Chapter Sixteen: The Wedding
"Potter, where have you been?" Blaise snapped as Harry entered the Apprentice's Common Room. "That Shacklebolt tried getting into the dungeons all right. Fudge grabbed Finnegan and Shacklebolt, and Fudge tried interrogating him. Moody and McGonagall got Finnegan away from Fudge..."
Blaise was apparently ready for the wedding in deep green formal robes; his black hair seemed a bit longer than usual and was out of its customary neat tail, hanging smoothely down his back. Millie was seated on one of the sofa's in deep wine-colored formal robes, and Luna was curled up in an armchair in dark bronze-colored formal robes. Both girls were dressed for the ceremony and waiting on the Gryffindor Apprentices.
"What is going on? Finnegan said Snape was injured in a Potions' accident." Millie frowned. "Malfoy's having a conniption fit because he wants Snape at the ceremony."
"Snape is injured. If anyone asks--Neville blew up a Fertilizer potion," Harry sighed, looking at the other three. "Where's Seamus?"
"He's upstairs changing. You better move quick, Potter, because Fudge decided all the Apprentices are to be standing up with Malfoy," Blaise answered.
"More like a photo op. I'm betting someone from the Prophet's here." Harry snorted. "Damn, Neville--"
"He was injured too, according to Seamus, at least. He can't attend either," Luna offered.
"Well, that's something then," Harry sighed.
"Move it, Potter, we've got ten minutes to get down the ceremony," Millie ordered.
Harry moved, running up the stairs to his rooms to put on the emerald green robes Seamus had helped him decide upon that morning, as Harry hadn't had a clue as to what would have been appropriate and asking Seamus was less embarassing than asking Blaise or Millie.
A frowning Professor McGonagall met the six in the Visitors' Common Room. "Harry, can't you do anything with your hair?" She proceeded to cast no less than six charms meant to make hair more manageable, to no effect. "I swear your hair is worse than James' ever was. And what on Earth is that on your cheek?"
"It's a rune tattoo from a protection spell Mum cast on me as a baby," Harry answered.
"Oh my dear stars, and with the Minister here no less. What a day for those to come to light." McGonagall shook her head and pursed her lips. "Let's have a look at all of you. Oh, really, Miss Lovegood, leave that--that magazine here. Miss Bulstrode, could you please try to move like a lady rather than stride along like a bull?"
"Professor--" Harry frowned.
"Oh hush, child. None of you can put a foot out of line. That fool that somehow became the Minister of Magic is looking for anything at all that would give him good reason to end the Apprentice Program. Mr. Zabini--well, there simply isn't time for you to do anything with your hair--do tie it back at least."
Harry gave McGonagall a very confused look. Blaise was one of the few boys at the school that had long hair, but the dark-haired Slytherin was never less than impeccably groomed. He didn't understand McGonagall's upset. Every Wizard on the staff had long hair, and with excedingly few exceptions--Mr. Weasley, Charlie and Percy being the only ones Harry could think of off the top of his head--most every Wizard Harry had ever met had had longish hair, at least to their collar or longer. McGonagall's fussing made no sense at all.
"With what?" Blaise sneered.
Professor McGonagall yanked a strand of long black hair from Blaise's head and transfigured it into an elastic band. "This will suffice. Really, your mother allows you to grow your hair--" she scolded disapprovingly.
"Dad and Father have never objected." Blaise glared.
Professor McGonagall blinked at that. Then she turned an exasperated look on Luna. "Accio Quibbler." She quickly transfigured the magazine into a handkerchief and tucked it in her robe pocket. "I shall return this after the ceremony. Miss Bulstrode, do not slouch."
Millie gave McGonagall a downright nasty look. Luna rolled her eyes.
"I realize this entire ceremony is preposterous, archaic and you all would rather--"
"Get bitten by one of Hagrid's sweet, misunderstood little critters?" Millie muttered.
"Have a root canal?" Seamus offered.
"What's a root canal?" Blaise frowned.
"Muggle dentistry," Harry sighed. "My cousin's had four already. They basically drill out almost all the inside of the tooth--"
"Drill?" Luna asked.
"Never mind." Seamus shook his head. "It's a Muggle thing and very unpleasant, my dad had one last summer. He carried on so much mum threatened to boot him out the house for a week or two till he got over the pain and the complaining."
"Harry--" McGonagall frowned at the boy's hair again, then pointed her wand, casting one last spell.
