Chapter One – Birthday Dilemma
Remus Lupin strode carefully down the hall towards the Headmaster’s office,
wary of his summoning. Dumbledore had requested an audience with Remus the
night before, but his duties with the Order of the Phoenix and
a trip to Diagon Alley the next morning for Harry’s upcoming seventeenth
birthday party kept him from coming earlier. Normally, the head of the Order
communicated with him at the meetings, so it was with some trepidation, and a
little bit of nostalgic guilt, that the former Hogwarts student approached the
entrance to Dumbledore’s office.
Cakes,” Remus intoned. The Gargoyle opened, exposing a set of stairs and Remus
stepped onto them, activating the charm that carried him towards the office
He raised his
fist to knock on the faded oak panel but stopped short when Dumbledore’s clear
voice rang out, “Come in, Remus.”
the door, revealing Dumbledore’s tidy office, containing an array of quietly
clicking instruments, a snoozing phoenix, and its generous owner.
Dumbledore began, “I trust your trip was successful?”
the elderly wizard was referring to his excursion to Diagon Alley, Remus nodded. “It’s not every day your ward turns seventeen.”
ever-present twinkle in the old man’s eyes flared for a moment or two. “Indeed.
That’s actually what I called you here for, Remus.” He gestured for Lupin to
plush chintz armchair, Remus asked, “Oh? Harry's in trouble already? School's
not even in session yet.” It wouldn’t be beyond the scope of reality for Remus
to find out that Harry had been involved in some sort of mischief. As good a
lad as he was, Harry was the son of a Marauder.
Nothing like that,” said Dumbledore with a chuckle. “It’s actually something to
do with a magical contract of sorts.”
his brow, letting the small smile slide off his face. “Magical
contract? What kind of contract?”
paused, as if to measure his words carefully, and steepled his fingers under
his chin. Remus was instantly on his guard. “What do you recall about the Wizarding
Decree of 1016?”
“What?” asked a
suddenly perplexed Remus. He certainly hadn’t expected
Decree of 1016,” repeated Dumbledore. “It’s obviously very old and has been
modified quite a lot by more recent legislation, but...there are a number of
statutes stemming from that decree that are in effect today.”
“What does this
have to do with Harry?” Remus strained his brain for information on the law. He
knew that the decree had something to do with how the magical community was to
“Allow me to be
terse, Remus.” Dumbledore leaned forward in his chair and folded his hands on
the desk between them. “One of the more archaic forms of Wizarding law is still
active through this decree. Specifically, a less acknowledged form of marriage
can still be carried out today, if certain qualifications are met.”
Remus said, his ears perking up immediately. “Please don’t tell me Harry’s gone
and got married! He hasn’t so much as dated anyone since his fifth year.”
throat, Dumbledore continued. “Yes, well, Harry
hasn’t tied the knot quite yet, but I’m afraid that it may not be far off in
drained from Lupin’s face and he sat back in his chair. “You may as well tell
me,” he said with a distracted wave of the hand.
“There is a
quill in the Ministry, much like the one we use to record the birth of magical
children, that documents when arranged marriages between two magical families
are made. Sometime in July of 1981, James and Arthur must have arranged for
their children to be married. More specifically, they made the agreement with a
magically binding contract.”
was reeling. How could something like this have been overlooked? What was James
thinking? They knew about the
prophecy by then; James and Lily must have known what they were getting into.
And how did Arthur fit into all of this?
“I see that you
have many questions,” remarked Dumbledore, interrupting Remus’ thoughts. “I
will endeavour to answer all of them.”
“How did this
happen?” Remus blurted. “Why are we just finding out about it now? And...what
are we going to tell Harry?”
silent for a moment, staring out the window. Without looking at Remus, he
passed a small glass jar across the desk. “Have a lemon drop. I’ve found them
to be most soothing in a stressful situation.”
automatically, Remus popped one into his mouth, letting the tangy sweetness
invigorate his senses. How many times
have I eaten one of these in this office? he mused.
Taking one for
himself, Dumbledore turned to him and continued. “I only found out through a
twist of luck. It seems that the office where this quill is kept is next door
to the assistant for the Magical Transportation Department. I was there
yesterday to renew my Apparation license and happened to hear one of the clerks
say ‘Potter’ and ‘Weasley’. Well, naturally, my curiosity was piqued and once I
finished my business with the Transportation Department, I inquired as to why those two names were being mentioned.
