Harry stood rigidly at the grey door in front of him, leading to the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. Arabella and Ted had gone in a few minutes early, but Harry hadn't been permitted. The guard mentioned something about minors and impropriety. The door banged open a moment later and out strode a grim looking Ted Tonks and a ghostly white Arabella.
"What happened?" Harry blurted out, but was answered only with a firm grip on his shoulder and a choked 'later' from Arabella.
"Not until we're clear of the Ministry, son," Ted mumbled. His solemn words were at odds with the jaunty look on his face and the big waves given to each Auror he passed. Harry didn't fail to notice only half were returned.
Harry couldn't always feel emotions as well on two legs, but his Kneazle senses were definitely tingling. Finally they were out of the oppressive ministry atmosphere and into open air. "Walk with me, Harry. Your aunt needs something to eat, I think," Ted loudly announced. Harry nodded and then stood quite still.
"There are two of them following us," Harry whispered.
"I thought there might be. I can't pick them up, but just keep walking."
"Do you know who they are?" Harry asked, more alarmed this time.
"Could be Aurors, could be bloody Death Eaters, I have no goddamned idea," Ted swore. "They could want to watch us, or just wait till we're out of sight enough to dispose of us. We'll head to that pub. Less likely to try something in the open with so many Muggles about. Wouldn't do to be that blatant yet."
Harry nodded and continued to guide his tearful aunt towards a large sign that read 'Fish and Chips'.
"We can take them around this next corner," Harry whispered, gently inclining his head towards a shifty looking alleyway that seemed to be conveniently sandwiched between two old brick buildings, an overflowing dumpster with assorted construction debris further obscured the view down the darkened alley.
"Can you shift quickly if need be?" Ted asked, a still pale Arabella. A lone nod and a sudden air of determination were all the answer she gave.
Harry closed his eyes briefly and focused his hearing, picking up slight scuffs and an occasional shuffle from their two pursuers. They seemed to be falling back a little which was good. As though on cue, Arabella gave a loud wail and staggered rather theatrically into the alley way, dragging a very distraught looking Ted with her. Harry took a moment and then followed quickly after.
"Is she alright?" a concerned Kneazle-boy asked.
"Shush, get on four paws and get behind them!" Arabella ordered and then let out another theatrical groan of pain. Harry nodded once and then was gone in a puff of fur and the leap of powerful paws.
"Well, you don't see that every day," Ted remarked.
Harry stealthily padded towards the two poorly concealed men standing in the middle of the street. He couldn't see them, per say, as it was obvious they were being cloaked invisibly, but their scents and even their hushed discussions gave them away.
"What the hell are we supposed to do? They'll hear us if we get closer," the first one argued.
"We were told to keep an eye on them and that's bloody well what we're going to do. Can you imagine what she'd do to us if we let Harry bloody Potter get away?"
Death Eaters! The thought rang every alarm bell in Harry's cute and fuzzy skull. He couldn't let them get near Arabella, but he also couldn't very well transform and duel it out with them in the middle of the street. It was the sound of the shuffling that alerted him to their renewed movement, and it was then he noticed the slight shimmer of the air.
It wasn't overly noticeable if you weren't looking for it, but once he'd seen it, both men might as well have undone whatever sorcery they were using. It was like watching a white rabbit thinking it was invisible in the middle of a hedgerow.
Both men were tall and seemed to be slight of build, young Death Eaters, Harry surmised, though he still hadn't worked out what they were to do with them. He could kill them both with his knife, but he sensed that might be frowned upon given the proximity to a pub. People seldom liked to drink with bodies lying about.
As they passed the dumpster, an idea formed and the devious Kneazle waited just long enough for the men to creep around the edge of the dumpster before transforming back to a human and grabbing a large brick that someone had carelessly thrown at the foot of the metal container.
Ted looked up, wand in hand, ready to hex anyone who meant his little group harm, when two Aurors became visible after removing their disillusionment charms.
Aurors were good, the fact that they had their wands out was not a positive sign, however. Ted thought he recognised both of them. They were in Dora's academy class, but before either of them could speak, the lankier of the two (though he supposed one might have trouble discerning which that was) sagged to his knees with a loud crack. The other spun, and with a similar audible signal sagged to his knees and toppled forward.
