The characters and canon situations in the following story belong solely to JK Rowling, Scholastic and WB. I am not making any money from the publishing or writing of this story.
Beta credit: this chapter was first beta’d by bunnyhops. All subsequent edits by CoquetteKitten, who stoops to conquer.
Hermione awoke far too early on Saturday morning, her sheets twisted around her body like a snake. So much for a good night’s sleep. She fought with the bedding until she escaped it and then quickly showered and dressed. A walk near the lake sounded like a good idea; it might help her organize her thoughts before this morning’s meeting. I’m supposed to have a chaperone. Well, I’m not waiting here in my room until it occurs to someone to assign one.
The air was crisp, and there was a light mist moving across the grounds. Hermione walked slowly along the shore of the lake, smiling when the giant squid rose to the surface to peek at her. She reflected on the impossibility of her life when held to the standards of her former world. She’d discovered magic flowed through her veins and she was a witch. She’d befriended Harry, who as an infant defeated a dark wizard. She, Harry, and Ron had entered a war, fighting side by side as children against some of the most powerful magic possible. Harry had once again defeated Voldemort, this time as a teenager. Was it really so impossible to believe that there were such things as war-stakes and House Wives, or that she herself had unknowingly accepted pursuit by a father and son?
An hour later she found herself outside the Headmaster’s office. The door was half-open again and Professor McGonagall and Molly Weasley were already there. Breakfast had been laid out on a table by the fireplace, and Hermione’s stomach growled loudly at the sight. Molly looked up from where she sat pouring tea.
“Good morning, sweetheart! Come in, come in! Oooh, but you’re a sight for sore eyes. And you smell all outdoorsy, like you’ve just come from a nice walk.” Here Molly smiled in an understanding way, “Hopefully it’s helped you clear your thoughts. Now, let’s fill a plate for you. Come on, come on!”
Molly’s motherly bossing was just what Hermione needed. She sat down and allowed herself to be cared for by the older witch as her professor looked on knowingly. Finally, her appetite sated, she paused in her eating. Molly seemed to have been waiting for this; she nodded expectantly, “Yes, dear?”
“It’s just that . . . I have so many . . . there’s so much I don’t . . . ”
“Start somewhere — anywhere.”
“Umm, all right. Well, how did I not know you’re a House Wife?”
“Well, mainly because Arthur is my only living husband. The circumstances are different in each family, dear. When I accepted pursuit by the House of Weasley, Arthur’s father was still alive, and then there were Arthur’s brothers. They had all placed stakes — not war-stakes, mind you — and after a few months, I accepted.”
“Wait — you were given time to think about it? Do you mean that the Malfoys didn’t expect me just to take the stake right off?”
Molly giggled. “Oh, I’d have loved to see their faces when you just took the stake from Albus! You never do anything by halves, Hermione!”
Hermione smiled. It was nice to think that, in that moment, the Malfoy men had been on equally unsure footing with her. Then she computed the rest of what Molly had been saying. “How many husbands did you marry, Mrs. Weasley?”
“Please call me Molly, dear. The ceremony included four Weasley men and me. Of course, Arthur’s father passed a few years after, rest his soul. He was Bill’s father, by the way.”
“What?! That makes Bill your husband’s brother, then . . .”
“That’s part of what makes the tradition a bit confusing. If you think about it, though, having children with different but closely related fathers means the most possible combinations of family traits. Most family covenants seem to keep track of things quite well, though — inbreeding is extremely rare. Of course, you must factor in that only the old families practice this tradition and none are as prolific as the House of Weasley.”
“Are any of your other children . . .?”
“Oh, well Percy of course — he’s obviously not Arthur’s child! I conceived him with Aldric. The rest are all Arthur’s. Aldric and Abott were killed in the early part of the first war, and so while I am still technically House Wife, my duties have changed significantly.”
Hermione sat in silence for some time, digesting this new knowledge.
“Do you . . . were you relieved somewhat when it became just you and Arthur?”
“It’s true that it’s much simpler to please one man than four, but Hermione — they loved me! I will never forget the feeling of constant safety and support that filled our home. There were fights then just as there are fights now that it’s just Arthur and me, but that’s completely normal. My biggest struggle was trying to keep things fair . . .”
