Marriage in Mind
Disclaimer: All of this is based upon the lovely J.K. Rowling's work.
Warnings: AU, mentions of suicide, slight language, some OOC, spoilers for up to book five
AN: This came about from reading several truly annoying marriage contract stories. Just imagine that the last two books went differently. Very differently.
Now with podfics courtesy of reena-jenkins and Seisaki Rei. The links are in my profile.
Harry supposes that he should've seen this coming. He's gotten plenty of offers over the last year and a half since he defeated Voldemort and more than the amount of loonies claiming to either be pregnant with or to have had his child. And try as they might to force the issue and to bring support to their sides, he knows that these are nothing but lies. He's only been with one person, and even as flighty as Luna can be, Harry is pretty sure she would've noticed a baby.
But he can only stare at the notice in his hand, a letter courtesy of Gringotts. A marriage contract. He hadn't expected this at all. His father married for love, as did his grandparents. But Harry always forgets to think about the Blacks outside of Sirius, Tonks, and her parents. That's basically the entirety of the family nowadays with Bellatrix disowned and dead, Narcissa not scheduled for release from house arrest for another two years, and the youngest Malfoy as a head in his own right.
He loved Sirius; he really did. And Harry was and still is grateful for his inheritance from the man. Probably the only reason outside of his friends that he managed to not only survive the war but to emerge victorious. But some small part of him always wonders if it'll one day come back to bite him in the ass.
And apparently, that day is today. Or to be more exact, it is a week from now on Thursday.
He can see the worry flickering in Luna's eyes as she reads and then rereads the words so clearly written on the parchment. A scorching sense of resolve cements in her expression as she sets down the letter – the death notice – and just gazes at him across their kitchen table. For once, her dreamy smile is gone, and she's focused on the here and now in a way she hasn't been since she defeated both Lestrange brothers and blasted them to bits. There's a reason, after all, that the Aurors are so keen to have her. Just as there's a reason she chose to continue her education instead.
As smart as Hermione is, she will never possess Luna's ability to think laterally. To escape and evade in ways the enemy doesn't even realize are possible until they see it, and they still doubt even then. To outwit and ensnare her opponents before they even understand that they've been thwarted. Such a gift would be wasted on the Aurors, but Hit Wizards and the Department of Mysteries are a different matter entirely.
"We'll get through this," Luna says then, bluish silver eyes bright but determined.
And as he always does now, Harry believes her. She hasn't lied to him once. Hasn't been wrong once.
Her face is set, a steely sort of fierceness and the last thing many Death Eaters ever saw.
"We'll find a way," she adds, already reaching for him.
And he knows that they will.
He should feel panicked about what he's going to do – what he's about to do – a week later as he walks hand in hand with Luna through the Gringotts hallway and into the meeting room. However, Harry only feels a strong sense of calm. Of complete acceptance as her fingers squeeze his affectionately.
Between the four of them – Andromeda, Hermione, Luna, and Harry himself – they have a game plan. It might not be the most tenable solution. The most diplomatic. Or even the most humane. But it'll have to work. It will work. Anything less than his complete freedom of choice, than the rest of his life with the woman beside him, is completely and utterly unacceptable. He isn't even nineteen years old, but Harry Potter is already the stuff of legends. Nothing short of Dementors, Dark Lords, and death itself is able to stop him. This won't come close.
Even three years ago, he might've just given in. Gone along with it because he could see no possible way out without hurting anyone. But war has a way of changing a person. Making him see reality for what it really is. Making him hard. Deadly. Allowing him to realize that violence and death aren't the best answer, not even close. But they are an answer. One he's willing and able to use.
Harry's had far too much already of people trying to manipulate him, to use his fame and name to their advantage and harm him irrevocably in the process. He's not the world's whipping boy. Or its savior. And he doesn't have to put up with this absolute filth anymore. He didn't put up with it from the Ministry during and after the war. Or from Voldemort and his Death Eaters. From the cowards who buried their heads in the sand and allowed their own kids to be tortured and killed while they did nothing but look on.
He certainly doesn't have to put up with it from the Greengrasses. From Cassius and his sociopathic wife, Gardenia. Who didn't fight for Voldemort but who also didn't help Harry's side either. Who just stood on the sidelines, content to watch the world burn. From Daphne, who didn't even join the other Slytherins in defending the castle. Who fled and hid while her Housemates and friends died doing what's right.
