A/N: This story came about when TrippingOverYou and I challenged each other with a fic idea that was out of each other's usual comfort zone. This was so far out of my comfort zone that I'm not even sure where the story came from. You should check out TrippingOverYou's story, Baby Steps, just to see the challenge I gave him! Enjoy!
The grounds of the house were beautifully kept, tempting any who surveyed them to walk further into the lush gardens and perfectly groomed lawns. The house itself was large and simplistic in style, similar to the Georgian manor homes still dotting much of the English countryside. Once the outer walls of the house were breached, however, any resemblance to dignified country living was completely thrown out of the large floor-to-ceiling windows by the sounds of an angry voice.
"What do you mean I'm betrothed? I'm seventeen years old! You cannot betroth me without my express consent...AND I HAVE NOT GIVEN IT!" The speaker of these words was a dark-skinned, rather exotic looking young man, taller than most of his age, but very nicely put together.
"Blaise, darling, I realize that you're seventeen, I did give birth to you myself. This contract is not recent. In fact, it is over three years old, well within the time period where I was allowed to make any and all decisions for you. You are indeed betrothed, to a very nice young man of somewhat dubious parentage, but he is a half-blood."
"With all your spouting about blood purity, I would have thought that you wouldn't allow me to marry anyone with a lineage less than Draco Malfoy's." The young man began to pace in front of the hearth in the centre of the wall.
"Don't think I didn't try, but Narcissa Malfoy was set against an arranged marriage for her precious 'baby'."
Blaise Zabini stared at his mother and smoothed the look of disgust from his features. "I wouldn't marry Draco Malfoy if Merlin himself came back and offered me the monarchy...and where did you get the idea that I'm gay?"
Mrs. Zabini-Greer-Allingford-du Bois-Witherspoon-Smythe looked at her son in surprise. "You're not?"
"No, Mother, I'm not. I happen to like persons of the female persuasion...more than I ought to at times. You will have to inform the other party to this contract that I am not willing to marry at this time, nor am I willing to marry a man." He spun around to face the beautiful woman on the settee. "This is unacceptable. I am just about to start my final year at that school and, for the first time, I'm not going to have to worry about whether or not the bloody Death Eaters are going to storm Hogwarts to kill Potter."
"Oh? Did the half-blood finally get rid of that menace? Good...it's about time."
Blaise closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. Sometimes his mother made Neville Longbottom look intelligent. "Mother, have you heard a word I've been saying? You will contact these people and tell them that it's impossible for me to marry their son as I AM NOT GAY!"
"I'm afraid that's impossible, darling, Althea Thomas won't allow that. You see, it's a magical contract. She insisted, as she is a muggle, that I make the contract binding, and the only way was for it to be a magical betrothal contract."
"Thomas? As in Dean Thomas? Mother, he's a Gryffindor!"
"Oh dear. Well, if that's your only objection..."
Blaise turned and walked to the wall and proceeded to knock his head against it a few times. "Never mind. I'll talk with Thomas about it once we're back at school." He looked at his mother again. "Is there anything else you have arranged for my life, or is the betrothal the only thing?"
"No, darling, just the betrothal."
"Thank the Gods for small favours!"
"D'you think your mum is going to flip out about this?" The well-muscled young man looked at his companion.
"I don't know...I don't think she'll be surprised to find out that I'm gay, but she..." This young man hesitated for a moment, then forged on. "I think the only problem she'll have is that you're not black." He was tall, slender and dark-skinned, almost a perfect foil for the smaller sandy blonde at his side.
Seamus Finnegan scrunched up his nose in thought. "Why would she have a problem with that? It's not like there's any laws against it or anything."
Dean Thomas looked down slightly so that he could meet Seamus' eyes. "She has this thing...you know how some wizards spout off about blood purity? Well, she has a thing for race purity. She wants me to marry someone who's black, so that our 'race' is carried on." He sighed. "It's a rule that we all grew up with...'Marry young, marry wealth and marry black'. I'm the oldest, so I'm supposed to set a good example for the younger ones." His face tightened. "But I don't care! I'm in love with you, not someone who's black."
Seamus blushed but thought about Dean's words. "Won't she be awfully mad then, to have you show up with me?"
"She might be, but she'll just have to get over it. I'm not leaving you for someone who's black, just to make my mum happy." He backed Seamus up against a tree and leaned in for a kiss. As their lips met, they once again felt the subtle stirring of their magic. It had always been like this, ever since their first kiss. They had realised that there was definitely something more to their relationship than just love, but neither of them quite knew what it was. Dean was positive that they were soul mates, but it was so rare for soul mates to actually meet that very few books had been written on the subject; there was only one book in the Hogwarts library with even a vague reference to the subject.
