The first half of Harry’s summer was absolutely perfect. He had completed all of his summer assignments in the first couple of weeks, of course, and was still attending tutoring sessions with Sirius, Cousin Narcissa and his Gobbledygook tutor. He and Draco didn’t have Quidditch tutors this summer, partly because their tutors were playing in the World Cup, but mostly because they had chosen to spend that time attending the World Cup games instead.
Sirius had promised to get them to as many games as possible and so far he had kept his promise. He had taken them to at least one game each week and, during particularly brilliant week, they had attended four different games. Luna and Neville had attended most of the games with them, and Daphne, Theo and Blaise had attended a few as well. Thankfully, he didn’t have to invite Pansy to things anymore.
She and Tracey Davis had barely spoken to him since Sirius had threatened her father with financial ruin unless he stopped Pansy’s inappropriate advances, something Harry didn’t mind at all. Unfortunately Pansy and Tracey had also stopped speaking to Draco, Theo, Blaise and Daphne as well, which put Daphne in an awkward position since they were the only other girls in her dorm except for Millicent Bulstrode (who was one of the most unpleasant people Harry had ever come across). Daphne’s situation was something Harry could relate to – he and his dorm-mates hadn’t been on speaking terms for a year and a half – so, he, Draco, Theo and Blaise, had taken the opportunity to deepen their friendship with Daphne which, in the long term, was definitely a good thing for her. After all, three of them were going be Lords of Most Ancient and Noble Houses one day.
“…Harry?” Sirius asked, from his seat at the head of the breakfast table.
Harry jolted slightly in his seat in surprise. “I beg your pardon? My mind was elsewhere.”
Sirius and Remus both looked amused. “What were you thinking about so deeply?”
“Daphne.” Harry admitted. “And how ridiculous Pansy is.”
“You were thinking about girls?” Sirius grinned. “Ah, my little godson, all grown up.”
Harry rolled his eyes. “I was thinking about one of my friends.”
“And your arch-nemesis.” Remus added with a grin to match Sirius’.
“Pansy isn’t my arch-nemesis.” Harry retorted, offended at the very idea. “She’s a small bug in my ointment. Voldemort is my arch-nemesis.”
Sirius grimaced. “Why did you have to ruin a perfectly fun conversation with mention of him?”
“Sorry.” Harry responded. “I’m just a bit on edge. I can’t believe he’s still not doing anything. He’s been back for over a year now!”
“He’s doing plenty of things.” Sirius responded. “He’s doubled the werewolf population, he’s killed hundreds of muggles in the last few months, he broke his followers out of Azkaban, and he’s currently trying to oust Dumbledore from the position of Chief Warlock.”
Harry perked up. “I didn’t know about the Dumbledore thing. How’s he doing that?”
“Well, technically Lucius is doing it for him.” Sirius corrected himself. “I think it’s the first order You-Know-Who has ever given him that he wholeheartedly agreed with.”
“Are you helping?” Harry asked with interest.
“I will be.” Sirius nodded. “Which will cause some problems with my relationship with the Order but, according to Lucius, will go a long way to convincing Voldemort that you and I might change sides after all.”
“Which is good for the Malfoys.” Harry commented.
“It is.” Sirius agreed. “The matter will be brought to a vote next month and then we’ll have to appoint a new Chief Warlock.”
“Who will it be?” Harry asked. “And how did I not know about this? I was at the last Wizengamot meeting with you.”
“I only found out this morning.” Sirius explained, gesturing to one of the letters that were now lying beside his breakfast plate. “Lucius is making sure he has the votes.”
“How are you so sure it will go through?” Remus asked. “People love Dumbledore.”
“The non-traditionalists love Dumbledore.” Harry corrected.
“Along with some of the traditionalists.” Sirius told him. “Lord Longbottom will vote with him, as will Lord Diggory. Lady MacMillian, Lord Odgen, Lady Bones, and Lord Greengrass all will as well, unless we can assure them that he won’t be replaced with one of You-Know-Who’s followers.”
Harry frowned. “That will be hard to do, won’t it?”
“Yes, ideally we’d find someone who was seen as neutral.” Sirius explained. “Lord Prince is probably the best option. Historically he’s been categorised as dark, but he could go either way. The problem is that the light faction won’t vote in anyone even remotely dark, and the dark faction won’t vote in anyone light.”
“You make it sound as though the nobles are the only ones who get to make the decision.” Remus said neutrally. “There are other seats you know.”
