It was the day of her sixteenth birthday that the letter arrived. The letter that would redefine her life from that day onward.
Susan Bones was an athletically built busty redhead with piercing blue eyes and an easy smile. She was about average height, though if you asked her, she'd tell you she was short. Her skin was the color of rich cream, though she didn't have the freckles typical of most redheads, save for a few on her petite nose.
She was only a few days removed from the end of her fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and quite happy to be home. It had been her most difficult year so far, owing to the fact that it had been her OWL year, and on top of that, she and the rest of the school had been stuck with a Defense teacher who had refused to teach them any spells at all. If it hadn't been for the secret Defense club, Susan and many others would have outright failed the subject.
Hardest of all had been working all year to let the boy of her dreams know that she was interested in him. Zacharias Smith had become much better looking over the year, but on top of that, he'd become less obnoxious. She'd spent all year flirting, and giving signs that she wanted to date him, only to suffer the heartache of seeing him start dating someone else.
But the year hadn't been all bad. A couple of the highlights revolved around that absolutely amazing game of truth or dare near the Easter holiday. She had gotten to kiss Zach. Really kiss him. Sure it had been on a dare from Hannah, but her best friend was just trying to help the two get together. Ok, sure, she'd had to endure Ernie groping her chest, and she'd had to let Thomas Summers spank her bottom. But Hannah grabbed her boobs all the time in the dorm, and Sally Anne constantly slapped all the girls on their bottoms. It really hadn't been all that different. Ok, Ernie wasn't as gentle as Hannah, which was saying something as Hannah always just grabbed a handful when she could.
Susan and Hannah had agreed on the train ride home that it had been a rather sexually charged year in Hufflepuff house. At least with the fifth, sixth and seventh years, anyway. Both also agreed they were anxious to see how things developed over the next two years.
Susan was remembering what it was like to kiss Zach as she lay out in the warm morning sunshine, lounging in her favorite pale blue bikini. She'd been banished from the house for the day while her Aunt Amelia prepared for the party that evening. Her aunt was the head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, and given what had happened in the Ministry just a few weeks ago, Susan was shocked, and eternally grateful that her Aunt was putting her first. Amelia Bones was a very strong, capable witch, and with the terrorist known to the world as He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, or Lord Voldemort, if you were extremely brave, back to wage war on society, Susan couldn't help but feel simultaneously joyful, and scared. But Auntie Amelia would hear none of it.
"You're going to be sixteen, and that's something very special. The world can manage without my assistance for one day." She had said over breakfast, right before she had banished her niece out of the house.
Susan was really looking forward to her birthday party. Hannah would be arriving in just a few hours, and would be staying for a few weeks before both girls went to Hannah's house. Some of her Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw friends were coming, and Neville Longbottom, who Hannah had begun to fancy. Susan didn't see it, but Hannah swore there was a Neville that girls were going to be lining up to be with very soon, and she wanted to be first in line.
Zach was going to be there, though he said he was bringing his girlfriend. Susan wasn't too happy about this. It wasn't that she hated the girl, only the fact that she had turned Zach's head. Although, when she thought about it, which she hated to do. Zach was likely better matched to his girlfriend than she would have been . It didn't help, but Susan never liked lying to herself.
Susan was replaying the night when Hannah had dared Zach to "Really snog her socks off", when the large tawny owl landed on the table beside her lounge chair, spilling her iced tea all over the place.
"Oh for the love of Morgana." Susan muttered. The owl simply held out it's leg so she could remove the letter. As soon as it was relieved of it's burden, the owl took flight once again. Susan shook her head in annoyance as she broke the seal on the official looking letter.
She had to read it three times to make sure she was reading it all correctly. After the third read, she could feel all the warmth in her body drain away as the cold grip of terror tightened around heart.
"It's a joke." She whispered. "It's a really bad joke. No one does this anymore. This can't be real."