Behind the two of them stood one Harry Potter, infamous boy-who-lived holding a large piece of durable masonry now tinged in a little blood.
"Harry, those were Aurors!" Arabella cried, standing rapidly and hurrying to both unconscious men to examine their wounds.
"They sounded like Death Eaters when they were talking," Harry shrugged, tossing the brick on top of the dumpster.
"What on earth possessed you to hit them like that?" Arabella scolded once more.
"They seemed dangerous and I believe it is still illegal for me to stun anyone at this point. I wanted to be legal about it."
"Assaulting law officers is hardly legal."
Harry shrugged again. "Then they shouldn't have been skulking about, should they?"
Before Arabella could reply to scold her not-nephew again, Ted intervened. "I'm inclined to agree with the boy on this one. If these two wankers were up to any good they'd have announced themselves instead of stalking us. They certainly weren't looking for Death Eaters and I doubt they were put in place for Harry's protection. Think about what Sebastian said, Arabella. We need to keep moving. I don't think these boys were on their own devices, but that just means someone ordered it. Which makes it all the more dangerous."
"We can't just leave the poor boys to bleed to death!" Arabella exclaimed. Ted nodded and produced his wand, muttering several incantations. The wounds closed and the blood stopped but neither man stirred.
"Will they be alright?" Arabella fretted.
"They'll have some nasty headaches and if we're lucky a bit of memory loss, but neither is going to die, if that's what you're worried about."
"Will they remember what happened?"
"Even if they did, they didn't see me!" Harry assured them. "Now, as patient as I am could you please tell me what Uncle had to say."
"You act like you've done this sort of thing before," Ted remarked.
Arabella nodded slowly. "It has become a bit of a pattern. Now, I could use a pint," she sighed.
Ted grinned. "My kind of woman. Come on, we'd better go before Tweedle dee and Tweedle dum wake up. I see why ol' Grim likes you, Harry. You can be my son any day," Ted joked.
The pub was of the lively and corner variety. The sort of place where blokes gathered to cheer their favourite football team or blow the steam off after a week in the mills, but was still respectable and well lit enough that their wives wouldn't think more than twice about letting them wander off there. It was obvious that the trio didn't quite belong.
"Been a long time since I've been in one of these," Ted sighed contentedly eyeing the beer in his right hand and comparing it critically to the one in his left.
"Did you really need two?" Arabella chided.
"My dear, God was so gracious as to give me two hands that I might drink with either. I would hate for one to become jealous of the other."
"What did Uncle S say?" Harry demanded impatiently, his glass of water untouched before him.
"They're hurting him," Arabella whispered, her face in her hands. "Not all of them, and not every time, but a few hexes here an occasional curse there. The older ones with something to settle, they're after him fiercely. It's only the likes of Kingsley and a few other stand up types who won't stand for that sort of thing, but they're getting a fair bit of resistance if they try to report anything."
Ted took two swigs from each glass, wiped his mouth and fixed a grim expression on his features. "That part doesn't really surprise me. Grim's friends are all pretty much gone, and he caused too much trouble for the supervisors to care what happens to him, but legally, it isn't good either, lad. They haven't formally charged him, which means they can keep him indefinitely."
"Will he go to Azkaban?" Harry demanded.
"Keep it down, boy," Ted scolded. "No, I don't think he will. That isn't usual procedure and as Grim is a full-fledged wizard there are certain niceties of the law that they have to obey. What puzzles me is why they haven't charged him."
"Perhaps they know it won't stick," Arabella suggested.
"Then why keep him at all? They could have had this sort of thing handled quickly and easily. I wish Dromeda were here. She's so much sexier… I mean smarter than I am. It's those Black genes, get me every time," Ted muttered dreamily.
"Black genes?" Harry asked.
"Andromeda was once a part of The Most Ancient and Noble House of Black, the same house your Dogfather was part of. They both were disowned though."
"Sirius said something about running away, why was Andromeda disowned?"
"For marrying me. There she was, sandwiched in between the bint and the tart she called sisters. Gorgeous, smart, untouchable and I knew right then I'd make her mine," Ted concluded.
