Title: Harry’s Mentor
Author: Keira Marcos
Beta: Ladyholder & Chris King
Series: Harry Potter & the Soulmate Bond
Fandom: Harry Potter
Word Count: 14,176
Rating: NC-17 (sex and language)
Warnings: Sexual content, off-screen child abuse, discussion of child abuse and violence against a child, bigotry, discussion of rape, sexual harassment, and explicit language
Author’s Note: You know I hate Ron and Ginny Weasley, right? See Series page for further author notes, warnings, and ratings.
Despite the fact that more than half the Hogwarts students were missing from the Quidditch pitch, they were packed to capacity. Several additional sets of stands had to be provided. Ten minutes to two, Viktor Krum and his father arrived with a small entourage that Harry had been warned in advance included the Bulgarian Minister for Magic. He felt more than saw the dueling wards being lifted.
Harry turned and looked at the area that had been left open for Hermione and Minerva McGonagall. As if it were planned, Hermione and Neville appeared with a pop of house elf apparition. Star released both of their hands and Neville took a seat on the bench leaving space between himself and Minerva McGonagall for Hermione to sit when she was ready. A low murmur ran through the crowd as Hermione walked toward him. He couldn’t blame them—she looked amazing. Most of the people in the crowd had to recognize the dueling robes of the Lady Potter—his own mother was displayed in a portrait in the Hall of Mages at the Ministry of Magic in very similar robes to what Hermione was wearing.
“You look fantastic,” he said admitted. “Star?”
“We figured that I should make a statement,” Hermione said and wet her bottom lip. “Are you okay?”
“Don’t let him kill you, Harry,” Hermione whispered. “I’m not sure I’d survive it… just the thought of it makes my magic… hurt.”
“Our bond gets stronger by the day,” Harry said. “There will come a day where… well, if we’re bonded long enough that we won’t survive the death of the other.” He thought about what Luna Lovegood had said and pushed it to the back of his mind.
“I’d prefer it. I already prefer it,” Hermione admitted. “I can’t imagine a life without you in it.”
“I feel the same,” Harry admitted. He pulled Rowena from his neck and offered her to Hermione. “She’s too young for this.”
Hermione took the snake and brought her up to her neck. Rowena twined around her with a contented hiss. “You’re the reason I believe in love. Did you know? I thought it silly and rather impossible until I met you.”
He cleared his throat. “For the record, that’s the sort of thing you say to a bloke when he’s in a position to take off all of your clothes and thank you properly.”
Hermione laughed and wrapped her arms around him. “Don’t play games with him, okay?”
“No games,” Harry promised. He hugged her tightly, picked her up off the ground and took her mouth. When he set her back down, they were both greeted with a rather boisterous ‘Go Lions!’ from all of the Hogwarts students in stadium. “I need you to promise me that no matter what happens you’ll stay behind the dueling ward.”
“Mi, please. I need you to swear it.”
“I’ll stay behind the dueling ward, I promise. I’d never want to distract you.” She took a step back from him and gave him a nod before she walked off the field. She took her seat and the warning chime sounded.
Dumbledore apparated to the center of the field. The empty side of the field shimmered briefly then Harry’s conclave started to arrive. They came in waves—the sound of the apparition purposely thunderous until they were lined up the length of the pitch just outside the dueling ward.
Harry raised his wand and offered them a careful salute. They all drew their wands and returned the salute with a low hiss that resonated through the stadium. He walked to stand beside the Headmaster and Viktor joined them—his expression furious.
“What is the meaning of this, Potter? Who are those hooded wizards?”
“I’m the High Warlock of the Glain Neidr conclave,” Harry explained coolly. “It is their duty to witness such things.”
“You’re sixteen,” Viktor said. “And already a High Warlock?”
“It’s a little late to assess what sort of threat I am,” Harry said, his eyes glinting with temper. “Unless you’ve changed your mind?”
Viktor snorted at him in derision. “You’d be wise to concede this fight as soon as you can, otherwise I’ll have no choice but to kill you.”
“You think she’d give you the time of the day if you killed me?” Harry asked. “She thinks you’re inferior in every way and this display, which would impress and even flatter some witches, is just going to make her resent you more.”
“We’ll see about that—my fame attracted her before and that is obviously why she is with you. Killing you will make me famous the world over.”
“Quite a boon to your house,” Harry conceded. “Unless you acknowledge that I’m sixteen and you’re a grown man.”
“Your age is meaningless,” Viktor said. “You and I both know you’re magically mature. You couldn’t have claimed your title if you weren’t.” He turned to Dumbledore. “I will not withdraw.”
“Neither will I,” Harry said.
“Very well,” Dumbledore said gravely. “As the Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards, I have blanket diplomatic immunity across the globe. That should interest you both because I will say this—if either of you cast an Unforgiveable today—I will deliver it on you without remorse.” He stared pointedly at Viktor whose mouth dropped open. “That means, Mr. Krum, if you cast the Killing Curse at Lord Potter—I will kill you. Do you understand?”
“You don’t have the right to make such a stipulation. There are no rules in a duel such as this,” Krum protested hotly.
“It’s not a stipulation,” Albus said pleasantly. “It is a forewarning of my intentions to kill you if you use the Killing Curse. If you can’t participate in a duel without the Unforgiveables then frankly you have no business challenging a world class dueler like Lord Potter. The crowd will certainly be disappointed at the briefness of the duel. Many of them have come quite a long way to witness this.”
“Very well,” Krum said darkly.
“Lord Potter, you will agree not to shift into your animagus form for the course of the duel,” Dumbledore said severely.
“Understood, sir. I have no problems agreeing with that as long Krum doesn’t shift into his animagus form,” Harry said. “If he has one.”
“I don’t care if he uses his form,” Viktor said with a smirk.
“I’d think any intelligent wizard would be leery of engaging a metric ton of dragon, again. I would’ve assumed you had your fill of such during the Tri-Wizard Tournament,” Dumbledore commented dryly. “Or did you think the Prophet was lying about that?”
Krum looked at Harry, clearly startled. “You really turn into a dragon?”
“As I said, Krum, it’s a little late for you to be figuring out what kind of threat I am. I won’t change forms as long as you don’t.”
“Take your places gentlemen. When I apparate out off the field you may begin.” Albus stood still as the two of them backed away from each other. Neither making the mistake of turning his back.
Hermione took a deep breath as Dumbledore apparated off the field. The dead silence was broken by a blasting curse—the ground exploded at Harry’s feet but he didn’t even flinch. A shield shimmered around him briefly and he leveled his blackwood wand at Krum who was staring at him shocked. The sonorous charms on the field caught a low, nearly sub vocal hiss from Harry. The ground in front of him repaired itself as dark red magic seemed to stream out of every pore. It flowed over the field and when the wave hit Viktor, the Bulgarian was thrown half the length of the pitch but before he hit the ground Harry was moving, hitting him with two different curses in parseltongue.
Krum hit the ground with a sickening thud but staggered to his feet and was casting almost immediately. An entrail expelling curse burst from his wand. Hermione took a deep breath as the curse pushed right through Harry’s primary shield with an ugly flash of magic but Harry was already out of the way. It hit the ground, harmless.
Harry drew his holly wand and sent a series of blasting curses at Viktor while he used his blackwood wand to draw a single rune in the air in front of him. Viktor hesitated briefly in responding, his own shield burning away as the last of Harry’s curses hit it.
The rune lit with fire and Harry pushed it out in front of him as it expanded. Seconds before it hit Viktor, Harry hit the rune with a jolt of purple magic. The rune exploded and Viktor was enveloped in a sphere shaped ward that rapidly began to shrink around him. Harry circled him silently, watching the older wizard attempt to break it down.
“Merlin, is he going to suffocate him?” Neville asked in a whisper.
“I don’t know,” Hermione responded. “I think he’s wearing Viktor out—forcing him to expel so much magic that he can’t use anything dark against him.”
“Agreed,” Minerva said. “It’s a sound strategy.”
Viktor broke the ward and cast an extremely powerful reductor curse at Harry. Harry took the hit in the left shoulder and even with his dueling robes the impact was obviously extremely painful.
“Okay,” Hermione whispered and took a deep breath. “That’s enough, Harry.”
As if he heard her, Harry snapped his blackwood wand in the air and started to hit Krum with one hex after another, spinning the older wizard around repeatedly.
Krum staggered free of the bombardment, leveled his wand and shouted, “Fiendfyre!”
Shock teetered through the crowd but Hermione actually relaxed. “Merlin, he’s a bleeding idiot.”
“Yes,” Hiro Ito said with a nod from his place on the other side of her mother. “This is excellent.”
“Excellent?” Minerva snapped. “How in the bloody hell is this excellent?”
Hiro smirked. “You’re rather attractive when you’re angry.”
