DISCLAIMER: That part of this world and those characters you've seen before belong to their Creator: JKR. The rest is mine - although I cannot quit my day job as I make no $$$
A/N: Sorry for the delay, but I was re-reading Harem War and might actually update that soon. That being said…
Got a couple of critics (or more than two) who noticed that in an earlier chapter Arthur had no memory of the betrothal contract and recently he knew all about it. Plot hole?
Maybe, maybe not. The way it can be read is either Arthur lied or he later remembered when a memory charm faded. Either way, it's not important to my plot line and his motivations are something I left to you to decide. Remember there was a LONG period of time under Time Compression between those to events (his denial and later admissions). I leave it to you to decide what was the truth so long as you realize he is totally humiliated about that contract as you will see…
THE SOUTH WING - TIME COMPRESSION DAY 450.
The rest of Time Compression was mostly uneventful. There were no more marriages, although it was clear that Cedric and Cho would have wished it otherwise if only she were either seventeen or allowed to skive off her contraceptive potions. There were two more births. Lucinda's mother gave birth to her new little brother Michael on Day 400. The last birth when announced was expected to shock the wizarding world and knock Draco Malfoy down several pegs. Marilyn and Sirius had a son on Day 412 that they named James Remus Black, thus cutting off the Malfoy from any hope of being Head of and Ancient and Noble House. Hannah was elated although she felt she would be more like and Aunt than a Half-Sister.
Dinner for all the adults as such was held in the Main Dining Room, although several of the babies were present. Some of the oldest were now teething and had been weaned and were drinking regular milk and juice and eating puréed foods - and generally making a mess of it. Then again, Hermione spoke for many but not all the Mums: there were certain parts of the female anatomy that were not meant to be chew toys.
"I don't know," Remus had said when he heard. "Dora seems to be into that sort of thing."
"Too much information from the Newlywed," Neville had called out in response.
For Harry, the biggest - no - only disappointment was that no one had achieved an animagus form yet. Okay, fine! It was both bloody hard and totally unpredictable, but still. According to Sirius and Professor McGonagall, they were all making excellent progress. McGonagall had taken two years to finally do it and Sirius a year and a half, just a few weeks after Harry's Dad but still… Harry knew the theory. You could not choose your form. Even more than a wand, it chose you. He was disappointed to learn his Dad's form was actually not desirable. A stag was something Muggles hunted. You wanted one of two forms. A stealth form was good and even preferred. Dogs and cats worked, although there were better ones and birds better still since they could get away more easily. Any form people would ignore were good. In a bad situation, it could allow you to escape and in others to observe and not be observed. A combat form was second best. These were almost always top end predators designed to hunt and kill. A tiger, for example, could kill even the most powerful wizard if it got close enough undetected and true tigers were fairly good at stalking prey. Then again, a tiger at large in Britain might prove a problem. Large, prey animals - like a stag, were not worth much. There was barely any point in registering them as they could not sneak about and were likely to get shot by a hunter in the wrong places and wrong time of year. Still, Harry wished he had perfected a form. It would happen if it happened was what he had been told. That did not help one bit. But Time Compression was almost over. They would continue their work and training towards possible animagus transformation, but it would be in Real Time.
"May I have your attention please?" Professor McGonagall's voices sounded over the diners as she rose from her seat. "Yesterday, four hundred and fifty days ago, we gathered in this room for what I thought would be a lunch. I had planned to stick around for dinner and that was it. I guess, like many outside of Neville, Harry and their wives, I too was lured here under false pretenses." There were several chuckles.
"That was four hundred and fifty lunches ago. We are currently finished our four hundred and fiftieth dinner and will have our four hundred and fiftieth breakfast in the morning. I am told that by the end of breakfast tomorrow, our staff here will have served a total of 110,342 meals either here in the Main Dining Room, or in our own rooms, or in the House Potter or House Longbottom apartments, and that does not include the breakfasts and dinners Mr. Potter is known to have cooked for his wives and guests. Nor, I am told, does it include the 37,553 snacks served to date or the tens of thousands of crumpets consumed during our numerous afternoon teas nor the hors' duervs served at various functions, much less the birthday and other cakes. Our daily menu including snacks contained 1,897 total menu items. There were five that were never ordered and eighty-seven that had to be stricken as we ran out of some ingredients.
"We have all been to twenty-three lovely weddings. Were Miss Chang born about six months earlier it may well have been twenty-four." Cho blushed, but it was well known within the Wing that she and Cedric were heading that way. "Thirty-six children have been born here during that time as well. We have celebrated ninety-four birthdays and thirty-five wedding anniversaries, not to mention our own assimilated Christmas and Halloween.
"Let's see," she continued consulting a book, "we had twelve darts tournaments, ten in pocket billiards, twenty-five swimming races, twenty chess tournaments, seven in Muggle Tennis and ten in Muggle Basketball tournaments in our Gym and goodness knows how many competition duels! And let us not forget the various clubs that formed and contributed to our lives here - for better or worse." Again there were chuckles as the "Prank Club" containing the former Maruaders, the Weasley Twins and Jason Lee and Daniel Urquhart was known as a testing ground for future Weasley Products. Their grand prank was their test of the Portable Swamp, which they placed in the Main Dining Room. There were also an Art Club, given the prints throughout the Wing, a Music Club that had given several recitals, a Book Club, a Quidditch Club - not that they could play but the entertainment system had a number of matches to watch and critique, a Football Club with similar restrictions, and a few movie and television clubs. Dr. Who, Star Trek and Monty Python being the larger and in the latter case more annoying.
