Great. Just Great. Vicious bunny.
Obviously you read Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling first -- her work, not mine. And then maybe you have to read .net/s/4079609/1/Harry_Potter_and_the_Marriage_Contracts by Clell65619. Then you have to read .net/s/4796952/1/Choices by Chem Prof. And then you have to understand that when I read Chem Prof's story I was struck by the other side of the coin for Harry -- that he'd gotten these offers and had already met with the girls and no one had helped him out of this situation and now, NOW, his friends had five minutes for him again. And he's had enough of being shunted to one side until he's convenient.
And so here we are. My premise, based on Chem Prof's background of Harry having defeated Voldemort and Hermione and Ron being off and otherwise occupied as most teenagers should be. Thanks.
From Chem Prof:
"You know," Neville declared. "I used to envy you three. The friendship you guys had, how close you all were. It was really something to see. I'd have given anything for a friendship like that. I can't believe either you or Ron would throw something that precious away because of a boyfriend or girlfriend."
"But I haven't thrown anything away," Hermione protested. "Harry is still my best friend!"
Neville's scornful expression brought her up short. "Don't act dumb, Hermione. No one will buy that from you. Ron, maybe, but not you. You made a choice. You need to decide if that's really the way you want it."
Hermione was silent for several long moments as her mind carried on an internal debate on Neville's assertion. Then without meeting his eyes she asked meekly. "So where is Harry right now?"
Neville wasn't letting her off the hook so easily. "You used to know him better than anyone. You figure it out."
Hermione searched the castle grounds high and low, looking in all of Harry's common locations. He wasn't in his dorm, the Gryffindor Common Room, at Hagrid's or on the Quidditch pitch; he wasn't even in the Room of Requirement. Instead she found him in the last place she expected – the Library, speaking to Madam Pince.
"… and thank you again for the help, Madam Pince. I'm sorry to have been in here so much lately", Hermione heard Harry say as he turned towards the door, and Hermione.
"Better late than never, Mr. Potter! I'm glad I could be of some help!" said Madam Pince, as Harry spotted Hermione briefly, and then made to walk past her.
"Harry?" queried Hermione.
"Yes, Hermione?" said Harry, stopping beside her but not looking at her.
"Errr…" and Hermione realized she didn't know how to proceed from here. But Harry did.
"Let me guess, Hermione," began Harry in a cold tone, "Neville finally came and found someone and gave them a piece of his mind. He's about due for it, he's had to put up with me being a nervous wreck for the last several weeks. I'm curious, what did he end up saying?"
Hermione blushed for a moment and said "He asked me where you were and I said I didn't know."
Harry focused an even-colder green gaze on Hermione. "I'm sure there was more to what Neville said than that. He's a good friend, but he's not subtle."
"Well… he suggested that I threw away our friendship, and that I wasn't your best friend… I didn't know why he was saying that or if it was something you felt, but I wanted to see what was wrong", stammered Hermione, suddenly nervous about the conversation. "And what do you mean a nervous wreck?"
Harry took a deep breath, as if to calm down, and hesitated a minute before he said, "It's over now, Hermione. It doesn't matter what it was. It was something I had to deal with, and now that it's over I don't particularly want to dredge it up again. Let it go."
Hermione's inquisitive nature came to the forefront. "But Harry, if it was important", was all she managed to get out before Harry started to flush angrily.
"It was important. And you weren't around. And now I don't want to talk about it."
Harry's abrupt departure from the library shocked Hermione into trying to get more information from Neville who, after being pestered for three days and to the extent that Hermione had finally tracked him down in his dorm room and locked him in, finally looked at her grimly and told her it was Harry's business to fill her in.
"I won't do it for him, Hermione. More importantly it's his business in the first place. If he doesn't want to share it with you, I'll never break his confidence. I owe Harry far too much for that", said Neville.
"Then why did you even bring it up, Neville!" exclaimed a frustrated Hermione. "I haven't been able to get the time of day from him since you first talked to me!"
And with this Neville frowned. "I said I couldn't believe you would throw away Harry's friendship. You seem bound and determined to believe that nothing's wrong. Take another look at the situation and see if you still think you're right."
