Takin' the P.I.S.S.
The Slytherin table was in disarray as the sensational news of the death eater purge appeared on the Prophet's front page. Sensational was certainly an apt word to describe the effect of reading the names of those who had fled the country, with their vaults emptied and property gone. There were quite a few sitting at breakfast that now didn't have a home to go back to, or even a guardian to look after their welfare. With no heads of house currently in the castle, and Dumbledore not anywhere to be seen, the joke circulating Hogwarts was that Trelawney was now in charge. Unbelievably, with almost fifteen years experience, she actually was the most senior professor, after the Headmaster, now left in Hogwarts.
Draco sat contemplating what was in store for him next. His parents had fled the country while his godfather, Severus, seemed set for joining Aunt Bella in Azkaban. With no other relations, and no gold, Draco couldn't see any other alternative to an orphanage. Any 'friends' he could have stayed with were all suffering from the same set of circumstances as he was.
These bleak thoughts were interrupted by a flock of owls winging their way to every student in the same position as him. Draco quickly ripped his envelope open and gave an audible sigh of relief. Here was an offer to accommodate him over the summer, and then to continue funding his education. He had a meeting arranged for tomorrow to discuss the details, Draco thought any option other than an orphanage had to be good news. For the first time that week, a slight smile crept onto the Slytherin's face. Draco now realised the happy consequences of the death eater purge – he no longer had to marry Pansy!
The group was again on the beach and Harry could see the stiffness start to leave their bodies from yesterday's first session. He intended to push them slightly further this morning before doing something different again. After calling a halt beside the cliff, they had done one more circuit of the beach than yesterday, Dobby again appeared with his wonderful energy drink. There was no gillyweed today. Instead, Dobby began conjuring dummies and fixing large sheets of parchment to the cliff face above the dummy's heads.
"When we began our training, the room of requirements provided us with everything we needed to learn to fight. The parchment will show animated diagrams of defensive and offensive moves and will design these around your physical ability and personality. Hermione is pure offence, she attacks until her opponents are down. Luna used to dodge everything thrown at her, but would strike like lightning as soon as an opening presented itself. Neville became the most physically powerful of the group, he once ripped a dummy in half because it had managed to land a blow on Luna. Yes, the dummies can be animated but we're a few weeks away from that I think." Harry knew he had their full attention so decided to give them a little demonstration.
Hermione could tell through their rings what she was expected to do, she walked up to Harry and carried out the exact same move she had flattened Sirius with. Her betrothed still flew through the air, but twisted and landed on his feet - with his wand pointed right between her eyes.
Harry'd wand disappeared before Hermione came over and kissed him, they turned to see the rest of the group looking at them in wonder.
"How the hell did you do that?" Sirius demanded
"Well, we just put our lips together and do what comes naturally. I know you've been out of circulation for a while, Sirius, but I didn't imagine I was going to have to give my godfather the talk!"
Sirius held him with a glare that said he was tired, sore and in no mood for jokes.
"Oh, you mean the flip thing? It's called training, which is why we're all here. It might just save your life one day, and it impresses the hell out of chicks!"
Hermione's slap to the back of his head had everyone laughing. She knew exactly what Harry was doing by introducing humour and why. If you still had the energy to laugh, you could push yourself just a little bit more.
"My beautiful betrothed will now give us a slight demonstration on how to use the dummies."
Hermione turned around and immediately gave a more than passable impression of the cartoon Tasmanian Devil. She reacted so fast that the dummy's head was rolling on the sand before most of the group knew she had moved. Harry was beginning to think that transfiguring the dummy to look like Ron and wearing an 'I love Potions' t-shirt was maybe a tad too much. His Hermione had exploded at first sight of the dummy, and Harry was slightly worried that he would be her next victim, but dad saved the day.
Dan Granger put his arms around his trembling daughter and kissed the top of her head. "You have no idea how good it feels, as a father, to know that my daughter can kick the arse of anyone who tries to bother her."
The adrenalin coursing through her blood at the sight of the dummy dissipated as her father's arms held her, Hermione had longed for this experience all the years she was growing up. Her parents were really grasping their second chance with both hands.
