not pull out his wand and curse them.
Draco sneered over at one of the more owlish looking advisors, his voice deceptively calm, "Do you think you could succeed?"
Nervously, the owl dropped his glasses to the floor, allowing them to scuttle across the bare marble floor. He tried to reply, but was quickly cut off.
"Of course you can't! If I can't you sure as hell couldn't! Now get the sodding hell out of my sight and don't darken my grate until you've discovered a solution to my problem!" the heir thundered. The three quickly grabbed up their papers and belongings and escaped out the door.
Once the door closed with a click, the blonde slowly sank down into his soft leather chair, utterly defeated. He rubbed his temples, attempting to remove the pressure the stress of his predicament had given him. He raised his eyes to the portrait of his parents, hanging over a deep set marble fireplace. Unfortunately, this only brought on another bout of frustration and he lowered his eyes back down to his now vacant desk top.
"How did this ever get to this point? Father hinted at it, but never explained! I mean it is one of those things you might try and mention to your son eventually!"
He ran a hand through his fine flaxen hair. For once it was not fastened fashionably back with a tie. Instead, it hung loosely, framing his face and heightening his haggard appearance.
"I blame you, Father!" Draco shouted, raising a fist to his father's face. Sighing, he continued, "Better call up the mates and let them know they have a bachelor party to plan. Draco Malfoy is getting married!"
"So, let me get this straight: Draco Malfoy, confirmed bachelor, is going to be married in six months. Good Merlin! Say it isn't so," Theodore Nott exclaimed, tossing back a swallow of good firewhiskey.
"Well, actually I was hoping I wouldn't leave it that late because an heir has to be confirmed as well. I'm already running short on time," Draco supplied, taking a swallow for himself. "Don't want to deal with anymore obstacles."
As soon as Draco had come to grips with his legal problems, his first call to order was to reach his two best friends, Theodore Nott and Blaise Zabini. He sent each hasty message by owl, demanding their presence at a small out of the way pub near Diagon Alley. Surprised at the request, each complied, wondering what could possibly put the laid back pureblood in such a state.
"Explain," Blaise Zabini drawled, leaning back against the booth seat. He snuck a glance over at their buxom waitress, throwing her a discreet wink.
"To put it simply, in order for me to gain my inheritance I must be married and have secured an heir from my own bloodline. I thought after Father and Mum died in the last battle that I just automatically gained the title of Family Head along with the money and manors that entails. I noticed something was wrong when my records had yet to transition over, retaining my title as Malfoy heir. At first I thought it had all been confiscated because of my father's involvement with the Dark Lord. Instead I was informed of an even worse fate, marriage. Supposedly, all Malfoys are magically bound at birth. Some curse or another to keep the family from dying out… I won't go into details."
Blaise nodded his understanding, but Theodore still had questions, "You're father never mentioned anything to you about all this?"
"That cocky bastard?" Draco scoffed. "Probably never thought anything would happen to him. He was so sure that the Dark Lord would win…"
"Thank Merlin we saw the light," Zabini muttered."
"Yeah, means we aren't rotting away in Azkaban like a few others we know," Draco agreed. "But the problem is that father thought he would have secured a proper marriage for me with a few grandkids by the time he was on his deathbed. Wasn't as big priority at the time, what with all the death and chaos every whichaway."
"Ugh, completely ruined all the fun of our coming of age," Blaise sighed, letting his eyes roll over the establishment. It was a pretty dismal place, but it offered anonymity and discretion for all its well paying customers. The front was lit up by pained windows, partially obscured by dust and grime. Tables were placed around such windows, allowing the more honest patrons a cheery atmosphere while they enjoyed their dinner. The three Slytherins themselves were tucked away into a back corner booth, lit only by one stumpy candle in the center of their warped table.
"What would you know? You were off in Italy half the time. Me and Draco took the real brunt of war," Theodore roused. He banged his mug down onto the rickety table, slightly shaking the wood and sloshing drink over the edge of the mug.