Minerva huffed at him and focused her attention on Harry just in time to see him enveloped in Fiendfyre. Her breath caught and tears welled. Hiro Ito’s hand settled on hers. He squeezed gently.
“He’s fine,” Hiro promised. “Parselmouths have a very special relationship with Fiendfyre.”
Minerva started to ask a question but then the dark orange fire around Harry went into frenzy, whirled around him like a tornado then it spun out in the shape of a dragon and launched itself at Viktor Krum. The Bulgarian screamed as his own curse turned on him but it was a very brief scream.
Ito stood as Viktor Krum succumbed to the flames in a burst of magic. Not even ashes remained as there was no hotter fire on Earth than Fiendfyre. He stepped through the dueling wards as Harry dropped to his knees, blood pouring down his left arm. Rowena slithered off Hermione and went to her wizard, fire flashing over her skin as she lengthened to six feet. The robed men on the opposite side of the field stepped through the ward as well.
Ito went to Harry and gripped the elbow on his right arm. He helped his apprentice to his feet. He nodded at whatever the older parselmouth was saying. The Fiendfyre was in a frenzy, burning upwards of forty feet in the air and spreading out rapidly.
Harry took a deep breath, audible over the sonorous charm. “Gentlemen, let us begin.” Godric lit with fire as he slid off Harry’s body and rapidly expanded to roughly the size of the basilisk from the Chamber. “May magic bless our unified purpose.”
The Fiendfyre started to scream and dragons sprung from it. The conclave spread out around it and Harry lifted his wand with a shaking hand. He drew rune after rune—pushing them out around him until he enveloped the fire and his entire conclave aided with Godric’s magic.
“What is Harry doing?” Neville asked.
“Fiendfyre this big has to be contained with a ritual. Viktor… I think he must have been insane, really.” Hermione cleared her throat. “And Fiendfyre responds to the mental state of the original caster. He had no control of that curse once it left his wand and it turned on him when it couldn’t get to Harry.”
“You’re saying he killed himself,” Neville said dryly. “You’re right—he was a bleeding idiot.”
“Yes,” Hermione said. “At any rate, Harry is harvesting magic from his conclave to control the fire.”
“Wow,” Neville muttered. “You ever get the feeling there are whole parts of him that you’ll never know?”
“No,” Hermione answered without hesitation.
The Fiendfyre roared, a chimera burst out of it briefly then it abruptly diminished to an Ashwinder the size of a person. It wasn’t nearly as comforting as it should’ve been.
“You! This is all your fucking fault!”
Hermione barely had time to turn before Radko Krum was on her, dragging her from the bench and backhanding her across the face. He drew his wand and hit her mother with a blasting hex as Hermione hit the ground. She sprung to her feet, whipped out her wand and hit Radko Krum in the chest with a chain of silent stunners that flung him through the fire ward and half way up the pitch.
She turned and met Harry’s gaze. She flicked her wand in a casual salute and turned to take care of her mother. Neville was already helping her to stand.
* * * *
“I’m fine,” Minerva protested. “Stop making a fuss! I’m not the one who almost got himself killed today.”
Hermione huffed at her mother. “Just stay put, please. I promised Madam Pomfrey and Healer Arnou that you wouldn’t move until they could examine you. If you get up, one of them will leave Harry to take care of you.”
Minerva glared at her. “That’s manipulative.”
“Yes,” Hermione agreed. “But no less true.” She sat down on the cot beside her and picked up her mother’s hand.
“How does your face feel?”
“I’ve had worse,” Hermione admitted. “I’ll be okay.” Harry cried out, a little shocked painful sound that made them both flinch.
“Enough,” Harry snapped. “Sweet buggering Christ, Castius, you have the bedside manner of a hag!”
“I’m almost done,” Castius said reasonably.
“Mi? Are you okay?”
“I’m here,” Hermione stood and with one stern look in her mother’s direction went to Harry. She skirted around Arnou and Pomfrey and avoided looking at the mess of his shoulder. “And I’m fine. He hit me but I handled it.”
His gaze flicked to Minerva. “Neither of you have been treated.”
“We can wait until they’re finished with you,” Minerva said coolly and glared at him when he started to protest.
“The eggs have been harvested and preserved. There is already a bidding war over the eggs and ashes. The Foundation’s floo exploded—potions masters all over the world are foaming at the mouth wanting to buy,” Castius interjected.
Harry exhaled sharply. “Where is Remus Lupin?”
“He’s making your father take a walk,” Castius said. “He was just getting in the way in here. You know Sirius can hardly stand the sight of your blood.”
Harry nodded. “Right.” He turned to Hermione. “That guy from the wireless is probably still here. I want you to find him and announce that the Ashwinder eggs and ashes will be sold. All proceeds will go into a trust fund for Viktor Krum’s victims. Victims of his crimes should contact Gringotts for further details in a couple of days.”
“Oh.” Hermione took a deep breath. “That’s… that’s a really wonderful thing to do, Harry.”
“I want no profit of his demise nor do I want it used for the Foundation,” Harry said quietly. “The idea is obscene to me.”
“I’ll take care of it right now,” Hermione said. She leaned down and pressed a kiss hesitantly to his sweat dampened forehead. “Stop cursing in front of my mum.”
She left the infirmary only to find that the hall leading up to that section of the castle was packed with Gryffindors. “He’ll be fine.”
“For real?” Jonas asked. “You aren’t just…”
“Yes,” Hermione said firmly. “He’s magically exhausted from fighting off the Fiendfyre but he will make a full recovery. I need the person who was covering the duel for the wireless. Does anyone know where he is?”
“It was my dad, he sent me up here to see if I get word or a statement,” Lee Jordan said. “He’s down in the hall waiting for news on Harry. Are you making the statement?”
* * * *
All the chatter in the Great Hall ceased the moment she entered. Lee led her straight to his father who was at the front of the room speaking with Filius Flitwick and Armand Dearing. Joseph Jordan motioned them forward as he signaled for a commercial break and deactivated the magical microphone he had with him.
“Dad, Hermione is going to make a statement on Lord Potter’s behalf.”
Joseph cleared his throat. “Right… dear… have you had treatment for your face? You’re sporting quite a bruise.”
Hermione touched the bruise that was blooming over her cheekbone. “Everyone in the infirmary is concentrating on Harry. It doesn’t hurt much. I can wait.”
“Let me,” Hiro Ito said as he approached. He took her hand and led her to a chair. “Is your mother similarly untreated?”
“Neither one of us wanted to take away the attention that Harry needed,” Hermione said quietly as Ito raised his wand and started to cast. “Why do you cast silently?”
“I was taught to practice magic this way. When I was your age—it was considered quite immature to be required to use verbal spells to manipulate magic. Such ideals fell away over the centuries, however, as magical users retreated from the world. One of the ways we hid in the past was through silent casting. Now we just hide our communities entirely from the eyes of Muggles. Perhaps that is better but it has made magicals rather lazy when it comes to spell work.”
The pain receded almost immediately and her skin tingled briefly and Hiro lowered his wand. “There—all better.”
“Thank you, that was amazing,” Hermione admitted. “Would you go take a look at my mum? She’s in a great deal of pain.”
“I will.” Ito stood and quit the hall without another word to anyone.
In short order, she found herself back in front of Joseph Jordan. He briefed his audience on his location, the outcome of the duel, and the attack by Ambassador Radko Krum before explaining that Hermione was on hand with a statement about Harry Potter.
Hermione wet her lips and took a deep breath when Mr. Jordan just gave her an encouraging smile. “Lord Potter is resting somewhat uncomfortably in the infirmary. He will, however, make a full recovery and I expect he’ll even attend classes tomorrow if they are held. Lord Potter was informed that many potions masters around the world have expressed interest in the Ashwinder ashes and eggs that resulted from the Fiendfyre. The Lily Potter Foundation will handle the sale of the magical products from the Ashwinder and all proceeds will be placed in a trust fund for the witches that found themselves misused at the hands of Viktor Krum. These young women should contact Gringotts in the days to come for information. Private and discreet arrangements will be made to make their lives a bit easier.”
“Misused?” Jordan asked, clearly surprised.
“Viktor Krum was a rapist,” Hermione said plainly. “His father repeatedly used his own status as an Ambassador and eventually most of the gold he had to keep his son from being properly punished. The House of Potter would make no profit due to the demise of Viktor Krum. We feel the gold would be better served in the hands of those he hurt so vilely while he lived. Harry and I would like to thank everyone for their understanding and patience in the days to come as he recovers from this difficult experience.”
“Thank you, Lady… Miss McGonagall,” Joseph said quietly.
* * * *
Sirius snorted and turned off the wireless. He dropped down in the chair next to Harry’s bed and studiously avoided looking at the still open wound of his shoulder. Ito had joined in the process but it was still going to be a long night.