She turned and gave her father a hug before kissing his cheek, "Thanks dad."
She then turned to her love and held her arms out, he almost apparated into them. "Sorry love, but that wound is just a bit too raw at the moment. We now know what that bastard's interference could have cost us. The Weasleys will really have to stay out of our way for the foreseeable future."
A kiss later and everything was back to normal. Well, normal for them.
"Now this beautiful lady moved slightly quicker than I had intended, but we can ask the parchment to slow the action down. The darker the colour, and the size of area affected, is an indication of how much damage the blows would have done to a normal body."
The groin area instantly became jet black, and then spread toward the black area now emanating from its chest. Most had caught Hermione's spin and elbow into its throat, that move resulted in the dummy's head now sitting on the beach.
Harry found himself having to cough a couple of times to get his voice back down to its normal tone. The black swelling in the groin area seemed to have the same eye watering effect on all the males, except Dan. His 'that's my girl' expression was beaming out pride at a wattage to rival any FM radio station.
"We'll teach you how to hit, the dummies will glow indicating where to hit and the parchments tell you the damage your blows would cause." Harry and Hermione then had the group practicing basic moves. Dan took to it like a duck to water, he was throwing combinations by the time they were finished. The dummies and parchments constantly assessed their attackers, and pushed each member to their limits.
It was a sweating but satisfied group who headed off for showers and breakfast.
Daphne Greengrass was enjoying her day, a day that had started with the dreaded letter from home. It had been delivered via Gringotts, as it would take a couple of days by owl.
The whole of magical Britain was talking, with the name on everyone's lips being Harry Potter. Her father had heard whispers of prominent purebloods fleeing the country, with their tails between their legs and not much else. He was delighted his daughter had allied herself with the house of Potter. Being that fence-sitting was almost embedded in the Greengrass genes, her father would wait for developments before taking any drastic action - like declaring an alliance.
They were currently being taught charms by Professor Flitwick and, because the class was so small, being allowed to work at their own pace. This was proving to be much faster, since they didn't have to wait on Crabbe and Goyle having everything explained to them at least six times. The lessons, learning environment and having classmates Daphne believed she could be herself amongst were all welcome experiences. Combined, they helped to make Daphne believe that standing up on Monday morning was the best decision she ever made.
The warm Italian sunshine and beauty of the Amalfi Coast were slowly melting the ex-Slytherin ice queen.
Pomona, Minerva and Poppy were busy putting their heads together, trying to organise what the Institute needed to get done before being able to open on September first. Minerva was noting all that they would need to buy, and the Scotswoman was fast approaching overload at the running total so far. Hogwarts would never be able to afford this. Then again, she was one of very few people who knew of the financial manipulations that went on at Hogwarts - and all with ministry approval.
The pureblood dogma that muggle borns shouldn't be allowed to attend was utter rubbish, since without them the school would close. They paid in some cases fifteen times more fees that the purebloods, basically for two reasons. Their fees were comparable to the best muggle boarding schools, and if purebloods were charged the same rates for their children - most of the parents wouldn't pay. As their children were either going to be married off, or get jobs due to their family's influence, why waste all that good gold on an education would be their attitude.
The result was that Hermione's fees for the last three years would probably pay for the entire Hogwarts education of all seven members of the Weasley clan. She had been debating with herself whether to pass this information onto Harry. The Institute's targeting of the muggle born students could end up closing Hogwarts, but the same story in the press would cause uproar of epic proportions. She had to tell him, and then let the group decide what to do with the information. Minerva was loyal to a fault, and she had decided where her loyalties should now be when leaving that Monday morning.
Pomona and Poppy were amazed at the European syllabus that actually had potions and herbology closely linked, but with some healing included as well. The students had to understand the plants, the potion and the effects they would have on the body. Again the equipment needed to start potions, herbology and an infirmary from scratch would not come cheap.
While that was happening, Harry and Hermione were working with mum and dad to make arrangements for the Hogwarts students that had basically become orphans. With their parents constantly on the phone, both teens had dossiers for each student and were writing in the arrangements as they were worked out.
