Banking on Her
Disclaimer: Since I'm not the owner of these characters, I may do things with them that you don't like or agree with. Sorry in advance but that's the nature of fan fiction. To do otherwise kind of defeats the purpose of fan fiction, and copying JKR word for word would certainly see a lawsuit heading in my direction.
It wasn't really true to say Harry had woken early, he hadn't really slept last night. The last couple of days could be considered the calm before the storm, and Harry didn't need a BBC weather man to tell him the storm would hit today. With Hermione's hands now healed and his detention served, they had managed to keep a fairly low profile for the remaining few days of term. Well, low profile for them.
That they were a couple was now known by everyone in the castle, it also appeared to be common knowledge that Hermione was going home for Christmas while her new boyfriend wasn't. Harry had definitely noticed the girls circling him in the last few days. It was as if they were a pack of wolves, waiting to pounce on the unprotected lamb when the shepherd wasn't watching. There were going to be a lot of upset and disappointed people when Harry got on that train this morning.
They had been given a reprieve from the Weasley situation, thanks mainly to Neville. The shy lad asking Ginny to the ball had certainly focused Ron's anger at a different target. Neville appeared ready to stand up for himself but Ginny had placed her petite body like a shield between her ball date and her brother. The house got to see just how the Weasley family operated with the resulting stramash requiring McGonagall to enter the Gryffindor common room to split them up. Their head of house appeared surprised that Harry and Hermione were sitting in a corner and playing no part in the altercation. McGonagall would certainly have all the altercation she could handle today.
They had deliberately not mentioned having written permission to go home and hoped to get out the castle without anyone being any the wiser. Neither of them thought there was a snowball's chance in hell of that happening. Harry had slept in tee and boxers, allowing him to pack his trunk last night. His travelling clothes were laid out as he headed for the shower.
Ron woke to Harry putting on his cloak and levitating his trunk toward the door. "You really are leaving for Christmas?'
"Yeah, just need to get away from the madness for a while. I left you a present on my bed. My dress robes may be a bit tight on you but they should be better than the frilly things you've got stashed in the bottom of your trunk. Have a Merry Christmas and I'll see you when we get back."
Ron lay there and wondered about the boy who was Harry Potter. On some level Ron understood he'd been a jealous git this year, to both Harry and Hermione, yet here was Harry saving him the embarrassment of having to wear the abominations that his mother had sent him to Hogwarts with. That his parents managed to find enough money for Ginny to have a new dress just rubbed salt into Ron's poverty wound. Now that he had the proper robes he just needed the right girl on his arm. He shuddered at the thought of Eloise Midgen perhaps being the only available girl left to ask. With Harry now leaving, the girls who had been holding out hoping he would then ask them now needed a date. Ron Weasley might just get lucky.
Hermione was of course waiting on Harry at the bottom of the stairs, a kiss in greeting and they were ready to go. Everything that needed to be said had been covered over the last couple of days. Taking a few deep breaths, they were ready to face the music.
The couple thought they just might have gotten a break when spotting that it was Professor Flitwick in charge of those leaving the castle, they should have known they couldn't be that lucky.
"Mr Potter, your name is not on the list of those going home for the holidays."
"Well sir, this is certainly something I put my name down for. Half my house saw me doing it."
"I understand the headmaster had a talk with you and managed to change your mind?"
Harry fought to keep his temper at the lying old bastard's antics. "No sir, he certainly did not change my mind. He barred me from leaving unless I had a signed note from my guardians. As you can see, I have such a note."
The little charms professor cast a spell at the note which then glowed green for a few seconds, confirming its authenticity. "Why did the headmaster try to stop you from going home for the holidays?"
"Sir, who knows why the headmaster does anything, he certainly didn't give me any reason."
Both could see the confusion on the likeable little professor's face. "What did Professor McGonagall have to say about that?"
"Have you ever known Professor McGonagall to go against what the headmaster wants sir? One of the disadvantages of being sorted into Gryffindor, and you're stuck there for seven years."
As far as Filius could see, Albus had no right to stop the lad going home to spend Christmas with his family. Especially since Mr Potter had their express written permission. More importantly though, Filius had no right to stop the boy boarding the carriage for home. He took a careful note that Mr Potter had now left the castle and waved them on.