“I know,” Sirius shot his friend an apologetic look. “But realistically even they fall into the two factions. The Ministry officials will mostly vote with Fudge, who will vote with Lucius, the elected officials, and the youth representative, will vote with Dumbledore.”
Harry snorted. “I can’t believe that Percy Weasley is the youth representative. He’s a prat.”
“So is the Minister of Magic.” Sirius pointed out with a crooked smile.
“What about the Order of Merlin recipients?” Remus asked curiously. “Where will they vote?”
“They’re the wild cards.” Sirius admitted. “Dumbledore will of course vote for himself, as will Tilly Toke; there are four of them who will definitely vote with Lucius, but the rest of them could go either way. It really all depends on who Lucius nominates to replace Dumbledore.”
“Have you seen any of the World Cup Quidditch games yet?” Harry asked the Weasley twins.
The three of them were sitting on the lawn, near the Weasley’s house, waiting for the adults to finish their Order of the Phoenix meeting. Order meetings were the only time that Harry got to see the twins during the summer, but unfortunately it almost always meant running into Ron as well.
“No.” Fred sighed glumly, before perking up. “But we’ve been given tickets…”
“…to the England versus Bulgaria game next week…” George added.
“…because we played in the Under Seventeen League last year.”
“Smashing.” Harry grinned. “Well, except for the fact that Bulgaria are going to beat England.”
“…we know.” The twins nodded. “But still…”
“…it’s a game.”
“True.” Harry lay back on the grass. “It would just be great if our team was actually any good.”
“They’ll make it into the quarter-finals at least.” George protested
“Which makes them one of the eight best teams in the world.” Harry said. “That doesn’t sound very impressive to me.”
“They’ll be better…”
“…when we join the team.” The twins promised.
“That’s what Draco and I say to each other.” Harry laughed. “Imagine how good the team would be in five years if all four of us were on it.”
“You want to play Quidditch professionally?” George asked in surprise
“Maybe?” Harry sighed as he watched the clouds moving. “It’s a long way away. But it seems like a better idea than training for a profession that I would only be able to do for a few years anyway.”
“Why only a few years?”
“I’ll be Lord Potter.” Harry reminded them. “I’ll have responsibilities. Besides, I really do like the business side of it all. You know that chocolate business my dorm-mates have going?”
“That chocolate is bloody good.” Fred commented
Harry laughed. “Yeah, well, I’m their financial backer. I put in the capital at the beginning and I get a percentage of the profits. I’ve already earnt enough through it to repay the money I put in, so anything I get now it entirely profit.”
There was a long silence, before the twins spoke again. “Harry, old friend?”
“Yes?” Harry asked, shielding his eyes from the sun so that he could see them.
“…and we mean if…”
“…we wanted to start up a business…”
“…let’s say maybe a joke shop…”
“…would you consider being our financial backer?”
Harry sat up so that he was facing them. “Really? You guys want to start up a joke shop?”
“Shhh!” The twins both admonished, glancing towards the house.
“Mum’ll go spare if she hears…”
“…she hates the idea.”
“Sorry.” Harry lowered his voice. “But the answer is yes, of course. You’d have to show me a business proposal, and I might ask you to sit down with me to make sure that it’s viable, but other than that, I’d be thrilled to invest. You guys would be a huge success.”
The twins stared at him. “Seriously?”
“Just like that?”
“Yes.” Harry nodded. “You guys should use the phrase ‘Wizarding Wheezes’ in your store name. It would give you great advertising.”
“That’s what we were thinking.” The twins chorused, their faces beaming.
“Not that we’re admitting to having been involved in any pranks at Hogwarts.” Fred added quickly.
“What?!!” Mrs. Weasley’s shout could be clearly heard from inside. “Sirius you can’t…!”
Harry winced as he looked towards the house, sighing in relief when the sound was abruptly cut off. Apparently someone had decided to put up some wards.
“Woah.” The twins commented.
“I wonder what your godfather did.”
Harry sighed. “During the next Wizengamot meeting there’s going to be a vote to replace Dumbledore as Chief Warlock.”
The twins’ eyes widened. “Is it You-Know-Who?”
“Sort of.” Harry answered. “He was the one who started the idea, but now Sirius has agreed to support Lord Prince’s candidacy to replace Dumbledore. Lord Prince would at least be impartial.”
Fred whistled lowly. “No wonder Mum’s shouting.”
“She and Dad practically worship the ground Dumbledore walks on.”