"But it has not been all fun and games. The young people - and a fair few adults - found they were here to learn and the rest of us to teach. Our eight Upper years all achieved high marks on their NEWTs and six have also added between two and four very respectable OWLs to their list. Our middle years … what can I say? To use a Muggle Expression, as a group they blew the doors off their OWLs - mostly Outstandings and we can claim French, British or International Honors in every subject! Our Lower Years have all passed with high marks through the end of Third Year in the core courses and through the end of Fourth Year in Arithmancy and Ancient Runes.
"Perhaps we didn't push them hard enough. The Muggle parents - most of them any way - sat for the same written exams and did quite well. Moreover, six of them sat for OWLs in Arithmancy, Ancient Runes, Herbology and Potions as they require no wands and all managed an Exceeds Expectations or better! The Grangers and Caldwells all managed three Outstandings, and With Distinctions in Potions and Herbology! Then again, they are Muggle Health Care Professionals. The Grangers are similar to Healers, although they specialize in teeth and such and the Caldwells are both Pharmacists, which are Muggle Apothecaries. Even a couple of centuries ago there was little distinction between a magical and Muggle in that art."
"All of this information and much more is in this book," McGonagall said holding up the large book she had been consulting. "I would like to thank Mr. Lovegood and his daughter Luna for putting it together and I know they had a lot of help. They call it a photographic history of this wing, although it does have plenty of words too. Of particular note, there's an opening section regarding the renovations to this Wing including before and after and during photos. It's quite illuminating. Each of you will find your own copy in your rooms.
"That being said," McGonagall continued, "it would seem our time here is almost up. At ten o'clock tomorrow morning, we return to real time. We return to Sunday, April 2nd, 1995 and somewhat unfortunately to the lives we left behind when we came here. We came here as disparate groups and individuals and in many cases unknown to each other. I'd like to think we have become a community of friends and family. There is no doubt that was the hope of our hosts, House Potter and House Longbottom."
There was a long applause.
"That being said," McGonagall continued, "a true return to the ways things were before all of this is both imprudent and impractical. Even if four of our students were not the Founders' Heirs and thus in control of the Castle, our normal student dormitories are not equipped to deal with the needs of young families and what married student quarters we do have are not suitable for the unique family situations. In the past, the policy was to send the infants away upon their birth. But as they have all bonded with their parents - and certainly with their mothers - that option is not available to us either. To be honest, even in a House as well meaning as Hufflepuff, the Common Room in most cases is unsuitable for such young children.
"As Professor Dumbledore is away and unavailable and will remain so until Monday morning, under our existing Charter, I am Acting Headmistress and have full authority to address issues that need to be addressed and cannot wait until he returns. I find the Housing Issue falls square within that authority. House Potter and House Longbottom will continue to reside here in the House Wing beginning tomorrow. We know that the Founders' Heirs could have mandated this, and while this decision was based upon their recommendation, by using existing, recognized authority, we can avoid any unnecessary delay or confrontations.
"Although it has been over two centuries since the last time Hogwarts had an underage married couple - or at least a couple under the age of sixteen legally speaking, the rules for them are no different than the rules for our other married couples. You are considered as adults, yet students as well. You are exempt from curfew to the same extent as Prefects. That means you are allowed out of your dormitories until one in the morning rather than until nine in the evening like all others. However, like Prefects, you may not leave the Castle after normal curfew, at least during the academic week which runs from Sunday Dinner until your last school obligation of the week or end of classes on Friday, whichever is later. Although as there is no Quidditch this year, that means Friday afternoon. During the Academic Week, you will be expected to take Lunch and Dinners in the Great Hall with the rest of the school unless excused by a teacher or Madam Pomfrey. You are free to take your breakfasts here if you so choose."
"What about our children?" Lucinda asked.
"It had been the custom to allow them to dine in the Great Hall once they were weaned from their mother's breast. The parents were also free to make separate arrangements as to their children's feedings."
"I'm certain I don't want my little Lawrence anywhere near the rest of Slytherin."
"Given your unique circumstances, I also agree that requiring you to dine at your old House Tables, whether or not your children are with you, would be impractical. As such, unofficially the residents of the South Wing will be considered their own House. You will have your own table in the Great Hall as far from the animals of Slytherin House as can be and, naturally, you will live here and not in your former Houses. For the purposes of your remaining class schedules, House Points and the like, however, you remain as you were before."
"Thank you, Professor," Lucinda said and the other three Slytherin wives nodded in agreement.