“Umm, what do you mean by keep things fair?”
“Oh, you know men — they don’t like to share their toys. I didn’t become so bossy overnight, sweetheart; it came from years of keeping my husbands on a strict schedule. Four husbands and only seven nights in a week, and then add in children!” Molly laughed, a faraway look in her eye. “I would put up a calendar each month and divvy up all available nights between them as fairly as I could. Whoever ended up short got afternoon time, and if someone happened to feel they were still coming in last place, well — that’s what morning quickies were for!”
Hermione stared in wide-eyed horror at Molly Weasley. “You mean to say that you were having . . . that you were with each of them that way all day and night, every day and night? I didn’t even know that was . . .” Great and good Circe, are all wizards sex addicts?!?!
Molly snapped out of her reverie. “Oh.” She laughed. “Oh! Oh, sweetheart. No, you misunderstand me. Just because it was on the calendar doesn’t mean that we were having sex. Sometimes it meant that we were just spending time together, and other times it meant that I was on my own and no one else could use that time for any needs of their own. Abott was particularly thoughtful that way — he would often opt to spend his time with me helping in the kitchen, or send me away from the house for a bit.”
Here Molly changed her tone to a brisk one, signaling a change of topic. “Besides, your stake was cast by a House with only two potential husbands. That’s a much more common situation! When Narcissa was Wife to the House of Malfoy she was wedded to two as well — Abraxas and Lucius — and she produced only the one heir.”
Professor McGonagall steered the conversation towards the rules of a traditional formal courtship, thinking Hermione needed a chance to make one of her beloved lists. She was correct; the young witch desperately needed to stop thinking about what would happen after the ceremony.
“Would you like a quill and parchment?”
“Oh, yes please!”
“Firstly, you may now only address other men in a formal way. Excepting Harry, this includes everyone.”
“Including the Malfoy men?”
“Yes. During the courtship, all men shall be addressed as ‘my lord,’ or Mister So-and-So, or sir.”
“Please tell me that changes after courtship!”
“That is up to your husbands. This is a very constant, public way for them to claim you.”
“What do you mean?”
“I still cannot believe you haven’t noticed this in your interactions with your peers! The wizarding world utilizes the use of formal address as a means to identify House Wives. Have you never heard an older female student address a teacher or classmate in this way?”
“Oh! Yes, I have, actually. It was Astoria Greengrass, just last week in Potions! The boy who shares a table with her asked her a question, and she answered him that way. I thought it was so odd . . .”
“Correct. Astoria has accepted a stake from the House of Nott. Perhaps I will invite her to join us for a conversation sometime. It might help to talk with someone your own age.”
“Thank you. All right, so formal address to everyone except Harry.”
“At some point in the courtship, it will be natural to call your future husbands by their given names. There’s no rule about this; trust your feelings to guide you.”
“Got it. Next?”
“You may not spend time outside of class with any male student other than Harry.”
“So, I can study alone with Harry, but I can’t study alone with anyone else who happens to be male?”
Molly looked shocked at this idea. “Absolutely not, sweetheart! No one. It would cast doubt on your virtue and even possibly taint the name of your future family.”
“Not even Ron?”
“Certainly not Ron! Hermione, all but one of my sons cast war-stakes for you. They were accepted by Albus, but since the entire family didn’t act in accord it was his right to deny precedence. Had all of my boys cast, you would have received not one, but two stakes to consider. Associating with Ron would be highly offensive to the House of Malfoy.”
“Oh. Errrrrr, may I ask who . . .?”
Molly’s face fell. She looked down at the table and seemed to be trying to collect herself. When she did look back up, her eyes were heavy with tears. “Ron. He has always been a foolish boy, but in this instance Arthur and I are so deeply disappointed in him that I do not think we can forgive him.”
Hermione felt faint. All of the Weasley boys cast stakes for me but Ron. Bill and Charlie, Fred and George, even Percy found me desirable. Their family covenant clearly found me bespoke. Would he have ever done it?
Molly seemed to have read her thoughts. “He always maintained that he’d cast when the time was right. Now it’s too late.”