"But what did I do?" Hermione almost shrieked. "I was spending time with Terry, I haven't done anything wrong!"
Neville finally sighed and motioned for Hermione to sit down on the empty bed – Harry's bed before he became Head Boy – and said "I can't believe I'm giving Harry Potter lessons to Hermione Granger."
"And what is that supposed to mean?" said Hermione frostily.
"It means that for almost seven years, Hermione, if anyone needed to know if he was angry, sad, upset, tired, hurt, battered, or even hungry Hermione Granger could tell us all how Harry Potter was, what he was thinking, what he was probably doing. And now I have to fill in your blanks. It just seems wrong."
"Wrong or not, Neville, please tell me what's going on. I didn't know there was anything wrong with what I was doing – I still wouldn't if you hadn't said anything."
Neville looked out the window. "I told you three days ago, Hermione, that Harry envies anyone who has a loving family. If he had been asked, he would have said that you and Ron were the only family in the world he had ever wanted. And when he needed you, you were nowhere to be found. He couldn't get your time from Terry – and didn't want to make you unhappy, no matter how much it was hurting him. You threw Harry over for Terry Boot."
"I didn't throw Harry anywhere. And what's wrong with my having a boyfriend, Neville?" exclaimed Hermione.
"Hermione, when Harry had his one date with Cho, you – and Ron – were still very much the centerpiece of his world. After his Hogsmeade date with Cho, no girl in Hogwarts would dare suggest that he not spend time with you. You were going to be part and parcel of any relationship he had – and they all knew it. Not many girls can tolerate that, it's one of the reasons I think he hasn't been dating anyone despite how attractive he is now that he's of age."
Neville continued on. "Now you, on the other hand. You've been dating Terry Boot for what now, about six weeks? How many times have you gone out of your way to spend time with Harry, or include him on your outings, or even listen to what he has to say? "
"I always have time for Harry!" said Hermione.
"Hermione, I've seen you go through the common room lately. Harry tried to get your attention more nights than I can count. You were floating on teenage romance. I finally asked him what was up and if I could help. I was lucky that I could, I was glad to help him", said Neville proudly.
"Help him do what, Neville? What's so important?" questioned Hermione nervously, suddenly wondering what her little teenage dating outing might have cost her.
"He'll have to tell you Hermione, not me. And I guess I should warn you, time is running out. But I'll give you a clue. When he's in the common room or at the dinner table or in D.A., look around and see what you come up with."
It took Hermione another few days to watch Harry in all of the open areas of the castle. Harry looked fine though he was quiet, talking occasionally to the boys from his dorm and his classmates. It was only after Susan Bones bumped into him accidentally and took off like a scaled kneazle that it struck her.
No girls were sitting near Harry. No girl Fifth Year or above in Hogwarts had been near Harry in the last few days, except when they couldn't help it. And while several of them were looking at him – that was common enough – none of them had the moon-struck look that she was used to seeing. They all just looked … sad, and somewhat resigned.
Hermione had cornered Harry after Defense that afternoon, with the pretense of N.E.W.T. revision for complex shielding. She had set a time for the evening, after dinner, in the Room of Requirement, to review the shielding spells above the basic Protego. But she was going to get answers even if she had to duel him.
Getting to the Room of Requirement first, she set the room up to help her keep Harry in it. The normal D.A. room, but with locks on the doors and spells on the walls. One way or the other, Harry would tell her what was going on.
Harry arrived punctually and greeted her quietly, if not cheerily, and took a position at the far end of the dueling platform.
"Let's get to it, Hermione, which spell are you having problems with?" He quickly ran through the shielding spells from Seventh year, and a few she hadn't yet seen – spheres, walls, blocks, interceptions, deflections, a mastery she had never seen Harry exhibit, including shields Harry put on her to protect her. Suddenly dueling Harry for an answer didn't seem like such a good idea, but she stepped on the platform anyway.
"It's not a spell, Harry. I want to know what's going on with the girls in the school and why they're suddenly afraid of you."
