Friday, 19 April, 1996
"Why? Why do I have to go back there? Why can't I live with Sirius for the next two years?" Harry Potter was pacing the Headmaster's office as if he would wear a rut in the elegant oriental rug.
Albus Dumbledore's eyes followed him as he paced. This was an unpleasant duty, but it had to be done. If Harry didn't return to the Dursley's house, the blood bond wouldn't be renewed. Harry wouldn't be safe anywhere, except for Hogwarts. He needed Harry to stay safe. The boy had finally killed Voldemort, but he still wasn't safe. The Death Eaters still out there would probably be only too happy to kill Harry.
"Harry, I realize that the Dursley household isn't exactly the nicest place for you to go, but the Ministry has turned down Sirius' petition for adoption. They will not allow him to keep you because they believe no one could be sane after 12 years in Azkaban prison. I know..."Albus held up a hand to stop Harry's retort. "I know that Sirius is as sane as he ever was, but the Ministry is adamant. I don't know why."
"Can't you find out why? After almost losing him in the battle at the Ministry, I don't want to be away from him. I almost lost him. If anything else happens to him, I think I'll go spare!"
Albus placed a hand on Harry's shoulder the next time the teen came near him. I'll have to get a new rug after this.
"Harry, you know that Lucius and Draco Malfoy are our spies in the Ministry, right?"
"Yes, I know...what's that got to do with anything?" Harry resumed pacing. He was getting more agitated by the minute. He knew he was being rude, but he couldn't seem to help it. He had to release this pent up energy somehow.
"Lucius is trying to find out why the Minister is so against you living with Sirius and Remus. I, personally, think that it would be the best for you to be with Sirius. We've never found another fighter quite like him. And the fact that he is your godfather...well, needless to say, he wouldn't allow anything to happen to his 'Bambi'."
Harry chuckled slightly at the nickname Siri had given him. He loved his godfather. He and Remus were the last two links to his parents that he had. He turned to look at the headmaster. "Maybe we can find another option. I can't go back there. They're abusive. I've come out of there with more scars than I have with anything else I've done. There has to be another option!"
Albus knew of several options, but each of them would be shot down by the Ministry. Another option occured to him suddenly. And Harry was the only one who could consent to this. His eyes narrowed slightly. "Harry, you are now 15, correct?"
"Yes sir. I'll be 16 on July 31st. Why?" Harry was slightly confused. What did his age have to do with anything?
"I may have an option. It would require a lot of sacrifice on your part and on the part of another, but it would work. It would have to be done before you leave school." Yes, that would work. "Harry, I am going to call a meeting of the Order members tonight...here, in the Room of Requirement. You will need to be there, so your curfew will not be in effect tonight. I will send someone to get you from Gryffindor Tower when it is time for the meeting. Please return to the tower now, and do not leave. Call one of the house elves for your supper. Keep Ronald and Hermione with you at all times."
Harry's eyes went wide. "What is it? Please tell me."
"Until the rest of the Order is here I cannot. Please Harry. Trust me. I know that, right now, it is difficult for you to trust anyone. I have something in mind that will take care of the issue. Think about something for me, though, while you are waiting. You need to think of what you are willing to give up to remain safe. I realize you have already given up far too much for a person your age, but this could actually work in your favor. You will also need to think about your sexual identity."
Harry's forehead scrunched up in thought. "What does the fact that I'm bisexual have to do with anything? Why does that matter?" Harry had had a long discussion with the headmaster at the beginning of the term. He had come out to Ron and Hermione this summer and they had been very accepting. Hermione had explained that sexual orientation mattered little to the wizarding world. Love was love, no matter what form it took.
"It will play a large part in the decision you will have to make tonight." Now, he just had to make sure that the two eldest Weasley brothers were present.
At 9:00 that night, Harry, Ron and Hermione were waiting in the Gryffindor common room for whomever Dumbledore was going to send for Harry. He had told them what had been said in the headmaster's office. They had spent the last 6 hours wracking their brains to figure out what it all meant.
They heard someone speaking to the portrait and then a knock came upon the portrait's frame. Hermione got up to answer it. Obviously, it was not someone from the school, or they would know the password. She opened the portrait and Bill Weasley, Ron's oldest brother walked in.
"Bill! What are you doing here?" Ron got up to give his brother a quick hug. Harry followed more slowly. He knew Bill was a member of the Order, but he wasn't sure why he had been called from Egypt.
"I can't say right now, Ron. You ready Harry?" Bill's breath caught slightly as Harry walked up. He hadn't grown that much since the year before, but he had filled out, and was now starting to look like a man, instead of a boy caught on the cusp. He had found Harry very attractive last year, as had Charlie. It was rare that they both were attracted to the same person. Usually their tastes were radically different.
Harry nodded at Bill. He looked back at Ron and Hermione. He had a feeling that he would need them both when this meeting was over. "Please wait up for me. I-I think I'm going to need to talk to you two when this is over." Ron and Hermione nodded. Harry noticed Hermione slipping her hand into Ron's. He smiled slightly and turned to follow Bill.
Bill was extremely aware of Harry, walking next to him. He had never considered someone younger than him, especially not 10 years younger, but, with what Albus had proposed, he couldn't get his mind off of it. He didn't think that Charlie would actually go along with it. He was far too independent. He hoped.
Harry's thoughts were a jumbled mess. Added to that mess was the subtle attraction he felt for Ron's oldest brother. He had felt the pull of attraction last year, and it had shocked him. It had been this attraction that had made him re-evaluate his thoughts about relationships. He had never given thought to being attracted to another man, let alone actually being bisexual. He knew that he was also attracted to women, but this was stronger than any attraction he'd felt for Cho or Ginny.