“It turns out
that the reason no one has known about this until now is that the quill isn’t
checked regularly. In fact, since there hasn’t been an arranged marriage for
over a hundred and fifty years, it hasn’t been checked at all this century.”
visualize Harry married to anyone, let alone an arranged one, Remus sat in his
chair, completely gobsmacked. Then he realized exactly whom it was that Harry
was supposed to be married to. “Have you spoken to Arthur? Does he even know?”
according to the law, certain procedures are supposed to be followed. My
knowledge could affect the course of events, and I risk severe consequences by
even telling you.”
regained his colour, Remus blanched again. “What sort of consequences?”
billowed around a full moon as Harry Potter watched the empty streets of Little
Whinging. He would be leaving Privet Drive for
good the following morning and, in his excitement, Harry couldn’t seem to fall
given him permission to finish out the holidays with the Weasleys. He would
finally get to spend his birthday with the only family he had known.
With a sigh, he
reread a letter he had received from them yesterday.
Get your things together and be ready to leave on
Monday. Ron and I will be taking you by Portkey at eight o’clock that morning.
We’ll be aiming for the back garden, so as not to frighten the Muggles. Meet us
there and we’ll help you say goodbye to that wretched place forever.
events in the Department of Mysteries over a year ago, Ginny, Neville and, to a
certain extent, Luna had been included in with the “trio” more often than not.
Ginny had been an important part of the effort to remove Harry’s less than
cheerful attitude the previous summer, and ever since, she and Harry had fallen
into what Harry considered a companionable friendship.
Ginny was the
strangest sort of friend, though. Unlike Ron or Hermione, Ginny wasn’t afraid
to tell Harry off. She had a tendency to make Harry participate in activities
even when he didn’t want to, and had the most annoying habit of turning up when
he wanted to be left alone. The odd thing, in Harry's opinion was that he found
he didn’t mind.
As soon as they
arrived in the Burrow’s garden, Ron grabbed Harry’s trunk and Hedwig’s cage and
thrust them at Ginny. “Here, Ginny. Take these upstairs. Harry and I are going
to go flying.”
feathers were immediately ruffled. “I don’t bloody well think so. You can take
them up yourself. Or Harry, for that matter,” she retorted with her fists
clenched, as if to make sure Harry’s things couldn’t pop into her hands if she
left them open. “Besides, if there’s flying to be had, I’m just as capable as
the next person.”
“I need to talk
with Harry, alone,” Ron said slowly.
torn and had been looking warily between Ron and Ginny. “Listen, Ginny,” he
began. “You don’t have to take my things up, but let me and Ron talk for about
fifteen minutes?” Ron nodded. “Then you can come fly with us.”
her options. It would have been easier to just browbeat Ron into letting her
come, but Harry’s suggestion seemed reasonable. “All right.”
said happily. “We’ll see you later, Ginny.”
Harry over to the broom shed to extract his Cleansweep,
and then they were off to the Weasleys’ makeshift Quidditch pitch.
As Ron and
Harry left, Ginny sat on Harry’s trunk and propped her chin on her hand to
wait. Just then, the door on the side of the house squeaked open and Ginny
turned to find Hermione looking back at her. “Enjoying the view?” she teased.
“When did you
get here?” Ginny asked, deliberately ignoring her question.
“Just before you
did.” Hermione motioned for Ginny to budge over and then joined her on Harry’s
trunk. “I’ve already taken my things to your room.”
her chin to her hand and caught the top of Harry’s head as the boys turned to
enter the paddock. “What did you get Harry for his birthday?”
telling,” Hermione answered cheerfully. “But I'm sure he’s got what you want
for your birthday – he being a male with messy black hair, dreamy green eyes,
and a penchant for getting into trouble.”
The back of Ginny’s
hand hit Hermione in the shoulder. “It’s not as if I’m pining after him like a
lost puppy any more.”
Hermione placated, but Ginny could tell she wasn’t being entirely sincere. “You
just keep telling yourself that.”
one to talk, aren’t you?” Ginny countered. “I mean, if Harry or Ron asked you out on a date, would
you say no?”
blushed but otherwise kept her composure. “That’s for me to know and for you to
find out, Miss Weasley.”
“Oh, come off
it, Hermione,” Ginny said with a giggle. “Everyone knows Ron’s got a crush on
you and, no matter how close you keep your cards, you have to admit to being
attracted to him.” She thought about that for a moment and added, “Even if he is my brother.”