Harry's wand came down to his side slowly, though she noted still in ready position. "You don't need revision at all, I take it", Harry stated more than questioned.
"No Harry, I don't. I'm sorry, I didn't know how to talk to you anymore."
"And so you bring me here to show you the one area that I probably CAN teach you something in. And what are you going to do if I refuse to tell you anything, even if it has nothing to do with any of the girls in the school?" Harry's eyes began to flash dangerously. "Keep me here? Disarm me and tie me up til I give in? Veritaserum? Torture me?"
Harry advanced to the nearest formal dueling position, less than five feet from Hermione now, his wand tapping at his leg angrily.
"I told you to let it be. I told you that it wasn't any of your business. I needed help and you weren't there to give it. You don't have the right to come behind me now and demand answers of me."
Hermione took a deep breath and a lock appeared on the Room of Requirement door.
"Then you're staying in here until I get an answer."
Harry's face hardened into a stone mask she had never seen before. She had seen Harry focused, she had seen Harry angry. What she saw now was rage in his eyes and purpose on his face, and woe betide any who stood against him.
Wordlessly Harry flicked a red beam at the lock on the Room of Requirement door, shattering it into shards effortlessly. Shields snapped into being around him, the air pulsing with the feel of Harry's rage and power. A near-growl erupted from Harry's throat "I will not be caged, I will not be forced. Not by anyone, not even you. Get out of my way and let me go. This is the only time I will ask."
Steeling herself, Hermione drew her wand. Suddenly her ears were filled with ringing and stars were in her eyes. She was looking up at the ceiling of the Room of Requirement. Woozily she lifted her wand up to discover she no longer had it in her hand. She rolled slowly upright and let adrenalin help clear her head, to see Harry walk out the Room of Requirement. He left the shards of her wand on the floor at the door.
After a quick stop at the Hospital Wing and Madam Pomfrey's inspection of "You're fine, just a bit dazed dear", Hermione headed to Dumbledore's office. Something was wrong with Harry and she was going to fix it.
Approaching the gargoyle, she whispered the password she'd been given as Head Girl this year and almost ran up the steps to Dumbledore's office. The door was already open, the Headmaster seated behind his desk.
"Miss Granger, what a welcome visit. Please do come in. Lemon drop? What brings you to my door this evening?"
Hermione settled herself in a squashy chair that the Headmaster conjured and looked around briefly. She was surprised to see Fawkes glaring at her angrily, but turned to Dumbledore and began.
"I'm worried about Harry."
She was quickly interrupted. "Yes, he was just here a short while ago. He had asked for his educational records and came by to pick them up. Terrible thing, I never imagined he'd leave this soon."
"Leave?!" shrieked Hermione. "What do you mean, 'leave'?"
Surprised, Dumbledore peered over his glasses at her. "Do you mean to suggest that you didn't know Harry was leaving the school before N.E.W.T. examinations?"
A shocked Hermione replied, "No, Professor, why would he do that?"
The Headmaster's face took on a look of astonishment for a minute, and then settled into a business-like mask.
"Miss Granger, it has taken me a long time to learn some lessons in my life. None took me longer than learning not to interfere with Harry where I thought best. I have hurt him more than words can say, and he has finally forgiven me to some small extent. If he has not told you what is going on, then I certainly will not. Since I have already let the kneazle out of the bag, so to speak, I will go so far as to say again that I have had to give Harry his educational record so he can leave the school."
"But Hogwarts is his home, why would he leave?"
"That, Miss Granger, is Harry's business. Perhaps you should ask him."
Near to tears, Hermione almost cried in frustration. "Professor, I've tried to ask, I even went so far as to lock him in a room to tell me. He broke his way out, he broke my wand. I don't know what's going on or how I can help."
"Ah, that would explain Fawkes. He's been very protective of Harry lately. And perhaps he should be."
"What do you mean, Professor?"
Reaching out to stroke Fawkes' proud chest, Dumbledore said "Fawkes has always felt a bond with Harry, partially through me but also just through Harry's nature. Earlier this evening Fawkes screamed out, just before Harry came in here. I can only imagine he knew that you and Harry were fighting."
