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Footsteps echoed through the silent halls in the lower floors of the Ministry as Lucius Malfoy made his way past the court rooms. He was heading down a long corridor leading to the hearing room that had been set aside for today’s meeting.
Glancing behind him Lucius glared at his son who was walking at a slower pace. “Come along, Draco,” Lucius ordered impatiently, stepping up to the door and opening it. He stepped to one side slightly and allowed Draco to walk in first before following; only giving a glance to the other people in the room Lucius put a hand on his son’s shoulder and moved Draco forward towards the table where there were two empty seats waiting for them.
Draco reluctantly took his seat, looking like he wanted to be anywhere but there right now. The reason for that was sitting across the table from him; Harry Potter. The other boy was leaning back in his seat with his arms crossed over his chest also looking equally pleased to be there. Dumbledore sat next to Harry, and looked to be the only happy person in the entire room.
Lucius took his own seat next to Draco; his eyes shifted to the end of the table where the Malfoy family lawyer sat, next to another man. Draco had never seen him before, but could only guess that he was there to represent Harry.
“Now that everyone is here, I think it is time we begin,” Ministry official said, taking out a piece of parchment and casting a quick spell before passing Harry and Draco a copy of it each. Harry made no move to take the parchment, let alone even look at it.
“Harry.” Dumbledore looked at the boy next to him. “The sooner we finish this, the sooner you will be able to return home,” the headmaster told him, sliding the parchment closer to the edge of the table trying to prompt Harry to look at it.
“Mr. Potter, this contract contains the details that we discussed when you arrived.” The official spoke to Harry gently, trying to avoid any problems.
“I know what details it ‘contains’,” Harry said grumpily. “And I already told you, Cathan, I don’t want to do this.” Harry shoved the parchment away from him slouching back in his chair. Draco snorted in amusement at the image of the seventeen year old Harry Potter pouting because he could not get his own way. He could only imagine that Severus would have a few choice words if he were here to see this. “Something funny, Malfoy?” Harry asked catching the blond’s attention.
“I just find it amusing that you think just because you don’t want to do something, means that you can just decide not to,” Draco said, smirking at the look of anger that crossed Harry’s face. Before a full blown argument could break out, however, Cathan put up a barrier between the two boys.
“Fighting about this will not change anything.” Cathan said reaching over and putting a hand on Harry’s shoulder, only to have it shrugged off. “I know this isn’t what you wanted, but there is nothing we can do about it. Unless the people who formed the contract wish to dissolve it.” Cathan gave a look to Dumbledore, and then glanced over to Malfoy Senior. He already knew that neither of them wished to dissolve the contract, they had made that quite clear when it had first been mentioned nearly a month ago when all this started.
“If we could please continue, I do not have all day,” Lucius said, the warning was clear to Draco who picked up his copy of the contract again and looked it over. Harry took a moment longer to finally sit up and pick up his own copy. Once both boy’s had their copy, and were reading it, Cathan dissolved the barrier between the two of them and lifted up his own copy.
“The contract is self explanatory, simply stating that the Potter heir, bond to the heir to the Malfoy family. Refusal to do so by the end of summer following your final year at Hogwarts school of Witch craft and Wizardry, the following penalties will apply,” Cathan said, reading off what would happen to Harry should he refuse to go through with the contract. Losing his money was not that worrisome for Harry, he had been poor before, and he could easily get himself a job to earn himself more money. No, the blow came from the fact that if he did not comply with this contract, all his money and properties under the Potter name would be split between the Malfoy family, and the man who had been Harry’s legal magical guardian.
“Now, do either of you wish to deny the contract?” Cathan asked looking between Harry and Draco, knowing full well that both boys did not want to do this. But also knowing that Draco would do this because of his father and Cathan had spoken to Harry before the meeting even started. The boy had not had a clue about the contract, or what was expected of him. It had taken a good hour to calm the boy from his hysterical state.
“No, let’s just get this over with.” Harry said, resisting the urge to slouch in his chair again. He felt powerless, it was a feeling he was quite accustomed to. He never had any say in what happened with his life, and now that he was of legal age, this was the only way for Dumbledore to keep any kind of control over the savior. And Harry knew it. Dumbledore had always been the one behind the scenes controlling as much of Harry’s life as he possibly could.