She flipped the letter over, trying to find where it said "Ha ha!" but there was nothing, only the Gringott's seal. Susan quickly got to her feet and padded into the house where she found her Aunt sitting in the dining room going over some paper work. Amelia looked up at the sound of bare feet slapping hard against the tile floor.
"Susan, 1 thought I told you..."
"Look at this!" Susan said slapping the letter on the table in front of her aunt. "It's a joke right? Someone's trying to pull a prank on me?"
Amelia picked up the letter looking at her niece's expression of horror and read the letter thoroughly, before she too flipped it over looking for the post script identifying it as a practical joke. Amelia even took out her wand and did a few revealing spells on it.
"So, it's a prank right?" Susan asked, fear evident in her voice. Her arms were wrapped around herself, trying to ward off a nonexistent chill.
"When did this arrive?" Amelia asked with concern.
"Just a moment or two ago. I read it before I brought it to you." Susan said, hoping her Aunt would tell her everything was alright. The grim look on Amelia's face did nothing but make Susan even more frightened.
Amelia got up from her chair and grabbed a light traveling cloak.
"I will be back as soon as I can. You are to remain here, but you are not allowed in the kitchen. Emy will bring you lunch. I expect Hannah will be over shortly. You two can stay outside, or in your room. Do not mention this letter to anyone, including Hannah until I return, am I understood?"
"Yes Auntie. But can you tell me what's going on?" Susan asked hopefully.
"That's what I'm going to find out." Amelia said, stepping into the fireplace. In a flash of green flame. Amelia Bones vanished, leaving a very disturbed Susan behind.
Susan wasn't on her own for very long. Nearly ten minutes had passed when the fire blazed and Hannah Abbott fell out, swearing.
"You're lucky my aunt isn't here." Susan said, smiling at her best friend as the blonde stood up, brushing herself off.
Hannah Abbott was taller than her redheaded best friend by two inches with light blonde hair that fell to the middle of her back when she didn't put it up. She had bright blue eyes and a petite button nose. She was thinner than Susan and less buxom as well.
"Well, can you blame me? I hate the floo. I can't wait until I can apparate." Hannah groaned. She lifted her bag off the floor and grinned at her best friend. "So, I have two birthday presents for you."
Hannah had started for Susan's bedroom with the redhead trailing behind her. "One you have to wait for until your party, but the other one you can have now, because I think you should wear it tonight. I think it might help you with Zach."
The two girls entered Susan's room and Hannah set her bag on the bed she normally used when she stayed over. She began rummaging through her bag and pulled out her swimsuit, followed by a small flat box which she handed to Susan.
Susan smiled curiously as she opened the box, not sure if she liked Hannah's lurid smile. What lay inside the box could only be described as scandalous. It was by far sexier than anything she owned, or had seen in real life.
"You have to try them on right now!" Hannah said, practically bouncing on the balls of her feet, her hands clasped in front of her face as she looked ready to burst with glee.
"Where in the world did you get this?" Susan asked, lightly running her fingers across the silken material.
"My sister took me to a place called Victoria's Secret. It was amazing. You should see what I got for myself. I mean, we all talked last year about stuff like this. My sister helped pick it out. She's amazing with this stuff. She says we'll figure it all out on our own eventually, but she gave me a few good tips. Like, they should always match. Guys think it's sexier that way. She also said to invest in a few pairs of high heels, which I did. Now will you try it on, I want to see how you look."
Susan stripped out of her swimsuit and slipped the deep red panties up her legs, loving how it conformed to her body, and also seemed to enhance it. The high cut panties made her cream colored legs look longer somehow. And the matching bra lifted her chest and gave her the best cleavage she'd ever had since her breasts had first appeared.
''I knew it!" Hannah shouted gleefully. "I just knew it. Perfect color, perfect cut. If I were a guy, I'd be all over you. Heck, I'm thinking about mauling you anyway!"
"Oh, you know just what to say to make me all hot." Susan smirked, rolling her eyes. "But I do feel really sexy in these." The red head went to the full length mirror and checked herself out. She was quite impressed with how she looked in the bra and panty set.