"As I said, the South Wing will be considered a separate House in many, but not all ways," McGonagall continued. "As such, it will not be limited to House Potter and House Longbottom. As you already know, Lord Black will continue to reside here for the foreseeable future along with his wife Marilyn and their son James. Lady Black has decided to take an indefinite leave of absence from the Department of Magical Law Enforcement to care for her child and, according to her, have at least a couple more before it's too late. She has also agreed to supervise the South Wing Day Care service which shall attend to the needs of all the young children as I cannot authorize them to attend classes in the Castle with the rest of the school for what I think are obvious reasons. This service will be available to any parent of a child who was born here whether or not you live here and you all will find materials in your rooms regarding the arrangements available to drop off and pick up your children should you decide to take advantage of this service. You need not worry about the staffing. As you are all aware, there are more than enough elves here who are willing to assist.
"Professor Lupin and his wife Dora will also reside here for the foreseeable future. Dora will commute to her job as an Auror via floo. As our students know, Professor Moody will not teach beyond this year, so the Heirs have invited Professor Lupin to resume his post next year. The primary objections to his previous tenure came from our Board of Governors, a body rendered moot the moment the Heirs claimed their rights. They will all be discharged effective immediately and notified in tomorrow's outgoing post.
"The Heirs have already appointed a replacement Advisory Board to handle various issues to include financing and policy implementation and such. They are: Madam Augusta Longbottom, Mr. Arthur Weasley, Mr. David Greengrass, myself, Healer Albert Turpin, Mr. Sonjay Patil, Lady Marilyn Black, Madam Amelia Bones, Healer Ted Tonks, Mrs. Rose Granger, Dr. Allison Caldwell and Dr. John Bell. You will note six women and six men. The former board had but one woman. You will also note an equal number of Purebloods, Half Bloods, Muggle Borns and Muggle parents. The former board was all Purebloods. The Heirs hope the diversity will prove beneficial to the school and intend that it be maintained. Moreover, Lady Appoline Delacour and Signore Mario Marcella have been appointed as Liaisons to help facilitate future international exchanges to include perhaps the formation of a Quidditch League between at least Hogwarts, Beauxbatons and the Italian Institute in Rome."
There was an applause. Everyone in the Wing was aware of the "Quidditch Plan." The hope was to begin with certain schools throughout Western Europe as somewhat of an exhibition, although there would be the title of European Champion on the line. If it proved popular enough, several National Leagues would be set up. Each school within that League would raise a team to compete each year for their National or League Championship. Britain, for example, would have five teams, one from each of their schools. The National Champion school would field the National Team the next year to play for the European Championship. But this was probably years in the future. Harry hoped he might play for Hogwarts in the first year or two of the "fixed" as in pre-national league competition teams, but doubted he'd still be eligible when the full thing was up and running. Still, to even be the part of something like that was exciting and as he had no plans to go professional - he had heard what that was like from Victor and did not love Quidditch that much - it would be his contribution to the sport and all that he hoped might one day flow from it in the way of exchanges.
"Continuing," McGonagall said. "Mr. William Weasley and his wife, Miss Delacour," again as there was more than one Mrs. Weasley in the room, maiden names were used, "shall also continue to reside here in the South Wing. Mr. Weasley shall commute to his job with Gringotts via floo and is going to try to set up a dedicated connection to the bank. This is mainly for the benefit of Lord Black. As we all know, so long as someone has not committed an offense against the Goblin Nation, Gringotts is neutral ground and no Ministry can make an arrest there. But the only public floo connection is at the Leaky Cauldron and Lord Black would have to walk from there to Gringotts to attend to his House financial affairs. While Madam Bones will try to see justice done, we are all painfully aware of the realities. For the foreseeable future, Diagon Alley is dangerous ground for Lord Black. Hopefully, a direct connection to Gringotts will be of benefit to him and his House.
"Miss Delacour, as you have passed out of all but one of your classes, with the exception of your course in Magical Government and Law with Madam Maxime, you are excused from attending class. Madam Maxime and I hope you shall use your time productively given the upcoming task. You will have full access to Hogwarts Library, the South Wing and your school carriage. You will be expected to sit for your one remaining class. Aside from that and subject to the adult student restrictions I've mentioned, your time is your own. Use it wisely."
"Merci, Madam McGonagall," Fleur said.
"Mr. Viktor Krum," McGonagall continued. "Both you and your wife Katya have passed out of all your NEWT classes. However, as you are aware, as one of the Tri-wizard Champions, you are obligated to remain here through the end of the Tournament. As friends of both House Longbottom and Potter, you are free to reside in the South Wing, subject of course to the adult student restrictions, and have full access to all this Wing and Hogwarts can provide for your further training."
"Katya and I tank you," Victor said, "and our friends."
"Moreover," McGonagall continued, "there are a fair few Quidditch players who shall remain in this Wing who, while maybe not up to International Standard, are fairly decent. I wish I could let you use our School Pitch, but it has been confiscated for the Final Task. That being said, give us a week or so and we'll have a practice pitch set up and you will have a fair few eager South Wing volunteers with time - and maybe others as well - to practice with. It would be a shame for your broom skills to atrophy because of this Tournament."
"Tank you," Victor said. "Katya is fair Keeper herself. Better zan our Bulgarian one, but she is Ukraine and was sixteen then and could not play for my team. We would love to play against decent Keeper and Seeker for once!" Everyone knew he meant Harry and Lucinda, the latter had been the only decent player for Slytherin the last two years and second best Keeper at Hogwarts after Gryffindor's Oliver Wood who now played as a Reserve for Puddlemere United. There was already talk about a match between Harry and Victor later in the year.