“You’d better get a ring on that girl’s finger before she decides to do it for you.”
Harry laughed. “Merlin, don’t make me laugh. It hurts.”
“You’re the one that let that idiot hit you with a reductor curse.”
“It was necessary,” Harry said lowly.
“I think that’s dragonshite.” Sirius frowned at him but kept his voice even.
“You know I don’t agree,” Harry returned just as evenly and met his father’s gaze without flinching. “It was the best method of dealing with him. It had to at least look like a fair fight, Dad.” He huffed. “How the fuck did Radko Krum get that close to her? I thought you had Aurors in the crowd.”
“Everyone was so… horrified by the Fiendfyre that they didn’t even notice him until he got to her. She handled it like a professional. He’s at St. Mungo’s. She broke half the bones in his body with three stunners. His landing was not graceful at all and she managed to throw him through a mage level fire ward at the same time.”
Harry smirked at that thought then he frowned. “I want to break the rest of them. Set that up for me.”
Sirius grinned. “I’m sure his government is going to drag his arse home post haste.” He cleared his throat and frowned. “Why are you hiding your runes?”
Harry took a deep breath as he considered the network of blood runes that ran under his skin. They had surfaced during the ritual to render the Fiendfyre to an ashwinder. “Hermione hasn’t seen them. I had Castius disillusion them before she came in.”
“Why?” Sirius asked. “You’ve never hidden them before.”
“I’ve had enough stress today without explaining to my girlfriend that I have blood runes.” Harry huffed and glared pointedly at Ito when the older man started to poke at his shoulder. “She’s rather rigid, you know, when it comes to magical theory. Her view of magic is black and white or more to the point Light and Dark. Grey leaves her confused and uncomfortable.”
“You are in a significant amount of pain, Harry,” Ito interjected. “Would you like me to knock you unconscious?”
Harry shook his head. “It’ll just hurt in my nightmares instead. At least I have some control like this.”
“Are you sure he can’t have a pain potion?” Poppy asked.
“Not yet. It would be negated once we start casting,” Hiro said. “At least, not if he wants to heal this now.” He focused on Harry. “The pain is going to be torturous, Harry, no one is going to think less of you if you’d prefer a pain potion and dose of Skele-gro.”
“Even with Skele-gro, my arm would be next to useless for days,” Harry complained. “Just get it over with.”
“Castius—you will try to moderate his pain with the charm,” Hiro said. “We can try to control the flesh pain with numbing charms but regrowing these bones with parselmagic is going to be agony. Just do the best you can on that front. Anything is better than nothing.”
“Yes, sir,” Castius nodded. He turned to Sirius. “Love, you should leave.”
“No, really,” Castius said. “You should leave and for the love of Merlin, keep his witch out of this room.”
Ito’s gaze drifted to Minerva who outright glared at him. He’d healed her when he’d entered the infirmary—the witch had had three cracked ribs and a fractured wrist that she’d refused to acknowledge. “You should leave as well.”
“I can handle it.”
“You shouldn’t have to,” Hiro said. “While we are capable of controlling pain for a non-parselmouth to an untold degree, we have found over the generations that we cannot do the same for our own kind who have reached Lord Potter’s level of parselmagic use. This is going to look and sound like torture.”
Minerva stood up hesitantly and left with Sirius. They pulled the door shut just as Hermione came around the corner and started down the hall. There were quite a few students lingering in the hall but a brief look over them confirmed that the twelve children from Potter Redoubt were all accounted for. She couldn’t ask them to leave. She also wasn’t surprised to find Astoria Greengrass in the crowd along with the Head Boy and Draco Malfoy. There were about thirty kids in all.
An agonizing scream broke through the door and Hermione reached for the handle in a heartbeat. Sirius grabbed her before she could open it and lifted her off her feet. “No.”
“They’re hurting him,” Hermione snapped and tried to wrench free of him. “Let me go!”
“They’re healing him,” Sirius corrected. He carried away from the door and set her on her feet a few feet down from the door with the rest of the kids that were waiting. “Tell me how a pain relief spell works.”
Hermione huffed. “The healer coaxes the person’s magic to dull nerve endings causing the person to ignore the pain that is being processed by their brain.” She flinched when Harry shouted out in agony again.
“Can a witch or wizard cast a pain relief spell on themselves?”
“No, we can numb an injury, of course, and in some cases even set a bone if the wizard or witch is powerful enough to cast the magic itself,” she said tears welling in her eyes as Harry started to scream in earnest.
“Excellent, what do you know about Harry’s abilities as a parselmouth?”
“He dominated his magical core,” Hermione said quietly and her shoulders slumped. “They can’t make his magic do anything, can they?”
“No, not even Healer Ito can use Harry’s magic against him—not even in a case where it would actually benefit him. The end result is that pain relief spells and charms don’t work on him. They can numb the skin, the muscles, and the tendons—but you can’t numb bone with magic. They’re regrowing his clavicle and humerus entirely.” He flinched when Harry’s screamed turned into an agonizing groan.
“Oh, he’s such an arsehole. He could be unconscious doing this with Skele-gro!” Hermione bit down on her lip and shuddered as Harry started to wretch.
“On that you and I totally agree,” Sirius said ruefully. He released her. “He doesn’t want you in there, okay? So, we’re going to stay out here until they’re done. Then you can lecture him until he passes out—unless he passes out before we see him then you can lecture him when he wakes up.”
“Out of curiosity,” Draco began. “Is this the first time he’s been healed like this for a significant injury?”
“He broke his arm in a dueling accident shortly after we realized that pain relief charms stopped working for him,” Sirius said. “He was thirteen and impatient—I stupidly agreed to let Healer Arnou use parselmagic on him to fix the bone. Castius had to stun me half way through. He knew how much it would hurt, if that is your question.”
“The entire lot of you need to learn a more acceptable way of dealing with emotional upset,” Hermione snapped. “The first one of you who stuns me will really regret it!”
“Did I tell you how fetching you look?” Sirius asked. “Just lovely.”
She huffed and crossed her arms. “Thanks.”
Astoria maneuvered herself around so she was standing next to Hermione. “They said on the wireless that you were wearing the dueling robes of the Lady Potter.”
Hermione nodded. “Star brought them to me. We thought it was important to make a statement.”
“Oh, you’re making a statement,” Roger agreed.
“A very attractive one,” Draco said with a little grin.
Minerva huffed. “Five points from Slytherin.”
“Did you just take points from me for flirting with your daughter?” Draco laughed when she glared at him. “I can’t see how Gryffindor isn’t in the negative, in that case. Potter has been flirting with her since he was sorted.”
Minerva offered him a mild glare but ruined it by the fact that she was barely refraining from smirking.
* * * *
Sirius was contemplating the cold-blooded murder of Gerald Greengrass. He really hated being the bloody Minister for Magic. It was the only reason he wasn’t shoving his foot up the Bulgarian Minister of Magic’s arse. Well, that and he was quite fond of the boots he was wearing.
Blagun Ignatov, the Bulgarian Minister, was Radko Krum’s first cousin and he was equal parts furious and embarrassed. Though he wasn’t even pretending to grieve for Viktor, he was insisting that Harry face an inquiry over the magic he used in the duel.
“Look, Minister Ignatov, I don’t know how Fudge ran things around here but I’ll tell you this. Britain doesn’t have an extradition treaty with Bulgaria because your court system is something out of the dark ages and that’s saying something considering how backward I happen to find our own courts. My son is not going to be turned over to you for an inquiry. He did nothing wrong.”
“He murdered Viktor!”
“That’s, frankly, bullshite. Viktor Krum challenged him to a duel then he stupidly and with no regard for his own life cast Fiendfyre at a parselmouth. Krum got himself killed.”
“Your son turned that Fiendfyre on him when he could have easily banished it before it got out of hand,” Ignatov said lowly. “I’m a parselmouth, Minister Black, I know exactly what your son did last night during that duel.”
“He defended himself.”
“He was unnecessarily vicious with a wizard who had no hope of defeating him,” Ignatov snapped. “It was murder and he will face trial over it.”
“Not in this country and if you attempt to take him—you’ll find out exactly why Cornelius Fudge never successfully took custody of my son,” Sirius said quietly. “Viktor Krum is dead by his own hand as far as I’m concerned. You’d be hard-pressed to find a witness who would honestly say differently. If you knew that your cousin had no hope of beating Lord Potter, you should’ve prevented the duel. I was in no position to tell my son he couldn’t defend his courting period with Hermione McGonagall.”
“That little chit,” Ignatov began, “accused a national icon of Bulgaria of rape on the international wireless!”