"I know, right?" Hannah grinned. "Check this out." Hannah dropped her shorts and spun to reveal she was wearing an electric blue thong. Susan's mouth fell open. Hannah then tore off her shirt to reveal the matching bra.
"Once I put this on, and I went out with my sister, I couldn't help notice all the boys looking at me. It's like wearing these things makes you more confident, and boys just sense it or something." Hannah began to undress and put on her bikini. Susan changed back into her own swimsuit and the two girls went outside to soak up the sunshine, and talk about boys.
After a light lunch, the girls swam in the pool and continued to tan themselves. With Hannah there with her, Susan had very nearly forgotten all about the foreboding letter she'd received that morning.
Amelia Bones had never been so infuriated in her life. If this letter turned out to be a joke on her niece, she would nail the culprit right to the wall. She stormed through Diagon Alley all the way up the marble steps of Gringott's bank and up to the first available clerk.
"I wish to speak with Bloodnail." She demanded. The goblin barely looked up from his ledger as he replied.
"Do you have an appointment?" he asked, a soft growl in his voice.
"No, but this is a bit of an urgent matter. I'm Amelia Bones, and I need to speak to my account manager this minute.
"If you do not have an appointment, I can not..."
"Listen to me. I wish to speak with Bloodnail. You get him out here this minute, or so help me..."
Amelia turned and found the very goblin she wished to see standing behind her. He look more than a little irritated, but she didn't care.
"I wish to find out the meaning of this." Amelia said thrusting the letter out to the goblin who took it with an arched eyebrow. Bloodnail read the letter before motioning to Amelia that she should follow him. They walked down a long hallway and up three flights of stairs before they came to the goblin's office where he told her to sit. Once Bloodnail was in his own seat, he set the letter upon his desk and folded his long finger together.
'This letter seems to be pretty straightforward. I do not understand you confusion."
"Her parents didn't do this, and as I've been her guardian since she was barely a year old, I didn't set it up. I want to know where it came from and if there's a way to break it."
Bloodnail sighed heavily, but opened the draw to his right and slipped out a magical ledger. He plucked the quill from the ink bottle and scratched something upon the first page. There was a long pause before the goblin spoke again.
"The contract was written up in 1821 AD. It appears that the specific parameters of the arrangement have not been met until now, or your niece would not have received the letter. Had you been ten years younger, it might have been you that had to fulfill the arrangement." Bloodnail smiled as he slid the ledger to Amelia.
The Head of the Magical Law Enforcement read over the papers, her keen eyes looking for any clause or wording that could release Susan from this travesty. However, the more she read, the bleaker the outlook was. The contract was quite solid. Susan would have to go through with it, or the consequences would be quit dire, and not only for the young redhead, but the entire Bones line.
"There's no way to break it?' Amelia asked, already knowing the answer.
"No." Bloodnail said flatly. "Your niece must be wed in by her nineteenth birthday, or the Bones family line will suffer under the terms outlined. My sincerest apologies, and congratulations."
Amelia glared at the goblin, who chuckled softly.
"Do you know who the boy is, and if he's been informed?" Amelia asked, looking hard into the coal black eyes of the goblin.
"I am not the account manager for that family. Even if I were, I could not give you that information. You shall have to discover that information on your own, I'm afraid. But, if he is sixteen, than I am sure he has been notified. We are very thorough here."
"I know. May I get a copy of this to take home to review further?" Amelia asked.
"That is your copy." Bloodnail said, pointing to the ledger. "Is there anything else I may help you with?"
"No. That will be all." Amelia said irritably. She'd always hated dealing with the goblins. She could not deny they were brilliant creatures, and that the wizarding world was better off with them handling the finances. But they were diabolical, devious little bastards, and their egos knew no bounds.
"Very well. Next time, do try to make an appointment. I may not be coming back from lunch, and as you know, we goblins do not take kindly to threats, Madam Bones."