Harry made a face at the truly strange sensation as his hair grew about a foot in mere seconds. McGonagall performed the same pulled-out-hair to elastic band transformation. "Mr. Zabini, pull that back properly for him. That's at least an improvement, and for you it's proper enough." She gave Blaise an annoyed look.
"My Father is Shadowyn, not Wizard. I am the eldest male Zabini Wizard even if I'm not finished with my education. I have every right to wear my hair long if I so choose as eldest Wizard of my line," Blaise glared at the Head of Gryffindor. "I'll explain later, Potter." The Slytherin boy rolled his eyes at Harry's confusion over that statement. "I take back what I said last night, you'd probably know more than you do if you had been raised under a rock," he muttered as he deftly pulled Harry's newly lengthened hair into a ponytail.
"Mr. Zabini," McGonagall said warningly. "Come along. Mr. Malfoy is waiting on his attendants."
Draco was glaring mutinously at a tapestry in the small antechamber off the staff exit of the Great Hall with his back to the door when the group entered.
"I'm ready to take my boot to your arse, cos!" Tonks was snapping at him.
"I refuse to go through with the ceremony until Severus is here. He is my godfather and the only family I claim," the blonde Slytherin snarled. "And quit calling me Cos, you half-Muggle mutt!"
"Mr. Malfoy--" McGonagall began sternly.
Draco spun, glaring, and caught sight of the other Apprentices. "Potter, where's my godfather?"
"Why ask me?" Harry tried to deflect the question.
"Because you are always in the middle of everything! Where is Severus and why isn't he here? If he was injured in a potions accident he would be in the hospital wing and the dungeons wouldn't be guarded by house-elves."
Harry drew his wand and with it slammed the antechamber door, then quickly cast locking spells, a handful of wards and a silencing spell. With a sweeping motion around the room, he cast first the Hospitium Veritas, which he had studied in an effort to remain awake while keeping watch over the sleeping Snape the night of the full moon. That spell was quickly followed by an "Animagus Revelo," and, directly after, he aimed his wand at each person in the room and uttered a "Finite Incantatum".
"Animagus Revelo?" Millie frowned. The wards and silencing spells made sense to her. Even the truth spell on the room and the round of Finite Incantatum made some sense, though those seemed a bit paranoid for a Gryffindor.
"Rita Skeeter's a beetle Animagus." Harry said. Then he looked at Draco. "Isn't that right, Malfoy?"
"So what? You can't prove anything and she's registered legally now." Draco glared back. "Where is my godfather?"
"He was injured---badly--by all rights he should be dead." Harry said slowly, choosing his words with extra care as he felt the influence of the Hospitium Veritas himself. "He was attacked the same day as the attack on Regis Isle. The circumstantial evidence of that fact alone is enough to have him executed on the spot. Keep shouting and having a bloody fit. His death will be on your head."
"He's all I have left, Potter, not that you could possibly understand..." Draco said tightly.
"I don't understand what, Malfoy? WHAT? I don't understand what it's like to see your parents murdered in front of you? I have exactly one memory of my parents, and I only have that because the Dementors drug it up--all I remember is Voldemort killing them. I don't understand having your only counted family kept from you? Sirius Black was innocent. He was my godfather. Bellatrix LeStrange killed him in the Department of Mysteries. I saw it happen. All I have left is Remus."
"Don't play the poor me card, Potter, all your adoring fans--" Draco sneered.
"Oh yes, bloody leeches who see a scar and have some bizarre ideal. Ron is my best friend--or was. And the first goddamned thing he asked me was if I really had the scar when we met on the Hogwarts Express!" Harry shot back hotly.
"I tried to befriend you--"
Harry blinked. Malfoy was telling the truth, he had to be with the spell on the room. Harry was feeling the influence of it himself. "Malfoy, you insulted the first kid who ever talked to me and was actually nice to me. Everyone was terrified of my cousin Dudley and his gang at Primary School. Hell, your whole 'some wizards are better than others' sounded so much like Dudley I wanted nothing to do with you. You need better people skills. You're worse than I am. I just don't talk and sneak off to avoid everyone. You're right in the middle, acting like a prat who thinks the world should kiss his arse."
"Mr. Potter!" McGonagall scolded sharply.
"Who's--who's tending Severus?" Draco asked carefully, very much aware of their gaping audience. He knew his godfather had the Dark Mark, though his father had had serious doubts as to where Severus' loyalties actually laid.