“He was a rapist!” Sirius shouted. “Sixteen witches from Britain and France have already approached Gringotts and given evidence of his crimes! They were all given truth potions and tested in the last twenty-four hours. The youngest so far is just twelve years old. The Chieftain of the Horde told me that four witches in your own country are being tested as we speak. If you think you’re going to do a fucking thing to Hermione McGonagall for telling the world the truth then you are delusional.”
“Your son dishonored the protocols of the duel and murdered his opponent in cold blood.”
“Harry is sixteen years old. He accepted a legal challenge and met that challenge with honor and dignity. He didn’t cast a single dark curse during the course of the duel and acquitted himself like a gentlemen. That cannot be said of either of your countrymen.”
“This isn’t over.”
“You should go home, salvage what is left of your career, and take that arsehole Radko with you. He’s not welcome in Britain. This isn’t a fight you can win. My son is beloved in this country. I would have absolutely no opposition if I decided to end our diplomatic relationship with Bulgaria and label you a threat to the security of our country—both magical and Muggle.”
* * * *
“I hope you’re proud of yourself,” Ginny said lowly.
Hermione looked up from her book and stared at her. “Pardon me?”
“Not only was he injured—you made him a killer because you were playing Krum and him off each other. It’s disgusting watching you work. I really never thought it was true—what Percy has always said about Muggle-born witches. But it’s true—you’re all greedy, vicious little bitches trying to get as much as you can no matter the consequences.”
Hermione opened her mouth to respond but Harry was suddenly there. He sat down casually at Hermione’s table in the common room and crossed his legs at the knee as he stared at a rapidly paling Ginny Weasley.
“I killed for the first time when I was three.”
“That was accidental magic,” Ginny protested hotly.
“I killed three dark wizards who tried to kidnap me last year. I left them to die on the street of internal injuries I caused because they attacked my father. They did die. Right there in the middle of the magical district in Paris. I turned their bones to dust and crushed most of their vital organs.” His gaze never wavered from her face as he spoke. “I don’t regret it. I was never upset about it. I won’t lose sleep over Viktor Krum. That duel wasn’t about Hermione. It was about her money. You’d know all about that, wouldn’t you, plotting to marry someone for their money. There is a word for people who trade their bodies for money, Ginerva. Perhaps you should take yourself off to the library and do some research into the matter.”
Even Hermione’s mouth dropped open in shock.
“How dare you imply…”
“How dare I speak the truth, you mean,” Harry corrected icily. “The really horrible thing about the words coming out of your mouth is that I know you mean them. You’d do well to mind your own business—sticking your nose in mine is never going to work out in your favor. Your father is a good, honest man. I really wish you’d stop shaming him with your poor, disgusting behavior. I’m genuinely embarrassed on his behalf.”
Ginny rushed away in tears.
“Respect is earned,” Harry said quietly.
“It’s not Hermione’s fault,” Fay said cheerfully. “She just got used to bitches early in life. It’s practically a habit at this point.”
Hermione flushed and glared at her roommate. “I liked you better when you were a virgin.”
Fay burst out laughing. “You did not!”
“Perhaps I did,” she held up two fingers. “A little bit.”
“A trifle,” Harry said solemnly and grinned when Fay threw a sugar quill at him.
* * * *
“Again. Get up.”
Harry rolled to his feet and took a deep breath. Filius Flitwick was rather a bastard if he was going to be honest about it. He raised his wand, cast his shield, and gave the smaller man a nod. Filius hit him with a bombardment hex that threw him into the dueling ward. He landed on his arse with a curse but the shield held.
“Better,” Filius acknowledged. “Maybe we should cast a sticking charm on your feet.”
Harry had something foul to say about that but he was literally saved by the chime that indicated that third period was over. He lifted his wand in salute. “My thanks for your time as always, Master Flitwick.”
Filius smirked. “Go on with you now. I have some essays to be cruel to.”
Harry laughed and gathered up his bag. “Right. Master Ito and I will be on the training field this evening after dinner if you’d like to join us.”
“I might like watching someone else kick your arse,” Filius said cheerfully.
“You’re a horrible person,” Harry said sincerely. “An excellent dueler but a horrible person.”
He left the diminutive professor to his own amusements and headed back to Gryffindor. The fourth and second years were milling around as they had a free period for fourth on Mondays. He was used to seeing them and they were, after over a month of school, used to seeing him return looking less than stellar from his dueling session.
Dennis Creevey offered him a cheerful wave. “Hey Lord Harry, shield charms today?”
Harry nodded. “Don’t make the mistake, kid, of ever telling Filius Flitwick to hit your shield with everything he’s got. My bum may never recover from the trauma.”
He undressed in his bedroom, tossing his sweaty clothes in the basket for Dobby and putting on a robe for his trip to the showers. He had just finished washing his hair when he got a visitor.
“Lord Harry, are you in here?”
“Yeah, Jonas, but I’m not quite done. Something on your mind that can’t wait until I finish?”
Jonas huffed and apparently leaned against the small section of stone wall beside Harry’s door because he could see the kid’s robe through the narrow space between the wall and the door. “I got caught up in some Devil’s Snare in the greenhouse and panicked like a first year. I broke my index finger.”
Harry paused in his washing and turned under the showerhead to wash off the soap. He cast a wandless cleaning charm on himself, which was not his preferred method of all-over body care. The shower stopped as soon as he stepped into the drying area.
“Why aren’t you in the infirmary?”
“We have Quidditch practice tomorrow night. I don’t want to miss it and I will if I use Skele-gro.”
Harry sighed. He had only himself to blame for that attitude. He was the one that insisted he didn’t have time to wait for traditional healing. A part of him thought he should probably order Jonas to the infirmary for a pain relief potion and Skele-gro but that would make him a hypocrite. “I’ll meet you in the common room in a few minutes.”
He dressed in his school uniform, sans robe and went searching for his ward. Jonas was sitting in chair by the fireplace, staring moodily at the floor and holding his right hand. Harry prodded a footstool over and sat down on it.
“Okay, kid, let’s take a look. If the break needs to be set we’re going to the infirmary.” Jonas scooted forward and proffered his hand. His index finger was swollen but not bent or misshapen. Harry drew his blackwood wand and hissed, “Vide infra.”
“What is that?” Jonas asked as he watched the magic swirl above his hand until a 3D representation of his finger was displayed.
“You know what a Muggle x-ray is?”
“This is the magical version of that,” Harry prodded the image as he viewed the bone, turning it slightly with the tip of his wand. “Just a hairline fracture,” he said as he continued to review it and kids gathered around the two of them to watch. “Professor Sprout cast a pain relief spell on you but it’s not going to be enough for bone healing,” Harry admitted. “So I’m going to cancel hers and immediately apply my own. It might hurt for a few seconds.”
“Alright.” Jonas straightened up and nodded gave him a firm nod.
Harry ended the diagnostic charm with a slash of his wand and hissed, “Finite. Subsidio Dolor.” He checked Jonas’ reaction and was relieved when the boy barely had time to notice the pain before it was gone again. “Better?”
“Okay, this should tingle just a bit,” Harry said as he cast the healing charm silently. A soft light blue light enveloped Jonas’ hand as he worked.
“Why the whole hand?” Dennis asked.
“Because he didn’t just break his finger,” Harry murmured. “He strained muscles and tendons that he hasn’t noticed yet because of the break. Healing is not just about the obvious injury, it’s about seeing a person as a whole and evaluating an injury for how it impacts the entire body. In some cases, severe physical trauma can even require mind healing to prevent psychosomatic reactions later.” The swelling decreased rapidly. “Soft tissue damage is often more difficult to work with than bone. You can regrow bone very easily but healing muscles and repairing nerves can be the work of an entire conclave.”
“You have a conclave,” one of the fifth year girls pointed out. “Have you ever seen someone’s limb be regrown? I heard that was possible with parselmagic.”
“Yes, Miss Vane, when I was fifteen, a man agreed to be… my patient in such a ritual,” Harry admitted as he cast the diagnostic again to check his work. He held it a little longer so he could get a better picture of his ward’s entire hand. “I facilitated the re-growth of his lower leg. It took ten hours.”
“You’re licensed then?”
“Yes,” Harry said quietly but didn’t look towards the girl as he worked. “With the ICW. I had to gain that certification before I could take my place as High Warlock of the Glain Neidr conclave.”
“So those wizards who showed up to watch the duel…” Romilda prodded. “We heard there were like fifty.”
“Fifty-two men including myself make up the Glain Neidr,” Harry said neutrally. “It is the largest parselmouth conclave in Europe. While I could cast ritual magic with a variety of wizards, I am at my most powerful with my own kind.”
“Your own kind,” she repeated and when he looked up she was frowning.