Amelia said nothing, but left the office with the ledger. Her next stop was the hall of records in the Ministry. She needed to find out who the boy was her niece was being forced to marry, and then she had to figure out the softest way to break it to her niece that she was truly and utterly betrothed.
Susan didn't deserve this. She had already suffered great disappointments and loss in her young life. Her parents had been killed when she was still a baby. It was on the very same night that Amelia had lost her husband. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named had done it himself. As a warning to Amelia, who was a top Auror at the time. Amelia hadn't had time to grieve, and pushed all her heartache out of her heart as she took Susan in. It had been the very best thing as Susan had given her ten lifetimes of joy. She had become a smart, well mannered, beautiful young woman, if not a little boy crazy.
Amelia saw so much of her brother in Susan. Funny, caring, and fiercely loyal. More reasons Amelia hated whomever had done this to her niece. Susan should have been allowed to opportunity to find her own happiness.
Amelia ignored everyone who tried to talk to her as she entered the Ministry. She was a woman on a mission. She made straight for the Hall of Records. Without so much as a hello to the tiny man behind the desk, Amelia began searching for her answers. It took two hours, and some help from the tiny man who worked there to find out exactly who it was that was now contractually obligated to be Susan's husband. When she found the answer, Amelia felt as if someone had just hit her in the chest and knocked all the air from her lungs.
Amelia triple checked all her work to make sure she had the right person. Surely she had to be wrong. While Amelia didn't know the boy, she did know his name, and a bit of his reputation. She had met the boy once, but had not spoken to him. And given the circumstances of their meeting hadn't been ideal. Amelia stared at the name, repeating it over and over in her mind, picturing the boy she had seen. Amelia actually had to smile as she thought of her niece and that particular boy together.
Amelia arrived home an hour later, and could hear that Hannah had indeed arrived. It was two hours before Susan's party was to start. The girls were outside, singing along to the wireless. Susan sounded much cheerier than she had when Amelia had left. Guests would be arriving for the party very soon, and Amelia thought for a moment about waiting to tell her niece what she had discovered, but she knew that as soon as Susan saw her, she'd want answers, and she would be unable to enjoy her party until she had them. Though, Amelia was sure that once Susan got the truth, she would likely not want a party anyway.
"Susan, would you come in here please? You too Hannah."
Amelia figured she may as well include the young blond in the conversation. Susan was going to need all the support she could get, and Hannah would find out eventually. Susan hated keeping secrets from her best friend. Amelia had instilled a strong sense of honesty in her niece early on.
"What did you find out?" Susan asked, barely inside the house, with Hannah close behind.
"You need to sit down."
"You weren't able to get me out of it? It's real?" Susan asked, her voice rising in pitch, and her tone becoming more panicked.
"Please sit down." Amelia tried again, but Susan was not going to stop.
"When did it happen? How come I'm only finding out about it all now?"
"SUSAN! Please sit down."
Susan and a clearly confused Hannah both took seats on the sofa as Amelia removed the ledger from her traveling cloak along with the bit of parchment that held the name of Susan's intended.
"The contract is real, and no, I was not able to get you out of it. It was put together in 1821 between Malcolm Bones, and Edmund Peverell to end a feud and unite our two families. The arrangement was very specific, and the parameters of that arrangement were not met until now. It could have been me, or even your father if circumstances had been different. It could have even been your child if you had not met the criteria. The fact of the matter is..."
"Please don't say it." Susan started to well up again, and Amelia's heart began to break.
"Say what?" Hannah asked, very confused. "What's going on?"
"That you are now…"
"NO!" Susan shouted, tears falling freely now, her head shaking frantically.
"Engaged to be married." Amelia said with a sad sigh. Susan broke down, and Amelia gathered her niece into her arms trying to comfort her.
"What?" Was all Hannah could say.