“So you don’t
think I should ask Harry out? He is quite attractive.”
“This is not a good day to push my buttons, Hermione.”
Ginny,” Hermione soothed. “I’m not after Harry Potter. Even if you died a
horrible, tragic death and he needed the attention that only I could give, I
don’t think it would work out between us. He’s too moody.”
“How do you know? Maybe he’s got a crush on you, but he’s holding back because
he knows how Ron feels.”
apparently surprised at this thought. Then she shook her head. “No, I don’t
think so. Harry’s not so much as blinked at me that way, Ginny.”
The mirth left
Ginny’s laugh and she said, “Yes, well...he hasn’t so much as blinked at me, either.”
Colin?” Hermione asked quietly. “He certainly seems to keep looking at you, even after you broke up.”
“He loved his
painting more than me.”
her eyebrows. “Do I have to go over that one with you again?”
said. “I suppose not.”
was beating rapidly. The thrill of flying again after five weeks off was a
welcome feeling, and he was doing his best to make sure that he made the most
“So, how does
it feel to be free?” Ron asked as they continued their game of
“Almost as good as grinding Malfoy’s face into
the pitch,” he yelled as he shot past his friend.
supposed to be following the leader,
not showing off,” Ron said with a smile.
on his broom until he could see Ron. “If you weren’t so ruddy slow, I might let you lead more often.”
minutes of flying, they glided over to a large oak tree and pushed through the
branches until they found a small platform high above the ground. Bill had
built it when he was thirteen and Ron had discovered it the summer before he
left for Hogwarts.
“So, what’s on
your mind, Ron?” Harry asked quickly.
Ron laid his
broom across his lap and sighed. “I’m going to ask Hermione out on a date
expression remained impassive. “About time, mate. How do you think she’ll take
Ron wiped his
face with his hand and leaned back against the trunk of the tree. “I dunno. I ‘spect she’ll want to
hex me at first, but I’m counting on my wit and charm to win her over.”
his lips. “Well then, you're certainly doomed." He looked up suddenly,
snapping his fingers in an exaggerated manner. “But Ron.... What if she fancies
“Malfoy!” spluttered Ron. “What makes you
think – ”
Unable to help
it, Harry dissolved into unrestrained laughter.
“You git!” Ron
said as he punched Harry in the shoulder. “I’ll eat your Firebolt before
Hermione gives him the time of day.”
said, regaining his composure. “But eat your own broom. I’m a little partial to
Ron looked to
be on the verge of another witty comeback, but the sound of Ginny’s voice came
across the pitch. “Roooonnn. Haaarrrry.”
which,” Ron said with a waggle of his eyebrows. “When are you going to ask
Now it was
Harry’s turn to splutter. “What are you on about? She’s over me and – well,
we’re just friends.”
You aren’t fooling anyone when you say that.” Ron clapped his shoulder and
stood. “I saw the way you reacted when she grabbed your leg, you know.”
“She didn’t grab my leg, Ron. She...she brushed against it.”
his broom and said, “It's my story and I'm sticking with it. Just ask her soon,
mate. I’m sure Hermione would love to go on a double with you two.” Then he
shot off from the platform and crashed through the top branches of the tree.
“You git!” Harry called, shaking his head and
was Harry’s birthday. The day was filled with presents, friends and, best of
all, loads of Harry’s favourite foods. Fred and George made a token appearance,
enchanting the candles on the birthday cake to sing shrilly after they were
blown out for the first time. Luna Lovegood visited
from the village to wish him a happy birthday and to give Ron a kiss on the
cheek. Hermione didn’t look happy with that at all.
As the birthday
dinner was finishing up, Harry secluded himself on a wicker chair near the
garden. He propped his legs on a matching ottoman and linked his fingers behind
his head. Mr. Weasley had cast a Insect Repellent Charm over the whole garden,
so he heard only a few, distant buzzing noises outside of the chattering
When the guests
finally filtered away from the tables, Mrs. Weasley banished the dishes and
joined in with the mingling.
Harry let a
contented smile slip onto his face and he sunk down further into the cushions
on the chair.
quite a birthday, Harry,” said Remus Lupin, as he approached with a drink in
agreed. “It’s been the best I’ve ever had, actually.”
Lupin sat down
across from Harry on a wicker loveseat. “I’m glad you’ve enjoyed it, because
now I’ve got some information for you that will most likely be difficult to
Harry tensed up
immediately. “What do you mean? Is Voldemort doing anything? I haven’t felt
anything in my scar...”