"Because she was beautiful?" Arabella asked sceptically.
"No, it was because she put Lucius Malfoy flat on his arse for cursing Roland Keitch. She hexed him, told him off and then punched the bastard right in the face when he tried to get her back. That and she bounces wonderfully when…"
"That's quite enough, I think
"It has to do with me again, doesn't it?" Harry asked rather abruptly.
"Why do you think that?" Arabella wondered aloud.
"I see it like this. The Manticore was sent for me. Either it killed me or they could imprison me for the same thing they got Uncle on. No trial means that they could keep me indefinitely until I was willing to say that Volderdog hasn't returned or the whole thing blows over and I'm dead. Unfortunately, Uncle is craftier than those sods and set an adder in the den."
"And that means the only question is what they do next," Arabella concluded, and very suddenly the little colour she'd regained drained out again. "They'll be after Harry. I can't keep him legally and with Sebastian detained indefinitely, they could hold an official hearing into your custody."
Harry smirked. "They can't find me. Couldn't find me for eleven years. What makes them think they can get me now?"
"Have to live somewhere, bucko, Hogwarts' rules."
Harry frowned. "Is there anything else?"
"Just things for your Aunt to consider. He was a bit morose through the whole thing," Ted explained.
"He could die," Arabella whispered.
"But he won't. He's a tough bastard. Now, if you don't mind I think we should be getting far away from here, just in case those two blokes wake up a bit sooner than I think."
Arabella and Harry nodded and the three of them continued on their way.
"Stand up straight, don't fidget, and remember don't speak unless spoken to. These are some of the most distinguished witches and wizards in the Wizarding world," Andromeda Tonks fussed as she relentlessly straightened and adjusted Harry's robes.
"Bloody Hell, woman, let the boy breathe. I have no doubt that he'll be fine."
"Ted, we can't be cavalier about this, Harry's very future could be on the line!" Andromeda scolded.
"They're near-sighted, pompous old men with a gut full of gas and a head full of self-important delusions of grandeur. They never decide anything right away. Harry will be long gone to Hogwarts by the time anything happens and once whomever is behind this farce finally pulls his thumb out of his arse they'll let it all get back to normal."
"Do I really have to go?" Harry whinged. He hadn't been outside in a few days, hadn't snogged his girlfriend in longer and was positive that brazen nudity would not be appreciated at this venture. In fact, since that blasted letter came, he'd spent the last four days cooped up in the Tonks' house doing very little other than catching the occasional mouse and napping in the more than occasional sunbeam. In short he was bored stiff.
"Harry, this is an assembly of the full Wizengamot to review the right of your guardianship. Now, Dumbledore has contacted the best legal counsel available in such matters."
"Don't know why the old man couldn't do it himself," Ted grumbled.
"I imagine he might want a chance at taking custody himself, and he can't very well do that if he's making the case for the defence, can he?" Andromeda snapped.
"Will Arabella be there?"
Andromeda shook her head. "It wouldn't look good for her to be there. Your barrister will make her case. She's the best, never fear."
Harry nodded and stepped over to the Floo. "Ministry of Magic atrium!"
Harry was disgorged a few seconds later, thankfully in the correct place, his head still spinning. Ted and Andromeda emerged a few seconds later.
"When am I going to get to see the Weasleys?" Harry grumbled, his mood not improving as Andromeda carefully straightened his robes again.
"Harry!" the most recognisable voice in the world called to him. Harry spun on his heels and his face erupted into a grin of monstrous proportion as his lovely, beautiful Ginny leapt into his arms and brought her lips smashing down on his. The world went out of focus for a second or an hour, he couldn't tell and it was only when his delectable molly pulled herself grudgingly away that he realised Mum Weasley was giving both of them a stern lecture on decorum.
Ginny's face was reddening and her eyes were narrowing, a sure sign of impending explosion, Harry saw so he intervened. "I'm sorry Mum Weasley. We both just got caught up in the moment. You do look lovely today," Harry announced in as repentant a voice as he could muster.
"Well, thank you dear, but that doesn't change the fact, young lady…"
"You do look quite lovely, Mrs Weasley. Was it something you've done to your hair?" Harry inquired, cutting the matriarch off quickly.