Harry and Hermione waited until the express was actually pulling out of Hogsmead before relaxing, he actually pulled Hermione into a celebratory kiss. "You are just the most wonderful person it has ever been my pleasure to meet, thank you."
"Don't thank me yet, we've still to eat breakfast." Hermione produced bacon sandwiches, wrapped in napkins, that she'd grabbed that morning from the great hall. "I know we decided to stay away from breakfast this morning but everyone knew I was leaving anyway. This should keep us going until the trolley lady arrives."
Harry had no words left to show his gratitude, he just kissed his girlfriend again before they both tucked in to a belated breakfast. Due to the ball, the number of students on the train from fourth year or over could be counted in single digits. As none of the younger students had the nerve to approach Harry Potter or Hermione Granger, the couple spent a peaceful train ride down to London.
Peaceful was not a word that could be used to describe the staff table that morning, the great Albus Dumbledore was in an absolute rage. With it being a Saturday, and the first day of the holidays, most people had chosen to leave it as late as possible before coming down to breakfast. The hall was pretty full when the headmaster began shouting at the Head of Ravenclaw house.
"Why did you let him leave the castle? His name was most definitely not on the list of those going home?"
The diminutive charms master was giving as good as he got though. "Mr Potter claimed that he put his name on the list and certainly never changed his mind about wanting to leave the castle for the holidays."
Albus was about to jump back in when Filius stomped all over any argument. "The lad also told me you barred him from going home, unless he had a signed note from his guardians." He let that piece of news filter through the hall before delivering the coup de grace.
"Mr Potter had such a note. The student clearly wanted to go home for the holidays and had express written permission allowing him to so. The Hogwarts charter is very clear on this matter headmaster, there were no grounds for denying Mr Potter his wishes."
"You should have sent for me..."
Filius was having none of it. "I have been a professor at Hogwarts for over two decades, I think I know how to handle something as simple as a student going home for the holidays. That is unless there is some different criteria that applies to Mr Potter?"
"As Mr Potter is not a member of your house, you should have contacted Minerva or myself to sort out any discrepancies."
"The only discrepancy I could see was Mr Potter doing what he was entitled to do, rather than what you had planned for him." Filius then directed his ire at Minerva. "This is your student he's trying to control, are you just going to sit there and let Mr Potter's rights be ignored again? Is it any wonder why both he and Miss Granger regret being sorted into Gryffindor when their Head of House just sits back and let's these two do whatever they want to the children in your supposed care?"
With Minerva and Severus now drawn into the argument, Pomona erected silencing wards.
This was a certain student's cue to head for the owlery. It had been spread all over the castle that Harry Potter would be in Hogwarts over Christmas and was looking forward to the ball. Susan Bones couldn't help but think there were some very big lies being told here. The fact that Harry was on the train out of Scotland pointed the finger a lot nearer to home. Her Aunt Amelia had asked her some pertinent questions in her latest letter, leading Susan to believe Harry had carried out his threat to contact the DMLE. She was certain auntie would want to hear about this latest fiasco.
The young couple had their trunks loaded onto a trolley with their familiars in their respective cages perched on top of them. Harry was trying to psych himself up for the meeting that was about to take place. Facing his girlfriend's parents was always going to be daunting without Hermione's betrothal idea being flung in there as well.
All thoughts of the senior Grangers flew out the window when they spied who was marching down the platform toward them, Albus Dumbledore.
"Mr Potter, I thought I made my feelings on you leaving the castle quite plain?"
"Yes sir you did, and I did exactly what you said I needed to. I have written permission from my aunt and uncle to leave Hogwarts for Christmas."
"You should have brought that permission to me, and we could have discussed it."
"I wasn't told I needed to bring my permission to you and there was nothing to discuss. I wanted to leave the castle and have permission from my guardians to do so. You said you would honour that, or is this another one of those cases where you say one thing and do something else?"
"Mr Potter, this continuing bad attitude is the reason you were being confined to the castle. Since your attitude hasn't changed..."
"This isn't Hogwarts Albus, just what are you trying to pull here?"
Albus spun around to see Amelia Bones standing there. "I might ask you the same question Amelia. Since Susan is staying in Hogwarts, I have to wonder what you are doing here?"