“No,” Lupin answered with a deadpanned expression. “It’s not
anything to do with Voldemort. It’s something much more frightening than that.”
“More frightening?” Harry asked,
straightening up in his seat and setting his feet firmly on the ground.
Lupin, scratching his chin, “judging by how you’ve been acting around her
tonight, you might take to the idea better than I thought.”
Harry shook his
head, thinking that his guardian had lost his marbles. “Uncle Remus...what are you talking about?” Harry asked,
using their agreed-upon title.
“Have you heard
of the Wizarding Decree of 1016?” Lupin asked, quoting Dumbledore from a few
I’m sorry, but I think you’ve hit your head. Are you feeling well?”
“Yes, Harry. I’m fine. I’m talking about the decree that formed the Ministry of
Magic and codified just about every line of Wizarding law at the time.”
about Remus’s mental condition, Harry said, “Um...no? I must have slept through
Binns’s lesson that day.”
“Well, one of
the things that that statute provided for was arranged marriages.”
said Harry, waiting for the other shoe to drop. “You’re not going to tell me
that my dad arranged for me to marry Pansy Parkinson or something, are you?”
and a shiver of fear ran up Harry’s spine. “Actually...that’s not far from the
whispered Harry. “Marriage, or Pansy?”
According to the Office of Ancient Wizarding Customs, you are to be married to
Ginevra Molly Weasley.”
Harry’s mind froze and nothing he did could wipe Ginny’s face from his mind.
“Ginny?” he finally said. “And me? How?”
“I don’t have
all of the details, but the agreement was made sometime in July of 1981, just
before Ginny was born. Dumbledore stumbled upon it a few days ago and,
according to the list of prescribed procedures and rules, you have to be
informed by your legal guardian, me, by your seventeenth birthday, today. Ginny
has to be told by you and you are to be wed by her next birthday. No one else
is supposed to speak of it until the bride and groom are notified, or the
arrangement will be voided and the punishment inflicted.”
was spinning. “Procedures? I have to tell her... Punishment? What’s the
For the first
time since Harry had known him, Remus looked frightened. “Well...you see... If
you break any of the rules – there are almost a hundred by the way – or if you
and Ginny don’t wed by her next birthday... You both will lose your ability
to...have relations with anyone.”
“WHAT? WHAT DO YOU MEAN I WON’T BE ABLE TO HAVE – ”
intoned with a flick of his wand. Harry’s voice immediately disappeared, though
his mouth continued to move. Several of the party guests turned and looked
oddly at him before returning to their drinks and conversations.
After a moment,
Harry stopped trying to speak, but motioned vigorously towards his neck.
Remus ended the
spell by tapping his wand on Harry’s throat and Harry, more calmly, said,
“Thank you. Now would you please explain to me why I’ve got to marry Ginny
Weasley or my...my...thing won’t work
“It’s out of my
control, Harry. According to the law, you’ve got to marry her by her next
birthday and, er...consummate
the marriage within thirty-six hours of the ceremony, or you...well, you become
impotent and she instantly becomes menopausal. You’ll be like a simmering pot
of hormones for the rest of your life but will never be able to act on your
slowly. “What in the name of Merlin did I do to get into this? Who did this to
me? There’s really nothing at all I
can do?” He was pulling at his face with his hands, desperately trying to come
to terms with his situation.
“No one knows,
except perhaps Arthur,” Remus replied.
Harry shot out
of his chair, his eyes finding the patriarch of the Weasley family standing
next to his wife, talking with Hermione and Ron. He took two steps before
Remus’s arms were around him.
there, Harry. Remember the rules? You can’t tell anyone before you tell Ginny. Only after that can we ask Arthur
what happened – assuming he remembers.”
struggling and Remus let go of his arms. “How do we know that Dumbledore’s
knowledge hasn’t already tripped the punishment?” Harry asked.
you...fully functional?” Remus asked with a straight face.
caught off-guard by the question, but remembering his all-too-lucent dreams
that morning, flushed red and nodded. “So what do I have to do?”
“Talk to Ginny.
Find someplace quiet and secluded, try to set the mood so that she’s relaxed,
and then tell her.”
that?” asked Harry.
that,” confirmed Remus.
birthday is in twelve days! How are
we supposed to get married in twelve
you’ll think of something, Harry.”