"Neville's sitting with Snape and Remus now. Remus hurt himself badly during the full moon, because of the backlash from not having the last two doses of his Wolfsbane. We can't put either of them in the Hospital wing. Too many questions would be raised and the poor Regis Isle people would panic over a Werewolf being in the castle. Remus will recover quickly enough; at least more quickly than Snape, with his lycanthropy-aided healing. Neville is the one that came up with the potions accident. Anyone who has been a student or is the parent of a student who has attended Hogwarts in the last five years isn't going to doubt Neville blew up a potion. Seamus and I are the ones that initially patched him up, I've mostly been taking care of him since."
"MALFOY! You're a Slytherin! Shut up and think like one!" Harry bellowed at the blonde boy, worried Malfoy was going to ask about the Mark. "Dumbledore trusts Snape completely."
"Dumbledore's a Muggle-loving senile old fool," Draco sneered.
"Dumbledore might be a manipulative old sod, and talk in so many circles you want to tell him to take his lemon sherbets and shove them--"
"Mr. Potter!" McGonagall cut in giving Harry a sharp look. "Mind your language!"
"Sorry, Professor," Harry managed keeping his eyes locked on Malfoy.
"Then Severus is the fool!"
Harry glared. "Malfoy, don't bet on it."
"Oh right--you're going to kill the Dark Lord and save the world," the blonde sneered.
"I'm going to kill the bastard that has ruined my entire life. He's responsible for me losing my parents--and yours too if you bloody stop and think a minute, Malfoy."
"I'm sure he's terrified."
"Malfoy," Harry began coldly. "What age does a Wizard normally have his full magical powers?" Harry didn't know the answer and was honestly curious, not just wanting to make his point.
"Twenty five to thirty for the most part, though the most powerful Wizards can be up to forty before they have their full power." Draco answered, confused and wondering if Harry had been taking how-to-be-loony lessons from Dumbledore.
"Voldemort tried to kill me when I was fifteen months old. I lived. He was disembodied for fourteen years. He was somewhere around sixty then. He tried killing me when I was eleven when he possessed Quirrell. I lived. Quirrell didn't. Voldemort had to flee and find another host. He tried coming back with the diary when I was twelve. He managed corporeal form, even, and Ginny Weasley nearly died because of that. He and the thousand-year-old basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets were stopped by a Muggle-raised twelve-year-old, Dumbledore's Phoenix, and the bloody Sorting Hat! Great master you've picked, Malfoy--a twelve-year-old, a bird and a singing hat got the better of him and a basilisk! I dueled him at fourteen, got away alive, and managed to at least get Cedric's body home for his parents to bury. I've still got at least ten, and more like twenty or twenty-five years until I have my full power. Oh and before you start on the Slytherin's Heir Pureblood crap--Tom Riddle is half-Muggle. His Muggle father abandoned him after he found out his mother was a witch. His mother died--he grew up in a Muggle orphanage. And he is NOT the Heir of Slytherin, nor the last descendant of Slytherin. He's merely the braggart from a bastard line of the family that managed to find out his connection to Salazar Slytherin."
"Tom Riddle?" Draco, and just about everyone else in the room excepting Professor McGonagall, looked confused.
Harry raised his wand and mimicked Voldemort's fiery-letters-in-the-air from the Chamber of Secrets. "Tom Marvolo Riddle" quickly spun and rearranged itself to spell "I am Lord Voldemort".
Draco bit his tongue to keep from blabbing out every thought that raced through his head. Potter had cast the most powerful Hospitium Veritas Draco had personally ever encountered. That was saying something; there were several rooms in Malfoy Manor that had the spell cast on them, including a few rooms that had the spell repeatedly applied to them. Draco had to admit, Potter was a true threat to the Dark Lord, even if he was still a clueless idiot and more Muggle than not. The too-lucky Gryffindor Golden Boy's eyes were hard and furious and raw power fairly crackled about him. Potter was truly powerful, though he was too much of a Muggle-minded fool to use that power. Strike that, he was too Gryffindor to utilize the natural power he had to be great. Draco had to wonder if he shouldn't begin rethinking his position. Neutrality sounded like a wise course of action for now.