"Simple Albus, Mr Potter wrote to me looking for justice. Apparently he can't find any at Hogwarts, I'm beginning to see his point from your actions here." She then addressed herself to the two teens. "Mr Potter, I am Madam Bones, head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. Could you tell me what the problem appears to be here?"
Albus attempted to interrupt but all three ignored him. There were also parents and students on the platform who were now watching the confrontation with great interest.
"The headmaster barred me from leaving Hogwarts unless I had written permission from my guardians. I have that permission and now he's about to change the rules again."
"Can I see this note Mr Potter?" Harry handed it over and again it glowed green when the authenticity spell was cast on it.
"This all looks above board to me Albus, what is your problem here?"
"I can't believe his relatives would actually give him permission..."
Harry jumped right in. "Which is why he set that condition in the first place."
Hermione holding his arm was the only thing stopping him completely losing his temper, Harry was really sick of one Albus Dumbledore.
His girlfriend tried to help him out. "Madam Bones, my parents actually visited Harry's relatives and got their permission. They're waiting for us outside the barrier and will confirm the note is genuine."
Dumbledore's eyes were twinkling as he offered a suggestion. "Would you care to go and collect them Miss Granger?"
Hermione screamed 'no' at Dumbledore while holding tighter onto Harry's arm. Amelia was surprised at this reaction and asked the clearly upset girl for an explanation.
"If I go through that barrier, the chances of Harry still being here when I come back with my parents are nil. He would whisk Harry off to Hogwarts in a second, the headmaster just does what he wants and gets away with it."
Amelia didn't try too hard to hide her smile. "It would seem you inspire trust in your students Albus. Tonks, Miss Granger if you could describe your parents to my auror, she'll go and fetch them for us."
Hermione quickly filled the young auror in on what she would be looking for. "My dad is six foot two, well built, short dark hair and wears gold framed glasses. My mum looks quite like an older version of me."
The pink haired auror soon returned with the Granger parents in tow.
Emma raced over to embrace Hermione, it was her only choice as her daughter still refused to release her grip on Harry's arm. Dan of course noticed this but had more important things to deal with at the moment.
"Can I ask why the law is interested in my daughter?"
Amelia identified herself before offering an explanation. "Mr Granger, I was contacted over some allegations printed about your daughter in a magazine."
Both parents were now looking at their daughter for confirmation that this was true, they were amazed at the reason given.
"A boy asked me to the ball, I said no. Next thing I know there's an article in a magazine saying I'm using love potions to get boys interested in me."
Amelia filled in the blanks for the confused muggle parents. "What your daughter is omitting is that the boy in question is a famous sportsman. When you combine that fact with her boyfriend being probably the most famous wizard in the country, I think jealousy reared its ugly head amongst her peers."
Hermione attempted to divert her dad from the 'boyfriend' comment, she wasn't sure if her mum had broke that news to him yet. "Dad, the headmaster here is doubting the permission you got from the Dursleys."
Dan's attention was now focused on the headmaster, in all honesty it was hard not to with those ridiculous robes. Deep purple with silver stars and moons that actually moved, drag queens would probably fight over them. "My wife and I were there when both Vernon and Petunia Dursley signed their permission, I hope you are not calling our honesty into question? I can easily call them on my cell phone and they can confirm this for you, I really don't see what the problem is here headmaster?"
The emphasis Dan put on the word headmaster was deliberate, he wanted to know what business the headmaster of a school had following the kids five hundred miles because one of them wanted to go home for Christmas.
"I was unaware Harry would not be staying with his relatives, I can't allow that. It is much too dangerous so he will have to return to Hogwarts with me."
That was it for Harry, his temper snapped and his voice was loud.
"Too dangerous? I'll bet I don't get attacked by trolls, basilisks, Dementors or Voldemort at the Grangers. I've almost been killed so many times in that nuthouse you call a school that I've lost count, and what have you done about it? Handed out some house points! Madam Bones, can he legally stop me from spending Christmas with Hermione?"
"No Mr Potter he can't, he doesn't have the authority."
"That's never bothered him before madam, I'm not supposed to be in this tournament either but the headmaster said I must take part. The rules don't seem to matter when my name is concerned."
Amelia could see Harry's point, she wouldn't put it past Albus to turn up at the Grangers and take him back to Hogwarts. The old man hated not to get his own way. "Mr and Mrs Granger, the headmaster has a valid point. Would you have room for one of my aurors to stay with you to provide security for the holidays?"