"A betrothal contract was written between House Bones and House Peverell years ago, but due to the extreme conditions of the contract, and life's own circumstances, it was never fulfilled. Susan now meets that criteria, as does the boy from that family. She has to be married by the time she turns nineteen. She also has to have a baby within three years of the ceremony, or suffer the consequences defined by the contract."
"What consequences?" Susan bemoaned, her face blotchy and her eyes red from crying. "How bad are they?"
"Pretty bad, and it isn't just you who will suffer. Our entire line, past and future will suffer. And his family too. We're talking big time problems for you, me, and anyone with Bones blood in their family line. Maybe even losing your magic."
"I don't know any Peverells. Are they from another country or something?" Hannah asked. "I mean, there aren't any Peverells at Hogwarts that I know of."
"I had to do some digging, but it turns out the Peverell line died out in 1857. But the bloodline, and the contract passed on to a new family." Amelia explained.
"Who?" Susan sobbed. "Who am I condemned to be with for the rest of my life?"
Amelia hated that Susan felt it was equal to some kind of prison, not that she could blame the girl. She released Susan from her embrace and picked up the folded piece of parchment and handed it to her niece.
"This is why I wanted you to sit down." Amelia said as Susan unfolded the letter. Hannah was on her feet and peering over her best friend's shoulder at the name scribbled on the scrap of parchment. Hannah's eyes bulged to impossible sizes and she clutched the back of the chair to hold herself steady.
Susan's sobs stopped as did her breathing. All the color drained from her face, and a second later, she was falling out of her seat. Amelia caught her before she smacked her head on the floor.
"Oh... wow..." Hannah whispered, lowering herself carefully to the floor to prevent herself from falling over.
"Hannah, this is very important. No one can know about this for now, for both of their sakes, alright?" Amelia said sternly. Hannah nodded.
"No one would believe it." Hannah said, her voice barely a whisper. Susan was moaning slightly as Amelia fanned her face. The color was slowly coming back to her face, and Amelia breathed a soft sigh of relief. Not that she could blame her niece, this was a lot to take in.
"Neither of them need the attention this will bring." Amelia pointed out.
"Especially him. She is so lucky."
"I'm sure that's exactly what she's feeling." Amelia said with a wry smile.
"Well, no." Hannah corrected, finally feeling the spinning sensation go away. "I mean, being stuck in a marriage contract sucks, I'm sure, and I know she hates that, but of all the guys in the world she could have ended up with... I mean, Wow. Harry Potter."
It was one of the hardest things Susan had ever had to do. To get all dressed up and pretend that she was excited and happy when inside she was just miserable. Susan wanted nothing more than to run away from her birthday party scream about the injustice of the universe and how wrong it was that she was being forced to marry someone she had no feelings for.
Yet, she put on her new undergarments that Hannah had given her, a short black skirt and her favorite button up blouse along with some heeled sandals and greeted everyone of her guests with her most charming smile. No one who met Susan that evening would have guessed that her world had just been turned on it's head.
She came very close to losing it when Zach arrived with his girlfriend, who looked very pretty that day. Susan felt the sting of tears in her eyes, but she managed to cover it well with the excuse of "Allergies."
Susan mingled with her friends, talking idly about how the summer was going so far. Hannah was at her side for support... at least until Neville Longbottom arrived. Susan felt a pang of jealousy at her best friend. Though Susan didn't fancy Neville, Hannah got to choose who she liked, and be with that person.
If Susan had been honest with herself, she really was of two minds about the entire situation. On the one hand, it was very unfair that she had just had the experience of falling in love taken away from her. She would not be able to meet someone, get to know them, begin to have inexplicable feelings and then having that wondrous revelation that she was in love. She would not be taken out on dates, or wooed or any of that. She wouldn't even get a proper proposal with the guy on his knee with an amazing ring for her to wear.
However, Harry Potter was easily one of the most desirable wizards in all of Britain. Each year, he just got better looking. It was something of a start of year ritual with her and the other Hufflepuff girls to theorize about which boys had gotten better looking, and then see who was right. They always saved Harry for last. And Harry never seemed to disappoint them. Maybe it was the constant swirl of rumors surrounding him, or the way he just seemed to ooze charisma. Something about Harry Potter made him undeniably fanciable.