“I’m a parselmouth,” Harry said bluntly. “There will never come a day when that isn’t the first or the last thing most people think when they meet me. I’m so far removed from being a regular wizard that it is… obvious to anyone even the smallest knowledge of magical theory.” He returned his attention to Jonas. “Move your hand around for me.” The boy obligingly wiggled his fingers and made a fist a few times under the magic. The representation of his hand changed each time he moved.
“That’s pretty cool,” he admitted and wiggled his fingers again.
Harry laughed and ended the diagnostic. “Eat a very good lunch and I’m going to have Dobby bring you a pepper up potion which you’ll drink with no arguments.”
After Jonas darted off, Harry gathered his bag, which he prepared for his afternoon classes and settled in at the table he preferred in the common room. He wasn’t alone long but he’d suspected that he might not be. He’d actively ignored the fifth year, Romilda Vane, as much as he could in the weeks he’d been at Hogwarts. Her interest in him was overt.
Harry looked up his economics textbook and focused on her. “Can I help you, Miss Vane?”
“You can call me Romilda.”
He rather thought he shouldn’t but he only nodded. “You didn’t answer the question.”
“I was just wondering what you’re studying. I’ve seen you and Hermione with those books. They aren’t for Hogwarts.”
“No, this is an economics textbook. I’m prepping for my Muggle A-levels. It’s like their NEWTs as I intend to go to university for business,” Harry explained patiently. “I’m also considering magical law.”
“But…” She trailed off and frowned. “You don’t need any of that really. I mean you don’t even have to work.”
“Some men in my position don’t work, true, but I’d never be one of them. I might play professional Quidditch if I can make a team but eventually I will turn my attention towards more serious and rewarding activities. My ability to make money insures the success of the Lily Potter Foundation which protects Potter Redoubt and Hogwarts from closing. My responsibilities as a Peer are extensive and I’d rather not ever come close to dishonoring the legacy of my Ancient and Noble House.”
She finally nodded. “I understand.” She leaned in a bit and smiled. “I was wondering… well, do you intend on taking a second wife?”
Harry almost laughed at the thought. “I honestly doubt a second wife would survive my first.”
“That sounds about right,” Jonas said from his place on the sofa. “Miss Hermione’s vicious. That guy on the wireless got really excited when she blasted Radko Krum through the fire ward Godric erected to contain the Fiendfyre.”
Romilda flushed. “Yes, well, I’m sure she did quite well.”
“Besides, if I took a second spouse, it’d probably be a wizard of Hermione’s choice.” Harry just smirked when Romilda’s mouth dropped open and returned his attention to his book.
* * * *
Hermione sat down beside him at lunch with a huff. “Did you tell Romilda Vane that if you took a second spouse that it’d a wizard of my choosing?”
Harry grinned at her. “Yes, but only after she asked me if I was interested in a second wife.” He laughed when she offered the fifth year an icy glare that had Romilda moving down to the far end of the table. “But I totally would, you know, if you wanted. You think you could handle two wizards?”
Hermione blushed but her eyes darkened with arousal. “Harry, shut up.”
He pressed a kiss to her temple. “Maybe later I’ll show you something special.”
“Did you know that especially powerful parselmouths can create a doppelganger that will last up to an hour?” He asked innocently.
Her mouth formed a perfect little O. “That’s… that’s probably the hottest thing you’ve ever said to me and that’s actually saying something considering what normally comes out of your mouth.” She leaned in. “It’s a perfect replica?”
Harry laughed. “Head to toe.”
“Merlin,” Hermione muttered and reached out for a piece of chicken.
“Come to my practice tonight with Master Ito and I’ll demonstrate.”
“Yeah, I’m all over that,” Hermione admitted and blushed when he smirked. “Would the duplicate act and think independently from you?”
“Yes and no,” Harry admitted. “We can’t be separated over a long distance because he’s a product of my magic but he is essentially a twin. He can act and think separately from me but is… submissive to my purposes.”
“This is not getting any less hot,” Hermione admitted and blushed when Neville burst out laughing from where he was sitting opposite of them.
She noted that Fay was a bit wide eyed and flushed. She wasn’t alone either—Lavender and Parvati were both looking at Harry in speculation. She bet all three of them were picturing that animated drawing of the witch being double penetrated. She cleared her throat and all three of them blushed and looked elsewhere. Harry just laughed softly and returned his attention to his food.
“Roger Davies is apparently single and very attractive,” Hermione said out of the blue and grinned when Harry glared at her. “Gotcha.”
Harry shook his head and poured himself some juice. He’d certainly brought that on himself. He really hoped his little joke didn’t lead to wizards offering themselves up for their bed. Though he wasn’t strictly opposed to bedding another wizard he certainly wouldn’t do it without Hermione and her enthusiastic consent. It also wouldn’t be Roger Davies who was rather transparently in love with a witch who didn’t seem to be interested in giving him the time of day.
They finished their meal and Harry agreed to run to the library while Hermione stayed behind and read Fay’s essay for DADA. He pulled the doors shut and immediately encountered a young woman from Hufflepuff. He tried to place her quickly but her name was a total mystery. He resolved to work on that just as she burst into tears and threw herself at him. He caught her with a huff of shock.
“Thank you,” she whispered. “Thank you.” Her fingers curled into his jumper as she started to sob in earnest. “Thank you.”
The doors opened behind them just as Harry lifted her off her feet. He glanced over his shoulder as he walked towards the small meeting room just off the hall. “Darius get Hermione, please, and tell her where I am.”
Darius nodded. “Yes, sir.”
Harry shut the door with one foot and carefully put the witch on the sofa. He sat down beside her and discarded his bag. She curled two small hands around one of his and continued to cry. “I don’t know what to do when girls cry.”
She took a hitching breath, which turned into a sob. “I’m sorry.”
“Oh, no, don’t apologize for my faults,” Harry said and took a deep breath. “We haven’t formally met.”
“Hannah.” She shuddered. “My name is Hannah Abbott.” She rubbed her face with her free hand. “I practiced all last night how to do this—how to tell you how grateful I am for what you did. I didn’t cry a single time.”
Anger and no small amount of grief tightened his stomach as he realized exactly what Hannah Abbott was thanking for him for. He closed his eyes briefly and cleared his throat. “Star.”
The elf appeared immediately. Her eyes went wide and she sighed. “Master Harry you be promising me you’d not make any more pretty little witches cry!”
Hannah laughed, abruptly and clearly startled. Star smiled at her and conjured a washcloth. She handed it to Hannah.
Harry just smiled at her. Star always seemed to know exactly how to cheer someone up. “We need a Calming Potion and if you’d let Professor Vector know that I’m going to miss Arithmancy? After that, if you’d let Hermione know as well. She’s probably outside the door.”
“Yes, she and Miss Dunbar are pacing outside.”
“Oh,” Hannah said with a blush. “Gosh, I hope she doesn’t think I’m…”
“Hermione has no reason to doubt my regard or my fidelity,” Harry said assured. “If anything she’s probably pretty worried about you.”
“Right.” Hannah nodded and washed her face with the cloth Star supplied even as the elf popped away. “I mean to be so strong about this. You were… incredible yesterday. I never thought I’d have justice and you gave it to me. You gave it to a lot of girls. I’ll never be able to thank you for how… last night was the first time I’d slept through the night since it happened.” She took a deep breath. “Since he raped me.”
“Oh, love,” Harry said with a sigh. Star returned with the potion and popped away again. “Why haven’t you had mind healing?”
She blushed and averted her gaze. “I… I live with my Aunt and Uncle. My parents were killed in the war—just a few weeks before yours actually.” She took the potion he proffered and downed it.
Harry nodded. “Okay.”
“They refused to pay for it.”
“You were the girl he attacked at the World Cup, right?” Harry demanded. “A very large wergild was paid to your family in lieu of charges being filed.”
“My Uncle… kept that money. Well, he kept most of it. The rest went to dower my cousin Gillian. She married last year, you see.”
Harry took a deep breath and pushed down his temper. “Have they taken you to the bank to file a claim with the Foundation?”
“Not yet but my Uncle said he’d contacted the dverger about it and made an appointment for me during the Yule break. Gillian will get that money, too. Her and her husband are expecting a baby.” Hannah shrugged. “They only took me in because of my trust fund. They take the maximum they can out of it every year. I wouldn’t be at Hogwarts at all if it weren’t stipulated in my parent’s will. I won’t have anything left by the time I leave school.”
“Son of a bitch,” Harry muttered. He released her hand and stood. “You stay right here. I’ll be back within the half hour.”
“Okay…” She paused. “What are you going to do?”
“I’m going to teach your Uncle a lesson about honor,” Harry said darkly. “I don’t fucking appreciate his callous behavior. I’m also going to find you a mind healer for Merlin’s sake.”
“I’m fine,” Hannah protested.
