beta by Skeptic7
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter
The Gryffindor common room was half filled, when he entered that afternoon. Lavender waved from one side, and he went over.
"Are you going to keep your hair long, Harry?" she asked in a breathless tone. One hand went up to the back of his head.
"Hadn't thought about it," he said.
"You should, it looks nice," said Parvati.
"Absolutely," gushed Lavender.
He blushed slightly and said, "I should go change."
The two girls exchanged glances, and Lavender said, "I think you look just fine, Harry." Then she reached out and ran her hand down the sleeve of the robe he was wearing. There was the sound of a throat being cleared, and the three of them looked to see Hermione.
"Hey Hermione, I'm just going to go change," said Harry, pulling away from Lavender and heading toward the stair.
Behind him, he heard Lavender say, "Really Hermione, you need to stake a claim or leave off." He glanced back wondering if he'd really heard Hermione growl.
Harry left his hair long until the next morning, when he discovered he couldn't get a brush through it, and allowed it to revert to normal.
The Prophet carried stories about Umbridge's trial and Fudge's arrest. Things brought out at the trial and the subsequent discovery of incriminating evidence in Fudge's office ousted him from office, and the political jockeying began for a new minister.
There was trouble, at the Slytherin table at dinner on Thursday, that had all of the school staring. It started with raised voices, and escalated into a fist fight. Snape had to descend from the staff table to intervene. Harry watched amused, as Malfoy complained loudly to Snape that someone kept vanishing his dessert. He had taken Goyle's, and it had vanished as well. Crabbe fought back at the attempt to take his. The entire hall heard him whine that it had been happening all week. Snape had been cutting, and sarcastic, and nearly caused a riot when he took points from Malfoy.
Flitwick was pleased with Harry's progress in creating portkeys, and he gloated to McGonagall about how fast Harry learned the complicated and magically intensive process and how he'd enjoyed the nice dinner out.
Saturday, Harry was eating breakfast early, with his broom at his side, eagerly anticipating Quidditch practice, when an owl delivered another marriage offer. Harry sighed down at the letter and accompanying photograph.
"Hermione, can I borrow a quill and parchment?" asked Harry in a subdued tone.
"Sure, why," asked Hermione lifting her head from her book.
"I need to send a note to Andy Tonks and ask if she'll come help me with this," he said, flapping the letter.
Hermione dug out the requested items and said, "Maybe I can help?"
"No, it's just another marriage offer. I'd to know a little about the family before I reject it," he said.
Hermione stared, "Another marriage offer, how many have you gotten?"
Harry frowned at her, "Apparently I'm a hot commodity, Hermione. Andy said that there would probably be a lot of them over the next year or so. I didn't believe her, so I didn't set up a good way to handle it last weekend when I should have."
"Oh," answered Hermione. "Is that a picture can I see?" Harry scowled at the three people closest to them, that craned their heads, also hoping for a glimpse.
"If you got an offer, would you want it shown to the whole table?" he asked sharply. Hermione looked surprised for a moment, then shook her head and glared around at the others.
Harry bent to the parchment, added the letter and picture to the package, and then a spoke softly, "Dobby?" The elf appeared and Harry asked, "Would you ask Hedwig to take this for me?" The little elf bowed and popped away.
Harry then grabbed his broom and went up to the Staff table. McGonagall sat at one end, and a grumpy looking Snape at the other.
Professor," said Harry softly.
"What is it, Mr. Potter?" asked McGonagall in a polite tone.
"I have some family business to sort out. I've asked Mrs Tonks to come here. Is there a place we can talk privately? I'm not sure just when yet," said Harry.
McGonagall nodded, "Of course, you can use the family room, Potter." She smiled gently and added, "Come see me after practice, and I'll show you where it is."
Harry nodded as Katie called from the table, "Oi, Potter get a move on."
The family room, as Harry discovered, was set aside for family visits. It had its own wards and no portraits. Very private and mainly used by pure-bloods.
"I've written a refusal for you and brought the supplies for you to make a stamp if you'd like, Harry," said Andy Tonks.
Harry read through the letter and signed it with a sigh of relief.
"She's a very lovely girl, Harry," said Andy with a smirk.
"She's six years old," grumbled Harry.
"Yes, but it would give you several years before you'd even have to worry about the actual marriage," said Andy struggling to contain her laughter at Harry's shuddering.
"Oi, stop, please," he begged.
"Of course, my Lord," said Andy bowing her head to hide the smile.
Harry growled and then said, "So what's this stamp thing?"
"Oh, we did discuss this last time. Use this magic imbued ink to sign your name, spread the compound on the signature, remove it from the parchment, and affix the handle. Place a drop of blood on the handle with a small spell keyed to my family ring, and I'll be the only one who can use it to sign letters for you. Then when you get these sorts of things, you can send them on with a note to accept or reject, and I'll take care of them."