Susan knew virtually nothing about him, save for the rumors, but she had seen first hand how sweet he could be. He was very helpful during DA lessons, and Susan remembered one time he had taken hold of her arm to show her where she was going wrong with one of her spells. Susan remembered being short of breath for some reason. But having your breath taken away did not a romance make.
Susan tried to shove all those thoughts out of her mind. Her aunt had promised they would discuss it at length when the party was all over. The problem was that Susan didn't want to wait, and as it turned out, there was someone at her party that may be able to answer some questions. And that person was currently by themselves at the snack table.
"Are you having a good time?" Susan asked, coming up behind the lone girl, who was contemplating a bowl of crisps and the vegetable platter.
"Oh, yes. Thank you, and happy birthday again." The girl smiled very sweetly. Susan cringed inwardly. Right now she wanted to rip the other girl's hair out. Why Zach had chosen this girl over her was such a mystery. But Susan suppressed her anger. She had something to accomplish here.
"I thought it would be imposing for me to come along, but Zach insisted that it would be alright with you." The girl said, clearly worried.
"He was right, I don't mind. But you didn't have to bring me a present."
"It wasn't any trouble. Usually I just get people books as gifts, but that didn't seem proper for a girl turning sixteen." The girl laughed, Susan did as well.
"I bet Harry and Ron just love getting your gifts then." Susan grinned.
Hermione Granger laughed again, and shook her head. "I've been getting a lot better about buying them gifts. I can usually just get Ron a load of sweets from Honeydukes. Harry's a little harder to shop for, but in the end it doesn't matter because he's just so grate..."
Hermione trailed off, her cheeks pinkening a bit. Susan knew that the girl had nearly let something slip, but she wasn't sure quite what to make of it.
"Well I do like your gift, and I can't wait for the right time to wear it."
Susan hadn't been lying. The necklace was very pretty, with its silver pendant. It made hating Hermione that much harder. Susan knew she was going to have to get over her jealousy. Zach was off the table, in fact, all other boys were off the table for her.
"Stupid ancestors." She snarled internally.
"Do you think Harry will continue the DA this year?" Susan asked. She had to be really careful. Hermione was incredibly smart and exceptionally perceptive. Susan didn't want to give anything away, but she needed to learn a little about her future husband if she could.
"I'm not really sure." Hermione shrugged. "He never mentioned it on the train, but..." Again Hermione trailed off, looking a bit embarrassed.
"You've done that twice now." Susan said, and Hermione nodded.
"It's just that Harry's a pretty private person, and I don't want to betray his trust by talking about him."
"You mean about what really happened at the Ministry last month?" Susan asked. Hermione gave a sad little nod.
"Don't believe the paper, they got it all wrong..." Hermione started to say, but once again faded off. Susan realized at once how protective Hermione was of her best friend. She then began thinking she wasn't going to get much out of the bushy haired girl. But she still had to try.
"I heard a bit about it from my Auntie." Susan lowered her voice to near whisper. "I know that you and Neville and the others went there and that your fought Death Eaters, but I don't know why."
"And I can't tell you." Hermione said quickly.
"To protect Harry?" Susan queried and Hermione nodded.
"There you are," Zacharias Smith said as he pulled Hermione into a hug and kissed he cheek. "I was wondering where you went. You said you were getting a drink."
"Susan and I started talking." Hermione said with a smile.
"Until you interrupted." Susan smirked. Zach smiled and apologized for disturbing them. It was clear to Susan that he wanted her to get along with his girlfriend. As obnoxious as Zach could be, he was still very considerate, and sweet. He grabbed a handful of crisps and kissed Hermione before going back to the group of boys he'd been chatting with earlier.
"He really is a good guy." Susan said with a sigh.