By the smirk on the monocle wearing woman's face, and the look of fury now on the headmaster's, both Granger parents cottoned on to what Madam Bones was really offering. Protection from the old man.
"That would be fine, did you have anyone in mind?"
"Auror Tonks here is well versed in both worlds and has the unique ability to blend in wherever she goes. Mr Potter, I think we should hold our other talk later, there's been enough of a free show here today. Tonks, your assignment until the holidays are over is to protect Mr Potter. The usual rules apply."
Dan just had to ask. "What are the usual rules Madam Bones?"
"Oh an auror on protection detail has to hold anything they hear or see in confidence. She can't run telling tales to me or anyone else."
Both Granger girls recognised the smirk on Dan's face, someone was going to be in trouble. "Just how far do these protection duties go? I mean will they stop his girlfriend's father from having a 'chat' with him?"
"Mr Granger, my Susan is the same age as these two. I can assure you it would take more than an auror guard to stop me having a few words with any boyfriend."
Dan's rendition of 'excellent' reminded both his girls of his favorite cartoon show.
Dumbledore left in a strop and Amelia made arrangements to stop by later that evening, this would also allow Tonks to go home and pack some stuff. The five easily slotted into the Granger Range Rover after loading the luggage and animals, it was then Hermione had to put phase one of their operation into play. Both she and Harry had relaxed after hearing about the confidentiality clause, some of the things Tonks was going to hear could turn her pink hair white.
"Dad, could we stop by Diagon Alley? Harry needs to get some business done at Gringotts."
"Sure petal, does your boyfriend need to take some money out to buy his girlfriend a Christmas present?"
His emphasis on boyfriend and girlfriend saw Emma take action. "Dan Granger, you will behave yourself. These two have only been together a few days and I'm sure Harry knows he doesn't have to buy Hermione's affection."
For some reason this started Tonks off laughing. Discovering the rest of the car's occupants were now staring at her saw the young auror explain. "Sorry everyone but I just watched Harry Potter stand toe to toe with the most powerful wizard in the country without blinking. His girlfriend's father though has him flinching in the backseat of the car."
The stares continued until the auror was heard to mutter. "Well, I thought it was funny."
Harry had to admit he liked having an auror guard, they were straight through the Leaky Cauldron and made it inside Gringotts without anyone bothering them. Now for the hard part.
Harry approached the nearest available teller for assistance. "Excuse me, my name is Harry Potter and I need to access my vault."
"I don't have it."
"I don't have it, actually I've never had it. Molly Weasley usually does my Hogwarts shopping for me."
"No one but the owner of the vault should ever be in possession of the key. We will have to verify who you are and forge a new key, the cost of which will be met by you. Follow me."
Harry looked toward the people with him and the goblin answered his non verbal question. "They may accompany you, if you trust them?"
Harry held out his hand for Hermione and the other three just followed on.
They were led along some winding corridors until they reached a large stone door. The goblin ran his finger down it to allow them entrance into what could loosely be described as an office. It actually was more cave-like than anything else and was probably hewn out of the solid rock that made up its walls, floor and ceiling. The desk that the room held was also made of stone, stone polished to such a degree that it reflected the light coming off the flaming torches attached to the wall.
Both Granger parents could imagine this as some movie horror set, especially the creature behind the desk. The goblin that had led them here spoke in their own language to the creature who was obviously his superior before retreating and standing guard at the door.
The goblin then looked at Harry like something on his dinner plate he didn't like. "It was very foolish of you Mr Potter to let someone else have access to your vault, I need a sample of your blood to issue a new key and tie your vault to you." A wicked looking dagger was then placed on the table, next to a small stone bowl. "A cut on your finger should be sufficient, we only need a few drops."
After Harry cut his thumb and held it over the bowl, a red mist started to appear as the droplets fell. In moments, the mist had dispersed and there was a new golden key at the bottom of the bowl.
"Great, now how do I get all my gold out of there and transferred into muggle money? I need to close my account."
This certainly got the goblin's attention. "May I be allowed to ask why you are closing your Gringotts account? You do realise that you can only close your trust account at the moment?"
"My trust account? I thought I only had one account?"