They ended the kiss and walked toward the house, hand in hand. Dean opened the door and ushered Seamus inside. He was immediately struck by how much this house resembled his own. There were the usual photos, but, like at his home, half of them moved and half of them didn't. Dean took his hand again and walked into the sitting room. A tall lovely women was sitting in an armchair knitting what looked like a baby blanket. She looked up and smiled at her son, but the smile dropped away as she saw his companion. Her eyes darted to their joined hands, to confirm what she suspected. Her lips tightened but quickly moved into a smile that reminded Seamus of Professor McGonagall's smiles, all pinched and uncomfortable looking.
"Dean, introduce me to your...friend." Neither young man missed the pause in between words.
"Seamus, this is my mother Althea Thomas-Brown. Mum, this is Seamus Finnegan, my boyfriend."
Seamus could tell by the frown darkening Mrs. Thomas-Brown's face that she was not pleased to hear about this development in her son's life. She breathed in so quickly and harshly that her nostrils almost pinched closed on their own. This did not bode well.
"Pleased to meet you Mrs. Thomas-Brown. Dean's told me a lot about you." Seamus gave the woman his award-winning impish smile, but it didn't budge the 'Frown of Doom' off of her face.
"Dean, I wish to speak with you...alone." The tone of her voice brooked no argument from her son. Dean took Seamus to the next room which proved to be like an old fashioned ladies' receiving room.
"Wait here, I shouldn't be too long." He leaned down and gave Seamus a quick kiss and then left the room, leaving the door open. Seamus had a very bad feeling about this. Mrs. Thomas-Brown had disliked him on sight, simply because of the colour of his skin; she obviously didn't care to get to know him any better. Seamus began to get a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach.
"Mum, why were you rude to Seamus? He didn't do anything to deserve that."
"You listen to me, young man! This is not acceptable. I will not have my son dating one of them, so you can just tell him to go back to wherever it is that you found him."
"I will not! Seamus is my boyfriend, we've been together for over a year now. I am not going to let you ruin the best thing that's ever happened to me!" Dean was beginning to breathe heavily; he knew that his proclamation by no means ended the subject.
"You are my son and you will listen to me. You are not free to choose anyone you want."
Dean's breathing stilled in his chest. "What do you mean I'm not free to choose? Of course I am! I'm seventeen years old, I'm of age."
"That doesn't matter, you're betrothed to be married."
"Three years ago I arranged a betrothal contract with the mother of a very good pure blood wizard. He's in the same year as you at Hogwarts...his name is Blaise Zabini."
"ZABINI! Mum, he's a Slytherin! You can't be serious." Dean still had yet to resume breathing, there could be no other explanation for the black dots swimming in his vision. This was not happening.
"You know I don't care about the houses at Hogwarts. What matters to me is that he's of good breeding and he's like us."
"You mean he's black! That's what you mean, isn't it? You don't care about me, you don't care about my feelings, all you care about is whether or not the man is black. He could be the nastiest, most abusive person on this side of the ocean and you wouldn't care, as long as he's black!"
"I see that we understand one another."
"No! I will never understand you or this obsession you have with racial purity. I'm not you, I don't live by your standards. I will not marry Blaise Zabini, and that's that!"
"You have no choice. I made sure that the contract cannot be broken by simple unwillingness. There has to be a good reason for the contract to be dissolved; it's a magical contract."
Dean stared at his mother and whispered, "What have you done?"
"You will marry Blaise Zabini and you will give him no reason to break this contract, do you hear me? You will not embarrass me like that. I had to jump through hoops to get this Zabini-Greer-Allingford...whatever her name is...woman to agree to this betrothal. You will marry Blaise Zabini as soon as you have graduated from Hogwarts. This conversation is over!" She went back to her knitting, ignoring the tears streaming down her son's face.
Dean walked back into the next room only to find Seamus sitting on a chair, his head buried in his arms on the table. He knelt on the floor and pulled the unresisting Irishman into his arms. "I take it you heard."
Seamus nodded, but said nothing; he couldn't trust himself to speak without screaming. Dean's arms tightened around him. "Let me get a few things and we'll go back to your house. I'm not staying here anymore." Seamus nodded again.
As soon as Dean left the room, Althea Thomas-Brown swept in. "You will leave my son alone. I don't want you anywhere near him. You will not ruin this for me. I've worked too long and hard to keep my family pure; I will not have someone like you ruin that."