Molly Weasley stammered for a moment, running her hand self-consciously through her hair. "Well that's very kind of you to say, Harry, but no, I've not done anything particularly special. Does it look different?"
"It must just be the light, I suppose, but it does look quite nice," Harry confirmed.
"Thank you, dear. Come along, children. We mustn't be late!" Molly scolded, dragging Harry, Ted and Andromeda in her wake as well.
"Harry, were you flirting with my mum?" Ginny demanded.
"I was getting you out of a scolding," Harry shot back. "I heard Ted do it and it seemed to work, though he kept telling Andromeda she was pretty and something about them both being mammals. I missed that part."
"It worked?" Ginny asked incredulously.
"Sure seemed to."
"Harry, so good to see you. I hope your summer is going well." The sudden appearance of Dumbledore and a middle aged witch startled the group. It appeared no one had noticed their presence.
"So, so, Professor. Been a lot better if I wasn't being dragged to listen to stuffy old men with stomachs full of gas and delusions of grandeur."
"Mr Potter, that sort of attitude is certainly not going to help matters," the witch scolded. She reminded him a lot of Cousin McGonagall, though without the familiarity. Her no nonsense manner, however was reassuring.
"Harry, may I introduce Linda Smith, the finest legal counsel in England today, wizard or muggle," Dumbledore offered.
"Nice to meet you," Harry mumbled, scrutinizing his alleged saviour. Neither Ted nor Sebastian held much stock in these types and Harry was inclined to trust their opinion.
"Might I have a few minutes with my client?" Ms Smith asked. Dumbledore nodded and motioned for the remaining family and friends to head to the court room to take their seats. Ms Smith then led Harry to a small antechamber with two chairs and a small desk. When they both were seated she began.
"Mr Potter, Albus has asked me to take this case as a favour to him, and I am going to give it my best, but I am going to need your full cooperation," her blue eyes sparkling a shade only slightly dimmer than the Headmaster's.
"What do you need?"
"I need you to be on your best behaviour. I've read about some of your exploits at Hogwarts and I'm sure the other side will try and use those against you. No matter what they say, you need to be quiet, still and let me do the talking. Your assessment of the men in there was not wrong, but unfortunately they don't see it the same way and antagonizing them will only hurt our chances of getting what you want."
"And what is it that I want, exactly?" Harry asked, suddenly suspicious.
"Emancipation. Your Muggle family and the protection they offer legally is no longer an option. You have been reported missing and presumed dead for ten years or better now. We can't very well waltz back and introduce you without violating a number of different laws. Your natural guardians, the Weasleys, aren't going to fare well in this either. They've too many children and not enough resources to justify taking you in. The opposition would make it seem like they were only trying to get their hands on your Galleons."
"That's absurd!" Harry cried.
"Of course it is. I went to school with Arthur. He may be a bit odd, but he's one of the fairest most upstanding blokes I've ever met. However, as I'm sure you've heard the court is not likely to award custody to either a man awaiting trial or a squib as unfair as that might be."
"What about Dumbledore?"
"He wanted to; but I convinced him it would be unwise to make that ploy. Firstly, he is in grave danger of losing his position as head of the Wizengamot. If he were to try and ask for custody, I think the body might assume he wanted you for political reasons as opposed to the fact that it might very well be the best place for you. That would scare them and he could lose both this case and his position. We'll need him if this goes against us and we need to appeal. Secondly, I need him in his chair leading. Half those gassy old goats in there are bought and paid for, I'm afraid, especially on a matter so important as this. The other half might work for you, but only if they can be bothered. Apathy leads here, Harry, but only because no one else can be bothered to. I think the best option for you would be an attempt at emancipation. That would give you certain rights, like being able to live with Arabella, and control over your own life. There would be certain responsibilities added, like the fact that you would be looked on as an adult in criminal situations so it will be imperative you keep your nose clean."
"Will I be able to do magic outside of school?" Harry asked, wide eyed.
"That's a question that still has to be resolved."
"What did they do with the last person who got this?"
"Truthfully, Harry, you'll be the first," Linda admitted.
"What? I thought you said this could work!"