“Don’t make me be an arsehole about this,” Harry said crossly. “People who are fine sleep through the night on a regular basis!” He flushed with genuine shame when she flinched away from him. “I swear on my life and magic that I’d never hurt you unless you presented yourself as a threat to my family or one of my wards.”
“I’m sorry,” she whispered as the oath settled on him. “I can’t…”
“Help it,” Harry supplied. “No, I can see how you might have a problem processing the anger of other people. You probably have a hyper active threat assessment as a problem as well.”
“Sexual dysfunction.” He dropped back on the sofa beside her torn between marching off and fucking some people up and talking to her.
She blushed but nodded. “Yes. I can barely allow Susan to hold my hand. I told her… I told her that she deserved someone who could really be with her and I don’t know why I’m telling you this.” Hannah huffed and crossed her arms. “I’ve made a total idiot of myself.”
“You have not and you’re entitled to feel what you feel. Betrayal, hurt, whatever it is. You shouldn’t have to apologize for your own feelings and you never have to do it with me. That’s not the kind of person I am.”
“Hermione’s really lucky,” Hannah said ruefully.
“Did you want me to get Susan? You meant Susan Bones, right?”
Hannah blushed. “We’ve been together since our third year, you know. Had our first date in Hogsmeade. Our first kiss at Yule that year in her bedroom at home. I helped her decide who to ask to open her.” She closed her eyes briefly. “And now I can’t even be kissed without crying. I was so stupid. I fell for his ploy and he separated me from my friends at the World Cup. I was surprised to even see him in the crowd because Bulgaria had lost. He just laughed and said I could make him feel better about losing.” She shuddered.
“You don’t have to tell me,” Harry said gently.
“I’ve only ever told one person and that was the Auror who interviewed me,” Hannah said. “I need to say it again, Lord Potter.”
Harry sat down. “Then I’m here to listen and call me Harry.”
“I told him I had a girlfriend and he laughed. He had the most horrible laugh. He said that I was too pretty to want to be with another witch and that I was confused. He said he would change my mind.” Hannah shook her head. “I told him he was being mean and I tried to walk way. I woke up in a tent—Krum must have stunned me in the back.”
“Cowardly mother fucker,” Harry said under his breath.
“I know.” Hannah huffed. “I thought the same bleeding thing.” She bit down on her lip. “I was naked when I woke up and he just crawled on top of me and… I…” She shook her head. “I was so shocked because it hurt. He kept trying to get me to say his name. Kept trying to get me admit that it felt good. I told him to stop over and over again but he didn’t. He refused to listen. When he was done—he let me get dressed and leave. He thanked me for being such a good time.”
“If I’d heard this story before I went out there to duel him—I’d have hurt him so much that when that Fiendfyre hit him he’d have been relieved.”
“That’s the best time I’ve ever had on the Quidditch pitch,” Hannah admitted.
“Well, no offense but your House team sucks.”
Hannah laughed abruptly. “Shut up, not everyone can have a semi-professional Seeker out there.”
“I’m not a semi-professional,” Harry protested. “I’ve played like ten official games my whole life you know and most of them were with the Underage Quidditch League in Paris.”
“The UQL teams have huge followings in France. Some of those games have bigger audiences than professional matches. I watched your last game with the Paris Wings summer before last. The announcer spent half the game talking about your professional prospects.”
Harry hummed under his breath. “It’s a thought.” He checked his watch. “I really need to contact the bank and make myself clear about a few things.”
“I didn’t want to make more work for you. It looks like you always have something going on. Like that meeting you held out in the courtyard with all those wizards and your owl brings you huge stacks of correspondence weekly.”
Harry frowned. “People pay attention to that?”
Hannah snorted. “Merlin, Potter, you’re the biggest source of gossip in the school right now. What with your courting period with Hermione, which has made most of the witches in this castle stupid with jealousy. Dueling a challenger isn’t going to lower that interest by the way. Half the knickers in the stadium must have been soaking wet by the time that sorry bastard caught fire.”
“You’re horrible,” Harry said. “But I like lesbians so we should be friends.”
“I’ve never had a lesbian hit on me.”
Hannah snorted. “I can see how you might see me as a refuge.”
“And also, my favorite thing on the planet is pussy. So, we have that in common.”
She turned to stare at him and he smirked which made her burst out laughing. “And here we all thought you were all buttoned up and proper.”
“You cried on me. We have no boundaries,” Harry declared airily.
“Good to know.”
He pulled his mirror from a pocket and activated it. “Sharprock.” He had to wait just a few seconds before the surface was filled with a dverger’s face. “How many victims have registered with the Foundation with proven claims against Viktor Krum?”
“Forty-seven in Britain, France, and Bulgaria so far. We have six unconfirmed claims due to their age the young witches in question are in school.”
“How many have already been compensated?”
“The Foundation is still working on the legal process so, none.”
“I want every one of them to be compensated through unbreakable and very stringent trust funds. Every single sickle removed by a parent or guardian for underage witches must be accounted for and spent only for their benefit. Also, investigate the rules of the trust fund for a witch by the name of Hannah Abbott. I’ve been informed that her Uncle and Aunt are misappropriating her funds on a regular basis. They also absconded with the wergild she should’ve received from the Krum family for Viktor’s actions at the World Cup.” He turned the mirror so Sharprock could see Hannah. “She’s here with me.”
“Miss Abbott are you aware of your account manager’s name?”
The dverger scowled. “In that case, I’d like your permission to assume that role and I assure you that your trust fund will be returned to its proper state.”
Hannah stared at him wide-eyed. “I… my Aunt and Uncle…”
“People who steal from children piss me off,” Sharprock snapped.
She relaxed on the sofa. “You have my permission to be my account manager. I look forward to hearing from you.”
Sharprock inclined his head and focused on Harry. “And if a parent or guardian complains?”
“You tell them that all complaints about the distribution of the Ashwinder Fund must be made to me in person on a dueling platform and they’ll need to make an appointment with my father. I won’t be available to take any meetings concerning this topic until of July 1st of next year.”
Sharprock snorted. “You make my day, lad.”
Harry laughed as the mirror went dark. The door opened suddenly and Susan Bones marched in.
“See, Susan, I told you nothing was going on here,” Hermione said exasperated. “Harry’s a gentlemen.”
Hannah snorted. “He really isn’t but we decided to be friends regardless. We have a lot in common.”
Harry laughed and just grinned when Hermione stared at him curiously. Dumbledore and Minerva McGonagall slipped into the room with Professor Sprout and the door was shut. He held up a hand. “Give me a second, I’m not quite finished.” He activated his mirror. “Moony.”
Remus Lupin appeared in it immediately. “Hey, kiddo, shouldn’t you be in Arithmancy instead of the visitor’s lounge on the first floor?”
“Why do you have my schedule memorized and why are you using your Hogwarts map to spy on me?”
“Operational security,” Remus said seriously.
“Something is wrong with you on a fundamental level,” Harry complained. “I need to speak with Marie Delacour.”
Remus frowned. “The sleep specialist you used when you were little? The duel bothering you?”
“No, it’s not for me. Just have her contact me and pay for her travel to Britain. Set her up in a flat or townhouse in Hogsmeade. I’d like her here as soon as possible if she’s available. If she’s not available, please have her make a recommendation. A woman is preferred.”
“That sounds expensive,” Hannah complained in a fierce whisper.
“Hush, I’m being altruistic,” Harry admonished and focused on Remus. “And put Miranda on the mirror.”
Remus sighed. “I think you like my wife more than you like me.”
“She’s prettier,” Harry pointed out. “Talking to her is a much better use of my mirror.” He grinned when Remus’ face was replaced with his wife’s. “Hey.”
“What’s on your young and altruistic mind?” Miranda Lupin asked with a laugh.
“I don’t know how involved you are in Dad’s Witch’s Rights Bill…”
“I authored it,” Miranda interjected.
“Right. Good. It crosses my mind that we need more than advocacy which is the role that the Foundation has undertaken for the past six years in Britain.”
“Okay. What do you want?”
“Hmmm, job training, continuing education, community resources for child care, and the cruelest solicitors you can find. At least five very modern, very ambitious sons of bitches who aren’t afraid to sue men like Lucius Malfoy for a divorce.”
Miranda laughed. “Oh, lad, my love for you transcends time and space. I’ll get started immediately. I know a real bastard out of Australia that could teach Cruelty at a Mastery level. I’m pretty sure he earned an International NEWT in Revenge.”
“That reminds me.” He turned the mirror so Hermione could see the raven-haired beauty that his adopted uncle married. “Hermione, meet Miranda Lupin. She broke my heart when I was six by refusing my carefully worded proposal of marriage.”
Hermione huffed and plucked the mirror from his hands. “Do I get any of your firsts?”