“I shall honor the contract,” Draco replied.
“Very well, then if you both would stand.” Cathan stood up and pulled out his wand. Draco stood first setting the contract down on the table, he gave Harry a look. Letting out a loud sigh, Harry pulled himself up from his chair. “If you could step over here, Cathan instructed, “and take each other’s right hands,”
Harry glared at Draco when the blond boy held out his hand, much like he had on their first day at Hogwarts; only this time Harry was being forced to actually take it. Once they were holding hands, Cathan tapped the joined hands with his wand. “This is a minor bonding spell, it is a sign that both of you have agreed to the terms of the contract. With this spell the first part of the contract has been fulfilled and should you wish to hold an actual wedding ceremony you will have twelve months to plan for it,” Cathan explained; they had both already knew this, of course, but it was procedure to inform them of it at this point as well..
Harry pulled his hand away quickly once the spell had finished. “Are we done here?” Harry asked angrily, with a demanding look at Cathan.
“Unless there is more that Mr. Malfoy wishes to discuss?” Cathan looked over at Lucius.
“No, we are finished here,” Lucius agreed. “Mr. Potter, I shall have a house elf come and collect your belongings by the end of the week. Be ready to move into Malfoy Manor by then.” Lucius stood up looking down his nose at the boy who was soon to be his son-in-law.
“Wait, what? Why do I have to be the one to move?” Harry asked. “That wasn’t in the contract was it?” Harry looked pleadingly at Cathan.
“No, it was not in the contract,” Lucius answered for the lawyer. “However, your current residence with the Weasley’s is unacceptable.” Lucius held up his hand when he saw that Harry was going to interrupt him. “And it could be quite dangerous if Draco were to call on you. The Weasley’s are as tolerant of the Malfoy’s, as we are of them. Be grateful I am giving you a week and not demanding you move into the manor today.”
“Fine! Anything else you wish to ‘demand’ of me?” Harry snapped.
“No, Potter, that is all. For now,” Lucius added and turned then to his son. “When you return to the manor, inform your mother, and instruct the elves to prepare the rooms for Potter.” Lucius waited for Draco to nod once before he turned and left the room.
“That went better than I expected it, I must say,” Dumbledore said up as he stood. “Come, Harry, my boy, let us go inform your friends.” Dumbledore stepped towards Harry who took a step away from him.
“No. YOU get to go and tell them how you just sold me off to Malfoy! And after you’re finished with that, if I ever see you again…” Harry let the threat trail off because he didn’t know what he would do to Dumbledore if he saw him again after today. Not even looking at Draco, Harry grabbed his cloak that had been draped over the back of his chair and left. Draco glanced at Dumbledore before he followed Harry out.
“Wait up, Potter.” Draco called out, not that he expected Harry to wait.
Harry spun around, his wand out and pointed at Draco. His patience for today was running very thin. “What the hell do you want now, Malfoy? Haven’t you gotten enough from me today?”
Draco looked at the wand pointed at him before raising an eyebrow. “You plan on hexing me in the middle of the Ministry?”
“I’m Harry Potter, I could probably get away with it,” Harry said and there was no arrogance in his voice when he said this, he just sounded like he was stating facts; it sounded like he was just done with this whole situation.
“You’re not the only one who doesn’t want to do this, Potter,” Draco pointed out as he crossed his arms over his chest, continuing to look disdainfully at Harry.
Harry lowered his wand before putting it away. “I know it’s probably not your fault Malfoy, but I really don’t want to talk about this anymore today.” Harry ran a hand through his hair seeming not to care that that just messed it up even further.
“So we won’t talk about this right now,” Draco agreed.
Harry stared at him before nodding. “Want to walk out with me?” Harry asked nodding in the direction of the elevator.
“The great Harry Potter is willing to be seen in public with the son of a Death Eater?” Draco asked with a smirk, earning another glare from Harry.
“I was just thinking that by the end of this week we’ll probably be spending quite a lot of time together, so we might as well try and be civil about it.” Harry’s anger was back. “You know what, forget it.” Harry turned again and went to the elevator by himself slamming it closed before Draco could have the chance to follow him.