They are three of the most useless and casually cruel people alive. Considering he lived his formative years with the Dursleys, that's really saying something.
And now, they want him to marry Daphne. To sign away his freedom and his future and his life on a girl who didn't even attend her best friend's funeral. Who didn't watch as Pansy Parkinson was sent into the earth, a teenager who gave her life fighting in a war that should never even have happened. Who didn't see Malfoy's face as his girlfriend's mother wept out her heartbreak onto his shoulder.
These people aren't worth the air they breathe. And they're about to find out exactly how much Harry thinks of them.
Steelclaw, the Gringotts representative, reads the contract out loud and in full. All the clauses and subclauses and explanations for why it transferred from Sirius' great-uncle to Sirius and in turn to Harry and the penalties on Harry's side if he were to renege. If they weren't so steep – a good portion of the Black family fortune, the house he gave to Andromeda last year, his inherited Wizengamot votes that he has major plans for, and a number of other things – Harry thinks it would almost be worth it just to wipe that smirk of triumph from Cassius Greengrass' mouth.
They want his money; that's a given. But they also want his family name. His connections. His status as a defeater of Voldemort, as Dumbledore's heir-apparent, and as an up and coming star at Saint Mungo's – Healer's training, Poppy Pomfrey must be rolling in her grave. But they also want his power. The strength of his magic to mix with and bolster their line. The Potters have never had a Squib born into their family, most likely due to the fact that they routinely marry Muggleborns and half-bloods. The Blacks have, but they're wealthier overall and come with more hereditary positions. Plus, any child between Harry and Daphne would have not one, not two, but three different chances to be a family head. With all the rights and privileges therein.
Not that they'll ever be having children. Luna has a corner on that market.
So Harry just holds her hand underneath the table as Steelclaw finishes and waits for any questions. When there are none, he brings out the last page of the contract. All of the Greengrasses have already signed it, and it's just waiting for one final signature as Steelclaw slides it over. Harry doesn't reach for the quill he is offered, however. He just grins and gives the goblin a sly wink. What he's about to say isn't just meant for anyone, but Gringotts has assured him of their discretion and the fact that nothing said in his room is admissible in any legal sense of the word.
The humans in front of him have no idea what's about to happen.
"Why are you smiling?" Gardenia Greengrass all but demands as the seconds tick by and he still doesn't reach for the quill. She is obviously smart enough to know that something's up, but even that isn't enough to prepare her for what she's going to hear.
Harry gives Luna's hand one final squeeze before leaning back and steepling his fingers in front of him.
"Because Daphne will be my wife in name only."
Cassius snorts. Under normal circumstances, he could almost be called an attractive man. But Harry knows exactly what sort of person he is, and that kills any good looks he has.
"She'll be your wife by rights, and you will treat her as such." His eyes narrow, as if daring Harry to argue.
He is more than happy to oblige.
"It just says I have to marry her." Harry taps the contract with his index finger. "Not that I have to do anything else."
The older man rises to the bait wonderfully.
"Oh? And what exactly are you going to do then? Divorce her? That violates our contract as surely as if you hadn't married her in the first place." He sits back, smirking once more as his wife gives a fierce nod.
But Daphne suddenly doesn't look so sure. She's right to be worried.
"I won't divorce her," Harry assures them, knowing that Luna has a dreamy smile on her face next to him as she twirls her hair on her finger. "I'll just dump her off on one of my properties. There's this lovely little cottage on the sea that she'll just love. It's right on the edge with nothing around for miles. Very simplistic. All that back to nature tripe." He waves a vague hand. "No Floo. No Wireless. Doesn't even have indoor plumbing. Just four walls and a roof."
There are a few heartbeats of silence at his admission. The Greengrasses look like they've been slapped with a dead fish. Steelclaw just seems mildly impressed.
"You! You can't do that!" Daphne inserts furiously, speaking for the first time as she grips her fingers around the edge of the table.
Harry gives her all the consideration she's worth. Which is none at all.
He turns back to the Greengrass parents.
"The minimum of care," Harry tells them. "That's it. That's all this says I have to give. I can't legally kill her, but by the time I'm done with her, she'll wanna kill herself."
"I don't believe you," Gardenia states with rising anger in her almost-lovely voice. "You can't do anything to her." She has dark hair like her daughter, and it frizzles from the force of her ire.
Harry can't help but shake his head at their ignorance.