"Which brings us to our last Seventh Year and our Hogwarts students," McGonagall continued. "As you are well aware, Mr. Diggory, you have successfully passed all of your original NEWTs and added an additional NEWT in Potions."
"Yes Professor," Cedric said. "And I really appreciate that opportunity. I only managed and Exceeds on my Potions OWL and thought I had to give up my dream of becoming a Healer. But now … and I really appreciated the Healing Course as well."
"Like the others, you will not be required to attend your former classes and will have full access to the resources of this Wing to prepare for the Final Task and, hopefully, towards your career choice. That being said, you and Miss Chang are not yet married so I cannot allow you to live here full time. Besides, Professor Sprout would be concerned about the morale in your House were you to abandon them completely at this time."
"I understand Professor," Cedric replied although clearly he was disappointed.
"That being said," McGonagall continued, "you shall retain your room here which you may use during regular hours and you may sleep in on Friday and Saturday nights and one other night per week. I offer you this privilege in part because I know you will use your free time well and would not want to see you violate curfew and in part because I would rather you and Miss Chang had another option for your amorous liaisons other than abusing broom closets. She will be afforded the same privileges."
Cedric and Cho blushed furiously as many others chuckled.
"That being said, because this Wing is the Founders' Heirs Wing, my authority, and that of Professor Dumbledore and the rest of the Hogwarts staff stops at the door unless they agree otherwise. I know all of you may have friends here who were not with us these past fifteen months and House Potter and Longbottom may well allow them admission to this Wing. BUT, while I have no authority over you married couples in this regard and have granted Mr. Diggory and Miss Chang a boon, should I learn this has become a student bawdy house, I can bar the others from ever entering here again - at least while they are students!"
"Like we'd want to see Lavender Brown and her Boy of the Week going at it," Ginny piped up.
"Or have our elves clean the sheets afterwards," Daphne added getting a laugh.
"I am glad we are in agreement then," McGonagall said after the laughs died down. McGonagall then sighed loudly. "Fred and George Weasley," she began. "You two have passed your NEWTs and passed through your year in four other courses. Much as I'd like to make you attend classes, I can't. Having passed your NEWT classes, it would be improper to make you sit through Sixth Year. As for your other classes, to drop you in now … might be disruptive to the other students. But I can't send you home either as that requires permission from both your parents even though you are of age and your father would rather you remain here for now given your mother will have enough to deal with soon. So you're stuck here. I do hope you will continue your education next year… I'd hate to lose the two best Beaters my House has seen in ages… You will reside here in the South Wing for the remainder of the year with your wives…"
Alicia and Angelina practically squealed with delight.
"… and I do hope you use your free time productively. Work on your budding business or businesses, as I'm sure you'll do well in the end. You have full access to this Wing's resources and, if they don't have it and can get it for you, Mr. Potter and Mr. Longbottom are willing to help. Help our Champions as they need it and … Victor would well like to see you two play. Naturally, the same goes for your wives. They will reside here as well, although Miss Johnson is taking Care of Magical Creatures so she will have to attend that class for now. They too will reside here and are excused from their other former NEWT classes. We will discuss next year later."
"Thank you, Professor," the four said in unison.
"Now for our Middle Years," Professor McGonagall went on. "First off, you have all passed seven OWLs with wonderful marks and have completed at least half of the Sixth Year NEWT material as well. However, neither I nor the other Professors feel it would be fair to you to drop you into Sixth Year so late in the game, nor would it be fair to next year's Sixth Year's to have to compete against the lot of you for marks given as you are so far ahead. So, you will not be required to attend those classes for the remainder of this year, but we all hope you will continue those classes next year. We will plan a special section for you all separate from the other Sixth Year students that will take into account where you are with the material."
"Professor Snape is going to love that," Daphne said sarcastically.
"Do we have to take Potions, Professor?" Harry asked. "Don't get me wrong. Here in the South Wing it finally made sense to me and Neville and others, but…"
"I am well aware of your issues with Professor Snape, Mr. Potter. And yes, I am sure he will be overjoyed to learn there will be twenty-one of you in special session given that he has never had more than fifteen NEWT students in Sixth and Seventh Years combined. That being said, as Founders' Heirs you cannot remove staff due to our contracts. But you can hire staff…"
"Mrs. Tonks and I would be honored to continue as your Potions professors next year," Madam Longbottom said. Like Andy Tonks, Neville's Gran was also and accomplished Potions Mistress. "And, by sharing the load, Mrs. Tonks would be able to continue in her current position at St. Mungo's."
"That would be brilliant," Harry replied.
"Now that we have that settled," McGonagall continued, "As for Astronomy, History of Magic and any other electives you were taking, you will be required to attend those classes for the remainder of this year and, for our Fifth Years, sit for the OWLs. Likewise, I cannot allow any of you to drop Astronomy or History of Magic. For those of you in Third and Fourth Year, we will discuss the possibility of dropping one or more of your remaining electives beginning next year at a later time. Again, I urge you to use your new free time productively.