Dan very quickly discovered two things. They badly needed computers with Internet access, and the Gardiner credit cards had no limits. Amelia had also sent through a list of qualified ministry personnel that would be assisting with the plan, they too needed matching with the right candidate.
Albus had received notice that his presence was required at the ministry tomorrow, to discuss irregularities relating to Hogwarts. After reading about the death eater purges, he suspected Severus had given the DMLE information. Albus though was aware that the potions master could overcome truth serum, and was impervious to mind scans.
There was also the fact that Amelia hadn't turned up with those two pet aurors of hers yet, which would definitely be the case if they broke Severus. At most, he was going to be getting a dressing down for his treatment of that little shit, Potter. As long as they didn't cancel the tournament, Albus would listen to their bullshit all day.
Harry, Hermione, Dan and Emma met with Amelia and both of her auror protection detail in Hogsmeade. Albus had already left for his day at the ministry, so they should be free from interference.
Amelia felt she owed Harry this, especially after his interview. It had appeared in the Quibbler that Harry had a high opinion of Madam Amelia Bones, and felt that if she was in charge of the Ministry of Magic - he wouldn't have had to leave in the first place. She was now a shoo-in for becoming the next Minister of Magic.
Dan and Emma were pretty sure that these two were gong to use this opportunity to complete the task they had to do in Hogwarts. Both were determined they were not going to be facing those tasks alone, and both Grangers now carried guns.
They entered the castle, and soon the laughing teens had to guide their parents by the elbow. Dan and Emma were so busy gawking at their surroundings, they were entering the classroom that had been commandeered for their use before they realised it. They all quickly got organised before sending for the first appointment of their day, Draco Malfoy.
Draco strutted into the room, and almost ran straight back out when he recognised who was waiting for him.
"Malfoy! If you leave this room, then you must know the only decisions available to you are which orphanage you will be living in - and what to do next year when you can't afford Hogwarts."
A disconsolate Draco had stopped in his tracks, so Harry pressed home his advantage. "It's not very Slytherin of you to leave before even hearing the proposal. Take a seat, and I promise that you will get to accept or decline my offer. The decision will be yours, and yours alone to make."
Draco sat in front of the panel of five, with the two aurors now standing behind him.
"Since you seem to be in a hurry I won't waste your time, so here's what we're offering. Non-magical people in America have what's known as summer camp. It's all people your own age who get together to do outdoor pursuits, and basically have a lot of fun. You would have to live as a muggle for the summer, but this comes with a reward. On the first of September, you would be attending Salem Academy of Magic to continue your education there."
Watching as Draco's eyebrows shot up at that part, Harry then explained the reasoning behind his offer. "Please don't think of this as some sort of punishment, it's not intended as such. You have been told your whole life that muggles are beneath you, without ever having any experience of them. This is to provide you with that opportunity. Hopefully, you will then be able to form your own opinions of their way of life."
Amelia then spoke, as she could see the boy looking for the catch in this offer. "The Ministry is assisting in this venture, but it is being totally funded by Lord Potter. All fees, travel arrangements, equipment, clothes and with even an allowance for you - to be paid monthly. You are now well aware of the alternatives. If this is Lord Potter's idea of punishment then he can punish me anytime, it's costing him a fortune!"
Draco sat quietly, weighing up his options. Living as a muggle for two months, then being allowed to attend Salem. His alternative was to live in an orphanage, and then be dependant on someone's charity to continue his education in Britain. The name Malfoy would now count against him, and now more than ever, Draco would need a good education to make any headway in life. On paper, it wasn't a hard decision - it wasn't any decision at all. There was one thing that was driving him crazy however, why was Potter doing this?
The idea that there would be no gain, or a debt needing to be paid off somewhere down the line, was inconceivable to the Slytherin. Try as he might though, Draco couldn't see Potter's angle in this. What did Potter get out of Draco Malfoy saying yes, there had to be something? Draco felt that, if he understood what Potter gained, then he could fight against it. He didn't know there was no defence against an unselfish act.
Draco Malfoy eventually said the only thing he could say," I'm in!"