"There is your parents' vault, which you will be able to access when you are seventeen. There is also the Potter family vault which you won't have access to until you're twenty-three, you also then become Lord Potter."
Harry and Hermione shared a glance, this was something they hadn't factored into their plan. "Can you give me some idea of the amount of money we are talking about here?"
"Not without carrying out an audit and those vaults are sealed until you reach the required age. What I will say is that the Potters are one of the oldest and wealthiest families in Britain. Your current vault is a trust vault and contains a fraction of what is held in the other two."
Harry now had an ominous feeling."What happens to those vaults if I'm not able to claim them?"
"Without a will saying otherwise, the ministry would probably claim the vast majority of the gold and heirlooms in both vaults?"
Harry was trying to think on his feet, not easy with both Hermione's parents and an auror watching his every move. "Can I make a will, even though I'm not seventeen?"
"If you are over the age of eleven and have a Gringotts vault you can legally make a will."
"Could you help me draw one up?"
"Mr Potter, Gringotts are currently charging you for my time. How you choose to use that time is up to you. Writing a will is certainly well within my capabilities."
Harry didn't even have to think about the next bit. "It shouldn't take long. Ronald Weasley gets my Firebolt and Hermione Granger gets everything else."
"What, you want my Firebolt?"
"I don't want your Firebolt, or your money. I just want you."
"And I don't want anyone but you getting their hands on it, you know I have to do this?"
All the adults in the room could tell that there were things that weren't being said here. It was the goblin though that offered advice first.
"Perhaps if you were to tell me your concerns, I could best advise you. After all, that is what you are currently paying me for and my services don't come cheap."
Harry made up his mind. "Auror Tonks, we're going to need that confidentiality clause, this can't be repeated. I am currently entered in a tournament where I will lose my magic if I don't compete. I have no intention of competing in the next task and am trying to make sure I can still get the inheritance my parents left me."
Tonks was too shocked at that revelation to even think about making a comment while the Granger parents were more concerned with Hermione's reaction to the news. She clearly knew what Harry was up to and cuddled into her boyfriend offering support. The goblin also noticed Hermione's reaction, which sent his thoughts off in a different direction.
"Having a will in place now would leave those vaults locked down until you have a magical child reaching the appropriate age. A far safer option would be to become betrothed to a witch, but it must be done before you lose your magic."
Dan's mind had leapt ahead to see where this discussion was leading. "No bloody way, she's only fifteen!"
"Don't even think of starting dad-ing me Hermione. I'm beginning to think this entire situation is a set-up, over money too?"
Harry found his arms slipping around an upset Hermione as he squared up to her father. "How could this be a set-up about money since we didn't know anything about it until just a minute ago?"
The last thing Hermione wanted was her dad and Harry getting into an argument. That situation would have the potential to go wrong so quickly, and her boyfriend could be spending Christmas in the Leaky Cauldron. "Dad, what did Professor McGonagall say would happen if I didn't want to learn magic and left Hogwarts?"
Emma had seen how protective Harry was of their daughter and also had her hand on Dan's shoulder, recognising that neither of these two would give an inch where Hermione's welfare was concerned. "Are you saying they would wipe Harry's memories?"
She had tears in her eyes as she nodded in reply, her answer came straight from the heart. "Harry's been my best friend for years, for him to not remember anything about me..."
Hermione couldn't finish what she was trying to say, bursting into tears and snuggling into Harry meant everyone there got the gist of it.
Dan though was not so easily deflected. "We were only going to have our memories wiped because your parents weren't magical, Harry's were."
Tonks had finally got her shit together and could see this was something these two had put a lot of thought into, she decided to offer her opinion. "You may not know this but Harry Potter is an icon in our world, idolised by many and respected by all. For him to deliberately give up his magic would see a backlash like never before. To be perfectly honest, being betrothed to a muggleborn witch might not be enough to stop the ministry taking extreme action. They might just blame Hermione for it, led by what passes for press in our society."
"Well that kills that idea stone dead..."
Hermione spun around in his arms to face her boyfriend. "Harry James Potter, don't you bloody dare. You know Skeeter would try and blame me anyway, a betrothal ring might be the only thing that saves me. Either way, the ministry could still obliviate the shit out of both of us. I can live with that. At least I would have done my best to save you, to save us."
It was Tonks who asked the question they all wanted to know the answer to. "Why would you deliberately want to lose your magic Harry?"