Once Harry left the Ministry, he went straight back to the Burrow. Even though he told Dumbledore that he had to be the one to explain the current situation to everyone, Harry still wanted to be the one to tell the people he had grown to think of as his family. He still had no idea what to tell them though; as much as they cared for him, the Weasley’s were still very loyal to Dumbledore. And there was still the fact that Harry couldn’t figure out what Dumbledore had been thinking when he made that contract with Lucius.
Harry stood in the small room that he had been lead to after arriving at the Ministry, he was staring at Dumbledore who was sitting at the small table.
“Sir? What are you doing here?” Harry asked.
“I am here for the same reason you are, Harry,” Dumbledore explained, motioning for Harry to take a seat. Past experience with talking to Dumbledore lead Harry to believe that this was not going to be a pleasant conversation.
“Okay, so why am I here?” Harry rephrased his question and Dumbledore smiled at him.
“I think it would be best if I explained a few things before I answered that question for you, my boy.” Dumbledore looked thoughtful, trying to choose his words carefully. He had experienced Harry’s temper before, and he would very much like to avoid it as much as possible.
“What do you need to explain, sir?” Harry asked with a frown.
“I have told you before, that I had asked Severus to return to his duties as a spy for the Order,” Dumbledore began, watching Harry who sat in silence ready to listen. “Even though I asked this of him, I knew it wouldn’t be enough to get all the information we needed. I needed a second spy, but those loyal enough to be as close to Voldemort as I needed them to be, would not willingly turn against their master. So I had resigned myself that Severus would be my only spy. Until I was approached during the summer, right before you started your fifth year.”
“After Voldemort returned?” Harry asked.
“Yes, Harry, you see not everyone in Voldemort’s inner circle was all that happy to see him return. It had been thirteen years since he had been in power, Death Eaters who had managed to avoid going to Azkaban had built up lives for themselves; lives and family that were threatened with the return of Voldemort. One of these followers, in the same position as Severus, right in Voldemort’s inner circle, yet in better standing with him than even Severus was. This man approached me and offered his services.”
“So you had two spies for the Order? Why didn’t you tell anyone else about the other spy?” Harry frowned.
“Because he did not wish for anyone to know his involvement with the Order, it was difficult for Severus who had to be careful what he told Voldemort, since it was believed that Severus was in fact spying on the Order, instead of the other way around.” Dumbledore explained. “This new spy, did not have those restrictions, .. but this put his life in greater danger; if he was even suspected of leaking information, then this new spy would have been killed on the spot; him and his family without question.”
“I’m not sure I’m following you, sir. What does this have to do with us being here?” Harry asked, in truth he was following everything so far, though it had not escaped Harry’s attention that Dumbledore had yet to say who this new spy had been.
“This new spy agreed to pass information about Voldemort, at great risk to himself and his family. He agreed to become a spy for me, but in return for something.” Dumbledore paused here and looked at Harry.
“What did he want?” Harry had the sinking feeling that he would not like the answer to that question.
“He wanted you, Harry. he wanted a marriage contract to be drawn up so that when the war was over, if our side won, you were to marry his heir. Being announced as a spy only clears someone’s name so far, as you have seen with what Severus has had to deal with. But if you were to join his family the back lash that Severus has suffered would not affect his family, or at least be lessened a great deal,” Dumbledore said.
Harry was shocked, of anything Dumbledore could have said, he had not been expecting that. “Oh.” was the only thing Harry could say as he leaned back in his chair as his mind struggled processed this information.
“That is why we are here today, Harry,” Dumbledore almost sounded sorry for the situation he was now putting Harry in, but the only thing Harry could register in his mind now was that Dumbledore had sold him off to some unknown person, just to gain an extra spy.
Harry shook his head free of the memory, not even wanting to think about how angry and upset he had gotten at that point; and that was even before Dumbledore had gotten to who. He had reached The Burrow and so he tried to focus instead on how he was going to explain this to his adoptive family. Entering in through the kitchen, Harry smiled when he saw that Molly was already starting dinner. She looked over her shoulder at the sound of the door opening.
“Welcome back, Harry, what did Dumbledore want?” she asked flicking her wand and Harry watched as pots and pans flew out onto the stove.
Harry didn’t even know how he was supposed to answer that question. “I think I would rather just tell everyone at once, if that’s okay?” he asked; he looked at Molly who now seemed even more worried then she had after Harry had received the summons from Dumbledore. “It’s nothing really bad. I promise,” Harry tried to reassure her. “I don’t have to go off and fight another Dark Lord,” he added trying to make light of his situation.