"This is our best shot, but I'm not going to lie to you it is a long one. I know what answers we'd get if we went for the other options, what I don't know is if we asked for this one. It's murky."
"But you said no one has ever done it before," Harry demanded.
"No one has ever survived the Killing Curse before, either, but you're full of surprises. Now come on, wouldn't do to be late to court."
The court room had a large gold 'eight' emblazoned above the doors and when he walked in, Harry was very glad that the Smith woman steadied him. The room was massive, with fifty chairs alone on a raised platform of marble. Dark mahogany inlaid with gold striping made up the chairs and the wood, while magically enchanted murals depicted scenes of Merlin. It was magnificent if you were in to architecture, but unfortunately, Harry wasn't.
"Did they have to pick the gaudiest room in the bloody building?" Harry grumbled. He was rewarded with a sharp squeeze on the shoulder.
Ms Smith informed him that since he was the party in dispute, he would take a seat at the tables directly below the head throne. She didn't call it a throne, as such, but Harry wasn't really listening and the fat, gassy old men (and women, some of them looked quite gassy as well though not usually as old), were all perched upon chairs that more resembled thrones out of one of Ginny's childhood picture books.
"Who are you arguing against?" Harry murmured as they sat down together.
"It is more an argument for you. The crown will be represented by another of my profession arguing in what he considers your best interests, but I haven't heard whom that will be yet."
"Does it make a difference?"
"Sometimes all the difference in the world. They're supposed to be impartial, looking at only what's best for the child in question, and a few of my colleagues who work here are, but there are more than a few who either have an agenda or can be persuaded to have an agenda for the right reasons. I suspect we'll be facing one of those."
"Is that bad?"
"I can handle it," Linda assured him, her grey hair shaking slightly as she shook her head.
"All rise for the honourable Wizengamot. The proceedings may now begin," A middle aged wizard who sounded a lot like Percy droned out as a variety of aged witches and wizards filed in and took their seats. The court was opened in due course and a small fat wizard with calculating eyes and a bad comb over sat at the table to their left, representing the 'interests of the state'.
Harry suppressed a yawn as several motions were made, counter motions were made and the opposing lawyers began droning on about case law, best interests and precedent all the while citing regulations no one except Hermione might know and words that were too long for a majority of those seated in the audience section of the room to understand. Sneaking a glance behind him, Harry noticed there seemed to be an unusually large number of spectators for something so routine, Harry thought. Even if he was the Boy-Who-Lived, he didn't think he warranted so much attention.
"Oh sex me sideways," Harry breathed.
"Something wrong, Harry?" Linda asked, leaning her head close.
"Malfoy is here," Harry moaned.
"Lucius Malfoy?" Linda's tone was sharp.
"I suppose, I saw his son, Draco, nasty ponce that he is. I suppose daddy must be here somewhere. Little toadsucker doesn't go out in public without him."
"Have you been paying attention at all?"
"You should be," Smith rebuked, but sighed. "I suppose I can't blame you. Travers, that the little slug arguing at the moment is about to put forth the state's case."
"What about my emancipation?"
"That's what we've been arguing for the past three hours," Linda sighed. "It's not looking good at this point, Harry. I'm not going to lie."
"Which is why," Barrister Travers exclaimed in a particularly excited voice, "we believe that it is in the best interests of one Mr Harry James Potter, to be raised in a wizard family who can both provide for his material needs and wants as well as give him a loving and emotionally stable household. After review of suitable applicants for the position it is the state's opinion that Harry Potter would best be served by being sent to live with one Lucius Orion Malfoy and his wife Narcissa Malfoy."
"Objection!" Smith called out. "Is it the opinion of the state that the Malfoys are in fact the only suitable Wizarding family available? Despite all accounts that Mr Potter and Mr Malfoy the younger are at such odds with each other that they can barely pass one another in the halls without resorting to fisticuffs? Or that Mr Malfoy the elder is still under some suspicion of having corroborated with the Dark Lord?"
"That's completely out of line! He was cleared of all charges and no formal trial…" Whatever else Travers was going to say was drowned out by the hubbub that statement caused as both sides in the rear of the courtroom made their feelings known.
