Nobody ever asked my birthday

Cry Havoc let loose the dogs of War!

Harry wasn't offended, by the suggestion that he'd chosen a career with the intent to control others.

Wasn't that what an Auror was, when it came right down to it?

With wand and power, under the rule of law.

But it was still control, wasn't it?

Harry knew he hadn't had a very safe childhood (regardless of whether it was better than living with Augusta Longbottom); control, or it's twin, power were things that he'd desperately sought, as a child.

It made sense, when he wasn't thinking about anything at all, that his mind would seek out such things. And, perhaps, these desires were even warranted. He certainly had had a ruddy streak of luck in the Wizarding World, hadn't he?

Hogwarts, the safest place in Wizarding Britain - guarded by Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster and Supreme Mugwump and other titles Harry always forgot before he got to the end of the page.

It had always been a fantasy - one with a pastel castle, and pennants - a true fairy tale, of Camelot or... Harry didn't know any other fairy tales.

Looking back, Harry had suggested being an Auror because he hadn't really known what to say. What did you say, when you knew that you were likely to be dead before you graduated? Hello, I'd like to aspire to be a pretty corpse. One that Hermione and Ginny will cry over, instead of vomit because of. Rather like to be killed by Tom than by his werewolf minions, thank you kindly. No, Harry had just picked Auror, without even thinking about it. Only later had he even realized the coursework involved.

"Why are kisses so important to Wizarding Culture?" Hermione asked, her strident voice piercing Harry's meandering mind. Harry hastily listened in, hoping he hadn't missed much. If I have, Hermione will just tell me later.

"Old traditions stated that betrothals needed to be posted for a year and a day." Snape responded.

"Even without the Church?" Harry queried. It didn't take much thought to remember that betrothals got put on the churchyard bulletin.

"Yes. It was a fine tradition, forcing young children to at least meet and greet each other before they were irrevocably bound." Snape's eyes flashed at this.

"Until...?" Hermione asked.

"Traditions, even the best of them, change due to circumstances." Snape said, "In times of war, a betrothal might be broken on the most flimsy of pretexts. Or, occasionally, no reason at all. When menfolk rode for war, they might be gone for years at a time."

"The crusades," Hermione said, nodding.

"Mostly the French," Snape responded. "Kissing was a new custom, during the Hundred Years War. It signified a marriage - but it was strongly suggested that it not be consummated until the warrior had won the war."

Hermione nodded, "So a marriage in name only-?"

Snape nodded, "I suspect Slytherin involvement in the custom, truth be told. If the marriage was not consummated, and the man fell in battle - his young wife could be profitably married to another."

Harry's eyes flashed green, "Having it both ways, and with little cost to her family?"

Snape shook his head gravely, "The cost would have been a dowry. Her first husband might have taken a large chunk of wealth, which, if he died, his House was not obligated to repay."

[a/n: When thinking of older traditions, it's wise to assume Slytherins on both sides of the bargain. Find one that makes good game theory.

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