"You mean someone white! Just come out and say it, you don't want me around Dean because I'm white. I thought that racial prejudice was a thing of the past...I guess bigots do still exist."
"Get out of my house! I will not be insulted by you in my own home!" She didn't wait for an answer and stormed out of the room. Dean must have been in the hallway because Seamus heard her speak to him. "Get him out of here! He insulted me in my own home...I won't stand for that!"
"If he insulted you, you probably did something to deserve it. I'm leaving. You won't ever be bothered with my or my boyfriend's presence again."
"Don't you dare do anything to break this contract, do you hear me? I won't have you ruin this family by marrying someone like...like that!"
"I'm going to do everything I have to, to break that contract. I refuse to marry Blaise Zabini, get that through your head."
Dean walked back into the room and pulled Seamus into his arms again. He concentrated and turned them in place. Dean Thomas disapparated out of his mother's home and her life.
Blaise met up with Pansy Parkinson on the platform for the Hogwarts Express. He pulled her to the side and, as gently as he could, explained the situation to her. He hated that he had to be the one to cause her pain. The anguish in her dark eyes cut through him like a knife.
"I'm going to find a way out of this. I will not be marrying any man, let alone Dean Thomas."
"How will you do that? If the contract is magical, it's going to take more than just saying 'I won't'. There has to be a concrete reason why the contract needs to be broken."
"I have an idea, but I want to talk to Thomas first, to make sure that he's thinking like I am. I'm fairly certain that he and Seamus Finnegan are together. I need to speak with him to see if we can come up with a way to nullify the contract."
He saw Thomas and Finnegan walk past them, hands clasped together. "Well, looks like I was right, they are together. Follow me, we're going to speak with them as soon as they find a compartment."
They followed the two young men onto the train and into the compartment they chose. Seamus turned quickly as he heard the door to the compartment close and lock behind the two Slytherins. He and Dean nodded at each other and Seamus cast a silencing spell, so that their conversation wouldn't be overheard.
Blaise decided to start the ball rolling. "I'm going to assume you know what's been arranged between our mothers. I also won't insult your intelligence by trying to explain why this betrothal needs to end. I can see, from your closeness to each other, that you want this betrothal no more than I do. First, I am not gay...second, I am in love with Pansy. While that isn't enough to nullify the contract, it's more than enough reason for me to want to find a way out of it."
Dean nodded. "I agree. Seamus and I have been together for over a year and I love him with everything that's in me. My mother knows nothing about the magical world, she only cares about racial purity."
"Racial purity? She didn't choose well with me then, my father was Caucasian...Italian, but Caucasian nonetheless."
Dean snorted. "Trust my mother to do something like this without doing all the research first. I'm guessing that she saw you and thought 'Well, he's black, he'll do'. Why did your mother agree to the contract if you're not gay? I don't understand that."
"She thought I was, I informed her at the beginning of the summer exactly how wrong she was. We have to find a way out of this mess. Pansy and I are planning on getting married not long after graduation. What about you two?"
Seamus looked at Blaise. "We've been staying at my parents' house since Mrs. Thomas-Brown told Dean about the betrothal. We haven't talked about bonding yet, but we're...well...we think we're..."
"Soul mates." Dean finished the sentence for Seamus and watched as Blaise's eyes widened.
"I'm not coming in between that! We have to find a way to end it; I refuse to mess with a soul bond."
Pansy looked at all three men, studying the expressions on their faces. Blaise was determined that the contract be broken as soon as possible. Dean Thomas' expression said the same. However, the look in Seamus Finnegan's eyes made her want to cry. It was a look of hopelessness, as if he didn't expect anything to work, no matter what they tried. She looked up at Blaise. "We need a copy of the betrothal contract. Since you were students at the time it was drawn up, there should be a copy of it on record at the school. Since you're both seventeen now, either one of you should be able to request to see it."
Blaise nodded, agreeing with her. "I'll go see McGonagall tomorrow to request to see the contract. I'll make two copies of it, one for each of us, so that we can study them and try to find a weakness." Blaise nodded at Dean and Seamus and, taking Pansy's hand, left the compartment. He turned around to say something more, but lost the ability to speak when he looked back into the cabin. Dean had wrapped his arms around Seamus and had sat them both down on a bench. He was holding the shorter man tightly, rocking him back and forth, as Seamus silently cried on his shoulder. He quietly shut the door and put up the locking and silencing spell again. Pansy cast a spell so that no one looking into the compartment could see what was happening inside. She turned to Blaise and wrapped her arms around his waist.
