Thank you to TrippingOverYou for being my wonderful beta! Kissies!
Charlie Weasley was in shock, he had to have misheard his father. "You mind repeating that to me, Dad?"
Arthur sighed heavily. "The Ministry has passed a law requiring that all men and women, over the age of 15 marry and produce heirs. Since Harry defeated You-Know-Who, and the war is over, they think we should all 'contribute' to the repopulating of the wizarding world." He pinched the bridge of his nose. The others had all taken it relatively well. Charlie was going to be the hardest.
"Charlie, you really don't have a choice. If you leave the country, they will find you and send you back. They've taken your preferences into consideration." He handed a piece of parchment to Charlie. "Since we are one of the oldest families, and you are my oldest unmarried son, you were given the right of first choice. The men on this list are all carriers." Arthur passed his hand over his aching eyes. He had cried long and hard when he had heard that the ability to choose their own spouses was being denied to everyone, including five of his seven children. Bill and Percy were already married, so they weren't affected. Not that they saw Percy anymore, but Arthur was glad at least two of his children had managed to avoid this mess.
Charlie stared at the list in his hand but didn't really see it. He was going to have to choose one of these men and be bonded to him. Forever. He started to shake, the parchment trembling. Arthur put his hand on Charlie's arm.
"Please, Charlie, look at the list. There are a few names on there that you know." Arthur had looked at the list already. He knew who he and Molly wanted Charlie to choose, he only hoped that they had read their son correctly.
Charlie's eyes focused on the names. His father was right; he did know a couple of the names. One name practically jumped off of the parchment and danced in front of him. He pointed at the name. "That one." The quiet conviction in his son's voice, combined with seeing the name he was pointing at, relieved Arthur. They had indeed read Charlie right. He sent an owl to the Ministry at once.
Later The Same Day
"Siri, please tell me you're kidding!" Harry Potter looked at his godfather's red-rimmed eyes and knew he wasn't. Sirius Black didn't cry over much, but he would, if it involved something hurting Harry or Remus Lupin, his bond-mate.
"I-I'm sorry Bambi. I tried...tried so hard! You have to be bonded. Remy told us this might happen, remember? I just didn't think they would actually force anyone. The Ministry got an owl this morning from the man who chose your name. I am so sorry Bambi!" Sirius buried his face in his hands and sobbed.
Harry sat heavily in an armchair and stared at Remus. The werewolf's eyes were also sad and reddened, tear stains clearly visible on his face. "It's not only that, Harry. Siri and I can't use contraceptive charms anymore. They've made them illegal for anyone under 50 to use them without a medical reason. Since he's a carrier, and lycanthropy doesn't pass through semen or blood, we've been told we need to produce at least one child, as well."
Harry felt anger begin to seep through the shock. "How can they do that? Siri's 38 years old! How will this affect his health?"
Sirius looked up. "Harry, I can safely carry a child until I am in my early fifties, as can you. We want a child...Remy and I have been talking for a while about not using the charms. This isn't so much about us, though, as it is about you. I didn't want this to happen to you, you're only 16, but it's out of our control. The letter from the Ministry said that the man and his family will be here at 1:00 this afternoon. All I know about him is that he's a pureblood. They wouldn't tell me anything else. I'm sorry."
He put his head back down in his hands, this time crying quietly. Remus slid an arm around his husband and held him tightly. He held out his other hand to Harry. They all sat for a moment, each trying to accept the fact that Harry was being forced to bond to a stranger against his will.
Harry's mind flew over the possibilities, thinking about who could have chosen him. It could be almost anyone. He didn't want to think about Draco Malfoy. Knowing his luck, Malfoy would pick him and then kill him. Slowly. He glanced at the clock and his breathing hitched. Only 4 more minutes. Remy and Siri also looked at the clock.
The old fashioned doorbell rang. Sirius stood and grabbed Harry, hauling him into his arms as Remy left to answer the door. Harry felt Sirius' fear grip him. This man, whoever he was, had come to claim him. He felt his breathing get faster and he knew he was on the verge of having a panic attack. He hadn't had one since right after the final battle, but he just knew he was going to have one now.
He heard voices in the hallway, but no yelling. Maybe there was hope that Malfoy hadn't picked him after all.
With horrified fascination, both he and Sirius watched the door to the sitting room open slowly. Harry began to see black spots in front of his eyes. He couldn't seem to be able to drag air into his lungs. He barely saw a pair of dragon-hide boots before the black spots became larger and he slid from his godfather's arms to the floor, unconscious.
Charlie was worried about Harry. He had been told that he wasn't allowed to owl Harry to let him know that he had chosen him. The Ministry, for some ungodly reason, thought that the surprise would be exciting for the couples. He knew Harry, and he wouldn't like this. Arthur had wanted to precede him, since he was Charlie's father, but Charlie vetoed that immediately.
"No. I can guarantee you that Harry, Remus and Sirius are scared to death that someone horrible picked Harry. I want them to know, right away, that Harry is safe." Arthur couldn't help but agree with his son.
Charlie rang the doorbell at Number 12 Grimmauld Place and waited. He heard very slow footsteps approach the door. He knew it was either Remus or Sirius on the other side, most likely the former. The door opened slowly and Remus Lupin stood before him, eyes on his shoes. He slowly looked up and, when he saw who was standing in front of him, breathed a sigh of relief and slumped against the door jamb.