Harry grimaced. “Yes, a lot of people do.”
“But not you?” George asked.
“He’s the one who sent me to live with my muggle relatives, who were horrible to me.” Harry told them. “And he didn’t even try to get Sirius a trial.”
“Not to mention the fact that he tried to fight Sirius for custody of you.” Fred put.
“Yes.” Harry agreed. “Besides, I think he’s a terrible Chief Warlock. He doesn’t uphold the rules at all.”
“Are you sure you’re not just saying that because you’re traditional?” George asked.
Harry considered his words carefully, he and twins had never actually discussed the issue of tradition before. “I’m sure that has something to do with it, but if there is any place left in our country where traditions ought to be respected – don’t you think the Wizengamot would be that place? Muggle government is significantly more traditional than ours is with Dumbledore as Chief Warlock.
“Besides, it’s not just the traditional parts.” Harry told them seriously. “Last summer the Undersecretary was trying to pass a new law that would discriminate against werewolves. She spent ages going on and on about how horrible they were and didn’t try to offer any kind of evidence to support her opinion. Dumbledore should have stopped her and asked for evidence, but he did nothing. Eventually Sirius stood up and did it.”
“So Sirius wants Lord Prince to be the next Chief Warlock?” Fred asked.
“I’m not sure whether he wants him exactly.” Harry answered. “But he doesn’t want Dumbledore to be Chief Warlock and he doesn’t want one of Voldemort’s supporters to be either. He thinks Lord Prince is a good middle ground.”
“Why did you decide to be traditional?” George asked after a few seconds of silence. “Don’t you find it…”
“…ridiculous?” Fred put in.
“I was going say restricting.” George grinned. “But yeah, ridiculous works too.”
“No, to both questions.” Harry answered with a smile. “I guess I can see why it might look a bit silly from your perspective, but it doesn’t seem at all ridiculous to me. Also, I like all the rules. It makes things easier, I know exactly how I’m supposed to act.”
“You’re just saying that because you’re on top of the food chain.” Fred pointed out.
“That does make it easier.” Harry admitted. “But it’s harder as well. It means I have a lot more responsibility. Say you see someone acting inappropriately, whose job is it to stop them?”
The twins exchanged a look. “It depends what they’re doing.”
“Good point.” Harry conceded. “But, my point is that if I see someone at school, who claims to be traditional, acting inappropriately I’m responsible for stopping them.”
“That must suck.” George commented.
“It’s not too bad.” Harry told him. “I’m getting used to it.”
“Still,” Fred started. “If we were to become traditional…”
“We’d be at the bottom of the food chain.” George added.
“It doesn’t sound like fun.”
Harry looked at them in surprise. “No, you wouldn’t.”
The twins looked surprised. “We wouldn’t?”
“Of course not.” Harry frowned. “Your mother was the daughter of the Ancient and Noble House of Prewett. Her oldest brother was Lord Prewett before he died. You wouldn’t be at the top of the food chain, sure, but you wouldn’t be at the bottom either.”
“Uncle Gideon was a lord?” They chorused in disbelief.
“Mum never mentioned anything like that.” George added.
“Your Uncle Fabian was his heir.” Harry told them. “So the House is currently unclaimed. Sirius once asked me why your brother Bill hadn’t claimed it.”
“Bill could be a lord?” They chorused again, before laughing.
“Mum would hate that!” Fred grinned.
George nodded. “Can you see Ron’s face? He wouldn’t know whether to be horrified or jealous.”
“If Bill doesn’t want to accept it, Charlie would be next in line.” Harry explained. “If all three of your older brothers turn it down, one of you could be the lord.”
They grimaced. “Yuck!”
“No offence, Harry.” George added quickly.
“But that is definitely not our idea of good time.” Fred finished.
Harry laughed. “You should ask your brother why he hasn’t accepted it.”
“He probably doesn’t even know about it.” Fred commented.
“No way would Mum have told him.” George agreed. “She hates all things traditional.”
“She’s nice enough to me.” Harry pointed out.
“That’s because she thinks she can convert you.” George laughed.
Fred nodded. “Well, that, and you’re the boy-who-lived.”
Harry looked up from his breakfast plate to see Sirius looking at him. “Yes?”
“Have you considered what you want to do for your birthday?” Sirius asked. “It’s in eight days.”
“I was thinking about holding a dinner party.” Harry answered. “Nothing too fancy, just some food and games. If I hold it here then Madame Longbottom should let Neville come.”