After several minutes Dumbledore managed to regain order. "Ms Smith, while your point is noted, barrister Travers has a point in that all formal charges were dismissed against Mr Malfoy, despite any personal lingering doubts. Please refrain from mentioning it again," Dumbledore instructed.
"Thank you, Chief Warlock," Travers gave a short bow and continued. "In addition to the eminently suitable nature of the family, I would point out that the closest living Wizarding relations Mr Potter has would be the Blacks. Narcissa Black, being the last legal heir to the house of Black is in the best legal position to claim kinship and thus we believe it is only fair that since she has expressed a desire to care for this poor and abandoned orphan it is best that Mr Potter be reunited with his last remaining family."
Harry nearly gagged, whether from the preposterousness of the idea or the realisation that he might actually be related to Malfoy he wasn't sure which.
Linda seemed to find the idea equally absurd. "Are you asserting barrister Travers, that the best way to determine the future of this boy is through the convoluted blood lines of Wizarding England? This isn't the crown of Scotland to be won. This is a boy who's real interests are at stake. At best, they are third cousins."
"Narcissa is Harry's Grandfather's great niece, to be precise," Travers corrected.
"And the fact that Harry is also related to Molly Prewett nee Weasley has not been brought up, I see. One to whom he has been far more connected."
"The Weasley's though no doubt very capable parents, as they've had so much practice, are also not in a position to be able to provide for young Harry, as they have four children in Hogwarts currently. That is no way for a boy to live, wondering where his next meal will come from."
Harry was becoming increasingly irritated at this pompous little windbag in front of him. Why couldn't they just let him decide? Very suddenly a naughty thought popped into his mind and he hoped (beyond hoped at this point) that the humans watching would be smart enough to put the clues together.
"Mr Travers, are you saying that if someone has a bit of money, a stable home life and is related to me then the court would consider them a suitable guardian?" Harry asked, brazenly. His voice echoed around the hallowed walls of the Wizengamot. The whispering crowd silenced in a moment to see the scene play out.
"Harry, what are you doing?" Linda asked, her eyes pleading for him to be quiet.
"Merely asking a question related to my potential future. I simply wonder if Mr Travers has truly exhausted all the options, or if he's merely being persuaded by a stack of Galleons. I think I have a right to know," Harry shrugged.
"How dare you!" Travers bellowed, and the room erupted once more into a furious hubbub. Harry looked at Dumbledore and locked eyes with the old man, green meeting blue and for once there seemed to be the spark of understanding passing between them. Another minute passed before Albus managed to quiet the room.
"Barrister Travers, while it may be a bit unorthodox, Mr Potter is allowed to ask questions with regard to his future and to be quite honest I'm curious to know the answer myself."
Travers, swiped one hand over his balding head, licked his lips and spoke in a clear voice. "Sir, we have looked long and hard at a variety of options and found the one laid before you today to be the best option, for the reasons explained. Harry would be with a proper family, well taken care of and around another boy his own age. While I have read the reports that he and Draco Malfoy are not necessarily on the best of terms at the moment, those things can change. I have found no other in such close proximity and with capability to provide."
"So the eminent qualification that renders the Malfoys most suitable would be Narcissa Malfoy 'nee Black's close relation to Harry's Paternal Grandfather?" Dumbledore asked in an oddly mirthful manner.
"That was certainly the primary consideration. After all, family is important, and I hardly think it prudent to grant Mr Potter's request for emancipation, he is only fourteen after all."
"I see, and before this court rules on the matter, is there anything further that Mr Potter or his council would like to add?"
"I would like to say that this hearing has been a farce," Linda began, her age finally showing. "At no point were Mr Potter's…"
"I claim right of primogeniture and the rights of Harry's guardianship!" interrupted a loud, feminine voice from the back.
The entire room turned their heads' enmasse to a now standing and very powerful looking Andromeda Tonks. Her black hair was swept out of her face and she was staring straight at Travers with condescending sneer that could beat Draco on his best day. Her body was cocked at an angle with her right shoulder thrown forward and both hands on her hips.
"I am the eldest and most eligible daughter of the most ancient and noble house of Black. As such, I claim and assert my legal right of primogeniture over my cousin and ward, Harry James Potter, Grandson of Dorea Black and Charlus Potter. In this, I am undisputed," Andromeda finished her eyes flashing dangerously and a haughty look of presumption plastered across her face.