"But that's just it. I won't do anything. Anything at all. To her. Or for her."
He rests his chin on his fist in a scripted move that Hermione guaranteed would annoy them; it seems to be working.
"She'll spend her days alone. Just her and whichever house-elf I send to cook for her. Only her in that cottage. Without her wand – because I'm definitely taking that – and with wards that prevent her from ever leaving. My house-elf will come by once a day to cook and maybe do a little bit of cleaning, but he'll have firm instructions never to speak to her or even acknowledge that she exists. It'll just be Daphne and whatever furniture I give her. Perhaps some books if I'm feeling really generous."
Luna's grin widens beside him at that, and she starts to hum a jaunty and naughty little tune. His eyes only linger on her for a few seconds before flicking back.
"But nothing else," he comments with complete sincerity. "Not even a radio. And certainly no visitors. You definitely won't be seeing her again, and you'll never have grandchildren from her since the only time I'll touch her will be to shove her away."
The three Greengrasses just gape at him, while Steelclaw makes a sound that is dangerously close to a snicker. It takes a full minute for everyone to recover.
"And what will you be doing?" Cassius demands and gives a furious gesture. "While you have my daughter locked away in some hovel?"
"Me?" Harry repeats as he sits up properly. "I'll be completing my Healer's training and enjoying the company of this lovely lady next to me." He motions to Luna, who beams back at him.
"You can't marry that floozy next to you as long as you're married to my daughter, and any children you have will be bastards anyway," Cassius throws that out like it really means anything.
But Harry couldn't possibly care less.
"Luna and I don't need to be married to know that we love each other, and we're not ready to start a family yet anyway. And even if we were, I'm head of both the Potters and the Blacks. I can name anyone legitimate or even my heir."
His tone is enough for them to know he means every word. The smirk is just icing on the cake.
However, he's still got one final move. And it's the killing blow.
"She," Harry indicates his girlfriend with all the warmth he possesses, "thinks that your daughter will suicide within five years, but I don't believe it'll take that long. And if I'm feeling really charitable, I might even give her a way to do it fairly quickly."
Harry just grins then. Face open and honest and that much more menacing for it. But even with that, he can feel his magic perilously near to the surface. Close enough that everyone else has to sense it, too.
War changes people, but love changes them even more. Makes them willing to not only die but to kill. To burn homes with people still inside. To send men to their deaths without guilt or remorse. To risk himself and all that he is so that the children they don't even have yet can grow up happy and in a world full of nothing but wonder.
And Harry knows that he must be a sight. Eyes glowing and hair rustling from the strength of his held in magic. The look he gives them is the same Voldemort saw as he died and his twisted body crumbled into dust. It is more of a promise than an expression. A guarantee that they'll not just be defeated, that they'll be conquered. That they'll be crushed. And that they'll most definitely be made to suffer in the process.
The dawning horror he gets back doesn't even make him cringe. Harry has no pity left in him. Not for them. It is gone, all used up. Meant for people like Lucius Malfoy as he dies from a wasting curse that would've hit Hermione had he not blocked it with his own body. For Percy Weasley as he spends his last moments telling his mother that it'd be alright and that no, it didn't hurt at all. For Kingsley Shacklebolt who buries his wife, sister, and niece all on the same day and still manages to fight on. For all the little Muggleborn witches and wizards who now only have memories of their parents and a lifetime spent wondering why they were hated so.
He pushes back from the table then and offers Luna a hand once he rises to his feet. Their fingers intertwine on automatic as they turn as one to the people before them. The unsigned contract still lies on the table in front of his chair, a glaringly obvious sign to everyone in the room exactly what Harry intends.
"I really think you should consider what I've said," Harry inserts with a tilt of his head. "So let's meet back here the same time next week." When no one disagrees, he continues, "Well, now that that is settled, I have a date with a beautiful witch. Steelclaw." Harry nods at the goblin. "May you gold always glitter and your tunnels be paved with the blood of your enemies." He looks at the three humans. "Cassius. Gardenia. Daphne. I'll be seeing you soon."
With that, he and Luna walk out the door. They don't look back.
Two days later they receive notice that the marriage contract has been permanently and completely dissolved. If the Greengrass family doesn't come within fifty feet of him for the rest of their lives, they'll count themselves lucky. Harry smiles and feels vindicated as he shows the letter to his girlfriend, while Luna just laughs.
And it is still the most beautiful sound he's ever heard.