“That’s not funny, Harry.” Molly scolded him gently, but she did look less worried now.
“Sorry.” Harry smiled. “I’m going to go find Ron.”
“I think he and Ginny went over to the field for some flying,” Molly told him. Harry nodded and went to go get his own broom while Molly returned to preparing dinner.
Going out flying was most definitely not telling everyone about the Malfoy’s. But it would help Harry focus, and maybe by the time they were heading back inside he would know how to tell them that this was the last week that he would be living here. And by next year he would be an official part of the Malfoy family.
Once he had his broom, Harry hurried outside and over to the field. He smiled when he saw Ron and Ginny flying around, and Ginny, being smaller and faster on a broom then Ron was, was easily flying circles around her older brother. Grinning, Harry took off, flying up to join them.
“Hey mate, I didn’t think you’d be back so early,” Ron said flying over to meet him.
“Yeah, it went faster then I was expecting it to.” Harry said, looking over as Ginny flew around the field. “She’s gotten really good on her broom,” Harry said.
“I think she picked it up from watching you all the time, mate.” Ron teased and Harry flushed.
“You can’t learn to fly that good just by watching someone,” Harry said rolling his eyes.
“So what did Dumbledore want?” Ron asked while Ginny flew past them to make another lap around the field.
“Tell you later,” Harry said and took off racing after Ginny. He was aware it was not a very tactful way of ending a conversation, but he was trying to avoid talking about this, at least for right now. Harry thought that maybe after dinner he would be able to figure out how to tell everyone.
The sun was nearly set, when the three of them were called in for dinner. Ron took all three of their brooms and rushed off to put them away, while Ginny and Harry went inside. Ginny smiled up at him and tried to take his hand while they walked, but Harry slipped his hand away before she got a good grip on it.
“Sorry, Ginny,” Harry said looking at the hurt look that crossed her face. They were not officially dating, and Harry honestly didn’t think they ever were. But he knew Ginny thought differently.
“Harry, you’ve been in a strange mood since you got back from your meeting with Dumbledore. He asked you to do something dangerous again, didn’t he?” Ginny glared, and Harry could tell her temper was rapidly rising.
“No, it’s nothing dangerous, I swear. It’s just…” Harry ran a hand through his hair letting out a loud sigh. “I don’t know how to tell anyone, it’s nothing…okay, well maybe it is bad, but it’s definitely not dangerous. Look, I’m going to wait until after dinner and then tell everyone at once okay?” Harry asked hoping that that would be enough.
“But I’m your girlfriend, why do I have to wait and hear it along with everyone else?” Ginny asked, she did try not to sound like a selfish, spoiled child, but there were times she couldn’t help it. Growing up in a family with six brothers, and being the only girl she was a little more spoiled then any of her siblings.
“Ginny, you’re not my girlfriend…I’m sorry if you thought that.” Harry knew this was the wrong thing to say when Ginny’s eyes flashed with anger, before it looked like she was going to start crying. But she wiped those tears away before they even had a chance to fully form.
“Then we could still try…” Ginny suggested hopefully.
“Ginny,” Harry sighed, “maybe we could have, but what Dumbledore wants me to do…I don’t think we can be anything more than friends.” Harry was surprised to find that he was okay with that, Ginny being his best friends little sister, he supposed he couldn’t see her as anything other than a little sister either.
“So, I have to wait to find out what this oh so important job is that Dumbledore asked you to do?” Ginny huffed in annoyance. “Fine, I’ll wait,”‘ she said, realising Harry was not going to be dissuaded. Unable to look at him anymore, she stormed into the house before him. Harry waited outside for Ron to finish putting the brooms away, before they both went in as well.
Today seemed to be a full house for Dinner; Fred and George had come over for dinner, and for the first time in a couple weeks Arthur didn’t seem to be working late. Ron quickly abandoned Harry’s side as well, when he saw that Hermione had stopped by, and was in the kitchen learning a few cooking spells from Molly.
“Hey, when did you get here, Hermione?” Harry asked taking his usual seat at the table, while Hermione helped Molly put the food out.
“About half an hour ago, I heard about your meeting with Dumbledore at the Ministry,” Hermione told him with a calculating look, and Harry got the feeling that she knew more about the meeting than anyone else in the room.