Harry looked thoughtful and nodded. Andy continued, "Of course, if you rather not allow me that kind of power, then I can prepare the letters and send them back for your signature. For security, you should probably get a house elf for those deliveries rather than an owl."
"I have an elf, and I trust you, Andy," he smiled warmly. "It's just, it seems this is a lot of work for you."
She laughed, "Harry, I was trained for this type of work, yes, I gave it up when I ran away from the family, but you let me back. It's the least I could do for you." She gave him an appraising look, "You could insist that I become your Chatelaine, you know."
"Chatelaine, it means mistress of the house, more or less," she said.
"Er, mistress?" it came out with a little squeak.
"I didn't mean that, but yes, it could mean that," she laughed, "A chatelaine is in charge of a household, manages the servants, household budgets, see to the upkeep and repairs, looks after the Lord, traditionally when he is young or unmarried. After marriage, his wife would do such things."
"But you have your own home, why would you want to live at-- er, Sirius' mum's place? Even I don't want to live there."
She frowned, "Aunt Walberga's house? I don't know where--" she stopped a moment, "I remember the house but don't know where it is. How strange," she shook her head, "But I meant Black Manor, Uncle Arcturus' house. Yours now, of course. You should have been told about it."
Harry looked sheepish and said, "The goblins gave me a whole stack of things. I've been sorting through a little at a time, but I started with the Potter holdings." He looked at her speculatively. "Maybe you'd like to help?"
"If you'd like, I'd be happy to," she agreed.
"Well, I don't need a house keeper right now, but let's make this stamp so I don't have to worry about these letters."
"Potter, may I have a word with you?" asked Anthony Goldstein after the DA meeting as the room was beginning to clear.
"Sure," said Harry looking up from his bag.
"Er, in private," Goldstein said, sliding a nervous glance to where Hermione and Luna stood chatting with Padma and Susan. Ron and Neville waited by the door.
Harry shrugged, and lifted his bag to his shoulder, and followed the other boy through the door. "I'm just going to have a word with Anthony," he said to the boys by the door.
Neville straightened, and looked at Goldstein, who shrugged slightly, "Longbottom can come if you like." Ron made a face, but nodded and slouched against the door to wait for the girls.
The three boys made their way down the corridor to an empty classroom.
"So what's up?" asked Harry as Goldstein put up a privacy ward.
Goldstein flushed, then paled and straightened, cleared his throat, glanced at Neville and took a deep breath. "I wanted to inquire if, well to make sure that-- What I mean is, may I ask Hermione Granger to Hogsmeade?" he blurted finally.
Harry blinked and cocked his head. Looked at Neville, who was expressionless, and then back to Goldstein. "Why are you asking me?"
"Oh, er well, my father's been after me to begin dating, he wants me to have an heir within the next couple of years. I thought if Hermione er, Miss Granger was compatible with me, I'd speak to my father, and he would offer you a contract for her hand. I wasn't sure, of course that you didn't want her yourself, but I've been watching and you don't seem to--" he broke off at the look on Harry's face. "Was I mistaken?"
"Can I get back to you on that? I mean, let me talk to Hermione? It's her decision after all," said Harry in a tight voice.
Goldstein looked relieved, "Oh, thank you, I was very nervous about asking her."
"Oh, you'll still have to ask her, if she's interested," said Harry.
"Of course, Lord Potter," said Goldstein with a formal bow. A wave of his wand brought down the ward, and he left Harry and Neville standing in the room.
"Nev, can you explain what that was about?" asked Harry quietly.
"Hermione accepted your sigil, Harry, she's under your protection. Since she's muggle-born, that means that someone who is interested in her would come to you, her wizarding protector rather that her muggle father. Goldstein wants to date her, but didn't want to offend you by asking her without your permission. Good manners really," said Neville.
"Hermione is going to kill me," said Harry bleakly.
Neville only nodded.
"Hermione, I need to talk to you," said Harry later that evening, "It's important."
"Sure, Harry," said Hermione setting aside her book.
"Not here, in private," he said leading her from the common room.
"What's wrong?" she asked a few minutes later.
"Er, I found out something today that you aren't going to like," he said.
"Er, well I – um, bugger," he said with a sigh.
"Just spit it out Harry," she said.
"Anthony Goldstein wants to ask you out, and he asked me if it would be alright," he said in a rush.
She raised an eyebrow, "Oh, so is it alright?"
He gaped at her, "Hermione, I don't think it's up to me. Neville said it's because of that stupid bracelet. I only wanted to do something nice. I didn't realized it would cause so much trouble, and that I'd have guys wanting my permission to marry you."
It was her turn to gape, "Marry, Harry what are you talking about? You said he wanted to ask me out."
"Yeah, to see if you're compatible so his father can arrange a contract because he needs an heir," said Harry shaking his head. "I don't like the whole idea of contract marriage, and he's asking for you. It's your decision, but I thought you should know that people think I'm, well that I'm in charge of you," he said miserably.
