I do not own the characters, locations, nor situations described herein, those remain the sole property of J.K. Rowling.

Author's Note: Wow, this story's got over a quarter of a million views, over 1300 favorites, and nearly 1800 alerts. Thanks a lot. Hopefully I'll be able to keep up my inspiration now that i've found it again.

Chapter 16

-=aPBR=-

Emma Granger opened the door, mildly annoyed at the interruption. It was Sunday, a day of rest, and both she and her husband Dan had the day off, the only one they both shared. the previous weekend had seen Dan off with the Territorials, and so it had been a fortnight since they'd been able to spend a day together as a family with their nearly six year old daughter Hermione.

Hermione was a gift, the lone child born amidst a decade of miscarriages. It had been so bad that just a year ago they'd given up trying for a second child, content that their miracle girl was enough. It was hard on Emma, thinking of all of the missed opportunities, the children that hadn't survived. Both she and Dan were from large families, so at least Hermione would no lack from cousins, though Emma was worried for her daughter, as even now she was spending more and more time alone, reading. It was all they could do to force their little girl to go outside on this glorious August day in Crawley.

There were two women at the door, and while Emma assumed by their similar features that the two were related, perhaps sisters or cousins, the two women wore vastly different attire. The older of the two, perhaps a your or two younger than Emma's own thirty-one, wore a a pantsuit, and the soft leather briefcase, as well as Emma's own experience, hinted at a legal or bureaucratic occupation. The younger woman, who looked to be in her late twenties, wore a designer dress, light for summer, but still quite fashionable, with a small handbag on a delicate strap hanging from one shoulder.

"Hello," said Emma, brushing her long blonde hair behind her ear as she did so.

"Pardon the interruption," said the older woman, "We were looking for the Grangers."

"You've found us," said Emma. "And who might you be? And why are you here?"

"Ah, my apologies, I am Andromeda Tonks, and this is my sister, Narcissa Black," said the older woman. "We were wondering if we'd be able to come in an talk about a delicate matter."

"Not until I know more about why you're here. I'm not going to let a couple of strangers into my home," said Emma defensively.

"It's about your daughter, Hermione, and her future," said Narcissa, speaking for the first time.

"What about Hermione?" asked Emma. "And how do you know about her?"

"I'm a junior partner at Dewey, Cheetum, and Howe," said Andromeda. "And the matter is one that will take a bit of time to explain. It involves agreements between families nearly two hundred years ago."

"What?" asked Emma.

"Has your daughter ever done something you can't explain? Perhaps gotten a toy down from a shelf, or gotten past a locked door that was still locked behind her? Something that you couldn't quite explain away?" asked Narcissa.

Emma paused, remembering a few incidents, ones she'd witnessed herself and others she'd heard about from Dan or the sitter.

"We'd rather explain this inside, privately, rather than here on your threshold," said Narcissa.

Emma nodded softly, "Let me get my husband first, then we'll see." She stepped back, and closed the door softly, before taking a step back, and then turning to get her husband and daughter from the back garden.

-=aPBR=-

"That went well," said Andromeda sarcastically with a sigh.

"I don't envy Professor McGonagall," said Narcissa.

"Hopefully we're doing the right thing," said Andromeda.

"Andi, this is going to happen to them and their daughter no matter what. The contract is bound by magic, and it'll happen or it'll kill their daughter," said Narcissa.

"Don't you think I don't know that?" asked Andromeda. "Ted and I married for love, and now Nymphadora is caught even tighter than you and Bella were."

"I know," said Narcissa. "And that's why we're doing this now, so that the girls will know Harry before they're forced into it, and so that, in a way, they'll shape him, and he them, into better matches."

"Hopefully I'll be able to convince them to listen," said Andromeda. "Their daughter is in the same position as my own, perhaps that'll be enough commonality to get them to understand that doing it now is better for all concerned."

Narcissa was about to respond when the door opened once more. While Emma Granger was a short blonde with a touch of an Irish lilt, Dan Granger was nearly the opposite. Tall, nearly six and a half feet, with dark skin and black, tightly curled hair. Unlike his wife, who was soft and distinctly motherly, Dan was hard, with a militaristic aura that caught both witches by surprise. While they knew he'd served in the Army for a decade in the late sixties and early seventies, before becoming a dentist after meeting Emma, they were still surprised at the reality.

"Who are you and what do you want?" asked Dan tersely, his accent confirming their knowledge of his Manchester upbringing.

"Andromeda Tonks, junior partner for Dewey, Cheetum, and Howe, this is my sister, Narcissa Black. We're here to discuss your daughter's future, and ties between your family and our own," said Andromeda, as her sister was still recovering from the older man's aggressive introduction.

"What about Hermione?" asked Dan.

"It's about what makes her special, something she has in common with both my sister and myself," said Andromeda. "Ordinarily you'd have been informed about it the summer before your daughter's twelfth birthday, but things have recently happened that have convinced us it was proper to introduce ourselves now, rather than later."

Dan looked both witches over, before stepping back. Instantly both of them felt less threatened, and more at ease. No longer were they facing the militaristic Dan Granger, but instead the father and dentist. "Come in, we have much to talk about."