“If you want to know what I think about it, Hermione, it’s that the covenant isn’t very strong in Ron. It happens once in a while — some think it’s a covenant’s way of weeding out weak wizards. My other sons will have to force his stake the next time they find a bespoke witch. Unless, of course, Arthur and the boys choose to disown him. I cannot tell you how sorry I am that you will never be my lawful daughter. I’d have shared my House status with you gladly.”
The three witches moved on down the list of rules. Once again, making a list proved comforting to Hermione. The scratch of the quill across the parchment was soothing and gave her the opportunity to keep her thoughts fact-based.
“Absolutely no gifts from any male except Harry. This means not even a quill offered by a classmate during an exam!”
“Shouldn’t I accept something given by the Malfoys?”
“Only, and I repeat only, if it is accepted on your behalf by Albus and then given to you by him.”
“I’m sure that makes sense to someone. What’s next?”
Apparently Hermione wasn’t allowed to go anywhere without an approved escort. Harry, Professor McGonagall and the Headmaster counted as her defaults, and only the latter could approve a substitute.
“Your attire should reflect the status of your future family. In your case, my dear, that is indeed quite high. You may not wear any clothing which might be considered inappropriate.”
“What exactly is inappropriate? That’s a subjective term.”
“Which is why your future husbands have provided a guideline.”
Of course they have. She gritted her teeth. “Please share.”
“You may not wear the following sorts of garments except with express permission from them or Albus: ending more than an inch your knee, with excessive décolletage, or of a figure-baring fit.”
“I don’t wear those sorts of clothes anyway!”
“I did say that to you yesterday.”
“Sorry, I’m confused. Isn’t that a bit backward? Isn’t it normal for wizards to want to see witches in, errrrrr . . . inappropriate garments?”
Molly raised her eyebrows and smiled at a point behind Hermione’s head. She seemed to find the tapestry that hung there amusing.
Professor McGonagall answered her, trying not to grin as well. “Yes. And no. My dear, the purpose of these rules is to maintain your virtue until the wedding day. I’m sure the list is more to keep your men in line than control you. They obviously find you attractive; there’s no reason to tempt them beyond reasonable limits.”
Molly added, “And no wizard likes to see his witch put herself on display for the world to see. However, it’s entirely different if they give you an inappropriate garment (here Molly wiggled her eyebrows at the girl).
Hermione’s face flushed deep red. She tried to change the subject as quickly as possible. “So, next on the list is never be alone with either Malfoy without an approved chaperone. That would be you, Harry, or the Headmaster, correct? That probably means that Draco can never be considered a chaperone.” Wouldn’t want one of my future husbands to besmirch my precious virtue. She scribbled furiously on the parchment before her.
Minerva replied, “Correct. Next: you must keep your behavior as faultless as you normally do. I don’t think you need help in this rule. Let’s see . . . oh yes, lastly there is the rule forbidding you to–”
“YES! I know! Got it. We, ummm, don’t need to go into it.”
That piqued Molly’s interest. “There’s another rule in this courtship? What is it, dear?”
“Nothing worth mentioning, Mrs.– err, Molly!”
But the person addressed had already turned to the Professor for an answer. “Well, Minerva? What’s got Hermione squirming in her chair?”
Professor McGonagall answered as if the information were an everyday matter. “They’ve added a rule forbidding any type of self-induced sexual release. Clever, if you think about it.”
Molly smirked and nodded in agreement.
Hermione was embarrassed and fuming. “Yes, very clever. Why shouldn’t someone I don’t even know give me orders regarding what I can and cannot do to my own body?” Tears pricked at her eyes.
The two witches wiped the smiles from their faces immediately. It was Molly who attempted to redress the matter. “Oh, sweetheart. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Sex and pleasure are quite natural to talk about, but only once you’ve been properly bedded. You’re still a virgin and so it’s fitting to feel the way you do. And we aren’t laughing at you, or this rule in your courtship. Minerva only said it was clever because if you think about, your future husbands want to be the ones to meet your needs in that area. I’m sure in their minds, by the time of the ceremony you will be a needful, writhing mess. And to a man, that is a very good thing.”
Hermione wiped at her eyes and pondered how much she didn’t know about being a witch — and about being an adult. She would never have admitted it in that moment, but she was incredibly grateful to have these two honest, kind women to help guide her.