Harry appeared to be having a private conversation with Hermione, one that didn't require any words. They were staring into each other's eyes from a distance measured in inches. It ended when Harry's shoulders slightly sagged and Hermione gave a weak smile. They rejoined the outside world when Harry replied to Tonks' question.
"You all saw Dumbledore today, the man likes to control my life. Since starting Hogwarts I have almost been killed at least once every single year. Looking back, some of it now feels like a set-up. The information we needed would suddenly become available, that kind of thing. I see myself leaving Hogwarts one of two ways, using this method or in a wooden box. Dumbledore would never let me go if he had any other option, and I know which way I prefer."
The goblin had been silent throughout this discussion but now decided to speak. "I fear that the auror may be right, in that it would be a massive shock for the boy-who-lived to deliberately walk away from magic. I still think that a betrothal is the best way to safeguard them both. The betrothal contract would need to be ironclad, but then they would have the law on their side. Goblin law would certainly support them, stopping any and all attempts to access the Potter vaults from anyone other than these two."
Harry spoke directly to Dan. "Sir, we've only just met and I can understand you being set against this. We have until the middle of February so no decisions need to be made today. Can we at least agree to try and get to know each other? If not, I can get a room at the Leaky Cauldron..."
"You will do no such thing young man. We will be spending Christmas together, that's non-negotiable. Anything else can be dealt with on a 'wait and see' basis."
Her mother's intervention actually brought a slight smile to Hermione's lips. Harry was used to listening to a Granger female giving him good advice so nodded his acceptance. Dan wasn't stupid enough to go against his wife when she used that tone of voice. Tonks' orders were clear, wherever Harry Potter went the young auror followed.
With the initial crisis over, the goblin got back down to business. He wrote something on what appeared to be part of his desk and seconds later it slid back to reveal an opening. Two ring boxes and a roll of parchment were inside. "Each old family has its own betrothal contracts and rings. Once the family magic accepts this, the ministry won't be able to intervene without seriously breaching its own laws. The other old families won't stand for that, fearing they could be next to have wizarding law changed on them."
"Will the contract accept my godfather's signature to speak for my family?"
"Since your godfather didn't commit the crimes he was accused of, your family magic should have no problem with that. We at Gringotts are aware a certain wizard is not deceased."
This was throwing up more questions than answers, especially for Tonks, but Harry had one more request. He removed the large piece of beaten gold from his bag and sat it on the desk. "Would it be possible to sell this and convert the proceeds into muggle money?"
Dan didn't know what to make of the lad who was leaving the goblin bank with eighteen thousand pounds in his pockets and their daughter holding his hand. Harry had decided to leave what was effectively his trust vault alone for now, though did insist on completing a will. A will that saw all his possessions, except for his broomstick, going to Hermione should anything happen to him. They'd already known this holiday would be different, Hermione had never brought anyone home before. Now she had a boyfriend, a bodyguard and a possible betrothal, yes this holiday would certainly be different.
A quick stop in the bookstore, where books that mentioned betrothals were top of the shopping list. They also searched for anything on magical contracts and wizarding law in general. Having a law officer stay with them would certainly help with any research they wanted to do. Having the head of the law department stopping by later was also a bonus though they would need to talk about how much they wanted her to know. Madam Bones had given the impression of a woman who missed nothing, and she wasn't under any confidentiality agreement.
Albus returned to the castle with his tail between his legs, and more importantly without Harry Potter. Minerva and Severus were soon summoned to his office.
"What happened? Where is he?"
"Mr Potter is spending the holidays with Miss Granger and her parents." Albus had expected an explosion when he answered his potion master's question, he wasn't disappointed.
"What? And you let that happen? How are we expected to get him interested in another girl after he stays there for a couple of weeks? There won't be enough time for it not to stick out like a sore thumb. People will notice, especially after love potions have already been mentioned."
"You think I don't know that? Amelia Bones was on the platform, he'd contacted her over the Witch Weekly story. Harry has publicly acknowledged Miss Granger as his girlfriend, that pretty much ends our other girl ploy."
"Surely you can just take him from the muggles in a day or two?"
"Amelia also thought of that. When I expressed concern over his safety, she consigned an auror guard for the duration of the holidays."