"But why has he been protective of Harry? What's going on with Harry!" cried Hermione.
"Miss Granger, I honestly can't tell you. But there are others in the school who can. I suggest you talk to them."
The next morning, after losing her sense of touch pounding on Harry's Imperturbable Head Boy door, Hermione went to visit Professor McGonagall for a new wand … and maybe some ideas.
"Have a biscuit, Miss Granger – how ever did you lose your wand?"
Hermione stammered a moment and finally said "Harry broke it."
"But why would he do that, Miss Granger?" and it looked to Hermione like Professor McGonagall already knew.
Sighing, Hermione said "Because I locked him in a room for answers he wasn't willing to give. Other than that, I don't know why."
"Not your wisest choice, Miss Granger. And now what will you do?" McGonagall said tartly.
"Get a new wand and hope he tells me someday, I suppose."
"We can call Ollivander's for a Floo appointment and get that taken care of. But I should warn you from what I know that Harry may not be around to tell you shortly. You might try and find an answer."
"But from who, Professor? Anyone who knows so far won't tell me."
"No, I don't imagine they would. Tell me, Miss Granger, have you seen your boyfriend lately?"
Armed with a new wand, Hermione set out in search of Terry Boot. Finally locating him in the Library, she quickly apologized for missing seeing him the last few days.
"That's OK, Hermione, I understand. You had to go see Harry before he left."
Hermione's stomach plummeted. Terry knew, and she didn't?
"Terry, how did you know that Harry's leaving?"
"You know the gossip mill around Hogwarts, Hermione. Ron and Dean and Seamus saw all the owls coming in and asked Harry what was going on. He told them he was receiving a lot of Ministry contracts to review for some reason but that there shouldn't be anything to it. The next day all four of them were in a fight, with Ron and Dean and Seamus not coming out of it too well. Apparently Harry is getting marriage contracts, and some of them were for Ron and Dean and Seamus's girlfriends."
Hermione gasped quietly. Marriage contracts were still used, that much she knew – Katie Bell had gotten one the previous year, though she hadn't accepted it. But there had to be more to it than Harry just turning down a marriage contract.
"So Harry had to beat off his dormmates, but none of them saw why Harry didn't just return the contracts – and he had a lot of them -- straight away. And Harry pulls out this piece of Ministry parchment that says Harry HAS to get married, as he's this national figure and he owes it to England and if he doesn't choose a contract by the end of Hogwarts then the Ministry will pick one for him."
"Of course, Harry didn't take that well. After all he's done, someone thought they could order Harry around. He's been to the Wizengamot a few times to get it annulled but despite everything Harry's done it's a popular bill. They won't reverse the bill since it'll cost them their seats. Harry and Dumbledore have tried everything but most of the politicians still love their seats and Harry's this huge national hero. A lot of eligible women see it as a national lottery, that if Harry doesn't pick a contract then maybe they'll get picked."
Tears started to trickle down Hermione's face unbidden. She hadn't known, and she hadn't been there to help him.
"So Harry told them at the last Wizengamot that national treasure or no, he wouldn't pick a contract. And if they picked one for him he would leave the country and never return. And the Wizengamot of course took that as a direct challenge. There was a fight with a few Aurors, though it doesn't seem like anyone's heart was in it much. Nonetheless the Ministry has basically said pick or it'll be picked, and it'll be enforced or he'll lose everything he has."
Terry continued on, happy to gossip, while Hermione heard more of the horror story. "Of course, Harry talked to the goblins who have assured their largest depositor that there will be no issue – that would be a totally different problem and people might lose faith in the bank. And Dumbledore has made sure that Harry can take his school records with him so he can find employment elsewhere. But now Harry feels like he doesn't have a home or friends after Ron fought and you… wait, what were you doing in all this?"
"I didn't know I didn't know I didn't know," moaned Hermione, rocking side to side.