"Finally our Lower Years. In many ways, you were the hardest to consider. You all have passed through the end of Third Year in all of your courses and through the end of Fourth Year in Arithmancy and Ancient Runes. Naturally, to ask you to sit those courses with your original years or to make you join an upper year would be unfair to you at the very least. Consequently, you will not be required to attend those classes. Again, I cannot excuse you from Astronomy or History of Magic so you will attend those with your House. Next year, you will all have a special session in those courses here in the South Wing. I don't think it would be prudent to drop you lot into classes with students two or three years older than you. Again, I urge you to make use of this Wing and use your free time productively."
"Do we have to go back to our Houses?" Astoria Greengrass asked. "I mean, my sister gets to live here and…"
"I have given this a lot of thought. I understand it may be difficult for you and Mr. Urquhart to return to living in Slytherin especially as they will learn you openly consort with known Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs…"
"Not to mention Muggle Borns and Blood Traitors," Daniel Urquhart. "Then again, that's their loss, not ours."
"Well put," McGonagall nodded. "Now, unlike Mr. Diggory and Miss Chang, the eight of you do have older sisters who will be living here from now on. And, as I previously stated, you are all still Gryffindors, Hufflepuffs, Ravenclaws and Slytherins. That being said, I will not require Mr. Urquhart or Miss Greengrass to return to living in Slytherin House if they don't want to…"
"YES!" Daniel exclaimed.
"And if I give them that option, then I give the same to the rest of you. You may choose to return to your Houses as of tomorrow night. If you do so, while you will have access to this Wing, you will NOT be allowed a room here on your own and you will reside in your House dormitory with your year mates for the remainder of your time at Hogwarts. Your other option is to remain here. If you choose that, this is where you will reside for the remainder of your time here, but you will retain access to your former Houses and their Common Rooms, you will continue to attend classes with them, aside from your South Wing classes, and so forth."
"That's easy," Daniel said, "I'm staying!"
"Me too," Astoria added.
"Same here," added Jason Lee, Daniel's Hufflepuff roommate. It was soon unanimous.
McGonagall smile. "I figured you all would make that choice. Now, just a couple more things. As you recall, I said this has become something of and unofficial House…"
"Quidditch!" several voices said.
McGonagall nodded. "For now, South Wing is not in competition for the House Cup. The Quiddtich Cup earns their House a hundred points which in many years is the difference between winning the House Cup or not. I have no doubt South Wing can field a strong side. But how would we deal with those points? Then there is added a second consideration which is the fact that as far as we know, the students here are and will be the only South Wing students. On the surface, a South Wing team seems to be a short term thing, does it not?"
"You're just saying that 'cause you stand to lose most of next year's team!" Fred said.
"There is that, but Professor Sprout - who stands to lose no one as Mr. Diggory will finish this year - and Professor Flitwick - who stands to lose only Miss Chang if she makes the team - agree that this is the case. I'm sure Professor Snape will be in agreement as in addition to losing his Keeper in Miss Urquhart, he's not about to diminish his House's chances at that Cup by tolerating another completive team."
There were some groans, mostly from the "former" Gryffindors.
"Be that as it may, I shall make you this deal. For now, if you wish to play Quidditch, it will be for your original House team. But - and I don't see this as happening - should the Sorting Hat sort even a few students into South Wing next fall, you shall have your team, even if it means Gryffindor will be playing not to defend our Cup but to avoid last place. After all, if the Sorting Hat does so, South Wing becomes a true House."
"GO SORTING HAT!" Fred and George exclaimed.
"We have it all!" Fred said.
"Courage…" George added.
"Loyalty and a work ethic…"
"However misplaced the latter may seem, and…"
"We're all smart as whips!"
"And we'll be smoking hot with Quidditch!"
"SOUTH WING RULES!" the two added in unison.
"Oh to be younger!" Fred said.
"To be just eleven and awaiting our Hogwarts letter," George added.
"To come here and see the castle for the first time…"
"And then be the first sorted into South Wing!"
"The first South Wingers from start to finish!"
"Luxurious accommodations," George said.
"Totally brilliant Upperclassmen," Fred added.
"And a load of babies about," Ginny all but growled.
"But we love the little tykes," George said.
"House mascots for now," Fred added, "South Wingers in the future. Come on Gin! Both of us have changed our niece's nappies…"
"And the cheeky little bugger's done pissed all over me," George said.
"What're you complaining 'bout?" Daniel Urquhart said. "My big sister had a son and the cheeky little bugger's leaned to aim! Girls can't do THAT! Little bugger's a Marauder for certain, he is…" Daniel added proudly.
"Yes, yes," McGonagall said trying to overcome the laughter. "There is always that chance. But we can't count on it, can we? Still, I said this was almost a House and I meant it! Miss Bell?"
"Yes Professor?" Katie asked.
"By all rights - and had we a decent Board of Governors then - my recommendation that you be a Prefect should have been it! I justified giving it to Leanne because you're a star Quidditch player. Deep down, I always knew I had broken and let the Purebloods get their way. After all, had you been selected, then a majority of your year's Prefects would have been Muggle Borns, but I digress. It was wrong not to stand up for you as you deserved it, Dumbledore and the former Board of Governors be damned! Miss Bell, as of tomorrow, you are our South Wing Prefect. I believe you lot will need at least one to protect you from the probable reaction to all this."