Blaise turned all of his attention back onto his companions, "Excuse me! Who was it-"
"Enough! Other problems here to go over, gentlemen," Draco interrupted, slamming down his own mug. A few other patrons peered over at their hidden booth from whence the shouting had occurred. "Shut the hell up, both of you!"
Blaise threw each other one more glare before going back to their drinks, stubbornly ignoring the other. Theodore questioned, "Any requirements?"
"Good blood of course," Blaise put in.
"Is that a stab at my Lucy, Zabini?" Theodore demanded, clenching his mug a bit more tightly. Along with his refined airs, it was well known Nott had thrown out most of blood bias. Lucy, his fiancée, was someone whom his more prejudiced friends did not approve of; a half-blood.
"Knock it off! You're acting like a bunch of sniveling brats!" Draco growled. "And yes, for your information, Blaise, there are some blood requirements. I have a list here of all the proper families I can choose a spouse from. Quit a large size, in fact."
Here Draco began to ruffle through his robes, looking for said list. Finding the desired objects, he dropped a folded up ragged piece of parchment down on the table for his friends to pore over. Zabini grabbed it first and read off a few of the names
"Prewett, Bones, Black…Weasley!"
"You have got to be joking. A Weasley? Please tell me you won't lower yourself" Theodore gasped.
Blaise laughed, handing the parchment over, "What happened to your anti-prejudice?"
Theodore huffed, crossing two burly arms over his chest, "I do have some class, though you don't seem to recognize it."
Draco answered, "Of course I'm not going to marry a Weasley. You think I want to be associated with dirt and poverty? Problem is I think most of these families have either died off or intermarried so much that I can't tell who is too closely related. I know the Blacks are out, my mum being one and all."
"Do they have to be pureblooded?"
"What do you mean? Theo, this whole list is made up of pureblood names. I mean it was made over a hundred years ago or more."
"Some of these families intermarried with muggles and muggleborns, so some of these names are carried by half-bloods."
"Oh," Draco sighed, pondering over this recent development. He hadn't thought of the idea of marriage to a half-blood. He got along with most, but he had never considered dating any of them. He had just always assumed his father would produce some pureblood witch for him to marry, which brought him full circle back to the problem that his father had left him in this situation. "I have absolutely no clue. I don't even know who all on here is available."
Blaise sarcastically put it, "It's going to take a full six months just to track down all the possible descendents."
Draco frowned as his impossible task became even more impossible. He had thought that with a list of family names to choose from it would narrow down his prospects; instead it brought on even more dread.
"Not helping, Blaise," Theodore disapproved. He tried to calm the blonde beside him down with his next question "Along with the right breeding, what else is needed?"
Startled at the question, Draco pondered a few seconds before answering, "Obviously fertility."
"Yes, well, witches or wizards?" Zabini drawled, rolling his eyes.
"Oh! It didn't specify, just that they had to be able to bear my heir."
Theodore nodded, "Good; that actually does narrow it down."
"How? Any wizard can become pregnant with the right potions in today's world," Zabini asked, confused.
Theodore just shook his head, "No, only proper XXY wizards can actually bear their offspring. The others have to have a caesarean in order to get the child out. A simple look at medical records will solve all these problems and narrow down your list."
"You mean once I get a list," Draco sighed dejectily. He ran a hand through his now loosely bound hair, pulling at a few strands in aggravation. He was going to have to look up medical records? This was turning into too more work than it was worth. He was used to the more laid back approach; stand back and let them come to him. A smile graced his features in nostalgia.
"Only way you're going to get that list is if somehow you gain access to the Hall of Records. Unfortunately, that includes only those working in the legal field, Aurors and the like," Blaise pessimistically added.
Draco looked hopefully over his other comrade, who only shook his head in the negative, "I can't access it any better than Blaise can. I'm over in foreign delegations; that contains its own records. Lucy is in research. There's no way she'd be granted access."
"Well, aren't you two help?"
"Sorry, Draco, but I'm sure you can find someone to help. Don't you have a full fleet of advisors at your beck and call?" Theodore responded.