Harry grinned and bit down on his lip as he considered that. “I could think of a few things.”
Hermione blushed. “Harry James, not in front of my mother.”
“You started it,” Hannah pointed out.
Harry jerked his head towards Hannah. “This is my sister from another mister.”
Hermione sighed and concentrated on the mirror. “I have some ideas.”
Miranda laughed. “I bet you do. I’ll send you a letter through Star with my own and we’ll compare notes. I kept his proposal; by the way, I have it with a bunch of horribly embarrassing things just waiting for your first visit to Paris.”
“That’s a date,” Hermione agreed.
* * * *
Ancient Runes and DADA passed in a blur for Harry. He was more focused on what was to come after dinner. It had been almost seven months since he’d sparred with Master Ito and he was really looking forward to letting go which he couldn’t do with his parselmagic often. He’d never think to unleash it full force on Filius Flitwick and the half-dverger knew that well enough. That wasn’t the point of their dueling tuition at any rate. Flitwick was preparing him for the dueling arena where Harry would be required to cast like a regular wizard.
After dinner, he went to his quarters and quickly stripped out of his school uniform. Hermione had followed him and tossed herself on his bed to watch him. She said nothing when he pulled a set of dueling robes—not his formal ones and not even British in design. This set had been a gift to him from Master Ito for his fourteenth birthday and they’d been spelled to last him a lifetime.
“What is the hide in the lining?”
“Master Ito is bonded with a magical boa constrictor. Dai allowed his skin to be magically harvested and regenerated for my robes,” Harry said quietly. “It didn’t hurt him but it can be… uncomfortable for both the snake and the bonded wizard of the snake in question. These are just as magically resilient as my basilisk robes.”
“Which Viktor penetrated quite easily,” Hermione said quietly. “You… let him do that didn’t you? What? Do you have a vulnerability to built into your robes or something?”
“I released the protective charms and turned into the curse so he’d hit my left shoulder,” Harry admitted. “If I hadn’t left the field wounded… you have to know I went out there… knowing I was going to kill him. He was a threat to you, Mi. He was a dead man the moment he sent you that first letter. He just, quite stupidly, didn’t know it.”
“So you took a major injury to make it look more like a fair fight,” Hermione surmised. “All right. I see that.”
“I do,” Hermione said firmly. “Though next time you’re going to allow for traditional healing. You can’t expect me to endure that every time you take an injury, Harry. It was heart breaking to listen to.”
“I hardly remember it.”
“I remember it vividly,” Hermione snapped.
“I’m sorry for that,” Harry said evenly. “But I’m not going to ever allow myself a weakness when I have a single choice in the matter. You have to know I don’t feel safe here. I barely, honestly, ever remember not being under a threat of some kind. This…” He spread his arms out. “Is the man I am, okay? You can’t expect me to just…” He huffed and jerked on a thin cotton shirt before putting on the robe. “I’d rather not argue with you about this.”
“We’ll save if for the next time you let some arse hurt you,” Hermione said evenly. “Just so you know,” she began as she slid off the bed and walked to him. She curled her fingers into the loose cotton trousers and pulled him close. “I have absolutely no problems with the man you are.” She brushed her mouth over his. “And I’m utterly capable of knocking your stubborn arse unconscious.”
He laughed. “Oh, sweetheart, don’t start a fight you can’t win.”
“You think I can’t take you, Potter?” Hermione asked and moved into his space. “Also, isn’t this material pretty thin for dueling robes?”
“It’s heavily charmed with parselmagic,” Harry murmured as he wrapped his arms around her. “This reminds me of something.” He pressed a kiss against her mouth and released her.
She watched him walk away in a huff. “What?”
“I owe you,” Harry said with a little laugh. “I did make you a promise.”
“A promise about… what?” She asked as he plucked a black velvet covered box from a trunk. “Oh…”
“Not what you’re thinking so stop looking horrified and I’ll try not to be insulted that the mere thought of a promise ring put that look on your face.”
She flushed. “Don’t be a snot. I just don’t think we’re ready that’s all.”
“I happen to agree,” Harry admitted. “So that’s not what is in this box. Though you should know—I already picked the ring out of my vault for that purpose. It’s in Paris and there it will stay for the time being. Okay?”
“Okay,” Hermione said with a soft smile. “I can’t wait to see it… when the time is right.”
He laughed and led her to his common area and put her on the sofa. “Now, I did make a hasty and rather silly promise to give you lots of diamonds the first time you cast silent, wandless magic.”
“Oh,” Hermione blushed. “But that… was… well that was sex, Harry.”
“I don’t know what got me off more—what you did or how you did it,” Harry admitted with a wry grin. He opened the box and revealed a pair of diamond encrusted heart-shaped barrettes. “These are not… a part of my estate. In fact, I had them made for you especially. The thing is that you’ll eventually have access to a few million galleons in jewelry but none of that will be from me, you know? I know Star has already started sneaking pieces and stones into your wardrobe and that’s just part and parcel of being the future Lady Potter so I’m thanking you in advance for being gracious about it.”
She took the box and stared at the little barrettes with a smile. “They’re perfect, thank you.” She leaned in and kissed the corner of his mouth. “You’re going to be late if you don’t hurry.” She looked at the box again. “These do have security charms on them?”
“Yes, of course.” Harry stood and buttoned the three buttons at the top of his robe. “If you’re going to watch me spar with Master Ito… keep in mind that he’d never actually maim me for life. He won’t even hurt me today—he knows I have to function in class tomorrow.”
* * * *
Harry shed his outer robe half way through the exercise when Ito brought out a long narrow box. He dropped the robe on the ground where Hermione was safely secluded behind the wards Ito had erected. She wasn’t alone. Astoria Greengrass and Darius Edwards were with her, both of them rather serious-faced and concerned despite Hermione’s reassurances.
“It’s been ready,” Ito said. “It was you who needed… time.” He opened the box and Harry knelt in front of the box. “If it refuses you… don’t be disappointed.”
“It was made for me,” Harry said carefully. “If it tells me no—how am I take that?”
“It simply means you aren’t ready to use it. Maybe you never will be. A staff is not a tool that every wizard is meant to have. More than half my conclave do not have a staff, yet I’ve made one for each of them in the course of time. None of the men in yours do.”
Harry took a deep breath and rubbed his damp palms on his trousers. The staff gleamed in the late evening light. Flitwick had lit the training yard just ten minutes before. Harry had chosen the materials when he was eight and had dismissed it from his mind. Ito had told him even then that the staff might not ever be ready for him. The wood was African blackwood, like his first wand. The core was thestral feathers and the heartstrings of a Hungarian Horntail.
If it accepted him—it would be tied directly to his life force. Unbreakable, indestructible until it fell to dust upon his death. Because of this, magical staves were actually actively discouraged—no one would be able to separate the staff from him if magic deemed he should have it. Magical governments weren’t fond of the inability to control such things. It was one reason why they practically enslaved magicals as children to the idea of a wand. If they took that wand—it was like taking their magic away. Many magicals never came close to wandless magic of any kind as a result. They didn’t believe they were capable of it.
Harry wrapped his hand around the staff and pulled it from the box. He stood and it lengthened from just under twelve inches to a full six feet. The head of the staff expanded, revealing an open snake’s mouth with a glowing ruby the size of small child’s fist clutched in its jaws. It started to vibrate in his hand and he looked at Ito in alarm.
“She’s going to make you prove your worth,” Ito said bluntly. “What will you call her?”
“Nocturne,” Harry hissed. He took a few steps back as Hiro stood and removed the case from the field with a wave of his hand. He swung the staff around him at the waist and cast. “Bellator est geminosque.”
Hiro huffed in surprise but retreated from the field of play with a little laugh. He conjured himself a chair and sat down in it as a duplicate of Harry appeared in front of his apprentice in a shimmer of magic.
His twin looked around, swung the staff he had in his hand easily and with none of the hesitance that Harry was experiencing with his own staff. “With the way you were talking to our witch earlier—I was really hoping if you brought me out to play we’d all be naked.”
Harry laughed and inclined his head. “You know what I need to do.”
“Of course,” the twin replied. “Let’s show our Nocturne what we’re about.” He shifted his grip on the staff, grasping it with both hands and swung it around broadside.
Harry lifted his own and deflected the blow, purposely ignoring Hermione’s shocked little squeak. He caught his twin in the gut with the end of his own staff and the fight was on in earnest. They spared across the field, evenly matched in every single way.
Twenty-five minutes into the little battle, Flitwick and Ito entered the fray. Harry and his twin went from fighting from each other in an instant, turning on the two invading wizards in a crack of magic that boomed across the training field. Magic heaved and roiled between the four of them in waves like a storm-stirred ocean. It was a hectic, fast-paced sight that had Astoria and Darius cheering and shouting like they were at a Quidditch match. It drew a lot of attention.