“Dinner looks amazing, Mrs. Weasley,” Harry said, but he couldn’t evaded Hermione’s knowing look.
“Harry,” she started but he shook his head.
“After dinner, okay ‘mione?” he pleaded with her; if he thought too much about it right now, or talked about it, he would just end up skipping dinner. Which would lead to Molly trying to force feed him every moment she got for the rest of the week. According to her, he had always been far too skinny. Which Harry knew to be true, it was hard to gain a healthy weight when living with the Dursley’s. He was sure that after the years he had spent living with them, he would never have a normal appetite. So it was best to avoid things until he had at least eaten. And Hermione thankfully let it slide. But Harry knew she, and the rest of the family, would demand answers as soon as dinner was finished.
Draco did not return to the manor with his father after the meeting. Insisting that he had a few things of his own that he had to take care of first; though, in truth, Draco just needed time away from home, time to clear his head before he went back and faced his Father. There was a good chance that Lucius would start throwing out demands, of how Draco was to proceed with this upcoming marriage. Even now Draco couldn’t help but think over the basics of what would most likely be expected from them.
He and Harry would have to be seen in public together a few times, and then an official announcement would be made in the Daily Prophet. They would have to attend a few parties together in the coming months, and then the plans for the wedding would start. The tricky part in all this, was to try and make it seem as if neither Draco or Harry were being forced into any of this. Draco, being a Malfoy, was very good at acting, and pretending he enjoyed being with someone, when in reality he would rather be anywhere else; Harry, on the other hand, he suspected would hopeless.
His mind occupied with these thoughts, Draco couldn’t help but wonder how much of the situation would his Father try to control. But Draco already knew the answer to that; if he didn’t take control and make his own decisions then Lucius would be deciding everything.
So with that in mind Draco went down a wide alley and, turning on the spot, he vanished. Hoping that Blaise wouldn’t mind a surprised visit. Draco knew he was going to need some help with this one, if he couldn’t get out of the engagement with Harry, then he was going to be the one deciding what happened.
Blaise Zabini had never been one for surprises, so when Draco showed up on his doorstep asking for help because he had quite recently found himself engaged, Blaise was more than ready to just slam the door in the blond’s face. It was only because they had been friends for their whole lives, that Blaise allowed Draco to enter.
“Theo and Pansy are here as well. Thought I should give you a warning about that,” Blaise said leading Draco into the sitting room, where his other two good friends from school sat.
“Why didn’t you tell me you invited Draco today, Blaise?” Pansy asked looking hurt that this information had been kept from her.
“Because he said he was too busy today to even bother with us,” Theodore put in, before either Blaise or Draco could answer.
“You know perfectly well that my Father had a meeting that I had to attend today.” Draco snapped.
“Easy there, blondie,” Theodore held his hands up. “So was this meeting that bad?” He asked as Draco sat down in an empty chair.
“You could say that.” Draco closed his eyes and pinched the brim of his nose trying to ward off the headache that was now trying to settle in.
“Apparently Draco is now engaged,” Blaise helpfully told the other two, earning a glare from Draco. “Sorry, you said you wanted help so, helping.” Blaise grinned at him.
Pansy was the first one who responded to this her voice raising slightly. “Who would you be engaged too? There’s hardly any pureblood families left that would want to take your name, not after your Father betrayed the Dark Lord! And no one on the other side would willingly become a Malfoy…”
“I never said he was willing,” Draco said, cutting her off.
“He?” Theodore and Blaise asked at the same time.
“Draco, exactly who are you engaged too?” Theodore asked.
Draco had to think about answering that, he didn’t know if he wanted it revealed just yet that he was going to marry the Savior of the wizarding world, then again he trusted these three, well more at least a good deal more than he trusted anyone else. And even if this information somehow landed in the morning Prophet, it was a good way to get control over the situation before his Father had much time to think about it.
“Harry Potter,” he told them, smirking slightly he looked over at Blaise and Theodore. Revealing this when he already had a headache starting might not have been the best idea ever, as Pansy’s voice was loud and shrill when she jumped out of her seat and screamed.