Harry smiled, smugly. It seemed that his little outburst was not in vain. He'd hoped, of course that someone might use this to delay things a bit, but he felt rather warm and inordinately pleased that someone was willing to stand up for him so publicly. It was rather like being back at the den.
"Now see here, this is hardly standard," Travers objected. "There are rules that must be followed."
"If it please the court, we wish to withdraw the petition for emancipation and instead submit Andromeda Tonks nee Black, and her husband Ted Tonks as suitable and, if the record would show, willing guardians."
"But, that is… They can't possibly provide for the boy," Travers sputtered.
"Barrister Travers, as the eldest eligible Black most closely related to the aforementioned Potters, she is eminently suitable, wouldn't you agree? Furthermore, Andromeda's only child graduated five years ago and is now a member of the Auror department, where as the Malfoy's have a son still in Hogwarts and two would put an additional burden on their finances."
"I hardly think that's going to be a problem," Travers muttered.
"I would hate to see the illustrious name of Malfoy brought low by such a burden, you see. With the loss of their House Elf several years ago and Mr Malfoy having stepped down from his position as Governor of Hogwarts, it would appear that perhaps family finances are not as secure as the state would believe. An obvious thing to miss, especially since the state failed to even notice the possibility of a member of Harry's family even more qualified than the obviously suitable Narcissa Malfoy. I would simply hate to see what else the state may have overlooked in their due diligence. Quite understandable, given how overworked the Young Magical Child Associates officers are."
Travers at this point had turned a rather brilliant shade of red. "It would seem that perhaps we had missed a critical link in the investigation, however, we maintain that the Malfoy's are the best suited financially and emotionally to deal with raising Mr Potter. The Tonkses, while a very nice couple, have not dealt with fame and power to the extent of which Harry generates and it would be wise…"
"Fame and infamy are hardly the same thing," Smith countered. Harry grinned. It was rather like watching a house tabby toy with a mouse at this point. "And I believe you will find that Andromeda Tonks has quite the background in managing both, having been groomed and raised in the prestigious Black family, unless you maintain that pedigree is less than suitable."
"While Andromeda Tonks may have been, her husband was not and is in fact rather new to our world."
"I hardly think that a bridge to the Muggle world is unwise. Many fine witches and wizards have numerous links to the Muggle world. It will help when Mr Potter becomes Minister of Magic." At this point, the courtroom dissolved into shouting once more, and it was up to a very amused Dumbledore to regain control.
"Thank you, barristers. At this point, I have conferred with my colleagues and we are prepared to render a judgment. All those in favour of awarding custody to Andromeda Tonks?" Dumbledore asked.
Harry had trouble counting the number of wands that were lit, as the sudden bright light temporarily blinded him. "All those for Narcissa Malfoy?" Harry counted four. "It is settled, permanent custody of Harry James Potter to Andromeda and Ted Tonks. This session is dismissed."
Harry's head was swimming as he was mobbed by Weasleys.
"Can't believe those sodding, old wankers tried to send you off with Malfoy!" Ron huffed indignantly. Molly would have chastised Ron for his language, but she was too busy scolding her daughter and Ginny's boyfriend for attempting to remove each other's tonsils through pure suction.
"Alright, you two, break it up. Dad said we could have lunch at the Leaky Cauldron," George groused. Harry reluctantly set Ginny back on her feet as he felt another hand on his shoulder. He turned to find the heart shaped face of Nymphadora staring back.
"Congratulations, little brother," she winked. "Want to find mum and dad?"
"I guess so, you know where they went?"
Tonks shook her head. "Saw them head out the doors. I imagine they'll be waiting to see you."
"That's a bit unusual, isn't it? I would think they'd want to see how Harry is doing," Molly muttered, disapprovingly.
Harry shrugged and followed Tonks out of the doors. Andromeda and Ted weren't hard to find.
"Mum, dad!" Nymphadora screeched. Harry had to admire his new parents he supposed. Ted had his wife pressed up against the wall in a poorly concealed alcove giving her a snogging Harry would bet she'd not forget anytime soon.