"I d-don't know what to say, Professor," Katie stammered. "Thank you. I'm honored."
"You deserve it Miss Bell. Miss Urquhart?"
"Yes Ma'am?" Lucinda replied.
"I cannot predict what Professor Snape will do when he learns of all of this and your role in it. However, whether he asks you to resign as Slytherin Prefect or whether you choose to, I am willing to offer you the position of our other South Wing Prefect."
"In that case," Lucinda nodded, "I will probably resign my position with Slytherin. I don't want to give him the satisfaction of taking my badge."
After a brief applause, Fred said: "What? No boy prefects?"
"Do you honestly think I'd put you or your brother in charge of discipline, Mr. Weasley?"
"It would sully our hard won reputations," George added.
"I was actually thinking of Harry or Neville," Fred said.
"Despite their OWLs, Mr. Potter and Mr. Bottom remain Fourth Years officially," McGonagall said. "I cannot justify making either of them a Prefect at this time. And for your general information, while it is generally the practice for each house to have both a boy and a girl Prefect, it is by no means required. The reason for it is because the boys cannot enter the girls dormitories and the girls are not supposed to enter the boys dormitories, thus Prefects for those dorms. That problem does not really exist here seeing that aside from the Lower Years, all the other students residing here are married, and the Lower Years all live on the Sixth Floor for now although they will move to the Fifth Floor once all the guests have left and their new rooms are readied."
"What about next year?" Ginny asked knowing Hermione was probably itching to but would not want to sound too eager.
"Miss Weasley," McGonagall said, "we generally do not discuss Prefect assignments with students and generally do not reveal the final decisions until after they have received their letters in the summer before their Fifth year. I can tell you that the preliminary decisions have been made, subject to change of course."
"It's been made?" Hermione asked.
"It's by no means final, Miss Granger. The Headmaster and Heads of Houses meet about midway through the Winter Term to discuss the next year's Prefect assignments - and Quidditch Captains if necessary. Those decisions are subject to change. A promising student might develop an attitude problem or there may be another reason to revisit the decision before the letters are sent. I will add that we do not meet to discuss next year's Head Boy and Head Girl until June. But we believe the lot of you are trustworthy and besides, I do intend to appoint two of our Fourth Years as South Wing Prefects. Remember, these decisions are not final and can change. In fact, it's not truly final until September 1st and students have been known to refuse to serve as Prefects on occasion.
"That being said, the probable Slytherin Prefects will be Mr. Malfoy and Miss Parkinson…"
"But Daphne and Tracey are much better students than either of them, as is Zabini!" Hermione protested. She knew the class ranks of everyone in her year.
"While academic performance is certainly a factor considered, it is not the only factor. The Headmaster and each Head of House look for additional qualities as well…"
"And Professor Snape is good friends with Draco's Mum and supposedly beholding to Draco's father," Daphne said, "and he's Draco's Godfather."
"And Pansy's a good little Slytherin bint," Tracey added. "She worships the very ground Draco walks upon, hates all who are not true Slytherins and kisses the little ponce's bony little arse!"
"Not to mention that Professor Snape had made it clear to Tracey and me we lack a certain … attitude."
"Meaning we do not and will not bow down to Draco," Tracey said.
"I agree that either Miss Davis or Miss Greengrass are better choices," McGonagall said, "but my opinion as to Slytherin's Prefects is of little import. The preliminary choices for Ravenclaw are Mr. Boot and Miss Patil and Professor Flitwick has advised me he will not withdraw his recommendation as to Miss Patil simply because she chose to get married at this time. The Preliminary choices for Hufflepuff are Mr. McMillan and Miss Bones and again, Miss Bones's recommendation will not be withdrawn. Finally - unless I can get Professor Dumbledore to change his mind between now and this summer - the proposed Gryffindor Prefects for next year are Miss Granger and Mr. Weasley."
Hermione wanted to jump for joy, until she heard the second name. "RON? But how?" she began. "He has the worst marks in our house and has lost almost as many points as Harry has! Harry's better! Neville's better! Heck, Seamus and Dean are better choices!"
"Oh the shame," the Twins moaned.
"Dumbledore's clearly gone round the twist," Ginny added. "About the only thing Ron'll do is dock Slytherins!"
"I would agree as to Mr. Potter for certain and now Mr. Longbottom. In fact, I made it clear at the time Mr. Potter was the only realistic option. That was before Mr. Longbottom became the young man we know today. As for Mr. Finnegan and Mr. Thomas, I felt their frequent visitations to various broom closets did not speak well for them."
"It makes no sense," Hermione began.
"Miss Granger, as I'm sure you are well aware, Mr. Weasley's academic performance is neither a reflection of his intellect or his potential ability, rather it's a reflection of his attitude. He is a classic underachiever and Professor Dumbledore felt making him a prefect might help him become more responsible."
"I don't see that happening just 'cause he gets a badge," Hermione said.