The plan was to meet Tonks straight off the express, where his trunk and wand would then be sent on to Salem. He would spend the weekend staying in a muggle hotel, shopping, getting a passport from Gringotts before flying to New York on Monday. Draco would be accompanied to the States by a ministry employee with the appropriate background. As everyone being made this offer were being sent to different camps all over America, he would rejoin the others on the first of September in Salem.
Draco left with his head spinning. The only fact that kept playing over and over in his head was that Bones had been right - this must be costing Potter an absolute fortune.
After the last interview had finished, Harry glanced towards Hermione who'd been studying the Marauders map all day. A nod of her head and a "still there!" was not what he wanted to hear.
They had originally planed on sneaking out for a second, and then using the time turner Hermione still had to complete their tasks un-noticed. Mum and dad would never forgive them though, so the group of seven headed into a girls toilet - to find a red haired witch kneeling by a certain sink.
Ginny was beyond distraught, sobbing and looked as if she hadn't left this position for days. When she saw Harry, the glimmer of hope in her eyes was heartbreaking to see. The young witch threw herself at his feet, with her speech being constantly interrupted with soul wrenching sobs.
"Oh Harry, I prayed for you to come.."
"… can't open it…"
"…wish you left me down there …"
"…tried to jump off tower…"
"…magic won't let me…"
"…never find me in chamber…"
"…being sold to buy new house…"
"… rather die than let old bastard touch me..."
At this point, Ginny's sobs became so bad that they couldn't understand another word.
Harry glanced towards Hermione and instantly received his answer. She had total faith in Harry, but wouldn't trust the red haired bint as far as she could throw her. Which, come to think about it, was pretty far.
Harry knelt beside Ginny and scooped her into his arms. "Schhh Ginny, take a deep breath. If you can't tell us the problem, then we can't really help."
After a minute or so, Ginny was coherent enough to get her main points across. "The Burrow is destroyed, so my family are arranging for me to be married this summer - to the highest bidder."
"MOLLY!" shouted Hermione, but Ginny shook her head.
"Dad, and those selfish bastards who are supposed to be my brothers are arguing who gets the biggest room in new house."
Dan Granger was just getting used to the role of loving father, and was finding he liked it a lot. This distraught young girl reawakened the emotions he felt during the bank fight.
"Let me see if I've got this right. Your house got destroyed, so your own family is going to sell you, their thirteen year old daughter, to the highest bidder in order to rebuild?"
Ginny nodded, though added that she was still twelve.
Dan whirled on Amelia, "Please tell me this isn't legal?"
Amelia bowed her head, ashamed of some of the darker sides to their society. "I assume Ginny's talking about a betrothal contract and bride price, in which case it's perfectly legal. They probably took her wand, her family magic will prevent her harming herself, that's why she was unable to jump off the tower."
Both parents turned to Hermione, well aware that she would be the one they would have to convince.
"We have to help here. I know we have the whole potions issue to deal with, but what kind of sick bastard sells his own twelve-year-old daughter? What would that make us, if we could help but didn't?"
Hermione had never heard her mother swear, that made her think more than anything else.
"Did Ron try a potion on Hermione? Is that why you guys left?" Ginny asked confused.
"We found out he was going to make the attempt." Harry answered, diplomatically.
"He never said anything to me about it." Ginny answered truthfully.
Hermione couldn't help the biting quality in her voice as she asked Ginny a question. "Would it have made any difference to you, if the result was to split Harry and me up?"
Ginny may be young, but even she realised her future could hang on this answer. She decided to be completely truthful, "I was honestly so in love with Harry, that I would have taken him any way I could. There are so few genuinely good people out there, even my own brothers turned out to be heartless bastards. Being told that I'm basically to be sold has changed my opinions on everything I only thought I knew. My eyes have well and truly been opened, and no one should ever be forced in that position. I hadn't heard about Ron and any potion, though I certainly wouldn't be shocked if he did try something like that."
Hermione had so many conflicting thoughts and emotions running through her head. She wasn't sure what to do and Harry was wisely staying out of her mind, recognising this was a decision Hermione had to reach on her own.