“Harry Potter? Why in Merlin’s name would you ever want to marry him?” She demanded. “Is that why your Father betrayed the Dark Lord? So that his son could bend over for the boy-who-lived?” Pansy could be a nice enough girl, provided she wasn’t yelling about something. But when she was, she had a voice that just went right through you. Draco, Theodore and Blaise used to joke that she must be part Banshee.
“Pansy, sit down and shut up before you make Draco’s head explode,” Theodore said and Pansy glared at him, clearly ready to continue her shouting, until Blaise easily shoved her back down into her seat.
“Now if you wait, I’m sure Draco will explain,” Blaise told her sternly as he took his own seat and waited for Draco to start talking.
Draco took a few moments to get his thoughts in order before he began explaining; though not in full detail. It was common knowledge, at least among the children of a few Death Eaters, that the Malfoy’s had betrayed Voldemort, and were a leading cause in his downfall; but it was only a select few, such as the three sitting in front of him, who had supported the decision. Pansy’s only major complaint about it was that her own Father had landed himself in Azkaban, while Lucius was able to remain free. But, even with his friends’ prior knowledge, Draco didn’t want to flat out admit that his Father had been a spy in the war since the Voldemort had returned.
It took a little while, but once he was finished with his story, his friends could only sit there and stare at him. There really wasn’t much they could say, and he wasn’t exactly looking for help to get out of this contract.
“So what did you need our help for?” Theodore asked. “It sounds like everything is pretty much set in stone anyway.”
“It really isn’t, and that’s the problem. My Father was the one who set this up to begin with,” Draco said, hoping that one of them would pick up on what his dilemma was, without him having to say it.
“And you don’t want him to be involved any more then he already is.” Leave it to Blaise to figure it out first, though that was probably because Draco had spent a lot more time complaining about his Father to Blaise then either of the other two.
“If he has his way, he will be telling me what to do for this whole engagement, and the whole marriage as well probably,” Draco said sounding bitter as he leaned forward in his seat, trying to think. “I’m not very fond of getting married to Potter, but seeing as how that can’t be changed, I at least want the control to decide what happens,” he explained, looking at his three friends.
“That’s simple then,” Pansy said grinning, and suddenly looking far too happy about this. “You just beat your Father at his own game.”
“And how would you propose I do that?” Draco asking with a raised eyebrow.
“Well, this engagement will most likely be announced in the Prophet the moment you and Potter have been seen in public with each other, right? If not, then it would be once you have gone to at least one party together. At least, it would be enough to get people talking, given that everyone knows you two hated each other in school,” Pansy told them and Draco nodded, following so far. “And I am thinking that just springing out with a sudden engagement isn’t the way your Father would want to go about things,” she said, with a smug grin.
“I wonder if that would actually work,” Draco said thoughtfully.
“It isn’t as though your father can make it a secret again, once the world knows,” Theodore pointed out with a shrug.
“And it would mean that I have a head start on how our engagement would be viewed by the public,” Draco added, speaking mostly to himself. He looked to Theodore and Blaise to see if they had any other thoughts on the matter, but he was sure that their ideas, if they had any, wouldn’t be as good as Pansy’s, as it happened neither of them seemed to have any suggestions. “Alright then, so we make sure this information get’s leaked to the vultures. It’s a good a start as any I suppose.”
“Maybe you should consider talking to Potter about this as well,” Blaise suggested, which earned him a couple curious looks. “I’m just saying that it’s going to involve him as well; you two are going to be spending quite a lot of time together, so you may at least work this one out together before you spend the rest of your lives ignoring, or worse, hating, each other.”
“You just have a soft spot for Potter,” Theodore teased.
“And what if I do?” Blaise snapped. “My point is still valid.”
“I’ll worry about that later, right now I think I will concentrate on getting this into the paper by the end of the week,” Draco said.
“Good, now that that is settled let’s all go have a drink or something,” Theodore said as he stood up. Everyone just shook their heads at him, but they got up as well. Tonight did seem like a good time to have a drink; Draco sure thought he could use one.
Dinner, as always, was very loud with the Weasley’s. Even more so whenever the twins decided to stop by, claiming they just missed their mother’s cooking. But Harry had been over to their place a time or two since school let out and, as good as they were making things for their joke shop, and even edible things sometimes as well, they were horrible cooks. And Harry, having been subjected to their cooking already, joined in teasing them about it.
Of course since Harry was also a private backer for their Joke shop, and the whole reason they had been able to start their business when they did, and so he was never really very worried about retaliation from the two of them.