“Who did you want to invite?” Remus asked.
“Draco and Luna, obviously.” Harry started. “Neville, Theo, Blaise, and Daphne. I would invite Takashi, but he’s staying with his grandparents in Japan again, and I was thinking that maybe I would invite the Weasley twins this year – I had a really good chat with the twins yesterday. The problem is dinner parties ought to have an equal number of boys and girls, but there is no way I’m inviting Pansy or Tracey and I don’t know who else I would invite.”
“Why don’t you invite people to bring their betrothed?” Sirius suggested. “I presume most of them have contracts?”
“Yes,” Harry nodded. “Daphne doesn’t, the boy she was betrothed to died, and neither do Neville and Luna. But that’s alright because between the four of us we’ll cancel each other out. Everyone else is betrothed though. Well, except for the twins.”
“You’ll want to send out the invitations today.” Sirius told him. “Let me know what you want and Remus and I will make it happen.”
“And I wouldn’t invite the twins.” Remus put in. “I doubt Molly would agree to them coming without their younger siblings.”
Harry grimaced. “Good point. I’ll invite them to Quidditch game soon or something.
“Harry?” Sirius asked three days later.
Harry hastily swallowed his mouthful of eggs. “Yes?”
“I need to see you in my study after breakfast.” Sirius told him.
Harry looked towards the pile of opened letters to the side of Sirius’ plate. “Is everything alright?”
“Of course.” Sirius smiled reassuringly. “I’ve received some correspondence that I would like to discuss with you.”
Remus snorted from his seat opposite Harry. “Correspondence? Lucius is rubbing off on you, Sirius. Why not just call them letters like the rest of us.”
Harry grinned in amusement as Sirius pulled a face. “Did you hear something from Lord Malfoy about the Chief Warlock issue?”
“Lucius and I are having brunch this morning to discuss it.” Sirius told him. “This is about something else.”
Harry nodded in understanding before turning his attention back to his breakfast. What could Sirius want to talk to him about?
After they had both finished, Harry followed Sirius to his study and, following his godfather’s prompting, sat in one of the large dragon skin chairs.
“Do you remember how, at breakfast a few mornings ago, we discussed your friends’ betrothal contracts?” Sirius started.
Harry gave his godfather a strange look. “I remember us mentioning that most of them had one. Why?”
“I received a letter this morning asking if I would be interested in discussing a contract between yourself and Daphne Greengrass.” Sirius told him.
Harry stared at him. “What?”
Sirius looked sympathetic. “It’s not an unreasonable request. There are very few traditional children around your age who aren’t already betrothed.”
“I’m almost fourteen.” Harry grumbled. “I’m not a child.”
Sirius looked amused. “Sorry, you’re right. There are very few traditional almost fourteen year olds who aren’t already betrothed.”
Harry leaned forward in his chair. “So Daphne’s asking that we become betrothed?”
“Daphne’s father is asking.” Sirius corrected. “I don’t know if Daphne is even aware of her father’s request.”
“You don’t have to be betrothed.” Sirius said quickly. “Your father definitely wasn’t. If you get betrothed now you won’t be able to change your mind in the future.”
“But if I don’t get betrothed now, every traditional girl might be unavailable by the time I want to get married.” Harry said.
“Unlikely.” Sirius grinned. “I can’t see anyone agreeing to marry Pansy anytime soon.”
Harry laughed. “That’s horrible. Besides, I wouldn’t marry her if she was the only girl on earth.”
Sirius’ expression sobered. “Harry, you shouldn’t agree to a betrothal because you’re scared that you might not have a chance in the future.”
“But it is a factor, isn’t it?” Harry countered. “If I want to marry Daphne, this might be my only chance.”
Sirius’ eyes narrowed slightly. “Do you want to marry Daphne?”
“I don’t know.” Harry sighed. “Maybe? I can’t imagine marrying anyone, but Daphne’s great. She’s pretty and clever and funny and Cousin Narcissa would like her.”
“You don’t have to decide now.” Sirius told him. “I don’t need to reply to Samuel for at least another few days.”
Harry couldn’t help but feel relief at that. “Would you mind if I talked to Cousin Narcissa about it?”
“Not at all.” Sirius sounded a bit relieved himself. “Good idea. She would be a great person to talk to. You could talk to Andromeda about it as well, if you like? She had a different experience with betrothal contracts than Narcissa.”
Harry nodded. “I will, thank you.”
“No worries.” Sirius grinned. “I’m just glad it’s not me.”