Michael and Draco came down the stairs in slience. Waiting at the bottom were George and Alice Richmond, his parents. They eyed Draco a bit but did not question, already figuring out the motive.
Michael's mind was racing. Two days ago when his father had come home from work, he was a lot happier than he had been in a while. He had called everyone into the den, sitting them down. "Family, I have found a way to fix our money issue." Everyone was paying close attention now. His father turned to him. "Michael, I know you have been in Slytherin for a while and were taught to dislike muggle-borns by your classmates,but please take into consideration that our family is at stake here."
Michael just nodded to show he was listening, though he was not too sure if he liked where this was going.
"There is a family I met through the ministry. They have decided to strike a deal and I'm going to run it by you." Michael waited as his father paused. "If you agree to marry their daughter, they will get our exoenses back in order."
Michael did not speak for a moment. "Are you serious?" he asked, breathless.
"Yes," George replied.
Michael stared down at his hands. This would be a tough decision. The future of his family lay on his shoulders and he was being asked to marry someone. Someone he had never even met. To top it all off, she was a muggle-born. He sighed and gazed up at his father. "And the girl?" he questioned. "She agrees?"
His father nodded. "She agrees if you agree."
Michael sighed. "Alright," he said. "If she agrees. then so do I."
Back in the present, Michael glanced up and wondered why he had been making such a big deal out of this. He had, in fact agreed to it. The answer came swiftly: he was nervous about getting married at age 17.
George, a tall man with short brown hair and grey eyes, stood six inches over his wife. He was wearing a suit and tie and looked flattering to anyone.
Alice had long brown hair that reached all the way down her back when it wasn't fised up. This evening, she wore pale blue dress robes, and her hair was fixed into an elegant ponytail. She was beautiful, anyone could see that, and Michael respected no one more than he would repect her. His father was not violent, which was great, becasue he didn't have to worry about Michael hexing him all the way to the states if one hand was ever laid on his mother.
"Hello dear," Alice greeted, immediately pulling Michael into a hug. Michael hugged her back. As they pulled away from one another, she kissed him on the cheek. "Well hello Draco," she said. "I can't say I'm surprised to see you here."
George laughed. "Yes, will you be joining us?"
Draco nodded, smiling happily at them. "Yes sir I will. I figured Michael here," he elbowed his friend playfully. "Needed some support from me."
Both of his parents frowned. Alice sighed. "Yes, well, he isn't in the greatest mood about this," she said, giving him a sad smile. Then her expression hardened, a rare thing for her. "But, she and her family are to be treated equally. Understood?"
"Yes ma'am." Michael grumbled.
"What was that?" Greorge demanded.
Michael spoke up. "I said yes ma'am."
His father did not look convinced, but Michael did not dare to go up against his father. He had learned at a very young age what would occur if he did.
Draco cleared his throat. "So, before we leave," he said, breaking the tension as everyone's eyes fell on him. "What should I know about this family?" Draco knew everything, but they did not need to know that.
"Well," Alice began. "The are a very powerful muggle family. One of very few involved in the Wizarding World. The are actually part of the ministry to help find Muggle-borns capable of magical abilities." she smiled. Michael just sighed.
"Morris?" Draco questioned.
"Yes," Michael replied bitterly. "Morris. Julia Morris."
He saw amusement flash over Draco's face but did not have a chance to question it as right then, the clock chimed seven.
"Time to go!" Alice sang cheerfully, heading toward the fireplace. The three men followed her at a bit of a slower pace. She had already thrown the floo powder into the fire when they arrived behind her. She turned on them and scoffed. "You boys are always so slow." Taking her husband's hand, she said, "Alright. Michael, your father and I will go first. Follow after us. Draco will be last." Her eyebrows scrunched up a bit in worry. "Oh I do hope they don't mind an extra guest."
Draco smirked. "No worries Mrs. R, we'll just say I'm his best man."
Michael flinched at the words, but no one noticed.
His parents stepped into the flames. "We'll be waiting for you," his father said in a warning tone. Then, he cried, "Morris Manor!" and they disappeared into the flames.
Grudgingly, Michael shuffled forward and took some powder out of the urn. Without one word, he threw it into the fire, repeating his father's words and he was suddenly spinning into the flames.
Michael did not particuarly like this form of travel. He had to remember to tuck in his arms or else he might end up knocking them on something and need a repair. He considered holding out his arm on purpose, but he was sudenly falling out of the fireplace at Morris Manor. As he had not expected it, he lost his footing. His father caught his arm and pulled him back to his feet. It did little good, becasue a moment later, Draco smacked right into him and they went tumbling to the floor.
Picking themselves up, they looked around, swiping dirt and ash off their clothes. Michael's jaw dropped to the floor in wonder.
The room they stood in was enormous! The floor was hard, sparkling as if it had just been cleaned. The ceiling was high, as if it would never end, and then it did, and Michael was sure there had to be another story. The room was wide and open, nearly the size of a regular one story home. A chandilier hung from the ceiling and Michael realized that it was purely made of crystal. The walls were covered by long deep red curtains and there were no windows. At the far side of the room, an elegant table stretched at least seven feet and chairs lined both sides, with one on each end. The side against the wall held three people: a small boy with blonde hair, dressed in black pants and s black button down shirt and tie. A girl with flowing red hair that was pinned back at her ears, out of her face, who wore what looked to be a white summer dress. And finally, a very familiar girl with very bushy brown hair, dressed in periwinkle blue dress robes.
"Granger?" Michael gasped, before he could stop himself.
As her eyes landed on them, her expression dimmed and he saw her roll her eyes and then go back to some paperback book she had been reading before. It was most definitely Granger, though outside of the Hogwarts walls and uniform, she seemed a lot different. The girl with red hair gazed at her questioningly before turning her attention back to the approaching four.
A man with balding red hair stood from one end of the table. "Welcome Richmond's," he greeted, shaking George and Alice's hands. Michael was a bit surprised of how at ease the man seemed to be, but then he thought of Granger and rolled his eyes. He knew he had some things to get to the bottom of and he planned to do so tonight.
The man stopped in front of Michael. "I know you're Michael," he said. "Though, I guess you are not so young anymore. In the Wizarding World you are now an adult, correct?"
Michael was about to answer but at that moment, the tall grand doors to the room opened and everyone's attention was averted.
Michael's eyes nearly popped out of their sockets at the sight.
A girl dressed in a knee-lenght champagne colored dress with spagetti straps and white two inch heeled, open toed shoes, was escorted into the room by a small man in a butler's outfit. Her hair was black and was fixed up some in the back, though most of it hung loose. Even from where he stood, he could see her eyes were sapphires. She was, indeed, beautiful.
The man turned, holding his hand out to her. He took it and pulled her to his side. "This is my daughter," he said. "Julia Morris. Julia," he motioned to Michael. This is your future husband.
Julia gazed at Michael for a moment, and then did the most outrageous thing.