"You like him, don't you?" Hermione said, looking rather guilty.
"Yeah. I was hoping he would ask me out last year. Then you two started dating, and..."
"I'm really sorry." Hermione said, looking close to tears now. "I knew I shouldn't have come, but he just kept telling me that it would be ok and..."
"Hermione, it is ok. Really." Susan said quickly, taking Hermione's arm. "He's happy with you, and that's what really matters. Besides, I kind of have someone else in my life now." Susan said cryptically. Hermione looked at her curiously for a minute but Susan didn't say anymore.
"Well, I hope he treats you right. You're a very nice person, Susan, and I hope that maybe we could become friends."
"I'd like that." Susan said honestly. She knew that if she was going to become Harry's wife, that Hermione would likely be part of her life too. Harry didn't seem the type to abandon his friends.
"I'm so sorry, but I need to steal the birthday girl for a moment." Hannah said as she grabbed Susan and guided her away.
"Rude." Susan snapped as Hannah guided her into a private corner.
"I know, I'm sorry, but I just couldn't wait for you to finish you interrogation of Granger." Hannah said. "Did you find out anything about Harry?"
"How did you know..."
"Please. Why else would you be talking to the girl who stole your would be boyfriend other than to try and grill her for info on your future husband?"
"Oh please don't use that word right now." Susan grimaced, wrapping her arms around herself to ward off a chill. "What did you want that you had to drag me away?"
"Maybe I should have waited." Hannah said guiltily. "I just forgot about everything, and I wanted to... Look, it can wait."
"No, go ahead." Susan sighed. "At least one of us should be happy."
"Now I feel really stupid.' Hannah sighed. "I'm sorry..."
"Hannah! What happened?" Susan pressed. Hannah tried to smile, though it was clear that she was now feeling very guilty for whatever she was about to tell her best friend. Susan guessed it had something to do with Neville, and wasn't disappointed when Hannah finally spilled the beans.
"He asked me out. I don't know what happened to him, but he's just so much more confident. He just took me aside and said that he's liked me for a while, and he promised himself that he would ask me the very next time he saw me. After I said yes he kissed me, and I got to tell you, he's a really amazing kisser!"
Susan smiled. She really was happy for Hannah, but it just made her own predicament seem more grim.
The rest of the party was a blur to Susan. By the time the last guest left through the Floo, Susan felt exhausted. It was a lot of effort to act as if the world was perfect. Slumping into a chair, Susan undid her shoes and began rubbing her feet to ease some of the ache. Hannah sat across from her looking a little dazed. She had said a very thorough goodbye to Neville. Susan had seen what Hannah had meant when she had said he seemed more confident. Neville didn't blush at all when he'd kissed Hannah goodbye. He also didn't seemed fazed by Ernie and Justin's ribbing. He just smiled and waved as he stepped through the floo.
"Here you go." Amelia said, handing a steaming mug of tea to Susan before sitting on the sofa. "You did well tonight. I know it must have been hard but this is a delicate situation. I did notice you talking to Hermione Granger. Did you happen to learn anything?"
Susan looked a bit self conscious.
"Not really. Hermione's very loyal to Harry, and she wouldn't say anything about him."
"That's a good sign." Amelia said. "It means she can be trusted. From what I've gathered, she likely his most loyal friend, along with Neville, though Harry and Neville are not very close."
"Neville really looks up to Harry" Hannah piped in. "He's got a lot of respect for him to. That's why he went to the Ministry with Harry. He told me so."
Amelia nodded. "All of those kids respect Harry and look up to him, or they wouldn't have gone with him. I talked to each of them in the days after. Good kids, all of them. Why they felt the need to ... well never mind."
"Auntie what happened at the Ministry? Why were they there at all?" Susan asked.
"You know I can't tell you anything about that." Amelia said, then her expression softened and she gave Susan a wink. "Maybe if you ask nicely, Harry will tell you."
Susan glared at her aunt for a few seconds and then shook here head.