"Are you quite through, gentlemen?" McGonagall asked a bit archly. Her eyes rested worriedly on Harry for a second, then speculatively on Draco. She didn't approve of the methods Harry had used, but it did seem as though the first crack in Lucius' conditioning of his heir had been made. There just might be hope for Draco after all. The boy was at the very least thinking about Harry's outburst.
Harry winced and rubbed at his scar.
"Harry?" Seamus frowned.
"It's starting up again. Let's get this bloody wedding over with while I can still stand up. I don't need Fudge trying to cart me off to St. Mungo's. Oh, and watch out for Mrs. Weasley, Seamus. She lit into me outside Dumbledore's office, calling me a hooligan because of the runes from Mum's spell, and then said I was indecent for being an Apprentice, and finally started in about how I'm now consorting with you. You might want to owl your folks and warn them to watch out for hate mail if that ends up in the Prophet."
"Bloody hell, Harry--" Seamus swallowed, wide-eyed, looking rather ill. He could well imagine what the Daily Prophet would make of such accusations and had already lost one friend that morning, or it certainly seemed so by Dean's actions.
"Seamus, don't you dare apologize. It's not your fault, and I could care less. I'm more than well used to the rot the papers put out about me by now. I'm just sorry you're going to likely catch a lot of flack."
"But--Harry--it's not--I mean we're not--"
"Seamus, don't worry bout it. Not upset with you, just brace yourself for the possibility. You know Ron's mouth is as bad as his temper."
"Hell, Harry, I'm sorry you're gonna get--"
"Seamus. Drop it." Harry shook his head.
"What on earth--Harry--" McGonagall's lips thinned. She didn't understand a word of the exchange between Harry and Seamus, and judging by the confused expressions of the other apprentices, no one else did either.
"It's not important, Professor. Mrs. Weasley was just upset and spouting nonsense."
McGonagall stood impatient and disapproving as Draco demanded the others have their hair suitable according to tradition. In response, Seamus used the hair lengthening charm on his own hair; Blaise took the elastic band out of his hair and told Harry to do the same. Luna let her hair loose from the clips she had had holding it back. Draco scowled in Millie's direction, as she didn't touch the elaborate braid hanging down the middle of her back.
"My hair is fixed properly, Malfoy, and don't you dare touch it!"
"Really?" Draco sneered.
"Really. Terence signed a contract to play beater with the Killearny Kingsmen. By the time he is ready to retire from Quidditch, I will be finished with the Apprenticeship. He does have four older brothers, two of them already married with five kids between them. I have eight older brothers, for Merlin's sake. It's not like either of us are the Heir of the family."
Draco raised an eyebrow then with a shrug said dismissively, "Congratulations, Bulstrode."
"Are we quite through here?" McGonagall demanded. "Harry, take down your spell work--we need to get to the Great Hall before they come looking for Mr. Malfoy."
Harry quickly did so. He was still baffled entirely by the fuss first McGonagall, then Malfoy had made over everyone's hair. He didn't have time to attempt to ask, however, as McGonagall ushered them out of the room and into the Great Hall.
The Great Hall held a fair number of people. Harry scanned the crowd for those he knew. The Weasleys were the most obvious--Mrs. Weasley and Ron both looked angry yet. There were several Order members. Harry made a quick note of where Shacklebolt was in the crowd.
The wedding itself wasn't at all what Harry expected, but then again, under the circumstances any long commentary on love and fidelity was a bit ludicrous. Percy Weasley read the entire wedding contract aloud. Malfoy gained several thousand galleons, a small cottage and shares in five businesses with marriage to Pansy. He was bound to keep her clothed as befitted her station so long as she resided with him, and he could not kill her. Pansy was bound to provide at least one male heir. She could not leave Draco until after the heir was born, and then if she did choose to reside elsewhere the child would stay with Draco. If something should happen to Draco, the child would be under the care and custody of Severus Snape or his heirs until reaching its majority, just as Snape had stood guardian to Draco.
"If Severus Snape cannot perform those duties or has no heirs, who is named as secondary choice of Guardian?" Percy Weasley asked coldly.
"Harry Potter," Draco answered with a smirk that caused gasps and murmurs to break out through the Great Hall. The naming of Harry Potter as secondary guardian was almost--almost--a declaration of throwing his lot in with Dumbledore and Potter. Not quite, as Severus and his Heirs were the primary guardians, but it would at least seem that way, leaving Draco the ability to evaluate his position politically at his leisure. After all, he could always claim Dumbledore forced him to name Potter as secondary guardian.