They entered the Room of Requirement. As the door closed, all eyes swung toward him. He saw many faces that he recognized, Molly and Arthur Weasley amongst them. As he looked around the room, he saw Sirius and Remus walking toward him. Sirius swept him up in a strong hug. Harry laughed, until he saw the tears in his eyes. Fear lanced through him. Why would Siri be crying? What's wrong that he would be crying? Harry's thoughts took off and ran away from him. "What is it? What's wrong?"
"Let Albus talk, Pup. He'll answer your questions." Harry hugged Remus hard, also seeing the sheen of tears in his eyes.
Sirius led Harry to a seat and took the one to the right of him. Remus sat on his other side, followed by Bill. Albus watched Harry. He sat stiffly in his chair and looked around at the Order members. His eyes stopped on Lucius Malfoy. He saw Lucius nod at Harry. Harry looked at Draco, sitting next to his father. He and Harry had become friends since it had been explained to Harry about them. Draco smiled encouragingly at Harry.
"Harry, we believe that we have come up with an option to keep you from ever having to return to the Dursley house. As I told you before, it would require yet another sacrifice from you and the same sacrifice from another."
"What is the sacrifice?" At this point, Harry would give up almost anything to keep from going back to the Dursleys.
Albus drew a deep breath. "There is a bond that would allow you to stay wherever you wished. Of course, there would be wards there, as well. But you would be safe."
"What kind of bond? I only know about the marriage bond."
"This bond is called Vindiciae Nuptia. The literal translation is Championship Wedding. It would require for you to be bonded into marriage with someone who is willing to protect you, to see to your every need and comfort. The other bond-mate needs to be between the ages of 21 and 25. I..."
"You want me to get MARRIED? I'm only 15! I'm not legal until I turn 16!" Harry was horrified. When the headmaster had asked him what he would be willing to give up, this had not been something he had thought of. Sirius put a restraining hand on his arm, keeping him in his seat.
"This bond is specifically for orphans, between the ages of 13 and 17, who need protection, due to their financial or societal status. You have both financial wealth and great social status, being who you are. This bond is not to keep you from your friends or family. Lucius, please tell Harry what you discovered."
Lucius stood and walked over to where Harry sat. Draco followed and took Harry's hand in his. "Just listen to my dad, okay Harry? Just hear him out. This could work out well for you."
Lucius knelt in front of Harry. "The Minister of Magic is planning on taking your custody out of the Dursley's hands, the day you turn 16, to make you a ward of the Ministry. He is then planning on marrying you off to the highest bidder, to someone he can control. He feels that you are too powerful and could, one day, take the Ministry from him. He wants to keep that from happening at all costs. You are too precious and important to us for us to lose you to someone under the Minister's thumb. We'll never be able to prove it, but I know that he was in line with Lord Voldemort."
Harry felt himself go pale. He sat for a moment in absolute silence, blinking. He felt Draco squeeze his hand and returned the squeeze. Sirius put his arm around Harry's shoulders. "Bambi, I won't let anything bad happen to you, you know that, don't you? Not after everything you've been through."
Harry nodded slightly. He recognized that he was in shock. He turned his head and laid it lightly on Sirius' shoulder. "Why? Why me? What could I, a 15 year old, do to him that he wants to do this to me?" Harry felt a tear slide down his nose. Sirius tightened his hold on Harry and looked, imploring, at Albus, who also came to kneel down in front of Harry.
"Harry, this may be the only way to keep you of the Ministry's hands. Once the bonding takes place, you will be the husband of the other person; the Ministry could not touch you. Your bond-mate would control who comes into contact with you, to protect you. They cannot keep you from your friends or your family. They must be willing to promise, upon the pain of death, to cherish and protect you. This is not to control you. It is for your protection. Do you understand?"
Harry drew a breath and nodded. "Who would want to marry me? I'm not much to look at and have the social skills of a flobberworm." A slight chuckle ran around the room. "I'm practically a walking death sentence." Remus felt Bill stiffen next to him. Hmm...wonder why that bothers him? "Who would give up the freedom to marry whomever they want, to be stuck with that? Not only that, but wouldn't this bond kind of require that the other person be male? What if there isn't a man who wants to be saddled with me?" He could feel Sirius shake his head, as if to deny Harry's words.
"Yes, Harry. The bond-mate would be a male. A very strong and powerful wizard. This is why I asked you to take your sexual orientation into consideration. I don't think that it would be a hardship for you to be married to another man, would it?"
"No, but what about him? And who would fit the criteria for the bonding?" Harry was still in shock, but could feel a slow anger starting to burn in his chest. No one was going to marry him off without his permission!
Albus and Lucius felt the crackle of Harry's magic and stood back up. Draco stayed where he was, even though he could feel the anger and magic rolling off of his friend. Sirius was in awe of his godson. He, too, felt the magic and realized that Harry had a very tight hold on it. Sirius could feel the strength of that magic and knew that his Bambi was far stronger than anyone realized, even Dumbledore.
"Harry, we know of two men who fit the criteria required for this bond. They have both been advised of the requirements and are both willing. One more so than the other, but both are willing. You must enter into this bond willingly, it cannot be forced. You would have to choose one of them."
Harry looked down at his trainers, magic back under control. "Who?"
Albus looked to his left and then to the back of the room. Harry heard the scrape of chairs on the floor and footsteps. He saw two pairs of dragonhide boots come into view. One pair was black and the other deep green. He slowly looked up until his green eyes met the blue eyes of the two oldest Weasley brothers.