This version of Ginny Weasley hadn't done anything yet, and knew nothing of her brother's plot to use potions on her. Hermione also recognised that their interference in the timeline must have caused this event. Even if the other Ginny had been sold, possibly after they had closed down Harry's Gringotts account that the Weasleys had been stealing from that Christmas. Hermione still felt responsible.
Hermione already knew what her betrothed's answer would be. Shit, they just spent an entire morning, and spent a fair bit of gold, trying to save Malfoy and his cronies. Hermione felt as if she had no other option but to give Ginny the same second chance that they were enjoying, and giving everyone else. First though, it was time for a few home truths.
"Ginny, Harry and I are now betrothed. Anyone attempting to tamper with our relationship would soon find themselves in some very serious legal trouble. I will become Lady Potter this summer and, although allowed by law to take more than one wife, trust me when I say this lady's not for sharing. Harry is well aware of my position, and agrees wholeheartedly with it. If you can accept this and move on, we can help you. If you use this to make a move on my betrothed, I guarantee that what happened to Snape will seem like a picnic compared to what I'll do to you."
"Hermione, I have tried three different ways to kill myself, rather than face being married to some unknown old man. I would swear on my magic never to hope for anything more than friendship from both Potters, but that bastard Percy took my wand again. I already owe Harry a life debt, and would certainly consider I owed my life to whoever rescued me from this situation. If you can help then please, I'm begging here. I'll do absolutely anything you ask of me,"
A quick discussion over their bond and it was settled between the couple. "Amelia can we take her with us?" Harry asked.
Sadly, Amelia had to shake her head. "Sorry Harry, it would be classed as kidnapping. The only reason it worked on Monday was that you had no prior knowledge of the oaths, and then did everything in your power to save them triggering those same oaths. Even if Miss Weasley were to be given a wand to make any kind of oath to prevent this betrothal, the person responsible would end up in Azkaban."
"These laws are nuts!" Emma angrily declared.
The head of the D.M.L.E. found herself unable to dispute that. "Our society is dominated by pureblood males, who basically make the laws to suit whatever their needs are. Who do you think would be purchasing Miss Weasley? Our society is roughly about a century behind yours in values and technology. As long as the old guard stay in charge, that's the way it will remain - because that's all they know."
Harry looked at Ginny and saw a small, frightened child that needed reassurance as much as her body needed air.
"Ginny, we will help you. We actually came here to do a very important job however, and have to enter the chamber again."
Now that she had some hope to cling to, all desire to enter the chamber evaporated. Ginny decided to lock herself in a cubicle and wait for their return. Ginny provided the first laugh of the afternoon however when she told them Myrtle left, apparently Ginny's incessant crying was driving the ghost mad.
Dan Granger felt as if he was in an Indiana Jones movie. As small bones crunched under their feet while they walked along the wand-lit tunnel. He was even wearing a leather jacket and was carrying a gun in its holster, with only a whip and that hat missing.
As if sliding down a giant tube hadn't been enough to reinforce the Indiana Jones image, they were now standing in front of a massive round metal door that Harry was speaking to in that strange hissing language. Parts of the door animated before the whole thing swung open, releasing the most noxious smell Dan had ever experienced. Before he could even draw breath and complain, his head seemed to be surrounded by some sort of goldfish bowl - thankfully filled with clean air. Harry then led them through the door.
His future son-in-law had described the Basilisk as a big snake. Dan now thought that was a bit like describing King Kong as a large monkey. Technically you might be accurate, but severely lacking on the grandeur of the beast. The basilisk was bloody enormous!
The thought of a twelve-year-old Harry fighting this abomination with a sword, to save the life of the petite witch they had just left, forced Dan to sit for a minute. The enormity of that task, and bravery of this young man he was growing to love, hit him hard.
Dan glanced around and could clearly see he was not the only one having such a reaction. The three women were in tears, while Auror Shacklebolt was leaning against the wall to keep himself upright. All were shaken as they tried in vain to comprehend the achievements of the young wizard known as Harry Potter.
He was surprised at his daughter's lack of reaction to this. Dan then remembered that Hermione would have gotten to experience the entire episode through Harry's memories, definitely not something he would imagine was a pleasant memory - and feeling Harry's emotions as well!