When dinner was finished, and Molly was setting out the pie she had made for desert, Harry noticed that things at the table were getting quiet, and most everyone’s attention was now on him. Apparently, ‘after dinner’ did not include desert and they were all impatient to hear what he had to say.
Ron was the one to break the silence. “So…?”
“So…what?” Harry asked.
“You were going to tell us about your meeting with Dumbledore,” Ginny said frowning when Harry pushed his piece of pie away knowing that once he told them, he wouldn’t want to eat it.
“I still don’t know where to even begin. Everything, it doesn’t quite seem real.” Harry sighed trying to decide the best place to start, before he settled on, “this is the last week I can live here.”
As he said those words he was surprised at the tight feeling that formed painfully in his chest. Hogwarts had been his first home, but the Burrow had come in a very close second. He had been more than happy to never return to the Dursley’s and instead move in here, until he and Ron could find a place of their own, and Ron didn’t want to do that until he got himself a job. But Molly didn’t mind Harry staying for as long as he wanted.
“What? Why not?” Ron asked trying to figure out why Dumbledore would tell Harry something like that. “I thought now that you were seventeen, you didn’t have to go back to the Dursley’s?”
“I don’t have to go back, but, I can’t stay here either it’s…” Harry hesitated, unsure quite how to explain the situation. “I don’t think it would be a good idea.” Harry had known this was going to be hard, but he hadn’t imagined it would be this hard.
“Harry,” Hermione put a hand on his arm. “Why don’t you tell us what the meeting was about,” She prompted, her tone was soft, and Harry knew then, in that moment that she already knew what had happened at the Ministry and why Dumbledore had summoned him.. And he wondered if Dumbledore had, in fact, told her.
“I can’t ‘mione.” Harry closed his eyes hoping that all of this would just disappear.
“You know, now might not have been the best time to test out our tongue tying toffee.” Fred said teasingly.
“You don’t have to go off and kill another you-know-who, do you? If you do, let’s hope this one is more creative with his name then the last,” George added. It was true Weasley twin fashion; they just did not deal well with tense situations and so they tried to cover up the uneasy feeling in the air.
“Harry didn’t only have a meeting with Dumbledore today,” Hermione said coming to her friends aid. “Mr. Malfoy was there as well.”
“Malfoy?! What does that slimy bastard what this time?” Ron yelled.
“He’s the reason I have to move out at the end of the week,” Harry said not looking at anyone. He really hoped that someone else would speak, but they all waited for him to go on. “Malfoy, Lucius anyway, was a spy for Dumbledore, they set up a magical contract or something. But, the point is I have to move into Malfoy Manor at the end of the week, because I’m…” The words caught in his throat as he tried to say them.
“You’re…?” Ginny prompted.
“I’m supposed to marry Malfoy… erm, Draco, by next year,” Harry explained, as a strange numb feeling spread through him the more he talked.
It felt as if it were slowly sinking in; as through the more he continued talking, when he said it out loud, then it became more real to him. He had had only a month’s freedom, one month where his life was his own and everything and anything was possible for him. Only to have it taken away from him once again, by Dumbledore. And it was then that Harry realised that the man he had spent so many years admiring, the man he had done everything for when asked, had only ever seen Harry as a tool to be used. And now his usefulness was gone, so he was being shipped off.
“That, that really is insane, mate,” Ron said, looking a little nauseous. “How can Dumbledore do that to you?” he asked. Harry was just thankful that he wasn’t shouting. Out of everyone, he would have expected Ron to react the worst; he definitely expected him to be more mad then this, then again, Ron had grown up a lot.
“I’m sure if we talked to him, Dumbledore could find a way to cancel the contract,” Molly said. He knew that she was just trying to sound reassuring, but it had already been explained to Harry that there was no way out of this unless Dumbledore and Lucius decided to cancel the contract. And Molly was sure to know that as well.
“I think, I’m just going to go to bed now,” Harry said weakly, unable to meet any of their eyes as he pushed away from the table.
He didn’t know what he had been expecting from them really, but considering the Weasley’s were normally a loud and vocal family, the silence from them felt deafening to Harry. And all it seemed to do was confirm for him what he already knew; he really was stuck following through with this contract whether he wanted to or not.
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