"We have to find a way to end the betrothal; if not for us, then we need to do it for them. This is tearing Finnegan apart. I don't think I've ever seen him cry before."
Blaise shook his head. "I don't think I have either. We'll find a way...we have to."
Blaise spoke with Minerva McGonagall the next morning before breakfast and came away with two copies of the betrothal contract. He found Dean at the Gryffindor table, sitting with his arms around Seamus and Pansy sitting on Seamus' other side, running a gentle hand up and down his arm.
"Got it!" he said quietly as he slid into the seat next to Pansy and handed a copy to Dean. "I gave it a quick glance, but there is something promising on the third page." Both men turned to the third page of the contract and Dean read the paragraph Blaise indicated.
This contract shall be declared null and void should either party, Mr. Blaise Antonio Zabini or Mr. Dean William Thomas, have consensual sexual relations with another party after receiving a copy of this contract. These relations must be witnessed and a pensieve memory provided for the claim of nullification to be valid.
Dean looked at Blaise who stared steadily back at him. "You know what this means, don't you? One of us is going to have to witness the other having sex."
Blaise closed his eyes and nodded. "That's exactly what it means. Is there a way to do this so that no one gets embarrassed?"
"I don't see how. If this is the only way to nullify the contract, then it has to happen. How are we going to do this? If we get caught, we could all be expelled."
Pansy thought for a moment. "There's a spell that allows you to see through a wooden door. We could go to the Come and Go Room and get it to give us another room inside, complete with a wooden door. That way, no one but us would know what's going on."
"The Come and Go Room? What's that?" Seamus was confused, he'd never heard of that room before.
Blaise smiled slightly. "I think that Potter calls it the Room of Requirement."
Seamus' expression cleared immediately. "That's perfect!" He paused for a moment. "But who gets to get caught?"
Pansy straightened her shoulders. "Blaise and I do. I don't know if the two of you have...um...well, if you've..."
Dean shook his head in the negative. "No, we haven't. Are you sure you want it to be you, though?"
Blaise agreed with Pansy. "We've already been together, so it won't be awkward for us. Your first time together should be something to remember, not something to be embarrassed about. When should we do this?"
"Tonight." Pansy grimaced as all three men turned to look at her. "What? Do you really want to drag this out?"
All three shook their heads. No, this wasn't something that could wait. The sooner the contract was voided, the better for all of them.
"Alright then," Pansy started making plans. "Dean, you and Seamus come to the Come and Go Room tonight at 9...Blaise and I will be there at half eight to get everything ready. I'll ward the door so that you two are the only ones allowed inside."
"What about this spell for the door?" Dean still wasn't sure that it would work the way Pansy described it.
"I know the spell, so I'll cast it on the door to the second room. It allows you to see us, but we don't see you." Blaise could see the way Pansy's mind worked and was more than willing to have them be the couple 'getting caught'. When Thomas had told him that he and Finnegan were soul mates, he knew that they couldn't wait for too long to do this. Their bond wouldn't allow them to be separated for any length of time until it had been fully consummated and the betrothal needed to be broken before they could complete their bond.
At 9 that night Seamus and Dean quietly opened the door to the Room of Requirement and quickly shut it behind them; they noticed the the door smoothed over and became part of the wall. Dean took Seamus' hand and led him over to another door, set in a wall in the middle of the room. Looking at the door, they were both astonished to find that they could see straight through the door into the next room.
Blaise and Pansy had already gotten started on what they were planning on doing. Dean could see that they were both completely nude and, in a moment of abstract thought, realized that Pansy Parkinson was really rather pretty...for a woman. They watched as Blaise began to slowly massage her body until her knees didn't seem like they could hold her up any more and she fell back onto the bed.
Dean looked down at Seamus and saw that he looked a little green. "You don't have to watch this, you know; I'm the only one who has to."
"No, it's better if they have the same memory from two different people. That way they can't say that it was faked."
Dean nodded and pulled Seamus closer to him, wrapping his arms around the shorter man. They went back to watching the couple in the other room. Blaise looked like he was enjoying himself (Seamus couldn't figure out why) and he was definitely making Pansy enjoy the whole thing, if the enraptured expression on her face was anything to go by. Things seemed to be heating up between them and Dean was hoping this would be over soon; he really was not enjoying this. Pansy apparently had had enough of the foreplay and wanted to get things moving; she grabbed Blaise's hips and pulled him down on top of her. Dean saw Blaise make a quick movement with his hips and then he began to thrust into the moaning woman.