Dan thought that Hermione and Harry's relationship was so strong, because it had primarily been forged in the heat of battle. Facing enemies on all sides, with an unquestionable belief that they would die before allowing the other to be harmed. This knowledge was truly humbling to Dan, as he watched his daughter and her love extracting teeth. Meanwhile, two dentists were so overcome with emotion as to be rendered useless.
Dobby popped them back into the toilet, two at a time, and it was Amelia who eventually spoke first. "Lord Potter, the picture in the Quibbler simply didn't do your heroics justice. Why weren't you recommended for an order of Merlin?"
It was a very bitter Hermione who answered that. "He saved Ginny, Hogwarts, Dumbledores job and cleared Hagrid's name, while getting him out of Azkaban too. Harry's 'reward' was to be sent back to Privet Prison, and then isolated from everyone who cared about him. If we didn't need the old bastard just now, I swear I would take great pleasure in kicking his decrepit arse clear into next week."
Harry put his arms around his betrothed and lovingly kissed her neck. "Never change, Hermione, I love you just the way you are."
Any smidgen of hope that Ginny had left of forming a relationship with Harry, died right there and then. She could easily see the utter devotion these two had for each other.
It was a puzzled Amelia who later looked on as Harry walked up and down in front of a blank wall. She was soon giving a gasp of astonishment as a door made an appearance, and once again Harry led the way in.
Harry was wearing dragon hide gloves as he lifted a diadem down, this resulted in a terrified scream from the little red haired witch. "That's the same as the diary, Harry. I can hear it calling to me. Please don't let him get me again."
Emma held Ginny tightly as Hermione handed Harry a fang from the Basilisk, he quickly stabbed Rowena Ravenclaw's Diadem.
Screams louder, and containing more terror than Ginny could ever hope to produce, came from the inanimate object. A smoky humanoid form leaked from the centre jewel, before dissolving into a black goo on the floor. Hermione quickly banished all traces of this residue.
Amelia's legs gave way as she found herself on the floor. Her two aurors standing above her with wands drawn, unsure what had happened to their boss but determined to fight it. The phrase 'same as the diary' had triggered her collapse, just as soon as Amelia had realised what the diadem was. Oh dear Merlin, how many more of them were there?
Amelia asked Harry the question with a terrified glance, and his answer of "seven" had her head in her hands - which saw her auror escorts starting to become really agitated. Amelia held up one of her hands to signal that she was okay, and they could calm down.
"Can you give me any details?" She then asked Harry.
"That's the third one we've destroyed. We already have another one waiting at Gringotts, it was stored in the Lestrange vault, and we can now use the same means to destroy that item as well. We know the location of the others, and we're planning to retrieve them to administer the same treatment. As you can imagine, this entire subject must remain as secret as is possible. Currently, only Hermione and I have this knowledge. If this information were to get into the wrong hands, we could be left facing an absolute disaster."
"Anything you need, anything, anytime – it's yours simply for the asking. If you pull this off, our world will owe you a debt that could never be repaid. Merlin, they already do!" The sincerity and respect in Amelia's voice was there for all to hear.
Shack's questions were met with a shake of Amelia's head, she could see Harry was absolutely right about this. The fewer people who knew about horcruxes at the moment, the better for everyone.
Ginny was assured once more that they would help before the seven beat a hasty retreat, pre-empting the return of Dumbledore.
Arthur Weasley was lying alone in the borrowed magical tent, currently contemplating his life in relation to his decision to place his only daughter on the betrothal market.
His mind drifted back to what he considered the pivotal moment of his life, meeting Molly Prewett, the redhead that changed his world. She might have come with a bit of a reputation, but shy Arthur Weasley was just glad she came. His total experience with witches up until that time had been a few kisses, and one quick fumble in a broom closet that had been the result of a dare. Molly seemed to see something in him that no one had before, or since if he was being totally truthful. They married as soon as he got a job in the ministry. Molly kept him well-fed and warm at night, with Bill making an appearance less than a year later.