"I tend to agree with you, Miss Granger. I believe in time he may grow into his potential, but being a Prefect will not make that happen by itself."
"Why not Harry?"
McGonagall sighed. "Dumbledore felt that with all he's been through the last four years, he has enough on his mind as it is."
"He has a point," Harry chuckled.
"But that also justifies making you a Prefect," Hermione countered.
"I agree with Miss Granger," McGonagall said, "it certainly justifies making you a Prefect, but Dumbledore would prefer otherwise and I'm certain the real reason is not the one he gave."
"The bloody Prophecy," Harry growled.
"That is probably a fair bet," McGonagall replied. "Be that as it may, if I am unable to change his mind in this, I will be offering you the position as one of South Wing's Prefects, Mr. Potter."
"And the other?" Hermione asked.
"I was thinking of offering the other badge to Miss Greengrass."
"I think it should go to Neville," Daphne said. "I'm not saying I'd refuse, but that's how I think it should go. I would prefer not being offered a badge unless Harry does become a Gryffindor Prefect."
"And why is that?"
"For now, it makes sense," Daphne said. "Our other two prefects are girls and Lucinda is House Longbottom while Katie is House Potter and I think our new Prefects should also be from both Houses. It would also give us two boys and two girls, although as you noted that's not as critical here. If Harry becomes the Gryffindor Prefect, I could become the House Potter Prefect."
"I agree with Daphne," Harry said.
"All in favor?" Susan quipped. All of the students raised their hands as did most of the Professors. "Opposed?" There was no response. "I'd say that's a resounding yes!"
McGonagall almost smiled. "Very well. So be it." Following a loud ovation, she continued. "Over the next week, I ask all of the South Wing students to meet with your Professors here to pick up your assignments. Our Sixth Years need only meet with those Professors in those course where they did not earn their NEWTs."
"Assignments?" Daniel Urquhart asked.
"Yes, Mr. Urquhart. As you will learn, it is customary to have homework assignments over your summer breaks both to prepare you for next year's materials and to make sure you don't forget everything you worked so hard to learn and, as you will have a five month break from those courses, we feel these assignments are all the more important. Professor Lupin will have your Defense assignments and Madam Longbottom will be here next weekend for your Potions assignments.
"Next, all the House Longbottom and House Potter ladies and their children will have appointments with Madam Pomfrey on Monday. Healers Tonks and Turpin will be there and a schedule will be posted later this evening. Madam Pomfrey will be taking over as your initial care Healer, at least while you are here at Hogwarts and this appointment is for a check up and to make sure she has your current Healing records.
"Finally, while Time Compression ends at ten tomorrow morning, the Spring Holiday does not end until seven tomorrow evening when all students are expected to be back and in the Great Hall for dinner. I invite those parents who wish to dine with us at the South Wing table tomorrow evening. In the meantime, you may tour the rest of the Castle and the grounds with your children. You may also venture into Hogsmeade if you so desire. All Middle and Upper Years may treat this as a Hogsmeade weekend if they desire. All Lower Years also have my permission to head into the village if they are accompanied by an adult, and that would include your older sisters."
"YES!" Jason Lee called out. "ZONKO'S!"
SUNDAY, APRIL 2nd, 1995 - THE BURROW
Following the dinner, there was a Weasley Family meeting. Arthur had decided to forego the next day. He needed to be with Molly and he needed to be the one to explain all this to her and he knew her. It would take time. Whatever problems he may have had with what Ginny had done were well in the past for him. He was now so proud of her! She was a wonderful Mum, even if still young and her Husband and new family were all wonderful young people. But Molly knew none of this and that would be an issue and Arthur felt he should be the one to break all of this to her. He hoped, in the end, the only thing she would regret about any of this was missing the weddings and her granddaughter's birth. Bill and Ginny were planning on taking the Delacours and Marcellas around the school. Ginny would leave little Hermione with her elves, whom the little girl adored. She needed to know that Hermione could be her own person and that she could be her own too, from time to time. The Twins would be off to London with their wives to buy rings with a loan from Harry for that purpose. Arthur would deal with Molly.
Molly had always had a temper. She could fly off the handle quite easily. But her spirit was one of the many things Arthur loved about her and, unlike many girls he had known in school, once she vented she was fine again. She seldom had held any kind of grudge against anyone other than those who persisted in holding one against her or her family. Arthur knew Molly loved him dearly, but he also knew she had ghosts and those drove her. She was the last Prewitt. She came from a long line of Ministry people and her line was wiped out in the War. This was her motivation. This was why she felt her children should all strive to work for the Ministry and why she was so loyal to Dumbledore. She did not want to ever think her beloved brothers died in vain. Arthur knew he was going to have to crush all those thoughts to get her to accept what had happened and he was not looking forward to it. But he had accepted it. Neville was a wonderful young man and of that he had no doubt. He was perfect for Ginny and a wonderful father as well and this Plural Marriage thing did not seem to change that. Ginny had said that Neville had always made her feel special even when she did not believe it herself. And the Twins and Bill had also married lovely girls. In Arthur's mind, as unorthodox as it all was, his children had done exceedingly well in that regard. But now he had to convince Molly. He knew that if she was, she would be heartbroken in any case. Molly had been a wonderful mother and would be broken by the fact that she missed the weddings and the birth of her granddaughter.