Blaise could feel that they were being watched and he felt sorry for the two men on the other side of the door. This wasn't anything that either of them wanted to watch, but it was necessary if the betrothal was to be broken. He knew it wasn't going to take him long, and Pansy seemed to already be on edge, so he reached down and touched her where they were joined. He was rewarded with a high-pitched scream as it threw Pansy over the edge; he followed after two more thrusts, joining her in the post-coital bliss.
Dean quickly steered a pale Seamus out of the door of the larger room and into the hallway. The whole episode had taken less than fifteen minutes, and they had to be some of the most traumatic minutes of Seamus' life.
"If I never have to see another naked woman again as long as I live, I'll be happy." He conjured a bucket and emptied his stomach into it; he knew shouldn't have eaten dinner that day. Dean held him as he vomited, guiding him down to his knees, so that he wouldn't fall over. He whispered soft reassurances in Seamus' ear, promising that he would never have to watch anything like that again.
They quietly made their way back to the 8th year common room and up to their dorm. Harry Potter was sitting on his bed with Draco Malfoy, his boyfriend of almost two years, reading aloud stories from The Daily Prophet. He got up to help Dean when he saw the shape Seamus was in. They led him into the bathroom, so that Dean could get him cleaned up. Harry stepped out for a moment and returned with a pair of clean boxers and pyjamas for Seamus before returning to sit on his bed again. Dean was relieved that Harry hadn't asked what was wrong with Seamus...how do you explain something like that?
The next day, Dean and Seamus were summoned into Professor McGonagall's office right after breakfast. As they climbed the steps to the Headmistress' office, they wondered if they had done something wrong or if last night's 'show' had magically voided the contract already. Dean knocked on the door and they were told to enter.
Dean immediately knew it had to deal with the contract. Blaise and Pansy were there, along with a very beautiful dark-skinned woman that Dean assumed was Blaise's mother...the resemblance was obvious. His own mother stood off to the other side of the Headmistress' desk, fuming and ranting silently in her head.
"Mr Thomas...I believe that you are aware of the betrothal contract that existed between Mr. Zabini and yourself. When I arrived at my desk this morning, I found the school's copy of the contract sitting in the exact centre of the desk with the words 'NULL AND VOID' written in red across it. Would anyone in this room care to explain this phenomenon?"
Dean looked at Blaise who nodded back. Blaise spoke, "We were not of the mind to remain betrothed to each other, let alone bond. I am not gay, as I told my mother, I like people of the female persuasion...in particular, Pansy Parkinson. I have asked Pansy to marry me and she has accepted my proposal."
"You can't do that! That contract was a magical contract, there was supposed to be no way to get out of it!" Althea Thomas-Brown was beside herself; all of her carefully made plans, ruined by two stubborn boys. "I made sure that there was nothing in that contract that could be used to void it."
Mrs. Zabini-Greer-Allingford-du Bois-Witherspoon-Smythe cleared her throat delicately. "Actually, if you look on the third page, there is a paragraph that is required in all magical betrothal contracts. It states that if either Blaise or Dean had consensual sexual relations outside of the betrothal, the contract would be voided out. It appears our sons are able to read and they figured this out on their own."
Althea turned to Dean. "You slept with him, didn't you? I told you that I wouldn't have my son date one of them and you went against me! How dare you shame me like this?"
"Actually, Mrs. Thomas-Brown," Dean refused to acknowledge the screaming harridan as his mother, "Seamus and I have not yet been intimate. Blaise and Pansy were the couple in question." He turned to look at Professor McGonagall. "If you need them, Seamus and I both have memories that you may take, so that you may see what we did...in fact, I think we would both be happy if you would take them."
Minerva motioned to them both and they stepped up to her desk. She placed the tip of her wand at Dean's temple and, when he nodded, she pulled the memory out and placed it in her pensieve. After watching it, she moved it to a smaller container. She then did the same for Seamus, who was very relieved to see the memory go. Once she viewed the second memory, she straightened and tried to look stern.
"Well, it would appear that the betrothal contract has truly been nullified." She turned to Blaise and Pansy. "I offer my congratulations to you both." She then turned to Mrs. Thomas-Brown. "Unfortunately, things don't always go as planned."
"How dare you do this to me! How could you do this, knowing how I feel about it? Have you no care for the purity of our race?"