While his pureblood status almost guaranteed him a job at the ministry, the lack of money and any family prestige placed him on the lowest rung of the promotional ladder. Arthur believed that, as a pureblood wizard, he actually was better than those not of similar breeding. Being a poor junior clerk, especially in the ministry department dealing with muggles, meant Arthur had nothing to offer the death eaters. When the great Albus Dumbledore asked him to join the light side, Arthur was so flattered to be asked he'd said yes immediately.
He was bitterly regretting his decision, right up until little Harry Potter finished off the dark lord. Arthur thought he would be rewarded for joining the right side, only to have his earlier fears confirmed - and his dreams of any prosperity dashed. Gold and a family name could apparently get you out of anything, and the death eaters were all still lording it over the perpetually penniless, and now blood traitorous, Weasleys.
His career had crawled along at a snail's pace, but then again he wasn't exactly working his arse off. Arthur had found his niche and, in this night of honesty, probably his level as a wizard as well. Dealing with biting tea cups was quite enough for him, thank you very much.
Of all his children, Ronald was probably the closest to Arthur in ability and personality. Ronald expected maximum returns for minimal talent and effort, in whatever field he chose. The owl requesting Ron spend the summer with his new girlfriend confirmed Arthur's opinion, that the boy did most of his thinking using a part of his anatomy that was not his brain.
Molly and Albus had been cooking up some scheme for years to get Ginny into the Potter family, and then solve all their monetary problems in one fell swoop. Arthur had been quite happy to go along with that scheme, but it would appear to have spectacularly blown-up in their faces. A bit like the Burrow, since the ministry had now determined the spell signatures that destroyed their home all belonged to Molly. This left Arthur with some really tough choices. The entire family living in a tent while they saved for years to try and rebuild their house, and that didn't even count trying to replace lost belongings. His only other option was to offer Ginny for betrothal, and rebuild now with the gold they would receive.
Arthur considered this a 'greater good' scenario, and eased his conscience with that thought. The needs of the many outweighed the needs of the one, the one in this case being Ginny. He would try and choose someone who wasn't too terrible for Ginny, but at least she would have money wherever she finally ended up.
It was the cold light of day before Arthur finally convinced himself that, as head of a pureblood family, this was the only choice available to him. He had just roused himself out of the borrowed bed when his name was being called from outside the tent. Reaching for his wand, Arthur then found three goblins standing waiting on him.
The goblin in charge gave a look of distaste at the interior of the tent before speaking. "A client I represent has heard of your situation, regarding the youngest female Weasley, and would like to make you an offer."
The goblin then pulled out a folder and handed it to Arthur.
He opened the folder and gazed upon the prettiest manor house he had ever seen. Glancing at the details, Arthur soon discovered it was in Cornwall, had ten bedrooms with six bathrooms, reception rooms and a kitchen Molly would kill for. It also had extensive grounds, and came fully furnished.
"My client would like to do a straight swap, the deeds to this house in exchange for your daughter. This is a one time only offer, and the papers must be signed this morning or the deal is off. We can of course portkey to the property and allow a viewing."
Arthur was so eager to see this house, he completely forgot that he hadn't dressed yet. He was stood there in nothing but a shirt, pyjamas burn just as well as houses.
It took less than five minutes for the head of the Weasley family to make up his mind. As soon as Arthur entered the house, his decision was made. The documents were signed on his new dining room table, without even once asking who the goblin's client was that he just gave his daughter to.
The Hogwarts express was pulling into Kings Cross on schedule, and Ginny Weasley was a nervous wreck. The second Harry had left Hogwarts, her mind had started throwing 'what if's' at her. What if Hermione changes her mind, what if they want too much gold, what if she was already sold. The list was endless, getting more and more unlikely but no less terrifying as time slowly passed.
Ginny retrieved her battered old trunk and trundled towards her beaming father, this could be very bad.
When all the Weasleys had gathered round, Arthur made his announcement. "The Weasley family has a new home!"
Ginny's insides turned to lead as she dreaded the answer to the question she had to ask. "Who did you sell me to?"
From behind her, a very familiar voice supplied her answer. "That would be me!"
A/N Thanks for reading