-=aPBR=-

"Please, have a seat," said Dan, gesturing to the love seat. He took the lone armchair, while Emma and Hermione were already seated on the sofa. Hermione had darker skin than her mother, though substantially lighter skin than her father, and had brown hair that wasn't quite as lightly curled as her father's. She seemed to be more interested in the book she was reading, an illustrated chapter book, than the visiting witches.

The Granger sitting room was in stark contract to the previous one the two witches had beheld in Little Whinging, the walls were lined with bookshelves, though some of the shelves held pictures or mementos. Above the fireplace was a painting of a city from above, as if flying over the rooftops.

"Thank you," said Andromeda, setting her briefcase down beside the love seat.

"So, you said you had an explanation?" asked Emma.

Narcissa pulled her wand out of her handbag. While both Emma and Hermione were inquisitive, both witches were surprised when Dan tensed. "This is a wand. It is used by witches, like my sister and I, and your daughter Hermione, and wizards, to channel their magic to perform spells."

"Magic?" asked Emma. She then turned to her husband, who while not as tense, was still noticeably affected, "Dan, is something wrong?"

"This is not my first encounter with magic," said Dan. "I had feared that it was the cause of Hermione's incidents."

"Feared?" asked Andromeda.

"Perhaps that's not the right word. Concerned might be a better one," said Dan.

"Concerned is what I am," said Narcissa. "Concerned that you know about magic."

"I served with a wizard," said Dan. When he saw that now both witches were concerned, he further explained, "Oh, he told me about the secrecy, but there are only so many things you can keep secret in the heat of battle. He also told me how he'd lost touch with his family during his schooling, about how he'd been practically forced to leave the world he'd been born into for the magical one. About how hard it was to return, the schooling he'd had to make up."

"I understand completely," said Andromeda. "I was born into our world, but when I met my husband, who, like your Army friend and your daughter, was born in this world, I decided I wanted to live in both worlds, to raise my daughter in both worlds, so that, perhaps, she wouldn't have to make the same choice her father and thousands of muggleborn had been forced to make in the centuries since our two worlds were separated."

"So, you came here to introduce us to magic," said Emma. She looked down at her daughter, who was being quite polite, "But there's more, isn't there?"

"Yes," said Andromeda. She took a deep breath, "While it's no longer common in your world, arranged marriages are still common in ours. My sisters were both victims to marriage contracts, though luckily Cissy here was able to … divorce is the closest concept … from her former husband."

"And how does this affect us?" asked Dan. "We're not magical, muggles I think you called us? How can our daughter be involved in a marriage contract?"

"It's complicated, and has to do with the fact that at one time your family, the Grangers, were magical. At that time, they entered into a contract with another magical family, the Potters. Now, ordinarily these types of contracts are quite easy to get out of, as they're not magically binding on the parties involved."

"Magically binding?" asked Emma.

"Normally?" asked Dan.

"Emma first," said Naricssa. "A contract in our world is normally no different than a contract is yours, legally binding, but with enough money and legal efforts, or through escape clauses, able to be voided. Some contracts, though, are magically binding. Since a witch or wizard's life is tried to their magic, if they break a magically binding contract, not only will they lose their magic, but very likely, unless they're a particularly magically weak witch or wizard, or a particularly physically strong one, their lives as well."

"Ordinarily marriage contracts such as these aren't magically binding, it's actually illegal for them to be so, except in one specific instance," said Andromeda.

"I assume since the contract is between the Grangers and Potters, and neither of you are Potters, that death and inheritance has something to do with it?" asked Emma.

"Right, well, in a specific situation marriage contracts become magically binding, even enforcing plural marriages," said Andromeda. "That is when a wizard is head of three or more magical families, such as our cousin, Harry Potter, who just turned five at the end of July. His parents were killed when he was fifteen months old …"

"Halloween or the First of November, Eighty-One?" interrupted Dan.

Andromeda soured, "Yes. How'd you know?"

"I knew a wizard, we kept in touch, he told me about how your little civil war ended," said Dan.

"Ah, so, that makes Harry the last of the Potter family. Through his mother, our aunt, he's also the only surviving male of the Rosier family," explained Andromeda. "And finally, though his grandmother, and out great aunt, he's the last surviving male of the Black family. Inbreeding and wars have taken a toll on our world."

"So, are you here to steal out Hermione?" asked Emma.

"Oh, Merlin no," said Narcissa. "We're here to tell you about what your daughter's future holds, and ask if you'd like to join the rest of our extended family."

"How many?" asked Dan. "How many wives does this poor boy have in his future?"

"Thirteen," said Andromeda, "Including my own daughter."

"And, if we decide to leave, to take our daughter and run?" asked Emma.

"We'll try to stop you, but only for your daughter's sake. She does have a choice, but it's a false one. She can marry Harry before her eighteenth birthday, or she can lose her magic, and most likely, her life," said Andromeda.

"Can I meet Harry?" asked Hermione, looking up from her book and speaking for the first time.

"Yes, I'd like to meet my daughter's future husband, as well as the girls she'll share him with," said Dan.

"Dan, you're speak as if it's already happened," said an astonished Emma.

"Em, we need to think clearly. These two women came here to talk with us, to tell us the truth, so that we'd not have to lose our daughter, both to magic and to marriage. I'll look into these so-called magical contracts myself, but even if they're wrong, it'd still give Hermione an introduction to magic, as well as her future peers. I'd rather she have friends if magic is her future, than to not."