"Not much good they are," Draco muttered. Sipping the rest in his glass he called over the waitress Blaise had earlier been eyeing up, asking for another refill. Smiling coyly back at him, she leaned suggestively over the table and took the men's mugs and promised to return soon. Once she had left the table descended into silence; no one having anything productive to say. Just then a loud ruckus, coming from the entrance of the pub, interrupted their revere.
"Oy! Harry, mate, I still can't believe you said no!" a loud gangly red head exclaimed, bursting into the establishment. He stomped over to a table near the door underneath one of the brightly lit windows. Two others followed him in through the door, walking in at less of a hurry.
A bushy haired brunette plopped herself down beside her irate companion and snapped, "Oh, Ron, leave him alone already! It's Harry's choice. If you're so for it why don't you take the job?"
"Oh, maybe it's because I wasn't offered it? Only senior officers are given the chance, Hermione!" Ron Weasley whined. He sulkily crossed his arms over his chest and began to pout
"That's why I didn't want it, Ron," a slighter man quietly replied. The man had ink black hair, grown long in an attempt to tame the wild shag; but only produced more disorder. Behind the volume hid thick owlish glasses, vibrant green eyes, and a familiar shaped scar.
"Potter," Draco growled. Both of his friends glanced in surprise at the blonde. They turned around in their seats to peer over at the new customers. They were a little louder than normal, but didn't appear to be causing any problems. Rolling their eyes in unison the turned back around to heir frustrated companion.
"Come on, Drake," Theodore frowned.
Blaise agreed, "Highly childish of you, mate."
Over across the floor, another group of friends were deep in their own argument. Harry Potter and his best friend Ron Weasley had both entered the Auror program after Hogwarts, each on equal standing. Unfortunately for Harry, the minister had immediately begun to hint at the different promotions Harry could receive in honor of his getting rid of the feared Dark Lord, Voldemort. Not wanting to be raised up in such a high position, nor having the experience for it; Harry had tried to ignore the offers. Today the minister had been more aggressive and openly offered him a seniority position that Ron had been dreaming of. He humbling turned down the offer, but was now facing his best friends wrath.
"Harrrreee, a chance like this doesn't come around to people like me, "Ron continued to whine.
"Ron, I'm not right for the job. There are plenty of other better qualified people available for it. I don't need the money and I know the only reason it was offered to me was because of my fame," Harry tried to explain. He rubbed a hand nervously through his untidy hair and turned his eyes away from his friends gaze.
"See, Ron. Harry here was being sensible," Hermione smiled, patting Harry's hands. She then pulled a large tome from her purse and began to immerse herself into whatever subject interested her at the moment, believing the situation to be over. Trying to avoid anymore comments by Ron, Harry signaled over to a waitress, hoping food would deter all other arguments that could crop up.
Kicking the already abused table leg, Ron muttered, "Still, would have been brilliant to have someone on the higher up to help out his best friend."
Harry smiled over apologetically, "And if was offered for the right reasons I would have taken it. And help 'up' my best friends in the process."
Back over in the obscure corner booth, a blonde was having problems getting over his anger at seeing the new crowd. He gulped down his new mug of firewhiskey and darted his gaze back and forth to his oblivious friends. They were enjoying their drink and indulging in pleasantries about work and politics, ignoring the heir's ire.
"Humph! Let's get out of here. They seem to let any sort of people here," Draco proclaimed loudly, earning him a few glares from the barman and his waitresses. He gracefully pushed Theodore from his seat and slid out from the booth. He then snobbishly wiped non-existent dirt from his robes and then made his way up to door, leaving the other two to catch up. Theodore hastily threw down a few galleons, made his way after Draco, and readying himself for the upcoming argument to occur once they passed the Golden Trio's table.
Zabini stood his ground, refusing to follow such childish behavior. Instead he slowly finished his drink and continued to pore over Draco's notes. Surprised, he read over them once more. Laughing, he rose from his seat, planning on exiting the building. One line in particular had amused him and he couldn't wait to share his humor with Theodore. At the bottom of Draco's parchment read a lone name, so far to end that it had repeatedly been passed over for generations.
Zabini glanced over at the blonde's back and then over at an ink black mop of hair, "Potter."