Minerva was deep in thought, the comments from Filius earlier had really gotten under her skin. She took her time before adding anything to the conversation. "Perhaps this is for the best, I was never really comfortable with the methods you were proposing to use."
The sarcasm in Snape's reply was as sharp as any potions knife. "Oh I'm so pleased for you. Do you have anything constructive to bring to this situation?"
Minerva's hard gaze took some of the strop out of Severus. "Actually I do. I think the best course of action would be for me to approach Miss Granger with my suspicions of what Harry is planning to do. The girl won't help for the good of Hogwarts or Gryffindor but she will do anything for Mr Potter. The feeling is reciprocated so we have to use that to our advantage."
Her suggestion was met with stunned silence so Minerva continued, basically thinking out loud. "Miss Granger has few friends and her new relationship is sure to strain the one with Mr Weasley. She's only half way through her time here and I'm sure she won't be looking forward to spending the next three and a half years in Hogwarts without Mr Potter. There is also the ministry's reaction to take into consideration."
Albus was thinking Minerva might have hit on something. Not that he believed Miss Granger would be able to convince Harry to do what was needed by telling her the truth. No, Albus thought he would end up having to use Harry's feelings for the young lady against him. He was quite prepared to allow Minerva to make her attempt first. Then, when it failed, she was less likely to oppose his methods, whatever those methods needed to be. At least the auror guard would ensure he was put back on the express at the end of the holidays.
Dan and Emma were lying in bed reflecting on one hell of a strange day. When they saw a copy of the magizine both parents were outraged at the treatment of their daughter, hearing the actions Harry had taken won the young man Granger bonus points. Amelia pointed out that Rita could easily put all the blame onto the Parkinson girl, the article was certainly written that way on purpose. With the results of the potion scans and Hermione getting injured, Amelia was sure she could get them to print an apology. When asked if Harry would consent to an interview over the matter he immediately refused.
"Skeeter just made up what she wanted the last time I was forced to give an interview, she would just do the same again."
Harry had thanked Madam Bones for providing an auror guard but was concerned Tonks would be missing out on Christmas with her family. Amelia had just laughed before explaining the situation to everyone there.
"Tonks is one of the youngest aurors in my department, that means she would usually draw the worst duties over the holiday. I can assure you she will be delighted to spend the holidays guarding this family, rather than patrolling Diagonal Alley on Christmas Day."
Both parents had been impressed with Harry's thoughtful acts since they met him though Dan still intended to have a private word with his daughter's boyfriend tomorrow. They had been greatly relieved though on reading what a betrothal contract actually was.
They had read about the old families sometimes having penalty clauses written to them, amongst other barbaric things. The Potter one was nothing like that. Hermione or Harry could walk away from the contract if they so desired, and they weren't allowed to marry until they had reached their majority. From what they could see, this appeared nothing more than a legal contract that offered their daughter and Harry some protection. It would also make their daughter very happy. Neither Dan nor Emma were anywhere near agreeing to this, both though had moved away from the position of a definite no. They would just have to see what the rest of the holidays brought, Dan also intended to ensure he got to see what this young man who dared date his daughter was made of.
The also supported Hermione's determination to try and find another way for Harry, one that didn't involve him losing his magic. They could see their daughter was very happy with her boyfriend but both parents doubted any teenage relationship could survive what was potentially coming their way. With Hermione in Hogwarts and Harry attending ordinary school, this would put a far greater strain on them than they thought. The fact that Hermione would still be a witch while Harry could no longer do magic would also pile on additional stress.
Emma had asked Tonks the question that really made them feel awkward over the entire situation. "What will happen if Harry gives up his magic and then, somewhere down the line, the two split?"
"Harry would be stripped of his protection, having no magic would prevent another betrothal contract being set up. The ministry or Dumbledore could basically do what they liked."
Dan and Emma, like parents the world over, wanted what was best for their child. Here Hermione could potentially be put in a situation where Harry was banking on her to stay in a relationship no matter what. That was a large responsibility to place on her young shoulders. Both genuinly thought they would like Harry the more they got to know the lad but he was Hermione's first boyfriend and they were already talking about making a rather large commitment.
They would just have to follow the policy Emma suggested earlier and play the 'wait and see' game while monitoring the situation closely. This was certainly shaping up to be quite the Christmas.
A/N Thanks for reading