Ted broke contact briefly. "Yes, offspring?"
"You're in public! Mum, your hands are all over his bum!"
Andromeda stared fiercely into her husband's eyes. "And what a very nice bum it is," she remarked.
"You two are acting like you're a couple of fifth-years," Dora complained. Ted shrugged as he gave his wife another searing kiss and reluctantly stepped away.
"To be continued," he whispered so softly, Harry bet he was the only one who heard it.
"Bloody hell, parents, I can't take you lot anywhere. Now, are you going to come say hello to your new son or not?"
Andromeda smiled and attempted to smooth her robes down ineffectively. "That was marvellous, dear. I hadn't even considered the thought until you suggested it," Andromeda praised.
"We'd talked about it," Ted countered.
"Well, yes, but I didn't think it would happen. Dumbledore was so sure about Ms Smith."
"Bloody misplaced trust," Ted grumbled.
"Ted, she fought well, but you could see as well as I that not one of them trusted Harry enough to be on his own. It was a miscalculation."
"Old goat was always too trusting," Ted sighed.
"You're not mad, are you?" Harry asked in an uncharacteristic burst of shyness.
"Not in the slightest. We would have proposed it in the first place if I'd had my brain in the right place. I'm just glad that little stunt in there worked," Andromeda reassured.
"Worked, it worked beyond all hope! You were fantastic, Harry, and then when you stood up and claimed to be a daughter of the House of Black…" Ted trailed off. "I haven't wanted to shag you that badly, since McGonagall caught us half-naked in the Astronomy tower end of sixth year."
"It was seventh year," Andromeda argued, but was quieted by another fiery kiss and a rather noticeable squeeze on the rump.
"Yes, dear, whatever you say dear," Ted murmured.
"Not fair," Andromeda pouted. Harry had serious doubts as to whether the couple would make it home without being arrested for mating in public when a very recognisable and unwelcome voice interrupted the love fest.
"This isn't over," Lucius Malfoy rumbled.
"No, it isn't, our robes are still on, but stick around. You might learn a thing or two," Ted winked.
"I wasn't speaking to you, Mudblood!" Lucius hissed. Harry looked around and noticed that the corridor was virtually deserted with lunch time upon them and the show being over.
"Lucius, while I may hate you personally, I do not take the threat of violence lightly. It is one of the many ways in which my elder sister and I differ. However, should you refer to my husband like that again, I will eviscerate you in a way only a Black knows how. Never forget, Malfoy, I was raised in the finest and darkest circles of magic. That little library you have hidden under the drawing room is light bed time reading compared to the hallowed halls of Keystone Hall."
"More's the pity it was wasted then," Malfoy shot back a little less enthusiastically than he meant to.
Andromeda raised an imaginary glass. "Toujouris Pur," Andromeda smirked.
Malfoy spat deliberately on the floor and spun on his heel striding briskly away from the scene, Narcissa and Draco hot on his heels.
Before Ted could utter a parting shot, or outrage at the insult, he was dragged down for another tongue battle. Breathlessly the two parted. "Take me home, Theodore," Andromeda commanded.
Another kiss. "I hate it when you call me Theodore," Ted growled, moving a little lower to nibble on his wife's neck.
Andromeda looked at the stunned onlookers. "Nymphadora, you'll …make sure Harry gets home safely then?" she gasped.
"Sure, mum," Dora answered weakly.
"Good!" Andromeda dragged her husband forcefully off her neck, gave him another passionate kiss and without another word the two strode purposefully down the corridor.
"Will they make it home, do you think?" Ron asked no one in particular.
"I doubt it. The Floo and apparition points are the other way," Arthur commented lightly. "Now, who's up for lunch?"
AN: So, Harry has new parents and Dora has a new brother. Everyone wins! I'm sorry this has taken so long to get out. I want to assure all my readers that this story is in no way abandoned, but a lot has been going on in life (both good and bad) which has cut into writing time. I hope everyone enjoys this chapter. It was rather difficult to write. Next chapter I think we might be headed back to Hogwarts! While there was no Umbridge here rest assured, you haven't escaped her entirely! Let me know what you think of Ted/Andromeda. It's a bit of how I always pictured them.