When Dumbledore crossed over the dueling ward, the magic in the entire area shifted and both Harrys sent the old man a rather feral grin. He laughed when Minerva McGonagall joined him. They offered the two new intruders a cheerful salute and one of them, Hermione couldn’t tell them apart, let loose with a broad parselmagic spell that acted like a wall of magic that Dumbledore apparated away from, Flitwick shielded, and Ito deflected. Minerva merely transitioned into her animagus form, darted under the sweep of it and changed mid-run.
Dumbledore sent a very powerful, dark red stunner at one of the Harry’s. The other apparated right into the curse and dissipated into nothing. Leaving the real Harry free to respond without shielding. He drew his wand, used his staff to sweep magic out in front of him and fired a series of stunning spells. Then he hit Flitwick with the tickling charm. It was so unexpected that the diminutive professor hesitated to shield and it broke through considering the way he burst out laughing.
Harry grinned as Filius tumbled to his knees with laughter, and hit Dumbledore with a charm that turned his robes purple with his wand as he continued to shield himself with his staff. Minerva apparated suddenly, changed into her animagus form the moment she gained her feet, and darted under Harry’s shield. She regained her two legs directly behind him and promptly stunned him. The spell spun him around and put him flat on his back in a few seconds.
Hermione sent a spell towards Flitwick to cancel the tickling charm with a wry grin.
Harry groaned as he was promptly rennervated. “You cheating cheat who cheats!”
Minerva smirked at him. “There is a lesson in this, I think.”
“Never trust a witch from the House of Ross not to stun me!” Harry proclaimed with a laugh. “Your daughter has already threatened me with it.”
“Well, I wouldn’t want to be the only one in the family to not be familiar with the standard response to emotional upheaval,” Hermione called out cheerfully.
Harry laughed as he stood. He summoned his staff which had fallen a few feet away from him and it gamely snapped into his hand, glowed briefly, and settled down with a little crackle of magic. “So we can apparate around the training yard?”
“Just the training yard and the Great Hall,” Dumbledore admitted. “We use both for apparition lessons on a regular basis.”
“What was that wall of magic you sent at us?” Flitwick asked.
“Crowd control spell, Russian design,” Harry said. “Very mild stunner due to how big it is but it is unnerving to see.”
“Very much so,” Dumbledore admitted. “I wasn’t confident I could deflect it. Your use of the twin warrior spell is truly breathtaking. I only just read about the creation of the spell in the ICW newsletter last month. How long can you maintain that?”
“Once I cast it,” Harry began. “I don’t have to do much to power it. It’ll last about an hour. He feeds the spell himself with wild magic.”
“Can you…” Hermione began as she joined them. “Could he read something or learn something independently from you and would that information be absorbed… back into your magic when he is?”
Harry and Hiro both stared at her.
Flitwick snorted. “Welcome to my world, gentlemen. She’s been stumping me like that since her first bloody year.”
Hermione flushed but raised an eyebrow. “Well?”
Harry shrugged. “I only cast it twice and both times it was to duel. I may have gained extra information when the spell ended but it would be difficult to discern since we were doing the same exact thing during the course of the dueling situations.
“The spell is very new. I developed it roughly six months ago and we are still testing the limits and purposes,” Ito admitted. He raised his wand and cast, “Bellator est geminosque.” A duplicate of him appeared immediately. “Miss Granger, take my twin to the other side of the training yard and tell him something that I could not possibly know about you.”
Hermione gamely offered the second Master Ito her hand who only laughed and allowed himself to be taken across the field. He leaned down and she whispered something in his ear that made him rear back in shock then burst out laughing. They came back and the second Ito dissipated as soon as Hiro hissed the counter for the spell.
Hermione raised an eyebrow at the older man who smirked. “Did it work?”
“Yes, it… did.”
“What did she tell you?” Dumbledore asked.
“Her animagus form,” Ito said with a genuine grin. “I can’t wait to see that.”
“You…” Harry turned to her.
She held up a hand. “A girl’s entitled to some secrets. Everyone is just going to have to be surprised.” She laughed when her own mother huffed. She pointed at Minerva. “You’ll be thrilled I think because it’s a magical creature.” She pointed at Harry. “It’ll be the sexiest thing you ever see me do.” She checked her watch and marched off with a smirk. “First through fourth years, you’ve got ten minutes to curfew! Off with you!”
“I have to agree,” Ito said with a laugh.
“Merlin,” Harry began a little shocked. “Is she a snake?” He shivered at the thought and blushed when Minerva all but hissed at him. “Sorry.”
Dumbledore laughed and Flitwick started to giggle again. Harry let his staff recede until it looked very similar to a wand and considered his options. After a moment, he slipped it into the wand sleeve inside the seam of his trousers. “Going to have to test out my new dimensional bracelet trunk sooner rather than later I think.”
“Tell me about the Holly wand,” Ito said. “Why do you carry it? Your blackwood wand is dominant.”
“I can’t… exactly explain it,” Harry admitted. “But when Ollivander gave it to me he said it was the brother wand to the wand that Tom Riddle carried. We never recovered that wand. The last person we know to have had it was actually Peter Pettigrew which we’ve never had any success in locating. Ollivander wouldn’t let me leave his shop until I agreed to accept the holly wand.” He pulled the wand and offered it handle first to his mentor.
Ito took the wand with a low hum. “Phoenix feather.”
“My phoenix,” Dumbledore murmured. “When Fawkes found out that Riddle had been given a wand with one of his feathers… well, he’s never consented to another donation. There are only four wands in existence from his feathers as a result. The first two feathers were donated at the same time shortly before his first burning day as a mature phoenix. The other two feathers came some ten years later, and many burnings later. They are different as night and day as a result.”
Ito flicked the wand and conjured a chair a few feet from them, which he promptly blasted to dust. “It is a powerful wand but your blackwood wand is more so in your hand.”
“I agree,” Harry admitted. “This is going to sound odd… but my blackwood wand was made for me… it responds to my magic and my will often times before I’ve fully expressed my desires mentally or verbally. It is my true match in every single way. It is… submissive to me.”
“And the holly?”
“It consents to my use,” Harry said. “It chose me and while it doesn’t anticipate my wishes it is very eager for my magic. Though I could see it one day changing hands—accepting the domain of another wizard. My blackwood wand would never do that. I doubt anyone that was a stranger to me could even cast a lumos charm with it.”
“You question its future loyalty,” Minerva said. “Yet, you carry it.”
Harry nodded and took the wand when Ito offered it. “I… just feel that one day that this wand will save my life.” He holstered it carefully. “I don’t fear the return of Tom Riddle if any of are you concerned about that. I have no doubts he is gone but his ugly, vicious legacy lingers and Peter Pettigrew is still out there. There are other dark wizards just as cruel and vicious and foul as Tom Riddle ever was. We can’t live in a world that has known so much war and assume that is all behind us. We won the war but there are battles still… to be fought.”
* * * *
The trunk from Brazil was beautiful. The glossy snakewood practically hummed with magic. Harry was slightly taken aback at first by the way it seemed to seek out and interact with his magic. It had taken him nearly an hour to work out that the wood itself had wild magic deeply entrenched in it. He was very curious to see where the tree had been grown and could only assume a ley line had interacted with the roots of the tree the entire time it grew.
He activated the rune that would allow the trunk to reform into a slim but elegant bracelet and the trunk disappeared with a flash of magic, leaving the bracelet behind on the floor. Harry picked it up and slipped it onto his wrist. He called for one of the books he’d placed in the trunk and it popped into his hand. He flicked his wrist and thought store. The book disappeared. He called it again and returned it to the trunk nearly twenty times before he was satisfied that the transfer in and out of the trunk wasn’t causing any damage. Then he stored his holly wand. He spent a half hour calling and storing the wand repeatedly before trusting the magic of the trunk with his athame.
After a while he pulled the bracelet from his wrist, expanded it to a trunk, and started organizing. He divided the trunk space into sections, created a potions storage section, placed holsters on the side for his athame, the dagger, both wands, the staff, and his sword. Finally, he created a book section where he stored his planner, the family grimoire, and his personal journal. Then three self-inking quills were slotted into place.
Dobby appeared. “Yes, Master Harry?”
“First, how is Winky?”
“She be tired but fine. First babies are always tough,” Dobby said. “Star says baby still come in October.”
“Good.” Harry smiled. “I’m looking forward to seeing him or her whenever you guys are ready. Second, I need my dueling blades from the Paris vault so if you’d send Argus to get them I’d appreciate it. I’ll have a letter ready to send to Brazil later in the day.”
“You be liking your new trunk?”
“I love my new trunk. I’m going to order one for everyone,” Harry said. “It’s fantastic.”