"Harry Potter, do you agree to become guardian of the Malfoy Heir if Severus Snape is unable to?" Percy managed to ask a moment later, once he stopped blinking.
"I agree," Harry managed in a flat, even tone that he was rather proud of. He had no idea what he had just agreed to entailed other than the obvious, but he couldn't very well refuse, put on the spot as he was. The whole situation was dicey enough as already, and Fudge had a predatory look in his eyes. He was quite obviously waiting for anything that could be deemed an infringement of protocol.
The five Apprentices were each ordered to prick their thumbs and place a thumbprint of blood on the contract. More murmurs rippled through the guests. "An outrage!" was heard clearly above the others; Harry was almost certain that voice was Mrs. Weasley's.
Blaise stepped forward first when Fudge was trying to get Harry up before the others; the Slytherin boy gave Harry a hard look that clearly said "pay attention."
"I witness the contract and binding of Draco Nigellus Lucius Malfoy to Pansy Meredith Parkinson," Blaise said clearly, poking his thumb with the silver knife Draco handed him. His thumbprint firmly put on the enchanted contract, he stepped back, and Percy read the words that had appeared on the parchment. "This contract has been witnessed by Blaise Tiernan Morrigan Zabini, Son of Tiernan Morrigan and Stefano Zabini, Gift Child of Aisling Morrigan." Percy's eyes widened and snapped back to what he had just read.
Luna stepped up next and repeated the actions. Percy was stammering again, when he read off Luna's full name. "Luna Soliel Lovegood, daughter of Edward and Charlotte Lovegood, Heir-regent of the Dyfed Family."
Millie went next. Fudge was now openly scowling at Harry. "Millicent Catherine Bulstrode, daughter of Roger and Catherine Bulstrode, betrothed of Terence Higgs," Percy read off, looking rather relieved at the unsurprising signature, after the first two shocking ones.
"Seamus Kyle Finnegan, son of Sean and Kathleen Finnegan, great-Grandson of Eiru O'Malley and Heir of Clan O'Malley." Percy was stammering again and looking as though he had just swallowed something foul. Fudge was red-faced and starting to breathe heavily.
"BLOODY HELL!" Came loudly from the guests followed almost immediately by "RONALD WEASLEY, WATCH YOUR LANGUAGE!"
Draco shot a lethal glare in the direction of the queue of redheads seated towards the back of the rows of guests.
With great trepidation, Harry stepped forward and mimicked the actions of the others, thankful that Blaise had gone first and been so deliberate in his movements that Harry was able to see exactly how he was supposed to go about this. He had to remember to thank the Slytherin later.
Percy fainted before he could read what appeared by Harry's thumbprint aloud.
"Accio parchment!" Fudge puffed up. "Witnessed by Harry James Potter, Lord of the Isle of Shadows, son of James Potter and Lily Evans Potter, Lady of the Isle of Shadows, Head of the Line of Potter, the Line of Gentry, the Line of Garadoc Gryffindor, and the Heir of Slytherin."
Dumbledore stood and smiled. "Let me be the first to congratulate Mr. and Mrs. Malfoy. Now, I encourage the guests to enjoy the feast that has been prepared, but I fear I must insist the Apprentices and Mrs. Malfoy return to their tower and their studies."
Fudge began spluttering. "Now see here, Dumbledore," he began.
"But Cornelius," Dumbledore interrupted lightly, "you yourself have expressed concerns about the Apprentices' studies being interrupted due to the Ministry not yet apprehending Voldemort." Dumbledore smiled mildly, his blue eyes twinkling. He then turned to the Apprentices. "Off with you now. I need your study proposals brought to me first thing in the morning. Mrs. Malfoy, you are welcome continue your education at Hogwarts, formally or informally. I'll leave it to you and your husband to discuss, and you can inform me of your plans. Unfortunately, you'll have to reside in the dormitories if you continue your education formally as a student through your NEWTs. Now, off. I'm certain you all have a good amount to do."
Dumbledore gave Harry a long glance, which the boy rightfully interpreted as an order to let Dumbledore deal with the beginning fireworks. Harry was all for that. The Apprentices gladly escaped through the staff exit of the Great Hall and made their way back to their tower. Harry would have rather made his way to the dungeons, but it wasn't safe to do so with the wedding guests and Ministry officials, nor was Neville expecting anyone to relieve him until nearly supper time.
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