"Hermione! All of us thought he'd turned you down or that you were upset with him for tackling the Aurors or something! All the girls in the school have begged him to stay and sent contracts of their own. But he won't take them because now he doesn't know if the girls are being forced or are just being fangirls. Harry hasn't been mean, but he's had to shut everyone down in the last few weeks and just talk to the boys. How did you not know?"
Weeping openly now, Hermione said, "I was dating you. I was just happy to not have someone trying to kill us and being a regular witch and not worrying anymore and now I'm going to lose my best friend."
Something horrible suddenly occurred to Hermione. "Wait, you said before he LEFT."
Terry frowned. "Didn't you know? Last night was his last night here, he's leaving today."
And with that Hermione finally started crying, huge wracking sobs, as she saw no way to help Harry, and that Harry thought she abandoned him. And worse, was trying to tie him down – just like the Ministry.
After drying her tears, Hermione dashed to the Great Hall, hoping Harry was still in school, that she could apologize and somehow make it up to him. She arrived in time to see Madam Bones talking to Dumbledore, with several Aurors in tow.
"… I'm sorry Dumbledore, I truly am. But the law is passed and Harry has to follow the law just like everyone else – no matter how single-sided it is. If he's still present within the British Ministry of Magic's jurisdiction he will be arrested until a contract is chosen and signed."
"I'm sorry too, Amelia. But you didn't bring enough Aurors for the job", said Dumbledore coldly.
"And are you going to stop them then, Albus?" barked Madam Bones.
"Oh goodness no, Amelia. No no… Harry will resist if he chooses to. I wish you luck in executing your warrant", said Dumbledore.
"Very well", sighed Madam Bones. "Search the castle for him. Anyone who harms him for resisting arrest will find themselves on the Hag Vice squad for their career."
At that moment, Harry entered the Great Hallway and strode up the center aisle. He wore simple black robes and his boots clicked as he walked. His wand was in its sheath at his side. He came to within several feet of Madam Bones and the Aurors.
"You wished to see me, Madam Bones", stated Harry.
"Errr, yes, Potter. I have a warrant for your arrest for violation of the National Bloodline act. Please come quietly until your contract has been chosen."
Harry gave a dark smile. "The National Bloodline act. Now that name no doubt gathered a great deal of support. That's the law that basically declares I, and I alone, have to accept a marriage contract, correct?"
"Yes, Potter, that's it exactly. But it's still a law on the books and as such I am charged with its – sadly – public execution."
Harry puffed himself up with his hands behind his back. "Oh no, Madam Bones. You are charged with its attempted public execution. That's all. I'll try not to hold that against you."
Sharpening her gaze upon Harry, Madam Bones said "Attempted? I have ten Aurors here, Potter, I don't have much choice in the matter but they will do their duty today or they will be sacked. Come with us quietly and no one, including yourself, will get hurt."
With a deep sigh, Harry said "Then I'm sorry it has come to this. Headmaster Dumbledore, I formally resign from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Chief Warlock Dumbledore of the British Ministry of Magic, I wish to inform you that I hereby formally abandon my British citizenship. And Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards, I hereby notify you that I have applied for political asylum to the United Nations, Wizarding Council, and am forced to resist arrest in due course of my escape."
With a snarl Harry then said to the Aurors "Catch me if you can."
Spells flew from every one of the Aurors' wands. Stunners, incarceration spells, sleep spells, freezing spells; everything non-lethal in the Auror's handbook was thrown at Harry.
Every spell was on target.
And every spell was deflected by the wild variety of shields Hermione had seen last night in the Room of Requirement. Nothing conjured, thrown, projected, shot, summoned, or banished made it within 10 feet of Harry, and Harry continued to back towards the Great Hall door.
When the D.A. began to come to their feet, Harry shouted out "No! I'm the only one breaking the law today!" as he continued to deflect and absorb every spell coming at him. He had made it to the Great Hall doors.
"D.A.! Duck and cover!" Harry shouted. Hermione was just too stunned by events – and then suddenly stunned again as Harry once again sent anyone standing onto their backs, looking up at the ceiling dizzily. She rolled over to see Harry slam the Great Hall doors shut as he left the school, dozens of wands snapped at his feet.