"Mrs. Thomas-Brown?" Blaise's mother stepped toward the angry woman. "If you are only concerned about the purity of the black race, you chose poorly for a betrothed for your eldest child. My son's father may have been Italian, but he was also Caucasian. You never asked if he was black. In fact, all of my husbands have been white. Had you asked, I would have been more than happy to tell you that Blaise was of mixed race."
That seemed to seal it for Althea Thomas-Brown. She stepped closer to her son, invading his personal space. "Fine! This is what you want? Fine! You go ahead and be with your little boyfriend, but you'll get no help from me financially."
"I don't know what you mean, Mrs. Thomas-Brown. When I turned seventeen, I came into my full inheritance. That means that you are dependent on me for your upkeep. If I so choose, I can cut you off without a pence to your name...and there will be nothing you can do about it." Dean knew he was being cruel, but this woman had almost ruined his life; he wasn't going to let her off that easily.
"You can't do that! I'll fight anything you do to keep me from the money your father left when he got himself killed."
"And you'll be paying any fees that I will incur, since you will be the one starting the legal action. There's nothing you can do. I've looked into this over the last year because I had a suspicion that you would do something like this. Since you are married to my siblings' father and he is rather wealthy, he can provide for them, you don't need my money for that. I'm sorry that I'm being this cruel to you, but you had absolutely no qualms about forcing me to do something against my will." Dean reached for Seamus' hand and looked at Professor McGonagall. "I think that this conversation is over. Seamus and I will be in our dorm if you need us. I don't think either one of us is in any shape to make it to class."
She nodded in agreement. "I will inform your teachers that you will not be in class and to make sure to give the work you missed to one of your housemates."
Dean and Seamus turned to leave the Headmistress' office, followed by Blaise and Pansy. They stopped at the bottom of the stairs, listening to Althea scream at the Headmistress and Blaise's mother.
"I'm sorry that your mother is stuck up there with her. She won't stop any time soon; I know from personal experience."
"Not my problem...my mother can take care of herself. How do you think she ended up with six dead husbands and another one prepared to take the plunge any day now? She's more than capable of handling a muggle woman." He thought for a moment. "How can your mother see this castle?"
"She's a squib. She doesn't know it, but she is; she can also see the Leaky Cauldron and the stores in Diagon Alley. She wouldn't admit it, though, if you told her. I don't think she ever accepted my father being a wizard; she always talked about him as if he was rubbish under her feet."
Blaise threw an arm around his shoulders and one around Seamus' at the same time. "Well, I think that my mother will be more than happy to show her the error of her ways. What are you two going to do now?"
Seamus looked at Dean and then back at Blaise. "Don't know yet. I want to look more into the soul bonds, but there aren't many books written about it. Seems to be kind of hard to find your soul mate, so reliable material is hard to come by." His words trailed off as Dean's mother stepped out of the stairwell into the hallway. She was followed by Professor McGonagall and Blaise's mother, both of whom had their wands out, ready to hex the woman.
"Mr. Thomas, I think it might be best if you and Mr. Finnegan were to go back to your dorm now. I will escort your mother off of the school grounds. She arrived by muggle methods, she can leave the same way."
Dean Thomas watched as the woman who had given him life was escorted away from him. He instinctively knew he'd never see her again.
Three years had passed since the end of their 8th, and final, year at Hogwarts. Blaise and Pansy had married two months after graduation and had a beautiful baby girl, born just two months prior. Harry and Draco had bonded six months after that and had moved to Hogsmeade to make it easier for them to teach at Hogwarts. Draco was expecting their first child in about a month and he was making everyone's lives miserable.
Dean and Seamus had finally finished their research into soul bonds and were planning a simple bonding ceremony to take place right before the next term started at Hogwarts. Dean was apprenticed to Flitwick and would be the next Charms professor when that worthy retired in two years. Seamus had been asked to teach Muggle Studies, since he was a half-blood and had lived some of his life in the muggle world.
Dean hadn't heard from his mother since the day she had been escorted out of Hogwarts at wand point by Minerva McGonagall. His siblings had all received their Hogwarts letters and were happily attending the school where their brother and his fiancé taught.
If you had asked Dean, just four years ago, how his life would be after graduating, he wouldn't have been able to give you a firm answer. Four years ago his mother had tried her hardest to turn his life upside down, almost forcing him into a marriage based on her beliefs of racial purity. Between himself, Seamus, Blaise and Pansy, however, they hadn't let her pass her outdated beliefs onto any other members of that family. His brothers and sisters would be free to make their own choices and to live their lives as happily as Dean was living his.