"This is going to be really hard." The redhead said after a long silence. "He keeps to himself a lot, and he's always with Granger and Weasley. How am I supposed to get to know him?"
"So far as I know, Harry doesn't yet know about the contract. He won't know until his sixteenth birthday, and I don't know exactly when that is." Amelia frowned. "I am planning on finding out who his magical guardian is, and discussing the possibility of telling him sooner."
"Maybe he could stay here." Hannah suggested. Both Susan and Amelia turned questioning eyes to the blond who turned quite red. "Well, I just thought it would give Susan and Harry a chance to get to know each other without loads of people around, spreading stories and all that. No matter what you decide to do, it's going to be really awkward for both of you."
"Maybe we could consider something like that." Amelia said. "But it's very late, and we all need to get a bit of sleep. Tomorrow I'll leave you some money so you can go shopping, but you are by no means to go into Diagon Alley, is that clear?"
Both girls nodded and Amelia ushered them off to bed, and then went to her own bedroom where she lay awake thinking on what Hannah had suggested. Amelia's only worry would be leaving two teenagers alone with no supervision. Amelia wasn't so old that she couldn't remember what it was like to be sixteen, and what she would have done if she was left alone with a boy. Susan was quite practical, and Amelia doubted that her niece would allow anything to happen that she wasn't comfortable with.. .but it was Amelia's job to worry.
Having Harry stay with them would give Susan and Harry a chance to get to know one another without too much pressure being put on them, and Amelia would also have a chance to get to know the boy. That was a good reason in itself. Maybe she would make a decision after she got a chance to speak with the boy. First she had to find out who the boy's guardian was. Then maybe she would have a clearer idea of how best to proceed.
It took seconds before Hannah's breathing leveled out and she fell asleep. Susan was incredibly jealous of her best friend at the moment. It would be nice to be that carefree and to be able to fall asleep and dream about snogging her new boyfriend.
Susan wished that she had been able to talk to Hermione for a bit longer during the party. She couldn't think of anybody who was more of an authority on Harry Potter. Ok, Ron Weasley knew Harry pretty well, but Ron was very difficult to talk to, as he was quick to anger, and very protective of his friends. Likely Ron would get suspicious or misunderstand something and then get angry and defensive.
Hermione on the other hand, while being protective of Harry, was more willing to listen. Susan didn't want to go telling Hermione that she was engaged to Harry, but she could have made it seem like she was interested in Harry as a potential boyfriend, and maybe learned a bit about him, like the best way to talk to him. Harry just seemed so unapproachable. It wasn't that he was mean or anything, just that he seemed so guarded.
Susan did think that she was lucky in all of this. Being betrothed to Harry Potter wasn't the worst thing that could have happened to her. It could have been someone like Goyle or Crabbe from Slytherin House. Susan shivered as she imagined one of those baboons pawing at her.
She began to wonder what it might be like to kiss Harry. So far as she knew, Harry hadn't had a girlfriend, save for Cho Chang, and the rumor was that had ended very badly. Of course anyone with eyes could have seen that Harry and Cho were a bad match. Especially since Cho was still hung up on Cedric Diggory. It was unfair to both of them.
Susan knew that Ginny Weasley had a major league crush on Harry, but she hadn't acted on it. In fact, Ginny was supposed to be dating Dean Thomas. So, Harry was in fact single at the moment, or at least Susan thought he was. But this just went back to how unapproachable he seemed. Susan knew that a lot of girls liked Harry but none of them seemed brave enough to try and even talk to him.
Susan had no idea how she might talk to the boy, and they were engaged. To Susan's mind, that only made the situation far more complex. Yet, Susan was sure that if she could figure a way past Harry's walls, they could very likely become friends, and that was something. It some how eased the thought of marriage. Sure, they may not be in love, but at least they wouldn't hate each other. That would just make things really tough.
Susan suddenly shot bolt upright in her bed when a thought occurred to her.
"Did Auntie say we had to have a baby?"