"Mols?" he called out as he stepped through the Burrow's Floo, "I'm back!"
"In the kitchen," her voice answered. He entered and saw she was magically doing the dishes. "Did you have a good time? And where's Bill?"
"Yes," Arthur said. "And Bill's staying up there for a bit. Is Ron around, or Percy?"
"Ron and his friends just left," Molly said. "They're going to spend some time in Hogsmeade. I believe Percy's upstairs working or something."
"We need to talk, Molly," Arthur said.
"What did Fred and George do?" she practically hissed back.
"Nothing," Arthur replied. "It's not about them."
"THEN WHAT?" Molly all but yelled.
"The Contract," Arthur replied. "Ginny and Harry found out about it and Harry knows about his vault."
Molly paled. "They know?" she almost squeaked.
Arthur nodded. "And he knows about the 5,000 Galleon withdrawal."
"But… Arthur! There's no way out of it! I've looked and checked! There's no way out! We had to…"
"Mols?" Arthur began.
"There's no way out! Arthur? You know I would have loved to have Harry as a Son-in-Law. He's a wonderful boy and he and Ginny might well have got on well. But she's… and he's… they're not moving that way and then Dumbledore comes and says they must and… It's so WRONG, Arthur! I don't want my baby all drugged up and not Harry either! They're friends, but if that's all that it was meant to be… It's so WRONG! Ginny has a good boyfriend in that Neville boy, 'though I know little 'bout him. What I've heard is… he sounds like a good boy. And I've known Harry and Hermione and… IT'S SO WRONG! BUT WHAT CAN WE DO? We have to do this, Arthur! It's wrong! Harry and Ginny deserve better! But…" Molly was crying now.
"But what?" Arthur replied.
"There's no way out! Dumbledore said so! We're so stuck! I feel so DIRTY! I had to take money from Harry's vault to hope to retain a Potions Master - I was not about to let Professor Snape anywhere near my baby or Harry - and … I don't want to do this, Arthur! Not to Harry! Not to my baby! They … they deserve their own lives! But we can't afford the penalties! We can't! Not even if I drained Harry's vault and Arthur I already feel so guilty for what I have done! There's no way out!"
"What if I told you there was?"
"But there isn't!" Molly protested. "That damnable contract…!"
"There is and was and Ginny and some others found it and fixed it for themselves and us as well," Arthur said.
"But that's impossible! Dumbledore made it unbreakable!"
"He missed a few points, it seems," Arthur said. "That contract is no longer worth the parchment it's written upon, although the solution is almost as shocking as the problem. Have a seat Mols."
"S-solution?" She asked. "But how can you void…?"
"Have a seat Mols. We have a lot to talk about."
Arthur had much to tell her, of course. He had the Lovegoods' book and his own photo albums as back-up, and he told his wife everything. He told her about Dumbledore and all his mistakes regarding Harry and how that Contract was just another one of them. He showed her the pictures and told her of all the weddings he attended and how she now had a Son-In-Law and three Daughters-In-Law and about all of them. She was taken aback to learn Fleur was a Veela, but he told her what that really was, just a type of magic passed from mother to daughter and nothing more, really. It of course helped that Fleur was the daughter of Alaine Delacour, Deputy Minister for Magic of France. It all but broke her in the end.
"It's all that damnable Dumbledore's fault this happened!" she exclaimed. "I missed my own babies weddings and the birth of my own granddaughter and their school results and… I'm so proud of them, Arthur, I really am, but they're all so young and how does Ginny take being one of nine wives?"
"It seems quite well," Arthur said. "Neville is an exceptional lad despite his apparent youth and you'd never know. But I never asked."
"Mols, Ginny is still and will always be my little girl. All evidence to the contrary, I still see her as just that and don't want to think about HOW she had our granddaughter. I don't ask those questions. And I don't feel I have to yet as she seems quite happy about the whole thing and she's a wonderful Mum to little Hermione."
"She can't cook!"
"She's getting better," Arthur said, "Although she does have elves for that. She's focusing on being able to bake cookies and cakes and such for her kids as treats. She hopes to be good enough at that when little Hermione is old enough…"
"I missed all of this!" Molly said. "I missed their weddings and my granddaughter's birth! Oh, Arthur! Ginny was so beautiful! And our boys were so dashing! I … I want to make it up to all of them! I want to see them, Arthur! I want them to … to forgive me. I want to meet their … I want to meet them all, Arthur. Dumbledore's all but ruined our family and I want … I want to apologize to them all! I want to see my granddaughter! Oh, damn it all to hell!" she added running up the stairs.
"Mols?" Arthur asked a little while later. She was busy writing.
"I'm sending them letters begging them to forgive me. Every bleeding one of them!" she added almost in tears. "Harry, Hermione, Ginny, Fred, George, Bill… And Dumbledore is going to get the Howler of Howlers for this! HOW DARE HE DENY ME THIS? They're MY BABIES! And his STUPID ideas kept me AWAY! That damnable CONTRACT!"
Arthur closed the door and smiled. His true Molly was back!