"I already knew, Harry," she said softly.
"What?" he asked surprised.
"Oh, Harry, honestly, you think I didn't research these after you gave it to me?" she asked waving her arm. "I knew there was something more to it, because of a couple of nasty looks I got after, so I did the research." At his questioning look she went on, "Basically the sigil gives you dibs on me, it's more than a statement that I'm your sworn follower, it's your statement that I'm family. Whether wife, concubine, or sister is up to us."
"Concubine?" he squawked.
She laughed, "Oh Harry,"
He still looked uncomfortable, but gamely asked, "So do you want to date?"
She stilled, and the smile faded as she looked at him carefully, "What are you asking, Harry?"
He blinked and went over what he'd said, "Oh, well, I meant did you want me to tell Goldstein he could ask you, but it sounded like--" he hesitated, "Would you want to date me?"
She sighed, "Harry, do you want to date me?"
"Er, Hermione, I--" he started slowly not sure how to explain what he felt.
"It's all right, Harry, I'm not ready for anything serious either. Do you want my opinion?" she asked.
He nodded, "Always, you know that." he said relieved.
"If we dated now, we would drive each other mad," she said sounding sad. "I love you, Harry. I really do, but I don't think I'm mature enough to share you."
He looked startled, "You wouldn't have to share me, Hermione, I-"
"Yes I would," she interrupted, "I'd have to share you with the wizarding world, all those people who want a piece of you," her voice dropped, "with Voldemort."
He blinked and said "Eww!"
She smacked him on the arm, "Not like that you prat. You have a job to do, and I'm selfish enough to want all your attention. I'm scared for you, Harry, but if we were dating it would be worse. I'm bossy enough being your friend. I don't want to be a bitch on top of that."
"You could never be a bitch, Hermione," he said.
"I'm already jealous of those girls, who can't keep their hands off you."
He blew out his breath, "I wish they would, you know that bothers me, they only want the boy who live or now Lord Potter. They don't see me, Harry."
"Honestly, Harry, how can they, you don't let them."
"I don't really have time for girls, Hermione," he said.
She grinned slyly, "Oh, is it boys then?"
"Eww, no!" he sputtered. She laughed. "Look, Hermione if you, well, if you change your mind."
"You'll be the first one I tell, really Harry, I want to finish Hogwarts before I get serious with anyone. Not that I won't date but, I have things to do just like you."
"Yeah, I understand," he reached out and took her hand, "best friends?"
"Always Harry, always," she said leaning into him.
"So what should I tell Goldstein?"
A wicked smile crossed her face, "Tell him he can ask, but you don't know if I'll say yes. I'll take care of it from there."
He grinned at her, "Oh, that's an evil look, Hermione, by the way, thank you for not killing me."
Harry lay sprawled across his bed, hands behind his head listening to the other boys in the dorm ready themselves for sleep. A nightly routine that made him drowsy. When a thought occurred to him.
"Say Ron," he said lazily, "If you fancy Hermione, you should probably tell her soon."
The room stilled and Ron said, "What are you on about mate? Me, fancy Hermione?"
"Well I always thought maybe you did, and you know there's other blokes out there, who maybe aren't afraid to tell her. So I thought--" he broke off, thinking he'd prodded enough.
"Other blokes?" asked Ron outraged, "What do mean other blokes? Who'd want Hermione?"
Harry sat up to the sound of indrawn breath, as Neville, Dean and Seamus all gaped at Ron.
"What the hell does that mean, Ron?" hissed Harry.
Ron's mouth worked, but nothing came out, while Harry sat glaring. Finally Ron said, "I didn't mean it like that, Harry. Hermione's my friend, she's like a, well a sister or something. I just meant well, who'd dare when--" he broke off, flushing.
Harry looked around at the other boys, "When Hermione belongs to me?" he questioned looking back to Ron.
Ron shrugged. Neville cocked his head, and Dean and Seamus exchanged looks.
"Hermione belongs to Hermione, Ron. That means she sees whoever she wants to see, and you don't give her a hard time."
"Victor Krum," said Harry harshly.
"Oh, him," said Ron looking down.
"Er, Harry?" asked Seamus, when Harry looked at him he continued, "Does that mean Hermione's free? That you're not interested?"
Harry looked him up and down, "It means that Hermione can take care of herself, but it doesn't mean I won't hurt someone who hurts her, or doesn't take no for an answer."
Seamus swallowed, "Okay, just so we're clear."
Ron was glaring at Seamus as well, and Harry stretched back out in bed.
"Er, Harry, you won't tell Hermione what I said, will you?" asked Ron in hesitant tone.
"No, I won't tell," agreed Harry.
"Good, she'd kill me," said Ron.
Harry grinned, "Yeah, mate, she would."
AN: As noted in the warning in the first chapter, this is not a finished fic. I intent to finish but hope to complete another project first. Updates will be sporatic. Thanks for all the reviews.