"Thank God!" Remus breathed. Recalling that he should let them in, he held the door open. "Come in. Harry and Sirius are in the sitting room." Arthur and Molly followed Charlie into the dark house.
Charlie stopped Remus. "How is Harry with all of this?"
Remus shook his head. Not good, I'm afraid. He's terrified. I'm pretty much certain that he thought Draco Malfoy would choose him just to torture him."
"That would have been difficult, considering that Draco was on the same list as Harry."
Remus chuckled darkly as he herded them through the hallway to the sitting room. "I would have paid money to have seen Lucius Malfoy's face. This is too good!"
Looking at the older man, Charlie could see the remnants of the Marauder he once was. Harry was fortunate that Remus had gone with Sirius that day to the Ministry. If it hadn't been for Remus' quick thinking, Sirius would have fallen into the Veil. As it was, both men had been hit slightly with the curse Bellatrix Lestrange had thrown at her cousin. Harry had immediately placed her in the full body bind and waited for the Aurors to arrive. Voldemort had apparated directly to where Bellatrix was lying and Harry, having seen his opportunity, took him down, once and for all. The Killing curse had worked. They were all free.
"Let me go first. I want to reassure them that it's alright." Charlie opened the door and stepped into the sitting room. Just in time to hear Sirius' shout of "Harry!" and watch Harry fall gracelessly to the floor, hitting his head on the low table in front of the sofa.
Charlie leapt across the room and lifted Harry, turned and placed him gently on the sofa. He checked Harry's head to make sure he wasn't bleeding, before looking up into Sirius Black's confused eyes.
"You're the man who chose Harry?" The look of hope lighting those grey eyes was humbling. Charlie had never seen anyone look at him as a saviour before. It was a little disconcerting.
"Yes. I was given first choice. Once I saw Harry's name, my choice was made." Charlie flushed lightly. "I wouldn't let anything happen to him." Charlie looked away. "He would have been my only choice anyway." He missed seeing Remus' wide eyes and Sirius' gaping mouth because he chose to look at Harry.
Molly and Arthur stood silently, just inside the doorway to the sitting room. Remus took Sirius' arm and led him out of the room. "Let's go to the kitchen. There are some things we need to discuss and we might as well do it where they can't hear us."
They followed Remus down the stairs to the kitchen. Kreacher, Sirius' slightly demented house elf, was putting on water to boil and arranging crackers on a plate.
"Lord Black wants tea?"
"Yes, Kreacher. Thank you." The elf's head shot up and tears filled the huge eyes. He ran to Sirius and hugged his leg before running back to the stove and happily started making cups of tea for everyone. Remus hid his grin before Sirius saw it. The elf was becoming more stable since Sirius had had his mother's portrait ripped off of the wall. It couldn't have been easy, living here with just a foul-mouthed portrait of a dead woman for company. The elf seemed to realize that Sirius was actually a good person and had warmed up to him greatly.
They all sat at the scratched kitchen table. Sirius raised his head and looked at Charlie's parents. Molly and Arthur could tell that Sirius had been crying. Wanting to reassure the two men, Arthur cleared his throat and spoke.
"I want to let you know that Harry's name was the only name that Charlie considered. Once I got him to actually look at the names, it took him about half a minute to choose Harry."
Sirius nodded, releasing a relieved sigh. "This has been absolute hell for Harry today. We didn't know, until we got the Ministry's letter this morning, that they were actually doing this. Remy had heard rumors, but no one had any real proof. When did you receive your letter?"
"Late last night. I explained it to everyone else, but Charlie had been out of the house and I didn't get to see him until this morning. He had right of first choice. Fred and George were next, followed by Ron and Ginny. The Ministry said that, since we were one of the oldest families, we could go first. I had a hard time getting Charlie to look at the list. Fred had already made his choice."
"Did Fred know that Charlie would choose Harry?"
"Yes, he told me that Charlie has had a thing for Harry since the Tri-Wizard Tournament, but wouldn't act on it because of Harry's age."
Kreacher set the tea cups in front of everyone and laid an envelope next to Sirius' cup and one next to Arthur's. "Owl come for you, Lord Black. One for you, too, Mr. Wheezy."
The letter also proved to be from the Ministry. Sirius' features darkened as he read the letter. Arthur's brows drew together in a frown. Remus and Molly looked at each other, confusion on their faces.
"Is this a joke?" Sirius threw the letter at Remus as Arthur handed his to Molly and ran a hand over his now pale face.
Dear Lord Sirius Orion Black,
As the legal guardian of one Lord Harry James Potter, it is your duty to ensure that his bonding to Charles Adam Weasley is consummated. Therefore, you and your bond-mate, Lord Consort Remus John Black, are required to witness the act of consummation between them and report back to the Ministry of Magic. A pensieve memory will be required from either yourself or Lord Consort Black, in order to confirm that said consummation did take place.
Thank you for your cooperation.
Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement
Remus let the parchment drop to the table as he stared at Sirius. "They want us to WHAT?"
Arthur looked at them. "I'm going to assume that your letter reads like ours. We have to be witnesses to...to..." A single tear rolled down his cheek. "It isn't bad enough that they're forcing our children to do this, but to require that we watch? This is wrong...so, so wrong."