Minerva, remorseful for her insensitive remark, tried to change the subject yet again to something Hermione might find less . . . anything. “Have you told Molly about the party tonight, dear?”
Hermione dabbed at her eyes and blew her nose on the serviette that had been in her lap. She took a deep breath and accepted the unspoken apology from her professor. “Well, Slytherin house is hosting a party tonight. Professor McGonagall thinks I should go.”
“Well, of course you should, sweetheart! Oh, yes, yes! This is exactly the thing you need to take your mind off things for a while. And you’ll see Draco there, as well!”
Hermione looked at Molly as though she’d sprung a second head. “And how is a party hosted by Draco supposed to help me get my mind off of him?!”
“Just think — the evening will be on your terms! You decide when to arrive and depart, and what you do in between.”
“Yes, because I’ll be able to talk with anyone I wish, dance or sit with anyone I wish, and leave on my own! What’s the point of going to a party if I have to follow these rules the entire time — I’ll end up standing in a corner the whole time, trying to avoid anything even remotely fun! Oh, wait — I can be near Harry. Which means I’ll undoubtedly be subjected to an evening of public debauchery. Thank you, Molly.”
“For what, dear?”
“For helping me talk myself out of going. I’ll have more fun on my own in my dorm with my books. Unless I need a chaperone to read something written by a wizard.”
“Absolutely not! Ginny and Luna have both spoken to me about the shopping trip. I know how much you’ve been looking forward to dressing up and having some fun. You will leave this meeting and go straight to your room to wait for them.”
Molly’s bossy tone had crept into her voice, and Hermione had always been slightly terrified of that tone. She nodded her head obediently. “Yes, Molly. OH. Did you say you spoke to both Ginny and Luna?”
Molly smiled in understanding. “I know all about those two and Harry.”
“And you’re okay with it? Isn’t it a bit strange, even by Pureblood standards? Sorry, I just mean . . .”
“No offense taken. I know it’s all new to you. And, yes — I accept their relationship. Harry loves the girls and they adore him. I’ve always hoped Ginny and Harry would end up together; Luna seems to make them complete. It’s not that strange for someone in his position, you know.”
“What do you mean?”
“He’s a war hero, and also the last of his house. Traditionally, a hero of his stature is gifted with multiple brides by houses hoping to make an alliance. Of course, in these modern times, we don’t just give our daughters away without their consent. Also, as the last Potter, he has the legal right to establish a harem-based household as a way to build up his family once again. There’s a very beautiful ancient ceremony used for such weddings.”
“I shouldn’t be shocked, I know. But this means that Ginny isn’t a House Wife; did you want that for her?”
“Ginny received no stakes, and I can only assume that’s because she’s not a good fit for any of the ancient families. However, as the seventh child of a very prolific house she’s a very lucky mate for a war hero. She’ll provide him with lots of heirs, as will Luna.”
“Have you actually seen them together, Molly?” Minerva murmured knowingly.
“Yes, Harry’s got quite the appetite, doesn’t he? Not that the girls complained. They came for a visit two weekends ago. It was rather inspiring for me and Arthur, too . . .”
The two continued talking, having forgotten Hermione’s presence momentarily, and she couldn’t get her mouth open to beg them to stop. She was frozen in her spot, and, having seen the threesome in many compromising . . . positions, her brain supplied images to go along with the women’s conversation.
“. . . heard a noise in the kitchen, so of course I looked in. Harry had Ginny bent over the table, taking her from behind, and Luna was straddling Ginny’s back! She had chocolate icing all over her breasts and Harry was licking them clean. That boy is insatiable, Minerva!”
Hermione’s favorite professor looked a bit flustered and she had a heated look in her eye. This has to stop now. Before Professor McGonagall launches into one of Harry’s school exploits. Because some are far, far worse than that. I need to bleach my brain.
She stood, scraping her chair noisily across the floor. “This has been a very . . . informative . . . meeting. Thank you both so much for all your help. I should . . . go . . . to get ready for the dance. Yes, I’ll go! I’m going now!”
Anything could be better than those two and the subject of sex. Gaaaah! Hermione willingly threw herself into the clutches of Ginny and Luna for an afternoon of make-overs just to escape Molly Weasley and Minerva McGonagall.